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Google Play giftcards officially announced, will arrive at selected retailers shortly

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Aug 22, 2012 2:26 am

We heard about Google's Play store gift cards a few days ago, but at the time, nothing was official. Now, the time has come where the Mountain View-based company has come clean, and officially announced the availability of the Google Play gift cards.




They'll be made available in three denominations, $10, $25, and $50 and should arrive at Target, RadioShack and GameStop retail stores across the United States in the coming weeks. As for availability outside of the US, Google have not hinted at this just yet.


But, they have said that they'll be made available through later on this month, but not at the brick and mortar Walmart stores for now. The gift cards can be used to purchase anything from the Google Play store, which includes music, books, movies, apps and more.

Sony rolling out ICS updates to 2011 Xperia-based devices

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Aug 22, 2012 1:29 am

Sony have done quite well with the rollout promises of their Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich updates, where just a few days ago the company rolled out ICS to their NXT mid-range devices. Now the company is ready to cough up ICS for the majority of their 2011 Xperia range.




The ICS updates should roll out over the coming days, with a handful at first, with Sony leaving three devices without ICS for now. These devices, the mini pro, neo L and Live with Walkman should receive their Ice Cream Sandwich updates in the "next few weeks".


So if you're rocking a Sony Xperia device, get ready to receive an update to the glorious Ice Cream Sandwich.

Valve's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive reaches Steam for Mac

By: Anthony Garreffa | More News: Gaming | Posted: Aug 22, 2012 12:47 am

Valve's latest iteration of Counter-Strike is now available on Apple's Mac platform. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has made its way to the Mac through Steam, and costs just $14.99. CS:GO is now the second game Valve have launched simultaneously alongside the PC version, with the other title being Portal 2.




It also marks the first Counter-Strike release on the Mac since Steam launched on Apple's Mac systems back in 2010. The Mac version of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has quite modest system requirements, where it just needs an Intel Core Duo processor clocked in at 2GHz or better, 2GB of RAM and an ATI Radeon HD 2400 or better, or on the NVIDIA side of things, a GeForce 8600M or better.


Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) will expand upon the team-based action gameplay that it pioneered when it was launched 12 years ago.


CS: GO features new maps, characters, and weapons and delivers updated versions of the classic CS content (de_dust, etc.). In addition, CS: GO will introduce new gameplay modes, matchmaking, leader boards, and more.

RumorTT: Intel's Haswell package options for desktop and mobile

By: Trace Hagan | More News: CPU, APU & Chipsets | Posted: Aug 21, 2012 11:07 pm

CPU World is reporting the different configurations that Intel's upcoming Haswell processors will come in, with respect to graphics core, memory channels, and processing cores. Some of the configurations break from the current Ivy Bridge in that the highest performance CPUs don't have the highest performing GPUs.




This actually makes sense in that a user who buys a top CPU will likely be running a discrete GPU. Intel is offering at least two different graphics configurations which will be joined to dual- and quad-core parts. The dual-core parts will also have a variation in that they may only come with one memory channel.


The graphic above summarizes the different configurations we are reportedly going to see with Haswell. Each memory channel will support either one or two DIMMs, with the ULT (low power) chips seeing the one DIMM per channel memory controller. Each DIMM will have a maximum capacity of 8GB, so the lowest amount of memory (or highest, depending on point of view) will be 8GB on the ULTs.


We're still a good distance from the release of Haswell, so it's a good idea to take these configurations with a grain of salt. That said, they do make sense, so it's not unlikely that they are accurate.

Instacube: a digital photo-frame for your Instagram pictures

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Displays & Projectors | Posted: Aug 21, 2012 10:28 pm

Those digital picture frames were all the rage a few years ago. Instead of having just one picture displayed 24 hours a day, you could insert a memory card and it would automatically cycle through the pictures. D2M has taken that idea just a bit further with a new product they are pitching on Kickstarter called Instacube.




It's an Android-powered picture frame that shows Instagram pictures at their full 600x600 native resolution. It's operated by a touchscreen and three buttons along the top. Measuring in at 7.5-inches, with a 6.5-inch screen, it will fit most places. Better yet, the cube is themed as the Instagram app icon.


While you will usually have it hooked up to an A/C adapter and located on a shelf, the company is packing in a battery so that it can be taken on the move with you. Only problem is that it needs your help to get into production. As it sits, we only have a proposed spec list and some renders of what it would look like.


You can support it, and find out more, at the Kickstarter page.

Researchers want to turn your WiFi into an emergency network for emergency crews

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Connectivity & Communications | Posted: Aug 21, 2012 10:01 pm

In an emergency, everyone seems to pull out a cellphone to try and contact both emergency personnel and family members. This causes problems for emergency crews who are trying to communicate. This is why researchers in Germany have suggested using personal wireless routers as a backup network.




The idea is that emergency crews could flip a switch that would open up a network, similar to guest networks present on some routers, that could be used for voice and data services. The whole premise of this idea hinges on having near 100 percent coverage, which wouldn't be a problem in most medium-to-large cities.


"With a communication range of 30 meters, a mesh network could be easily constructed in urban areas like our hometown," said the research team. An "emergency switch would enable an open guest mode that on the one hand protects people's privacy, and on the other hand makes the existing communications resources available to first responders," says the paper.


However, potential security risks may prevent this from ever being instituted, though it will likely be investigated further. If a hacker were to gain access to the "emergency switch," they theoretically could have a network of access points from which to do other nefarious activity. And it's likely there would be no trace.

