Saturday, December 24, 2011

Roland R-26 Portable Recorder officially shipped

This week we’re jumping out of our seats at the news that legendary music machine makers Roland have shipped their newest sound recorder: the Roland R-26 with six-channel audio recording and two types of onboard stereo mics. This is no low-end recorder, ladies and gentlemen, and what it lacks in aesthetic appeal for all you thin and cute loving electronics owners out there it more than makes up for in sound recording power. This device records directly to your SD/SDHC card and has XLR/TRS combo inputs for ultimate ease in integration with the equipment you’ve already got.

This device has USB audio interface functionality, is able to easily record solo or ensemble music experiences, and is more than capable of helping you make the most of your audio/video production, no matter the level of professional you might be. You’ll be able to power this monster with four AA batteries, an AC adaptor, or an external battery – enough options for you? The two stereo mics then, omnidirection and XY as they are, offer you mic options that’ll fit whatever your occasion may be.

You’ve also got phantom power working with two XLR/TRS combo inputs so you can run some external microphones with ease. Line-level devices of all sorts can also plug in here, as can stereo mini-jacks for plug-on powered mics. Audio captured by this device’s onboard microphones can either be captured as a single mixed track or as three separate stereo files, that being six channels in total, able to be mixed together later at your leisure.

The interface you see on this device includes both physical buttons and dials as well as a neat little touch-screen interface with a very basic set of on-display controls. Transfer your WAV/BWF and MP3 format files back to your computer over USB 2.0 and fear not, as this device does have functionality with both Windows and Mac-based machines. There’s a rear-panel mount included that’ll allow you to connect this device to your standard camera tripod, and an extensive line of accessories is in the works for further integration with devices galore.

This recording device is available now for MSRP $599.00 – grab one at your favorite music machine emporium!

RIM denies claims it lied about BlackBerry 10 delay

Following reports that RIM had lied about the reason behind its BlackBerry 10 delay, the company has expectedly shot back with a statement calling the rumors “inaccurate and uninformed.” RIM stands by its original explanation, which attributed the delay to the wait on a new dual-core 4G LTE chip that would not arrive until mid-2012.

“RIM made a strategic decision to launch BlackBerry 10 devices with a new, LTE-based dual core chip set architecture,” responded RIM in a statement. “As explained on our earnings call, the broad engineering impact of this decision and certain other factors significantly influenced the anticipated timing for the BlackBerry 10 devices. The anonymous claim suggesting otherwise is inaccurate and uninformed.”

“We will not launch BlackBerry 10 devices until we know they are ready and we believe this new chip set architecture is required to deliver the world class user experience that our customers will expect,” said the company further reiterating its stance. “Any suggestion to the contrary is simply false.”

Citing a high-level and “most trusted” inside source, BGR had reported that the delay was instead due to the next-gen platform being far from done. The source revealed that the current state of the BlackBerry 10 QNX-based platform wasn’t even as good as iPhone OS 1.0 or Android 2.0.

Street Fighter coming to Android in 2012

It’s finally time for one of the most epic fighting games ever to grace the halls of the console era to make its way to the mobile platform – Street Fighter IV HD will be appearing on Android devices inside 2012 courtesy of a special introduction contest held by Capcom and LG. What this introduction will consist of is a Global Championship for ultimate fighting supremacy played on the same in question and on the Google mobile operating system in the form of the AT&T carried LG Nitro HD inside the USA and the LG Optimus LTE in Japan and Korea. Will you enter the fight and see yourself murdering the competition for fame and fortune come January?

While there is something like $21,000 USD up for grabs for the contest here in the United States, the most important thing to the general public is that the game will be released for the Android platform at some point during or after the contest played early next year. This game will be optimized for 720p resolution displays and devices running at least dual-core processors under the hood. Street Fighter IV HD will be available exclusively on the LG Nitro HD at first, but given that there’s not been basically ANY game on Android that’s stuck with one device exclusively in the past, we’re guessing the release will expand inside the first half of the year.

To qualify for the tournament, if that’s your sort of deal, you’ll have to head on over to the sign-up sheet and get your early stretches in now. This contest starts in January of 2012 and is bound to be as epic as a video game tournament can be. The original Street Fighter IV HD came out several years ago for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and since we’ve got no previews for the Android version as of yet, have a look at that for a mild taste of what we’ll see soon:

Apple exploring fuel-cell-powered MacBooks

Two of Apple’s patent applications surfaced this week at the US Patent and Trademark Office revealing that the Cupertino company is exploring ways to use fuel cell technology to power its future MacBooks and other computing devices. The use of fuel cells will allow for even smaller and lighter designs than the current battery-powered devices.

AppleInsider discovered the two patent applications this week titled “Fuel Cell Systems to Power a Portable Computing Device” and “Fuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Computing Device.” The filings talk about the increasing awareness and desire for renewable energy sources among consumers and also states that the use of hydrogen fuel cells could power a device like a MacBook “for days or even weeks” before having to refuel.

However, developing a cost-effective hydrogen fuel cell system that’s portable will be a challenge. Apple’s solution involves a system that can both provide and receive power from a rechargeable battery in a device like a notebook so that it eliminates the need for a bulky and heavy battery within the system.

