30
Oct/09
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Rechargeable zinc-air batteries promise a lot

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Is there any other field of technology that promises as many revolutionary innovations as battery makers do yet delivers so few? We’ve heard of battery life being made four times, eight times, even twelve times better… and seen pretty much none of it pan out in any sort of meaningful way. Zinc-air batteries are also nothing new, but now some whizkids up in Norway have figured out how to make them rechargeable and set up an entire company, ReVolt, for their commercialization. With more than double the energy density of regular Lithium-Ion batteries, safer operation, lower cost of production, and environmentally friendlier ingredients, ReVolt’s tech sounds as sweet as anything, but we’d advise waiting for the pudding-based proof before getting excited. Plans are for small hearing aid and cellphone batteries to show up in 2010, and if all goes well there, larger cells for electric vehicles could also follow. Sure.

30
Oct/09
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NETGEAR Presents the ProSecure STM

In this current day and age everything from marriages (there have been cases) to handling the affairs of a country is done on the Internet. You pay via Internet banking, receive electronic impulses instead of cash and so on. And because electronic devices basically control our lives, it is imperative that we have the best in terms of security. Something like NETGEAR’s ProSecure STM, tested with Miercom’s Offensive Security Testing Suite.

“This Spam Filtering Industry Assessment allows each vendor to submit best-of-breed products to compete in this independent test review. The test results provide customers with honest, objective and meaningful data by way of a competitive comparison matrix. We are impressed with the NETGEAR ProSecure product and its ability to thwart over 50 percent more threats than products tested to date. This superior security effectiveness score is a testament to the relative security the appliance provides compared to products from well established security vendors,” claimed Robert Smithers, CEO of Miercom.

The STM300 and STM600 devices will work with networks that host 300 and/or (of course) 600 users respectively and allow for the administrators to not only control what websites are visited but also filter potential threats and use a lot of security functions, from the anti-malware engine to the anti-spam engine and URL filter. The ProSecure starts at a price of 2,599 USD.

I’ll leave you now with Jason Leung, NETGEAR’s senior product line manager for SMB Security: “Mid-sized businesses are an enormous opportunity for our channel partners and the STM solves a pressing need for their customers’ networks […] The test results speak for themselves. ProSecure is serious about security. The fact that we can beat the established players at their own game shows that we bring performance, effectiveness, and value to the medium business space.”

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30
Oct/09
0

Rugged EMS-Oriented Duros Computer, Now Much Better

You know, when it comes to the public’s safety, we need to make sure that the persons on the front line have the best gadgets, not only the best training possible! While I cannot say anything regarding training, I can tell you that Duros has made quite the upgrade to the 1205-PS fixed-mount rugged computer, designed especially for public safety and first-responder vehicles. So keep on reading to see what the good guys will be using from now on.

The new 1205-PS sports an Intel Core Duo 1.6 GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and can integrate video (quite a feat); plus, it is able to run the Computer Aided Dispatch software, which is known to be pretty demanding. As far as ruggedness goes, the device has a solid aluminum housing, making sure that it does not break at the first touch, be it the soft touch of a woman’s finger or the hard blow of a hammer.

There are multiple choices for RAM, HDDs, processors, keyboards or radio connectivity, meaning it can be configured to fit all requirements no matter if you’re a police officer, work in the security field or need it for EMS or fire applications. The device also sports quite a thin and compact design making sure to take up as less space as possible so you can allocate the extra space to other, more important things.

I will leave you now with a little something from Eric Miller, Duros general manager, “When lives and safety are at stake, first responders must have equipment that works. The Duros 1205-PS already was rugged enough to perform under the most challenging conditions. Now it is faster and has more memory, giving first responders ready access to additional tools and resources to better perform their jobs”

29
Oct/09
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Microsoft temporarily suspends Sky Player for Xbox 360

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“Very fast,” “a dream,” “fantastic.” It looks like you can add “on hiatus” to the list of superlatives — at least for the time being. That boffo Sky Player that Microsoft debuted for the Xbox 360? “Suspended.” Why, you ask? “Due to an unforeseen technical issue.” Luckily for Britons and ex-pats, the £15 monthly service should resume tomorrow, barring any further technical issues. In the meantime, it looks like the poor avatar above will be stuck watching Benny Hill on Netflix like the rest of us. Statement after the break.

