Will the iPad blend?

Blendtec’s blenders cost a little fortune, but we’re more than willing to spend an extra marketing dollar for all the great “Will it blend?” series videos those folks keep delivering. They blended hockey pucks, a laser pointers, Money clips – and above all plenty of Apple products. Following in the footsteps of the iPhone (both 1st edition and 3G) and the iPod, this time the newest geek-gadget aka the iPad undergoes the crush-test. Of course it won’t withstand:

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How to convert and upload PDF-files to the Amazon Kindle for free

GermanThis posting is also available in German.

After reading Max’ rather euphoric review about the new Amazon Kindle 2 ebook reader, I also ordered the international version of the always-on e-ink reader. The hardware is pretty okay for this price (around €200), so I was willing to put my fear of proprietary DRM-systems aside for once. Today UPS delivered my device, but the initial happiness about the hardware wouldn’t last too long – to be exact, it abruptly ended when I found out there is no way to view PDF-files on the Kindle. After a little online research I discovered an acceptable workflow to upload my PDF-ebooks to the reader: MobiPocket Creator, a free ebook conversion software, turns PDF-files into PCRs, which can be organized and displayed with the Kindle.

Amazon Kindle

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Viral Clip for the new HTC Magic

The second Google Android phone comes without any keyboard – after the rather disastrous hardware of the G1, HTC/Google decided to go with iPhone touchscreen hype. But unlike Apples geek gadget android can run multiple applications at once, also known as multitasking. This viral clip targeting the British market is quite funny, yet still I’m not impressed: using windows mobile on HTC hardware I’ve been enjoying these kinds of perks for quite some while now:

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Unboxing: HP Deskjet 8500 Pro

Last week HP Austria sent me one of their multipurpose-flagships for testing purposes. Since five days the one they call 8500 thrones amidst my other hardware, ever-obiently serving scans and various kinds of prints. Whatever Deskjet-printer feature you’ve ever read about, this huge box packs all the heat: automatic duplex prints, a touch screen display, LAN- and WLAN-integration and much more. HP says it’s a real ink-saver, too, but since the headquarters of datadirt media group have become a paperless office long ago, I lack comparison.

The Deskjet 3500 comes with four separate ink slots and a sticker on top of the printer claims that the “cost per page and energy use are 50% less than lasers”, but your average customer has probably by now learned the lesson “don’t believe product stickers, especially when they come with a footnote” the hard way by now. But still, there are factors which can be measured by an amateur like me: speed, print quality, usability – there’s one thing I didn’t test though and that’s the fax capabilities. Running a paperless office, I’m not much of a fax-guy either, but if you’re into fax-machines (in a non-vindictive way), this is probably a cool one.

And if size does matter, this device rocks almost any other home-office printer I’ve seen. I’m not sure though about the kind of customers HP is targeting with this machine: for really huge offices a laser printer is definitely a faster choice, while for a small home office this huge monument of HP entrepreneurship might seem a little oversized. And it’s really loud, too, so if you’re printing a lot, you don’t want to put it anywhere near your desk.

And that’s the part where the WLAN might come in handy: the installation is done in a couple of moments via the touch screen-display. The HP “solution disk” is one behemoth of a driver-setup. In my case, the ESET Smart Security didn’t play along well with HP’s software. To cut a long story short: even though the installation routine advised me to set my firewall to “rule based” (which is the mode I use anyways) and grant Mr. 8500 all access, it just wouldn’t work out. The installation routine stopped, the second time around I disabled all security features and was able to install (and use) the printer. But here comes the tricky part: since my firewall wouldn’t pop a the rules wizard, I was instructed to manually add a rule for a certain UDP port which I wasn’t able to do properly. So like a true myth-buster I smiled danger in the face and knew that from now on it was either security or printed paper.

Apart from this little firewall incident, everything worked just fine – in duplex mode, it took about 7 minutes to print an 80-page eBook, and photos printed on HPs inkjet paper looked great. But even though the idea of having all those possibilities at my fingertips does sound tempting, I wouldn’t buy the 8500 Wireless: I have never ever in my whole digital life used any direct-printing functions from USB-sticks or cards (yes, everything’s on board), I don’t need a copier and I never send a fax. In this kind of usage scenario, the fancy touch screen becomes extremely obsolete once the WLAN connection is set up and working. Status messages might as well be delivered via driver and pop up on the screen. On Amazon, the little brother named Hewlett-Packard OfficeJet Pro 8500 costs about €250 (without WLAN and touch screen), while the price of the version I tested is €100 higher. But both printers have the same cover on their blank paper case – and this construction doesn’t look too sturdy at all. Especially under harsh daily office wars conditions this might turn into an annoyance, but unfortunately I have no means of recreating test conditions like two public relations assistants fighting over who gets to pick up their Google SERP page prints first. While the Deskjet Pro 8500 might be a good choice for medium-sized offices, I’d prefer an A3 printer with WLAN and a bigger scan area. So luckily, it’s not going to be that hard to part when I send the printer back to HP next week.

