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Technology News and -----adget Review

28 February 2011

Momentus XT hybrid drive causing headaches, Seagate working to fix


All's not well in hybrid solid state storage land, as owners of Seagate's Momentus XT are facing serious issues with their drives -- despite glowing initial reviews, a number of long-term users claim that the drives chirp, crash, stutter, and freeze with alarming regularity, particularly when installed in a Mac. Seagate forumgoers speculate these are symptoms of the XT's magnetic platters spinning down inappropriately, due to an overzealous power management scheme. That's the bad news -- and it sounds pretty bad -- but the good news is this: Seagate's owning up to the issues, and is actively involved in getting them fixed. So far, a pair of new firmware updates have addressed some symptoms, a third is on the way, and a Seagate engineer known only as STX_NB is proactively chatting with affected customers about possible fixes. That's what we call technical support -- take notes, tech companies.

View the original article here

27 February 2011

Hasbro hops on the 3D bandwagon with Transformers Cine-Mask 3D glasses


Have any kids that want to see Transformers: Dark of the Moon this summer? Then you'll likely want plan on adding $10 to the cost of each ticket, as Hasbro has come up with the ingenious idea to produce these Transformers Cine-Mask 3D glasses and sell 'em in stores before the movie's release. Available in Optimus Prime and Bumblebee versions, the masks each envelop a standard set of RealD 3D glasses, which makes them suitable the majority of theaters out there and, of course, other 3D movies as well. And, no, there's no adult sizes available -- you'll have to stick with your Oakley, Gucci, or Calvin Klein glasses.

Google disables contact sync in Facebook for Android, but only Nexus S for now


You know that Android 2.3.3 update that's trickling out to Nexus S smartphones right now? Google's decided to take this opportunity to push its data portability agenda with regards to Android. Simply put, the feature of the Facebook for Android app to provide the social network's stored contact information to your Nexus S has been revoked from here on out, and as soon as you get the update all that contact information will disappear from your phone.

We've spent a while chatting with a Google rep, and they explained that the company is actually just reinstating the official rules -- typically, apps have to use Android's contacts API, but Facebook was granted an exception which allowed its contacts to remain in the cloud. In effect, what Google's claims it's doing here is the same thing that would happen if you uninstalled the app, or deleted your Facebook account -- your contacts created and stored in the network would no longer be visible on your handset. In other words, Google's attempting to push Facebook into making that data available to itself, which would be handy (think of the other apps that could use your Facebook data on the go) but slightly worrisome in terms of privacy as well. Either way, the argument is not likely to directly affect many individuals in the short term -- Google tells us that Facebook's sync privileges will only be revoked in the Nexus S (not the Nexus One) and other "lead devices" yet to come. Read the company's full statement after the break, and decide for yourself if this is worth arguing about.


We believe it is very important that users are able to control their data. So in the over-the-air update for Nexus S, we have a small change to how Facebook contacts appear on the device. For Nexus S users who downloaded the Facebook app from Android Market, Facebook contacts will no longer appear to be integrated with the Android Contacts app. Since Facebook contacts cannot be exported from the device, the appearance of integration created a false sense of data portability. Facebook contact data will continue to appear within the Facebook app. Like all developers on Android, Facebook is free to use the Android contacts API to truly integrate contacts on the device, which would allow users to have more control over their data. We are removing the special-case handling of Facebook contacts on Nexus S and future lead devices. We continue to believe that reciprocity (the expectation that if information can be imported into a service it should be able to be exported) is an important step toward creating a world of true data liberation -- and encourage other websites and app developers to allow users to export their contacts as well.

Dell rolls out updated XPS 15, XPS 17 laptops


Well, it's not the promised thinner and lighter replacement for the XPS 14, but Dell has just announced two other new XPS laptops: updated versions of it XPS 15 and XPS 17. Both of those are available today in a whole range of different configurations, including your choice of Sandy Bridge or Huron River processors, NVIDIA GPU options up to a GT 540M on the XPS 15 or GT555M on the XPS 17, up to 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and even an optional 3D-capable panel on the XPS 17. As usual, prices vary widely depending on the configuration, but things start at just $899 for a basic XPS 17 or $1049 for the XPS 15 -- hit up the link below to check out all the options available.

