Ultra-futuristic concept vehicles

What will automobiles look like 50 years down the road? If they turn out to be anything like these concepts from the design studios of four major automakers, we are in for quite a ride.

- Mazda Motonari RX

Mazda Motonari RX --
Mazda Motonari RX

In Mazda’s vision of the late 2050s, advances in molecular engineering have rendered metal-based manufacturing obsolete. The rise of ubiquitous computing and artificial intelligence drastically accelerates the automotive production cycle. Cars are cheap, lightweight (around 200 lbs, or less than 100 kg), and equipped with intelligent crash avoidance systems that eliminate traffic accidents. However, people still manage to get speeding tickets.

Mazda Motonari RX --

The Mazda Motonari RX — which takes its name from the legendary Japanese warrior Mori Motonari — interfaces seamlessly with the driver to function as an extension of the body.

Mazda Motonari RX --

The vehicle drives sort of like a street luge. Acceleration and direction is determined by two armrest mounted control points, and the vehicle’s exoskeletal frame shape-shifts in accordance with the position of the driver’s arms and legs when enveloped in the seat.

Mazda Motonari RX --
Omni wheels

Four omnidirectional wheels allow 360 degrees of movement, and the tread expands or contracts to suit the driving conditions.

Mazda Motonari RX --

A “haptic skin” suit consisting of millions of microscopic actuators enables the driver to experience the road psycho-somatically while receiving electrical muscle stimulation from the onboard AI guidance system (or other remotely located drivers).

Mazda Motonari RX --

The vehicle’s entire structure is comprised of a 100% reprototypable, carbon nanotube/shape memory alloy weave with a photovoltaic coating, which allows the vehicle to mimic the driver’s body movements while powering the in-wheel electrostatic motors.

- Toyota Biomobile Mecha

In Toyota’s vision of the late 2050s, cities have developed vertically due to limited area on the ground, leading the transportation industry to develop new vehicles capable of navigating vertical space.

Toyota Biomobile Mecha --
Toyota Biomobile Mecha

Toyota’s Biomobile Mecha, a shape-shifting vehicle with nano-laser wheels, can read and adapt to changes in the environment and travel vertical pathways by means of biomimetic feet with powerful suction.

Toyota Biomobile Mecha --

In addition, the Biomobile Mecha is powered by pollution. A special skin derives energy from harmful substances in the air, so the vehicle never runs out of fuel (as long as the future skies remain polluted) and restores balance to the environment while it goes.

Toyota Biomobile Mecha --

The real-time strategic navigation planning system, which reads the environment via a 3D scanner, gives the vehicle “instincts” that enable it to autonomously adapt to the driving environment.

Toyota Biomobile Mecha --

Advanced nanotechnology enables the vehicle to expand and contract its structure horizontally and vertically as needed, allowing it to serve as a compact commuter, an aerodynamic performance vehicle, or even as a temporary dwelling.

- Nissan OneOne

In Nissan’s vision of the 2050s, robots have become an integral part of our lives, blurring the line between humans and machines. The Nissan OneOne combines personal mobility with the family robot concept.

Nissan OneOne --

Billed as the ultimate pet, the Nissan OneOne (pronounced “wan-wan,” the Japanese sound for a barking dog) is a friendly, helpful member of the family of the future. Able to operate autonomously without a driver, the GPS-guided vehicle can help out by picking up the dry cleaning, fetching the groceries, and taking the kids to school.

Nissan OneOne --

OneOne propels itself forward by flexing and relaxing synthetic polymer muscles in its “legs,” much as you would if skating on roller blades.

Nissan OneOne --

The vehicle can also assume various positions depending on the driving environment. It reclines to achieve greater speed, and it stands up to increase visibility and squeeze into tight spaces.

- Honda 124 (One to the Power of Four)

In Honda’s vision of the 2050s, people have flocked back to the suburbs, fueling consumer demand for a truly flexible commuter vehicle.

Honda 124 --
Honda 124

The solar-hybrid powered Honda 124 (One to the Power of Four) is an energy-efficient, modular vehicle that can separate into four different fully functional units, each uniquely suited for specific driving conditions.

Honda 124 --

A combination of robotics, artificial intelligence and molecular engineering (which enables the body panels to be reshaped according to use) allow each module to instinctively reconfigure itself and operate as a fully functional unit. Two of the modules are suitable for short-distance inner-city driving, while the other two are ideal for longer distances at higher speeds.

