Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Burner's virtual phone lines add automatic robocall blocking

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/17/burner-adds-automatic-nomorobo-call-blocking/

When it debuted in 2012, Burner's virtual phone number app promised to help privacy-minded folks shield their private digits with temporary phone numbers while adding a few useful cloud-based integrations at the same time. Today, Burner announced a new integration with Nomorobo -- the winner of the FTC's Robocall Challenge -- to eliminate another major phone-related headache: Rachel from Card Services.

The Burner and Nomorobo partnership adds the latter's call-blocking features and "massive" blacklist of known telemarketers to prevent those calls from ever reaching your phone. (Or, in this case, your temporary Burner number.) Incoming calls are checked against Nomorobo's database and then automatically screened. Although you can blissfully ignore those calls if you like, the Burner app places them in a "Filtered Calls" section of your call history so you can review them later. Incorrectly filtered calls can be whitelisted and moved to the Inbox just like checking your email spam folder.

Burner users with a Premium $4.99 monthly subscription can add Nomorobo's services to their account simply by updating to the latest version of the app. Nomorobo will be enabled by default in both the iOS and Android versions.

Source: Burner


Zotac's tiny gaming PC is powerful enough to play in VR

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/17/zotacs-tiny-gaming-pc-is-powerful-enough-to-play-in-vr/

A major obstacle currently facing VR is the fact that the headsets themselves (generally) have to remain tethered to a bulky desktop tower. With the new Zbox Magnus EN1070K from Zotac, however, that tower is now barely bigger than a Mac Mini.

The EN1070K is part of Zotac's gaming line of ultra-compact PCs, but don't let its miniscule footprint fool you. It offers the current Intel Kaby Lake Core i5 processor, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 GPU and can accommodate up to 32GB of RAM. That's more than enough processing power to run a VR setup such as the Oculus Rift.

There's no word yet on when the EN1070K will be released, or for how much. Given that the last generation E-series cost around $1,500, you can pretty safely bet the new one will retail for roughly the same, depending on the specific components you elect for. So even though it may be small enough to fit into a VR backpack, the EN1070K's price tag may be too big to fit into your budget.

Via: The Verge

Source: AnandTech


Raspberry Pi gives its PC-on-a-stick a big speed boost

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/17/raspberry-pi-gives-its-pc-on-a-stick-a-big-speed-boost/

Raspberry Pi has taken its latest computing board and squished it onto the stick-sized Compute Module 3, giving it about ten times the power of the original Compute Module. Unlike the Raspberry Pi 3 upon which it's based, however, the device is built for industrial applications, prototypers and advanced hobbyists, not students or casual users. It can now play that part a lot better, thanks to a 1.2GHz Broadcom processor, 1GB of RAM (double that of the original) and upgradeable storage.

Raspberry Pi points out that NEC used the device in its latest signage and presentation monitors (below), giving you an idea as to the intended market. It fits into a standard DDR2 SODIMM form factor, making it easy to find inexpensive sockets from several manufacturers. Developers will also want the Compute Module IO Board, giving you Pi-like pin and flexi connectors, MicroSD, HDMI and USB "so that you have an entire system that can boot Raspbian (or the OS of your choice)," the organization wrote.

The idea with the Compute Module is "to provide the 'team in a garage' with easy access to the same technology as the big guys," Raspberry Pi wrote. As such, manufacturers can add it into a dumb device to make it smart, since it can single-handedly do processing, memory and routing chores. At the same time, it should be relatively easy to program for anyone with some Pi experience.

The Compute Module 3 with upgradeable MicroSD storage runs $30 (£27), but if you're fine with 4GB of fixed flash memory, you can go for a $25 (£22) "Lite" module. The IO board is sold separately for £96 (around $116) or together with the Compute Module 3 for £126 (about $143). For details on how to get it in the UK, US and elsewhere, hit Raspberry Pi's announcement post.

