Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

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What headphones should you get if you wear glasses?

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

If you have prescription eyeglasses and have ever tried wearing over the ear headphones for extended periods of time, you probably know how painful it can get after an hour or more. The headphones will put pressure on your glasses frame, which will dig into your head and create pressure points. This might prevent you from trying over the ear headphones again. However, there is a solution that doesn’t involve switching to in ear headphones.

Let’s assume the standard budget for most people for decent headphones is $50. So which headphones should you get specifically for wearing over your eyeglasses? Koss PortaPro. As you can see in the photo, they are pretty much designed for people who wear glasses. The top foam rests above your glasses frame, while the headphone part itself goes over your ear. The headphones don’t touch your glasses at all (although that might depend on the glasses).

The headphones easily adjust in size to accommodate any head size, and there is a very cool switch on each side that adjusts pressure of the upper part of the foam. There are three pressure levels, and there is a noticeable difference between each pressure. You can distribute the pressure between your head and your ear however you want. This is seriously not a gimmick, it really does make a difference.

The Koss PortaPro headphones have a retro look to them. The style might not be for everyone, but you might grow to like it. The headphones do look better in person than they do in the photos found online. The band that goes over your head has a very nice brushed metallic finish. The headphones fold up very nicely and lock up with a small hook that’s built into the bottom of the head band, right under the top foam part.

Sound quality is awesome on the Koss PortaPro as well. You can find the specs on their website, linked above. The whole sound range sounds really nice. The bass is very good for this type of headphone. Compared to the Sennheiser HD 202 headphones, the Koss PortaPro sound better in pretty much every way. The bass on the Sennheisers might have been a bit louder, but it sounds better on the PortaPros, almost as if less muffled and more clear.

Overall, the Koss PortaPro headphones are an amazing buy for their price. They can be had for around $35 online if you know where to look, such as on Amazon. For this price, if you need headphones that don’t cause pain or discomfort while wearing prescription eyeglasses, look no further. The Koss PortaPro headphones will give you great sound quality, amazing comfort, great price, and a cool retro look. I have had these headphones for about two or three years now, and they have held up great. I have yet to find a better pair of headphones, comfort wise, for wearing with glasses.


Posted in Gadgets, Reviews | 2 Comments »

Home-made pulse laser gun

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

This guy made his own laser pistol that actually works. The gun uses capacitors to create a powerful charge that is then released to a 1MW laser. This is enough to shoot through thin metal. While maybe slightly dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, this seems like a very fun project, complete with the futuristic look. Check out the video:


Posted in Gadgets | 1 Comment »

The 808 Keychain Micro Camera

Friday, October 15th, 2010

If you’ve ever wanted a “spy camera” or a tiny camera for any purpose, now you can get one. The 808 Micro Camera is becoming very popular online right now, for the reason that it costs less than $10. And even at this price, the video results are amazing considering the physical size of the camera and its price.

There is so much information about this little camera that it’s ridiculous. People are using it for every purpose imaginable, from putting it on radio controlled airplanes and helicopters, to race cars, motorcycles, bicycles, helmet cams, and more. The camera is smaller than most car key fob remotes. It produces 640×480 video, although some models convert this to higher resolutions (that makes the video bigger but reduces quality and distorts the aspect ratio). The video quality is relatively very good, as seen on the previously mentioned website. Most models shoot at 30fps, which is also very good considering the size and price of this camera.

The reason this micro camera costs around $10 is that it’s made in China from unused cell phone camera parts. You can find it on eBay, where prices range from $6 to $50. The cheap ones are the same as the expensive ones, and the reason they’re so much cheaper is because they ship direct from China. The previously mentioned website lists some eBay sellers who sell the good version of the camera.

The #3 and #8 camera is the best. All current 9 versions of the 808 camera use different microprocessors and other components. If you want to buy the 808 micro camera, try to get one of these versions. The eBay sellers that sell these models are listed on the website, but don’t count on receiving the right version. I bought three cameras from user “linjiechong” on eBay, who at first said they were #3 cameras. I got all #8 cameras, one of which doesn’t work longer than about 10 seconds, the other takes very choppy and laggy video, and the third one seems to work normally.

