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January 2005

Thursday 6 January

  • CES TV Lust (19:20) - We were lusting after so many nice TVs on the CES show floor today that we had to share. First up is the largest TV in the world, a 102" plasma from Samsung that will probably cost a outrageously lust-deflating bank-account-emptying amount: More after the jump.........
  • Hands on with the Siemens SX66 (XDAIII) (11:16) - Lots of people have been waiting for the XDAIII pocket pc cell phone with slide out qwerty keyboard to become available in the US. As we mentioned previously it is now available throught Cingular Wireless and we got to try one out yesterday. The SX66 is a quad-band (850/900/1800/1900MHz) GSM phone that will work almost anywhere in the world, the windows mobile software and 3.5" QVGA 320x240 pixel touchscreen allows it to operate as a pocket pc/pda with all the usual features such as web browser, email, contacts, calendar, pocket word, pocket excel etc. The SX-66 also has a 400MHz processor, 64MB ROM 128MB RAM, 802.11b wireless, bluetooth, SD/MMC card slot, is 2.82" x 4.92" x 0.74", and weighs 7.4oz. The SX-66 feels good in the hand and the keyboard has a good feel but the keys are so small they would take getting used to, especially if you...
  • iriver H10 MP3 Player (10:47) - iriver let us play with their new H10 5gb MP3 player last night, and we like it. The iriver H10 is a competitor to the iPod mini but has a number of advantages over the older mini: a color screen with a nice user interface, displays your photos, FM tuner and recorder (even allowing you to schedule recordings), and a 12 hour removable battery. Overall it feels good to carry and the navigation touch strip feels easy to use. The iriver H10 is available in 4 colors (we like the red best), is 3.8" x 2.2" x 0.6", weighs 3.4oz, and will cost $279....
  • Nyko iBoost Mini (10:34) - This is an interesting little iPod mini accessory from Nyko, a company best known for it's innovative gaming controllers. The iBoost Mini is a battery that connects to the bottom of your iPod mini and provides an extra 10 hours of power, you can sync, dock and/or charge the mini with it attached, it doesn't come off easily so it won't fall off when you are working out, and it has some smart charging/discharging features: When it is attached power drains from the iBoost first so your mini's main battery stays full. Also when you recharge it the mini's main battery is charged first, ensuring you always have as full a main battery as possible. No price announced yet but my guess is that it will be in the $60-80 range....
  • Home Heartbeat Wireless Security System (10:20) - In an ideal world your home would have been wired for a modern security system when it was built, but for most us it isn't an ideal world and we are put off of having a security system installed by the cost and inconvenience of having someone making holes in our walls to run wires. Home Heartbeat from Eaton promises to solve that problem; it is a wireless (802.15.4 zigbee) security system that appears simple to install and use. Every component is wireless (from door sensors, to water shutoffs, to electrical outlet monitors) and is monitored from a central base station and home key. The home key is a little gadget you can carry with your keys and it shows you the status of all your sensors as long as it is within 60 to 90 feet of the base station; beyond that you can get the base station...
  • CES Party Report #2 (08:56) - Here we are with another update from CES. Last night's party was the Digital Experience press event: Digital Experience is not an official CES event but it's the place to go as it is much bigger than the official event; 100 companies in the grand ballroom at the Bellagio, lots of space to mingle, great selection of good food, lots of bars, and a very nice ice bar serving cocktails.... I recommend the Raspberry Cosmopolitan. We saw loads of interesting new gadgets, gizmos, and consumer electronics thingies, and made some good contacts to get product to review for you in the future. Lots of posts to come today and into the weekend. Today is the first "real" day of the show with the show floor open to the public so we will be down there searching the thousands of booths for cool gadgets....
  • Bill Gates Keynote (08:38) - Yawn, move on, nothing interesting innovative or exciting to see here. I don't know why they thought it would be good for Bill to be on stage with Conan O'Brien, put a funny man and a dull man together and the dull guy just looks worse, it's like hanging out with the ugly people at school so you look better in comparison. Something else I don't get: if you are doing a major keynote presentation you should make sure your technology is working so you don't get the blue screen of death and/or broken slideshow that Bill encountered. I don't care if you are the richest man in the world; you still look bad when your presentation goes wrong. On the positive side Bill did get in a good plug for TivoToGo. Tivo are getting lots of good publicity at the moment with this and with AMD featuring them...