Briefly envisioning an Apple-made social network

The following is an exploration of what I believe Apple will make sometime in the future if it ever decides to dip into what we currently call the social networking environment here with Facebook, Google+, and Twitter: you’ll find that it’s not wholly unbelievable, but that you’ll perhaps have some issues with agreeing to the full terms if you’re a hardcore Apple fan. An Apple social network would be and will be first and foremost something unique, or at least an amalgamation of uncommon elements combined into a new and groundbreaking service, and it’ll be integrated into its iProducts in a way that’ll once again re-invigorate the masses to buy in to the lifestyle. If Apple has something to the tune of a social network in the works today, this is what it looks like.

If Apple created a social networking site, it would not have the mass of functions and abilities that places like Google+ and Facebook have, instead it would be limited to a hand-picked set of bits such as your ability to play your iTunes purchased media. Other than that, you’d be able to keep a contact book, call and text your friends (to their mobile devices like iPad and iPhone), and there would be no such thing as a Wall or a Main News Feed. Basically if Apple ever creates a social networking site, it will mature beyond this hanging out on the internet fad, solidifying even further their set of physical products and the ultra-strong tie between the Apple lifestyle and the software bits it employs.

From what I’ve experienced over the past handful of years in the mobile extension of Apple’s great hand then reaching back through the majority of my relatively short time here on the planet, I can see clearly a set of affirmations the company has made with its customers that will without a doubt follow through to the social networking site it may or may not make. You can apply the Apple way to any product or service just so long as it is inside the reach and realistic applicability of Apple’s current or near-future family of products and services. Apple’s future social networking site will only exist once they’ve hit the point of no return with absolutely devoted users and the investments they’ve made with the company.

Google’s Andy Rubin optimistic about Apple’s ITC win against HTC

Google’s Android chief Andy Rubin is optimistic about the recent ITC ruling that found Android partner HTC in violation of two claims on one of Apple’s patents. Rubin believes that the ruling marks the beginning of patent settlements that will lead to a “quick path to settling” the patent disputes currently being lodged against Android.

The recent ITC ruling will take effect April 19, 2012, banning the sale and importation of some of HTC’s smartphones. However, the ruling found HTC violating only one of the four patents claimed by Apple and HTC has already developed a workaround. Hence, the Taiwanese manufacturer announced that the ruling was actually a victory for the company.

During a visit at HTC headquarters, Rubin spoke with journalists, echoing the same optimism, saying that the ruling would be “a way to settle this situation.” Rubin also said at the briefing that Google’s Android platform has seen a 200,000 increase in daily activations since three months ago, now hitting more than 700,000 a day.

Apple building new “prototype” store in Palo Alto

Apple looks to be planning a new prototype retail store that will be only a block away from one of its earliest retail locations in Palo Alto. Construction on the new 15,030 square-foot store is expected to begin soon and is linked to architectural firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, which described the design to be a “new prototype” and as a “commons for community to gather.”

The $3.15 million project will incorporate a curved glass roof to allow natural light to bathe the interior and have a large open design so that the retail area is visible from the outside. The plans filed with the city reveal that it will be a two-story space with both stone and steel in its construction.

Construction of the new store at 340 University Ave. in Palo Alto will require tearing down the existing Liddicoats building and once completed will replace the existing downtown Palo Alto store. Other details as to what this new prototype store will have to offer remain a mystery. It’s possible that Apple could attempt to bring back its original retail plans for cybercafe style locations

“Our Palo Alto store was one of our first retail stores when we opened it nearly a decade ago and it’s been incredibly popular,” said an Apple spokesperson in a statement. “We are planning a beautiful new store just a few steps away, building on everything we’ve learned from our customers in Palo Alto and around the world.”

Why Netflix Is 2011′s Biggest Loser

The year is just about over. And now, it’s time to take a step back to look at some of the winners and losers this year.
But rather than waste time thinking about some of the winners, why not just get right to the biggest loser of 2011: Netflix.
Where to begin? Netflix started the year at the top of the streaming market. Just about everyone I knew was using the streaming service, and judging by the growth of the company’s subscriber figures, just about everyone you knew was using it, as well.
But then something happened. First, the company started running into trouble with content providers who wanted more cash. Companies like HBO started saying that if Netflix wanted its content, the company would need to pay much more than it typically does. Netflix, meanwhile, tried to stay strong and rebuff those claims.
However, behind the scenes, the company was seemingly taking a much different tack. It started to pay more for content and its expenditures attributable to its meteoric rise were skyocketing with it. The time had come for Netflix to do something.
So, the streaming provider announced that it was going to break apart its streaming and DVD-by-mail plans and charge $15.98 a month. Previously, those customers were paying $9.99 per month. Just hours later, customers started complaining. And by the end of the quarter, it was clear that the wheels were falling off as Netflix announced that trouble was afoot with subscribers.
"But Netflix had a plan"
But Netflix had a plan. In order to make things a bit more palatable for consumers, the company said that it was going to spin off its DVD-by-mail company into a new firm, called Qwikster. But once again, customers complained. And before long, Netflix realized that too was a bad idea.
Now, Netflix is trying to expand internationally, even though most analysts believe that will cost the company upwards of $300 million, and subscribers, finding better DVD rental options at Redbox and potentially better streaming services with Amazon, are leaving in droves.
Whereas in January, when Netflix’s stock was trading at over $175 a share, the company was a case study in how to run a firm; now, it has become a study in what not to do (its stock has shaved off 60 percent of its value to hover at around $70).
So, what can fix Netflix? Your guess is as good as Reed Hastings’. He has been saying for months now that he has a solution, and that things are going fine, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. In fact, he seems lost.
So, with all that in mind, Netflix has earned my award for the biggest loser of 2011. And although RIM was a close second, Netflix’s drop was unexpected. And it might have been one of the most epic implosions we’ve seen in the technology space in a long, long time.
But that’s my take. What company do you believe was this year’s biggest loser?

