TechBite: CES Finds, a Personal Radar Gun, Epson’s All-in-One, and a Better Download Manager

By  |  Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 5:23 pm

CES: Winners and Losers

I spent three days at the not-as-big-as-before Consumer Electronics Show. I ignored the behemoth booths — Microsoft, Panasonic, Casio — and focused on the smaller, more interesting companies along the edge of the exhibit floor. I spotted some innovative products:

  • A smartphone app that turns off e-mail and texting features if the speed of your vehicle exceeds five miles per hour.
  • Lexmark’s multifunction printer that has something very appealing: Lexmark ink cartridges for under $5.
  • Fashionable 3D eyeglasses for when you can afford a 3D plasma screen.
  • Something to bring your electronic gadget back to life if you drop it in water.
  • A video camera the size of a flash drive with two hours of recording time.

I have lots more, including a report on Terk’s Hi-Def internal and external antennas and a new-style rechargeable battery. Below is my first blurb about a portable radar device; more next week.

Pull Over, Mr. Bass

From CES: Need to give that speed-trap motorcycle cop some help? Whip out PocketRadar, a cell-phone sized radar gun, and get the real-time speed of any moving object. I’ve never had the need, but you might want to clock the speed of your child’s pitch, see how fast that crow is flying, or aim it at your kid pulling out of the driveway. It’s interesting, but at $250, too expensive for me.

Epson Workforce All-in-One 610

You know how unhappy I am with multifunction printers. The last one I bought–from Brother–didn’t last more than a year; the printer claimed the cartridges needed replacing even when there was still plenty of ink in them.

Epson sent me its Workforce 660 to try. I’ve had it a month (I ship it back to them in February) and I like the way it works. First, the stats: $200 list, but about $120 at Costco and $170 at Amazon.

Likes: It can scan, fax, and copy, and it prints faster than my laser printer. There are ports for memory cards and flash drives; the printer has Wi-Fi connectivity, so setup with my wireless router was easy. The automatic document feeder is handy for multipage scans or faxes.

Dislikes: No automatic duplexing. Also, the printer looked slick, but some parts–the input and output trays, for example–felt flimsy and cheap. The 100-sheet input tray shudders loudly when the first sheet of paper is pulled through the printer. It scares the dog each time. Plain paper black printouts were sharp; color, not so much. Photo printing on photo paper looked fine. The control panel has lots of info, but navigation is a little confusing. The killer, as you’d expect, was the cost of ink cartridges: Epson black at about $16 each; color roughly $12. LD Products sells reconditioned Workforce cartridges for $7 each.

For $120, and using remanufactured cartridges, the Workforce 610 is an okay deal. But before you buy, watch for my Lexmark review in two weeks.

JDownloader: Open Source, Free, and Terrific

For years I used FlashGet to download freebie tools and legitimate movies and TV shows. FlashGet works fine, but it just hasn’t kept up with a few innovative–and downright lovely–features in my new favorite, JDownloader.

It’s free (and Open Source) and it remembers download passwords, checks for valid links before downloading, and automatically unarchives the file with a built-in WinRAR plug-in. It also does those simple things you ordinarily have to do, like removing the dots and underscores between words in file names. And built in is an online, real-time chat window to help you get support from other users.

I use JDownloader in Firefox; read the Install and use JDownloader with Firefox blurb to help you with the installation. Chances are good you won’t have any problem with JDownloader, but I’ve put together a few JDownloader Tech Tips just in case you do.

[This post is excerpted from Steve’s TechBite newsletter. If you liked it, head here to sign up–it’s delivered on Wednesdays to your inbox, and it’s free.]

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  1. phil Says:

    I have the predecessor, the 600, and after a few months of use, every time I print, a window opens reporting on my ink levels, even when they are not low. I can’t prevent this and, and it’s really annoying.