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Hey, America -- it's geeks to the rescue!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 by Amber

Today, on the eve of the new year, we aren't going to talk about the latest techy news and headlines -- we are going to talk about the economy and how you and I are going to save it.

First, let's get real.

As 2009 dawns on the world, we are facing some pretty grim circumstances. Global economies are struggling. The US auto market (which I haven't patronized, like, ever) is collapsing under the weight of 75 years of bad ideas, inefficient cars and antiquated manufacturing technology that unions won't let us upgrade. Food prices are rising at a rate such that countries are left starving in their wake. Homes are standing vacant while families sleep in shelters and on the street.

Closer to home, it's no joke that we are in the middle of a recession, and times haven't been this tough for Americans in decades. Jobs are being lost, companies are battening down the hatches on everything from year-end bonuses to office supplies and magazine subscriptions.

There are always a few markets, though, that can survive bubbles like these -- medicine, law and, strangely enough, consumer electronics. Seriously. But according to this Forbes.com article, we could now be facing the end of the boom in consumer electronics, too.

So, now that I've thoroughly depressed you, let's build you back up again, shall I?

If 2008 signals desperation and palpitations, surely 2009 is the symbolic era of (pardon the now-cliche) hope. New leadership, new ideas and, more importantly, a new chance to make things right.

But what, you ask, can us geeks do to help? How will the geeks of the world rescue America from complete self-destruction and, worse, a worldwide depression?

We are going to innovate, and we are going to lead the public to newer, better forms of technology. It isn't the masses that make change, it's the early adopters of technology that shift public views and consumer sentiment. And that's what we will be -- the early adopters of the newest cell phones, Blackberrys, ultra-thin laptops, mp3 players, etc.

We will hack through the dense woods and leave behind a clear, well defined path for the tech-newbies to follow. And follow they will -- gadgets are only ever getting better, cooler and more user-friendly. And, at the slight flicker of economic improvement, the public *will* grasp on our coattails and follow us into the fray of technological advancement. We at Byte-Sized will be at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas no matter the economic condition. We will be checking out and reviewing the newest advancements before they hit the shelves. And, we will be enjoying every minute of it.

So, my friends, keep your cellphones charged, your laptops open and your iPhones at the ready. For, it will be the geeks that save us all.

Here's hoping all you and yours a happy, safe and, of course, geektastic new year!

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Report: Got a cell? Most do.

Monday, December 29, 2008 by Amber

Morning, everyone! I'm laid out at home with a wrenched back, but I'm still basking in the sweet holiday after-glow! Did you pop out to get the Wal-Mart iPhone yesterday? Send me a line and let me know that and you most geektastic holiday gift! Now, on to the headlines...

According to a new report, there are roughly 4 billion mobile connections in the world, which, after our friends at Digital Trends applied some basic logic, equates to about 60% of all the people on the planet. Can you believe that? Of course, it's not exactly true -- the logic doesn't take into account the crazies of the world who operate more than one mobile device.

Amazon.com is reporting it had its best holiday shopping season ever -- but hasn't released sales figured to back it up quite yet. According to a spokesman, the site sold 6.3 M items on Dec. 15, or 73 items per second. That's a lot of goods -- made especially impressive since Amazon also claims more than 99% of items arrived in time for Christmas.

Check out this Forbes list of the most stolen electronics. It's kind-of vague, but the stats are interesting.

Congrats to this college student who kept his wits about him after realizing that his Xbox 360 was stolen out of his dorm room -- he used the left-behind controller to locate the console (still in the dorm) and used it to prove the pilfered Xbox was his. Kudos to him for knowing how things work!

** Have a great week, everyone! I'm off from now until Friday, so stay safe and have a wonderful new year's celebration! On a personal note, thank you for making Byte-Sized such a grand success in its first 6 months. I enjoy keeping each and every one of you up to date and informed on the biggest tech stories of the day, and I sincerely hope you all tune in for a fab 2009!

Coming up in the next few weeks: We are placing a roving reporter on the floor of CES to blog on the hottest trends at the show, plus we'll have a Valentine's Day guide to impressing your geeky sweetie!

