All Technologizer posts by Robin Raskin

Will Last Gadget Standing Jump the Shark?

By Robin Raskin  |  Posted at 8:15 am on Thursday, December 30, 2010

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Let’s see, we’ve had Elvis impersonators, roving robots, Dr. Evil, mad scientists….could Last Gadget Standing get even kookier?  I’m afraid so.

Next week’s tenth-anniversary edition could be it. In addition to me, Harry McCracken, and your judging team, the event will be hosted by Jon Hein and special guest Gary “Baba Booey” Dell’Abate from The Wrap up Show on the Howard Stern channel on SiriusXM Radio. Hein’s tech claim to fame came is the creation of Jump the Shark, devoted to the moments where there’s only one way to go: downhill. (Just ask Fonzie).

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Help Us Whittle Down Our Last Gadget Standing Contestants

By Robin Raskin  |  Posted at 4:15 pm on Sunday, December 19, 2010

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Top 25Believe me, picking products that epitomize emerging technologies at CES ain’t easy. Come to think of it, even getting a cab isn’t easy at CES. But we Last Gadget Standing judges have spent the last few weeks sorting through a fabulous selection of products. I figure our judges have each easily seen at least a couple of hundred new products this year year alone. And when they get a little jaded or overstimulated we turn to you for crowdsourced intelligence.

We’ve choose eighteen products we think you should keep your eye on. (We also have more products–including ones from Fujitsu, Intel, Nvidia, and other companies–that we can’t even talk about until January 5th, when the press day at CES begins.)

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Keep Your Gadgets Dry–and Useful

By Robin Raskin  |  Posted at 10:59 am on Friday, December 17, 2010

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Last Gadget Standing Nominee: DryCorp DryCASE

Price: $39.99

Top 25Dry bags, which outdoors types use to protect delicate gear, are notoriously bad at letting you grab a shot or answer a phone before it’s too late.  The DryCASE–from a company that also makes waterproof devices for the medical industry, such as bandage covers–is a transparent bag that allows use of a phone or camera while keeping it dry and clean. You pump out all the air with the included hand pump and the bag vacuum-seals around the contents, leaving them waterproof. The air-tight seal guarantees that the contents of the bag will stay dry even when submerged 100 feet underwater.



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Shoot Your Own 3D

By Robin Raskin  |  Posted at 11:31 pm on Thursday, December 16, 2010

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Last Gadget Standing Nominee: Fujifilm Real 3D W3

Price: $499.99

I’m not sure if the world is ready to start taking photos in 3D, but Fujifilm sure came up with an attractive was to do it. The FinePix Real 3D W3 digital camera is the first compact consumer 3D digital camera capable of capturing both 3D still images and HD 3D movies at 720P resolution, thanks to its dual-CCD, dual lens system. You can view 3D photos and movies on the W3’s autostereoscopic widescreen display–no glasses required–and the HDMI output port lets you connect the camera to 3D TVs. Other features include Advanced 2D Mode, which takes advantage of the dual CCD/dual lens system to capture two different 2D images at the same time–zoom and wide angle, for instance, or two different sensitivity settings.



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Assisted Computing for Senior Citizens

By Robin Raskin  |  Posted at 9:31 am on Thursday, December 16, 2010

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Last Gadget Standing Nominee: VitalLink

Price: $4.99 a month

For many older adults, increasing frailty, limited mobility and the trend for younger families to relocate towards employment opportunities (and away from their aging parents) contribute to social isolation. And isolation has been found to have an effect on overall health.

VitalLink provides an innovative and intuitive Internet-based solution to help overcome these challenges. By creating a friendly shell that runs on a touch-screen Windows PC, company has made it simple for an elderly person to use a PC, including making video calls, cycling through family photos, watching video, reading news (in any size type), playing games, and even watching Netflix movies. In fact, for many users, VitalLink could be an all-in-one communication and entertainment center.



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An iPad for the Toddler Set

By Robin Raskin  |  Posted at 10:27 am on Wednesday, December 15, 2010

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Last Gadget Standing Nominee: Rullingnet Vinci

Price: $479

Parents love to toss their kids their iPads for a little fun and games, but the iPad isn’t really a toddler device.  Vinci, on the hand, was designed for toddler hands and tough use. It’s a infant-proof tablet–designed for children up to age three–with apps that include games, storybooks, and music videos.  Rather than focusing on academic teaching, they aim to show babies the world and let them be in control. And it sets out to address four key areas of early childhood development: cognitive, educational, emotional and social.

