Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hammacher Schlemmer Spotlight: Memory Card to DVD Converter

Photo source: Hammacher Schlemmer

Flash memory cards are a normal and plentiful resource with the prevalence of portable technology. Now inexpensive for even high capacity SD cards, we can now take more images and high quality video at this day in age than ever. A way to capture large amounts of treasured or important pictures, it is undesirable to keep digital data on flash memory over a long period of time over concerns contents will be lost. It would also be a thrill to be able to share, copy or archive photos through a means everyone can enjoy it.  Hammacher Schlemmer has a solution for storing and sharing images with little fuss.

The size of a slice of bread, The Memory Card to DVD Photo Converter is a disc recorder device that is set-up for quick and easy transfer from a digital camera or camcorder. Using either a blank CD-R/RW or DVD-R/RW disc, images can be written onto a new media in minutes. Burning at up to 24X speed for CDs and 8X for larger DVDs, The Memory Card to DVD Photo Converter is operated through interaction with a small LCD screen revealing settings as well as writing progress. Since many times the quantity of photos on a digital camera will far out-weigh the capacity of discs, The Memory Card to DVD Photo Converter is configured to automatically divide images across multiple discs.

Operating separate from a computer or other larger electronic device, The Memory Card to DVD Photo Converter portability is an asset to amateur and even professional photographers. The Memory Card To DVD Photo Converter device can easily fit in a purse, briefcase or duffel bag requiring the user to only needs to find a power source.

The Memory Card to DVD Photo Converter is selling for $199.95 through Hammacher Schlemmer.

US Rental Retailers Halted from Spying on Computers

With the price of certain household and personal goods beyond the affordability of many people in a tough economy, rent-to-own stores have provided a savior to individuals as well as families. In many cases requiring just basic information, rent-to-own locations offer customers an item or items under a rental agreement that after a predetermined term payments allow the consumer to claim ownership of the property. While that part of the rent-to-own process has been mostly transparent to customers, many of those in possession of a computer were reportedly the recipients of products that granted secret and invasive access to private, personal information according to the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC). On Tuesday, September 25th, a settlement brokered between a software firm and several rent-to-own clients has put to rest a story of corporate cyber spying.

Acting on complaints, FTC investigated that the rental companies would give tabs on rented computers in the hands of consumers by using a multitude of secretive and deceptive manners. Capturing screenshots of personal information, keylogging (process of recording keyboard strokes) and even turning on the webcam on some devices remotely unannounced to the user were some of the complaints levied as part of a software array called "Detective Mode". The DesignerWare sourced software also included tracking that allowed a device's location to be pinpointed. A final charge also alleged users were lured to register software through bogus registration screens meant to collect personal information.

The secretly embedded software distributed by DesignerWare to several major rent-to-own chains such as ColorTyme, Aspen Way Enterprises, J.A.G. Rents and Showplace Rent-to-Own as well as computers sold through Aaron's locations. The DesignerWare software program installed on rent-to-own computers were also equipped with a so-called "kill switch" that would render the device disabled if found to be stolen or even if a renter failed to make payments. All together, the bundle of secretive DesignerWare software amounted to data collection and tracking. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan stated, "There is no justification for spying on customers. These tactics are offensive invasions of personal privacy."

Through a proposed settlement, DesignerWare and seven rent-to-own franchises will be prohibited from using tracking software without the consent from the customer. The rent-to-own established will also be barred from using the already gathered for the proposes of debt collection. Chairman of the FTC Jon Leibowitz said, "An agreement to rent a computer doesn't give a company license to access consumer's private emails, bank account information, and medical records, or, even worse, webcam photos of people in the privacy of their own home. Leibowitz declared that with the settlement, "The FTC orders today will put an end to their cyber spying."

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sam "the Record Man" Sniderman Passes Away at 92

Known as a driven personality in the Canadian business community, Sam Sniderman push into the marketplace of providing music has made a legend out of the Toronto-born man. Passing away on Sunday at age 92, Sniderman's life is one where he was always in tune with Canada's recording industry.

With his brother Sidney, Sam Sniderman established a radio sales and service store on Toronto's College street in 1929. It would be 1937 when Sam realized the relatively new business of selling record albums. Some reports indicated the entrance into the record business was an attempt to draw the heart of a woman named Eleanor Koldofsky (who later became his wife).

Moving into a new business location on Yonge Street in 1959, that former furniture store would become the flagship for the Sam the Record Man by 1961. As youth-oriented music brought a impressionable group of teenagers to record stores, Sam the Record Man thrived competing heavily the nearby A&A Records store until the mid-1970s. The Yonge street and Gould location for Sam the Record Man would be identified by a giant neon sign featuring two lit discs or records. Behind the spectacle, Sam Sniderman was completely hands-on with his business to the point he personally handled customer complaints. Operating on a business tip presented by his mother, Sniderman maintained fairness and honesty when dealing with the public.

Officially franchising the Sam the Record Man banner in 1969, Sam Sniderman slowly became a part of national Canadian culture as a chain of locations blossomed across the country. By the 1980s, another generation of Canadian young people would frequent not only the Toronto flagship location but others found in stores and malls of other major cities.

