TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Kool Tools

Volume Number: 20 (2004)
Issue Number: 11
Column Tag: Programming

Kool Tools

by Michael R. Harvey

Altec Lansing AHS602 Gaming Headset

You may begin to notice a trend as you read. Lots of audio goodies in the guide this year. Yeah, sound is pretty important. Whether it's for listening to music from your iPod, wired or wirelessly, or talking on the phone (more on those later). Or, if it's hearing the game as much as seeing it on the screen. For that, you need the Altec Lansing AHS602 Gaming Headset. This set was designed from the get go to be a perfect compliment to your gaming experience.

To start, they have closed ear cups, greatly reducing ambient noise from intruding on your fragging time. They are very comfortable, but if you wear them long enough, your ears will sweat, and that is kind of icky. 40mm neodymium drivers produce great sound. The SRS 3-D audio technology in the head set literally puts you in the game. You can hear the bad guys sneaking up on you from behind.

A boom microphone is attached to the left ear cup. With it, you can talk to your compatriots in online games that support it. It is a noise rejecting mic that acts to reduce background noise. It works just fine with iChat, too.

A multi-function controller is in line near the head set end of audio cords. Volume control, mic volume (and mute), and well as SRS on/off and surround control are all on the controller. The only thing wrong with it, though, is that it is powered by one AAA battery. With all the juice running through the computer, you'd think they could draw on that to power the head set. It's no big deal, but stuff like that does annoy me.

I ran the Altec Lansing AHS602 Gaming Headset through it's paces playing Halo (mmm, Halo). It sounded spectacular. The alien roaring at me from the front. Other marines shooting at it from behind. I could hear where everything was. Plus, the ambient noises in the game sounded gorgeous. Music playing through it sounded great, too, whether rock, or classical, I felt like I was standing on stage, or right in the middle of the orchestra pit.

The gamer on your list will love you for these, but be warned, you'll never hear from him again. $100.


EarJams or In-Ear Headphones?

Both the Apple In-Ear headphones, and the EarJams from Griffin Technology are there to do a better job of getting the sounds from your iPod in to your ears. Both do the job well. Each has it's pluses and minuses. The one thing they both do quite admirably is block out outside noise at least as well as large cup head sets will.


The EarJams are add on pieces that attach to an existing set of ear buds, while the In-Ear headphones are replacements, hence why they are pricier. The EarJams claim to fame is that they "massively" boost the bass response. Boy, do they ever. It's like night and day, and no other ear bud type of headphones comes close. They do this by snapping a resonance chamber on to the ear buds. This makes them bulky, and not all that comfortable, even in my big ears.

The Apple offering, conversely, is quite comfortable, but doesn't give you near the bass sound as the EarJams, although it does a better job than the standard ear buds.

The In-Ear headphones come with a carrying box that lets you wrap the cord, keeping it neat, and free of knots. The EarJams have a carrying case which helps keep the cord under control, but still leaves it susceptible to tangling.

Figure out which one your holiday gift recipient would like better. Both are great stocking stuffers. The Griffin EarJams and the Apple In-Ear headphones. $20 and $39 respectively.


BlueTake i-Phono BT420 EX

Oy, the lengthy names some of these little bitty devices have. Continuing the shove more sound down your ear canal theme we have running at the moment, I present to you the BlueTake i-Phono BT420 EX. Yet another headset. What's the big deal?

Well, the thing almost every headset out there has in common with every other headset is wires. Wires that are never quite long enough, that tangle and knot almost continuously. Not so here. Bluetooth is on it's way to becoming as ubiquitous as USB, and peripherals are beginning to pop up everywhere that support the Bluetooth standard. The i-Phono is one of the first headset devices out there that wirelessly moves the music from your iPod (or any player with an mini-jack) into the headphones. It's two pieces; a dongle that plugs into the mini-jack port on an iPod, or other device, and the head set, with which you listen to the music, or take a phone call.

