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Microsoft Looking to Bring Kinect Drivers and SDK to Windows

Since the launch of Microsoft’s peripheral, Kinect, it’s been flying off the shelves. And while casual gamers are enjoying the device, it’s also been getting a lot of attention from the types that like to do things on their own. The Kinect has been used to let a robot help you work out, and even help in surgery. The hacks are certainly all over the place, and while Microsoft wasn’t particularly warm to the idea at first, the company is certainly enjoying the idea now. So much so, in fact, that it may turn out the company is getting ready to deliver official drivers, and a software developer’s kit (SDK) for Windows.

Microsoft sees the Kinect peripheral as an open platform now, but there’s no doubt that the Redmond-based company would want those out there to use their official drivers, as well as an SDK that they created. Steve Ballmer, at this past Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, wouldn’t give an exact date, but he did say that the company was looking at supporting the Windows-based PC for Kinect usage in the future. His answer was vague enough that the time table is pretty wide open.

The information comes from unnamed sources that are reportedly “familiar with the matter,” and so right now it seems that we’ve got to label this one as a rumor, and nothing more. However, with Microsoft openly saying that they support the open platform that Kinect was built upon, and semi-confirming upcoming support for Windows, it seems like it’s only going to be a matter of time before we start seeing some official PC support. That only seems to further the question: is your Kinect collecting dust, or not?

[via CNET]

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HP Touchpad Trademark Filed, Possible Tablet Name?

With all this talk about HP and Palm’s upcoming tablets, perhaps it’s just a coincidence that the company has officially filed for a new trademark that, for all intents and purposes, screams out “tablet.” At the moment, it’s impossible to say whether or not HP plans on using their recently filed for Touchpad name for anything at all, let alone a tablet. But, tablets are mentioned in the filing, if that’s any sizable indicator.

The trademark covers plenty of devices, making sure not to name one specifically. It actually covers not only products, but also services. However, “tablet computers” is the one many are most interested in. With HP’s webOS announcement right around the corner, it’s likely that the tablet devices we’ve seen hit the Internet will be officially named and detailed. Whether or not Topaz and Opal, which are currently the codenames for the tablet devices, stick around remains to be seen.

It’s also possible that the Touchpad name falls under a product lineup, featuring tablets and other devices of that sort, and not one particular tablet (or other device) specifically. We’ll have to wait and see if the HP Touchpad name pops up anywhere else.

[via PocketNow]

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Xbox 360 Receives Dashboard Update to Thwart Pirates

It’s not a major dashboard update, but Microsoft has officially added a previously removed feature to the non-gaming console, and promises that a few more tweaks are still incoming. This particular dashboard update, while bringing back to the “Boot-to-Disc” option, is meant for one thing, and one thing only: to stop pirates from using the Xbox 360 console. And, if forum members are any indicator, it looks like Microsoft has been successful so far.

The update is officially known as the “Anti-PIracy 2.5 update.” The update removes the option for owners of a flashed Xbox 360 firmware to load bootleg titles on their console. The update itself is mandatory if you want to play on Xbox LIVE. The update does indeed bring back “Boot-to-Disc,” which was a feature that was removed in a previous update to try and stop illegal usage of bootleg games.

As for those subtle tweaks, Major Nelson says that the GamerCards that players use will be changed. You won’t be able to see which “Gamer Zone” another player is in, and the cards will be taking a darker shade. The changes to the gamer cards will be implemented on January 20th. You can see a video below of the new dashboard update in action.

[via WinRumors]

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Leaked Image Shows AT&T is Changing Messaging Plans on January 23rd

Best Buy’s in the hot seat again, it seems. According to a new, leaked image from the electronics retailer, it looks like AT&T is getting ready to switch some things around. Namely, messaging is getting a boost. While two previous plans are getting dropped, the wireless carrier is offering up more text messages for less money. That is, if this screen shot turns out to be true, of course.

Starting January 23rd, new AT&T customers will have two options when it comes to their text messaging plans. The first is $10 per month for 1,000 text messages. The second is $20 for an unlimited amount of text messages. If you’re in a family plan, or you’re going to start up a family plan, then it will be $30 per month for unlimited text messages.