Microsoft Statement on Sky Player for Xbox 360

The Sky Player on Xbox 360 service did successfully launch early this morning, it has subsequently been suspended due to an unforeseen technical issue. With so much excitement and interest in the service, we’d much prefer to ensure that our customers enjoy the highest possible quality of service. We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to our customers who have attempted to access the service today. Sky Player engineers are hard at work to resolve the problem – we expect to have the full service available tomorrow.

29
Oct/09
0

Sprint and Palm to Launch the Pixi

Last time we saw the Palm Pixi you probably recall me not being too happy about it especially in terms of appearance. Since back then it wasn’t clear when it would be available (except that it would come before Santa), Sprint has come up with a new announcement letting us know about more of its features as well as when and where it will be available for purchase. And since it has been quite a while, maybe they have a few surprises in store as well.

Well now, remember I mentioned that it looked like a phone that was made for the masses (aka one that will be quite cheap to acquire)? Well, seeing how it will cost you just 99.99USD with a two-year service agreement, I am pretty sure I hit that one right on the spot. As for the design of the device, nothing has changed and it still looks as… ‘not so good looking’ as the last time. I don’t think I am the only one who thinks those keys just don’t belong there!

“We are excited to offer the new Palm Pixi to our customers in time for the holiday season, and it’s a great addition to Sprint’s industry-leading device portfolio,” said Kevin Packingham, senior vice president, Product Development, Sprint. “Simply put, this phone is fun and easy to use; with its multi-touch screen and full QWERTY keyboard, it’s a great device for messaging and social networking at a price everyone can enjoy, and delivers so many of the great features people love about Palm Pre in a fantastic new form factor, making it a huge hit for consumers.”

The device comes with the same webOS as the Palm Pre as well as with a number of socializing options that allow you to receive information and updates from Google, Facebook, Microsoft Exchange, LinkedIn and even Yahoo! While lacking the glamor and sparkle of the Pre, Palm Pixi has all it takes (good OS, very good price) to become a favorite especially among teenagers!

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29
Oct/09
0

Telco Systems Presents Two Military Targeted Rugged Ethernet Switches

The military are known to be among the greatest powers in a state. That’s why they must have all the best devices regarding accuracy and efficiency, within all applications. Internet is always a must and probably a tactical need. If you ever thought that the military take out in the wild, or wherever they might set camp along their operations, covert or not, those ordinary plastic-built Ethernet switches and such, then you are so wrong.

Just recently, Telco Systems announced the availability of two new Ethernet routing switches specially developed for military use, in the harshest environments, namely the T5R-24T and T5R-24GT. Both switches are MIL-STD-810F compliant and deliver wire speed, non-blocking Layer 2-4 switching at Gigabit Ethernet speeds.

Providing a maximum of 24 Ethernet connections, as well as four Gigabit fiber uplinks in a 1.4-inch enclosure, the T5R is designed for high-density IP services in space-constrained airborne and ground communication environments that do not leave room for issues. The switch can take IP connectivity for airborne and radar systems, signals intelligence, UAV data lines and mobile communications.

Also, based on Telco Systems carrier grade BiNOS networking software suite, this line of rugged switches provide a complete line of switching and routing protocols. A distinctive Fast Ring technology ensures the highest level of network reliability with recovery time of less than 50 ms. T5R-24GT-RUG offers 18 auto-sensing 10/100/1000BaseT Ethernet connections and four Gigabit fiber uplinks, while the T5R-24T-RUG supports 24 auto-sensing 10/100BaseT Ethernet connections, two Gigabit copper uplink and two Gigabit fiber uplinks.

