Zesty.co.uk launched this time last year as an online portal for booking last-minute dentist appointments at clinics across London. While it’s no doubt been useful for anyone that needs an emergency (and likely extortionately priced) filling, the site has now expanded to help you access other healthcare services at short notice. Whether you’re in need of a chiropractor, osteopath, physiotherapist or sexual health professional, you can use Zesty to check for open appointments in your local area. You can even book in to see a GP, but only at private clinics — for a short-notice slot at your own NHS surgery, we’re afraid you’ll still have to be on the phone by 7am. In its quest to “make healthcare appointments as easy as ordering a pizza,” Zesty plans to go almost UK-wide later this year and release a native app to compliment its mobile-optimised site. Before you get the wrong impression from Zesty’s strange tagline and accompanying imagery: your pizza delivery guy is not qualified to give medical advice.
Filed under: Internet
We’ve come a long, long way since the days when smart wristwear did little more than track your footsteps. Need proof? Smash has unveiled a wearable dedicated to tennis. The wristband uses motion sensors to track many aspects of your swing, ranging from spin to your favorite shot types. Once you’re done attacking the ball, you can check your performance through a connected Android or iOS device — it’ll be clear if your volleys need more power, or your backhand is inconsistent.
Smash is crowdfunding its gadget with hopes of shipping it in February. If you’re looking to improve your game, it’ll currently take a $129 Australian pledge ($119 US plus $10 in shipping) to get the finished wearable; wait until the planned release and the device will set you back $199 AUD ($184 US). That’s as much as some nicer general-purpose fitness trackers, but it may be justified if you absolutely have to be victorious on the tennis court.
Filed under: Wearables
It’s not a great time to be a Nintendo fan. Forecasts are falling; profits are down; and Nintendo’s new console just can’t bottle the lightning its predecessor left behind. The faithful may believe that the Wii U will pull through (after all, Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. are just around the corner), but even diehard fans need something to play in the meantime. Look backward, friends: The Nintendo Wii still has some life in it. Dust off your Wiimotes and don your protective jackets — we’ve found four ways to revitalize your old Wii.
Throw out your composite cables
Remember that standard definition video cable you found in the Wii’s retail box? Toss that out: It’s junk. The Wii isn’t a high-def game console, but that’s no reason to settle for outmoded video input. Upgrading to component cables makes games noticeably sharper; just make sure you hop into your Wii’s settings menu to enable 480p output.
Protip: If your TV is too hip for component cables, search out the Wii2HDMI dongle. It does exactly what it says it does: drags your Wii into the modern paradigm of home theater cabling.
Buy better controllers
Speaking of substandard equipment that came in the box, we need to talk about the Wii Remote. This white wand may have ushered in a new era of motion-controlled gaming, but it’s actually the least advanced motion controller of its generation. Nintendo eventually tried to fix this with the Wii Motion Plus, an uncomfortable gyroscope attachment that hung awkwardly from the controller’s expansion port. Toss these out too — Nintendo’s newer Wiimotes come with the extra sensor baked in. They’re compatible with the Wii U, too, should you ever want to upgrade.
Protip: If you have even a passing interest in Nintendo’s Virtual Console, take a look at the Classic Controller Pro. It doesn’t have any fancy motion controls, but it’s compatible with every classic on the Wii Shop Channel.
Leverage the library
The Wii U may be facing a drought of AAA releases, but its predecessor was flush with them. The Wii has a killer collection of first-party titles, including two Legend of Zelda games, both Super Mario Galaxy titles, the fantastic Metroid Prime Trilogy and even the return of the Donkey Kong Country franchise. Not good enough? There’s a wide assortment of third-party games to choose from, too: Games like House of the Dead: Overkill, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Okami, A Boy and his Blob and Sonic Colors have plenty to offer, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you neglected your Wii in favor of the previous generation’s powerhouses, now’s a great time to see what you missed.
Protip: It’s no secret that the Wii is a beefed-up GameCube. Find yourself a wired controller and memory card and pilfer that library too.
Hack your Wii
Still not enough? You’ve got one more avenue of Wii resuscitation, and it’s a biggie: homebrew. The Nintendo Wii is probably the most hackable game console ever made. With little more than an SD card, the internet and some moxie, the old system can do, well, almost anything. The homebrew community has created USB loaders, classic game emulators, cheat engines, DVD players and even Wii-specific Linux distributions.
Setting it up is easy, too: The same LetterBomb trick that unlocked the Wii in 2011 still works today. After that, it’s as simple as loading a few apps onto a SD card and calling up the Homebrew Channel. Not sure what apps to load? Check out an application called Homebrew Browser (not to be confused with the aforementioned channel) — it serves as a makeshift marketplace for the console, maintaining a downloadable list of popular games, apps and emulators.
