Matrix Phone Reviewed

C|Net has got a first look at the Samsung SPH-N270 “Matrix Phone, just like the one in the movie (that is, it LOOKS like the phone in the movie). The tri-band phone for Sprint PCS has a hidden 65,000 color screen behind a pop-up earpiece, plus polyphonic ringtones and “voice tones” (including one by Morpheus) and a bunch of other little software nuggets. Nothing revolutionary though, and no IR, no Bluetooth, and no GPRS. In other words, if you want to spend $500 to contribute to overhyping a movie, go right ahead, but you’ll wish you got a t68i.

WinOS Widescreen Powerbook Contender

HP has announced a new laptop on the way — the X1000, which sports a 15.4″ widescreen TFT, Centrino chipset, 40-80 gig HD, WiFi and Bluetooth, SD card slot, firewire and USB 2.0, optional DVD-RW and 5 hour battery life all packaged in a 6.5lb 1.3″ thick machine. Available in the next couple weeks, with prices starting at just $1200 and going up to $2300. Thanks to gizmodo for the link.

Matrix Geeks rejoice!

I don’t know about you, but the more I think about it, the more I chomp at the bit waiting for The Matrix: Reloaded to come out – TWO MORE DAYS! I’ll be there with black leather on, Carrie Ann!

**ahem** Sorry.

Anyway, the point of this post is the fact that I was able to get my fix of the Matrix universe when I found out about The *FREE*, downloadable ANIMATRIX episodes available from the movie’s website.

If you haven’t heard of the ANIMATRIX, you’re in for a treat. The Wychowski brothers are huge fans of anime, and they signed on some of the most popular Japanese directors to produce this DVD, which acts as kind of an extended backstory for the Matrix universe. Four of the nine episodes are available on the site, and the two I’ve watched are “geekasm” inducing, even in not so high-def Quicktime format. I think this is one of the few DVDs I will be waiting for on the day of its release, June 3rd.

Followup: Be aware that the DVD will most likely receive an R rating. One segment in particular contains some pretty graphic battle scenes that wouldn’t be suitable for young viewers.

Wireless Streaming to Your Home Stereo — Cheap!

CNet has a review of a new wireless connector that lets you send audio from your PC to your home stereo up to 100 feet away. The RCA Lyra Wireless RD900W is set with a transmitter that plugs into your PC via USB and a receiver that plugs via mini-plug (adapter available) to your home stereo, plus a remote control, all operating over 900MHz freq. Cost is just $100. What’s the catch? Well, they’re really limited – – there’s no display, so if you’re in another room, you’re using the remote blind. And why would you need it in the same room as your PC anyway? It’s really nothing that you couldn’t do with a simple FM transmitter. If you ask me, the current crop of DARs is pretty useless. Buy an X-Box with the new audio-networking feature ($40) or hack it yourself instead and you’ll have a lot more fun.

Update: Sorry — vague references to the x-box probably deserved more of a link; Microsoft has announced the impending release of new software for the PC and X-Box that will allow users to transfer music and pictures from PC to X-Box, allowing music playback through home theater, picture slideshows, and what we’ve all been waiting for — KARAOKE! While the X-Box has just an 8 gig hard-drive, it’s still capable of holding thousands of songs in MP3 or WMA format, and some clever hackers have managed to upgrade it. The announcement was made at E3 (a major video game convention) but the release of the software will not happen until September/October, by which time my prediction is that a new version of the X-Box will also be available, perhaps with a larger harddrive. For the full scoop, check C|Net.

TiVo Lite: New PVRs With Lower Costs

TiVo, the company behind the slow-moving PVR revolution, has debuted a new service that doesn’t require monthly fees. The company’s hoping that without the fees, more people will be inclined to buy PVRs and will decide later to upgrade. The service, officially known as TiVo Basic, allows pausing of TV shows and VCR-like scheduling of programs from the 3-day program guide, but doesn’t do the much touted “favorites” function like the full TiVo service.

