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31
Dec

Belkin’s Miracast device streams Android to TV for $79


If you’re tired of waiting for the Chromecast to support screen mirroring from your Android device, Belkin has just the thing for you with its new Miracast Video Adapter (F7D7501). You should all be familiar with Miracast being Android fans, but if you’re not, it’s the wireless display standard that doesn’t require existing WiFi networks to display content over-the-air from embedded devices.

The company just announced the $79 device, which is a small HDMI dongle that wirelessly displays content from an Android device directly to an HDTV by mirroring the screen of your device. Belkin said it enables you to enjoy any of your phone’s content, including movies, TV shows, video clips, photos, games or apps, in full 1080p HD resolution with “plug-and-play simplicity and without messy cables.”

The device looks similar to a Google’s Chromecast, plugs into the HDMI port of your HDTV or monitor and uses a small USB cable that can be connected to the TV’s USB port for power.It also includes an extension cable for easier attachment.

The Miracast device is available now from Belkin or Amazon for $79.99.

The post Belkin’s Miracast device streams Android to TV for $79 appeared first on AndroidGuys.

31
Dec
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10 tech non-profits worth donating to before 2014


Granted, the holidays didn’t exactly leave us flush with cash, but as every charity we’ve ever contributed to has reminded us via e-mail over the past couple of days, the year is drawing to an end, which means we’re running out of time to rack up those tax deductions. And what better way to do that than by donating to a cause you really believe in? In the seasonal spirit of not entirely altruistic giving, we’ve asked our editors to suggest some of their favorite non-profit tech organizations. Sure there’s an endless list of non-tech orgas we could have included like, say, The Red Cross, the Humane Society or even the first amended defending Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, but for the sake of brevity — and staying comfortably within our own wheelhouse — here’s a list of tech non-profits to get you started. If we skipped one of your favorites, feel free to add it in the comments below.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: When you leave your job as the longstanding CEO of one of the world’s biggest tech companies, the choices for your future are pretty clear: do-gooder, billionaire playboy or super villain. Bill Gates chose door number one, thankfully, forming an organization focused on global development, health, education and advocacy.

Center for Democracy and Technology: The CDT has been fighting to keep the internet “open, innovative and free” since 1994. The organization’s goals include democratizing online participation, enhancing user privacy and limiting government surveillance.

Child’s Play: Video games and toys for sick kids? Now that’s a cause we can get behind. Child’s Play uses your donations to buy consoles, games, peripherals, toys and books for children in hospitals.

Code.org: Code.org wants to make programming a key part of K-12 education, bringing it to the STEM system, alongside math and science. The organization also looks to increase computer science participation among women and students of color.

Electronic Frontier Foundation: Government snooping! Patent trolls! Frivolous lawsuits! Who has your back in this fast moving digital age? Why, the EFF, of course!

Khan Academy: Devoted to free education for everyone, Khan Academy covers a wide range of subjects, including a slew of computer programming courses like game design and 3D modeling.

Mozilla Foundation: The team behind the one of the world’s top browsers is a non-profit 501c dedicated to the creation of “world-class open source software.” The list includes the Firefox browser, the learning tool Webmaker and the new Firefox mobile operating system.

One Laptop Per Child: OLPC is dedicated to the democratization of technology by innovating and distributing laptops and tablets to developing nations and other underrepresented areas.

Watsi: An innovative site that combines social networking with crowdfunding to donate healthcare to individuals in need.

Wikimedia Foundation: We all visit Wikipedia pretty much every day, so we’ve all seen Jimmy Wales’ face pleading for donations. The money you contribute to Wikimedia helps support the technology and staff that run the foundation’s wildly popular open information sites.

Oh, and there are also plenty of ways to donate your old technology. You can find the place nearest you at DonateTechnology.com.

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31
Dec
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Sony launches dedicated Xperia Z Ultra cases for QX lens cameras


Though Sony’s crazy QX10 and QX100 lens cameras can attach to most smartphones, the company naturally favored its own Xperia Z and Z1 handsets by creating custom cases for those devices. Now it’s doing the same for its crazy-large 6.4-inch Xperia Z Ultra, according to our sister Engadget Chinese site. A new attachment cover in black or white will fix either camera to its latest phablet for HK$238 (about $30) on top of the price of the QX10 ($249) and QX100 ($499). If you’ll recall, that’ll boost your smartphone’s shooter to either an 18.2- or 20.2-megapixel monster, respectively, with the latter boasting the same sensor as the formidable Sony RX100 Mark II. It’ll arrive next month in Hong Kong, and while Sony hasn’t divulged availability elsewhere, we can picture it hitting the US soon as well.

