Apple Have Filed a Patent For a Keyboard-less Macbook

Have you ever used multiple screens? you know when you’ve just set up that second screen for the first time and you’re trying to figure out how everything works now. Well, why not have that one a laptop but with a little twist, the second screen, is right where your keyboard used to be? Apple may be trying to do just that with one of their latest patents looking at a keyboard-less Macbook.

The patent was only made public on Thursday but was filed all the way back in September 2015 and seems to show what contains an area described as a “force sensitive input structure for an electronic device”, essentially a large touch screen area where your keyboard used to be.

Apple uses the term “zero-travel” to describe the keyless surface that doesn’t have to move when you press it. The surface, however, does include designs for haptic feedback, just like when you type away on your phone and vibrates back at you.

As a bonus, the system would allow you to configure what you need, need a giant touch pad, you’ve got it. Keyboard and number pad? It’s all yours. While this design is no way unique, with the Acer ICONIA 6120 featuring a touch screen where your keyboard is normally giving you all you need to create and upgrade your inputs as your needs arise.

While it may not become a product for a few years, we are seeing more and more devices that look to do away with dedicated input areas and make use of touch or motion controls. Do you think it’s a good movement away from the keyboard or will there always be a place for keyboards on your laptop?

Oculus Touch Release Delayed

Originally planned to be released in the first half of 2016, Oculus VR have announced that they have pushed the release date of their unique VR controller, the Oculus Touch into the second half of 2016 with pre-orders being made available closer to the release date.

In a blog post on the topic, the Facebook-owned company revealed that the delays to the touch were to allow them to refine the design and incorporate new features into the controller. They wish to make use of advances in ergonomics to make the Touch more comfortable and natural. Other changes should increase the reliability and allow for improvements in hand-pose recognition.

Delaying the public release of the Touch will also allow for Oculus to increase their amount of pre-production runs, which should hopefully allow for more games to support the controller at its release as well as allowing Oculus to get feedback on the controller and its software support.

Overall, Oculus believe that the delays to their controller “will produce an even better product, one that will set the bar for VR input.” They went on to say that they “promise Touch will be worth the wait.” Thankfully for those awaiting the release of the Oculus Rift, its release date will be unaffected by the delays to the Touch.

Disney Hacks a Smart-Watch and Your Body!

In everyday life, we come into contact with hundreds, if not thousands of items. Some we knowingly touch such as our phones or our computer peripherals, but what about that spoon that we compulsively pick up every time we go into the kitchen, no just me?

Most of the items we touch are insulated, but most give off a small electromagnetic ‘noise’ which our bodies can pick up because we are pretty impressive conductors. Disney has partnered with Carnegie Mellon University and has hacked together a proof-of-concept that can pick up the noise that travels through our bodies in real-time and displays the object on the display. The group calls this innovation “EM-Sense”.

Ars Technica reports the device has been created by essentially hacking a Samsung Galaxy Gear with a host of bulky tech such as a “software-defined radio receiver” to allow the watch to more accurately determine what is being used, with a current accuracy rating of just over 96%.

If you want to try your hand at this yourself, the researchers say that the setup is something “hobbyists can replication” and will cost “under $10” (assuming you already own a Galaxy Gear).

Personally I really like this idea, but this sort of technology could be manipulated and abused. In the future, the information stored could be sold/ used by the device manufacturer to display ad’s for products, or what if the device could be hacked and it knows when you go to an ATM and determine what buttons you press on the keypad for your pin number.

Do you think this technology would be too intrusive? Let us know in the comments.

Artificial Skin with a Sense Of Touch Being Developed

The technology behind prosthetic limbs has dramatically evolved over time for the benefit of assisting individuals who have had the misfortune of losing a limb. The next step forward to that is a coined Bionic limb that gives the user something akin to natural human skin. This realization looks to be making significant progress after “funding from the U.S. Department of Defence has allowed several researchers to make progress toward  more humanlike prosthetic hands that offer users a sense of control and touch”.  

It’s a strange one that funding is being allocated from the department of defense with the aim of benefiting humanity instead of the standard artillery. Anyway, scientists from Stanford have outlined a new type of pressure sensor in the form of a flat yet flexible material that could in theory serve as a type of artificial skin layer, which would then fit onto prosthetics. This is very much in the vein of human skin that is fitted over the bone and muscle within a human body, this technique would then in theory allow the wearer to both manipulate and also feel objects, though it’s not the evolution form of natural touch, but rather an artificial replication of the sensation.

Lead researcher Zhenan Bao has outlined that “The sensors send pulses that the brain interprets in order to determine a certain sense of touch. “It’s directly mimicking the biological system”

The “skin” itself is constructed from plastic which is then printed with a waffle pattern to make it compressible. Embedded inside are “carbon nanotubes”, these are tiny rods of pure carbon that conduct electricity which in turn squeezes the material and bring the rods closer together, creating more rapid pulses as the pressure increases.

In essence, this is a fascinating step forward that could hopefully benefit and also assist a person’s life. The ability to feel is an essential part of the human condition, any loss of that is worrying when you think of the potential ramifications. But that is not the end, eventually the scientific community hopes to be able to “channel information from artificial sensors into the peripheral nerves that were once connected to the lost hand”.

Human exploration and understanding of science has achieved a great deal and this is another compelling chapter. Hopefully, this work will achieve more answers and enable further development.

