Able Planet has a knack of getting the best possible sound quality out of its headphones,
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

What's new: Fast drive, silky case, smooth sound

June 28, 2009

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, The Post-Standard

   There are so many new techno toys to play with, I don't know where to start. So I'll start in the middle, where a new Dell laptop has been sitting on my desk for a few weeks.
   It doesn't look special -- in fact, it looks like a government-issue laptop, gray and thick -- but it has "WOW!" written all over its solid-state hard drive (called an SSD). "Solid state" means the drive doesn't spin, move, groan or whine; it's just a bunch of memory cells.
   And that makes it faster than a speeding old fashioned drive at just about everything. The Dell booted faster than usual, too, and never made a fuss no matter how hard I made it work. This is the future of hard-drive storage for sure -- as soon as the price comes down and the capacity goes up. I checked Internet discounters and found the Samsung 64GB SSD selling for about $500.
   Reality check! That's 10 times the cost of a standard hard drive. One advantage that offsets some of the huge added price is the staying power of any laptop equipped with a solid state drive: the battery should last about twice as long.
   And now to the end -- of my desk, that is. I have my new Acer netbook (tiny laptop) computer snuggled up in a Uniea Omniverse case. It's water resistant and well padded, and best of all it fits my Acer Aspire One perfectly.
   If you have a similar netbook (the Aspire One is the same size as a few other popular models), this carrying case is for you. There are other sizes, too, for more normal notebook computers, and you can choose from silk or nylon. I also tried an iPod case made like the netbook case; it was ideal for my iPod nano. The laptop case costs $25. Go to www.unieastore.com.
   Finally, to the beginning. As I write this column I am wearing the fabulous new NC500 TF headphones from Able Planet, listening to the Beatles. They cancel about two-thirds of all outside noise when you turn on a switch on the left earcup -- a welcome function in today's noise-prone home environments -- and they are swathed in softly padded leatherette. Best of all, they sound like a million bucks.
   Luckily, you only have to pay $130 for this megabuck sound. Able Planet (www.ableplanet.com) has a knack of getting the best possible sound quality out of its headphones, and these 'phones are superb in just about every way.
   And extra finally, I've fallen in love with Acoustibuds, which slip over your iPod ear buds to make them fit better and sound better. The company's Web site shows you how they work. Go to www.acoustibuds.com. They cost $20 for two sets.