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IRL: A look back at the original PlayStation Vita

Welcome to IRL, an ongoing feature where we talk about the gadgets, apps and toys we’re using in real life and take a second look at products that already got the formal review treatment.

IRL: A look back at the original PlayStation Vita

For now, the new PlayStation Vita is available in Japan only, which leaves US gamers with a tough predicament: pay through the nose to import it, or settle for the old model. Even our own Mat Smith, who owns the original Vita, is finding it tough to recommend it over the 2013 edition. But oh, how he does miss that OLED screen.

While wrapping up my review of Sony’s new Vita, it was also a good time to reassess the original. It’s heavy, thick and the battery life stinks — most of which we mentioned in our review. However, the Vita still offers the closest approximation of portable console-level gaming — something Sony’s finally realized, with its vow to make every (yes, every) PS4 title playable on the handheld through Remote Play. I’ve tasted the future, and I like it. After trying Knack through a Vita during TGS 2013, I thought I’d give the existing Remote Play feature a go. Not many games let you, which is probably why Sony is forcing the issue this generation. I do own the HD remakes of Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, both of which were made compatible with an after-release patch.

So, after loading up the Remote Play app on my Vita — and pairing it to my PS3 — I gave it a try. It’s amazing, though there isn’t the same leap in graphical proficiency when playing a PS4 title on the handheld. It’s also a little too temperamental on the wireless connection, often timing out as you happen to leap from the back of a 100-foot giant to deal the final blow. There’s plenty that still amazes me: the bright, vivid screen, useable analogue sticks on a handheld and the ability to play entire PS1 games. Technically, the last one might not sound that amazing, but because the Vita transposes controls so smoothly from the original PlayStation controller, games are a joy to play — most of the time.

Using the rear touch panel just about covers the lack of L2 and R2 collar buttons, but this is just one of the many things the newest model does better, with a smaller rear panel making inadvertent presses even less likely. But the original model can still claim one advantage: it does have a (marginally) better screen, with improved color accuracy and contrast as a result of the OLED panel (which sadly bit the dust on the newest Vita). You’d have to be really picky to still want the old one, however, because the latest model, still only available in Japan, does everything else much better. I’d wait on that domestic launch announcement — or take another look at the import costs.

– Mat Smith

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iLAND FLY review

Up for review today is a solar-powered charging solution for smartphones and other portable electronics. Called the iLAND FLY, it’s a light yet rugged (water and dust resistant) option for those who spend a lot of time on the go. An ideal product for campers, hikers, and mountain climbers, it’s also great for the average user type.

The kit we tested, which is the same you’ll get as a retail customer, includes the following:

  • Foldable FLY w/USB Connector
  • FLY Battery Pack
  • Various USB Connectors & USB Cable
  • Hanging system
  • Storage Bag

Charging, like others we’ve used in this space, depends on what sort of weather conditions you experience. Suffice it to say, cloudy and overcast days don’t quite work as quickly as it would on a bright sunny day.

It takes an average of around 3-4 hours to charge your smartphone from completely depleted to full. We find that this sort of device works well if you charge your phone overnight and then set it out in the sun by day. You can also carry the charger on your backpack or hang it on a tent with its included clip.

The battery is listed at 2100mAh which should fit most smartphones on the market today. This should also do the trick for most GPS devices, cameras, portable gaming devices, etc.


We appreciate the portability of the iLAND FLY in that it folds up nicely and goes into a bag rather easily. Not only does it go in a backpack without any trouble but it takes up very little space in suitcases, duffel bags, and even purses.

One of the best parts about the iLAND FLY comes in the warranty plan. Indeed, you get the standard one year coverage for material and workmanship. But, should you register your charger on their website within that year you’ll end up with two years of coverage.

You can learn more about the iLAND FLY and other solar charging options at iLAND’s website. Normally retailing for $149, it’s currently only $99.

The post iLAND FLY review appeared first on AndroidGuys.


