Tag Archive | "accessory"

Velocity Micro VMUltra Drive offers DVD/HDD/USB/SD all-in-one

The Velocity Micro VMUltraDrive looks like the perfect desktop companion for your Ultrabook.


If you’re using an Ultrabook on the desk I advise taking a look at your setup. How many cables are you pugging in and out each day? Do you have two 1080p screens for the best productivity and have you got an external HDD linked-up for the new Windows 8 feature – File History? This combi HDD/DVD and USB3.0 hub could really help with that modular desktop setup.

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Review – Samsung SE-208 Slim DVD Writer

Part of the SSD upgrade how-to yesterday required buying a new CD/DVD writer. The old LG unit I was using bit the dust during the test so after a quick online check I found a cheap one in-stock at our local electronics Shop. While I was there I spotted the Samsung Slim Portable SE-208. For just 2 Euro more, looking way better than the cheap offering next to it and having a USB HDD mode, how could we ignore it? At just 34.95 Euro (inclusive of 19% sales tax) the Se-208 is working out well. The SE-208 is currently $30.75 at Amazon USA.


The SE-208 weighs 300gm, doesn’t require any device drivers or software with Windows 7 and is powered via USB. On the Toshiba Z830 that means just one USB3.0 connector or one USB2.0 connector. A Y-cable is provided if a single USB port isn’t enough to power the device but in-use we found it to be extremely efficient.

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Tiny USB Hubs for Your USB Equipped Honeycomb Tablet

With a number of already available or soon to be launched Honeycomb tables equipped with full-sized USB ports, I’m hoping that we’ll see the trend continue. Current devices have an issue though; only one USB port! For devices like the Slider, which lacks a trackpad or other form of mouse, that one USB port is likely to be taken up by an external mouse for a desktop-like experience, leaving no room for other peripherals such as external HDD’s, flash drives, game controllers, etc.

Thankfully, Google is rather smart and built a lot of standard connectivity into Android 3.1+ which means a bunch of USB accessories work without modification, including USB hubs for connecting multiple USB devices through a single port.

Jerry was kind enough to test a number of USB hubs with his Acer Iconia A500 and here’s what he found:

Note: USB 1.x hubs don’t seem to work with Honeycomb!


Targus Ultra-Mini ACH7401US, 4x Ports ($11)

targus ultra mini







6.1 ounces

Tested with:

  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Flash drive

Find it at Amazon

CP Technologies CP-U2H-01, 4x Ports ($22)

cp technologies







Tested with:

  • Mouse
  • Flash drive (tested up to 32GB)

Find it at Amazon

Targus Ultra Mini, 4x Ports ($10)








3 ounces

Tested with with:

  • Mouse
  • Flash drive

Find it at Amazon

Mobile Edge Slim-Line, 4x Ports ($30)

slim line









Tested with:

  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Flash Drive

Find it on MobileEdge

I also came across a super small 4-port hub which looks like it would be perfect to throw in a bag along with your tablet. We haven’t tested it, but it’s USB 2.0 which all of the tested USB hubs are.

This site calls it the “World’s smallest USB 2.0 4-port hub inch though in the description they say it’s “Probably inch the world’s smallest. Nevertheless, it is indeed tiny! Check it out:

worlds smallest











It’s also only $10, find it here.

For $15 You Can Always Have a Charge/Sync Cable for Your Smartphone with You Thanks to This Excellent Accessory

scosche 2When it comes to technology gifts, I generally tell people not to get them for me. Not that I don’t appreciate the thought, but having a non-techie try to find a good tech gift for a tech-geek is like an atheist shopping for the Pope.

Somehow, this last holiday season, my mother actually managed to get me an awesome tech related gift which I’ve been making great use of. Check it out:

scoscheThis is the Scosche FlipSNYC USB iPhone adapter (fear not, they make Micro/Mini USB version as well!) which is incredibly compact, enough so that you can easily throw it on your keychain. I was impressed by the smart design which manages to keep it so compact, even in lieu of Apple’s relatively massive connector. This isn’t one of those “you can totally put it on your keychain!” ordeals that you might find see on a TV infomercial, where in reality the thing is so bulky that you’d never actually want to put it on your keys — it’s actually small enough to go on your keychain and not attract any unwanted attention.