AMD Radeon HD 7970 Review round-up: fast and quiet

Earlier today AMD announced their new flagship Radeon HD 7970 graphics card, and while it wont hit the public shelves until mid January — and for a hefty $549 price tag we are already seeing reviews galore from the PC crowd and figured we’d round them up. What we are hoping for is just what AMD is claiming: “the fastest single-GPU card in the world”. Head on down past the break to see what everyone thought — and if that claim holds true.

As long as it beats the competition in the NVIDIA GTX 580 while not being too power hungry and heating the entire house like the dual-GPU GTX 590 I’ll be happy — and I’m sure the enthusiast gaming crowd will be too. Below are a few of our favorite reviews for the new AMD Radeon HD 7970 for everyone to enjoy. We’ll start with the all popular Anandtech.

AnandTech’s Ryan Smith says at the end of the day this graphics card is geared to be a gaming workhorse — but being their new flagship GPU I wouldn’t expect anything different from AMD. He goes on to mention in most gaming scenarios the power consumption was lower than the competing GTX 580 while offering 20% better performance and sometimes more. He does mention being priced much higher than the last-gen 6970 could be a potential drawback for some.

Tom’s Hardware explains that this is a big improvement and a step in the right direction with the new, smaller 28 nm fabrication and called it “Fast, Forward-Looking, But Not Fully Baked.” Saying that NVIDIA’s upcoming Kepler GPU is still months off so they’ll still retain the fastest single-GPU title for now, but without further testing they didn’t want to give a recommendation just yet.

HardOCP is known for breaking things down very thoroughly and have came up with some decent overall numbers. Claiming the 7970 is at least 30% or more faster than the previous generation while offering 10%+ performance increases over the current GTX 580 competition making this definitely worth the price for giving increased performance across all available games.

Bit-Tech said the HD 7970 by AMD “has certainly thrown down the gauntlet. The HD 7970 3GB is a huge improvement over the HD 6970 2GB and GTX 580 1.5GB” They also mention overclocking — something many enthusiasts and water-cooling fans do daily was a huge surprise. Squeezing around 20% more performance from the card without even tweaking the voltage.

While you are at it don’t forget to check out the review from HotHardware, and Hexus who claim it’s a great graphics card but wont win and Bang4Buck awards. Guru3D also mentions the huge overclocking potential before and after overvolting — making this a great graphics card with plenty of potential.

So the question is: Will you be buying the AMD Radeon HD 7970? And if so will you be tossing this bad boy under a DangerDen waterblock or going all out with some LN2?

Nest iPod-style Smart Thermostat gets a detailed teardown

A few months back we reported on a device called the Nest Learning Thermostat. This iPod-esque smart thermostat is available now and comes from Nest Labs – led by ex iPod chief Tony Fadell. The neat little gadget they’ve created will awake when you walk by, learn your ways and habits, and even save you money while it heats or cools your home. Thanks to Sparkfun we now have additional details and a full teardown of information.

Not only will this smart thermostat save you money but did I mention it has built-in WiFi and even Infrared proximity, PIR movement, and humidity sensors — and even a mini-USB port. It might not have all the Barry White albums or your favorite 80′s classic music but what it can do is extremely impressive. No one thinks much about a Thermostat — let alone a smart one and Nest has capitalized on that by bringing an elegant design, simple and easy user interface, and simple touch controls all to your living room.

Our link at the top explains this neat little product in-depth but essentially what we have here is a Thermostat that will learn from its master. The system observes your normal heating/cooling routines – using movement sensors, humidity and temperature sensors, and proximity control – and can mimic them itself, as well as automatically tweaking the settings when there’s nobody home. The built-in WiFi can even pull down local outside temperatures and adjust accordingly whether you’re home or not. With iOS and Android apps — not to mention full online access you can control your heating/cooling from the couch, or while on vacation.

I wont get into too many details but the full breakdown by Sparkfun gets into all the little parts and technology inside this gadget. With tons of hackability and even a few parts from Zigbee (yes the home automation group) we might soon see Nest control our lights, refrigerator and possible more with future updates. I can see this project becoming one of those fancy devices seen from movies like Back to the Future in the coming months. Nest is available now for $249 at your nearest Best Buy. For now head on down to the link below for the full breakdown.