Not only a successful Canadian entrepreneur that became a cultural icon for generations of audio connoisseurs, Sam Sniderman was also an activist and supporter of home grown music. His position as the most popular record store in Canada's largest city gave Sniderman considerable leverage to promote the cause of Canadian recording artists. Part of the Federal Cultural Policy Review Committee, a director for the CARAS (Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) and the Mariposa Advisory committee among many other organizations, Sam Sniderman's flair as well as personality helped pave the way for many Canadian musicians to become hit artists (many with albums selling popularly out of Sam the Record Man locations. The result has been a professional and personal relationship with Canadian music. When the CRTC requirements for Canadian music content increased on the radio in 1971, Sniderman noted sales in his iconic store climbing by 25 percent for national performers. One of Sam Sniderman's favourite performers was Anne Murray. Joni Mitchell has spoken praise for Sniderman's contribution to the fight for CanCom regulations that fostered Canadian music for decades following.

After seven decades worth of providing the best of recorded music produced by Canadian and world talents, Sniderman's Sam the Record Man chain stores would diminish as the digital, online music became the new norm for audiophiles. The sign to the Sam the Record Man Yonge and Gould flagship location's ironic sign was lit for the final time on October 4th 2008. Currently, the location is being adapted to a new Student Learning Centre for Ryerson University. Sam Sniderman had received an honorary doctorate from Ryerson in 1997. Attempts were made since the Sam the Record Man Yonge street store's closure to somehow preserve the site and the famous neon sign. Ironically, one of the channels used to protect the building's advertising facade was Facebook (a method modern Canadian artists use to communicate with fans). Extraordinary steps were taken by the city of Toronto to have the sign declared historically protected. Effective in allowing the sign to be preserved initially, recent activity by Ryerson University has left little understanding for how the neon dual discs will return to Yonge street when the new building is completed in 2014. Aside from the dual discs, a Belleville, Ontario Sam the Record Man-brand store in the Quinte Mall remains as symbols of a once-strong Canadian music retailer. 

Beyond the business of music, Sam Sniderman contributed time and resources to the preservation of audio recordings with the University of Toronto. In 1963, along with his then-wife Eleanor Koldofsky, Sniderman donated several recordings to what would turn into a 175,000 item archive for the Faculty of Music Library. Sniderman also served the city of Toronto by being on the attractions committee for the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition). In his little spare time, Sniderman would enjoy Tennis.

Accolades for Sam Sniderman included the Order of Canada in 1976, a 1997 Canadian Country Music Association Hall of Fame induction, and the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award at the 1989 Juno awards. Personally, Sam fathered two sons, Bobby and Jason.

Starting from only dreams, Sam Sniderman developed not only his aspirations but the desires of others. After-all a feat many of us desire in life, Sniderman was many positive things to so many people. With what is certain to be several personal tributes, the character of Sam Sniderman survives the brick and mortars of a Yonge street building. Like the music he helped to proliferate and preserve, his legend will live on!

Holmes, Gillian K., Davidson, Evelyn Who's Who in Canadian Business 2001, pg. 773

Ray, Randy, Kearney, Mark. I Know that Name! pg. 254-255 

The Canadian Encyclopedia, Sam Sniderman

Hammacher Schlemmer Spotlight: The Full Phrase Talking Translator

Photo Source: Hammacher Schlemmer

A desirable companion for the world traveller is possessing the ability to communicate effectively with the residents of way-off lands. While some of us have acquired the skills to master multiple languages to make negotiating exotic locales, hundreds of millions of other tourists and traveling businesspeople could use some help. While translation dictionary and electronic translators have existed for long time, retailer Hammacher Schlemmer has secured a device that is slated to be a cut-above others.

The Phrase Talking Translator is a pocket-sized electronic that can instantly assist in deciphering 30 different languages. With the capacity of 1.8 million words, The Phrase Talking Translator is also equipped with 210,000 common phrases and sentences. Three times more phrases than the previous generation device, this product would enable easier maneuvering through most common travelling scenarios.

The size of a smartphone or most other pocket devices, The Phrase Talking Translator opens up to a 3.75-inch backlit LCD screen and a QWERTY keyboard for easy interaction by the user. Through integrated speakers, the correct pronunciation of words and phrases will prove helpful in navigating unique regions of the world. Beyond the language translation software, a currency converter, world clock, basic and scientific calculator, a voice recorder as well as six games are loaded in the device.

Priced at $249.95, The Phrase Talking Translator could be the ideal device for future globe-trotters in 2013.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Hammacher Schlemmer Spotlight: The Mind Controlled Movie Director

Photo Credit:

A company with origins dating back to 1848, Hammacher Schlemmer was founded as a provider of high quality products that can not be easily found in other stores. One of the first 271 subscribers to Bell Telephone of New York City, the first home delivery parcel service and one of the earlier adopters to on-line shopping in 1986, Hammacher Schlemmer endures despite the influx of large department store chains as well as discount stores that cater to the vast United States consumer population. Hammacher Schlemmer survives and prospers by a continued commitment to bring unusual, obscure yet intriguing products to niche interests. Electric cars, a real-life working replica of the Tron: Legacy Light Cycle and other outlandish items are sold under the Hammacher Schlemmer banner. In recognition of the company's involvement in supplying the marketplace with fun and unique products, I'll happily feature some of the more eye-catching Hammacher Schlemmer items on this blog starting with the Mind Controlled Movie Director.

A device certain to spawn thoughts of science fiction, The Mind Controlled Movie Director actually operates on individual's brainwaves to control pre-programmed interactive movies and games. Through a headset the incorporates electroencephalogram technology, a person's electrical brain signals are translated into control over situation with The Mind Controlled Movie Director. Concentration, relaxation and verbal emotions can affect the outcome of various horror, sports and crime stories. Plot lines and endings are shaped by the signals received from the user's headset.