Vinci is a bit pricey at $479, but it’s built for babies with their own unique needs.Top 25



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Blocks With Brains of Their Own

By Robin Raskin  |  Posted at 2:00 pm on Tuesday, December 14, 2010

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Last Gadget Standing Nominee: Sifteo Cubes

Price: $149

Sifteo Cubits provide kids with a new way to play.  Cubes are wireless 1.5″ blocks with full-color screens that interact with each other and respond to motion to unleash a whole new world of games.  The cubes are outfitted with  motion sensing, neighbor detection, graphical displays, and wireless communication features. Pile them, group them, sort them –and you have many variations of game play.  While traditional game consoles often lead to “screen stare” and tired thumbs, say the product’s creators, Sifteo Cubes start interacting with you and each other as soon as you pick them up and move them around.  Sifteo’s initial collection of titles will include games for adults, fun learning puzzles for kids, and games people can play together.

Cubes are scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2011.



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Are Two Screens Better Than One?

By Robin Raskin  |  Posted at 2:37 pm on Monday, December 13, 2010

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Last Gadget Standing Nominee: Acer Iconia

Price: TBD

When I first saw this, I thought I was looking at the world’s biggest Nintendo DS. But Acer’s Iconia a true original.

It’s a notebook computer, based on the Intel Core i5 processor.  It has two LCD screens–one on the bottom and one on the top, offering you a ton of options for usage.

At the launch Acer said the Iconia offers the “versatility of a conventional 14” form factor with a unique dual-screen layout and highly intuitive all-point multi-touch functionality, which means you can use all the fingers of your hands.” You can browse the web or watch a video on the top screen while you’re composing a document or creating a spreadsheet on the bottom screen, for example. Or just browse the Web across two screens by laying the notebook flat.  Reading a large Web page is a total treat.

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Please Don’t Touch the Musical Instrument

By Robin Raskin  |  Posted at 9:57 am on Friday, December 10, 2010

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Last Gadget Standing Nominee: Beamz C4

Price: $199.95

I gotta tell you that I call this thing the Digital Theremin. Musicologists may recall that the Theremin was one of the early electronic instruments that played music as you passed your hands past radio antennae. Well now the Beamz lets you pass your hands through lasers. As you pass the points you make glorious sound.  Coupled with synthesized background beats, you sound good even if you’ve never played a note before. Beamz connects to a PC via USB and includes Beamz Player, an application that lets you play fifty Beamz songs, including works by Grammy-winning artists and independent musicians.

So how cool is it to pas your hands through laser beams and “play” light?



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Turn Your Mac Display Into an HD Display

By Robin Raskin  |  Posted at 11:00 pm on Monday, December 6, 2010

2 Comments

Last Gadget Standing Nominee: Kanex XD

Price: $149.95

The Kanex XD does one thing and while it’s probably something that shouldn’t need doing in the first place, it does it well.  It transforms your 27-inch Apple iMac or Apple LED Cinema Display into a High Definition display. This allows you to connect and play your HD devices:  Blu-Ray DVD player, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, or digital set top box in HD format. Reviewers have noted that Apple’s limit of 720 dpi 720p on the screen (no fault of Kanex) is an issue. But, they’ve also noted that  Kanex provides a true, crisp, and clear picture from any HD source with no video scaling. To sweeten the deal, full control of volumn and brightness is available through the unit’s Bluetooth keyboard, and the XD also supports audio pass-through to enhance sound as well as video.



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A Credit Card for the 21st Century

By Robin Raskin  |  Posted at 1:27 pm on Wednesday, December 1, 2010

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Last Gadget Standing Nominee: Card 2.0

Price: TBD

Top 25What if that magnetic stripe on your credit card could get a lot smarter?  That’s the idea behind Dynamics’ Card 2.0, a paper-thin, flexible computer platform that can be utilized in a variety of applications such as next-generation payment cards.  Card 2.0 features a magnetic strip that can be reporogrammed on the fly; it can be read by any existing magnetic stripe reader, so merchants don’t need to bring in new hardware or learn a new process.

According to the company one of the greatest benefits is Dynamics’ anti-skimming device, called the Dynamic Credit Card.  It helps to protect consumers and merchants against this threat by automatically writing a new, unique dynamic security code onto its magnetic stripe for every in-store purchase. (Grabbing your credit card number from a receipt and abusing it is no longer an option for bad guys.)  The card can even have a display that shows a new security code for every online purchase.