The thing is that the 808 micro camera is so cheap that people don’t get too upset when one doesn’t work, they just buy a new camera. For the size and quality of the camera, at this price, it is worth it. I will be using it on a radio controlled helicopter, my motorcycle, and as a helmet cam for my mountain bike. And I’m sure there will be more uses for it as well.

This isn’t a review of the camera, it’s just an informational post to let more people know about it. You can use it in so many ways. The 808 micro camera is a great keychain cam, and if you want something like a helmet cam but don’t want to pay hundreds for something like a GoPro camera, the 808 video camera is the perfect solution. And if you destroy it, it won’t hurt your wallet too much to just buy a new one. If you have an 808 micro camera and have found a cool use for it, post it below.


Posted in Gadgets, Technology | 14 Comments »

How to change an iPod Nano battery

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

This very simple tutorial will show you how to change the battery in a first-generation iPod Nano. It should also work for other models in a general way, even though some steps and parts might be a bit different.

The bare minimum required tools for this job are:

  • replacement battery
  • scissors
  • tape
  • knife

Recommended tools are:

  • replacement battery and prying tool
  • soldering iron
  • wire stripper or scissors
  • utility knife (X-Acto)
  • electrical tape

A note before you begin: this may damage your iPod. You may injure yourself in this process. This will void your warranty. We are not responsible for anything that happens as a result of you following these directions. Use your head.

The purpose of replacing the battery in your iPod Nano by yourself is to avoid the absurd costs of having Apple do it for you. They love to make loads of money replacing batteries, and refuse to implement user-replaceable batteries in their electronics, even though 99% of other MP3 players let you change the battery with the press of a button. Of course, the reason for replacing the battery in the first place is because it can’t hold a charge anymore. All batteries lose their charge over time and won’t recharge anymore. Follow the steps below to replace your iPod Nano first-generation battery. If you have any questions, ask in the comments below.

1. Buy a replacement battery

This should be very easy and inexpensive. If you go on eBay and search for “ipod nano 1st gen battery” you should see what you’re looking for. Make sure the battery you get is for the first generation Nano (or whichever iPod you are using). They are different in physical size and will not fit if you get the wrong version. You also want a higher capacity battery. The stock battery is 340mAh. eBay has batteries that are 400mAh. These will last significantly longer than the stock battery. This battery should cost you around $5 and most come with tools to help open your iPod. I cannot comment on brands of batteries, as most seem generic. Beware of the risk of fire, leakage, explosion, or any other risks that come with all batteries.

2. Pry apart your iPod

Before you take apart your iPod, discharge any static electricity from yourself by touching a metal object. Also, you should put it on Hold so you don’t accidentally turn it on while it’s open. Now.. The first gen iPod Nano is held together by plastic clips which are located on the inside of the case. To open your iPod, you just need to pry apart the plastic front from the chrome rear. You can use the tool provided with the battery, or a dull X-Acto knife (or anything similar). I found the plastic tool to be no better than using a knife. Either way, you might break pieces of plastic off the case and scratch it. As you can see in the photos, my iPod is in such a bad shape cosmetically that I absolutely didn’t care about getting it scratched. Take your time when you pry it open. It might take a while. You might need to use force.

3. Cut the wires

Very carefully pry the battery out of the iPod using your fingernails. Cut the three wires that connect your current battery to the circuit board. Cut as close to the battery as you can. Don’t worry, the extra wire won’t prevent the case from closing.

4. Strip the wires

You need to strip the wires that are connected to the circuit board, assuming the wires on your new battery came stripped from the factory. If you really don’t know what you’re doing, you need to cut the insulation off the wire, but leave the wire itself uncut. You can use a wire stripper, but due to the small size of the wire, I found it much easier to use scissors. Be careful not to rip the wires from the circuit board. If you still can’t figure out how to strip wires, watch a YouTube video or something.