BlackBerry Dakota / Montana spotted in the wild, sporting threads of carbon


So how's our little leaked friend the alleged BlackBerry Bold Touch doing as Canada's winter continues to rage? Looks like he's all wrapped up and toasty in a tasteful carbon fiber weave. N4BB nabbed the first real-life photos of the triple-input-device OS 6.1 smartphone, which confirm its 640 x 480 VGA screen, though the publication says it's also gained storage space (6.5GB flash) and lost memory (512MB of RAM) since the last time we heard its specs. There's apparently still a 5 megapixel camera to be had, as well as a magnetometer, accelerometer and proximity sensor, and -- as the rumor mill whispered in January -- integrated NFC. Still no word on processing power, but it sure sounds like it'll mop the floor with the Torch either way.

Motorola bucks its own trend, leaves Xoom bootloader unlockable


Pretty much everything coming out of Moto these days is saddled with a tightly-locked bootloader paired with one tamper-resistant scheme or another, making custom kernels -- the lifeblood of the phone hacking community -- tricky at best, nigh impossible at worst. Of course, there was a glimmer of hope last month when the company said that it was working on a solution that'd cater to the developer community, and it looks like the Xoom might be bearing some of that fruit: the bootloader can be unlocked and relocked at will. Now, we're thinking that Moto might've loosened the reigns a bit here simply because the Xoom is running a completely bone-stock build of Android and, as Honeycomb's launch device, Google might be showing some influence behind the scenes (the Nexus One and Nexus S both have unlockable bootloaders, for instance)... but it's a good sign.

Apple patent application points to denser batteries, improved charging technique

Some might think a ten-hour Macbook battery mighty fine, but we're happy to say that Cupertino's not quite satisfied. AppleInsider spotted a pair of Apple patent applications detailing a improved way of juicing up those lithium-polymer cells, which should greatly increase the number of recharge cycles they can endure -- or, optionally, allow Apple to use denser batteries that last longer on a charge. We'll break it down for you: the graph in the upper-left shows how Li-ion batteries currently charge, first very rapidly (constant current, increasing voltage) and then more slowly (constant voltage, decreasing current) to top the cells off.

What Apple's proposing is the multi-step method depicted on the right, where current and voltage trade off, to charge the battery while being far less harsh on the physical chemistry of the electrodes inside. As you can see in the bottom graph, the multi-step CC-CV cells lose much less of their potential after 300 recharge cycles, but that's not all Apple's cooking up -- the company figures that it can increase the thickness of the electrodes to improve battery life (by as much as 28Wh/L, according to one chart) without negative effect thanks to the softer charge. Sure, we'd rather have plant-eating graphene supercapcitors, but this sounds like a plan for now.

Best Buy adding new Apple laptop SKUs to its systems, foreshadows MacBook Pro refresh


Best Buy's laptop discovery tool is doing a slightly overzealous job this morning by listing a set of "new SKU" laptops from Apple Computer before said company has had a chance to announce them. This seems to corroborate recent rumors of a MacBook Pro refresh coming next week, as do the $1,199, $1,499, $1,799, and $2,199 price points, all of which are presently occupied by current-gen 13- and 15-inch MBP variants. There is an additional $2,499 sticker for a laptop identified only as "New SKU I," which presumably points to an upgrade to Apple's 17-incher. Regrettably, there's nothing more than the pricing for us to go on, but feel free to fill your time until Best Buy populates its listings with speculation about the hot new processing, storage, and interconnect options Apple might have in store for us.

26 February 2011

Apple holding iPad 2 event next week?


We're all hotly expecting new MacBook Pros on Thursday, but it sounds like Apple might have an even bigger announcement soon: Kara Swisher at All Things Digital says the iPad 2 will be revealed on March 2 in San Francisco. That lines up with some of the rumblings we've heard, but we haven't gotten an official invite yet, so things could change -- we'll let you know as soon as we hear anything definite.

Beep-It optical theremin for the masses makes sci-fi sound anybody's game (video)

 
We've seen theremin mod after theremin mod, but those seeking that distinct sci-fi sound without the physical labor or hefty price tag haven't had much of an outlet until now. Meet Beep-It, a $35 analog optical theremin that sports a simple on / off switch, volume control, one quarter-inch jack, and light sensitive resistor to make you the master of that otherworldly sound. According to its creator, Michael Una, the little sonic music maker started off as yet another mod -- a "single-oscillator square wave theremin" in a petri dish -- back in 2008, and underwent a number of incarnations before getting the wood grain treatment you see here. Beep-It is now available at select retailers or direct from the company's website -- then again, we suppose you could hire Bobby McFerrin to do the same thing. Trippy demo after the jump.

