Tech News

Technology News and -----adget Review

09 March 2011

RIM's chief marketing officer resigns

We won't read too much into this, but it comes at an interesting time -- with only a month left before RIM is expected to debut the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, the company's chief marketing officer has resigned. The Wall Street Journal reports that RIM CMO Keith Pardy (formerly with Nokia) will leave due to "personal reasons" after a six-month transition period is up. The publication's anonymous sources add that Pardy actually made the decision a month ago, and that the move "reflects larger turmoil" within RIM -- as opposed to any sort of knee-jerk reaction over the iPad 2 launch, we suppose. To be frank, we're a little worried about the fate of the PlayBook if it's indeed close to launch -- when we tried a prototype at the Game Developer's Conference this past week in San Francisco, the hardware was still pretty solid, but the software was a bit sparse, and what was there felt like it needed more than a few coats of polish.

Behold Corsair's Force GT SSD -- flaming red shell and 500 MB/s read and write speeds

Feast your eyes upon the latest and greatest SSD from Corsair, the Force GT. Aside from its flaming red façade, the Force GT also promises snappy 520 MB/sec read and 500 MB/sec write speeds thanks to its SandForce SF-2000 controller -- nearly twice as fast as the company's previous SandForce drives. The 240GB SSD will officially be unveiled at CeBIT 2011 (which ends tomorrow), but we thought you'd like to see this ruby-red speed demon a little early. Enjoy.

Motorola Atrix docks literally and figuratively torn apart, hack enables Webtop over HDMI port

Motorola's got a fine smartphone in the Atrix 4G, but a mildly unsatisfactory pair of modular docks. Good thing, then, that you can gain the most intriguing functionality they add without buying one! Fenny of xda-developers reportedly figured out a way to modify the phone's APK files to activate Webtop mode over a standard HDMI cable -- with no dock needed as a go-between -- allowing you to experience the Atrix's PC-like functionality when connected to any HDMI-ready computer monitor or TV. Of course, you'll need a rooted and deodexed phone to give it a try, but we hear those aren't monumentally difficult to come by. 

While Fenny's hack could potentially make the desktop dock obsolete -- assuming you've got a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard handy -- Motorola's LapDock is still something else. It's razor-thin, it doesn't require a separate monitor, and it charges your phone. So, before you write it off entirely, you might at least want to indulge your morbid curiosity about what's inside, and thus there's a complete teardown video after the break to show you what the guts look like. Enjoy!

Electric car sales watch: 281 Volts and 67 Leafs sold in US during February

Neither Chevrolet nor Nissan have felt proud enough of their EV sales numbers to list them on their latest press releases, but our colleagues over at Autoblog Green have dug those numbers up anyhow. They make for dispiriting reading if you're an electric car well-wisher, as the Volt's sales declined from January's tally of 321 to an even less impressive 281, while the Leaf closed February with only 67 US sales, down 20 on last month. Upon seeing their previous numbers, we postulated that both cars are suffering from constrained supply, which is likely still the case, but it feels ironic to us that electric vehicles, whose driving experience offers instant torque, are taking their sweet time to rev up their sales.

Inhabitat's Week in Green: ice castles, cardboard columns, and the Geneva Auto Show

This week Inhabitat showcased several jaw-dropping feats of architecture, starting with a series of amazingly complex computer-designed cardboard columns that boast between 8 and 16 million facets. We were also struck by a stunning new net-zero Solar Academy in Germany, and we showcased a Swiss chalet that is the world's first apartment building to be heated entirely by solar thermal energy. On the cooler end of the climate spectrum, a Minnesota man has created a series of soaring ice castles using water from his geothermal heating system. 

The Geneva Auto Show also kicked off with a bang this week as Koenigsegg unveiled its supercharged Agera R racer and SAAB rose from the ashes with a futuristic PhoeniX hybrid. We also heard big news from some of the world's most luxurious automakers as Bentley rolled out a biofuel-powered supercar that can go 200 MPH on ice and Rolls-Royce unveiled their all-electric 102 EX Phantom. Two-wheeled transportation also took a leap forward as Daymak unveiled the world's first wireless electric eBike and Los Angeles approved plans for 1,690 miles of bikeways. 

We also kept on the cutting edge of consumer tech with a look at the green credentials of Apple's iPad 2, and we brought you researchers' plans for a hot new breed of batteries made from "frozen smoke". Finally, we learned from a recent study that cellphone signals actually boost brain activity, and we shared a fresh new line of iPod nano watch straps just in time for spring.

Sony Ericsson Windows Phone 7 prototype caught in the wild?

Sony Ericsson was named a Windows Phone 7 partner a year ago, but -- like another we could name -- seemingly scrapped plans to produce a device and chose another OS instead. Or did it? Pictures of what looks to be a Sony Ericsson prototype running Windows Phone 7 recently surfaced at Lizhecomb, and it could be that SE's looking to try again... but probably not. You see, rumor had it that Sony Ericsson did produce a prototype sliding WP7 handset -- the Julie -- much like the one above, and this one certainly looks a little prototypical compared to contemporary designs. What it may add up to is Sony Ericsson and ASUS in the same boat -- two WP7 launch partners that failed to launch, but each with hardware to show for it.

Skyhook brings location-awareness to the Sony NGP, including WiFi-only models

SKYHOOK'S LOCATION TO BE EMBEDDED IN THE NEXT GENERATION PORTABLE ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM FROM SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT INC. FOR ENHANCED GAMING & SOCIAL EXPERIENCE 

Gamers and developers to benefit from Skyhook's market-leading location technology

Barcelona, Spain - March 1, 2011 - Skyhook, the world leader in location positioning, context and intelligence, announced that Skyhook's Core Engine will be embedded in the next generation portable entertainment system (codename: NGP) from Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCE). NGP, which will make its debut at the end of this year, is SCE's new portable entertainment system. With the addition of Skyhook's Core Engine technology, it will better enable gamers to enjoy location-aware games and social applications by providing the most precise, reliable, and fastest location information available.

Geolocation is at the center of innovation and is fundamental to many emerging mobile games and services. Precise location enables new localized gaming features such as regional leader board, helps gamers find players nearby to challenge, or lets users find localized content. In addition, today, there are tens of thousands of mobile applications that incorporate location as a part of their user experience. Applications such as Facebook and Foursquare incorporate location to simplify user experience and to personalize content delivery.

"The launch of NGP is the latest in a long line of innovations over the past years that demonstrate how the PlayStation® brand continues to push the game industry forward," said Masaaki Turuta CTO of SCE. "Precise location information is increasingly central to the portable entertainment experience. Skyhook's Core Engine will provide NGP with superior location capabilities."

Skyhook is the recognized leader in geolocation technology and fulfills hundreds of millions of location requests every day across over 100 million handsets, tablets, netbooks, cameras, and other mobile devices. Skyhook's ground-breaking Core Engine system combines Wi-Fi, cellular, and GPS readings to produce a single, accurate location quickly and in all environments.

"SCE is one of the global leaders in innovative gaming and portable systems," said Michael Shean, founder and senior vice president, Business Development, Skyhook. "Skyhook is thrilled to enhance SCE's NGP with superior location accuracy and availability and to expand into the portable gaming category."

"PlayStation" is a registered trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.

About Skyhook, Inc

Skyhook is the worldwide leader in location positioning, context and intelligence. In 2003, Skyhook pioneered the development of the Wi-Fi Positioning System to provide precise and reliable location results in urban areas. Today, Skyhook's Core Engine provides positioning to tens of millions of consumer mobile devices and applications. For more information visit www.skyhookwireless.com.

Let there be light! Keyport Slide gets a LED insert

Okay, so maybe it's just the natural evolution of things, but it seems as if the purveyors of the Keyport Slide have finally given owners of the $80 key vault a LED-tipped insert so they can more easily unlock poorly lit keyholes everywhere. For those wishing to obtain such convenient luminescence, its up for preorder on the company's website for $9.99 (for the LED only of course), and if all goes well, it'll ship on March 18th. Ten bucks is steep for a couple of measly LEDs, but it sure beats the flashlight-in-mouth method (on a number of fronts).