5. Solder the wires

Now time to insert the new battery into the iPod and twist the wires together. Make sure to match the right colors to each other, and do not let any wires from the battery touch any part of the circuit board, or themselves. This will create a short and will fry your iPod. Now, if you don’t have a soldering iron and really don’t want to spend the $20 to buy one, you might be fine just leaving the wires twisted together for this step. However, this has a decent chance of resulting in a loose connection that might come apart for fractions of a second, cutting power to your iPod. Soldering is highly recommended. If you don’t know how, watch some YouTube videos and Google it to learn the proper technique.

6. Tape up the exposed wires

If you want to test your new battery and its connection at this point, you can plug your iPod into your computer. If you do this, be very, very careful not to let the exposed wires touch anything or short anything out.

Now you need to tape up the exposed connections. If you don’t have electrical tape, regular tape should work. Electrical tape is recommended. Wrap each exposed wire individually and make sure all parts are covered well. Then tape all three together to help with straightening them out and making them fit.

7. Put it back together

Make sure the wires are out of the way of the two connectors to the right. Push them as far left as possible, and make sure they are flat against the circuit board like in the photo above. Now carefully put the other half of the iPod Nano case on. Make sure the Hold switch on the iPod is lined up to the position you left it in. This might take some time if you don’t want to scratch your iPod. Be careful not to bend it too much, as it’s much easier to bend without the two sides connected. This might take some force. Just push the two together until the two sides clip onto each other all the way around. If it doesn’t work when you try to turn it on, the battery probably needs to be charged. Plug it into your computer and it should start charging as usual.

And that’s it, you should now have an iPod Nano with a brand new battery, for less than $5.


Posted in Gadgets, Hardware, Tutorials | No Comments »

Apple Releases the iPad, and it’s Just an Oversized iPod Touch

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Where can I even begin? Apple just announced their very own tablet PC. Called the iPad. Let’s start with the name – it’s absolutely terrible. And I’m not even complaining about the stupid “i” scheme. Even iTablet would have been better.

Moving on. This thing is just an oversized iPod Touch. Even the software is almost the same, just on a bigger screen. The screen is 9.7 inches, which is way too big to fit in your pocket, and way too small to type on with both hands. Of course there are no physical keys. And when you type, the giant on-screen keyboard blocks a huge amount of screen.

And then, how do you even type on it? It’s too heavy to hold with one hand and type with the other. You can’t put it on your lap because you won’t see the screen. You can’t put it on a table because you’ll have to look down over the iPad, which will hurt your neck, shoulders, back, etc. The only way you will comfortably be able to type on the iPad is through an external keyboard and a stand for the iPad to prop it up like a normal computer screen. And all of that costs a lot of money if you buy it from Apple.

The screen will get scratched. Where are you going to put the iPad? In your backpack or briefcase. It will get scratched unless you get a cover for it, or protect it very very well. And a cover costs a lot of money coming from Apple.

Speaking of money, the iPad starts at $499. With only 16GB of flash storage. And no real operating system, unless you consider a slightly adjusted cell phone OS an operating system suited for a netbook or laptop. And that also means there’s no flash support. Oh but there’s over 100,000 apps! Well, with a real netbook, there are literally millions of apps.

So what do you get for almost $500? 16GB of storage, a glossy (meaning unreadable with other light sources present) 9.7″ screen that’s only 1024×768 resolution, and a 1GHz Apple processor. There are no USB ports, and Apple doesn’t even state how much memory (RAM) the iPad has.

What did I get with my Acer Aspire One for $314? A 1366×768 screen that’s 11.6 inches, a full sized keyboard, a 1.33GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard drive. It also has USB ports, a camera, and it doesn’t need a case. Where does the iPad beat my Acer? It has a touch screen, an accelerometer, and a compass. Apple claims the iPad has 10 hours of battery life. My Acer claims 8, but can actually do 10. Oh, and I almost forgot, the iPad can’t multitask. You can only do one thing at a time. Amazing.

Now time to wait and watch the Apple fanboys camp out in front of Apple stores to buy this useless giant iPod.


