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24
Dec

Is Sony working on a new wearable companion for 2014?


Sony’s second-generation SmartWatch may not have impressed the critics, but those lukewarm feelings haven’t deterred the company from making another wearable. The FCC has revealed that Sony is testing a “BT Wrist Notifier” with the model number SWR10, which sounds like a step beyond the SW2 code used for the current model. Beyond that, however, the documents just show that the device packs NFC and Bluetooth — but if it’s passed through the commission, it can’t be too far away from a real announcement. You never know, maybe we’ll see it at that big trade show in less than a fortnight.

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Via: Wireless Goodness

Source: FCC

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24
Dec

You have a week left to enter our holiday giveaway with prizes from Sony!


End-of-the-year festivities are just around the corner, so here’s hoping your holiday shopping is squared away. If not, our guides are here for some last-minute reference, and in any case you owe it to yourself to enter the giveaways. Sony’s supplied some pretty awesome gear, from its acclaimed RX100 II camera to the convertible VAIO Flip PC. Simply head to the bottom of each of our 11 guides and enter the raffle — we’re accepting entries until 11:59PM, EST on December 31st. Good luck!

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24
Dec

Switched On: The desktop dashboard, take two


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

The Quirky Nimbus

The last Switched On discussed the contrast between the $100 laptop concept of 2006 and the $100 tablet reality of 2013. In that case, an idea that didn’t bear fruit was succeeded years later by a different approach. However, what’s even more rare is to see a failed idea by one small company tried many years later by another small company.

This recently occurred with the introduction of the Quirky Nimbus, a physical desktop dashboard that offers four customizable displays that keep track of your digital information, like the weather, commuter traffic, email and calendar updates. The product concept is very similar to the Ambient Executive Dashboard that a yearling Switched On addressed way back in 2005 with two columns focusing on the device and its content. Contrasting that product to the Nimbus reveals that much has changed about technology in the past eight years, but there are still a few things that plague this particular niche product.

The Ambient Executive Dashboard was a device that used the pager network to obtain status updates about information that was portrayed on up to three FaceCards at a time; FaceCards were clear pieces of plastic that were inserted into the device a bit like very thin video game cartridges. A unique combination of grooves at their base told the Dashboard what information to receive. Believe it or not, since the pager network still works and is in active use, so does the Dashboard if you still have one. Turn it on and it springs to life with, for example, live information on the weather.

The Dashboard was configured on a website and many of its dozen-plus services required extra fees beyond the device’s $150 price tag. However, these included some surprisingly personalized data points, some of which were more useful than those currently supported by the Nimbus, including the time until your next meeting and the number of new job listings you were monitoring.

The device was also a non-event to configure. To access personalized information, one had to register at Ambient’s website, but information delivery itself was painless. As with many new hardware products, though, the Nimbus, which connects via WiFi, uses a smartphone app for configuration. There are multiple authentications required for the dubious task of monitoring how many Facebook likes your most recent post has received. However, it is early days for the Nimbus and hopefully there will be more useful apps, like the one that taps into your Fitbit step count for public bragging (or shaming).

One configures the Nimbus with the Wink app that is common to all smart devices co-developed by Quirky and GE. The app configures the device for your WiFi network by putting the iPhone’s screen, for example, into a blinking mode. This too is somewhat of a throwback; a similar method was used to communicate information between PCs and early data watches from Timex. As ever, the process is error-prone and failed at least once during my setup. Still, the lack of Bluetooth helps keep down the price of the Nimbus, which costs $130.

From a design perspective, the Ambient Dashboard was one of the busiest products released by Ambient Devices, which was better known for orbs, umbrellas and other simple objects that glowed with different colors depending on status updates. Its needles represented the manifestation of the digital in the analog world. In contrast, the bulbous, toy-like Nimbus blends analog needles with a too-small LED line. This helps compensate for the inability to read the non-illuminated dials in the dark, which was an issue with the Ambient Dashboard when it was released.

The dashboard is an idea that sounds useful in theory; perhaps its best application may be as a way to hear a digital heartbeat from those we care about.

At this point, though, it seems like it would be better to replace all the faces with four small LCDs or OLED displays, which could be fully readable in low light and further customized with themes, etc. The risk, however, is making it seem too much like a digital picture frame — another product that has fallen from grace — or the comatose Chumby.

