When Google's Handwrite feature launched this past summer, we welcomed the ability to compose our queries instead of pecking keys. Problem is, Handwrite had a bad habit of confusing our 1's and l's -- and despite the growing size of smartphone screens, it's still difficult to fit written words on them. Well, Big G has solved those problems with the latest Handwrite upgrades. The system now provides alternative interpretations of ambiguous characters so you can choose what's propper, and it lets you write letters on top of one another instead of spelling them out across the width of the screen. Not only that, folks who search using Chinese characters are no longer limited to single-character input. Want to know if it can interpret your chicken scratch? Head on over to Google.com and enable Handwrite under settings on the iOS or Android device of your choosing.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Chrome users with something to hide have heretofore been required to sign in to Google to keep their omnibox searches hidden from prying eyes -- but today's Chrome 25 beta update changes that. Now all searches are automatically encrypted, whether you're signed in or not. It's certainly not the first browser to implement such a security feature -- Firefox 14 switched to HTTPS for all searches last year -- but it's a welcome change all the same. With web voice recognition and security whitelists on the docket as well, the latest version of Chrome is setting up to be quite the must-have, especially for those who want to keep their Justin Bieber search results to themselves.
Source: Chromium Blog
Posted by Augustine at 3:13 AM
Metamaterials are proving to be quite useful for toying with the electromagnetic spectrum, whether for technology previously thought to be the stuff of science fiction, or for boring real-world applications. Engineers at Duke University have come up something that falls more into the latter category: a metamaterial imaging sensor that doesn't require a lens to generate a picture. The sensor is a flexible copper-plated sheet patterned with small squares that capture various light frequencies all at once, functioning like one big aperture. Add a few circuits with a pinch of software and the sensor-only camera can produce up to ten images per second, but the catch is Duke's only works at microwave frequencies. Microwave imaging is used plenty, however, and due to its flexibility and lack of moving parts, the sensor could be used to build better integrated, cheaper airport scanners and vehicle collision avoidance technology -- making you safer however you choose to travel. Unless you take the train. Then you're on your own.
Posted by Augustine at 2:37 AM
Friday, January 18, 2013
Having spent over a half-century living under the warm glow of incandescent light bulbs, it's understandable that consumers haven't been keen on adopting the cold bluish light emitted by energy-efficient CFL and LED bulbs. But researchers at the University of Georgia have developed a new single phosphor coating that finally lets LEDs produce that warm nostalgic glow we all know and love.
Past efforts to tweak the color of light emitted from a blue LED have involved coating it with a mixture of different phosphors to shift its hue towards the warmer end of the color spectrum. But as the LED heats and cools, its color can vary over time as the different chemicals respond to the temperature changes. So taking a slightly different approach, the University of Georgia researchers have managed to create a single phospor that does the same thing, by combining europium oxide, aluminum oxide, barium oxide, and graphite powders in a vacuum furnace heated to 2,642 degrees Fahrenheit.
The resulting material is able to produce a warm glow when encapsulated around a blue LED, but unfortunately it's not quite ready for primetime just yet. The current manufacturing process is complex and finicky, and the resulting LED bulbs are actually not quite as efficient as what's currently available in stores. But the research certainly has the potential to finally cast LEDs in a better light for consumers. [University of Georgia]
Posted by Augustine at 3:59 PM
2012 was not a great year for security. From the "epic hack" of Wired's Mat Honan to the breach of Dropbox and the breakdown of barriers at Blizzard (not to mention countless smaller incidents), last year held frequent reminders that what you put online is never truly safe. Google has, in the wake of such public failings, began pushing its two-factor authentication with a pretty heavy hand. But even that system has its short comings, and Mountain V! iew is l ooking for ways to shore up users' accounts. In particular the web giant is exploring hardware authentication options and experimenting with a device called YubiKey -- a USB-based token system. The research will be unveiled in a paper being published later this month in IEEE Security & Privacy Magazine, and includes preliminary work on a protocol for using a hardware device to unlock an online account. If carrying around and jacking in a USB key sounds too cumbersome, fear not. Google is also working on a wireless version of the platform that could be embedded in a cellphone or even a piece of jewelry like a ring. We may never ditch the password entirely, but we can hope.