Facebook games are repetitive says Nintendo president

Nintendo North America president Reggie Fils-Aime has again dismissed speculation that the company will release versions of its titles for other platforms, including Facebook, though the chief exec does admit that Nintendo is experimenting with “other forms of monetization.” Ever outspoken, Fils-Aime argues social gaming platforms like Zynga “deliver the same experience all the time”; “doing the same thing over and over again is no longer fine” he told AllThingsD.

“The companies that will win in the social gaming space need to show an ability to provide the new and different experiences, and a way to monetize it. In the end, these are businesses that need to make money … We make games for Nintendo devices, and that is a competitive advantage for us. You can only play Mario on a Nintendo device, so from that standpoint, I wouldn’t expect to see our franchises on other platforms, and I would argue Facebook is a platform” Reggie Fils-Aime, President, Nintendo North America

As for the success – and struggles – of Nintendo’s current gaming hardware range, the Wii and 3DS, Fils-Aime concedes the 3D handheld experienced some issues over the past year. The company had solid first week sales, he points out, but the subsequent slump over the spring and early summer “was driven by not having great first-party software, and we were late in bringing some of the online functionality to the 3DS.”

The Wii, meanwhile, will live alongside rather than be replaced by the incoming Wii U in 2012. That’s primarily a pricing decision; “given the current pricing of the Wii, it’s not going to be there” Fils-Aime reiterated.

“We’ve been very clear, the market is going to decide how long these products will coexist side by side. Our goal is to launch the Wii U and drive it into the marketplace, but it will speak to a different consumer than the one that is buying the Wii today during the holidays” Reggie Fils-Aime

Verizon readying FiOS TV Media Streamer for late 2012

The new push in DVR tech for your home is the whole home DVR system and they are grand. It’s so great to have content you can record on any TV and then playback on any TV. Verizon has a new device that it is working on for late 2012 launch that is a fiOS TV media server.

The company is not offering much in the way of detail with the devise as far as a year away at this point. ZatzNotfunny expects that the device will pack in at least three tuners along with 1TB of storage. The central unit should have smaller extenders that can be placed in the home according to the Zatz.

A video giving a bit of details can be seen below if you are so inclined. One of the interesting parts to me of tech like this is that device you already have in your home and on your TV are being aimed at replacing the set-top box. The Xbox, PS3, and various tablets already common might save you from more box clutter in the entertainment system.

Nook Tablet and Color get new official apps

Not long ago Barnes & Noble issued a firmware update that blocked the ability for users of their Nook Color and Tablet to load unofficial apps onto the devices. That was a bummer for sure. I’m not sure if this will make up for it to many users of the devices, but B&N has announced that it has some new official apps to add to the mix for the Nook Tablet and Color.

The apps already available for download include Scrabble single user, Office Gamebox, Rock ‘Em sock ‘Em Robots, Jeopardy!, Wreck this App, Magic 8 Ball, and Doodle Jump Christmas. The new app for users of the devices include Words with Friends. There are more popular apps coming soon as well according to B&N.

The apps that will be added next include Twitter and Plants vs. Zombies. It’s too bad that the real Android Market is blocked. I hate to see the app choices limited to only a handful that are approved. Lots of other content is coming to the B&N Android devices including books and more

Hubble spies evidence of complex organic molecules on Plu

When I was a kid Pluto was a planet. It was stripped of planet status and now is called a dwarf planet. The Hubble telescope has found evidence of complex organic molecules on the surface of Pluto. That would certainly give Pluto fans reason to celebrate Pluto again since it’s not a planet any more.

The Hubble has found that some of the substances on the surface of Pluto are absorbing more UV light than was expected. The discovery hints that the compounds discovered on the surface of Pluto could be complex hydrocarbons or molecules containing nitrogen according to researchers. Fox News reports that Pluto is known to harbor different ices made of methane, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen on the surface.

According to the researchers, the UV absorbing chemicals could have been produced when sunlight or cosmic rays interacted with the different ices. It’s worth noting that the researchers say that Pluto’s UV spectrum has changed since it was measured with the Hubble in the 90′s compared to today.

Swype beta works with Dragon Dictation and ninja finger puppets

Despite an increasingly wide range of virtual keyboard apps, Swype remains a popular option for many Android users, primarily because of its baked-in status on a wide variety of high-profile phones and tablets. The latest beta for Swype brings some real competition to Google’s voice input in the form of Dragon Dictation support, allowing the long-running speech to text software to directly input to text fields. Nuance Communication, the publishers of Dragon Naturally Speaking, bought Swype a few months ago.

Beta version 3.26 also includes better contextual awareness, allowing the keyboard’s text prediction engine to more accurately predict your next word based on the language of the current system. So if you’ve typed “meet me at the…” and Swype’s internal parameters are choosing between “restaurant” and “restitution”, it will know which one is more likely to be what you want. Current users can download the app now, and prospective beta users an request access. Head on over to and sign up for the beta.

