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Monday, August 28, 2006

Bosch iPod Power Box Review

Like to listen to music while you work but find your workplace a little too dangerous and dirty for your fragile little iPod? Bosch, a company more famous for their power tools than stereo equipment just might have the perfect solution for you.

The Bosch Power Box is a feature-rich stereo system that not only sounds great, but has a protective roll cage that keeps it safe in busy commercial and outdoor work environments. When used with the Bosch Power Box iPod Dock (sold separately) you can bring your job sites into the digital music age. The Bosch iPod Dock easily connects to the Power Box where it not only protects your iPod but recharges it too.

The Bosch Power Box and iPod Dock sound like a powerful combo, but let's take a look at all the features of each item and how well they perform together in a busy work environment.

Review: Bosch iPod Power Box

digg story | methodshop

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Apple Recalls Laptop Batteries

Unfortunately Dell isn't the only company plagued by exploding defective Sony batteries. On Thursday afternoon Apple announced that they will recall 1.8 million lithium-ion notebook batteries after nine devices overheated. Two people have even reportedly suffered minor burns due to these battery malfunctions.

You can check out some of the fiery Apple laptops in this clip from NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams.

This recall is the second-biggest consumer electronics recall in U.S. history. Dell proudly holds the #1 position thanks to the 4.1 million batteries they announced a recall for last week.

So how do you know if you have a bad Sony battery in your Apple laptop? The bad batteries were sold worldwide from October 2003 through August 2006 in the following notebook computers: 12-inch iBook G4, 12-inch PowerBook G4 and 15-inch PowerBook G4.

If you own one of these Apple laptops, carefully remove your battery and take a look at the numbers printed on the back. The battery serial number is printed in black or dark grey lettering beneath a barcode. See this flickr photo for more info.

Once you mail your defective Sony battery back to Apple, you can still use your Apple laptop sans battery. Just plug in the AC adapter to power the computer until a replacement battery arrives. Apple pays for all the shipping costs and will even send you a postage paid label to send the bad battery back. Unfortunately you'll lose the joys of laptop portability for about 4 to 6 weeks. That's the estimated time it will take Apple to replace your battery. Look on the bright side - at least you won't have to worry about a bonfire spontaneously igniting in your lap for a few weeks. Flame on!

For more information on the battery recall, check out this page on

youtube | digg story | methodshop

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

$1,000 Gadget Give-Away

I've been a reader of MethodShop for a while and was honoured to be invited here as a guest blogger. My name is Al and I run the website Coolest Gadgets.

We turned 1-year-old today (so we're no where near as established as good old MethodShop) and to celebrate have launched a new gadget forum with a $1,000 give away to members.

I'll be posting over here when ever I find a gadget that I think deserves double recognition, so see you around here or in the forums.

can you digg it? | coolest gadgets | methodshop

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Shower with Your iPod?

There's no doubt the iPod has revolutionized the way we to listen music. People take their iPods everywhere. On the run, in the car, or at the gym, our iPods have gone with us to the ends of the earth... except places near water.

Until recently, a short fall or a splash of water meant certain death for an iPod, but not anymore.

Thanks to a company called OtterBox, makers of watertight storage cases for electronic equipment like PDAs, and GPS units, you can safely take your iPod near or even underwater. OtterBox has created a waterproof hard shell case they call the OtterBox for iPod.

We put all their waterproof iPod cases through several tough tests including a steamy shower and a trip to the beach.

Here's our full series of Otterbox case reviews:

digg story | methodshop

Monday, August 21, 2006

Boston Acoustics Receptor HD Clock Radio

The new Receptor HD Clock Radio by Boston Acoustics is the latest in a long line of high-quality, compact systems on the market; not to mention that everything Boston Acoustics makes, from car speakers to clock radios, is of the highest quality.

Next on our review list is a nice pair of cherry Boston acoustics bookshelf speakers.

From, here's the hands-on research:

HD Radio: HD Radio is digital FM and AM broadcasting, allowing you to enjoy your same favorite FM and AM stations with digital sound quality. FM stations offer near CD-quality sound and AM stations sound like today's analog FM stations. Because the transmission is digital, multi-path distortion (a common problem with analog radio, receiving signal reflections slightly later than the direct signal) is eliminated. Stations broadcasting HD radio can also pass along text information, such as artist name, song title, weather, traffic, etc. Another benefit of FM HD radio is a station's ability to multicast, broadcast multiple programs (up to seven) using their existing frequency. The display shows multicast stations with the frequency followed by the multicast number, 107.1-1, 107.1-2, 107.1-3, etc.

