Tag Archive | "Gadgets"

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Lenovo Gets Serious About $130 PC on a stick

Posted on 29 June 2015 by GranTorinoGuy

The PC market hasn’t deviated much from its original home-market conception. Since that time, we have seen the advancements in software and faster hardware with some high definition output interface devices add to the formula. Lenovo, one of the world’s leading PC makers, is attempting to shape up the PC market in a new, small way with its newly-announce PC on a stick.

Starting at a price of $130, PC on a stick by Lenovo, dubbed the Ideacentre Stick 300, promises to deliver the performance of a Windows PC but in a bite-sized portion. What is essentially a mini-PC, is almost 4 inches wide, 1.5 inches deep and .59 inches high – nearly the size of a larger form-factor USB stick.

The idea behind PC on stick is to carry it wherever you go with unsurpassed mobility and just plug it into any HDMI port of a TV or PC monitor. In doing so, you will be able to run all onboard applications and files stored on the device, which carries up to 2GB of memory and 32GB of storage.

For connectivity to utilize the PC on a stick, the Ideacentre Stick 300 has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 along with one HDMI port, one MicroUSB 2.0 port and one SD card reader. Powering the small “workhorse” that it is, is left to an Intel Atom processor. There is even a tiny speaker built into the device.

Windows 8.1 will initially ship with the new PC on a stick and later be eligible for a Windows 10 upgrade once Microsoft drops the new operating system. Basically, use of the new Ideacentre Stick 300 will only require your home TV (that has a HDMI port), a wireless Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

Lenovo’s general manager for Worldwide Desktop and Visuals, Jun Ouyang, said in a press release, “Our goal with the Ideacentre Stick 300 is to give those users a sense of freedom and enhanced mobility, while packing a serious punch in a small device.”

Whether the PC on a stick concept will pan out to be a viable option for consumers has yet to be seen. The uses for the device make sense in a world where streaming media is taking a front seat in the homes of “enabled” consumers. The PC on a stick could essentially be your gateway to an interactive TV set or means of making your work environment portable without lugging around your handy laptop. Either way, we look to give this concept a chance and see how it fairs on the new-age tech horizon.

Popularity: 5%

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Throttle That Unlimited Data – Do We Have a Problem?

Posted on 18 June 2015 by GranTorinoGuy

ATT is to get struck with a $100 million fine from the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) due to throttling data on their unlimited plans and not proper conveying the information to their customers. What many are reporting as a deception on ATT’s part is more of a serious issue that many companies are doing. The thing is, is it a problem with the users and do they know what is going on with this so-called throttling of data on unlimited 4G LTE plans.

Communications and data infrastructures are the largest they have ever been. Technology is ruling the world and those of us who take our data availability and frequency of that data for granted may be in for a shocker. Believe it or not, but the data systems that provide services to your devices are probably not robust enough to provide an unlimited data service to everyone signed up all at the same time. Basically, if everyone accessing data was to sign on and start streaming a high-definition movie all at the same time, something will eventually crash on the data provider’s end.

With the companies like ATT knowing what will happen if their systems are taxed to the brink of crashing, they have cleverly put in measures to throttle data to supposedly provide everyone data services without interruption. This means that when someone is considered by ATT to be using too much “unlimited” data, the flow of that data is slowed down to make way for others on the service to avoid interruptions or conflicts due to the systems not being able to handle the load.

Many critics and consumers of unlimited plans have lashed out against such practices by these gargantuan companies. The FCC too has heard these complaints and are looking to start cracking down on the practices – mostly due to the companies not properly disclosing that they will be throttling data transfer for their unlimited services.

Fine print has been a messy case when it comes to consumers attempting to get what they want or think that they deserve. Rightfully so, an unlimited data plan should be just that, unlimited. In the scheme of what companies like ATT are seeing, unlimited data may resemble something else when you dig deep into the fine print and interpret it in a specific way – a way that ATT wants you to see so they don’t get slapped on the hands by the FCC.

Not only is ATT being scrutinized from these practices, but Sprint is taking a proactive measure and is putting a stop to their data throttling adhering to new Net neutrality rules.