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Byte-Sized Gadget of the Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008 by Amber

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! Byte-Sized is taking the rest of the week off after today, so let's not delay!

Presenting the Byte-Sized Gadget of the Year.... (drum roll...)

The Flip Mino (both reg. and HD)
Price: $179.99-$229.99
Available at theflip.com

The Flip Mino hasn't missed anyone's radar, especially if you are a regular reader here at Byte-Sized. It's tiny design and sleek interface and accompanying GUI is best-of-breed, and the pricetag is more than reasonable considering its impressive usability and uploading capabilities.

I adore this gadget, and I literally carry it with me where ever I go. If you are in the market for a camcorder, or are looking to be the impromptu star at your family's Christmas party, birthday party, baby shower or bridal shower, this is a gift that will not only be talked about for years but will be appreciated by the recipient every time they pop it out of its little felted case.

***So thanks for tuning in to this special edition of Byte-Sized! Drive home safely from where ever you are, and do me a favor -- don't turn on your computer for the next few days. This time of year is meant to be spent cast in the glow of your family and friends, not your 40" widescreen monitor. Happy tidings to all, and to all, a good night!

-- amber

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iPhone becomes e-reader!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 by Amber

Good morning everyone! I didn't make good on my promise yetserday to post a list of the day's headlines, so here is an emergency dose of Byte-Sized to clear away the pre-holiday jitters and cobwebs!

Huge, industry shaking news out of (who else) Apple today: Book publisher Random House has announced that it is pairing with Apple to offer books on the iPhone and iPod Touch -- effectively turning the ultra-popular device into an e-reader! What this mean for the market? It adds legitimancy to a budding industry lead right now by Amazon.com's Kindle (a fave of this blog) and the Sony e-Reader. But, will it put these two out of business?

I'm excited and scared about the implications of such a partnership... The industry does not have a standard format for digital books at the moment, and it's a totally odd puzzle peice that Apple wants to delve into the battle. Of course, it could also be a brilliant move and a nod toward standardization.

Ehhhhh I'm not sure, but this is the first time I've ever honestly considered buying an iPhone. It's almost too good a proposition to be true -- the internet, an eReader, a phone and an MP3 player? Eek. Of course, there are people wagging their fingers at Apple for making a dumb move. Our own Dee Murray (ecstatic owner of a gen-one Kindle) insists no one will want to read a book off such a tiny screen... I'm not sure if I hope she's right...

OK, so thanks for tuning into today's random Byte-Sized! I'll be back tomorrow with the wrap-up of the Byte-Sized Holiday Gift Guide, where I'll name my gadget of the year!

Just a reminder, we are off the rest of this week after tomorrow, so have a wonderful holiday season!

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Holiday Giveaway Winners!

Monday, December 22, 2008 by Amber

Good morning, everyone! It's a bit of a late morning for us all, digging out of multiple feet of snow, but we are warm and cozy and extremely excited to announce the winners of the Byte-Sized Holiday Giveaway!

Congratulations to....

Peter "Dusty" P. from Va.

Jennifer S. from Ga.

Sara H. from Va.

Theresa E. from NYC

Each of these winners will be contacted by email over the next few hours -- so if it's you, sit tight! Otherwise, thank you so much to everyone who entered! I loved reading all of your geeky memories. Here are some great ones from our winners!

"My favorite geek gift was my very first jump drive (flash drive). I had no idea that something so small and portable could hold so many files (of course, it only held 256 mb, but back then? That was HUGE!). It totally changed my life. I no longer had to carry around zip disks and lug spindles of CDs everywhere I went, not to mention saving the time it used to take to sort through each one to find what I needed (usually just one measly file)!"

"The first Sony CD Walkman. It looks like a tricorder, it was so huge. The external battery pack took D-cells, IIRC. But it got me used to portable music and living in my own world, and I've been a hardcore geek ever since."

Thanks again to all those who entered!

I'll be back in a few hours with some top headlines, so until then, have a great day!


Dr. Horrible comes to DVD!