Handheld millimeter / microwave camera to see through walls, your underpants

You know those scanners that peep your naughty bits at the airport? Well, a team of researchers have been working on a handheld camera that sports the same technology, and while they're touting its future impact on stuff like cancer detection and aerospace engineering, we can't help but squirm thinking about its Peeping-Tom potential. The camera currently takes 30 images per second by transmitting millimeter and microwaves to a "collector" on the other side of a subject, and then sends them to a laptop for real-time inspection. Aside from being able to see straight through your BVDs, it can also be used to detect defects in spacecraft insulation, find termites lurking in the walls of your apartment, and help in the diagnosis of skin disease. The camera's creators are working on a smaller, one-sided version of the device that could have mass-market appeal -- we just hope this thing stays in R&D long enough for us to get our bikini bodies back. Check out a video of its G-rated abilities after the break.

08 March 2011

Havok physics engine comes to Android 2.3

Havok and Sony Ericsson Push Smartphone Boundaries

Optimised Havok tools available now for Android™ Developers to create games for Xperia™ PLAY

March 1st, 2011, San Francisco - Havok and Sony Ericsson are delighted to announce the availability of Havok's product suite to Android™ developers, optimized for Xperia™ PLAY, Sony Ericsson's recently announced smartphone. Havok, the leading provider of game technology, has a fully optimized build of its industry leading product line ready for licensing by Android™ developers on Xperia™ PLAY as part of its entry into Android™.

David Coghlan, Managing Director, Havok said: "As part of Havok's overall support for the Android™ platform, we are very pleased to partner with Sony Ericsson to put the full power of the Havok product line into the hands of Xperia™ PLAY developers. We were extremely impressed by the performance of the Xperia™ PLAY and the ease with which we were able to port and optimise our technology to the platform. This will enable developers to use Havok technology to create cinematic, rich 3-D immersive games for Android™ smartphones with Xperia™ PLAY in the forefront."

Steve Walker, Head of Marketing at Sony Ericsson said: "Xperia™ PLAY is not only a fantastic smartphone on the latest Android™ platform, it also offers the best mobile gaming experience available. We are very pleased to be working with Havok to bring new levels of cinematic and immersive gaming experiences, never before seen on smartphones, to the Android™ platform.

Havok has now fully ported all seven of its products to Gingerbread (version 2.3), the latest version of Google's Android™ platform and partnered closely with Sony Ericsson to deliver a specifically optimized runtime ahead of launch.

Internet access blocked across much of Libya

It's sort of becoming the "thing to do" when people are revolting: find a way to cut people's access to the internet. This happened across most of Libya yesterday, according to various traffic monitors. Traffic from the country to sites like YouTube and Google nearly disappeared, even though it seems that technically, the servers are still up and running. Unlike the previous actions of the Egyptian government, which took down entire servers, it appears that in this case, some wicked throttling is occurring. While it's not completely clear who is choking the bandwidth, the assumption that it's the Libyan government is probably not an insane one.

Olivetti launches OliPad tablet, second coming of the typewriter?

OLIVETTI LAUNCHES OLIPAD, ITALY'S FIRST TABLET

Olivetti in Milan, 28 February 2011 announces the launch of the OliPad, Italy's first tablet. The company is making its entrance into a market on which around 1.5 million terminals are forecast to be sold in Italy in 2011 (Source: IDC).

Offering a 10-inch touchscreen display and 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, the OliPad is designed for both Consumer and Business customers. The tablet offers access to a broad range of applications that are either pre-installed or may be downloaded from a dedicated App Shop. The OliPad's applications make it easy to websurf, social network, and access multimedia, published content, and full HD video playback. The OliPad goes on sale on 7 March at a price of €399 (including VAT).

The Olipad launch shows how Olivetti is repositioning itself on the software solutions and IT services markets characterized by the integration of hardware products and advanced services and applications.

The OliPad runs the Android operating system and comes equipped with USB/SD Card and HDMI ports to interface with any other device. The OliPad's Dual Cortex A9 NVidia processor offers above-average processing speeds and graphics performance. The device can be used with a wide range of accessories, ranging from a docking station to keyboards, a touch mouse and a capacitive pen. OliPad's basic set of applications offers access to multimedia content such as music, images, and full HD video content on the move. The device also offers access to a web browser, e-mail management, a calendar and contacts. e-reading software makes it a breeze to read ebooks directly on the 10-inch screen.

For the Business market, OliPad offers high levels of customization to cater to specific corporate requirements. The OliPad also offers access to an impressive range of applications via an Application Warehouse, a virtual storehouse of configurable and customizable software applications designed by Olivetti specifically for business and government. Powered by solution developer software houses, the Application Warehouse is accessible to Olivetti dealers so that they can build integrated solutions for their customers. A number of applications are supplied on a cloud computing basis, offering significant benefits in terms of reliability and cost optimization. Application Warehouse solutions include varying levels of customer care to cater to customer requirements, including a direct online helpdesk that leverages Olivetti's extensive customer care network.

Available applications include: digital catalogues and a guide to point of sale preparation dedicated to fashion industry networks; Sales Force Management applications dedicated to managing sales on the move; a Tool Enterprise Social Network targeted at team working inside and outside companies; and a Signature Workflow Management app for the digital signature of corporate documents.

OliPad will go on sale to the Consumer market via Telecom Italia's sales network, and will be available from TIM stores or by calling 187. Olivetti's new tablet will also be bundled with ADSL packages and TIM price plans. The OliPad will be sold to enterprises and the public sector through Olivetti and Telecom Italia's dedicated sales networks.

Aquafairy AF-M3000 might finally make consumer fuel cell charging a disappointing reality (video)

We've been promised portable fuel cells for ages, now. Ages! Finally one is only months away from release -- but its performance seems so limited we're not sure we care anymore. It's the Aquafairy AF-M3000 and, despite its name, it's powered not by water but by metal hydride fuel packs. Here's where the bad news comes in: a single fuel pack only provides enough current to get an iPhone up to a 50 percent charge, and it'll take 90 minutes at that. So, you'll need two cartridges and three hours of your time just to bring a dead mobile back to life, and given each pack costs around $6 (it's 2,625 yen, about $32 for a pack of five), the entire proposition is rather expensive. That doesn't even factor in the cost of the unit itself: 26,250 yen or about $320. It's set to ship in Japan in April, so get ready to finally enter the future. Nobody said it'd necessarily be a great place to be. 

Update: We heard from Aquafairy, who confirmed that the solution is not ethanol, but is actual a solution of water and metal hydride. Also, the price is just for what are termed "test sales" and there are discounts if you buy a bunch. Maybe the future looks better if you buy in bulk.

Kinect hacks, performance art edition: pin boards, puppets and RoboThespians

Tired of Kinect hacks yet? We hope not, as the frequency and ingenuity of them only seems to be increasing with each passing week. The three in this latest group all fall more or less under the banner of performance art, and include two hacks that let you control two very different avatars -- a virtual puppet in the "We Be Monsters" project and the very real "RoboThespian" -- as well one that creates a virtual pin board that's perfect for your next rave. If the RoboThespian looks a little familiar, it's because it's actually been in development since 2005, but it recently got a Kinect-enhanced upgrade for its appearance at CeBIT this month. Head on past the break for videos of all three hacks in action, and hit up the links below for some additional details.

AT&T to allow grandfathered unlimited iPad data plans on iPad 2, your weekend rave to continue

Good news, iPad 3G owners. If you were lucky enough to snag one of those coveted unlimited data plans with your original AT&T iPad, you won't have to toss it when upgrading next week. The carrier has confirmed to us that those who currently have the aforementioned plan will be able to keep it on their account when upgrading to the iPad 2, which in turns gives you no reason whatsoever to turn down the opportunity. Except for the lack of a USB port, SD card slot and a screen that touts the exact same resolution as the first model, of course.

