The latest happenings from around the web - April 15th, 2011
- Asus G73SW Sandy Bridge Gaming Notebook @ Hot Hardware
- System76 Serval Professional Sandy Bridge Notebook @ Phoronix
- BlackBerry PlayBook @ Gizmodo
- Asus Sabertooth P67 Motherboard @ OverclockersHQ
- Intel DH67BL MicroATX Motherboard @ HiTechLegion
- Sapphire Roundup - Radeon 6950 fleX, 6870 fleX, 5850 Xtreme, 5830 Xtreme and X58 Pure Black @ Hardware Heaven
- Zalman ZM-M240W Stereoscopic 3D Monitor @ BCCHardware
In a blog post today, Spotify announced they would be making some big changes to its advertisement-funded free music streaming service, and not necessarily the good kind.
- New Spotify users will be able to enjoy our unrivalled free service as it is today for the first 6 months.
- As of May 1st, any user who signed up to the free service on or before November 1st 2010 will be able to play each track for free up to a total of 5 times. Users who signed up after the beginning of November will see these changes applied 6 months after the time they set up their Spotify account.
- Additionally, total listening time for free users will be limited to 10 hours per month after the first 6 months. That's equivalent to around 200 tracks or 20 albums.
10 hours per month? I tend to hit ten hours in a day, depending how long I'm working. And you can only ever play a single track five times? There are some songs I listen to five times a day- but I guess the real incentive is the following:
For anyone who thinks they might reach these limits, we hope you'll consider checking out our Unlimited and Premium services, neither of which will be affected, plus we have a 7-day free trial for Spotify Premium that we'd love you to try. Throughout May, we'll also have a pretty nice 30-day free trial for Spotify Premium - more details...
It took Google 20 months to reach the 1 billion apps installed on Android, five months later they had reached the 2 billion mark and now it's sitting at a very impressive 3 billion apps installed. If Google continue going at this speed we should see 4 or 5 billion apps installed by next month!
During Google's first-quarter earnings call today, senior vice president for commerce had said that the platform has grown from 2 billion apps installed to 3 billions apps installed in just two months. Huber also mentioned that app installs are up by 50-percent quarter-over-quarter (from Q4 2010 to Q1 2011) and that Android-powered devices are seeing 350, 000 activations per day.
Mionix have unveiled their first mechanical keyboard to the market today, the gaming-orientated "Zibal 60". The board sports some sexy looking Cherry MX Black switches, which have a linear (non-tactile) travel, require about 60 grams of force to actuate and are typically favored among FPS gamers.
The Zibal 60 has "rage-proof durability" which is thanks to its 1.6mm-thick steel frame - obviously this is added at the FPS market as it's full of rage at times (myself included). The Zibal 60 features green multi-level backlighting that can illuminate the entire board or just the cluster of WASD keys. The spec sheet lists support for up to six simultaneous key presses (6KRO) via USB. On the top right of the keyboard is an I/O hub with two full-speed USB2.0 ports and audio/mic jacks.
Pictures of the NBN Network Termination Unit or "NBN Box" have surfaced and are now causing people to raise questions on how it works. The NBN Box is not a replacement unit for your current wired or wireless router which plugs into your telephone wall socket and gives you access to the Internet. The NBN box is actually a replacement for the wall socket that will provide users with six sockets - two dedicated to voice services, four dedicated to data services such as the Internet.
This way, your telephone will plug into one of the voice sockets and your router will plug into one of the data sockets. Each data socket can provide a single and distinct service of the fibre network into your home or business. The NBN Box is not a switch - as each and every socket is completely independent of each other.
London based creative communications agency Dentsu has announced their collectible interactive line of toys they call Suwappu. These adorable eastern-influenced and strangely bipedal incarnations of woodland creatures derive their names from their ability to "swap" (which is what Suwappu translates to) out their lower halves with each other, which Dentsu call "pants".