Autoblog drives the 2012 Fisker Karma, deems it 'best handling large premium car'

Autoblog drives the 2012 Fisker Karma, deems it 'best handling large premium car'
Karma, in a religious sense, is the sort of divine retribution or cause for your deeds or misdeeds. In an automotive sense it's a $95,900 plug-in luxury performance car that Fisker has been teasing since 2007. That machine is finally nearing production and Autoblog was lucky enough to take an early model for a spin around California Speedway, a brief test-drive that left the pilots concluding "the Fisker Karma is a rolling dream machine for anyone who wants something very different that works and drives exceptionally well." For the rest of the impressions on this $100k plug-in hybrid that offers a combined 657hp and 981lb-ft of torque from three motors and will go 50 miles on batteries alone you'll need to click on through the source link below. For the details on what's in store from your own karma you need only look inside yourself.

AT&T opens up video archives, shares the history inside

Where can you find Orson Welles, Marconi's daughter, Alexander Graham Bell's grandaughter, and inventors of the transistor and television? You might try To Communicate is the Beginning, a 1976 educational publication tracing the history of electronic communication, which AT&T recently decided to exhume from its archives of Bell Labs material. The 30-minute video's just the first in a series, too, as AT&T's website is already playing host to films about the origins of the laser and integrated circuit too, with more on the way. Find them all at our source link -- you do want to know how your favorite technologies evolved, right?

25 February 2011

Apple announcing new high-speed interconnect, Light Peak here we come?


There's not a scrap of evidence to back this rumor, but everything seems to line up: CNET reports that Apple will announce "a new high-speed connection technology" soon -- and Intel's Light Peak seems to be a shoo-in for the job. We've long known that Apple's been secretly backing the 10Gbps interconnect, but with a likely MacBook Pro refresh right around the corner and Light Peak allegedly due for a 1H 2011 launch, it seems the time for action could be right around now. It also doesn't hurt that this latest rumor comes from CNET, actually, as we're pretty sure the publication has an inside source. The very same reporter wrote that Light Peak would be downgraded to copper, a full month before Intel would admit anything of the sort.

Amazon Appstore for Android will let you buy apps without a device

No Android device? No problem! Turns out Amazon's upcoming Appstore for Android -- which has been in the works for some time -- will allow you to purchase apps even before you receive the device you intend to install them on, presumably so that you're stocked up and ready to go by the time the phone (or tablet, or whatever miscellaneous gizmo) arrives on your doorstep. As AllThingsD points out, the concept appears to go partway toward mimicking Amazon's Kindle business model, which does a decent job of decoupling content (which is associated with your Amazon account) from the actual hardware you've got it installed on. We still don't know exactly when the Appstore is launching, but considering Amazon's retail chops, these guys might actually stand a chance at cutting into the Android Market's revenue by some noticeable margin.

Archos Arnova is ready to exterminate your clock radio, your Squeezebox too

Archos Arnova is ready to exterminate your clock radio, your Squeezebox too
The consumer electronics company with the phlegmatic name has just dropped its latest device on us, and for once it isn't a tablet or some form of PMP. It's the Archos Arnova, a fancy clock radio, with a 3.5-inch touchscreen in the middle plus the ability to connect to 12,000 streaming radio stations and 1,500 "web TV" channels too. If that's not enough you can play media directly from an SD card or pull it over your local network via uPNP. Why, you can even view pictures on there, if you don't mind squinting. What you can't do is know how much money to save or when you'll need to save it by if you're looking to buy one, as Archos hasn't seen fit to tell us that just yet.

Razer's Chimaera 5.1 wireless Xbox 360 surround sound headset up for pre-order, ships in April

Razer™ Chimaera Wireless Gaming Headset Roars To Life In Surround Sound Tuesday, 22 February 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RAZER CHIMAERA WIRELESS GAMING HEADSET ROARS TO LIFE IN SURROUND SOUND
Razer Brings Wireless 5.1 Surround Sound to Xbox Gaming

Carlsbad, Calif. - February 22, 2011 - Boom. That's the sound of gamers being blown away as Razer, the world's leading high-end precision gaming brand unleashes their wireless Razer Chimaera 5.1 Surround Sound and Razer Chimaera Stereo Gaming Headsets for Xbox 360®. Be it the explosions and gunfire in Halo, the high octane release of nitro in Need for Speed, or grooving beats on DJ Hero, the Razer Chimaera kicks Xbox gaming immersion into overdrive.