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Source: Engadget Chinese (translated)

31
Dec
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Google wants to make your mundane conversations into quirky online comics


Deep down, we’d all like to believe our text-based interactions are worthy of Calvin & Hobbes-style witticisms. They’re not and you know it, but does Google? No matter, because the tech giant was just awarded a patent to format your virtual conversations into something more suited for comic strip syndication online. The concept, though gimmicky, isn’t as freshly innovative as it might first sound. In fact, both Apple and Microsoft have already had designs on the same. Anyone remember Microsoft Comic Chat?

Okay, so Google’s comic-making process is nothing new, but it does have a key differentiator: It’s shareable via email, IM or, more likely, a social network “stream” or profile page. The system, as outlined by the patent, merely repurposes conversations, either manually or automagically, between at least two people into a comic strip layout. It’s then given a title by the user, an appropriate theme as selected from the user interface and formatted for its intended destination. Beyond that, it’s all a matter of where the strip gets posted. Editing permissions can also be extended to second- and third-party users so that the strip lives on. No doubt, it’s a fun way to jazz up otherwise mundane online interactions, but that doesn’t mean we’ll ever actually see this comic generator come to light. You know how these things go. It’s a patent; it’s good for litigation.

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Source: USPTO

31
Dec
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Sony’s first PlayStation 4 ad for Japan teases the Japanese with everyone’s joy


Japan, you’ll get the PlayStation 4 soon. Promise. For now, look at everyone else enjoying it. Don’t they look happy? That could be you on February 22nd!

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Source: YouTube

31
Dec
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Win a Nexus 5 [12 Days of Giveaways]


Readers have three days to enter to win the latest Nexus smartphone

Today marks the final day of prizes for our 12 Days of Giveaways, a promotion we’ve had plenty of phone putting together for you guys. As the headline already spoils, we’re going to help give away a brand new Nexus 5 smartphone.

Prize #1 Nexus 5

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We have partnered with our friends over at BitDefender to help give this new Nexus 5 away. You know the phone, you know the details: It’s the latest in Google’s beloved mobile platform, Android 4.4 KitKat. Specs, of course, include a quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU, 5-inch 1080p display, 2GB RAM, and an 8-megapixel rear camera. If you’re in the market for Pure Google in high-quality hardware, the LG Nexus 5 is where you start.

We’re going to give you three days to enter for a chance to win; drawing will be conducted on Friday, January 3, 2014.

Prize #2 Bundled Goodies

Click to view slideshow.

The second thing we’re hooking you up with is a prize bundle that includes a Whitelabel SoundDew BT Speaker and a pair of TCiMH Android Socks. The former is a highly portable and waterproof Bluetooth speaker that delivers up to 10 hours of playback while the latter comes from our friends at Andrew Bell/Dead Zebra/Android Foundry. Wear these bad boys with pride and show off your love of Android.

Learn more about Andrew Bell or follow him on Twitter!

Learn more about Whitelabel!

Prize #3 iHome Earbuds w/ Mic

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The earbuds feature a microphone to take calls on your Android and then put you back onto your favorite music or podcasts!

Learn more about iHome or follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

How to Enter

For this particular giveaway we are going to employ the services of Rafflecopter. This way, you can increase your odds of winning by participating in social media sharing and following. We’ll not be drawing the name; Bitdefender will help pick the winner.

  1. Leave a comment below using a valid email address.
  2. Install and sign up with Bitdefender’s Mobile Security & Antivirus app for Android using the same email address.
  3. OPTIONAL: Increase your odds of winning by sharing the contest over social media and/or following Bitdefender on Facebook and Twitter (See widget).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win Google Play Credits!

To enter to win one of the Google Play credits all you need to do is share the following on your social media platform of choice: “I want to win Google Play Credits, AndroidGuys! http://goo.gl/dGQhG6 #12DaysAndroid

Yes, you can share over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google+. Yes, you can enter as often as you like.