CyberpowerPC announces Pro Gamer FTW desktop PC series, powered by AMD or Intel

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Computer Systems | Posted: Aug 21, 2012 9:29 pm

CyberpowerPC has announced a new desktop PC called the Pro Gamer FTW. This new line of systems is "tailored for the seamless integration of gaming and live HD broadcasting." The new line features six different base models, the cheapest of which starts at a mere $1085. The systems also feature the option of NVIDIA or AMD graphics.




"They are powered by a choice of Intel's X79 Sandy Bridge-E platform, Z77 Ivy Bridge or AMD's FX Bulldozer processors; equipped with NVIDIA's overwhelming Kepler-powered GTX or AMD's astounding Tahiti series, and feature AVerMedia's innovative Live Gamer HD." This way, if you're in the Red, Green, or Blue camp, Cyberpower has you covered.


Cyberpower brags that "every system is meticulously built with precise cable routing to ensure optimal airflow and a clean aesthetic appearance" and this one should be no different. Housed in the massive Azza Genesis 9000, there's plenty of rooming for cooling and high-end components. The machines are also highly configurable:


All Pro Gamer FTW systems can be customized with a number of performance hardware and components such as CyberpowerPC's advanced hydro liquid cooling kit, Solid State Drives, Blu-ray drives, performance gaming memory, gaming peripherals, business and productivity software, and more.


For more information, or to order your own, head on over to CyvberpowerPC's website.

Nokia holds 59% of global Windows Phone market, 32% in US

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Business, Financial & Legal | Posted: Aug 21, 2012 8:30 pm

Nokia is doing its best to hang in the smartphone market and has placed a large bet on Windows Phone. Instead of investing in Android like many of Nokia's competitor's did, they opted to stick with Microsoft's Windows Phone. And while they have the largest market share of Windows Phone phones, their overall market share is still really low.




As you can see in the graph above, total Windows Phone sales increased for nearly every manufacturer as the market grew, but Nokia managed to pull way away from the competition with their Nokia Lumia line of Windows Phone. This resulted in lower market shares for the other companies, such as Samsung dropping from 23 to 13 percent or HTC dropping from 44 to 21 percent.


However, in the US market, HTC is still the leader with 36 percent of the market. Nokia holds a close second at 32 percent and Samsung is in third with 26 percent. Nokia didn't launch a phone in the United States until January and you can see how much their sales took off between then and July. Localytics explains how Microsoft has a partner in Nokia:


Rather than relying on partners like Samsung, who is heavily invested in expanding Android's dominance, Microsoft has in Nokia a partner with as much riding on mobile Windows success as the Redmond-based software giant.


Microsoft and Nokia are holding a joint press conference on September 5, at which it is suspected they will jointly launch Windows Phone 8 and a new line of Lumia phones.

Continue reading 'Nokia holds 59% of global Windows Phone market, 32% in US' (full post)

Skype updates iPhone and iPad app with performance increases and Photo Sharing feature

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Apps | Posted: Aug 21, 2012 7:34 pm

Skype is a popular platform for communication among all walks of life. According to the post, "millions of people use Skype for iPhone or Skype for iPad each month." These users have requested features, and Microsoft has obliged with one of the most requested feature: Photo Sharing. They've also updated the apps for speed.




"In addition, we've made some improvements to the performance of the app, as we know many of you want to keep Skype running on your mobile devices all the time." The new feature allows users to send photos that were taken with a user's iPad or iPhone directly to friends and family via Skype. There is no file-size limit.


This means the feature can be used to avoid MMS fees or e-mail attachment size limits. Regarding the performance tweaks:


Over the last couple of releases, we've started to improve the overall performance of Skype's mobile apps. The prior release began to make them less battery hungry when running in the background, so you can answer Skype calls throughout the day when they come in. And, as you'll be able to keep Skype open, you can respond to or send IMs to friends and colleagues all day long. In addition, this latest release improves the app start and the contact list loads even faster, so you can do all the things you love to do with Skype more quickly.

Continue reading 'Skype updates iPhone and iPad app with performance increases and Photo Sharing feature' (full post)

FMS 2012 - 30% of flash output reduction to have little impact on consumer SSDs

By: Trace Hagan | More News: Trade Shows | Posted: Aug 21, 2012 6:30 pm

Yesterday we spoke with Toshiba on several topics but for consumers looking to buy a new high performance, premium solid-state drive this nugget of information made it to the top of our list.




According to Jason Baker, Director of Marketing, Storage Product Business Unit, "The 30% reduction in Toshiba flash output will have little effect on the consumer SSD Market." Jason went on to say, "The only market we should see affected is the low cost personal carry products like USB thumb drives and other extremely low cost, commodity items."


This is important news for enthusiasts, power users and for that matter anyone looking to purchase some of the highest performing and lowest power consuming SSDs on the market today like the Plextor M5 Pro that uses Toshiba 19nm Toggle Mode flash, Corsair Neutron GTX and Corsair Force GS, both of which use Toshiba 24nm Toggle Mode flash.


Since Toshiba announced their reduction of flash output we've kept an eye on SSD prices using Toshiba and SanDisk Toggle Mode flash and so far the prices have actually decreased rather than increased as we assumed they would. Now with confirmation from Toshiba, we have one less thing to worry about in the SSD market.

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