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Archive: June, 2012

POSTED: Friday, June 29, 2012, 12:20 PM
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Philadelphia sports fans will get a chance to watch the Summer Olympics on a unique glasses-free 3D set, shared Stream TV Networks CEO Mathu Rajan at this week's CE Line Show in New York.

"We'll be setting up prototype Ultra-D televisions at sports bars in  New York, London, Chicago, Los Angelas and of course, Philadelphia," he told me. The "of course" is because Stream TV has corporate headquarters and roots in Philly, though much of the R&D work is done in Eindhoven, the Netherlands at the owned subsidiary SeeCube founded by former Philips engineer Walther Roelen.

At the CE Line Show, Stream TV demonstrated a much improved 42-inch version of its unique "auto-stereoscopic" Ultra-D TV and companion processor/switcher box. Using a combination of special computer algorithims and multi-layered/ultra-thin optical filters affixed to the inside face of the screen, the technology allows  a viewer to stand or sit virtually anywhere in front of the set, without wearing special glasses, and still get a sense of depth from content created in 3D  - as 200 hours of the Summer Olympics from London will be. Plus, that  Ultra-D companion box can turn any 2D content into three-dimensional images, "so we expect the (sports bar) demonstrations will also hold a lot of interest in Eagles season," said Rajan.

POSTED: Thursday, June 28, 2012, 10:20 AM
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While the Nexus Q Streaming Media Player and Nexus 7 tablet aren't even 24 hours old, reviewers have already rushed to judge Google's forays into the consumer electronics world.

Lucky attendees at the opening of  Google I/O developers conference yesterday found both products  in their takeaway goodie bag. Several  rushed back to the office or hotel to play.

The 7-inch screened Nexus 7 tablet has instantly been judged a better deal at $199 (in 8GB form) than the similarly-sized but now relatively old tech Kindle Fire.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 7:10 AM

Give them 24 hours, they'll give you 8 shows. That's the promise from the wild and technically daring Flaming Lips with their internet streamed project to break the Guinness World Record for the most shows performed in a single day.

Attempting to wrestle away the record currently held by Jay-Z, the Flaming Lips will be traveling all the way from Memphis to New Orleans, starting this afternoon, with stops at 8 venues along the way.The project is  tied to the MTV O Awards, which have nominated the Lips for the "Digital Genius" award. There's also a new album "The Flaming Lips with Heady Fwends" to promote. One of the featured "fwends," Neon Indian, has already committed to make an appearance at one of the stops. Also on the album, if not the bus, are the likes of Keisha, Biz Markey, Bon Iver and Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band.

Streaming the entire 24 hour bus ride and shows poses a major technical challenge for the band. But it's hardly  the first they've undertaken. One prior stunt required fans to synchronize  12 different YouTube videos to enjoy a complete performance.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 26, 2012, 12:02 PM

The first iteration of Google TV was panned by reviewers and provied to be disastrous for hardware developers Sony and Logitech. Will a new, improved Google TV fare better?

First demonstrations of the finished 2.0 tech will be staged at the Google I/O developer conference opening tomorrow in San Francisco. But jumping the gun, Sony and Vizio have already announced new Google TV set-top boxes (and in Sony's case, also a Blu-ray player) designed to turn existing televisions into Smart TVs. All  to browse websites (via Google Chrome), search for streaming movies, locate favorite TV shows and (in Vizio's case) play games, too.

"The primary change" (from generation one) "is how the viewer interacts with the Google TV platform," said a Sony spokesman. Remote controls for  the new Google TV products signal the circuitry via  Bluetooth radio signals rather than infrared light, so you don't have to be pointing the remote at the screen while entering commands. The front side of the remotes (Sony's is slimmer/sexier looking) feature a touch pad for point and click, scroll and drag and even pinch-and-pull operations. The backside has a full QWERTY keyboard to simplify searches for sites and  entertainment.

