Wed, Feb 04, 2009 - Page 14 News List

[technology reviews]



It’s a good thing the Apple iPhone is pretty, because its 2-megapixel camera sure won’t help you look good. Griffin Technology is hoping to remedy that.

The company has created the Clarifi iPhone 3G protective case that not only keeps your phone safe from the elements, but also comes equipped with a close-up lens to help you snap more detailed camera shots.

The lens slides into place over the iPhone’s own lens and can let you get as close as 10cm to your subject (do that with the standard iPhone lens and you’ll get a blurry, grainy image).

The new lens can be slid aside if you’re shooting a picture at medium range or farther away. Just be advised: As you zoom in on the details, the Clarifi may also pick up dust and other stray particles (to say nothing of other things best left blurry, like wrinkles and gray hairs), so the company has provided a cleaning cloth for good measure. As for the wrinkles and such, well, isn’t that what Photoshop is for?


It’s time to bury the audio cassette. Actually, it was time to bury the cassette a long time ago. The format is essentially dead, and the cassette tape player is now as obsolete as the Edison wax-cylinder player. But what if you still have a few tapes clattering around in your closet? The Alesis TapeLink USB could wring one last bit of music out of this expired medium.

The TapeLink is a dual cassette deck with a USB plug. You connect to a computer, play a tape and the included software cleans and categorizes the audio automatically. It outputs audio at CD quality — although the audio coming off the tapes might be at lower quality — and includes noise-reduction systems to ensure a clean transfer. It has a list price of US$299, but can be found for less online and at music specialty stores.

The deck works with Macs and PCs and comes with software called SoundSoap SE that will help clean up the audio. The entire system is retro-styled enough to do justice to your collection of road-trip mixes and your prized bootleg from that Terence Trent D’Arby/Level 42 doubleheader.


Sometimes, combining gadgets is a bad idea (Internet-enabled refrigerators come to mind). But every once in a while, something comes along that is, if not inspired, at least a practical and reasonable merger of products.

All-in-one video projectors — an LCD projector joined to a DVD player and speakers — fall into that category. Throw a unit in the back of your car and you have a one-box entertainment center wherever you go — all you need is a white wall and a power outlet.

Epson’s MovieMate 55 projector is one of the latest all-in-ones. At just over 3.6kg, the US$700 MovieMate 55 can project a 60-inch image from 1.8m away or a 120-inch image from 3.7m away.

You can play movies using the onboard progressive-scan DVD player (and control them with the included remote), or through a device connected to the MovieMate via its VGA port. You can also connect an iPod, a Wii, a PlayStation 3 or an Xbox 360. Life-size Rock Band 2 concerts, here we come.


Entering text with a PlayStation controller is one of those weird skills that may soon be obsolete, thanks to the Wireless Keypad for PlayStation 3, available this month from Sony. The tiny keyboard may help the uninitiated avoid the teeth-gnashing tasks of entering passwords for your wireless network or search terms into YouTube or chatting with other players in games like LittleBigPlanet.

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