"Putting on this headset may cause serious jaw-dropping aural intensity," said Robert "RazerGuy" Krakoff, President Razer USA. "With the Razer Chimaera 5.1, we're giving every gamer the opportunity to experience surround sound in complete wireless freedom. We drew from our expertise in PC gaming audio and worked with Dolby® to develop a headset that lets you hear everything with absolute clarity to pinpoint enemy locations, prevent backstabs, and just take your gaming enjoyment further. I recommend using it with the Razer Onza controller for serious Xbox ownage."

Both 5.1 and Stereo editions of the Razer Chimaera are wireless so you can hear the destruction of your opponents anywhere, be it on the couch or on the way to the fridge to get a refreshment. With up to 8 hours battery life on the 5.1 edition and 12 on the Stereo edition, as well as extra large circumaural ear cups, your Xbox gaming marathons just got longer, without worry and in maximum comfort. When it's time to charge, just hang the headset onto the base station that doubles as the audio processing unit, letting you customize the game audio to your absolute satisfaction.

You and three teammates can also locally connect 4 Razer base stations for a crystal clear, lag-free, and dedicated voice channel for laughing together at the opposing team as you crush them mercilessly.

And as the icing on the cake, both editions of the Razer Chimaera are PC compatible, so you can have just as much audio fun on the PC as you will on the Xbox.

About the Razer Chimaera 5.1 Wireless Gaming Headset for Xbox 360

The Razer Chimaera 5.1 gives discerning gamers a tournament-grade surround sound audio solution for the most immersive and competitive Xbox gaming edge. With massive 50mm speakers in each sound-isolating ear cup, interference-free wireless up to 8 hours, flexible boom mic and a base station with audio processing and local team-communication capabilities, your perfect Xbox gaming experience is now complete.

Price: US $199.99 / EU €199.99

Availability:

Razerzone.com – April 2011
Worldwide – April 2011

Product Features:

* 5.1 Channel Dolby® surround sound
* 5.8 GHz interference-free wireless headset (up to 33ft / 10m receiving range)
* Docking base station for audio processing, recharging and advanced controls
* Connect up to 4 base stations for dedicated lag-free team communications
* Adjustable circumaural ear cups for optimal sound isolation and comfort
* Independent audio and microphone controls on the ear cups
* Flexible microphone boom and detachable Xbox LIVE communication cable
* Up to 8 hours rechargeable battery life
* Digital optical connection for superior sound quality
* PC compatible*

*RCA to 3.5mm cable required and sold separately
For more information about the Razer Chimaera 5.1, please visit
 http://www.razerzone.com/chimaera

Motorola hands out gold Xooms to Oscar hosts, nominees


Motorola may only be offering the Xoom in basic black to the general public, but it's cooked up something a little extra special for the Oscars this Sunday. It will be handing out these limited edition gold Xooms -- complete with a custom leather envelope case -- to the hosts and the nominees in the Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Director categories. Guess stars aren't just like us after all.

Nexus S and Nexus One get Android Gingerbread 2.3.3, fix random reboots and write NFC

  

Your Nexus One is a second-class citizen no more: Today, Google's rolling out Android 2.3.3 to both its premier smartphones. The latest build, still referred to as Gingerbread, brings even more NFC goodies than fortold, as the Nexus S will soon be able to write (not just read) rewritable NFC tags as well as act as a glorified NFC tag itself. (You can see both possibilities in the three screenshots above.) What's more, Google tells us Android 2.3.3 will fix the random reboots that have plagued the Nexus S as of late, and offers other random bugfixes as well. You'll find the whole kit and kaboodle streaming to your phones over the air during the next few weeks to come.

Update: We're also hearing that integrated Facebook contacts will be treated differently in Android 2.3.3 -- we've reached out to Google for more information.

Update 2: Here's the deal with regards to Facebook.

PlayStation hackers reportedly able to unban selves, ban others, turn tables

PlayStation hackers reportedly able to unban selves, ban others, turn tables 
Just last week Sony said that those found to have hacked their PlayStation 3 consoles would have their PlayStation Network access "terminated permanently." Harsh words that, unsurprisingly, weren't too warmly received by the hacking community. Destructoid is now reporting that not only have those tinkerers found a way to unban themselves, but that they can in turn ban any other console they want. There's apparently a catch, though, with the hackers having to know the unique ID assigned to the other console that they'll be banning, which makes this sound like perhaps the hack is simply swapping a "good" ID onto a "bad" console, but at this point we have no details on the supposed procedure here. Regardless, if some random girl with a cute avatar hits you up on IM and, after a few minutes of casual conversation, asks you for the serial number on your PS3, think twice before handing over those digits.