So we've got cute animal toys that switch pants- what about the AR? The fine folks at Dentsu have used the flat fronts of these cute things to utilize augmented reality natural feature tracking to use the toys in interactive mobile AR experiences. The swapping of the pants (I love writing that) changes the environment around the character while the top part controls the dialogue. Check out this video:
I gotta love the random Kanye tweet. As entertaining as the video is, it's kind of unclear what the actual experience will entail. Tish Shute, New Media advocate and journalist, wrote in her blog that she's trying to get them to Santa Clara, CA for this year's Augmented Reality Event (at which I will be present...
Billboards are a tough sell for augmented reality- they're expensive real estate, they're constantly exposed to a variety of external conditions that wreak havoc on natural feature tracking algorithms and sdk's, and outside of urban environments they're generally only seen while moving past them at 65-80 mph. So how does one utilize a billboard for an AR experience? Tack it to a place in an urban environment where there are always a @#$%load of slow-moving vehicles present. Cue bustling New York City's Holland Tunnel, where readers familiar with the area will immediately summon memories of exhaust stench, honking horns, and that dreadful summer day mid-way through a heatwave when your AC on your Nissan Stanza craps the bed.
To express your inevitable sentiment, rather than raging and yelling at your car and fellow commuters, why not just take your iPhone, point it at the billboard, and snap a picture to post to your Facebook wall that says "I am feeling (ANGRY FACE)"? New York-based GPS augmented reality app GoldRun partnered up with Tronic Studio and outdoor marketing firm ADstruc to bring us the first billboard with feelings. The billboard is part of the latter's "Billboards For Everyone" campaign, which brings together local design talent to create...
Earlier this week, we reported on how trusted sources confirmed the Nintendo Wii was getting a price drop to $150 in mid-May, just weeks before the Entertainment and Electronics Expo (E3) in June. This was strange news, as companies like Nintendo tend to reserve announcements like this for the kind of large conferences and trade shows (like, you know, E3), so why would they do something like that? In the article linked above, I hypothesized that they must be planning on releasing a new system- and I was right!
Game Informer reported today that multiple sources have confirmed the impending E3 announcement of a new Nintendo Console. Very little is known about the system outside of gross speculation, but the same sources confirmed that this console will be HD compatible, a great move for Nintendo in strengthening its historically-poor relations with third-party developers. In the Game Informer article, one source was said to have described the system as "not gimmicky, like the Wii". I for one love the Wii, and any gimmicky aspects were overshadowed by how accessible, entertaining, and esthetically pleasing the interface and gameplay was for the majority of the games, but I kinda get where they're coming from.
Social is just everywhere these days. Yesterday we had news of GetGlue's 1 Million users, and today it's New York City startup SocialGuide announced the beginning of what could be a very promising future with a seed round of $1.5 million from angel investors, including Alex Zubillaga:
With more than half of the nearly 300 million Americans who watch TV having a second screen experience, the market is ripe for a social TV product that connects with consumers and networks. SocialGuide is the only product that is built around the existing social TV behavior that is happening with millions of consumers across the most popular social networks. Consumers now have one place to enjoy their favorite programming, and networks have a way to more deeply engage with their audience
CEO Sean Casey believes that the social TV space is "nascent", and spoke of the pending improvements to SocialGuide's already strong interface and user experience. SocialGuide is essentially a social data collecting service that filters and displays millions of discussions occurring in real time about televised media, and ranks them according to popularity. SocialGuide also makes it very easy to share this type of information throughout your various social networks
Haier 7G2 was on display at IDF Beijing 2011 showing off its Core i7 Sandybridge processor.
This 14-inch metallic beauty has metal wire drawing on the palm rest and an ATI HD 6730 which gives it a 3DMark06 score of 11,000. If you're wondering if you should be impressed, well, you should, the current industry average for an equivalent desktop replacement is around 9,000. The 7G2 comes in both Core i3 and i5 options with a 350 and 500GB hard drive options with 2GB/4GB RAM varieties.
My initial impressions of this notebook aren't great, the keyboard has a great deal of flex (I was kind in the above video since the booth staff beamed so proudly over his machine) and the track pad is small for a 14 inch device. The woes of the device don't end there, the mouse buttons offer poor feed back and there are a lack of USB ports as I was only able to count two on the entire system.
The 3DMark06 score got out attention, but the keyboard has us hesitant on wanting to even try to get our hands on for a review!