Finer details

This post will be updated with the name(s) and we’ll reach out via the comments as well. Also, be sure to keep an eye on the 12 Days of Giveaways page where we’ll keep a running tally of prizes and winners.

Note that we’ll give each winner a 24 hour window to respond. Should the winner not reply in time, we’ll re-draw and announce a new name. Be sure to check back!

Here’s the rub: We’re limiting this contest to U.S. residents only. Yes, we know it sucks – we hate doing it. Also, you can only win one prize per household. If you happen to win a Google Play Credit as well, then so be it!

The post Win a Nexus 5 [12 Days of Giveaways] appeared first on AndroidGuys.

31
Dec
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Insert Coin: 2013’s top 10 crowdfunding projects


An underwater drone that you can control with your tablet or smartphone from up to 300 feet away. Reckon that’s worth a pledge of around $200? Plenty of you did, because Ziphius is now a very real thing, thanks to its passionate everyman backers. Galvanized by some very successful projects last year, 2013 saw plenty of crowdfunding projects angling for your dollar. We also crowned three Insert Coin: New Challengers winners at our Expand San Francisco and Expand New York events, hopefully doing our bit to cheer on the next Eric Migicovsky. Aside from said competitors, this year saw 29 Insert Coin subjects manage to hit their goals, with some utterly smashing them.

Indiegogo’s CEO Slava Rubin tells us that compared to 2012, there was “more than a 1,000 percent increase in funds raised” in its technology category. “We’ve seen everyone from big brands to small startups embracing crowdfunding as an alternative to traditional finance. We can’t wait to see what exciting new products 2014 will bring,” he said. With the likes of Oculus Rift and the Pebble smartwatch still making news more than a year since their crowdfunding debuts, how will the class of 2013 fare? Here’s a closer look of some of the projects that you just had to make a reality.

Canary

Status: Funded
Target: $100,000
Raised: $1,961,862

Canary’s security system is channeling, perhaps inadvertently, a bit of the Mac Pro‘s design with its vertically standing hub design. However, what’s going on inside is plenty different, with IR motion, humidity, temperature and air-quality sensors — oh and a high-definition camera and mic for good measure. The cool part is how it wraps this all together, with a smartphone application meaning you’re constantly connected to home sweet home. It blasted through its $100,000 target, closing just shy of a cool $2 million and its beta units are on track for February.

Other early adopters are likely to see devices land in June, and, if you like what you’re hearing, pre-orders are still available, priced at $199. Adam Sager, Canary’s co-founder noted that the campaign showed the company that people who had never bought a security system before were fascinated by the affordable pitch that it was offering. “It wasn’t just a US thing — we received orders from people in 78 different countries,” he said. They set an Indiegogo record too: The security hub is the crowdfunding site’s most successful campaign yet.

Ziphius, Insert Coin New Challengers SF Winner

Status: Funded
Target: $125,000
Raised: $127,199

After becoming our first-ever Insert Coin winner, the aquatic drone Ziphius took its pitch to Kickstarter, where it managed to cover its $125,000 funding goal back in July. The bot can be controlled through apps on your smartphone or tablet and you can even stream a video feed from underwater. With a special DIY edition in tow, the app-controlled bot is set to roll out to wannabe submariners by March 2014. We even got to play with the updated prototype in the process — and those interchangeable chassis will now come in pink.

DIWire, Expand NY’s Insert Coin Judges’ Prize

Status: Funded
Target: $100,000
Raised: $177,522

Trying to solve the issue of not-so-hardy 3D-printed prototypes, design firm Pensa’s CNC wire bender brought precision engineering (and scientific precision) to crafting for-real wireframe structures. While furniture-model prototyping might have inspired it, the team believes the children are our its future, with two early models now in use in educational settings. It leapt over its $100,000 funding goal, reaching $177,522, with shipping set for mid-2014.

