Monday, January 31, 2011

Editorial: The rise of the notbook, the fall of the netbook


Notbook (n.) -- An affordable ultraportable laptop, typically with a
11.6-inch or 12-inch display that is not a netbook. It packs more
power than a netbook (i.e. can handle 1080p video and Flash at
fullscreen) and provides a more comfortable computing experience than
the typical, 10-inch underpowered, shrunken Atom-based laptop. Most do
not have optical drives, but do last for over five hours on a charge.
Unlike pricey ultraportable laptops, notbooks are more affordable and
start at around $400.
About six months ago, the 11.6-inch Dell Inspiron M101z arrived on my
doorstep for review. The AMD Neo-powered system looked like a slightly
enlarged netbook, but in a briefing with Dell, the product manager
reinforced quite a few times that the system was absolutely "not a
netbook." I can't remember his exact wording, but he made it crystal
clear -- the $449 Inspiron M101z was so much more powerful than an
Intel Atom netbook that it could be one's primary machine. Obviously,
I started calling these sorts of laptops "notbooks," and over the next
few months, more and more of them started popping up. Some of them
paired Atom with an NVIDIA Ion GPU (e.g. Eee PC 1215N), while others
used AMD's Neo chip and more recently AMD's new Fusion Zacate APU.
(Intel's Core ULV-powered systems are frankly too expensive to be
considered in this category, though some Pentium / Core 2 Duo systems,
like like the Acer Timeline X1810T, could qualify.)

Uh, so what? There's a new crop of more powerful, affordable, and
highly mobile laptops -- what's the big deal? Well, while many think
tablets are what will ultimately cut the netbook market down to size,
it's the notbooks that will also seriously hit the Atom-based
lilliputian laptops of today where it really hurts. Don't get me
wrong, ARM-powered tablets like the iPad and Motorola Xoom are going
to impact netbook sales in a big way, too (heck, they already have!),
but mark my words, notbooks or affordable ultraportables will take a
noticeable chunk of both the netbook and the mainstream laptop market.
There's finally a class of laptops that provide a terrific balance
between primary and mobile computing without breaking the bank. Think
I'm crazy? Hit the break to understand what I'm talking about.

The Engadget Show returns tonight at 6PM ET with Steve Wozniak!

Cancel your dinner plans, because tonight at 6:00PM ET, the inimitable
co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak will be joining us for the first
Engadget Show of 2011! It will be a night to remember as Woz joins us
for an evening of frank, eye-opening, and all-around awesome
conversation. We'll be streaming live at 6:00PM from Cooper Union's
Rose Auditorium and we've got about 200 seats available on a first-
come, first-served basis if you want to join us in person. We'll also
have music from the talented Zen Albatross and the usual crazy
giveaways. Trust us when we say that this episode is going to be epic.

REMINDER: The Show will be taking place in a lovely new venue, the
Rose Auditorium in Cooper Union's New Academic Building (i.e. not the
TimesCenter), located in Manhattan at 41 Cooper Square. Seating is
extremely limited, so get there early!

Tickets are -- as always -- free to anyone who would like to attend,
but seating is limited, and tickets will be first come, first
served... so get there early! Here's the updated info on our new
ticketing policy that you need to know:

There is no admission fee -- tickets are completely free
The event is all ages
Ticketing will begin at the Cooper Union New Academic Building at
2:00PM tonight, Sunday, January 30th, doors will open for seating at
5:15PM, and the show begins at 6:00PM
We now have assigned seating, so the first people to get their
tickets will get priority seating. This also means that once you get a
ticket, your seat is guaranteed -- you won't have to get back in line
to get a good seat.
You cannot collect tickets for friends or family -- anyone who
would like to come must be present to get a ticket
Seating capacity is limited (only about 200 seats in the
theatre), and once we're full, we're full
The venue is located at 41 Cooper Square New York, NY 10003 (map
after the break)
The show length is around an hour

Unfortunately, we won't be running the usual text-to-win sweepstakes
for this episode (we know it sucks, but it's out of our hands), so if
you want a seat you'll have to show up in person. If you're a member
of the media who wishes to attend, please contact us at:
engadgetshowmedia [at] engadget [dot] com, and we'll try to
accommodate you. All other non-media questions can be sent to:
engadgetshow [at] engadget [dot] com.

Subscribe to the Show:

[iTunes] Subscribe to the Show directly in iTunes (M4V).
[Zune] Subscribe to the Show directly in the Zune Marketplace (M4V).
[RSS M4V] Add the Engadget Show feed (M4V) to your RSS aggregator and
have it delivered automatically.

<img vspace="4" hspace="4" border="1" alt="" src="
" />

Homebuilt UAV hunts down hydrogen balloons, shoots firework missiles (video)

Augmented reality is swell, don't get us wrong, but it's no substitute
for the real thing -- especially when that thing is a badass tricopter
equipped with a jury-rigged firework cannon to rain down miniature
hell. Swedish R/C enthusiasts built this first-person flying
contraption to carry out a single mission -- destroy a series of
hydrogen-filled balloons -- which will hopefully be hard-coded into
future automatons too. After all, balloons could serve as an excellent
distraction when they inevitably come for you. Still, there's no need
to worry quite yet, so kick back and enjoy the video above while you
contemplate humanity's end.

PSA: Change your old password for better security

Amazon's allegedly got an security flaw where hackers can find your
password much easier than they would otherwise, and there's already a
fix in place. But get this -- you'll probably need to change your
password for the fix to take effect, if you haven't already done so in
the last couple of years. According to Reddit users, the
login system will actually accept any phrase so long as it begins with
your password, such as "password123" when the magic word is simply
"password" by itself. That apparently makes it that much easier for a
computer to guess your password via brute force methods, no matter how
counter-intuitive that seems, so if you simply change it immediately
-- and to something other than "password," please -- you'll have much
sounder dreams.

MSI's GT680 gaming laptop reviewed: potent at 720p, some battery life too

MSI is calling this GT680R the world's fastest gaming laptop. Spoiler
alert -- it's not -- but if you drop $1,650 to nab one starting this
week, you'll certainly be getting some bang for those bucks. Trusted
Reviews and Hot Hardware recently got their hands on the first Sandy
Bridge-equipped portable monster of a gaming rig, and found the
experience quite satisfying on the whole. Though Hot Hardware
discovered that the 2.0GHz Core i7-2630QM chip and NVIDIA GeForce GTX
460M graphics weren't quite capable of playable framerates in the most
demanding DX11 titles at native 1080p, lowering the resolution to 720
lines usually did the trick, and when it came to raw CPU benchmarks
that Core i7 held its own against even last-gen desktop processors
with little trouble to speak of. What's more, equipped with a nine-
cell battery Trusted Reviews managed to eke out three hours of life in
a basic productivity test, practically unheard of for a laptop of this
class, though we suppose you're not likely to be carrying around this
7.7 pound beast for the sake of portable spreadsheets, eh? Hit up our
source links for more details.

The Engadget Show Live! with Steve Wozniak

Humans, keep your eyes tuned to this post -- because at 6:00PM ET,
we'll be starting The Engadget Show live with Apple co-founder Steve
Wozniak, joining us for a evening of frank, eye-opening and all-around
awesome conversation. There'll be mind-blowing devices, crazy
giveaways, and much, much more! We've even got music from Zen
Albatross. You seriously don't want to miss it.

Update: That's all for now! The recorded version should be up on the
site around afternoon on Monday.

Golden Gate Bridge plans to collect all tolls electronically by September 2012

San Francisco's world-famous Golden Gate Bridge looks much like this
right now, but come September 2012 the last of those yellow "cash"
signs are scheduled to wink out. That's because the bridge's board of
directors voted 13-2 to approve a $2.9 million plan that will replace
the bridge's 30 full-time human tolltakers with a fully electronic
system. Don't say you didn't see this coming, folks. The existing
FasTrak subscription RFID transponder system will continue to work,
and there will be a camera-based backup as well -- if you pass through
the bridge without a FasTrak pass, bridge-mounted cameras will take a
picture of your license plate and you'll get a $6 bill in the mail.
Planners estimate the move will save about $19.2 million by the year
2020 in salaries and benefits that would otherwise go to the friendly
meatbags who work there now, and should things stay on track the
revamped system will debut in February of next year.

Inhabitat's Week in Green: the power plant you can ski, and NASA's orbiting Nanosail-D

Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting
green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.

This week we saw new horizons dawn for green transportation as NASA's
Nanosail-D became the first solar sail spacecraft to orbit the earth
and President Obama issued a call for one million electric vehicles in
his State of the Union Address. We also test drove the recently
released electric Mini Cooper and took a look at several
transportation breakthroughs that could clean up car emissions -
researchers have developed an air pollution-fighting road treatment
and Cella Energy claims to have created an emission free gas that
costs $1.50 per gallon.