Thank you technologyreview for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of gizmodo

Apple Releasing New Peripherals For Macs

One way you change how you use your technology is by changing the peripherals. The term peripherals covers everything from your mouse and keyboard to that USB Hub you thought you would never need. Apple intends to help Mac users change by releasing a new set of peripherals that will build on the success their last generation had. With three reworks of old peripherals, all experiencing changes lets see how they work out.

First up is the mouse with the smallest amount of changes, by removing the thin plastic plate at the bottom of the mouse (we will cover why they did this in a minute) and by making it slightly longer. Apart from that the Magic Mouse 2 is selling at $79, only a fraction more than the old $69 mouse.

Next up is the keyboard. Designed to sit at an angle the keyboard now has a natural slope to the metal sheet that holds it, this new metal design features keys which are ever so slightly bigger but still placed in the same location as the old keys. Simply by reducing the large gaps in between the keys they have managed to make it feel and work better while not giving you that awkward few days when your still getting used to that new keyboard layout.

Finally, you have the trackpad. Built on the same slope and in the same size it can now sit alongside the keyboard without sticking out like an eyesore. With a wider surface and the ability to click anywhere on the trackpad and with support for Force touch the new trackpad looks to help users all throughout. Sadly at $129 is not something I think you can just buy on a whim.

Finally, there is the little piece of plastic we have neglected up until now that was removed from the mouse. The reason is quite simple, there is no need for batteries. The new generation of Apple peripherals come with built-in batteries which can charge nine hours of power in two minutes thanks to the lightning cable. At full charge they are looking at around a month of use.

Are you excited about these new features to the Apple catalogue or are a little put off by the prices? Tell us in the comments.

Thank you The Verge for the information and image.

New Prosthetic Restores Sense Of Feeling

Medical technology appears in the news every few weeks, for all kinds of reasons, from being able to control them with a cap placed over your head to giving a man who was unable to walk the ability to do so again. The reasons for this constant stream of news is quite simple, medical technology is developing at an amazing rate, especially those related to giving back something to those who have suffered the loss of a body part or ability to do something with their body. The latest piece of news comes from DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency), and it features a little more than a visible result.

Made under the DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics, the latest prosthetic has given someone the ability to feel again after their arm was paralysed due to a spinal cord injury almost a decade ago.

The DARPA project manager, Justin Sanchez, stated that:

“We’ve completed the circuit. Prosthetic limbs that can be controlled by thoughts are showing great promise, but without feedback signals traveling back to the brain it can be difficult to achieve the level of control needed to perform precise movements.”

In the first set of tests, the researchers touched the hands fingers gently while the volunteer was blindfolded. With nearly 100% accuracy he was able to report which mechanical finger was being touched, the description that he provided was that it was as if his own hand was being touched. At one point, in an impromptu experiment, the researchers decided to press two fingers instead of one, breaking any perceived order that could have been guessed, it was at this point where a joke was made in response asking if they were trying to play a trick on him.

With the ability to produce prosthetics at an ever decreasing cost, with even more functionality and now with actual control and feedback, we could soon be looking at prosthetics that are controlled and feeling just like the human body would.

Thank you DARPA for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of DARPA.

Dell XPS 12 is a Microsoft Surface Competitor

Dell is allegedly developing its own Surface-style tablet called the XPS 12 which features a 4K Ultra-HD Display and kickstand to hold the device upright. Other notable technical specifications include a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, 8-megapixel rear camera, backlit-key illumination, Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and up to 10 hours of battery life. The clip design is extremely reminiscent of Microsoft’s Surface and follows a recent trend of manufacturers cloning the basic concept. Only recently, Apple decided to launch the iPad Pro which contains a clip-on, rubberized keyboard.

It’s interesting to see companies following Microsoft’s lead and Dell might perceive the form-factor as a re-imagining of the laptop. Of course, Dell is a huge brand in the PC industry and one of the top three manufacturers globally but sales have been dwindling for some time. The ultra-thin Surface-like devices are useful due to the touch screen panel and detachable keyboard. However, the pricing remains quite high and this doesn’t look like changing anytime soon.

The XPS 12 is feature-rich and utilizes an absolutely blissful display. However, I’m not entirely convinced consumers are prepared to pay such a premium. Whatever the case, Dell’s XPS 12 looks impressive from a technical standpoint, and should be a stunning addition to their product library.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information.

Lenovo MIIX 700 – Simillar To Microsoft’s Surface Or Not?

Similar products have always been a problem for companies, with successful products quickly being copied and sometimes even rip off “cheap” versions of their products being offered to their customers by  rivals; Lenovo’s latest tablet, the MIIX 700, has some striking similarities with the Microsoft Surface.

A 12-inch tablet with a detached keyboard and built-in kickstand, the MIIX even shares the surfaces 3:2 aspect ratio, considered one of the more unique (and weirder) features of the Surface. The screen measures in at 2160×1440 resolution, weighing 0.06lbs lighter than the surface.

The MIIX will contain Intel’s Skylake processors, with 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD, the MIIX will contain enough processing power to match tablets that are currently out on the market. Listed under its features, the advertisement for the MIIX states it is “recognizably different with a unique dual watchband hinge kickstand for those who value stylish design”. The watchband hinge was seen on the Yoga 3 Pro, but unlike its older counterparts can hold the stand in any position.

Looking at the design, and even the secondary magnetic strips on the product, even from a picture based view it is hard to not notice the surfaces glaring impact on the MIIX’s designs and functions. When it comes to products, is it the “works for them so it will work for us” approach allowed or do you feel that certain companies can take these similarities too far?

Thank you Ars Technica for the information.

