Thursday, September 3, 2009

Philips announces pricey Wireless HDMI solution


omputer and gadget lovers like us are no strangers to the rat's nest of hanging cables that usually forms behind our desks. But this isn't the only place where electronic components are wired together; more and more our living rooms have morphed into media centers with at least a mid-sized TV, several audio / video components and typically a gaming console.
Fortunately there has been some development aimed at wirelessly connecting HDTVs to our entertainment setups, particularly with Wireless HDMI and WirelessHD. The bad news: it's expensive and not entirely practical for now. Nevertheless, looking to gain an early foothold on the market, Philips has announced a pair of Wireless HDMI boxes which aim to let users connect audio and video devices to their TVs without all the clutter.

The Wireless HDTV link will let you relocate or even hide your components up to 20 meters away while still sending a 1080p/30 HD signal. But getting rid of wires will come at the cost of adding two separate boxes; the image source (Blu-ray player, for example) is connected to a transmitter box and the TV or projector is connected to a smaller receiver box. 
This setup makes more sense if the two devices are not located next to each other, but eventually Wireless HDMI technology will be built into home electronic products -- thus obviating the need for transmitter and receiver boxes. Phillips' solution includes two digital HDMI connections, two component connections, and a hefty 600 Euro ($850) price tag.


YouTube to offer movie rentals for $4?

Still trying to turn lucrative, YouTube is reportedly working on a movie rental service. The online video sharing site has been almost entirely reliant on user-submitted content, but it is in talks with various film studios about securing licenses to host motion pictures. Among the names in the discussion are Sony Pictures, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., and Warner Bros. Studios.

Speculation has it that while some movies will be viewable for free on an ad-supported basis, others will cost $4 to rent. This shouldn't come as a surprise as YouTube has been working to catalog more premium content. Turning to feature films may bring Google a welcomed profit, having failed thus far to earn a buck off their $1.65 billion investment.
I get the feeling that many people will condemn the thought of YouTube offering paid content. With a slogan like "Broadcast Yourself," it's easy to call YouTube a sellout and think that it's becoming a little less about you, and a little more about pushing mainstream media. I ask you, though, if the current system remains unaffected, is there really a problem?


OnLive cloud-based gaming service now in public beta

nLive's cloud-based gaming service has just rolled into open beta, so if you've been patiently awaiting its release, now might be a great time to test it out. According to OnLive's official blog, to gain entry to the public beta you must sign up on their site.

After signing up, you will have to provide general information about your ISP, computer specs and your location. OnLive uses this information to organize beta testers into groups. If you fit into a particular test group, OnLive will email you and request that you run a detailed performance test on your network connection and system configuration. They will review that information and may choose your setup to install the OnLive browser plug-in.

For the unfamiliar, OnLive is an on-demand video game service which takes the computational load of running today's high end games off of your PC, and places it onto their servers. Games are synchronized, rendered, and stored remotely and delivered via broadband Internet. The service allows you to play games on low-end systems running Windows XP, Vista (and presumably 7), as well as any Intel-based Mac with OS X.

You're probably thinking that the service will host the typical lame browser-based games, but it has numerous big names on-board, including Electronic Arts, Take-Two, Ubisoft, Epic Games, Atari, Codemasters, THQ, Warner Bros., 2D Boy and Eidos Interactive. It has a library of top-end games you would expect to see on the shelves of your local GameStop.

OnLive will also be selling a router-sized "MicroConsole" which has USB, HDMI, and Ethernet ports. By hooking the MicroConsole up to your TV and broadband line, you can play OnLive games sans computer. The service will require you to pay, but OnLive CEO Steve Perlman believes the console, controller, and subscription fee will be cheaper than the cheapest of consoles.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sony announces 11.1" ultraportable VAIO X notebook

Sony has introduced the new ultra-thin VAIO X laptop series today in Berlin at the IFA 2009 electronics event. There aren't too many details available yet, but based on reports from outfits attending the gathering, it's a premium ultra-portable with a non-glossy 11.1" display, a carbon fiber .55" chassis, and weighs a mere 1.5lbs.

According to Engadget (who is on site), the system will tout an "all-day" battery life, and will set a new standard for stamina. There is nothing official about what will power the VAIO X at launch, but Engadget is reporting that they hear it packs an Intel Atom. That said, nothing is locked in and there's no telling if CULV-based models will be available.

