Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Study says LEDs are about as efficient as compact fluorescents

As we've seen with the slight resurgence of new and improved incandescent light bulbs, the amount of energy used to actually light up the bulb isn't necessarily the whole measure of energy efficiency. There's also the small matter of producing the bulb, shipping it around the world, and eventually disposing of it. With that in mind, the Siemens Corporate Technology Centre for Eco Innovations conducted a study that compared regular compact fluorescents to LED lamps -- using one 25,000-hour LED lamp as a constant, compared to 2.5 10,000-hour compact fluorescents (and 25 1,000-hour incandescents). While it's still holding back on some of the finer details, the group did apparently find that LEDs are no more or no less energy efficient than compact flourescents when the entire lifecycle of the bulb is taken into account, although it is quick to point out that LEDs should eventually win out as they become more efficient to produce.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New NVIDIA clings desperately to XP

Anything that makes our netbooks, nettops, and smartphones into slightly less mediocre video performers is okay in our book, so we're fond of NVIDIA's ION platform and are looking forward to finding out exactly what the company has up its sleeve for ION 2. We weren't, however, expecting an even cheaper revision of the chipset, but that's exactly what's been announced this morning. NVIDIA is creating ION LE, a sibling of the existing ION that does everything its big sister can do except support DirectX 10. The idea, of course, is to lower costs while providing all the functionality XP-packing netbooks and nettops need, but as Windows 7 sits at home getting made up for its d├ębutante party we have to wonder just how much longer Microsoft's old faithful will be on the market -- and how much longer DX9 will be relevant.

News : Palm's ad agency "loves that you're creeped out" by new TV spots

Advertising Age has taken a deep dive into Palm's latest string of unsettling, polarizing ads -- you know, the ones with the girl -- in an attempt to explain the company's intention with the creepy spots. The industry paper spoke with Gary Koepke, the co-founder and executive creative director at Modernista, the company which developed and produced the short clips.

According to Gary, he's happy that viewers find the commercials upsetting, stating that "The Pre is probably being talked about more than other phones right now because of the marketing and advertising, and that's a good thing. Could the ads work harder to show exactly how the phone works? Yes, but we knew it would be polarizing people to have a woman not shout at them and tell an interesting story." Apparently the agency is taking its own stab at Microsoft's Seinfeld / Bill Gates strategy, which means viewers don't necessarily have to like (or even understand) the ads... as long as they keep talking about them. Of course, that game plan may work for a company like Microsoft, which arguably has nothing to lose if they run a few ill-received spots. Palm, on the other hand, won't get a second chance to make a first impression with a lot of people, and since its fortune is currently riding on the device these ads attempt to sell to consumers, it's a pretty risky proposition. C'mon, how could the folks that brought you the Foleo be wrong?

PlayStation 3 Slim to debut August 18th

Whoa, Nelly! No sooner than we hear that Sony is informing Japanese retailers that the 80GB PS3 model won't be shipping any longer after August 8th, along comes this to stoke the raging rumor fires once more. In a one-two punch that just can't be coincidental, Sony has also hacked $50 off of its 160GB PlayStation 3 bundle from Amazon. But really, it's the report from RTLinfo that has us most excited. According to it, the Sony elite are informing European retailers of an impending €100 price slashing on the 80GB console, which will dovetail nicely into the sudden and not-at-all unexpected debut of the PS3 Slim at the gamescom expo in Cologne, Germany. Reportedly, the willowy unit -- which shouldn't differ much in terms of specifications and features -- will be properly introduced to the world during Sony's pre-event press conference on August 18th. Obviously we've no way to confirm or deny just yet, but given everything else that has transpired over the past few months, we'd say an official reveal is definitely due. What say you, rumormongers?

2010 T-Mobile UK sneakily offering iPhone 3G to moneyed customers

We really couldn't make this stuff up -- it would seem that T-Mobile has been sneaking some hi-tech contraband into the UK in the form of unlocked iPhone 3G handsets, which it is now peddling to its most valued clientele. And by that, of course, we mean the piggies that pay up the most every month. Limited to an extremely select 150 units a week, the Apple devices are being used as incentives for high-rolling customers to renew their eye-gouging contracts of £75 per month and above, though we suspect only a few chums in corner offices know exactly how much T-Mob is charging for the handset itself.

We've done some digging, and while O2 has exclusivity on the iPhone 3G until September, that does not prevent T-Mobile from essentially functioning as a reseller of unlocked SIM-free units. Further distancing itself from legal action, the carrier is only offering the handsets to upgrading customers (as opposed to newcomers), thus the phones technically come sans a SIM. So, the suits at Magenta Towers must be feeling pretty smug right about now, having danced through a loophole and secured a wildly popular (albeit older generation) phone, all in the name of keeping high-brow customers from jumping ship. While you won't hear any PR from T-Mobile on the matter, we have a full statement from O2 on the subject of losing 3G exclusivity come September. You ready?

Monday, August 3, 2009

New DEFCON clearly the work of ironic criminals

The hooligans in this case have a dry sense of humor or are extremely unlucky: Either way, we can't help but get a chuckle out of the fact that someone placed their smart card skimmin' faux ATM at the Riviera Hotel Casino in Las Vegas -- during DEFCON, the world's largest hacker convention. No one can say exactly how long the kiosk was there -- at least the kids were smart enough to place it right outside the security office, one of the few places in the conference center not under surveillance. It was picking up on this last fact that aroused the suspicion of Brian Markus, CEO of Aries Security. When shining a light through the glass panel that should house a camera, he instead found the PC that was set up to skim people's data. He then notified security, who removed the device and once again made the world safe for hackers and their bank accounts.

