Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Olympusâ TG-5 rugged camera has 4K video in a compact body


With summer season just around the corner, now is the perfect time for new rugged cameras to start popping up. And what do you know, Olympus has introduced the Tough TG-5, a point-and-shoot with a 12-megapixel CMOS sensor, 25-100mm f/2.0 wide-angle lens (35mm equivalent), 4x optical zoom, 12,800 max ISO and the latest TruePic VIII image processor. If you're looking to record your adventures, you can do so in 4K at 25 and 30fps, or 1080p at 25, 30, 50, 60 and 120fps (slow-motion videos, anyone?). Naturally, since this is a rugged camera after all, the TG-5 is waterproof, crushproof, dustproof and freezeproof.

You'll also get built-in GPS, RAW+JPEG shooting, a 3-inch LCD and WiFi, which makes it easy for you to transfer your images to a smartphone. The Tough TG-5 is hitting stores in June for $450, while the waterproof case will be sold separately for $300.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

HTC realizes most people don't have a VR-ready PC


HTC is making it easier for you to buy a Vive. The company just rolled out three new bundles for the virtual reality headset that include PCs and graphics cards for the first time. If you already have a decent rig but need a new graphics card, you can now get the Vive and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition for $999.99. That's $200 cheaper than the suggested retail price, HTC says. You can also finance the bundle for as low as $49 per month for 24 months (estimated shipping plus tax), but these are temporary offers that run through April 24th.

The second bundle is a Vive and a MSI VR Ready laptop for $125 per month. The laptop includes an Intel i7 Quad-Core processor, a GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5 graphics card, 16GB DDR4 RAM and a 256GB solid state hard drive.

And, lastly, HTC is offering a desktop bundle, pairing the Vive with the Cyberpower GXi970 for "less than" $99 per month, but the exact cost isn't listed just yet. Its specs include an Intel i5 Quad-Core processor, an Intel B250 Chipset, 8GB DDR4 RAM, a 2TB hard drive and a GTX 1070 8GB video card.

HTC's Vive Financing Program currently has three options: zero percent financing for six months and 12 months, or 7.99 percent financing for 24 months. It's likely offering the same options for the new bundles, but the details aren't all available on HTC's site yet. Obviously, the less time you take to pay something off the better. The 24-month option won't really save you any money in the long run. These bundles probably aren't the most cost-effective options out there -- an ambitious person could likely build their own rig for less. But, they could be a convenient option for less hardware savvy people looking for an easy way into the world of VR.

Source: HTC


Panasonic's latest super-zoom camera also shoots selfies


Point-and-shoot cameras have had a bad rep lately, since they're neither as convenient as a smartphone nor as powerful as a mirrorless cam or DSLR. However, there are a few areas where they still excel: they can include ridiculously long-zoom lenses in small bodies, and take selfies that would be difficult or impossible to manage on your phone. And Panasonic, at least, is determined to make the most of those advantages. The company has just introduced the Lumix ZS70, a successor to the ZS60 that crams more into its compact frame. It now has a 20.3-megapixel sensor (up from 18MP), an even longer-ranged 24-720mm equivalent lens, and -- most importantly -- a flip-out 3-inch touchscreen. If you've ever wanted to take a high-quality selfie (including a new 4K mode) without sacrificing your ability to shoot far-off subjects, you might want to consider this model.

Otherwise, you're looking at some fairly familiar hardware... not that this is entirely a bad thing. It can still shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second, and take 8MP photos at a similar speed. You'll also find RAW capture, a very fast autofocus that promises a lock-on in about 0.1 seconds, and a slew of modern camera tricks such as after-shot focus selection, a beauty mode and creative filters. WiFi helps you share photos to your phone for those all-important Instagram posts.

As is often the case with super-zoom cameras, you'll be paying a fair amount. Panasonic will ask $450 when the ZS70 arrives at the end of May. That's competitive for the class, but consider this: Canon's upcoming PowerShot SX730 HS will offer a similarly sharp sensor, 40x zoom and a swiveling LCD for $50 less. And if you're more interested in image quality than distance, you could spring for either the PowerShot G9 X Mark II or an older camera like Sony's original RX100. You might be happy with the ZS70 -- just know that it's not the only game in town.

