Bigfoot may get the majority of the media’s attention, especially after his stint on The Six Million Dollar Man. But the real star in the half-man/half-bear/monkey/gorilla arena is the Yeti. While Bigfoot is out stomping his footprint into mud, the Blue Microphone Yeti (shown left at very close to its actual size) is doing a bang-up job recording your podcasts, band practices, and events. Pretty good for a mythical creature--er, an affordably priced USB mic.
With Nike+ included with the latest iPhones and iPods, it’s hard for an outsider to compete in the gadget-aided exercise race. But Adidas leaps past Nike’s and Apple’s home-court offering in one big way: heart rate tracking. The miCoach requires more hardware--annoying, especially for runners--but heart rate data allows for more specific workout instructions. That level of detail and the comprehensive online training tools win in a sprint, but some visual feedback would help miCoach to go the distance.
Keyboards are highly personal items. Some folks like huge, clackety, old-school keyboards with tactile feedback, while others go for small and light. And if small and light is what you’re after, Microsoft’s new Arc is a decent, portable, chiclet-style keyboard that works well alongside your Mac--provided you can put up with the indignity of backward function keys.
Despite what it might sound like at first, Wacom’s Cintiq monitor/tablet combo isn’t just a wacky gimmick--although it does feel pretty sci-fi and futuristic. Essentially, it’s all the technology of the Intuos4 tablet crammed into a 21.3-inch touch-sensitive display. The Cintiq boasts 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity--double that of the previous generation--and the ability to recognize the angle of the pen in applications like Photoshop and Painter. Our tests revealed smooth lines while painting with the Brush tool and more realistic strokes as the Cintiq matched our natural drawing angle.
The day when the stereo systems of all new cars come with USB ports for instant iPhone connectivity isn’t far off. In the meantime, lots of late-model vehicles--and aftermarket car stereos--have auxiliary jacks but still lack the built-in hands-free Bluetooth systems that connect your car speakers to your phone.
If you’ve got a Mac with a Mini DisplayPort, you could connect it to Apple’s gorgeous but super-pricey 24-inch LED Cinema Display ($899, apple.com). Or you could pick up an adapter and connect that puppy to the flat-screen TV or third-party monitor you already own.
The recent spike in sales of vinyl and turntables brings a warm glow to
our hearts. We love our technology, but vinyl is just a beautiful
format. Having said that, vinyl records aren’t perfect. They’re bulky,
fragile, and easily scratched, and those milk crates filled with your
block-rocking jams can get heavy. Fortunately, DJ software is a
rock-solid alternative for amateurs and pros, and one of our favorites,
djay (5 out of 5 stars, Jan/10), just got a sweet dedicated hardware controller, the Vestax Spin.
Mouse technology has come a long way since the rollerball mice of the
1980s. Logitech’s Performance Mouse MX drives that point home--it can
be used on practically any surface, and it offers features that our
first Mac mouse could never have dreamed of.
If Apple’s keyboards, with their extreme thinness and laptop-style
keys, resemble an underfed model, all waiflike and delicate,
Microsoft’s usual offerings look like they’ve been bulking up with Iso
Mass Xtreme Gainer protein powder. Their wireless keyboards tend to
have an extra inch or two of plastic hanging off the bottoms or the
sides, and they just look so beefy and large on a desk, even an
uncluttered one. Microsoft's Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000 reverses this trend.
A good mouse is priceless. It’s a key cog in any computer-based
workflow. But the thing is, everyone has a different idea of what
“good” is. For mobile users, it might mean small and light, while a
desktop Mac user may value comfort above everything else. Apple takes a
one-size-fits-all approach to mice, and while the new Magic Mouse can
pull off cool tricks, sometimes simple and reliable is all you really
need. Besides, options are always a good thing.