Curious about all the new gadgets on the market? Here is an overview of some of the best new toys out there.Music
iPod nano G5Stats: The new nano, released two weeks ago, retains all the great features of the previous models, but now comes with an FM radio, a bigger screen, and a video camera/voice recorder. Apple engineers are just ridiculous sometimes.Thoughts: While the larger screen and FM radio are handy, I’m not sure about the usefulness of the video camera. If I want quality video, I’ll use an actual video camera, and the rest of the time I’ll turn to my cell phone.
Zune HDStats: Zune is Windows’s answer to Apple’s iPod. Premiering in 2006, its interface is just dissimilar enough from the iPod to avoid those pesky patent lawsuits. Last week a new model was released that includes (surprise, surprise) a touch-screen…sort-of like last year’s iPod touch.Thoughts: Though admittedly a copycat, it’s actually very good. Upside: alternative for Windows users who don’t want an Apple product. Downside: Zune Marketplace’s point system is a pain.Phones
Blackberry StormStats: Just as the Zune followed the iPod, the new touchscreen Blackberry follows the iPhone. The biggest difference in hardware is that you actually push down on the screen to make it click, rather than tapping it. Thoughts: As the satisfied owner of a Storm, I think it’s an excellent alternative to the iPhone if you don’t want to sign a contract with AT&T. Plus, the sound quality is better. Downside: No apps. Bummer.
iPhone 3GStats: The big upgrades for this newest model include a better camera, longer battery life (great for those of us who always forget to charge our phones), and doubled memory (32 GB).Thoughts: The new features, as usual for Apple, are outstanding, but the iPhone’s biggest weakness remains its functionality as a phone. Come on Apple, fix it already!Gamer toys
Playstation 3 SlimStats: The new, slimmer Playstation 3 is quieter, cheaper, and uses less energy than the old Playstation 3, and all of the games are in HD to take advantage of that fancy TV you bought at the ReCoop. (Fancy. Right.) However, PS2 games won’t work on it.Thoughts: Though not a gamer myself (I’ve never even played Mario Kart…scandalous for a tech writer, isn’t it?), I’m still impressed by this system.
Logitech Flight System G940Stats: Nothing fancy, just the most realistic flight simulator joystick ever, modeled directly off of real airplane systems. (That means the engineers got to go in the cockpit of a plane, though they probably didn’t get any plastic pin-on wings.)Thoughts: Very expensive, but if flight games are on your agenda, it might be worth the money for sheer awesomeness.Other stuff
Bing (engine)Stats: If you use Windows Live to read your Claremont Colleges email, you will notice a box for “Bing search” in the upper right corner. Bing is the replacement for MSN search and Microsoft’s latest attempt to take on Google.Thoughts: Bing’s results are often not as relevant as Google’s to your search, but this is improving. Currently, Bing clocks less than one-sixth the number of Google’s searches, but it might improve as they get more search data.
Griffin ClarifiStats: The Clarifi is an iPhone case with a twist. Besides protecting your phone when you drop it, the Clarifi also has an extra lens that slides into place over the phone’s built in camera, letting you take ultra-clear close-up shots of text or business cards as well as improving distance shots. Ooooh.Thoughts: Outstanding for what it does, but not really necessary for most people’s daily use of their iPhone.
Minoru cameraStats: Minoru is the first commercial 3-D webcam. It uses two side-by-side cameras to film you while the receiver wears 3D glasses to watch. It also looks a little like E.T.Thoughts: Having to wear 3-D glasses is a pain, but for students away from home it may be worth it. I know my family would use it.
Windows 7Stats: While not released yet commercially, testers say that Windows 7 is a definite improvement on Vista.Thoughts: I used to have a Vista computer before I switched to Mac. General release of Windows 7 is on Oct. 22. Check back to see what happens!