Posted by Augustine at 3:31 PM
Seen enough of BB10 yet? Neither have we, and we can now add voice control to the list of leaked previews that includes the camera app, Twitter and Google Talk integration. The folks at Telekom Presse are the ones with the latest leak, showing off a Z10 handset and its onboard voice controls, along with a demo of BB10's keyboard and mapping app via web video today. The clip shows the Z10 taking SMS dictation, calling contacts, and playing music -- and it appears to take all those verbal German commands in stride, though we can't say how well it'll deal with less literal languages. We'll let you watch the video after the break to draw your own conclusions, but it's safe to say it looks like BB10 has its answer for Siri and Google Now.
Source: Tel! ekom Pre sse
Posted by Augustine at 3:31 PM
Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 made a quick stop-over at the FCC with 4G for Verizon shortly before making its trip to Big Red official, and it now seems a Sprint variant has a similar itinerary. A Samsung slate bearing the model number SPH-P600 has just crossed Uncle Sam's inspection tables with support for Sprint's Band 25 LTE and HSPA connectivity over the 850MHz and 1900MHz bands. In addition, the expected WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 tag along with the hardware. Sprint and Samsung haven't announced anything about the tab arriving on the Now Network, but we suspect such news isn't far off with the hardware already sporting the FCC's stamp of approval.
Posted by Augustine at 7:35 AM
If you've been waiting to try out XBMC on your Android, it appears now is the time. While beta and nightly builds were already available, the team behind it has finally readied a release it says is "end user friendly," ready to run on most any device. It achieves that feat by offloading video player duties to another app, in this case MX Player, in order to get around XBMC's lack of hardware support for many devices. After sideloading the two necessary APKs we were able to get it up and running without any trouble, tossing in add-ins and playing back locally stored media without a problem. There's a video to go along with the release (embedded after the break) but installing it yourself is probably the best way to get a feel for its video, picture and audio playback abilities.
Gallery: XBMC for Android
Source: XBMC for Android
Posted by Augustine at 7:34 AM
At yesterday's investor meeting in Taipei, TSMC's chairman and CEO Morris Chang shared the good news that his company's 28nm chip shipment this year will triple that of last year, which should boost its annual increase in revenue to above the industry's average rate of seven percent. China Times reports that orders for TSMC's 28nm silicon are lined up to as far out as late Q3, courtesy of demand for ARM processors, baseband chips, graphics processors and x86 processors. This is no surprise considering the likes of Qualcomm (Snapdragon 600 and 800), Huawei (HiSilicon K3V2 Pro and K3V3), NVIDIA (Tegra 4), AMD (Temash and Kabini) and possibly Apple will be ordering more 28nm-based chipsets from the foundry throughout the year. TSMC did struggle with its 28nm supply for Qualcomm early last year, but it eventually caught up later on, and Chang stated that TSMC now owns nearly 100 percent of the 28nm process market.
Looking further ahead, Chang said his company's already seen enough clients and demand for the upcoming 20nm manufacturing process, which should have a more significant financial contribution in 2014. The exec also predicted that at TSMC, its 20nm production will see a bigger growth rate between 2014 and 2015 than its 28nm counterpart did between 2012 and 2013 -! - the fo rmer should eventually nab close to 90 percent of the market, said Chang.
[Image credit: TSMC]
Via: The Next Web
Posted by Augustine at 7:34 AM
The likes of WhatsApp and Skype might still dominate the west, but Line continues to soak up new users in Asia and across the world. Since October 2012, the ever-expanding messaging app has managed to add just shy of 30 million new users -- the biggest jump in new users yet. The total includes iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone and feature phone iterations, with Line now claiming the app top spot in 41 app stores worldwide. And to celebrate the milestone? It's made a charming video (embedded after the break) with a handful of its adorable characters.