Friday, December 19, 2008 by Amber

It's a slow day for news today as the East Coast hunkers down for a monster snowstorm -- a week after we all got coated in power-killing ice. But... at least it's Friday...? At least we have a few headlines to keep us company:

Yay! my favorite professional online video blog of the year is finally coming to DVD! Neil Patrick Harris' brilliant turn as Dr. Horrible in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is available today exclusively on Amazon.com for $9.99 -- a great price for all the extra features, including a 'Making Of...' portion and "Commentary! The Musical,' which is exactly what it sounds like... Too fun :) And, seriously, how much do I love Nathan Fillion? Oh, let me count the ways...

Digital Trends has come out with an awesome gift guide that just makes me laugh in its absurd truthfulness -- What your geek friends *don't* want for Christmas. Give it a read and you'll be laughing at all the things you've either gotten from a kind soul looking to do the right thing or a hapless one who just had no clue. I do have one exception, though ... I love geeky clothes, especially on geeky guys! :) That is the coolest. The 'Talk nerdy to me' shirts and 'I've got great hands' XBox live beta freebies totally make me swoon...

Are there better people in this world beside Bill and Melinda Gates? Well, I mean besides Angeline Jolie and Brad Pitt. Our favorite multi-gazillionaires, the Gates, have donated millions to public libraries in 7 states to make their broadband connections faster. This will ensure that the public, especially kids, have access to the Internet and a sophisticated technology outlet. Good for them. Do you realize that in less than one day Bill Gates makes enough money to buy my house? That just boggles my mind...

*Don't forget -- today is the last day you can register for our Byte-Sized Gift Giveaway for a MIMOBOT USB Flash Drive. Get those entries in and maybe you'll be one of the lucky 4 to get this awesome little characters in your snail-mailbox!

See you all Monday, and if you live anywhere east of the Mississippi, drive safely and leave early!

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Poisoned Apple? Jobs to skip Macworld keynote

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 by Amber

Good morning, everyone! Today is a double tall mocha day in New England, so wrap your hands around your beverage of choice and let's get to the headlines...

Obviously, the biggest news of the day is out of Apple -- Steve Jobs will not be giving his annual keynote address at the Macword Conference this year. No word on whether this has to do with his illness, but Apple also took the time to announce that this will be the last year the company will even attend Macworld. Something is brewing over at Apple and I don't like the looks of it.

File this one under "Bad idea from the start." Dell has decided, after being the butt of too many India-based customer service jokes and complaints to enumerate, that it will offer customers the 'option' of dealing only with U.S.-based reps. The kicker? It is charging customers $13 a month or $99 a year. Seriously. WTF, Dell -- understandable customer service (no offense) should be free, not a premium. Ridiculous.

A new survey finds that Americans place Internet access above TV and having sex. That's seems like skewed data -- numbers that I don't necessarily agree with. I can understand the pleasure of a nice night at home clicking through the channels in jammies so fluffy and baggy that even thinking the word 'sex' around them seems wrong, but foregoing sex to sit in front of a blinky computer screen? Nope, I'm all set with that. Thoughts? Which would you prefer?

A new device is available that disconnects cell phone service in cars when the engine in running. This is a hot issue, but I can't say that I'm for or against either side. (How's that for a double negative tandem positive?) See, on the one hand, I love chatting in the car. I can hold all my tedious but still important phone conversations, like making appointments and catching up with friends, during my commutes, leaving me able to play with my kids while I'm at home. On the other, my husband can't talk on the phone and drive without missing an exit or driving in the wrong direction for 20 miles. So... a device to stop cell phone service in a car? Eek.

Have a great day, and don't forget to enter the Byte-Sized Holiday Giveaway for a MIMOBOT USB Flash Drive! The response has been great so far, so make sure to get your ballot in! You won't win anything if you don't enter!

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Holiday Gift Guide! Part 3

Monday, December 15, 2008 by Amber

So, we've shown you the big gifts -- the Zune, Wii and the Kindle. We've shown you the ity-bitty gifts -- USB devices that fit into your pocket and look great with a tux. Now, let's take a look at some pratical, awesome gifts, too! Here is part 3 of the Byte-Sized Gift Guide!

