Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse

Arc Touch Mouse
Arc Touch Mouse

Arc Touch Mouse

If you want to impress your friends with a really exciting new product, the Arc Touch mouse may be for you. Its design rivals some of the recent introductions by Apple, but it is not an Apple product at all. In fact, it is, quite surprisingly, from Microsoft.

When the Arc mouse it is in the flat position, you can’t even tell that it is a mouse. Yet when, in an easy movement,  you hold  one of the short edges and push down on the other, the mouse clicks into an arc, automatically turns on, and is ready for action. When you flatten the mouse it turns off —  a great battery-saving feature. The Arc mouse is a wireless wonder. You simply load the mouse with two AAA batteries and insert the teeny-tiny 1/2″ x 3/4″ transceiver into the USB port on your computer and you are ready to go.

In fact, the word “go” is very apropos here. This is the perfect mouse for those who travel or use their computers away from home. The Microsoft BlueTrack technology is very accurate and the Arc Mouse works on many surfaces that make other mice cringe.

I had a bit of difficulty using this mouse. Because I have small hands and short fingers, and I found it difficult to reach my fingertips to the edge of the mouse which was the sweet spot for easy pressing. But friends with average and large hands did not have this problem. Hopefully Microsoft will address this problem with the next version because this is a mouse that I would love to use with my laptop.

Bottom Line

With this mouse, Microsoft proved that its designers could rival Apple with a unique, stylish product that is sturdy as well as simple and functional. Although $70 is a little pricey for a mouse, it is perfect for traveling and can easily be used as an everyday mouse.

The Arc Touch is accurate and works on a wide variety of surfaces. The nano-sized transceiver is very transportable and works perfectly, although it can be easily misplaced. When paired with the Microsoft IntelliPoint software, the Arc Touch is a fully functioning and customizable mouse. The unique way the mouse flattens out when not in use and turns on and off automatically is an outstanding feature.

The only drawback is the fact that the sweet spot for clicking is at the front end of the mouse and those with small hands or short fingers may find that they cannot comfortably reach this area for ease of use.

The Good

  • Excellent stylish design
  • Sturdy
  • Easily transportable
  • Excellent precision
  • Works on a large variety of surfaces
  • LED light on top of the mouse give feedback on battery strength
  • Long battery life
  • Haptic scroll bar
  • Customizable through IntelliPoint software
  • Excellent packaging

The Bad

  • Transceiver too easy to dislodge
  • Not good for small hands or short fingers
  • Fairly expensive

To read my full review with more pictures, click over to HardwareSecrets.com.

Spy Bug Detectors

Spy Bug Detector
Spy Bug Detector

Spy Bug Detector

Whether you are involved in a secretive endeavor or you just watched a few too many television cops and robber shows, you may wonder if you, personally are being spied upon. If this has ever crossed your mind, you should know that we already have the technology to find out quickly and easily. You can purchase a bug detector  to make sure your surroundings are secure, and using one will make you feel just like Sherlock Holmes.

A company called Invision Electronics Corporation has created several Professional Spy Bug Detectors that are great security products at a good price.

Every electronic transmitting device works by using its own local oscillator to generate a minute radio signal. Bug detectors pick up on those signals and alert you to the transmissions.

The junior model, the MPD-0103 has a frequency range up to 3GHz and the senior model, the MPD-0208 boasts a range up to 8 GHz. These devices have several built-in modes and functions. They have buttons and lights to control these functions.

These devices can alert you when an intruder is listening in on your phone conversation, when someone is eavesdropping on your conversion, or when someone introduces a listening device to your home or office. They can also be used for a myriad of other things, like knowing when a teenager is texting or talking to friends under the covers after bedtime.

These devices are available for $349 and $399. That’s not cheap, but if you “want to” or “need to” act like Sherlock Holmes, they may be just what Dr. Watson ordered.

If you are a blogger with visitors who might be interested in this, be sure to check out Invision’s 10% affiliate program.

Find Local Service Providers

Sometimes finding the right person is like looking for a needle in a haystack. This is especially true when you are looking for a plumber, roofer, carpenter, or other service provider.  You want to make sure that the service provider is honest,  reputable and affordable.

Sure, you can check out Google or Craigslist, but even if you search the local listings, you often don’t get the information that you really need about the company or person who you will be hiring. Also, on Google, the keyword that you are searching may have paid advertising, so the company in question might have purchased the ad placement from Google. That doesn’t give you any indication about how good the company actually is.

That’s where a new website called SkillSlate.com comes in. They give you pictures and reviews and also include the all-important area of fees. There are already over 9,000 individual service providers listed. There are categorized for easy access. There is everything from movers to cleaners to DJ’s to name just a few. This is an easy way to find a reputable hair stylist, mover, dog walker, photographer, or massage therapist. They even have   categories for personal trainers and tutors for yourself or your children.

SkillSlate is currently available only in the New York area, but they will soon be expanding to other communities. If you live in New York, be sure to check them out and let us know what you think.