I’ve always got my keys with me, so even if I run out of the house without thinking I might need to charge or sync my phone, I don’t have to worry about it; if the time comes, out come my keys and this useful little bit of kit.

I’ve been using mine regularly for about 8 months and it shows no sign of breakage or wear.

Scosche sells these things for $15, and even though mine was a gift, I’ve easily justified the price with the amount of use I’ve gotten from it. It’s so handy to be able to plug into any USB port to get your charge on in a pinch and I’d definitely recommend one to any serious smartphone user.

scosche 3Fortunately, Scoche makes the aforementioned iPhone/iPod Touch version, and they’ve also got one for the same price that has both Micro and Mini USB plugs on it, which means that pretty much the entire modern smartphone world is covered.

The iPhone/iPod Touch version is also sold in red or white, just in case you’re too stylish for plain old black.

Scosche is also selling a second version of these called the FlipSYNC II, but they cost $5 more and the only differences seem to be a USB plug with full metal casing (rather than a ‘half’ plug) and the key loop is slightly larger. You can find those here (iPhone version) and here (Micro/Mini USB version), if you’d like to see for yourself.

Use Etsy to Find Unique Handmade Accessories for Your Mobile Device

etsy tabIf you’re an accessory fiend and looking for a unique accessory for your new gadget, Etsy.com is a great place to start looking.

Etsy is sort of like the Amazon of hand-made goods. But we’re not talking about the sweater your grandma knits you every winter to make sure that you don’t catch a cold… Etsy actually has some really neat hand-made accessories for electronics. In addition to being unique and hand-crafted, accessories from Etsy are usually priced very competitively.

Let’s say, for example, you just picked up a new Galaxy Tab or iPad 2. You could go the official route and head to Samsung.com or Apple.com and check out accessories for the tablet. You’ll be looking at mass produced cases for $30-$50 for the Galaxy Tab, or $40-$70 for an iPad 2 Smart Cover.

Jump over to to Etsy and type “Galaxy Tab” or “iPad 2” [links go to search terms on Etsy] in the search box and you’ll find stands, sleeves, folios, and more — many of which can be customized to your particular tastes. At the moment, I can see cases for as cheap as $12! Not only are the prices usually quite fair, but you’ll also be getting something unique that few others are likely to have.

Etsy also has plenty of ereader cases, so if you’re rocking a Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader etc, go have a look [links go to search terms on Etsy]!

Have a preferred place to look for interesting accessories other than Etsy? Let us know in the comments!

Galaxy Tab Keyboard Case

There are rows and rows of accessory manufacturers at every computing expo and much of it is the same stuff over and over again. This Bluetooth keyboard case for the Galaxy Tab stood out though.

Galaxy Tab Keyboard (6) Galaxy Tab Keyboard

Galaxy Tab Keyboard (2)

Galaxy Tab Keyboard (3).jpg Galaxy Tab Keyboard (4).jpg Galaxy Tab Keyboard (5).jpg

Galaxy Tab Keyboard (1).jpg

The keyboard was a rubber membrane design and in my short test I recon it was faster than thumb typing but you do need to concentrate hard. Still, it’s a nice little compact solution if you’re looking to assemble a smart-book-like device.

Rosen Groups, Shenzen, China are the people you need to contact if you fancy importing a box of these at $27.50 a piece. If you do, put me down for one please!

