Gadgets 776

    Published on December 12th, 2009 | by Greg


    2009: Highs and Lows

    We have some brand new items to tell you about, so hold off on finalizing your gift lists for another day if you can. This article, though, is our round-up of things we loved this year… as well as things that we were disappointed in. For those unaware, TrulyObscure is fairly unique- every article here is a review, typically accomplished after a month or so of testing, and when possible by multiple people who then come up with a consensus opinion. We can’t do that for everything- some films, video games, and the like are often singular experiences. We feel that this method offers something a little different from other blogs and magazines; we aren’t Consumer Reports, but can and do handle things that they don’t. Of course, a month isn’t always long enough to learn all of the ins and outs of an item, and opinions can shift greatly over time. That’s why we want to offer our updates on a few of the best items of the year… and point out some products that, with the benefit of hindsight and experience, lost some of their luster.

    Good often triumphs, and luckily, most things we’ve seen, tried, eaten, drunk, and used have left us feeling positive.

    In the kitchen and for your pleasure:

    • We think we found the teabags of the future- even if they are a little bit more painful to dispose of! The Ineeka teas were also quite worthy of the nifty bags; the peppermint was especially worthy of note. We still haven’t seen these around though, which makes us sad.
    • On the other hand, we have seen the Navarro Vineyards label pretty widely around the San Francisco area- every nice restaurant seems to have started serving these excellent grape juices. It’s nice to see a fairly obscure product get some love!
    • The single strangest thing we tried this year was likely Le Whif. A gastronomic treat, we enjoy the slightly illicit sensation of getting high off of mint chocolate. We hear they might push into other flavors- might we suggest bacon?

    Gadgets, gizmos and gear:

    • Want an inexpensive personal portable HD video camera? Now’s the time- and both Flip models that we checked out offer great feature sets at slightly different pricepoints. We should also mention, though, that the ContourHD offered specific advantages for those planning on dropping out of planes or engaging in dangerous activities.
    • Tech lovers, our two for you happened to be reviewed in the same article. Those who are aiming at the low end (around $50), you can actually save some money using the Wi-Fire, a wifi extender that actually works (well). Of course, if you’ve got a bit more money to spare, isn’t it time that you backed up every piece of data you have (and your family’s as well)? The Seagate Black Armor NAS 220 offers two terabytes of storage for under $400, is easy to use, and was perfectly reliable.
    • And for those in need of a serious scanner, we tried nearly every variety and shape and size this year. But our all-around favorites were two Fujitsu models, one portable and one not-so-much, that handled pretty much everything without missing a beat.
    • Our audio gadget of the year is the Squeezebox Boom. Logitech has recently released the Wifi model and the Touch is coming soon, but the Boom kept us rocking all year long, and despite constant use still looks and feels brand new.

    Not all was roses though…

    • Axe let us down this year- we had some hope when we heard about men’s haircare products – but the shampoos and other items are definitely for boys. Though we would barely wish them on even grade school bullies.
    • Most overblown PR-speak goes to the Mozaniac puzzles. We still giggle at their suggestion that their silly and pointless puzzles “at their most profound… are a major discovery about the true shape of yin and yang, the basic interacting or complementary forces in life”.
    • Some movies just aren’t worth watching. This year, that was Nobel Son. It was simply careless film making, and mediocre (or worse) in most every way.
    • Our greatest disappointment was when the lights went out. We had reliability issues with the Vessel demi-glow candelas and Luau lamp from the beginning, ostensibly due to getting non-production units. After a few months of irregular indoor use, both ceased working- the Luau simply died in it’s cradle and the demi-glows suffered from serious charging and battery-life issues.

    About the Author

    Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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