NSA can reportedly bug computer equipment before it reaches buyers

NSA office

Don’t think that the NSA always has to wait until people are using technology to start snooping on it. Spiegel has obtained documents which claim that the agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group can intercept computer equipment orders and install tracking hardware or software before the shipments even reach their buyers. The division can target a wide array of hardware, too. Another NSA section, ANT, reportedly has a catalog of tools that can install back doors in everything from Cisco and Huawei network systems through to hard drives from most major manufacturers, including Seagate and Western Digital. Some of these bugs can give the NSA “permanent” access, since they’re designed to persist if the owner wipes a device’s storage or upgrades its firmware.

The leak suggests that the targeted manufacturers aren’t aware of what’s happening; Cisco and other firms tell Spiegel they don’t coordinate with the NSA. These hardware interceptions are also limited in scope next to remote surveillance programs. The agency isn’t confirming any specifics, but it maintains that TAO is focused on exploiting foreign networks. Whether or not that’s true, the discoveries show that the NSA’s surveillance can reach the deepest levels of many networks.

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Via: Gizmodo

Source: Spiegel (1), (2)


Time Machines: Casio gets smart at CES 2000

Welcome to Time Machines, where we offer up a selection of mechanical oddities, milestone gadgets and unique inventions to test out your tech-history skills. In the week’s leading up to the biggest gadget show on Earth, we’ll be offering a special look at relics from CES’ past.

Smart devices have infiltrated our outfits in many ways, but one in particular has been a staple of our ensembles for centuries. From pockets to wrists, its accessibility has also tempted inventors to add camera optics, dating as far back as the 1800s. Although we’ve refined these devices for years, advancements beyond timekeeping tend to come and go. Head past the break for more of the story.


There’s been a great deal of traction in the tech-enabled timepiece market lately, from the crowdfunded success of Pebble to the recent launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear. Not only can the latter connect wirelessly to select Samsung smartphones, but it can also take photos. And with snapshots becoming one of the main currencies in social media, camera-studded smart devices are on the rise. Thirteen years ago, Casio lead an early wave of wrist-worn camera tech with its launch of the WQV-1 Wrist Camera at the 2000 Winter Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, but it wasn’t the first to consider such a hybrid.

UK optics and photography company J. Lancaster & Son patented a telescoping camera that fit into a pocket watch-styled casing back in 1886. Although to fit the photo gear inside, they had to ditch the timekeeping tech entirely. It may have been good for secret selfies and clandestine snapshots, but not much else. Spin the clock ahead nearly a century to the 1970s and watches with LED displays like the Hamilton Pulsar P1 and Sinclair Black Watch began to pop up on the market. They had a futuristic look and backlit watch faces, but often suffered from poor battery life. During that same decade, the liquid crystal display (LCD) was also developed. It appeared in watches like the 1974 Casiotron, and converted electrical signals into illuminated digits that could display both time and date, and were typically more reliable in build quality than LEDs. By the time the ’80s rolled around, watches were getting significantly smarter with the addition of calculator functionality, but it wasn’t long before watches like the 1984 Seiko UC-2000 and its UC-2200 keyboard peripheral allowed users to do actual computing. By 1999, Samsung seemed to find inspiration in the tech-laden detective comic Dick Tracy and introduced its SPH-WP10, a CDMA-based watch that offered wireless phone functionality in a wrist-worn form factor.

When Casio released its WQV-1 Wrist Camera, it stepped up the gimmick game. It even hedged its bets and launched more than one unique watch at CES that year. Alongside the Wrist Camera, it also showed off its MP3 watch called the WMP-1V, which had a headphone jack so users could get their groove on and tell the time.

The WQV-1 Wrist Camera captured snapshots through a lens located just above the timepiece (facing away from the wearer). Images were perhaps best viewed on its 120 x 120 display due to the low image resolution (around 0.03 megapixel). Photos could be taken using three modes: Normal, a 16-shade grayscale monochrome; Art, two-tone only; and Merge, which combined two photos into a single shot. The photos could be exported as BMP or JPEG files, but you’d need a PC running Windows, as well as Casio’s proprietary infrared adapter and Link software. If you had a friend with a Wrist Camera, you could also beam photos directly to their watch. The 1MB of built-in storage could only hold about 100 images, but the monochromatic output and limited resolution likely didn’t provide many “keepers.”

