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12May/11Off

Are Chromebooks the Future of Notebooks?

Google’s keynote yesterday was all about Chrome and, in essence, all about the future of the web. Despite the creative enhancements they are making to the Chrome browser it was the section on Chromebooks and Chrome OS that stood out most to me. Primarily because of the thought that the Chromebook may represent the future of notebooks.

Chris Davies wrote a great piece last night as a part of our SlashGear 101 series detailing what exactly a ChromeBook is and I encourage you to check that out for more Chromebook details.

From my own experience with the Cr-48 reference design I felt that I could grasp the potential of Chrome OS but that many kinks needed to be worked out, especially in the way of file management. What I was skeptical about was how quickly Google could work out those issues and deliver to users a device that met the market’s needs.

Many of the additions they added to the Chrome OS that will ship with the first market-ready Chromebooks on June 15th did just that, from the file manager to the media player and more. Chromebooks are, and will be, very early for the market and most likely won’t ship in mass quantities. They will certainly appeal to a portion of the market but actually getting to market was the first hurdle which Google has almost passed.

So do these devices represent the future of notebooks or computing in general for that matter? My answer is yes and here is why.

When I talk with industry luminaries whom I trust and respect, a common theme they bring up regarding the future of computing is the cloud. When you dissect that and drill down on it, it becomes evident that if that is true, as many luminaries think it is, then that means that the programming language of the future is JavaScript. If all that is true, it means that apps or web apps developed around JavaScript for cloud- and browser-based computing is where the industry is heading.

I recently moderated a panel at AppNation where my panelists Sy Choudhury, Director of Product Management at Qualcomm and David Williams, VP, Mobile at AT&T both confirmed much of the same sentiment. Which was, that web apps are the wave of the future and will be the dominant way consumers use apps and software.

We all agreed and pointed out that here will always be a role for native software in the future, but to a minimal degree. However I believe the dominant computing experiences done by consumers and business workers alike will be done in the browser. This doesn’t mean that we still don’t need hardware innovations.

When you look at HTML 5 and where HTML can go its clear that through the browser web apps will be able to take advantage of all the hardware innovations the industry creates. We see this now with the hardware accelerated web experiences around video and video games currently available. Going further than that I believe in the near future we can edit, transcode and render video in the browser as well? When you dive deep into where this is going its clear that any computing done locally on the PC can someday also be done in the cloud.

The biggest thing in Javascript’s favor that is the main point to why I think its the language for the future is because it is cross platform. Because of the importance of the web and the browser every connected device in the future will have access to it. Which means it will work on every connected device regardless of the underlying platform. This is a huge value proposition for developers. When you can write a quality piece of software and not have to port it to every platform you can write once and it will truly run every where.

Google’s Chromebook commercial was classic because it ended with the statement “Ready when you are.” So, the real question is when are ready?


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12May/11Off

Ford goes green using dandelion roots to make interior parts for cars and trucks

The lengths that Ford goes to make its vehicles green and energy efficient never cease to amaze me. Sure, the company uses recycled materials like plastic and metal in its cars. It uses old tires to make other parts of the cars and trucks, and Ford is now going green and using a weed that I am always trying to kill in my yard. Ford has found a way to use the lowly dandelion in its car construction.

Ford worked with Ohio State University to figure out how to use dandelion roots to produce a type of sustainable rubber. Eventually the material created will be used to make all sorts of parts that need rubber in Ford vehicles like cup holders, floor mats, and interior trim bits. The tech requires a specific type of dandelion though, the Russian dandelion Taraxacum kok-saghyz, and the weed is being grown at the university for research.

Before the new rubber can be used in Ford vehicles, the material has to be evaluated for its quality and to determine how it will perform as part of the vehicle. “We’re always looking for new sustainable materials to use in our vehicles that have a smaller carbon footprint to produce and can be grown locally,” said Angela Harris, Ford research engineer. “Synthetic rubber is not a sustainable resource, so we want to minimize its use in our vehicles when possible. Dandelions have the potential to serve as a great natural alternative to synthetic rubber in our products.”


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12May/11Off

Philips Lite-On Digital Solutions and ConvenientPower team for Qi wireless charging in cars

Having to plug your smartphone or other device in to charge in your car or home isn’t difficult. It is inconvenient though to have to mess with chargers. Charging would be much easier to do if all you had to do for charging of your device was place your phone on a table or charge tray. There are some cases and tech available today that will let you charge with no wires. The main standard for this is called Qi and you can get cases for smartphones already that support the open standard.

Philips Lite-On solutions and ConvenientPower have announced that they have teamed up to bring Qi wireless charging support to cars for users to take advantage of. Bringing the tech into the car is a very interesting proposition. As time goes by we will find that some device makers will start to integrate Qi tech directly into gadgets for wireless charging and more cases and other tech will surface to allow wireless Qi charging on devices without the tech natively.

