Posts Tagged ‘music’

Nintendo DSi

I love the Nintendo DS, so it was with great anticipation that I opened the new Nintendo DSi. The size and shape were very similar to the old DS, but Nintendo has added two cameras, support for a removable storage card, and added audio capabilities. This new hand-held gaming device has a great new interface that is easier to use than the old one. And it now supports WPA, so you can use it with your home wireless network. Unfortunately you still cannot play online with others on a WPA encrypted network.

The new DSi plays all of the DS games, so I didn’t have to give up the Nintendogs game that I love to play with my grandchildren. We each have a DS with a Nintendog game so we can send gifts to each other’s dogs and our dogs can visit each other. It’s great fun. I simply substituted the new DSi for my old DS and everything worked as before.

Playing with the cameras on the DSi was great fun. Not only can you take pictures, but you can easily add frames, stars, kisses, and other nifty objects. You can also manipulate the photos in fun ways….make a nose bigger, make a mouth turn down, etc. Yes, for grown-ups it can get old quickly, but it is still provides an occasional smile.

The DSi also lets you record your own voice and manipulate it just as you do the photos.

There are not yet a lot of games out that take advantage of the DSi’s new cameras and microphone. I can’t wait for them to start appearing, as they should be really fun. The DSi is currently $30 more than the DS. I think it is worth the price.

Here are my pros and cons:

Pros

  • Two cameras & software add to the fun
  • Can be used to play music
  • Audio recording
  • Excellent new interface
  • WPA support
  • DSi Store
  • Can play large selection of DS games
  • Replaceable battery

Cons

  • Games can currently run only from internal memory
  • Audio clips are limited to 10 seconds
  • Pictures can’t be easily emailed or posted online
  • WPA support doesn’t allow online play
  • Supports only unencrypted AAC files

You can read my full 7-page review with pictures at HardwareSecrets.

Nintendo Nintendo DSi (Blue)
Nintendo Nintendo DSi (Blue)
Nintendo Nintendo DSi (Blue)

Experience a world of sleek and powerful portable gaming and so much more. Nintendo DSi builds on the DS Lite with a succession of new and enhanced features designed to appeal to both gamers and casual users. At a mere 18.9mm thin, the almost effortlessly portable DSi fits conveniently into your pocket and your life, making it easy to play games on the go, take a quick mental break in the middle of your busy day or even share favorite photos and music with friends. The 3.25″ screen of the DSi brings images to life with even greater depth and clarity for intense gaming or convenient photo showcasing. Two built-in cameras, one on the interior and one on the exterior, make it easy to snap photos of yourself or your friends, and a variety of photo-related functions let you compare facial photos, edit colors, distort shapes and other fun activities. Indulge in your favorite music with the DSi music player, which lets you play favorite music saved on an SD card, adjust the pitch or speed, view imagery generated by the Music Visualizer, edit audio files you’ve recorded using the DSi microphone and more, and the improved speaker volume and sound quality make music and gaming audio even more immersive. You can even use Nintendo DSi Points to download DSi-exclusive software, such as the DSi Browser (which lets you browse the Internet) and Mini DSi Brain Training (which offers fast and convenient mental challenges) for additional fun and convenience.


The Talking iPod

It’s not a gimmick — the new iPod shuffle will actually talk to you. It will announce the name of the song and the artist, but even more importantly, it will announce and let you choose playlists. This is a wonderful feature for this least expensive iPod. Because the shuffles don’t have a screen, up until now, all you could do is “shuffle” your music. That is, have the music tracks played in random order.

Talking iPod Shuffle
Talking iPod Shuffle

Talking iPod Shuffle Next to Lighter

However, this new shuffle lets you choose to play a playlist. That means you can put together lists of certain types of music in iTunes and choose which list you will play on your shuffle. You can make a collection of music for exercise, for walking, for relaxing, or for just about anything you choose. This makes the shuffle ultimately more usable.

I took an in-depth look at the shuffle. My full review with photos is posted on Hardware Secrets. For those of you who may not want to do all that reading, I’ll give you a quick summary here.

The new talking shuffle is very, very small. No bigger than a pair of nail nippers, a Bic lighter, or a AAA battery. It’s great for those who don’t want a lot of bulk, but may be problematic for those who lose small items easily.