Darth Vader ToasterStar Wars Toaster
Price: Preorder for $54.99
Available at starwars.com

Boooorhhh-Psshhhhhh... This wicked toaster won't be available until next year, but you WILL preorder it and give a picture and the reciept to your favorite Star Wars fan this holiday season. Oh, and sorry for the worst-typed Darth Vader impression ever. Why are you still reading? Pre-order it now -- it's going to fly off the proverbial shelves like it's the newest member of our favorite old-school screen saver! This slices my friend's Mickey Mouse toaster with it's awesomeness. And just try not to use your butterknife like a lightsaber.

The New Jawbone
Price: $129.00
Available at us.jawbone.com

We all know color plays a huge deal in electronic gadget purchases -- so here's the newest and coolest of the bunch: A pink bluetooth with superior sound quality and usability. The basket-weave design catches eyes and is a pleasant departure from the usually operator-ish headsets sported and abused by every wanna-be highroller in office towers around the country. Don't worry, I don't mean you :) Oh, and don't mind the company's juvenile cowboy design -- it doesn't take away from the headset's usability.
TiVo TCD652160 HD Digital Video Recorder
Price: Under $300
Available at Amazon.com

This gadget will change your life -- how many electronics can you say that about? Ok, a lot, but this one is better! I've been a fanatic for TiVo for 8 years -- I have the little TiVo character decal on my car. Seriously. For all of you who don't have one of these wonderful devices yet, what the eff are you waiting for? This version lets you record all your favorite shows in HD (obviously, as long as the show is available in HD) and, as all TiVos, let's you watch your shows in *your* time, not as dictated by the networks. What's on mine? Big Bang Theory, LOST, Bones, cooking shows usually relagated to daytime TV. Oh, and Ellen. I do love Ellen.

Oh, and another thing about the TiVO: Every single person I've given one of these to as a gift has thanked my so profusely it's almost embarrassing. This one is a crowd-pleaser fo' shizzle.

Byte-Sized Gift Guide! Part 1

Byte-Sized Gift Guide! Part 2

** Stay tuned next week for the conclusion of the Byte-Sized Gift Guide, where I name my top gadget of 2008!And don't forget to get those entries in for our MIMOBOT sweepstakes!

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Byte-Sized Holiday Giveaway!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 by Amber

C'mon, it's been a long, stressful holiday shopping season -- who doesn't need a gift for themselves, too?

I'm incredibly excited to announce the Byte-Sized Holiday Giveaway!

Over here at Byte-Sized, we want to thank you all for your loyal reading this year, so we partnered with MIMOBOT to give away 4 USB Flash Drive characters! Each has a gig of memory encased in the tiny little guys -- such a great treat for everyone, and so cute you won't want to give them away! (If you win, I don't choose which design you will receive, so please don't ask.)

The drawing will be random, but we'd love it if you sent in your best geeky gift memories with your entry to get us all in the mood for some holiday cheer. Tell us what you got, why you loved it and how it turned you into the awesome geek you are today :)

To Enter: Send your name, phone number and address to bytesized@captivate.com.

Prize: 1 MIMOBOT USB Flash Drive, courtesy of the MIMOBOT -- A big thanks to them for making this contest possible!

Here's all the legal stuff...

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Official Giveaway Rules

by Amber



2. ELIGIBILITY: Each promotion is open to legal residents of the U.S. and Canada (excluding Puerto Rico) who are 18 years or older at the time of entry unless otherwise stated. Employees of Captivate Network (“Sponsor”), Gannett Co., Inc., and each of their subsidiaries and affiliated companies, advertising and promotional agencies, and the immediate family members of, or any person domiciled with, any such employees are not eligible to enter or win. You are not a winner until you have been notified as a potential winner, your eligibility has been verified, and you have complied with all terms of these rules.

3. HOW TO ENTER: Send an email to Bytesized@Captivate.com with your name, phone number and address where prize can be shipped. Contest opens Dec. 10 at 7:00 a.m. EST and ends Dec. 19 at midnight EST. THE FIRST NAME, CITY AND HAIR TIP OF WINNERS WILL BE POSTED ON INDULGE, PERMISSION IS GRANTED BY THE WINNERS BY SENDING IN THE EMAIL ENTRY. The Sponsor is not responsible for incomplete, lost, late, postage-due, misdirected or illegible entries, or for failure to receive entries due to transmission failures or technical failures of any kind, including, without limitation, malfunctioning of any network, hardware or software, whether originating with sender or Sponsor. All entries become property of Sponsor and none will be returned

4. SWEEPSTAKES WINNER SELECTION & ODDS: Sweepstakes winners will be selected in a random drawing from among all eligible entries received by Sweepstakes deadline. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.