Finger puppet ninjas incoming:

Unfortunately, the new beta does not work with the Galaxy Nexus, thanks to the increased 720p resolution and Ice Cream Sandwich’s virtual navigation buttons. But this is Android – if Swype doesn’t do it, somebody will. That somebody is Google+ user Anthony Casagrande and XDA Developers member plisk3n. They’ve released a modified version of the beta APK file that plays nice with the new Google developer phone. Unfortunately it still can’t make the shift into landscape mode, so Casagrande recommends using Keyboard Manager from the Android Market to set the default keyboard to landscape and Swype to landscape.

Apple complaint over Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1N rejected

Apple has had its complaints about the redesigned Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1N rejected in German courts today, with the judge deciding the tweaked slate differs enough from the iPad aesthetic. “According to the court’s assessment, the defendant has moved away sufficiently from the legally protected design,” Judge Johanna Brueckner-Hofmann told the court today, Reuters reports, with a full ruling expected on February 9 2012.

The reworked tablet had been prompted by Apple’s original preliminary injunction on the Galaxy Tab 10.1, convincing the German courts that the Korean slate’s design overlapped with those it had registered itself. Samsung returned with a slightly modified model, the Tab 10.1N, with thicker bezels on the sides and front-facing speaker grills.

That, Apple argued, was insufficient, dragging Samsung back into the courtroom to demand a second ban. The Cupertino company was also forced to detail its own suggestions as to what Samsung could do in order to avoid overstepping the iPad, leading to the somewhat bizarre guidelines of a non-rectangular chassis and a “cluttered” UI.

Gresso Avantgarde Grand Premiere mobile phone is $50K!

Gresso is the place where the rich go to buy suitably ostentatious gadgets that looks fancy, but often lack the features in much cheaper device. Gresso has a new mobile phone called the Grand Premiere mobile phone. The device is covered in 5.3 ounces of 18K gold. The yellow gold is offset by the black surface of the sapphire screen.

The sapphire parts are resistant to scratches and the sapphire in the device weighs in at over 135-carats. The smartphone is 12mm thick, making it one of the thinner devices in its class according to Gresso. The keys on the device are made from gold using precision cutting tech.

The Grand Premiere is a limited edition device with only 30 of each made and the number is engraved on the rear of the phone. The phone is set to launch this month at a price estimated at $50,000 per unit. The device measures in at 121 x 46 x 12mm and weighs 190 grams. The looks is all that matters on this phone with little mention of the features outside of the fact that Symbian S40 is the OS.

Rhapsody music service claims top paying customers spot in the USA

There’s a site out there folks by the name of Rhapsody, one that’s been around for 10 years now, averaging now more than 10 million songs running through its halls per day, and this week they’ve claimed their spot as the number one premium music service in the USA. Their other big claim to fame this week is that they’ve now got over one million paying subscribers, no small feat in itself. All this of course makes us not forget their recent acquisition of the infamous Napster back in November of this year.

What the folks at Rhapsody are saying this week is that 2011 has not only been a big year for them, it was more than likely their biggest year yet. The 1 million paid subscribers mark has also tipped the scales for another item of interest: the president of Rhapsody promised his team that if they ever reached that mark, he’d shave his head. That’s what you’re about to see a photo of below this loving quote from the man himself:

“We’ve accomplished quite a bit over the past decade, so it’s no small statement to say that 2011 was probably our biggest year yet. I told our team that when we topped one million paid subscribers, I’d shave my head… it was probably the best free haircut I’ve ever had.” – Rhapsody President John Irwin

The team at Rhapsody also listed out their other big accomplishments for the year, another impressive list for the masses:

2011 Rhapsody Milestones

1/07/2011: Verizon Wireless announces Rhapsody will ship on its LTE devices, with integrated billing

3/1/2011: MTV and Rhapsody launch the “60-Day Free-For-All,” giving new subscribers two months of free music and the largest free music promotion of its kind

3/18/2011: Rhapsody hosts Rhapsody Rocks Austin, with Deerhunter, Kurt Vile, Ty Segall, Small Black and Glasser at SXSW

3/31/2011: Rhapsody hires Rob Harvilla, former Village Voice music editor, as managing editor of The Mix

3/21/2011: Rhapsody launches on Windows Phone 7

7/11/2011: Rhapsody announces 800,000 subscribers

8/17/2011: Rhapsody announces partnership with MetroPCS for Rhapsody Unlimited Music

9/14/2011: Rhapsody announced remixed and remastered social Web experience

9/22/2011: Rhapsody launches in Facebook Music

10/3/2011: Rhapsody announces acquisition of Napster

12/7/2011: Rhapsody celebrates its 10-year anniversary with a concert with Built to Spill in Seattle

12/22/2011: Rhapsody surpasses one million paying subscriber milestone

Rhapsody is currently able to be experienced on apps on over 60 unique devices, this year also marking the first time playback was bigger for non-PC than for a PC, 40 percent of this being mobile. It’s time for the future of music to continue through battle! Let the streaming music wars continue!

Targus outs first USB 3.0 Dual video docking Station

There are a bunch of notebooks out there today that have at least one USB 3.0 port. If you are using one of those machines, you might want to check out the new docking station from Targus. This universal dock is the first from the company to rock USB 3.0. That means the single USB 3.0 connection has the bandwidth needed for video and more.