Posted in Desktops & Laptops, Gadgets, News | 5 Comments »

Camera Tip – How to Use Flash When Taking Closeups With a Point-and-Shoot

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Here is a basic technique to use when you want to take a closeup picture of something with a point-and-shoot camera, and have to use the flash.

If you’ve ever tried to take a picture of something too close to the camera with the flash enabled, you would know that a lot of objects reflect the flash. A solution to this is simple. Move back from the object you are trying to photograph, and then zoom in with the camera. This might sound like common sense, but more and more people today lack common sense. But that’s not all – when zooming in, make sure to only zoom using your camera’s optical zoom. You know it’s using optical zoom when you hear or see the lens moving and focusing. It’s using digital zoom when you’re still zooming but it’s not moving or making any more noise. The point in only using optical zoom is image quality – you will most likely get the best quality from a point-and-shoot camera if you do not use digital zoom. And you don’t need to stand that far back from the object anyway. Digital zoom only comes in when you’re out of optical zoom.

When using this zooming technique, try to hold the camera steadier than you would normally. Place it against your chin, stomach, chest, or anything that will allow the camera to shake less in your hands. The picture is more likely to come out blurry if you the camera is shaking while taking a picture zoomed in.

In addition, something else you could try is taking the picture at a slightly different angle. For example, if you’re taking a picture of a piece of paper head-on and it comes out too bright, take a picture of the paper not from head-on (90 degrees) but from something like 75 degrees. This should cause the flash to reflect away from the camera rather than reflect at the camera.

Below is a picture taken using no zoom (about 1-2 feet from the object), and after it is a picture using the “stand back and zoom” technique (using full optical zoom, about 5 feet from the object).


Posted in Gadgets, Multimedia, Tips & Tricks | No Comments »

Apple iPod Nano 4GB – 2nd Generation

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

Apple iPod Nano 4GB – 2nd Generation enables you to create a music library from which you can easily access the songs and hear it again and again. Maintain your own personal DJ playlist and make a favorite playlist where you can store a lot of selectable songs. It has a unique feature called Genius click that helps you select the frequently visited songs. Album art could be viewed through a cover flow feature and it has intuitive and easy to operate control buttons that help choose your song quickly. When you keep pressing the center button, this iPod Nano lets you to browse by artist and albums.

The display screen shows the videos and songs in both landscape and portrait form when you flip over the iPod in any direction. When the right song is reached during search of an artist or albums you can easily add the file to your playlist. It is easy to shuffle through the playlist and move on to the next song. This iPod automatically shuffles your music list in the library when you give it a simple shake. It quickly responds to your touch and lets you freely move and tilt for interactive game play. This iPod Nano is built with special intuitive controls for playing games.

This iPod shows photos with 320 x 240 of display resolution and you can download games from iTunes. It features a 2 inch screen that shows high quality images.

The Apple iPod Nano 4GB is available in 9 different colors and is made with an aluminum body structure with a glass curved design. This Apple iPod 16GB Nano features in-ear headphones with mic and remote. It looks both beautiful and intelligent, and can be carried in your pocket wherever you go.

This iPod Nano has a calendar, volume limiter, Cover Flow, Motion Sensor, Nike with iPod support and is designed with USB 2.0. It features a built-in alarm & stopwatch, digital clock, and shows the battery level using an indicator light. It supports Windows Vista and has 3 hours of recharge time.

Visit iPod Reviews exclusive website for detailed reviews on iPod Nano, iPod shuffle, iPod classic, and iPod Touch.


Posted in Gadgets | No Comments »

DIY Helmet Cam and Shock-Proof, Splash-Proof Camera/Phone Case is Free and Beats the Real Thing

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

I recently made this helmet cam out of parts I had lying around the house. I used packing foam, hot glue, duct tape, velcro, and a piece of plexiglass (acrylic).  I used an X-Acto knife to cut the foam, hot glued it together, and then used duct tape to create a better seal. The plexiglass goes against the camera lens. It’s big and ugly but it works, and it’s free. This was a concept that was made without any plans, so a lot of improvements can be made. But it still works well.