Honda 124 --

Because the Honda 124 consists of multiple units that can be joined together, carpoolers can take advantage of HOV lanes and share commuting costs.

Horror portraits by Daikichi Amano

Photographer Daikichi Amano’s deliciously macabre portraits are a titillating blend of horror, dark humor, and animal parts.

Photograph by Daikichi Amano --

Photograph by Daikichi Amano --

Photograph by Daikichi Amano --

Photograph by Daikichi Amano --

Lenovo S12 Is the First Netbook With Nvidia Ion, Costs Under $500

With the IdeaPad S12, Lenovo, as rumored, is first out of the gates with a netbook based on Nvidia's Ion chipset, and it's a hell of a promising start: this 12-inch netbook promises the whole HD-playing, game-conquering Ion experience for around $500.

First, a refresher: Nividia's Ion platform is essentially Intel's Atom processor combined with the decent Nvidia 9400m graphics unit. The resulting performance isn't independently mind-blowing, offering smooth 1080p video decoding, including accelerated h.264 playback, Blu-ray playback and moderate gaming capabilities, but put into the context of existing Atom netbooks, it's a revelation.

Though technically not the first Ion-based product—that honor goes to the Acer Revo nettop—this is the first netbook, and frankly, it's exactly what we were told to expect from the start: a midrange, 12-inch netbook with a multimedia bent. It's a followup to the company's existing S9 and S10 IdeaPads, and, excluding the ION—a $50 option, unfortunately—it's not that different from its smaller stablemates.

The screen resolution is higher, at 1280x800, but therein lies a slight problem. Ion's banner claims revolve around HD video playback, and 1080p video won't be viewable on the S12, except on an external screen through its HDMI output. That said, the difference between 720p and 1080p video on such a small would hardly be noticeable.

Specs include 1GB of RAM, 160GB HDD, a 4-in-one card reader, a 3-cell battery (upgradeable to 6) and an ExpressCard slot for 3G expandability. XP is the OS of choice. Pricing starts at $449, and the S12 goes on sale in July. Ion, however, won't make its way to production units until an unspecified "late summer" date, and it'll cost a $50 premium over the standard, Intel-based solution. Full specs release below.

IdeaPad S12 Netbook

Display: 12.1 WXGA (1280 X 800) LED 200 nit, 250g
Processor: Intel Atom N270
Graphics: Intel integrated GMA 950, Nvidia ION
Memory: Up to 1GB DDR2 533 MHz
Hard Drive: Up to 160 GB SATA (160, 250, 320)
Battery Life: 3 hours with 3-cell, 6 hours with 6-cell
Weight: 1.4kg with 3 cell, 1.55kg with 6 cell
Dimensions: 292 X 216 X 22-28.9mm
Connectivity: 10/100m Ethernet, Broadcom 578M, Intel WiFi Link 5150 1X2 AGN, Intel WiFi Link 5100 1X2 AGN, Non-Intel wireless b/g, Non-Intel wireless b/g/n, Bluetooth
Other: 3 USB, 1 Expresscard slot (Intel and VIA platforms), 4-in-1 card reader, VGA, RJA45, HDMI
Software: XP Home SP3 (32 bit)

Lenovo Energizes Mini-Computing with its First 12-Inch Netbook
Debuts World's First Netbook with NVIDIA's ION Graphics Processor

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – May 25, 2009: Lenovo today announced the IdeaPad S12, the company's first 12-inch netbook. The new netbook takes the best in connectivity, style and entertainment features in Lenovo's other netbooks and brings users the next level in netbook computing with improved usability and performance. These enhancements include a 12.1-inch screen, a 100 percent full-size keyboard and new graphics options with the NVIDIA ION™ platform.

"We've heard from consumers loud and clear about the need for affordable and extremely portable computing devices, and we've responded by introducing our third netbook with a completely new form factor, making mini-computing more usable and redefining value in today's market," said Dion Weisler, vice president, Business Operations, Idea Product Group, Lenovo. "We are pioneering new territory in the developing netbook arena by being the first vendor to give customers high quality video and entertainment capabilities in a netbook with optional NVIDIA ION graphics."