That means AT&T is dropping the $5 per month for 200 text messages, and the $15 per month for 1,500 text messages. As is common with a change of plan features, if you’re currently on one of the plans that’s getting dropped, you’ll be able to “grandfather” in, and keep them. However, new customers will have only two options beginning on the 23rd of January. AT&T hasn’t confirmed the change, as of the time of this writing.

[via GearLive]

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Doctors in Germany Create Swallowable, Remote-Controlled Stomach Submarine

Right now, doctors only have a couple of choices when it comes to looking into the human body. Trying to discover a person’s ailment in their intestines is tough, as it usually means that an endoscopy has to happen. Inputting a camera, connected to a long cable, down someone’s throat isn’t always what a patient is looking forward to, and the alternative isn’t any better. And while capsules with cameras in them exist today, it’s hard for doctors to see what’s happening inside, as the movement is controlled by the person’s innards. But, doctor’s from Germany are looking to change that with a new remote-controlled capsule that can be swallowed.

Doktor Jutta Kella of the Hamburg uni internal-medicine department, along with her colleagues, are the brains behind the new swallowable capsule. The capsule is controlled on the inside of a person’s body courtesy of a powerful external, hand-held magnet. This makes it possible for doctor’s to pinpoint where, exactly, they want the capsule to go, and record images of the internals with the integrated video camera.

The doctor’s created the new device by altering the body of a current probe. They installed magnetic discs to the outside of the capsule. The doctors in Germany were able to test out the new capsule in 10 healthy individuals, who had to swallow sherbet powder, along with the magnetized probes. The powder would help the patient’s stomachs loosen up, letting doctors see inside much easier.

The results showed that the little capsule was able to send pictures at 4 frames per second, which provides the doctors a real-time look inside someone’s body. The initial tests within the 10 individuals was meant to test the safety of the device, and to find out if it worked better, or just as well, than the current options doctors have for looking into the human body.

[via The Register]

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Nintendo 3DS Available for Pre-Order at Amazon

Nintendo took some time out of their busy day-to-day schedule to announce the company’s latest and greatest idea: the Nintendo 3DS. The portable gaming system allows for gamers to play 3D games without having to wear any kind of special glasses, and allows them to connect to other 3DS gamers thanks to the online connectivity. It’s set to launch in Europe on March 25th, and in the United States on March 27th. 30 games are set to hit store shelves between the title’s launch and the huge gaming expo, E3. If that’s good news to you, then maybe you should head over to Amazon, where you can pre-order the unit right now.

There’s no special pricing for those who want to pre-order the 3D gaming unit. It will still cost you $249.99. Amazon is limiting the amount you can pre-order though, saying that there can only be one console per household. The digital retailer points out that you’ll be able to take 3D photos with the 3DS, and even watch 3D videos. You’ll be able to connect to other 3DS gamers in select titles, along with Nintendo’s SpotPass and StreetPass.

Now that the 3DS from Nintendo has a launch date and pricing, and now we know which games will be making their way to the mobile gaming unit before too long, who out there is going to drop down the cash to get their hands on it?

[via Amazon]

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HP Topaz and Opal webOS Tablet Features Detailed

Looks like the details regarding HP’s webOS-based tablets aren’t staying secret, even as the company’s official announcement looms closer (of which they were nice enough to remind us about). Engadget‘s unnamed sources have come through yet again, detailing some of the design elements of the upcoming pair of tablets.

The unnamed source was up-front about the measurements of the two tablets. The Opal, which we know is the 7-inch webOS-based tablet, will measure in at around 180 x 144 x 13mm, which means it will be about the same size as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Android-based tablet, albeit slightly shorter and wider. The capacitive touchscreen display will feature a TFT LCD with a resolution of 1,024 x 768. While the Topaz, the 9-inch version, will measure in at 241 x 190 x 13mm — or practically identical to the measurements seen in the current generation iPad from Apple. Unfortunately, the source wasn’t sure what the resolution of the Topaz will be, but suggested that it could be the same as what the Opal’s. A good bonus, though: it looks like HP will be including their Beats premium audio processing.

As for storage, the tablets won’t be hindered by the physical storage on the devices. HP and Palm have made sure that there will be “tens of gigabytes” made available up in the cloud, for each tablet owner.