Image courtesy of Windows Central.

Lenovo Used Hidden Windows Feature to Stop Users From Uninstalling Their Software

Lenovo has been secretly using an integrated Windows feature to automatically install their software suite even after a complete reformat. This was first discovered by Ars Technica forum user “ge814” and corroborated by Hacker News user “chuckup”. Essentially, Lenovo devices exploit a rootkit which prevents users from removing any Lenovo-branded software and overwrites a system file every time the PC boots.

So how does this work? Lenovo utilizes the Windows Platform Binary Table which was introduced in November 2011 to force software installation from the BIOS. ACPI tables are at the forefront of this terrible revelation and automatically configured during a fresh Windows install.  In this particular case, the Lenovo Search Engine downloads a program without your consent, entitled OneKey Optimizer. This piece of software is supposedly bundled to:

“Enhance PC performance by updating firmware, drivers and pre-installed apps as well as “scanning junk files and find factors that influence system performance.”

To make matters worse, the software relays information back to Lenovo for marketing purposes to gauge how customers use different hardware. Staggeringly, none of this is mentioned and the end-user has no option to opt out of this horrific anti-privacy technique. Lenovo defends the OneKey Optimizer and suggests the data collected is not,

“Personally identifiable information.”

However, I doubt any customer will trust them considering the lack of transparency surrounding this matter. Shockingly, if Windows 7, 8 or 10 is installed, the BIOS checks “C:\Windows\system32\autochk.exe” to determine if the file is signed by Microsoft or Lenovo. If the signature is still a Microsoft one, Lenovo overwrites the file without your permission. Thankfully, there is a fix using this link but what percentage of users are either aware of this or comfortable to make a BIOS revision.

The idea that a hardware manufacturer can force their own bloatware at a BIOS level is absurd. Give the consumer choice and let them install the software as an additional extra. Is it so difficult to purchase a laptop with just the vanilla operating system?

Thank you The Next Web for providing us with this information.

Latest Apple iPods Not Compatible With Apple Music – Fail!

If you were looking to get one of the newly released Apple iPod Shuffle or Nano to play locally stored music that you got through Apple Music, then you might want to hold off a while. In a twist of irony, it seems that you can’t play this music from Apples own services on their new devices, that is unless you’re going for the also newly released iPod Touch.

Apple’s reason for this move is because the Nano and Shuffle don’t have an internet connection, so Apple can’t check and whether you renewed or canceled your subscription and remove locally stored tracks. Thus, it just won’t allow you to play them at all.

The new iPods were revealed last Wednesday and they are the first iPods released since 2012. The Touch got a healthy bump in speed and the Shuffle and Nano received new available colours.

Apple has downplayed their iPods for a while now and they aren’t easily found on the homepage anymore. It’s only the touch that is left to be found in the top menu and it is sold more as an entry-level iOS device than a music player. Looks more like they’re keeping them in rotation by demand than because they want to and this latest move could very well be a way to force more people over to the more modern devices such as the iPod Touch or even better a brand new iPhone instead.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information.

Angry Birds 2 is Flapping Onto Mobile Devices July 30th

Rovio has confirmed the 12th entry in the Angry Birds franchise will be a direct sequel and doesn’t deviate from the classic puzzle formula. Angry Birds was a surprise hit and catapulted mobile gaming into the mainstream market. As of January 2014, the series has achieved over two billion downloads across a wide range of platforms including consoles, smartphones and PC. Additionally, Rovio couldn’t have envisioned the commercial success of such a simple idea. For example, the game spawned a range of merchandise, TV series, an animated film and theme parks.

Its sequel is set for release on the 30th July, but information is currently limited about the graphical improvements and gameplay revisions. Additionally, it will be interesting to see the adopted business model given Rovio’s economic downturn and how it competes in such a competitive area. Angry Birds was in the right place at the right time, and it’s still a very recognizable brand. However, it’s sensible to predict the sequel will struggle to match the predecessor given how many mobile games are available in 2015. Another issue is Rovio have completely milked the series to death and releasing 12 games based on the same theme will turn off customers pretty quickly. Overall, it’s not something I’d personally play due to the simplistic, repetitive gameplay which bored me within a few rounds.

What do you think of Angry Birds and mobile gaming in general?

 

EA and Comcast Team up to Bring New Streaming Service

There are a lot of streaming services that bring games to players on their TV. We all know the popular NVIDIA Grid and the company’s constant attempt to make it more popular. Microsoft and Sony are attempting to bring such services to their consoles too, but they still have a long way to get people interested in the latter.

Now Electronic Arts and Comcast made a partnership to bring cloud gaming to your TVs too. All you need is an Xfinity X1 box from Comcast. The really interesting thing here is that the companies are not relying on controllers, but rather encourage people to use their smartphones and tables as their own personal controllers. All they need is an app called Xfinity Games and then navigate to a website on their handsets, enter a code and you’re done. The controls are made out of swiping and tapping gestures.

But are handsets really good controllers? Well, tests proved they are not! The companies found out that it was extremely difficult to control and navigate the Dead Space title, but found out that the handsets are best at controlling cars, so they went on and added the Real Racing to the list of games. They say that this would be the future of online gaming, but is it really true? There are more things to take into account here.

