Thursday, January 31, 2008

TokyoFlash Barcode SS

If the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica ever had the need to wear a watch, I am pretty sure this is what it would look like. From the land that brought us Hello Kitty Contact Lenses, we now have the Barcode SS watch. Featuring red, green, and yellow binary L.E.D.s that display the time and date in such a cryptic manner that even Steven Hawking would find it perplexing.

TokyoFlash carries a complete line of ultra modern timepieces that will impress and bemuse your friends.

Pros: Very Solid Build Quality, Cool L.E.D.s, Chicks Dig It.

What F*&%ing Time Is It?

List Price: $225.00

Click here to buy from Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

mStand Laptop Stand

Ever notice that after spending several hours working on your laptop that your neck and shoulders are a little stiff? Get that laptop off your desk and elevate it to a higher and more ergonomic level. Rain Design has created a sleek laptop stand that looks like it belongs on exhibit at MOCA.

Made of a single piece of aluminum, the mStand raises your laptop's screen to the same height as an external monitor. This helps to improve your posture by raising the laptop's screen to eye level which results in better ergonomics. As a bonus, since it is made of aluminum, it also acts as a heat sink to help cool your hot running machine.

Pros: Sculpted Good Looks, Improves Airflow & Ergonomics.

Doesn't Come In Black.

List Price: $49.99

Click here to buy from Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

GOM Media Player

Let's be honest, Windows Media Player sucks. Say goodbye to Bill Gates and his cronies with the new GOMPLAYER. It will pretty much play any video format that you can throw at it. It will even play broken AVI files via it's patented technology. Other amazing utilities such as built-in screen capture with multi burst capability and advanced slowmotion/fastmotion with pitch voice adjustment make this media player a no brainer.

Bye bye Windows Media Player you will not be missed.

Pros: Various format playback, multi burst screen capture, built-in codec finder.

No Mac Version.

List Price: FREE!

Monday, January 28, 2008

M-Audio Nova Large Capsule Cardioid Microphone

Looking for a professional quality cardioid microphone but don't have the deep pockets for the world famous Neumann U 87? For about $3,400 less, you might want to consider M-Audio's Nova. The Nova is an affordable large capsule cardioid microphone that features a 1.1 inch evaporated gold diaphragm. Frequency response is rated at a respectable 20Hz-18kHz. The feel and weight are much more substantial than you would expect from a mic at this price point. It's solid brass body and capsule should provide years of trouble free service.

For recording podcasts, voice overs, or acoustic instruments, this budget mic is more than capable of providing professional quality results. As with most studio mics it does require 48V phantom power and connects via XLR.

Now all you have to do is to figure out what to do with all the money that you saved.

Pros: Very Solid Build Quality, Sounds Rich & Full, Great Bang For Buck.

Shock Mount Not Included.

List Price: $129.95

Click here to buy from Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Minty Fresh Penguin Headphone Amp

Ever wonder what to do with all those empty mint tins? How about making an audiophile quality headphone amp? Amazingly enough a whole community of DIY'ers has sprung up making high quality headphone amps that fit into a minuscule mint tin. Commonly known as a CMOY, named after the original concept and design by Chu Moy. If you are tech savvy enough to build your own, you can find instructions and parts lists at Tangentsoft and at Williamneo.

If you are too lazy or technically challenged, you can get a slick professional built amp from Penguin Amp International. Based in Germany, Robert Gehrke has taken this idea and raised it to a new level. He offers three models ranging from $49.00 to $99.00. I like the "Caffeine Ultra" which features a meticulously designed printed circuit board. Much nicer that anything I could ever cobble together.

Pros: Retro Graphics, Professionally Built.

Mints Not Included.

List Price: $49.00 to $99.00

Friday, January 25, 2008

XtremeMac Roadshow for iPod Video

If you live in a city like Los Angeles where you spend more time in your car stuck in traffic than you do chillin' on your sofa at home watching T.V. You might want to consider getting yourself XtremeMac's IPV-CAV-100 Roadshow for your video iPod. With this sweet little cable you can hook up your iPod to your vehicle's standard 12-volt accessory outlet to power an charge your iPod while the audio and video cables output a signal to your DVD Navigation/Entertainment system.

It looks like this product might have been recently discontinued, so get one while you can.