Eric Schmidt resigns from Apple board

Should have seen this one coming, right? Google CEO Eric Schmidt has resigned from Apple's board today citing a conflict of interest. Apple (Steve Jobs, in fact) says that "Unfortunately, as Google enters more of Apple's core businesses, with Android and now Chrome OS, Eric's effectiveness as an Apple board member will be significantly diminished, since he will have to recuse himself from even larger portions of our meetings due to potential conflicts of interest." Android and Chrome OS -- something had to give, but the timing sure does make it seem like that Google Voice app rejection might have really hurt someone's feelings.

The truth is, it's been a tangled web for some time as far as the relationship between Apple and Google goes. Sure, Schmidt sat on the board, the companies claim to be working on new projects, and Google Maps comes preloaded onto the iPhone, but over the past year, Google's increasing move into Apple's space, and Apple's increasing desire to control every inch of that space have not been good bedfellows. It's hard to imagine that Apple could maintain a completely healthy relationship with a direct competitor in both the phone and OS space for very long, and that's to say nothing of Cupertino's latest push into online document editing and management, which couldn't have seemed very awesome to Schmidt and company. Oh, and there's that matter of the antitrust case which is currently ongoing. Still, it's a bit sad to see this power couple going their separate ways, though it does give us some hope that Google will begin a full assault with Android in earnest, because only sweet stuff could come from those efforts. If you're interested, the full PR is after the break.

Dr. Eric Schmidt Resigns from Apple's Board of Directors

CUPERTINO, California-August 3, 2009-Apple today announced that Dr. Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google, is resigning from Apple's Board of Directors, a position he has held since August 2006.

"Eric has been an excellent Board member for Apple, investing his valuable time, talent, passion and wisdom to help make Apple successful," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "Unfortunately, as Google enters more of Apple's core businesses, with Android and now Chrome OS, Eric's effectiveness as an Apple Board member will be significantly diminished, since he will have to recuse himself from even larger portions of our meetings due to potential conflicts of interest. Therefore, we have mutually decided that now is the right time for Eric to resign his position on Apple's Board."

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market with its revolutionary iPhone.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

News : Sony looking to purchase LED HDTVs from Samsung?

Just becuase it's prepared to source millions of flat panels from a joint venture with Sharp, don't think Sony is even close to satisfying its hunger for LCDs. Word from the Seoul Economic Daily is that it may also deal with Samsung on LED backlit televisions (beyond the existing S-LCD partnership,) a decision probably somewhat related to its move towards cheaper white LEDs (already used by Samsung) in upcoming BRAVIA sets as opposed to its more expensive Triluminos backlighting scheme. This shouldn't affect the marketplace immediately, but tuck that knowledge away for TV shopping 2010, the price difference between one brand and another probably doesn't buy as much difference as you think.

Info : Windows Mobile 6.5, HTC Touch Diamond2, and Flash collide on video

Remember that pretty Windows Mobile 6.5-ish skin for AT&T's Warhawk (a.k.a. HTC Touch Diamond2) we saw last week? Looks like it (or another very similar skin) is ready to make another appearance. The Inquirer managed to get a walkthrough of what's being called the final build of WinMo 6.5, and while there isn't a lot of new functionality shown -- large portions of the video are devoted to My Phone syncing and QR codes -- we do get to seem a few Zune inspired ideas and a brief glimpse of how it handles flash. It's still on track for release by Christmas, and if you want your glimpse now, check out the video after the break.

2009 BlackBerry App World 1.1 unleashed

If you've been using your BlackBerry in the last 24 hours or so, you've probably noticed that red star plastered on the App World icon, signaling it's time for an upgrade. Yes, RIM's version of the app store has hit version 1.1, and the bulk of the update concerns better navigation options -- new categories, top downloads for free and premium apps, and the ability to sort search results by name, release date, rating, price, and developer. Outside of that, we've also got the option to now archive apps on SD card or other memory, but unfortunately there's no option to run those programs without reinstalling to internal memory. The update is available for all countries, including the recently-introduced group of ten. Full details after the break.

This mobile client update includes:

Enhanced discovery

* View the catalog by free vs. paid top downloads
* Additional categories and sub-categories

Customers can sort their search results by:

* Newest
* Highest Rated
* Price (lowest/highest)
* Developer (alphabetical)
* Application Name (alphabetical)

Archive apps: Customers can now archive their apps to SD Card or on-device storage memory and reinstall when they want to use them.

New customers can go to or to download BlackBerry App World 1.1. Current users will be notified of the new version a red star (splat!) on the BlackBerry App World icon.

Available to download in five languages (English, French, Italian, German, Spanish), BlackBerry App World 1.1 is also now available to customers in Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal and the Channel Islands, as well as those in the U.S., UK and Canada.

New Acer Timeline 8000 series arrives at Office Depot

Well, that didn't take long. Less than a day after Acer announced the new Timeline 8000 series, the 14-inch AS4810T-8480 has popped up on an Office Depot shelf for $699. It's not bad for the money -- you're getting a 1.4GHz Core Solo SU3500, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB disk, and eight hours of battery life -- but we'd wait to buy until next week, when our tipster says it'll be on sale for $549. Anyone planning to pick one up?

Compaq's $300 laptop reviewed

For all intents and purposes, HP's Compaq Presario CQ60 is a pretty unremarkable laptop -- but slap a $300 price tag on it like Walmart has done, a price comparable to most netbooks on the market, and that reframes the entire conversation. Computer Shopper has gotten some hands-on time with the machine, and while not spectacular, it seems to outperform Intel Atom-based machines. You're still not gonna be able to do much more than check your email and browse the web, though, and the tradeoff for having a 15.6-inch display and DVD burner is a bulkier, less travel-friendly form factor. Still, this seems to do an apt job at filling in that gap between netbook and laptop, and we're sure someone out there will appreciate or feeling nostalgic over that modem jack.

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