Elevating Power and Performance
Whether it's looking at photos, playing music, emailing or cruising online, consumers want smaller and more portable PCs. The Lenovo IdeaPad S12 netbook is raising the bar for higher levels of netbook computing with choices of the Intel Atom processor with Intel integrated graphics or the Intel Atom processor with NVIDIA ION graphics. Also, for the first time on a netbook with NVIDIA's ION graphics platform, users will be able to enjoy brilliant 1080p high definition video with silky smooth playback.
"NVIDIA ION graphics help deliver the same features found in premium PCs at lower price points and new form factors," said Rene Haas, general manager, Notebook GPUs, NVIDIA. "With enhanced graphics, the Lenovo IdeaPad S12 netbook is perfect for watching movies, playing popular games like Spore, flipping through vacation pictures or enhancing family videos."

The IdeaPad S12 netbook offers plenty of up and running time with up to six hours of battery life to support the mobile demands of netbook users1. Because netbook users need to stay connected wirelessly, the netbook comes with WiFi connectivity and ready for 3G with an ExpressCard slot to enable connectivity2. To hold the photos, music and videos users keep on their netbooks, the IdeaPad S12 netbook offers ample hard drive storage and memory with up to 160 GB of storage and 1 GB of memory. For peace of mind in case data becomes corrupted, Lenovo's OneKey™ Rescue System can help recover user data or device settings.

Loaded with Style and Entertainment
In addition to the netbook's sleek and sophisticated ring pattern design in black or white, users can make the netbook their one-stop entertainment device, starting from the moment they turn it on. Lenovo's expanded VeriFace facial recognition technology makes logging in a snap by recognizing the user's face. If users want "on demand" functionality, they can go into the Lenovo Quick Start environment and check email, browse the Internet and more without waiting for the full operating system to boot. They can also don any set of headphones and enjoy surround sound audio with Dolby Headphone technology. If opting to watch video on an external monitor, they can easily connect through the netbook's VGA port or HDMI port on select models. They can also choose among several multimedia formats to upload through the 4-in-1 multicard reader.

An Improved Computing Experience
Lenovo designed the IdeaPad S12 netbook for consumers looking for a super thin, portable and affordable device that offered a familiar, computing experience. Lenovo enlarged the netbook's WXGA screen from 10.1 inches to 12.1 inches for better viewing and made the keyboard 100 percent the size of a full-size laptop to make typing easier and less cramped. And when it comes to portability, by measuring less than an inch thick4, the netbook leads the industry for thinness compared to other 12-inch netbooks. The lightweight IdeaPad S12 netbook weighs in at just three pounds5.

Pricing and Availability6
The IdeaPad S12 netbook will be available in June through business partners. Pricing for models starts at $449. Models with the NVIDIA ION graphics will be available later this summer.

About Lenovo
Lenovo (HKSE: 992) (ADR: LNVGY) is dedicated to building exceptionally engineered personal computers. Lenovo's business model is built on innovation, operational efficiency and customer satisfaction as well as a focus on investment in emerging markets. Formed by Lenovo Group's acquisition of the former IBM Personal Computing Division, the company develops, manufactures and markets reliable, high-quality, secure and easy-to-use technology products and services worldwide. Lenovo has major research centers in Yamato, Japan; Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, China; and Raleigh, North Carolina.

1With a 6-cell battery.

2WWAN Service Providers: Requires separate agreement with select third party service provider, and is subject to credit approval and applicable service agreement/terms, rate plan and coverage maps of the provider. Service is available in select metropolitan markets, not available in all areas. Service provider, not Lenovo, is solely responsible for service. Lenovo customers may be contacted after purchase to activate service. Special credit and tenure restrictions and additional charges may apply to international roaming. A network connection, third-party software, additional hardware, and/or subscription to a third-party service may be required for certain solutions/applications. Additional restrictions apply.

4Based on measurement at the thinnest point, compared to existing 12-inch netbooks as of 5-25-09 from Dell and Samsung.

5With a 3-cell battery.

6Prices do not include tax or shipping and are subject to change without notice and is tied to specific terms and conditions. Reseller prices may vary. Price does not include all advertised features. All offers subject to availability. Lenovo reserves the right to alter product offerings and specifications at any time without notice.