Kayak to provide travel and flight search results within Microsoft's Bing

Bing Travel just so happened to be the one major aspect of Bing that kept us coming back, and now it's about to get even more irresistible. The famed Kayak flight search engine will soon be powering Microsoft's Bing Travel, with the two locking down a partnership that'll bring better results to consumers while enabling Bing admins to focus their attention on more pressing matters. According to Kayak, Bing will have access to "all" of Kayak's travel search services globally, and it looks as if the integration will be complete "in the coming weeks." Call it a hunch, but something tells us the folks are Redmond are just stacking up ammunition to face a new wave of inevitable competition -- if that Google / ITA deal ever clears regulatory hurdles, it'll be On Like Donkey Kong.

Sprint announcing Nexus S 4G, EVO 3D, and EVO View tablet at CTIA?

The media -- yours truly included -- has been trying to figure out why Sprint has booked an insane two-and-a-half hour slot at CTIA later this month. That's not the kind of event you throw together just to rehash the devices you've introduced over the last half year -- something's up, and if our source is correct, they're up to something big. 

First, we're hearing that the carrier will launch the Nexus S 4G from Samsung, and judging from the name, the phone should be something akin to a Nexus S with WiMAX. It seems this one could be either the SPH-D600 or SPH-D720, both of which have recently received certification from the Wi-Fi Alliance, though the SPH-D720 is more likely; the D600 shows WPS support, which is available in TouchWiz-skinned devices but not in stock Gingerbread. You might recall that Sprint came very, very close to launching its own version of the Nexus One before dropping it in favor of the EVO 4G last year, so maybe they're ready to do the deed this time.

Next, a couple that we don't have much detail on: the EVO 3D, which is... well, a 3D-capable EVO of some sort. 2011 is certainly shaping up to be the year of 3D phones and tablets, so that wouldn't be much of a surprise. The other unit in the mix is the EVO View, a tablet that we're guessing will shape up to be something of a CDMA-powered Flyer. If this all pans out, it's looking like Sprint could own this show. CES was a bit of a dud for them, you might recall -- the EVO Shift 4G was the only handset announcement there -- so they're overdue.

07 March 2011

Google flips Android kill switch, destroys a batch of malicious apps

When 21 rogue apps started siphoning off identifying information from Android phones and installing security holes, Google yanked the lot from Android Market, and called the authorities to boot. But what of the 50,000 copies already downloaded by unwitting users? That's what Google's dealing with this week, by utilizing Android's remote kill switch to delete them over the air. But that's not all, because this time the company isn't just removing offending packages, but also installing new code. The "Android Market Security Tool March 2011" will be remotely added to affected handsets to undo the exploit and keep it from sending your data out, as well as make you wonder just how much remote control Google has over our phones. Yes, we welcome our new Search Engine overlords and all that, so long as they've got our best interests at heart, but there's a certain irony in Google removing a backdoor exploit by using a backdoor of its own -- even one that (in this case) will email you to report what it's done. 

Update: TechCrunch says there were 58 malicious apps and 260,000 affected phones in total.

N64oid brings Nintendo 64 emulation to Android devices

There's not exactly a shortage of video game emulators for Android devices, but there has been one notable, 64-bit exception. That's finally been rectified with the just-released N64oid application, however, which finally brings emulation of Nintendo 64 games to the platform -- and, like the other emulators from developer Yongzh, it's conveniently available right in the Android Market (for $5.99). As you might expect, there are a few glitches and hiccups to be found even on high-end phones like the Nexus S, but it does seem to run remarkably well for an initial release and, as Download Squad points out, you can also use a separate, freely-available app to add some Wiimote controls to the proceedings. Also, it means you can play Goldeneye on your phone. Video after the break.

Redpark Console Cable gives iDevices an RJ-45 connector, not Ethernet access

Ever find yourself wishing your iPad 2 was free from the fickle whims of wireless internet connections? Neither do we -- but, if you're the cable-dependent type, your prayers may not go unanswered for much longer. Redpark (who gave the iPhone an RJ-11 dongle) has created the Console Cable with the ubiquitous 30-pin Apple connector on one end and an RJ-45 plug on the other. The $69 device is used in conjunction with a $9.99 Get Console app to allow Cisco engineers to use their iDevice of choice to perform maintenance out in the field. Cable and app are exclusively compatible with Cisco devices, however, so no Ethernet on the iPhone... yet. It's only a matter of time before someone makes it happen -- your move, hackers. 

Lensbaby goes practical with aperture-adjustable Sweet 35 Optic

We love a Lensbaby lens as much as the next hipster, but if there's one thing the Optic Swap system isn't, it's fast. Switching out aperture plates is a royal pain, and for those looking to simply capture moments as they happen, it's a system that simply doesn't work. The company's apparently aiming to fix that with the introduction of its first 35mm optic with a 12-blade adjustable aperture. The Sweet 35 select focus optic requires but a twist to change the aperture, and in turn, the "sweet spot." 'Course, you'll still need to find yourself adequate light (or boost your ISO / slow your shutter) before stepping that aperture value up too high, but at least now it's easier than using a magnetic tool to fish one plate out and drop another in. The lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.5 and steps all the way down to f/22, and it'll focus down to 7.5 inches from the front of the lens. The downside is that this particular optic isn't compatible with current 37mm Lensbaby accessories, nor will it function with the Composer with Tilt Transformer for Micro Four Thirds and Sony NEX cameras. Still, for $180 it's easily the most practical thing the company has ever delivered, and we definitely hope this is just the beginning of a trend it intends to push.
Lensbaby® Introduces its First 35mm Optic with 12-Blade Adjustable Aperture
The Sweet 35 selective focus optic has the sweetest spot of all

Portland, OR – Embargoed until 10AM ET, March 1, 2011 – Lensbaby, manufacturer of award-winning Creative Effects SLR camera lenses, announces the addition of the Sweet 35 Optic to its Optic Swap System. The Sweet 35 Optic, a 35mm selective focus optic with an internal 12-blade adjustable aperture, creates a Sweet Spot of sharp focus that photographers can move around the photo by tilting their Lensbaby lens. The Sweet 35 Optic boasts the widest focal length of any selective focus Lensbaby optic, features close-focus capabilities, and is available now for use with the Lensbaby Composer®, Muse®, Control Freak™ and Scout lenses.
Departing from its interchangeable magnetic aperture system, Lensbaby has created its first optic with an adjustable aperture. With the Sweet 35, photographers can quickly and seamlessly change the aperture from f/2.5 through f/22, simply by rotating the dial on the front of the optic. The aperture opening is what controls the size of the Sweet Spot of sharp focus, giving photographers the ability to see the Sweet Spot change through the lens, without missing a moment.
"Changing the look of images from my Lensbaby lens with the Sweet 35 optic by quickly adjusting the aperture dial at the front of the optic has become habit-forming and allows me to create photographs I would never see through another lens," said Craig Strong, Lensbaby Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer.
The Sweet 35 allows focus down to 7.5 inches from the front of the lens when used with the Lensbaby Composer and as close as 3 inches when used with the Muse. The 35mm focal length is just wide enough on full-frame cameras and just normal enough on APS C senor cameras, making the Sweet 35 perfect for landscape, environmental portrait, and event photography.
"The Sweet 35's easily changed apertures, wider focal length, and close focus ability make it our most versatile and fun optic," said Strong.
Sweet 35 Optic Product Specs:
* Focal Length: 35mm
* 12-blade internal aperture, controlled by a dial on the front of the optic
* Aperture range from f/2.5 through f/22 (sweet spot size ranges from 15%, at f/2.5, to 40%, at f/22, of total image area on APS-C sensor cameras)
* Selective focus optic (creates a sweet spot of focus surrounded by gradual blur)
* Compatible with Lensbaby Composer, Scout, Muse, and Control Freak lenses*
* Focus distance when used with: Composer: 7.5" to infinity / Scout: 6.5" to infinity / Muse & Control Freak: 3" to infinity
* 4 multi-coated glass elements, in three groups
* 46mm front threads**
*The Sweet 35 Optic is not compatible with the Composer with Tilt Transformer for Micro 4/3rds and Sony NEX Cameras.
**The Sweet 35 Optic is not compatible with current 37mm Lensbaby accessories.
The Lensbaby Sweet 35 Optic is available now for $180.00 (MSRP) from www.lensbaby.com, Lensbaby-authorized photo specialty stores worldwide, and from adorama.com, amazon.com and bhphotovideo.com.