After watching a video shot by NetbookNews, I have to admit that while attractive, the model they handled was looking a little fragile (watch the display as it's opened). Sony is expected to announce an official spec sheet next month, and the VAIO X will hit stores about a week after Windows 7's October 22 launch. Does anyone want to take a stab at the MSRP?


Nokia reveals full specs and price of Booklet 3G

arly last week, Nokia announced its much-expected entry into the netbook space with the Booklet 3G. The company hyped the device's 3G connectivity, lightweight design and alleged 12 hours of battery life; but for the most part hardware details were kept under wraps. Now, with its Nokia World Conference currently underway in Germany, the Finnish manufacturer has shed some additional light on its netbook.

The Booklet 3G is constructed from a single piece of machined aluminum, weighs 2.75 pounds, and is just 0.78 inches thick. Color options at launch will be black, ice (white) and azure (blue). The device has a 10-inch screen with a 1280x720 pixel resolution, and can connect to bigger displays using an HDMI port, according to Nokia. It also sports an almost unheard of 16-cell user-removable battery to accomplish the promised half-day runtime.

Under the hood there is an Intel Atom Z530 running at 1.6 GHz and Poulsbo US15W chipset with a fanless design, as well as 1GB of memory and a 120GB hard drive (1.8-inch, 4200RPM). As expected of a Nokia device, there are plenty connectivity options, including Wi-Fi and 3G/HSPA cellular data network access thanks to a modem and hot-swappable SIM card slot. Other specs include a 1.3-megapixel webcam with integrated microphone, 3 USB ports, Bluetooth, assisted GPS, SD card reader and even an accelerometer.

On the software side, the netbook will come pre-loaded with Microsoft's Windows 7 (Starter, Home Premium or Professional editions) and Nokia services like Ovi Suite 2.0, Nokia Music for PC and Ovi Maps. The Nokia Booklet 3G will retail for 570 Euros (about $810) in Q4 2009, which seems quite pricey for a netbook, but Nokia is expecting the device to be heavily subsidized by phone carriers globally.


USB 3.0 certification begins, devices closer to debut

esterday the new SuperSpeed USB standard, USB 3.0, took another step closer to becoming a reality for consumers as the USB Implementers Forum announced the availability of its compliance and certification program. Interested companies can register for testing on USB-IF's site.

Those products that pass the tests will carry a SuperSpeed USB logo that promises interoperability with existing USB 2.0 products and the 3.0 improvements, naturally. Announced as far back as 2007, the next-gen interface is expected to provide users with up to 5Gbps transfer speeds, or roughly ten times the speed of USB 2.0. Unfortunately, USB 3.0 devices are not expected to reach its full potential at launch, with speeds probably reaching only 1.2Gbps initially and improving as the standard matures.

Hardware featuring SuperSpeed USB should arrive towards the end of the year -- we already saw a USB 3.0-packing motherboard from Asus back in July but it reportedly got canceled shortly thereafter. Widespread adoption is still far off, however. According to estimates from research firm IDC, the new standard is expected to grab 30 percent of the USB market share by 2013.


EVGA intros enthusiast four-way SLI X58 motherboard

VGA has pulled back the curtain on the world's first four-way GTX 285 SLI capable X58-based motherboard. Simply christened "EVGA X58 Classified 4-Way SLI," the board supports the use of up to four single-PCB GPUs simultaneously. To accompany it, EVGA has also introduced a Classified-branded GTX 285 video card.

EVGA's has built their new motherboard around the XL-ATX form factor, and houses seven PCI-E slots with support for two, three, and four-way SLI or CrossFireX configurations. It features a 10 phase digital PWM with a switching frequency of 1333KHz, low ESR/ESL film capacitor, 100% solid state capacitors, and 300% more gold content on the LGA1366 socket.

Other specs include support for 24GB of DDR3 1600MHz RAM, nine SATA II host adapters with support for RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5, and JBOD, dual gigabit Ethernet, twelve USB 2.0 ports, and more. The board's complementary GTX 285 features an 8 phase digital PWM, low ESR/ESL film capacitor, X-Cool jumper, three PCI-E 6-pin connectors, and dedicated voltage read points.