Update: We were a little leery about this given Destructoid's lack of a source, and thanks to a note from reader Omega we now have what looks to be the actual source -- indeed this all is sounding rather theoretical.

24 February 2011

US Air Force raises concerns over LightSquared is LTE network messing with GPS

Following a navigation system's instructions without driving into a ravine is hard enough as it is -- can you even imagine how hard it'd be if you kept losing GPS reception every time you drove within range of an LTE tower? There have been a few anecdotal concerns raised over the last several weeks that LightSquared's proposed LTE network -- which would repurpose L-band spectrum formerly used for satellite -- is too close to the spectrum used by the Global Positioning System, leading to unintentional jamming when the towers overpower the much weaker GPS signals. Things have gotten a little more interesting, though, now that the US Air Force Space Command has officially piped in. General William Shelton has gone on record saying that "a leading GPS receiver manufacturer just ... has concluded that within 3 to 5 miles on the ground and within about 12 miles in the air GPS is jammed by those towers," calling the situation "unbelievable" and saying he's "hopeful the FCC does the right thing."

Presumably, the USAF thinks that "the right thing" would involve pulling LightSquared's license, but for its part, the company says it believes Shelton is referring to a test conducted by Garmin (possibly explaining that recent outage in the Southeastern US?) using simulated interference filters -- not the actual filters that it has spent several million dollars developing and perfecting. Regardless of how effective the filters might be, the idea that the only thing standing between a functional GPS system and a constellation of space-borne paperweights is a private company's privately-developed, privately-operated filtering equipment... but then again, we love LTE. Decisions!

Spring Design Alex dies, forever remembered as the one that looked like the Nook


The Spring Design Alex, introduced in late 2009, died today. The causes aren't exactly known, but it is said that the company's investor "stopped the money." We surmise its $399 price point at least put it on life support. The Alex lived a rather short life, in which it battled Barnes & Noble's Nook on shelves as well as in courts. The E-ink and LCD e-reader did, however, live to be rooted and sideloaded with apps. We'll always remember the Spring Design Alex as a brave Android, dual-screen e-reader willing to venture into tablet territories. Spring Design has confirmed the passing, but hasn't said if it plans to bring more children into the world. We wish them the best in this tough time.

Samsung creates first full-color quantum dot display, threatens to make Dippin' Dots obsolete

Samsung creates first full-color quantum dot display, threatens to make Dippin' Dots obsoleteWe haven't been serving up quantum dots news for quite as long as we've been regaling you with tales of quantum computers, which is just as good because we're about to tell you the technology is still at least three years away from showing up in something you can buy. But, it is getting closer, with Samsung demonstrating a four-inch quantum dot display with full color. Quantum dots are nanocrystals that emit light when they get excited, perhaps on Christmas morning or when waiting for the list of school cancellations on a snowy morn. The size of the crystal dictates the wavelength of light emitted, and by laying precise grids of different sized crystals Samsung creates RGB pixels of the sort needed to make a display. Pixels can be applied directly to glass or to a flexible surface, and in theory they'll be far more efficient than an LCD while brighter and longer-lasting than OLED. Right now, however, they don't achieve any of those benchmarks, which is unfortunately where we circle back to the whole "three years away" thing.

Motorola Atrix root found to be signed, hacking might not be so easy

By Tim Stevens posted Feb 22nd 2011 11:33AM Motorola Atrix root found to be signed, hacking might not be so easyThat the Atrix got itself rooted before it was even available made us wonder just how... receptive it would be to the caresses of the hacker community at large. Sadly we're finding it's perhaps a bit more frigid than its friendly demeanor might have lead us to believe. User adlx.xda over at the xda-developers forums has found that the phone's system files are not encrypted, but they are signed. This will make the process of replacing them and loading custom builds and the like rather more complicated -- but surely not impossible.