5. PRIZES: One MIMOBOT USB Flash Drive, average retail value of $30.00

6. WINNER NOTIFICATION AND ACCEPTANCE: Winners will be notified at the telephone number, email address and/or U.S. mail address provided on winner’s entry form. Email or mail notification: Sponsor will email or mail notification and affidavit/release forms at the address provided. Return of prize notification as undeliverable may result in disqualification and an alternate winner may be selected from among all remaining eligible entries. Winners are required to confirm acceptance of the prize, complete an affidavit of eligibility/liability and publicity release which must be returned within the time period specified. Failure to sign and return the affidavit or release or to comply with any term or condition of these Official Rules, may result in a winner’s disqualification, the forfeiture of his or her interest in the prize, and the award of the prize to a substitute winner.

7. PRIZE TERMS: PRIZES WILL BE MAILED TO THE ADDRESS PROVIDED BY THE WINNERS. Winners may waive their right to receive prizes. Prizes are non-assignable and nontransferable. No substitutions allowed by winner. Prizes and individual components of prize packages are subject to availability and Sponsor reserves the right to substitute prizes of equal or greater value. Winners are solely responsible for reporting and payment of any taxes on prizes. If the prize involves travel or other benefits for a companion in addition to the winner, persons traveling as guest of the winner must also sign any affidavit or release as Sponsor may require. Acceptance of any prize constitutes winner’s consent to the publication of his or her name, biographical information and likeness in any media for any commercial or promotional purpose, without limitation or further compensation. Prizes not won and claimed by eligible winners in accordance with these Official Rules will not be awarded and will remain the property of Sponsor.

8. PARTICIPATION: By participating, entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of Sponsor. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify persons found tampering with or otherwise abusing any aspect of this Sweepstakes as solely determined by Sponsor. In the event the Sweepstakes is compromised by a virus, non-authorized human intervention, tampering or other causes beyond the reasonable control of Sponsor which corrupts or impairs the administration, security, fairness or proper operation of the promotion. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to suspend, modify or terminate any promotion at any time. Should a promotion be terminated prior to the stated expiration date, Sponsor reserves the right to award prizes based on the eligible entries received before the termination date.

9. CONSTRUCTION: The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision of these rules shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision. In the event that any such provision is determined to be invalid or otherwise unenforceable, these rules shall be construed in accordance with their terms as if the invalid or unenforceable provision was not contained therein.

10. The decisions of Sponsor regarding the selection of winners and all other aspects of a promotion shall be final and binding in all respects. Sponsor will not be responsible for typographical, printing or other inadvertent errors in these Official Rules or in other materials relating to the promotion. If you have questions on a specific sweepstakes, contact: Amber Plante, aplante@captivate.com, or for a list of winners: send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the “Byte-Sized Gift Giveaway,” Captivate Network, 2 Executive Drive, Suite 301, Chelmsford, MA 018240.

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Holiday Gift Guide! Part 2

Monday, December 8, 2008 by Amber

Time for Part 2 of the annual Byte-Sized Holiday Gift Guide, and I'm declaring this the year of the USB! Nowadays, everything hooks into the computer, and anything worth your hard-earned cash has a port or dock to keep you connected.

Here are 3 great gifts for the geek in all of us!

MIMBOT USB Flash Drives
MIMOBOT USB Flash Drives
Price: $24.99-$99.99
Buy it online at Mimobot.com

Have a totally geeky friend and don't know what to get him/her? Try one of these wicked cool MIMOBOT USB flash drives.* I know, sounds a little weird, but they are totally adorable and fully functional -- and who couldn't use a little smile while uploading or transferring files? Hint hint for anyone out there looking to buy me something... this little babies are the perfect place to hide files you don't want leaked and are great for stocking stuffers!