In other news, this week Qatar showcased designs for 9 sustainable
stadiums for the 2022 World Cup and BIG unveiled plans for a plant-
wrapped waste to power plant that doubles as a ski slope. Super cities
are on the rise in Asia as China announced plans to construct a mega-
city the size of Switzerland and SOM unveiled a masterplan for a
cutting-edge green tech city for Hanoi. On the other hand, Dubai's
architecture of excess is fading fast as a report revealed that the
emirate's world-shaped archipelago of islands is sinking into the sea.

We also showcased the latest in portable tech as we brought you a
brilliant Fire Department iPhone app that stands to save lives, and we
rounded up our five favorite phone-charging green gadgets. And if
you're looking for a case to carry it all in, check out these chic
quilted iPad bags - just the thing to keep your kit cozy and protected
during this month's blizzards.

HTC Thunderbolt rumored to be hitting Best Buy February 14th, sans mobile hotspot or Skype video?

The HTC Thunderbolt may have been officially announced way back at
CES, but there's still quite a bit we don't know about the phone --
namely, a price or a release date. We now at least have what looks to
be a fairly solid hint of the latter, however, courtesy of the above
shot of a Best Buy inventory screen that lists an in stock date of
February 14th. You'll note that the screen doesn't actually mention
the HTC Thunderbolt anywhere, but some sleuthing by the folks at
Android Central reveals that the product code matches one found on a
Thunderbolt box that turned up in a recent hands-on video. Joining
that rumor is a separate one from Droid Life, which has obtained some
supposedly authentic Verizon materials that suggest the Thunderbolt
won't be shipping with mobile hotspot functionality enabled at launch,
and that Skype video chat won't be enabled initially either. No word
on a reason for the delay (if there actually is one), but both
features will seemingly be enabled at some point, and there will
apparently be a placeholder icon in the case of Skype that will
display a "coming soon" message if it's launched.

NewerTech adapter turns eSATA into USB 3.0, makes legacy external HDDs feel young again

There's a powder-blue USB 3.0 port on the side of your shiny new
computer, whispering your name, but you simply can't afford to replace
your perfectly good eSATA external hard drive for the sake of
compatibility. You could simply resist the urge entirely, but if you
have the need for speed, there's a USB 3.0 to eSATA adapter with your
name on it, and it just might come in a NewerTech case. Sure,
Addonics, Siig and Bytecc sell similar, but as Everything USB points
out, NewerTech did the legwork here, benchmarking the cable to be sure
it could handle 206.4MB / sec writes and 247MB / sec reads. That's
enough to handle most solid state drives, and you should be completely
covered when it comes to anything with spinning magnetic plates.
You'll find it for $30 this week at the likes of OWC.

LG G-Slate makes guest appearance on MysteryGuitarMan's YouTube channel (video)

LG's promotional strategy for the G-Slate seems to be to keep
officially mum about the device, while letting random pseudo-
celebrities tease it out in brief glimpses. A week ago, K-Pop artist
Seungri gave us our first sighting of the dual-camera array on the
back of the G-Slate, which has today made its triumphant return to
YouTube, courtesy of one MysteryGuitarMan. The rear of the device here
doesn't look identical to the one in Seungri's video, however the
metallic strip separating the cams and its "with Google" branding look
nearly identical to what LG has on the back of its Optimus 2X Android
smartphone. We're also seeing a single LED flash for the first time,
there are a couple of unidentified connectors at the bottom, at least
one of them likely to assist docking in landscape mode, and we do get
to see the tablet in profile for an idea of how thin it is. Video
after the break.

Windows Phone 7's live tiles turned into a pretty convincing iOS theme (video)

Had enough of seeing grids and folders of static (Calendar app
excluded, of course) icons on your iDevice? Well, here's one option to
relieving your tedium: a Windows Phone 7 theme for the iPhone and iPod
touch. You'll naturally need to jailbreak your iOS handheld in order
to restyle it quite so dramatically, but once you do, you'll have all
your precious apps sorted in a neat alphabetical pile on one screen,
with the other waiting patiently for your customizations and live tile
choices. It's a good looking little mod, we have to say, and it's
currently going through beta testing, so why not grab your iPhone and
see if it can survive a lick of Microsoft paint without self-combusting?

CE-Oh no he didn't!: Netgear boss calls 'game over' for Microsoft, Jobs' 'ego' reason iPhone doesn't support Flash

[/img]Can't say that Patrick Lo is a name that immediately rang any
bells around here. He's certainly not as recognizable as Netgear, the
company that he chairs and rules supreme. But boy did he hit our radar
screens this morning. Lo had plenty of criticism to spread around the
Microsoft and Apple camps today during a press lunch in Sydney. Oh
where to even begin? Let's start with Microsoft, and Lo's claim that,
"Microsoft is over -- game over, from my point of view," when
comparing Windows Phone 7's chance to compete with Android and the
iPhone. Doubtful, not with Redmond's Windows 7 and MS Office cash cows
fueling Microsoft's intense desire to execute on its new mobile

Lo then turned his sights on Apple, having this to say on the topic of
Steve Jobs' refusal to support Adobe Flash on Apple's mobile devices:
"What's the reason for him to trash Flash? There's no reason other
than ego." Funny, we thought it was due to performance, security, and
power consumption issues. Lo later added, "Once Steve Jobs goes away,
which is probably not far away, then Apple will have to make a
strategic decision on whether to open up the platform." Classy. Hit
the source link below if you're just dying to hear how "closed"
systems are inferior to "open" systems all over again.

Samsung adds Lovefilm streaming to UK Blu-ray players

Lovefilm, the closest thing Europe has to an answer to Netflix, was
recently swallowed whole by the Amazon juggernaut, but that doesn't
seem to have stunted its progress toward ubiquitous availability.
Samsung has just announced its intent to include Lovefilm movie
streaming as an app on all of its Blu-ray players in the UK, enhancing
both the subscription service's profile and its own claim to providing
the user with multifunctional, "smart" technology. It's disappointing
not to see this rollout effective across all of Lovefilm's European
markets, but we guess small steps are better than no steps.

Canalys: Android overtakes Symbian as world's best-selling smartphone platform in Q4 2010

One day somebody will write a book called "The rise and rise of
Android" and this moment will be highlighted in bold. Canalys' latest
smartphone sales figures show that Android phone makers managed to
shift a cool 33.3 million handsets in the last quarter -- more than
any other smartphone platform out there, including the previous
leader, Symbian, which sold 31 million units. That's a mighty leap
from the 20.3 million Android devices the stats agency estimates were
sold in Q3 2010. Symbian itself grew from 29.9m in Q3 to 31m in Q4,
but Android's pace of expansion has been so rapid as to make that

Update: NPD's numbers are in as well, indicating that Google now has a
53 percent share in the US market, while Windows Phone 7 has managed
to nab only two percent so far.

AMD has a 5W Fusion APU to put in your future tablet of choice

The same Singapore event that brought us our first look at AMD's
humongous Radeon HD 6990 has also served as the stage for the
company's first showing of a new, even lower-powered Fusion APU. The
regular dual-core Ontario (C-50) variant requires a 9W power budget to
operate, but AMD's managed to shrink that down to 5W in a chip
designed specifically to be used in tablets. Clock speed remains at
1GHz and the core count hasn't bee touched, but the memory controller
has been dumbed down and peripheral ports have been reduced to one of
each type. This streamlined C-50 has already found a home in Acer's
10.1-inch Windows 7 tablet and should prove decently popular among
manufacturers looking for an x86 alternative to the coming tidal wave
of ARM-based devices.

Scientists stumble upon bomb-sniffing laser with a boomerang effect

You might think of a laser as light forced into a single, directed
beam, but scientists have recently discovered that if you fire a laser
in one direction, the air itself can fire another right back. Using a
226nm UV pump laser, researchers at Princeton University managed to
excite oxygen atoms to the point that they emit infrared light along
the same channel as the original beam, except this time pointed back
where it came from. Since the return beam's chemistry depends on the
particles in the air to generate the return beam, the "backward laser"
could potentially carry the signature of those particles back to the
source and help identify them there. That seems to be the entire goal,
in fact -- the project, funded by an Office of Naval Research program
on "Sciences Addressing Asymmetric Explosive Threats," hopes that such
a laser can ID bombs from a distance by hunting for trace chemicals in
the air. Sounds like the perfect addition to our terahertz specs, and
one step closer to the tricorder of our dreams.

Bloggie Touch software finally becomes Mac-compatible

By this point, we suspect any owners of a Bloggie Touch and a Mac
computer will have figured out their own ways to process media and
share it with the world, but now they've get another option: using
Sony's software designed specifically for those tasks. Yes, the
streamlined editing and publishing utility that was available to
Windows users from day one has at long last been made to work with
Macs as well. You'll need to grab an update from Sony's site, though
don't fret if you fear similar delays with future Bloggie models --
Sony promises that devices like the Bloggie 3D will have Mac-friendly
software on board from the start. Video of the Bloggie Touch utility
awaits after the break.