You’ll also find a few other images in the gallery and check out their website for more info and stay tuned because we might be popping back to check out their Galaxy Tab stands and chargers too

How to: Make an iPad Booksafe Case

IMG_4226 IMG_4225
By now you’ve likely seen my ‘iBook’ project. As I mentioned, I documented the process and now I’m here to post the guide in case anyone else is interested in making their very own. There is definitely more than one way to make a book safe, and if you have more appropriate tools, feel free to improvise. The methods I selected we’re based on low cost and simplicity and will at least give you a good idea of the process. Let’s get started.

Project cost: aprox. $10

Project time: this project can be completed in a single day, but you’ll definitely want to set aside a large chunk of time for page cutting (might want to grab your headphones for some music!)

Required materials:

  • A fitting book
  • Precision knife (Xacto, packaging knife, etc.)
  • Rubber cement
  • Scotch tape
  • Pencil
  • Patience (quite a bit of it)

Tips for book selection:

Local bookstores are likely to have very inexpensive used books. The one I used was $2. I bought three books of varying sizes to be sure I got the fit I wanted. I used one book as a practice first before doing the final one (lots of cutting!). I took my iPad to the store to size up several books. Things you want to look for in the book – depth, be sure that there are enough pages in the book that your iPad will fit all the way in. This is probably the toughest part of the selection process because it can be hard to judge. You may wish to measure how high your iPad stands off of a flat surface before going to the book store, then find a book with page width that is equally or slightly deeper than the measured value. Be sure that the book has enough padding around your iPad. That is, make sure that when you cut out the shape, the resulting thickness of the pages is enough to support your iPad and withstand a fairly intensive cutting process. You don’t want to try cut the shape out with, say, 0.2 inch of padding, you’ll likely rip some pages during the process. There is about 0.75 inch of padding in my final iBook.


  1. IMG_4204 IMG_4205
    Remove the cover of the book (if it has one) and center the iPad face-down inside the cover. Use the pencil to trace an outline, you should hold the pencil perpendicular to the paper so that the side of the pencil pushes against the side of the iPad as you trace. The distance from the side of the pencil/iPad to the tip leaves a good buffer in your outline and subsequent cut to ensure a good fit. If you cut it a little too big you can always add spacers to increase the tightness, but if you cut it too small, you’ll have a hard time figuring out how to recut all of the pages…. (Note that the volume rocker and hold switch will be on the opposite site when the iPad is face-up in the finished product, cutting around them specifically would be too tedious, this is what the buffer is for.)
  2. IMG_4207 IMG_4209 You want your first several cuts to follow the rounded shape of the iPad’s corners. I’d recommend cutting the rounded corners for 10-20 pages. After that you’ll be cutting square corners (much easier!), but the top pages will give it a round corner look, which will give a more custom-fit appearance. Use your knife to begin cutting on your outline. I pressed very firmly with my knife to cut through several pages at once, then pulled them out until I needed to cut again (early enough that I could still see previous cut marks and knew where to cut). Finding the right number of pages to cut through and pull out before making more cuts its probably the most challenging part of this project. Just make your cuts carefully and eventually you’ll get into a rhythm. Don’t forget to square your corners after the first 10 or 20 pages and continue to cut them that way. Square corners are much easier to cut than the rounded ones. I used a paper clip to keep part of the cut pages closest to the binding out of my way while I continued to cut. They don’t like to fold back with the rest of the page because most of their support has been cut out!
  3. IMG_4208 IMG_4211
    While cutting, do occasional test fits to ensure that the cuts are coming out properly. If you aren’t through too many pages, put the iPad in face-down to get the best idea of how it will fit (the rounded back makes this deceiving when it is face-up and you don’t yet have a lot of depth.) Finding that you are having fitting problems would be much better in the first 30 pages then after 200 cuts! As long as you were careful with your outline (and added an appropriate buffer) and keep the cuts consistent, you shouldn’t have an issue. One thing to look out for. The more pages you cut and fold back, the further the subsequent pages will be pulled toward the binding (slowly misaligning the top cut from each one underneath). If you don’t correct for this, your page cuts will have a distinct diagonal shape on the left and right. You can adjust for this by slowly moving your cuts to the right to keep them in the same relative position as the first cut (be sure to do this on the left and right sides of the cut.)
  4. IMG_4210 IMG_4215
    Once you’ve cut deep enough to fully fit the iPad, you are going to use your tape to hold the pages in their closed-book positions. The first thing you want to do is to hold the cover of the book at a 90 degree angle (or prop it against something) while you use scotch take to make small wraps around the pages. In the picture above, I colored on the tape with sharpie so it could be easily seen. I picked up the whole of the pages and slid a piece of scotch under them to begin, then set them down and wrapped it around the outside to the top (do this for each piece of tape applied.) I folded the tape back on itself at the end to make a non-sticky tab that I could use to grip to remove the tape easily.
  5. IMG_4216 IMG_4219
    When you are satisfied with the way the pages are being held, flip open the back cover and apply rubber cement to the back of the very last page (yes, over top of the tape). Once it is covered all the way around, close the back cover, flip the book over, and open the front cover. Begin applying rubber cement quite liberally around the inside surface of the page cuts. Close the cover and rest some weights on top of the book for at least an hour while it dries. When you return, remove the tape (it’s glued in the bottom cover, you can cut it, or it’ll rip pretty easily.)
  6. IMG_4231
    Once the back cover and inside has been glued, flip the book face-down and slide a piece of paper or two between the block of pages and the front cover of the book to protect the cover and create a shelf for the rubber cement to rest on while you glue around the outside of the page block. Don’t worry about getting glue against the back cover as its already glued down to the pages!
  7. Once you’ve got it all glued up you should rest some weight (other books work well) on top of it to keep everything firmly pressed down as the adhesive dries. After a few hours of drying you can remove the weights and open up the front cover to allow the inside adhesive to air out and dry. Depending on how tightly your fit turned out, you may choose to add the bookmark/tab piece to assist in removing it from the case.
  8. IMG_4223 IMG_4225
    Enjoy your iBook case.