POSTED: Friday, June 22, 2012, 12:39 PM
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"Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?" sang the Beatles on the landmark "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." They could have been referring to the medium that made them mega-stars, the long playing vinyl album, which yesterday turned 64 in better shape than anyone could have imagined. Will other tech products achieve such enduring "traction"?

Vinyl Crunch: RCA actually developed the first vinyl long playing album spinning at 33-1/3 RPM in 1931, points out Wired magazine in a celebratory posting you can read here.  But little things like the Great Depression put the project on the back burner. So it's  Columbia Records chief engineer Peter Goldmark  who now earns all the credit for fine tuning and commercializing the vinyl album in 1948 - and even for trademarking it as the "LP."

Today, vinyl continues to rally followers young and old for its form and function. "My teenage daughter only listens to vinyl," shared super talent publicist Liz Rosenberg (whose clients include Madonna, Michael Buble and Melody Gardot) in a recent chat. Clearly that kid has access to all media.  Some devotees  think  the LP may even outlive the CD. Gizmo Guy wouldn't go that far.  

POSTED: Thursday, June 21, 2012, 12:36 PM
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Environmentalists and tech heads were delighted when Silicon Valley fuel cell maker Bloom Energy broke ground on its first East Coast factory in Newark, Delaware last month. But now the non-profit government watchdog group Call of Action is trying to throw a monkey wrench into the machinery.

As first reported by tech industry trackers GigaOm, COA has filed a lawsuit charging Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and the regulatory Delaware Public Service Commission with cronyism. More specifically, with "unconstitutionally discriminating against Bloom's competitors and taxing a segment of Delaware residents to subsidize the crony company."

Filed on behalf of a utility customer named John Nichols and one of Bloom Energy's fuel cell maker competitors, COA says utility customers will subsidize the project through $133 million in tariffs. It also charges that the Delaware Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Act was "modified solely to accomodate the state's deal with Bloom."

POSTED: Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 11:55 AM
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Were you in mourning when the amazing "Reading Rainbow" TV show called it quits in 2009 after 26 years of service? Grown up you and your own kids can now delight in  RR's return as a super spiffy iPad app/subscription service. . . and in a deliriously funny song parody that could prove the novelty hit of the summer.

Rainbow App-titude: Hosted, as was the public TV show, by LeVar Burton, the eye-candy rich iPad app (launched this morning) offers access to hundreds of books from noted children's book publishers. You can see Burton present the app below. There's the user option to read or have the story read to you at your own pace. Just tapping or swiping the screen moves the page -easy for kids as small as three.

 Lots of the colorfully illustrated stories also feature hotspots  you  tap to animate. This morning, I had"Hello Baby Beluga" waving his fin and disappearing/reappearing at different spots in the ocean. Can't wait to share this with the kid-lets!


POSTED: Monday, June 18, 2012, 8:59 PM

Microsoft took the wraps off its long-awaited new tablet computer today. Make that two, both called Surface.

Both are built around a high definition 10.6 inch "optically bonded" (for extra clarity) screen. One model runs on Windows 8 Pro, suggesting good compatiibility with programs for Microsoft's new desktop/laptop OS. There's also an equally up-to-the-minute Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 Processor driving the show, plus 64 or 128 GB of storage. Arriving three months after the launch of Windows 8 for PCs/laptops, these models of Surface will be priced in the same range as UltraBook-class laptops (now starting around $750.)

The other, slightly smaller and lighter Surface will introduce a mobile minded Windows RT operating system and uses the same breed of energy sipping ARM-based processors found in rival tablets and smartphones. It will arrive sooner than big bro, in 32 and 64 GB varieties, also packing an RT version of thr Office Home & Student suite and priced “competitively” with other tablets. So we’re guessing $600 and up. (See the specifications for both Surface tablets - PDF.)

About this blog
Jonathan Takiff covers all manner of high tech gadgets – and the entertaining stuff you play on them – for the Philadelphia Daily News, philly.com and the McClatchy Tribune News Service. Reach Jonathan at takiffj@phillynews.com.

Jonathan Takiff Daily News Columnist
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