First, the dongle. It's not bad. A lot smaller than I thought it was going to be. It has a power switch, and a single pairing button, surrounded by an LED, that signals when it is connected (blue flash), and when the battery is low (red flash). It would be a lot better if was more similar in design to say the Griffin iTrip, or similar gadget, that sits on top of the iPod, out of the way, with no wire. I can see that wire being the first thing to fail.

Next is the head set. Surprisingly, a lot nicer than I expected. The ear pads are bulky, but by necessity, since they hold the battery, and Bluetooth receiver. On the right pad is the fold away microphone, LED light that gives the same signals as the dongle, the talk/pairing button, and volume control buttons. The left pad has the power switch, and the recharging port. The head set has a behind the head band. Wearing it was quite comfortable, even for long periods of time. I didn't feel any unusual discomfort from the pads against my ears. The higher weight didn't add to the fatigue I experience when wearing a lighter set of similar headphones. These things sound excellent. A really good bass response, and full sound overall. Not tinny at all. The volume control is very limited, though. Only about five or six levels. Finer, more continuous control there would keep me from having to go to the iPod volume control as much. My only other concern with them is the head band itself. The plastics for it are rather flimsy, and I was concerned that if I folded them closed too often, the somewhat thin wire running through it might break.


Fortunately, this device is rechargeable. No scrounging to replace batteries. I got between 4.5 and 5 hours of battery life with nearly continuous use. The head set and dongle each discharge at about the same rate, too.

The kit comes with two options for recharging the dongle and headset. The y-adapter cord that lets you recharge both pieces simultaneously can be plugged into either a wall charging cable, or a cable to recharge off a USB bus. Very convenient . Other goodies in the box include four color disks with which to change the look of the head set. Green, orange, red, and blue. They look really cool, with a metallic tint to them. Also, besides the easy to follow instruction manual, are a Velcro strap, and some Velcro pads, with which you can better secure the i-Phono dongle to the iPod.


Belkin Digital Camera Link

Your iPod has a ton of hard drive space in it. Iive got just about every CD I own on mine, and Iim not using half of the available space. So, what to do with all those extra blocks? How about store photos.


The system software of the iPod supports the storing of photos, after all. The Belkin Digital Camera Link is a handy little device that lets you make use of the extra space, and built-in capability to store images on your iPod. Itis a box powered by two AA batteries, and plugs into the docking connector of the iPod. It also has a USB port to connect to the USB port on your digital camera. Use is simple. Connect the iPod and the camera to the Camera Link, then push the button it to initiate the transfer. The Camera Link has an LED that indicates what it is doing. Deciphering the signals is easy. Just check the table on the back of the Camera Link. Easy as that. And, it works with many digital camera models. Check Belkinis web site for a complete list of supported cameras. This thing is handy to have along on vacation. You donit have to worry about having enough flash memory cards, or hauling a laptop along. The Digital Camera Link is light weight, and nearly the same size as the iPod. The only thing I wish it had was a built-in USB cable, to match the docking cable integral to the box. It would save having to take along another wire. $80.


MacAlly BT Mouse Jr.

The mini-mouse is pretty much a must for mobile users. Track pads just donit cut it for regular use. But, as always, there's the wire problem. MacAlly has a right smart solution for that.


Any computer with either built-in Bluetooth, or an attached adapter can use this two button mouse, which also includes a scroll wheel/button. No additional drivers are needed. Once you pair the mouse with the computer, and set it up in the Bluetooth control pane, itis just there ready to go. It uses 2 AA batteries, which are included. Itis a bit smaller than a regular mouse, but is quite comfortable to use, even for someone with large hands. That makes it ideal for travel, as it takes up only a little space. Itill fit quite nicely in a stocking, too. $49.


Transpod FM

In last year's gift guide, I talked about the first version of the Transpod. I loved it. It was my favorite iPod accessory. The folks at Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (www.everythingipod.com) earlier this year released their second version of this all in one transmitter/charger for iPods with docking connectors. It is my new favorite.