TiVo Basic already has some manufacturers supporting the idea — PVR and combo DVD/PVR units are in the works from Toshiba and Sony, with more likely to follow. This is good news for consumers, but bad news for TiVo, in my opinion. Massive video storage and being able to pause TV, as well as being able to burn via computer or other device, are the services that most appeal to consumers. Until now, almost all these functions were tied to a monthly fee, but with that gone most users will get what they need for free and will have little incentive to upgrade.

New Three-Wheeled Fun

I’ve been saving up for months for one of those Corbin Merlins, so fellow StreetTechers hopefully understand my disappointment and forgive these posts about vehicles rather than the usual latest iPod knock-off. Anywho, with Corbin Motors out of the picture, I’ve got to find a new object of desire, and have come up with two alternatives; one high-budget, the other low.

The first is the canadian-made Campagna T-Rex. This two-seat three-wheeler claims 0-60 times of around 4 seconds and a top speed of 140 mph using a 1200 cc DOHC in-line four pushing 6 gears (plus reverse), with stopping power supplied by three disc brakes. It’s got double wishbone suspension in the front and motorcycle-like swingarm in the back. The sleek fiberglass shell can be modified to hold a windshield, which may not be shipped to the United States because of the way the US defines “car.” But before you get your hopes up, this is no $19,000 funmobile like the Merlin — this one will cost you upwards of $42,000 before adding luggage options. I’d rather have a Boxster or a ‘busa.

The second option is much cheaper — in fact, it comes in the form of a DIY called the IndyCycle. This trike is one of the most beautiful home-built projects I’ve ever seen, and the website shows you just how to do it. If that project is too much for your limited fiberglassing skills, check out IndyCycleOnline which is a company that had the nerve to steal the name from original IndyCycle designer DuRette, and now offers kits from $3000 to $7000 to convert your old (or new) motorcycle into an Indy machine. Check out the review of that cycle at Car and Driver.

Corbin Motors in Trouble?

If there’s a company that puts the Street in StreetTech, it’s Corbin with their motor company’s Merlin Roadster a favorite of ST gear-heads. But it looks like the Merlin Roadster and Coupes (pictured) may never put rubber to road. The Corbin Motor Company has been forced to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy because of investor trouble. Given the amount of $3.8 mill in debt and investigations into the fund-raising done by Corbin Motors, it looks like your only chance to own a Merlin is to look for the possible liquidation sale. I know I’ll have my eyes open for a rolling chasis…

Lara Croft-y Case Mod

Does THAT look like a case mod to you? Well it is. Some Japanese fella, who’ll likely never get any closer to a real woman than crafting his PC case into one, made this life-size "action figure" with a PC embedded in it. Guess where the CPU is located? And the…ah…exhaust fan? What, no status lights for nipples? I guess that’d be too tacky.

New Home Robot

What do you get when you cross a bathtub rubber duckie, a Mrs. Butterworth’s bottle and the Honda Asimo? Apparently, you get the latest robot prototype, "wakamaru," Mitsubishi’s answer to Sony and Honda’s perennially-prototypical robots.

Dispensing with the whole walking thing, wakamaru motors around on wheels. The bot is basically an Internet node on wheels and will be able to read you your mail, let you shop online from the couch ("Wakamaru, go to Amazon and get me that awesome new robot book by Gareth Branwyn I’ve heard so much about. Whatya mean it sucks? What are you a critic, now?"), let you monitor your house from a Web browser while you’re away — the usual promised functions (for which you REALLY don’t need a luxury-car-priced robot!). The robot will also allegedly recognize 10,000 words (Japanese words, that is), recognize a dozen or so faces, and will be self-charging,

A fascinating twist on robot navigation, the wakamaru maps the ceilings of rooms (rather than the usual floors) to get its bearings (and then uses infrared and ultrasonic sensors for obstacle avoidance).

The name "wakamaru" comes from the famous Japanese samurai Minamoto Yoshitsune "whose childhood name was "Ushi-wakamaru" and who reminds us of "growth" and "development." Two sensors on the forehead represent the trademark eyebrows of this character." Hopefully, the name also doesn’t remind us of clean, effortless beheadings with one graceful swipe of a Katana blade.