AT&T Says Their iPhone is Better

Since its inception in 2007, the iPhone has been exclusive to AT&T. So it is not surprising that recent news of the iPhone becoming available on the Verizon network piqued the interest of many. So many, in fact, that Verizon Wireless announced that the number of iPhones it sold in the first two hours of availability exceeded the one-day total for any other device’s debut in the carrier’s history.

Now AT&T is fighting back. Ric Whitman, the AT&T Area Retail Sales Manager, gave me a list of reasons why the iPhone on AT&T is better than the iPhone on Verizon:

1.     On the AT&T iPhone you can do simultaneous voice and data. On the Verizon iPhone you cannot.

2.     The AT&T iPhone has an International advantage. It can be used in 220 different countries. The Verizon iPhone cannot.

3.     AT&T has over 23,000 hot spots where AT&T subscribers can get free wireless access.

4.     AT&T has the lowest priced iPhone offering the 8GB 3GS for $49.

5.     AT&T has the nation’s fastest mobile broadband

So let’s look at these in depth to help those of you who want an iPhone decide which carrier to use.

The first point is well taken. Only the AT&T iPhone will allow you to surf the web or get directions while talking on the phone. If you are a heavy data user, this might be a big drawback, but most average users will only encounter an occasional situation of this type.

The second point is also very valid. The AT&T iPhone is a GSM phone which can be used internationally. The Verizon iPhone is a CDMA phone that will not be able to be used in most overseas countries. So if you plan to travel internationally, AT&T will be a better choice. Again, however, this will be important to only a small number of users.

AT&T hot spots are certainly a plus for AT&T users. They can not only give you faster data access, but they take some of the burden off the mobile network. AT&T has set them up in Starbuck’s and other establishments and also has many in a variety of Metro areas.

The cost of the current iPhone is the same at both AT&T and Verizon. $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for the 32 GB model,  along with a two-year contract. So to be able to get an iPhone for $49 with a two-year contract is a big savings. This is sure to appeal to users who want to get in cheaply. But by purchasing this older model, they will be giving up the iPhone 4’s retina display, dual cameras, HD video, and other perks. Although this older 3GS can run iOS 4, the latest operating system, some capabilities like the improved accessibility options will not be available.

Now we get to the last point. While AT&T may have the nation’s fastest access, it doesn’t do you much good if you don’t have good or fast coverage in the area where you live. This is the situation in this area of North Carolina. When I purchased my first iPhone in 2008, our area was on AT&T’s slower EDGE network. Although promises of an upgrade to the faster 3G network were made, AT&T never delivered. We are still on the slower EDGE network. So if you compare an AT&T iPhone to a Verizon iPhone in our area, the data access will be currently be much slower on the AT&T iPhone. AT&T again promises 3G in our area soon. And for the first time they have stated this in writing. Crystal Prince, AT&T’s public relations representative, writes in an email, “I’ve checked with our Network team regarding plans for 3G in Pinehurst-Southern Pines-Aberdeen. Rest assured it’s on the way.  The team is working very hard to get everything in place for a launch soon so we expect that it will in fact be up by EOY (end of year) 2011.”

Both Ric and Crystal also say that AT&T is working on covering “dead spots” that they now have in our area including many in the Pinehurst-to-Raleigh corridor. I know this to be a fact as they are constantly adding new equipment and towers, but again, “when” this will all be accomplished is an important question.

Two other recent offerings and announcements show that AT&T is really trying to get your business. This week, they announced that AT&T customers will now get free calls to any cellphone in America. The only requirement is that you have certain voice plans that include AT&T’s unlimited texting plan. That texting plan is $20 a month for individuals or $30 for families.

AT&T is also offering free microcells to current customers. These are small $199 devices that hook up to the broadband in a home or office and pull the 3G signal from the Internet. If you don’t get good cell reception indoors, this is the answer to your problem. Although, not highly publicized, these free microcells are available to most AT&T customers with an additional year on their contract.

If you are ready to move into the iPhone world, you have to make a decision between AT&T and Verizon. You cannot use a Verizon iPhone at AT&T or vice versa, so you will be making a sizeable investment. While Verizon has much better and faster coverage in our area, some are worried that the high sales of the iPhone at Verizon may put a strain on the Verizon network. So this decision is not as easy as it may seem.

To give you one more thing to think about, Apple traditionally announces new iPhones in June, so this summer there may be a better and more capable iPhone available on one or both networks. For me, the choice is easy….Just wait to see if AT&T delivers on their promises, to see if the Verizon network can handle that additional users, and to see if the next version of the iPhone is the one I can’t live without.

Shout Your Love from a Mountaintop

If you love someone so much that would like to shout your love from a mountaintop, but you don’t have a mountaintop handy, then check out this fun offer from AT&T. You post your shoutout at Facebook by going to www.facebook.com/att or put it in a Tweet with the hashtag #loveshout for the chance to have real mountain men shout these messages all throughout the day on this Valentine’s Day.

Each shouted messaged will be streamed live on Facebook, captured on
video and sent out to each consumer to share with their special someone.

It’s a great idea using social media to get the “Shout” out! Try it out and surprise your loved one! Post your shoutout this weekend. The messages will be shouted on Monday, the 14th.