Although the technology was still young, it was an iterative step forward in consumer wearables and as the years passed, other watch-based devices popped up — with varied results. Around the same time as the WQV-1 launch, IBM teamed up with Citizen and Tokyo Research Lab to work on its Linux-based WatchPad 1.5, exploring the possibilities of high-functioning, wrist-worn computers, but it failed to go beyond the prototype phase. In 2004, Microsoft’s Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) started arriving on watches to deliver MSN Direct services over FM airwaves, only to be discontinued in 2008 (followed by the MSN Direct service itself in 2012). The camera didn’t make a splash in the market again until this year, when Samsung launched the Galaxy Gear smartwatch. It’s an ambitious device, aiming to outdo the relatively simplistic functions of the popular Pebble by adding a full-color touchscreen and a 1.9-megapixel camera. Although watches have bigger brains than ever, the ones that have made it to market often fail to gain enduring success and many seem to rely heavily on companion devices for any significant functionality. If wrist-worn form factors continue to come up short in the camera department, snapshot addicts may have to look elsewhere for photographic convenience.

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Inhabitat’s Week in Green: SuperPier, reversing the aging process and an artificial, self-regulating heart

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.

Well folks, we’ve made it through two major holidays, with just one more to go. We can’t look into a crystal ball to see what 2014 has in store for us, but looking into Rawlemon’s Betaray prototype might be the next best thing: It’s a giant transparent marble capable of concentrating solar energy 10,000 times. If hanging out with all those nieces and nephews over the holidays has you feeling your age, you’ll be thrilled to know that Harvard scientists have successfully reversed the aging process in a group of laboratory mice. And if you’re already bored with typical 3D printing news, here’s something new: Boots Industries just developed a new 3D printer that’s capable of replicating itself.

Speaking of innovation, more than a couple of cutting-edge green architecture projects popped up on our radar this week. Not all are for the faint of heart, however. There’s Pierre-Yves Chays’ breathtaking glass cube that lets you “float” over the French Alps, and the Life Box is an inflatable emergency shelter full of survival supplies that can be dropped out of planes for victims of natural disasters. Once your heartbeat has settled down again, you’ll definitely want to check out the Whole Foods Market in Brooklyn that features a solar- and wind-powered parking lot, and SuperPier, a new shopping center in NYC that will be built entirely out of shipping containers (just don’t call it a mall!).

The end of the year is always a good time to look back on advances and accomplishments, especially in the world of technology. This year, we saw lots of action in the medical world, with bioengineering projects that made our jaws drop. Renowned French surgeon Alain Carpentier successfully transplanted what he calls the “world’s first fully artificial, self-regulating heart” into a 75-year-old man. BioPen proved that it’s possible to combine 3D printing with stem cell research to regrow missing or diseased bones. Meanwhile, a project called iLab is helping Haitian doctors 3D print much-needed medical supplies on demand. In other feel-good news, a Detroit non-profit called The Empowerment Plan is training homeless women to sew innovative winter coats that expand into sleeping bags, and Japan used LEDs to power-up its greenest Christmas ever.

All in all, it’s been a year chock-full of sustainable design and mind-boggling green technology. Help us decide which story was tops by voting for the most innovative new technology, the top news story, the top green kids design story and the top wearable technology concept of 2013!