Source: Panasonic


Monday, April 10, 2017

'Minecraft' adds a shop for mobile add-ons


For many, the biggest limitation of Minecraft's Pocket and Windows 10 Editions has been the lack of community material. What good is playing on your phone if you can't try out that sweet new texture pack you saw on your PC? You're about to get that option. Microsoft and Mojang are launching a Marketplace that lets both Pocket and Windows 10 gamers download content from community creators, including skins, textures and whole worlds. You don't buy any paid content directly -- instead, you buy "Minecraft Coins" that let you snap up the add-ons you want. It's ostensibly to help producers set "flexible prices," although it also helps mask the value of what you're buying. You might not want to let kids have unfettered access, in other words.

The Marketplace only permits creators with registered businesses, so it's not going to take your just-for-fun project. However, those that do get in receive a 70 percent cut of the revenue, much like typical mobile app stores. A successful merchant stands to make a healthy amount of money, even if it's not as much as they might make by selling directly.

Access to the Marketplace will be limited at first. A public Android beta is launching in mid-April, and there won't even be any creator content -- that has to wait until a formal launch later in the spring. Still, this should do something to bridge the gap between your Minecraft experiences on computers and mobile devices.

Source: Minecraft


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Want an action camera that's also a watch?


Back in the days of Google Glass, people balked at the idea that people could, or should, walk around with a camera on their face. Spacemap wants to see if there's similar hostility to those folks who are effectively carrying an action camera on their wrist. Beoncam is a removable five-megapixel hemispheric camera that you can wear like a watch, pulling it out for those moments when a smartphone snap would be too slow.

In order to justify its placement on the edge of your forearm, the Beoncam also tells the time thanks to a digital display located below the camera lens. Otherwise, the chunky disc houses a microphone and lens inside a casing with three buttons. In addition to the wrist strap, the device is designed to be quickly hitched onto other things, like bike handlebars, a camera tripod or your backpack.

According to the company, the camera's 400mAh battery will sit on standby for up to four days before you need to recharge. Once in use, however, it'll tire out within three hours before you need to recharge it with a microUSB cable. You can also set the device up as a wireless hotspot, enabling you to preview your footage via a companion app for iOS and Android devices.

Like so many outlandish products with dubious use cases, Beoncam is launching today on Indiegogo in a hunt for your cash. Early birds can snag one of the units for $119, while everyone else will have to spend $149. Delivery is currently scheduled for July 2017, although it's worth remembering that deadlines can, and often do, slide well into the future.

Source: Indiegogo


Monday, February 27, 2017

Lenovo's latest Yoga 2-in-1 packs uncommonly fast graphics


With most 2-in-1 laptops, you're giving up any hope of running games or other graphics-intensive apps -- if there are dedicated graphics at all, they're usually too slow for more than the basics. Lenovo thinks it can do better. It's unveiling the Yoga 720, and its 15-inch variant is supposedly the most powerful convertible in its class. Max it out and you can get a 4K display, a 7th-generation Core i7 processor and (most importantly) GeForce GTX 1050 graphics. It's still not a powerhouse, but it's uncommonly gaming-friendly for a PC that can double as a tablet.

The system also touts Thunderbolt 3, up to 16GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive (or 512GB SSD), a 9-hour peak battery life (8 hours with 4K) and the option of an active stylus. And if that's overkill, there's a smaller 13-inch version with integrated graphics, SSD-only storage and an 8-hour battery. Both models are due in April, starting at $860 for the 13-inch system (with a 1080p screen) and $1,100 for the brawnier 15-inch rig.

Lenovo is also introducing a middle child of sorts. The Flex 5 (Yoga 520 outside the US) splits the size difference at 14 inches, and can ship with GeForce 940MX graphics if you need a little more visual prowess than Intel's built-in solution. You're stuck with a 1080p screen, but this is the longevity champ of the three with a 10-hour battery pack. It's the more affordable of the bunch, too, starting at $800 when it ships in May.

