Archive for the ‘Wish List’ Category

CES Day 0 – The Exer-Station

Friday, January 20th, 2006

Last year at CES, Powergrid Fitness introduced a couple of devices which replaced the typical game controller for a console like the PS2 or Xbox with a workout intensive resistance device. I was sore the next day after only about a 10 minute work out on one of these on the show floor at the time.

Problem with those devices was that they were large and expensive. You’d need a small room set aside just to use the exercise device in. Apparently I wasn’t the only one with that concern, as the company has now developed a much smaller, portable version of the exercise machine, and will be selling it in select Best Buy stores starting in March 2006. The new device is called the Exer-Station and will retail for just under $200.

The ExerStation

The ExerStation works by converting pressure on the center vertical rod into joystick data. The responsiveness of the ExerStation can be adjusted to require almost no pressure to get movement in a video game, to excessive pressure for a real workout. The harder the user pushes, pulls, and leans the controller rod, the greater the movement on screen (since it translates to a greater angle on the “joystick”. All the various controller buttons found on a typical game controller are integrated into the handle.

At CES Unveiled, where the ExerStation was shown, they were using Blood Wake on the Xbox as their demonstration platform (Blood Wake was widely panned, but I enjoyed playing it when it first came out), and it was a good fit.

Powergrid Fitness claimes that the ExerStation can increase a person’s metabolic rate five times that of resting leel, and can burn 350 calories an hour. The device is (or will be) compatible with the PS2, Xbox, GameCube, and PC. Xbox 360 support is being investigated.

The ExerStation is 2 feet tall, but rather compact, and very easy to set up from what I saw. But in my use I found that it was a bit cramped (no doubt the result of my being 6’ 3” tall – not exactly average or petite). Likewise, I found the controller too close to my body – I would have liked some adjustability in the ExerStation. Also, the based platform the rod is mounted on had sharp corners – a sure way to leave permanent dents in one’s thighs (or worse). However, I was assured that this was still a prototype and that greater ergonomics would be in the final shipping product.

Seeing as I am a video game junk and an exercise slug (I think slugs actually exercise more), the idea behind the ExerStation certainly appeals to me.

In the hopes that this could be my exercise panacea, I’ll add the ExerStation to my wish list as well, and once I get once, I’ll post a more in depth review. I’m already thinking of the great response to my wife complaining about my spending too much time playing video games – “But honey! I’m exercising! You want me to be healthy, right?”

Eliane Fiolet of übergizmo takes the ExerStation for a spin

Catching Up From CES

Friday, January 20th, 2006

Due to being Mom-Dad this week while my wife is up in frigid New Hampshire, and more e-mails than flamingos here on Bonaire to weed through (the flamingo population here on Bonaire ranges from a few thousand to somewhere around 15,000), it’s taken me almost two weeks to get my office and to-do stack sorted out post-CES. I now have a pile of CES things I want to comment and report on here in my blog (beyond any editorializing I do in my writing for Jon Peddie’s TechWatch).

Two weeks does give one a chance to ruminate and reminisce, and thinking about why CES is such an interesting show to attend each year (other than because of work), I’ve come up with a rather simple answer: It’s the place I get to create my wish list for big kid (i.e. 40-something year old kids like myself) toys for the coming year.

With that in mind, I’ve started a new category in my blog, where products and technologies I write about will also be tagged as “Wish List” items when they are ones I plan on procuring in the coming year.

I hope to also add unprocured wish list items to a “Wish List” roll in the Left Side menu of my blog in case any of you are wondering what toys I’m still waiting to have ship and be available.

Right now, the Kodak V570 camera and the Sony Reader are my first two wishlist items. More forthcoming in the next day or two.

CES Day 0 – Kodak V570 Camera

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

In addition to a State of the Consumer Electronics Industry address on Day 0 of CES, there was a special press receptions to show dozens of products which the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) had dubbed as innovative through their rather subjective CES Awards process, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago.

The event was called CES Unveiled, and while I find the qualification process for the CES Awards to be completely lacking in objectivity, it does not diminish the fact that there were definitely some gems to be found at the Unveiled event.