Expansion slots are available for both models, allowing support for 54 ports on the T5R-24GT and 66 ports on the T5R-24T.

28
Oct/09
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JVC joins the Blu-ray player game

jvcblurayplayer

Sub-$200 Blu-ray players certainly aren’t new — heck, some guys have been doing it since the year 2008 — but you’ll never catch us kvetching about a little more competition. JVC has today introduced (in the briefest way possible, might we add) its newest Blu-ray player just ten months after deciding to play the BD game here in the States. The ultrathin (and “now available”) XV-BP11 should slide into just about any AV rack, bringing Blu-ray / DVD playback, AVCHD support, HDMI 1.3, a USB socket and compatibility with a slew of audio formats. Curiously enough, the outfit doesn’t bother to mention if this thing is Profile 2.0, but we’re guessing (read: hoping) that it wouldn’t do something as ludicrous as charge two bills for a Profile 1.1 deck in late 2009.

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27
Oct/09
0

Theaters upgrading screens to Sony’s 4k projectors

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With some help from Sony, Hollywood Theaters is upgrading to 4K digital cinema, some of which that will do 3D. The project kicks off over the next few months when 13 locations will get the upgrade that consists of 167 screens all of which will all be going digital. On top of that, 53 of those screens will also support 3D movies thanks to RealD and circular polarized glasses. Of course we won’t be happy until every theater in the US is digital and 3D, but this is a decent step in the right direction.

27
Oct/09
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Cable Ethernet Networking from D-Link

Those of you that have a networked HD streaming-capable device (such as a TV, media center, PlayStation 3, etc.) know that it has a lot of problems when it comes to HD streaming or online gaming (as in the case with the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 or the Wii). Well, not anymore thanks to the D-Link HD MediaBridge Coax Network Starter Kit, or DXN-221.

It is a pretty simple device that enables network access using a home’s coaxial cable wiring. Featuring one Coax F-type connector and one Ethernet RJ-45 connector, the gadget simply connects to a router using an Ethernet cable and than to the coaxial outlet in the room in order to access the coaxial wiring the house. And if you have multiple Ethernet devices, connect a switch to the HD MediaBridge Coax Adapter and you’re done.

The MediaBridge Coax kit is said to offer faster and more reliable HD quality entertainment. In case you worried about security leaks (the coax cable can be easily tapped into), worry not because the device features data encryption with password protection, keeping your data private and safe from prying eyes.

But let’s see what AJ Wang, chief technical officer for D-Link, had to say, “With simplified user setup, coaxial networking support, the ability to coexist with other coaxial devices and fast networking speeds, our HD MediaBridge Coax Network Starter Kit delivers a simplified networking solution that makes it easy for consumers to enjoy the benefits of a digital home designed for high-definition media streaming, online gaming and other emerging applications.”

He added that “the technology is a natural complement to our popular networking solutions for moving data quickly into areas of a home where it may be difficult to run a cable or achieve a strong Wi-Fi signal.” Priced at around 240 USD, this device is worth more than a look, don’t you think?

26
Oct/09
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The latest 3D technology is coming home

3Dathome

Now wait one second before you start on the whole “I’m not wearing any stupid looking glasses,” because no matter what you say, there are more people paying extra to go 3D movies than ever and the reason is simple; it’s because this isn’t like the crappy 3D you saw during the Super Bowl last year — or that our parents grew up with. No, the 3D that Sony, Panasonic, and others are promising next year is like nothing you’ve seen. We’ve come a long way since the old anaglyph red and blue glasses that come in cereal boxes, so before you knock the new technology before it’s even out, click through and read about the technologies that might bring us a real 3D revolution.

3D, the basics

We have two eyes for a reason and while we’ve enjoyed stereo sound since-like-forever, stereoscopic images haven’t quite arrived. At its core, 3D is as simple as using two cameras to capture the data that our eyes would, but it’s the display part that’s proven tricky. Ultimately, the technology has to find a way to present each eye with a different variation of an image, at that point our eyes and brain do the rest.

