22
Jan/10
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Garmin-Asus to Launch M10 WinMo 6.5.3 Handset in February

We haven’t heard in quite a while from the rather unusual alliance between Asus and Garmin, but it seems that the two companies were quite hard at work on developing a new handset, called the M10, which will run Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 6.5.3 OS, as well as the usual Garmin navigation software on top (thus pretty much masking WinMo, which, as we all know only too well, it’s perhaps for the best, at least as far as the version in question is concerned).

Anyway, getting back to the device in question, M10 has just gone up for pre-order on Asus’ website, the Taiwanese company being also kind enough to release some more information on this product, as well some important pricing and availability details.

So, the Garmin-ASUS M10 will feature a 3.5-inch touchscreen display with 800 x 480 pixel resolution, as well as a serious, 5-megapixel camera module. The hardware powering the M10 is quite OK, since we’re talking about the Qualcomm 7227 600MHz processor, accompanied by 512MB of RAM memory and 512 MB of ROM. However, the actual size of the handset is pretty OK, the M10 measuring 116 x 58 x 14.3 mm and weighing around 138g.

In terms of connectivity, the M10 manages to fare pretty OK as well, featuring support for HSDPA 900/2100 networks, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules. Moreover, similar to most other smartphones out there, the M10 also features a microSD memory card slot, accompanied by a 3.5-mm jack.

The Garmin-Asus M10 will be bundled either with a 1,500 mAh battery or an in-car cradle (which is really a must, given the fact that we’re talking about a navigation-centric smartphone), and will retail for 13,900 TWD (the equivalent of $435) starting with early February. The price doesn’t seem that high, but considering Nokia’s recent move, namely that of enabling free navigation on all of its compatible smartphones, the M10 will surely have a lot of competition.

21
Jan/10
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3D at CES 2010

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Not sure why we’ve been putting this off, but we’ll just come right out and say it: there’s no doubt that this was the year for 3D at CES. We walked the show floor for countless hours and can tell you that just about everyone was showing something related to 3D at their booths. Most of these demos required a bit of a wait to experience them (thanks, hype), and everywhere you went people were talking about 3D. Granted, not all of that talk was positive, but it was talk nonetheless. Whether or not the technology will be seen in history as a success in the market place is obviously still up in the air, and much like a finely crafted episode of Lost, 3D at CES this year was littered with more questions than answers.

Who will be the first, the best?

Someone has to be the first to market, and someone the best — though not necessarily the same company — but based on CES demos and announcements, that someone appears to be Panasonic. This isn’t much of a surprise since Panasonic has been doing lots of 3D demos since CES last year, and it even drove a truck around the country showing it off. But while Panasonic had the best 3D demo this year, it might not be first to market, as DLP fans will tell you they were first (and by years). That said, this new 3D technology isn’t exactly the same as what Mitsubishi and Samsung have been doing, but the new formats will be backwards compatible. Mitsubishi announced a new converter box that will allow the newer sequential 3D to checkerboard 3D that its DLP sets support, and it is assumed this same box will work on Samsung DLPs and plasmas. These aren’t the only front runners, ‘course. In fact Sony, Samsung, LG, Toshiba and Vizio were all talking 3D in press releases and showing live action demos. Like the rest of the HD market, most of the new 3DTVs were LCDs, and although LG did announce new plasmas, none were of the 3D variety like Samsung and Panny. Only Vizio dared to put a price on 3D, and some manufacturers wouldn’t even give model numbers, so it’s hard to tell exactly when this technology is going to come home (and how badly it’ll dent the wallet when it does). Still, we’d be shocked to see ship dates slip beyond 2010, and if we were the betting type, we’d guess that the first wave will land in the summer.

3D Blu-ray players will obviously play an important role as in-home 3D attempts to blossom, and Broadcom was on hand showing off its new chip for these very decks. We’re guessing said chip will find a home in the new players announced by Samsung, Toshiba, Panasonic and Sony, though no one has yet to come clean and make that clarification. Interestingly, the maker of one of our favorite Blu-ray players didn’t announce a 3D version, and while we’re not sure what LG is waiting for (market acceptance, perhaps?), we’d be shocked if we didn’t see one at some point this year.