The Nimbus revisits the idea of glanceable information in a form factor that might replace your alarm clock. Indeed, it can be used as such and even has a snooze function. The dashboard is an idea that sounds useful in theory; perhaps its best application may be as a way to hear a digital heartbeat from those we care about. But these and similar data appliances face stronger-than-ever challenges from the constant stream of information sent to the devices in our pockets and, increasingly, on our wrists.


Ross Rubin is principal analyst at Reticle Research, a research and advisory firm focusing on consumer technology adoption. He shares commentary at Techspressive and on Twitter at @rossrubin.

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24
Dec

YotaPhone update lets you read more e-books and documents on its energy-saving E Ink display


A quote by Terry Pratchett displayed on the YotaPhone

Much as we admired the potential of the YotaPhone in our recent review, we just couldn’t overlook its lack of support for popular e-reading platforms like Amazon Kindle and Google Books. That problem hasn’t been solved just yet, but things are starting to move in the right direction: the dual-display handset has now been made to work with an alternative (and relatively popular) e-reading app called FBReader. This app will let you display and swipe through Word and .rtf documents on the E Ink panel, as well as unencrypted .epub and .mobi e-book formats of the sort that are traded in smaller e-book stores and some shadier, copyright-dodging parts of the web. PDF files should also be supported by the next version of FBReader, which is currently in beta. Meanwhile, Yota Devices tells us that it’s “discussing potential collaboration” with Amazon in order to bring about Kindle support, which, if it happens, would be nothing short of a breakthrough.

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24
Dec

Google Says Merry Christmas With Google Play Freebies And Deals


google play freebies and dealsOver here in Australia, it’s just passed midnight so I’m just going to pre-empt Father Time for a bit, particularly for those of you yet to wake up on Christmas Eve, and say Merry Christmas! I’m not the only one saying Merry Christmas though because Google has decided to offer a bunch of games, movies, books and music for great prices (or free) as part of its Google Play Freebies and Deals.

The deals featured on Google Play are:

Movies

Despicable Me Presents: Minion Madness – Free

How The Toys Saved Christmas – Free

Not Suitable for Children – $0.75 to rent

The Faculty – Free

Push – $0.75 to rent

A collection of 6 pieces of bonus content from the Oscar award winning Argo – Free

Games

Gangstar Vegas – $0.10

Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour – $0.99

Monopoly Slots – Free

Dead Ahead – Free

Bejeweled Blitz – Free

Songs

My Life Is Yours – Papa vs Pretty – Free

Girls – The 1975 – Free

Books

Spellcaster by Claudia Gray – $0.99

It’s a pretty great list of stuff for free, or as near to free as it gets. For me, the highlight is definitely Gangstar Vegas for 10 cents as it is quite a sizeable free-roaming game a la GTA (note: it will take up about 2.6GB of your storage).

I actually have a sneaking suspicion that these Google Play Freebies and Deals are only available in Australia (these particular games, movies, etc) so please feel free to let me know if these are available to you too or if you have different freebies and deals.

Source: Google Play

24
Dec

Want Dreamcast On Your Android Device? Reicast Is The Emulator App For The Job


reicastMany of us will have extremely fond memories of the Dreamcast video game console; while the SEGA console didn’t quite have the success of its competitors or contemporaries, it is still considered one of the best consoles of that generation, some arguably say ever. Unfortunately due to SEGA pulling the plug on the console prematurely, many of us never got a chance to play the iconic games that spawned sequels that have continued into the current gaming generation like Crazy Taxi and Shenmue. But thanks to NILLWARE and their emulator app called reicast, we may still get the chance to do so.

Reicast is on the Play Store now for free and while the concept and framework is there, the developer states in the description that the app is still in Alpha. Furthermore, it’s suggested that you have a minimum of a Cortex-A9 dual-core, or about 1GHz, before you can achieve playable performance. While it’s definitely fiddly, if you want to play some of the games that SEGA of America has yet to port over to Android, reicast looks like a viable option for the SEGA fans out there.

Are you going to download reicast and give it a go? Let us know how it goes.

Source: Phandroid

 

Application: reicast

Play Store Link

Price: Free

24
Dec

Nexus X Concept Shows Us The True Meaning Of Having No Bezel


nexus x conceptConcept designs are always great fun; although they may never come to fruition or be ever truly realised, the designs that artists from all over come up with can be really amazing and innovative, raising our expectations for what is possible and what should be possible. This Nexus X concept comes from TheTechnoToast over at Deviantart, showing us his interpretation of what a “premium Nexus smartphone” should look like.

