SOME SLEEK WOODEN SPEAKERS FOR YOUR EARS
Students used to go to college with an enormous pair of stereo speakers housed in wood cabinets. Back then, most speaker makers favored wood because it radiated a rich, warm sound.
Now several companies offer wooden earbud headphones, claiming that they recreate that natural resonance for iPods and other portable audio devices. Can it possibly work?
It did in a pair of Rain headphones from Thinksound (US$100, but you can get them for US$59.12 at Amazon). They deliver a balanced, natural resonance that is lacking in many headphones for portable audio players. The Rain earbuds use a 9mm driver and fit snugly in your ear to create passive noise reduction that filters out ambient noise. (Thinksound provides four sets of silicone ear inserts to ensure a good fit for a range of ear sizes.)
The in-ear headphones are quite compact and have a simple, elegant design in two finishes: black chocolate and silver cherry. One of the company’s founders, Aaron Fournier, was previously a lead audio engineer for Tivoli Audio, and the headphones look like portable cousins of the company’s hardwood table radios.
A WII-FRIENDLY DRAWING TOOL FOR THE VERY YOUNG ARTIST
The versatile Wii Remote can be snapped inside a steering wheel or guitar, so why not a graphics tablet? The uDraw GameTablet (US$70) offers a 4-by-6-inch drawing area that children can use with the Wii to draw pictures in charcoal or opaque water colors.
This is no Wacom tablet. There’s a slight lag when splotching paint, and you can’t import digital photos. But you can control things like the opacity of lines and the level of paint drop-off. The tablet, which runs on included uDraw Studio software, lets the artist zoom in to create fine detail.
It exports projects in JPG format to an SD memory card, and there’s a mesmerizing replay feature that reviews paintings, one stroke at a time. So if your children don’t like what’s on TV, they can draw their own.
Planned for release in November, the tablet is part of a series that the game publisher THQ hopes will transform living rooms into artist studios. Two other US$30 titles include Pictionary, where you sketch clues, and Dood’s Big Adventure, where you draw and tilt through game levels.
HOME SECURITY WEBCAMS, AFFORDABLE AND SIMPLE
L ogitech has a line of new home-monitoring Webcams, available next month, that are easy to set up and deliver high-resolution video for a consumer-level camera. The cameras come in two versions — the US$300 Alert 750i Master System for indoor use and the weatherproof US$350 Alert 750e Outdoor Master System. Once the “master” camera is installed, up to five more cameras can be installed at a cost of US$230 each for indoor and US$280 each for outdoor models.
Each camera comes with its own networking kit, which uses existing electrical wiring and outlets to connect the camera to a home network. They require broadband Internet.
The cameras capture video at a resolution of 960 by 720 pixels at a maximum 15 frames a second.
They have motion sensors and dispatch an e-mail alert when they detect activity. The live video, but not recorded events, can be viewed via a secure, and free, Web site. The cameras also have a built-in microphone.
Setup is a simple three-step process. After installation, the camera records video to an included two-gigabyte MicroSD memory card when it senses motion.