Tekzilla #19: Blu-ray and HD DVD (that don't suck!) for $300
Blu-ray and HD DVD for $300. Physists say Cell Phone Ass Cancer (or brain cancer) is unlikely. Help buying a UPS. IrfanView rocks. Apple iPhone upgrade timing is mean.
Apple introduced a new higher capacity iPhone and iPod Touch this week. After MacWorld. What's the deal with that? They wait till after the big press show is over to roll up revised models of their popular cellphone and music player?
According to the Windows Vista Blog, SP1 for Vista is coming in Mid-March. Hopefully the update will assuage many of the concerns leveled against the OS since it's release last year.
Keith wrote in to say that our pronunciation of GOM has been incorrect. The "O is a long o sound. So GOM should be pronounced G-Oh-Mmm. Plus he wanted to add that GOM is Korean for bear, hence the bear paw design on the player.
A couple of other viewers took us and Kevin Rose to task about the cancer causing cellphones debate.
Jim's offered up his opinion with: "... Take it from a Physicist, there is nothing to worry about. The solar constant is about 750W/m2, meaning on a sunny day your scalp is getting about 27 of those watts. At best only 1.5W from your cell antenna is headed in your direction, and that energy is at a much longer wavelength than visible light."
Another Jim weighed on as well providing this helpful advice: "While I have worked with high power transmitters and other RF sources, I didn't know a good answer to the question "Does RF give me cancer/ cause birth defects?" I would recommend you watch Physics for Future Presidents. It's a series of lectures by Professor Richard A. Muller of Berkeley College who covers physics at a level that even I can understand."
Plus we received a stack of emails regarding last weeks stenciling segment.
Stephan share this nifty tip about using GIMP to generate stencils. "... I think the easiest tool to use would be the Colors -> Threshold tool in the gimp. It's also in photoshop and will give you a very customizable way to create a template."
He also clued us in on Inkscape a "... very nice Bitmap Tracing tool..." as another freeware image editing application (although vector based like Illustrator) for generating stencils.
Kristoffer from Norway offered up his work as some examples of custom stencils.
Special thanks to Aundrea and Kevin for providing pics of their respective stenciling efforts.
USB to Serial Adapter: If you're one of the hold outs who still horde their RS-232 port enabled gear then a USB to Serial Adapter is for you. They run about $12 online from computer stores such as NewEgg.com and Buy.com. They're a great way to get your older gadgets working on current systems. Be warned, however, as you might encounter driver issues within Vista or XP that may make the whole exercise moot if support for the device dropped off with the demise of Windows 98.
We received an email question from Ryan. Ryan wanted to know about picking a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) for enough juice to power his PC, monitors, printers and assorted peripherals on his desktop machine.
For starters all APC UPS support replacement batteries. The key of course is you'll be doing the replacing. You can also buy a generic replacement but write down the info of the current UPS model# and battery first so you'll have something to go on when searching. Batteries can last anywhere from 3-6 years according the APC website but that said if your UPS is seeing a lot of duty because of faulty wiring or electrical storms the number will be closer to 3yr. Our producer, Roger, kept his old 300VA APC UPS for 5 years before the battery died.
If you're looking for a brand spanking new unit and want to save some cash get one without the fancy LCD panel. While those are super handy they do up the price. Also look for one that supports both low voltage and over voltage interruptions. Usually the cheaper ones will only handle one. Plus depending on how much gear you have the amount of power needed will vary. Great place to start is the APC battery selection website. Remember it's always better to err with too much power than too little.
Free download week pick is IrfanView. It's a great PC image viewer that supports pretty much every conceivable image file format under the sun. Pat likes the thumbnail view that lets him peek at the thousand of vacation photos he takes each vacation without a noticeable slow down or lag. Plus if you're web maven IrfanView lets you resize images easily for generating thumbnails.
The Blu-Ray/HD-DVD drive: The LG GGC-H20L is a combo format Blu-Ray/HD-DVD drive for your PC. It lists for $299 online. While the drive does not support burning of either HD disc format it will support the following (taken from the NewEgg website)
LG Black 16X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 4X DVD+R DL 16X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 5X DVD-RAM DVD-ROM: 16X Blu-ray DVD-ROM: 6X HD DVD-ROM: 3X DVD-ROM 40X CD-R 24X CD-RW 4MB Cache SATA Blu-ray/HD DVD-ROM & 16X DVD±R DVD
Basically everything you're standard dual-layer DVD burner will. The primary reason to own one of course the ability to play both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD formats. However, you'll still the software component which in Pat's case was provided by CyberLink. The one that ships with the drive is a limited version so you digital audio output options are a bit sparse. You'll need to be running XP w/ SP2 or Vista installed on a machine with at least a 3.2Ghz Pentium 4 or Athlon 64 X2 3800+ , of course the more the better. Unfortunately there is no OS X Blu-Ray/HD-DVD that we know of. Other issues include HDCP support. You'll need to have a video card that supports HDCP if you're running non analog VGA. Although Pat's 8300 card, non HDCP ready, still managed to play our the video. Finally some movies won't play correctly do to the lack of support for Blu-Ray profile 1.1 support by CyberLink for the playback software. When this is released this problem should be rectified, we hope.
Our next email comes from Jack. He has a Wanadoo live box but it only has 2 ethernet ports. He wants to increase the number of jacks what can he do? Well for those not in the know Wanadoo is a "Integrated broadband modem, wireless base station and domestic VOIP phone hub". To increase the number of Ethernet jacks, Jack will need to pick up a network hub or switch. Now a hub is cheaper and great solution if you just need several more ports. If you're looking beyond that like 8 or more a switch is better as it actively guide packets making network traffic more efficient, assuming that all the ports are used.