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Gadget Blog Corrections Blog

An actually-researched look at gadget blog bullshit.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Sony CompactVault: or "Anti-Sony Rant #9"

Gizmodo decided it's time for this week's have a go at Sony:
Sony’s New Proprietary Memory Scheme - Compact Vault: [...] The Compact Vault is a variant of CompactFlash Type II, so in a way they are simply upgrading, but there is probably no chance in hell that it will be compatible with older CompactFlash devices.
Let's have a look at the Sony press release:
The new COMPACTVAULT media is compatible with all products with a CF Type II slot
High-end Sony cameras have had Compact Flash slots for Microdrives for years, so there's nothing surprising about this news let alone, as Gizmodo calls it, "the sixth Sony Memory Stick version released." Moving towards a standard format is something Gizmodo should be applauding, right?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Power Mac G5 "Quad"

Ryan Block at Engadget asks "Just how well does the Power Mac G5 Quad perform?" and links to a Macworld review to answer it. The fourth paragraph of that review?

Our tests didn’t include the Power Mac G5 Quad [...]

Update: The post has been deleted

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

IR deodorizing phone: Copy and paste is too hard

So Phoneyworld were writing about a dubious new phone that's meant to use "Far infrared" to kill bacteria. What is that?
Far infrared rays, a part of natural sunlight having the longest wavelength, [...]
So apparently, far infrared is the longest wavelength component of sunlight. Here's what Gizmodo told their readers:
As opposed to regular infrared, far infrared rays are part sunlight and are believed to have the longest known wavelength.
That's "Taking a simple statement and putting it in your own words" that they've messed up. Well done Gizmodo, a new low.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Nokia Bluetooth Pen

So, about two and a half years ago, Nokia brought out the SU-1B Digital Pen. Gizmodo wrote about it yesterday:

If you’re a note freak like me, you’ll thoroughly appreciate Nokia’s Bluetooth pen, which gives you the freedom to write on any cellphone screen by making it a touchpad. Brilliant, though pretty elementary if you think about it, this pen lets you jot down small notes—like phone numbers, addresses or appointments—instead of dealing with the whole SMS thing. And you can write just like a normal pen and paper, though you’ll then be able to transmit the data to any other compatible device.
I'm really struggling to figure out what the writer thought the pen does. The writer implies to readers - sorry, explicitly says - that it lets you "write on any cellphone screen", which it doesn't. You have to write on paper first and it records your penstrokes. After that wrong turn, the rest of the post makes no sense.

Readers are also challenged to a parlor game of figuring out what the writer thinks a "touchpad" is. The linked review uses it as a synonym for "touchscreen", but since the title of the Gizmodo article is "Make Any Cellphone Into a Touchpad", that's not it. Any thoughts?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Deleted Posts Watch: PalmOS is dead, no it isn't

An interesting one on Engadget today (no links, obviously). Ryan Block announced the death of the PalmOS:
We have it that Access officially declared what industry experts expected and Palm fanboys feared, [...] that a “logical end-of-life is expected for the Palm operating system.” [...] Basically, if there was ever any hope for PalmOS to survive this buyout, it’s now definitely thoroughly dashed.
A while later:
Update: [...] Brighthand’s Ed Hardy has spoken to insiders at PalmSource who claim that while the next-gen PalmOS will be Linux-based, it will still run older apps and maintain the tradtional Palm look and feel [...]
They've since withdrawn the whole article, which I guess is fair enough. But if ever there was an advert never to trust what you read on the gadget blogs (including this one), or the internet in general, this is it.

#1 Phone concept: Wireless methanol

Marc Perton of Engadget describes a new phone concept as both "fuel-cell powered" and "induction-charged". Very nice, except fuel cells are recharged by topping up the methanol supply, and not with electricity. It seems this error was carried over from the original page, but writing on autopilot is as bad as making errors yourself.

Update: Fuck, Peter "You'd think he'd have better things to worry about" Rojas points out in the comments the existence of hydrogen fuel cells that regenerate fuel using hydrolysis, which obviously the author was thinking of and wasn't just throwing buzzwords around. Never mind.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Sony NW-A1200 music player

Today you might have read this on Gizmodo:
Check out the Sony A series, limited edition NW-A1000. A 6GB player in jet black, it’s small, smooth and retro looking [...]
Except the 6GB NW-A1000 isn't limited edition and isn't new. The 8GB NW-A1200 is. The writer was confused when confronted with this sentence in the source article:
The A series is the most anticipated line of MP3 players from Sony. Sony has launched a limited edition of the NW-A1000 6 GB MP3 player the A1200/B which comes in Jet black color with a 8 GB Hard drive.
Shockingly and mindbogglingly, the Gizmodo post even includes a link to that story, and the link is labeled "Sony A series NW-A1200/B with 8 GB storage". And yet that's not what they wrote about.

