If you are a typical gadget tech geek, you've probably drooled over any one of the hundreds of new LED flashlilghts powered by the new light-power CREE LED modules.  These suckers are bad to the bone!  You thought your D-cell Mag Light was bright and built tough...

Enter the Fenix TK11Fenix is one of the top manufacturers of high-quality tactical flashlights. This new model in the TK line is a killer!

The Fenix TK11 gives you an amazing amount of light in a flashlight that measures a mere 5.3" long. Fenix TK11 has two output modes - Turbo at 225 lumens and General at 60 lumens, and has a smooth reflector for a long distance beam. (Note: the TK11 differs from the TK10 in that the TK11 has a smooth reflector and is compatible with a 18650 rechargeable battery.)

The entire head of the TK11 is machine from aluminum with a 3-point crenelated bezel which allows you to see if the light has been left on when placed head down. Beneath the bezel sits a toughened, AR coated glass lens similar to other Fenix products. A smooth reflector is used in the TK11 which provides a sharply focused beam with some artifacts. The emitter and reflector are perfectly aligned in my sample. The exterior of the head has 6 shallow scallops machined on it which serves well as an anti-roll feature. The hard anodizing on the head is pretty well done with consistent coloring. This is probably due to the thickness of the coating. Its purely cosmetic though, the surface still feels smooth. Looking inside the rear end of the head you'll see the PCB for the "+" battery contact though do take note that the TK11 does not have the reverse polarity protection implemented so that it will work with flat-topped 18650 cells. The threads on the head are smooth, clean and thicker than previous Fenix models.

The TK11 produces a very tightly focused hotspot due to the use of a smooth reflector. It throws significantly further than the TK10 which uses a textured reflector. Due to this, the beam area has some artifacts such as a dark ring right around the hotspot and a feint yellow ring too. Beam tint is a neutral white on General mode and shifts to a slightly cooler tint on Turbo mode.

The notable feature of the TK11 is that it now officially supports the use of a 18650 cell. The circuit used in the TK11 is different that that used in the TK10 as it allows a 3.7V li-ion cell such as a 18650 to power the light up to full brightness instead of about 75% as the TK10 did. Regulation isn't as consistent as the TK10 when using 2x 16340 or CR123 cells, output seems to increase slightly as the cells run down. The TK11 struggles to maintain regulation with 18650 cells on Turbo mode. Run time is good considering the variety of input voltages the TK11 accepts.

Operation of Fenix TK11 LED Flashlight:
Select either Turbo mode or General mode by turning the bezel:
• Turbo Mode: 225 lumens, 1.5 hours of runtime
• General Mode: 60 lumens, 10 hours of runtime

Features of Fenix TK11 LED Flashlight:
• Cree Premium Q5 7090 XR-E LED with a lifespan of 50,000 hours (approximate)
• 2 brightness modes, maximum of 225 lumens
• high efficiency head with smooth reflector throws a long range beam
• digitally regulated to maintain brightness over the life of the batteries
• light will flicker rapidly to indicate low battery power
• powered by 2 ea CR123A lithium batteries or one 18650 Li-ion rechargeable battery, (batteries NOT included)
• runs for 1.5 hrs high, 10 hrs low using 2 ea CR123A batteries
• runs for 2.7 hrs high, 12 hrs low using 18650 Li-ion rechargeable battery
• durable aircraft grade aluminum body with Type III hard-anodized, anti-abrasive finish
• waterproof to IPX-8* standard (not dive rated)
• toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating
• removable grip ring
• pushbutton tail switch for momentary on and constant on/off
• anti-roll body design
• includes 2 spare O-rings, spare switch boot, nylon belt holster and wrist lanyard

The Progress of eBook Readers in 2010

Posted by Dan Ponjican | 8:54 AM | | 0 comments »

2009 saw growth in sales and popularity of eBook readers, although there was still an innate reluctance for people to read from screens rather than paper. 2010 will see a shift in emphasis towards e-ink and paper developments, and the new kids on the block will be offering equipment that the more established Amazon and Sony will work hard to emulate yet alone beat.

