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Apple Patent Says Adios to iPod’s Click Wheel

October 29th, 2006 by Marie in Tech News, iPod gadgets

If it weren’t for that click wheel, the iPod would probably be less symbolic. Consider, for example, navigating the iPod via the touch screen. Or, finding barely visible buttons on the frame of the display. Apple has apparently been experimenting and filing patents for this type of navigation control for quite some time now, but the patent only got published last Thursday.

From the looks of it, we’d soon be watching more videos from our iPods and playing songs less often. It isn’t really a black or white concept. Apple’s been looking into a hybrid, just to appease you guys who’ve fallen so faithfully for the click wheel. If this hybrid sees the light of day, we’ll be seeing a virtual wheel in the touch screen and a bunch of other navigation controls in the display frame as well. The perfect reason for this, according to Apple, is that the display ought to take more space in the device, and the click wheel is indeed going to get in the way. And if it does see the light of day, expect something more freakish features in the iPod versions of the future.

In the patent diagram, Apple showed that the iPod would have a sensor that will detect whether you’re lying down or standing up. The text, display images, and touch screen controls would change horizontally or vertically and adapt to your spatial orientation. Neat! Apple didn’t confirm, however, whether the new features will be included in all the iPods or in the latest video-playing versions only.

Do-it-yourself GPS system for your car

November 5th, 2006 by Marie in Electronic Gadgets, Vehicle Gadgets

Some people think they’d have to spend thousands of bucks for built-in or standalone GPS system in their car. Why not? However, if you’re like me who would have to think twice before splurging on such expensive buys, wouldn’t it be more practical if you could just buy the cheapest GPS device and navigation software in the market, install the latter on the device, connect it on the PDA, and run the car “your” way? It’s even way smarter, if you think about it, since a built-in GPS system may have a non-intuitive interface or inaccurate maps. A do-it-yourself GPS system lets you personalize everything on a bargain.

Think: all you really need is an ordinary PDA, a Bluetooth-enabled GPS unit, and a navigation software of your choice. Then go and hit the road! Ohlamon lets us in on this neat trick: If you already found the nav software, PDA, and GPS unit with Bluetooth capability (there’s even a solar-powered one which you could just position in your car where there is sunlight), then mount it on a holder. When both the devices are turned on and charged, create and enable Bluetooth partnership by following these six easy steps:

1. Tap Start -> Settings -> Connections tab -> Bluetooth.
2. Tap “Turn on” Bluetooth button or checkbox.
3. Tap Bluetooth > Devices tab > New Partnership. Your device searches for other devices with Bluetooth capabilities, and displays them in the list.
4. Tap the name of your GPS device, and tap Next.
5. In Passkey enter an alphanumeric passkey between 1 and 16 characters, and tap Next. (You will find this passkey somewhere in you GPS device documentation)
6. Tap Finish. Find Connect in the menu of your GPS device, then set up and run your navigation software.

This trick isn’t possible with my Nintendo DS (yes, there are custom maps for the DS that you can download on the console) but with any Bluetooth-enabled GPS unit and an ordinary PDA, this is really child’s play. You don’t even have to be a geek to get the GPS thingy going in no time!

Micro BR lets you make music on the road

November 5th, 2006 by Marie in Audio/Video Gadgets

When we think of mobility, we see a vision of the laptop. When we think of visual and audio mobility, we see the iPod. ‘Course those who own cellphones or PDAs that could perform the tricks of both of these devices will argue with us, but there’s no need to argue with them. Thing is, can your typical mobile gizmo record digital music in almost a limitless fashion while you’re on the road?
Guess this is what Roland Corp. had in mind when they came up with phat idea for Micro BR Digital Recorder. Musician or not, this thing will rock your truck.

Exactly what does it do? It loads and plays back MP3 files, like what most digital recorders do. The guitar multi-effects processor lets you time-stretch the MP3s in real time without affecting pitch. Within each of the four simultaneous playback tracks, the Micro BR has eight companion V-tracks, totaling 32. You can sense the advantage and freedom of recording take after take during the mixdown process.

The 300 drum patterns are handy for establishing a new track’s rhythm or for play-along inspiration too.

The Micro BR sells for $319.50 at BOSS, and is just a tad bigger than the iPod. It also makes use of an SD card so you could pretty much buy one from any local electronics store in case you need a bigger storage media.

You don’t have to be a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers to consider yourself a hardcore audiophile. Having the Micro BR is probably the next best thing to hearing “Road Trippin’” in your bus. Flea will have to agree.