NHN 'line', the number of subscribers exceeded 100 million people
NHN subsidiary of NHN Japan's global mobile messenger line (LINE) '18, the service launched about 19 months embroidery 1 billion people around the world join surpassed. communications lines through a PC or mobile device, voice calls and instant messaging features are available to subscribers with free service was launched last June 2011. Overseas users soared in regions such as East Asia, Middle East, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, in October 2011 after massive chugeo, free voice calls and features such as stickers, Russia and neighboring countries in 2012, in Spain, Chile and Mexico available in the region, including Spanish-speaking increasing t! he curre nt week about 300 new subscribers manmyeongssik is increasing. As a result, 19 months after launch services today (18 days), the world join embroidery 100 million mark was Twitter about 49 months * 1, the period spent 1 billion subscribers in achieving Twitter or Facebook and Facebook about 54 months * 2, line comparison of a rapidly growing and you can see that in 2012, 'Hello, Friends in Tokyo' conference held in Tokyo, Japan, in July a new platform service line channels (LINE Channel) 'was released. A solid user base line and 80.3 percent from the line channels' highest monthly active users (MAU, Monthly Active User) ratio, based on a variety of interlocking App service was introduced, and so far 24 species of interlocking App (wepaep except) surpassed 1 billion cumulative release, download , especially last year, 'line games' began in earnest in November, has surpassed 10 million downloads in the 12 days of service launches Pop 'line', as well as 12 games while providing. Line game is the current cumulative total of 70 million cases surpassed the other hand, the line number of subscribers exceeded 100 million people, which commemorates today (18th) from 7 days to users of daily one line of popular paid sticker free progress that event
Source: Line Blog
Posted by Augustine at 7:33 AM
LG's Optimus G won the hearts of our reviewers, while finding the barely-different Nexus 4 is a feat worthy of a mythological hero. A tipster has sent us the above leaked slide, revealing that there's a new(er) kid on LG's block in the form of the Optimus G Pro. The 5-inch handset comes with an upgraded 1,920 x 1,080 display and is packing a 1.7Ghz Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064, 2GB RAM, 32GB Memory, LTE and a 3,000mAh battery -- tallying with a separate leak we've spied on Blog of Mobile. Reportedly weighing in at 160 grams and measuring 139 x 70 x 10.1mm, there's talk of Jelly Bean, a 13-megapixel rear camera and 2.4-megapixel forward-facer for even better self portraiture. Naturally, as a Japanese phone, you'll also find One-Seg and NOTTV functionality baked inside -- which only adds to our complex that those in the Far East get all the best toys.
Source: Blog of Mobile
Posted by Augustine at 7:33 AM
Thursday, January 17, 2013
If you were hoping for a full-fledged Raspberry Pi sequel this year, you'll have to keep waiting. Designer Eben Upton tells ZDNet that, while there should eventually be a replacement, he doesn't expect one in 2013. Both software tweaks and upgrades like the Model B are reportedly doing the job -- and it wouldn't be right to "orphan" the 700,000 existing owners with a new platform, Upton says. He isn't worried about the Cubieboard and other current rivals, as they have yet to be as fast as their raw numbers suggest. We won't hide our disappointment at missing out on a quick revamp, but we know what they say about things that aren't broken.
Filed under: Misc
Posted by Augustine at 5:02 PM
Cubify's colorful 3D printers look like coffee makers, and that's exactly the point—they're a natural fit for your home. And they might be just the ticket to making this 3D printing thing stick with normal people.
The Cube is kind of the opposite of Makerbot's at-home 3D printer, the Replicator, which is a big bulky 32-pound industrial beast. The Cube, on the other hand, is a 19-pound, adorable sewing machine-sized apparatus, and it's totally something that fits right in with your other appliances. To top it off, it's $1400, compared to the Replicator's $1750 starting point. For $50 more you get Cubify's design software to make the printable creations of your dreams. (Real talk: They should include the software for free.)
As a company, Cubify might actually have the right understanding—its founder, Chuck Hull, was actually the first person to patent a 3D printer all the way back in 1983. Though it took him a good 30 years to have a product on the market, the Cube looks really promising. Hell, you probably wouldn't look twice if you saw it in a friend's apartment. Which is, like, the future, right? [Cubify via FastCo]
Posted by Augustine at 2:56 PM
This is the Uuni wood-fired pizza oven from a Kickstarter project by Kristian Tapaninaho.