Sony XL1 Media Center PC + 200 Disc DVD Changer

This isn't so much a correction as a wake up call. One of the most annoying things about the gadget blogs is when they take a really interesting product and make it seem as boring as they possibly can. This week, the Sony Vaio XL1 Media Center PC. It comes with a frigging integrated[-ish] 200 disc CD/DVD changer, which can even record DVDs. What did Gizmodo do? They moaned about the specs of the PC, then mentioned the DVD changer as a footnote:
This machine does include a nifty keyboard/touchpad combo, has an integrated DVD changer and doesn’t look very PC-esque.
Just for comparison, last week Evan Blass at Engadget was very impressed with a similar product from Niveus that doesn't include a PC and (as far as I can tell) doesn't record discs:
[...] and although price has yet to be announced, we are speculating that it will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of a million billion dollars.
So Sony took that million billion dollar product, added recording capability, and bundled it with a PC. Paul Miller at Engadget still isn't happy:
[...] Sony’ll take a hefty sum of money off your hands while they’re at it — $2300 will net you the set.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Belkin TuneFM

Gizmodo says:
Since the new iPod yet again does not come with a built-in FM tuner, users will have to buy an accessory to listen to their FM stations. Belkin updates their FM tuner attachment with the "TuneFM".
That's FM Transmitter

Friday, October 14, 2005

Tascam HD-P2 audio recorder

If you read this on Gizmodo:
Tascam’s upcoming HD-P2 records up to a whopping “high-definition” 192 kHz / 24-bit Broadcast WAVE and connects to your computer via FireWire
You'd probably be wondering if Broadcast WAVE is some kind of encoding that makes audio more whopping. It's not, it's an EBU standardized version of Microsoft's WAV format. It's not a codec that would effect sound quality. I'm not sure whether the Gizmodo writers know this and it's just a poorly constructed sentence, but either way it's sad we have to put up with this shit.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Motorola 3G RAZR

It has quite a different look than the normal V3 RAZR’s and it features dual color displays, Bluetooth, MicroSD support, an audio player, dual cameras (??) and is sporting a new Linux/Java operating system.
If you read this entry over at Gizmodo, you're probably wondering what's so shocking ("??") about a phone having dual cameras. Well nothing, it's a 3G flip-phone, and almost all of them do. Gizmodo has even been writing about them for well over two years.

Apple Remote is not Bluetooth

The Apple Store says:
Compatible with Apple products introduced in 2005 or later that have a built-in Infrared (IR) receiver.
Also, I keep seeing blog and forum postings about how the new 4:3 320x240 Academy Ratio screen on the new iPod is also "widescreen". Please stop it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Apple Remote confusion

Earlier today, Peter Rojas of Engadget wrote:
Yeah, not as big as a new video iPod, but Stevie did announce the new Bluetooth-enabled Apple Remote, as well as Front Row, a new Mac user interface for navigating your media collection (music, photos, videos, and DVDs) from a distance (like from yr couch).
The entry now reads:
Yeah, not as big as a new video iPod, but Stevie did announce the new Apple Remote, as well as Front Row, a new Mac user interface for navigating your media collection (music, photos, videos, and DVDs) from a distance (like from yer couch, you lazy bastard).
Where did the "Bluetooth-enabled" go? Answer: All over the blogosphere. While it's good of Engadget to correct articles once in a while, they need to be a bit more upfront about doing it.

(NB I have no information about whether or not the remote does support Bluetooth or not, but common sense and the laws of cost-reduction point to "no")

Samsung CFL-LCD technology

Marc Perton of Engadget discusses Samsung's new LCD technology. He begins his explanation of how it works thusly:
Samsung’s 32-inch CFL-LCD works, according to the company, by using sequential processing, [...]
OK, so he hasn't really told us anything yet, and "sequential processing" on its own doesn't really mean anything. Let's see how he continues:
Samsung’s 32-inch CFL-LCD works, according to the company, by using sequential processing, and runs on just 82 watts, a 40% power reduction over traditional LCDs.
There appears to be a bit missing.