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

Source: Lenovo


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Razer's Power Bank keeps your laptop running


External battery packs are a dime a dozen, but you might want to pay attention to this one. Razer has unveiled the Power Bank, a 12,800mAh external battery designed primarily for laptops. It's clearly intended as a companion for Razer's own portables, and can extend the life of a Blade Stealth to as long as 15 hours. That's more than a little helpful if you're stuck traveling all day. However, its reliance on USB-C makes it compatible with any laptop that can charge using the newer connector. Yes, you could keep a MacBook running on this brick if you don't mind the style mismatch.

Like some of these batteries, the Power Bank doubles as a phone charger thanks to two USB-A ports. It even supports Quick Charge 3.0 for those phones that can handle it. This definitely won't be an inexpensive peripheral when it ships in March, at $150 (£170) -- we've seen higher-capacity batteries that sell for less, like Mophie's Powerstation XXL. Not all of those are designed to charge your phone and laptop at the same time, though, and the logo-emblazoned aluminum body might be worth it if you're a dyed-in-the-wool Razer fan determined to coordinate the look of your gear.

Source: Razer


Samsung's next smartphone chip is ready for gigabit LTE


Mobile World Congress is nearly upon us, giving Samsung ample reason to show off the latest product from its chip foundries. The company has announced the Exynos 9 Series 8895, a flagship CPU that's made with a 10-nanometer manufacturing process. The smaller circuits, it's hoped, will offer 27 percent better performance while drawing 40 percent less battery.

The 8895 ships with eight cores, four of which are Cortex A53s, paired with a quartet of Samsung's custom-designed variants. The company claims that it'll play back 4K video at 120fps as well as offering VR content at the same resolution. Security fans will also note that the 8895 comes with an additional processing unit designed to keep your fingerprint, iris and payment data securely locked away from prying eyes.

Additionally, the chip is Samsung's first to boast a gigabit LTE modem and support for five carrier aggregation. The hardware is expected to throughput data at 1Gbps and upload those Instagram selfies at a top speed of 150Mbps. That should keep your lust for high-capacity data networks at bay while those 5G networks are built out.

If history is any indication, it's more than likely that the Exynos 9 Series 9985 will sit at the heart of the forthcoming Galaxy S8. At least, it's the chip that'll be found inside the international version of the device -- since the US edition of the last few flagships used Qualcomm CPUs instead. We're likely to find out for sure in the run-up to the device's expected launch at the tail-end of March.

Source: Samsung


Thursday, February 09, 2017

Samsung's QLED 4K TVs will start at $2,500


If you've been waiting to buy one of Samsung's QLED 4K TVs, which were unveiled at CES 2017, today is your lucky day. The company is now taking pre-orders for its Q7 and Q8 sets, starting at $2,500 for a 55-inch, non-curved model. In case that's not big enough, you could shell out $6,000 for a 75-inch Q7 or $4,500 for the curved Q8. What's missing from this list is the flagship Q9 panels, which Samsung still hasn't revealed pricing for.

As a refresher, the QLED lineup is intended to rival high-end TVs from LG and Sony, with the promise of Quantom Dots delivering a picture quality on par with OLED technology. Samsung says the Q7 and Q8 are expected to ship "late" February.

Via: The Verge

Source: Samsung


Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Sony's latest sensor shoots ridiculous slow-mo video


Sony has unveiled a sensor that could bring some impressive camera tricks to your next smartphone. The 3-layer CMOS sensor does super slow motion at up to 1,000 fps in full HD (1,920 x 1,080), around eight times faster than any other chip. That's possible thanks to a 2-layer sensor married with high speed DRAM that can buffer images extremely rapidly. Specifically, it can capture 19.3-megapixel images in just 1/120th of a second, "four times faster than conventional products," Sony says.

That kind of readout speed reduces "focal plane distortion," also known as rolling shutter. On CMOS-equipped cameras, including smartphones and DSLRs, the top of the an image is read before than the bottom, causing vertical lines to tilt on fast moving objects. As Sony shows in a test image (below) a faster 1/120th second readout speed significantly reduces that effect. The result will be better photos of moving objects and reduced wobbly "jello" video.

That's all good, but the sensor's standout feature is super slow-mo. As shown below, 1,000 fps is pushing into Phantom Flex camera territory, letting you see the impact of a ball on a bat or a dog vault in precise detail. What's more, Sony says that smartphones could detect sudden movement and automatically launch the high-speed mode, so you only use it when needed. Thanks to the DRAM buffer layer, it would work on any smartphone with a regular image processor.