By teaming up to integrate Qi support into cars, the driver would be able to simply place their smartphone in a tray on the dash or in the console to charge. There would be no need to mess with wires or take your eyes of the road to plug a device in while driving. At this time, there is no indication of what cars will use the tech and when they might hit dealer showrooms.


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12May/11Off

Onkyo TX-NR809 receiver packs Full 4K upscaling

Onkyo has a wide range of home theater receivers and more that it sells. The company makes quality goods in the entry-level all the way to the high-end range where the receivers can run thousands of dollars. Onkyo has debuted a new receiver today called the TX-NR809 and it is packed with all sorts of features and slots into the mid-range. It will land this month and sell for $1,099. The big feature of this will be important to any of you that have a projector in your media room that supports 4K resolution. We have also talked before about a consumer camcorder that can record native 4K resolution video from JVC.

The NR809 will upscale standard 1080p content all the way to 4K resolution so you can enjoy the full resolution of your projector. The upscaling is powered by two upscaling and processing circuits including the Mavell Qdeo and IDT’s HQV Vida. The receiver is also packing ISF Video Calibration tech, which is a first for the price point the receiver sells at. The receiver has a front USB port for playing content from a flash drive or an iPod or iPhone. The receiver will also upscale standard def movies and content to standard HD resolution.

The NR809 has 135W per channel and is THX-Select2 Plus Certified. The receiver has seven amp sections that all use the low-negative feedback WRAT tech. Audyssey MultiEQ XT room calibration tech is integrated as well. The receiver has one front and seven rear HDMI inputs and dual HDMI outputs with lossless audio processing. It supports up to 7.1 surround sound and has several other inputs for audio and other components. The receiver is also DLNA certified and Windows 7 certified as well.

[via Onkyo]


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12May/11Off

HTC offered Sense-free Honeycomb Flyer for Google I/O giveaway?

Samsung’s 5,000 strong Galaxy Tab 10.1 Limited Edition giveaway at Google I/O this week won them a few fans, but behind the scenes it seems there was plenty of controversy over who would get to give out freebies to the attending developers. Inside word among developers, Android coder Al Sutton tells us, is that HTC wanted to give every attendee an HTC Flyer as well as an unspecified smartphone from its range; however, Google decided to go with Samsung instead.

According to Sutton’s sources, HTC was offering the Flyer without its Sense modifications to the Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS that it will launch with; in fact, it would have supposedly been offered with Honeycomb on the giveaway units. Samsung did the same thing with its Galaxy Tab 10.1, the slate coming without the Live Tiles and other modifications that will be present on the commercial version released in early June. Google, it’s said, restricts what’s being handed out at I/O so as to avoid the event “becoming a freebie frenzie.”

Now, none of this is confirmed by Google itself, and we can’t imagine either Samsung or HTC going on the record one way or another. If true, though, we can’t help but wonder whether Google’s decision to opt for Samsung instead is a reaction to the extensive customization HTC has done to Android for the Flyer, though of course Samsung is current Google-flavor-of-the-month thanks to the Nexus S collaboration.

Update: We asked HTC but the company tells us that it “does not comment on rumour and speculation.”

Remember, you can win our Limited Edition white Galaxy Tab 10.1 in our Epic Unboxing War giveaway!


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12May/11Off

Nintendo 3DS eShop landing on June 7

The Nintendo 3DS is a cool little handheld and when we got our hands on it for a review back in late March we liked it well enough. We did have a few complaints though. The most notable was the lack of the digital eShop to buy download games and other stuff. If the lack of the digital shop is what has kept you from picking the 3DS up, that omissions will be remedied very soon. Engadget reports that the 3DS eShop will be available starting on June 7.

The June 7 date corresponds with E3 where Nintendo has new wares and games to show off each year. The eShop will come by way of an update to the portable console that will add the feature. Once the eShop is installed, gamers will be able to download titles directly to the 3DS. 3DS owners in Japan will get the update a day before the rest of us can get it. The upside to that is if there are any major issues, we will hear about them before installing the update ourselves.

The Japanese update will also feature Virtual Console emulation and a 3D movie player. That would make for some interesting usage with Netflix, if Netflix comes as well. Those of you that like the 3DS, but haven’t purchased, will the addition of the eShop finally get you to break out your wallet? I wonder what else will be in store for E3 this year.

[via Engadget]


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12May/11Off

Yaskawa Industrial robots have lightsaber duel

There are some things in the geek world that you can’t combine without having issues, like Batman and Jim Carrey for instance. There are other things that you can combine to form something that geeks will gravitate too like light to a black hole. Robots and lightsabers are one of the things that geeks will gravitate too. What you see here is an industrial robot recreation of one of the few redeeming qualities to the first of the new Star Wars flicks.