GrowCubes, Expand NY’s Insert Coin Readers’ Prize

Status: Not Yet Launched
Target: N/A
Raised: N/A

GrowCubes involves a system of aeroponics (that’s hydroponics, but using mist instead of water trays) that can grow plants using about 95 percent less water than traditional farming methods. All in just two square meters. The team behind it is planning two models, a domestic one around the size of a dishwasher, and a more expansive version aimed at commercial farming. At the moment, it’s all powered through a BeagleBone Black and an Arduino Duo, but a custom-made motherboard is also in the cards. By the time the aeroponic system appeared at Expand NY, they’d already produced pea shoots, wheatgrass and lettuce. There’s no word of a web-based funding project yet, but the team is now focusing on rolling out the majority of its urban farming models to schools.

Piper

Status: Funded
Target: $100,000
Raised: $309,119

This home-automation hub has a vertical design similar to the Canary, but this one taps into security cameras as well as Z-Wave devices, all with the aim of centering all your smart home needs into a single unit. Alerts to iOS and Android apps can be sent to multiple users, and the built-in speaker (not to mention the camera) means you can talk to anyone near the system, even if it’s just the cat. It more than tripled its fundraising goal, and the full-production run is now on the first batch of PCB boards.

SparqEE Cell v1.0

Status: Funded
Target: $70,000
Raised: $72,155

The SparqEE Cell is for the more technically minded crowdfunders out there, but man, there’s a whole lot of potential here. It’s a cellular board that can connect directly into Arduino and Raspberry Pi, letting devices hop onto networks all over the world — meaning even grander plans for home automation, RC copters and more. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the SparqEE Cell powering other Insert Coin entrants in the near-future.

Zcapture

Status: Funded
Target: $14,000
Raised: $36,522

Promising 360-degree photo capture of objects in a mere 15 minutes, the folks behind Zcapture decided to reassess their initial goals, canceling the first Kickstarter scheme in order to relaunch with a lower goal — and with the aim of getting the hardware out to those who wanted it. Zcapture looks like it might be the perfect solution for sellers (whether it’s retail or eBay) that want to give a full virtual view of their wares. It looks like there are plenty who are thinking just that, because Zcapture more than doubled its target figure of $14,000 — and the team has managed to ship all orders to those that pledged money last month. The makers are now focusing on supporting those early adopters, with a dedicated email address for technical issues and incoming forums and guides, too.

Epiphany One Puck

Status: Funded
Target: $100,000
Raised: $132,739

Sure it’s the size of a coaster, but the coolest thing about the Epiphany One Puck is that it can use both hot and cold sources to top up your USB-cabled gadget of choice. The science is called a Stirling engine, which (we think magically) draws out electricity from heat disparities. And hey, it’s the perfect size for either your morning cup of Joe or a frosty beer. The team behind it has been working and researching energy systems for 12 years and, in its latest update earlier this month, promised that it’ll have more to show very soon, with the Puck on track for delivery in March 2014.

Virtuix Omni VR treadmill

Status: Funded
Target: $150,000
Raised: $1,109,351

Transferring your physical movements into in-game movement, Virtuix’s multi-directional treadmill controller sounds like the ideal companion hardware for an Oculus Rift. The Omni has worked with the wearable display for months, but the team took to Kickstarter to build up more momentum (and funds) for the hardware, which includes the concave treadmill you see above, special shoes, belt and the necessary tracking hardware and software. The crowdfunding project was a huge success, and the Omni’s digital coffers took in more than $1 million. Priority prototypes have shipped already (including one to BAE Systems), however the team is expecting delivery to its other backers around March or April — unfortunately a little later than expected.

Choose ‘Toons, Choose Your Own Adventure

Status: Project canceled
Target: $130,000

Tugging at our nostalgia-ridden heartstrings, a project to bring new Choose Your Own Adventure stories to the iPad sounded like a no-brainer. Apparently many thought the same, because the team behind the Choose ‘Toons project decided to call it quits on its Kickstarter campaign and are now working on some “traditional funding” offers. It still managed to raise more than a third of its goal before the founders decided to choose a different path: classic CYOA stuff.

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31
Dec
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Apple claims it ‘has never worked with the NSA’ to create backdoors in any of its products


While it may feel we’re more at the stage where we’re counting the parts of our digital lives that the NSA can’t access, the revelation yesterday that the agency had relatively deep access to iPhones was still a shock to many. Apple included, it seems, prompting it to issue a statement to AllThingsD denying any involvement in the NSA’s program, explaining it has never worked or cooperated with the NSA to create a backdoor on any of its products — though it does comply with official requests. The same statement goes on to claim that it will work to close any vulnerabilities in its software, no matter who it might be that is exploiting them. Apple is far from the first large tech company to have it’s products and services targeted by the NSA, and we suspect it’s only a matter of time before even more come to light. You can read the complete statement passed the break.

Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone. Additionally, we have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products. We care deeply about our customers’ privacy and security. Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements. Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple’s industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them.

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Source: AllThingsD

31
Dec
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Microsoft reportedly talking to Sony about Windows Phone launch in 2014


Sony Ericsson Jolie Windows Phone prototype

Microsoft only has a few key Windows Phone partners under its belt, but it may be expanding the ecosystem very shortly — The Information hears from sources that Redmond is once again in talks to launch a Sony-made Windows Phone. While there’s no guarantee of a deal, the partnership could introduce a handset as soon as mid-2014. The device may even carry the VAIO badge, and it could serve as a vehicle for Sony’s Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited services. Even if the discussions fall apart, Microsoft may have more hardware manufacturers lined up. Tipsters claim that the company wants to renew ZTE’s interest in Windows Phone, and it could be willing to cut or even waive the OS licensing fees that frequently drive potential allies toward Android. Neither side has confirmed the talks, and Sony will only say that it “continues to assess” Windows when it’s relevant. Still, there’s now a chance that the Xperia X2 will finally get a sequel.

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Source: The Information

31
Dec
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Snapdragon 805’s desktop-class mobile graphics chops in action (video)


Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 chip is still pretty dang new, but the company’s already churned out a follow-up: the Snapdragon 805, a so-called Ultra HD processor. Like the 800, this version is a Krait-based, quad-core chip, and its biggest selling point is support for 4K video playback on your mobile devices as well as your smart TV. The 805 also includes an Adreno 420 GPU, which Qualcomm says offers 40 percent more graphics power. Of course, this is the sort of tech that you really need to see to believe. Luckily, a recent trip to San Diego gave us a chance to stop by Qualcomm’s HQ and check out the latest Snapdragon demos. Head past the break for a look at the chip’s graphics and video chops.

All four demos utilized the Snapdragon 805 Development Platform, an Android tablet with a 2,560 x 1,440 display, dual cameras with 3D sensors and surround-sound speakers. While devices packing the 805 chip won’t debut until late 2014, these set-ups tease some of the visual improvements you can expect.

Selective focus and other camera apps

With the 805, Qualcomm is commercializing several software algorithms that allow for advanced photo-editing tools no matter what smartphone you’re using (as long as it packs this Snapdragon chip, that is). For example, an app called UbiFocus let us change what parts of an image were in focus a la the Lytro camera. It worked well, and thanks to the 805′s processing oomph, there wasn’t noticeable delay on-screen. Other programs include Optizoom, which sharpens a particular area (such as text) of a photo, and Chromaflash, which fuses flash and natural-light versions of a photo for an enhanced picture.

Multi-view 3D

One of the coolest demos on hand showed off the 805′s Adreno 420 GPU. When hooked up to an external monitor, the Development Platform was capable of streaming eight different feeds of 3D video to the display, allowing for an ideal viewing experience no matter where we stood in front of the setup. Multi-view 3D is one of the Snapdragon 805′s most significant advantages — at least in terms of graphics — over the 800, which can’t pull it off with its Adreno 330 GPU.

Improved graphics efficiency

Qualcomm added hardware tessellation to the Adreno 420 GPU, which makes for a marked improvement over the Adreno 330 in terms of visuals. Essentially, the GPU supports additional geometry (i.e., graphics details) without stressing the CPU’s processing power and memory. It’s the kind of GPU heavy lifting that’s been doable on consoles and high-end PCs previously, but not on a tablet. A comparison between the Adreno 330 and 420′s rendering of an insect moving around makes it clear just how much better the latter performs.

High-quality images, small file size

Thanks to hardware 4K HEVC (high efficiency video coding), the Snapdragon 805 can decode and stream high-quality video without using much power. And we really mean high quality; just check out the clip above, which should give you a decent idea about the level of detail you can expect on mobile platforms and TVs alike. The processor also packs improved Dolby Audio, including vertical surround sound, but that experience doesn’t transfer as well to a video hands-on.

Zach Honig contributed to this report.

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