Why We Love It: Not everyone can afford to have a wood-burning oven in their kitchen for whenever they want to make a pizza, but Tapaninaho has invented one the size of a carry-on suitcase. It weighs approximately 11 pounds, measures 12 x 36 x 48 cm, and has temperatures of up to 840 degrees Fahrenheit (meaning you can cook a pizza in less than 3 minutes).
Tapaninaho is somewhat vague on his website about how exactly the oven works, but if you watch his Kickstarter video you can judge its efficacy for yourself. The oven takes 15-20 minutes to heat up and needs to be re-fueled with wood every 20 or so minutes.
Posted by Augustine at 2:04 PM
Chrome: Technology has somehow made signing paperwork more annoying than it used to be. Now you have to print something out, sign it, and scan it back in if you want to email it. HelloSign adds electronic signatures to Gmail, so you can sign a document without even leaving your inbox.
HelloSign is one of the simplest electronic signing apps we've seen yet, mostly because it's integrated right into Gmail. Now, if you receive an email with a PDF attached, you'll see a new option below it to sign it. Once you connect Gmail to HelloSign, you can upload a signature from an image or draw it right into the app and use that for all your future documents. Just paste in the signature, add any other necessary info, and send it right back. Check out the video above for more info, or check out the extension at the link below.
Posted by Augustine at 1:47 PM
Android: AirDroid already controls your phone from any web browser, but the latest version of the app offers more useful features, like a new "find my phone" service that pinpoints your device via GPS and complete remote control of your device's camera. Plus, it no longer requires your phone be on the same network to connect to it.
AirDroid 2 used to be in private beta, but the developers dropped the invite-only requirement to download. Even though the app isn't up at Google Play, you can download the APK from the link below. If you don't have an AirDroid account, you'll be prompted to create one when you download and launch the app. We tested it out, and the two major features: GPS location and camera control, both work seamlessly.
You have to have GPS on for the Find My Phone feature to work accurately. You also no longer have to have your phone and your desktop on the same network to control it—if you pair your phone and browser by scanning a QR code, you can turn off Wi-Fi and still manage your device over 3G/4G. If you want to give it a try, hit the link below for a direct download.
Posted by Augustine at 1:38 PM
If you don't like the aesthetics of a set of speakers sitting on either side of your monitor, and can't stand wearing headphones, maybe HP's new 27-inch Envy monitor will appeal to your finicky demands. Like with its laptops, the company has integrated a set of Dr. Dre-approved Beats Audio speakers into the monitor, located at the bottom and angled slightly upward to blast directly towards your ears.
For $500 come early February the display promises an "immersive audiovisual experience" it probably can't really deliver. But with a slim design, an extremely minimal bezel, and a 178 degree viewing angle, it's a nice option if you like to keep your music noisy and your desk tidy.
Posted by Augustine at 1:12 PM
The Chromebook world has really amounted to a two-horse town: you've had to like either Acer's designs or Samsung's if you've wanted Chrome OS on the move. Lenovo is at last pushing out the borders, however slightly, with the ThinkPad X131e Chromebook. As suggested by the name, it's a subtle adaptation of the existing X131e to Google's platform, where the only real hardware difference is AMD's removal from the options list. The software really is the point, though -- Lenovo sees the combination of a rugged, 11.6-inch laptop with web-only software as being perfect for schools that don't want headaches with damage, security or storage. Accordingly, the only ones buying as of the February 26th launch will be institutional customers making volume bids. The Lenovo Chromebook won't affect most grown-ups as a result, but it could shake up an OS ecosystem that has remained tiny for more than two years.
Posted by Augustine at 11:30 AM
According to Evleaks, on UnwiredView, this is a render from a start-up video for the much-rumoured new HTC M7. Rumours suggest that the flagship phone will pack a 4.7-inch 1080p screen, along with a 1.7GHz quad-core chip backed by 2GB of RAM and LTE.
According to the latest leaks, the M7 will also bring back the humble IR port, allowing the phone to act like a learning remote. We're expecting to see the phone in the flesh come the Mobile World Conference next month, and HTC presumably hopes that it will turn the company's declining fortunes around.