This device eliminates the clutter of having separate things to charge, transmit, and hold the iPod. No wire to tangle, nor extra bits to lose. Nothing but one thing to do it all. The Transpod FM plugs into the cigarette lighter of your car. The iPod slips into the device from the top (any iPod with a docking connector will fit).

It comes with several adapter arms to allow you to place the main body of the device at whatever location you prefer. If you'd rather attach the Transpod FM directly to the dash, there is a mounting bracket, and a power extension cord provided (although I cannot envision screwing anything into my dashboard).

One of my only beefs with the first version of the Transpod was that it could not swivel left to right. DLO has, at least partially, resolved that issue. On the longest extension arm, there is a swivel mount. If you don't need to use that arm, however, you are stuck with your iPod pointing straight back. That's about it as far as complaints go, though.

The device is very well built, with solidly constructed plastics. It has a direct output jack for car audio systems that can handle that. The FM transmitter is by far the most powerful of any I have tested thus far. DLO accomplished this by designing, and building their own circuitry instead of dropping off the shelf components into the Transpod FM. The transmitter is controlled by a digital tuner, eliminating the problem of drift analog tuners can experience.

If you or yours listens to tunes while on the road, there is no better way to go than this gadget. $100.


Michael R. Harvey is the Reviews/Kool Tools Editor for MacTech Magazine.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Macs Fan Control 1.4.4.0 - Monitor and c...
Macs Fan Control allows you to monitor and control almost any aspect of your computer's fans, with support for controlling fan speed, temperature sensors pane, menu-bar icon, and autostart with... Read more
calibre 2.69.0 - Complete e-book library...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
Evernote 6.9.1 - Create searchable notes...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more
jAlbum Pro 13.5 - Organize your digital...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. You can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly... Read more
jAlbum 13.5 - Create custom photo galler...
With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly, with pro results - Simply drag and drop photos into groups, choose a design... Read more
Google Chrome 53.0.2785.143 - Modern and...
Google Chrome is a Web browser by Google, created to be a modern platform for Web pages and applications. It utilizes very fast loading of Web pages and has a V8 engine, which is a custom built... Read more
Chromium 53.0.2785.143 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. Version 53.0.2785.143: [Security Fix] High CVE-2016-... Read more
QuickBooks 2015 16.1.7.1524 R8 - Financi...
Save 20% on QuickBooks Pro for Mac today through this special discount link QuickBooks 2015 helps you manage your business easily and efficiently. Organize your finances all in one place, track... Read more
Sierra Cache Cleaner 11.0.1 - Clear cach...
Sierra Cache Cleaner is an award-winning general purpose tool for macOS X. SCC makes system maintenance simple with an easy point-and-click interface to many macOS X functions. Novice and expert... Read more
Default Folder X 5.0.7 - Enhances Open a...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click on... Read more

