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Maonocaster Is A Portable Sound Mixer For Cleaning Up Your Podcasts On The Road
Everybody’s got a podcast now. We don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but anyone with a mic, a laptop, and internet access can now talk your ears off while you drive to work. Making a podcast sound professional, though, is another matter entirely. The Maonocaster wants to make that process just a little simpler.
Billed as a “portable podcast studio,” it’s a multi-channel mixer that you can use to control your podcast audio, add sound effects, and even manage the output destinations, whether you’re streaming it live to any service or saving it to your computer’s hard drive. No need to perform any post-production edits – this thing is does everything necessary to ensure you get clean, clear audio output as you blabber incessantly on the fly.
The Maonocaster comes two microphone channels, so you can have one for you and another for your guest, as well as two additional input channels for other audio sources. While those two channels can be used for anything from audio players to musical instruments, we’re guessing you’re using those to hook up a pair of smartphones, allowing you to use sound effects apps, play from your music library, or bring call-in guests into your podcast. That’s right, you can have as many as four people bantering at the same time, so you can have a downright chaotic radio program starring you and a bunch of your pals.
It has built-in amplifiers for the microphones, complete with adjustable gain, 48-volt phantom powers, and noise canceling, ensuring it produces properly-boosted sounds without unwanted noise, regardless of whether you use dynamic or condenser mics. Each of the four inputs can be individually adjusted, too, so you can have your voice dominating the conversation the whole time (the way it should be), allowing you to tune out all of your friends once they’re droning on about their favorite conspiracy theories. Yeah, Joe Rogan and Eddie Bravo were funny when they were doing it back in the day, but it’s just annoying now.
The Maonocaster comes with six vocal preset buttons, four sound effect pads (stinger, cheering, clapping, suspense), and three programmable pads for uploading your own favorite audio bits. There’s also a profanity button for muting expletives, if you want to keep your podcast with a “general patronage” rating. When hooked up to a phone app, you can even reinforce it with hundreds of added sounds, giving you a generous roster of custom audio effects to spice up your show.
It comes in a size that comfortably fits inside a backpack, making it easy enough to bring on the go, so you can take your act on the road, while the built-in noise cancelling should let you hold your show even in less-than-quiet environments. You won’t need to plug it in to a power outlet, either, as the device has a built-in battery that, the outfit claims, can keep it running for up to eight hours straight.
A Kickstarter campaign is currently running for the Maonocaster. You can reserve a unit for pledges starting at $119.
•Microsoft Surface Book 3 Combines Old Design With Beefier Processing Muscle
It’s been two years since the Surface Book 2 came out. As far as computing hardware goes, that’s just way too old, leaving Microsoft’s convertible laptop a little too old in the tooth to attract new users. That means, it’s the right time for the Microsoft Surface Book 3, which just made its debut.
Sadly, there are no big design changes this time around, with the laptop, basically, looking very much like its predecessor. Beneath the shell, though, the whole thing gets beefed up with a bit more muscle, allowing it to deliver as much as 50 percent more power than the outgoing model. So yeah, it’s the same laptop, just with more power, which should make it interesting for those already considering the Surface Book 2, but probably not compelling enough for others.
The Microsoft Surface Book 3 gets Intel’s 10th-generation i5 and i7 processors, with Intel’s Iris Plus integrated graphics and discreet Nvidia graphics. While that sounds standard for most modern laptops, the lack of design changes actually hurts it, since they’re restricted to using quad-core CPUs, instead of the six- and eight-core options now available in many higher-end laptops, like the MacBook Pro and the Dell XPS. The issue, of course, lies in the laptop’s detachable tablet design, which allows the monitor to be removed and used as a standalone touchscreen computer. At any rate, it’s something Microsoft might want to look at moving forward, as it leaves the machine quite underpowered compared to the high-end laptops it’s looking to compete with.
There are still two sizes of screens available: 13.5 inches (3000 x 2000 resolution) and 15 inches (3240 x 2160 resolution). The former gets the quad-core i5 and up to a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU, while the latter pairs the quad-core i7 with either a Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti or a Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000. Truth be told, it’s still a lot of power for a portable computer, although it does pale a bit when matched head-to-head with other laptops out there (there’s no ray tracking support in those cards, for instance).