EVGA's impressive offering is said to have broken four 3DMark world records during the Motor City Overclocking Event. The company recommends that the X58 Classified motherboard be used with a chassis that has nine or more expansion slots. Note that the board is quite large at 13.5" x 10.3", so be sure to break out a measuring tape before placing your order.

EVGA is obviously targeting the extreme enthusiast community, and as such, you can expect to pay for it. The X58 Classified 4-Way SLI motherboard is stamped with an MSRP of $450, and the GTX 285 Classified GPU is equally pricey at $380.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sony rolls out PlayStation 3 firmware 3.0

layStation 3 firmware 3.0 has gone live, and owners of the console can expect to see a wide variety of changes. Firmware 3.0 reportedly delivers a host of updates and modifications. Among the additions is a new interactive news section, a status indicator bar, a tweaked friends list, a reworked Trophy system and more.

Sony has replaced the "Information Board" with a "What's New" section, which contains interactive news as well as your recently played games. They have positioned a status indicator in the top right corner, which displays user, friend and new message icons, as well as the number of friends online. The indicator bar also includes a scrolling ticker with PlayStation Network news.

They have polished the friends list, which now displays friends in a slightly redesigned format, and messages are now viewable from your friends' profile. The update places PlayStation Store shortcuts in the Game and Video categories. It also improves upon personalization with new dynamic custom themes and avatars, and has a revamped Trophy system.

Naturally, opinions of the changes will vary. Share your thoughts on the firmware update in the comments. Watch a preview of the firmware update after the jump.


Windows Mobile 6.5 phones to arrive on October 6

hones running Microsoft's new Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system will hit the market in exactly five weeks, according to a recent press release. The October 6 launch will mark the debut of the new "Windows Phone" brand, along with the new My Phone synchronization service and the Windows Marketplace for Mobile, Microsoft's attempt to rival Apple's App Store for the iPhone.

The company has not specified which handsets will be available on launch date, but said HP, HTC, LG Electronics, Samsung, and Toshiba are all committed to the OS. The first phone offerings in the U.S. will be on carriers AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, as well as Bell Mobility and TELUS. Devices will also debut on Orange, Deutsche Telekom AG and Vodafone in Europe; and several other carriers in Asia Pacific and Latin America.

With everyone trying to duplicate the iPhone's experience these days, it's easy to forget Windows Mobile is still the third-most used system behind Symbian and RIM's BlackBerry platform. That said, they are facing increased pressure from Apple's iPhone, Google's Android, and Palm's webOS; and it seems to me that this relatively minor update which touts document editing with Windows Office Mobile and a "redesigned Internet Explorer Mobile browser" among its selling points won't do much to stop the market share bleeding.

The new version also improves the user interface to make it finger-friendly, includes improved notifications and updates from e-mail, text and calendar, as well as an App Store-like hub for software downloads -- although Microsoft hasn't confirmed how many apps will be available for download at launch.


Firefox continues to swallow IE's market share

ver the years, Mozilla Firefox has steadily chipped away at Internet Explorer's market share. Last month, Microsoft's browser lost its greatest slice of the pie since November 2008 -- and Firefox ate most of it. Internet Explorer's share dropped 1.1% to 66.6% during August, and slipped 8.6% in the last 12 months. All the while, Firefox's cut grew .8% to 23.8% in August.

Within the ranks of Internet Explorer, IE6 lost 2.4%, slipping to 24.8%, IE7 dropped 1.9% to 21.2%, and IE8 rose 2.7%, claiming 15.2% of the browser's total share. Apple's Safari gained slightly, up to 4.1%, Google's Chrome saw a .3% rise to 2.9%, and Opera grew .1% to 2.1%. These figures may change significantly in the months to come, though.

Following a suit in the EU, Microsoft has proposed to include a "ballot screen" with its upcoming operating system, Windows 7. Slated for an October 22 launch, European versions of Windows 7 will prompt users with a list of major web browsers. The ballot will contain the top five web browsers, and market share will determine their position on the list.

In addition, Google recently landed a deal with Sony which will have Chrome pre-installed on Vaio-branded laptops sold in the US. Where do you think the shares will stand a year from now?


Sony to pre-install Chrome browser on Vaio laptops

oogle is stepping up its efforts to nab some additional browser market share from leader Internet Explorer and second-placed Firefox. As promised earlier this year, the company has now formalized and revealed an agreement that will see Chrome pre-installed on all Sony Vaio-brand laptops sold in the U.S.