Water-propelled jetpack is no dream, can be yours for $99,500 this March (video)

It's taken a long time since that 2005 patent was filed for, but
Raymond Li is now finally ready to bring his water-propelled jetpack
to the money-spending world. Nailing down a March 2011 launch date and
a price of $99,500 hasn't been easy for the inventor, who says his
efforts to procure capital and prototyping quotations were mostly met
with incredulity -- "almost everyone thought I was crazy." His JetLev
personal transporter relies on an engine and fuel tank (which remain
on the water's surface) to pump H20 into a backpack that then shoots
out streams of the drinkable stuff to keep your airborne. Top speed is
22MPH, max height is nearly 33 feet, and the fun factor is somewhere
off the scale, whether you're talking metric or imperial. Levitate
past the break for a video demonstration.

[Thanks, Suraj]

Dell Streak 7 launching at T-Mobile on February 2nd: $200 with two-year contract, $450 without

It's been an interesting few weeks of rumored Dell Streak 7 prices,
but as promised, T-Mobile's setting the record straight with some
official dollar figures. Yep, that predicted $330 price was indeed
pretty far off -- turns out, T-Mobile will be offering the 7-inch,
Android 2.2 tablet for just $200 (okay, $199.99 to be exact) on
contract starting this Wednesday, February 2nd. Of course, you'll have
to sign a two-year contract to get that sweet deal as well as send in
a $50 mail-in rebate. Those looking for a bit more freedom can snatch
up the NVIDIA Tegra 2-powered, T-Mobile HSPA+ slate for 450 bucks,
which actually seems like a pretty sweet deal to us considering the
Samsung Galaxy Tab is still about $500 off contract and $300 with two
years of service. Sure, the Galaxy Tab has a few more things going for
it, including a higher resolution display and bigger battery, but
you'll just have to wait for our full review of the Streak 7 to find
out if Dell's got a killer "4G" Android tablet hitting shelves later
this week.

Ford Focus Electric unlikely to support DC quick-charging, slower than the Leaf after all?

At its unveiling at CES, Ford missed no opportunity to talk up the
ability of its Focus Electric to charge in half the time of the Nissan
Leaf when connected to a Level 2 (220 - 240V) charger, of the sort
that Best Buy will gladly install for you for just $1,499. Three to
four hours is all it should take, indeed impressive compared to the
eight hours the Leaf needs at the same voltage. However, the story
doesn't end there, as the Leaf has another trick up its sleeve: DC
fast-charging via the CHAdeMO standard. That gives 80 miles of range
in just 30 minutes and, while not a global standard yet, it's
certainly trying to be. The SAE is working on its own DC quick-charger
standard, and that's the pony Ford is looking to back, saying:

Fast charge will not be included on the Focus Electric until an
industry standard has been set by SAE. Once an approved/accepted
standard is in place, we will work on getting the car ready for [it].
That leaves us with two questions. First, will the SAE get its
standard finalized before Ford gets the Focus Electric finalized?
Second, will the SAE standard be compatible with the Japanese CHAdeMO
standard? Sadly, our magic eight ball is not giving us much hope on
either account.

City of Lights becomes City of Openness as ParisData goes live

Paris is a city of many things, things like great wine, sweet romance,
and towers that looked much bigger in pictures. Now it's also a city
of open data. ParisData has launched, home to the "open data policy of
the City of Paris." Here you'll find reams and reams of bits and bytes
from the city's various municipal organizations, all released in the
"spirit of transparency and open innovation." All is licensed ODbL,
which is free to share and adapt so long as it stays open and stays
attributed. What sort of data is there? Not an awful lot at this
point, if we're honest, a few random lists of names and some other
files, all quite naturally in French. But, we did find an interesting
map listing locations of public parks and sidewalks, which Ren&eacute;-
Luc D'Hont used to create the mash-up above. We don't really
understand all of it, but we're thinking the dark green dots are cafes
and the lighter green bits no-smoking areas.

Intel finds Sandy Bridge chipset design flaw, shipments stopped and recalls beginning

A problem requiring a "silicon fix" is bad news in the chipset
business, and sadly that's what Intel is announcing. Its new Intel 6
Series chipset, Cougar Point, has been found to have a flaw, something
to do with the SATA controller. Intel is indicating that the ports can
"degrade over time," leading to poor i/o performance down the road.
All shipments have been stopped and a fix has been implemented for new
deliveries, but it sounds like recalls will be starting soon for those
with this ticking time bomb silicon within. It isn't a critical
problem right now, though, so if you own a Sandy Bridge Core i5 or
Core i7 system keep computing with confidence while looking for a
recall notice, but it is bad news for Intel's bottom line: the company
is advising a $300 million hit to revenue.

[Thanks, Matt]

Samsung says Galaxy Tab sales to consumers actually 'quite small'

When is a tablet sold not actually a tablet sold? When it's a Galaxy
Tab, apparently. As The Wall Street Journal reports, those two million
Galaxy Tabs that Samsung reported it had "sold" in the fourth quarter
of last year were apparently not actual sales to consumers, but simply
sales to distributors (which is a different matter altogether). Even
more surprisingly, Samsung's Lee Young-hee further explained on an
earnings call on Friday that so-called "sell-out" sales to customers
were actually "quite small," but she wouldn't provide a specific
number. Somewhat confusingly, however, she also later noted that while
"sell-out wasn't as fast as we expected," Samsung still believes that
sales to consumers were "quite OK," and that it is "quite optimistic"
about 2011.

Intel briefly shows off Medfield-based smartphone

Intel promised way back in 2009 that we'd be seeing Medfield-based
smartphones in 2011, and it looks like those have now gotten one step
closer to reality. While there's unfortunately few details to be had,
that's apparently a Medfield-based smartphone of some sort in the hand
of Intel's Anand Chandrasekher above, who apparently showed off the
phone (possibly a prototype) ever so briefly at the company's sales
and marketing conference last week. Could it be a sign of things to
come at MWC next month? Maybe, maybe not, but we'll be there to find

Motorola teases Xoom Super Bowl ad: '2011 looks a lot like 1984'

Moto hasn't been shying away from the Apple jabs this year, and it's
got another one in store for the Super Bowl this week with a
commercial that'll poke fun at Cupertino's 1984 Macintosh ad, perhaps
the most famous Super Bowl spot of all time. In it, the company says
that "2011 looks a lot like 1984" with "one authority, one design, one
way to work" while showing Planet Earth wearing a pair of shiny white
iPod / iPhone buds. Boom, here comes a new planet -- a red, gaseous
one with an "M" logo on it -- that pimps a bunch of wild features
we'll be seeing in the Xoom like a dual-core processor, upgradeable
4G, and Honeycomb out of the box. In closing, Moto says "it's time to
live a free life." We would've liked to have seen Motorola follow a
format closer to that 1984 commercial, but it's a pretty well-played
jab nonetheless -- and it's conceivable that this is just a teaser for
the actual ad that'll air next weekend. Follow the break to check it

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Switched On: A suite segment for PlayStation games

Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about consumer

One thing that has set Sony apart from its home console rivals has
been the extended lifecycles of its hardware. Riding the momentum of a
massive install base, both the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 each kept
selling strong nearly a decade after their debut, and years after
their respective successors were introduced. In fact, as late as 2009,
Audiovox began offering a PS2 integrated into an aftermarket ovehead
car video system with a 10" screen. Sony could pursue this strategy in
home consoles because the PS2 was the runaway unit volume leader of
its generation. Not so with the PSP.

When Sony introduced the PlayStation Portable, it entered a portable
console market with fierce, entrenched competition from the incumbent
Nintendo, and the powerful widescreen handheld was outsold by the
Nintendo DS and its later derivatives. Sony couldn't attain the market
share it needed to steamroll existing competition.

With Sony's announcements this week, however, the PlayStation
purveyors seem to have found a way to take their one-two punch on the
road with a strategy that takes the PSP and segments its evolution.

Olympus XZ-1 reviewed: $499 for sweet simplicity

We had a feeling the Olympus XZ-1 would be a winner, and Digital
Photography Review seems to think so, too -- it called the 10
megapixel, full-manual point and shoot "the best photographers'
compact currently available" at the end of a thorough review. Most of
the praise was heaped on that F1.8-2.5 Zuiko lens, providing an
"unbeaten combination of range and brightness" whose potent, detailed
low-light performance was practically enough to cancel out the
publication's worries about the lack of a adjustable noise reduction
setting. Though the publication admitted that the camera lacked the
customization of certain Micro Four Thirds cousins, it didn't miss
most of the advanced controls, preferring the streamlined menus and
manual dials for easy access to common adjustments. (Battery charging
over USB and a dedicated movie button were also deemed nice touches.)
In fact, the only major ding DPReview had for Olympus was the complete
omission of auto exposure and autofocus locks for focus-and-recompose
shooting, but if you're willing to snap shots using Olympus's 11 AF
points and aren't looking to tote a set of expensive interchangeable
lenses around, this might be the one. Dive into our source link to
find out for sure.