RealD is a winner, again

Just like in the theater, RealD seemed to have the most traction at home. What’s different is that while the RealD glasses you’ve worn at the theater were less than $1 and of the circular polarized variety, the RealD glasses that Samsung, Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba are using are active shutter glasses — only JVC is using circular polarized. There were other glasses on display though — Gunnar Optiks was showing some more stylish ones, and XpanD was showing active shutter with Bluetooth instead of IR, which is the same tactic that Vizio is using. XpanD also told us that its IR active shutter glasses would work with other 3DTVs, which makes some sense since the main 3D demo at Panasonic’s booth was using XpanD glasses, not RealDs.

What about content?

Just ask Samsung or Mitsubishi and they’ll tell you that 3DTV is nothing without content. We learned all about the 3D Blu-ray spec and that the PS3 would do 3D before CES, but during the show we were able to dig in deeper and reveal that the Blu-ray spec isn’t what it could be. Even before DirecTV had a chance to make an announcement at CES, someone let slip that the carrier would have 3D programming this year — and it brought a 3D demo (which looked great) to CES. Couple this with announcements from ESPN as well as Sony, IMAX and Discovery, and you’ve got the promise of some compelling 3D content at home very soon. ESPN has promised World Cup Soccer this year and the BCS National Championship game in 2011 with other events scattered in between, but while we expect a few IMAX movies from Sony and Discovery, so far the exact programming picture is still very cloudy. The only thing we do know is that three animated features will be out on Blu-ray starting with either Monsters vs Aliens or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs this summer, and Disney’s A Christmas Carol in December. The one title we don’t know about is Avatar, which we just have to believe will be out on 3D Blu-ray this year. We’re sure there will be even more 3D content to scope out as the bandwagon grows, and we’ve already seen streaming services get the 3D itch.

And video games?

Besides movies and sports, games may be the biggest beneficiary of 3D displays. The video game edition of Avatar is already available (and 3D-enabled) on both Sony and Microsoft’s boxes, so the PS3 version we played is just like what’s available at home right now. While the extra dimension couldn’t raise a very average adventure game to the heights of an Assassin’s Creed II, the effect did its job of bringing us further into the world and making it seem even more realistic. While a demo run of Gran Turismo 5 was slightly less impressive (varying greatly depending on camera angle), making things blow up in our faces playing Super Stardust HD clearly showed there will be compelling reasons to upgrade with the technology in the right game maker’s hands. On the PC side, NVIDIA has been pushing 3D capabilities for quite some time, and while most of our demos consisted of Blu-ray 3D showings from Cyberlink and WinDVD, we got enough gaming in to figure out that shutter glasses will soon be as common as headsets, precision mice and customized keyboards on the desks of shooter fans — if WoW ever goes 3D, there could be serious problems.

The new “upconverting?”

Even with major content providers on board, native 3D content will be scarce for some time, just like the rollout of HDTV. That’s a gap several manufacturers are looking to fill by providing technology for converting 2D to 3D. If that sounds a lot like the scaling buzz applied to DVDs and other standard-definition video, that’s because it is, as shown by Toshiba’s decision to expand its Resolution+ branding to Cell TV hardware that upscales and can convert from 2D to 3D in realtime. It showed off a demo that did an effective job separating different planes on simulated home video footage to make it 3D. Unfortunately, that didn’t make watching someone else’s vacation tapes any less boring, and popping elements out like cardboard cutouts seemed like the cheap gimmickry we were hoping to avoid. Samsung had the most effective conversion demo, plugging a standard Xbox 360 into one of its new displays and letting us play Gears of War 2 converted to 3D. While there wasn’t any extra detail to be found, it showed a subtle amount of additional depth that brought us even further into the game, especially when launching mortar shells at far off opponents. Sony announced plans to convert significant amounts of Jimi Hendrix footage to 3D for an upcoming Blu-ray release and even demoed some concert video in its CES theater — in this case the added depth did help the “you are there” feeling of a concert experience, but it still couldn’t compare with anything created natively for the new format.

While we’re sure someone will attempt to be the “Fox Widescreen” of 3D with converted footage on their broadcasts — JVC was showing off a rack mounted unit aimed at broadcasters for just this purpose — it will probably suffer the same fate and eventually go away altogether. The good news? Nothing we saw conjured up memories of the Cowboys Stadium 2D-to-3D disaster, and in some cases it could even be a very useful feature while we wait for content to catch up with displays. But just like DVD upscaling, even if it’s a high priced feature now, it will likely spread out across all displays in the future if customers enjoy it. We’ll be keeping a careful eye to see who has the best processing technology in real world situations later this year.