Turning the iPad into an iBook (DIY iPad Booksafe case)


Update: How-to guide is posted if you are interested.

I was in the mood for a nice DIY project, so I picked up about $10 worth of materials (including the book) and decided to create myself an iPad case with a twist.

There were a few reasons I decided to make this:

  • Didn’t want to drop $40 for Apple’s iPad case
  • iPad back scratches easily, I hate to rest it naked on the table
  • I feel like a pretentious bastard using the iPad in public because everyone knows what it is, but few people have one — this helps me disguise it while in use
  • On a similar note, the iPad feels particularly vulnerable as a hot gadget, I feel much better leaving it sitting around while camouflaged than by itself

Have a look at the case, and if you’d like to make your own, I’ve documented the process and will put some instructions up a bit later. I’m sure there are more efficient approaches, but my way didn’t require any sort of workshop or power tools. The thing that looks like a bookmark from the outside is a strip of canvas secured with duct tape to help lift the iPad up when you want to get it out of the case (the fit is quite snug).


I’m pretty happy with the results. The great irony here is that I don’t read a lot of books! For anyone interested, the book I used was Stand-Up Comedians on Television. Sorry for cutting up your book Larry Gelbart!

Some improvements that I might make at a later time:

  • Access to headphone/volume buttons/hold button while the iPad is in the case
  • Moleskine style elastic band to keep the book held closed

I went to a local book thrift store and looked for books with removable covers that looked relatively boring underneath, as to not attract attention. I also kind of dig that old-school material that they used to cover books in, so I looked for that as well. I took the iPad with me to size up some books and I look particularly for one that would offer enough padding around the iPad for be strong and durable, but not too much that it greatly increased the size of the iPad. As long as the book fits inside my backpack then it’s fine, as that’s where I carry the iPad when it comes with me anyway. I came out of the book store with three books of varying sizes so I could make sure that I got one that fit just right. I used one that I determined to be too thin to be my test book, so I did this whole process on that book first so I could fix any oversights or errors in the process for the final version that is shown here.

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