Full Speed

[ September 13, 2006 ]

TiVo Series3 HD Finally Available

If you like to get your TV signal over a wire and have been holding out for a decent HD DVR, TiVo has finally brought what the market has been begging for: the 300-hour TiVo Series3 HD DVR. Actually, it’s DMR —- Digital Media Recorder —- although I’m not really sure what that means. But since it’s the only product out there that claims to be a DMR, it’s the first to become THX certified. It’s probably the first THX certified DVR, too, but they don’t mention that on tivo.com.

The box will hold up to 300 hours of SD or 32 hours of HD content. Nothing special there, just a bit higher than the Series2 HD DVR that TiVo sold through DirecTV. The peanut is back, but now it’s got a backlight. This box has a huge feature that DirecTV never would allow: (working) network connectivity. “Schedule recordings anywhere from tivo.com.” And that also means that you can download content off of the internet for viewing on your TV. Photos, internet radio, podcasts, weather reports. Ok, I see where the “Media” in DMR is coming from now.

The new box is $799. TiVo fees are in the $12-15/month range, depending on how much you prepay.

8:41 AM :: #

[ June 28, 2006 ]


With all of the new cellular standards and acronyms, I have been in the dark about a couple of things. Specifically, HSDPA and UMTS. If you don’t know what these are and don’t care to learn about them, you will probably want to stop reading now. :) I know that these are both high(er) speed wireless communications protocols. That was the easy part. I also know that they are both faster than EDGE, a protocol that I have frequently used with cellphones in times of broadband outage.

Now this question isn’t something that I have been really racking my brain on. It’s just been a curiousity lingering in the back of my mind that surfaces whenever I read about the fancy new phones that are becoming available. It seemed to me that the two acronyms were often loosely interchanged. And without digging around to find the differences, I was beginning to think that they were the same thing.

Finally, I posed a question to a couple of fellow Engadget Mobile readers tonight. And as I typically do, I hammered it out and clicked submit before even thinking about doing a tiny bit of research.

So, within five minutes, I found myself on Wikipedia reading about all of the gory details of HSDPA, or High-Speed Downlink Packet Access. I found that I already knew some of this information, such as the fact that the protocol supports downlink speeds of up to 14.4 Mbit/s. (Wow!)

The real benefit for me from the Wikipedia article on HSDPA was mostly in the first paragraph:

HSDPA provides a smooth evolutionary path for Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) networks allowing for higher data capacity. It is an evolution of the W-CDMA standard, designed to increase the available data rate by a factor of 5 or more. HSDPA defines a new W-CDMA channel, the high-speed downlink shared channel (HS-DSCH) that operates in a different way from existing W-CDMA channels, but is only used for downlink communication to the mobile.
Whew! In addition to the above, the UMTS page on Wikipedia says that UMTS “uses W-CDMA as the underlying standard.” Ok, so I’m seeing this as a progression: WCDMA→UMTS→HSDPA. The newer standards are evolutions of the older standards, using and expanding upon previous protocols. Elsewhere, I confirmed the following:
HSDPA is compatible with EDGE and is fully backwards compatible with WCDMA, and enterprise and rich multimedia applications developed for WCDMA will work with HSDPA. Most UMTS vendors support HSDPA.
So here are my conclusions:
  1. HSDPA and USDPA devices should work on WCDMA networks and will possibly work on UMTS networks.
  2. HSDPA devices should work on a UMTS network, but the reverse is not true.
  3. HSDPA is blazing fast
  4. As with most other wireless systems here in the US, we use different frequencies than other parts of the world. Don’t count on your shiny new phone to work with one of these 3G protocols both at home and in other parts of the world.
  5. If given a choice, pick an HSDPA device.
These conclusions may be a bit off, but I feel that my questions have been answered. I didn’t get into EV-DO, as that is a protocol that isn’t offered by the GSM providers here and thus isn’t an option for me. Cingular is said to be planning to offer the Samsung SGH-ZX20 in the near future. That is looking like a winning option for early adopters and bandwidth freaks.

11:30 PM :: #

[ June 11, 2006 ]

Topeak JoeBlow Pro Floor Pump

If you are in the market for a new bike pump, I highly recommend that you at least take a look at the Topeak JoeBlow Pro Floor Pump. From what I have read on many cycling forum sites, all of the Topeak pumps are excellent, but the JoeBlow Pro is the model I chose. I have never used a pump that was built this well. Granted, I probably haven’t ever spent more than $10 on a bike pump, but now that I have a proper pump, I can’t imagine using anything else.

JoeBlow Pro

8:50 AM :: #

[ February 17, 2006 ]

TV-B-Gone Universal TV Power Remote Control Keychain

Kevin Kelly linked to this great little gadget today, and I couldn’t help but post about it. It’s the TV-B-Gone, a universal TV remote on a keychain. Only this isn’t your average universal remote. It has only one function: to turn off annoying TVs in public places. It’s great for crowded restaurants and other similar places that are noisy enough without the TV blaring in your ears. Oh, and it’s also available in purple.

1:15 PM :: #

[ September 30, 2005 ]

Universal Remote Controls

I have had a Philips Pronto Pro as my main universal remote for a while. The review on RemoteCentral.com, along with many comments in the RemoteCentral forums, identified this as the best consumer remote on the market at the time that I bought it. The remote was excellent at everything, truly exceeding my expectations. It arrived preconfigured to support every device that I own (and more). I was able to setup macros to control multiple devices with the touch of one button. I was even able to configure it to shut off all of the lights in my living room when I wanted to watch a movie.

But with time, I got tired of looking at the passive matrix LCD display. It’s just old technology that really doesn’t have a place in my “technologically advanced” household. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to these things. When I moved a year ago, I never even bothered unpacking the Pronto Pro. Instead, I am using several different remotes now. I have something like five different remotes on the coffee table, each of which can change the volume on the TV. Yes, I know, it’s disgusting.

It seems that there are some new options on the market these days, though. I first start looking into remotes today when I saw Matt Haughey’s post on the Harmony 880. The Harmony 880 is made by Logitech. I typically like their gear. But I’m really not too sure about this one yet. It looks nice, and as Matt entions, it has that TiVo-like peanut shape to it. But how would it stack up to the old Pronto Pro?

Well it turns out that there’s a new Pronto Pro out now. RemoteCentral has a review on it. This is going to be a tough decision. The new Pronto Pro now has a TFT display and more buttons as well. But I have become a bit spoiled by my DirecTiVo’s peanut-shaped remote lately. Time for more research.

12:41 PM :: #

[ September 2, 2005 ]

Magellan Roadmate

Does anyone around here know anything about the Magellan Roadmate 760 GPS? I am thinking about getting one of these. I miss the GPS navigation that I had in a previous car, but factory nav systems are just way too expensive.

This unit seems like a viable alternative to a factory system. But I’m really just wondering what others think about it at this point. Has anyone used a 760?

3:51 PM :: #
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