Used in association with a Mac or PC computer, The Mind Controlled Movie Director also comes with Apps. A pair of arcade games, a brainwave visualizer and meditation journal are included in the $129.95 US device.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Starbucks' Verismo Brings Premium Taste to Single Serve Brewing Machines

Photo Credit: CNW Group/Starbucks Coffee Company

In 1971, Starbucks has become the world's leading coffee chain as it forever turned a simple pick-me-up into a premium buying experience each morning. While a trip to one of their almost 20,000 cafes is a routine for many at some point in a given day, Starbucks has also been setting itself up as a brand as close as a kitchen or pantry cupboard. Selling blends of beans for conventional coffeemakers, the instant coffee market was also filled by the Starbucks VIA brand in recent years. Aside from loose ground coffee and instant blends, the fast-growing single serve market has become the focus of the Starbucks branding. Experts in turning quality coffee into a widely desired consumer good, Starbucks wants to redefine the single serve brewing machine market with the Verismo System by Starbucks.

Derived from Italian for realism, Verismo is the new identity Starbucks wants home or office brewing systems to deliver their blends of coffee from one of two machines. Available right now for $199 in four different colours on the Starbucks on-line store, the 590 (pictured deep down in this article) is designed to introduce customers to a premium coffee drinking experience from a variety of specialized pods. A more expensive $399 V585 machine (pictured above in this article) will also be sold at a later date.

  Described by Starbucks as a "breakthrough" in single serve brewing, the Verismo System is most unique from existing processes for the fact it incorporates high-pressure technology. Using the Swiss-engineered pressurization, the Verismo System brewing machines can produce a high quality cup of latte or espresso coffee.

At first, Starbucks was associated with the Kraft-owned Tassimo single serve coffee system. Starbucks brand coffee was sold in Tassimo discs until early 2011 and soon jumped ship to the leading rival Keurig. Sold since late last year in Keurig K-Cups, Starbucks introduction of their own brewing system is expected to complement the popular single serve choice as well as their VIA instant coffee for consumers. Starbucks president, Channel Development Jeff Hansberry gave proof to the importance of the single serve coffee maker market saying that "Sales of single cup brewers was up 168 percent* this year over last,". Entering a market already ruled by three major players along, Hansberry described the entrance of Verismo System as a winning solution when it comes to quality and technology. "Starbucks is passionate about coffee and passionate about innovation," said Hanberry.

Photo Credit: CNW Group/Starbucks Coffee Company

As before-mentioned, the Verismo System by Starbucks brewing machines will accommodate various pods. Brewed Verismo pods includes Starbucks Roast Spectrum of Blonde, Medium and Dark variety while the signature Espresso Roast will be part of the launch of the new coffeemaker. Milk pods will also be available separately to help coffee drinkers in obtaining the ideal flavour of java-based beverage. In coming months, Starbucks has plans to release seasonal varieties of coffee in the Verismo pods such as Christmas Blend for limited periods.

The Verismo pods are available for purchase on the Starbucks store website and will be sold in Canada through Williams Sonoma retailers in September as well as in Home Outfitters stores early in October. Verismo System by Starbucks pods are being sold in packs that will serve 8-12 beverages depending on the type. Coffee pods ranging between $11.95 to $12.95 in Canadian funds, the Verismo compatible pods will also be present in the Starbucks locations by the middle of October.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Survey Finds 30% of US iPhone Users Damaged Devices in Past Year

Photo Credit: Apple

On Friday, the newest generation of Apple's smartphone will be dropped into the hands of the first eager customers who will drop just under $700 Canadian to navigate the iPhone 5's Retina display touchscreen. With an average 23 Apple iPhone 5s being pre-ordered every second during the first 24 hours, the new device will join a global mobile environment already flooded with earlier iterations of the Apple's handheld that redefined the term 'smartphone' since 2007. While the sale, resale, phone plans and accessory options have conjured up a self-contained Apple economy, there has also been another source where a major dollar figure relates to the iPhone over six generations of acceptance. The number 5.9 billion dollars US is attached to the damage of pricey Apple iPhone devices in the United States alone.

A number compiled through the assistance of comScore estimates by retail warranty supplier SquareTrade (who may have a vested interest in publishing some key figures in respect to one of the most popular smartphone devices on the market) equated the 5.9-billion dollar cost for damaged iPhones to more than twice the amount spent for toilet paper in the United States. The overall cost estimate takes into account repair, replacement and insurance deductibles to Apple iPhone products since first sold in 2007. Damage to Apple iPhone devices is recorded as 10 times more likely than either through loss or theft.

Presenting a snapshot into the life of an Apple iPhone, SquareTrade's survey took a sample group of 2,000 Apple iPhone users and discovered that 30% have stated that their devices have been damaged in a past 12-month period. The most prevalent occurrences for iPhone damage includes being dropped by hand or lap, falling into a body of water (lake, swimming pool or even a toilet), having fluid spilt on the device and being knocked off a table. The survey also revealed that half of iPhone users under the age of 35 years old have encountered a situation the resulted in harm coming to their Apple smartphone device. Since a sizable portion of Apple's market appeals to younger users who like to think their iPhone into risky territories, 50 percent loss for the under-35 demographic is not too much of a surprise.

SquareTrade has also recorded data from users who have chosen to continue operating their Apple iPhone devices even after sustaining harm. 11 percent of survey participants indicate they have proceeded to use their iPhone when the screen was cracked and another 6 percent admitted to taping their devices as a favourable remedy over costly repairs or replacement. These damaged Apple iPhone devices will undoubtedly receive far reduced trade-in prices if accepted at all. On the Ebay Instant Sale site, a fully-functioning 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S with USB connecting cable will garner $310.80 in Canadian funds. If in fair condition but still operational, a Apple iPhone 4S will only fetch $155.40 during a trade-in. Interestingly enough, a non-functioning 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S device in poor condition will still be worth $20.00 to Ebay through the Staples Canada supported Ebay program.