Via: PC World

Source: Raspberry Pi


Saturday, January 07, 2017

I Am Lusting Over Sony's New Paper-Thin E Ink Watch

Source: http://gizmodo.com/i-am-lusting-over-sonys-new-paper-thin-e-ink-watch-1790919945

Despite the added functionality that manufacturers keep trying to cram inside them, watches have always been, and will always be, a fashion accessory first. And that’s why we’re lusting over this new concept E Ink watch from Sony that can instantly change its design, but is also thinner than a credit card.



Thursday, January 05, 2017

Intel just announced a perfect way to upgrade smart gadgets

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/05/intel-compute-card/

If you really think about it, "smart" devices today can also count as computers. They have processors, memory and other hardware similar to what you'd find in a PC. But the problem with embedding computing hardware in devices like TVs and refrigerators is that they'll quickly grow obsolete. Simply put: to get a faster TV, you have to buy a whole new TV.

Intel is hoping to change that with Compute Card, a new platform for credit card-sized modular computers that can easily be swapped in and out of smart devices. The idea is that when new Compute Card hardware is available, you should be able to just plug it into your TV or refrigerator. They include Intel SOCs (system on chips), memory, storage and networking capabilities.

"Device makers simply design a standard Intel Compute Card slot into their device and then utilize the best Intel Compute Card for their performance and price needs," the company wrote. "This reduces the time and resources needed to design and validate the compute block and helps speed up innovation to bring the power of intelligence into an ever wider range of devices."

Given just how powerful mobile hardware is becoming, and the ongoing problem of smart devices becoming obsolete, it makes sense for Intel to pursue the Compute Card. It's also teamed up with the likes of Dell, HP, Lenovo and Sharp to develop the platform, and its early hardware partners include Seneca Data, Infocus and others.

Source: Intel


Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Intel gives its NUC mini-PCs new processors, new ports and a new design

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/04/intel-gives-its-nuc-mini-pcs-new-processors-new-ports-and-a-new/

When you're looking for a tiny desktop, Intel's NUC computers are something of a standard. These bare-bone PCs have made a name for themselves as affordable, reasonably powerful and adorably small. Now they're even better: Intel is gifting its line of tiny computers with new seventh-generation desktop CPUs, a fresh design and Thunderbolt 3 ports.

All told, Intel is introducing five new NUC models: two using the new Core i3 desktop CPUs, two with Core i5 processors and a single machine with a Core i7. There are also two different case sizes: a larger version that supports 2.5-inch SATA storage devices, and a shorter enclosure designed for PCI Express SSDs. It's a little confusing, but at least they all look the same, sharing the same dark finish.

Intel's NUCs are, by definition, compact. But they offer plenty of connectivity too. Each model boasts four USB 3.0 ports, as well as connections for Ethernet, HDMI and audio, not to mention a microSD card reader and a Thunderbolt 3.0 capable USB-C socket. Not bad. Now if only Intel would tell us how much they'll cost.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.

Source: ArsTechnica


Monday, January 02, 2017

LG's latest 4K TVs deliver better color through 'nano cells'

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/02/lg-nano-cell-4k-tvs/

If your TV line already has 4K, HDR and all the other buzzwords that promise top-tier image quality, what do you do next? For LG, the answer is simple: make sure everyone sees those colors. It just unveiled its Super UHD TV line for 2017, and all three models (the SJ8000, SJ8500 and SJ9500) revolve around Nano Cell LCDs whose uniformly-sized particles promise more accurate and consistent colors, even when you're watching from an off-center position. The technology absorbs excess light wavelengths, preventing unwanted color bleeding (such as from green to blue or yellow), fading and other effects that reduce the vibrancy of the picture.

The company is even going so far as to partner with Technicolor in a bid to improve accuracy through both a special Technicolor Expert Mode and support for Advanced HDR. When combined with Dolby Vision, HDR10 and Hybrid Log Gamma support, you shouldn't have to worry about whether or not you're getting the most faithful colors.

LG is also promising a more sophisticated approach to high dynamic range imagery regardless of the format. All of the Nano Cell sets tout an Active HDR feature that inserts HDR data into specific areas in each frame -- you don't need to worry about what kind of HDR data is included in the raw material. An HDR Effect feature, meanwhile, punches up the quality of standard images.

