iRiver DivX Player, More

You might not be familiar with the iRiver brand of MP3 players, but they’ve earned some good reviews in the last year, mostly for their tiny keychain flash-based MP3 player and the HD player iHP-120 that made it on our x-mas list (but not, unfortunately, actually under the tree).

iRiver’s capitalizing on their success by expanding their product line in a bold way: almost everything in the line is going to have a color display (probably OLED) that doesn’t seem to use much juice. Included in the line-up is the pictured portable DivX player that plays movies from CDR on the 2″ color screen or on a larger TV though video-out. There’s also an HD MP3 player with 2″ color screen, though it’s not clear if it plays DivX. And they’ve got two portable media players with 3.5″ screens — one that’s “Windows Media Center” compatible and one that’s not, the latter being the one you want because it’ll probably play DivX and non-WMA files. Price and release dates as yet unknown, but we’ll keep our eye out.

Looks like we’ve already got something for our x-mas list next year….

T-Mobile Connection Manager

T-Mobile has just released a new connection manager, which makes connecting to T-Mobile WiFi services both easier and more secure. The software is only available for PCs, not handhelds yet, which is a bit of a disappointment. But hopefull that will be changed shortly.

Bluetooth Security For Your PDA

If you’re worried about losing your PDA, you probably secure it with some sort of password. The problem is that you have to enter that password every time you want to use your PDA, which is a big hassle. But if your PDA is equiped with Bluetooth and you’ve got a BT phone as well, you can get NP Security ($20) and the mere proximity of your phone will serve as the password for your PDA. It’s a great idea that I’d like to see taken to laptops and even the door to my apartment — why memorize passwords or carry keys when an encrypted BT signal could do the work? Of course, the program doesn’t do you any good if you lose your phone and your PDA at the same time…

via ClieSource


This is pretty darn cool, and slightly frightening at the same time. Perhaps that’s why they went with the extra-lame name? I’m just waiting for a version in nicer colours to come to my favorite hiking store…

While using a biological module for the complex tasks of route selection, perception, hazard avoidance, and self-maintenance is a great idea (though of course not a new idea), I do wonder what happens if the mechanical musculature loses synch with the biological partners – I hope there are load limiters liberally scattered around! Of course your really don’t want to have a software vulnerability allowing the enemy to rip off your legs at the push of a button either. It’s great to have undergrads in the lab for testing isn’t it?

I’d go for the poster offer, but the model isn’t up to my standards I’m afraid!

Toyota to Make “Mountable” “Trumpet Playing” Robot

I don’t know why it’s the car companies that are leading the personal robotics race, but Toyota’s just announced a set of trumpet playing robots that will serve as assistants to the elderly and infirm. One of them is a “mountable” robot that can carry an adult human. Unfortunately there is no pic of this model, leaving me to wonder if it looks more like some sort of Centaur/Pride scooter hybrid.

The Toyo ‘bots were designed to play musical instruments as well as help people, and according to the press release their lips move with “as much finesse as human lips” which of course makes me wonder what else these robots can do. Play a trumpet? Right. That’s what it was designed for. There’s such a huge demand for trumpet playing robots….

Little ‘Bot Guards Your House, Reads To Your Kids

SK Telecom, Korea’s largest telecom company, and Mostitech have developed a small, wheeled “security pet” that is designed to guard your house with on-board digital cameras and wireless connection to your PC, and through it to your mobile phone. On-board sensors can detect fires and poinsonous gas (handy if you’re living in New Jersey) and upcoming software will allow face recognition. When the ‘bot doesn’t recognize a face, it can snap a pic and sound an alarm.

In addition to the security functions, the company is apparently touting the little ‘bot’s ability to read to your kids and keep an eye on them, which doesn’t seem like a good idea to me — at least until the bugger’s got some arms and a three-law chip. Price is expected to be around $850.

Sony’s Hot New Handset

Sony’s got a nifty little new phone on the way in the Z700. It leaps over the footsteps of the praise-winning T68 and T610, combining a color screen with graphical interface, java support, Bluetooth and an integrated 1.3 megapixel camera (video and pics) that saves to Memory Stick. All of that is crammed into a switch-blade style case — the screen covers the keypad, but rotates out of the way ala the mote v70. Check InfoSync for more pics and specs.

Full PC Power in a Three Inch Cube

Check out this little computer called the T-Cube that runs a 400 MHz processor and 128 megs of RAM. It uses a proprietary OS, and can be used for workstations or internet appliance type functions — at least as far as I can tell from the press release. This appears to be a prototype, so no idea if there is a consumer product that will follow, or at what price.

Super Cheap 20Gb MP3 Player

Deal of the week – the Archos 20 Gb MP3 Recorder, available from Amazon for a scant $130 after mail-in rebate. This player is fully loaded; it records from any source, has USB 2.0 transfer, works as an external hard-drive, supports on-the-fly playlists, and if you’re not happy with the already rich feature set of the Archos, you can upgrade with a freeware ROM replacement that allows you to read text files, supports mid-track resume (important for audio books), extends battery life, plays 8 games and supports 23 languages.

Note: this Archos player is not one that I’ve used myself, but it’s very similar to the Archos Jukebox Multimedia I reviewed favorably a little more than a year ago. My only problem with that unit has been that the battery no longer holds a charge, which seems to be the norm with these sorts of electronics. Luckily, unlike an iPod, the battery is user-replaceable for $50 if it goes out after warranty.