There is no doubt that eBook readers are continuing to increase in popularity, although it is believed by many that sales will settle to a background level as most potential users wait for the technology to improve. Although many would like the convenience of an eBook reader and the capability of loading a library of books into one machine, they prefer to wait for improvements in both the e-ink and e-paper technology, and also in the quality of the eReaders.

Many feel that if the Kindle is the best there is then they would rather wait. However, they might perhaps not be waiting too long, because many businesses that believed that portable eBook readers would have a niche clientele at best are now developing their own versions of a technology that is proving to have an unexpectedly large demand.

It looks like sales of eReaders are going to rocket in 2010; that is if the bubbling activity in sales and development planned for the year is anything to go by. It seems that many of the problems that consumers have with eBooks and their readers are being addressed, and that development is not only being restricted just to the production of bigger and better machines, but also to new cutting edge technology. So what's in store for you if you are currently considering the pros and cons of eReaders against the real thing?

The devices themselves are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, with companies such as Plastic Logic and Barnes and Noble entering the arena. The latter has just unveiled its 'Nook', which with its multitouch color screen looks hot enough to knock the Kindle of its pedestal. Plastic Logic is entering the market with a business-oriented eReader with 3G connectivity.

The Plastic Logic proReader will be shown to the public at the Consumer Electronics Show on 7th January, 2010 in Las Vegas. With its 8.5 x 11 inch touchscreen, the QUE is the first true business eReader, enabling users to read PDF, Excel, Word and PowerPoint files. As it was described in the article "The QUE e-Reader: The New Kid on the Block", the screen is not only shatterproof, but also capacitive without any loss in sensitivity that such layered screens often show (Digital Book Readers). "The QUE proReader enhances business performance and gives you a competitive edge," according to Plastic Logic's CEO, Richard Archuleta.

In a market currently dominated by Amazon's Kindle, the two computer giants, Apple and Microsoft, are said to be working separately on a multifunctional tablet device that will also offer computer and multimedia functions to their customers. Sony are also rapidly improving their eReader range and the new IREX DR800SD eBook reader goes some way towards helping with the size problem with its 8.1 inch screen.

Many potential users have been put off by the screen size of the earlier products and these new 8 inch+ products are beginning to look very attractive to them. However, apart from increasing wireless connectivity and larger screen sizes, what else should we be looking for in 2010?

Screen size has not been the only problem with newspapers, although some of these will be resolved by 3G technology providing the ability to update quickly without the need for a hard connection. In fact, the concept of digital newspapers is an attractive one to many people, and it is certainly environmentally friendly. Add to that the saving in printing and distribution costs and it is little wonder that many of the larger newspapers are considering trials based upon a 3G and digital subscription model.

Future hardware could involve thin, rollable screens that would convert a large number of people who currently prefer magazine and tabloid formatting. However, given that news is freely available online, the e-News experience would have to offer something special over and above just what can be found on any laptop or palm computer.

Perhaps the new product being developed by Asus might meet the needs of everybody. This eReader is said to have twin color touchscreens that open up just like a hardback book, thus meeting one of the complaints that reading eBook readers with one page open at a time detracts from the reading experience. The eReader will also have a speaker, microphone and webcam, thus enabling Skype videocalls.

In fact, Amazon had better shape up because word has it that the Asus will cost less than the Kindle, and with all the extra features, is liable to jump ahead of it in sales. 2010 might see a massive sea-shift in popularity, particularly if Amazon and Seiko have been resting on their laurels a bit. There is no time for that anymore because the next 12 months will see a massive surge in both R&D and in developments on existing products.

Another of the gripes of genuine book lovers is the appearance of the print. E-ink has gone a long way towards solving this problem, and the continuing development of both ink and e-paper technology by companies other than just Prime View International will lead to improvements in the appearance of eBook reader text and also in prices for the equipment. Early 2010 will bring more competition in this technology that will benefit customers' pockets and their reading experience.

As the popularity of such devices continues to grow, computer and cell phone manufacturers will offer their own equivalents, based on 3G technology and utilising the best e-ink and e-paper technology available to them. Devices will become larger, though still portable, which will involve rollable screens commensurate with the restriction in screen size of portable devices. An increasing number of devices will offer touchscreen throughout 2010, although color screens will not likely be generally available until the year after.