[Thanks, chaoslimits]


View the original article here

Smithsonian Museum will have a video game gallery next year, wants you to vote on what is in it

Nobody tell Roger Ebert, but the Smithsonian Museum has announced plans for a new exhibition, called The Art of Video Games, which will run between March and September next year. Charting the 40-year (now there's a number that will make you feel old in a hurry) evolution of gaming from paddle-based pixel exchanges to sophisticated online multiplayer extravaganzas, this collection of memoirs will focus on the most visually striking and technologically innovative titles. Perhaps knowing how heated debates about video games can get, the Museum has sagely decided to co-opt its audience into the curatorial process -- the second source link below will take you to a voting page where you can select your top 80 games from a shortlist of 240... and of course express your rage at the omission of some obscure title you totally loved late one night in 1995. 

Source - Technews

23 February 2011

V-Moda's Crossfade LP Custom headphones drop the Beat, make you the superstar

Why break Dr. Dre, Justin Bieber, 50 Cent or Ludacris off a 'lil somethin' somethin' when you can endorse yourself? That's a question that the engineers at V-Moda have found themselves centered on the past few months, and now they've got a solution: the Crossfade LP Customs. They're half gimmick, half hilarious, and 100 percent awesome. $199.99 nets you a customized set of cans, with seven plate colors to choose from and the option to add up to 11 characters of text. You know -- plenty of room for "BEATZ BY ME." Get at 'em in the source link below, but be prepared to wait two to three weeks for delivery. What, you expecting VIP treatment or something?

VIC Ltd NaviSurfer II UBU-3G in-car PC gets built-in GPS -- finally

It's been a while since we've heard anything about the NaviSurfer II, but for those patiently awaiting the update of this commuter computer, VIC Ltd. has just given the thing a pretty hefty overhaul. The new NaviSurfer II UBU-3G runs on an auto-specific Ubuntu 10.10 and sports a 7-inch touchscreen, 250GB hard drive, 2GB DDR2 RAM, 3G HSDPA modem, and three USB 2.0 ports. Possibly the most useful upgrade of all, however, is the inclusion of a built-in GPS receiver, rocking a Navit navigation system. Unfortunately for those lacking in the dashboard department, this sucker's Double DIN, or about twice the size of the standard car radio, but if you've got room for the thing, the NaviSurfer runs €300 (about $400).
Update: The VIC Ltd website is currently down -- looks like someone might be throwing a little too much traffic their way.

Tiny EGO pseudo-submarine for the super rich is aptly named

Imagine you are so rich you want your own underwater pleasure vehicle, and you don't mind dropping what is likely to be a boatload of cash get it, today may be your lucky, lucky day. A company called Raonhaje has developed the EGO mini-submarine which floats atop the water, but which boasts a submersible capsule for passengers to check out what's going on beneath the surface. Sounds intriguing, right? Sure does! The relatively eco-friendly EV vehicle cruises at just less than five knots for four hours on a full charge. There are no details on price yet, but we expect it will be quite a lot. Video of the rendered model is after the break.

Windows 7 SP1 (and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1) now available for public download

Microsoft told us to clear our pipes for a hefty download on the 22nd of February, and sure enough, the software giant is delivering. Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 is now available for public consumption, with the company also confirming that 7601.17514.101119-1850 is the final RTM. We'd bother telling you more, but we know you've already dug into the source link in order to get your download a-hoppin'. Just make sure you uninstall any pre-releases of SP1 before doing the deed with this one, and if you're updating just a single PC, you're probably better off waiting for everything to flow through Windows Update. Your call, though.

22 February 2011

Android 3.0 Honeycomb SDK now available to all, API level literally cranked to 11

You've heard that it was en route, and you've seen the preview. Now, it's time to enter the wild, wacky world of Android 3.0 for yourself. Honeycomb's SDK is now available for all developers to download, with the API's being deemed final and able to withstand new apps that will target the fresh platform. We'd bother spilling the beans on the added features, but we know you've already torn your left click button off in a frantic race to the source link. Simmer down, son -- the URL ain't going anywhere.

Elite Porsche tuner RUF gets in on the electric game with three eRUF models

If you want a Porsche with a little bit more -- more power, more handling, more brakes, more outrageous styling -- you want a RUF. It's technically an independent auto manufacturer, but every model starts with a Porsche that gets systematically turned up to 11. The haus that Ferdinand built just announced a handful of electric cars and now RUF is getting in on the game too, creating three separate models. First is the all EV Single Motor Concept, a 911 with a 241hp motor that'll do 93 miles on a charge, has a top speed of 136mph, and can hit 60 in about seven seconds. Next up is the Twin Motor Concept, pairing two 335hp motors to a larger battery, enabling 124 miles of range, top speed of 137mph, and 0 - 60 in a much more respectable five seconds.