Russia's major mobile operators join hands for unified LTE rollout

Ringo and co. said it best, and now Beeline, Megafon, MTS and Rostelekom are getting a little help from their friends. Er, friend. Or maybe it's the other way around? At any rate, the first four have just signed a deal with Yota to build out a nationwide LTE network that'll work across the board. Rather than forcing each operator to do their own thing, the four in question will now have the option to buy 25 percent stakes in Yota; according to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, this unified effort will enable Russia's economy to reap the benefits of a widespread 4G network while other nations (ahem, America) fight to see whether it'll be WiMAX or LTE taking the lead. If you'll recall, Yota was actually one of the first carriers on the planet to serve up commercial 4G, but last year it decided to make the switch from WiMAX to the suddenly popular LTE. The goal here is to have LTE in 180 cities with a total population of more than 70 million citizens by 2014, and we're told that those situated on Little Diomede may actually be the first to get LTE in Alaska. Kidding. Maybe.
Russia Takes 4G Lead With Strategic Approach to Nationwide Infrastructure Build
- Rival Operators Buy-Into Yota's Vision of the Future of Telecoms

Press Release Source: Yota On Thursday March 3, 2011, 1:09 pm EST
MOSCOW, March 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Yota, the Russian mobile broadband company, has today signed a deal with the country's main network operators that will place Russia at the forefront of the development of 4G telecoms services.
The deal will see Yota become the 4G network provider for the Russian telecoms market and guarantee the roll-out of its LTE network to cover 180 cities with a total population of more than 70 million citizens by 2014.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin witnessed the signing of this landmark agreement by the heads of the leading Russian telecoms operators at Yota's Moscow office.
The agreement will see the country's major network operators - Beeline, Megafon, MTS and Rostelekom - working with Yota to offer 4G services over its network. The deal provides each of the participants with an option to buy shares in Yota in 2014 and sees the realization of Yota's vision of the future of telecoms: the ability to offer open infrastructure to competing service providers.
State corporation Russian Technologies supported the agreement in a bid to ensure an efficient and collaborative approach to rolling-out 4G services. The deal is a major boost to the Russian economy; businesses will avoid costly duplication of infrastructure investment and millions of Russian consumers will benefit from faster access to 4G services and lower prices.
In just three years, Yota has gone from being a start-up company to become a leading visionary in the telecoms sector. This new arrangement places Yota at the heart of Russia's 4G strategy and provides a model for the industry that can be rolled-out across the world.
Yota CEO Dennis Sverdlov comments, "This deal is an endorsement of our vision for the future of the telecoms industry. We firmly believe in the separation of network ownership and service provision and believe that this ground-breaking agreement will drive innovation and benefit Russian consumers. Even more importantly, we believe that Yota can help all operators across the world to take advantage of the massive opportunity that 4G brings."

How would you change Jolicloud's Jolibook?

Jolicloud's Jolibook may not be the hottest selling netbook in the universe (or maybe it is, and we just don't know it), but regardless, it's certainly quite the eye-catcher. For those who diverted from the paths more beaten and picked one up, we're keenly interested in finding out how things are going for you. Are you content with the overall design? Would you have changed anything about the operating system? What about that bulging battery? Would you have rather it ran Windows after extended use? Tell all in comments below, and remember -- no matter how sour you get, you'll always have one bodacious looking lid. 

Samsung says Galaxy Tab 10.1 is still on schedule

Samsung may have been humbled by Apple's iPad 2, but the company's apparently not letting that affect its plans -- without directly refuting statements by a Samsung VP that the upcoming Galaxy Tab 10.1 was "inadequate" or might be priced cheaper than originally intended, the company told the Yonhap News Agency that the tablet will be released on schedule. In other words, the Honeycomb tablet's not getting any thinner or lighter, but something's gotta give, and Samsung's not quite ready to say just what that is.
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Motorola will upgrade your Xoom to 4G LTE -- even if you've rooted it

Happy news for Android tinkerers everywhere -- Motorola has officially confirmed it will attempt to perform its 4G upgrade on all Verizon Wireless-riding Xoom tablets it receives from users, whether they've been rooted, repainted, or accessorized with fluffy dice. Naturally, the company can't guarantee successful software updates on devices that have had their OS tweaked, so it asks users to be kind and rewind to the original firmware state. For those unwilling to stretch that far back, Moto will still give it a shot and says that it'll install the 4G LTE modem at a minimum. What a refreshingly open-minded attitude. Now if Moto could give us an open-minded bootloader on its phones as well, we'd be all set.

Plug In Launcher for Android makes things happen when you connect USB or headphones

Plug In Launcher is a free Android app that does just one thing, and it does it well -- it launches any app of your choice when it detects power or a connected pair of headphones. In fact, it can pair one app to your phone's 3.5mm headphone jack and another to your USB port, letting it launch, say, a music player when you plug in headphones, and perhaps an alarm clock while you're charging it overnight, saving you a button press (note: the "Would you like to launch" message is optional) each time. All it asks in return is a pair of running processes that eat up 5.7MB of memory (as of this writing) and the ability to restart itself when you reset your phone. Sure, the app's a little limited compared to context-aware suites like Locale or Nokia Situations, but free is free, and this one's useful.

Switched On: Padded Windows

At the launch of the new iPad – superior for video chat, group presentations, and cutting cake -- Apple didn't miss a few opportunities to rub salt in the open air vents of Microsoft's tablet efforts. Apple noted that sales of the iPad have exceeded those of every other tablet PC ever sold, and that Microsoft (along with other competitors) were chasing doomed strategies that extended outmoded models. 

Microsoft has been clear that it will continue to use its "desktop" operating system – Windows – rather than its mobile operating system – the device-specifying Windows Phone 7 – as its operating system for tablets. Considering the critical importance of an intuitive touchscreen UI on tablet -- where Windows Phone 7 excels and desktop Windows has struggled -- this seems risky on its face. But it is important to remember from Microsoft's perspective that the question is not whether Windows is the best choice for tablets but whether it is a better choice for Microsoft than Windows Phone. While the company faces an uphill battle regardless of which OS it chooses, its flagship could be the better answer for several reasons. 

Differentiation. It's funny to think back to the launch of the first iPad and all the snickering about how the 9.7-inch slate was just an oversized iPhone. Now, smartphone OS competitors such as Android and webOS are making the jump to tablets. If one accepts that tablets are – as Apple noted at the iPad introduction – something between laptops and smartphones, why is the approach of a streamlined desktop OS less valid than the idea of a beefed-up mobile one? Microsoft's top-down approach sets the stage for a differentiated approach to the market.

Multiple Personalities.
As Steven Sinofsky noted at the announcement that Microsoft would support ARM processors with the next version of Windows, the venerable OS has proven incredibly flexible in dealing with many different hardware form factors (and, indeed, input methods) over its history. Whereas Microsoft is tapping Nokia to expand Windows Phone 7's hardware support, many third parties are highly motivated to port Windows drivers to the next version of the operating system due to the OS's massive installed base.

Mac iPadification.
Steve Jobs has drawn a line in the sand between tablets and PCs, but at the same time has moved to bring many iPad features to the Mac line including interface elements such as Launchpad and multitouch gestures. True, Apple uses the trackpad for these gestures rather than the screen, citing the need to avoid arm fatigue, but what if the screen shifted down to a less tiring angle just as the new HP TouchSmart does? A svelte PC like the MacBook Air could be reconfigured to competitive tablet dimensions.

Form factor creep. As CES, Samsung showed off a notebook with a sliding keyboard that ran desktop Windows while ASUS showed off an Android tablet – the Eee Slate Slider -- that ran Android. As the tablet market grows, it's likely that we will see some of the hardware variation we've seen in the smartphone market where some touchscreen devices have QWERTY keyboards and others don't. As this becomes the case, it muddies the waters for Microsoft to have Windows Phone 7 on some devices with a netbook form factor and desktop Windows on others. If, as Steve Jobs has said, tablets will increasingly be the "cars" of consumer computing devices and PCs will be the "trucks", Microsoft cannot afford to relegate Windows to 18-wheelers.