By contrast, the Google Pixel, one of the better slow-mo models out there, can only do 120 fps at full HD, less than an eighth of the Sony sensor's capability. Sony says it has also figured out how to eliminate the noise inherent in putting DRAM next to an image chip by sandwiching it between the CMOS layer and circuits. There's no word on when the chip will appear in any new smartphone models, but as Sony has just launched it, it could take a year or two.

Source: Sony


Wednesday, February 01, 2017

If Desk Space Is a Priority, This Discounted Lenovo Thinkcentre Can Help


What the Lenovo Thinkcentre may lack in bulk, it makes up for it in ability. Despite its impressively small size (that’s not a comically large pencil), this little guy gets you a 128GB SSD, 4GB of RAM, and a 2.2GHz Core i5 processor with integrated Intel HD 530 graphics. If you like tiny things that are the best price…



Monday, January 30, 2017

Explosions may be the answer to mass-producing graphene


Graphene is difficult and expensive to mass produce, but while trying to make something else altogether, Kansas State University (KSU) scientists may have lucked into a promising technique. The team was attempting to make carbon soot aerosol gels by detonating acetylene gas and oxygen with a spark plug. That yielded soot resembling "black angel food cake," according to lead researcher Chris Sorensen. It proved to be graphene, a discovery that could pave the way for cheaper manufacturing of lightweight but incredibly strong materials, superconductors, and more.

Graphene consists of bonded carbon that's just one atom thick, making it one of the lightest, strongest materials out there. It also has interesting electrical properties and has shown tons of experimental promise for rapid-charging "supercapacitor" batteries, solar cells and superconductors. However, more widespread use is limited by its cost -- methods like chemical "cooking" and high temperature heating have proven to be low-yield, expensive and even dangerous.

The KSU team's technique simply requires an oxidizing agent like oxygen or air, acetylene or other hydrocarbons and a spark, according to a patent it filed. The resulting detonation creates a 3,000 degree K temperature inside the vessel, enough to create pure graphene stacked in single, double or triple sheets. "What might be the best property of all is that the energy required to make a gram of graphene through our process is much less than other processes because all it takes is a single spark," Sorenson said.

The researchers are now working to improve the quality of the graphene and scale it up to industrial levels. The aim is to get the material out of the chamber several seconds after the detonation, so it doesn't form into an aerogel. However, the technique seems far along along already compared to other types of promising research, which often never leaves the lab. "The real charm of our experiment is that we can produce graphene in the quantity of grams rather than milligrams," says post-doc researcher Arjun Nepal.

Source: Kansas State University


Thursday, January 26, 2017

LG's G6 reportedly packs Google Assistant instead of Alexa


LG's G6 smartphone is a leaky flagship: CNET is reporting some good and bad points about the company's incoming G6 we've already heard. It will be water-resistant. Great! But it won't have a removable battery. Not so great. While phones with batteries that can be removed (and often swapped out by power-hungry power users), are increasingly rare, it's recently given LG a notable selling point.

What's more, CNET says the handset will feature Google Assistant as its virtual companion instead of Amazon's Alexa. According to the report, LG planned on using Alexa like it does in a number of other products, but the integration wasn't ready for prime time. If you prefer Amazon's virtual assistant, CNET says LG will still likely ship phones with the feature at some point in 2017.

Now it's appears that the G6 going to be an awful lot like the rest: slender bezels, curved corners, metallic shimmering finish, inside and out. The battery choice was done to ensure that water resistance happened, apparently. Given how its unusual modular experiment didn't set the world on fire, it's hard to blame them... from a business view at least.

Is it a case of can't beat them, join them? LG's smartphone arm still weighs down its financial figures, and it's selling less phones than recent years. The teasers and leaks don't suggest anything game-changing, but it might be the right time for LG to strike with a populist, more normal, smartphone that can draw in anyone still wary of buying a Samsung smartphone upgrade. That said, LG still has to fend of cheaper Chinese rivals, Google's own phones, and of course, the iPhone. With what seems like an unremarkable design and water-resistance be enough cut it? Let's see the full reveal first: perhaps the company has a few more tricks up its sleeve.

