Yesterday Texas Instruments introduced a couple of new chipsets (fuel gauge an charger ICs) designed to improve the charging speed and life expectancy of single-cell Li-ion batteries. The technology, called MaxLife, is expected to provide an improvement of up to 30 percent in battery service life and faster charging times. Cell impedance is carefully monitored by the fuel gauge chip while the charger IC uses a model of battery degradation to charge the cell in the most optimal way. Both chips are connected via an I2C bus to form an autonomous battery management system which, according to the company, is safer and more thermally efficient than existing solutions. The two chipsets (2.5A and 4.5A) are now available along with a development kit, so it's only a matter of time until this technology lands into handsets and other devices that use single-cell Li-ion batteries. Check out the details after the break.
Friday, June 07, 2013
This concept case by Airbus, which pairs up directly with your iPhone, could mean you never lose your bag again.
Called Bag2Go, it uses a GPS-tracker, 2G mobile connection, and an RFID chip built directly into the case itself to record its whereabouts. The idea is, primarily, to allow airports to pair its unique ID with handling systems—and in turn log its location against its owner's travel itinerary. But a paired iPhone can also show the owner data about the case, and even inform them if it's been opened.
That's not where smart stops, either: the thing has a set of scales built into the handle to let you check the weight, and Airbus suggests that the tracking tech could provide people with the confidence to use a door-to-door luggage service so they don't need to lug it themselves. Created in collaboration with T-Mobile and luggage maker Rimowa, it's very much a prototype—but Airbus is hoping to license out the technology. [Australian Business Traveller via MacRumors via Verge]
Posted by Augustine at 7:13 AM
These days, the danger of a stolen PC resides less in local files and more in cloud access -- presumably, no one wants to share their online storage with a thief. SugarSync's paid subscribers won't have to worry, as the company just rolled out a remote wipe option. Customers now just have to sign in through the web to purge a Mac or Windows system of both its shared files and any active logins. A wipe target doesn't have to be online when the purge starts, either. The new failsafe won't help if an evildoer moves data elsewhere, but we'll gladly take what extra security we can get.
Posted by Augustine at 7:10 AM
Don't get your hopes up, because the leaked video after the break is one of the most deliberately constrained pieces of camerawork it's possible to imagine. It avoids showing anything except the mechanical shutter release on the back of a phone that bears more than a passing resemblance to the Nokia EOS photos we covered yesterday, and in fact it comes from @ViziLeaks, who was one of those sources for those images. And, well, that's pretty much all there is to say about it, except that it adds a further bit of weight to the notion that we might see a new version of the PureView 808 camera (which also had a mechanical shutter) on a Nokia Windows Phone sometime soon.
Via: The Verge
Source: ViziLeaks (Twitter)
Posted by Augustine at 7:09 AM
Thursday, June 06, 2013
You can officially stop bragging about how fast your fancy new USB 3.0 flash drive is. At the Computex show in Taipei Intel was showing off this hacked together prototype of a dedicated Thunderbolt 128GB flash drive boasting data transfer speeds of 10 Gbit/s, or about twice as fast as USB 3.0's max. And now that Thunderbolt 2 has been introduced, waiting around for large files to copy to your flash drive could be a thing of the past.
Of course Intel had no word on when consumers could get their hands on the Thunderbolt flash drive, if ever. But there was plenty of interest in it, and as the protocol becomes more popular, it's safe to assume at some point these will move past the prototype stage—hopefully with that adorably compact form factor still intact. [PCWorld]
Posted by Augustine at 5:33 PM
Fungus is, almost universally, not a good thing to have in your walls or personal belongings. And normally, selling certain strains could lead to federal charges. But a company called Ecovative is violating both of those rules, creating packaging and building materials from fungus—and they’re being lauded as visionaries for it.
Ecovative was founded by Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre, who started experimenting with fungus as part of a school project. Today, they employ 35 people and maintain a massive facility in upstate New York, where they farm mycelium, the root-like threads that form the basis for fungus. Mycelium is like a glue: it latches onto whatever it finds around it—usually, low-value organic matter like plant stalks or cotton hulls—to create a super-dense network of threads. Ecovative grows it in dark cartons for five to seven days, after which they use extreme heat to stop it from blossoming spores. “Spores come from the fruiting body or mushroom,” explains Ecovative’s Sam Harrington. “Since we don't grow the mycelium for long enough to 'fruit' to form a mushroom, there are never any spores or allergen concerns with our process."
