Tuesday, October 19, 2010

CTL announces Windows 7 2goPad tablet

This year has seen a slew of Android-based tablet computers being snapped up by eager buyers, but for PC users wanting the more familiar environment of Windows 7, CTL has announced the 2goPad SL10. The 10.1-inch device features an Atom processor, WiFi and Bluetooth, a couple of gigabytes of memory and 250GB of hard disk storage. There is of course full Flash support, a built-in webcam for video conferencing, and USB connectivity is joined by SD card reading capabilities, to cater for storage expansion or to show off a prized photo collection.
Rather than offer its users access to an app store to satisfy their mobile computing needs, running on Windows 7 allows the 2goPad SL10 to open the door to Microsoft's entire catalog instead. The 0.72-inch (18.28mm) thick device also promises to take multi-tasking in its stride and offers full Flash support. All the action takes place on its 10.1-inch, 1024 x 600 resolution capacitive multi-touch screen and the tablet is powered by Intel's Atom N450 processor running at 1.66GHz.
There's also a 250GB SATA hard drive and 2GB of DDR2 RAM, 802.11b/g/n wireless and wired ethernet LAN, Bluetooth connectivity (although exactly what flavor isn't stated), a media card reader and a couple of USB ports. An included 1.3 megapixel video camera, built-in stereo speakers and an omni-directional microphone should help satisfy any video-conferencing needs a user might have. Its Lithium-ion battery is said to give five hours of typical use between charges.
It's not the only Windows 7 tablet computer out there, but it has quite an impressive feature set for the price. Currently going for US$499 via CTL's online shop, the 2goPad SL10 carries a suggested retail of US$599 and comes bundled with a VGA adapter and carry case.

Both Seagate and WD have announced 3 TB external drives, and now WD has broken new ground with a 3TB internal hard drive. The WD Caviar Green 2.5 and 3 TB hard drives are bundled with an Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI)-compliant Host Bus Adapter (HBA) that allows both 64-bit Windows 7 and Mac OS X Snow Leopard, along with 32-bit Vista and Windows 7 platforms to make full use of the new drives.
Because of limitations to 32-bit Windows operating systems and motherboards in many computers, drives bigger than 2.19 TB can't be fully utilized. The Advanced Host Controller Interface adapter solves this issue by enabling the operating system to use a known driver with correct support for large capacity drives.
The 3.5-inch, 750 GB-per-platter areal density drives also promise low power consumption, lower operating temperatures and quiet operation.
The 3 TB WD Caviar Green SATA hard drive is priced at US$239. The 2.5 TB version costs US$189.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Kno: A giant double-screen tablet to replace giant textbooks

Huge, heavy reference tomes are still a major part of modern study and research. If you've ever wished that those textbooks in front of you could come to life and offer a more engaging experience than just reading through reams of text, then the Kno could be what you're looking for. Weighing in at 5.5 pounds, the dual-screen electronic textbook will offer students access to a wealth of published educational material as well as wireless access to the internet and multimedia content such as high definition video. Just like with its paper cousin, the Kno will also allow for note-taking, highlighting and bookmarking.
At the start of the development process, the creators of the Kno wondered why digital textbook technology was slow to enter the seat of learning. In talking to students, they discovered that although convenient, digital readers didn't offer the kind of tactile and visual interaction that physical books did. Simple things like the ability to see two large pages at once, annotate and highlight or leave sticky notes on important passages or even placing a finger at a particular part of the text whilst looking up something else, were all lacking to varying degrees in electronic text readers.
Originally to be called the Kakai, the Kno will feature two connected 14.1 inch 1440 x 900 anti-glare capacitive touchscreen displays connected via a flexible hinge, running on a Linux embedded browser-based platform and powered by NVIDIA's Tegra T20 architecture. There'll be 16GB of onboard storage and battery life is said to last a full day of active campus use (around six to eight hours).
This configuration is geared towards providing students with a textbook-like page display rendering "the complex layouts designed by authors" without the need for scrolling, but also lends itself to the creation of completely new educational tools. To this end, the company has arranged a beta program with four higher education publishers, including McGraw-Hill Education, to provide select content for upcoming trials in major U.S. universities and colleges.
The Kno will support multiple e-Reader formats of course as well as popular document types such as PDF and cater for highlighting, bookmarking and note-taking. WiFi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity add potential for cloud-based study, immediate reference checking and high definition multimedia interactivity too.
For example, users encountering an unknown word, phrase or concept would currently either seek out another reference text or boot up a portable computer to search the internet. With the Kno, all that's taken care of with the one device. As the company puts it, the device: "blends textbooks, course material, note-taking, web access, educational applications, digital media, sharing and more into a more powerful and engaging educational experience."
Further information on the Kno will be revealed when the device enters the student beta program later in the summer, which is also when pricing will be confirmed.
The following video overview offers a visual guide to most of the features expected to be on offer:

Casio unveils next gen graphing calculator

A quarter of a century after introducing the world's first graphing calculator, Casio has announced its next generation model that's been designed to deliver graphs and statistical data as they appear in color textbooks. The PRIZM gets a new, modern body design, offers high resolution color graphics and gives students the opportunity to plot graphs over background image curves and then discover the math functions used to create them.
Casio's new PRIZM (fx-CG10) graphing calculator's outer shell now benefits from a more modern, mobile phone-like appearance. Above the rows of input buttons is a high resolution 82,944 dot, 3.7-inch color LCD screen that's said to offer a textbook-like display. There's 61,440 byte program and 16MB storage capacity and the power consumption of 0.6W is claimed to translate to 140 hours of use on four AAA-sized alkaline batteries.
Casio has included something called the Picture Plot function which enables "students to experiment by creating their own graphs over pictures of real-life scenes, and then understand the functions from the graphs that they created on their own." Once the graph has been plotted over any one of 55 types of color images of real-life curved shapes such as the parabola of jets from a water fountain, the student can then perform regression calculations to help them understand what math functions were used to generate the graph overlay.
The PRIZM comes pre-loaded with 40 images which can be used in eight of the calculator's 15 applications and also features a Color Link function that matches spreadsheet values to colors used in graphs to help students better understand changes in trends and values.
The 0.81 x 3.52 x 7.42-inch (20.57 x 89.4 x 188.46mm) graphing calculator has a USB 2.0 port for hooking up to Casio's GREEN SLIM data projectors for display to the whole class or direct connection to a computer to allow students to share calculations using Casio's manager software.
Casio says that the PRIZM will be available from January 2011 for a suggested retail price of US$129.

Firmware upgrade gives Samsung NX10 i-Function lens compatibility

Samsung has announced a firmware upgrade to its small interchangeable lens NX10 mirrorless camera that gives it compatibility with the company’s new i-Function lens technology. Making its first appearance recently on the NX100, the i-Function lens communicates with the camera body to allow photographers to control camera settings using the lens. Samsung also announced that all NX system lenses launched from now on will feature i-Function capability.
i-Function lenses feature a one-touch button that activates common shooting controls like aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance. Shooting parameters are displayed on the camera’s display and users can cycle through settings and change values by rotating the lens’s manual focus ring. Samsung has implemented the system to allow photographers to keep the camera focused firmly on their subject while making changes to the camera settings.
The 1.20 firmware upgrade provides compatibility with a range of lenses, including a compact-zoom 20-50mm lens and a 200mm wide angle Pancake lens. The upgrade also gives a boost to the NX10’s AF speed, includes Lens Distortion Compensation (LDC) and updates the camera’s GUI to support the i-Function lens technology.
We want to ensure that all NX system range users can experience the same pioneering technology,” said Mr. SangJin Park, President of Samsung Digital Imaging Business, Samsung Electronics. “All NX system lenses launched from now on will feature the groundbreaking i-Function capability, so all our customers have the perfect picture at their fingertips.”