Source: CNET


Facebook offers extra security with USB key support


None of us want strangers accessing our accounts online. You might use a password manager, or two-factor authentication via SMS, but there's another way you can stay protected -- physical security keys. Following Google, Dropbox and others, Facebook has added support for these privacy-centric dongles today. When you log into your account, that means you can choose to prove your identity with a special USB stick, rather than a code sent to your phone. Yes, it's another object to keep on your keychain, but in return you'll be getting a superior level of protection.

Physical keys are supposed to be more effective than mobile apps and SMS verification, because there's no chance of phishing or man-in-the-middle attacks. They're also potentially faster -- just a tap on the physical key and you should have access to your Facebook account. It's a welcome move from the company, which is also announcing a redesigned Privacy Basics page today. Neither service is mandatory, but it's good to know they exist for Facebook's more privacy conscious users. Cyberattacks and identity theft are on the rise -- it's never a bad time to strengthen your defences.

Source: Facebook


Gmail will start blocking JavaScript attachments in February


If you want to email a .js file to somebody for any reason, you only have a few more days to do so through Gmail. The service will start blocking JavaScript file attachments starting on February 13th, adding it to its list of restricted file types, which includes .exe, .msc and .bat. If you try to attach a .js file on or after the 13th, you'll get a notification that says it's blocked "because its content presents a potential security issue."

JavaScript files aren't inherently bad, but people could attach them to emails so that when you click on one, it acts as a downloader for a ransomware or other types of malware. Gmail can detect .js files even if they're sent as a .zip, a .tgz, a .gz or a .bz2. In case you really have to send one to a friend or a co-worker, the big G recommends uploading it to Google Drive instead.

Source: G Suite updates


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Japan Display battles Samsung's OLED with curved LCD screens


One of Apple's main screen suppliers, Japan Display Inc. (JDI), has revealed a 5.5-inch LCD smartphone screen that can be bent like OLED displays from Samsung and LG. While not quite as flexible and thin as OLED, the "Full Active Flex" 1080p screen could be used in phones with curved screens like the Galaxy S7 Edge, the company told the Wall Street Journal. LCD is a lot cheaper than OLED, so you could see a lot more curved phone designs when it starts manufacturing the panels in 2018.

Since LCD displays usually have a glass backing, it's been difficult to curve them until now. Japan Display got around that issue by using plastic for both side of the liquid crystal layer. That allows not only a flexible screen, but could also help "prevent cracking from occurring when the display is dropped," the company said. It also hopes to adapt the screens for other products, including car displays and laptops.

Japan Display also told the WSJ that it has launch customers for the screens, though it wouldn't say whether Apple or any other company was among those. Rumors of an OLED iPhone have been bubbling up recently, but some analysts think that all the OLED suppliers combined couldn't meet Apple's needs until at least 2018. If Cook and company decided to try curved screens, however, the LCD models from JDI now give them a future option besides OLED.

Source: Japan Display


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

How an animated-GIF camera morphed into a nascent chip empire


Not many computers can thank GIFs for their existence. In 2013, Dave Rauchwerk worked on a San Francisco art installation that allowed people to record and project a GIF of themselves onto a building. It was popular and led to Rauchwerk joining with two friends to start a hardware company called Next Thing Co. Their aim? To create a camera that can capture GIFs for $100.

After a long stay in China with the HAX Accelerator, Next Thing Co. launched OTTO, a $250 "hackable GIF camera" in 2014. It was the first product to integrate Raspberry Pi's Compute Module, and generated a lot of interest. Keen mathematicians may have noted the discrepancy in the intended and actual price -- $250 is many more dollars than $100 -- and the public did, too.

"We had as many articles written about it as we did products sold," said Rauchwerk. "That turns out to be a really impressive number of articles and a really unimpressive number of units. About 400." People wanted it, it seemed, but not for $250. "We always had this dream that distributors and retailers would call us and want it in stores," he continued. They did call, but when it became clear that OTTO was being sold for cost, interest quickly dried up.

Next Thing Co

Next Thing Co. had a problem, and it wasn't unique. Any hardware startup will face the same struggle: How do you build a computer with storage, battery power, charging, WiFi, an operating system and web services without spending a fortune? In 2014, there was no clear answer. "It was sort of akin to building a web service in 1996," Rauchwerk said. "You had to build the web server and the infrastructure before you could even think about building your product." Modern-day developers have access to a vast library of tools that make building out a web service far easier.