Mark Zuckerberg meets the fake Mark Zuckerbergs on Saturday Night Live (video)

Mark Zuckerberg, the man who invented poking and the subject of a
major motion picture in 2010 just met his nemeses on the set of
Saturday Night Live. No, not the Winklevoss twins, we're talking Jesse
Eisenberg, the man nominated for an Academy Award after playing
Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Toss in Andy Samberg and we've got a
comically uncomfortable situation from Web 2.0's very personification
of awkward. All hail the Zuck Bergs!

Sanho announces new HyperDrive line-up, still enough storage for your Frank Zappa discography


Surely you remember Sanho's HyperDrive lineup -- ya know, the only
portable HDD that plays nicely with the iPad? Well, if you don't dig
the $249 entry level price, you're in luck. The company just announced
a bunch of new HDDs for you to take with you and your iPad on that
road trip you've had planned for years. The new drives no longer sport
the QVGA color display or the CF and SD card slots -- instead, the
black case has two mini USB ports and a power socket. The HyperDrive
doesn't come with the traditional AC adapter but instead a USB-to-DC
cable and the user-replaceable battery will allow up to 40GB of
transfers on a single charge. And if you're wondering why there's two
USB ports, we really couldn't tell you. Perhaps if you choose the
right port while connected to your PC and enter the Konami code,
unicorns and fairy dust will pop out of your screen -- wishful
thinking, we know. The HyperDrives ship in March (pre-ordering is
available now) with prices starting at $99 for a bring-your-own-drive
housing, 1TB for $349 and various sizes in-between. So, if your photo/
video library is worth accessing at all times, well, props to you.
Press release is after the break.

Android Honeycomb port for Nook Color gets graphics acceleration, first demo video

Can't wait until February 2nd to see more of Android 3.0 in action?
That's not a problem, as today we've got a whole 129 seconds of video
showing Google's latest mobile software doing its thing on the Nook
Color. The OS was ported to B&amp;N's tablet on Friday, when we were
promised further work would be taking place over the weekend to enable
hardware acceleration of the GUI, and what do you know, that goal has
been achieved with plenty of Sunday to spare! Most core functionality
is still not available, but the delicious Honeycomb interface is very
much in effect. Jump past the break for the eye candy feast.

[Thanks, Jules]

Chrysler shows off Ram plug-in hybrid electric truck, won't sell it to you

[/img]There's already a few hybrid trucks on the market (most notably
from GM), but true plug-in hybrid electric trucks are another matter
altogether. Chrysler now looks set to change that, however -- at least
in a small way -- with its new Ram plug-in hybrid that's set to roll
out to fleet operators this summer. It was just unveiled at the
Washington D.C. Auto Show, and it pairs a 12 kWh battery pack from
Canadian battery-maker Electrovaya with Chrysler's own 5.7-liter HEMI
V-8 engine, which Electrovaya says will allow for up to 20 miles of
driving on electricity only. Unfortunately, there's no word on any
plans to actually make the truck available to individual consumers,
but Chrysler does seem to at least be optimistic about hybrid trucks
in general, with a company spokesman noting that half-ton pickups are
naturally much better at carrying a battery pack than a car, and that
trucks work better as hybrid vehicle platforms.

Enspert Identity Tab E201 rings up at $350 with Froyo, Gmail and Android Market

Enspert blindsided us at CES 2011 with a pair of quality Android
tablets, and here's another surprise -- next month, the company's
Identity Tab E201 will apparently ship 100% Google-certified. Importer
Dynamism is taking preorders on February 1st for the 7-inch Android
2.2 tablet, which comes with both Gmail and Android Market on board,
though admittedly for a somewhat larger outlay than we originally
heard. $350 is what you'll pay for the 800 x 480 slate, which sports a
1GHz Hummingbird processor and PowerVR SGX540 graphics, 8GB storage
and 512MB RAM, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1, a full compliment of
sensors and an SD card slot. Just a month ago we'd have called this
quite the deal, but come February 1st you may want to wait -- after
all, Google's busy bees may show off the fruits of their labors the
very next day.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Twelve South's BookArc for Air stand cozies up around your MacBook Air

Twelve South's made somewhat of a name for itself by crafting
unexpected (and generally visually pleasing) accessories for
everything Apple, but the ouftit's latest just seems particularly
superfluous. The BookAir for Air is described as a vertical stand for
the MacBook Air, enabling you to hoist your new ultraportable upright
for use with a desktop monitor and keyboard. 'Course, we have to
believe that only a smattering of individuals have any real interest
in using their MBA as a desktop replacement, but hey, at least there's
now a stand should you fit into that category. She'll be on sale soon
for $39.99, with initial shipments to head out next month.

VW confirms it will build hyper-efficient XL1, Autocar gets to drive one

Think the Volkswagen XL1 concept is too far out there to ever get
built? Tell that to the blokes in Wolfsburg. German source
Automobilewoche is reporting that executives Ferdinand Piech and
Martin Winterkorn both confirmed that the car will be produced in
small numbers, first for Germany and later coming to the US and China.
It's powered by a diesel engine with less than one liter of
displacement, managing 313mpg combined (that's Imperial, 260mpg using
American units) putting out just 48hp and thankfully assisted by a
27hp electric motor. Not much, but enough for the 1,750lb car, which
Autocar correspondent Milton Holloway got to drive and said feels
"fully sorted" despite an engine that's a bit rattly. It is a diesel,
after all.

IDC: ZTE takes fourth in global cellphone rankings, leapfrogs Apple and knocks RIM out of top 5

You like numbers? Good, because it's the season and amid all these
lovely financial reports we've been hitting there are some broader
trends to look at. IDC has released its mobile phone report for 2010
and has concluded that, worldwide, the industry grew 18.5 percent over
2009, shipping a massive 1.39 billion units. That's nice and all, but
check out this bit about ZTE. The manufacturer boosted its annual
shipments by 94 percent, stealing Apple's recently-won fourth place
position globally and, in doing so, knocking RIM straight into the
dreaded "others" category. Can RIM make it back? Will Apple recover?
Will Siobhan and Lucky ever reconcile their differences? Tune in next
quarter to find out.

Motorola Atrix 4G apparently priced at $150 by Costco, too

Never would we have guessed that third-party wireless retailers would
be aiming to launch AT&amp;T's powerhouse Atrix 4G for just $150 on
contract -- $200 or $250, sure, but not $150. Alas, just a few hours
after AmazonWireless' peep show, we're seeing an alleged leaked screen
shot of Costco's inventory system showing the same blockbuster price.
Now, bear in mind that AT&amp;T itself will probably sell the phone
for at least $50 more -- third parties usually have a second ETF on
top of the carrier's that allows them to subsidize a little more
heavily -- but it's a good sign regardless.

HP CEO: New webOS products shipping weeks after February 9 reveal, another big announcement March 14

[/img]It's been a few months since Leo Apotheker took the top spot at
HP following the Mark Hurd debacle, and it sounds like he's got some
big plans for the company -- speaking to the BBC, he says he hopes
"one day people will say 'this is as cool as HP,' not 'this is as cool
as Apple.'" How does he plan on doing that? By speeding up ship times,
for starters -- unlike the year-long wait for the HP Slate, Apotheker
says that "when HP makes announcements, it will be getting ready to
ship," and that the new webOS products announced on February 9 will
ship just a "few weeks" later. Speaking of the February 9 event,
Apotheker said the new product line of tablets and mobile phones will
have a new name that falls under the HP brand, which sounds like the
Palm name is done for. (If we had to guess, it'll be HP webOS, but
that's just a guess.)

On top of all that, the BBC calls February 9 just the "starting gun,"
because Apotheker's "secret answer" and "vision of what HP is capable
of in the future" will come on March 14, where he'll try to pull
together HP's vast product portfolio into a cohesive narrative.
According to Apotheker, HP's size is its "basis of strength," and no
other company sells everything from servers to phones the way HP does.
Sounds extremely exciting -- and if Apotheker can pull it off, there's
a chance we'll remember Mark Hurd's dalliance as the best thing that
ever happened to HP.

[Thanks, soydeedo]

USC Smart Fences use spatio-temporal sensor patterns to create a DRADIS for airports

How do you send an automated alert to a security guard whenever anyone
tries to climb a fence, but ignore anyone simply leaning on said chain
link? How can a sensor pick up the presence of a Jeep but ignore a
steady flow of gigantic airliners? Damned if we know, we're just
bloggers, but a team at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering figured
it out, creating what's called the Smart Fence. It's a series of
sensors plus some associated circuitry that easily handle the
situations described above and do so with amazing accuracy. How
amazing? Here are the results of one test:

A perfect (100%) identification of unexpected intrusion events, and an
average of less than two false positives per week and zero false
negatives for recognition of human footsteps. In addition, no false
positives or false negatives were reported by the installed fence
sensors for a duration of 45 days of unattended operation, which
included several days of seasonal storms.
Yeah, pretty good. The system is being developed for use around
airports and military bases and is currently being funded largely by
Navy grants. Now, if only they could create a system to prevent "laser
events" and airport blizzards we might be able to travel safely again.