Best/worst gadget: Carnival elongation till 31st of January

6fireAbout two weeks ago I started a blog carnival on the Best and worst gadget of 2008. Since a couple of bloggers didn’t yet have time to finish their entries, I’m extending the deadline: the carnival now ends on the 31st of January. So if you want to come aboard, you can enter your posting until next Saturday. Obviously, not everything that glitters is gold – or even silver. But let’s face it: the web 2.0 revolution has turned us all into beta-testers. But geeks usually love do-it-yourself attitudes anyways :mrgreen:

Thanks to everybody who has already entered a posting – I’m looking forward to the rest of the entries, next week I’m going to publish the results. This blog carnival will be held yearly in the month of January; after all, gadgets are geeks’ favorite toys. And since first-generation-users are very likely to become beta-testers, there’ll be plenty stories to tell.

T-Mobile G1: Android Insights

T-Mobile G1 Android Google PhoneLuckily, I’m a member of the selected few bloggers who got one of the first T-Mobile G1 phones here Austria. While the device is already available in Great Britain and the UK, the market launch in Austria will take place in 2009, but there’s no specific date yet. During the next weeks I’ll blog about my experiences with this new geek toy – for starters, here’s an unboxing-video:

The first thing that comes to mind is a comparison with the iPhone – but I must say quite frankly that I could never use this phone, as it the lacks the keyboard I need though badly. That’s why I’m currently using a T-Mobile HTC MDA, which suits my mobile e-mailing needs much better. Luckily, the G1 has a built-in keyboard as well (the hardware is actually manufactured by HTC) which works quite well. Google doesn’t focus on entertainment, there’s only 256MB of built-in memory – it’s all about the operating system: Android is open source software. Instead of implementing a “single-point-of-software-sale” model (hello iStore), big G is relying on the creativity of the developer community. The number of available apps is quite low, since the device is so new – but this will probably change rapidly. I’m positively surprised on first impression, but I have yet do sync the device with my pc and try some apps.

One phone to bind them all

mobileblogger.at will go online soon – all postings will be aggregated on this site, and while most bloggers run German sites, there will also be some English reviews. Max, Michi, Luca, Peter, Helge, Robert, Martin, Georg and me got our phones yesterday. The official Feature-PDF is available on at T-Mobile US, I’m looking forwarding to testing the G1 under real live conditions – of course I’ll keep you updated.

Blog-Carnival: Best and worst gadget 2008

6fireA new year has just started and I’m happy to invite all my readers to datadirt’s first blog carnival: I’m curious about the new hardware you bought during the last year. Which shiny piece of technology is your favorite gadget, and which not-so-shiny one disappointed you? Feed the inner geek, write about satisfaction and disappointment. I’m sure that most of my readers experienced both scenarios, so let’s just share them and spread the knowledge :mrgreen:

Note: This carnival is also available in German on datenschmutz.net

This blog has received a nice 5 during the recent page rank update, so I’m more than happy to give some link juice back. The entrance is wide open: chose anything that might qualify as a “gadget”.

Rules: There are no rules – except for the fact that I will list all entries on this blog when the carnival is over, so please keep me updated about your entries either via trackback or via comment. The best/worst gadget 2008 blog carnival starts today, 12th of January, and ends in two weeks on Sunday the 25th of January.

I’m really looking forward to your entries – here’s my best and worst gadget selection:

My favorite gadget of 2008: Terratec 6fire USB

I’m quite satisfied with my new Samsung syncmaster screens, I love my Energy CB20 speakers and there’s plenty more gadgets that come to my mind. But there’s definitely a highlight: my new external soundcard Terratec 6fire USB is perfectly equipped for my needs and offers excellent sound quality. 6 analogue ins plus 6 outs in combination with the XLR microphone plug (including a switch for 48V phantom voltage for studio mics) guarantee versatility for all home-studio and podcasting needs.

The driver is stable (I’m running Vista64), the ASIO-latency is extremely low and the simple yet powerful software allows free routing of all available channels. Very good value for money – at Amazon, the soundcard ships for about 200 Euros. I don’t dub my vinyl, but thanks to the routing-per-channel features the 6Fire easily qualifies for digital djs and home-producers. Cinema freaks don’t need to switch soundcards, there’s a digital 5.1 out as well.

My worst gadget of 2008: Logitech Z-10 speaker system

z10Combining amplified speakers with a slick and elegant touch-screen display sounds like a brilliant idea – in theory. But I do not even want to know about the fun Logitech’s engineers had when declaring this piece of unfinished work: “Hey, we know that the touch-screen is not working well – who cares? There is not API or software anyways.” But that’s not even the worst part: the speakers use USB to transmit music, which is not such a bad idea after all for laptop use, but the big big problem is this: as soon as the speakers are connected, every kind of internal or external soundcard is deactivated. Now ain’t that great? I tried using the line-in, which renders all the additional touch screen functions useless and decreases the sound quality quite much. Since the product is way too heavy to qualify as a mobile laptop speaker, there’s not much us for the Z-10 in my opinion. The sound is not that bad for speakers of this size – but the money is much better spent on a pair of JBL control speakers.

But now for your gadget-stories of 2008. Looking forward to your postings!

Do you need a new coffee table?

This one ain’t exactly cheap, but it will definitely impress any visitor, from casual mobile-user to alpha-geek: Microsoft built the “Surface” Hardware, an innovative touchscreen (which actually isn’t a touchscreen but uses five cameras to track visual input) that allows for a unique user interface experience. But hardware is pretty boring with proper applications, and that’s what this video is all about:

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