The cost of building a product should be around a third of its retail price. That meant, in order to build the OTTO at $100, the bill of parts and assembly should have been around $33. That left, by Rauchwerk's estimate, $10 for the computer inside. The Raspberry Pi Compute Stick was, and even in its latest iteration remains, a $30 computer. With no clear option available, Next Thing Co., in startup parlance, "pivoted," resolving to find a solution to building cheaper computers. "We'd seen those $50 Android tablets that were around a few years ago," Rauchwerk said, "and we wondered why we couldn't we take those parts, throw away the bits we don't need and build a $10 computer?"

The company making those parts was AllWinner Technology, and the relationship between Next Thing Co. and the chip company led to C.H.I.P., a $9 computer that raised $2 million on Kickstarter. C.H.I.P. essentially took an old processor, worked out how to make it support mainline Linux (i.e., the latest version) and added it to a PCB with some extras.

Including the Kickstarter orders, Next Thing Co. has sold over 100,000 C.H.I.P. computers. But despite this success, the company still hadn't reached its goal. People were building prototypes, sure, but when it came to actually turning those early designs into products, there was no path forward. "People started saying, 'Well, I have a couple of these, but I want 10,000 of them, or even more, I want 50,000 or 100,000 of them and I want to put them in my product,'" Rauchwerk said.

The original C.H.I.P. may have been perfect for tinkering, but it wasn't ideal for consumer products. And so Next Thing Co. built C.H.I.P. Pro, which solves pretty much all of the issues the original has. It's 72 percent smaller, it's optimized for mass production, even supporting robot placement on assembly lines, it's reliability tested and it's FCC-certified. C.H.I.P. Pro costs $16 and can be built at that price in quantities from one to a million. Rauchwerk claims there's no upper limit on the number Next Thing Co. can produce, adding that you can go from prototype to product in 60 days.

Next Thing Co.'s computer offers a mediocre level of power compared to the chips inside a smartphone or tablet, but that's not really a problem. The chip powering it is called the GR8, a custom system-in-package (SIP) containing a 1GHz Cortex-A8 processor with ARM's NEON architecture extension, 256MB or 512MB of high-speed RAM and a Mali-400 GPU. According to Rauchwerk, it's "quite a bit faster, in application, on a single-core basis than a Raspberry Pi." It's also, depending on the software, able to sip power frugally. Rauchwerk said that people have used C.H.I.P. Pro to build devices that only need charging once a year.

Next Thing Co

In addition to selling the complete package in the form of C.H.I.P. Pro, Next Thing Co. is also offering the GR8 separately. It can be integrated into products that don't need the extras on the Pro's circuit board. All you really need to turn the GR8 into a functional computer is storage and power, so if a product calls for a different WiFi module, power supply or more storage than the Pro offers, you can design your own circuit board and add the GR8 chip to it for just $6 per unit. "The really fun thing," Rauchwerk said, "is that you can start your product on C.H.I.P. Pro and switch to GR8 and not really have to change the software. They run the same chip and they're software-compatible."

Both C.H.I.P. Pro and GR8 can be flashed with a user or company's software inside the factory. "This sounds like a little detail, but in practice, this is one of the most time-consuming parts of building a device," Rauchwerk said. "If you order 10,000 modules then you'd have to spend 20 minutes putting the software on each one." This service is available for orders of more than 1,000, putting it within the reach of those considering smaller hardware projects.

Support for mainline Linux was useful for C.H.I.P., but it's way more important for Pro and GR8. You probably heard about Mirai -- a botnet made of over 100,000 Internet of Things (IoT) devices that briefly brought the internet to its knees last year. Mirai, and botnets like it, exist because millions of devices are connected to the internet using software with huge flaws. Running mainline Linux doesn't magically make a device secure, of course, but there are internet-connected cameras, DVRs and other IoT devices that are running versions of Linux that are several years old. This makes them much more vulnerable than an up-to-date device.