Ecovative's process is transformative in two ways. First, there's the unique biological properties of Mycelium, which can grow miles of thread-like roots in days. It's an incredibly speedy organism, which makes it ideal for manufacturing. Then there's the fact that it grows to fit any mold, almost like a dense foam. Ecovative grows everything from finely detailed packaging for laptops, to wide panels of insulation for homes. They're also able to control the density of each product, simply by stopping the growth process sooner or later. Their latest experiment? Growing Mycelium architecture. This month, they unveiled what they call Mushroom Tiny House, a small gabled cabin whose interior walls are packed with Mycelium insulation. “We see a future where Mushroom Materials are found in the bumper of your car, the walls of your home, and inside your desk,” says Harrington.
The biggest challenge with scaling their burgeoning fungus operation is likely the public perception of its products. Organically-grown packaging is usually seen as coup for companies’ marketing teams, but it’s less so for those on the logistics side of things. Still, that’s rapidly changing. This year, Ecovative is partnering with Sealed Air Corporation, the 50-year-old company that invented bubble wrap, to open a factory in Iowa where they'll scale their packaging output. They’re also in talks with several electronics makers to grow Mycelium packaging for laptops and tablets. "We have tested these materials in environmental chambers under extreme conditions as well as several years of shipping packaging and we have not found mold to be an issue at all," says Harrington.
Harrington, tellingly, situates Ecovative as the latest in a long line of great American chemical and materials giants. “Dow and Dupont spent the last 100 years turning petroleum and natural gas into all sorts of amazing plastics and materials,” he says. “[But] usually with not so amazing environmental consequences. We aim to be this centuries leader in sustainable materials.” Companies like Dow and Dupont have past hundred years developing chemicals to prevent mold. Now, Ecovative is poised to spend the next hundred years encouraging it.
Posted by Augustine at 5:33 PM
Redbox Instant recently launched on the Google TV platform and today it's officially announcing plans for a Roku channel. Despite its absence from the original list of devices, Redbox mentioned at Google I/O support for the Roku platform would likely be in the cards. Similar to the Google TV launch (and the recent Hulu Plus update) the app won't work on first gen Roku hardware, but once it's available will bring its unique package of subscription streaming / VOD / kiosk DVD & Blu-ray access to the hockey puck streamers. Still, the reports we've heard from early users are mostly mentioning the need for more subscription streaming content, but getting within shouting distance of the likes of Netflix and Amazon won't be easy.
Posted by Augustine at 5:05 PM
The LG Optimus F7 with LTE is now available on US Cellular, shortly after leaked documents robbed it of any surprise. It comes with a healthy spec sheet for a mid-range Jelly Bean device, with a 4.7-inch 720p IPS display, a 1.3-megapixel front cam, and an 8-megapixel rear camera. The device is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and has 8GB of internal storage, expandable via the miracle of microSD. You can get the Optimus F7 via US Cellular's website for $99.99 on a two-year contract, but don't move a finger-muscle until you've checked out our hands-on.
Via: Android Police
Source: US Cellular
Back in 2009, we might have been a little, well, acerbic in our reaction to the initial iTwin. Yet here we are in good ole 2013, and the plucky USB networking key is alive and well. In fact, it was CES when we saw its latest incarnation -- iTwin Connect -- arrive offering (somewhat more useful) private and public VPN services. At the time this was for Windows only, but that's now changed. Mac users can get the same remote desktop, file access and aforementioned VPN functionality, that will also work between machines of both creeds. If you're on the fence about that $199 price tag, remember that comes with access to iTwin's own public VPN servers, and no subscription fee.
After an eventful Computex 2013, Gigabyte has fired its final PR salvo: the launch of the P27K and P25W gaming laptops. The latter is a 15.6-inch, 1080P successor to the P2542G, but ups the ante with a 4th-gen Intel Core i7 quad-core CPU, NVIDIA GTX 770M 3GB graphics, up to 24GB RAM, space for up to two 256GB mSATA SSDs and 1TB of RAID 0 HDD storage, a backlit keyboard, Blu-ray RW drive and that oh-so-gamer case design that tips the scales at 6.6 pounds. Meanwhile, the P27K has a larger 17-inch, 1080P display but otherwise identical specs -- other than NVIDIA 765M 2GB graphics, space for a single 256GB SSD, seven pound heft and Sound Blaster tech instead of the P25W's Dolby Home Theater sound. The 15.6-inch P25W will arrive late June for $1,300 to $1,800 depending on memory configuration, and the 17.3-inch P27K will come a month later for the same price. That sum should let you game and still, you know, eat -- check the PR after the break for more.