Chevrolet rolling out Volt nationwide by end of year, everybody gets a plug-in

Sick of waiting for your Leaf? Maybe you'll have more luck finding a
Volt. Sure, it's not a pure EV, or even a pure series hybrid, but it
is going to be a lot easier to find in the near future. Chevrolet has
confirmed that the car will be going nationwide by the end of the
year, expanding from its current availability in just a few states --
the crimson ones above. By the third quarter it will hit the great
Pacific Northwest and the muggy Southeast, and then toward the end of
the year it'll fill in the bits in the middle and warm the hearts and
garages of Americans all the way up in Maine and Alaska. So, who's

Lockheed Martin's CHIL blends motion capture with VR, creates zombie engineers (video)

Computer-aided design is a great way to build products, but does it
let you bust a funky move while wearing some crazy glasses and gloves?
Heck no. You need Lockheed Martin's CHIL for that. It's the
Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory, virtual reality goggles and
gloves combined with motion capture enabling teams of engineers to
work together in a virtual space. You can see it in action below, used
first for installing polygonal munitions into a rendered version of
one of the company's F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, then for doing a
little VR tai chi. A Lockheed rep promises that this enables the team
to ensure the plane can be more easily and affordably maintained, but
we just see this as high-tech training tool for the company's world-
renowned synchronized dance teams.

Sony Cyber-shot HX100V and HX9V models leaked, superzoomers in large and small sizes

Two new additions to the Cyber-shot line have apparently leaked, and
while they're perhaps not as titillating as some other consumer
electronics the company has managed to let slip ahead of their
announcement, we'll bring them to you just the same. First is the
HX100V, a 30x zoom (27 - 810mm) compact that borrows some features and
styling from the Alpha line. It has a 16.2 megapixel backside-
illuminated sensor with BIONZ processing capable of recording 1080p
video and, supposedly, has GPS in there somewhere too. Next up is the
HX9V, pictured below, a rather more compact compact offering what
looks to be the same 16 megapixel sensor but tucked behind a smaller,
16x optical zoom lens. It too is said to do 1080p video but, alas, we
don't have any clue about price or availability for either.

Tesla details Closed Loop battery recycling program for Europe

Electric cars need big 'ol batteries, like the Model S pack shown
above, and while we've seen time and again that those cells hold up
better than expected for years, eventually they're going to need to be
decommissioned. What happens then? Tesla already has a recycling
program in the US and now it's detailing plans for a similar program
in Europe in partnership with Umicore. Tesla's packs are now eligible
for Umicore's "Closed Loop" process, disassembling them to remove
easily re-used components and then refining the rest of the cell
constituents into things like lithium cobalt oxide, which can be used
in other batteries, and other various byproducts that can be used in
cement or as fill. The whole process of breaking down and extracting
all the components is actually profitable, so hopefully Euro drivers
won't get hit with any pricey Roadster disposal fees when they trade
up to a Model S.

Motorola lifts our spirits with new Atrix 4G video

Been feeling down this cold and dreary January? Well, let Motorola
"introduce" you to its new smartphone! The CES conqueror we already
know as the Atrix 4G has received its first promo video from the
mothership, highlighting its laptop and HD multimedia docks (giving us
a decent peek at the docked UI for both), dual-core processor and
related gaming credentials, and, of course, that gorgeous qHD screen
resolution on the handset itself. It's all set to a very uplifting
soundtrack, connoting all the beautiful opportunity and potential that
our collective smartphone future holds.

[Thanks, engadgeteer]

Visualized: Google's periodic table of APIs

The world of Google APIs and developer tools can be a confusing one,
but the company has now at least brought a bit of order to the chaos
with its own take on the periodic table of the elements. As you can
see above, Android occupies the top spot normally reserved for
hydrogen in the actual periodic table, and the remaining APIs and
developer products are all grouped into their appropriate categories
-- and, of course, linked to their respective websites. Hit up the
link below to check out the table in its interactive form.

Razer trots out mildly overhauled DeathAdder Black Edition USB gaming mouse

When you've got a good thing rolling, why stop? That's the mantra
applied to Razer's latest, which is actually the third DeathAdder to
be released. You may remember the original slinking out way back in
2006, with the southpaws in attendance finally getting one of their
own in March of last year. Today, in order to celebrate the device's
Wood Anniversary, Razer's loosing the USB-connected DeathAdder Black
Edition. For all intents and purposes, this is the same DeathAdder
that we came to love last decade, but with an ever-so-slightly tweaked
design that adds non-slip rubber sides and an all-black finish. It'll
ship globally next month for $59.99 / &euro;59.99, with orders being
taken right... about.. now.

Flip Mino HD with 802.11n WiFi hits the FCC

We'd been hearing rumors that a next-gen Flip camera with WiFi would
hit sometime in the first half of the year, and what's this? A new
Flip video camera with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n WiFi just popped
up in the FCC database. Based on the shape of the FCC label, the
location of the HDMI port, and the M3260 model number, it definitely
looks like a member of the Mino family, but that's really all we know
-- although if we had to bet, the 5GHz support is there so it can beam
movies to the FlipShare TV. We'll see, we'll see.

The Engadget Show returns this Sunday with Steve Wozniak!

Clear your calendars everybody, because this Sunday, January 30th, the
inimitable co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak will be joining us for
the first Engadget Show of 2011! It will be a night to remember as Woz
joins us for an evening of frank, eye-opening, and all-around awesome
conversation. We'll be streaming live at 6:00PM from Cooper Union's
Rose Auditorium and we've got about 200 seats available on a first-
come, first-served basis if you want to join us in person. We'll also
have music from the talented Zen Albatross and the usual crazy
giveaways. Trust us when we say that this episode is going to be epic.

REMINDER: The Show will be taking place in a lovely new venue, the
Rose Auditorium in Cooper Union's New Academic Building (ie. not the
TimesCenter), located in Manhattan at 41 Cooper Square. Seating is
extremely limited, so get there early!

Tickets are -- as always -- free to anyone who would like to attend,
but seating is limited, and tickets will be first come, first
served... so get there early! Here's the updated info on our new
ticketing policy that you need to know:

There is no admission fee -- tickets are completely free
The event is all ages
Ticketing will begin at the Cooper Union New Academic Building at
2:00PM on Sunday, January 30th, doors will open for seating at 5:15PM,
and the show begins at 6:00PM
We now have assigned seating, so the first people to get their
tickets will get priority seating. This also means that once you get a
ticket, your seat is guaranteed -- you won't have to get back in line
to get a good seat.
You cannot collect tickets for friends or family -- anyone who
would like to come must be present to get a ticket
Seating capacity is limited (only about 200 seats in the
theatre), and once we're full, we're full
The venue is located at 41 Cooper Square New York, NY 10003 (map
after the break)
The show length is around an hour

Unfortunately, we won't be running the usual text-to-win sweepstakes
for this episode (we know it sucks, but it's out of our hands), so if
you want a seat you'll have to show up in person. If you're a member
of the media who wishes to attend, please contact us at:
engadgetshowmedia [at] engadget [dot] com, and we'll try to
accommodate you. All other non-media questions can be sent to:
engadgetshow [at] engadget [dot] com.

Subscribe to the Show:

[iTunes] Subscribe to the Show directly in iTunes (M4V).
[Zune] Subscribe to the Show directly in the Zune Marketplace (M4V).
[RSS M4V] Add the Engadget Show feed (M4V) to your RSS aggregator and
have it delivered automatically.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb emulator has traces of smartphone support

Thought Honeycomb was just for tablets? Well, it's not! Sure, tablets
might be Google's main thrust with the release, but we've been able to
dig up enough evidence in the preview SDK's emulator released
yesterday to suggest that these guys are still keeping their eyes on
the smartphone prize.

Here's how it works: the emulator can be set to load at an arbitrary
screen resolution. By default, that's WXGA, 1280 x 768 -- perfect for
tablets, but obviously a wee bit large for even the biggest
smartphones. Well, it turns out that setting the emulator to WVGA
(like you might find on a modern mid- to high-end smartphone) triggers
a moderately different shell UI that lacks most of the whiz-bang home
screen stuff Google's shown on the Honeycomb tablets. In fact, the
default launcher crashes out entirely, which means you need to install
a replacement (Launcher Pro works nicely) just to play around.

Once you get in, it's pretty raw, but you immediately notice that the
emulator's got some traces of smartphone support. Notably, the status
bar reverts to a more smartphone-friendly form, albeit one with pre-
Gingerbread background coloration and incorrectly-inverted font
colors. The lock screen (pictured above) is back to its old form, not
the webOS-esque circular lock in the Honeycomb tablet UI. The browser
-- which has been completely revamped in Honeycomb -- works, though
without visible tabs; Google might be thinking that they'd take up too
much real estate on a screen this small.

Again, you can't glean much here, but it's interesting primarily
because the emulator knows to revert to a smartphone UI layout at the
lower resolution -- a possible sign that Honeycomb will be a true dual-
mode, dual-purpose platform from day one. And even if it isn't, it
looks like they're setting themselves up for a two-UI strategy down
the road.