One of the main issues with online stuff is the user’s internet speed. Ok, you get some games that can be controlled remotely, but you still have to think that despite your efforts of delivering and receiving input and game feedback, ISPs around the world are still struggling to deliver actual speeds to have their customers load up a page, yet alone play a fully fledged game remotely. The second one that is applicable here is the controller. You can get some feedback by the handset’s ability to vibrate, but are most games ready for using virtual buttons? I would like to see how someone would play a fast-paced FPS or even RTS titles controlled via a smartphone or tablet.

Nevertheless, there are around 20 titles available for Comcast customers to try out, including NBA, PGA, and Plats vs Zombies. The list is said to be constantly changing based on user feedback and the companies are even thinking of adding third-party titles to the list in the near future.

Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information

Apple May Ditch the Home Button in Next-Gen iPhones

Apple introduced a revolutionary smartphone design when it first came out. Back then, phones had an abundance of buttons, but the company wanted to make it more simplistic. Thus, they came up with the Home Button.

Apple’s Home Button is used on both iPhone and iPad devices to minimize applications, bring up the multitasking menu, activate Siri and other user specific actions. But now, Apple is rumoured to ditch the Home Button too.

According to a report from Digitimes, the Cupertino giant is integrating the Home Button functions in its display by developing a touch and display driver integration (TDDI) chip. This means that the Home Button will now be displayed on the screen, rather than having it as a physical button.

We’ve seen the company make the same move with the trackpad on its latest MacBook series, so it’s highly likely that we will see the same approach on its mobile devices too. However, we are fairly certain that the latest iPhone models being released this fall will not bear the TDDI technology.

In addition, the company is working to integrate the fingerprint sensor directly on the display too. This means that your smartphone’s display will be able to read and interpret your fingerprints as well.

As always, Apple is not going to officially confirm rumours outside of their annual conference, so we might see the company announce the new tech next year. Until then, we might even see other manufacturers taking the same ‘all-display’ approach. As far as I know, the old Nokia N9 is a good example of such a ‘buttonless’ smartphone (except for the volume physical buttons of course).

Thank you Digitimes for providing us with this information

What We Learned From the Oculus Live Event

The Oculus Special Live Event is over and we learned a lot of new things about the hardware, bundles, and software. So what did we learn from this special live event? First of all, we will get the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset in Q1 2016, at least that is the schedule.

There are a lot of users out there that already wear glasses and putting a VR headset on top of those is an absolute must. The Oculus does this flawlessly and even comes with built-in headphones. Not to worry if you’d rather use your own ones, you can just detach the included.

Included is also a Xbox One wireless controller and the motion tracker that you place on your desk – everything you need to get started with your very own virtual reality experience.

While some people might wonder a bit about the inclusion of a Xbox One controller, it does have a reason. Oculus worked closely with Microsoft, among others, to be able to provide you with the best gaming experience. Including a controller with the Rift gives developers a unified platform with controls that they know every Rift owner has.

At the same time, they made sure that the Oculus Rift will work perfectly with DirectX 12 when it comes out together with Windows 10 very soon.

The headset is light enough to easily hold with one hand, and it looked really light during the presentation. The way it was held and moved around. But we will have to wait until later to get an exact weight of the headset. It is without a doubt a big improvement on the developers kits that have been released up until now.

The in-VR interface allows you to navigate without taking the headset off. Buy new games, browse your collection, or stalk your friends – all from inside the headset.

New was the reveal of the Oculus Touch, codenamed Halfmoon. The Oculus Touch is actually two controllers, one for each hand. They include motion tracking as well as traditional buttons and analog sticks as you’re used to from your normal controller. This allows a completely new interaction with your game. Move your hands and get feedback too. This looks awesome.

We sadly didn’t get any price yet, but I’m sure that will follow soon. The release date is set for Q1 2016 which could mean anything from CES to any other date in that quarter.

Users will be able to test the new Rift hands on during the upcoming E3 event where it will be demonstrated with everything that is available. Games and hardware, and it can be experienced. I think VR is something no one really understands until they’ve tried it. I’m sure that Oculus will release more details during that event, and we’ll make sure to keep you updated as it emerges.



 

Oculus Rift Features VR Navigation and New Oculus Touch Input

Accessing content while wearing a virtual reality headset has to be easy and Oculus created an in-headset application for that. Browse you games, buy new ones, stalk your friends – everything you’re used to from Steam, Origin, Uplay, or any other gaming platform.

The only difference is, you don’t need to leave your virtual reality. And that goes a long way as screenshots and videos only go so far in ways of presenting 3D content. That’s why you can browse and preview everything with the VR engine. There’s also a 2D interface available when you sit at your computer and don’t want to put on a headset to browse your library or see what your friends are playing.

One of the first thing almost everyone does when entering the world of VR for the first time, they reach out and try to touch or grab what isn’t there, because it feels like you’re there.

Now we’ve seen that Oculus will include a Xbox One controller with the Rift, that might not be the perfect gadget for every scenario. It still provides a unified setup that developers can work from, something that everyone has when they have a Rift headset.

That is where code-name Half-moon comes into play and while it isn’t hands-free motion tracking of everything, it’s somewhere in between and it looks great. We’re talking about the Oculus Touch and the crowd cheered during the presentation.

 

The Oculus Touch is actually two controllers, one for each hand, and each with motion traction. Included are also the traditional controls known from gamepads. The only difference between the two is that they are mirrored, just like your own hands.

Toshiba Introduced Encore 2 Write Tablets with Precision Pen

Toshiba announced the new Encore 2 Write tablets with a pressure sensitive pen and ultra-responsive screen for a more paper-like precision. The tablets are powered by Windows 8.1 and the pens are made with Wacom’s latest feel pen technologies.