USB Slippers
USB Slippers
Price: $29.99
Buy online at PerpetualKid.com

Cold feet? Absolutely, you work in an office. So, here's the solution: USB slippers that heat up using a cord that plugs directing into and uses power from your computer. They aren't much to look at, but you won't have to worry about shorting out the fuse in your cubicle row anymore by plugging in that space heater you brought from home that management was too, um... restructured to buy right now. These are cheap, easy and sure to draw envious gazes from fellow cube-dwellers.

Tonia Welter USB Cufflinks
Tonia Welter 4GB USB Cufflinks
Price: $490
Buy it online at DijitalFix.com

OK, you may be a geek, but you've definitely got some style. Then this gift is for you: USB cufflinks and male and female jewelry that honest-to-goodness doesn't look like a DIY craft. This designer has created beautiful brushed silver pieces that would look great if they *didn't* include a 2 gigs of memory (the cufflinks have 4). My fave is the leather bracelet called the MÜNCHEN -- it looks like a hot trend you'd see on Banana Republic shelves, but it's way cooler even than that! These are not even close to cheap, affordable or even reasonable, but is high fashion ever?

***Click here to read my other Byte-Sized Holiday Gift Guide must-haves, and stay tuned for more great gift ideas next Monday, and a full platter of the top tech headlines Wednesday and Friday! Also, we may be having a big announcement in the next few days (crossing fingers) so stay tuned for that too!

*OK, I can't take full credit for this one, so thanks to our friends over at USA Today for the tip.

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Minicorder Holiday Smackdown:
Flip's Mino HD vs. Kodak's Zi6 HD

Friday, December 5, 2008 by Amber

Are you ready to record -- err, I mean, rumble?? Let's meet today's contestants!

To the left, we have the Flip Mino HD ($229.99); to the right we have the Kodak Zi6 ($179.99).

When looking into a handheld HD video camera, what *exactly* are you looking to do with it? Seems like a stupid question, but it was a vital one for me when taking on a review of these two competing brands of HD camcorders.

For me, I need something portable, fast, easy to use and of good quality. The smaller the better, but not at the expense of interesting features or any modicum of functionality.

So, unlike your normal, techno-babble heavy review laden with features so intricate only a salesperson at Best Buy (a former life of mine) would know, I offer you a more useful one.

Which minicorder reigned supreme? Now, don’t just skip to the end to see which one I’d pick for the aspiring director on your holiday gift list – take my experiences within each category to decide which one is the best fit for you.

Installed software
The Flip Mino’s proprietary software opens as soon as you plug the device into your computer. The attached USB offers a fool-proof open – one click, one pop and you’re good to go.

The software program has a clean, attractive GUI that is oh-so simple to use. The graphics are big and colorful and feature (again) idiot-proof labels to help you find quickly what you need. The saving and exporting process takes a few minutes, but the wait time isn’t unreasonable – you are, after all, uploading an HD video file. You can’t expect it to be lightning fast.

The Kodak third-party ArcSoft software didn’t register with my computer the first few times I plugged the device in – and even the act of plugging it in was a bit of a hassle. The USB is clearly on the side of the device, but I honestly had to look at the instruction manual to figure out how to pop it open. Once I did, I had to turn the whole unit upside down to get it to insert into the computer’s hub. Can you say design flaw?

Perhaps I’m a little cautious, but I don’t like the idea of the little Mino hanging off the front of the computer, but I dislike even more the idea of a bigger, thicker and *heavier* unit similarly dangling off whilst on its head.

Anyway, the Kodak photo program has too many options, too many checked boxes and too much technology behind it. Weird me saying that, I know, but sometimes the simplest solution (or simplest way of presenting something) really is the right answer.

Point: Mino

Ease of Use
The Mino again has the upper hand. Its power button and recording instructions are crystal clear without even picking up a manual (did it even come with one?). The big red button means record, and the touch buttons give the device a sleek look while providing perfect reaction time to my requests.

Kodak, while also easy and intuitive, took some getting used to. Pressure buttons in odd configurations confused me, and the joystick-ish center controller shifted almost without warning. It’s not a bad idea, but it’s definitely not what I would consider smooth.