The Microsoft Surface Book 3 also comes with up to 32GB of RAM, which should beef up the processing power a good amount, along with M.2 2280 SSDs, which are the fastest the outfit has ever used in their laptops. According to the outfit, this was highly requested by coders, who could use the fast storage for compiling, source control and package management. They can be fitted with either 1TB or 2TB of storage.
It has a claimed battery life of 15.5 hours for the smaller laptop and 17.5 hours for the larger model, so this should allow you to get a full day’s work done without recharging, provided, of course, those rated hours hold up. Other features include dual cameras (5.0 megapixel out front and 8.0 megapixel in the rear), dual far-field studio mics, front-facing stereo speakers, TPM 2.0 enterprise security chip, and a decent amount of ports (two USB-A, one USB-C, a full-size SD card reader, and a headphone jack).
The Microsoft Surface Book 3 is available now, priced starting at $1,599.99.
• HP Omen 25L and 30L Brings A More Professional Look To Gaming Desktops
Gaming PCs are notorious for looking like props straight out of a sci-fi movie, with their colorful lights, aggressive shapes, and generally edgy aesthetic. Simply put, they’re not the kind of things that blend in quietly. The HP Omen 25L and 30L gaming desktops look to change that.
Dressed in a clean new design, it ditches the loud gamer aesthetic in favor of something more professional-looking. Seriously, this is the kind of PC you can expect to see in an office somewhere, rather than the bedroom corner where some 20-year old R6S pro keeps his three-monitor home computing setup.
The 2020 HP Omen gaming desktops now get a relatively conventional tower, with a boxy tower that bears none of the flashy logos from its predecessors. In its place is a simple backlit Omen logo out front (and an optional front fan surrounded by LEDs), although you do get the option to make it shine in any color that you want out of the 16.8 million available in the RGB spectrum. Suffice to say, it’s a much more subdued aesthetic that older gamers (and those that have moved past their edgy gamer phase) will probably appreciate. They do integrate a tempered glass panel on the left side, so you can still show off your hardware and all the fancy cooling rig you throw in if you feel like doing it.
Designed for tool-free access, the desktop enables easy upgrades and maintenance, allowing you to swap in components, clean out parts, and install all sorts of unnecessary crap as your heart desires. The integrated fan, by the way, comes with three software-accessible settings, so you can have it running quietly or full blast, depending on how much you want to push the system to its limits.
The HP Omen gaming desktop comes in two variants: 25L and 30L, with those names referring to the volume capacity inside each case. The smaller case measures 15.5 x 6.5 x 17 inches (depth x width x height), while the larger one expands that to 16.6 x 6.5 x 17 inches, which should allow it to accommodate larger components down the line. Both can be fitted with, pretty much, the same motherboard and core specs, although the 30L version gets the option to put an RGB LED fan on the lower front panel for additional ventilation (and colorful lighting, if you’re into that).
Both the 25L and 30L cases can be fitted with either 10th-generation Intel Core or AMD Ryzen 9 processors, GeForce RTX or Radeon RX graphics, up to 64 GB of RAM, up to 2TB of PCIe SSD storage, a Cooler Master power supply, and optional liquid cooling. At the high end, you can have it configured with an Intel Core i7-10700K and a Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super, so you can build quite a powerful PC here, especially if you max out the RAM and SSD storage. It comes with the OMEN Command Center, an app that lets you safely overclock components, customize lighting, and optimize the PC’s connectivity.
The HP Omen 25L and 30L are available. Pricing starts at $899.99.
• Lenovo ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II Brings IBM’s Classic Trackpoint In A Keyboard You Can Use With Any PC
There was a time when the trackpoint in IBM’s Thinkpad laptops was considered revolutionary, giving folks a way to effectively move the cursor even without the need to use a mouse. Not only was it incredibly useful, it gave the laptop a unique character. It became such an iconic design, in fact, that Lenovo kept it in the model long after they inherited it from IBM. The Lenovo ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II takes that same unique keyboard with trackpoint from the ThinkPads of old and turns it into a standalone peripheral.
That’s right, Lenovo made a keyboard that looks like the keyboard from ThinkPads before trackpads became a thing. Why? So people who enjoy using the trackpoint can use it for navigation even when they’re on the office desktop, the gaming rig at home, or some other laptop that uses a more conventional keyboard-and-trackpad layout.
