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Year End Wrap Up for Blank Media Trends in 2011

Blu-ray Media, Electronics, Epson, TechnologyNancy Woo30 December 2011

As technology continues to move forward at a relentless pace, new gadgets arise and some old ones fade away. To conclude 2011, let’s recap some of the major topics from the GotMedia blog in the past year as we anticipate all the fascinating advancements of 2012:

  • Recordable Blu-ray: Verbatim announced a new nationwide supply of rewritable double layer blu-ray discs.
    • The wrap up: Whoever said Blu-ray would fade into obscurity was wrong. Even though DVD is still the primary form of media-watching technology, Blu-ray fans know the advantages of watching films on Blu-ray: higher quality audio and video, 3-D imaging, high definition compatibility, gaming, Internet connectivity and all sorts of extras. When you can record films onto your own Blu-ray discs, it’s even better.
  • The tiniest USB device ever: In August 2011, Verbatim released the smallest USB thumb drives the world has ever known. More aptly called “penny drives” because they are roughly the size and thickness of a penny, the Verbatim Tuff’N’Tiny are water resistant, durable and guaranteed to last a lifetime.
    • The wrap up: Technology keeps getting tinier and tinier! These Tuff’N’Tiny USB devices are the answer to any tech geek who misplaces things because it fits neatly onto a keychain – just don’t lose the keys. You never know when you’ll need to transfer files on a dime.
  • The rise of archival discs: This year, the holographic discs touted to last thousands of years gained more prominence. The Millenial Archival M-disc is at the forefront of the game, with a tagline of “Write Once, Read Forever.”
    • The wrap up: Do we really need data discs to last for 3,000 years? Who knows what Earth will be like then? But still, the idea of permanence is fascinating. And these discs have been proven to be virtually indestructible.
  • New devices revealed at Korea’s Electronic Show: The 42nd annual Korean technological convention featured major names like Samsung, LG, Mach and Taiyo Yuden all showcasing their new gadgets for the theme “Be Smart,” which focused on smartphone technology.
    • The wrap up: Who knows all that 2012 will have in store, but smartphones getting even smarter is a sure thing on the list. Some of the wild devices revealed were “smart” vacuum cleaners, “smart” washing machines and “smart” fridges that do the shopping themselves. Here we come, Jetsons!
  • Moverio revealed the world’s first 3-D mounted head display: Powered by Android technology, this crazy little device is essentially a headband that allows the user to see two fields of vision at the same time, whatever is in front of him and a streaming 3-D video in surround vision and sound.
    • The wrap up: Seeing double isn’t just for drunk Uncle Harry anymore, but the question is: will it confuse the brain, or pave new pathways for even greater multi-tasking? With the world’s information overdrive hitting full speed, let’s hope it’s the latter.

We also covered important how-to’s like:

  • How to choose a conversion cable
  • How to compare DVD media
  • How to choose the right media for different projects
  • How to prep master discs
  • How to utilize technology to master any presentation
  • How to determine the right printer

Some of the other topics touched upon include:

  • Lightscribe disc labeling
  • Trends in disc packaging and disposal
  • The issue of piracy under federal law
  • New printers and label makers from Epson
  • Faster disc reproduction technology
  • Verbatim pocket CDs
  • The Android iPrint app
  • A consideration of DVD vs. Blu-ray
  • Easy to make holiday gift ideas

So as you can see, we’ve had a busy year in 2011. Stay tuned for more great media news updates and techie information in 2012!

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Last Minute Gift Idea for Dad or Brother

Electronics, Special Events, VerbatimNancy Woo24 December 2011

So it’s a few days before Christmas (and the middle of Hannukah), and you still haven’t figured out the “wow” gift for dad, husband, brother or boyfriend. You know he’s just as mesmerized by his techie gadgets as the kids are by their talking toys, and you want to get him something that’ll really give him a kick. Here’s a great stocking stuffer idea for those last-minute shoppers.

He’ll probably be a little confused at first, then as it slowly dawns on him what a cool little thing this is, you’ll watch his eyes light up:

It’s not just a wallet, it’s a wallet drive by Verbatim. Shaped exactly like a black leather wallet with red “stitching,” following the look to the tee, it’s actually an external hard drive with 640 GB of storage. Measuring in at only 4.5 in. by 3.5 in., with a clever design to amuse and almost unbelievably fast write times, this one is sure to be a keeper. With one review[1] clocking a 6.5 GB transfer in at just under three minutes, it doesn’t seem like this drive is going to be testing anyone’s patience.