Video iPod confusion

I'll leave as an exercise for the reader to figure out what's going on at Gizmodo:
Let's look at the specs:
The new iPod is has 4x3 screen, 320x240 pixels and 260,000 colors and does realtime decoding of MPEG4 and H.264 at 30fps. It has video out.
VGA is 480x720, but this is widescreen, which makes it better for video.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Humax LGB-40TPVR: By rote

Evan Blass of Engadget writes:
Humax Digital recently revealed a 40-inch HD plasma LCD TV with both a built-in DVR and dual digital Freeview tuners for watching those free UK terrestrial broadcasts. The LGB-40TPVR is one of the larger models we’ve seen to include a hard drive, although its 40GB capacity isn’t the best to store large volumes of HD content.
As luck would have it, there are no plans whatsoever to broadcast Freeview in HD any time soon. While it can display HD content coming in through DVI, it seems highly unlikely it can record it.

(Also, take a moment to point and laugh at "Plasma LCD")

GSM 450: Stating the obvious, wrongly

Ryan Block of Engadget writes:
As if what we really needed to add to our quad-band dual-mode 3G DMB phone’s repertoire was support for yet another swath of spectrum, but it looks like we might have to get it anyway—at least if we’re interested in taking a trip to developing nations in the near future. Less because things are gettin’ crowded up in the 800 / 900 / 1900 / 1900 / 2100MHz zones than because the lower on the spectrum you get the more powerful you can make your signal with less worry of noise and interference.
Ick. The last part appears completely made up because it's not mentioned in the linked article. The 450MHz band provides better coverage because lower frequency signals are attenuated less by the Earth's atmosphere, and therefore you get longer range from the same transmitter power. That might be what Block was trying to say, but it looks to me like a misguided attempt to add some "tech" detail to an admittedly spartan story.

Talk of the Town

Gizmodo has been looking at their referrals log:
An anonymous grumpster has created the Gadget Blog Corrections Blog, which is a blog about gadget blogs who blog poorly. [...] Anyway, for the story behind the story, kind of like VH1’s Pop-Up Video without that little popping thing, we suggest you visit our unpaid ombudsman.
Which makes them a ropey and slightly embarrassing David Bowie video. Sadly this seems to have put them on their best behavior. All I've noticed today is that Gizmodo has jumped firmly on the Web 2.0 bandwagon by labeling their category pop up "select tag". How very folksonomic.
BTW, Mr. GadgetCorrections-man, email us for a comments invite.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Cell Broadcast

Thomas Ricker of Engadget writes:
The technology called “cell broadcast” is currently being tested in Zoetermeer and allows authorities to send an SMS to all phones in a specific zone without the need to know each individual phone number. Hey wait, isn’t this the exact scenario that’s supposed to bring cellular networks to their knees!?
Where to start? Firstly, Cell Broadcast is a standard feature of SMS, not a new technology "being tested". You'll find options for it in the messaging menu of any GSM phone. Secondly, being impressed that you can "geo-target" phones by virtue of them being in range of a particular antenna is kind of lame. And thirdly, Ricker seems unfamiliar with the concept, and indeed the dictionary definition, of "broadcasting". As you might expect, Cell Broadcast sends messages to all phones at once (using the GSM control channel), rather than having to send them separately as Ricker imagines.

Friday, October 07, 2005

FlashPoint ShareDrive: Remember?

Gizmodo proclaims Brainy USB Could Be Laptop Killer. What's their scoop?
Looks like Xmultiple has come up with a new technology called FlashPoint, which lets you transfer files between all kinds of flash drives (or any other USB memory peripheral) without a laptop or any USB bridge.
That sounds familiar. Where've I heard it before? Ah yes, Gizmodo in June:
Clever, clever, FlashPoint. These ShareDrives are standard USB keys with a bit of Share-on-the-Go technology which allows you to swap data sans PC.
And Gizmodo Last October:
The FlashPoint USB flash drive has such a simple trick it's surprising nobody else has gotten to it first. In addition to being a Mass Storage Device, it also has a female USB port on its backside that accepts other flash drives.
Also notice how completely utilitarian last year's post was, and how hyped they are this year, over the exact same idea.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Via announces the VoomPC; Via announces the VoomPC

Gizmodo, October 3rd:
Minimalist PC: For a true bare bones computer system, check out the VoomPC, by VIA and Min-box.
Gizmodo, October 4th:
Via Voom Car PC: Via is working with a retailer to develop a—GASP— affordable car PC. The Voom PC uses a mini-ITX motherboard and is powered by Linux.
I figure the second post will be sheepishly deleted in about an hour.

Median M-Cody MX-300: Utter nonsense

Donald Melanson of Engadget writes:
What we didn’t know then is that it has [...] a 500mA external speaker
I love it when gadget writers post utter nonsense copied from the source article:
MEDIAN has announced that it plans to release its new MP3P ‘mx-300’ with sliding USB connector and 500mA external speaker built inside
Couldn't he have just said "it has a built-in speaker"?