The docking station has DisplayLink tech inside to provide video via USB to an external monitor, or two in this case. The dock has both a DVI port and a HDMI output. It supports resolutions up to 2560 x 1600 meaning you can put 30-inch screens on it and get full resolution. It also comes with an adapter to turn that HDMI port into DVI for dual DVI screens.

The dock also has USB audio via a headphone port and mic jacks as well. It has Ethernet connectivity with a Gigabit port. Rounding out the features are a pair of high-power USB 2.0 ports supporting Battery Charging Specs 1.1 to recharge your favorite gadgets. The dock sells for $199 and should be available soon.

7-inch Tablet demand surges as iPad 3 specter looms

Strong sales of 7-inch slates like Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Tablet, along with waning Apple orders of 9.7-inch iPad displays, has seen the smaller form-factor pull into the lead in Q4 2011 according to supply chain sources. Volumes of 7-inch panel orders in November have already exceed those of 9.7-inch screens, DigiTimes‘ insiders tell them, though Apple is already believed to be reducing its supply of 1024 x 768 displays ahead of a higher resolution panel in the iPad 3.

In fact, if the rumors are to be believed, Apple is targeting a 2048 x 1536 resolution in its third-generation tablet, delivering smoother graphics and fonts. Production of the existing iPad 2 has slowed, as Apple anticipates tapering demand ahead of the iPad 3 arriving early in 2012. According to the most recent reports, that launch should take place in February.

Suggestions, then, that the 7-inch form-factor has overtaken the roughly 10-inch segment in popularity must be tempered by that Apple transition. However, despite Steve Jobs protestations against the “tweener” market, rumors of a roughly 7.85-inch iPad continue to proliferate, slotting in-between the iPhone and the iPad.

There have also been compromises required in order to buoy 7-inch tablet sales. Key among those has been competitive pricing, with the $200-250 segment hotly contested but coming in several hundred dollars lower than Apple’s tablet.

Self-healing electronics are possible thanks to liquid metal capsules

If you have some sort of circuit board that is bent enough to crack the wires inside that are hiding on the board, your day is over. Once a normal circuit has broken wires, the conduction of signals stops. In the future, that broken wire or connection may not mean the end of being able to use your gear. Scientists at the University of Illinois have developed a cool new self-healing electronic circuit.

The circuit is able to heal itself after a connection is severed so quickly that only microseconds will drag out between a broken connection and a repaired connection. The way the researchers made this happen is also surprisingly simple. The team placed a mass of 10-micron microcapsules along the length of circuit. These tiny microcapsules are filled with a liquid metal made of gallium-indium alloy inside.

When that circuit cracks leading to the loss of conductivity, the capsules also crack. The liquid metal inside then oozes out of the capsule, into the crack and restores connectivity. The liquid metal is so effective it restores 99% of the conductivity and operation on the circuit board continues as if nothing happened. The method will work for multi-layer circuit boards such as those in your computer too. I see this as more effective on circuits that are flexible.

Dell outs Gingerbread ROM for Streak 5, confirms no ICS for Streak 7

The Dell Streak 7 was discontinued by Dell not long ago. With that in mind, it won’t come as a surprise to many that Dell has confirmed that the Streak 7 tablet will not be getting an official Android 4.0 ICS update. Dell was asked that question on Twitter via the Dell cares account. The reply to the question linked users to a YouTube video.

The video showed a geek called DJ_Steve running an unofficial ICS ROM on the Streak 7. The tweet reply specifically stated there are no plans for an official ICS build. This week Dell did offer up an official Gingerbread update for the Streak 5 tablet.

It’s interesting that the Streak 5 is also no longer sold in the US yet an official update has been offered. I guess the Streak 7 won’t be getting the same love. The update file for the Streak 5 is 155MB. If you apply the update to your Streak 5 let us know how it works out for you.

Apple drops 180-day deadline for Complete My Album discount

Apple has been offering the Complete My Album upgrade program for a while now. The program allowed you to upgrade at a discount to the full album of your favorite artist’s latest works, after you purchased a few single tracks from the album, at a discount. The discounted price depended on how many of the individual tracks you had purchased.

The only catch was that you had only 180-days to purchase the Complete My Album upgrade to get the discounted rate. Apple has now published a new support document that outlines the service and offers FAQs for people to peruse. The interesting bit in the new FAQ is that the 180-day deadline is no longer included.

Strangely, the iTunes store terms and conditions still mention the 180-day deadline even though the new support page doesn’t. Perhaps the terms and conditions will be updated later. Yesterday Apple unveiled the Complete My Season offering that allowed users who purchased single episodes of TV shows to upgrade to the entire season at a discount depending on how many episodes they purchased. It works just like the Complete My Album offering.

iMAME hits Apple App Store, will it survive?

Apple has a long and bizarre history of approving apps one day and then backtracking the next and pulling the apps from the App Store because they shouldn’t have been approved. Generally, Apple doesn’t approve any sort of unofficial gaming emulators for purchase on the App Store instead favoring the official sort like the cool Atari app with tons of retro games inside.