What do you say? If you are on an unlimited data plan have you ever experienced or noticed data throttling. Do you think it is right for them to do such a thing? Should companies like ATT properly disclosed this information and would you have been happy with them saying so up front before you plop down your hefty monthly fee for your “unlimited” services?

Popularity: 7%

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Apple Patents Curved Touch Screens Hinting Towards Next Mobile Tech Craze

Posted on 10 December 2013 by GranTorinoGuy

Everyone is always on the hunt for the next best thing but in the interim we suspect that curved touch screens will be a hit amongst mobile devices as Apple has just received a patent for curved touchscreens and displays.

According to AppleInsider, the method Apple patented is designed to create a curved screen that remains to be fully touch sensitive without any distortion. Such a display is hinted towards use not only in upcoming iPhones or other mobile devices, but in items like an upcoming magic mouse or even another desktop application device.

Curved screens can almost be thought of something old becoming new again only this time it is in the ‘flat’ screen vernacular, without any pun intended. With Apple filing such a patent it would mean the current curved glass mobile devices from competitors like LG and Samsung will all be a part of a new family of screens that evade the normal flat design.

In a Bloomberg report in November experts went out on a ledge and guessed that the company is working on a curved glass iPhone for release in late 2014 and at the same time building out better touch input for future devices. This current patent certainly lines up with this thinking.

Of course the true benefits of curved glass have yet to see the light of day outside of being just a fashion fad. Maybe something else is up with the whole curved screen idea, or patent in Apple’s case.

What do you think about curved touch screens or curved glass devices? Any benefit to them over current mobile devices or tablets?

Popularity: 22%

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Five biggest Tech ‘flops’ in 2010

Posted on 07 December 2010 by GranTorinoGuy

Some other gadgets which proved popular in 2010.

Some other gadgets which proved popular in 2010.

These are not the top five biggest technology flops this year. But they certainly did not live up the expectations they promised when they were unveiled earlier this year. We’ll work our way from the bottom up.

5. Apple iPad

Well this is the pick that we’re probably going to take the most flak over, but it deserves to be on the list and here’s why: The iPad has been a mega-hit, there’s no denying that. With over 7 million of them were sold in its first six months on the market, it has changed the computing industry more than any single product has in the past decade.

But, the iPad has been hyped to the point that too many people are thinking of it as full laptop replacement. Well, unfortunately it is not. While the iPad has definitely devoured the lower end of the laptop market, especially netbooks, you have to keep in mind that most of those buyers are looking for a second, more portable machine. In business, the iPad is a great fit for consultants and field workers who are not sitting behind desks but are out interacting with customers, and also for executives who spend all day in meetings. However, it’s still not that great for people who need to sit down and efficiently plow through a lot of work. And that’s a lot of people!

4. Microsoft Kinect

Bill Gates was talking about this product for years, even long before it even had a name. When Nintendo Wii came out, Gates said the real innovation would be when you could play a tennis video game while holding your own racket instead of a game controller. To Microsoft’s credit, the company has almost entirely brought that vision to life with Microsoft Kinect, a new add-on for Xbox 360 which is already flying off the shelves this festive season.

The Kinect is a pretty cool experience (when it works) as it allows you to jump into a video game to play football, kick soccer balls and run obstacle courses right in the middle of your living room, without breaking anything. It’s great exercise and it’s quite accurate at the best of times. It doesn’t work too well in rooms with direct sunlight though and the facial recognition feature is absolutely awful. Plus the navigating menus with the gesture interface is annoyingly slow.

The Kinect is a very cool innovation, but it’s very gimmicky and raw, and it doesn’t work as well as the commercials say.

3. Samsung Galaxy Tab

The most innovative thing about the Galaxy Tab is that Samsung was the first vendor to finally bring an Android tablet to the mass market. We’ve been hearing all year that an army of Android tablets would be invading in waves. It never happened, mainly because Google never released a tablet version of Android and threw cold water on the early vendors that attempted to do their own Android tablet adaptations.

Samsung took its successful Galaxy S line of Android smartphones and kicked it up a notch into a 7-inch Android tablet, and voilà, out popped the Galaxy Tab. While Samsung did an excellent job with the hardware, the software leaves a lot to be desired and the product is badly overpriced. The Galaxy Tab has been portrayed as the iPad’s first real competitor, but I’d recommend waiting until the price drops, or until Google releases the official tablet version of Android, and the other big vendors release their Android tablets in the first half of 2011.