“Whether you’re a compulsive scribbler, sketch artist or simply prefer handwriting notes in meetings, this tablet features technologies that make writing on screen feel more natural than ever. And because it’s a Windows tablet, it’s compatible with your favorite Office programs and apps, so you can get going right out of the box,” said Philip Osako, senior director of product marketing, Toshiba America

The 8-inch and 10.1-inch tablets are powered by a Intel Atom quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Network is covered by dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi and support for wireless display right out of the box. The bigger model also has a micro HDMI port for direct connection.

The tablets offer up to an 11-hour battery life for general usage and up to 8 hours of video playback. The built in stereo speakers support Dolby Digital Plus, so several movies in a row shouldn’t be a problem. It also has GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope and e-compass, a micro USB 2.0 port for power, sync and sharing, and supports microSD cards up to 128GB.

 

Toshiba’s TruPen that is included, is a “pro-grade” pen with a fine tip and 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. This enables sharp strokes while minimizing lag for greater precision and accuracy. It is said to “virtually feels as natural as writing on paper”.

You’ll also get a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Personal and with unlimited storage through OneDrive. It also comes with a couple Toshiba apps for better photo capturing, recording meetings and taking notes.

The Encore 2 Write tablets should be available for purchase now at select retailers, including Microsoft Stores and on toshiba.com/us. The 10.1-inch Encore 2 Write is priced at $399.99 and the 8-inch model is priced at $349.99 MSRP.

Thanks to Toshiba for providing us with this information

Swiftpoint GT – Slide Gesture Mouse Announced

Interactive change has come to peripherals – the Swiftpoint GT has been reportedly constructed in a bid to change the way we look at mice design which has followed common trends since it’s inception in 1964. Said to ensure your fingers can ‘become the mouse’, this product is marketed as a step into the future for computing interface technology. It’s being talked up a lot – can it live up to the hype?

The Swiftpoint GT is a compact and convenient mouse which combined natural touch gestures through a blue booth connection to your computer. Designed to offer two modes, point-and-click and touch gesture, this product has been developed in order to combat against the commonly seen Repetitive Strain Injury, Occupational Excessive Syndrome and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome seen within office workers, tech enthusiasts and professional gamers of today’s age.

The new design is said to be better for your body, allowing you to grip the mouse like a pen regardless of your hand size. Also claiming to increase your Microsoft Power Point, Word and Excel efficiency, the claims of this product get more and more outlandish as we read on.

Coming in at 23 grams and measuring 5.6cm x 4.3cm x 3.3cm, the Swiftpoint GT requires a smaller amount of operable space, due to its intended usage nature. This is marketed as an extensive positive when compared to small and somewhat clumsy Bluetooth mice of today, giving living giants like myself (6ft 5inch) the all-too-common hand cramps associated with poor design.

We’ll share with you a product release video below, please let us know your thoughts. I’d certainly like to test one, but I don’t think it’s going to make it into my Dota2 or CS:GO matchmaking games just yet. Short of making you a morning coffee, this mouse can apparently do it all.

Images courtesy of Chiphell

Nvidia Shield Gaming Tablet Review

Introduction


The Nvidia Shield was and still is one of the coolest gadgets I have ever reviewed and owned; I still use it regularly when I want to break away from my desk and it has also become my vital travel buddy for long journeys. Gaming on the go is a great way to pass the time and mobile phones and tablets now take up a massive part of that market, but most phones and tablets come with one major drawback; touch screen displays. The original Shield solved this touch screen gaming problem by integrating a controller into the Android device; in a way that’s not all that dissimilar to other dedicated hand-held games consoles such as the 3DS and the PlayStation Vita.

The new Shield Tablet drops the integrated controller to turn the Shield into an Android tablet, this worries me somewhat as I love the integrated controller of the Shield console as it’s perfect for holding when you’re on the bus, train, plane, or anywhere else for that matter. Of course there will be pros and cons to dropping the integrated controller and that’s what I aim to find out; is the Shield better or worse for the new design choices?

A separate controller isn’t the only thing Nvidia have changed, in fact pretty much everything has been tweaked, revised or created from scratch for the Shield Tablet. The screen size and resolution has been increased, the device now features two 5MP HDR cameras, a stylus and more. The biggest feature change of all is the CPU/GPU upgrade; the Tegra 4 in the Shield was impressive, but it’s no match for the new Tegra K1 GPU and ARM Cortex A15 CPU combo.

The packaging is very nicely designed, there is a clear image of the tablet on the front and the major features and specifications are dotted around the other sides.

On the back of the box you can see an image of the Shield Tablet Cover and the Shield Controller; these are not included as standard and have to be purchased separately.

In the box you’ll find everything you need to get you started; the tablet (obviously), some safety information, and a universal USB mains power adaptor with a good quality USB cable.

The Shield Controller is also nicely packaged, with a clear image of the wireless  controller on the front of the box.

The back of the box touts the major features, such as the headset jack (with chat), built-in microphone and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Tablet Cover comes in another similarly styled box.

On the back of the box you’ll find a quick run down of how the cover can be used as a stand for the Shield Tablet.

Ubisoft Far Cry 4 Dev Claims Resolution Doesn’t Matter

Please allow me to use a popular meme – “Ubisoft pls”. Unfortunately for the large name game creator they seriously can’t catch a break as of recent – but it’s thanks to their own actions and words.