Gundam legs

Gundam legs --

Piece by piece, an 18-meter tall, 35-ton full-scale Gundam statue is being assembled in Odaiba, Tokyo to commemorate 30 years of Mobile Suit Gundam. When finished in mid-July, the enormous figure will entertain onlookers by moving its head and shooting light and mist from 50 points on its body. Until then, we have these photos of its magnificent legs and assorted parts.

Gundam legs -- Gundam legs --

Gundam legs --

Gundam legs --

Ravage Transformer USB Drive Will Hold 2GB

Ravage used to transform from a cat into a cassette, but those weird, tapey things are a little old for fans of the bold, new, LeBouf'd version of the franchise. How about a USB drive?

In flash drive form, he's neither terribly compact nor inconspicuous, but this toy isn't meant to be a great Transformer—it's about proudly hanging a physical manifestation of your awkward fandom out of the side of your laptop. The Ravage drive will run a steep $43, and ship in September.

E-MU Pipeline Wireless Audio Transmitter/Receiver Lightning Review

The Gear: E-Mu's Pipeline low-latency wireless music system, which lets you cut the cord on your guitar-and-amp rig for about $200, or add portable wireless connections to your home sound system. The Price: Each module costs $100, and you need at least two to make things happen, so you're looking at $200 or even $300 to start.

The Verdict: It's a unique set of wireless toys that is a lot of fun to play with, and would have been a must-have back when I used to play guitar in a band. But these things can be cool even in the home of a total non-musician, which is why I'm bringing them up at all.

Think of it as Sonos Portable. You set one of them to transmit, and start playing a song from your computer, iPod, any audio source at all really, including, mind you, a CD or DVD player with S/PDIF output. Set another one to receive, then attach that to earphones, a boom box or your home theater system, and you hear everything with no latency. Well, with about 10 milliseconds of almost totally unnoticeable latency. In "broadcast" mode, you an add additional Pipelines—E-Mu says "any number of receivers"—so that many rooms, or many people, can catch your tuneage at the same time.

Of course, if you do play music, you can plug your guitar into one, set it for "pairing" mode, stick another one at your amp set to receive. In this scenario the latency is just 6.6ms, and you are suddenly completely unfettered.

I tested it in my house using prerecorded audio, and it sounded great. I stuck my computer with the source music down in the basement, and clipped a receiver to my belt with headphones plugged in, and wandered throughout the house. The signal faltered only when I was at the absolute farthest point away from the source, which probably was right around the advertised 15 meters (49 feet) of range that these babies can get.

Battery life is good, perhaps the big reason this thing even brushes the $100 point: You get 10 hours in receive mode, and 5 while transmitting.

The only issue I ran into, if you could call it that, was the "DIP switch" setup, which you can see in the rear shot above. I am not afraid of a few switches, but it seemed a complex way to set the channel, the receive or transmit mode, and the audio preferences. Not sure what would have been better, and once you set them, you can almost forget them, but it was, initially, a bit of a pain.

These babies aren't cheap, but setting up a way to wirelessly listen to music at home (like, say, piping music outdoors, syncing music between multiple rooms, or even walking around with earphones, listening to music playing somewhere else) seems worthwhile for $200, and the one-to-many broadcast mode makes it quite a unique product. My only gripe is that it would be cool if E-MU made an even better priced unit without the battery, so you could pick and choose.

Blu-ray Is Killing Itself

I love a good high-def movie, and Blu-ray players are sweet. Only they're so feature rich, the discs themselves are an afterthought—DOA or relegated to a niche format reserved for the finest films.

Oh, come on—you can't tell me you don't see where this is going. Even though the format has grown 72% in the last quarter, every Blu-ray player we choose to review has an abundance of features that have nothing to do with Blu-ray. In fact, they all have to do with delivering movies in a different way, with more instant gratification.

The joke is, when we were pushing for Blu-ray 2.0 with BD-Live a year ago, we didn't realize that the ethernet port was really not about enhanced Blu-ray at all, but about video on demand. I own a few Blu-rays, like Wall-E, that have BD-Live components. Never even bothered with them. No point. But you'd be a 'tard to buy a Blu-ray player without an ethernet port, and you'd be a 'tard to buy a Blu-ray player without Netflix on demand, and at this point, another service for new-release movies, like Amazon VOD or CinemaNow.