Finally there's the Twin Motor Concept with Torque Vectoring. This again has two 335hp motors but this time each one drives a separate rear wheel, enabling dynamic torque vectoring. Range and acceleration are the same but handling should theoretically be much better when going through the twisties. And, really, that's what it's all about. Right now ten of these cars have been built for testing. They're not available for general purchase but we have it on good authority that they'll be very, very expensive when they do ship.

Ixonos shows off windowed UI for Android

Ixonos Showcases an Innovative Android Solution With Inspiring User Experience at Mobile World Congress 2011
 
HELSINKI, February 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Ixonos, a world leader in creating wireless technologies, software and solutions for mobile devices and services, showcases its broad Android capabilities at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on 14-17 February 2011.

Ixonos demonstrates an innovative Android-based multi-window solution, which runs on various popular hardware platforms. The solution is demonstrated on a tablet developed by Aava Mobile as a multi-window system, which enables the use of several applications simultaneously, for example the viewing of messages and calendar side by side.

"The multi-window solution brings Android user experience to a whole new level. Running the solution on a device with a 7-inch or bigger screen allows for new efficiency in handling daily tasks. The user can now see the whole workspace at one glance and run multiple applications at the same time," explains Mr Vesa Metso, Director, Key Customer Accounts, Android, at Ixonos.

Ixonos has also made the multitasking user experience available on a dual-screen configuration. This takes multitasking use cases even further by enabling the device to be used like a laptop, with a touch pad QWERTY keyboard below the second activity window, or as a highly-advanced two-screen tablet, where both screens are used either for different activities or the activity is expanded across both screens.

"Multitasking is a functionality people expect from superior user experience and two-screen tablet devices are now debuting the market. With our solution, multitasking is the norm for tablets. Moving from one application to another is quick and easy, and the user can move applications or activities from one screen to another. This truly takes efficiency to new heights," Mr. Metso adds.

The multitasking solution has been developed at Ixonos' Android Competence Centres in Europe, demonstrating Ixonos' deep know-how of Android components and modules.

21 February 2011

Kinect hackers give us iOS-friendly dodgeball and Human Tetris


Remember that Microsoft Rally Ball demo from a few days ago that showed Windows Phone 7's integration with Xbox? Well, the gang at Supertouch has stolen a bit of Ballmer's thunder with a new Kinect hack that lets you hurl digital orbs at your Kinect-controlling friend using an iOS device instead of a WP7 handset. The graphics for the game and the iDevice controls aren't nearly as pretty as Microsoft's cross-platform gaming solution, but the end result is pretty much the same -- flingin' balls with a phone while your friend dodges them courtesy of Kinect.

Meanwhile, Frog Design has added a Human Tetris game to the Kinect's repertoire where players perfect their Vogue-ing skills by striking a pose to match an approaching cut-out on screen. Finally, all the shape-shifting fun with none of the goofy silver jumpsuits. Vids are after the break.

Imperia plug-in hybrid does 0 - 60 in four seconds, looks classy while doing it


If you're tired of hybrids like the Prius or Volt, cars that could easily get lost in a Hertz parking lot, check out the GP. It's the first and only product from resurrected Belgian auto maker Imperia, which previously operated in the early 20th century, but other than the pronounced front grille offers little resemblance to its forbears either above or below that pronounced bonnet. It has an inline four cylinder turbo engine offering 212hp that's paired with a 134hp electric engine, itself backed by a Li-polymer battery pack. It'll do about 45 miles on batteries alone but, more importantly, will roll the 0 - 60mph sprint in under four seconds. Or, at least, it will if it ever hits production. A concept of the car was unveiled at the Brussels Auto Show, but it's anyone's guess when it might actually hit the road for reals.

