Thursday, January 10, 2008

Computer Monitors

From the USA Today:

ClickStart: My First Computer

(From LeapFrog,, $49.99, for ages 3 to 6, plugs into TV)

Why it's hot: It creates a computer learning environment for young kids using only a TV.

Young children can learn how to use a computer mouse and keyboard without their sticky fingers ever messing up the family computer. By plugging the "ClickStart" into your TV's A/V ports, the TV turns into a computer monitor. The system comes with its own keyboard/mouse device for kids to use to play the five educational activities.

Buzzworthy?: Yes. The system works well, it's easy to set up and the games are fun. Two of the games even offer two levels of difficulty and the software keeps track of up to three children and saves their work. Plus, add-on software is available for $13.99 each.

But this is a game that creates more "screen time" for preschoolers, something the American Academy of Pediatrics advises should be monitored. They recommend that children over age 2 have no more than one to two hours a day in front of screens, including TV and computer monitors.

On Gadget Overload and Feeling Powerless

From the New York Times:

When my 10-year-old daughter walked through the front door after receiving her first cellphone a couple of weeks ago, my house rebelled. It had quietly endured the abuse of many holiday seasons in a gadget-loving family. Over the years, the house had become filled with obsolete modems, MP3 players and computer monitors as big as dorm refrigerators.

Every drawer, every shelf and every closet was bursting with electronics.

Now, Clementine unboxed her phone and started looking for somewhere to store her transformer thing. But when she opened the junk drawer in the kitchen, long-forgotten power cords attached to other mysterious transformer things sprang out in great looping tangles.

And when I checked for space in the hall closet, cardboard boxes and instruction manuals rained down from a shelf. And I knew it was no coincidence when a dead iPod tripped me on the basement stairs.

As I rubbed my bruised shin, I murmured softly, so only the house could hear, “O.K., you win.”

My New Year’s resolution was to clear out the electronic junk.

A Laptop Reborn

From Portfolio:

It’s that time of year again—out with the old and in with the new cell phones, MP3 players, laptops, and TVs that were nicely wrapped and placed in the holiday gift pile.

Now that the new gadgets have been sufficiently warmed up, it’s time to figure out what to do with the old ones. And technology and electronics companies want consumers to think twice before tossing them to the curb along with the crumpled wrapping paper. If they can’t be donated for reuse, then it’s time to find a way to recycle them.

In many ways, electronics recycling is still a problem with no easy solution. Recycling is a costly process, which is why most companies haven’t made the effort easy for consumers. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that unwanted electronics amounted to approximately 1.9 million to 2.2 million tons in 2005. Of that total, about 1.5 million to 1.9 million tons were primarily discarded in landfills and only 345,000 to 379,000 tons were recycled.

Dell Announces Stylish New LCD Monitors Ahead of CES

From PCWorld:

The annual Consumer Electronics Show may not kick off until January 7, but Dell today officially announced two new (and long rumored) wide-screen computer monitors that it plans to showcase at the event. Most eye-catching is the stylish 22-inch Crystal display: It boasts an innovative design and gained favorable attention when first unveiled as a concept product at last year's CES.

Like other models on PC World'sTop 5 22-inch wide-screen monitors chart, the pricey but-ever-so sleek $1199 Dell Crystal (pictured at left) has a native resolution of 1680 by 1050. More uniquely, it features capacitive touch controls, and a panel encased in 4mm ultraclear tempered glass (with integrated speakers) that sits on a chrome-plated zinc alloy stand for a floating screen effect. The Crystal lacks height or swivel maneuverability, but tilt adjustments can be made.

Further specifications include a 2 millisecond response time (grey to grey), 2000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, and--through Dell's TrueColor technology--the stated ability to provide 98 percent color gamut of theNTSC color space.

The monitor also has an integrated 2-megapixel Web cam that's capable of capturing video at 30 frames per second (fps) in 640-by-480 resolution, but just 10fps at 1600 by 1200 resolution. The Web cam also has a microphone.

IP Telephony

LifeSize (News - Alert) maintains that its mission is to deliver on the promise of video: face to face communication that feels as natural as being in someone's office. Using an existing broadband network, LifeSize high definition video systems provide a full telepresence experience at a price that is affordable and accessible to everyone who needs to communicate with colleagues across town or across the globe.
I caught up with LifeSize CTO Casey King who shared with me his thoughts about high definition video conferencing, LifeSize’s place in that industry, and what attendees can expect to hear during the two sessions King is participating in at the upcomingITEXPO ( News - Alert).
RT: What trends are you noticing in the communications market?
CK: Video and IP are converging faster than predicted. Video is simply moving everywhere, and video is how we will communicate in the future. High definition screens are becoming ubiquitous for TVs and computer monitors, and LifeSize is leading the transition from standard definition videoconferencing to accessible, high definition telepresence. And it is all happening over existing shared IP data networks, many of which were recently upgraded to handleVoIP .

Dell 3008WFP-HC, 30 Inches of Widescreen Swank

From Gizmodo:

Dell has gone monitor-crazy lately, and adding to yesterday's rollout of its gorgeous Dell Crystal monitor, now the company's updated its 30-inch display line, and this one's called the Dell UltraSharp 3008WFP-HC. We've had one in-house here for the past month, beholding its huge expanse and basking in its 2560x1600 resolution. The main events with this display are its clean new design that looks rather plain from the front but shiny and especially luxurious from the back, and its ability to connect up to DisplayPort, the new standard for computer monitors that will make things a lot easier for such high-resolution displays.