Although specific terms of the deal are not being disclosed, it probably includes some form of search advertising revenue sharing between the two. Google says it is actively pursuing other manufacturers to try and get its browser included on more machines. Indeed, OEM deals may be a key tool in the next generation of browser wars -- and Google is one of the few companies with the financial strength to pick off Microsoft.

The company even has plans to develop its own operating system, which is aimed primarily at low-power machines and netbooks, and will act as an access point for its web-based services.

The deal is not expected to include European markets. With the advent of Windows 7, Microsoft has already announced plans to introduce a web browser ballot screen for all current Windows versions in that region, giving users a choice of which software to use. Nevertheless, the move marks an important development for Chrome a year after it was first launched. Currently, Google's browser has around 30 million active users or around 2-3 percent of the global market, making it the fourth most-popular browser after Apple's Safari.


Opera 10 complete, waiting to be downloaded

s expected, Opera has finally released the completed tenth version of their browser. Opera 10 delivers a revamped interface, a "turbo mode" for those with slower connections, automatic updates and more. Those who are using the release candidate build rolled out a week back may not notice a dramatic difference; the company only lists a few minor changes.

The newest Opera build boasts a 40% speed increase when running web applications (Gmail for instance). Opera Mail has seen numerous improvements and an inline spellchecker has been implemented. Other additions include resizable thumbnail tabs, and Speed Dial has been given personalization features. If you're one of the many who have been awaiting the arrival of Opera 10, grab your download for Windows here.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Samsung to launch app store September 14

he mobile application scene has exploded, and Samsung wants a piece of the pie. The company is anticipating a September 14 launch for their mobile app store entry. The store, shrewdly dubbed "Samsung Application Store," will initially appear in the UK, France, and Italy, but the company eventually expects it to be available in more than 30 countries including Germany and Spain.

To begin with, users of Samsung's Omnia and I8910 HD devices will have access to the store, but it will expand to include other models such as the Omnia II and OmniaLITE. The Samsung Application Store, like any other, will contain a variety of software including utilities for reference, social networking, health, and e-books. Like most similar services, the store will encompass one-click downloading.

At launch, Samsung will provide around 300 approved applications. The company expects that number to swell beyond 2,000 by the year's end. Among the new store's application providers are Gameloft, Electronic Arts, Handmark, TAITO, Paragon SW, Capcom, Com2us, Prompt, Pearson Longman, Bokan Tech and Diotek.

Users of the supported handsets will need to upgrade their devices in order to activate the service. Omnia owners can reportedly download and install the mobile client here, and I8910 HD customers can update via the "Application Download" icon on their phone.


Apple confirms iPod-related event for September 9

s expected, Apple has officially confirmed that it will host a music-themed event next Wednesday, September 9, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. An invitation sent out to media outfits and blogs today suggests the gathering will be iPod-related (just like in previous years) and references a classic Rolling Stones lyric with the typical iPod ad silhouette stating "It's only rock and roll, but we like it."

The Cupertino-based company has hosted a new product introduction of its iPods every September for the past few years, and this year doesn't look to be any different. Apple is expected to introduce new versions of its iPod nano
and iPod touch featuring cameras and (at least on the latter) a microphone; transforming the touch-enabled media player into a nifty VoIP phone wherever a Wi-Fi connection is available.

Besides new iPod models Apple may also discuss a new interactive album format, known as Cocktail, and could possibly introduce a new version of iTunes with social networking features. Some expect an Apple tablet to be announced as well, which perhaps isn't too far-fetched considering the slew of rumors and 'evidence' on the company's own software, but this seems rather unlikely for now - most are betting on a release early 2010.

Last but not least, the September 9 date has also fueled rumors that The Beatles' discography could finally make its appearance on iTunes. That Wednesday is the same day the band's remastered digital albums and Rock Band video game will be released. Whatever Apple has in store, we'll be filling you in with the details next week.


Wikipedia to begin coloring unverified text

Wikipedia is undoubtedly one of the most interesting, useful and controversial services of the modern web. A conglomerate of user-generated and individually researched articles, it has become a nearly ubiquitous aspect of Internet-based information gathering.

