Tag Archives: new

From Computers to Car Stereos: A Short Journey

The owner of a local record store once advised me never to listen to the radio while driving: “Don’t let someone else play your soundtrack, man.” That was good advice, but back in the day, how could you avoid having to put up with the nearest station’s meatball disc jockey, only to hear static-laced cheese-puff tunes that only Casey Kasem could like? It wasn’t easy. It took a boom-box with twin tape decks and a lot of your time. But we did it.

Well, Turn It Up, Man

Today, with MP3 players, it’s a little easier to put together your favorite song list, even if it’s several hundred songs in length. And it took the automobile manufacturers a while to catch on, but they finally figured out that people wanted to be able to blast the hits from their MP3 players. They weren’t satisfied with the sounds that came squirting out of their ear buds. People wanted to hear “their music” come pouring out of the expensive sound systems that they had installed in their vehicles.

Mister Speaker…

The MP3 file is definitely limited in comparison to full-size .wav files, but so is a 2.0 megapixel photo snapped by the average cell phone camera when you put it next to a 12 megapixel picture taken by an expensive digital camera. The smaller (and clearly lesser) file still puts out the sound in an acceptably audible fashion, but recording artists, engineers and other high-brow types frown on it. As Franklin D. Roosevelt used to say, “Everyone’s against me, except for the electorate.”

It may well be that, in the near future, audio devices such as the iPod will be able to store and play full-size song files in all of their intended glory. When that day comes, Super Speed UBS-enabled equipment will be ready and waiting to push that sound through your speakers, whether you are comfortably at home or out there on the road.

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When Great Inventions Collide

It only makes sense that the three of the greatest technological innovations from the 20th century – the television, the telephone and the personal computer – would find themselves rubbing elbows in this day and age. TV shows are available on the Web. Smart Phones can share information with the computer. And now, because of the speed and connectivity of USB, your HDTV can be converted into the biggest computer monitor you’ve ever known.

Sophistication Made Simple

At 1080p, most modern high-def televisions are also make for a monitor that displays your data in the highest of resolution. USB to HDMI converters deliver the kind of clarity that S-video never could – never mind the audio-video pairings one had to contrive in the murky days before that. This takes away the necessity to download and burn DVDs of your favorite movies from online sources; you can just open it up and watch in on your TV.

You Can Afford This One

This is not only a welcome invention which has long been salivated over by tech mavens. It also happens to be one of the first such break-throughs that was not originally priced in such a way as to make the consumer feel wounded. Look at the first DVD players, which cost hundreds of dollars, and can now be found for about fifty bucks. Many brands of USB/HDMI adapters sell for less than a hundred dollars, and in the coming years will no doubt be included as standard equipment with new TV sets.

With wireless versions already on the shelves, people now have the option of settling into their couches with their laptop computers, able to view their monitor in high-definition on a 50-inch (or bigger) plasma screen. They’ll be able to listen to their favorite songs through their surround-sound systems. Their movie library will now take up no space whatsoever, and can be accessed as easily as e-mail – all thanks to the tiny USB port that comes standard on all new computers.

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Continuance: The Next Little Thing

As technology has “gone nano”, the gadgets that make our lives more convenient (or at least more interesting) have certainly funneled money into the coffers of the companies that make AA batteries. Some devices, like our cell phones, can be recharged with an AC power cord. But most digital cameras and camcorders require those same little batteries that enraged Cleveland Browns fans enjoy throwing at the referees on Sunday afternoons.

Assault on Batteries

Battery manufacturers have tried for years to improve their products in hopes of capturing market share. First came the nickel cadmium battery, supposedly better than the old alkaline ones, although you seldom hear glowing testimonials to that effect. Then they trotted out early versions of rechargeables, so instead of paying for new batteries, you just sent more money to your local power company. The latest innovation is the lithium ion battery. Other than a couple of small fires, those have done a better job that their predecessors.

Creative Technology

With USB devices assuming a larger role in life’s everyday functions, it only made sense that someone would find a way to integrate a USB port with a AA battery. Now on the techno-horizon, the Continuance USB Rechargeable AA Battery (created by Xiameng Hu, Hailong Piao and Haimo Bao) has been hailed as not only a breakthrough in the field of USB accessories, but as a step forward in green technology. Of course, the voltage in the AA battery had to be ramped up to make it work, but it appears that the Continuance will in fact be a battery into which one can plug a USB-powered device.

The beauty of the Continuance battery is that it can be charged up by the computer itself through the USB port. Once fully funded and put into mass production, the Continuance could lead to an even greater expansion of USB devices than what we’ve already seen. As the inventors of Continuance might say, more power to you!

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