Such as the case with many other cell phone and smartphone devices, the steady aftermarket is devoted to providing accessories capable of protecting against the before-mentioned damage. In the case of SquareTrade, a warranty for an iPhone device allows for a user to easily repair or replace their device. In the United States, SquareTrade offers a 2-year protection plan for $99 and a 3-year warranty for $129. A $50 deductible would also need to be paid when a user files a claim. Damage against an accidental damage to a smartphone device is fairly rare in the marketplace. AppleCare is also in place as an extended warranty for iPhone devices but does not cover damages such as a cracked screen or water.

SquareTrade CMO Ty Shay words in regards to the already $5.9 billion industry was served with a cautionary warning predicting growth in the damaged iPhone economy. "As smart phones continue to improve, they become more tightly integrated into our busy lives leaving them vulnerable to accidents around the clock," said Shay who also expressed intrigue for what the iPhone 5 device with its narrower profile and larger screen will affect the trend.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Nikon Releases Their Lightest, Smallest FX DSLR Camera

Photo Credit: Nikon

For the consideration of professional photographers, Nikon Corporation revealed their latest product designed to be a winning weapon of choice when snapping important pictures. Utilizing the FX-format shooting technology, the Nikon D600 digital SLR camera is advertised as the brand's most compact example to incorporate the their highest quality CMOS sensor.

Constructed with a body weighing just 760 grams, the Nikon D600 lightweight assembly incorporates magnesium alloy for the top and rear covers. Despite being the smallest and lightest DSLR camera Nikon has created in their FX-format lineup, the D600 is outfitted with much of the company's finest technology found in their higher-range cameras. The EXPEED 3 image-processing engine, allows up to highly impressive, 24.3 megapixel images to be snapped at excellent speeds. A Scene Recognition System equipped alongside the Multi-CAM4800 autofocus sensor performs a highly intelligent analysis of images for the best picture. Up to 5.5 frames per second can be captured through the Nikon D600. The Nikon D600 has the ability to capture Full-HD movies up to 1,920 X 1,080/30p. Recording to SDXC or UHS-I compliant SD memory cards, two slots are available for peaceful image and video recording. A 3.2-inch viewfinder, built-in flash, HDMI interface and compatibility with a NIKKOR lenses are highlights of the Nikon D600 camera.

An optional accessory available for use with the Nikon D600 DSLR is the WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter. A technology that allows the D600 camera to be operated remotely by a handheld device running on an Android or Apple iOS. Through a live view display provided through a smartphone or tablet, a photographer can capture photos and have it immediately uploaded to the device allowing for quick postings to blogs or social media sites.

Pricing for the new Nikon D600 DSLR camera is set at $2099.95 US for the body only. A $2,699.95 camera and kit including a NIKKOR 24-85mm VR lens is also posted on the Nikon website.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Apple iPhone 5 Ripens with Several Improvements

Attracting the world to San Francisco, a small cell phone once again becomes a lure for every tech-savvy consumer. Apple Inc gathered media for an announcement for their newest evolution within a marketplace they have grown from newbie to industry benchmark in just a few years. Revealed as the next successor in their line of iPhone products, the Apple iPhone 5 made its public debut.

Not entirely revealing to the naked eye, the differences in the new generation iPhone compared to the iPhone 4S eventually become apparent. 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than the device's predecessor, the Apple iPhone 5 more compact nature does not come at the expense of delivering apps, videos and games. Growing from 3.5 to 4 inches, a new retina display touch screen on the iPhone 5 provides better HD quality viewing for the user of all interactive contact.

As users indulge begin to indulge into the new device, operation of the Apple iPhone 5 has the potential of being a more fulfilling experience than ever. For people living in high-speed 4G LTE areas, the Apple iPhone 5 is now optimized to use the networks for faster download capacities. Conventional WiFi will remain with the Apple iPhone 5  Apple's new A6 chip, the iPhone 5 runs with almost twice the performance of the previous model. An improved battery in the iPhone 5 complements the new processing chip with greater power storage. Up to 8 hours of 4G web browsing is reported to be possible with the new Apple handheld unit.

Other hardware highlights of the iPhone 5 includes the inclusion of 3 microphones and new HD cameras on both sides of the device. On the back, an 8-megapixel featuring a 25 percent smaller size and improved optics will continue to prove popular for high detail photography as well as 1080p HD video with better image stabilization. The ability to create panorama shooting will be a new quirky feature all iPhone 5 users can easily adapt to out-and-about. A forward-facing has been upgraded from VGA to 720p HD quality for crisper images while using video conferencing feature FaceTime.

Another notable change comes with the connecting ports and the peripherals needed to interact with the new Apple iPhone. A "Lightning" connector and cable is said to be more durable and smarter than the connection used on previous iPhone models. An adaptor will be sold to allow the Lightning port to connect with traditional 30-pin Apple compatible items. The Apple EarPods are redesigned for more comfortable, individualized listening.

While some Apple product users are already familiar with IOS 6 platform, the potential of Apple's recently introduced operating system truly comes to life in the iPhone 5. Enhanced Siri software, voice navigation for driving and the ticket and gift card electronic storage solution Passbook are all found inside the new Apple device. For greater personalization and customization, Apple's immense App Store of IOS 6 compatible programs will be open to the iPhone 5.