We heard Nokia was planning on releasing a true, full-on PureView Windows Phone
Posted by ViziLeaks, these two images show a Nokia device with a PureView camera. Just look at this giant bulge:
Posted by Augustine at 6:07 AM
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
See that slide above? When we first clapped eyes on it we couldn't help but wonder if Intel had finally managed to turn the tables on AMD, at least in terms of integrated desktop graphics. After all, running BioShock Infinite at 1080p is no easy task and Intel's claimed frame rate of 35 fps is actually 4 fps higher than what AMD claims for its flagship Richland processor in a similar test. But, as ever, things are more complicated than that. For a start, this particular marketing slide represents a very niche version of Haswell with a BGA socket, rather than the Core i7-4770K that a regular upgrader might purchase. Secondly, it's hardly fair to stack a Haswell chip that costs more than $300 up against an AMD APU that comes for $150. What we need are independent tests that allow us to weigh more factors, and fortunately, those are exactly the sorts of reviews we'll be rounding up after the break.
Posted by Augustine at 10:24 PM
If you've been mourning Sony's decision to discontinue its super-thin Z Series laptop, you can at last dry your tears: the company just announced two flagship Ultrabooks that should more than make up for your loss. For starters, the VAIO Pro 11 and Pro 13 each weigh less than the Z, at 1.92 and 2.34 pounds, respectively -- in fact, Sony claims they're the lightest touchscreen Ultrabooks ever made. They also last longer on a charge and have an optional sheet battery that promises to double the battery life, providing up to 14 hours on the Pro 11 and 13 hours of use on the Pro 13. Presumably, they're faster too: both ship with Haswell processors, and the 13-inch version in particular will be offered with PCIe solid-state drives. And, lest you worry Sony evolved the Z too much, its flagship laptops are still made of carbon fiber from top to bottom.
Either way, you'll have your choice of Core i5 and i7 processors, with 1080p IPS displays, NFC, backlit keyboards and Exmor webcams all standard. Just about the only things you won't get back from the Z are a dedicated GPU and an optical drive. (And who wants a DVD writer, anyway?) If nothing else, perhaps the price might convince you to settle for integrated graphics: these machines are considerably more affordable than the Z, which started at two grand. Now, in the year 2013, you can pay $1,150 and up for the Pro 11, or $1,250-plus for the Pro 13. They'll be available June 9th with black and silver color options, but if you have to know more now, we actually have a review of the Pro 11 ready for your perusal. (Spoiler alert: we like it. We like it a lot.) Gallery: Sony VAIO Pro 11 and Pro 13
Gallery: Sony VAIO Pro 11 and Pro 13
Posted by Augustine at 6:18 AM
AMD has already shown what its mobile Richland APUs can do, and it's now ready to reveal their desktop equivalents' potential. The company's new, full-power A6, A8 and A10 Elite processors are more evolutionary bumps than overhauls, but they still have a few clear advantages over last year's Trinity chips. Along with a bump in Turbo Boosted frequencies to between 4.1GHz and 4.4GHz (3.5GHz to 4.1GHz normally), the updates ship with Radeon HD 8000 video and can handle speedier DDR3-2133 memory (on the A10). Wireless is just as important as it is with the firm's newest mobile processors: the desktop Elites improve streaming games to other devices using Splashtop, with relatively little lag when modern AMD processors are on both ends.
As for performance? AMD didn't have the luxury of comparing against Intel's Haswell chips at the time it gave us benchmarks, but it did claim big gains over Ivy Bridge in both general-purpose computing and gaming. A 4.1GHz A10-6800K is up to 3.3 times faster in OpenCL than a 3.2GHz Core i5-3470, and games like Bioshock Infinite are playable at 1080p (if barely) where they're unusable with the HD 3000 graphics of Intel's CPU. Performance boosts over Trinity are a more modest eight to 21 percent, however. If you want to know how well the Elite line fares in the real world, it won't take much effort to find out. AMD is shipping its processors this month, at very frugal prices that range from $69 to $142.