I can mount it to my helmet, handlebars, or almost anywhere you can use two straps to hold it. Since this was a prototype, I made it for my phone instead of my real camera, to test the sturdiness. The phone is an Ericsson P1i, and the quality of the video is better than most $50 helmet cams. Below are pictures of the prototype case and a video of it attached to an RC car. This case offers protection similar to the $30 cases found online or in stores, and with those you most likely won’t find one that you can mount anywhere and have it be compatible with your camera.

The next version will look much nicer, be more compact, more waterproof, and better overall.


Posted in Gadgets | No Comments »

Headphone controls are useful for the new iPod Shuffle

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Apple’s new iPod Shuffle uses controls located on the headphones. Everyone knows that the stock headphones that come with all Apple products aren’t that good. However, is having easier to reach controls worth it? No, but it’s still a great idea.

It is annoying to reach into your pocket every time to you want to pause the music or change the volume. It’s more annoying when you have a bunch of things in your pocket. Having controls on the headphones themselves fixes the problem of reaching into your pocket to take out your iPod. And that is about the only problem with the controls on the iPod itself.

Having fixed the problem of reaching into your pocket, the issue now lies with the quality of the stock iPod headphones. They’re not as bad as the Sandisk Sansa e250 headphones, but they’re pretty bad and a lot of people upgrade them. Having controls on the headphones won’t let people upgrade, and a lot of people are already complaining about this.

However, according to Gizmodo, Apple will sell an adapter for third party headphones. This fixes the controls being in your pocket problem and the bad quality problem. The adapter will most likely cost at least $20, so that might put a few people off. But even with a price tag, it will be worth it to some people. And Apple will never give a free adapter with the Shuffle or any iPod, because it would cost them money.

So while the stock headphones having controls is a not-so-good tradeoff, third party headphones with controls on the headphones will be a great feature of the new iPod Shuffle. No more digging around in your pocket to find the buttons. Good job, Apple.

On a side note, Apple yet again oversimplifies controls and makes the interface complicated for no reason other than looks. (Apple+click, one button mouse, anyone?)


Posted in Gadgets, News, Technology | 2 Comments »

Sandisk Sansa e250 Review

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

The Sandisk Sansa e250 is a budget MP3 player that can be had for under $30 if you know where to look. I got one from Woot.com for $34.99 shipped. I have had this MP3 player for almost eight months.

The build quality of the Sandisk Sansa e250 is good. It has a nice, sleek front cover that doesn’t scratch easily, and a matte dark silver back. Four screws are visible on the back. The scroll wheel on the front has a bright blue backlight. It looks like it’s lit in four places, and it’s not a perfectly even glow. This scroll wheel also wobbles a lot, and is the worst part of the build quality section. Everything else is solid. There is also a voice recorded and a slot for a micro SD card if you want to expand the memory. The stock headphones are terrible and belong in your trash can right away. They are worse than airline headphones.

On the software side, the e250 has a radio, and of course an MP3 player. The MP3 player displays the filenames of the songs, not the embedded artist and song name information like an iPod does. The software is also very buggy. It does not want to turn on a lot of the time, and sometimes it doesn’t turn off. When charging, it often doesn’t charge at all and flashes a low battery warning. Also when charging, the backlight on the screen stays on, which can be annoying if you want to leave it to charge overnight. And if you turn off your computer while charging, the backlight will stay on even though it’s not charging anymore – depleting the whole battery.

The software is terrible, and it makes the whole MP3 player terrible. Of course you can load up some custom firmware and software on it, but this review is for the stock MP3 player since most people won’t be changing software. The interface of the stock software is ugly, buggy, and overall crap. If it wasn’t for the software and the wobbly scroll wheel, I would say this little 2GB Sandisk Sansa e250 is a better buy than my iPod Nano 4GB was. Overall I rate the Sandisk Sansa e250 6.5/10. And this is because of the ultra low price. If you put custom software and firmware on it, along with some decent headphones, it would be 9.5/10. Read reviews, compare cheapest prices of Sandisk, Creative, Archos, Philips and Latest MP4 Players at MP4playerreviews.co.uk.


Posted in Gadgets, Reviews | 1 Comment »

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