Going on sale September 21st, pre-ordering of the Apple iPhone 5 starts on September 14th. The Apple iPhone 5 will come in three price ranges dictated by internal storage capacity. With two-year cell phone service activation in the United States, the iPhone 5 16-gigabyte model will start at $199. A 32-gigabyte model at $299 and a 64-gigabyte iPhone 5 at $399. In Canada, the online Apple store is listing the iPhone 5 at a starting price of $699 without a phone plan (price does not specify gigabyte amount). At this time, only Bell Mobility has advertised the new iPhone for sale but Rogers, Fido and Koodo are said to be supporting the upcoming Apple device. The Apple iPhone will be sold with black and white casings.

Apple Inc. has succeeded in keeping some electronic consumers on a product treadmill that consists of buying the latest and greatest technology. Since the first iPhone was released in the United States during 2007, the tactic has worked well for Apple so far. The introduction of the iPhone 5 is expected to maintain the fanatical following. In NASDAQ closing on the day of the iPhone 5 device's unveiling, Apple stock surged up $9.20 to a $669.79 per share price on expectations that the California headquartered company has again created a product that will win over consumers.

Information and photo source: Apple Inc

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sony Reveals New Wave of Professional Grade Cameras

While most consumers have gotten used to the digital camera as something that now fits into our cell phones and tablets, anyone can capture that important personal or family moment. Taking a picture has become a task even a child can perform with the basic point-and-shoot cameras. While the inexpensive and easy picture-taking and video-making devices have proven hot, people making a living in still or motion capturing require higher grade, more capable technology so they can share potentially monumental moments. 

Electronics powerhouse Sony has introduced a slew of new high-end cameras meant to provide greater flexibility options for professional photographers and videographers.

Sony a99 DSLR Camera

Price: $2,800 (body-only)

Sony's flagship DSLR camera, the a99 is described as providing peak performance for recording a combination of photo and video. Constructed with magnesium alloy panels for durability and lightness, the Sony a99 DSLR incorporates Translucent Mirror Technology that eliminates the moving mirror previously used for full-frame imaging. Equipped with XGA OLED Tru-Finder viewfinder technology, the Sony a99 camera can crisply balance brightness, contrast and clarity as well as maintain a 100% field of view with DT lenses.

The Sony a99 camera 24.3 effective megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor joins the BIONZ image processing engine that is capable of handling a sizable amount of data. The a99 is able to record up to 6 still shots per second in burst mode at high level resolution. In Tele-zoom high speed shooting mode, the Sony a99 can capture 10 frames per second. Providing a full range of automatic and manual settings for still shots, the a99 also set for providing Full HD 60p/24p progressive video recording.

The Sony a99 is designed to optimize the SDXS memory cards allowing readable data transfer speeds up to 94 megabytes per second.

Sony NEX-VG900 Handycam Camcorder

Price: $3,300 US (Body-only)

Advertised as the "World's First 35mm Full-Frame Handycam Camcorder" by Sony, the NEX-VG900 is created to unleash creative potential of semi-professional filmmakers.

Utilizing a Exmor CMOS sensor (a technology 40 times larger than the equivalent sensor found in typical consumer camcorders), the Sony NEX-VG900 Handycam Camcorder captures still images at a 24.3 megapixel resolution. Supplying film-like video, the NEX-VG900 Handycam Camcorder is packed with numerous modes for Full HD quality picture in 60p or 24p frame rates. Automated and manually operated settings assures a professional level of work is produced from this latest Sony product. Along with superior picture quality, Sony has provided a Quad Capsule Spatial Array Microphone on the NEX-VG900 Handycam Camcorder that allows support for 5.1 surround sound.

A seesaw lever and the adaptability for fit a wide range of interchangeable lenses will make the Nex-VG900 Handycam Camcorder a valuable piece of motion picture production. The NEX Series of camcorders are designed to use Sony's Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo HX Series of storage.

Sony NEX-VG30H/VG30 Handycam Camcorder

Price: NEX-VG30- $1,800 US (Body-only), NEX-VG30H- $2,700 US

A little less sophisticated than the NEX-VG900 Handycam, the NEX-VG30H and NEX-VG30 camcorders has been created to incorporated many of the same professional film-making features. Also capable of shooting Full HD, the base model NEX-VG30 and better equipped NEX-VG30H Handycam models incorporate a 16.1 megapixel resolutions for capturing detailed still shots. The NEX-VG30H comes with a SELP-18200 E PZ 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 Power Zoom lens that makes anything from wide angle to telephoto shots achievable.

Sony Cyber-shot RX1 Compact Digital Camera 

Price: $2,800 US

A 24.3 megapixel compact camera, the Sony Cyber-shot RX1 is a powerful image capturing device featured with a small palm-sized body. Capable of taking 35mm full-frame image quality, the Cyper-shot RX1 camera includes Pixel Super Resolution digital zoom technology as one piece of software suited for creating professional still pictures. A Carl Zeiss-brand lens is added to the Cyper-shot RX1 digital camera allowing a photographer to take splendid shots in a variety of indoor and outdoor environments. With a full array of automatic and manual adjustments available for photogs with the Cyper-shot RX1, the camera also includes 13 Creative Styles meant to fine-tune an image to near perfection.

Primarily a still shot digital camera, the Sony Cyber-shot RX1 is also effect for taking Full HD video.

Sony NEX-6 Camera

Price: $850 US

Designed to provide a full DSLR experience in a compact camera, the Sony NEX-6 digital camera is a considerably well loaded image-capturing device guaranteed to win over some professional photographers. Featuring a Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor allowing up to 16.1 megapixel pictures to be snapped, the Sony NEX-6 also supplies Wi-Fi capabilities as well as access to the recently-introduced PlayMemories Camera Apps platform. A set of free apps, the PlayMemories Mobile programs can allow photos to be directly uploaded to popular social media sites including Facebook. The NEX-6's 3-inch Xtra Fine LCD display can pivot to a 90-degree or 45-degree down angle so photographers can easily identify when the right shot can be taken.