You will also be seeing stores setting aside space just for eBook readers and associated technology. To date, such equipment has been hidden among other miscellaneous electronic applications, but it is now being recognized as a mainstream technology deserving its own promotions.

Finally, don't forget Asia! 2010 will also likely see a significant increase in inexpensive eBook readers from China, Taiwan and other Asian countries. However, it will be the screen and ink technology, and also the range of books, magazines, and eventually newspapers available to users that will ultimately distinguish between those eReaders that sell and those that don't.

This article republished from Article Alley Technology Articles

We have now had a little time (a couple days) to play with the top two Android phones on the market now, the Sprint HTC Hero and the Motorola Droid for Verizon. So we wanted to offer our initial impressions between the two handsets. Here is my breakdown:

Motorola Droid wins in the screen deptartment big time. It's bigger (3.7 inches) and has better resolution (854 x 480). It also wins big in overall speed, as the Motorola Droid does have a faster processor.Lastly for the Moto Droid, the physical keyboard is... [READ FULL ARTICLE on ShopAndroid.net Blog]

Blackberry Storm 2 Reviews

Posted by Dan Ponjican | 8:29 AM | | 0 comments »

Reviews vary widely in verdict, just like the original Storm (CNET gives it two out of five stars, while PC Mag gives it four out of five) but on the whole everybody agrees that it's a definite step up, fixing most of the issues users had with the original (most notably that lag problem). Some of the reviews, particularly PC Mag and IntoMobile, are downright glowing, which is unexpected given the critical response to the original Storm, but certainly welcome. Note: The two British publications, TechRadar and Times UK, reviewed the 9520, which is the Vodafone version. All others reviewed the 9550 (the Verizon version we'll see in the States).

CrackBerry: "The Storm2 fixes many of the BlackBerry Storm's outstanding issues and makes a ton of incremental improvements, all of which add up to something that feels noticeably better."
CNET: "The RIM BlackBerry Storm 2 brings some welcome additions, such as Wi-Fi, updated software, and a better touch interface, but it's going to face some serious competition from Verizon's upcoming touch-screen smartphones."

PC Mag: "The BlackBerry Storm2 9550 finally delivers on the original Storm 9530's promise."
Washington Post: "Definitely an upgrade from the first Storm in design and usability"
Wall Street Journal: "Fixes all those [hardware] flaws [in the Storm]," but "the traditional BlackBerry interface cries out for a major overhaul"

Laptop Magazine: "It's really more like a do-over than a sequel."
IntoMobile: "I might find something to nag about on the Storm2 after putting it through the gauntlet, but right now, I just really like this thing. All of the gaps have been plugged."
TechRadar (9520): "Overall, the Storm 2 is very much an improvement over the original Storm, but it's evolutionary rather than revolutionary, despite overhauling the SurePress interface."
Times UK (9520): "For all its attempts to court a new customer base, the core market for the Storm 2 remains the business user"

More than just photos are leaking out about Courier, Microsoft's booklet sized tablet currently in development. Gizmodo has a video showing the Courier's user interface in action. The Gizmodo video is on YouTube (see below) and you should also check out Gizmodo's article about it. The second video looks at an earlier engineering prototype called Codex, also with very early UI design ideas. Courier looks to be the digital equivalent of your calendar, address book, notebook, photos and access to the web -- kind of like an "iPhone meets notebook and pen" device.

While the Courier does use gestures and multi-touch commands, probably the biggest question that popped up for me is whether the pen interface (digital ink) is the right choice for the job. Is the pen interface something that belongs in the Tablet PC era, but not in new touch interface devices? Part of me says the pen's a good idea because that's how we are used to capturing information in our notebooks.

But I personally rarely use a notebook or write things with a pen. I always capture information in my laptop or iPhone, which are pretty much with me constantly. Maybe the touch keyboard, like is used with the iPhone, is the way to go. I personally would rather type, even with a simulated digital keyboard, than write with a pen stylus. It's more akin to using my laptop. The downside is the touch keyboard takes up screen real-estate, where a pen interface doesn't. Apple solved this by hiding and showing the touch keyboard as needed. But the touch's keyboard is more of a thumb-style keypad, not sometime you type with like a normal physical keyboard.