The concept is accompanied by a set of features which includes:

  • a 3.2 GHz octo-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 2000 with 6GB of RAM;
  • a 6.5 inch super AMOLED 4K display covered with unscratchable Sapphire Crystal;
  • a 6000mAh battery which lasts 5 days on a single charge;
  • Android 4.5 with 3 options: Stock Android, a skinned version (shown above) or rooted w/Cyanogenmod;
  • a transparent 5MP front facing “invis” camera and speaker, hidden behind display;
  • a 30MP back facing 8K camera
  • Windows RT, Chrome OS and Ubuntu Ready (multi boot)

There’s definitely some really interesting ideas in there, in particular the camera hidden behind the display. While I don’t know if this is actually physically feasible, it’s a very cool idea, as are a number of the features listed, though some are just a little out of reach (6,000mAh battery, if only). As for the physical design of the Nexus X concept, TheTechnoToast says that the enclosure is made from “a single piece of matte stainless steel”, and as you can see, there is basically no space between the screen and the edge of the device. And how much with this piece of drool-worthy technology cost? £400 for the basic 16GB, LTE-enabled version which works out to be about $650 USD. Not bad for something that’s basically a high-performance computer in a 6.5-inch body.

What do you think about this Nexus X concept? Let us know your 2 cents in the comments.

Source: Deviantart via Phones Review

24
Dec

US Energy Department outlines efficiency standards for set-top boxes, Verizon already on board


The US government, the CEA (you know, the group that runs CES) and pay-TV providers want to save consumers $1 billion annually with a new voluntary standard for set-top box (STB) energy-efficiency. By curtailing phantom power usage and implementing a pair of sleep modes for periods of device inactivity, these non-regulatory guidelines could save enough energy each year to power some 700,000 homes. According to the industry announcement, many cable and satellite providers are already on-board, with Verizon implementing a light-sleep option in certain FiOS boxes sold starting January 1st, 2014. Still, the group expressed some concern that scaling back an STB’s power might negatively impact the user experience. What good is a lower electric bill when your DVR takes forever to resume from standby?

[Image credit: quinn.anya/Flickr]

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Via: The Verge

Source: NCTA, US Energy Department

24
Dec

‘Web’ beta promises a modernized browser for the Raspberry Pi


The Raspberry Pi single-board computer may have started as a simple educational tool, but over the past year users have revealed it’s capable of much more. From drones to smart TV hacks to supercomputers, the $35 PC can be manipulated for almost any task, and now the team behind it is working on a better web browser. Developed over the last few months with the help of open source consultants Collabora, the unimaginatively named “Web” is promising an up-to-date experience designed for the hardware’s limitations and strengths alike. Future Raspberian releases will come standard with this HTML5-capable browser, promising ARMv6-optimized 2D rendering, a smooth tab experience and accelerated image and video decoding. At this point it takes some technical savvy to get online and cranking, but if you know your way around a command line then just follow these instructions.

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Source: Raspberry Pi

24
Dec

More Leaked Photos Of The Nokia Normandy Surface, Shows Off Its Colourful Wardrobe


nokia normandyRumours of an Android-powered Nokia phone have been simmering in the background for some time now, the most recent of which established that the so-called Nokia Normandy, a phone that was leaked by evleaks in November, was not a Windows-powered phone but instead would be running a Kindle-like proprietary Android OS. This was music to many people’s ears as there has been widespread displays of longing for the mobile king of old to use Android instead of Windows which has culminated in the company’s sale to Microsoft.

Today, evleaks has put up yet more leaked photos of the Nokia Normandy, this time with a greater colour palette, in true Nokia fashion. A few things I neglected to notice in the first Normandy leaked photo include the fact that the “home” button is ambiguous; by that I mean that Windows-powered Nokia phones always have the Windows symbol adorning the home button and this has a home key that can be more similarly compared to the HTC home key with capacitive soft keys on either side. The other thing I noticed, which is more mundane, is the fact that the phone does not appear to have a flash, though that might be because this is only a concept render (or not real).

We still don’t know if this phone will ever hit the shelves outside of Nokia’s walls as its acquisition by Microsoft is still wrapping up. But with a rumoured release in 2014, we can still hope that the stars and planets align so that some of us can finally live the fantasy of having a Nokia smartphone running Android.

Are you excited by the prospect of the Nokia Normandy being Android-powered? Let us know what you think.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

Source: Twitter

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