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Research shows eye-reflections in photos could be used to identify criminals

Did you ever watch CSI’s tech boffins zoom into a photo, grab the reflection in someone’s eye, and through processing magic generate a full facial image of the wanted criminal? If, like us, you rolled your eyes at the program’s “Hollywood” technology, then maybe you did so too soon (again). Researchers at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, have effectively done just that. Okay, so the team was using near perfect conditions: a 39-megapixel Hasselblad H2D camera, shooting a subject from one meter away, in perfect lighting, but the results proved the idea is well within the realms of science fact. When looking at a close up of a subject’s eye, the team was able to grab an image between 27 to 36 pixels wide by 42 to 56 pixels high showing the face of one of the “bystanders” they had organised to be in the subject’s view. The reflected images proved good enough that when volunteers were asked to match the small image with that of the actual bystander, or someone of similar appearance, results came in well above chance averaging between 70- and 84 percent. As well as assisting in criminal investigations, the researchers claim the technique could also yield 3D environments, when images can be taken from both eyes. Of course, real-world application would require similarly optimal conditions, but as technology advances, the researches claim this could be an ever increasing scenario.

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Via: Sky News

Source: Plos One


The Best Way to Get More Views for Your Videos is to Buy YouTube Likes

YouTube is a website that has prided itself over the years for allowing users the chance to upload their personal videos and become known worldwide. The site launched globally in 2005, and since this time users have come to understand the significance of the site. Almost everyone who has ever visited YouTube is aware of how powerful the website is when it comes to advertising a product or service. Businesses can use this platform to present their products and services to numerous potential customers, but they will need to buy youtube likes so their business will have increased popularity among YouTube users.

YouTube has cemented its place as being the most popular video platform on the web. The videos that are uploaded to the site have the potential to be seen by millions of viewers. This makes this platform one of the most effective ways to introduce an online product or service. On YouTube you can find entrepreneurs, business people and others who are looking to gain worldwide notoriety and to be liked by people from all corners of the world.

People who upload videos can upload a video for each product or service they are selling. Once the videos are uploaded, they will simply need to wait for the users to view the video. A video that receives a lot of views will in turn receive likes as well. A video that has a significant amount of views and likes will also rank higher in the YouTube search.

However, in order to obtain enough views and likes to make your videos featured videos you will need to buy youtube likes. You can invest in these likes. They are not expensive, and you can even purchase packages from companies who specialize in providing likes for your videos. These packages are especially effective for new users who are uploading videos for the first time.

As your video’s view count increases, so does your video’s social proof. The message that you are sending out will be reached by thousands, even millions of people.

You can determine how effective this type of online marketing is for your company by the amount of likes the video has. This is why it is important that you buy as many likes as you can so you can ensure that the uploaded video will rank well in YouTube’s search results.

Depending on the industry you are marketing in, your products and services may face stiff competition. The only way you can make sure that your video ranks higher than your competitors is to buy the necessary likes for your video. This will require you to make an investment in order to gain the upper hand over the competition, and so your potential customers become familiar with your products and services.

You can find many websites online where you can buy youtube likes. Social Fan Geek provides these services for business owners, and the website guarantees that its packages will increase your video’s view count. All likes are from real people and not bots. The company guarantees fast delivery, and offers customers a refund if it does not deliver what it promises.


Learn How To Get Youtube Views With This Advice

When you want to learn how to get Youtube views you may think that there is a lot to learn. You would be right, and that’s what this article is going to show you. Take some time to read the tips below to help you with this.

There are already so many videos out there that you have to make sure you make videos that stand out from the crowd. Before you make your video, you should try looking for similar videos like the one you have in mind. This will let you see that there are a lot of things that the people you’re watching may have missed out on. You can be sure to get the best ideas by checking out other people, but make it a point not to copy anyone totally. If you do that, then it will be hard to get a good reputation.

Get some good camera equipment so you can make your video have good quality. Nothing gets you more viewers than having a video that’s crisp looking and doesn’t have anything like a slow webcam recording you. There are a lot of cameras out now, but the main thing to do would be to get one that’s not too expensive or not too cheap. Getting a model that’s in the middle would be the best for your videos. You can learn how to get Youtube views if you just learn that people want to see things that they can share.

To advertise your videos, you should sign up for a social media website. This kind of site is free to use, and it’s the most popular thing out there because it’s what most people get online to check out. There are always people that are going to check out your videos if they’re interesting and if they can share them on their social media pages. Make sure you instruct people to share if they like it. That way, you’ll be sure to attract more people on your friend’s friend lists because they’ll hopefully be sharing the things you share with them.