Point: Mino

Special Features
This is the one category where the Kodak takes the top spot – it offers the ability to take still images. A built-in 3 MP camera is a hot little offer…

As far as screen size, I don’t really understand all the hype over a large viewfinder. Mino has a little one, Zi6's is twice as big -- I could see fine using both. Perhaps this is just me, but as long as you’re pointing it in the right place, does it really matter how many little pixels are on the screen? Save for my 2-year-old begging to ‘look’ at the videos seconds after I record them, I don’t actually sit and peruse the videos on the device.

It just seems silly to pay for a little extra visibility on something that isn’t more than a courtesy way to see what you’re filming. Oh, how quickly we all forget the Le Clics of our youth. That doesn’t mean I want to go back to those days of actual film, just that it could be worse.

Kodak also has a cool feature the Mino does not have – the ability to expand the internal memory of the device with a memory card. So, you can video a wedding or longer ceremony (or pirate a movie audience-style -- stupid) with the Zi6, which is not possible with the Mino’s 60-minute limit.

Point: Kodak

Picture Quality
Negligible between the two. Both offered the same slightly grainy picture, despite claims that they offer HD videos. While I highly doubt that either company is lying about this, it must be the quality of the HD recording. When not focusing on a single object or action, both videos blurred as the camera moved.

The darkness/lightness ratio in the Mino was much improved from previous versions where dark scenes showed up black.

When it doubt between them, I’d always advise you to go cheaper, which would point to the Zi6, but I am too impressed with the Mino's improvements to discount it.

Point: Neither

Overall Likeability
Kodak offers its camera in the hottest shades on the market today: metallic pink and black.

But, Mino has it beat with panther-ish black cover or, lest you don’t want to look like an awesome spy, a fully customizable face featuring images you can download using their online interface. Oh, not to mention the hundreds of picture options they’ve designed.

While both are small and portable, Kodak is nearly twice as big as the Mino. Which is that better for? Well… it’s a toss-up. The Mino is sleek, skinny supermodel, while Kodak is more like a beautiful buxom broad everybody likes. Both feel great sitting in your hand – it goes to personal taste here which you prefer.

Point: Both

Final answer?
For my money, I love the Mino HD. It’s pretty, fits in my pocket and offers me the quality I want at an awesome, reasonable price. The customizable designs of the face probably pushed it over the edge, but I can't tell which feature of this fantastic little gadget I love the most. No, love isn't a strong enough word -- adore? Cherish? You get the picture.

Kodak was good, too, but it’s not my cup of tea -- it's too big, the controls take too much attention and the customizable software is too fussy.

Thanks to both companies for participating in this lightweight minicorder battle! Please let me know if you decide to get one of these cool little gadgets this year!

** Speaking of which, meet me back here Monday for three more awesome gadgets on my Byte-Sized Holiday Gift Guide! I may just have a big announcement, and, in a few weeks, I’ll name my top gadget of 2008!

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Google's holiday party, and how TV branches out online

Wednesday, December 3, 2008 by Amber

Good morning, everyone! Pop your coffee pod in your office Keurig and settle in for some nice technology bytes...

Sad tidings at Google this year -- the company's annual 'We're so much better than you' holiday party has been cancelled in favor of smaller, more socially responsible get-togethers. According to reports, instead of lavish dining and festivities that include laughing at the escorts the very rich, very geeky employees found through online ads and brought to the party, employees will be spending the early evening volunteering and then touring museums. Did I also mention that there is only one steadfast loser out there searching for a date to his Google mini-shindig? Best get right on that, ladies.

Big Bang Theory is one of my very favorite shows -- who doesn't love Sheldon's razor-sharp monotone and 3/4-length shirts? -- but should you stick around afterwards for the tepidly entertaining How I Met Your Mother? From an acting perspective... only if you adore (as I do) Neil Patrick Harris, whose lone spotlight in the show was eclipsed only by his bra-zilliant turn in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. But, onto my tech point, the show offers a whole online aspect I've rarely seen in my surfing. Official sites for Not A Father's Day, TedMosbyIsAJerk.com and Lily's 50 Reasons to Have Sex pop up minutes after airtime and offer loyal viewers another whole facet to the fan experience. Kudos to the show's forward-thinking marketing team. Not so much to its writers...