[Image credit: hermitsmoores/Flickr (composite cables); Radharc Images/Alamy (Wii game cases)]
For those looking for the successor of the LG G Flex and LG Vu 3, this one’s for you. LG plans on releasing the successors to these phones sometime in the second half of 2014. The company held a press event in Seoul, right after the LG G3 announcement, explaining the company’s plans to release the G Flex 2 and the Vu 4 later this year.
Though the G Flex isn’t the most popular device out there, we can’t help but get excited for what LG has in store for us. LG have already pushed the boundaries as to what smartphones are capable of, especially with new screen technology. The G Flex has completely blown Samsung’s Galaxy Round out of the water when it comes to curved smartphones, so we’ll have to see what improvements bring later this year.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Vu series, don’t beat yourselves up. The Vu 3 was mostly contained to the Korean market, so we likely won’t see a US release for the Vu 4. The Vu line has struggled to keep up with the phablets of today, mostly due to its 4:3 display ratio.
We aren’t surprised that LG is releasing a follow up to these two phones, but it never hurts to have a bit of confirmation here and there. We’ll have more news for you as more information surfaces on these devices. What do you think the G Flex 2 and Vu 4 will bring? We’d love to hear your opinions!
While phones, tablets, phablets, and other everyday devices are always updated, re-invented, and tweaked, the world of accessories remains a fairly stale landscape. Chargers, mounting systems, cases, and the like haven’t offered a new way of doing things in quite a while.
We have received an accessory product that actually does offer a different way to approach an age-old problem; that is, the one of the grubby and finger-smeared screen. A common solution we find is the disposable wipe that resemble the ones you get with your order of ribs at the local BBQ joint. You have probably seen the spray & dry wipe combo you might use for eyeglasses. One company has come up with a new portable and longer-lasting product. That product is the Häns Swipe-Clean multi-use screen cleaner and below is a review of its performance on AG-staffers’ devices.
This reusable cleaning system comes in a form factor that should immediately remind you of a short deodorant stick, but with caps at each end. Under the top cap is a non-removable cleaning block soaked in a proprietary cleaning solution. As-purchased, the cleaning solution should last up to 500 swipes. While the solution is stated to be “eco-friendly” their press release does emphasize to not let the cleaning solution remain on exposed device ports (micro-USB and the like). Refill bottles of the solution are available, and provide up to 6,000 additional swipes to be had. This cleaning end is sealed by way of the cap and rubber o-ring (pictured above-right).
Under the bottom cap is the polishing block, which consists of a long “five-layer antimicrobial-treated microfiber polishing” sheet, rolled around a block for structure. This sheet & block can be removed and re-rolled to get a cleaner portion of the sheet exposed for polishing purposes (pictured below). Both ends are infused with nano-silver ions for the antimicrobial properties.
Using the Swipe-Clean is easy enough, and pretty self-explanatory. You take a dirty device of your choosing, remove the top cap, and swipe around your screen to remove all the grease, grime, fingerprints, and peanut butter (that’s in my house; your screen debris may vary). Once done, you then cap the cleaning end, uncap the polishing (bottom) end, and then make like a window washer and effectively squeegee up and down over the screen surface. Repeat as needed. Though repeating isn’t likely, unless you simply miss a spot. We have to say that this product works extremely well. I purposely smudged my Moto X with fingerprints and smears of my morning-snack banana. Bringing the screen back to a perfect sheen took just a few swipes each of the cleaning and polishing ends of the Swipe-Clean.
I also encouraged others in my household to try it out, with the only instruction being the difference between the cleaning and polishing ends. Everyone came back rather amazed. Our usual method is the disposable screen wipes; these almost always create frustration in not ever getting that “like-new” gloss to a screen. Not so with the Swipe-Clean; we posted a 100% satisfaction rate! I personally love this thing, though being we live in a disposable society, I wonder if folks will keep up with changing the polishing pad position and refilling over time…. The Swipe-Clean’s suggested retail price will be $15, with a refill bottle going for $7. You can also pick up a Häns bundle, which includes (2) Swipe-Cleans and (1) Clean refill bottle for $32. These products are available at hans-swipe.com and amazon.com.
Intel CEO brought a robotic companion named Jimmy with him on stage at Code Conference today. Jimmy is a 3D-printed robot capable of walking, moving his arms, dancing and even tweeting, and it’s the key to Intel’s vision of the future of robotics. Starting later this year, the company will make an open source 3D-printable robot kit available to consumers for $1,600, with a research version for $16,000. The former will run on Intel Edison, the company’s computer-on-a-chip, while the latter will be powered by a Core i5 processor.
