Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Earth TV Interview

This is the company that provides all kinds of pictures for TV stations from 55 special cameras positioned around the world. They hate being called a webcam company.

Doublecam from Germany

Interesting device for cameramen collecting Voxpops. Seen at MIP-Tv in April 2007. Cost? 19000 pounds sterling. Quality is excellent. Not sure if I'd want to use it in a warzone though.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Farcast Project

The Dutch research organization, TNO, pops up at many trade fairs, marketing what they're up to. Kobus Smit explained to me what they're doing with the Farcast project aimed at radio and newspaper reporters.

Frauenhofer MP3 Surround

The Frauenhofer Institute in Germany is best known as the place where the MP3 compression standard was developed. Now they've finalized a new compression system to put surround sound onto the mobile using DVB-H

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Yahoo & Broadcast & Mobile

What is Yahoo doing in the mobile world? This is what they're telling the mobile operators at the world's largest exhibition and conference called 3GSM in Barcelona. Curiously, Google wasn't there, yet 60,000 others did make the trip to beautiful Barcelona.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Wanna beat roaming charges on the mobile phone when you're sent as a freelance reporter abroad? With a local SIM card, Skypeout account and this box you can. Although launched at 3GSM back in February 2007, I have yet to see this in (online) shops just yet.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Babelgum - Joost's Nightmare?

Thinking of starting you're own TV station? There may be alternatives to Youtube if you have material longer than 10 minutes.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

GSM Association

Dawn Hartley explains what this young organization does in developing countries like Kenya and Namibia and why. This may be mobile, but I believe what they do is definitely of interest to broadcasters too.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Nursing the Phone

Just reposted this video because I wasn't happy with the quality of the video on Youtube. There was something wrong with the lip-sync. This Swedish company has a brilliant strategy to market their phones - Swedish nurses looking after a new born baby phone. I notice that this video had been downloaded 500 times in a few hours on Youtube.... It shows you what people are searching for. Katherine was at 3GSM...and they are way ahead of the Apple iPhone, in my opinion.

Monday, May 07, 2007

HHB Flash Microphone Recorder - Price reduction

This is an update to a post we put up in September 2005.

Way back on Friday Sep 9th 2005 at IBC Amsterdam, the UK company of HHB launched a great device for radio reporters. Basically, they have built a flash recorder into the base of a Sennheiser microphone, the same looking type which is marketed by Sennheiser as a wireless model. Instead of the transmitter, HHB has put in a flash-recorder into the same housing.

On the bottom are connected for a pair of headphones and a USB jack to the laptop. You can transfer recordings to the laptop at 90 times faster than real time, and there is no quality loss in the transfer since you're copying a digital file. The flash memory unit cannot be taken out (and lost), but you can get plenty of audio in - 3 hours at 48K linear, 18.25 hrs using the MPEG-1 Layer 2 standard at its lowest bitrate. I purchased a unit in 2006 and have found the 3 hour memory capacity to be fine for ordinary reporting. If you were using it to make a documentary, you'll need to dump content to a hard disk on a laptop. HHB say they have no plans to make the memory card removable in this model.

You do the editing of an item on the laptop, not on this device. The beast came out in Jan 2006 at a price of 699 pounds sterling in the UK (VAT extra) and 999 Euros (VAT extra). At the time we complained that the price was on the expensive side.

A press release on May 1st 2007 indicated that the retail price has now dropped to 529 pounds ex VAT in the UK, partly because of volume production and the drop in the cost of internal memory. I asked HHB in London whether this meant they would consider putting 2 GB instead of 1 GB, but the answer was that the feedback from clients indicated that 1 GB was enough for most purposes. Personally, I'd prefer 2 GB so I could use it for longer periods without having to dump to a Hard-disk. But I do more documentary work.

The audio quality of the recordings is great. For very noisy environments, there is also a cardioid version of the same device (the DRM85-C is the same price) which is far more directional. For my purposes, the omni-directional version is fine.

Unlike some other competitors, this Flashmic works on two standard penlight (AA) cells. I use the 2650 mAH capacity rechargeable cells from Duracell and get around 8 hours of recordings without a pause. Always have a couple of batteries spare in case. When the batteries go, they tend to fade rather suddenly.

I plug a pair of closed-type headphones into the base to monitor the sound and spot popping. The casing is rugged and well designed against hand-noise.

Things to bear in mind though;

- There is no audio buffer to allow the unit to be in standby and still capture the start of an important statement. Wouldn't be that practical anyway - you can't remote control this Flashmic since it is built into the base of the microphone.

- No line-in to the recorder. It's a flash microphone.

- Only Mono. No stereo versions

- Flash memory is not removable.

As well as broadcasters, this device might interest some podcasters too who want to interview famous people. There is a social factor here. Somehow the HHB looks better than the M-audio or a mobile phone stuck under someone's nose. They treat you like a professional because the device looks familiar.