Who doesn't want their own robot?

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With all the gizmos and devices that pervade our everyday life, it’s easy to forget that technology is supposed to simplify our lives. Instead it seems like they just add complexity to our quotidian existence. For example, take my novel ClearWriter 5000, which substitutes the words I type with correspondingly more sophisticated ones, transforming me into the height of erudition and pomposity. Or, as that sentence originally read: “My new word thingy makes me sound totally smart.” See how that “pomposity” snuck in there? Yeah, thanks for nothing, technology.

In this week’s box of gadgets, you’ll find new robots ready to rid your rooms of dust and dirt, a device that will help drive you sane, and Sony’s latest attempt to make Europeans watch more television.

New Roombas are cleaning up. Oh yes I did.

Who doesn’t want their own robot? I’ll tell you who: communists. I bet you didn’t know that. Fortunately, in this great capitalist nation of ours, it’s totally up to you whether or not you should have your own personal mechanical servant (hint: yes you should). We’re just far too busy keeping up with our news feeds, reality TV, and—if time permits—childcare duties to handle mundane details like sweeping the floor. And that’s just what our little buckets of bolts love doing, isn’t it?

Robot maven iRobot has released its 500 series of fun-loving, dirt-sucking, vacuuming Roomba bots to keep your Architecture Digest -worthy abode shiny and clean. There’s little question the new versions could take their predecessors in a no-holds-barred fight to the simulated death. With onboard scheduling, “dramatically improved” tangle avoidance, enhanced navigation, and built-in flamethrowers , it’d be like pitting a two year-old child against a German Shepherd. With a flamethrower.

The 530, which runs $299, doesn’t have the onboard scheduling, but its $349 big brother, the 560, features that and a pair of Virtual Walls that use the new Lighthouse functionality to keep the Roomba from visiting stumbling, uninvited, into your secret basement lair. The $399 top-o’-the- mornin’ line 570 model adds in a Wireless Command Center that allows you to direct the Roomba’s progress from across the room, or send it to attack the pet or small child of your choice. All the models are available now. I recommend going out and grabbing them before, in true Soviet Russia fashion, they grab you.

[via Engadget ]

Pressure, pushing down on you

There are a lot of things to keep in mind when you’re maintaining a car: Making sure your fluids are in correct balance, keeping your oil changed regularly, knowing how to get bloodstains out of upholstery, etc. My father’s favorite detail is tire pressure; I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that he wakes up in the middle of the night wondering if there’s enough air in his tires.

But getting down onto one’s knees just to check the tire pressure certainly isn’t my idea of a good time. Especially when technology—sweet, lovely technology—can do it for me. This Tire Pressure Monitoring System from Suzhou Sate Auto Electronic Co. takes that job out of my hands and puts it firmly into the realm of the future. Connect a sensor to each of your tires, and they’ll wirelessly send information about the tires’ pressures to the master console sitting comfortably on your dashboard. If your tires start losing or gaining pressure rapidly, the system can alert you with an alarm (a robotic voice that repeatedly screams “Oh my god, we are going to die !”).

The system as a whole will cost you about $150 which is a bargain when you consider how much nagging it’ll save you from my father. Seriously, I think he’s going through the phonebook to make sure everybody’s tires are properly inflated.

[via SCI FI Tech ]

Say bonjour, guten Tag, and ‘allo, luv to Sony’s PlayTV

If you don’t own a Sony PlayStation 3 and live in Europe (specifically UK, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain), you can probably stop reading right now. To the two of you still following along, you’ll be excited to know that you can now turn your Blu-Ray-playing, pixel-popping, world-destroying console into a digital video recorder with the help of Sony’s new PlayTV.

This dual-HD-tuner device operates on the Digital Video Broadcasting - Terrestrial (or DVB-T) format that’s used in most of Europe as well as Australia and parts of Asia. Both tuners can receive up to 1080p resolution, and because there are two, you can watch one program while recording another. Integration with the PlayStation Portable means you can use the handheld console to set up recordings, watch live TV, or even transfer programs from your PS3 for watching on the go. And the device will tap into Sony’s PlayStation Network for software updates and new functionality.

While Sony is planning on rolling out the PlayTV to the countries mentioned above early next year, there are no plans for a North American version, since the saturation of DVB-T in these parts is extremely low. Nor has Sony floated a price figure for the PlayTV either, though one can bet it won’t come cheap. But for those of you Europe folk who already own a PS3 and magically don’t have some sort of TV-recording set up, this would be pretty useful, I imagine. Hello? Anybody?

[via Joystiq ]

Me go bye-bye now— ahem , pardon me. That ClearWriter 5000 can be a little twitchy sometimes. It’s been a pleasure, as always, to discuss gadgets with you. We’ll see you next week.

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