The ASUS PadFone has always been a device that many of here in states have been eyeballing. not just for its unique phone/tablet ability, but because it never officially made its way stateside. We knew the PadFone X would be coming when they announced it back in January at CES. Finally we can put the when and how much speculations to rest. AT&T has announced in their newsroom this morning that the ASUS PadFone X will be making its way to the carrier on June 6th with the usual two purchasing options. You can pay $22.92 a month on AT&T Next for 18 months, or $29.80 a month on the Next 12. If you prefer those silly contracts you can grab it for $199.
“We are proud to add the innovative ASUS PadFone X to AT&T’s leading device portfolio,” said Jeff Bradley, senior vice president – Devices, AT&T. “PadFone X provides tremendous value and flexibility to consumers. It combines a powerful smartphone with a 9-inch PadFone station and runs on the network that covers more than 99 percent of all Americans4.”
The standalone phone is a 5-inch Android 4.4 toting device with a 13MP camera.It sports a Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM and 16GB onboard storage.
It is the PadFones ability to dock inside a 9-inch tablet that resizes the phones display on screen. Giving you a unique phone/tablet hybrid device all wrapped into one device and one service provider.
While the over all specs might not put it into he high-end category anymore, it is still a unique device that should pack plenty of punch and value for many people.
Square has so far focused on helping businesses take payments; now, it’s ready to make payments to get those businesses off the ground. The company has launched Square Capital, a quick loan service that uses card transactions for repayment. Every time someone makes a purchase, a small cut of that sale (on top of the usual card fee) goes toward covering the advance. Square is purposefully keeping things as simple as that. There’s no application process, and there’s no due date — if business gets slow, it just takes a bit longer to pay off the loan.
Capital is new territory for Square, which is diving into the banking world in earnest after testing its service for a year. However, it has an edge over conventional institutions. As it’s already tracking payments in some cases, it has a better sense of how much a business can afford to pay; it may be more comfortable with lending money to young shops if it knows they’re already thriving. The new program may not help struggling outfits looking for rescue money, then, but it could help up-and-comers that just need a small financial boost to keep growing.
Filed under: Internet
Via: Financial Times
AT&T promised back in January that it would launch ASUS’ PadFone X hybrid, but the device has been stuck in limbo ever since — the carrier hasn’t given out much more than specs for the phone-and-tablet combo. Today, though, there’s finally a date to mark on your calendar. The PadFone X should be available on June 6th for $199 on a two-year contract, or $23 per month if you buy it on an 18-month Next payment plan.
The hardware hasn’t changed in the space of half a year, although it’s still reasonably current. The core phone is a 5-inch Android device with a speedy Snapdragon 800 processor, 16GB of expandable storage and a 13-megapixel rear camera; the 9-inch tablet shell provides a bigger screen for the docked phone as well as an extra battery and wireless charging. You can’t exactly call this a timely launch, but it’s still big news for Americans who’ve previously had to import ASUS’ two-in-one device concept.
The Leap Motion controller is a curious little motion sensor, but it isn’t always easy to use. The hand-sensing tech has a tendency to lose sight of your fingers are and almost every application that uses it has its own learning curve. Soon, that might change — today Leap is launching the public beta for its next generation (V2) tracking software. This free update makes some big promises, including improved resistance to sunlight and infrared interference, better tracking algorithms and, best of all, the ability to track individual joints. We dropped by the company’s San Francisco office to try it out and found the update to be a significant improvement.
“V1 is a great experience for early adopters,” Leap CEO Michael Buckwald told us. “But what we want to do with V2 is make interacting with the computer the same as interacting with the physical world.” Leap’s new software helps. The update’s predictive software allows the device to track controllers that aren’t directly seen by its sensors. Buckwald showed us on a demo machine: a flat hand could easily be seen by a V1-equipped computer, but in a vertical orientation, all but the lowest hanging digit disappeared. V2 accurately tracked all five fingers. It sounds simple, but it’s a game changer: developers can now implement more delicate pinch and grab motions. Buckwald pulled up a demo for that too, and asked us to pick up and toss a collection of ragdoll soldiers. It was easy, just as it should be.
The update also encourages developers to include a hand model in their applications. “The vision has always been that using leap should feel just like reaching through the screen and grabbing something,” he explains. “That’s how it feels with the onscreen hand — seeing all your joints and fingers and watching it move as your real hand moves.” While the onscreen limb isn’t quite as flexible as the real deal, it makes the learning curve shallow. ” If the actual interaction is a commodity like that, the focus can be on being creative.”
The update is available to developers now, but there aren’t many applications that use it just yet. Still, it’s an encouraging evolution for the Leap Motion controller, and bleeds of the same thing the device always has: potential.
Filed under: Misc