Cool Tech Reviews

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November 30, 2006

AOL offers free movie downloads on Dec. 2


A number of tech news sites are reporting that AOL will offer 30 movies for free download starting at 6 AM EST on Saturday, Dec. 2. For example, BetaNews:

AOL said Thursday that it would offer 30 movies to users of its AOL Video portal at no cost as a holiday gift. The titles, which would include recent releases like Spiderman 2 and holiday favorites like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation normally sell for $9.99 to $19.99 USD. Users would be limited to one movie download, and would have 24 hours beginning at 6:00am ET on December 2 to download it.

The movies would be delivered in Windows Media format, and require a Windows XP computer running Internet Explorer and Windows Media 10 in order to view them. Once downloaded, the user would be able to view the file offline, as well as on one other PC and two Windows Media-compatible portable devices.

The only difficulty is that I can’t find a direct mention of the offer at the AOL Video site. On the other hand, searching for “Free Today Only” currently turns up 77 results (some are previews) including the movies mentioned above that say “When you download today, your credit card will NOT be charged.” Since there’s a day and half to go before the free offer starts, I’m a bit confused or the folks at AOL are.

In any case, the point for AOL is undoubtedly to get you to sign up and register the credit card that they won’t charge in hopes that you will eventually want something for which they can charge you. Caveat emptor, but if you see a movie you like, nothing beats free.


Posted at 9:35 pm. Filed under AOL, Companies, Freebies, Internet, Video Downloads

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November 26, 2006

A selection of Cyber Monday tech bargains


Despite the efforts of the National Retail Federation to institutionalize a a fairly recent creation, most retailers’ Cyber Monday efforts are rather fluid with many starting before Monday and extending afterwards. Most also lack the extremely low priced “door buster specials” that typify Black Friday at brick and mortar retailers. Nonetheless there are some bargains to be had as well as some retailers who just appear to be phoning it in.

BestBuy (2 day sale):

Circuit City:

CompUSA:

Staples has mostly office supplies, but there’s:

Tiger Direct’s Top Ten Deals of the Week! is still pointing to a pre-Thanksgiving Sale, and the main website is currently featuring a 72 hour after Thanksgiving sale, but the bargain prices seem to be good until later in the week as long as supplies last. In any case, there are $399 and $499 laptops, $399 desktops, $139 LCD monitors, and more.


Posted at 8:08 pm. Filed under Bargains, Black Friday, Cyber Monday

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How about a digital picture frame?


Recently I’ve been checking Amazon’s electronics best seller list to see how Microsoft’s Zune is doing (not too well compared to Apple’s iPod) and one thing that has amazed me is the popularity of digital picture frames. Right now, #10 on Amazon’s list is the $89.99 (special price) Digital Spectrum MemoryFrame MF-575 5.6-Inch Digital Picture Frame:

 

and #13 is the $167.92 Philips 6.5-Inch Digital Picture Frame (Clear) w/3 Additional Colored Frames:

However, just searching Amazon or your favorite retailer will turn up a lot more in various sizes, feature levels, and prices.

Reviews of the Digital Spectrum Memory Frame MF-575 seem to be in short supply and it isn’t even listed at the Digital Spectrum website (which lists a number of other models), but based on the Amazon description,  it has a 5.6 inch (diagonal) TFT LCD screen that fits into a standard 5×7 inch picture frame (a wood one is included in the unit) and the frame can be set on a desk or mounted on a wall.  It doesn’t appear that it has any internal storage of its own, but takes standard camera MD/SD/MMC memory cards which also can contain MP3 music and MPEG1, 2, 4 movie format (up to 320×240) video. A remote control comes with the unit so you can change the display and set up slide shows.

The Philips unit is their model number 7FF1M4/37 and is nearly twice the price, but you get a bigger 6.5 inch (diagonal) display and it has 32 MB internal memory as well a USB connection and provision for Compact Flash I (CF) cards as well as Memory Stick (MS), SD Card and Multi Media Cards (MMC). This particular model fits a high tech decor with a clear plastic frame as well as three color bezels that can be added, but there are a variety of other models with a more traditional look. It apparently is controlled with buttons on the back and not with a remote.

As for reviews, you can check the reviews of the similar Philips model 7FF1AW on Daggle and Engadget, but everyone seems to agree it’s a great gadget. The only substantial caveat:

The display is, unfortunately smaller than we imagined from the press photos and marketing collateral. Guess we fixated too much on those, er “7-inches” which in photography patter would indicate a device for showcasing 5 x 7-inch photos. Oh right, Philips manufactures displays so that measurement is diagonal! Thus the actual LCD is 3.6 x 5.4-inches (9 x 14-centimeters) which is still respectable and in-line with traditional frames you’ll find in most homes — just not what we had expected.

And that’s a point worth remembering - no matter which model or manufacturer you choose since diagonal screen measurement is the standard.

I suppose the other comment that should be made is that digital picture frames aren’t particularly cheap, particularly if you go for a larger screen size like the $ 399 15 inch MF-1500 from Digital Spectrum:

For a few dollars more you can just buy a laptop!


Posted at 2:35 pm. Filed under Companies, Digital Picture Frame, Digital Spectrum, Philips

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