Netflix gives me back seasons of 30 Rock and The Office in high-def. Pop quiz: Will I ever buy them on Blu-ray, or even DVD? No. I can even get stuff I'd have previously hunted down on disc, like The IT Crowd. I can get lots of the movies I previously owned on DVD instantly on demand for no cost other than the $10 monthly subscription. People don't even bitch about DRM with Netflix, because it's instant and always there, so even the copyright owners should be happy. Time Warner's boss even said he's thinking about offering a Netflix-like VOD distribution channel for HBO—nothing like all-you-can-eat Rome, Wire and Band of Brothers to kill DVD sales, and HBO still gets their mad money.

You want to talk video quality? Fine. I own The Dark Knight on Blu-ray. That movie is freakin' awesome, and I am happy to watch it on a Blu-ray player, while I sit exactly 47 inches from a 50-inch 1080p plasma television. But what about Billy Madison? I love that movie too, but I first owned it on a VHS playing in 4:3 at what you might call 240i, and I can verify that the high-def version is no funnier. In fact, instead of fishing out the HD DVD of it I have, and hooking up the HD DVD drive to my Xbox, I'd probably sooner try to find it on Netflix, in whatever video quality they're offering.

Besides, most people—most Giz readers, I'd wager—are watching "high def" movies on LCD TVs they bought at Costco for $899, so you can't tell me that they can see a difference between so-called VOD high-def and real bonafide Blu-ray high-def, even though there definitely is one.

The Criterion Collection belongs on Blu-ray. But six films by Wes Anderson, Terry Gilliam and Akira Kurosawa do not an industry make. Like our discussion of audiophiles, there's a need to preserve (and even appreciate) video at very high quality, but that need doesn't trickle down to the masses, and especially doesn't matter for every single film, or even the vast majority of middle-of-the-road movies and TV. DVDs were a hit because they were the smartest way to deliver most video in the years 1999 to 2007. Now, the smartest way to deliver most video is over broadband, not on high-density shiny discs.

Don't get me wrong. You'll buy a "Blu-ray player." Stats show many of you already are. You may even buy some Blu-ray discs, or pay the extra $2 or $3 for Netflix Blu-ray rental. But the amount of time you'll spend watching Blu-ray on it will continue to dwindle, until, maybe one day, the disc tray just refuses to open from lack of use.

19th-century pregnant dolls

Edo-period obstetric training doll, Japan --
19th-century obstetric training doll - Wada Museum

In the 18th and 19th centuries, sideshow carnivals known as misemono were a popular form of entertainment for the sophisticated residents of Edo (present-day Tokyo). The sideshows featured a myriad of educational and entertaining attractions designed to evoke a sense of wonder and satisfy a deep curiosity for the mysteries of life. One popular attraction was the pregnant doll.

Vintage wooden pregnant mannequin, Japan --
“Light-skinned” pregnant doll - Edo-Tokyo Museum

Although it is commonly believed that these dolls were created primarily to teach midwives how to deliver babies, evidence suggests they were also used for entertainment purposes.

Edo-era obstetric doll, Japan --
“Dark-skinned” pregnant doll - Edo-Tokyo Museum

For example, records from 1864 describe a popular show in Tokyo’s Asakusa entertainment district that educated audiences about the human body. The show featured a pregnant doll whose abdomen could be opened to reveal fetal models depicting the various stages of prenatal development.

Old wooden baby dolls, Japan --
Baby doll - Edo-Tokyo Museum

Similarly, records of Japan’s first national industrial exhibition in 1877 indicate a Yamagata prefecture hospital doctor named Motoyoshi Hasegawa showed off an elaborate set of fetus models illustrating seven different stages of growth, from embryo to birth.

Japanese pregnancy manikin, Japan --
Fetus model set (circa 1877) - Toyota Collection

Although it is unclear whether the fetus model set pictured here is the same one Hasegawa showed in 1877, records suggest his model was a hit at the exhibition.

Marriage-Hunting Bra

Marriage-hunting bra (Konkatsu bra) --

Nothing says “marriage or bust” quite like the Marriage-Hunting Bra (Konkatsu Bra), a new concept lingerie by Triumph International designed to help the marriage-minded woman find a husband by displaying how much time remains until she hopes to tie the knot.

In addition to the easy-to-read LED display that shows the number of days until the wearer’s ideal wedding date, the white lace bra — which has the look and feel of a wedding dress — features a ring holder and convenient pockets for a pen and official stamp seal, which will be needed when filling out the marriage license application.

