Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

One Minute Review: Verso Clip-On Reading Light

When it comes to reading in bed at night, I’d typically rest a Petzl LED headlamp on my chest and aim it at my Kindle or book to provide excellent illumination for comfortable reading in the dark. Designed mainly for cycling and other outdoor in-the-dark uses, the Petzl served me well as a faithful bedtime companion for many years.

However I’ve recently kicked the Petzl out of my bed in favor of another reading light: The Verso Clip-On Reading Light. It’s small and lightweight, has a single bright LED light, and its padded clip attaches easily and firmly to my Kindle 3′s leather case.

Some users have complained there’s only one brightness setting on/off), while other book lights offer two settings. The single setting works fine for me.

Two small quibbles:

  1. Although light spreads a nice and even swath of light on the Kindle screen without creating a glaring “hotspot” in the display itself, the “amazonkindle” logo does reflect some glare that’s a bit distracting to the point of I find myself holding my Kindle with my thumb over the logo to block the glare.
  2. Amazon sells the light in white, red or turquoise ($19.99), however I bought the black model ($14.99) to match my graphite Kindle 3 at a nearby Borders store rather than purchase the light from Amazon.

Neither gripe has anything to do with the light itself, which makes it easy for me to recommend the Verso Clip-On Reading Light for bedtime book reading of every shape and size and format (including good ol’ fashioned real books, too).

Amazon.com: Verso Clip-On Reading Light for Kindle.

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Smart phones that top the holiday list, by Joe Hutsko

Smart phones that top the holiday list
These phones will let you send text messages, email and listen to tunes
By Joe Hutsko

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On MSNBC – Cool holiday tech: Headphones, by Joe Hutsko

On MSNBC.com:

Cool holiday tech: Headphones
Ditch your junkie freebie headphones for one of these sweet-sounding sets
By Joe Hutsko


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One Minute Review: Bose SoundDock Portable speaker system (with iPhone)

sounddockp What: Bose SoundDock Portable, $399 (www.bose.com).

The good: The SoundDock Portable weighs under five pounds, has strong volume and bass, tight design and solid construction. Bose reports up to three hours of use on the rechargeable battery when listening at full volume. The company says lowering the volume provides longer battery life but does not cite specific estimates. In my test with the iPhone, I was able to receive calls while using the SoundDock Portable; like the iPhone’s headphones, the music fades to silence to take the call, then fades back when the call ends.

The not so good: The power adapter is big and clunky, and while a groove to wrap the cord is nice, the shape and size of the adapter makes it an unpleasant travel partner. The iPhone’s volume control is deactivated when plugged into the SoundDock, so you’ve got to use the remote to raise and lower the volume. The iPhone’s other controls work fine, and the remote lets you also pause, play and skip tracks. Lastly, as with certain other Bose products, there’s no bass or treble control and the bass is very heavy while the treble not fine enough. Since female vocalists like Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones, Nina Simone and Alanis Morisette are my favorites, treble matters to me; I managed to improve the sound of the ladies’ voices by changing the iPhone’s EQ setting to Acoustic (Vocal Booster and Treble Booster both gave too much treble).

Bottom line: Great room-filling sound with lots of bass, acceptable treble when adjusted via the iPod or iPhone’s EQ setting, but traveling with the clunky adapter is a bummer. Dedicated fans of Bose products will be pleased with the SoundDock Portable, while others may want to consider the less expensive Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere Compact Speakers ($149), which though not as loud and bassy, do produce good sound and are easier to travel with.

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MSNBC.com: Can the iPhone do double duty as a laptop?

Can the iPhone do double duty as a laptop?
Slick new phone proves it can go the distance as an all-in-one device
By Joe Hutsko

Also: iWish: iPhone updates we’d like to see

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A great book light: Petzl’s headlamp for the great outdoors

Petzl headlamp used as the perfect reading lightCrashed out in bed or on the sofa in the dark, I prefer a small, direct lamp to light the book I’m reading rather than a traditional table/desk/overhead lamp. I’ve tried all of those itty bitty kinds. The kind that attaches to the back of the book itself and points down on the pages. Those gooseneck types that twist and turn to aim but never quite get it right. Neither of those made-especially-for-readers lights work for me because they’re too much trouble to balance or hold. And moreoften than not, the neck assemblies wear too quickly and break.

The best reading light I’ve found wasn’t meant for a bookish life at all. It’s the Petzl E47P Tikka Plus Headlamp. The company makes outdoor gear like helmets and headlamps - as in lights you literally strapped to your forehead for nighttime caving or cycling or hiking or rock climbing. I found the perfect lamp at the EMS on Broadway near NYU. It cost about $30, takes three AAA batteries, has three brightness settings (plus flash, which isn’t helpful to readers, but is useful to cyclists who like to traverse roadways in a pitch black night), and comes with a headstrap.

No, I don’t lie in bed with the thing strapped to my head. Instead, I removed the strap, and set the Petzl on my chest, aimed at what I’m reading. Four click-stop settings make it easy to find just the right angle.

Why not an ordinary bedside lamp? Because for some reason I like the candle-like focus of this little lamp. It’s sort of like the reading light you might remember as a kid, reading under the covers with a flashlight or in a tent. It’s intimate and comforting, and nicely focused on what’s at hand: the book in front of your eyes, and nothing else around.

Sleep bright tight.

Petzl E47P Tikka Plus Headlamp

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Nokia’s 6682 Smartphone: Your Office in Your Pocket

My sidekick Nick at WXOU Radio barI’m writing this entry on a Nokia 6682 smartphone at my West Village neighborhood bar, WXOU Radio. This is one of the best phones I’ve ever used. The number of bars I get on Cingular are double what I ever got on a Treo, and the sound through both the earpiece or speakerphone is loud and clear. Standout features include a 1.3 megapixel camera with flash and 6x zoom that’s activated by sliding down a protective lens cover. Bluetooth lets me swap pictures and videos with my Mac PowerBook (or a PC with Bluetooth). It also lets me sync the 6682 with my Mac’s Address book, and iCal calendar items and tasks. Happily, iSync syncs all of my Address book fields, including two addresses, multiple phone numbers and email addresses, birthdays, and even photos for those contacts that have them, whereas some phones sync only some but not all of these fields.

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