Gallery: AMD Elite desktop APU presentation
Posted by Augustine at 6:18 AM
Fujitsu burst on to the Ultrabook scene in earnest with the Lifebook UH75 last fall, and it's clearly bent on keeping our attention: it just launched an early sequel, the Lifebook UH90. The 14-inch portable is ever-so-slightly thinner than its ancestor at 15.5mm (0.61 inches) thick, but upgrades to an extra-dense 3,200 x 1,800, IGZO-based touchscreen. The improvements are more than just skin-deep, of course. A Haswell-based, 1.6GHz Core i5 helps feed that monster display, and a 500GB hybrid hard drive strikes a balance between speed and storage. Japanese buyers will get a crack at the UH90 on June 28th under the country's customary open pricing system. There's no word yet on a possible US release, but we hope one is on the cards.
In case the UH90 is too pricey, Fujitsu also has a trio of more modest PCs on tap. The Esprimo FH78 all-in-one (shown after the break) runs on a Haswell-era, 2.4GHz Core i7 and stuffs a 30W, 2.1-channel Pioneer speaker system underneath its 23-inch display. The PC builder's 15.6-inch Lifebook AH models have also been given a slight bump: the AH45's battery life has doubled to 6.4 hours, and the AH42 has upgraded to a 2.4GHz Pentium while lasting for 7.9 hours on a charge. We're not expecting the Esprimo to reach the US, although the starter Lifebooks may cross the Pacific.
Posted by Augustine at 6:17 AM
Since not everybody wants to lug an eight pound gaming machine or settle for a lightweight but graphics-challenged notebook, Gigabyte unveiled its U-series at Computex: two notebooks and an ultrabook with discreet NVIDIA graphics and 4th-generation Intel CPUs. The models build on the company's last-gen 14-inch U2442 Ultrabook, which unlike most models in that category, carried GeForce GT640M graphics and a generous supply of ports while still maintaining a respectable 3.3 pound heft. Gigabyte's looking to continue in that vein with the new models, which will all arrive by early August. To see a breakdown on all the pricing and specs, head after the break.
Gallery: Gigabyte U24F Press Gallery
Gallery: Gigabyte U24T Press Gallery
Filed under: Laptops
Posted by Augustine at 6:17 AM
It was only a few hours ago when Fujitsu announced its UH90, the first laptop to feature a 14-inch 3,200 x 1,800 IGZO display. While the device won't hit Japan until June 28th, we were lucky enough to stumble upon the panel itself at Sharp's Computex booth. In fact, the company also had a 15.6-inch IGZO panel with the same qHD+ resolution, 400 nit brightness plus 1000:1 contrast ratio, and both looked super crisp to our eyes. Alas, IGZO is still a bit behind LTPS panels when it comes to viewing angle, but we had absolutely no problem when looking at the displays straight on. With the UH90 rolling out soon, we should see more devices shipping with these panels very soon.
Gallery: Sharp's QHD+ LCD screens eyes-on
Mat Smith contributed to this report.
Filed under: Displays
Via: Engadget Chinese
Posted by Augustine at 6:07 AM
Oh, hell. FreedomPop might really be onto something this time. The company best known for doling out 500MB of free mobile data per month to hotspots, iPods and home routers will step up its game later this summer with a free phone service for Android users... with a few caveats, that is. To get by on the cheap, you'll need to make do with a relatively scant 200 voice minutes and 500MB of mobile data in order to avoid overage fees, but to FreedomPop's credit, it'll include unlimited texting as part of the mix. What's more, if you happen to go over your minute allotment, you'll be charged a rather reasonable $9.99, which brings unlimited voice to the table. As you might've suspected, data overages are the biggest caveat to FreedomPop's service, which can cost between $10 and $20 per gigabyte.
The service will operate over Sprint's network, which brings access to EV-DO and WiMAX, and also leverages VoIP for calls. While it won't be available at launch, FreedomPop tells us that LTE may eventually worm its way into the offering. Sadly, the company isn't ready to discuss which Android phones will be offered (or at what price points). As another sticking point, there's a chance that number portability won't make it into the beta launch, but FreedomPop assures us that it's in the works. Even with the constraints and risk of overages, it seems that FreedomPop could still be a workable (and very inexpensive) solution if you lean on WiFi for most of your data usage. In fact, company reps tell us that 50 percent of its customers are able to get by without incurring overages or monthly fees. Think you have the self-restraint to be among them?
Posted by Augustine at 6:06 AM
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Sprint Vital leaks out: 5-inch HD display, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 13MP camera, Android 4.1 (video)
Gallery: ZTE Vital for Sprint
Posted by Augustine at 10:25 PM