Apps close the gap. It was clear from the iPad 2 launch that Apple is not shying away from throwing processor-intensive apps such as GarageBand and iMovie – two of the most processor-intensive products from the Mac's iLife suite – at the iPad. If tablets are really migrating from being primarily content consumption devices to content creation devices, then Microsoft can make a strong case for an OS with more mature capabilities to facilitate this next generation of apps. Apple's addition of video-out mirroring capabilities also shows that we may be demanding more of tablets in terms of the interconnects that Windows already supports.

None of this is to say that Microsoft will win in the tablet space. The company has much to prove in terms of whether it can make tablets running Windows competitive with others in terms of battery life and whether it can create an experience that feels more optimized than some of the other offshoots of Windows throughout the years. Microsoft may have good cause to believe, though, that tablets are ready to pronounce, "I'm a PC."
Ross Rubin is executive director of industry analysis for consumer technology at market research and analysis firm The NPD Group. Views expressed in Switched On are his own.

06 March 2011

Archos planning to launch high-end tablets at IFA later this summer?

Over the years we've certainly seen that Archos can do some decent things on limited hardware, but of course the real money is to be found on the higher end, where your iPads and your Xooms play. According to tabletblog.de, Archos has stated intent to announce two new tablets at IFA later this year, fitting into the 7- and 10-inch domains like the older (and lower-rent) 70 and 101 Internet Tablets above. Supposedly the company doesn't know what hardware either will be running, only that they'll be top-shelf components integrated using posh design. Surely that'll mean a posh price, too.

J.D. Power: Verizon has best call quality nationwide, T-Mobile consistently below average

J.D. Power and Associates Reports:

Overall Wireless Call Quality Momentum Halts Due to Shifts in Wireless Call and Data Usage Patterns

Verizon Wireless Ranks Highest in Wireless Call Quality Performance in Five Regions1

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 3 March 2011 – Shifts in wireless phone usage, including smartphone and texting use, as well as an increase in the percentage of wireless calls being made and received inside buildings, has led to a halt in overall call quality improvement, according to the J.D. Power and Associates U.S. 2011 Wireless Call Quality Performance StudySM-Volume 1 released today.

The semiannual study measures wireless call quality based on seven problem areas that impact overall carrier performance: dropped calls; static/interference; failed call connection on the first try; voice distortion; echoes; no immediate voicemail notification; and no immediate text message notification. Call quality issues are measured as problems per 100 (PP100) calls, where a lower score reflects fewer problems and higher call quality. Call quality performance is examined in six regions: Northeast; Mid-Atlantic; Southeast; North Central; Southwest; and West.

The study finds the percentage of wireless calls made indoors has increased considerably during the past eight years-to an average of 56 percent in 2011 from 40 percent in 2003. During this time frame, the proportion of wireless calls made from homes increased most notably, averaging 35 percent in 2011, compared with 25 percent in 2003. Among wireless calls made outside of buildings, the greatest decrease has occurred among calls made in vehicles, which has declined to 20 percent in 2011 from 37 percent in 2003. Typically, wireless calls placed indoors result in slightly more problems, on average, than calls placed outdoors.

However, among wireless customers who use data-intensive devices such as smartphones or who have high texting activity, problem rates are higher than the industry average. Problem rates among users of smartphones average 13 PP100, while problem rates average 14 PP100 among heavy texters. These shifts in usage patterns have slowed the historic improvement in call quality, which steadily improved between 2003 and 2009. However, during the past two years, there has not been a significant change in overall call quality performance across the industry.

"The performance gap has definitely lessened between indoor and outdoor calls, and the increase in frequency of calls placed indoors suggests that many customers today are quite confident in their carrier's wireless network," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates.

According to Parsons, as this trend continues, it will be critical for wireless carriers to improve coverage for indoor locations. Additionally, increased adoption of smartphones and wireless tablets may continue to compromise the quality of network service, with connection issues holding particularly high potential for problems.

For a 13th consecutive reporting period, Verizon Wireless ranks highest in the Northeast region. Verizon Wireless achieves fewer customer-reported problems with dropped calls, initial connections and interference, compared with the regional averages. Verizon Wireless also ranks highest in the Southeast, Southwest and West regions, and ranks highest in the Mid-Atlantic region, in a tie with AT&T.

In the North Central region, U.S. Cellular ranks highest for a 11th consecutive reporting period. Compared with the regional average, U.S. Cellular has fewer customer-reported problems with dropped calls, failed initial connections, interference and delayed notification of text messages.

Additional study findings include:

  • Wireless usage patterns continue to evolve, as fewer calls are being made or received and customers are using their devices more often for text messaging, which increasingly is the preferred method for communication. The study finds that wireless customers receive 161 text message notifications per month, on average-17 more than six months ago (144) and nearly 65 percent more than just two years ago (98).
  • PP100 scores continue to be higher among smartphone customers than among traditional handset customers-13PP100 vs. 11PP100. However, problem rates for traditional handsets have risen, compared with those reported six months ago (an increase of 9 PP100, on average).
  • Among the top 27 U.S. markets, average PP100 scores are lowest among wireless customers in the Cincinnati and Pittsburgh metro areas (6 PP100), and highest among wireless customers in the Washington, D.C. metro area (18 PP100).

The 2011 Wireless Call Quality Performance Study-Volume 1 is based on responses from 26,019 wireless customers. The study was fielded between July and December 2010.

For more information on customer satisfaction with wireless service, wireless retail sales, cell phone handsets, customer care, prepaid wireless service and business wireless service, please visit JDPower.com.

1Verizon Wireless ranks highest in the Northeast, Southeast, Southwest and West regions, and also ranks highest in the Mid-Atlantic region, in a tie with AT&T.

Sprint's Nexus Website Is 'Coming Soon'

Just to throw a little more fuel on the fire, it turns out that directing your browser to now.sprint.com/nexus takes you to an landing site where you're told that "this page will be ready soon." Certainly sounds more likely than ever that Sprint's preparing to launch its own variant of the Nexus S -- and if our sources are correct, it'll be called the Nexus S 4G, likely with both CDMA and WiMAX on board. Interestingly, both now.sprint.com/evoview and now.sprint.com/evo3d -- the other two devices in our rumor three-pack from earlier today -- redirect to Sprint's home page rather than giving you an HTTP 404 error, suggesting they're also real. CTIA kicks off in just over two weeks' time where these things are likely to be revealed, but who knows? Maybe they'll give us a little tease ahead of the show.

05 March 2011

3M's 32-inch display with 10-finger multitouch steps out at CeBIT (video)

3M Introduces Touch Pen for Consumers and Users of Touchscreen Devices
– New 3M Smart Pen provides precision accuracy for users of popular capacitive touch phones, tablets, monitors and all-in-one computers –

CeBIT 2011
HANOVER, Germany--(BUSINESS WIRE)--3M Touch Systems Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of 3M, announced today at CeBIT 2011 the U.S. availability of its 3M Smart Pen, a uniquely designed input device finely tuned for use with popular capacitive touchscreen devices, including the Apple® iPhone®, iPad™ and iPod touch®. Its compatibility with multiple products and its ergonomic and stylish design make the 3M Smart Pen a valuable companion for active users of touchscreen devices currently in the market.

"3M Touch Systems' expertise in touchscreen technology gives us the knowledge and ability to create relevant accessories that further maximize the value of this technology"
The 3M Smart Pen has two designs to accommodate a variety of usage scenarios. The MHP-1000 comes in black, grey, pink and titanium silver with a clip attached for a traditional pen look-and-feel. The MJP-3000 is available in black, navy blue, pink and titanium silver, with a detachable lid that allows the pen to attach to the speaker jack of a portable device.

Both pens have an ergonomic industrial design, giving it a natural, comfortable fit for both small and large hands. Activating with only a light touch, the pen's unique anti-stiction properties let the pen glide smoothly across surfaces with greater precision than a finger and reduces fingerprints on the screen by not using your fingers. The 3M Smart Pen is ideal for users who must wear gloves in their work environment – from cold climates to industrial/manufacturing to healthcare and sterile environments.