2. Google TV

Google TV is disappointing, to say the least. If Google focused on bringing Android apps to the flatscreen instead of trying to webify the television experience, this product may have worked. It has been said that apps in Google TV will transform entertainment by essentially lowering the bar on creating a TV “channel,” and not just an old school cable channel but a fully multimedia-enabled interactive channel.

That’s still possible, but it would require a strategy change. What the Google has attempted to do with this product is marry Web video with traditional cable/satellite all controlled by one box that you can use to search for the content you want. Unfortunately, the user experience is confusing and tedious. If you really want Web pages and Web video clips on your TV, just hook up a PC or a Mac for goodness sake. If you want fast content from the Internet (podcasts, Netflix streaming, Hulu Plus, etc.) delivered in a TV-like experience, get a Roku box, it’s a third of the price of Google TV.

1. 3DTV

This is an even bigger gimmick than Microsoft Kinect. The craze started at the CES 2010 earlier this year and carried all the way through to this holiday season. The TV vendors told the world that the next big step in television is 3DTV and that you can have it today by buying their new premium TVs and polarized glasses. The problem is that neither the tech press nor the public is buying it.

In January, it was obvious that TV vendors saw 3DTV as “the next big thing” to keep people buying new TVs and to get early adapters to replace their newly-purchased flat panels with 3D models. The tech press sniffed this out right away at CES 2010 and panned the idea, knowing that buyers don’t want to replace the new TVs they’ve just purchased in recent years and even fewer will want to wear 3D glasses in their own living rooms. But, vendors are still trying to ram 3DTVs down consumers throats with big displays at Best Buy, Costco, and other retailers this holiday season.

Which other gadgets do you think should make the list. Share your thoughts by commenting below.

Popularity: 18%

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New Telenoid R1 Bot is ‘Minimalistic Human’

Posted on 03 August 2010 by GranTorinoGuy

Telenoid 1's creators say the robot can provide comfort to the elderly.

Telenoid 1's creators say the robot can provide comfort to the elderly.

Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro has unveiled his latest creation, and it’s a far cry from the ultra-lifelike robot clones he has produced in the past.

Meet Telenoid R1, designed to be a “minimalistic human.”

Creating humanoid clones is Ishiguro’s primary hobby. The Telenoid R1 telepresence robot trades extremities for an androgynous doll-like body, which researchers at Osaka University and ATR describe as “soft and pleasant”.

The $35,000 prototype transmits both the voice and head motions of a remote operator, allowing users to visit their elders via internet-equipped PCs, and a final version will actually go on sale later this year for around $8,000.

The Telenoid R1 Telepresence Robot weighs in at 11lbs and the robots arms, tail, eyes and mouth all move in sync with the user, and it features a total of 9 actuators.

The users facial expressions are transmitted to the robot through FaceAPI software which is used to track eyes, mouth and head movements.

Other reports refer to the Telenoid R1 as “creepy-looking” and something which “will haunt your dreams for all eternity“.

The videos below illustrate Telenoid R1′s ability to comfort the elderly.

Do you think Telenoid R1 looks creepy. Tell us your thoughts by commenting below.

Popularity: 9%

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This is how Sony rolls… New LED screens get super-flexible

Posted on 27 May 2010 by GranTorinoGuy

Sony has developed an amazing rollable OLED display screen. It even has the ability to be wrapped around a pencil.

The Japanese home electronics giant has managed to construct what it describes as a super-flexible, 80-micrometer thick screen that uses high-performance organic thin-film transistors (ORFTs). The prototype full-color screen may only measure 4.1 inches at present, but the company has high hopes that the technology will take off in the same way as 3D television technology has boomed recently.

Sony will unveil the prototype screen on Thursday (May 27) on the penultimate day of the Society for Information Display’s international symposium in Seattle, Washington.

Check out this awesome video.

Tell us what you think of this latest technology by commenting below.

Popularity: 9%

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Your Hand Makes Phonecalls With Skinput

Posted on 21 April 2010 by SlimboCA

You can make calls from your hand with Skinput.

You can make calls from your hand with Skinput.