We’ve already reported that some Ubisoft developers think 60FPS “looks weird”, further claiming 30 FPS is more than sufficient for gaming, they’ve also claimed that Microsoft are pushing them to limit PC gaming to 30 FPS to mirror the efforts on consoles due to limitations. They’ve also been reported asking PC users who wish to run their new Assassins Creed game to require a minimum GTX 680 or equivalent. As the famous quote goes – “but wait, there’s more!”.

Hot off the press, Ubisoft’s Far Cry 4 Creative Director Alex Hutchinson has been asked in an interview about the resolution in their latest game release by Total Xbox – his answer includes the quote “it’s certainly not something I care about in a game”, more of his answer reads:

“It feels weird to me that people are cool about playing a sort of retro pixel game, and yet the resolution somehow matters. It’s like: is it fun, is it interesting, is it new, is it fresh, are there interesting questions. With the 4K TVs and things – somebody was telling me that with a 4K TV, to even see it, your living room has to be big enough to sit like 12 feet from the screen. I don’t know the exact numbers, but it starts to get a little crazy. I’m just in it for the experience, I’ll play a SNES game if it’s cool”

We’re not sure if you’ve played games at 480, 720 and 1080p resolution, but there’s certainly a different look in graphical quality and ease of game play when comparing the lower to the higher end of settings. Furthering on Hutchinsons’s SNES comment – a quick Google Search brings up the massive resolution offering of 256 x 224. We invite you to start producing games for this console if you’re that way inclined.

Another worrying factor about the comment above is the seeming lack of knowledge when it comes to the latest technology advancements. You can see Hutchinson’s quote clearly reading that to see a 4K TV “somebody was telling me that with a 4k TV… your living room has to be big enough to sit like 12 feet away from the screen” – does the creative director of one of the worlds biggest gaming companies really have that little of a grasp on how this technology works? We obviously don’t expect them to spend hours every night researching, but he desperately needs to hire himself a coffee-delivering intern to help keep him updated on the latest.

Ubisoft have proven themselves to be rather out of touch with both PC and Console markets as of late – they’ve made some amazing games in the past and here we are seriously hoping they can pull something through to get back to their best.

Do you care about these graphical limitations and lower resolution outputs? Or is this something that you think people are up in arms about just for the sake of being mad? We’re interested to hear your thoughts.

Image courtesy of 8-Bit Chimp

Zmartframe: How To Make Any Monitor A Touch Screen For $130

The biggest complaint about Windows 8.x: I don’t have a touch screen. The biggest complain about touch screens: they are too expensive! The solution? Well apparently it is Zmartframe. Another interesting project has emerged on IndieGoGo which proposes to turn any old monitor into a touch screen device. If you’ve got a 19, 22 or 24 inch display with a standard 16:9 aspect ratio then you’re ready to get Zmartframe-d. The Zmartframe adds a touch-screen overlay to any existing monitor with a 17mm thickness, an 8ms response time and a 2mm accuracy. It may not be the best spec’d touch-screen panel in the world but it’s more than just a touch-screen panel. The Zmartframe also boasts a dual core Cortex A9 CPU, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage driven by Android to give you a fully functional touch-screen tablet with any old display.

While the project looks like it needs a bit of polishing, the idea is still neat. For $130 I think a lot of people will snap these up although a cheaper version without the Android hardware might be better placed to target PC users – sadly they do not offer this (yet). Be sure to check out the project page here to see what you think. Also check out the video below of the Zmartframe in action!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEH-MGurEvo[/youtube]

Source: IndieGoGo

Image courtesy of Zmartframe

Philips 231C5 23″ IPS Touch Screen Monitor Review

Introduction


When Microsoft announced the imminent launch of Windows 8, one of the revolutionary aspects of the new operating system was its more streamlined integration into touch screen devices. Since that time we have seen touch screen capable notebooks and Ultrabooks swarm the market and the era of the touch screen computer has changed the way that many of us have interacted with our systems. For the most part, this interaction has been on mobile devices such as Microsoft’s Surface 2 Pro Tablet and Intel’s range of Ultrabooks, however we have also seen a number of touch screen enabled AIO’s (All-In-One Systems) appearing on the market, however their appeal is not as great as that of mobile devices.

The reason for this general lack of interest is the relative performance that they have to offer in comparison to an enthusiast or gamer spec system and this is where the deciding point has been left for many users. Touch screen monitors are obviously not that new to the market, but up to this point there has not been that much of a strong appeal within the consumer markets, however since the launch of Windows 8, the interest in purchasing an after market monitor with touch screen capabilities has been growing at a steady rate.

Philips as some may or may not know are very closely related to AOC who produce some of the top gaming monitors that we have seen over the last year or so and with this partnership we have seen a range of monitors that almost covers each and every sector of the tech market. To broaden their product catalogue that bit more, Philips have been developing an all new multi-point touch screen LCD panel that offers up all the image clarity that we have come to expect from the brand, with the quality and precision that the Philips brand also has to offer.

Built in to a 23″ frame, the SmoothTouch 231C5 offers users a glorious 1920 x 1080 LCD IPS panel with a touch screen element added on the top. To set the 231C5 apart from other panels as well, there is not a stand as we would typically see, but instead a foot that extends out from the back of the panel, allowing the screen to either sit upright, or lay right back for easy use of the touch screen in design applications for example.

Included alongside the monitor Philips include a wide variety of cables including VGA and HDMI display cables, a USB3.0 lead for the touchscreen element, a kettle lead and AC adaptor, 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable and also a quick start guide and driver CD to install the drivers for the touch screen element of the display.