Triumph, which unveils a new concept bra every six months, hopes the Marriage-Hunting Bra will encourage more people to get hitched, even though it is not for sale. The creators were inspired by Konkatsu-Jidai (”The Times of Marriage-Hunting”), a recent best-seller by Toko Shirakawa that looks at Japan’s declining marriage rate and the growing difficulty that people in their 30s and 40s face when seeking marriage partners.

Marriage-hunting bra (Konkatsu bra) -- Marriage-hunting bra (Konkatsu bra) --

Recent statistics indicate that 47 percent of men and 32 percent of women in their early 30s are unmarried. These figures appear to be on the rise as people focus more on career than on family, and as people increasingly view marriage as a personal preference, not an essential part of life.

Wing Lounge Chair - The Only NASA Certified Chair

This chair is notable in two ways. One, it's the largest single piece of bendwood used to make a chair, and two, it's the only chair tested by NASA and certified by The Space Foundation.

Of course, it's also a sweet chair. It's a lot like the Eames Lounge Chair. Your body is cushioned by open cell visco elastic memory foam, used on NASA's spacecrafts, and looks conducive to some serious nap action.

Louis Vuitton Trunk Is a Vacation In Itself

Who needs clothes on vacation when you can carry two solar panels, a flatscreen TV, DVD player, two-way radio and coffee maker with you wherever you go?

This one-off was commissioned by some Chinese guy to Louis Vuitton, and is coated with Taiga leather and LV's standard brass fittings and red interior finish. Absurd, yes—but if we ever become a millionaire and go on vacation, we'd want one of these too. If some Chinese guy can make them build this, why not me? I'm some Chinese guy!

Autonomous floor-wiping robot

Fukitorimushi --

Move over, Roomba. Make way for Fukitorimushi, an autonomous floor-cleaning robot that crawls like an inchworm and uses a super-absorbent nanofiber cloth to wipe up microscopic dust and residue that ordinary vacuums leave behind. Unveiled at the recent Tokyo Fiber Senseware exposition in Milan, Fukitorimushi (lit. “wipe-up bug”) is designed by Panasonic and incorporates nanofiber technology developed by textile maker Teijin, Ltd.

The robot cleans by simply dragging its nanocloth belly across the floor as it slowly crawls around in search of dirt.

Fukitorimushi, which moves around by flexing and stretching its body like an inchworm, uses “feelers” of blue-white light to search for floor grime. When it finds a dirty spot, the robot emits a red light and devotes extra effort to cleaning that area. After it has finished cleaning, the machine returns to its charging station to replenish its battery.

Fukitorimushi’s body is covered in Teijin’s Nanofront cloth, which is made of polyester filament fibers measuring 700 nanometers in diameter (about 7,500 times thinner than the average human hair). The nanofibers significantly increase the fabric’s surface area and porosity, giving it superior wiping characteristics and the ability to absorb oil and ultra-fine dust particles less than one micron in diameter. The large surface contact area also increases the fabric’s friction with the floor and makes it resistant to sliding. The robot relies on this increased friction to push itself forward while wiping the floor.

Fukitorimushi --

According to its creators, Fukitorimushi is also designed to engage the emotions and foster a closer relationship between humans and machines. The way the machine creeps across the floor may seem a little strange at first, but the designers say people tend to grow fond of the robotic creature after watching it for a while. In addition, the owner must periodically replace Fukitorimushi’s nanocloth cover with a clean one. The designers suggest this task of looking after the Fukitorimushi may encourage a pet-like affection for the machine.

Top Battery Hacks, Tips, And Tricks

The gadgets you love don't always love you back—at least when it comes to battery life. But you can get more from your laptop, your iPod, your phone, and other devices with these 10 techniques.

10. Turn C batteries into Ds with quarters

Only a few things ever need D batteries, but who has them handy when you need those things? If you've got some slightly more handy C batteries around, you only need a few quarters to turn them into makeshift Ds. You won't get the same longevity, and you'll have to part with up to $1.50 for a bit, but it works, and it might just turn you into the family hero when you rescue that seemingly useless big-lens flashlight.