The webOS software on the new TVs isn't a revolution, but it still promises to make your life easier compared to last year's models. A Magic Link button on the remote both gives you quicker access to favorite material (such as Amazon and Netflix) and details about what you're watching, such as the actors. You can watch 360-degree VR material if you plug in a computer or phone through USB, and it's easier to zoom into a scene to see something you'd otherwise miss.

You aren't getting many details about the lineup at this stage, alas, but it's evident that the SJ9500 is the darling of the bunch with a frame that's just 0.27 inches thick at its slimmest point. The big question: what are Samsung, Sony and other heavyweights doing this year? While Nano Cell, Active HDR and other perks may help, it'd likely be wise to wait for LG's rivals to show their cards before you commit to buying a set.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.

Source: LG Newsroom


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Google's Jamboard is a 4K digital whiteboard for collaboration

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/10/25/google-jamboard-digital-whiteboard/

It's hard to recall today, but being able to edit a document at the same time as others was a transformative feature for Google's suite of online office apps. That feature debuted a decade ago, though; these days, it's something most of us take probably take for granted. And as useful as real-time collaboration is in Docs and Sheets, it's not as organic as throwing ideas up on a physical whiteboard. So, in a bid to evolve the way we work once again, Google is unveiling Jamboard, a cloud-connected digital whiteboard that lets teams collaborate together no matter where they are.

At its core, Jamboard is basically just a 55-inch 4K display that you can use like a typical digital whiteboard. You can sketch out your ideas with a stylus for a small conference room full of coworkers. But what makes it quintessentially a Google product is its cloud connectivity. Whatever you draw on the device -- which the company calls your "jam" -- gets saved to your Drive folder automatically. You can pull in content from the web or other Google apps to buoy your ideas.

Most importantly, there are multiple ways for colleagues to collaborate on your work in real-time. Remote teams can use their own Jamboards to tune and contribute to your sessions as if they were right next to you. You can also pipe your jam to a Hangouts call, allowing you to potentially broadcast it to the world. And there are companion apps for Android and iOS that allow colleagues anywhere in the world to follow along. If you have an iPad or Android tablet, you'll be able to take advantage of all of the editing tools available to Jamboard devices. Phone collaborators, on the other hand, will be able to see everything going on and input data. (You can also pipe your jams to the web, but there's no online editor yet.)

The Jamboard itself basically looks like an oversized Nexus 10, right down to the thick bezels and the webcam above the screen. There's a small tray at the bottom for the passive stylus and eraser, right below the downward firing speakers. You can mount it to a wall, just like any other flatscreen TV, or you could opt for the stand that sits atop four large caster wheels, which makes it easy to move about your office. There are USB and HDMI ports along the side of the Jamboard (yes, you can use it as a standard 4K display), along with volume controls and an input select button right behind the bottom-right corner.

In many ways, Jamboard is a physical extension of Google's office suite. But it's also a way for the company to promote freeform brainstorming without tying users to specific apps. "From the beginning... we were putting people in sort of productivity boxes from the start, you had to choose right away, are you going to use Docs, a spreadsheet, or a slide deck," G Suite product director Jonathan Rochelle told Engadget. "We thought that might somehow limit creativity."

Though the Jamboard's stylus looks like a fat crayon, it's capable of drawing lines up to a fine 1mm. There's also a round eraser that also helps to clear off smudges from the screen. Both of those devices are passive, meaning you won't have to worry about battery life or even pairing them. Any stylus-like device will let you draw on the Jamboard, and, just like a real whiteboard, you can also use your finger to erase things as well.

In my brief hands-on time with the device, I was impressed with the responsiveness of the stylus, which felt almost as fast as drawing on a real whiteboard. Jamboard is capable of detecting up to 16 touch points at once, so you and a few colleagues will be able to use the screen at once. Clearly, Google is targeting the same market as Microsoft's Surface Hub, but it could be even more appealing to companies already tied to Google's apps.

