While cruising around SonyStyle looking for some clue as to whether the NW-A800 might be prepping for a stateside launch, I came across the ICD-U50. What struck me about this device is that it was listed under MP3 players with a 256MB capacity, and I thought "what the...Sony is still selling 256MB MP3 players...and for $99.95!" But then I realized that the ICD-U50 is actually a multifunctional digital voice recorder, and a stylish one at that. I mean, we don't get a lot of standalone voice recorders around here, but I can say with … Read more
Call us killjoys, but we think it's never a good sign when a product description includes a boldfaced FBI warning immediately preceding an age recommendation of "4 and up." ("This device must not be used to make threatening phone calls!")
That's what the product literature says about this "Alien Voice Changer" from Atamaii Anime Toys. The gadget is so named because it makes you sound like extraterrestrial beings, according to Red Ferret--specifically, three aliens from Cartoon Networks' Ben 10: Greymatter, Heatblast and Fourarms. (What, no Stinkfly?)
The changer also comes with stickers … Read more
Vonage may finally be catching a lucky break. A Supreme Court decision handed down on Monday may help save Vonage in its patent infringement appeal against Verizon.
On Tuesday, Vonage asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., to send the patent infringement case back to the lower court to be retried based on the Supreme Court's decision in the KSR International v. Teleflex case.
The court's decision, handed down on Monday, implied that the patent system has tilted too far toward protecting patents that in many cases were filed for … Read more
We've always thought of Philips as something like the Sony of Europe: No matter what you think of their products' performance, it's usually difficult to argue with their aesthetically clean designs. (And if it was able to tame the notorious Swarovski, the Liberace of consumer electronics, then it has provided a public service to the world.)
Philips' latest ID9371 land-line phone is no exception, with a sleek glossy-black design somewhat reminiscent of the Bang & Olufsen "Serene" portable handset. But there's something even more interesting about a sound technology it uses called "ClearVoice HD,&… Read more
Google has a new telephone service in the U.S. called Voice Local Search. It's the equivalent of dialing 411, but free, really fast, and it pulls multiple listings like you'd get from a search in Google local. Mobile phone users can get listings sent to their phone via SMS, including the telephone number and full address. You can also be connected to a business for free, a great feature that got dropped from my previous favorite free 411 service 1-800-Free-411.
The entire service is controlled by computers, and the voice recognition is pretty capable. I tried confusing … Read more
We saw a lot of work and business tools for conferencing and collaboration come out of Under the Radar last week, but what about when you want to have fun? YouCams is a slick little embeddable video, voice, and text-chatting tool that's a mix of fun and business. The entire app runs in Flash, and users can jump in and join a discussion without the need for registration. The tool is aimed at social network users (mainly the MySpace crowd) as a way to communicate and interact with one another. Something that will likely get them blocked from the service, like what happened to competitor Stickam.
If you've used Stickam before, the Webcam functionality is a little similar. And by a little I'm being generous, because YouCams is much more full featured. There are two tiers of service, both free and paid. Basic registration is fairly generous, giving you voice, text, and video broadcasting privileges. Upgrading to the premium level turns YouCams into a full-on conferencing tool, allowing you to video chat with three other users at the same time, and own a personalized URL with the option to host your own conferencing room.
An interesting addition to YouCams is integration with YouTube, and a large variety of widgets. These float around on the interface, and require no extra installation. It feels a little bit like YourMinis. The Space Invaders widget in particular nearly kept me from finishing this post. Likewise the YouTube integration is well done. Video links pop up in a conversation bubble, and won't start until you click on them. Like the widgets, they float around and can be resized on an ad-hoc basis.
There's also a social networking component integrated in the service. Users trade 'stars,' which act as credits to buy into various features. It's an interesting take on user involvement, although I'm not sure it'll catch on until users have a real reason to get involved. Maybe giving them access to premium content like music or movie downloads would be a good hook. In the meantime, casual chatters will likely get a kick out of YouCams for its slick interface and ease of use.
I've embedded a YouCams module after the jump. It might not run if you're using Firefox. We've been in contact with the YouCams team about this, and they're on it.… Read more
VoiceThread is a photo sharing tool that launched earlier this month. It lets users upload photos from their hard drive or Flickr, and add voice and text annotations to each slide. These 'VoiceBooks' can be embedded in blogs, Web sites, or MySpace profiles. Other users can comment on each slide, with up to 28 comments per picture. The service is selling itself as a voice forum tool.
The VoiceBook creation process is handled entirely within one window, without the need to refresh or hop pages. It's pretty user-friendly, and adding photos is incredibly easy. In just a few minutes, … Read more
I've been using the GotVoice (review) voicemail retrieval service for almost a year, and for the most part I've been happy with it. The free system retrieves voicemails that go to my home phone's message box and sends me e-mail links to them. Handy. On Monday, the company is releasing a major update to the service that fixes a few usability snags and adds outbound message utilities.
Current users should like the new interface. It's easier to use, and there's finally a "delete" button on each individual message.
The real action is on … Read more
We don't care how much our kids love Transformers: There's no way we'll ever let them have one of these. They'd sneak around the house with it and scare us into the coronary ward.
Hasbro's "Optimus Prime Voice Changer Helmet," according to Pocket-lint, "converts the most gentle of voices into the powerful, fearless tones of Optimus himself." The $30 toy, which is scheduled to come out in June, also can be set for "battle phrases" and "conversion sounds" as it transforms from truck to robot and vice-versa. … Read more