Levi Strauss has redesigned its iconic jeans for the iPod. The Redwire DLX Jeans have a "docking cradle" to hold the music player—while concealing the telltale bump—plus a red ribbon to allow easy removal of the iPod, a joystick track-navigation control built into the watch pocket, a wire retractor to manage the earbud cable, a distinctive white leather patch, and bluffed back pockets with hidden stitching. Pricing and pictures were not available at presstime but the new product probably won't look much like this picture of my 550s with a nano stuck in the watch pocket.
This blog has a new name. What was formerly the Diablog has become From the Edge. The new name fits in more neatly with Maureen Jenson’s From the Top and Geoffrey Morrison’s From the Lab. It also signals a change in content. Starting this week, short news items will start appearing in this space several times a week. Now you’ll have an excuse to stop by more often. The news briefs will join the short reviews that have been appearing every third week. The longer, quirkier, dual-voiced Diablog commentaries, my labors of love, will continue at the rate of about one a month. So there you have the new format: news, reviews, and commentaries. Or as it says in the subhead, dispatches, demos, and diablogs. Please visit and comment often.
Following are a few postcards from the now-concluded 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This is not a weighty wrapup
or even a best-of-show story, just a few things that caught our fancy.
Venice: La Serenissima, and serene it is. Gondolas ply the blue-green waters of the canals while thundering water-buses hop round the exterior
of the islands in a blue-grey lagoon kissed by Adriatic sea air. Tourists cheerfully lose themselves in a maze of quiet pollution-free streets.
Unleashed dogs walk themselves, tails wagging. Workers patiently replace wooden piles under sinking buildings while old folks haul lightweight
shopping carts over pedestrian bridges. People are gentle and tolerant in this 1250-year-old former nation-state, and that's a good
thing—because there you are, in a supermarket, aiming your digital camera at home theater gear. I could have killed you.
Let's face it, i-anything is pretty hot now that the iPod has become the fastest-growing product in consumer electronics. Sales of MP3 players shot up by 255 percent during the first eight months of 2005, and you can bet Apple's smallest and prettiest child was the driving force behind that dizzying growth. Enter Klipsch, one of the few good speaker brands you're likely to find in a national chain store. Now that the the company's iGroove is playing on my desk, I'd say Klipsch deserves its piece of the pie.
Will better sound help a non-iPod product succeed in a iPod-centric world? JVC is
betting on it with the Alneo XA-HD500. Now, I’m not saying the iPod sounds bad. The
minis and nanos I’ve heard sound pretty good. But the Alneo has an edge in
transparency that becomes immediately obvious with a high-end classical recording like
Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto (K622), as played by the Michelangelo Chamber
Orchestra with soloist Antony Michaelson. Normally I don’t expect miracles from MP3
files, even when ripped at 192 kilobits per second, but I was amazed at the fragile
beauty of the string sound and the air that surrounded the solo instrument. I was
One of the most mortifying moments of my life came when I realized I’d lost my Sony MDR-NC10 noise-canceling earbuds. Well, I didn’t exactly lose them—what I lost was one of the rubber earpieces. I was ransacking the front pockets of my Levis in the men’s room of the Dallas airport and the friction of dragging out the earbuds must have dislodged the precious morsel of rubber. That effectively exiled the MDR-NC10 to my useless-gear drawer. Living without them was so impossible that I broke down and bought the successor model, the MDR-NC11.