Pumped BMX 3: Beginner tips and tricks
There’s a whole lot more to Pumped BMX 3 than meets the eye. Your goal is to perform a wide array of sweet flips and tricks, but that’s easier said than done. It takes well practiced timing and coordination, and the game doesn’t really explain that... | Read more »
Cybird’s latest release - BFB Champions...
Launched in the UK in early September, BFB Champions’ newest update is loaded with great new features, and looks set to outshine the original version by taking it out of soft launch and giving it a new lease of life. | Read more »
3 apps to boost your focus
As someone who works from home, my workspace is a minefield of distraction. Cats, tasty snacks, the wind blowing past my window, that cleaning that I suddenly can’t put off any longer. If I let distraction takes its course, I find that soon half... | Read more »
Pumped BMX 3 (Games)
Pumped BMX 3 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The final instalment of the smash hit #1 rated BMX game is here! Following on from the insane success of Pumped BMX 2, Pumped 3... | Read more »
4 games like Burly Men at Sea to inspire...
Burly Men at Sea is out today and it looks a treat. It tells the tale of three Scandinavian fishermen who leave the humdrum of their daily lives to go exploring. It’s a beautiful folksy story that unfurls as you interact with the environment... | Read more »
3 reasons you need to play Kingdom: New...
Developed by a tag team of indie developers - Thomas "Noio" van den Berg and Marco "Licorice" Bancale - Kingdom is a vibrant medieval fantasy adventure that casts players as a king or queen who must expand their empire by exploring the vasts lands... | Read more »
JoyCity have launched a brand new King o...
Great news for all of you Game of Dice fans out there - JoyCity have just released a brand new limited edition pack with a really cool twist. The premise of Game of Dice is fairly straightforward, asking you to roll dice to navigate your way around... | Read more »
Burly Men at Sea (Games)
Burly Men at Sea 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Burly Men at Sea is a folktale about a trio of large, bearded fishermen who step away from the ordinary to seek adventure. | Read more »
3 tips for catching the gnarliest waves...
Like a wave breaking on the shore, Tidal Rider swept its way onto the App Store charts this week settling firmly in the top 10. It’s a one-touch high score-chaser in which you pull surfing stunts while dodging seagulls and collecting coins. The... | Read more »
The beginner's guide to destroying...
Age of Heroes: Conquest is 5th Planet Games’ all new turn-based multiplayer RPG, full of fantasy exploration, guild building, and treasure hunting. It’s pretty user-friendly as far as these games go, but when you really get down to it, you’ll find... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

CAZE Annouces New Zero 5 Case for Jet Black i...
Hong Kong basd CAZE has announced Zero 5 case for iPhone 7/ 7 Plus, one of the world’s thinnest clear hard cases, measuring just 0.5 millimeters. CAZE has been producing and improving the Zero 5... Read more
Nest Egg Inventory App for iOS Offers Conven...
Campbell, California based Winprogger LLC has announced the release and immediate availability of Nest Egg – Inventory 4.1.22, an important update to their easy-to-use, yet comprehensive inventory... Read more
Factor4, LLC Launches Apple iOS and Android G...
Factor4, LLC, which offers gift and loyalty services to the SMB marketplace, has released free mobile applications that enable merchants to process via all Apple and Android devices. The Apple and... Read more
15-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for $200...
B&H Photo has 15″ Retina Apple MacBook Pros on sale for $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1799 $200 off MSRP - 15″ 2.5GHz Retina... Read more
Apple refurbished iMacs available for up to $...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 21″ & 27″ iMacs available for up to $350 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are available: - 21″ 3.... Read more
Check Apple prices on any device with the iTr...
MacPrices is proud to offer readers a free iOS app (iPhones, iPads, & iPod touch) and Android app (Google Play and Amazon App Store) called iTracx, which allows you to glance at today’s lowest... Read more
Apple price trackers, updated continuously
Scan our Apple Price Trackers for the latest information on sales, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers. We update the trackers continuously: - 15″... Read more
Apple refurbished 2016 13-inch MacBook Airs a...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $849. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 2016 13″ 1.6GHz/8GB/128GB MacBook... Read more
1.4GHz Mac mini on sale for $449, save $50
Adorama has the 1.4GHz Mac mini on sale for $50 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: - 1.4GHz Mac mini (Apple sku# MGEM2LL/A): $449 $50 off MSRP To purchase a mini at... Read more
Apple refurbished 2015 13-inch MacBook Airs a...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $759. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 2015 13″ 1.6GHz/4GB/128GB MacBook... Read more

Jobs Board

Systems Architecture Prototyping - *Apple*...
Changing the world is all in a day's work at Apple . If you love innovation, here's your chance to make a career of it. You'll work hard. But the job comes with more Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Akron,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Hardware Design Validation Engineer - *Apple...
Changing the world is all in a day's work at Apple . If you love innovation, here's your chance to make a career of it. You'll work hard. But the job comes with more Read more
Systems Architecture Prototyping - *Apple*...
Changing the world is all in a day's work at Apple . If you love innovation, here's your chance to make a career of it. You'll work hard. But the job comes with more Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- South B...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.