AOC Launches Two New Ten-Point Touch Monitors

Touch screens may not have proven popular with desktop users a few years ago, something that I think hurt the introduction of Windows 8, but as more and more mobile devices such as phone and tablets, as well as ultrabooks and similar devices feature touch screens its becoming more appealing to be able to get hands on and your desk. AOC have just revealed two brand new, ten-point touch capable displays, both of which are fully Windows 8 certified and feature a cool tilt function for optimal touch control, the new 72 Series models’ tilt angles can be adjusted from 15° to 57°

Equipped with high-grade IPS panels in the sizes 21.5″ (54.6 cm) and 23.6″ (59.9 cm), the new displays feature super-wide viewing angles, 2 x USB 3.0 and 2 x USB 2.0 ports, built-in 2w speakers, a microphone and a 720p webcam, making it ideal to quickly setup for video calls.

The 21.5″ (54.6 cm) Full HD model i2272Pwhut and its even larger 23.6″ (59.9 cm) brother i2472Pwhut feature ten-point infrared touch controller, allowing for full two-hand input, allowing you to do anything from type emails to play the piano through a multitude of supporting applications, of course should you want to, these monitors can also be deployed as standard monitors and their IPS HD panels make them great for professional editing work as much as they do gaming.

The WLED-backlit monitors deliver a Full HD resolution with a luminosity of 250 cd/m² and a pixel response time of only 5 ms. Next to a D-Sub input, signal sources can also be connected via two HDMI ports. With the MHL function, Android users can directly connect their compatible device to the monitors and display mobile content on the big screen.

The myTouchDisplays from AOC will be available as of February at MSRPs of £259 for the 21.5″ model i2272Pwhut and £289 for the i2472Pwhut (23.6″).

Thank you AOC for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of AOC.

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite Notebook Review

Introduction


Before I even start this review, I’m going to lay down the law so to speak. The term Ultrabook adheres to a device that follows Intel’s strict guidelines and while the device that we’re looking at today may look Ultrabook-esque, it features AMD CPU architecture and therefore cannot be claimed as an Ultrabook, though for the most part (barring the exclusion of an Intel processor) it pretty much is an Ultrabook.

What Samsung have done to create this notebook is to take the fundamental aspects of their Ultrabook range (Ativ Book) and given it the same treatment as its big brother; the Ativ Book 9 Plus, but to keep costs down an AMD quad-core processor has been used as opposed to the more expensive and slightly more powerful Intel equivalent. While Intel fan-boys across the world will be shouting at their screens right now, you have to remember that a device such as this has limited purposes and no matter what CPU the manufacturer favours, it will not see Crysis 3 being  run with all the settings turned right up to the max.

The term Ultrabook and the very similar AMD equivalent offer an unrivalled range of features in a convenient, small form factor that allows for superb battery life, fantastic connectivity options and of course the added portability factor due to the size and most importantly, the weight of a lightweight product like this.

As a journalist (as that is effectively what our line of work falls under) you’ll generally have a stereotypical view in your mind of me sitting in Starbucks with a Macbook Air/Pro in front of me and a large Americano steaming away as I ponder the latest happenings in the tech world; but whilst I am a typical journalist and I have coffee running through my veins, I don’t spend all my hours sitting in a coffee shop such as Starbucks or Costa waiting to chase the news. What I do instead is to attend pre-arranged press conferences and launches – typically in London and to get the news out as soon as possible or to make taking note down easier, I prefer to take either a tablet or more ideally a small laptop with me to type my notes on to – I still keep my trusty notebook and pen in the bag though!

This scenario is exactly where the Ativ Book 9 Lite comes into play. With a lightweight design, lightning fast performance and small form factor, on paper it ticks all the right boxes and to top that all off that it features a touchscreen panel. What’s more the Ativ Book 9 Lite retails at just a fraction of the price of an equally spec’d Ultrabook the features an Intel CPU at its heart.

This notebook that I’m having a look at today comes in one of two almost identical specifications, but with one component that is different between the two, but one that also affects the price quite considerably. This sole item that I’m referring to is the screen. Many laptops, notebooks and Ultrabooks that are coming to the market are now featuring touch-screen capabilities and the Ativ Book 9 Lite is yet another system that has this option available, although if you’re not a fond user of this new feature, or you simply don’t need it, then the Book 9 Lite does offer a non touch panel for a slightly lower price point.

In terms of the specifications, Samsung are a bit vague as to the CPU but after some digging we can see that it’s Socket FT3 (BGA769) A4/A6 APU 1.4GHz Quad Core offering which of course supplies the GPU side of the machine too.

The box in typical Samsung stylish is clean, crisp and to the point with a large image of the device and subtle branding. The image on the front showcases the Mineral Ash Black colour, though the model we have today is Marble White.

Tablets, Laptops and Touch-Screen Laptops: What do you prefer?

The gadget market can be overwhelming for anyone who is trying to decide how to choose the best technology for his or her needs. The popularity of both laptop and tablet varies depending on which demographic we look at, as various groups of people want specific and specialized uses from their computer.

A laptop is basically a personalized and mobile PC. In recent years, as more people want to be able to use their technology while on the move, laptops have been designed to become as functional, powerful and to perform as well as a PC.

Tablets are still a new addition to mobile computing as they are smaller than a laptop and have easy to use touch-screen technology. They also weigh less, most have excellent cameras and they can connect to both WI-FI and 3G. The downside is that as a fully functional computer device, their abilities are limited.