The fight between the Jedi and the red and black spiky dude was epic. One of these Yaskawa industrial robots is wielding the traditional Jedi lightsaber and the other has the dual sided staff-style that the pointy Sith used. I don’t think you need a good reason at all to have robots fighting with lightsabers, but this does show off just how dexterous and agile these bots are.

The robots are from the Yaskawa Motoman industrial line. They look like the sort of bots you would see on a car assembly line. The fight starts slow and boring and then things speed up and it’s actually pretty cool. Check out the video below for yourself to see the battle between Darth Roboticus and Master Indu Robo.

[via Akihabara News]


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12May/11Off

HP WiFi Mobile Mouse bypasses Bluetooth

HP is the largest computer maker in the world and the company has a bunch of very nice machines to its credit. The thing that most people will know from HP is its notebooks, but HP also has a line of accessories and desktop computers among other things that are popular. HP has announced some cool new peripherals today, one of them is especially intriguing, and it is called the HP WiFi Mouse. As you can gather from the name, the mouse doesn’t need a USB port or Bluetooth to operate.

The mouse is able to connect with and communicate with your PC via the integrated WiFi adapter inside the computer. The mouse has to be paired the first time and after that it will connect to the computer automatically. The mouse has up to nine months of battery life and has five customizable buttons. The scroll wheel is a four-way unit with side scrolling and more. The wireless range for the mouse is up to 30-feet from the computer and the mouse is ambidextrous.

You can pick the WiFi Mobile Mouse up in June for $49.99. HP is also talking about its new Link-5 technology too. This tech allows the user to connect up to five different HP accessories to their computer with a single USB adapter. Link-5 uses 2.4 GHz technology and has an intelligent sleep mode. The line of accessories that support Link-5 include the HP Wireless Mini Keyboard, HP Ultrathin Wireless Keyboard, HP Wireless Elite v2 Keyboard, HP Wireless Optical Comfort Mouse, HP Wireless Laser Comfort Mouse, and the HP Wireless Mobile Mouse.


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12May/11Off

Facebook confesses to anti-Google PR campaign

Facebook has admitted hiring a PR firm to seed anti-Google news, in an attempt to raise alarm over the search giant’s policies toward user privacy. The social network – and public relations firm Burson-Marsteller – confirmed to The Daily Beast that it had offered journalists assistance in writing critical newspaper articles about Google invading privacy.

News of the smear campaign first came to light when one of the journalists approached revealed his correspondence with Burson-Marsteller after the company refused to disclose which client had retained them. ”The American people” the PR firm wailed “must be made aware of the now immediate intrusions into their deeply personal lives Google is cataloging and broadcasting every minute of every day—without their permission.” USA Today is also believed to have been pressured to feature Google-sniping content, though the Burson-Marsteller employees responsible for the pitches refused to comment any further once the newspaper investigated and discovered the claims were exaggerated.

For its part, Facebook claims both legitimate concerns about Google’s attitude toward privacy in social network products, along with a growing resentment regarding how Google is attempting to use Facebook data in those fledgling services. Among the products causing particular argument is Google’s Social Circle, which pulls in friend-of-a-friend information through Gmail, and which Burson described as “designed to scrape private data and build deeply personal dossiers on millions of users—in a direct and flagrant violation of [Google's] agreement with the FTC.”

Facebook reckons its users profiles are being scraped as part of that gathering process, something it says contravenes its terms of service. Google has begged time to consider a response.


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12May/11Off

iPad 2 and iPhone 4 shortage tipped as Foxconn falls behind

Manufacturers want their gear to be popular, and they want consumers to line up to buy. The problem with being too popular is that it can be hard to keep enough stock on hand to supply the stores that are selling the hardware in droves. This is the issue Apple is having with many of its new products. The iPhone 4 was nearly impossible to get when it first launched with some people waiting weeks or months to be able to purchase the smartphones.

Apple is having the same issue with the supply of its tablet, the iPad 2, in some areas. The popularity of the tablet and shortage of needed components means that Apple and its suppliers are having a hard time keeping up with demand. DigiTimes reports that Foxconn is having a shortage not only of some materials needed for Apple’s iPhone 4 and iPad 2 construction, but a shortage of labor as well. The shortages are reportedly at the Foxconn Chengdu, China plant.

The shortage of supplies and labor are likely to affect supplies of the Apple gear in Q2 according to sources. Part of the reason for supply shortages is the earthquakes that racked Japan not long ago. Foxconn says that it is arranging its production lines and labor to meet the needs of its clients. Some of the needed components that are in short supply include power amplifiers and memory. These shortages will make it hard for Foxconn to meet Apple’s demand for 2.5-3 million units each month of the quarter for the iPad 2.

[via DigiTimes]


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