Thursday, December 29, 2005

10 Greatest Gadget Ideas of the Year

I regularly check out David Pogue's column in the New York Times to see if he discusses some technology I am unfamiliar with and in today's column he listed the folding memory card as one of the ten greatest gadgets of the year. Somehow this new product from SanDisk had passed under my radar. Of course, many workstations now come with ports for a variety of different storage devices including the standard SanDisk memory chip so this product represents a different take on a common problem for computers without the new multiple device ports.

"After taking a few digital photos, the next step, for most people, is getting them onto the computer. That usually involves a U.S.B. cable, which is one more thing to carry and avoid misplacing.

SanDisk's better idea is to take the memory card out of the camera and stick it directly into your computer's U.S.B. port.

That's possible with the SanDisk Ultra II SD Plus card. It looks just like any other SD memory card, except that it folds on tiny hinges. When you fold it back on itself, you reveal a set of metal contacts that slide directly into the U.S.B. jack of your Mac or PC. The computer sees the card as an external drive, and you can download the photos as you always do - except that you've eliminated the need to carry around a cable."

He also mentioned a front-side connector offered on Hewlett-Packard's latest rear projection TV sets. I whole-heartedly endorse this feature but I must tell David it is not entirely a new concept. My Mitsubishi rear projection TV that I have owned for something like eight years features AV jacks in the convenient drop down control panel on the front of the set. Like the home theater setups David describes, my system's rat's nest of cables lies between the big screen on one side and an entertainment center/display cabinet on the other. If I must manipulate the wire connections, I must remove the smaller television in the entertainment center on the dining room side and crawl through the hole to get to the back of the big screen on the living room side - not my favorite activity.

Wednesday night I came home from work only to find that my three-month old DVR had had a melt down. Instead of thrashing around behind the big screen to unhook the other devices so I and the Dish network technician could trouble shoot the receiver without other components attached, I unhooked the output cables from the DVR receiver then simply used a set of patch cables to plug it directly into the front AV jacks on the big screen to test its behavior without intervening devices - sweet!
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