Gizmodo is Hiring an Editor

Gizmodo is hiring an editor. After some encouragement from friends, I’ve sat down and wrote up the requisite three Gizmodo-like stories on tech products and thrown my hat into the ring. I don’t have much by way of recent gadgets — the TV is probably the newest, fanciest thing (or maybe the Tivo) (The last gadget I got was a combination stylus-laser pointer-pen-flash light. It’s a Belkin product that doesn’t have to do with cabling bits of computer equipment to other bits of computer equipment, so, naturally, the laser pointer and flash light parts no longer work. The stylus part still works on my PDA, but, then, so does my index finger.) The dearth of shiny new gizmos simply means I’m going to wander into the fanciful in terms of stories, though I did reject the idea of writing something about a perpetual motion machine, even though I wanted to say, “It’ll violate the laws of physics!”

Toshiba xxHM84 DLP RPTV

Toshiba came out with two lines of RPTVs that have TI’s HD2+ chips in their light engines. The xxHM84 line is the earlier one; for a couple hundred dollars more, you can get the xxHM94 line, which will have cable card functionality as well as a few other features. The picture’s nice and bright and very cinematic: the HD2+ chip keeps “clay faces” away and the seven-segment color wheel reduces the chance of seeing DLP rainbows. I actually have the 46HM84 — the first two digits are the TV sizes — because everything gets thrown through the Tivo, anyway, so I need the TV to be more a monitor than a self-contained unit.

One thing to note is that the the screen has a good anti-glare coating on it. Unlike some other RPTVs, you won’t be seeing that faint relflection of yourself sprawled out on the couch if you happen to watch TV in a brightly lit room. Nothing is more annoying than when you realize that reflection is there.

One drawback with this set is Toshiba’s use of light gray bars on the sides to frame 4:3 pictures in the 16:9 screen, presumably to blend in with the speaker wings on either side of the screen. As far as I know, everyone else uses black bars, which you can tune out more easily. On the other hand, Toshiba’s stretch modes for 4:3 content are very good, and you may never view the unstretched image.

Time Zones

Shiny, shiny toys that you can touch are nice, but some great tech are simply ideas. Just last Sunday, I was IMing my friend Jebediah in Springfield over our newly installed telegraph lines when I told him that it’s noon, and I have to sign off to go to a meeting. But, he replied, it’s still almost half an hour before the noon! He accused me of blowing him off, and there’s now tension in our friendship.

Our problem is that both Shelbyville and Springfield are defining noon to be when the sun is at the highest point in the sky. This was OK in the day when it’d take all day to ride the stagecoach from here to there, but that new telegraph is just causing confusion about when things happen.

To fix this problem, the railroads are getting together on November 18 and dividing the country up into “time zones”, so that noon in New York will be exactly the time as noon in Cleveland, even if the sun isn’t in the right place in the sky. It’s a neat organizing idea, even though there are a lot of people who say that noon happening half an hour before the sun reaches its high point is against the laws of nature and Jeebus, or that it’s a group of corporate fat cats imposing their idea of time on us. But if the Shelbyville and Springfield clocks had been synchronized in “time zones”, I wouldn’t be getting “Away From Desk” messages from Jebediah now, even though I know he’s there.

150 Lumen Light Bulbs

Edison Industries has announced a new version of its light bulb, now capable of putting out 150 lumens. Banish the darkness! From our consumer point of view, we can now replace more than a dozen candles with a single Edison Bulb, and we don’t have to keep buying new ones everday as they burn down. Westinghouse’s best model only puts out 100 lumens right now, but there are rumors that they’ll be able to match the Edison version in a few months. No word yet on compatible lightblub sockets that work with the products from these two giants, though an industry committee has begun work on accepting draft proposals.

Bulb technology is now clearly on an exponential curve, with light output doubling every 18 months or so. We should expect to see 300 and 600 lumen bulbs for consumer applications in the not-too-distant future (the military is already testing 1200 lumen models). Naysayers will argue that 3000 lumen bulbs will violate the laws of physics, but we won’t know that until we get there.

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