What's really intriguing is thinking about Microsoft and Apple battling it out in the marketplace for this new booklet size tablet. You know Apple's device will be cleanly styled, well designed, and have very good usability. Microsoft's Courier interface is new, something we haven't seen before so we don't know what kind of reaction we'll see from users. In the meantime, we're left to watch videos and simulated interfaces. Hopefully not for long.

So... are you a pen interface user or fan? Or do you prefer the touch keyboard?

Zune 4.0 Software Issues with HD

Posted by Dan Ponjican | 8:49 AM | 1 comments »

With the launch of the Zune HD and the CEDIA show just around the corner, hope has been this could mean an all new integrated future for Windows Media Center and other Microsoft platforms.  Don't hold your breath. The corrected spec sheet received from Microsoft indicated HDTV and protected Windows Media Center DVR-MS (the files used by Vista Media center) recordings were not supported. This is what Microsoft's response was in this:

"Zune HD, and the forthcoming Zune 4.0 PC software, will support and transcode Windows Media Center recorded TV file formats from Windows Vista or Windows 7 that contain MPEG-2 video, in either the DVR-MS or WTV formats. Support is limited to unencrypted SD and HD recordings. HD Files with AC3 audio are not supported by Zune."

As you may or may not be aware, in the U.S. any high definition broadcasts you snag from antenna, ClearQAM or otherwise use Dolby Digital AC-3 audio, meaning the Zune software won't be able to convert them. Current workarounds for bringing Media Center recordings on the go should still be a go, but all we can see is the missed opportunity to tie the two platforms together with easy one click transcoding support. Hopefully Microsoft still has something up its sleeve to pull together Zune and Windows 7 Media Center, but portable DVR recordings ain't it.

Black Wii Controllers Coming to US

Posted by Dan Ponjican | 1:35 PM | | 0 comments »

We all think that the Wii console looks pretty awesome in black. Unfortunately it seems to be a Japan only option at the moment. And in some sort of cruel tease, Nintendo of America today announced that it will be offering a black Wii Remote, Nunchuk and MotionPlus controller set.

Nintendo hasn't given an exact shipping date for this controller set yet, but we're supposed to expect it in time for the holidays. Too bad we won't have the black console to match.

Were you planning to get a black Wii? Do you already have a white one that you were going to swap out? Let us know!

Android Phone on Verizon this year?

Posted by Dan Ponjican | 2:35 PM | | 0 comments »

More and more we are hearing about Android based phones coming to Verizon. So far the only official talk is behind the Motorola Sholes model which features a decent screen and a slide out qwerty keyboard. But futher rumors are being reported that the Palm Pre and other HTC devices will be released later this year with the Android based operating systems.

We say good move Verizon. Along with what will be most likely the first carrier to have 4G speeds with their LTE network, it is looking more and more like Verizon will not need the iPhone to be the number 1 smart phone carrier in the world.

CNet today reports that Microsoft is today expected to announce a partnership with the Finnish mobile phone maker that will see the two companies collaborate to bring a version of Microsoft office to Nokia devices.

Citing people familiar with the matter, WSJ also reports the same rumors of an announcement and goes on to say that the deal will be announced by Kai Oistamo, executive vice president for Nokia's devices unit, and Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft's business division, a group within the software company responsible for its Office business.

While neither Microsoft nor Nokia are talking turkey right now, the two companies have a press conference scheduled for 8 a.m. (PT) this morning. When word first got out about the event, many people thought Nokia was going to reveal a Windows Mobile device.

Click here for the full story.

Facebook last night rolled out a service to selected users called Facebook Lite.

A significant amount of users last night logged on to Facebook and were met with a message from the site admin that said they had been selected to help beta test Facebook Lite.

"We are building a faster, simpler version of Facebook that we call Facebook Lite. It’s not finished yet and we have plenty of kinks to work out, but we would love to get your feedback on what we have built so far.