Pros: Video & Audio Output, Charges iPod.

Might Be Hard To Find One.

List Price: $59.95

Click here to buy from Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Belkin Podcast Studio 2-Track iPod Recorder

The problem with field recording is all the gear you need to lug around just to make a high quality recording. Belkin might just have the answer to this dilemma with it's soon to be released Podcast Studio. It turns your iPod into a 2-track stereo recorder. Featuring two XLR/1/4" combo jacks, two built-in rotating directional mics (L/R), compressor/limiter, low cut filter, adjustable gain, LED meter, built-in playback speaker, and a headphone jack. Recordings will be stored as an uncompressed 44.1kHz stereo WAV file. Power will be provided by two AAA batteries.

It should work with any 5G (video) iPod, the iPod Classic, and the 3G iPod Nano. With a projected release date of June 2008, the Podcast Studio should retail for a low ball price of $99.99. Keep in mind that Belkin has yet to ship it's TuneStudio 4-channel iPod mixer that it announced over a year ago. Hopefully the Podcast Studio will not meet the same fate.

Pros: Two XLR inputs, Built-In Compressor/Limiter, Modern Design.

Records Only to WAV Format, Possible Vaporware.

List Price: $99.99 (Price subject to change.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

TuffWrap for iPod/iPhone/iTouch

It's a cruel, cruel world. You are going to need some protection. XtremeMac knows this and has just what you need for your iPod/iPhone/iTouch. TuffWrap is a high-grade silicone case that protects against scratches and dings. Featuring side ridges that give you a secure grip to help prevent inadvertent fumbling. A protective door for the dock connector and cutouts provide access to all controls. TuffShield, a clear hard-coated plastic film, is also included to protect the fragile screen of your device.

All it takes is dropping your iPod/iPhone/iTouch just once, before you realize that wrapping that little sucker would be a very good idea indeed.

Pros: Great Protection, Gripping Edges, Slim Design.

Not Waterproof.

List Price: $19.95

Click here to buy from Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.

USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter

Newer Technology has updated it's popular USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter. Touted as the "Swiss Army Knife" of disk connectivity, this little gadget turns any bare drive into an external storage solution. It's a complete solution that allows any 2.5˝, 3.5˝, or 5.25˝ hard drive or optical drive to be connected via USB to any USB equipped computer for file transfer, backing-up and storing file archives, and accessing date on stored backup drives with Plug & Play ease. It now features status LED's to provide easy confirmation of the transfer of data.

This makes it way too convenient to pick up whatever high capacity drive is on sale at your local retailer and make yourself a backup drive that you can place in a drawer or take off site.

Pros: Works With Any Bare Drive, New LED Status Lights

No Firewire Connection.

List Price: $29.95

Friday, January 18, 2008

mStation 2.1 Stereo Orb

Need a mod looking stereo speaker system for your latest iPod? Looking like an extra from the 1975 film "Rollerball" starring James Caan, this little orb packs 2.1 audio into a sleek modern design. MStation's Stero Orb features an iPod doc, Subwoofer, and a 10 key remote. This little guy is perfect for a home office or dorm room. With 30 watts of power it should be more than enough to satisfy your rump shaking needs. It comes in a rainbow of colors to match any decor. You can pick from white, black, blue, green, pink, red, and silver.

Just be sure to keep it away from drunken friends who might mistake it for a bowling ball.

Pros: Mod Design, Built-in Subwoofer, Nice Remote

Not for Audiophiles, No Video Out.

List Price: $129.95

Click here to buy from Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Elgato Turbo.264

The current king of the hill codec for portable digital video is hands down h.264. With this codec you can squeeze an hour and a half movie down to well under 1 GB, while still being able to maintain both color and detail. This makes it perfect for converting your favorite movies and videos for playback on your iPod, iTouch, and iPhone. The only downside is that with great compression comes very long processing times. A typical movie can take several hours to encode depending on how fast your host's computer processor is.

Elgato has come up with an ingenious and economical way to solve this problem. Turbo.264 is a USB 2.0 device that plugs in to your computer just like a typical thumb drive, but instead it features a built in processor that is designed specifically to encode h.264 videos. You can expect to see a speed improvement of about 2 to 3 times faster on newer macs. With much older macs the speed improvement will be even more dramatic. Some users of prehistoric macs have reported speed increases up to 10 times faster.