The glasses-free option

Ah yes, the nirvana of glasses-free 3D. While it was on display at more than one location this year, there’s still a number of factors keeping it from coming into play in our home viewing. Consistent on all three displays was a focus on CGI animations, not any kind of live video or other TV-style content. Though advances in standard HDTVs have increased the resolution behind the lenticular film that enables this technology, most of the progress displayed by Intel and Magnetic3D was on their ability to process and render images so they’ll pop out even when viewed from multiple angles. That’s useful for their intended use in POS advertisements, slot machines and the like — and it will surely impress digital signage nuts in the crowd — but it still suffers lost resolution and requires extra processing power for each viewing angle. With most viewers unwilling to assume a Sheldon Cooper-esque couch position, it’s unlikely any content or displays based around this will be breaking into the consumer space anytime soon.

Wrap up

By all indications, 2010 is set to be a flagship year for 3D. There should be plenty of new displays, set-top boxes, glasses and content. Many will be striving to be the first to market, while others will be happy to sit on the sidelines and watch it all develop. We see many parallels between 3D and the development of HD and that combined with the fact that we find the technology very compelling, should make it clear to you that there’s going to be more 3D coverage than you could want here on Engadget HD. So regardless of how this turns out, we want to be here to watch it flourish or perish. Now, of course we aren’t going to rename the site or anything like that — some of you might think we did. Now this doesn’t mean we’re going to let up hitting the HD news, no not at all. We’re confident we are up to the challenge of covering both very comprehensively.

21
Jan/10
0

Stay Connected at All Times with Wi-Fire from hField

Stay-Connected-at-All-Times-With-Wi-Fire-from-hField-2Just in case you often find yourself in areas where an internet connection is not available, hField has introduced a new USB Wi-Fi Adapter that will allow you to discover connections even from a military concrete bunker. Well, probably not, but it will come in handy when in need of a faster, more stable connection in a location that is unfamiliar to you. You can use it at home too, of course, especially if you have problems with the wireless link.
The Wi-Fire will work with Windows, Linux and Mac computers and it will probably remind you of Apple AirPort. hField says that it is the fastest adapter on the market right now an that it works on a range of 1,000 feet, while maintaining a stable connection.

This is good news for the internet-dependent working class hero. Actually, anyone can be frustrated when in a dead spot without being able to send a very important email. Not to mention if you are in a situation where you have limited time to chat with your loved ones, and you can’t get more than a few lines.

“Wi-Fire is the perfect device – light weight and easy to use – for the seriously mobile computer user with high bandwidth needs, and those who have problems connecting to their regular wireless network because of distance, obstacles or other interference,” said Tom DiClemente, hField’s CEO. “We’re dedicated to empowering people to connect better, faster and more economically. And now, Wi-Fire offers a compelling Mac feel!”

The adapter has special software for Mac users, similar to the AirPort and compatible with OS X 10.4, 10.5 and 10.6. The palm-sized 802.11 wireless adapter retails for $59 and the extra software can be downloaded from hField’s website.

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20
Jan/10
0

Official: Bill Gates joins Twitter

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If you’ve been living in the Twitterverse then you’ve surely felt the aftershock of Bill Gates making his first official appearance on the social media ripsnorter just hours ago. As you’d expect, @BillGates is following a number of accounts related to the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation. He’s even following a few tech-media dignitaries like Kara Swisher of All Things Digital and Steven Levy of Wired. But of the 40 accounts that Bill is following, we didn’t expect to see Ashley Tisdale (fresh off her Microsoft Store performance) and uh, Ashton Kutcher on his rather exclusive list. Hey Bill ol’ buddy, why not try @Engadget if you’re looking for internet friends?

20
Jan/10
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Mint Cleaning Robot Is Filled with Sensors, All Square

As expected, in the aftermath of the gadget bonanza that was this year’s International CES, we’re starting to come across numerous interesting products, which, unfortunately, received less attention from the media than they would have deserved. And, to some extent, that’s also the case with the Mint cleaning robot developed by Evolution Robotics, a device that brings an interesting new square design to this particular segment, dominated by the circular Roomba and its many lookalikes.

Besides the fact that the circular shape has the purpose of differentiating this thing from its competitors, it’s also got a far more practical application, namely the possibility of cleaning tighter spaces, something that circular robots can’t always achieve. Plus, the Mint features a front-mounted cleaning pad, allowing the cloth to clean along edges of walls and all the way into corners. Sitting at under 10 inches wide, Mint also has a very small footprint, letting it clean tight spaces, between chair legs and around obstacles.

