Posts About: Accessories

Headphones, Dad Ears and the Cowin E-7

From the day I got my first pair of headphones I’ve maintained a love/hate relationship with these apparatus.  I love that I can listen to my music without anyone else complaining about the song choice or volume level.  I hate that I have to put something in or on my ears to accomplish it.

You see I share a little bit in common with Warren from “There’s Something About Mary” in that I don’t like having my ears touched.  Weird, I know.  I won’t fly off the handle and pummel you if you accidentally touch them, like Warren does, but I will certainly let you know I’m not loving it.

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The Echo Show Preview

When Bill Gates and Microsoft first ventured into consumer software and electronics, Mr Gates famously said that they were going to “Put a computer on every desktop and in every home”.  It was a vision that spurred the development of Windows and launched Microsoft into a variety of consumer electronic ventures.

That vision evolved sometime in the late 1990’s. Microsoft realized that the onset of portable devices and computing everywhere was going to require a different sort of mindset and a broader approach. That revised thinking still drives the company today and is also the driving force behind most of the other major consumer electronics vendors.

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Projector, Projector Mapping and Holograms

Computer interfaces have evolved slowly over the last 40 years. As soon as we were able to produce affordable display graphics, the Windows-type environment became the standard. Since then, we’ve only had refinements of the same basic interfaces. Windows, Icons, Mice and Pointers, better known as WIMP have been the defining characteristics of our interactions.

I won’t open a can of worms about who pioneered this paradigm, but suffice to say it originated somewhere within the halls of Silicon Valley. Others might add it came to maturity further north in Seattle, but that’s a whole other post. The important thing is that it’s the accepted standard and you’ll find little argument about that. Arguably the only thing that has been added over the intervening years is touch displays.

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Audio-Technica AT-LP60-USB Turntable

To say that vinyl is making a comeback is not only an understatement, but a belated one at that. Since this blog is relatively new, you’ll have to excuse my tardiness.  I realize that for the audiophile among us, vinyl never actually went away.  For those of you who have either come back to it through nostalgia or for more aesthetic reasons the options have never been better.

I bought my first turntable at the age of 15.  After careful study of all of the choices available to me I chose a BIC 980.  If you’re not familiar with BIC, it’s not the same guys who make the lighters.  They were a loudspeaker distributor turned manufacturer that got into turntables for a brief period in the 1970’s.  The company still sells highend speakers today.

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Portable Grand Piano

I was one of those kids who was always musically challenged. I love music, and I can remember the lyrics to about a million songs, but I can’t seem to translate that into moving my fingers along an instrument. It probably didn’t help that when I was 8 years old my mother decided I should learn to play the accordion. It seems we had a cousin who was a big thing on the Steel Pier, and I think she had visions of us wowing the Ed Sullivan show with our hardcore accordion beats.

Needless to say, my mother’s dream never came true. Not only did I never make it to the Ed Sullivan Show, or even the Steel Pier, I never again seriously picked up an instrument. Thanks, Mom. It was only in recent years that I got the itch to try to learn something again, and I’ve now bought and sold or given away those neglected acoustic guitars.

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VR Remote Controllers

There’s a growing number of applications for Virtual Reality Headsets. From Architecture and Engineering to Simulation and Training, the breadth of content is growing rapidly. While the business applications are choosing higher end solutions from dedicated VR companies such as HTC and Oculus, the majority of the consumer market is dominated by low-end devices used in conjunction with Smartphones.

As I pointed out in the last article, VR Goggle offerings from Samsung and Google lead the field in price, performance and functionality. Other makers are quickly jumping in to offer alternatives with even better price/performance and expanded functionality. The one aspect that many of these providers have ignored is an area that I find is key to the overall adoption of virtual reality, and that is human interface or controllers.

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Virtual Reality (VR) Headsets

Any discussion of home entertainment these days is incomplete without mentioning the growing presence of Virtual Reality in the living room.  Officially dubbed VR3, because of the failure of the both the 1980’s and 1990’s incarnations, the new VR is light years ahead of its predecessors both in content and acceptance.

In the 1980’s VR Pioneer Jaron Lanier and his partner founded VPL Research, focusing on commercializing virtual reality technologies.  With much media coverage and attendant funding, the company prospered for a few years, but then filed for bankruptcy in 1990.  The products they created were expensive, and without powerful hardware, the software applications were anemic.  The patents were bought by Sun Microsystems in 1999, and likely archived inside some scary robot hidden beneath Bill Joy’s office.

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