Is the Turbo.264 right for you? If you just bought a new 8 core Mac Pro, then you don't need it. For slower laptop users and owners of older macs it could just be the kick in the pants that you are looking for.

Pros: Faster Encoding, Leaves CPU Free to Perform Other Tasks

Somewhat Larger File Sizes Compared to Software Only Compression

List Price: $99.00

Click here to buy from Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Back In Black

Apparently someone at Canon has been reading my blog. How else can you explain that Canon will soon be releasing it's updated version of the "2007 Camcorder of the Year", the HV20 with the new HV30, which now comes in beautiful tuxedo black? Coincidence...maybe. Besides the welcome color change, the new HV30 will also be able to record in 30p. This will benefit online film creators who want to put their videos online. The camera will now also support Canon's BP-2L24H expanded battery pack which the HV20 does not.

Sometimes dreams do come true. Well...almost.

Pros: Black & Beautiful, New 30p Mode, Expanded Battery Option.

Still Lacking In Manual Controls.

List Price: $999.00

Click here to buy from Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Air Apparent

One of the most popular laptops for DJ's and Visual Artists has always been the ultra portable and downright nice looking Apple 12 inch G4 Powerbook. The only problem was that Apple stopped making them in the first quarter of 2006. So for the past 2 years, artists have been yearning for the return of the small form factor Powerbook Apple. It seems like Steve Jobs must have heard their pleas. Apple's new super slim MacBook Air will fill that void. Unbelievably thin and super light, it comes standard with a 13.3 inch widescreen display, a 1.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, and 2GB of DDR2 SDRAM. Tiptoeing the scale at a featherweight 3 pounds, it looks a little like an Sony VAIO that is suffering from a slight case of anorexia.

Nice to have you back, we missed you.

Pros: Super Light, Super Thin, Beautiful Design

No Firewire Ports, Slow 4200 rpm Harddive, No Built-in Optical Drive

List Price: $1799.00


It's 2008, so where the hell is my flying car? Aren't we supposed to have those by now? Until that day comes, I guess I will have to be satisfied with having my own robot. Data Robotics are the makers of the world's first storage robot. Drobo is an infinitely expandable storage enclosure that holds up to four 3.5" sata drives. It provides automated redundant data protection with an easy to use plug and play interface. Plug in a new drive and Drobo automatically backs up the data across the other adjacent drives. If one drives fails, no problem, the data is safe as it has already been backed up on the other drives.

To quote HAL from Stanley Kubrick 's 2001 A Space Odyssey -"The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error."

Creepy indeed.

Pros: Infinitely Expandable, Non-Stop Data Protection, Easy Interface.

Not as Cool as R2D2 or as Paranoid as HAL.

List Price: $499.00

Click here to buy from Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.

Sony Bony

Sony's wafer thin 11-inch XEL-1 television stole the show at CES 2008. At just 1/8th inch thick, Sony's newest supermodel sets the trend that thin is definitely in. The XEL-1 uses a new panel technology called OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode), which offers amazing picture quality. But all this sex appeal comes at a pretty steep price. How about $2,500? That comes out to $227 per diagonal inch. That's about 10 times the price per inch that you would expect to pay for today's current Plasma's and LCD's. As with all new technology the price will eventually drop as manufacturing techniques are perfected and material costs are lowered.

Pros: Super Sexy, Wafer Thin, Amazing Color & Contrast

More Expensive Than Manhattan Real Estate

List Price:

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Canon HV20

A couple of years ago the hot camera for independent filmmakers was Panasonic's AG-DVX100. This was the first consumer camcorder to shoot at 24p (24 frames per second, progressive). While this is still a great indie camera, it is limited by the fact that it can only shoot in Standard Definition at 720x480 pixels. Canon's little pocket sized HV20 can also shot at 24p, which is the most important criteria for achieving a film look, but this little guy does it at High Definition at 1920x1080 pixels. Having a camera that does 24p at 1920x1080 that can literally fit in your pocket is nothing short of amazing. It does all this for under a thousand bucks. Good times.

Pros: 24p Goodness, High Definition Resolution, HDMI Connection

Doesn't Come in Black, Lack of Manual Controls.