Tuner: The Boston Acoustics Recepter radio has a highly sensitive AM/FM digital tuner. It can pull in weak FM stations while its high selectivity allows it to separate closely-spaced stations clearly. The tuning knob makes it easy to manually tune to your favorite stations.

Presets: The Recepter radio features 20 station presets for your favorite AM and FM stations, including primary and multicast HD stations. Once you set the preset stations, you can quickly tune only the preset stations with a turn of the tuning knob.

Antenna Inputs: This unit is equipped with a built-in AM antenna. External FM wire and AM loop antennas are also included. The FM antenna input on the back of the radio is a threaded coaxial jack (75Ω) and the AM antenna input has spring terminals. When using the external AM antenna, first disconnect the internal antenna from the spring terminals.

Speakers/Amplifier: The Recepter features wide-range drivers, specifically designed for this radio, with a rear-firing ports to enhance the bass output. These high-performance speakers are coupled with an actively-equalized amplifier that uses Boston BassTrac circuitry for full, satisfying sound, even at low volume. The result is a unit that delivers smooth, natural response and room-filling sound despite its small size. When placed near a wall the bass may be too pronounced, in this case the bass trim function can be used to turn the bass down.

Display: The unit's large easy-to-read display clearly shows the station frequency, preset number, HD radio text information, clock, and alarm/sleep status. If desired, the display can be dimmed. The display dimensions are 2-1/2" wide and 1-1/4" high.

Dual Alarms: The radio features two independent wake-up alarms, each of which can be set to music or tone. When the alarm sounds, the snooze function will silence the alarm for 10 minutes. If you push the snooze button again within 3 seconds, you can add another 5 minutes to the snooze time, up to a maximum of 60 minutes.

Sleep Timer: You can set the unit's sleep timer to play the radio for a preset amount of time, then turn itself off. The sleep timer can be set for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, or 60 minutes.

Auxiliary Input: A mini-jack input (1/8") on the back of the radio allows you to play an external source through the Recepter.

Headphone Output: There is mini-jack (1/8") headphone output on the back of the radio. When headphones are plugged in the speakers are muted.

Satellite Speaker: The included second speaker completes a two channel stereo system. The satellite speaker is connected to the main radio using the attached 20" cable which terminates with a male RCA plug. A 10' RCA extension is also included to offer greater placement flexibility and improve stereo separation.

In conclusion, the styling, performance and versatility makes this little powerhouse a great buy and a suitable machine for anyone looking for a compact system. Its compact size and portability lets it go from room to room or place to place with little hastle. Highly recommended.

digg story

Free iTunes TV Show Page

Want to beef up on content for your iPod Video but don't have a lot of money?

Lately the iTunes Store (US) has been full of free videos. A common trend has been for networks to offer a series pilot for free in hopes of getting you hooked on the show. Not a bad idea - especially since it worked on me. I downloaded Spike TV's free pilot for Blade and now have a TiVo Season pass for the show. I love checking out all the free TV show downloads in iTunes. The only problem is that finding all these free videos can be time consuming and a little challenging.

In an effort to make browsing for free video content on iTunes a little easier Apple created a Free TV Shows Downloads page (iTunes link) last week. When I was writing this blog entry there were currently 12 free TV shows offered.

But this free TV Show download page unfortunately isn't the one stop shop it should be. For some reason free downloads for TV shows like Passions and Blade weren't included on this "free" page. Hopefully Apple will make an all-inclusive free download page soon, but until then, this partial page will have to do.

digg story | methodshop

Friday, August 18, 2006

What if Microsoft Designed the iPod?

Apple definitely has a successful formula when it comes to their elegant product design and marketing. Simple. Uncluttered. Clean... and very un-Microsoft. But what if Microsoft designed the iPod? What would the packaging look like? This video parody explores those possibilities.

What makes this video even more funny is that it was created by Microsoft. Microsoft spokesman Tom Pilla sent an email to iPod Observer saying that his company initiated the creation of the parody video.
"It was an internal-only video clip commissioned by our packaging [team] to humorously highlight the challenges we have faced RE: packaging and to educate marketers here about the pitfalls of packaging/branding... While MS did not release the video, it's natural to share funny things with friends. So while we didn't publicly share the video, it was shared with appropriate teams internally. We're happy to see others enjoy the laugh as well."
The music in the background might sound familiar. It's the song "The Breakfast Machine" from the movie Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

digg story | methodshop

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Consumer Reports' Best TVs

In conjunction with ConsumerReports, Yahoo rates its five best Plasmas, LCD HDTVs, and Projection TVs. I found this article of particular interest because I've referred to ConsumerReports for years on everything from consumer electronics to our car...and they've never been wrong.

With the prices dropping and the choices growing now might be the right time to get one of these babies.