"3M Touch Systems' expertise in touchscreen technology gives us the knowledge and ability to create relevant accessories that further maximize the value of this technology," said Chris Tsourides, business manager, 3M Touch Systems. "The 3M Smart Pen is one of the most accurate and high quality capacitive touch pens on the market and we are excited to see how users will enable new and unique ways to use this technology on their touchscreen devices."

The MHP-1000 and MJP-3000 are now available in the U.S. market through Amazon.com for $15.99 and $18.99, respectively. For more information on the 3M Smart Pen and other touchscreen solutions, visit www.3M.com/touch01.

3M Touch Systems provides innovative touchscreen technology products to customers worldwide under the "3M" and "MicroTouch" brands. Popular single-touch and multi-touch applications include: casino gaming, foodservice, hospitality, industrial, interactive digital signage, healthcare, retail point-of-sale and self-service. For an overview of popular touch technologies and terminology, visit www.touchtopics.com. The 3M Smart Pen and other 3M Touch Systems touchscreen displays and systems will be on display at CeBIT 2011 in Hanover, Germany, March 1-5, 2011 in Hall 16, Stand E32.

Apple slashes original iPad price to $399, iPad 2 not up for pre-order yet


Steve Jobs told us earlier that the new iPad pricing will stay exactly the same as the original iPad -- meaning a base price of $499 for the 16GB WiFi version. Well, even though you can't get an iPad 2 until March 11th (nor can you even pre-order it yet), Apple is already putting the original models on sale. Right now you can grab up that base model, 16GB WiFi only iPad for $399, with prices ranging up to $729 for the 64GB 3G model. Moreover, you can also snatch a refurbished one for a starting price of $349. If you're in the market for yesterday's model, now is certainly the time to grab one.

Apple's Digital AV Adapter also works with iPhone 4, fourth-gen iPod touch, and first-gen iPad


In case you're wondering whether Apple's forthcoming Digital AV Adapter is worth your $39, you might be pleased to know that said HDMI dongle is also compatible with the latest crop of iOS devices before the iPad 2. This includes the iPhone 4, fourth-generation iPod touch, and even the first-generation iPad. Alas, both movies and slideshows will be capped at 720p output from these older devices, whereas the iPad 2 goes a little further with screen mirroring of up to 1080p -- we're guessing the beastly dual-core A5 chip is what makes the magic happen here, though movie output's also limited to 720p. And hey, we're only a few months away from finding out if the next iPhone will also get some 1080p love, so no pressure on buying this dongle just yet.

Barnes & Noble licenses Alex e-reader patents from Spring Design, settles dispute

Barnes & Noble, Inc. Settles Litigation with Spring Design
New York, NY – March 2, 2011 – Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the world's largest bookseller, today announced that it has settled a lawsuit brought against the Company by Spring Design, Inc. Spring Design initiated legal action against Barnes & Noble in November 2009, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, in connection with Spring Design's Alex eReader.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Spring Design will grant Barnes & Noble a non-exclusive, paid-up royalty free license for the entire portfolio of Spring Design patents and patent applications. The terms of the settlement are otherwise confidential. The settlement agreement announced today resolves all claims brought by Spring Design, which will be dismissed with prejudice.

Eugene V. DeFelice, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Barnes & Noble, Inc., said, "We are pleased to put this matter behind us. NOOK Color™ and NOOK™, together with Spring Design's patents and patent applications, have become two of our most innovative and highly-sought after devices. Barnes & Noble is pleased to add Spring Design's patents and patent applications as a complementary addition to our rapidly growing digital portfolio."

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements (within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended) and information relating to Barnes & Noble that are based on the beliefs of the management of Barnes & Noble as well as assumptions made by and information currently available to the management of Barnes & Noble. When used in this communication, the words "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "plan," "will" and similar expressions, as they relate to Barnes & Noble or the management of Barnes & Noble, identify forward-looking statements. Such statements reflect the current views of Barnes & Noble with respect to future events, the outcome of which is subject to certain risks, including, among others, the general economic environment and consumer spending patterns, decreased consumer demand for Barnes & Noble's products, low growth or declining sales and net income due to various factors, possible disruptions in Barnes & Noble's computer systems, telephone systems or supply chain, possible risks associated with data privacy, information security and intellectual property, the risk whether any patent application will issue and if issued whether or not it will be valid and/or enforceable, possible work stoppages or increases in labor costs, possible increases in shipping rates or interruptions in shipping service, effects of competition, potential effects of a bankruptcy filing by one of Barnes & Noble's largest competitors and actions taken by that competitor during bankruptcy, including store closures, sales of inventory at discounted prices and elimination of liabilities, higher-than-anticipated store closing or relocation costs, higher interest rates, the performance of Barnes & Noble's online, digital and other initiatives, the performance and successful integration of acquired businesses, the success of Barnes & Noble's strategic investments, unanticipated increases in merchandise, component or occupancy costs, unanticipated adverse litigation results or effects, the results or effects of any governmental review of Barnes & Noble's stock option practices, product and component shortages, the outcome of Barnes & Noble's evaluation of strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of Barnes & Noble, as announced on August 3, 2010, and other factors which may be outside of Barnes & Noble's control, including those factors discussed in detail in Item 1A, "Risk Factors," in Barnes & Noble's Annual Report on Form 10-K, filed with the SEC on June 30, 2010, and in Barnes & Noble's other filings made hereafter from time to time with the SEC. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results or outcomes may vary materially from those described as anticipated, believed, estimated, expected, intended or planned. Subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements attributable to Barnes & Noble or persons acting on its behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements in this paragraph. Barnes & Noble undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise after the date of this communication.

About Barnes & Noble, Inc.

Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS), the world's largest bookseller and a Fortune 500 company, operates 705 bookstores in 50 states. Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Barnes & Noble, also operates 636 college bookstores serving nearly 4 million students and faculty members at colleges and universities across the United States. Barnes & Noble is the nation's top bookseller brand for the seventh year in a row, as determined by a combination of the brand's performance on familiarity, quality, and purchase intent; the top bookseller in quality for the second year in a row and the number two retailer in trust, according to the EquiTrend® Brand Study by Harris Interactive®. Barnes & Noble conducts its online business through Barnes & Noble.com (www.bn.com), one of the Web's largest e-commerce sites, which also features more than two million titles in its NOOK Bookstore™ (www.bn.com/ebooks). Through Barnes & Noble's NOOK™ eReading product offering, customers can buy and read eBooks on the widest range of platforms, including NOOK eBook Readers, devices from partner companies, and hundreds of the most popular mobile and computing devices using free NOOK software.

General information on Barnes & Noble, Inc. can be obtained via the Internet by visiting the company's corporate website: www.barnesandnobleinc.com.

NOOK™, NOOK Color™, NOOK Books™, NOOK Newsstand™, NOOK Books en español™, VividView™, NOOK Friends™, AliveTouch™, LendMe™, ArticleView™, Daily Shelf™, NOOK Kids™, NOOK Study™, NOOK Developer™, ReadAloud™, NOOK Book Personal Shopping™, Read In Store™, More In Store™, Free Friday™, PubIt! ™, Lifetime Library™, Read What You Love. Anywhere You Like™ and Touch the Future of Reading™ are trademarks of Barnes & Noble, Inc. Other trademarks referenced in this release are the property of their respective owners.

TruPrint brings proper printer support to iOS

AirPrint is great in theory, but in practice your chances of finding a supported printer in the copier room are roughly equivalent to spotting a yellow-eared parrot in the wild. TruPrint boosts those chances dramatically, adding iOS support for "most" printers that are shared on the network. Unfortunately no actual listing of supported models has been provided, but there's a three day free trial if installed over Cydia so you can try it for yourself -- yes, you'll need to jailbreak first. After that it's $9.99, which is a bit steep, but if it saves you having to wait in just one line at the airport terminal to print a boarding pass it's well, well worth it.