Wednesday 5 January

  • More LG LCD TV Details (16:35) - We had the scoop on the new big LCD TV from LG earlier today and now we have more details. The new 55" LCD TV will have 1920x1080 pixel (1080p HDTV resolution) and both digital and analog tuners. There will also be new 42, 37, and 30" LCDs that have 720p resolution. LG also announced some new Plasma TVs including a massive 71" plasma tv with 1080p resolution that costs an equally massive $75k. Engadget has a bigger photo of the LCD TV...
  • New Samsung Phones (16:28) - We don't spend a lot of time covering phones on ShinyPlastic so instead of repeating things being said elsewhere we are going to send you over to PhoneScoop who we met last night at CES Unveiled and who have some nice photos of Samsung's new goodies: "The i730 includes EV-DO high-speed data, as well as Bluetooth, an SDIO slot, speakerphone, and stereo speakers. On the PDA side, it runs Windows Mobile 2003 Pocket PC 2nd Edition, supports landscape mode, and packs in 64 MB of RAM memory." More at PhoneScoop...
  • Nevo SL Universal Controller (13:52) - If you have a high-end audio-video solution and/or a media pc and you want a high-end remote control to go with it you can't go far wrong with the Nevo SL. The Nevo SL is completely customizable via a web interface, supports universal plug and play, and sports a 203MHz Samsung processor, 32MB RAM / 64MB SDRAM, a color 3.5" 320x240 pixel LCD touch screen, has consumer IR and 802.11b Wi-Fi, a 1350mAh battery, and runs Windows CE.NET 4.2. The Nevo SL is 4.78" x 1.98" x 0.76" and weighs 7.4oz. Cost is expected to be $799!...
  • Tronic Portable Multimedia Gadget (13:33) - Singapore company Tronic are announcing a new gadget at CES, or to be more exact a new PMG or "Portable Multimedia Gadget". Basically it is like a cross between a tablet pc and a handtop pc such as the Sony U750P. It has a 1GHz Via Eden processor, 20GB hard drive (up to 80GB available), 128mb RAM (up to 512mb available), an 8.4" SVGA 600x600 pixel LCD screen, bult0in bluetooth 802.11g modean and 10/100 ethernet, has 3 USB 2.0 ports, a PCMCIA card slot, and runs Windows XP. At 9.16" x 7.62" x 1.66" and 2.62lb it is bigger and heavier than the OQO or U750P but at $1199 it is almost half the price. More from Tronic...
  • Pure Networks Network Magic (12:48) - We have a lot of tech gadgets at home all connected together and the biggest thing that drives us crazy is when something goes wrong with our network. Usually we end up disconnecting everything, rebooting the cable modem, rebooting our router, restarting all all devices, getting new IP addresses etc. At times we have thought "wouldn't it be great if we had some software running that could visually show us all our network and help us understand any problems". That is why we were happy to bump into Pure Networks and their Network Magic software as it does exactly what we were looking for: "Network Magic software elevates home networks from an uncooperative collection of hardware — cables, routers, adapters, PCs, printers, and other devices — into a finely tuned, smoothly running network, all while leaving you firmly in control. After all, you're not asking for much from your...
  • Playing with Gizmondo (12:37) - We got to play with the Gizmondo, is a gaming console?, is it a multi-function device?, were still not sure. It is a lot smaller than we thought it would be, and the screen quality is good but hampered by it's 320x240 resolution. Don't go buying this for it's camera (it sucks) or its wide range of games (there aren't many available yet, although Gizmodo reports than it may get Halo soon). Reasons to buy it include instant messaging, built-in GPS, listening to music and watching movies, and bluetooth connectivity. If Gizmondo is going to succeed they really need a larger range of unique games....
  • Zero Bad Pixel Warrenty on LCDs (12:07) - Samsung has announced a very welcome policy change: they will replace your LCD monitor for free if you find a single bad pixel within 6 months of purchase. This is only applicable in South Korea at the moment but it looks like a test to see what the return rates and costs are, and hopefully they (and other manufacturers of quality LCDs) will extend this policy to other countries. We are having a 3400sf house built, and as you know we love our technology and consumer electronics, our house is being built from the ground up with all the latest gadgets in mind, and the centerpeice of all this electronic wizardry is going to be a 37 or 45/46 inch LCD. I know I would be a lot happier thinking about that very expensive purchase if I knew that I could return it if there was a bad pixel...
  • Meedio Essentials (12:03) - We took a look at Meedio and their software last night and it seems to me a good alternative to a Media Center PC, especially if you want to do home automation as well. Meedio Essentials acts as the home page for your home media, allowing you to view pictures, listen to music, view video, check the weather, and launch applications, and there are lots of add-ins to expand it's functionality. Meedio TV is PVR software allowing you to view, record, and time-shift TV. It operates asa standalone program or as a plugin for Meedio Essentials. Meedio Housebot is a home automation server which works with all the standard home automation hardware such as X10 and powerlinc. We hope to be reviewing their software in the future, and in the meantine you can get more information at meedio.com...
  • FIC Vassili (Linux Powered PMP) (11:39) - Hot on the heels of AMD's announcement of a new processor designed for portable media players and their partnership with TivoToGo is this new linux powered PMP that uses the new AMD alchemy chip and that could (by an amazing feat of deduction) be compatible with TivoToGo. The FIC Vassili is going to be announced at CES this week (so hopefully we will have some hands-on photos), and will likely be licensed and distributed by other companies under their brand names in the US. The FIC Vassili features a 3.6" color LCD (resolution not known), 20GB hard drive, USB 2.0 and USB host, TV and Audio-out, 10/100 ethernet, and runs Linux but is also capable of running Windows CE. Supported multimedia formats include MPEG4, MP3, WMA, WAV, ASF, AVI, and JPEG, battery life is said to be 4 hrs video or 12 hrs audio, dimensions are 4.9 x 3.5...
  • Snippit: 55" LG LCD TV (11:32) - Lg are going to be announcing a 55" LCD later today....
  • CES Party Report (11:20) - Ok, we are now at CES bumping into the guys who run all the other cool gadget sites. Last night's party was the CES Unvelied official press event: lots of companies and tons of journalists packed into a too small room. Food and drinks were good, nice sushi, crab cakes were cold, and my martini was just ok. My pick for breakout technologies at the show: large LCDs and easier home automation/media center stuff. Lots of posts to come today with all the new announcements, then off to tonights party which is the Digial Experiance press event at the Bellagio. Oh, and I'm up over $300 on the slots so far.... gotta love Vegas!...