Know that it’s never a good idea to make a video that has copyrighted music or content. You don’t want to show products from companies, and you shouldn’t be using just any music or sound effects that you can find. If you are copying things like that and Youtube finds out, they may disable the audio in your video or they will take it down completely if you’re violating any kind of copyright laws. Either come up with your own content, or you should shoot the creator of whatever content you want to use an e-mail to ask if you’re able to use their work.

Learning how to get Youtube views isn’t too hard once you have the right kind of information like you read here. Just take this slow and do your best to put what you’ve learned here into practice if you want to get the most views.


U.S. Tablet Sales Led by iPad in 2013 as Chromebooks Overtake MacBooks

The iPad held the biggest share of unit sales for any tablet in the United States throughout 2013, while sales of Google Chromebooks made up a bigger percentage of the laptop market compared to Mac notebooks, according to a new report from The NPD Group.

The data in the report showed that the iPad accounted for 15.8% of personal computing device sales, which was greater than that of Android tablets at 8.7% and Windows tablets at 2.2%. However, the iPad’s share of unit sales in the U.S. this year is down from the year-ago period, where it made up for 17.1% of sales. Sales of both Android tablets and Windows tablets grew by 4.5% and 1.4%, respectively.

Meanwhile, sales of Chromebooks in the United States grew to 9.6% in 2013, surpassing the 1.8% share of unit sales held by Apple notebooks. Windows notebooks still held on to 34.1% of the market, but was down 8.8% from the 42.9% share it held last year.

The news follows a report in October stating that Mac sales were down 7% year-over-year for the full September quarter, as the decline of traditional PC sales as a whole is likely due in part to the rising popularity of tablets.

Both the iPad and the MacBook line of notebooks saw refreshes this year, as Apple announced the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display along with updated models of the 13-inch and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro at its October event. New versions of the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air were also announced at Apple’s WWDC keynote this past June, and featured enhanced performance with significantly improved battery life.

Apple could also be gearing up to release new types of both products in 2014. Rumors of a larger-size iPad for release in 2014 have surfaced occasionally throughout the past few months, and a report in October from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that Apple may be planning to release a 12-inch MacBook with an all-new design in the middle of 2014.



Roku player software cracked open temporarily, root now to run XBMC later

Roku’s line of set-top boxes have been popular thanks to their simple controls, large set of available apps (recently expanded to include YouTube for the new Roku 3) and hardware ranging in price from inexpensive to downright cheap. Still, despite an active and encouraged developer community with custom channels and well-supported media player apps like Plex, the hardware has remained largely on lockdown — until now. The GTVHacker team that previously unlocked Google TV and Chromecast has found a way to run its commands as root on any Roku 2 or Roku 3 using the most recent software version (unfortunately, that does not at this time include Sky TV’s cheap Now TV player, which runs on older software). While the player overall is credited as “considerably more secure than others in the entertainment field” (Samsung comes to mind but it’s from from the only one) a development password field provided a way in.

Currently they’ve only achieved persistence on the Roku 2, which in this case means they can maintain control even after the box reboots by breaking the secure boot process and modifying the initial boot loader. Since Roku 2 runs on the same Broadcom chip used by the popular Raspberry Pi, team member CJ Heres expects to see ports for third-party home theater PC software like XBMC very quickly. The Roku 3 will be a bit trickier since it runs on different hardware, and right now it needs to have the command entered each time the box starts.

Those well-versed in using the command line should find the process simple. A WGET command entered via the development password field pulls down a script — available from the GTVHacker team — that makes sure you have the right box and does all the dirty work before rebooting, leaving you with a rooted box, as seen above. Hardware level access on mobile platforms has lead to a number of custom software projects and we’ll have to see if the same path is followed here, but if all this does is create a simple $40 XBMC box, it’s probably still worth looking into — and quickly, the team expects this security hole will be patched soon.

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Source: GTVHacker

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