Originally dubbed a "Lifestyle PC," Sony's Vaio P was an odd hybrid of Netbook and UMPC. Sony went out of its way to not call the original version a "Netbook," but its Intel Atom processor and small size made it hard to consider it anything but that. We ended up admiring the design and ingenuity that went into creating this envelope-size machine, but balked at its anemic performance and awkward input tools. At the time, we said, "Sony's upscale Atom-powered Lifestyle PC has the components of a cheaper machine but the design of … Read more
It used to be said that mamas shouldn't let their babies grow up to be cowboys.
In olden times, mamas were right. A cowboy's life can be lonely. You often commune more with animals than people. And then there's the problem of riding a horse in very tight Wranglers.
However, these days, cowboys don't merely pick blackberries, they send raunchy texts on them, too (on BlackBerrys, that is). So some enterprising bejeaned geniuses came up with CowboySyndicate.org.
It's an odd choice of name, sounding as if John Wayne and Marlon Brando had gotten drunk … Read more
Shopping is supposed to be fun, dangit! But it's invariably a hassle-filled experience, especially at this time of year.
That's why I never walk into a store without these three iPhone apps at the ready. They're all free, and they make shopping faster, easier, and sometimes even a little less expensive.
CardStar Newly updated with an improved interface and support for 75 additional merchants, CardStar replaces various discount, reward, and membership cards in your wallet. To digitize a card, just enter a merchant name and your barcode number. When you get to the checkout, pull up the … Read more
I'm not a big fan of small speakers or subwoofers.
They tend to sound, well, small, and most of them squash the life out of films and music.
Thing is, people like tiny speakers and subs, so lots of speaker companies make, and sell tons of iffy-sounding 5.1 systems.
But they're not all bad, I've cherry-picked three truly exceptional alternatives from Definitive Technology, Energy Speakers, and Mirage. My complete reviews are all on CNET, but I'll run down the highlights here.
The Definitive Technology ProCinema 600 System is a six-piece package with four 7-inch tall satellite speakers, one 10.5-inch wide center speaker, and a minisubwoofer. The injection-molded mineral-filled polymer cabinets have more of a high-end feel than your typical plastic or fiberboard cabinets. Can you say "rock solid?"
The subwoofer is a conventional, matte-finished medium-density-fiberboard box. It measures 13 by 10.3 by 13 inches. Its side-mounted volume control is a convenient design touch.
The satellites are two-way designs with a 1-inch aluminum-ceramic dome tweeter and a 3.25-inch midrange driver. Ah, but the midrange driver is acoustically coupled to a 3.25-inch pressure-driven planar low-frequency radiator on the top panel (so when the midrange driver moves in, the passive radiator moves out, and vice-versa).
The passive radiator effectively doubles the bass radiating area of the tiny midrange driver. The same technique is employed on the center channel speaker; it has a pair of 3.25-inch midrange drivers flanking a 1-inch tweeter--and there's a 3.25-inch radiator on each side of the speaker.
The subwoofer's 8-inch polymer cone woofer is acoustically coupled to a bottom-mounted 8-inch passive radiator. The combined radiating area of the driver and radiator is almost equivalent to a single 12-inch woofer. This little sub kicks butt!… Read more
I had just been poured a drink at a bar Saturday night, when the man to my left tapped me on the shoulder.
"That's an 8," he said.
Unsure as to what he was evaluating--my beauty out of 100, perhaps?--I turned toward him very slowly.
"Er, excuse me?" I muttered, squinting at the man's long, straggly hair and rather kind-looking face.
"Your drink is an 8. Normally they pour you a 6," he said.
My silence must have appeared somewhat noisy to him, as Oliver (not his real name) picked up … Read more
Forget Sony's CES protestations that it wasn't interested in doing a Netbook. Forget, even, the impressively overreaching Vaio P ("Don't call it a Netbook!") Lifestyle PC. Sony has finally caved to market demand and is introducing what the company calls, "a chic new line of mini notebooks."
The Sony Vaio W is a 10.1-inch Netbook, with an Intel Atom N280 CPU, 1GB of RAM, Windows XP, and a 160GB hard drive--all fairly common specs for the category. But many laptops with similar specs run $299-$399, while Sony says the Vaio W "will retail for about $500." How does it justify that hefty premium?
It's a gamble, but Sony is attempting to do what many Netbook makers wish they could do--introduce a higher-priced "premium" version of a Netbook. To that end, the Vaio W packs in a higher-resolution screen at 1,366x768. There's also 802.11n Wi-Fi, a separate Memory Stick slot (on top of the standard SD card slot), Bluetooth, and Sony's typical fit and finish, which usually includes excellent keyboards and touchpads.
Sony's proprietary media software should also help the system connect to other DLNA devices easily, including the PlayStation 3.
The Vaio W is 1.3 inches thick, weighs 2.6 pounds, and will come in three colors--berry pink, sugar white, and cocoa brown. If that would make for an awkward conversation with a retail store clerk, you can probably just ask for it in plain old pink, white, or brown, and they'd be able to figure it out. The system is available for pre-order from Sony starting Tuesday, and should be arriving in retail stores sometime next month.
Click through for a couple of additional shots.… Read more
I ended up spending the Memorial Day holiday weekend in Las Vegas, a city in which I do not set foot particularly often. When I wasn't partaking in my preferred activity of lounging by the hotel pool with a good book and a pina colada (yes, that's right, I don't gamble), I decided to test-drive a new iPhone app. Namely, it's the free app from lifestyle e-newsletter UrbanDaddy, which hit the iTunes App Store earlier this week.
UrbanDaddy--which operates city-specific newsletters for New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami, and Los Angeles, as well as … Read more
Apps like Evernote, Shazam, and Mint get all the glory, but there are plenty of other productivity-boosting, life-improving apps out there. Here's a roundup of five I'm loving right now--and because I'm a cheapskate (as well as The Cheapskate), they're all freebies.6500+ Cool Facts Whether you're a trivia buff or just looking to learn more about the world, this nifty little app delivers. Read a fact, then tap the screen to move on to the next one. That's the entire interface--you can't save favorites or return to previous facts--but so what? Knowledge … Read more