Circular polarized or active LCD shutter glasses

The one thing that hasn’t changed about 3D is the need for glasses — if you’re holding out for 3D on a big screen without glasses, you’re going to let this generation of 3D pass you by. The technology in the glasses varies by a lot and the main two types these days are circular polarized and active LCD shutter. Both serve the same purpose, to ensure each eye sees a different image, but in much different ways.

Circular polarized glasses are easily the most common used in 3D cinema today. If you’ve been to a 3D presentation of a Pixar movie, or maybe to Disney World and used what look like cheap sunglasses, you’ve probably tried the technology. Without going into too much detail, each lens is set to filter out different light, so for example in a polarized system like RealD’s, there can either be two projectors with different polarizing filters in front of each (pictured below) or a special ZScreen which can alternate the clockwise and counterclockwise polarization for each frame. In either case, the right and left frame alternate at about 144 times per second so that each of 24 frames per second of a movie is displayed 3 times per eye.
One of the problems with circular polarized 3D is that a special silver screen is required and some argue it can negatively affect the color accuracy. But what’s worse is that most of us don’t have a projector at home and so far only a few HDTVs like the ridiculously expensive JVC GD-463D10 LCD TV at $9,200 can pull off the same polarization trickery.

LCD shutter glasses

So in comes the LCD shutter glasses — the technology itself has actually been around for some time, in fact there were eight Sega Master Systems games that worked with shutter glasses dating back to the 80’s. But the technology was limited by the display technology of that era which could only show 480i at 30 frames per second, which worked out to about 15 FPS per eye in 3D — so yeah, the flickering could make you sick.

Basically the way shutter glasses work is each lens can be blacked out very very quickly to synchronize with a frame displayed on the HDTV. This way a different 1920 x 1080 progressive image can be shown to each eye.
An IR emitter connected to the TV sends signals to the glasses to keep ‘em in sync. In larger demos, multiple emitters are mounted throughout the venue to ensure all the glasses get the signal. This is obviously less than ideal for a large movie theater, but shouldn’t be a problem at home.
The other reason shutter glasses make sense at home is because they don’t limit the viewing angles of the display — not to mention the glasses are more expensive and someone would likely steal them from a theater. But besides these advantages, proponents argue that the colors are more accurate, there’s less ghosting and smearing, and it is argued that the contrast is greater between the left and right eyes. So, you add all these reasons together and the technology should provide the most realistic and reliable 3D technology ever unleashed on consumers — at home or anywhere else.

It’s not all good though, besides the cost of the glasses and the added emitter in the TV, some say that there is added flickering, and with the shutters closing in front of your eyes, the image is dimmed a bit. Both Sony and Panasonic claim these are no longer issues in thanks to the super fast refresh rates and brightness available on the latest HDTVs.

Sony, Samsung, Mitsubishi and Panasonic

Yes, you read that right, all four of these tech giants are pushing the same home 3D display technology. While Samsung and Mitsubishi have been demoing its DLP HDTVs with shutter glasses for-like-ever, both Sony and Panasonic have been showing LCD and Plasma (respectively) HDTVs that can display 3D HD at CES, CEDIA and other shows. In fact Sony and Panasonic promise to release the first consumer 3D capable displays next year. That last part is an important one, so listen up: both will offer HDTVs next year that will work just like any other HDTV today, but will also work with 3D. So not only are the HDTVs going to be fully backwards compatible, but supposedly the new sets won’t cost much more than a normal HDTV. In fact Panasonic believes that in the next few years most of its HDTVs will be 3D ready.
But why can’t my current HDTV do 3D?