UN: worldwide internet users hit two billion, cellphone subscriptions top five billion

The UN's International Telecommunication Union predicted last fall
that the number of internet users worldwide would hit two billion by
the end of 2010, and it's now issued its full report that confirms
just that -- 2.08 billion, to be specific. As the ITU's Hamadoun Toure
notes, that number represents a huge leap from the mere 250 million
internet users that existed a decade ago, and it means that roughly
one third of the world's population now has internet access of some
sort -- of those, 555 million have a fixed broadband subscription, and
950 million have mobile broadband. Just as impressive as that (if not
moreso), are the number of cellphone subscriptions worldwide, which
has now crossed the five billion mark. That's up from 500 million at
the beginning of the year 2000, although the agency notes that it's
only accounted for "subscriptions," and not individual users. Any way
you slice it, however, that's quite a record of growth for the first
decade of the 21st century.

White House backs plan to reserve 700MHz 'D Block' for public safety network

[/img]Public safety agencies in the US have been pushing for some time
to have the so-called 'D Block' portion of the 700MHz wireless
spectrum all to themselves, and it looks like they can now officially
count on the support of the White House in that effort. The Obama
administration announced today that it's backing plans to reserve the
airwaves -- estimated to be worth $3 billion if they were auctioned
off -- for a new national public safety network, and it also plans to
ask Congress to approve the additional spending needed to actually
build out the network, which the FCC estimates could cost as much as
$15 billion. As The Wall Street Journal notes, the fate of the
proposed network is now largely in the hands of House Republicans, who
remain divided on the plan -- although some key members have come out
in support of it in recent days.

Nook Color earns its very early, very unofficial Android 3.0 Honeycomb wings

One of the first things that happens after a new platform emulator
breaks loose is that a bunch of hackers far smarter than ourselves get
hold of it, tear it apart, and port it to whatever's convenient. In
the case of this week's Android 3.0 Honeycomb preview, "whatever's
convenient" would be the Nook Color, which reigns as perhaps the
cheapest decent-quality Android tablet money can currently buy.
Naturally, xda-developers has a thread going on the subject as we
speak; the current port is said to be really slow and mostly broken --
but then again, that kind of describes the current state of the
emulator itself. Good news is that the developer says he plans on
working on graphics acceleration to improve performance over the
weekend, so with any luck, the Xoom might have some unofficial
competition before too long. Follow the break for another shot.

[Thanks, s30zgt]

Google announces Android event for February 2nd

Had enough Honeycomb this week? Perhaps -- but next week is a whole
new week, and Google's got your back. Mountain View has selected
Wednesday, February 2nd for an event that'll include "an in-depth look
at Honeycomb, Android ecosystem news and hands-on demos," so by all
accounts this seems to be more than a mere wrap-up of everything
they've announced in the past few weeks. New tablets? Honeycomb for
smartphones? Android 2.4? Something else entirely? We'll be there to
find out, of course.

Watch Pro Bowl practice through Michael Vick's eyes -- and his ContourHD 1080p helmet cam


Moovida's new media center software has great looks, so-so personality

With Microsoft planning a move away from the HTPC space and a shift to
Windows Media Center embedded products, perhaps the gang at Moovida is
looking to take Redmond's place in the home theater geek segment. The
company has unleashed a beautiful new media browsing UI called
'Immersed' that's powered by a 3D game engine, a fact which makes its
media center brethren look dowdy in comparison. There is a steep price
to pay for this digital eye candy, however, as the current version
lacks the ability to stream content -- so no Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube
for you. Moovida's software also packs an underlying desktop-optimized
UI, 'Core', that provides automated media backup and cataloging, syncs
your music and video with peripherals, and plays any non-DRM content
known to man. Presently in beta, Moovida promises greater
functionality in future releases and we can only hope that means
streaming capability is coming soon, as in immediately.

Cella Energy says its hydrogen microbeads could fuel your car, cost $1.50 per gallon

Your average hydrogen-powered car is a marvel of modern science --
fuel cell sifting electrons out of pure H2 and emitting nothing but
water -- powered by big, heavy, high-pressure tanks of gas. Cella
Energy is here to ditch the tank, having first developed a means of
storing hydrogen in microfibers that could greatly simplify the design
of these vehicles. But, perhaps even more impressive is a "synthetic
fuel" the company is working on which is, essentially, pure hydrogen
captured into microbeads. You know, like the kind that float in your
shampoo and give your hair that extra lustre, but explosive. According
to Cella these beads can be poured into the gas tank of a car with an
internal combustion engine (presumably suspended in some sort of
liquid) and, with no modification, that car will run just fine. Best
news is that this concoction costs just $1.50 per gallon -- or will,
eventually. Supposedly. Maybe?

Panasonic adds Sandy Bridge to Let's Note J10, N10, S10 and B10 laptops

[/img]You can rest assured that hundreds -- if not trillions -- of new
laptops will be rolling off of production lines this quarter with
Intel's Sandy Bridge platform inside, and those looking for a little
love over in Japan won't have to wait much longer. Panasonic has just
updated its Let's Note line with four new Sandy Bridge models: the
B10, S10, N10 and J10 have all been blessed with new silicon. The B10
in particular ships with a Core i5-2520M, 4GB of memory, a 15.6-inch
1080p display, HDMI output, Blu-ray drive, SDXC card slot and 802.11b/
g/n WiFi. The N10 and S10 are outfitted in similar fashion, while the
J10 goes diminutive with a 10.1-inch panel. There's also a higher-end
J10Q variant that steps up to a Core i5, 128GB SSD, 2GB of RAM, WiFi,
HDMI output, inbuilt WiMAX model and an SDXC slot, with the craziest
aspect being the claimed 12 hours of battery life. Hit the links below
if you're hungry for pricing clues and ship dates, but it looks as if
the whole gang should be out and about by the close of March.

Plantronics Calisto 800 speakerphone and Voyager Pro UC headset make concalls cool again

We'd all rather be flown to some exotic, Caribbean location for our
next corporate get-together, but in these hard economic times
sometimes a good 'ol audio bridge makes the most sense. Increasingly
those concalls are happening via some sort of VOIP bridge, and
Plantronics' latest are ready for it. First up is the Calisto 800
series "multi speakerphone" devices, which offer connectivity to an
analog phone line, a mobile phone over Bluetooth, and even a PC over
USB. This lets you easily dial in to just about anything and naturally
offers a full duplex speakerphone with noise cancellation and an LCD
with caller ID. There's even an optional wireless microphone that you
can plunk down on the table so the lamentations of the entire QA team
will be picked up loud and clear.

<img hspace="4" vspace="14" border="0" align="left" alt="Plantronics
Calisto 800 speakerphone and Voyager Pro UC headset make concalls cool
again" src="
" />Also new is a revised version of the Voyager Pro UC, a rather more
traditional Bluetooth headset with an extended boom for better voice
pickup and the ability to pair to a mobile phone and a PC (via a tiny
USB adapter) simultaneously. It'll even do A2DP so you hold music
won't be the only tunes you hear. Both appear to be available now, and
both start at $199.95, putting them out of reach for most non-
corporate attendees.

Verizon turns on iPhone 4 pre-order countdown, existing customers can order on February 3rd at 3AM

The grapevine did already hint at the timing of the Verizon iPhone 4
pre-orders, but now, to be absolutely sure nobody misses them, we have
a countdown! Eager iPhone bandwagon jumpers will have to stay up till
3AM EST on February 3rd to get their orders in from a "reserved
quantity" of handsets, which will be assigned on a first-come, first-
served basis -- presumably to be delivered on that February 10th
launch date everyone's been anticipating for so long. Sadly for
Verizon newcomers, a contract with the network will be a prerequisite
for signing up when the countdown expires.

[Thanks, Jarrett and Anthony]

Amazon rolling out Netflix-like unlimited video streaming for Prime subscribers?

Rumors of Amazon either purchasing Netflix or launching a competing
option have been circling and now one of our readers says he's seeing
an unlimited video streaming section to complement the current Amazon
VOD options. That's a nice bonus for the $79 / year package that
currently adds a few free shipping bonuses and it would be cheaper on
a yearly basis than Netflix's Watch Instantly ($95.88.) As seen above
and in the gallery, it consists of "unlimited, commercial-free,
instant streaming of 5,000 movies and TV shows" with selections that
mirror the Watch Instantly catalog closely. Resolution is apparently
limited to a "pretty solid" 480p SD, but there's no word on audio or
subtitle options. We'll wait to hear if anyone else is seeing a
similar page before assuming a wide rollout, but it certainly appears
that there could finally be a viable competitor to the Netflix

Update: We weren't able to pull up the option on any of our Prime-
enabled accounts and from the comments it doesn't appear any of you
were either. According to our tipster, the option has disappeared from
his page as well. One other interesting note came from commenter vfiz,
who found that several variations of the domain
namewere registered by Amazon-owned DPReview January 5.