One such gem was the forthcoming Kodak V570 digital still camera (pictured below).


A common problem which bugs many photographers (myself included) using point and shoot digital cameras is the lack of a decent wide angle capture mode (at least without resorting to often painful multiple image stitching). The cameras that have a reasonable wide angle field of view lack decent zoom ability, and lenses which try to combine both wide angle and zoom are downright lousy because the optical requirements of wide angle vs. zoom are different enough that one lens can’t satisfy both needs well.

The Kodak V570 solves this problem by offering two lenses in the same camera. The first is a wide angle 23mm (in 35mm equivalent) fixed lens, and the other is a telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom. The LCD viewfinder switches seamlessly between the two lenses based on user zoom input.

The new Kodak V570 also has a rather advanced panoramic stitching mode which was demonstrated to me. It uses an onion-skinning type of overlay to show you where you need to take the next picture in a panorama, and then figuers out where all the proper merge points are and creates a reasonable seamless pano image as a result.

The Kodak V570 will ship at the end of January.

This camera is on my wish list, and once I get my hands on one, I will give a first hand review.

CES – Day 2 – Dan Brown & Sony Reader at Sony Keynote

Thursday, January 5th, 2006

Thursday, January 5th – way too early in the morning to be up in Vegas. It’s the opening keynote of CES, featuring Sir Howard Stringer, chairman and CEO of Sony. Mostly it’s been a lot of flash and pitching of Sony products.

But among the highlights (in addition to an absolutely hilarious appearance by Tom Hanks) was the introduction of Dan Brown, celebrated author of The Da Vinci Code, whom Sir Howard brought in to discuss the new Sony Reader.

Dan Brown on Stage

The Sony Reader is an electronic device similar in size to an oversized paperback (but thinner), featuring electronic paper, a capacity to store nearly a hundred books internally, and hundreds more on Memory Stick or SD media. All pages are black and white, and the device can also be used to grab blogs, web pages, and images and store those in the Sony Reader (or on the portable media). The Sony Reader has a projected price in the $299 to $399 range, and is expected to ship at the end of March 2006. Sony plans on making thousands of books available via the Sony CONNECT service. The battery life on the Sony Reader is projected to allow for 7500 page changes (no power is used by electronic paper when being displayed, only during the transitions).

The Sony Reader

Dan Brown lauded the Sony Reader as a great tool for education, for travelers, and for researchers such as himself. He gave as an example his ability to use the Sony Reader to take hundreds of books of reference materials with him on a research trip, in a very small package, and then being able to download any additional books he might have still needed but forgot to “pack” (instead of trying to find a bookstore in some foreign country which carries the English language version of the book he wants). However, I should point out that the sorts of research books Dan Brown wants are unlikely to be available in an electronic format any time soon.

Brown also discussed the boon that a device like the Sony Reader would be a boon to education, as instead of having to carry bags of books, at a high per pupil cost, students could just carry an electronic book reader with all the content they need. That would certainly be nice, but I think pricing of e-book content will need to reflect the much reduced distribution and duplication cost – and presently, it’s not, if you look at electronic books available from Amazon (or digital music from the music download services in contrast to physical media contribution).

One area which I think will be a major new market for e-book content will be the publication of works by lesser known authors. We already see some of that now with blogs on the Internet, where anyone who wants to write can self publish. That’s one end of the spectrum, while authors like Dan Brown with huge marketing budgets behind them are at the other end of the spectrum. And in the middle are authors with real publishers, but small budgets. They will be the ones to truly benefit here.

Brown did say that he still feels that nothing will quite replace the feel of a book in his hands, being able to turn pages, and even the smell of a leather binding, reading in his den. But outside the den, or perhaps the home, readers like Sony Reader have the edge.

I agree, and I’m therefgore adding the Sony Reader to my gift wishlist.

But I wonder if the flight attendants will let me read from the Sony Reader during takeoff and landing. Will Sony lobby the TSA to get it listed as a non-electronic device, or will I only be able to read the current page, and not flip it to the next one during the “no electronic devices” flight segments?

UPDATED: 01/05/2006 – 19:41 AST