We know what you’re thinking, you just bought a new HDTV and you want to know why it can’t handle 3D. Even if it was possible to add an IR emitter to keep the shutter glasses in sync, the experience at 30 FPS per eye wouldn’t be as enjoyable. And just like when the first 1080p HDTVs hit the shelves without the ability to actually accept 1080p input, the current crop of 120hz HDTVs can’t actually display 120 frames per second — only show each frame of a 60 fps signal, twice.

3D sources

Of course, 3D-capable displays don’t do much without 3D content, and the good news is that most of the infrastructure needed for 3D in the home is already here thanks to HD. With the new 1.4 spec, HDMI has been updated to accomdate 3D and the first source is almost guaranteed to be Blu-ray. In fact as we speak the BDA is working on standardizing the storage of 3D movies on a Blu-ray Disc. It actually isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds, because what is essentially needed is to up the spec from 1080p at 30 FPS to 1080p at 120 FPS. In fact a 50GB Blu-ray Disc has more than ample capacity to handle a 3D HD movie thanks to the wonders of video compression where only the difference of each frame is stored. So 3D movies only require about 50 percent more space, and the one thing about the new 3D Blu-ray standard that has been determined, is that every 3D Blu-ray Disc will include a 2D version of the movie.

This part might surprise you, but there have already been 3D broadcasts of major sporting events. Using RealD’s circular polarized technology, ESPN broadcasts 3D presentations of major sporting events to theaters around the country. The most recent was the USC vs Ohio State game on September 12th, but other events like the National Championship game last year, and the Olympics before it, were beamed to theaters in 3D. And let us tell you, if you haven’t seen your favorite sport in 3D, you’re really missing something. In fact we wouldn’t be surprised if the real killer application for 3D in the home was sports. Sure movies will be the first to be delivered thanks to the slow evolution of broadcast technology, but we still have our hopes that ESPN 3D will be next. But while we wait for CableLabs and the SCTE to hammer out the details of a 3D delivery standard, satellite subscribers in the UK appear to be on track to get a 3D channel next year.
The other 3D content that is coming eventually is 3D gaming. Sony was showing 3D games at IFA this year and there have been a number of rumors that real 3D gaming is coming to the Xbox 360. The only thing we really know for sure at this point is that Avatar will be one of the first 3D games, although no word on what technology will be used.

But not everyone can see 3D

When we say that 3D isn’t for everyone, we mean it. In fact it is estimated that 4 percent of us are actually physically incapable of seeing 3D no matter what the display technology. And even worse, according to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, “Research has shown that up to 56 percent of those 18 to 38 years of age have one or more problems with binocular vision and therefore could have difficulty seeing 3D.” So if you are one of these affected, it might be time to see an opthamologist and get screened for amblyopia. And if you happen to be blind in one eye you can still watch 3D, but it’ll just look normal to you — assuming of course you have the glasses on.

Where we go from here

One thing we weren’t able to learn in our quest for 3D knowledge was how compatible these different technologies are. Essentially we assume that the functional compatibility between the two main 3D display technologies described above are like the differences between LCD and Plasma — in other words, they both connect to the same HD set-top-box and Blu-ray player — but until the BDA announces the final details of the 3D specification there isn’t really any way to know for sure. But it seems that if Blu-ray was compatible with both circular polarized and LCD shutter glasses, then certainly whatever broadcast standard or game console announced down the road would also work with both.

Conclusion

Like it or not, 3D is coming and just like HD before it, there will be plenty of technology pundits predicting its demise. The problem right now is very few have had the chance to check out the technology and if you have been lucky enough to see it, it is hard to convey how cool it is to others. On top of this, 3D has a long road ahead because most people think they have seen it because they’ve tried the anaglyph glasses during a Super Bowl Commercial. The other big hurdle is the whole stupid looking glasses argument — which doesn’t make that much sense since you’ll be wearing them in the privacy of your own home. Now we know that the same technology lovers who read Engadget would never hate on any new technology without experiencing it first hand, but tell your friends and family that something new is coming, and no it isn’t like anything else they’ve seen.