Callaway Upro mx offers touchscreen GPS to golfers, we long for a Caddyshack edition (video)

The folks at Callaway just announced the Upro mx, a followup to the
device they so humbly referred to as the "iPhone of golf GPS
technology." PNDs for golfers aren't exactly rare, but the new Upro
claims to be the only one packing "hi-resolution actual aerial
photography" of 25,000 different courses. It also boasts a multi-
gesture touchscreen and optical finger navigation, as well a slew of
viewing modes: Virtual Green offers exact putting distances, Smart
View displays the best angle for each shot, and ProMode features video
flyovers. Who knows, if they could land a Bill Murray tie-in we might
actually be enticed to pick up a club and ... Oh, who are we kidding?
The Upro mx hits stores in May at $199, and you can check out a video
of the device in action after the jump -- that is, if you swing that

LG Optimus 2X and Optimus Black priced at €499 by Amazon Germany, not yet available to buy

Amazon's German outlet has started listing LG's two latest and
undoubtedly greatest phones: the Optimus 2X (seemingly renamed the
Optimus Speed here) and the Optimus Black. Both run Android 2.2 on 4-
inch screens, with the former offering a dual-core Tegra 2 processor
capable of 1080p video recording and HDMI output, and the latter
cranking up the display brightness to a quite unreasonable 700 nits.
The Optimus Black also has one of the thinnest profiles on a
smartphone of its class at 9.2mm, and will be one of the first phones
to offer WiFi Direct connectivity. Intriguingly, Amazon's Optimus
Speed / 2X listing also shows a brown color option for the handset,
though only its black SKU is subject to a neat &euro;50 discount
bringing its price to &euro;499, the same as the cost of the Optimus
Black. We don't know when either one will drop, but you can go and
reserve yourself one (or a dozen) at the links below.

[Thanks, Julian]

Study shocker! Mobile users piddle around on the internet while watching TV

Shocker of shockers, folks: people do more than just watch TV when
they're watching TV. A study of over 8,000 willing individuals from
Nielsen and Yahoo recently discovered that some 86 percent of mobile
internet users tinker around on their devices while situated in front
of the tube. It seems that Googling random facts, checking their
Facebook news feed and seeing who has tweeted in the past 30 seconds
were atop the list of activities to do while watching, but strangely,
a full 20 percent confessed to search for more information about a
commercial they recently saw. Hit the source link below (PDF) to be
instantly bombarded with facts and figures, but first, refresh that
TweetCaster feed. Ah, so much better.

Layar Player lets AR loose on iPhone apps


Layar's been the go-to platform for augmented reality on Android since
2009, bringing you the useful, the creepy, and the just plain weird --
and now it's unleashing the beast on iOS, again (it's already
available as a dedicated app). The Netherlands-based company just
launched Layar Player, a free tool that allows anyone -- with a little
developer know-how -- to create their very own AR iPhone app.
Accompanying the announcement are three brand new Layar Player-enabled
apps: the Bing-sponsored Snowboard Hero, which incorporates a special
AR mode for collecting points; a contractor locator called Layer
Trade; and VerbeterdeBuurt, an app that acts as an AR community
bulletin board. The company's press release touts the "democratization
of augmented reality," and while we can get behind their AR-for-alll
message, we've already seen Layar used in ways that give us the
willies. Don't get us wrong, we're still excited about the endless AR
possibilities, but we're hoping, at least for now, that iPhone app
developers can keep the AR monsters at bay.

Sony's official NGP announcement video hits the web

Sure, you followed along with our Tokyo liveblog and breathless posts
announcing Sony's Next Generation Portable (codename: NGP, get it?)
successor to the PSP. But nothing's quite like viewing a video posted
48-hours after the event to get a true feel for the historic
occasion... historic to nerds like us anyway. The power is now in your
hands -- use it wisely to watch a thrilling three-part trilogy after
the break. More videos at the source link below.

Android 2.3 security bug shows microSD access vulnerability

A researcher at North Carolina State University is warning of an
Android 2.3 security vulnerability that gives attackers access to your
personal information, further proof that Gingerbread isn't all sugar
and spice (to be fair, that SMS issue has since been remedied).
According to Xuxian Jiang, the bug allows malicious websites to access
and upload the contents of a user's microSD card, including
voicemails, photos, and online banking information to a remote server.
The flaw apparently resembles a similar bug in previous version of
Android, thought to have been addressed with Gingerbread. However, as
Jiang points out, that fix is easily bypassed. Apart from removing the
microSD card, disabling JavaScript, or switching to a third-party
browser, Android 2.3 users have little recourse in squashing the bug.
The folks at eWeek reported that Google is working on a solution to
the problem, but there's no word on when we can expect to see an update.

German researchers prototype 6mm thick pico projector

Pico projectors just keep shrinking, and a new prototype developed at
the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Engineering is helping
said shrinking along pretty strikingly. The team has developed a
prototype pico which is just 6mm thick, making it the world's slimmest
ever. Better yet, the projected image is 10 times brighter than a pico
projector of its size would have previously been -- had it existed.
The new lens on the projector is so small that it could potentially be
integrated into smart phones without boosting size or weight. The new
prototype is made of 45 red, green or blue microlenses, each with a
200 x 200 pixel LCD, inspired by a microlens array called a fly's eye
condenser. The resulting resolution is nearly, but not quite, WVGA
with 11 lumens of brightness. The prototype will be shown off at Nano
Tech 2011 in Tokyo.

[Image credit: Fraunhofer Institute]

Next PS3 update rumored to add 'Online Saving' for PlayStation Plus users

Say it with us, finally a PS3 firmware update that actually does
something useful! We've grown so accustomed to Sony refreshing the
software on its console just to spite jailbreakers that we almost
started to believe that's all the word "update" entailed. But, here
comes Kotaku with word that v3.6 of the PS3's firmware will come with
a neat little addition: saving games to the cloud. This seems a very
logical step toward delivering Sony's overall goal of giving users a
holistic, integrated experience. Indeed, during the NGP presentation,
guest speaker Hideo Kojima specifically referred to saving your PS3
game on the console and resuming it on the Next Generation Portable.
"Online Saving," as Sony's reputed to be calling it, would be the
conduit through which that can be realized, though it doesn't appear
like it'll come for free. Kotaku's sources indicate it'll be part of
the PlayStation Plus subscription, at least initially. Still, we like
cloud storage, and if it means never having to see another hard drive
again, we're all for it.

PS3 firmware 3.56 hacked in less than a day, Sony's lawyers look confused (update)

Sony's taken some strong steps against PS3 cracking in the past week
-- not only has it taken to the courts and won a temporary restraining
order against Geohot and fail0verflow for cracking the console, but it
also released firmware 3.56, which locked things down again.
Unfortunately, that restraining order doesn't mean anyone else has to
stop a-crackin', and wouldn't you know it: 3.56 was cracked open in
less than a day by KaKaRoToKS, who was behind one of the first 3.55
custom firmwares. Now that the 3.56 signing keys are out, we'd guess
updated custom firmware is soon to come -- and we'd bet Sony's lawsuit
will just inspire an entirely new wave of people to jailbreak once
those hit the scene. Way to put that genie back in the bottle, Sony.

Update: We're hearing that new custom firmware isn't on the table
quite yet, because Sony changed most of the locks, and is reportedly
actually storing the all-important ECDSA private key with random-
number cryptography this time around. Be warned: if you upgrade to
3.56, there's no easy way back down. In related news, Github complied
with a DMCA takedown notice to remove KaKaRoToKS's repositories, so
you'll have to head on over to Gitorious (at our more coverage link)
to get at the fail0verflow tools.

[Thanks, Tomi R]

Intel's mSATA SSD 310 reviewed: a pint-size performer through and through

The forecast for speedy, razor-thin laptops is looking pretty sunny
right about now, because it seems Intel's SSD 310 truly does bring the
power of a full-sized solid state drive on a tiny little board.
Storage Review and The SSD Review thoroughly benchmarked the tiny 80GB
mSATA module this week, and found it performs even better than
advertised -- easily tearing through 200MB / sec reads and 70 MB / sec
writes -- which put it slightly behind Intel's legendary X25-M series
but well ahead of the company's X25-V boot drives. While we're still
not seeing Sandforce speeds from Intel's tried-and-true controller and
34nm silicon and they might not make Toshiba's Blade run for the
hills, we can't wait to test it out in some new Lenovo ThinkPads when
they integrate the SSD 310 later this year. Oh, by the way, that big
green board up above isn't the drive. It's actually the tiny one on top.

WeSC Karmatech concept makes your shoes more social with RFID

We've been seeing more and more shoes infused with different sorts of
technology in recent years, but none quite like this WeSC Karmatech
concept developed by some students at Sweden's Hyper Island "digital
school." Described as a "social take on Nike+," the shoes apparently
wouldn't have an accelerometer but they do pack an RFID chip that
allows the wearer to interact with their surroundings -- automatically
check in at a location and share it on Facebook or Twitter, for
instance, or get access to exclusive deals or special events. Of
course, it is just a concept, but the students note that it would be
relatively cheap to implement (at least on the shoe end of the
equation), as the RFID tags themselves only cost a few cents. Kinda
gives a new meaning to "sneakernet," doesn't it? Head on past the
break for the video.