This clever little hard drive is backed by a seven year warranty and includes a short USB 2 cable. Super easy to use (you just plug it in and go), it won’t be fooling anyone with technical tricks – the only trick is its cover design, and that’s a fun one. While it officially retails at around $193, Amazon and other big stores chop the price down to around $100. For a stylish, sleek and fast hard drive with a lot of storage, that’s a pretty good price. And the chuckle in his eyes when he sees it? Priceless.



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Cute USBs Make Great Stocking Stuffers

Flash Memory, Special EventsNancy Woo16 December 2011

The ho-ho-ho holidays are upon us. And that means this string of blog posts are all about some great gift ideas.

We’ve already covered the excellent, thoughtful gifts you can make at home with some CDs, DVDs, high quality photo paper, a good printer and a little creativity. We’ve also given some pointers on making personalized Christmas cards from home. And now, how about some stocking stuffers?

The kids love to see their previously empty stocking filled to the brim with joyous gifts from Santa. This year, why not let Santa surprise them with cute, adorable, fun mini USB drives? Even the youngest darlings are using computers, on their own and at school, and the world of technology is only growing. School projects, essays, reports and videos are all going to be the stuff of evening homework, and giving the gift of a fun USB will not only delight them, it will also prove very useful in storing and transferring media files. And as a parent, who doesn’t love fun and practical?

USB flash drives are preferred to CDs or DVDs for storing information, especially for young ones. USBs are re-writeable, which means data can be stored, deleted, and stored again, a countless number of times, and they’re small enough to fit in a pocket. Most also come with a keychain so they’re hard to lose. And the thing about USBs that turn them from a boring storage tool into a fun, lovable toy is the wide variety of shapes, colors and characters they come in. Shopping around is sure to uncover the perfect drive for your recipient’s personality.

From cute to funny to glam, here are just a few suggestions, of the many, many types of fun USB drives out there:

For Sanrio lovers, the Hello Kitty USB drive:

For chocolate lovers, the Hershey’s USB drive:

The watermelon USB drive:

The fortune cookie USB drive:

Cute little panda USB drives:

For the glitzy glam girl, the jeweled USB drive:

For the Alien lover, an Alien USB drive:

For the comedian, the funny USB drive:

Giving the gift of a fun USB drive is sure to make them smile. And the best part? Because it resembles a toy more than a tool, the kids are sure to keep them close, making them less likely to be lost than any of the traditional flash drives. You’re sure to find the right one to stuff that stocking with.


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Making Holiday Cards: All You Need is a Little Time, Creativity and a Good Printer

Epson, Inkjet Printable Media, Special EventsNancy Woo08 December 2011

It’s the season for spreading good cheer and reconnecting with distant friends or relatives who are undoubtedly leading their own busy lives, as you are. December is the unanimously agreed upon month for taking a little extra time for remembering those people in your life who you value, but don’t get to see nearly enough.

The simplest and easiest way to send a little warmth is through the mail with a holiday card, and the most cherished ones are those that are sealed with a little personalization. There are a few options for making your own holiday cards. You can visit websites that offer the service for a minimal charge, give them a nice photo, choose a design, and have them print and send them for you. For the on-the-go person, this might be the best way to go, especially if you plan on sending a lot of cards to a lot of places.

But if you’ve got a little extra time on your hands, a little bit of tech-savviness and a good printer, it’s simple and easy to just make your holiday cards at home. This is a great way not only to save money and insert that extra personal touch, but it’s also a great wintry activity that you can do with your family. With a little creativity, a few good photos and a little time in the evenings, making holiday cards doesn’t have to be a chore. In front of a fire with a hot cup of tea, it can be a pleasant craft.

Here’s what you’ll need to consider for the holiday card making craft:

•    How many people are you making for? Making a list is a good way to start.
•    Are you going to duplicate one design or personalize each one? This is helpful for determining how much time will go into the project.
•    Does your printer have full black and color ink?
•    Do you have the paper you’ll want to use?
•    Do you have cardmaking software or are you going to use a program like Word?
•    How big will the card be?
•    Do you have envelopes that will fit them, or can you make them?

What you’ll need:

1.    Preferably an Inkjet printer. Epson carries a few top-of-the-line color Inkjet printers that print fast, high quality materials. This is where the card will either make it or break it, because using a low-quality printer or paper may just make it look like a kid’s art project. Using crisp, clean printer technology will result in professional-looking holiday cards.
2.    Black and color ink cartridges.
3.    High quality paper in bulk, like photo paper, glossy paper or card stock.
4.    Photos or artwork on the computer.