The Lenovo ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II is, basically, a replica of the keyboard from the Thinkpad laptops from the pre-trackpad era, giving fans of the trackpoint a way to use it on non-ThinkPad computers. According to the outfit, it uses the exact same trackpoint and click buttons used in their laptops to enable proper navigation while using up very little room, as well as the exact same dish-shaped key caps, making this a must-have accessory for Thinkpad fans who appreciate the peculiar ergonomics that laptop’s unique design affords them.
How many people would actually prefer using a trackpoint over a mouse or a trackpad? Given that they’re releasing this, Lenovo’s likely betting there’s a decent amount, as those people who have figured out how to properly use a trackpoint will more than likely choose this, since it lets you keep your hands on the keyboard the entire time, instead of having to switch to another peripheral.
The Lenovo ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II has all the media and function keys found in the original keyboard (it has 84 keys), complete with an F12 key that serves as a programmable hot key, so it gets you all the functions that you need to do any type of computing work, along with the Trackpoint II’s six-point entry support for the visually impaired. The keys, by the way, use scissor switches, so you get to enjoy the short travel time, relatively quiet operation, and snappy responsiveness these types of switches are well known for facilitating, all while being rated for a lifecycle of up to 10 million clicks.
It’s a wireless keyboard, by the way, that can pair with PCs over Bluetooth or an included 2.4GHz wireless dongle, in case your PC doesn’t have Bluetooth built-in. The onboard battery can keep it in operation for up to two months on a single charge, all while juicing up completely in around an hour and a half. Sadly, it only works with Windows PCs (no Macs or Linux), although Lenovo says it should also work with Android smartphones.
Want one? The Lenovo ThinkPad TrackPoint Keyboard II is available now, priced at $99.99.
• Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera Adds A Powerful Photo And Video Capture Module To Your Electronic Projects
The Raspberry Pi has been one of the go-to board computers for designers, engineers, and everyday tinkerers looking to put together their own electronic projects. They’re largely uncomplicated, easy enough to learn, and versatile enough to tweak into a million different things. If you’re looking to integrate a camera into any of your ongoing projects, you’ll definitely want to check out the outfit’s Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera.
The latest version of the outfit’s camera module, it steps up the game in every way, delivering a higher image resolution, more versatile function, and, we’re hoping, much better construction. On the downside, it is considerably larger and more expensive, but if you’re looking to add imaging to your Raspberry Pi project, we can’t imagine an easier way to integrate photo and video capture than this first-party solution.
The Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera uses a 12.3-megapixel Sony IMX477R sensor, a considerable step up from the 8-megapixel available on their previous camera module, which allows it to capture up to 12-bit RAW images and 1080p footage at up to 60 fps. It uses a larger-format sensor than what you’d normally find on smartphones, so you can expect this to deliver much better quality, while back-side illumination and higher sensitivity (the outfit claims 50 percent greater area per pixel) should allow it to perform better in low-light conditions. There’s a focus adjustment ring in the back, so you can adjust the camera to cast subjects as clearly as you want without any risk of damaging the lens.
Unlike the fixed-lens design of its predecessors, this one supports interchangeable optics by coming with a mount that’s compatible to any off-the-shelf C- and CS-mount lenses you have sitting in your equipment stash. It can also work with third-party adapters if you want to use other lens form factors. If you don’t own any lenses, the outfit is offering it with either a 6mm CS-mount wide-angle lens or a 16mm C-mount telephoto lens.
The Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera comes with an integrated tripod mount, allowing you to set this up on a tripod as is, while all four corners of the camera have built-in screw holes that you can use to easily mount it to any object. There’s a built-in 200mm ribbon cable lets you easily connect it with any of the outfit’s existing board computers (and similar compatible products) for easily integrating into existing projects, as well as an integrated IR cut filter which can be removed to enable IR sensitivity. Do note, removing the IR filter is irreversible, so you can either use it as one or the other.
According to the outfit, it’s compatible with any Raspberry Pi model from 1 to 4. While some reviews have noted that it worked with any model Zero other than the original, there are far less resources in there to properly take advantage of what the camera module has to offer, which is why they’re recommending going with 1 or higher.
Slated for availability May 25th, the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera is priced at $50.
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