Imagine mobile phones were the size of matchboxes. Full-sized keyboards, Internet access and videos, but you’d never ever have to touch them. Sound like a futuristic sci-fi movie? Maybe not!

A graduate at Carnegie Mellon University and a former intern at Microsoft’s Redmond research lab, Chris Harrison has developed a prototype of a system called Skinput that essentially turns a person’s hand and forearm into a keyboard and screen.

Using Skinput, a person could amazingly tap their thumb and middle finger together to answer a call; touch their forearm to go to the next track on a music player; or flick the center of their palm to select a menu item. All of these sign-language-like movements, which are customizable, would control a gadget in a person’s pocket through a Bluetooth connection. When fitted with a pico-projector, the Skinput system could display an image of a digital keyboard on a person’s forearm. So, using Skinput, someone could send text messages by tapping his or her arm in certain places – without pulling the phone out. The system, which has been under development for eight months, won’t be commercially available for two to seven years.

Take a look at two videos that explain Skinput’s capabilities.

Your Body as a Touchscreen Video

Skinput: Appropriating the Body as an Input Surface (CHI 2010) Video

According to Harrison the accuracy of the deivice is good, but it’s not quite consumer-level yet. Skinput is one of a number of prototypes, ideas and near-products aiming to make computing more natural. These devices seek to move beyond the mouse and physical keyboard, letting people communicate with their gadgets by gesturing, using sign language or, in the case of Skinput, tapping on their hands, fingers and forearms.

Understanding how Skinput works makes it seem all the more futuristic. The system turns a person’s arm and hand into a wiggling, pulsating instrument, full of vibrations that can be picked up and translated.

Skinput users wear an armband – the prototype version is made of an elbow brace – that’s lined with 10 sensors. These sensors look like tiny diving boards with dumbbells on one end, and they pick up inaudible sounds that range in frequency from 25 to 78 hertz. When a Skinput user taps a thumb and middle finger together, the impact sends ripples down the skin and through the bones in the person’s arm. “They sort of start resonating — like guitar strings,” Harrison said. The diving-board receivers read the sound waves to figure out what gesture the person made, and then relay that information to a phone.

Skinput can tell whether a person tapped a middle finger or an index finger, because the two moves sound slightly different to the springy receivers. The system takes one or two minutes to learn the sounds of a particular person’s arm, and then it can be used however the user likes.

The most profound achievement of Skinput is proving that the human body can be used as a sensor. A person might walk toward their home, tap their palm to unlock the door and then tap some virtual buttons on their arms to turn on the TV and start flipping through channels.

What do think about this latest technology? How would you like to have your body as a touchscreen?

Popularity: 24%

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Mobile Computing Minus the Hardware

Posted on 14 April 2010 by GranTorinoGuy

Groundbreaking new technology is eliminating the need for bulky computers and gadgets.

Imagine using your hands to manipulate a computer screen you simply drew on a wall with your fingertips, or using the palm of your hand to make a phone call, and capturing a photo by merely using your fingers to frame your desired shot. All this sounds far-fetched, and quite frankly impossible, but TEDIndia‘s, Pranav Mistry is making all of this a reality, and he’s sharing it for the world to use.

Mistry’s revolutionary software will likely change the way we interact with computers forever.

In this video Mistry demos several tools that help the physical world interact with the world of data – including a look at his SixthSense device and a new, paradigm-shifting paper “laptop”. And in an onstage interview, Mistry reveals that he will open-source the software behind SixthSense, to open its amazing possibilities to all.

What do you think about this amazing technology, it’s benefits and the problems it poses for industry giants such as Microsoft and Apple. Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.

Popularity: 16%

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Computer Reads Your Mind, No Hands Needed

Posted on 05 March 2010 by GranTorinoGuy

This guy is using his mind to play pinball with the latest technology.

This guy is using his mind to play pinball with the latest technology.

If you can think it, you can make it happen.

This sentiment has inspired inventors to create technology which is totally out of this world. The new devices allow people to use the power of their BRAINS to control computers. These latest inventions drew huge crowds at the CeBIT technology fair where hundreds gathered around to watch a guy play pinball without using his hands.

