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September 11, 2008

iPods and Widescreens and Keyboards — Oh, My!

Filed under: Uncategorized — castlewriter @ 1:44 pm

No need to replay the Big News from Apple?s ?Let?s Rock? event on Tuesday. It?s enough to gloat and act terribly smug about being right on the money with not only the new iPod Nano?s form factor but about the inclusion of the accelerometer for easy portrait-to-landscape display mode switching.

Wow, that sounded really geeky, and not in that hip new way. Hm. Moving on!

Upgraded my display from a bulky old nasty-looking beige Dell CRT to the spiff-tastic beauty you see below:

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The Hewlett Packard HP w1707 is (much as the model number suggests) a 17? diagonal LCD monitor boasting a maximum resolution of 1440 x 960 @ 60Hz with an 8ms response rate. What do those numbers mean? Honestly, not much unless you?re an avid gamer or you like your movies action-packed, in which case you want the highest resolution you can get with the lowest response time you can get — and for a budget offering, which the w1707 definitely is at $199 MSRP, these specs are very, very good. Output is through a standard VGA cable (DVI-D on select models).

For the non-geek out there, all those numbers translate into a small monitor with truly excellent brightness and image quality that?s well suited to heavy multimedia use in tight spaces.

One feature that really sets this monitor out from the rest of the ?$200-and-under? pack is the integrated stereo speakers. While they?re not exactly going to compete with a 2.1 system from Bose or Altec Lansing, the integrated speakers do a competent job for the casual listener.

While I have mine mated to my Mac Mini, owners of subcompact PCs like the Dell?s Studio Hybrid and HP?s own Pavilion Slimline series will also find an ideal match with this sleek beastie.

Moving on to the input side of the peripherals world this morning, I also picked up Apple?s Wireless Keyboard.

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The first thing you?ll notice about this keyboard is that it?s about 1/3 the size of a Windows hunt?n?pecker — note that I?m not talking about the keys here. The keys of this ?board are comfortably large, even spacious — I?m talking about the deck itself. For some reason unbeknownst to any who aren?t making the things, Windows-centric keyboard manufacturers love to bullseye the keys into the center of something big enough to land a fighter jet on.

Not so with this baby. Never before have I owned a full-sized keyboard I could slip into one of the pockets of my overcoat. (Don?t ask why I know that I can. Trust me, you?re happier leaving that question unanswered.)

Naturally, there is a tradeoff here. As you can see, the wireless version of Apple?s deck omits the heavy numbers-crunching numeric keypad. For those of you who are for some reason both accountants and cool enough to prop your feet up on your desk at work, this keyboard is going to cut into your productivity even while it rockets your nerd-cred skyward.

In future versions of this deck, there are a couple of revisions I?d like to see: The white keys of this keyboard take stains from the oils in human skin pretty easily. Yes, I wash my hands, and no, that doesn?t entirely prevent staining. Fortunately, a clean sponge moistened with warm water — not soaked, you hooligans! — will shine her right up after a couple weeks worth of the sweateh. So what I?d suggest to Apple is a change in color scheme. We already have aluminum Macs with black bezels. Time for an aluminum deck with black keys. And while you?re at it, Mr. Jobs, include backlighting in those keys. Some of us nocturnal types would find that mucho handy.

That?s a wrap for today — time to really put these keys through a pounding.

Comments and email are appreciated, you can reach me at kirk@sentinelangel.com.

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