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Gadget Report [Digital Gear: Wi-Fi Extenders and More - 08/11/2005]

Discussion in 'PC Hardware' started by Ablang, Aug 18, 2005.

  1. Ablang

    Ablang Guest

    August 11th, 2005

    Digital Gear: Wi-Fi Extenders and More

    Agam Shah
    IDG News Service

    Looking for a way to improve the reach of your home network? Two new
    options could solve the problem: Hawking Technologies' Wireless-G
    Range Extender, a wireless network signal repeater; and IOGear's
    Powerline Networking Kit, which uses power lines to connect networks.

    Also this month: A blank keyboard for touch typists, a high-tech
    health aide, cases to protect Apple IPods, and a couple of new
    Logitech mice.

    Das Keyboard

    The labels on keys distracted bergeek Daniel Guermeur so much that he
    created Das Keyboard, a keyboard with unlabeled keys. Using his blank
    keyboard, Guermeur not only typed faster but also made fewer typing
    errors. Now he's taken his blank keyboard to the world at large--or
    rather, to touch typists who don't need labels to know which key
    they're hitting.

    This is definitely "not your typical keyboard," says Guermeur, chief
    executive officer of Metadot. Generic QWERTY keyboards need the same
    55 grams of finger weight to recognize any keystroke; Das Keyboard's
    keys require any of five different levels of force, depending on which
    finger is likely to touch a given key. Q, A, and Z can register a
    keystroke when pressed lightly by a pinky finger, while a thumb can
    hit the space bar like a hammer, he says. "The result is more comfort
    for your hands," he says.

    The Das Keyboard costs $80 and can be bought at the Das Keyboard Web

    BodyMedia Bodybugg

    Those looking to stay in shape will want to consider using the
    Bodybugg, from Apex Fitness Group and BodyMedia:

    This gadget wraps around the upper arm and continuously collects
    information on how many calories are being consumed and burned.

    BodyMedia spokesperson Joshua Silverman says the Bodybugg is better at
    collecting and analyzing data than pedometers and heart-rate monitors
    because it uses more sensors to determine how many calories a body
    burns. Four sensors measure calories burned by combining data about
    body movement, skin temperature, skin conductivity, and heat
    generation. The sensors can also use that collected data to calculate
    a body's glucose levels, weight, and blood pressure, he says.

    BodyMedia, which makes the algorithms that analyze the data, claims a
    92 percent data accuracy rate for the results of its calculations.

    Data from the Bodybugg can be transmitted to a database on a computer
    using wireless radio technology, or through a USB port, according to
    Astro Teller, chief executive officer at BodyMedia. The database,
    called Dashboard, displays how many calories a user consumes and
    burns. Additional features, including customized meal plans, exercise
    calculators, and nutrition information, assist in creating plans for
    controlling calorie consumption and weight loss. Dashboard helps users
    to meet their goals for losing weight and maintaining a healthy body,
    and can also help fitness trainers track their clients' progress and
    develop new workout regimes for them, he says.

    "We want people to take charge of their own weight," Teller says. The
    $300 Bodybugg is sold primarily through health clubs, which determine
    pricing for additional packages that may include fitness training.

    A $500 package typically includes the Bodybugg, eight weeks of
    training with a fitness trainer, some online and phone coaching, and a
    one-year license to the database, says Silverman.

    Wireless G Extender

    A good way to boost a wireless network's reach is through Hawking
    Technologies' Wireless-G Range Extender (model HWUR54G), an 802.11b/g
    wireless access point and signal repeater. The product receives a
    wireless signal from a conventional 802.11b/g Wi-Fi access point and
    retransmits it, doubling the range of the original signal. In an open
    environment with no walls or interference it can extend a wireless
    signal by up to 1000 feet, says Hawking spokesperson Jason Owen.

    The Wireless-G Range Extender is compatible with products based on all
    802.11g chip sets, Owen says. The $99 repeater is available at
    Hawking's Web site:

    Network via Power Lines

    You can extend a home network through power lines using IOGear's
    Powerline Networking Kit. The kit comes with two adapters that plug
    into conventional electrical power outlets to communicate over the
    electrical wiring in your home or small office.

    The adapters come with cables that connect them to Ethernet ports.
    Typically you connect one adapter to a free Ethernet port on your
    broadband router and the other adapter to the Ethernet port of a
    computer you wish to connect to the network. Because you cannot
    dispense completely with cables, this kit isn't great for notebook
    users seeking mobility, but it is very well suited for desktop PCs
    that have problems catching a wireless signal.

    The adapters, which are compliant with the HomePlug 1.0 power line
    specification, offer up to 14 megabits per second in bandwidth and a
    range of up to 990 feet. However, the adapters may not work on the
    power strips with noise filters usually used by audiophiles. IOGear
    sells the kit on its Web site for $99:

    Save the IPod

    Clumsy folks who risk damaging their Apple IPod media player by
    dropping it should take a look at two new Targus cases that the
    company says can spare an IPod from wear and tear and thereby increase
    its useful life.

    Targus's Slide Case is well-equipped with safety features, including a
    screen protector that keeps the display from scratching.

    While the Flip Case doesn't come with a screen protector, it provides
    better access to IPod controllers, which makes it easier to use on the
    road than the Slide Case.

    Both cases are lightweight, made of leather, and clip onto a belt.
    They're well worth $30 for those looking to safeguard their IPod.
    These cases accommodate all IPod models except the Shuffle.

    As part of its new line of IPod accessories, Targus has also
    introduced the $50 RemoteTunes remote control. It comes with an RF
    receiver that plugs into the top of the IPod and receives commands
    from the tiny remote control. RemoteTunes is handy for users who
    travel with their IPods and wish to increase or decrease volume and/or
    fast forward or pause a song without having to remove the player from
    a bag, says Michael Greco, director of marketing at Targus.

    The cases and remote control will start shipping in July and will be
    available at retailers across the U.S.

    Need a Mini Mouse?

    Battery life and management are the focus of Logitech's new V200
    Cordless and Cordless Mini Optical mice.

    The $30 Cordless Mini Optical has an indicator on top of the mouse
    that blinks or turns red if its battery runs low. It can operate for a
    year on a single AA battery, says Kate Brinks, a Logitech
    spokesperson. The mouse communicates with a receiver plugged into a
    computer's USB port; when not in use, the receiver can be slipped into
    the bottom of the mouse. The mouse lives up to its name--it's
    small--and is a low-cost way for notebook users to upgrade from a
    touchpad, Brinks says.

    While the Mini is targeted at style-conscious folks, the V200 Cordless
    mouse is for people who need a better grip and more precision while
    tracking, Brinks says. The $40 V200 Cordless doesn't offer all the
    cool features of its upscale sibling, the $70 V500 mouse (the V500 is
    less bulky, for example), but the V200 handles batteries better: You
    can replace them by sliding off the top panel. The V200 Cordless can
    accommodate two AA batteries, but can function with only one should
    the second lose its charge.

    Both mice come with batteries and are compatible with both Windows and
    the Mac OS.

    Have a question or comment? Write to Agam Shah:

    Read Agam Shah's regularly published "Digital Gear" columns:

    "In a world where more than 10 million americans live with cancer -- we believe unity is strength, knowledge is power, and attitude is everything!"
    -- Livestrong, by Lance Armstrong
    Ablang, Aug 18, 2005
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