Some additional information regarding the Topaz and Opal webOS tablets may have been revealed in a recent consumer survey, which was conducted by GfK Custom Research North America. While the survey doesn’t mention HP or Palm, or even webOS specifically, there are mentions of “Synergy,” along with talk about a feature called “Touchstone.” The survey asks if people would be interested in using programmable wireless charging docks that would change their tablet device into a digital photo frame, or an alarm clock. Features that we’ve seen in webOS 2.0′s Exhibition mode.

And then there’s one additional feature worth mentioning: Tap-to-Share. By “tapping” two tablets together, owners will be able to easily transfer content like web pages, or a document, from one device to another. Furthermore, it sounds like HP’s focus on cloud storage may come in handy in the way that applications are loaded. It may be even possible to run some applications, and saved documents, right from the cloud storage. This is apparently a move from HP to make the laptop the new desktop, so that while someone is out and about, they only need their tablet.

Other mentions are features we’ve seen in webOS 2.0: Flash support, and “true multitasking.” Of course, it’s good to see that these features are being carried over to the tablet experience. On a lesser note, it sounds like the tipster does know that HP and Palm are planning on launching handsets, but that what they have seen is “nothing too amazing.”

[via Engadget]

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New Consoles Will Make Game Prices Reach $100, Danny Bilson Says

Depending on where you live, you may already be paying $100, or slightly more, for videogames. And, if you’re someone who always wants to get their hands on the “epic” or “limited” or “legendary” editions of games, then you’re probably accustomed to paying (close to) $100 or more for a game. Of course, in that latter case, you’re getting (usually) much more than just the game. But, according to THQ’s EVP Core Games, Danny Bilson, if the likes of Sony and Microsoft were to announce new hardware any time soon, it would be horrible.

In an interview with Eurogamer, Bilson says that right now, it still costs developers a small fortune to make games for the current generation hardware. If Microsoft and Sony were to announce a new console, say the PlayStation 4 or Xbox 720, Bilson doesn’t know how they’d be able to up the graphics, and content, without forcing people to pay $100 for the game. And that doesn’t mean the special edition.

“It still costs us a fortune to make games on this platform. If they’re going to up the scale, up the art, up the content, I don’t know how to make that and sell it to anybody for under $100 a game.” He adds, “Who wants to do that? It’s bad for everybody.”

Bilson makes an effort to suggest that a new console, from anyone, isn’t necessary right now. He still sees a lot of potential coming from the software side of things, where developers can still create engaging, beautiful titles that draw gamers in. He says that creativity and style are more important than the physical power of a console.

What do you think? Even if the current generation consoles haven’t been completely tapped of their full potential, do you think it’s time for Microsoft and Sony (and Nintendo) to announce a new, better console than what they’ve currently got available?

[via Eurogamer]

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Acer deny netbook phase-out: Tablets “will find their space”

Acer has gone on the netbook defensive after comments from a Taiwan sales manager were interpreted as suggesting the company was planning to phase out the budget ultraportables in favor of tablets. According to the PR, Acer expects tablets “will find their space next to netbooks and notebooks, without taking over.”

As for Sandy Bridge, Acer are playing down suggestions that they are planning two to three Android slates based on the latest Intel Core processors. “Devices based on Sandy Bridge are not foreseen yet” the company insists.

Press Release:

Acer to increase its presence on mobile market investing on tablet devices: netbooks will be not phased out

Manno, January 19th 2011 – According to recent statement from Sales Manager based in Taiwan, Acer Inc. confirms that the company is not aiming to phase out netbooks in favor of tablets.

Mobility, which has always been part of Acer’s DNA, finds a new form of expression in the range of tablets on offer, which feature various display sizes and models designed to fit different kinds of usage scenarios. Acer recognizes that the computer market is changing: As PCs are no longer used to only create content but are more and more becoming consumption tools, new devices and new form factors are appearing. This means the range of devices available to users is getting wider and tablets are just another piece of the mosaic. Therefore they will find their space next to netbooks and notebooks, without taking over.

Technological developments are changing the way we interact with devices. No longer a single product but a multitude of instruments with diverse form factors and display sizes designed to meet the specific connection need of that particular moment, allowing the digital individual to stay connected and interact with his world, anytime, anywhere.

Acer’s offer includes a 10.1” Android tablet, for a superb mobile and home entertainment experience, a 7” Android Tablet, the quintessence of mobility and a 10.1” Windows Tablet for the maximum of versatility in a tablet form factor. For the moment devices based on Sandy Bridge are not foreseen yet.

