Techie: Memory in your pocket
And the cheapo DVD recorder shows its weaknesses
John ďjaQĒ Andrews
Youíve probably seen
USB flash drives.
They plug into USB
ports and give you anywhere from 16MB to 1GB of portable storage space.
Most fit on your keychain, but there are a couple neato form factors for
those who need their gadgets to serve multiple purposes.
I personally own an
Edge Memory (edgememory.com) DiskGO! USB Watch Drive. This baby fits on
your wrist and has glowy hour and minute hands. My version has a short
USB cable and plug built right in. The company also makes a dressier
version with a separate USB cable, which is about the same size as most
other flash drives, so it sort of defeats the purpose.
For the survivalist
geeks out there, youíll want to check out Swissbitís (www.swissbit.com)
USB Victorinox Swiss Army knife. The USB port swings out like any other
tool, so you have a deadly weapon hooked up to your PC, and it has
pictures of your fwuffy widdle kitten stored on it.
Swissbit makes two
versions. The TravelSafe/Flight version actually has no knife at all,
just the flash drive, an LED light and pressurized ball-pen, so you can
theoretically get it past the TSA at the airport. The Extended Tools
Edition adds a knife, scissors and nail file. In both versions, the USB
flash drive is detachable, so you can take it with you without the extra
DVD Recorder Update
I promised Iíd let
you guys know how I liked my CyberHome DVR 1600 DVD recorder after using
it a few weeks, and here I go. Thatís what a swell dude I am.
For the most part,
Iím happy with it. Itís easy to set up, and playing a recording is a
breeze. Just select its listing, which includes the first recorded
frame, from a menu. The date, time and channel of the recording is also
I do, however, have
a few beefs. In no particular order:
1. Sound quality.
For relatively quiet, talky scenes, the sound is perfect. But louder,
sweeping soundtracks get all warbly; the pitch of the music wavers and
stumbles. Even on higher-quality recording modes, the sound, well,
sucks. It can be very distracting. To be fair, my cheap DVD+RW media
could be to blame, but the problem does seem to get worse the farther
into a recording I get, or the farther away from the center of the disc.
Can the sound encoding just not keep up?
2. Speaking of
recording modes, CyberHome should have put a little more thought into
them. High Quality (HQ) yields 59 minutes. That would be one less minute
than an hour. Longer (and slightly lower quality) modes exacerbate this
problem, until you end up in a mode with, instead of five hours, four
hours and 43-ish minutes. Again, my cheap media could be at fault.
3. The name of the
recorded program is not listed. I canít really complain about this,
because I knew the recording setup was more like a VCR than a TiVo ó
setting the date, time and channel rather than selecting from a program
guide. But still, most cable systems broadcast content information along
with the sound and picture. It shouldnít be hard to add the program name
to the listing.
4. The clock gains
about a minute a week. But as I said, all in all, Iím happy. The DVD+RW
doesnít self-destruct if it comes in contact with sunlight. Itís easy to
see whatís on a disc. Itís even easier to transport than a VHS tape. Iím
pretty much sold.