Heavyweights team up to create Sony Internet TV, powered by Google TV

In May, Sony and Google announced a strategic alliance to develop new Android-based hardware products. The partnership is bearing fruit in the form of Sony Internet TV, powered by Google TV. It seems that most premium new release HDTVs come with Internet connectivity these days but one of the big differences offered by Sony’s Internet TV devices is a Dual View feature that lets viewers watch TV and surf the web at the same time.
Sony Internet TV is available in integrated LCD HDTV models as well as a Blu-ray Disc player that brings Sony Internet TV functionality to an existing HDTV. Built on the Android platform, it runs the Google Chrome browser and is powered by an Intel Atom processor. All the TVs include 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, USB ports, DLNA, UPnP and 8 GB of built-in storage. As well as Sony’s Video On Demand powered by Qriocity streaming service and a variety of pre-installed apps including CNBC, Napster, NBA, Netflix, Pandora, Twitter and YouTube, from early 2011 the devices will also let users access and add applications from the Android Market.
 The ability to surf the web to find the name of some actor, tweet about what they’re watching or check their gmail without losing a minute of their favorite show will no doubt appeal to many people and that’s just what Dual View does. However, the Dual View function doesn’t split the screen 50/50 or let the user decide whether the TV picture or Internet content will dominate. Instead the TV picture is relegated to a small Picture-in-Picture (PIP) in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Making sure the on screen text was large enough to read and the aspect ratio of the widescreen format probably didn’t make things easy in this regard but it would be nice to see an update that at least lets users easily switch which content is relegated to the PIP.
The ability to browse the Internet also means a chunky remote in the form of an RF QWERTY keypad that incorporates an optical mouse. The remote’s layout and size means that, although it might be convenient for surfing the web, it’s probably going to be too big for one-handed surfing of the channel variety. Users of select Android phones will also be able to control the TV with an app that will be available from the Android Market in a few months.
The Sony Internet TV line includes the 24-inch NSX-24GT1 (US$599.99), the 32-inch NSX-32GT1 ($799.99), the 40-inch NSX-40GT1 ($999.99), and the 46-inch NSX-46GT1 ($1,399.99). Those looking to get onboard with Sony Internet TV but don’t want to buy a new TV can opt for the NSZ-GT1 Blu-ray Disc Player ($399.99). All the TVs feature distinctive white backs with black gloss bezels, while the Blu-ray player features white front and sides and gloss black top. All come with the QWERTY keypad and all will be available from Sony Style from October 16 and at Best Buy shortly after.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Google TV breaks out with Logitech's Revue

Smart TV has landed. Logitech has announced a full line of products to allow users to make the most of Google TV, including what used to be referred to as a set-top box with a specially designed keyboard controller, a high definition camera that fits on top of the HD television and a smartphone app that will turn an iPhone, iPad or any Android device into a system remote. Users will already need to have a HD television, a satellite or cable provider and a broadband line to benefit from the unit and accessories, but can then look forward to additional online content played through the TV and seamless search across all available programming.
Google TV offers users access to all the familiar programming from a cable/satellite provider along with additional content from around the web and seamless search across everything. Users can surf the web with an included full browser and be able to use a host of Android apps.
The Revue box connects via HDMI to a TV, is linked to broadband Internet and is hooked up to a cable or satellite content provider. After a brief onscreen setup, the Revue offers users access to a host of preloaded Google TV and Logitech applications in addition to the usual programming schedule. Access and interaction control over the new content is provided courtesy of an included keyboard which wirelessly links up to the main box using Logitech's own wireless technology.
The keyboard controller has a familiar QWERTY keyboard layout and includes a laptop-like touchpad. Buttons to control the TV, AV receiver and DVR also feature and user customization and command mapping is also catered for. Amongst the functions activated by the keyboard is a useful dual view mode that allows users to surf the web while watching a TV program, which will no doubt prove useful for looking up answers to questions during quiz shows or finding out background information on a favorite sports team.

Also on offer are a couple of other ways to take control of the Revue box. There's a palm-sized mini controller that also sports a touchpad and keyboard, with back-illuminated keys that change color depending on the mode being used. Like its bigger brother, the mini controller also allows users to control TV, AV receiver and DVR functionality. Its Li-ion battery said to give up to two weeks of use between charges.
Logitech says that: "as an open platform, the additional power of Google TV lies in its potential to deliver new possibilities for the living room through the development of innovative applications." To this end, the company has created an app for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad and Android devices. The Harmony app not only allows control of onscreen activity using gestures but users will also be able to activate voice searches.
The company has also unveiled a TV Cam and Vid HD service that offers 720p high definition video calling through the system. The TV Cam connects to the Revue via USB and features Carl Zeiss optics, a wide-angle lens to help get everyone in the frame without squeezing into an armchair, 5x digital zoom and a couple of directional microphones. The webcam also uses the company's RightLight 2 technology that is said to automatically adjust image settings so that users are always captured in a flattering light.
Logitech Revue with Google TV will be available by the end of October for a suggested retail price of US$299, the mini controller will cost US$129 and the TV Cam is set at US$149. Although the keyboard controller is bundled with the Revue, it can also be purchased separately for US$99. The smartphone apps are free to download.
Sony is also releasing Google TV ready products – a HD Television and Blu-ray player.