Check out the gallery and you'll see the 3008WFP's brushed aluminum housing. The base is piano black, shiny glass that supports the cantilever arm. That's a nice architectural touch, but you lose the ability to raise and lower the height of the monitor.

When we first hooked up and plugged in this display, we were shocked at how bright it was, using a conventional fluorescent backlight (we had hoped for LEDs, but no) to pump out a quoted 3000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and brightness that was so brilliant, we had to back it off a bit.

U.S. to require agencies to buy green PCs, monitors

From ComputerWorld:

January 06, 2008 (Computerworld) -- The U.S. government plans to require federal agencies to buy PCs and computer monitors that are energy efficient and include reduced levels of toxic chemicals -- a requirement that likely will affect corporate users as well because of the government's massive buying power.

The Department of Defense, NASA and the General Services Administration jointly detailed an interim rule on the new purchasing requirements in a notice published in the Federal Register on Dec. 26, and they are accepting comments on the proposal through Feb. 25. The new rule formalizes the use within the government of the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, which some agencies and private-sector companies have already adopted.

EPEAT is a three-tiered rating system developed by the Green Electronics Council in Portland, Ore. Under EPEAT, qualifying desktop systems, laptops and monitors are awarded gold, silver and bronze ratings based on how well they meet 51 environmental criteria, such as ease of disassembly and the lack of paints or coatings that aren't compatible with recycling or reuse.

CES Report

David Pogue writes:

PARROT DF7700 DIGITAL PICTURE FRAME. Digital picture frames — essentially tiny computer monitors — are perennial favorites among gift-givers, but loading photos onto them is a perennial headache for the technologically challenged. This model, however, has its own cellular phone number; the point is that you can send pictures from your cameraphone directly to its 7-inch screen from anywhere in the world.

The upside is that now the burden of supplying photos falls on you, the technically proficient (and generous) gift giver. The downside is the monthly cellular fee — a first for a picture frame. (Price and release date to be determined).

PANASONIC DVD-LS86. This one may be the biggest magic trick of the show. It’s a portable 8.5-inch DVD player that can play movies for — are you ready for this? — 13 hours on a battery charge. That’s long enough for six or seven standard movies, or once through “Transformers.”

And yet this player doesn’t look like a military field case. Apart from a slightly thicker hinge, it’s no bulkier than any player. How did they do that? ($200, available now).

Same Old Electronics Show, With Some Intriguing New Ideas

From the NY Times:

C.E.S. 2008 offered few big announcements that got everybody buzzing. Part of the reason may be that some of the most interesting players — the cellphone makers, the camera makers and Apple — have their own trade shows in the next month or two.

In any case, this week’s show looked and felt pretty much the same as always: hundreds of big flat-screen TVs, glass display cases gleaming with shiny cellphones and a whole building filled with car tech.

In fact, it would probably take you at least half an hour to realize that you were not attending C.E.S. 2007. (One giveaway: last year, Panasonic claimed that its 103-inch plasma set was the world’s largest TV. This year, Panasonic took that honor with its 150-inch model.)

Still, if you wandered around and asked enough questions, you might have learned that a number of great ideas wait in 2008’s wings. In order to spare you the $350-a-night hotel bills and 25 miles of walking, here’s a summary of some of the most interesting developments-in-waiting that I had the chance to play with.

Ergotron Computer Monitors

From the press release:

Strained for space? The world's first universal, height-adjustable Neo-Flex™ All-In-One Stand bundles virtually any size CPU, notebook or gaming counsel and flat panel monitor into one extremely small and portable footprint, offering ergonomic flexibility. A built-in storage area conveniently stows a standard keyboard and mouse. The sturdy low-profile rear handle adds portability -- a complete computer system can be deployed quickly, or locked up at day's end for added security. That makes it ideally suited for school computer and science labs, hotel lobbies and other space-constrained high traffic areas where several people need access to computing capability.

The world's first height-adjustable Neo-Flex Combo Lift Stand combines desktop computing productivity with laptop portability by placing a notebook's screen side-by-side with an independent monitor. This innovative approach provides dual screen efficiencies, eliminating the need to toggle between applications and documents. The practical design provides easy connection and removal of the notebook to accommodate busy schedules -- users just undock the notebook and go.

The Neo-Flex Combo Lift Stand makes working at home a joy for mobile workers: tandem height adjustment enables quick positioning of both the LCD and notebook screen, providing maximum ergonomic comfort and promoting workspace wellness.

The Neo-Flex Widescreen Lift Stand provides the world's first portrait/landscape rotation of today's popular 16:9 displays, making it the perfect desktop accessory for film editors, graphic designers and photographers. It enhances the functionality of high-end, hi-def widescreens, providing smooth, ergonomic positioning with its effortless height adjustment, integrated tilt and pan, and portrait-to-landscape viewing capability.

Last, but not least, is the world's first dual monitor stand priced below $150. The Neo-Flex Dual Display Lift Stand supports two monitors with a combined weight of up to 34 pounds, enabling easy positioning of two LCDs for maximum ergonomic comfort. Eliminate the need to toggle between applications and documents--a must-have accessory for high-intensity customer care call centers.

The exceptional design of each new Neo-Flex Stand stylishly incorporates five inches (13 cm) of display height adjustability, allowing precise adjustment to achieve individual viewing comfort. "Our beautiful, multi-functional Neo-Flex Stands address the diverse needs of computer users around the globe," said Jane Payfer, Vice President of Marketing for Ergotron. "Each offers a unique blend of functionality, enhancing workplace efficiencies and wellness."