Plasma TVs

  1. Panasonic TH-50PX500U
  2. Panasonic TH-50PX50U
  3. Panasonic TH-42PX50U
  4. HP Pavilion PL5000N
  5. Panasonic TH-42PX500U

When it comes to LCDs there's a pretty good mix here - check it out.
  1. Sharp Aquos LC-45GD7U
  2. JVC LT-40FH96
  3. Sony BRAVIA KDL-V32XBR1
  4. Sharp LC-26GD4U
  5. Sony BRAVIA KDL-V40XBR1
Projection TVs

Again with the projections there's a good mix - five selections and five brands.
  1. JVC HD-61FH96
  2. Sony KDS-R60XBR1
  3. Sharp 56DR650
  4. Toshiba 62MX195
  5. HP Pavilion MD6580n
This is one article we're going to leave up to experts. Obviously we've seen our fare share of cool TVs but the efforts of ConsumerReports and Yahoo have done the reviews justice. They're really informed - and in some cases brutally honest.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


During our bi-weekly trip over to JR we decided to check out a few compact systems after our neighbors (whose system is compromised of some components we've reviewed) got their hands on a nice new Blu-Ray DVD player and have been rattling the walls ever since.

For the record, when you combine a 50-inch Panasonic Plasma, Harman Kardon AVR 635 Receiver, the latest and greatest Blu-Ray DVD player, four Onkyo D302Es in the front and rear, with a solid amplifier, and a Polk Audio PSW10 Subwoofer you're going to annoy the neighbors.

But I digress, on to the review. After mulling around the store, this all-in-one JVC EXD5 really lit up the room. Its combination of good looks, ease of use, versatility, and great sound makes this a good choice for someone looking for the total package or a nice little system for the bedroom.


This Executive Micro system, the EX-D5, features the JVC-Trademark Woodcone Speakers. It produces natural acoustics from a speaker cone made by mother nature. JVC's eternal quest for original sound and leading edge technologies gave birth to this high grade audio system. This system also plays various CD as well as DVD supported formats, USB Link for PC connectivity, and a number of features making this Executive Micro Sytem truly an engineering marvel.


The solid wood cones featured in the EX-D5 provide an ideal combination of high sound propagation speed and sufficient internal loss, allowing the speakers to naturally reproduce a wide frequency range. With conventional paper cones, sound spreads at the same speed in all directions, causing unnatural resonant points with limited frequency response. Wood cones produce few resonant points because of the grain, so frequency response is improved and sound quality is significantly enhanced. JVC engineers tried several types of wood, but birch proved to have the best acoustic properties.

Digital Amplifier

The EX-D5's 18 watts per channel are delivered by JVC's Hybrid Feedback Digital Amplifier, which eliminates noise often produced by digital amplifiers by using two feedback systems - one digital and one analog - to ensure the highest quality sound. A 192-kHz/24-bit audio D/A converter and 10-bit/54MHz video D/A converter are also featured for maximum quality. The user interface is rounded out by a display dimmer, electronic bass and treble tone controls as well as random and repeat program modes.


The EX-D5 caters to users who want to play music that is stored digitally on their computers. A USB input connection enables playback of music from a computer with an available USB port. The EX-D5 creates further freedom and simplicity through wireless connectivity that enables the unit to accept an audio stream delivered by a computer to virtually any location inside a home or office.

Solid Features

In addition to wood cone speakers, JVC's top-end desktop audio system - the EX-D5 - offer DVD Audio/Video playback, two-channel Dolby Digital/DTS decoding, and USB-PC Link for music file playback through the audio systems - wirelessly.

read more | digg story

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Harmon Kardon's iPod Bridge

The thought of being able to select music on the iPod from across the room has always intrigued me. I mean - come on now - most of us have a lineup of remote controls on the coffee table for a TV, Cable box, DVD player and our receiver. Until now, the iPod was stuck in its own land of clicking and turning when you needed to find Van Halen down at the bottom of your list.

But thanks to Harmon Kardon's slickly designed Bridge iPod docking station, you can now select music with your AVR 40 Series receiver remote either on a TV screen or directly on the receiver display itself.

Read the entire review here.

read more | digg story

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Why Blu-Ray Technology Actually Does Rock

Most people know about Blu-ray Disc's basic features, but not everyone knows all of its new features over ordinary digital versatile disks.

Some of these include being able to include java applications, read several data sources off the disk simultaneously, and have multi-page menus or slide shows without disrupting video or audio playback.

If you're interested in adding this new technology to your system check out the Sony BDP-S1 and grab a Sony STR-DG1000 receiver to enhance the technology even further. And now that this technology is readily available, we recommend trying some of these titles:


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