Zipcar adds the plug-in Prius PHEV to its fleet, probably not changing name to Zapcar

Would you like a plug-in Prius, the sort that we spent a few days with
last year, back when the seasons were changing and there was only a
hint of this killer winter to come? Well, too bad, because you still
can't buy them. But Zipcar can, apparently, adding eight of the things
to its fleet, and they're available now in Boston, San Francisco, and
Portland, Oregon. Given the company has 8,000 total cars available
your chances of securing one of these particular Priuses (Prii?) is
slim, but if you score, know that they charge in just three hours on a
110 outlet, and half that if you're wired for 220, so no fancy-pants
charging station is required for use.

Toshiba Dynabook Qosmio T750 laptop has a lid that changes color on both sides

It's been a long time since we used a laptop that had a monochromatic
display -- it was a giant white block of a thing that is not missed --
but flip around just about every laptop we use today and you find a
backside that stubbornly refuses to change color no matter the light
that hits it. Is that a problem? Not really, we think it's quite fine
since we're not often staring at that bit, but for Toshiba such tedium
simply won't do, so it's introducing the Dynabook Qosmio T750 with a
color-shifting lid. Turn it in the light and it shifts and shimmers,
just like the chameleon paint tuners have been using on custom rides
for decades. Here, though, we're told it's done with multiple layers
of film, no paint at all. Oh, the inside? A 2.66GHz Intel Core
i5-480M, 4GB of DDR 3 memory, and a 15.6-inch, 1366 x 768 display
that's LED backlit -- which is also capable of displaying multiple
colors, in case you're interested.

Monday, January 24, 2011

LED headlights can add up to six miles of electric vehicle range

We've been charting the progression of in-home lighting, CFLs
replacing incandescents but themselves slowly walking the path
obsolescence as LED bulbs get cheaper and more common. It's much the
same on the vehicle lighting front, with LEDs taking over more and
more automotive lighting, and now OSRAM Sylvania is giving us another
reason to make that happen sooner. LED bulbs can provide the same
amount of light as traditional incandescent car bulbs with less than
25 percent the energy draw. On a gas-powered auto that's not such a
big deal, where LEDs are being used primarily because of benefits like
cooler temps, longer life, and greater stylistic freedom, but on an EV
that reduction in current draw can offer as much as a six mile boost
in range on a single charge. That may not sound like much, but if you
ever run out of juice five miles from home you might just change your

Scientists build double-floating-gate FET, believe it could revolutionize computer memory

[/img]Look, we get it, you want DRAM that behaves like flash, flash
that behaves like DRAM, and everything in between -- speedy computer
memory that doesn't lose its data when the power goes off, and lasts
for years on end. Well, it looks there's a new challenger about to
enter that ring -- double floating-gate field effect transistors,
currently in prototype form at North Carolina State University.
Whereas the single floating-gate variety is currently responsible for
the flash memory in your USB keys and SSDs, the second floating gate
lets bits of data stay in an active, ready state, but the computer can
also apply a higher voltage to "freeze" them in place. Since the
memory can switch between static and dynamic modes in a single cycle
and the data never disappears in between, researchers imagine the new
tech could lead to instant-on computers and power-saving techniques
that shut down idle memory banks. That's the consumer take, at least
-- find the technical deep dive at our more coverage link.

Nikkei: PSP2 will have 3G cellular data, OLED touchscreen

We're only four days away from a supposed January 27th unveiling, but
apparently there are still more juicy PSP2 rumors left to dole out --
Japan's often-reliable Nikkei newspaper reports that the handheld
machine will sport a crisp OLED touchscreen and 3G data from NTT
DoCoMo when it arrives later this year, with the latter enabling
multiplayer action and even full video and game downloads over the
Japanese cellular network. What's more, the paper confirms that the
screen will be physically larger and powered by some potent new
silicon. So, how will Sony differentiate this PSP2 from the
PlayStation Phone and tempt you to buy both? The game system won't
make calls.

Note: In case you're not familiar, the image above is a relatively
ancient reader mockup, and likely not representative of the final
product. It is pretty sexy, though.

1.2GHz Tegra 2 3D chips suggested by leaked slide, coming 'spring 2011'

Darn, we've barely started getting acquainted with Tegra 2, yet NVIDIA
seems to already be preparing the stage for a sort of Tegra 2.5 -- a
1.2GHz dual-core chip that'll be marketed as a 3D-capable mobile
processor. This T25 silicon is apparently set for mass production in
the first quarter of this year, with availability coming up in the
spring. Given the noises we keep hearing about 3D going mobile, this
is one rumor that makes a lot of sense -- and even if you're a staunch
supporter of the 2D creed, you can't deny that a sped-up Tegra 2 CPU
sounds pretty delicious. We've managed to also track down some
technical chatter about adding support to Chromium OS for a 1.2GHz T25
from NVIDIA, seemingly corroborating the leaked image above. Oh boy,
it's gonna be a hot summer for mobile computing this year!

Toshiba NB550D with AMD Ontario denied entry to the US

[/img]So, this sort of sucks. Remember the AMD Fusion Toshiba NB550D
with its Harman Kardon speakers? Well, according to Toshiba it won't
be landing in the US anytime soon. According to Liliputing, Tosh has
no plans to release the Ontario-powered 10-inch laptop on this side of
the pond. Yep, it seems that Toshiba US would prefer to keep Intel's
Atom powering its 10-inch NB520 and NB505 netbooks and save AMD's
higher end Zacate E-Series for larger systems like its 15.6-inch
Satellite C655D. Of course, there's always the Acer Aspire One 522 for
those seeking AMD's Bobcat core and ATI Radeon 6250 graphics in a 10-
inch chassis, but there's just something about those HK speaker grills
that have us wishin' Toshiba would change its mind about this one.

Grace Digital punts WiFi radio into a wireless bookshelf speaker system, can't escape Reciva's ghost

Just when we thought Grace Digital Audio had turned over a new, touch-
friendly leaf, the company's back with another WiFi internet radio
that uses the frustrating Reciva interface. We can't say we're
pleased, but the firm's new $250 Wireless Stereo Micro System does
have one new feature that might be worth checking out -- it comes with
a pair of handsome bookshelf speakers that connect over the ether as
well. This time, you can not only connect to your home wireless
network (or auxiliary media player) and pull down loads of tunes from
the typical array of services -- including Pandora, Live365 and Sirius
XM -- but listen in stereo too, while hopefully hiding that ugly four-
line LCD and its irksome nests of menus from ever disturbing your view.

Sony's Music Unlimited service infiltrates France, Germany, Italy and Spain, offers streaming tunes

See this message? You no longer have to if you live in France,
Germany, Italy or Spain, as Sony's rolled out its Music Unlimited
subscription streaming service in each aforementioned nation just
yesterday. Basically, it's the same deal that launched in the UK last
month, but at a slightly cheaper price given the exchange rate: &euro;
3.99 a month buys you a virtual radio station that streams millions of
songs to your Sony TVs, Blu-ray players or PS3 -- with portable
devices and phones on the way -- while &euro;9.99 upgrades to a
premium plan that lets you select tunes on demand and generate
playlists. Next stop: North America. PR after the break.

Switched On: When Gadgets Talk in Their Sleep

Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about consumer

The Nintendo 3DS stands to democratize stereoscopy in a way society
hasn't experienced since the View-Master craze, by offering 3D
hardware more affordable than the current crop of televisions and PCs,
and without requiring special glasses to see images pop out of the
handheld's screen. But when it comes to innovation, the 3DS could
represent a two-way street, for even as its 3D screen is focused on
enhancing the handheld gaming experience, its "Pass" network
technologies -- SpotPass and particularly StreetPass -- could have
broader implications for the way we discover the world around us.

Inhabitat's Week in Green: self-sustaining airships, turbine base jumpers, and the Sahara's solar oasis

Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting
green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.

This week opened with the exciting news that Norway and Jordan signed
an agreement create a flourishing solar oasis in the scorching Sahara
Desert. India also made waves as they announced the first tidal plant
in Asia, and we took a look at a novel wind power tech that eschews
noisy turbines for piezoelectric pads. We also rounded up our favorite
wind-powered gadgets that don't blow, and you won't believe the latest
extreme sport: wind turbine base jumping!

In other news, green transportation took to the skies as we showcased
a futuristic airship that generates its own fuel and a hydrogen-
powered UAV that can stay aloft for up to a week. Meanwhile, back on
earth we heard several major auto manufactures make exciting
announcements as Chevrolet unveiled tech that could double the Volt's
battery life and Toyota pulled back the curtain on an upgraded
electric motor that requires less rare earth metals.

This week we also shined a light on the world of energy-efficient
illumination with our Green Lighting 101 guide, and we were blinded by
the brilliance of Mischer Traxler's repurposed Relumine desk lamps.
Finally, from the realm of wearable tech we brought you the solar-
powered Androcell backpack that backs up your data, and we tested a
handy alphabet flash card app for tech-savvy tots.