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Why this version of the Pre won't replace my iPod

I would really like to carry one device. Ideally this would be the Palm Pre: phone, email, sms, internet, calendar, contacts, and media player. I listen to a lot of podcasts and music on my 30GB iPod classic right now, and it would be great to not carry it around anymore since I have the Pre. … Read more

The 404 379: Where we have a ball with Steve Guttenberg

CNET official Audiophiliac Steve Guttenberg guest hosts today's ball-busting show. Steve brings his usual brand of random topics to the table today that include the most bizarre festival you'll never want to visit and the world's largest ketchup bottle. We also introduce another awesome band in our Becks/Last.FM semiweekly audio draft!

Today's show is very important, for three reasons. First, we're stoked to welcome Audiophiliac Steve Guttenberg who brings his expertise to answer all your high-end audio questions on the second half of the show, but not before introducing us to the most horrid festival that you'll never, ever want to visit. Let's just say that the subject matter of this food fair leaves room for plenty of punny jokes to be made, and we take that opportunity every chance we get (see:show title)--too funny!

Second, it's also a very important day because it's the first time we actually get a few bottles of Beck's Beer into the studio to sip on during the show! Don't worry though, we take things in moderation here at The 404 (yeah...), but no amount of self-control can prevent Wilson and me from getting the classic Asian glow.

Finally, all of us are caught offguard when Wilson Tang, infamous for literally feeling indifferent about any music made after 1791, makes an executive decision and chooses Grizzly Bear for today's Semi-Weekly Audio Draft Pick, sponsored by Beck's Beer in conjunction with Last.FM.

Grizzly Bear is a four-piece band out of Brooklyn here in New York that has been slowly gaining popularity for its dusty mix of folk piano and a mix of other instruments including whistles and an intermittent banjo. After releasing several albums in the past few years, Grizzly Bear just released a new one called "Veckatimest," which includes today's song, "Two Weeks." The album retains Grizzly Bear's unique low-fi sound--mixing airy vocals with refreshingly creative arrangements that are rare to find in today's soundstage. We hope you'll enjoy Grizzly Bear as much as we do!

(Last.fm is a part of CBS Interactive, which also publishes CNET News and Reviews.)

One more thing: We'd like to congratulate newlyweds Elizabeth and Ian for getting hitched recently. They're both avid 404 listeners and while we doubt that Elizabeth walked down the aisle to our theme music, we're swooning with you and wish you guys the best of love.

EPISODE 379 Download today's podcast Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more

VLC for video victory

VLC Media Player is a long-time open-source favorite, and the latest version is also the first to be out of beta development. It's not the only option for free video playback, but it's one of the best, and the feature updates in version 1 make it well worth the upgrade.

Users can now get frame-by-frame advancement, granular speed controls allowing for on-the-fly slower or faster playback, and live recording of streaming video. The toolbars are fully customizable, so you can have only the buttons you need in the interface, there's AirTunes streaming, and there's better integration … Read more

The 404 377: Where Wilson needs a haircut

Today's show covers Wilson's ever-growing locks of hair and Google ads catering to stupid people. We also take a look back at the original Sony Walkman and examine the best-selling video games of the '90s. Finally, stick around for our weekly Audio Draft Pick sponsored by Beck's Beer in conjunction with Last.fm!

The first segment of the show is dedicated to Wilson's beautiful head of hair. I think I met Wilson's hair long before I ever met the man, and while I've always loved its golden highlights and butter-soft touch, I can't help but think of the Herculean Kevin Sorbo every time I glance in its general direction. Maybe it should start introducing itself with us at the beginning of the show.

Lots of nostalgia on today's show! After a long examination of the way Google is marketing ads to stupid people, we run down the top 50 best-selling video games of the '90s. Most of the picks are no-brainers, but there are a few surprises in there, including Frogger for PS1 coming in at No. 46. Did people really pay money to buy FROGGER on a DISC?! Scary to think about now.

Next, we launch into a story about 13-year old Scott Campbell swapping his Apple iPod for the original Sony Walkman. Fresh on the heels of the gadget's 30-year anniversary, this leads us to reminisce about the influence of the Walkman on all subsequent mobile audio products. We all had them (at least those of us born prior to 1990) and absolutely loved making mixtapes and mixtape art for our friends and significant loved ones. Unfortunately, we get so nostalgic that both Jeff and I reveal humiliating stories that you won't want to miss.

Long live the Sony Walkman! You were there with us through good and bad times, my friend--we'll never forget you.

We're also very psyched today, not only because the date is 7/8/9, but also for the Weekly Audio Draft, brought to you by Beck's Beer and Last.fm! Also, big thanks to Dylan Swart for sending in a poster for the segment. It's my pleasure to introduce today's band, Matt Pond PA.

Like everyone, the transition from middle school to high school wasn't easy for me, but music like this, among others, helped me push through it and I'm proud of these guys for continuing to put out such heartfelt records after 12 years of lineup changes, relocation, and subtle changes to their sound.

The sample song on today's show is called Several Arrows Later from the album "Several Arrows Later." The music combines smooth, gentle vocals with beautiful instrumentation for a unique sound that refuses to be pigeonholed into today's genres. The word "emo," although thrown around a lot in describing Matt Pond PA, is a cringing understatement for this band. Granted, all of the band's music is emotional by nature, but what I like the best about Matt Pond PA is that each of its songs strikes a different chord--each one means something different to the listener. Check out Matt Pond PA and get hooked!

(Last.fm is a part of CBS Interactive, which also publishes CNET News and Reviews.)

EPISODE 377 Download today's podcast Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more

SoundAMP turns an iPhone into a hearing aid

An iPhone can take the place of all kinds of gear--an air mouse, a metronome, a golfer's GPS, and so on. Now, thanks to SoundAMP, it can fill in for a hearing aid as well.