Google plans to release Jamboard for under $6,000 in the first half of 2017 for G Suite customers. The company has already started testing the device out with big companies like Netflix, Spotify and Instrument, and is accepting signups for an early adopter program for companies who are eager to start jamming sooner.


Sunday, October 09, 2016

Brain-like memory gets an AI test drive

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/10/09/brain-like-memory-tested-with-neural-network/

Humanity just took one step closer to computers that mimic the brain. University of Southampton researchers have demonstrated that memristors, or resistors that remember their previous resistance, can power a neural network. The team's array of metal-oxide memristors served as artificial synapses to learn (and re-learn) from "noisy" input without intervention, much like you would. And since the memristors will remember previous states when turned off, they should use much less power than conventional circuitry -- ideal for Internet of Things devices that can't afford to pack big batteries.

It's still early days for this technology. If you wanted AI that could replicate the brain in its full glory, you'd need "hundreds of billions" of synapses (if not more). The far-simpler memristor array in this test was limited to looking for patterns. However, the Southampton group is quick to note that you wouldn't need to go that far for narrower purposes. You could have sensors that know how to classify objects and identify patterns without human help, which would be particularly helpful in dangerous or hard-to-reach places. You might just see IoT gadgets that are not only connected to the outside world, but can make sense of it.

Via: ScienceDaily

Source: University of Southampton, Nature


Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Panasonic's new prototype TV can hide in plain sight

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/10/04/thats-not-a-tv/

Panasonic showed off an early transparent TV before, but the company has now improved the image quality to the extent that the idea of a TV built into your furniture's glass panes is not only possible -- it's right here. The OLED screen is made of a fine mesh, embedded into the glass sliding door. While the TV image is visible even with the backlighting on, once it's dimmed, the image is clear and bright enough to be almost indistinguishable from existing TVs. (The last model was a bit too dim, and required undershelf lighting to boost the image.) Turn the TV panel off, however, and it's hard to tell it was ever there to begin with. Want one? Panasonic's spokesperson says the TV is likely to stay in development for a few years longer: at least another three years.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

This High-Speed Simulator Suspended From Cables Looks Like So Much Fun

Source: http://gizmodo.com/this-high-speed-simulator-suspended-from-cables-looks-l-1787152726

The most immersive virtual reality experience is still going to feel fake with your body plopped motionless in a chair. Adding motion into the mix, through the use of a simulator, greatly increases the realism of the experience—particularly if it can fly around a room like this amazing cable-controlled contraption.



Friday, September 23, 2016

A first look at Sony's full-frame A99 II

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/09/23/first-look-sony-a99-ii/

In the last year alone, Sony launched three major E-mount cameras, the full-frame A7S II and A7R II, along with the A6300 -- all impressive mirrorless models. So you might think it was losing interest in its A-mount single-lens translucent (SLT) series, having just launched one, the entry-level A68, late last year. At Photokina, however, Sony unveiled the Alpha A99 II, the long-awaited successor to its flagship A99 model.

We got our hands on one at the camera show in Cologne, and it a pretty nice combination of speed and resolution: 42.4 megapixels at a 12fps RAW shooting speed with continuous AF and exposure. To get that kind of performance, Sony incorporated its hybrid 4D Focus tech with 79 dedicated phase detection and 399 focal plane phase detection points. It's also got a max 102,400 ISO and new 5-axis stabilization system, so shooting in low-light won't be an issue.

The A99 II is also well-suited for video, allowing full-frame 4K recording at 30fps max. If you use it in crop-frame, "super-35" mode (at a 15-megapixel still resolution), it can do 4K with a full sensor readout, 1.8X oversampling and no pixel binning. If 1080p is okay, you can shoot at 120 fps for optimal slow-mo. Like other Sony models, it uses the XAVC S format to capture video at up to 100Mbps.