The lack of branding and distinct screen borders suggest that this isn't exactly the design HTC is expected to debut at MWC, but it does, perhaps, give an indication of what's to come. It looks good— and, um, an awful lot like the iPhone 5. If the leak's accurate, HTC could have something big on its hands. [UnwiredView]
Our newest offspring Gizmodo UK is gobbling up the news in a different timezone, so check them out if you need another Giz fix.
Posted by Augustine at 8:27 AM
About two weeks ago, Samsung started rolling out a fix to help Galaxy S III owners in the UK with that previously acknowledged Exynos issue. Fast forward to today, and the Korean electronics giant is now delivering an over-the-air update to T-Mobile's Galaxy Note II, which, according to the changelog, "improves security and provides bug fixes" to the famed handset. Meanwhile, Sprint, too, has pushed out a software update, though this one in particular being for the carrier's Galaxy S II Epic Touch 4G -- and it brings security updates that should take care of any existing Exynos vulnerabilities, plus there's also the inclusion of "Sprint Connections Optimizer." Surely, we can expect similar patches for more devices in the days to come, as we're all well aware that Samsung's working hard on solving the problem.
Via: Android Central
The Open Compute Project is pushing hard for servers that are both very scalable and streamlined, and AMD is more than willing to help with the launch of its Open 3.0 server platform. The framework combines two Opteron 6300 processors with a motherboard that contains just the essentials, yet scales to meet just about any need in a rackmount system. Among the many, many expansion options are 24 memory slots, six SATA ports for storage, as many as four PCI Express slots and a mezzanine link for custom components. Open 3.0 isn't as flexible as a decentralized, Intel-based prototype being shown at the same time, but it's also much closer to practical reality -- a handful of companies already have access, and on-the-ground sales should start before the end of March. If all goes well, companies will have a Lego-like server base that solves their problems with precision.
Throwing a $20k Ultra HD TV set onto the market when there's no 4K content of any kind in sight is quite the leap of faith, but LG told ChosunBiz (and confirmed to us) that it's already found 300 deep-pocketed videophiles in Korea for its 84-inch 84LM9600 since it went on sale. Judging by CES 2013 the industry is all-in on the tech, so that news hopefully bodes well for the near future of UHDTV. It's safe to say that consumer interest has been piqued by the pixel-rich screens, but whether that'll translate into the kind of numbers we've seen recently for run-of-the-mill HDTV will likely depend on the all-important sticker price -- which will have to be much, much lower than recent models.
Via: The Verge
Source: ChosunBiz (translated)
A virtual touchpad projected onto limbs and other everyday surfaces? That's the type of crazy idea we'd normally expect to see from Microsoft Research, not Google. Heck, maybe we even did. But Google has applied to patent the concept specifically in relation to Project Glass. The system would use a tiny laser projector mounted on the arm of the spectacles to beam out QWERTY and other buttons, and then the built-in camera and processor would try to interpret finger movements in the region of those buttons. Hey presto! No more fiddling with your face.
Posted by Augustine at 8:24 AM
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
As much as it's important to have every component of a PC stuck together in a laptop, that same monolithic strategy is a major liability for server clusters: if one part breaks or grows obsolete, it can drag down everything else. Facebook and its Open Compute Project partners have just unveiled plans to loosen things up at the datacenter. A prototype, Atom-based rackmount server from Quanta Computer uses 100Gbps silicon photonics from Intel to connect parts at full speed, anywhere on the rack. Facebook has also garnered support for a new system-on-chip connection standard, rather affectionately named Group Hug, that would let owners swap in new mini systems from any vendor through PCI Express cards. The combined effect doesn't just simplify repairs and upgrades -- it lets companies build the exact servers they need without having to scrap other crucial elements in the process. There's no definite timeframe for when we'll see modular servers put to work, but the hope is that a cluster's foundations will stay relevant for years instead of months.
Source: Open Compute Project
Posted by Augustine at 5:08 PM
This is more or less like the grown-up, nerded-out scientist version of those spinny roulette toys you had as a kid that taught you that The Cow Goes Moo. Except the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library tells you that the katydid goes, uhhh, "dial-up modem noise"?