The Sony NEX-6 digital camera can also be ordered for $1,000 equipped with the compact SELP1650 power zoom lens.

Information and Photo Source: Sony Electronics

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tablets R Us: Major US Toy Retailer Introduces Tabeo

Photo Credit: Toys "R" Us

With September barely two weeks old, the month has featured a greatest rollout of tablet computer hardware for a last time. Started with the new Sony Xperia tablet, Kobo and Amazon also revealed some major improvements to delivering mobile content to consumers. Much of the focus placed on the teen and adult market of portable technology, major retailer Toys “R” Us has announced the Tabeo as a young kid-centric tablet.

Not the first concept in kid-friendly tablets, the Toys “R” Us backed Tabeo is a high functioning device. Controlled through a 7-inch touch screen, the Wi-Fi enabled Tabeo is equipped with a built-in speaker, microphone and camera. Running on the Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” operating system, a child is actually interacting with a tablet similar to want parents utilize in more adult-like computing. In the case of the Tabeo, a range of parental controls is built into the software to restrict online access. Standard equipped with a 4-gigabyte internal hardware, the Tabeo’s memory is expandable up to 32 gigabytes using micro SDHC cards. While unclear by the photos, it would be desirable that some kind of childproofing would be put into place in order to prevent a young boy or girl from coming into contact alone with the tiny memory card.

Through 50 preloaded apps and the ability to upload over 7,000 free child appropriate programs through an App Store, Tabeo is capable is providing a wide span of educational and entertainment solutions to a child. Games such as Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and Tiki Golf are some of the more carefree playing experiences preloaded on the Tabeo. As a more educationally engaging interaction, the Tabeo provides several apps to help children gain familiarity with counting and the alphabet. Kids can also explore their inspiring shutterbug abilities with the Camera App and built-in photo editing capabilities of the tablet. The Tabeo has the ability to view several formats of still as well as video files including those presented at 1080p. The tablet also functions as an ereader with iStorybooks, Candy Factory and Little Red Riding Hood included as an introductory library ideal for bedtime.
Photo Credit: Toys "R" Us

When this announcement came for this latest tablet for children, the moment caused me to recall my childhood spent with a Whiz Kid computer. Less than sophisticated than any computer device any age group is used to more than 20 years later, I did remember spending quite a bit of time with the educational cards containing various programs. Another thing I recalled about my Whiz Kid was my constant dependence on my parents to get me more batteries. In the case of the Tabeo, a lithium ion battery can provide up to 7 hours of enjoyment for a child (more than enough for extended Car rides). The device is rechargeable by a USB power adapter.

Set to hit United States based Toys “R” Us stores for October 21st, parents can pre-order the device right now for $149.99. There appears to be no plans to introduce the Tabeo tablet to Canadian stores.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kobo Introduces New eReader Family

Photo Source: PRNewsFoto/Kobo

Just in time as children go back to school and college students hit the books on their path to a future in Canada, electronic reading solution company Kobo debuts a diverse line of products positioned to win over many demographics. Referred by the company as the "New Kobo Family", the new array gives buyers a varying choice ranging from basic eReaders to more sophisticated tablet computers. 

Three of the four products in the Kobo family focuses bear strictly on the eReader bases which is attractive in both pricing and simplicity for a sizable population. Named the #1 eReader in 2012 by Wired, the touch-screen model of the Kobo continues to be popular. Priced at $99.99, the Kobo Touch is Wi-Fi enabled for immediate uploads of books with a maximum capacity ranging up to 30,000 literary works. The Kobo Touch will feature upgraded software to allow digital readers to better experience their literary enjoyment.

Two completely new products sold by Kobo are some of the smallest, lightest examples of the company's eReader platforms. Compared to the Kobo Touch's 7-inch screen, the Kobo Mini will offer just a 5-inch screen. Kobo advertises their new Mini as the most compact eReader currently available with full-featured E Ink. Even though the Kobo Mini screen is 5 inches, the E Ink insures a no-glare reading experience almost exactly like viewing print on paper. Designed to be small effort to fit easily into a backpack, purse or even pocket, the Kobo Mini can provide a most portable reading experience of up to 1,000 ebooks. Going on sale October 1st, the Kobo Mini will sell for $79.99 available in three sharp colours.

A 6-inch eReader called the Kobo Glo is also a new addition to the product line-up of the company. As could be disseminated from the model name, the Kobo Glo has been created to address the downside of some eReaders. Incorporating ComfortLight technology, the Kobo Glo can be read in dark making it comfortable for reading in a room with low light or when relaxing in bed ahead of a good night's rest. The Kobo Glo includes E Ink, customizable fonts as well as Wi-Fi technology for a simple, easily adaptable reading experience for new eReader customers. Priced at $129.99 when placed on sale at the start of October, there will be a total of five colours offered for the casing of the Kobo Glo including black, white and three stylish shades.      