Olympus SP-700: Random nonsense

Thomas Ricker of Engadget opines:
Not to be outdone by the Sony’s DSC-N1, Olympus announces their 6 megapixel SP-700 which also features a massive 3-inch LCD screen. However, unlike the 8 megapixel N1, the SP-700’s LCD is not touch sensitive
So not to be outdone by Sony's 8-megapixel camera with a touchscreen, Olympus release a 6-megapixel with no touchscreen. What?
but hey, who wants to grub about on the display (and consume battery power) if the camera’s got a decent set of controls anyway?
I presume the "consume battery power" jibe is a reference to the first comment on the DSC-N1 thread:
You can use real buttons while the LCD is switched off, but the touch screen buttons will only be any use when the LCD is on, and the LCD is the biggest battery eater on the camera
Erm, neither camera has an optical viewfinder. They're basically unusable without the LCD screen on anyway. Unless he's referring to the negligible power consumption of the touchscreen component, Ricker is pretty much making shit up.

Lightspace Depthcube

Marc Perton of Engadget writes pretends to be smart:
We think the folks at LightSpace Technologies may be indulging in a little bit of hyperbole when they call the DepthCube the “world’s first solid-state volumetric 3D display.” After all, the display [...] sounds a bit like the prototype 3D display developed by DeepLight.
You'd think wrong, because the LightSpace screen is solid-state and the DeepLight isn't (it uses an array of LCDs while the DeepLight uses a moving screen).

Monday, October 03, 2005

Creative speakers

Evan Blass of Engadget wheels out the righteous anger:
Here’s a good way to alienate your established user base: release a highly-touted new product that is incompatible with previously-released peripherals made by your very own company.
We'll ignore that every company on Earth does this routinely without that happening, and focus on the problem. Certain Creative speaker systems don't work properly with their new X-Fi soundcards. Engadget's explanation:
Apparently the problem lies in the DIN interface used in the new cards, which won’t play nice with the older speakers.
You'll notice how Blass has conferred his ignorance of what a "DIN interface" is onto the reader by writing as if he knows what it is. This will be confirmed by a little research, where you'll discover that the problem isn't with the DIN interface on the cards but the fact that they don't have one. Or rather, that the digital output on them can't be connected to the "Digital DIN" input on the speaker system. Older cards had a specific output for this signal ("6-channel SPDIF Output to Creative digital speakers"). Unfortunately, the "Digital DIN" port is the only way to get 5.1 audio into the speakers besides encoded Dolby Digital, since (slightly bizarrely) they only have analog inputs for front and rear speakers, and not center or subwoofer.

So the problem is with that the speakers are mostly dependent on a feature of the soundcards, and Creative's new cards don't have it, and nothing like Engadget's explanation.

Creative PC-CAM 950

Here's a weird Engadget posting from Marc Perton:
Creative’s PC-CAM 950 Slim may borrow its looks from sleek digicams like Casio’s Exilim series, but looks can be deceptive. This is a webcam first and foremost, with a digital zoom, fixed lens and a single ISO setting.
And an SD card slot, 2.0" color LCD, and 5.0 megapixel sensor? They have a point about the fixed-focus lens making it a flawed digital camera, but why would anyone spend $100 to use it as a webcam:
Of course, as a webcam, the rest of its specs aren’t bad; It's got a maximum still resolution of 5 megapixels [...], 640x480 resolution at 15 fps, and a price of about $100. Just don’t try using it as a real digicam.
Pretty much any webcam can do 640×480 at 15 fps, and most cost a fraction of $100, so neither of those go in the positives column. The only one that does is the 5 megapixel resolution, though not if you're using it as a webcam, but (gasp) if you're using it as a digicam.

Sony DSC-N1: Missing the point

Sony rolled out a new camera with 26MB of internal memory to use as a 500-image photo album. It also uses the memory to store pictures you take, though really they want you to buy a Memory Stick for that. Quite tricky to explain. Here's how Barb Dybwad of Engadget got on:
Its unspecified amount of internal memory can store “up to 500” images, with a Memory Stick slot for external storage.
Did Gizmodo do any better?
The camera includes as Carl Zeiss 3X Optical/6X Digital zoom, 26 MB2 internal memory and Lithium Ion rechargeable battery. You can also store up to 500 images using the DSC-N1’s album function.
Almost there, but not quite. Also note the "MB2" typo/invented technology is a braindead copy of the typo in the source article, while the "as" error is entirely of their own creation.