More or less. The Macaulay Library just went live with 150,000 sounds (7,500 hours-worth) from 9,000 different animals—totally centered around birds, as you'd expect from an Ornithology department. The library also contains almost 50,000 videos—and you can contribute your own field recordings too. It's a perfectly geeky way to waste an hour or 7,000 today. [Cornell via PopSci]
Image Credit: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images News
Posted by Augustine at 2:37 PM
Fusion-io has made a name for its Fusion ioDrive solid-state drives by selling them to the largest of enterprises -- the sort that crave thousands of servers. Not everyone wants that level of computing muscle, though, which is why the pro-grade storage firm is now selling the Fusion ioScale to a much wider audience. Cloud service hosts and other, smaller companies just have to buy a (relatively) paltry 100 or more of the PCI Express-based drives, which include both slim 1.6TB and full-size, 3.2TB versions. Neither will be cheap for datacenters when prices start at $3.89 per gigabyte, although Fusion-io is vowing better deals for those buying in buik. We also suspect that the time saved by moving to fast flash storage could be worthwhile in itself.
Filed under: Storage
Posted by Augustine at 2:36 PM
No one would accuse Samsung or other Chrome OS supporters of hardware overkill: the Chromebox Series 3 and other Google-based PCs often carry just enough processing grunt to browse the web properly. Imagine the resulting surprise when a Liliputing reader discovers an unannounced Core i5-equipped model listed as in stock at multiple retailers. The XE300M22-A01US carries a 2.5GHz, Sandy Bridge-era dual-core chip on top of the usual 4GB of memory and 16GB solid-state drive. That's far from cutting edge, but more powerful than the creaky Celeron reserved for those who didn't receive a Google I/O edition. Samsung hasn't confirmed the existence of the quicker Chromebox, and there's some question as to whether the system incorporates the sleeker 2013 redesign or sticks to the tried-and-true 2012 layout; we've reached out to both Google and Samsung and will let you know if there's more concrete information. Quoted prices suggest there's a premium over the original at $405 or more, as of this writing. It's a lot to pay for a PC without native apps, although those who want only the unfettered web might have something close to their dream desktop.
Posted by Augustine at 7:39 AM
The bank-less service you've never heard of but should know about, Simple, finally has an Android app.
The new Simple app for Android comes nearly a year after the launch of the iOS version and was built from the ground up in collaboration with Two Toasters, the same dev shop behind GateGuru and Airbnb's apps. Like the iOS app that came before it, you can deposit checks by snapping a photo with your smartphone. Another neat feature of the hybrid banking service, includes the "Safe-to-Spend balance" that simply shows you how much dough you have to spend that isn't allocated towards existing goals, future payments or pending transactions. You can even find all the ATMs around you or set up recurring and one time payments through the app.
Think of Simple as a hybrid of Mint and your existing bank but with only the good stuff, like goal oriented spending and depositing checks with your smartphone. I just started using it but more on that later. Unfortunately, for now, the service is still invite only but sign up here if you're interested. [Simple via Two Toasters]
Posted by Augustine at 12:15 AM
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
While Apple's store is usually the first choice for developers to launch their apps, others know that Android is the platform to push hardware and software to the limit.
Browsing through Android's massive app library can be difficult as there are many apps that simply aren't very useful.
But if you look a little harder you can find apps like BetterBatteryStats, which helps you to manage apps are draining the most power.
Check out the rest of the Android-exclusive apps we rounded up. They'll change how you use your Android, for the better.
DeskSMS makes sure you'll never miss a message again.
DeskSMS is a nifty app that allows you to forward text messages (and picture messages) from your Android smartphone to your desktop via Gmail, Google Talk, and the Chrome Web browser.
WiFi Analyzer lets you determine how strong a wireless network is in your vicinity
Have you ever been st! uck on a slow wireless network?
WiFi Analyzer lets you see how strong networks are around you, helping you to pick the fastest, most reliable one.
Weather Bomb gives a data-intensive view of the weather on your Android device
Weather Bomb is an extremely detailed weather app that gives users seven days of data.
There are various views, but our favorite is the graph view, which gives the week's rain, wind, and cloud forecast at a glance.
