It had to happen at some point, so why not now? After a startling — almost terrifying — year-long gap between Brando SATA HDD docks, the company is finally outing another. For those who’ve been camped out under the nearest boulder for the past few years, these external HDD docks allow users to plug any 2.5- or 3.5-inch SATA hard drive in, and then have said drive mount on the desktop of a connected computer. It’s pretty handy for those running diagnostic tests or looking to clone a drive without a dedicated machine, and now it’s taken the expected leap to USB 3.0 — a move that rival Sharkoon made back in 2009. You’ll also find a trifecta of SuperSpeed USB ports on the rear, though this gem will set you back a full $140 if you buy in today. Yikes.
We love Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 computer speakers, and we were wondering why the THX-certified powered speakers have been scarce lately. Here’s the answer: they’re going wireless. They still deliver that kick-ass sound, and at $199, only cost about 50 bucks more than the wired version. Plug your USB wireless transmitter into your Mac or PC’s USB port, and then you’re rocking that 200-watt amplifier inside the ProMedia 2.1’s awesome subwoofer.
There’s a catch, though — that subwoofer still needs to plug into a wall outlet, and the two satellite speakers are still connected to the subwoofer with wires. The advantage? You can place those speakers and their sub 30 feet away from the PC. Might be great for listening to iTunes in the bedroom, controlling your PC via Wi-Fi with the Apple Remote app on your iPhone.
If the lack of complete wirelessness is mildly disappointing to you, the good news is that you can still get those original ProMedia 2.1 speakers for $150.
Is there a love burning so deep inside you that you feel the need to express it in the most ostentatious way possible? Look no further than this USB Plasma Heart from Brando.
Set this up beside your computer and it’ll serve as a constant reminder of the flames of desire that consume your heart like an inferno that can never be quenched. Your coworkers’ comments of “Oh, one of those plasma balls. Neat,” may not capture the depth of your torturous emotions, but when you touch the surface — and the pulses from the center erupt to meet your fingertip — you’ll know that the $17 you spent bought a priceless window into your soul. More importantly… she’ll know.
The Gadget: D-Link’s entrance into the 10-inch photo frame market, which contains Wi-Fi to download and display pics from your Flickr, MobileMe, MSN, PIcasa, webshots, Facebook, and various other photo sharing accounts, or your local network. There’s also RSS news display, 1GB on-board memory and a USB port for external photos.
The Price: $240
The Verdict: Works mostly as advertised, but at a price of $240, we expect a bit more polish to the unit.
The 10-inch display is roomy, but its 800×480 resolution looks somewhat pixelated when you get up close. Loading photos from its internal memory and USB slot (or SD slot) works just as well as you’d expect, which is nice. However, 1GB of built-in memory is pretty tiny for something that costs $240.
You can also stream photos from various online photo sharing networks, which works pretty well over its 802.11g connection or its 10/100 Ethernet port (you really want to use the Wi-Fi to make this truly wireless, but seeing as there’s a mandatory AC adapter, that’s pretty much an impossibility anyway).
One of the goofs we find is that the default setting on FrameChannel.com, the online utility you use to manage all your internet feeds, sets the default photos at a maximum of 5, so you only get 5 pics in your rotation at once. Easy enough to fix if you know where to look, but your parents would have to call you first. Again, for $240 we expect the kind of user interface that you can actually tweak settings on without having to use a separate computer.
Is it fairly solid? Yes. Would we recommend this to our parents? Probably not. We’ll wait for the second-gen (or is it fifth-gen now) photo frames—something we can give to our parents and have them figure out themselves. [D-Link]
This USB-powered LED Light Tube Speaker may sounds like a cheap gimmick that gives you neither good audio quality or efficient lighting, but for some reason we’re hooked. Could it be the faint blue glow of the LEDs? Could it be the low price of $22? We’re not sure. You’ve won again, Brando. [Brando]
Add this one into the pile of other pointless gadgets like the USB eye warmer, smokeless ashtray, heated knee pads, greenhouse and shot glass. The one shining moment of this USB paper shredder is the fact that it is A4 size, or the size of a standard sheet of paper. So, at least it is convenient in that regard.
The miniature trash bin will all but ensure that the shredder can shred up a couple sheets before needing to be dumped. The shredder is primarily powered by, no surprise, USB. It can also take batteries and includes a reverse mode, for when your ex begs for you back after you have begun shredding his or her important papers. It’s available for approximately $28 from Thanko.
You could buy an ordinary 4-port USB hub and continue on your path to be a common, somewhat unremarkable human being. OR, you could buy this cubic 4-port hub and change your path to be a common, unremarkable human being who owns the most stylish USB device on the block. Your fate, your decision. But you’ll never find an $11.99 product again that can alter your status so quickly in both the geek world and the general Order of Things.