04 March 2011

Zero XU electric motorcycle makes in-apartment EV charging a reality

Zero Motorcycles Announces the Zero XU as Surprise Fifth Electric Motorcycle Model for 2011

– 'Urban Crosser' Becomes First Street Motorcycle with a Removable Power Pack –
– for Riders without Access to Street Level Charging –


SANTA CRUZ, CA (March 1, 2011) – Zero Motorcycles, the global leader in the electric motorcycle industry, today announced the Zero XU. A new model for the company, it marks the fifth to be added to the product line. With instant torque from zero rpm, no shifting, a low weight, a low seat height and a removable power pack, the Zero XU is designed to be the ideal electric motorcycle for those who live in the city. It leverages the time tested Zero X off-road platform for durability and features a complete set of specialized street gear that is highlighted by a stylish new body.


Bringing Zero Motorcycles' product offerings to a new population, the Zero XU is the world's first street motorcycle that enables owners to essentially charge anywhere by way of a removable power pack and optional stand-alone charger. This opens the doors to interested buyers who do not have access to garage or street-level charging at their homes or apartments. The removable pack also allows for essentially non-stop usage by enabling individuals, or fleets, to quickly swap power packs. As with all Zero Motorcycles products, the Zero XU is offered with a quick-charge option that cuts the recharge time down by approximately fifty percent to one hour. The additional charger that enables quick-charging can also be used to charge the power pack separately from the motorcycle. Those who own a 2011 Zero X or Zero MX can use their power packs interchangeably with the new Zero XU.


"We're excited to announce our fifth model for 2011. The Zero XU is ideal for those living and working in a city," said Gene Banman, CEO of Zero Motorcycles. "With no shifting, quiet operation, comfortable ergonomics and optional onboard storage, riders of all experience levels are able to focus on simply enjoying the ride. Add to that the ability to remove the power pack and the Zero XU becomes the ultimate urban crosser."


The Zero XU starts at $7,995 MSRP. A Federal tax credit can be applied if purchased with a second power pack. Some countries or states may offer other incentives. To secure an order and take advantage of the current Federal incentive while it lasts, the Zero XU can be purchased online now and will begin shipping in the United States during mid-March. It comes with a 2-year limited warranty. Price does not include local shipping, applicable taxes, PDI and road registration fees.


About Zero Motorcycles
Zero Motorcycles is committed to transforming the motorcycling experience by bringing to market highly innovative electric motorcycles that offer exceptional value and performance. Zero is powered by innovation, driven by passion, guided by integrity, and measured by results. Through extensive research, insight and experience, Zero combines the art and science of motorcycle development to create and manufacture products that excite consumers and inspire brand loyalty. Zero is determined to be the pre-eminent global electric motorcycle company.

Apple releases iTunes 10.2


Well, you'll still have to wait a little while before you can use it with an iPad 2, but Apple's already released iTunes 10.2 for those that like to be nice and ready. It brings with it support for iOS 4.3, and promises "improved Home Sharing" when browsing and playing your iTunes libraries on your iOS 4.3-equipped devices. We'll let you know if we discover anything else hidden away inside -- and you can feel free to do the same in comments.

Simulated Mars mission simulating return to Earth as we speak, astronauts genuinely overjoyed

We thought the Hundred Year Starship initiative to strand aged astronauts on Mars by 2030 was depressing, and in comparison the European Space Agency's Mars-500 project is little more than a walk in the park (a very small, confined, and extremely monotonous park). Essentially Bio-Dome re-written to simulate travel to Mars and back (without that lovable scamp Pauly Shore), the project bills itself as "the first full duration simulation of a manned flight to Mars," with astronauts conducting a 640-day voyage to the red planet and back -- all without leaving the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP). Members of the crew "landed" on Mars on February 12th of this year, returning to the craft on February 24th. As we speak, they should be entering into a spiral orbit away from Mars, and with any luck they'll be back just in time for their ticker-tape parade on November 5th (hopefully that part isn't a simulation). A joint experiment by the European Space Agency, Russia, and China, the $15 million project studies the complex psychological and technical challenges encountered on long spaceflights.

03 March 2011

iPad 2 arrives at the FCC



Right on cue, the three radio variants of the iPad 2 -- that's the WiFi A1395, GSM A1396, and CDMA A1397 -- have arrived at the FCC's labs for stringent testing. We're sure Uncle Sam's testers will stay on task checking up on RF interference and not just spend their time melting faces with Photo Booth, but we understand the temptation.

iPad 2 first hands-on!



Well there you have it folks -- the absurdly thin new iPad 2. We just got our hands all over the next greatest tablet from Apple and it's... very much the same, save for that new body. There's no question that the industrial design is top notch, and we did notice some speedier behavior when jumping around -- but the core OS remains unchanged, so this won't be a major shock. We're spending more time with the device and getting impressions, but for now, feast your eyes on the galleries below.

Update: Okay, we've had a chance to play around the with iPad 2 some more, and here are our big takeaways from the experience. This thing is insanely fast. We're not joking -- it's blazingly fast. Everything the iPad 2 does feels like it's on turbo. We're uploading a video of the some evidence of this, you'll be appropriately stunned.The design feels great in your hands. Sleek, super thin -- much nicer to hold than the previous version. Definitely has more of a magazine than book feel. Everything is tight and solid. It is pretty amazing how thin they've gotten the device.Even software made for the first generation device feels better here. Safari is definitely sped up. Games looked great on-screen, though obviously there are no updates to the resolution of screen technology here.This is an evolutionary step, but we definitely don't feel like it's lacking for features. People are going to gobble these up when they see the new apps.

iPad 2 vs. Motorola Xoom vs. HP TouchPad vs. BlackBerry PlayBook: the tale of the tape


You might recall we ran this comparison about a month back when HP's TouchPad was announced, but now we're back with a full set of 2011 devices as Apple's brand new iPad 2 has joined the fray. There's no need for excessive introductions, really, just leap past the break to get swalloped up by an avalanche of next-generation tablet specs. 9.7-inch
LED-backlit IPS LCD1GHz dual-core
NVIDIA Tegra 21.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon5 megapixel AF with dual-LED flash,
720 / 30p videoQuadband HSPA or
CDMA / EV-DO Rev. A3G with free upgrade to 4G LTE601g (WiFi),
607g (Verizon),
613g (AT&T)

Nintendo GDC keynote roundup: Netflix and free AT&T WiFi coming to 3DS this summer!



We survived the keynote address here at GDC 2011, where Satoru Iwata and Reggie Fils-Aime just got done revealing a veritable cornucopia of info about the 3DS. On the video content front, the 3DS will get Netflix this summer along with the ability to pause a video on your handheld and continue watching on your Wii -- though we presume you may recommence your cinematic experience on an XBox or PS3 too. The addition of Netflix wasn't the only announcement by Iwata, however. Get the rest after the break.

A wireless 3D video channel is coming too -- exclusive to the 3DS -- that will push Nintendo-selected content like movie trailers (Green Lantern's coming soon), music videos, and comedy shorts to the device. And if you want to make your own, Nintendo's enabling 3D video recording as well. Along with the new video content, Nintendo is bringing Game Gear and TurboGrafx 16 titles plus 3D-remastered classic games to the 3DS. The games will be available in the new Nintendo eShop along with existing DSiWare titles. While much of the attention was on downloadables, cartridges got some love when Iwata teased a new 3DS Super Mario game that may or may not include the use of the racoon tail from SMB 3 -- all will be revealed at E3.

Now, you may be thinking: "This new content is well and good, but how does Nintendo expect me to download it when I'm gaming on the go?" Well, Nintendo's got you covered by partnering with AT&T to provide free WiFi access at 10,000 hotspots starting in late May. It'll also use the SpotPass passive connection feature -- that works even when no game is in the system and when its in sleep mode -- to download new content as it becomes available. Could 2011 be the year of the 3DS?

For more details, head on over to Joystiq's liveblog of the event.