Other data includes rain, wind, cloud, temperature, pressure humidity and wave height.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Posted by Augustine at 3:47 PM
Addictive prescription drugs are flying off the shelves—And not in the hands of paying customers. Pill robberies are becoming such a problem that the NYPD wants to start planting fake prescription drug bottles with embedded GPS chips in pharmacies to help the cops bust thieves after heists.
The plan will be announced by New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly at Bill Clinton's Health Matters Conference today. In addition to the high-tech tracking, the cops are also providing individual consulting on security measures to the 6,000-odd pharmacies in New York City. [AP/WaPo via Betabeat]
Posted by Augustine at 1:50 PM
CES is mostly useless, sure, and most of the trillion dinky things trotted out like chrome and plastic show chihuahuas will wind up in landfills. But CES is worth it just to give 4K, Ultra HD TV its big debut. And if you're not amazed by it, I'm afraid you're an idiot.
The entirety of CES was both an ornate celebration and obnoxious whine-fest about 4K television. The charges are simple:
4K is too expensive for anyone to afford.
4K doesn't have any firm release dates, so we don't even know when we can buy it.
4K doesn't have any content, so it's pointless to even think about buying one.
I already have a TV, so why would I care about another TV?
Ergo, 4K sucks and is irrelevant. CES sucks! This sucks!
That attitude couldn't be less appropriate, or more disheartening. There's no doubt that 4K is all of these bad things right now, and out of reach. But it's also, retina for retina, one of the most amazing things my eyes have observed, ever. It's technology that makes you smile because of how impressive it is. It's technology that doesn't seem possible—looking at Sony's OLED 4K was almost giggle-inducing, it seemed so fantastic compared to what we have now. Colors aren't supposed to look like that! You're not supposed to be able to see the details in someone's hair this way! But you can—or rather, you will, as soon these televisions are put on shelves with price tags that align themselves with our actual livelihoods.
And it will. I promise you, it will. I know because the exact same thing already transpired in the history of technology. The exact same thing. We're quick to sink into forgetfulness and cynicism, but turn your clocks back to 1998 if you can, the year in which the New York Times published this article: HDTV: High Definition, High in Price
AFTER more than a decade of research and political debate, most of the world's consumer-electronics manufacturers have announced their plans and prices for the new high-definition television sets that go on sale in September. And talk about sticker shock: the least expensive ones will cost $8,000.
That $8,000 number is almost $12,000 in today's inflated dollars, and keep in mind the enormity of these impending 4K sets, which dwarf any early HDTV predecessors. The display technology is also massively more sophisticated, too. Still: the most impressive, amazingly vivid picture anyone had ever seen was something almost nobody could afford. At first. And why bother? Everyone was still renting VHS movies anyway. It's almost as if we were faced with a brand new technology of unprecedented visual amazement that cost too much, didn't have any available content, and seemed entirely impractical.
Now department stores try to liquidate this same technology every Black Friday.
This cycle will repeat. You will be able to afford something absolutely mesmerizing to replace the TV you have now—a TV that'll make watching Chinatown, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and Downton Abbey more enjoyable than it's ever been. A TV that'll make viewing your huge DSLR photos more gratifying than they've ever been. A dazzling, bright screen for doing dazzling video things that haven't even been invented yet. And how can anyone be anything but thrilled for that? Are any of you so cynical that you'd rather throw up your hands and tilt your nose back at a technology that hasn't even had a chance yet? This is science fiction stuff—screens that approach reality! Kick yourself in the ass if that's not something that makes you grin, even if it'll only make sense in 2022.
Until then, let yourself be amazed and excited. This isn't some bullshit buzz melange, a better cloud or faster stream or bigger screen. This is a genuine leap forward toward a big rectangle that will sit in your house and stimulate your brain's pleasure areas. The bleeding tip of tech has always been a little aspirational, so let's let it be. We shouldn't spend the years between us and 4K as drooling, ogling consumers, but we shouldn't spend them as eye-rolling skeptics, either. Let's just smile, wait, and let our geeky corneas sizzle in anticipation. It'll be worth it—I promise you.
Posted by Augustine at 1:49 PM