For such a small device, the sound quality is amazing as is the 4GB storage size. The biggest drawback is that because the controls are on the cable of the ear buds, you must use the hard round Apple ear buds that come with the shuffle. Many of us find these very uncomfortable.

The retail price of the shuffle is $79. The capacity, the sound, and the ability to choose the music you play make it worthwhile. If you want an inexpensive digital music player, and you don’t mind the ear buds, this may be the one for you!

The Zune MP3 Player Review

The Microsoft Zune got off to a bad start. The first generation product was chunky and kind of ugly and the software was lacking. The subscription service was the same old thing. It even had a problem that caused it to stop working at the end of a leap year.

The New Zune
The New Zune

The New Zune

That said, I want you all to know that Microsoft did a spectacular job with the 2nd generation Zune. It is small and sleek. It sounds great. The software is dynamic. It handles a wide variety of different audio and video formats. Microsoft has added a lot of content to their Zune Marketplace including videos and TV shows. They are even starting to produce their own original content.

Microsoft also changed the subscription service in a way that really benefits most subscribers. Now, for $14.99 a month you get to listen to almost all the 3+million songs and you get to keep 10 tracks a month to keep in your permanent collection. It’s like purchasing a CD a month and getting a whole lot more!

If you just want to play your own music on a portable player, the iPod is good, but if you are a real music lover the Zune is for you. It lets you listen to all of the music you love and the Zune Community helps you find new music as well.

I looked at the Zune 4 which is a 4GB flash memory model that sells for $100. My full review of the Zune, including pictures and specifications is posted at Hardware Secrets. Be sure to check it out!

Loving iPods

As you may know, I am an avid iPod user. I have owned every version of the iPod nano since they first came out. The ease-of-use of the device combined with the iTunes software and the iTunes Store fills all the needs of any digital music player owner. On top of that, the design of the iPods is really great. So it is not surprising that during the short lifetime of the iPod, Apple has sold more than 52 million units.

If you are considering an iPod, you might want to investigate the iPod shuffle, which is the cheapest iPod. Starting at $49, it comes in 1GB and 2Gb models and great colors: green, blue, pink, purple, and silver. It doesn’t have a screen, and the music plays randomly, but it is perfect for the gym where you can wear it on your sleeve or your gym shorts and listen to the upbeat music while you sweat it out.

The iPod Nano is the next step up. It’s a little larger and has a screen for making selections, viewing pictures and even watching movies. It comes in wonderful bright colors and is thinner than ever before. With the addition of a simple radio transmitter, the iPod nano is perfect for in-car entertainment. You can also purchase a speaker dock and use the nano as your desktop or bedside music player.

And don’t forget to look at the iPod touch. It does everything the nano does and more. It has a built-in speaker, a multi-touch display, and 3D graphics. The on-board accelerometer is perfect for playing games, many of which are available for free at the iTunes Apps Store. The touch also has built-in wi-fi so you can surf the web. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Thin Is In — Again

Remember Twiggy, the skinny supermodel that made every woman wish she were thinner? Well, during the Twiggy days, we regular-sized women often thought that there really was such a thing as too thin.

The introduction of the new iPod nanos brought that same thought to mind. The new 4th generation nanos are beautiful. They have great bright colors. And they are thin—-very, very thin.

Thin is in!
Thin is in!

Thin is in!

I have owned nanos from all 3 previous generations. I lost my first generation nano. I think that it was so thin that it got thrown away in a stack of papers. So there may really be such a thing as being too skinny.

That said, this new nano has slightly curved sides which make it feel good in the hand. It also has an accelerometer so you can watch movies horizontally. It has one cool feature that the other iPods  and even the iPhone don’t have — you can shake it to randomize the song it plays. Only problem is that I would probably never use either of these features. My eyes rebel at watching movies on the tiny nano screen, and I don’t want to be surprised by the music I hear, I want to choose it.

Oh well, I guess that means I won’t be giving up my short 3rd generation iPod nano. I like the fact that it’s a little thicker and shorter. I’ll be admiring the great colors in the new nanos, but that’s about all.


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