Check out this video to see the mountain men. They might look old-fashioned, but they will be using the latest AT&T HTC Inspire 4G smart phone to receive messages  to shout throughout the day.

The Confession App Receives Pope’s Blessings

I recently wrote an article explaining “Apps” with info on what they are, how they work, and how popular they are. It seems that there is an app for everything. Yet, this latest development still surprised me. There is now an app titled “Confession” and it is sanctioned by the Catholic Church.

For $1.99 you can buy this App at the iTunes store and get help examining your conscience and getting through the process of confession. You still have to visit a priest to get absolution, but you can take your iPhone or iPad into the confessional to help you along. However, you may want to tell the priest that you are using the confession app on your iPhone so he doesn’t think you are playing Angry Birds while you are making your confession.

I don’t know how useful this app will be in getting Catholics closer to their church, but I think it proves two things:

1. The Pope is embracing digital technologies quickly.

2. There really is an app for everything!

Charge All You Devices Easily

I have gadgets galore. It ‘s great, except when it comes time to charge them all up. Charging them all in one place is a good idea because then I know where they are, but all the cables, cords, and power blocks became a maize that I hated to deal with.

Enter the Chargepod. This octopus-like device is lets you put it all together with one plug going into the wall. The Chargepod itself is only 2 1/2″ in diameter and weighs only one ounce. It comes with a selection of short cables, as shown below, that you can use to attach and charge as many as six devices including cell phones, GPS devices, digital games, MP3 players, iPods, bluetooth headphones and more.

Chargepod by Callpod
Chargepod by Callpod

Chargepod by Callpod

The $49.95 kit includes 3 of the most popular charging tips and one free tip of your choice. The $59.95 kit includes 3 of the most popular charging tips and three free tips of your choice. Both kits include a car charger and carry bag.  Both of these kits can be found for less. International adapters are also available.

Ordering the extra tips was extremely easy and I received mine in only two days. Great company! Great product!

Link: www.callpod.com

High Speed Internet is Now a Must-Have

How quickly things change! A few years ago having high speed Internet was a luxury. Now it has become a necessity. The amount of data that is transferred over the Internet can no longer be moved through the old dial-up connections in an acceptable amount of time. On those older and slower connections the user simply waits around until the screen redraws and even worse, videos and television shows move so slowly that they are barely watchable.

You Tube videos, television, and even today’s online shopping and banking require a high speed Internet connection to make using the Internet an enjoyable experience. In addition, many companies and services are now requiring an Internet connection to access the information and services you need. Companies prefer that you reach them via the Internet. Recently one of my banks started charging for paper statements. They want everyone to access their statements online and they are penalizing those who are not able to do so because of “no” or “slow” Internet connections.

It’s true that high speed Internet costs a little bit more, but with it you can avoid the surcharges, like my bank’s, that are sure to be more commonplace in the near future and you can enjoy being online.

If you don’t yet have high speed Internet or you are looking for a change from your current provider, check out high speed internet providers in my area to get an idea of what service providers are available in your area and how you can get the best service without spending an arm and a leg.

Logitech Harmony Remote 650

Harmony Remote 650

If you are juggling  several remotes to try to get your television equipment to do what you want it to do, this is the answer. The Logitech Harmony Remote lets you control several devices with the touch of one button. When you want to watch TV, you press the Watch TV button and your TV, cable box, AV Receiver and any other equipment you need for watching TV will turn on. The same thing happens when you want to watch a movie. Just press the Watch a Movie button and the DVD play and TV (and related equipment) turn on and are already set to the proper inputs.

It is easy to set up this remote. They have done away with complex codes. You simply connect the remote to your computer with the cable that comes with the remote and answer a few questions on your computer. Once you enter the make and models of your equipment, the Harmony Remote sets everything up for you. Its quick and easy.

Harmony Remotes
Harmony Remotes

Bottom Line:

If you are surrounded by remote controls and want to cut through the clutter and streamline your button-pressing, the Harmony 650 will definitely do the trick. It will make you feel like you have a magic finger: one touch to watch TV, play a movie, listen to music or play a game. If, like many, you have four or five devices to control, this universal remote is one of the best you can buy for under $100.


While you do need a computer for the setup, most of the basic setup is done for you automatically. If you make a list of the equipment model and manufacturers and you know which inputs you turn each device to, you should be able to use this remote for your basic activities. If you are willing to take the time and are somewhat computer literate, you can program it to the point that you will never, or only rarely, have to rely on one of your original remotes.

If you have more than five devices to control, you will want to look at one of the more expensive Harmony remotes, but if you can get by with controlling five devices, this is a great choice.

The Good

  • Excellent ergonomic design
  • Sturdy construction
  • Excellent button layout
  • Sensor turns it on when you pick it up
  • Basic functions easily programmable
  • Good color screen
  • Batteries easily replaced

The Bad

  • Time-consuming set up of logos for favorite channels
  • Programming advanced functions a bit confusing
  • Poor backlighting (Not all keys are backlit)

My full review with more details and pictures is at HardwareSecrets.com.

Harmony Remotes
Harmony Remotes

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