Next Thing Co. also has cloud-based tools for security and device management that are in the hands of early partners but aren't yet publicly available. This suite of software is intended to take make pushing security and feature updates to devices simple for companies. "We want people to focus on building their products, not working on how to keep them secure," Rauchwerk said. "Leave that up to the experts."

One thing that sets C.H.I.P. Pro and GR8 apart from other chips on the market is the lack of a nondisclosure agreement. While the Raspberry Pi Foundation is an extremely open organization, the company that supplies its SoCs, Broadcom, is not. There are NDAs in place to prevent Pi from making Broadcom's system architecture public, making it harder to develop for. In contrast, the GR8 is open-source hardware -- you can even look through Next Thing Co.'s GR8 architecture document on Github.


With C.H.I.P. Pro and GR8, companies and individuals can take a prototype based on C.H.I.P., Raspberry Pi or any microcomputer, and quickly turn out a product that can be sold at scale. Rauchwerk said "thousands of companies" are doing just that, but he can talk about only a couple of products: TRNTBL and Outernet. TRNTBL is a smart turntable that can identify songs and stream vinyl to wireless speakers, using C.H.I.P. Pro as its foundation. Outernet is a kind of wireless library. It downloads data from Khan Academy, Wikipedia and others via satellite link, and creates a WiFi hotspot so people without an internet connection can still access some of the knowledge on the web.

In addition to enabling companies to build products, Next Thing Co. is also building its own. Its first since announcing the C.H.I.P. Pro is a $49 voice assistant for use in a car, called "Dashbot," which is powered by the GR8. The developer kit for C.H.I.P. Pro comes with a pair of MicroElectrical-Mechanical System (MEMS) microphones on the board to help people prototype voice-based interactions. "We're seeing people use it with [Amazon] Alexa voice service and different APIs to build AI-connected devices at a price that's never been seen." You can think of Dashbot as almost a call-to-arms for companies looking to build low-cost voice assistants.

Next Thing Co. is working with everyone from tinkerers building projects in their garages all the way up to "brands with products you can find at Best Buy," and hardware will start hitting shelves this year. Becoming a chip giant is a far cry from Next Thing Co.'s original mission to build an animated GIF camera. Rauchwerk said that, if he wanted to, he could now sell the OTTO camera for substantially less than $99.

As if to prove a point, at CES earlier this month the company brought along a functional prototype OTTO with a C.H.I.P. Pro debug board inside. There doesn't seem to be much of an interest in moving forward with that product anytime soon, but who knows? Maybe the dream of an animated GIF camera isn't dead yet.

Image credits: Next Thing Co (OTTO camera); Richard Reininger (C.H.I.P. Pro images); VNYL (TRNTBL).


Agencies should start doing F.R.A.U.D today!

No, in seriousness, this is NOT about "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em"

Dear Agency Media Buyers,

Would you rather your clients call me up to do measurement to help explain a problem they detected or an anomaly related to ad fraud in their media? Or would you rather get out in front of that and double check it for yourselves, before that inevitable call happens? I have the privilege of working with two good media agencies that genuinely care about their clients' investments and are already way out in front of the latest attacks and advanced bots. But, still, they are the exception rather than the rule.


Monday, January 23, 2017

ASUS' Raspberry Pi rival can play 4K video


Homebrew-friendly boards like the Raspberry Pi are great for do-it-yourself projects, but they seldom have the oomph needed to handle intensive tasks. That's where ASUS hopes to do better -- it quietly released its own device, the appropriately named Tinker Board. It's almost the same size as the Pi, but its quad-core Rockchip processor has the power to play 4K video and 24-bit audio. This might be your ideal hardware if you're building your own mini media center.

The board touts other perks you don't usually see on these boards, including 2GB of RAM (twice as much as the Pi), gigabit Ethernet and the latest generation of SDIO for add-on boards.

ASUS' hardware is not surprisingly more expensive than its rival at about £55 ($68). However, the bigger question is software. Like the Raspberry Pi, the Tinker Board runs on a variant of Debian Linux and supports Kodi for around-the-home media streaming. As Liliputing notes, though, ASUS doesn't have the Pi's years of developer support and fandom behind it -- you can accomplish more, but you won't have as much help getting started.

Via: Hexus, Liliputing

Source: CPC


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Burner's virtual phone lines add automatic robocall 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


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


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


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


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


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'


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