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Wait, Wait! I Want to Be the Last Gadget Standing!

By Robin Raskin  |  Posted at 12:34 pm on Monday, November 29, 2010

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Attention, hardware makers! We’ve extended the deadline to nominate products for Last Gadget Standing, our yearly competition to find the single coolest gizmo on display at the Consumer Electronics Show. Maybe it’s the tryptophan; maybe we’re feeling your holiday pressure. Either way, we’ve decided to give you a few more days to get your gadgets in ship shape and show the crowds your stuff.

On January 8th, at our Last Gadget Standing event at CES, we’ll have a surprise host who’s going to have you splitting your sides with laughter (and he doesn’t even need an app for that).

So if you’ve been sitting on the fence, this would be the chance to write a few words about your product and why it deserves to be Last Gadget Standing. It’s sort of our very own Black Friday! Register by December 7th (the Day of Infamy by the way). May the best gadget win.

To apply, go here.



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HDMI Cables: Thin is In

By Robin Raskin  |  Posted at 8:45 am on Friday, November 26, 2010

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Last Gadget Standing Nominee: RedMere-enabled Ultra Thin High Speed HDMI Cables

Price: $20-$85

RedMere-enabled Ultra Thin High Speed HDMI Cables make smartphones, cameras, camcorders, laptops and other portable devices that supports HDMI output even more portable. Unlike traditional HDMI cables–which are thick, heavy and unwieldy–a cable powered by RedMere’s unique smart cable technology is thin and light, long and portable, just like the sleek and slim portable devices they’re designed to connect. Not only do these cables look and feel really good, but they’re also tiny enough to fit in your pocket or your camera case. And RedMere’s self-powered 10.2Gbps booster module, which fits inside the HDMI cable connector, allows the cables to be extremely long, so you can view HD content comfortable viewing distance of your couch.



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CNN says that this year is all about tablets, E-readers, connected TVs, smartphones, and oh yeah, did we mention 3D TVs?  We were tickled to see that they cited Boxee as last year’s Last Gadget Standing winner.  Can Google TV beat Boxee this year?  Your thoughts please…

Posted by Robin at 10:16 pm

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TV Station in a Box

By Robin Raskin  |  Posted at 8:45 am on Tuesday, November 23, 2010

5 Comments

Last Gadget Standing Nominee: Jade Live Broadcaster

Price: $219

As the world turns to video it’s easy to be left behind, especially if you’re on a limited budget. MCN Technologies’ Jade Live Broadcaster levels the video playing field by offering a network camera for live video broadcasting over the Internet. It’s an HD camera with H264/AAC compression and an 802.11b/g wireless interface.  The live content is distributed as a set of streams with different resolutions simultaneously (1280-by-720, 640-by-480, 320-by-240 and 160-by-120) with bit rates ranging from  2Mbps to 80Kbps, so viewers with smartphones connected to mobile broadband can view low bit rate streams while ones with HD players connected to high speed networks at home can watch high-quality video. Who knows, maybe we’ll test it out and start our own Last Gadget Broadcast station.

The Live Broadcaster is due to go on sale on January 16th, 2011.



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ViewSonic Brings 3D to Photo Frames, No Glasses Required

By Robin Raskin  |  Posted at 12:44 pm on Friday, November 19, 2010

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Last Gadget Standing Nominee: ViewSonic 3D Multimedia Digital Photo Frame

List price: $179.99

Top 25Taking photo frames to the next level, ViewSonic’s 8” 3DPF8 3D Multimedia Digital Photo Frame makes it easy to share life’s memories in full 3D.  Viewsonic, says it flawlessly displays 3D photos and videos WITH NO GLASSES NEEDED, it also automatically converts standard 2D photos and videos to 3D. ( Those of us who’ve seen some of these 2D to 3D conversions tend to be a skeptical about the 3D experience but at least ViewSonic is trying something new.)  In addition to customized slideshows with music, this multifaceted 800-by-600 resolution device offers all the functionality of a compact digital display, including 128MB of internal memory, SD/SDHC/MMC and USB support, and calendar, clock and alarm features. Additionally, a rechargeable built-in battery and hidden touch panel controls ensure this device is as intuitive as it is interactive.  Sounds great… let’s see how it looks.



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