The Mint robot also delivers quite a good level of versatility, being able to carry out both dry and wet cleaning operations. With dry cloths, Mint systematically picks up the dust, dirt and hair that constantly accumulate on the floor. With wet cloths, Mint uses a special mopping motion to methodically clean each area of the floor, dissolving and wiping up the deeper dirt and grime, leaving floors shiny, fresh and clean.

Featuring Evolution’s own NorthStar technology, Mint integrates information from three different on-board positioning systems to carefully map the room, plan areas for cleaning, and pick up spots not covered on the first pass. This way, the device caries out a complete and comprehensive sweep of the room, while its numerous sensors (such as floor sensors to detect floor transitions) help it carry out a more precise cleaning action.

“Similar to how the once manual chores of washing dishes or doing laundry evolved with the invention of the dishwasher and washing machine, floor cleaning has officially been replaced by an automated appliance that achieves the same result, if not better, than previous manual methods,” said Dr. Paolo Pirjanian, CEO of Evolution Robotics. “To do the job well, Evolution had to rewrite the book on how floor cleaning is done. Mint packs aerospace-grade technologies  that were specifically tailored to deliver consumers with an appliance that cleans like they do, while still providing a hassle-free experience.”

Mint is scheduled to be available via major retail outlets in Q4 2010 at a price of under $250, which will surely make it an interesting choice for those people who are sick and tired of doing chores around the house.
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20
Jan/10
0

The 5530 Xpress Music Games Edition Announced by Nokia U.S.

The U.S. citizens have now an extra reason to purchase a Nokia 5530 XpressMusic phone, well, at least those citizens that enjoy playing games on their handsets. All those long, boredom-filled commuting hours have now a new enemy in this game-packed mobile phone that used to do only music.

The Games edition comes with “ten ten” full games preloaded, so that new users will not have to buy them. These are divided equally between Gameloft and EA Mobile. I am just wondering what happens to the previous Nokia 5530 XpressMusic users that have already purchased a bunch of these games. Is it fair for them? The fans’ reactions should be interesting.

Anyway, if you have ever doubted you could take Tiger Woods on the Golf course, you can train a little more with the Pro Golf World Tour 2010 or play some Texas Poker if you are not in the mood for real sports. From EA Mobile, you will have Spore Origins to waste a lot of time with and other games like Monopoly, American Idol or Tetris. These are just a few of the titles that Nokia has introduced on its full touch mobile phone.

The 5530 XpressMusic is the same WLAN; IEEE 802.11 b/g phone you used to know, with 70 MB internal memory and a 4 GB microSD included in the hot swap card slot. Same 3.5 mm jack for listening to music from your favorite headsets lies near the 2.9-inch full touch screen. Take photos with its 3.2-megapixel camera at 4X digital zoom.

Whether you liked it before or not, the 5530 XpressMusic is now an even more versatile mobile phone for entertainment on the move. It is available for sale on the Nokia website at $299 USD.

19
Jan/10
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JVC Tells the Story of Three Little Receivers

Those of you that are “lucky” enough to work very far away from home probably know what it means to spend many hours in a car. Without any sort of entertainment, the daily drive from and to work would be a painfully boring experience, so any type of media content is appreciated/recommended.

JVC mobile promises to improve your in-vehicle experience with three new multimedia receivers that have 7-inch touch panel screens and are compatible with the Universal Serial Bus 2.0 protocol for two-way iPod control. The most appraised receiver is the KW-AVX830 with its 7-band iEQ and detachable face. Formats such as WMV, MP3 or WAV should have no trouble running on the multimedia gadget that is gonna rock your driving. SAT and HD ready, the KW-AVX830 comes even with a wireless remote control.

Newly launched this year, the KW-AVX793 model is quite similar to the previous one and can be turned into a capable Bluetooth machine if used together with a KS-BTA200 adapter. It has just three sets of 5V pre-outs unlike the KW-AVX830, which has five of them.

The DVD/CD receiver that JVC Mobile outed last year, KW-AVX720, is back on the market with MOS-FET 50 watts x4 and Dolby Digital sound compatibility. It is also the cheapest of the three, at a MSRP of $499.95. Fortunately, it’s the only one available right away as you will have to wait for the first two models until March.

