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

Bookends 13.2.6 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more
BusyContacts 1.4.0 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
Chromium 77.0.3865.75 - 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 77.0.3865.75: A list of changes is available... Read more
DiskCatalogMaker 7.5.5 - Catalog your di...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast Finder-like intuitive look and feel Super-fast search algorithm Can compress catalog data for... Read more
Alfred 4.0.4 - Quick launcher for apps a...
Alfred is an award-winning productivity application for OS X. Alfred saves you time when you search for files online or on your Mac. Be more productive with hotkeys, keywords, and file actions at... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 10.45 - File, pho...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more
iFinance 4.5.11 - Comprehensively manage...
iFinance allows you to keep track of your income and spending -- from your lunchbreak coffee to your new car -- in the most convenient and fastest way. Clearly arranged transaction lists of all your... Read more
OmniGraffle Pro 7.11.3 - Create diagrams...
OmniGraffle Pro helps you draw beautiful diagrams, family trees, flow charts, org charts, layouts, and (mathematically speaking) any other directed or non-directed graphs. We've had people use... Read more
BBEdit 12.6.7 - Powerful text and HTML e...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more
OmniGraffle 7.11.3 - Create diagrams, fl...
OmniGraffle helps you draw beautiful diagrams, family trees, flow charts, org charts, layouts, and (mathematically speaking) any other directed or non-directed graphs. We've had people use Graffle to... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Five Nights at Freddy's AR: Special...
Five Nights at Freddy's AR: Special Delivery is a terrifying new nightmare from developer Illumix. Last week, FNAF fans were sent into a frenzy by a short teaser for what we now know to be Special Delivery. Those in the comments were quick to... | Read more »
Rush Rally 3's new live events are...
Last week, Rush Rally 3 got updated with live events, and it’s one of the best things to happen to racing games on mobile. Prior to this update, the game already had multiplayer, but live events are more convenient in the sense that it’s somewhat... | Read more »
Why your free-to-play racer sucks
It’s been this way for a while now, but playing Hot Wheels Infinite Loop really highlights a big issue with free-to-play mobile racing games: They suck. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying going for realism, cart racing, or arcade nonsense, they’re... | Read more »
Steam Link Spotlight - The Banner Saga 3
Steam Link Spotlight is a new feature where we take a look at PC games that play exceptionally well using the Steam Link app. Our last entry talked about Terry Cavanaugh’s incredible Dicey Dungeons. Read about how it’s a great mobile experience... | Read more »
PSA: GRIS has some issues
You may or may not have seen that Devolver Digital just released GRIS on the App Store, but we wanted to do a quick public service announcement to say that you might not want to hop on buying it just yet. The puzzle platformer has come to small... | Read more »
Explore the world around you in new matc...
Got a hankering for a fresh-feeling Match-3 puzzle game that offers a unique twist? You might find exactly what you’re looking for with What a Wonderful World, a new spin on the classic mobile genre which merges entertaining puzzles with global... | Read more »
Combo Quest (Games)
Combo Quest 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Combo Quest is an epic, time tap role-playing adventure. In this unique masterpiece, you are a knight on a heroic quest to retrieve... | Read more »
Hero Emblems (Games)
Hero Emblems 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** 25% OFF for a limited time to celebrate the release ** ** Note for iPhone 6 user: If it doesn't run fullscreen on your device... | Read more »
Puzzle Blitz (Games)
Puzzle Blitz 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Puzzle Blitz is a frantic puzzle solving race against the clock! Solve as many puzzles as you can, before time runs out! You have... | Read more »
Sky Patrol (Games)
Sky Patrol 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: 'Strategic Twist On The Classic Shooter Genre' - Indie Game Mag... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Sunday Sale! 2019 27″ 5K 6-Core iMacs for $20...
B&H Photo has the new 2019 27″ 5K 6-Core iMacs on stock today and on sale for up to $250 off Apple’s MSRP. Overnight shipping is free to many locations in the US. These are the same iMacs sold by... Read more
Weekend Sale! 2019 13″ MacBook Airs for $200...
Amazon has new 2019 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for $200 off Apple’s MSRP, with prices starting at $899, each including free shipping. Be sure to select Amazon as the seller during checkout, rather than... Read more
2019 15″ MacBook Pros now on sale for $350-$4...
B&H Photo has Apple’s 2019 15″ 6-Core and 8-Core MacBook Pros on sale today for $350-$400 off MSRP, starting at $2049, with free overnight shipping available to many addresses in the US: – 2019... Read more
Buy one Apple Watch Series 5 at Verizon, get...
Buy one Apple Watch Series 5 at Verizon, and get a second Watch for 50% off. Plus save $10 on your first month of service. The fine print: “Buy Apple Watch, get another up to 50% off on us. Plus $10... Read more
Sprint offers 64GB iPhone 11 for free to new...
Sprint will include the 64GB iPhone 11 for free for new customers with an eligible trade-in in of the iPhone 7 or newer through September 19, 2019. The fine print: “iPhone 11 64GB $0/mo. iPhone 11... Read more
Verizon offers new iPhone 11 models for up to...
Verizon is offering Apple’s new iPhone 11 models for $500 off MSRP to new customers with an eligible trade-in (see list below). Discount is applied via monthly bill credits over 24 months. Verizon is... Read more
AT&T offers free $300 reward card + free...
AT&T Wireless will include a second free 64GB iPhone 11 with the purchase of one eligible iPhone at full price. They will also include a free $300 rewards card. The fine print: “Buy an elig.... Read more
US Cellular offers 64GB iPhone 11 for free to...
US Cellular is offering the base 64GB iPhone 11 for free for new customers. Qualified trade-in of iPhone 7 or higher required (or a number of Android phones). Discounts are applied via monthly bill... Read more
New 7th generation 10.2″ 128GB iPads availabl...
Amazon is accepting preorders for Apple’s new 7th generation 10.2″ 128GB iPads for $399.99 each, or $30 off Apple’s MSRP for this model. Shipping is free: – 10.2″ 128GB WiFi iPad Space Gray: $399.99... Read more
Sprint has the new 7th Generation iPad on sal...
Sprint has the new 2019 7th Generation 32GB WiFi + Cellular iPad available starting at only $99.99 from 9/12/19 to 10/3/19. Their price is a $360 savings over Apple’s standard MSRP. See the deal live... Read more

Jobs Board

Geek Squad *Apple* Master Consultation Agen...
**732131BR** **Job Title:** Geek Squad Apple Master Consultation Agent **Job Category:** Services/Installation/Repair **Location Number:** 000399-Wausau-Store **Job Read more
*Apple* Mobility Pro - Best Buy (United Stat...
**723452BR** **Job Title:** Apple Mobility Pro **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 001194-Greeley-Store **Job Description:** At Best Buy, our Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**732027BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 002507-Alexandria-Store **Job Description:** The Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**727669BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Sales **Location Number:** 000890-Buckhead-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Read more
Geek Squad *Apple* Master Consultation Agen...
**731944BR** **Job Title:** Geek Squad Apple Master Consultation Agent **Job Category:** Services/Installation/Repair **Location Number:** 001130-Nashville Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.