German researchers take mind-controlled car for a carefully-controlled spin


Emotiv's mind-reading EPOC headset may not have changed the face of video games, but it looks like it's proven to be more than adequate for a team of German researchers, who've used it as the key component in their BrainDriver project. Yes, that's a mind-controlled car and, after a bit of training, is does appear to have performed reasonably well -- albeit with a slight delay that makes any real world test a worse idea than it already was. Interestingly, this latest effort actually follows some previous attempts at a completely autonomous car by the same group of researchers at the Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin, and they say that the two could eventually be combined at some point in the distant future -- for instance, in a taxi that's able to drive itself but also responds to the thoughts of its passengers. Head on past the break for the video.
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Inhabitat's Week in Green: trains speed up, paint improves planes, and the CO2-scrubbing artificial trees


This week Inhabitat saw high-speed railways pick up steam around the globe as China announced plans to build a trans-continental railroad in South America and Japan began developing the world's fastest high-speed train. We also saw eco transportation reach new heights as a kite-powered car completed an epic 5,000km journey across Australia and researchers developed a nanotech paint that will increase the fuel efficiency of airplanes. The automotive world is also gearing up for the Geneva car show as Toyota is getting set to roll out an all-electric IQ and Porsche pulled back the curtain on its Panamera S Hybrid and Boxster EV.
In other news, this week we brought you an exclusive video interview where celebrated environmentalist Stewart Brand argues that nuclear power could save the world. We also explored several other alternative energy sources that are decidedly less controversial - PurposeEnergy is transforming beer brewing waste into a source of clean-burning biofuel, and a design duo has proposed a series of beautiful solar-powered artificial trees that scrub CO2 from the air.
Roughly one in every six people do not have access to safe drinking water, so we were excited to learn about a pedal-powered water purification system based on the bicycle that holds great promise for the developing world. Speaking of cleaning up dirty water, this week Stephen Baldwin sued Kevin Costner over the oil-separating technology that cleaned up the BP oil spill. And last but not least, we were wowed by this hydrofloor system, which can save space and energy by concealing a swimming pool beneath your living room floor!
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Google's Native Client almost 'ready for takeoff,' ready to make ActiveX look visionary

We're almost there, almost to the release of the Native Client we first got wind of last May. It is, basically, a way to run native code within a browser -- low-end stuff capable of delivering performance good enough for 3D games and the like. Christian Stefansen, a Google Product Manager, said that the stuff is getting closer to delivery, that the team behind it has reached an "important milestone," that code will be "as portable and secure as JavaScript." It was of course security, or the lack thereof, that derailed Microsoft's plans for this sort of functionality in Internet Explorer via ActiveX, a stigma that technology has still yet to escape from. Will Native Client do better? Will Crysis ever be available in the Chrome Web Store? Could a Cr-48 run it anyway? Questions questions...

Motorola Xoom up for in-store pre-order at Best Buy, $800 for Thursday availability

No more stunt prices, no more premature web appearances, this (we hope) is finally Best Buy's fully official listing for the Motorola Xoom. It brings no great surprises to those who've been tracking the tablet's progress to retail shelves, offering first dibs to buyers willing to make the effort and pre-order one in store today, with full availability coming on Thursday, February 24th. The $800 3G-equipped model is accompanied on Best Buy's site by a $40 portfolio case, a $50 basic charging dock, a $130 stereo speaker dock, and a $70 Bluetooth keyboard, but there's no sighting of the cheaper WiFi-only Xoom. There was some suspicion that the $600 SKU would launch a little later on and that is indeed what appears to be happening. One final note of caution: even if you're intending to use the Xoom as a pure WiFi-only device, remember that you'll be required to activate data with Verizon for at least a month first -- don't ask us why.

Samsung Galaxy S 4G will actually cost $200, unfortunately

Here's a quick heads-up, if you had your heart set on Samsung's Galaxy S 4G: T-Mobile says it'll actually cost $199.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate. That means you're paying $250 out the door for an HSPA+ capable Vibrant, not counting taxes and related fees. T-Mobile says the original $150 price was a mistake on its part, and while you're welcome to bring as many false advertising lawsuits as you'd like, we doubt you'll get very far.

20 February 2011

Robot hand hits 20WPM, nearly ready to embrace infinite monkey theorem

Robot hands have been grabbing, crushing, drawing and otherwise actuating for years, but have you ever seen one properly type? That's the primary purpose of a new Virginia Tech design. Engineers built this Dexterous Anthropomorphic Robotic Typing (DART) hand to mimic the real deal as best they could, down to individually-actuating three-segment digits and 110 degrees of wrist rotation in a package the size of a real human arm. Using a total of 19 servo motors and high tensile strength wire for the tendons, they managed to create a single mechanical paw that can achieve an estimated 20 words per minute while typing. Next, they plan to cover it in silicone skin and add piezoelectric sensors to provide tactile feedback. Imagine that: the next time a secret family member severs your arm with a focused plasma beam, you'll know where to go for replacement.