9. Keep your iPod "held" and updated

If you haven't hit the "Update" button since you got your iPod, old or new, fire up iTunes and do so—the newest firmware, in many cases, can boost your battery life. Once you've done that, run through Playlist Magazine's battery saving tips, which include keeping backlighting, the equalizer, and Sound Check features off when they're not needed. Also, keeping the "Hold" switch in place when you're not actively using it saves you from accidentally playing your whole collection, and wasting another charge cycle.

8. Get serious rechargeable batteries (and a charger)

It's a help to the environment, and your checking account, to use rechargeable batteries instead of letting your Wii remotes and other gadgets eat through AAs. But the grocery store brands and accessories often don't seem worth the hassle. Blogger Jeff Atwood does know what works, though, and he details the circuit science and recommends the good stuff in the post linked above. If you're stuck with Energizer and Duracell choices, though, here's Gizmodo's faceoff of the big brands.

7. Turn off your digital camera's screen

Having a view of the whole scene you're shooting is one of the digital camera's big advantages over film-based models, but powering that tiny little LCD takes quite the toll on your little batteries. If you're running low, or know you're going to be without a recharge for some time, turn the screen off and shoot through the optical viewfinder. You'll save battery time, and might find a new perspective on focus and framing.

6. Watch movies from hard drives, not DVDs

Simple, sure, but not always obvious. On many planes and trains, laptops serve as little more than portable DVD players with bigger screens, but forcing your laptop to spin the discs and read from them eats up more power than reading a file off a hard disk—or, perhaps even better, a USB drive. How to get there? We recommend HandBrake for most any system, though Adam's got a pretty good thing going with his (Windows-based) one-click DVD ripping solution.

5. Extend your not-so-hot iPhone life

A lot of lists out there offer to help extend your iPhone's battery life. This one's a lot like them, except it's written by our sibling site Gizmodo and based on extensive testing done during the run-up to the iPhone's launch. And it goes so far as to suggest what the others don't—playing games with 3D and vibrate, for example, is a power killer, both in actual juice and in how long you'll end up playing without realizing you've been sucked in. And if you're just checking weather, emailing, and making calls, keep your 3G switched off until it's needed.

4. Stash your gadgets out of your pockets

It's the most natural place in the world for your cellphone or iPod, but the heat your pocket picks up from, well, your hips can decrease the overall life of lithium-ion batteries. Not so much that you absolutely have to get one of those I'm An Important Person belt clips, but if you've got a coat, purse, or other place to put a battery-powered gizmo, consider offering it a little more ventilation than your body-warmed cotton wraps. While you're thinking cool, try stashing your batteries (just your batteries, mind you) in the freezer if you're trying to conserve every last drop while you're away from your charger. Photo by hsiqueira.

3. Get long-term battery life

An inquiring reader asked how to keep his batteries delivering on-the-go power for the long haul, rather than watch his investment be eaten away by age. As is so often the case, our readers came right back with answers. A MetaFilter thread linked by one helpful reader suggests using the battery fully if you're going to use it, then re-charge when it runs down. A Battery University link offers more tips, and Apple's guide to batteries suggests a few tips on what to do with unused or spare batteries—store them in a cool place at about 50 percent charge, for instance.

2. Make your system smarter about power

Windows and Mac OS X both know when you're using a laptop, and presumably want to help you save power. Except, in the case of the Mac, sleeping and hibernating isn't done with remaining battery power in mind, and on Vista, well, all those Aero effects and background processes suck up power too quickly. Enter Vista Battery Saver, which kills the Aero effects, sidebar widgets, and other power sinks, and SmartSleep (OS X), which gradually transitions from sleep, to sleep-and-hibernate, to full-on, session-saving hibernate as you start winding down from 20 percent charge. Both are nearly necessary downloads for road warriors lugging either OS around.

1. Recalibrate a laptop battery to regain life

It's a shame, but laptop batteries can lie to you about how much juice they have, or can really hold. The New York Times explains in a Q & A (look halfway down the page) the most straight-forward means of getting the real truth. Turn off all your interrupting apps, like screensavers and the like, put your computer to sleep, and plug it in until you know it's good and charged. Then turn it back on, make sure your power settings are such that the system won't try to sleep or hibernate, then run your computer all the way down on battery power. Charge it back up one more time, and you'll know whether you really need to start shopping at Laptop Battery Express, Laptops for Less, or check with your manufacturer to get a new lithium stick.

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