Check out Facebook Lite now at http://lite.facebook.com."
Unfortunately, it seems Facebook didn't mean for so many people to see the above message. TechCrunch reports that the vast majority of users who visited the URL didn't see anything that looked too different from the current version of Facebook. However, a select few users were given a sneak peak of the service earlier in the week and said it was like Twitter with comments enabled. Some even compared it to a simplified FriendFeed, a content sharing site that Facebook purchased on Monday.

Rumors have been circling about a motion sensing "remote" controller for the PS3 for years. Since the release of the Nintendo Wii, Playstation gamers have been talking up the possibility of a controller with motion sensing capabilities (like Wii has) for the PS3. The latest rumors say we’ll see one by June of this year.

Sony applied for a patent for a “detectable and trackable hand-held controller” back in 2006 and reports doing the rounds this morning suggest that Sony will debut the device in just a few weeks, at E3.

According to "The Cut Scene", a good source saw a working prototype several months ago that largely fit what was in the patent documentation. Sony's controller apparently used LEDs coupled with a small web cam to track movements. Because the camera can read different color lights and the shape and angle of each light, it's much more accurate than the Wii controller.

Exclusive Heads up: A few months ago, Skype CEO Josh Silverman was asked when was he going to launch the iPhone version of the P2P voice and IM service that has now been downloaded more than 405 million times. His response was, “Stay tuned.”

Now Skype is almost ready to launch that iPhone version, perhaps as soon as next week (reported by gigaom.com). CTIA Wireless, a large mobile industry trade event, kicks off in Las Vegas next Wednesday, so perhaps the announcement will be made there.

The biggest clue about Skype’s pending iPhone launch came when iSkoot decided to move on from its Skype-centric strategy. The company had been offering a client that allowed cell phone users to use Skype services. Skype already offers a Windows Mobile version of its client.

As I’ve said before, Skype will have to turn to mobile to keep its growth intact. In recent months, many services, among them Truphone and Nimbuzz, started supporting Skype in their communication clients. However, a standalone Skype client would get a lot of traction among the Skype faithful. In the meantime, I think Skype is slowly flexing its muscles and swatting away little VoIP players with some of its recent moves.

Sony Ericsson's iPhone Killer

Posted by Dan Ponjican | 1:31 PM | | 3 comments »

Well chalk up another iPhone competitor, this time it is Sony Ericsson hopping into this uber-lucrative market. Sony hope's to revive its 80's era blockbuster electronic product that invented portable music players by using the "WalkMan" name associated with this new smart phone. The new Walkman phone called the W995 and carries a code-name of "Idou". To say that we are impressed would be an understatement and with specs like this who isn't! To name a few, a 3.5-inch touch screen, an emphasis on entertainment, and–this feature isn’t the least bit iPhone-like–a 12.1-megapixel camera with flash! Okay enough already, feast your eyes on the press release photos.

Fujifilm Z200FD

Posted by Dan Ponjican | 12:54 PM | | 0 comments »

This new camera offers a few new features not seen on most cameras in this price range. One thing that sets this camera apart from others is its ability to take group shots (up to 4 people) without the need for anyone to hit a timer. The camera automatically detects the amount of faces it needs before taking the shot, and sets off a short timer before taking a picture. This allows you to avoid the awkward timer set / run over to the shot, which usually leads to the person running over not being in the frame. This feature actually works well, even better than expected. Additionally it takes “couple” pictures slightly differently, measuring how close the faces are to each other before taking a shot.

The camera is small, not as small as other super mini cameras, but at 0.8” thick it’s still not taking up much space. It comes in 4 color schemes; red/black, full black, pink, and silver. The sliding cover for the lens and flash is fun in concept, but moving diagonally rather than up/down or side to side makes it more awkward than fun.

For a basic small point and shoot camera the specs are fairly impressive. It’s a 10 megapixel camera, with image stabilization, and 5x optical zoom. However, the quality of pictures it takes is very lacking. Outdoor shots are clear, even though the image stabilization doesn’t work quite as well as other cameras. Indoor, or low light shots however the pictures end up fuzzy and faded, mostly because the flash blows the quality quite a bit. This really throws it off, because image quality is one of the most important things you need from a camera.

It normally goes for $300, but can be found for $270 online.

Rating 3/5