Tuesday 4 January

  • Samsung Q30 Ultra-Portable Reviewed (07:10) - TrustedReviews has reviewed the very nice Q30 ultra-portable laptop from Samsung, and one good part of the review is that they compare it to the Sony Vaio X505. At the end of the day the Q30 isn't as small or light as the X505 but it is still very small and light, and the Q30 wins over the X505 as it can do a lot more: built-in Wi-Fi, D-SUB, Ethernet, and memory card reader. The Q30 performed well and would be a good choice for someone who travels a lot and needs to travel light, just don't expect it to be able to play games (except for solitaire or minesweeper which is all I ever see people playing on planes). Full Review at TrustedReviews...
  • AMD Alchemy Processor for PMPs (07:01) - AMD has announced a new range of processors designed specifically for personal media players (PMPs). The Alchemy chips have processor speeds of 333-500MHz and are optimized for low power consumption, and playback of video at 720 by 480 pixels. This means that PMPs don't need a seperate graphics processor and will be capable of resizing video on the fly at resolutions of up to 1024x768. AMD also announced that the new chips are compatible with TivoToGo so you should soon be able to buy a device you can plug into your network and copy across a couple of show to watch on the train or plane (but please not in your car if you are driving)....
  • TivoToGo Launched (06:20) - Tivo has finally launched their TivoToGo service which will either get them a bunch of new customers or will get them sued into oblivion (I'm hoping for the new customer option not the suing). They specifically got the FCC to approve this so I hope they will be ok. TivoToGo sounds like a great service, if your Tivo is networked you can copy programs from it to another PC on your network (you need special software on that PC, programs can be shared with a maximum of 10 PCs, and TV stations "may restrict or limit the ability to record, display, view or transfer any particular program using a variety of copy protection mechanisms".) If it lets me transfer shows to my laptop and watch them while I'm traveling I will be happy. If you have a series 2 Tivo you can get on the priority list for the...

Monday 3 January

  • $500 Mac Rumors (07:05) - ThinkSecret says that Apple's bombshell announcement at this years MacWorld Expo show is going to be a tiny iMac that doesn't come with a monitor, is under 2" tall, and costs less than $500. Specs of the new Mac (codenamed Q88) are said to be a 1.25GHz processor, DVI/VGA video output, CD/DVD combo drive, 40GB+ hard drive, 256MB RAM, USB 2.0, and 10/100 ethernet. I wouldn't suggest anyone get this as their main computer but if you want an inexpensive second PC and want to see how a Mac works this could be a good buy. We may get one of these just to use to use in reviews of products that support both mac and PC and to see how our web sites look on a mac. ThinkSecret Exclusive...
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ShinyPlastic is brought to you by Search Network and operated by Mark:

Mark is a thirty-something guy living in New York who loves to own the latest tech gadgets but also loves a positive bank balance.

Mark visited gadget sites that list every upcoming gadget but dont let you buy them, and coupon sites that list great deals but don't tell you what is hot; hence Shiny Plastic, how to get the nice Shiny Plastic tech gadgets without ruining your credit.

Mark reviews every fun gadget that he buys, searches other technology sites for interesting items, and regularly searches all the online stores for the best deals.
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