Apple is quietly suggesting that it's loyalites install anti-virus software onto their precious Macs -- a definite sign of the times. Gone is the arrogant pontificating by Mac users that their computers are 'safe' from malware. I'm not if we should celebrate this day or lament it -- I've never thought Macs were immune to attack, but I do think this may be a ploy within Apple to advertise (whether or not it's true) that it has a close to similar market share as Microsoft. Redmond has been a favorite target for hackers (not the cute, multi-colored hair, chain-wearing ones that we all love) and miscreants for year -- does Apple want some of the attention, too?

Scientists are scrounging up new data on Oetzi -- "the famous, 5,300 year old frozen mummy found in the Alps nearly two decades ago" -- writes PopSci. By analyzing the contents of his stomach, researchers have determined the Iceman ate six different kinds of moss (probably not the sweetly delicious pond scum found the the Naked's Green Machine drinks at the grocery store...). They are also not willing to close the book on his death and are revisiting possible causes.

Quote of the day:
"I'm one scotch and soda away from the cantina scene in Star Wars."
--Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris), How I Met Your Mother

**Coming up: I take the new Flip HD Mino out for its paces against it's rival, the Kodak HD Zi6. Which mini-corder reigns supreme? Hint: The winner is officially my coolest gadget of the year. Tune in Friday to read all about it...

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Holiday Gift Guide! Part 1

Monday, December 1, 2008 by Amber

It is now officially the holiday season, and time for the first annual holiday Byte-Sized Holiday Gift Guide! Few things ever live up to the hype, but I guarantee my list of the holidays' best gadget gifts will top expectations and earn you some serious kudos. I'll be revealing *3* every Monday from now until the big holiday week ... so let's get started!

Microsoft's Zune Collection
Microsoft Zune 4G
Price: $99
Buy it online at Amazon.com, BestBuy.com and Target.com

Looking for a great mp3 player but don't even know where to start? I can tell you where -- and here's a big hint: It's the same place you should finish. Get your special someone (and that could be yourself) a Microsoft Zune 4GB.

As I reviewed a few months back, it's a fantastic buy and features all the goodness of Microsoft, plus all the goodness of the iPod -- only better. I hiz-ate the magnetic earbuds, but who uses the proprietary phones anyway? Totally should top your list -- perfect for the audiophile and audiophobes.

The 4 gig version will hold just about everything you could want, especially for a fun gym run, and it comes in 4 popping colors, including the ultra-girly pink that makes teens and twenties squeal. If you've got a ton of music, try to 8G for $149-ish, or if you are crazy (like me), go for the 120G for $250...

Nintendo's Wii ConsoleNintendo Wii
Price: $399
Buy it online at Amazon.com and Target.com

Unfortunately, if you don't already have my next gift, you might not have it at all -- Nintendo's mega-hit gaming console Wii blasted off the planet when it debuted last year and has yet to hit re-entry. As far as games, get yourself a copy of the mind-bending Super Mario Galaxy and, if you can find it, the Wii Fit for some great, gadget-y fun. Wii Music will also be a big hit -- when in doubt, buy it! Your best bet here is to buy it from a vendor on Amazon.com...

Amazon.com's Kindle e-reader

Amazon.com Kindle
Price: $359
Buy it online only at Amazon.com

As if this mega-cool gadget needs an introduction -- unfortunately, it's in the same boat as the Wii: If you don't have one, don't get your hopes up. Amazon.com has reported the Kindle is sold out and has issued a waiting list for those clamouring for some hot yuletide reading with the h-o-t-t-e-s-t gadget in town. I warned you about this one, so I will refrain from the 'I told you so's.

But -- in the interest of full disclosure -- this may be a 'wait until next year' gift too, especially with news out today that rumors have pitted the Kindle 2.0 -- which looks amazing -- to debut early next quarter. Hmmm..... interesting..... Definitely weigh that news when deciding to get your book-lovin' sweetie a new e-reader. I def. will ... and I'll wait for 2.0 fo' sho'.

*** See you back here in a few days for some big tech headlines, and next Monday I'll add three more top tech gadgets to the Byte-Sized Holiday Gift Guide!

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