A spokesman from the Berlin Brain Computer Interface – one of the companies who created this technology – says if the man thinks left-hand or right-hand, the electrodes monitor the brain waves associated with that thought, sends the information to a computer, which then moves the flippers.

But this technology is much more than a fun gadget, it could very easily be used to save your life. Scientists are looking at ways to monitor motorists’ brain waves to improve their reaction times. In an emergency situation, the brain activity kicks in on average around 200 milliseconds before even an alert driver actually hits the brakes.

Using this brain-wave monitoring technology, a car can also tell whether the driver is drowsy or not, potentially warning him or her to rest. At the g.tec stall, visitors watched as a man sat in front of a screen with a large keyboard, with the letters flashing in an ordered sequence. The user concentrates hard when the chosen letter flashes and the brain waves stimulated at this exact moment are registered by the computer and the letter appears on the screen. The technology takes a long time – it took the man around four minutes to write a five-lettered word – but researchers say it will definitely speed up in future.

Another device can control robots by using brain power. The small box has lights flashing at different frequencies at four points similar to a compass. The user concentrates on the corresponding light, depending on whether he wants the robot to move up, down, left or right and the brainwaves generated by viewing that frequency are monitored and the robot is controlled. The technology is being perfected for physically disabled people as well, who will soon be able to communicate and operate other devices using their brain.

According to g.tec in the future, people will be able to control wheelchairs, open doors and turn their televisions on with their minds.

Popularity: 100%

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Top Tech Gadgets of CES 2009

Posted on 13 January 2010 by GranTorinoGuy

The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the world’s largest consumer technology trade show.

This year it featured 2700 exhibitors, but it wasn’t simply about showcasing the latest TVs and audio systems; a range of new products emerged that could redefine how technology will be used to interact in future.

Top 10 Gadgets of CES 2009

3D TV

The biggest trend at CES this year was definitely three dimensionality. Following the hype surrounding James Cameron’s hit 3D flick, Avatar, the major television makers all touted 3D as the next step in the evolution of home entertainment. Sony, Samsung, Toshiba and JVC all showcased glorious high-definition 3D TVs, but it was Panasonic’s TC-PVT2 that ran away with first prize, winning technology site CNet’s coveted award for the best product on show. Apart from 3D TV sets, there were dual-lens 3D camcorders, laptops that convert 2D content to 3D, and 3D video games, with Sony showing 3D versions of Gran Turismo 5 and Avatar on the PS3. Still a relatively new technology with various methods for producing depth in images, it remains to be seen if consumers will spend money on 3D, especially as people have just begun upgrading to HD. We hope the next generation of 3D TVs find a way to ditch the ridiculous polarized glasses.

E-Readers

Guaranteed to be as indispensable as your smart phone in the near future, portable electronic reading devices were some of the hottest gadgets on display. Forget Kindle and the Nook, though; the third generation of e-readers go far beyond simply displaying electronic books on easy-to-read ePaper screens. Plastic Logic showed off the full-touch Que e-reader, which is designed to replace all business uses for printed paper, with support for PDF documents, a calendar, as well as displaying magazines and newspapers in their original printed layout. Taking e-reader technology a step further, Qualcomm showed its full-colour Mirasol display, which combines the low power usage and readability of ePaper displays with the colour capabilities of an LCD screen and has greatly improved readability in indoor and outdoor conditions. Mirasol technology is also rumoured to be in the new generation of Kindle e-readers.

Tablets and Smartbooks

CES also pointed to the emergence of two new categories in computing. Smartbooks are mini laptops that aim to bridge the gap between smart phones and netbooks, combining the connectivity of a mobile phone with the ease of use of a netbook. Lenovo’s skinny Skylight Smartbook is designed as an app-based, Internet-ready device running on a Linux platform with a high-definition screen and 10 hours of battery life, all in a package that weighs just less than 1kg.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer was the first to introduce a full touch-controlled tablet PC at CES in his opening keynote, showing off the unnamed HP tablet. Running Windows 7, the sleek HP tablet features an accelerometer and support for multi-touch gestures. Sony also had one of the most talked about gadgets at CES in the Dash Mobile Internet Device, a sort of mini-tablet the size of a digital alarm clock, designed to provide easy access to Internet applications while streaming multi-media content from the Net and your home media network.

Popularity: 17%

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