The $9.99 app turns an iPhone or second-gen iPod Touch into an "interactive hearing device"--a fancy way of saying it amplifies the sound around you.

All you do is fire up SoundAMP and plug in a pair of earphones. (iPod Touch users will need one with an inline microphone.) Then just raise or lower the oversize slider until you get … Read more

Yamaha YHT-791BL: Big home theater sound from an all-in-one HTIB

Great-sounding home theater is becoming increasingly rare, as consumers move toward space-saving solutions like soundbars and tiny home-theater-in-a-box systems (HTIBs). If you still care about sound, have a budget around $1,000, and want the convenience of an all-in-one package, the choice largely comes down to two systems: the Onkyo HT-S9100THX ($1,100 list price) and the Yamaha YHT-791BL ($800, the subject of this review).

The two systems are very similar: you get a component-grade AV receiver with four HDMI inputs, plus a big, boxy 7.1 speaker system that delivers better sonics than the rest of the HTIBs on … Read more

Yamaha HTR-6250BL: Solid HTIB companion, but less impressive on its own

Yamaha is unique among home audio manufacturers in that its prepackaged home theater systems include the same AV receivers that are offered as standalone units. We received the Yamaha YHT-791BL home theater system for review and were impressed with the included HTR-6250BL AV receiver compared with other home-theater-in-a-box systems, but we also wanted to see how it compared with other standalone AV receivers.

On its own, the Yamaha HTR-6250BL wasn't as impressive. Yes, it has four HDMI inputs and plenty of analog video connections, but the HTR-6250BL lacks the ability to assign inputs, which limits its flexibility. It also … Read more

The 404 375: Where that ain't right

Since we're not having a show tomorrow for Independence Day, there's a lot to cover today, including a new segment with Beck's Beer and Last.fm, a chat with the winner of our logo design contest, and a hilarious voicemail from everyone's favorite Tina Schwartz.

Our annual GetMcDonaldsBreakfastOnJulyThird Day leaves us with upset stomachs and wandering minds, so it's a good thing we have Blake Stevenson on for a quick segment in the beginning of today's show to talk about his winning submission for our logo contest.

We get to pick his brain a bit about how he came up with the design, and we're also curious about his work history and how he got so good! In turn, Blake also surprises us with the amazing poster illustration you see to the left. Click on it to see the larger version, and check out the impressively accurate caricatures of Wilson, Jeff, and me! From Wilson's highlights to Jeff's pursed lips and my ridiculous everything, Blake really did an excellent job of capturing the feel of the show, both with the poster and the logo itself. Attention Tom Green: critics agree, your logo sucks.

The good news is that Blake Stevenson is more than willing to redo it, so head over to JetPacksandRollerSkates.com and put him to work!

We're also very excited to debut the very first of our bi-weekly (that's twice a week) segment called The Weekly Audio Draft, sponsored by Beck's Beer in conjunction with Last.fm. Every Monday and Friday we'll introduce you guys to some fresh bands with varying genres that we hope will be music to your ears.

Jeff is first up with a band called The Twilight and the Sound, which features Jeremiah Rangel and Matt Lovato, former members of pop-punk band Mest. Their new band draws influences from The Cure, Deftones, Weezer, and Interpol, and you can buy their new album "100 Sundays..." on their profile page on Last.fm. On today's edition of the Weekly Audio Draft, we rock out to their new song "There's No Basement at the Alamo," a driving, upbeat track that combines male and female vocals in a call-and-response format that makes the perfect accompaniment to a weekend BBQ or road trip. Leave a comment on this post and let us know what you think! Check out more info for the band at their MySpace page as well.

The second half of the show is filled with hilarious voice mails including some bike shopping advice as well as a really funny voice mail from our favorite listener, Tina Schwartz. We have to reiterate that her views and opinions DO NOT reflect those of The 404 or our parent company, CBS Interactive. We even get into a few stories at the end of the show, including some back and forth about the Microsoft and Nickelback collabo, Facebook flirting and Universal grabbing the rights to the Asteroids full-length movie.

Have a great Independence Day weekend everybody, stay safe, and don't forget to check back tomorrow for our weekend throwback episode!

Last.fm is a part of CBS Interactive, which also publishes CNET.

Episode 375 Download today's podcast Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more

Sony launches two feature-packed iPod speakers in Europe

Sony on Tuesday announced the European-only NAS-Z200iR and CMT-Z100iR all-in-one iPod speakers, which feature a built-in iPod dock, slot-loading CD player, AM/FM radio, analog audio input port and USB port compatible with a Sony Walkman or any other MP3 player--no further details yet on compatibility. The step-up NAS-Z200iR also includes additional network streaming functionality, including PC streaming and Internet radio via DLNA certified Wi-Fi.

What really makes the NAS-Z200iR stand out, though, is its remote, an iPod-esque device with a 3.5-inch LCD display. With an onscreen display that looks like a slightly modified version of Sony's XMB … Read more

Sound vs. picture: What's a better investment?

A good friend of mine is still fuming over picking HD-DVD over Blu-ray. He's held the grudge so long he just recently dumped the player and even some of the discs and bought a Blu-ray player.

I know another guy who's steamed that his $2,000 6-year-old receiver doesn't have HDMI switching, so to get Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio he plays his Blu-ray over the receiver's 5.1 channel analog inputs. Fine, but the receiver doesn't do any sort of bass management over its analog inputs. The sound isn't so hot.

Do you know anybody who bought a plasma TV in 1999 for around $10,000 who still uses it as their primary display? I don't, but I'd bet most of those buyers are on their second or third display by now.… Read more