Some niche professions have utilised applications built for Tablets to enhance and help with their work. Some design programmes are able to transfer software from the Tablet to a PC, while many people in the music business use apps while on the move for mixing and accessing virtual equipment that they would only otherwise find in a studio.

It is down to the individual to recognise what they need from their device before they opt for a Tablet, Laptop or Touch-screen Laptop.

We now have touch-screen laptops. Windows 8 was designed to provide an efficient touch-screen user interface. There is still a big question mark as to what the point is of a touch-screen laptop. The major plus point, is that once you get the hang of it, there are many shortcuts to be had, making work-life more efficient and the ability to choose and locate files much faster.

But arm-ache, filthy fingerprinted screens and complaints about flimsy screens that move around as soon as they are touched, makes the extra expense of a touch-screen laptop hard to justify.

For those of us who use our devices to play games and enjoy apps, technology has come a long way in the last two years and many games that were only available for PC’s and Laptops, have been updated so they are compatible with Tablets and touch-screens. Games such as Bingo, Casino games like Royal Vegas Top Online Casino, puzzle games such as Candy Crush and The Room, have all gained notoriety for being as user-friendly and reliable to play on Smartphones, Tablets, PC’s and Laptops.

Many will argue that the Tablet is for apps and fun games, a laptop is for more serious and hard-core gaming, while touch-screen laptops are for the wealthy and hi-tech folk.

It’s down to the individual to work out what they need from their device and then go for it!

Leaked Image Of LG’s Upcoming Lifeband Touch Revealed

LG first revealed the Smart Activity Tracker at CES 2013, a wristband that was capable of displaying a phone’s notifications, control music on a compatible Android or iOS device, and track a user’s movements and heart rate. A launch was expected to take place sometime in the summer of 2013, but that didn’t happen, and now it looks like the Smart Activity Tracker might have evolved into the Lifeband Touch according to @evleaks.

The Lifeband Touch looks like something between the Nike FuelBand and the Fitbit Force, though details on its features and functionality remain unknown. A touch display can be seen on its front and a health monitoring system will likely be one of its main functions. An official announcement could be made at CES in the second week of January. It is interesting to see whether the Lifeband Touch will be LG’s entry into the wearable devices market, or will it be just another failed attempt as the Smart Activity Tracker.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eyb_zPulYsQ[/youtube]

Thank you VR-Zone for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of @evleaks and video courtesy of VR-Zone

3D Tech Could Help You Interact With Objects From Afar

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K0U0FjG63w[/youtube]

It is common for people to hold video conferences in order to have some insights upon objects of reference, but how about touching an object while being far away? Apparently we are not far from being able to interact with objects while not being present in the room, according to a CNN article.

For this example, Daniel Leithinger from MIT’s Tangiable Media Group, used a flat display that shows your caller’s upper body, talking away. But below this their hands and arms reach up out of the tabletop into the physical world, gently lifting a small red ball off the table and passing it from one digitally-recreated hand to the other.

This is all possible with the help of the inFORM Dynamic Shape Display: a tabletop covered in miniature white squares that rise up like towers, to turn digital content into physical objects. Used in conjunction with a 3D sensor, like Microsoft’s Kinect, it can capture a person’s physical appearance and reproduce it in tiny skyscraper-like “pixel” blocks — on-the-fly, anywhere in the world.

“Essentially it’s very similar to those kind of pin toys that you might know from museum novelty stores,” explains Daniel Leithinger.

To add color to the block shapes, a projector on the ceiling beams down light, turning the towers psychedelic hues as Leithinger demonstrates the table’s capabilities.
It also has a deeper purpose — communicating an extra layer of information from the sender to the receiver on the other end: “When you move your hands, not only do you have the shape of the hands, but you also see the color, the texture of the hands,” says Leithinger. The display doubles as an active controller, allowing a user to interact with 3D menus constructed by the table by moving the little red ball.

“It’s not real 3D because we can only push up and down each one of these pins,” says Leithinger. “We can’t push them sideways or have any other control over them at the moment — we usually call this affect ‘2.5D'”

Leithinger’s ambitions is to implement the tech in a smartphone on which the user can interact with objects from afar: “In the future, where we hope to get is something like, say, a phone that you could have in your pocket, and as you interact with things on the phone you can actually touch them.” It remains to be seen whether or not users will get attuned with the new tech available in their pockets in the near future.

Thank you CNN for providing us with this information
Video courtesy of CNN

Sony Details Why DualShock 4 Features Touchpad, Not A Touchscreen

When it came to leaks and rumours about the PlayStation 4, and the Xbox One for that matter, we heard word of a touch screen in each controller. With the Wii U having a small TV in its controller and people being all but glued to their smartphones these days it seemed like a logical step, so why didn’t they do it?

Toshima Aoki, Sony’s Product Planning Manager explains that while they did actually test the controller with a small screen integrated into it, the feedback they had from developers and gamers was that they felt it was a distraction.

“We actually tested it, but [besides cost factors], our game teams felt like having to look down at the controller is not what they want to do. They want to have the consumers concentrated on the big picture that they show [on the TV].” said Aoki when speaking with Gamesbeat.

It seems to have worked too and the new touch pad is pretty cool to have given that it can serve as many different types of action and doesn’t feel like it needs to be integrated into every game. Where as if you had a touch screen, every game dev would likely put something on it, regardless of it being needed to enhance the game experience or not.

What are your thoughts, would you have preferred a little touch screen or are you happy with the touch surface idea?

Thank you Gamespot for providing us with this information.