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SlashGear Morning Wrap-Up: January 19 2011

All you PC fans rejoice, Intel’s announced plans for Intel Atom Windows 8 smartphones. Next decide with us whether or not AT&T’s agreement with Apple being non-exclusive means that a T-Mobile iPhone is on the way. Have a sip of the ol’ joe thanks to your mobile phone as Starbucks now takes payments from mobile phones all across these United States. Then if you’ve got a Verizon phone that ISNT an iPhone 4 but were hesitant to switch, the company now has a deal that’s basically saying come on, pleeease? We’ll give you 200 bucks! Or perhaps you’d like to take a look at the numbers, the numbers that suggest Android users are the most loyal of the bunch? Finally, take a peek at the invite publishers have been snuck to a Samsung event that promises a Galaxy S replacement. All this and MORE on SlashGear Morning Wrap-Up!

R3 Media Network

Editor’s Choice
Notion Ink’s Adam slate ships today, Wednesday 19 2011 [JOYYY]
Samsung Mobile Announces both Mobile World Congress “next evolution” and a February 1st Tease [MY EYEBALLS HAVE FALLEN OUT]
T-Pain Booty Symphony app is chocked full of booty shakin’ fun [RUMP SHAKER]

Samsung Will Not Be Charging Carriers For Android Updates
Android Gets New Update on RealPlayer
Verizon Giving Away $200 For Purchasing Their iPhone 4
T-Mobile Netherlands Offered to Unlocked iPhone For Free

Android Community
Verizon’s LG Ally Android 2.2 Froyo update gets early release
HTC ThunderBolt to Support Both Voice and Data in LTE Areas Simultaneously
PlayStation Phone XPERIA Play Due at MWC, PSP 2 on January 27
Samsung Vibrant 4G Passing Through FCC
Line2 VoIP/SMS app arrives on Android [Video]
T-Pain Booty Symphony app is chocked full of booty shakin’ fun
Official Starbucks mobile payment app in the works, third party app offered now
WebMD launches Android app for clinical reference for healthcare pros
Android owners most platform-tenacious claim researchers
Notion Ink’s Adam slate ships today, Wednesday 19 2011
Samsung Mobile Announces both Mobile World Congress “next evolution” and a February 1st Tease
Samsung Says They’re NOT Charging Carriers for Froyo Android Update

Nintendo 3DS Europe launch March 25
Sony BRAVIA HDTVs & Blu-ray players to get Opera browser
iPad 2 Retina Display rumors under fire: prototypes aren’t next-gen iOS tablet
Nintendo 3DS hits US March 27 for $249.99
Nintendo 3DS to get 30+ titles between launch & E3
Intel Atom Windows 8 smartphones on horizon
Apple’s new iPhone AT&T agreement is non-exclusive: T-Mobile iPhone ahoy?
Touch-n-go multi gadget charging thingy is cool and weird
Kinect adapted for robotic surgery
Entire Playboy back catalog coming to iPad
Windpower winners Vestas give $1.5m prize to runners-up
Western Digital adds new SAS HDDs for enterprise
Apple reveals All-Time Top App Store apps
MSI offers new N570GTX and N580GTX Twin Frozr II video cards
Starbucks now taking payments from mobile phones nationwide
Verizon offers some customers a $200 gift card for iPhone 4 upgrades
Himax unveils world’s first USB 3.0 pico-projector
Eurocom launches 15-inch Racer notebook
Spider Pocket Speaker E500 plays your tunes wherever you go
Puget Systems adds new rigs to Serenity Silent PC line
AMD Embedded G-Series puts Fusion APU in set-top boxes, SFF PCs, more
iPhone most satisfying smartphone but Android users loyal tips research
First HP webOS tablet shipping March tip insiders
Sony PSP2 due Jan 27 with PlayStation Phone at MWC 2011 tip insiders
Linksys E4200 is new dual-band flagship router
Samsung “Evolution is Fate” teases Galaxy S replacement at MWC 2011
Notion Ink Adam ships today
$100 Gets You a Mysterious Package Aboard Any Airplane (so Long as You’re a TSA Agent)

To see more Daily Slash posts, click here: [The Daily Slash] or here: [SlashGear Morning Wrap-Up]

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