The most premium product of the Kobo Family is the source of some great improvement as they compete in the super-hot tablet computer market. The Android-based tablet Kobo had sold as the Vox is heavily upgraded and renamed the Arc. Adding a built-in microphone and a 1.3 megapixel camera, the Kobo Arc runs on the Android 4.0 operating system. Beyond books, television shows, movies, music and a full Internet surfing experience is presented through the Kobo Arc's 7-inch high definition display capable of showing up to 16 million colours. The Kobo Arc also presents the Google Play app community to users allowing access to over 600,000 Android-created apps. Twitter, Facebook, Zinio and PressReader are names of a few well-known apps available on the Kobo Arc. Containing a more enduring battery over its predecessor, maximum life for the Arc ranges up to 10 hours (a 3-hour improvement over the Vox). Available in November just in time for holiday shopping, the Kobo Arc will feature an 8-gigabyte model for $199.99 and a 16-gigabyte choice for $249.99.

The Kobo family of eReaders and the Arc tablet computer can access a diverse ebookstore of almost 3 million titles available in nearly 60 languages.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Canadians Consumed Growing Amount of Media in 2011: CRTC Report

Photo Credit: CNW Group/BELL ALIANT INC.

As citizens of a massive land mass separated by hills, mountains the occasional waterway, Canadians have existed in a society that historically connects us through extraordinary means. From the Canadian Pacific Railway constructed through the late 19th century, the 20th century embraced wide telecommunication and broadcasting networks that integrated a country that could have otherwise been isolated by geographic separation. Combined with Canada's typically trying weather during the winter seasons, the allure of media content has allowed Canadians spanning across age groups to explore and surrender a few hours. According to a recently-published annual report by government-supported regulator CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission), 2011 tends to indicate English as well as French speaking Canadians have realized an increased amount of content across radio, television, Internet and mobile platforms. 
While a pop song once popularized the phrase "Video Killed the Radio Star", the "Spirit of Radio" (perhaps not unlike the one Canadian rock band Rush sang about in 1980) remains a part of 21st century life in Canada. In 2011, the CRTC has computed the average Canadian listened to 17.7 hours of radio per week. A slight increase from the previous year, it is possible some listening is incidental in restaurants and stores.

In terms of Canadian viewing habits with television, the appetite remains strong for so-called "Couch Potatoes". In 2011, the average Canadian television viewer watched 28.5 hours of content (up from 28 hours in 2010). Despite the increase access to on-line sources for entertainment and information, improvements to television content delivery such as video-on-demand as well as digital cable has kept the medium popular among media consumers in Canada. While the average subscription cost has increased by $2.13 per month in 2011 compared to the previous year, paid television remains a popular option. With 11.8 million Canadians subscribed to television broadcast services, cable leads over satellite accounting for 70 percent in the category compared to 24 percent. The CRTC also notes a 6 percent present of telephone line-based television content delivery.

A source for decades, radio and television have been sharing an increasing amount of the media landscape with forms of new digital media. Through digital media, consumption along English-language Canada has shown a remarkable raise in 2011 over the previous year. Rating the average Canadian spending 18.2 hours a week engaging in digital media content during 2011, it is almost an increase of a full hour from 2010. Average French language Canadian spent 13.1 hours a week with digital media content.

CNW Group/Bell Canada

When it comes to experiencing the Internet at home, 78 percent of Canadians have a subscription to the vast virtual world that stretch beyond the country's borders. Of those customers of Internet, 54 percent utilize connections that involve a minimum of 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps) Internet download speeds. In 2011, the typical Canadian watched 2.8 hours of Internet television content per week according to the annual report from the Canadian telecommunications regulator. The CRTC has also realized that a modest 4 percent of the Canadian public now absorb content exclusively through on-line sources. Music streaming through radio or as downloadable content is also recorded as modest. English-speaking Canadians usage was accounted at 22 percent while 17 percent French-speaking users in the country utilize the Internet for accessing music or other audio programs.

The annual report of 2011 also recognized the smartphone and tablet technology many Canadians have been embracing more each year. Accounting that 38% of Canadians use a smartphone and 10% had a tablet computer at the time of the study, the CRTC identified the smaller devices as possessing a smaller piece of the media puzzle. With only 4 percent of Canadians watched television on tablets and 3 percent watched the similar content on smartphones. With the rapid advance of technology, the data for smartphones and tablets is more than likely set for an increase within annual reports going forward.

Showing that no single platform is ultimately conquering Canada's media spectrum, radio, television and new media should paint a diverse culture for citizens to absorb content. The CRTC annual report for 2011 also makes several mentions of enhanced technologies (LTE and over 5 Mbps Internet) that should insure the sprawling of the landscape could be as ambitious as the far-reaching lands we have built a country.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Stream TV Networks Reveal New Technology for Super HD 3D

A concept marketed since the 1950s, 3D viewing of motion picture content has been largely restricted to B-rated movies. Having the potential of presenting an immerse experience, the use of 3D technology had been long regarded as a novelty. Most cases, 3D would be added to a product that could typically be lacking other redeeming qualities. However, the perception changed through the introduction of the James Cameron blockbuster Avatar in threaters during 2009 that combined high quality 3D with an engaging, well-produced story. Since then, several media companies believed that the consumer market was ready to embrace more 3D experiences. Sadly, the charm of 3D has been poorly delivered to consumers in general with inconsistent fostering of the technology. First high prices of 3D-utilized home electronics, the more pressing issue was the overall quality of 3D content. At the Berlin IFA electronics exhibition, Stream TV Networks Incorporated has shown off a remarkable advancement in home and personal 3D that could increase the prevalence of viewing.

The Stream TV Networks' Ultra-D 2160p technology incorporates extremely high resolution to deliver 3D without the need of special viewing glasses. Improved high definition 3D made possible through what Stream TV Networks deem as a "ground breaking algorithm", the proprietary Ultra-D product allows consumers to view existing content at a resolution between a boosted range of 1080p and 2160p. Performing in conjunction with the SeeCube Auto Converter box, a user-controlled 3D experience provides a picture lacking of distortions and other restrictions that limited previous generation 3D viewing.