A show floor isn't an idea place to try out a camera, but we did get a feel for the handling. The camera is smaller and lighter than the original, so with the new grip, it's easy to heft. Like the original A99, it doesn't have an optical viewfinder -- the translucent mirror is only used for focusing. However, the XGA, 2.36 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder is bright and sharp, and allows up to 10X magnification to nail manual focus.

You can shoot at up to 8fps with live view activated. Based on an informal try, the 12fps burst speed, meanwhile, seems to work as advertised, and it could sustain that rate for several seconds -- not bad considering that each 42.4-megapixel RAW file is as large as 50 MB. All told, this camera should be a worthy flagship for Sony's A-mount series -- we'll know more when we get a look at it later this year.

Aaron Souppouris contributed to this report.

We're live all week from Cologne, Germany, for Photokina 2016. Click here to catch up on all the news from the show.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Opera's VPN-equipped browser is now available to everyone

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/09/20/opera-vpn-browser-available-to-everyone/

You no longer have to grab test software to try Opera's VPN-toting web browser. The company has released the finished version of Opera 40 for desktops, which revolves around a free virtual private network (provided by SurfEasy) that offers both a more secure connection as well as access to foreign content that would otherwise be blocked. Hi, Hulu and Pandora! It can automatically choose whichever VPN server will provide the fastest connection, but you can specify one of five countries (Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore and the US) if you're more concerned about visiting region-specific sites.

The update also brings a reworked battery saver and RSS feeds in personal news, so there's something to check out after the novelty of the browser's central feature wears off. One thing's for sure: it's worth a shot if you hate paying for VPNs, but want to stick to a mainstream browser that includes plenty of familiar elements.

Source: Opera


Kodak's latest 4K action camera captures VR-ready video by itself

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/09/20/kodak-4kvr360-action-camera/

The Kodak Pixpro SP360 4K action camera had a branding problem. Yes, you could shoot 360-degree videos, but they weren't spherical -- you needed two cameras to do that, which made it less-than-practical for full virtual reality videos. You won't have to do some extra shopping with the 4KVR360, though. The newly launched cam fuses a 20-megapixel sensor with lenses on both the front and back, letting one camera shoot fully immersive VR video all by its lonesome.

As you might hope, the camera is also very connected: there's WiFi and NFC to help talk to your phone, and Bluetooth to talk to an optional remote control. You can record up to 128GB of footage on a microSD card, so you shouldn't have trouble recording many of your adventures in VR. Kodak's name might be historic, but it's going up against mobile giants like Samsung and camera stalwarts Nikon.

The catch? JK Imaging (which oversees the Kodak camera brand) doesn't expect the 4KVR360 to ship until sometime in early 2017, and hasn't revealed a price. Though we'd expect it to be somewhere between the Nikon's $500 and Sammy's $350 though.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Xiaomi-backed mirrorless camera gives you Leica looks for $330

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/09/19/xiaomi-xiaoyi-m1-mirrorless-camera/

Xiaomi's camera strategy goes beyond action cams. Its associated Xiaoyi brand is introducing the M1, a Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera that promises solid performance (not to mention some familiar looks) for the money. This isn't the most advanced camera between its 20-megapixel sensor, a maximum ISO 25,600 sensitivity, and the absence of either a built-in flash or an electronic viewfinder. However, it also starts at the equivalent of $330/£253 bundled with a 12-40mm f/3.5-5.6 lens ($450/£345 with a 42.5mm f/1.8 lens), and bears more than a passing resemblance to modern Leica cameras -- it's a relatively accessible and stylish entryway into the world of interchangeable-lens photography.

And it's not as if the M1 doesn't have a couple of tricks up its sleeve. You can effectively shoot 50-megapixel photos, and record 4K video at 30 frames per second. There's also a 3-inch, 720 x 480 touchscreen to give you "phone-like" control, while Bluetooth and WiFi will help you share your photographic output with your smartphone.

The camera will sell through China's JD.com on September 23rd. There's no mention of an international release, although it won't be surprising if online retailers are willing to import it. Just don't expect to get quite as big a bargain by the time it reaches your door.

Via: Engadget Chinese (translated)

Source: Xiaoyi