Friday, March 31, 2006

Inno-vative pre-order restrictions on the XM Inno

CES 2006
Originally uploaded by gadget.

The XM Store is offering pre-orders of the Pioneer Inno player today, which will ship in April. They will hold a $1 charge on your credit card until it ships, then send the radio pre-activated by billing you for 3 months of service @12.95 plus $399 for the unit, minus $25 off in the form of free ground shipping and a waived activation fee. Did you follow that? Me neither. The real bad news is that they put a boatload of restrictions on the purchase of this device and no visible way to add it to an existing account. Rather than my paraphrasing the rules, here is a copy from the "account protected" website:

  • All orders and purchases made through this website cannot be combined with any other promotions or offers including rebates.
  • Orders are cancelable prior to ship date only. Your credit card will be preauthorized for $1.00 at the time your order is placed.
    Your credit card will be charged in full at the time that the product is shipped to you without any other prior notice.
  • At the time of order, you acknowledge that you are required to purchase three (3) months of service, which will be charged at the time your radio ships. You also acknowledge that your XM service will renew on the same payment terms and billing frequency after initial three (3) months. A six (6) month minimum service commitment is required for each radio. Failure to maintain six (6) months of continuous service on any of the radios purchased via this offer will result in a $65.00 early cancellation fee on said radio(s).
  • Radios are shipped pre-activated. XM service billing automatically begins on the day your radio is shipped.
  • The credit card number used to activate your XM service via this promotion will be added to your XM account for future billing.
  • Responsible billing party may not be changed or transferred until the 6 month service commitment is fulfilled for any radio(s) purchased through this offer.
  • The terms of this offer shall supersede the terms of the Customer Agreement with respect to the cancellation of the XM service.
  • Returns are not accepted. Exchanges are accepted for defective equipment only and within 30 days of hardware receipt. All sales are final.
  • Ground shipped orders usually arrive within 8-10 days. Adult signature is required on all deliveries. There is no charge for ground shipping & handling.
  • Shipping Carrier will not deliver any packages to a P.O. Box. Please use a valid street address.
  • This Website may not be used for commercial purposes and radios purchased through this website cannot be resold.
  • Offer is available to customers within the continental United States only.
  • Limit ONE (1) pre-order per customer email access code.
  • Limit ONE (1) Pioneer Inno.
    Please read our Customer Service Agreement ( for more information about XM`s service and subscription terms and conditions.

So, that all being said, and the discount being only about $25, I think I'll hold off. My original XM2go and iPod Video work fine for my needs... This thing is going to be discounted this summer like you wouldn't believe - especially with Samsung fighting for market share too.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Home Audio Hub

Originally uploaded by gadget.
PC Magazine just picked up a story that I wrote on the JVC RX-D702B home theater receiver. The product is entirely digital, and even up converts analog fed inputs to HDMI at 480p. At the time when this was written, most TV's had only one DVI or HDMI input, now that many TV's have two, the novelty of the integrated two-port HDMI switch is wearing off, but it does make for a high WAF or Wife Acceptance Factor. What I mean by this is that one remote can select the DVD, Satellite or other input device then funnel the audio out the speakers and push the video to a single input on the screen. This unit may just save you from the call from the babysitter when the kids want to watch a movie! Plus it has great sound and is even DTS compliant, all in a svelte chassis.

Check out my review of it at PC Magazine here:,1895,1937158,00.asp

Friday, March 03, 2006

HTC Wizard is no Sorcerer

You have new Picture Mail!
Originally uploaded by gadget.
I got my paws on a freshly bolted together HTC Wizard AKA Cingular 8125 today and it leaves little to be desired. The display is nice, and the orientation flips automatically when you slide it open, only after releasing a latch on the lower left side to unlock the screen. This means that you need two hands to open the thing, which begs the question, who thought that was a good idea? Why not use a ball bearing? It's all ball bearings these days! When opening or closing it, you frequently tap the volume knob at the top left corner which brings up the huge volume display over the top whatever it is that you really want to see. The 200MHz processor is a slow dog running Windows Mobile 5.0 and it frequently freezes, or should I say "thinks" when you are trying to use the interface. A stylus is nearly required when closed since using a touch screen to dial a phone is like using a keyboard with mittens, neither of which I recommend. The worst thing about dialing via the screen is that it only auto-completes when you enter numbers from your address book, not a name. Even when the keyboard is open, you have to select a first letter of the alphabet, then use the wheel to scroll down to the entry you want to dial. This better get fixed from a menu option or a flash upgrade... This phone is no Treo, which does a great job finding numbers in the address book just by typing a name on the phone screen. Now why couldn't Microsoft emulate that interface? This one, goes back to where it came from. Treo 700p, where art thou?

Add Class to your Hacks

Front Panel Express - rdd-10
Originally uploaded by gadget.
When new technology comes into my gadget lab, the cases come off and the electronic guts come out of their factory designed metal or plastic containers. Once the circuitry is modified, they typically end up in "gadget boxes" or more often hot-glued into Tupperware containers. Now there is a way to get some class with your hacks and even make them look better than what the original manufacturer had intended. Front Panel Express has a free down loadable design tool to take your dreams and turn them into engraved aluminum masterpieces, shipped right to your door. This Boss RDD-10 digital delay used to be a black and purple 1990's vintage gadget that wouldn't fit in a rack. Now you can put an etched and labeled aluminum front on that Tupperware lid.