Making the Stream TV Networks' Ultra-D system particularly eye catching is a range of exclusive technology that permits the compatibility with various forms of media such as cable and satellite TV, Blu-Ray as well as downloadable content through Xbox, Apple iTunes, YouTube and Netflix. Along with accepting a wide assortment of media formats, the Ultra-D has the ability to operative on many viewing sources. Ultra-D technology will first be available in 42-inch and 46-inch LED television sets but the potential of integrating the 3D viewing system in larger displays as well as tablets and smartphones is said to be upcoming.

Along with the optimized 3D technology, Stream TV Networks proposes a standard for under-serviced native 4K (an ultra-high resolution setup) for which developers of future content can employ. Seeing their Ultra-D technology not only as being an advantage for consumers wanting a premium 3D threater experience, Stream TV Network is eager to have medical, military and other industrial parties see the potential in high quality three-dimensional viewing technology.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sony Reveals New Xperia Devices; Includes Large Screen Tablet

Photo Source: Sony Xperia

Integrated into many of our lifestyles, handheld electronic devices is well-known as a fast-growing, constantly evolving segment of the consumer marketplace. A supreme innovator in the present portable computer evolution, Apple with their iPhone and iPad products have acclimatized a majority to small, web-connected devices. Competitors in the personal electronics arena have been angling to take a bite out of the apple in the eye of consumers. Showcased at the ongoing IFA electronics show in Berlin, Germany, Sony revealed a new line of their Xperia series mobile devices.

Among the devices featured by Sony is the Xperia T and Xperia V smartphones sporting a new level of technological sophistication to the hands of mobile phone viewers. Featuring 13 megapixel rear-facing cameras with the capability of capturing full HD video and up to 7 hours of battery life, the two new Xperia smartphones offer a high level of infotainment enjoyment. The Sony Xperia T is controlled through a 4.6-inch HD display and offers a 720p quality front-facing camera. User of the Sony Xperia T also find the availability of viewing content on a larger television display through the use of MHL connectivity. With the 4.3-inch  Xperia V smartphone, the super-fast data download of LTE networks is offered. The Xperia T and Xperia V devices both perform on the Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich operating systems when launched. An update to the upcoming Android 4.1 OS (codenamed Jelly Bean) is built into the new Sony devices.

Photo source: Sony Xperia

Another smartphone choice exhibited by Sony at IFA includes the 4-inch Xperia J. Available in black, gold, white and pink colour plates, the Sony Xperia J are equipped to be a more affordable option that still features effective social media interaction. A 5-megapixel camera is found on the rear of the Xperia J smartphone while a VGA quality camera is front facing. All three Xperia smartphones include Sony's WALKMAN application, Google Play, Google Maps and Bluetooth connectivity.

A fighter against the iPad and the large screen Samsung Galaxy tablets, Sony is launching the Xperia Tablet S. Navigated through a 9.4-inch HD display splash-proof screen, the Xperia Tablet S delivers the advantages of a Android 4.0.3 operating system through the NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor hardware. IR remote control allows the user of the Xperia Tablet S device to operate home televisions and DVD players from Sony as well as other brands. Scheduled for release in early September in the United States and Canada, the 16 gigabyte version of the Xperia Tablet S will sell for $399.99 while the 64 gigabyte model will cost $499.99.

In regards to the eventual availability of these products, the Sony website for the Canadian market shows all of the new Xperia devices. However, the United States Sony webpage only shows the Xperia Tablet S listed. A upcoming model called the Sony Xperia acro S appears to integrate the features of the Xperia T and V devices.

Below is the 60-second commercial Sony has released for the Xperia Tablet S.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Arie Luyendyk Jr Turns Down "The Bachelor" for Racing Return

From May to late July of this year on ABC television, viewing audiences of the Bachelorette abroad were able to familiarize themselves with Arie Luyendyk Jr. The son to the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, Luyendyk Jr was determined to follow his father's footsteps to greatness at the Brickyard. Finishing 2nd overall in the Infiniti Pro Series (now known as the Firestone Indy Lights Series) in 2002, Arie Luyendyk Jr's career hit the glass ceiling separating so many drivers from the major IZOD INDYCAR Series. While he finished runner-up in the quest for love, a new sponsorship deal announced late Friday allows Luyendyk Jr to reconnect with his new love of motorsports.

Cementing racing plans for the 2013 season, Arie Luyendyk Jr has joined forces with media technology solutions company XYQ Inc. for a full 2013 auto racing calender. First, he will co-drive at the January 27th Rolex 24 of Daytona in a Michael Shank Racing sports car. After the sports car event, Luyendyk Jr will compete in the IZOD INDYCAR Series with XYQ Inc. support. "The entire business of sports and entertainment creation has evolved. Professional athletes require a new kind of digital-savvy management company – one that can oversee all points of engagement with their fans. Arie Jr. embodies the future of racing, sports and media. We could not be more excited about working with Arie." said John Marcum, CEO of XYQ, Inc.

This renewed focus on auto racing for Arie Luyendyk Jr has led to a decision relating to the ABC relationship reality show. The leading candidate to become the Bachelor where he would search for his true love from a number of contestants, Luyendyk Jr has chosen to decline any participation with the show. During his time spent on the Bachelorette, Arie Luyendyk Jr said to have rediscovered his connection to the passion of racing cars. "ultimately, I realized my heart is tied to the race track and my career is my main priority" said Luyendyk Jr. The 30 year-old Dutchman has not ruled out future involvement in broadcasts.