We expect the latest mame app will be pulled very shortly, so if you are the retro gamer sort you might want to grab it while the grabbing is good. The app is called iMAME and for now, it is available. The app has a bunch of classic arcade games inside. I will admit that I have never heard of these games so classic might be a stretch.

The games include Circus, Side Track, and Hard Hat. Gottabemobile reports that you can load other game into the emulator, assuming you have the needed geek skills. The games are wrapped in a virtual arcade cabinet, which is quite irritating looking. Apparently, the virtual controls aren’t that great either. That said, it will work with the iCade cabinet if you have one, just like that Atari app.

British Pensioner has felt tip pen removed from stomach after 25 years

Here is a bit of morning strange for you all. As the story goes a British pensioner was trying to inspect her tonsils 25 years ago using a felt tip pen to push her tongue down. Apparently, the woman slipped whilst the pen was in her mouth and swallowed it down her gullet. She told her husband and he took her to the doctor.

X-rays and scans taken back in 1986 showed nothing pen like hiding in the body. The woman later left and then forgot about the pen for 25 years. Recently she was seen by a doctor for some severe stomach pain and on inspection to find the cause of the pain, the doctors found that felt tip pen neatly lodged inside the woman’s stomach after 25 years.

The docs performed a procedure with an endoscope that was sent down her gullet into the stomach and removed the pen. The most surprising part to the team of docs was that once removed the pen still worked and was in good order after all those years of being pelted with food and sitting in stomach acid. I wonder if they used the pen to write her prescriptions. I can only imagine the number of I told you so’s that she lashed her husband with after having that pen removed. The stomach pain had nothing to do with the pen; it was a common condition among the elderly called diverticulitis.

Facebook explains adverts in bid to pacify users

Facebook has quietly begun a new campaign to explain how its advertising system works, flagging up details on the system when users log into the site to check their wall. “Ever wonder how Facebook makes money?” the new banner asks, linking to Facebook’s About Advertising page and several FAQs about whether the social network sells personal information and how sponsored stories are implemented.

The upfront explanation is likely a response to continued attention from regulators and privacy advocates over what information Facebook holds and shares about users. Yesterday the Irish privacy commissioner called on the social network to add better privacy controls, the recommendation coming shortly after Facebook confirmed it would be slotting adverts into the main news feed from January.

It’s not the only controversy as Facebook looks to make money off of its vast user-base. Facebook’s new Timeline profile style can’t be turned off and will eventually be pushed out to all users whether they want it or not, and last month the company agreed to FTC privacy probes every two years for the next two decades. Even so, privacy groups were unimpressed, describing the concession as the first step rather than the solution.

Some of Facebook’s advertising FAQs make for interesting reading. For instance, if you’ve ever wondered what happens after you click “Like” on a Facebook ad:

“[The] connection will be displayed on your profile (timeline) and your friends may receive a News Feed story about the connection. You may be displayed on the Page you connected to and in advertisements about that Page. The Page will also be able to post content into your News Feed and send you messages. You may also share this connection with apps on the Facebook Platform” Facebook

Nonetheless, Facebook points out, “you can unlike most content immediately, manage your connections on your profile, and restrict who you share your connections with in your privacy settings.”

OnStar and NORAD team up to make it easy to track Santa Christmas Eve

If you have kids, they are undoubtedly very nearly insane with the anticipation of Christmas at this point. Last year I had to set my daughter up with an iPod touch and the NORAD Santa tracker app to keep her from going off the reservation completely. If you have, a GM car that rocks OnStar you can send your little ones outside to push the OnStar button and hear just where Santa is.

Starting at 7pm on Christmas Eve OnStar subscribers, including FMV owners, will be able to request a Santa Update all the way through 5am on Christmas Day. OnStar and NORAD are working together to help kids track Santa on his trip around the world. I can only imagine the number of calls that OnStar will receive.

Considering my daughter updated the app roughly every 15 seconds last year. I suspect very heavy calling from any parent with an OnStar ride and young kids. The downside is that knowing where Santa is may mean some kids will stay up later. OnStar was showing off in car video call streaming yesterday.

Microsoft “kicked out” of CES keynote claims insider

Microsoft’s decision that CES 2012 will see the company’s final keynote and booth at the January show may not have been as amicable as the press releases suggest, with suggestions that the company was “kicked out” of its keynote slot. According to GigaOm‘s insiders in Microsoft, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) that runs the tech show each year decided it no longer wanted the company to hold a keynote session, and in retaliation Microsoft yanked its booth plans.

“Microsoft didn’t pull out of the keynote – they were kicked out. Big difference” the insider is quoted as saying, though with it being anonymous it’s difficult to say exactly how accurate this all is. The CEA has declined to comment on the rumors, though it did issue a statement about the Microsoft news yesterday:

“In the fourteen years that we have invited Microsoft to deliver a keynote address at CES, the company has unveiled some great innovations, from operating systems to gaming platforms to mobile technologies. Both CEA and Microsoft have agreed that the time has come to end this great run, and so Microsoft will not have a keynote at the 2013 CES … Microsoft has also informed us that, although their plans for the 2013 CES are not yet finalized, they will not request the Central Hall exhibit space that they have used in past years” CEA

The final keynote itself sounds more whimper than bang, with Microsoft confirming that it would be more of a recap of the gaming, mobile and PC news of the moment than a last-ditch attempt to make serious headlines. That means there “won’t be significant news, but more of a wrap up of the strong year the company has had in consumer.”