For the very same reason, it has earned a lot of criticism - namely by people who feel its anonymous nature makes it too unreliable and inaccurate. Many have accused the reference site of this, and as a result, Wikipedia has often found itself fighting an uphill battle to prove its credibility.

In an effort to help passersby distinguish the verified material from the untrustworthy, Wikipedia is preparing to introduce a new tool. A new proposal, made possible through an extension to the MediaWiki software that Wikipedia is based upon, will see unreliable text highlighted in color.

The new system will give contributors a reputation score between zero and nine. When someone makes an edit, the resulting text is then highlighted with a shade of orange - the brighter it is, the less trustworthy. An editor's reputation is influenced by the performance of their contributions. As articles become more stable and presumably verified further, text would revert to the norm.

The new system isn't foolproof - it still relies upon anonymous editing, and assumes that editors who have been around longer are more likely to give you accurate information. That may be a safe assumption - the overwhelming majority of vandalism to Wikipedia comes from shadowy sources.


Microsoft Office Build 4417 leaked

s usual, when Microsoft has a new operating system or productivity suite on the assembly line, the public domain has a front seat show. Microsoft Office 2010 Build 4417 has reportedly hit the Web with some minor tweaks and improved stability.

According to Neowin, the most noteworthy change to Build 4417 is that Redmond has fine-tuned and polished the Back-Stage view feature. The latest leak packs a new upload center to store and share documents online, a new activation system, and updated icons. Users are reporting that the uninstall issues of a previously leaked Mondo build have been corrected, and the current version can be uninstalled.

Microsoft Office 2010 first leaked to torrent sites back in May, and Microsoft pushed out a technical preview on July 13. I have no doubt there will be many more unofficial builds to come. If you're going to partake in that scene, be careful of shady sources -- it's not uncommon for these leaks to be laced with malware.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

China to account for 15-20% of iPhone shipments next year?

ccording to a Wall Street analyst, Apple will ship five to seven million iPhones in China during 2010, after striking a three-year agreement with China Unicom. Broadpoint AmTech analyst Brian Marshall estimates that the Chinese market will account for 15% to 20% of Apple's global iPhone sales next year.

China Unicom's 140 million subscribers make it the second largest carrier in the country, only topped by China Mobile, which has 460 million customers. Interestingly, Marshall noted only about half of China Unicom's customers are pre-paid, compared to 80% of China Mobile's.

Naturally, pre-paid customers are of little use to Apple, and the number of post-paid customers the two companies have are on a similar plane. China Unicom has about 70 million post-paid customers, and China Mobile has around 92 million.

China Unicom has been adamantly building its 3G network -- an obvious requisite to host the iPhone. The carrier will begin shipping iPhones in the fourth quarter of this year. On a side note, unconfirmed reports have claimed that the Chinese iPhone will lack Wi-Fi capabilities.


gScreen shows off dual-display laptop, Spacebook

Using a laptop has distinct advantages over desktops, most prominently in the mobility department. To gain that boost in portability, though, sacrifices must be made. As a whole, laptops lack the computing muscle offered by their clunky counterparts. That shows in more areas than one - not least in precious screen real estate.

Acknowledging this, a little-known company named gScreen has earned a seat in the limelight with its dual-display-packing notebook. Called "Spacebook," gScreen is working on models that house two 13, 15.4, 16, or 17-inch LED-backlit LCD displays. With a specifically tailored sliding mechanism, the Spacebook's secondary display can be slipped out when needed, and tucked away when not.

In an interview with Gizmodo, gScreen said the Spacebook's specifications will include an Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GF900M, a 7200RPM HDD, DVD drive, six or nine-cell battery and Windows 7. The company's website has more details, listing a Core 2 Duo P8400, 4GB DDR2 RAM, 320GB 7200RPM HDD, 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9800M GT or Quadro FX 1700M, and VGA/HDMI-out.

Given the slightly dated specifications, I assume the Spacebook's hardware will be revamped in the models to come. As attractive as a laptop with two displays may be, the complete package probably weighs in excess of 12lbs, not to mention the elevated power consumption. Just something to keep in mind before you plunk down your hard earned dollars.

The company is pressing for December 2009 launch -- probably to snag a few holiday sales -- and plans to have the first units sold via Amazon. Although there is no official price established, gScreen is reportedly trying to keep it below $3,000.


  © Blogger templates ProBlogger Template by 2008

Back to TOP