The iPad 2

Apple Launches iPad 2
 
All New Design is Thinner, Lighter & Faster with FaceTime, Smart Covers & 10 Hour Battery

SAN FRANCISCO-March 2, 2011-Apple® introduced iPad™ 2, the next generation of its magical device for browsing the web, reading and sending email, enjoying photos, watching videos, listening to music, playing games, reading ebooks and much more. iPad 2 features an entirely new design that is 33 percent thinner and up to 15 percent lighter than the original iPad, while maintaining the same stunning 9.7-inch LED-backlit LCD screen. iPad 2 features Apple's new dual-core A5 processor for blazing fast performance and stunning graphics and now includes two cameras, a front-facing VGA camera for FaceTime® and Photo Booth®, and a rear-facing camera that captures 720p HD video, bringing the innovative FaceTime feature to iPad users for the first time. Though it is thinner, lighter, faster and packed with new features, iPad 2 still delivers up to 10 hours of battery life* that users have come to expect. iPad 2 is available in black or white, features models that run on AT&T's and Verizon's 3G networks, and introduces the innovative iPad 2 Smart Cover in a range of vibrant polyurethane and rich leather colors.

"With more than 15 million iPads sold, iPad has defined an entirely new category of mobile devices," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad, we're launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards yet again."

With the new front and rear cameras, iPad 2 users can now make FaceTime calls to millions of iPhone® 4, iPod touch® and Mac® users so they can see family and friends anywhere there is Wi-Fi. Photo Booth lets you apply fun visual effects, including eight photo special effects like Squeeze, Twirl and Kaleidoscope, to photos captured by either camera.

iPad 2 comes with iOS 4.3, the latest version of the world's most advanced mobile operating system, with new features including faster Safari® mobile browsing performance; iTunes® Home Sharing; enhancements to AirPlay®;** the choice to use the iPad side switch to either lock the screen rotation or mute audio; and Personal Hotspot to share an iPhone 4 cellular data connection over Wi-Fi.*** Additional iPad 2 features include a built-in gyro for advanced gaming; HSUPA support for enhanced 3G upload speeds on iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G on AT&T, and HDMI Video Mirroring that lets users mirror their iPad screen on an HDTV using an optional adaptor.

The innovative new iPad 2 Smart Cover provides protection for the iPad screen while maintaining its thin and lightweight profile. Designed with a unique self-aligning magnetic hinge that makes it easy to attach and remove, the new iPad 2 Smart Cover automatically wakes iPad 2 when it's opened and puts it to sleep when it's closed, and has a soft microfiber lining to help keep the screen clean. The Smart Cover also folds into a stand for typing or viewing videos and is available in vibrant polyurethane for $39 or rich leather for $69 in a range of colors, including a (PRODUCT) RED one which helps support the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Apple also introduced two new apps: iMovie® and GarageBand® for iPad, both available on the App Store? for just $4.99 each. With iMovie, iPad 2 users can shoot and edit videos right on their iPad and post their movies to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo and their MobileMe? gallery; watch them on their iPod®, iPhone or iPad; as well as view them on their HDTV using AirPlay and Apple TV®. GarageBand turns your iPad into a collection of touch instruments and 8-track recording studio, allowing you to perform with onscreen keyboards, guitars, drums and basses using multi-touch gestures–even if you don't play a musical instrument.

iPad 2 runs almost all of the over 350,000 apps available on the App Store and there are more than 65,000 native iPad apps available from an incredible range of apps in 20 categories, including games, business, news, sports, health, reference and travel. The iTunes Store gives iPad users access to the world's most popular online music, TV and movie store with a catalog of over 14 million songs, over 50,000 TV episodes and over 10,000 films including over 3,500 in stunning high definition video. The iBooks® app for iPad includes Apple's iBookstore?, the best way to browse, buy and read books on a mobile device.

Pricing & Availability
iPad 2 with Wi-Fi will be available on March 11 for a suggested retail price of $499 (US) for the 16GB model, $599 (US) for the 32GB model, $699 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G will be available for a suggested retail price of $629 (US) for the 16GB model, $729 (US) for the 32GB model and $829 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G compatible with the Verizon network will be available in the US only for a suggested retail price of $629 (US) for the 16GB model, $729 (US) for the 32GB model and $829 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad 2 will be sold in the US through the Apple Store® (www.apple.com), Apple's retail stores and select Apple Authorized Resellers. iMovie and GarageBand for iPad apps will be available on March 11 for $4.99 each from the App Store on iPad or www.itunes.com/appstore.

iPad 2 will be available in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK on March 25; and in many more countries around the world in the coming months. Further international availability and pricing will be announced at a later date.

*Battery life depends on device settings, usage and other factors. Actual results vary.

**AirPlay video requires second generation Apple TV running the latest software.

***Personal Hotspot requires supporting data plan. Customers should check with their carrier for availability.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork, and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple is reinventing the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

Sneaker speakers kick out the jams


We've seen homemade speakers crafted from all sorts of unusual objects, but these new sneaker speakers built for a design competition by professional sneaker customizer Nashmoney might just be the new king in town. As you can see, they started out as a regular pair of Nike Air Force 1s, and all of the speaker components are built right into the sneakers, including the amplifier and the controls. Of course, they're also one of a kind, but you can find some pictures and details of the build process at the link below if you have an old pair of kicks you'd like to try to retrofit yourself.

02 March 2011

Android 2.3.2 Gingerbread leaks for Samsung Galaxy S


Not every Galaxy S user around the globe even has Froyo yet -- but Samsung's ready to move on, it seems, crafting a ROM based on Android 2.3.2 (in other words, quite recently) for the i9000 model that just leaked across the giant faucet better known as the internet. The darned thing is nearly a quarter gigabyte in size, so Samsung's not playing here, but users haven't fleshed out everything that's changed just yet. Of course, if you're using one of the millions of Galaxy S devices that aren't an i9000, you've got more waiting to do... but we're certain hackers are already well underway tearing this bad boy apart and crafting custom ROMs for various SKUs. Hang tight!.

Barnes & Noble now selling the Nook Color on eBay for $199



Well, this one strikes us as a little... odd. Barnes & Noble is currently selling its Nook Color on eBay (along with plenty of other things). The truly interesting part, however, is that the price, once a $50 coupon code is applied, is $199, which is of course $50 less than it sells them for in stores or on its own website. We aren't sure what the motivation behind this move is, but we'd guess that the bookseller is attempting to compete with other, unofficial eBay retailers selling B&N's goods. Either way, if you're in the market for a Nook Color, eBay seems to be the place to get one, for now.

RIP, Danger, 2002 - 2011: Microsoft axing service on May 31st, T-Mobile promises customers an 'easy transition'

Oh, come on, you saw this coming: Kin represented what was supposed to be Danger's rebirth under Microsoft's half-billion-dollar umbrella -- and when that failed, there wasn't really a future for these guys in the cards. We've received a statement today from T-Mobile breaking the news that Danger's cloud services will be decommissioned after May 31st, and the problem with Sidekicks is that they're more or less paperweights without a connection to Danger's servers... so if you're still using one, you're definitely going to need a new phone. For T-Mobile's part, they're saying that they'll "provide offers... to help make an easy transition" from old phone to new, and they'll be sharing those offers in the coming weeks. If anything, we wouldn't be surprised if the carrier was simply waiting for its all-new, Samsung-made, Android-powered Sidekick to be ready in the hopes that they'll be able to keep folks in the Sidekick fold even though Danger's gone. They're also providing web-based tools and Sidekick apps to get data off the devices, so you can't say they're not doing all the right things in light of the situation. Smart of Microsoft to make sure the statement comes from T-Mobile, too, since it means the carrier can get out ahead of the panic before it starts. See the full statement after the break.

"After May 31, 2011, the Danger Service (a subsidiary of Microsoft) used by T-Mobile Sidekick customers for data services will no longer be available on Sidekick devices.

T-Mobile will provide offers for our Sidekick customers before May 31, 2011, to help make an easy transition from their existing Sidekick device to a new device. We will have more information to share about these offers with our customers in the weeks ahead.

To ensure the best possible transition for our loyal Sidekick customers, an enhanced Web tool is available on myT-Mobile.com to easily export their personal data, including contacts, photos, calendar, notes, to-do lists, and bookmarks, from the Danger service to a new device, computer, or a designated e-mail account. An application is also available in the Sidekick Catalog to make it easy to export personal data to the Sidekick's memory card. Many T-Mobile stores can transfer data from that card to a new T-Mobile device if the customer brings in the memory card and Sidekick."