Simple steps:

1.    Find photos either of your family, you or you and the recipient.
2.    Using Photoshop, Word, cardmaking software or pre-made designs, craft a cover design. This can be as simple as a photo with a fun border or clip art arranged in an appealing way, or as complex as inserting multiple photos in a clever design, like encircling three photos in Christmas tree ornaments. This is where creativity and a little tech know-how can allow you to really make something special.
3.    Determine which way the cover will go. The easiest way to print is probably by folding a regular 8 ½” by 11” paper down the middle, hamburger style, so that you print the picture in the bottom half of the white space in vertical orientation, then just fold it over. To print a message inside the card, just flip the paper around upside down and repeat.
4.    Write a personal message inside the card, and sign.
5.    Either create your own envelopes with programs on Microsoft Word, or buy custom envelopes to fit your cards.
6.    Address and send!

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Inexpensive, Meaningful Holiday Gifts You Can Make At Home

For those on a budget this holiday season, finding gifts for all your loved ones can start looking like a huge pile of money flying out the window of a car as it speeds down the highway at 80 mph. Fortunately, it’s possible to save dough and still give thoughtful, impressive gifts. And the best part? You can make them at home with the right materials.

1.    The Classic CD Mixtape:

Handpicked Music

Everyone’s familiar with the classic romantic mixtape, which used to be recorded on tapes and given out shyly to any romantic interest. Well, tapes are obsolete, and I’m not so sure any romantic partner would too impressed with receiving old technology – but the idea is still a good one. Giving someone close to you (not necessarily a romantic interest) a CD of hand-chosen songs can be extremely meaningful. Introducing someone to new music, maybe some of your favorites or some you think the receiver will especially enjoy, can be one of the best gifts. It conveys an understanding of the receiver’s tastes, and music can be one of the best conduits of feeling. Making Mom or Dad a CD of their favorites mixed with some of yours can be a great way to bond.

Personalized Disc Labeling

However, rather than just handing over a blank disc with some Sharpie scribbles, make it a real gift with professional disc labeling. For example, Lightscribe disc labeling is a cost-effective and high-quality way to make a plain disc stand out (and you can use it for many different recipients). Using a Lightscribe disc labeler and Lightscribe discs, which are coated with a reactive dye that changes colors when combined with the laser light, creates beautiful discs that look store-bought, but are personalized with the flair you give it. You can add pictures, titles, lists or even transfer real photographs.

Personalized CD Sleeve

Finally, creating a personalized sleeve to go in a CD case can really seal the deal. This is where you can write a personal message, add a photo or insert lyrics. If you go the mixtape route, go the extra mile with professional disc labeling and a personalized message in the sleever; this really make the recipient smile.

2.    Handpicked Photo(s) in Frame:

Most people are going to cherish fond memories more than an expensive toy, especially if they know you’re on a budget, so giving the recipient a picture of you and him/her in a handmade or simple frame can be a great way to go. As they say, a picture’s worth a thousand words, so it’s best to make sure that the picture you choose is going to recall a fond time or memory. In order to really wow them, print the picture on high quality photo paper, preferably on an inkjet printer, in order to really make a clean, crisp shot stand out.

For the frame, any simple wooden frame will do to make a personalized mark. A raw wooden frame (before paint or lacquer) can be a great canvas for even the most modest artist. Using oil-based paints, a simple pen or even colorful Sharpies or markers can bring the frame to life. Or if you want to avoid the chance of shaky hands all together, you can use a handy labelmaker, like the one Epson just put out recently, that offers a plethora of colored paper, colored ink, fonts, sizes and pictures. Printing a message or a favorite quote related to the picture can be a simple way to astound them. It looks great, and it’s something they can display proudly in their home.

3.    Photo album on disc:

For those people on your list with stray photos lying around who always say things like, “I’ll get to making that photo album one of these days,” a DVD or CD full of their favorite family or vacation photos can be just the thing they need to spark that flame of memory. Choosing a selection of the best photos from different special events is a great way to organize the pictures for them all in one disc. You can also use a slide show program of your choice if you’d like to offer them a nice way to display the photos from their TV or computer screen.

Like the CD mixtape, using disc labeling technology can really turn this gift from cute into a keeper. Inscribing a personal message means a lot more to most people than anything store-bought. Similarly, enclosing the disc in a case with a personalized CD sleeve can have the same “wow” effect.

Never underestimate the power of a little thought and effort. Especially because these gifts combine professional appearance with a tailor-made approach to rekindling the recipient’s memories, thoughts and feelings, they’re sure to be a hit. With the right creativity, materials and knowledge, a “budgeted” gift can actually be much more meaningful than anything you can find in stores. The stores don’t know your recipient – you do, and they’ll appreciate your showing it.

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