List Price: $999.99

Click here to buy from Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Final Cut Pro 6 Visual QuickPro Guide

So, you finally went out and bought Final Cut Pro 6, but you are still not quite sure how to take advantage of all it's advanced features. You could try reading the 2033 page user's manual which comes with Final Cut Pro. That's about 737 pages more than Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace". Our you could get yourself a copy of Final Cut Pro 6 Visual QuickPro Guide from Lisa Brenneis. This is much more digestible at just 720 pages.

You will find this a great resource to keep at your fingertips for quick and easy answers to your editing questions. I have been recommending her books to my students for years and have been very happy with the results.

Pros: Clear and Concise, Reasonable Priced.

No Tutorial Files.

List Price: $34.99

Click here to buy from Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Rode VideoMic

As Stu Maschwitz so eloquently pointed out in his book The DV Rebel's Guide, "the built-in mic on your camcorder is for decoration only. Use an external mic piped into your camera's audio input". I couldn't have said it better myself. One of the easiest ways to add professional production value to your independent productions is to get away from the video camera's built-in microphone and use a dedicated directional microphone. Built in camera mics often pick up the sound of the tape transport since they are built into the camera's body. Putting an external mic on a boom pole will enable you to position the mic much closer to the talent, resulting in much clearer and stronger audio with better low end and less ambient room noise. Ever notice how cheap video productions sound like the audio was recorded in a bathroom? Just watch a low budget porno to see what I mean. For some reason they seem to forget about audio quality. What, you've never seen one? Okay, I believe you.

I have yet to find a better mic for the money than the Rode VideoMic, a directional condenser microphone. This microphone exhibits low noise and is powered by a standard 9 V battery and offers a Low Battery LED status indicator and a switchable high pass filter to reduce unwanted low frequency rumble. It also features a built in shock mount which really helps to isolate the mic from picking up vibrations that might cause audio pops. Rode, from the land down under, are makers of some of the most repected studio mics. So you can rest assured that they know what they are doing.

How does it sound? Pretty darn good. It is capable of providing vary accurate and clean audio with a nice sounding fullness. I have compared it to mics that cost 2 to 3 times more, and this mic holds it own. For video productions on a budget, this is the mic for you.

Pros: Inexpensive, Great Sounding, Built-In Shock Mount.

Stereo Mini Jack Connector.

List Price: $249.00

Click here to buy from Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Hear Like Howard & Peter

If you are going to be doing anything with audio the requires professional quality closed ear monitoring, there really is only one choice. Sony's MDR7506 Professional Dynamic Stereo Headphones. Howard Stern and Peter Jackson already know that these headphones are the industry standard and are used worldwide by musicians, engineers, and directors.

With a dynamic frequency response from 10 Hz - 20,000 kHz, these headphones are able to cover the full spectrum of what you can throw at them. I particularly like the extra long coiled headphone cable which makes it much more usable while on location. I have had a pair of these for about 7 years and they are still going strong.

Pros: Collapsible, Extra Long Cord, Gold Plated Connector, Great Sounding.

Cons: Will not make you as cool or as wealthy as Howard or Peter.

List Price: $130.00

Click here to buy from Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.

Stop & Shop

Pixelphile has teamed up with to provide it's readers with a one stop shop for the hot picks reviewed in the blog. Swing on buy when you get a chance. Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

iPhone Juice Pack

Everyone knows that the iPhone is one cool gadget. But as a phone, it does have one serious drawback. Battery life. Nothing like using your iPhone to watch a movie while you are on a cross country flight. The only bummer is that your battery is probably going to be dead by the time you arrive. That would make calling your friend to meet you down by baggage claim rather difficult. Most cellphones have easily accessible batteries that you can replace in a matter of seconds. The iPhone does not. What's a world traveler to do? Get yourself a "Juice Pack" from mophie. This slide on battery pack will power up your iPhone with up to 8 hours of Talk Time. I particularly like the homage to the old G3 Powerbook Batteries with the 4 stage LED indicator.

Pros: Extended Battery Life, Great for Traveling.

Cons: "Kermit The Frog" Green Interior Lining.

List Price: $99.95

Click here to buy from Pixelphile's Amazon Stop & Shop.