Although very similar in specs, you will be the one deciding whether the advantages every receiver has over the others is worth the price difference or not. KW-AVX830 costs $649.95, which is $100 USD more than the KW-AVX793.
 Multimedia receivers are more or less the ultimate solution when trying to avoid boredom on long trips. They can keep the children happy and bring a small dose of bling to your vehicle as well.

19
Jan/10
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MSI Unveils P55-GD85 Mainboard with USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s

MSI has been pretty busy lately, rolling out quite a hefty product lineup in conjunction with this year’s International CES, many of the respective solutions being more or less directly related to Intel’s new Core family, also unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

However, it seems that MSI’s not really done launching new products, since the company’s now back with an interesting offering for desktop computers, namely the P55-GD85 mainboard, which supports the latest Intel 32nm process and LGA1156 packaged Core i3 / i5 / i7 series CPU.

Furthermore, the MSI P55-GD85 mainboard comes equipped with Marvell and NEC chips to provide SATA 6Gb/s and SuperSpeed USB 3.0 support, which gives ultra-high transmission bandwidth as high as 6Gb/s and 5Gb/s. Also, a PLX PCI-E bridge chip is introduced specifically to multiply the PCI-E bandwidth, a feature that MSI claims not to be present in other P55 mainboards available out there.

Another very important feature provided by the fresh MSI mainboard is the built-in OC Genie automatic overclocking technology, which enables users to push forward their machines’ performance levels even if they don’t possess that much technical know-how (it’s as easy as pushing a button on the mobo).

The P55-GD85 mainboards are also equipped with DrMOS power supply modules. Their three-in-one chipset design provides four times the response time of traditional power supply design, with a power utilization efficiency of over 90%. Not only that, but MSI has incorporated its high-end SuperPipe design with a full copper 8mm main heat conduit, which has a 60% larger diameter than standard heat conduits.

Unfortunately, there’s no info on the exact moment when the new P55-GD85 mainboard will make its way onto the market, but we’re sure that, given the advanced features and options it’s able to provide, it will manage to enjoy a very high level of success.

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18
Jan/10
0

Going Hands-On with Mio’s New Spirit GPS Navigators

Back in early May 2009, Mio Technology unveiled a whole new series of Moov GPS navigators, the S series, which, besides a slimmer external design and some certainly improved hardware features, were also meant to introduce an innovative user interface, called Spirit. Today, at a local Mio event, we had the chance to go for a quick hands-on with some of the devices from this new series, with the overall result being a very impressive one.

The models that we were able to toy around with were part of the S500 series (the S505 and S555, to be precise), featuring 4.7-inch touchscreens and 13.9mm ultra slim design, as well as very impressive extra features, such as multimedia playback support and a Bluetooth module (the last two available only in the case of the S555). Plus, for some reason, Mio decided to ditch the SD support and went for the MicroSD format instead.01

Leaving aside the obvious improvements in the design area, what we’ll have to focus on here is the Spirit interface, which is absolutely fantastic, compared to Mio’s previous offerings. What we’re talking about here is a very intuitive and simple GUI, which is extremely responsive, especially with the help of the physical Menu button placed on the left-hand side of the PNDs, which allow users to easily go back to the main menu, regardless of where they might be at any given moment.02

Other interesting features are the TruMap map view, which removes cluttered information on the top of the map, providing clear and clean maps for easier navigation, as well as the Lane Guidance function that displays clear lane instructions, whilst Junction Views provides realistic 3D images of signposts and turn indicators, for making the right turn at the right time.0304

Additionally, the all-new Explore Mode offers a fresh way to explore one’s surroundings by browsing maps and seeing all nearby POIs at a glance (similar to an app available for the iPhone), while the integrated Travel Book delivers details like historical data, business hours and other useful facts regarding certain POIs in locations around the world.

15
Jan/10
0

Digital Cube works WiFi, HD playback

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It’s pretty obvious what it takes to play in the current generation of PMPs: enough juice to process HD videos, and an HDMI port to get it off the player and onto the big screen. Unfortunately, the new i-Station T9 from Digital Cube sort of stops there. It has great codec support, and even WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity (to be enjoyed by what OS is unclear), but unlike its big brother S3’s WVGA display, the mere 4.3-inch, 480 x 272 screen on the T9 will have us looking for an HDMI port a bit early. No word on price or availability.