Update: The plot thickens, with The Verge‘s sources claiming the split was less ferocious than this, and basically amounted to CEA looking for a longer commitment to future shows and keynotes than Microsoft wanted. “Microsoft simply didn’t feel it was getting a reasonable return on its investment with CES” it’s said.

ASUS sued over Transformer Prime toy trademark

ASUS has had no shortage of attention for the Transformer Prime, most of it positive, but toy and game manufacturer Hasbro isn’t so impressed: it has sued ASUS over trademark infringement. Hasbro alleges that the name Transformer Prime overlaps with its own Transformer toy trademarks, paidContent reports, and is seeking a ban on sales in the US.

“Hasbro continues to aggressively protect its brands and products” the company said in a statement, “and the specific actions we are taking today against ASUS underscores yet again Hasbro’s willingness to pursue companies who misappropriate our intellectual property for their own financial gain.” ASUS is yet to comment on the lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles, US last week.

The game company actually holds the trademark for “Transformers Prime” which covers “toy action figures; toy vehicles; toy robots covertible [sic] into other visual toy forms; board games; parlor games.” That’s among various other combinations of “Transformer” the company could call upon to demonstrate its existing use of the term.

ASUS’ tablet, meanwhile, earned its title because of its clever removable battery dock, turning a Tegra 3 slate into a notebook replacement as well as adding extra battery power. Check out our full review for all the details.

LG DM92 IPS display ushers in new LCD range with 1mm bezel

LG has outed a range of new IPS LCD displays as part of its 2012 panel push, with the LG DM92, DM82 and DM52 series and D43 3D monitor toting slimline bezels and the sort of broad viewing angles we’re used to from IPS panels. The LG DM92 is likely to be of most interest, a 27-inch display with mere 1mm bezels, paired with a chrome kick-stand and 3D support, though the 23-inch DM82 – with its slim base and support stand – is perhaps better sized for smaller desks.

It still manages to pack in 7W integrated speakers and that all-important IPS display, however, with support for 3D graphics. The DM52 series includes 23- and 27-inch models, with 3D support and both HDMI and USB inputs for showing content from your computer, AV kit or even a thumb-drive.

As for the LG D43, that can actively convert 2D graphics into 3D, without demanding any specific software be running on your computer or AV player. A dedicated 3D button allows for simple tweaking of the depth effect.

LG will be showing off the new range at CES 2012, with a global launch beginning in February. No word on pricing at this stage.

Wander : An iPhone App That Connect Strangers Around The World Through Penpals And Instagram

Applications commonly called as Apps are making the iPhone more loved and popular among the users. These apps make the iPhone similar to the portable computers. There are many different applications available on the iStore and other websites. Some of the applications are available at some cost and some of them are available free to download.

iPhones are the latest and most loved gadget at present and the credit goes to the numerous interesting and amazing applications. Some applications are related to the games, come are for navigation, some of for pictures and so on. One best feature about the iPhone is that you can get any of your favorite application from the iStore.

Among the numerous interesting application, we are here going to discuss about the application name Wander.

This iPhone application is best for the voyager and travelers. If you are among the travelers who always keep their bags pack for next voyage, you can try this excellent application named wander. This is a free iPhone application which can be connected with sites like Instagram and Penpals.

Through this application you can share your lives and surrounding with the people worldwide in just a single click. You can also get the closer look to the lives and surroundings of your friends throughout the world. To be more explainable, this is a one to one sharing application which makes the world smaller and you get closer to your friends no matter how far you are staying. This application also connects you to many strangers all over the world.

You would not just connect with the people all around but also can explore their lives and interact with them in an attractive way. It is much more than just saying a hello to a friend in a social network website.

To use this ultimate application, you first need to download it and create a simple profile page as you do on any other social networking website. You need to mention your gender, age, profile image and interests to start with Wander. If you don’t want to register here you can also use your Facebook login id to use Wander.

With every new day you may new connection from any corner of the world. Wander gives you the suggestion of people you can connect with. It is entirely your wish that with whom you want to connect. This is named as a guide in the application. You can also use this application professionally on your company phone to share the business developments overseas.

If you accept the guide you directly get connected with the person on your Wander profile and you get a time frame of 7 days to stay together. You both can share your day to day or traveling pictures and also discuss about them.

This application connects the people from distant countries and location on photo based missions. The founder of the Wander application got this idea from his earlier application named YangoPal where he saw that people converse more on images rather than on normal chat room.

Wander is getting popular day by day and especially the voyagers, explorers and adventurers are using it the most. They love to share the pictures with pals around the world during their voyage and excursions.

Even some of the homemakers are interested in using Wander and sharing their day to day routine pictures with overseas friends.

This excellent application is still under development and it is lots more to come from the team. They will launch Wander for the Android devices soon.

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