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Vulture Bytes: iPhone Lenses, Netflix on Boxee, and Auto-Tune Toys

Welcome back. Glad you could join and click your way through gadgets and gizmos and apps that at least temporarily satisfy our lust for the new new thing. This week: an app that cares about music more than you, iPhone camera lenses, Netflix on Boxee, Auto-Tune toys, and a plug that will save the planet and your money.

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This is the ideal app for the non-obsessive music fan. Nomis scans your iDevice’s music library, picks out which bands you listen to, and then shows you the music you don’t own from those very bands. It’ll take some time for it to scan your catalogue, but once it does, it provides a pretty slick interface to keep supporting your favorite bands (i.e., spending more of your money on their music). It’s ideal for musical homebodies — the kind of people who don’t want to trawl hundreds of music blogs to find out release dates and up and coming bands. Sometimes, new music from the bands you already know is adventurous enough. PRICE: $1.99
When New York Times photographers are using their iPhone cameras to win awards and get on A1, you know it’s safe to regard your iPhone as a real camera. But the digital SLRs have always had an advantage: lenses. It’s especially pronounced because the iPhone’s digital-only zoom makes everything so pixilated. But now there’s a telephoto lens for the iPhone that offers an eight-times optical zoom. It also comes with a tripod to keep your phone steady. The lens is attached to an iPhone, which makes taking it on and off simple. Oh, and if you’re more nearsighted, check out these macro and fish-eye lenses, which use magnets to attach to your phone but still get the job done. PRICE: $35 for the telephoto; $40 for the set of macro and fish-eye
We discussed the Boxee Box in the inaugural Vulture Bytes a few months ago. It’s a gadget you plug into your TV to stream web content in your living room. All great, except Boxee users couldn’t stream Netflix movies, which is really the best reason to make your TV web-savvy. Finally, though, Boxee has hooked its system up to Netflix, which means you can log in with your existing account and stream your way through your queue. (Assuming you aren’t already doing this via your Wii, Xbox, DVD player, TV, etc.) Catch those final Criterion Collection movies before they all move to Hulu Plus! PRICE: Free upgrade for existing Boxee users, whether you use its box or just its software.
Before the Grammys last Sunday, Anderson Cooper introduced his interview with Lady Gaga by saying, “Even if you’ve never heard her music, you’ve heard about Lady Gaga.” The inverse is true for Auto-Tune. Vulture Bytes has been at one too many dinner parties where someone will sheepishly ask what Auto-Tune is. Then comes the silence. And then comes the rush to try to explain in plain English how a computer filter can change someone’s voice to sound robotically on-pitch. It’s never easy to describe. It’s for these occasions that the I Am T-Pain Mic was created. It does what you imagine a microphone sponsored by T-Pain might do: make you sound like T-Pain. Which is to say, make you sound Auto-Tuned. The problem is that it’s not coming out until the fall. So in the meantime, just use the I Am T-Pain app, which basically does the same thing. Or, if you’re really cheap, you could just bring your laptop to the dining room and load an “Auto-Tune the News” video. PRICE: $40 for the microphone; $.99 for the app
There are drawbacks to our new gadget-ized lifestyles. One of the chief ones being how much energy all the damn things use. HDTVs, laptop cords, and camera chargers are like little gadflys, constantly on standby. The people who arbitrarily estimate these things suggest $10 billion of electricity is wasted on unused, standing-by electronics. There are ways to reduce the drain — it requires buying another gadget. The OnPlug comes with an on/off switch so you can shut an outlet completely off without unplugging all your cords. PRICE: $11
Vulture Bytes: iPhone Lenses, Netflix on Boxee, and Auto-Tune Toys