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Archive: August, 2012

POSTED: Friday, August 31, 2012, 10:15 AM

Philadelphia-based Stream TV Networks is hoping for some attention  at this week’s giant IFA electronics show in Berlin.

Sony has already stolen a lot of the thunder with the introduction  of its 84-inch 4K TV - an LCD panel that  delivers four times the resolution (3840x2160 pixels) of today’s “Full HD.”  How good is that? So capable that  Sony is willing to deliver the model with simple, non-powered passive 3D glasses. Even in that compromised 3D mode the XBR-84X900  will still deliver a 1080 line image –  at a staggering $30,000 introductory price.

Panasonic and Japanese national broadcaster NHK (which funds a lot of  the nation’s tech development ) are at IFA with a 145 inch 8K “Super Hi-Vision”  technology demonstration.  When first commercialized, that set will probably cost more than most people’s homes.

POSTED: Thursday, August 30, 2012, 10:54 AM

There’s a good reason or three to load Foursquare on your mobile phone, if you’re heading off to the Budweiser Made in America festival on the Ben Franklin Parkway this weekend.  Also reasons to be sitting by your computer, if not.

Loading the Foursquare app will earn special perks at the festival. On arrival, sign in to the app and (with its' location detection) you’ll then be able to unlock a special Made in America Foursquare badge to flash for special perks.

POSTED: Thursday, August 23, 2012, 10:01 AM
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Super Pac App Goes "Shazam" (photo credit, Justin Adelson)

Want to know who’s spending the big bucks to influence your vote this election? Two apps launched yesterday – Super Pac App  for the iPhone and the Ad Hawk app for iPhone and Android devices – can offer insights.

Both use audio recognition technology similar to that deployed  for the popular music identifying Shazam and SoundHound.  Instead of cluing that it’s Gotye or Emeli Sande you love,  these high tech tools identify the ad-sponsoring Super Pacs. That is, those semi-secretive organizations which, for the first time in presidential election history, have the legal right  to raise and spend unlimited funds donated  by corporations, labor unions and individuals to sway your vote.

Gotta wonder how MIT grads (and ultra-conservative billionaire activists) Charles and  David Koch feel that their alma mater‘s MIT Media Lab dreamed up the Super Pac App and got it rolling with financial support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Available  for iPhones,  this spiffier of the two new political enlightenment tools lets you discover (to a degree) whose  money  and how much is behind a  commercial.  You can then rate it on fairness/deceptiveness, compare others’ judgments and dig deeper into the ad’s claims. “This app is an opportunity to educate and engage voters, in a way that makes traditional political TV advertising more interactive as well as accountable,” said app co-developer Jennifer Hollett.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 22, 2012, 12:09 PM

OK, tablet converts. When’s the last time you took out your trusty old Windows-based laptop to read email or search the Web? A week  ago? A month ago? Hmm, that’s what we thought.

Still, you might  be interested in the good  deals Microsoft will be offering to upgrade to its' new, slicker and  more efficient  Windows 8 operating system.

So, also, will us workhorses (and old school computer-ites) who dutifully tap it out daily on a Windows machine.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 21, 2012, 10:15 AM
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"Indiana Jones" box will get a marthon-length send-off.

With a lot of hooplah, the home video release of "The Hunger Games" pulled out passionate purchasers this weekend. And an upcoming theater promotion for the long overdue "Indiana Jones" Blu-ray box set is likely to create a buzz. Still, the future forecasts for home video movie viewing are sending major players like Redbox and DTS scrambling for higher ground.

Diehard devotees were out in droves for the DVD and Blu-ray releases of "The Hunger Games" on Saturday night at midnight. A number of party-throwing retailers reporting complete sellouts of inventory, said www.comicbook.com.  But when Gizmo Guy checked the inventory at my South Philly  Target store last night, the shelves were freshly restocked, including for the Target-exclusive 3 disc Blu-ray/DVD/Ultra-Violet copy Collectors Edition (about $25) with extra-extras about the making of the super-popular film and book series.

Lucas Films and Paramount are hoping to stir up similar excitement  for the overdue high def  boxing (and Sept. 18 home release) of "Indiana Jones-The Complete Adventures Blu ray." Three days earlier, AMC theaters will run an "Indiana Jones" marathon  on 69 screens across the country. Locally, you can dress the part and hop the globe with the world's most adventurous archeologist in all-day affairs (starting at 10:30 a.m.) at AMC Cherry Hill 24, Neshaminy 24 and Plymouth Meeting 24.  The $25 admission includes some commemorative items and a $5 kick back to your AMC Stubs account. 

POSTED: Sunday, August 19, 2012, 4:05 PM

Want to get a sonic taste of the 51st annual Philadelphia Folk Festival happening in Upper Salford township? The final Sunday night concert is streaming right now (4 to 9:30 p.m.) and right here on the internet.

While poorly promoted, all three evenig PFF shows have actually been put out there for the world to hear  this weekend, for the very firest time, by the locally based iradiophilly.com. Gizmo Guy only learned about it when Little Feat did a shout out to the world wide web audioence  last night from the main Martin Guitar stage.

On tap today - The Great Groove Band, Tracy Grammer, bluegrass legends Red Clay Ramblers, cool Canadian export City and Colour, the old timey Secret Sisters, The HillBenders and the romping stomping jazz 'n funk flavored Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue to close the night and fest.

POSTED: Thursday, August 16, 2012, 11:23 AM
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Food Network, Moore College and Apple are on our radar screen today, for tech news with a Philly twist. 

 Eat Better, Locally: "Food Network - On the Road" launched today as a free app for iPhone and iPad. Using the device's GPS for location, the app  quickly summons up recommended dining places (including food trucks!) and dishes of merit available just a short walk or ride away. From our new Market St. office location, we were urged first to visit Delilah's at the Reading Terminal Market for the award winning Mac and Cheese. Too bad the place closed in March! Also in the (relative) hood was  Good Dog Bar and Restaurant at 224 S. 15th St. as featured on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.  Users can  also find and save food spots to visit based on chefs, style and other locales. You're supplied with addresses, phone numbers, directions, ratings reviews and those ever popular food porn glamour photos.  

Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em?:  Apple has been unable to convince the HBOs and ESPNs of the world that their channels should be made available a-la-carte (bought one at a time) on an Apple TV device.  So now Apple's going to the middlemen -  cable giants starting with Philadelphia based Comcast and  Time Warner - to try and persuade them to allow cable channel tuning capability on a newfangled Apple TV set or set-top box, reported the Wall Street Journal this morning.  Of course the same gizmo   would also go to the iTunes store and other internet sites. ironically, Apple's arch rival Samsung has shown prototype "Smart TV" sets at CES the past two Januarys that could do just that - eliminating the need for a separate set top  box in each location. In a whole house video set up, that makes for an  attractive and economical proposition for a cable  or satellite TV provider. (Samsung prototype sets working with Comcast, Xfinity and DirecTV services have all been shown.) But Samsung demonstrates  a lot of sexy stuff before the tech is fine tuned for public consumption - this being a (still unfulfilled)  case in point. Will the foxy Apple now beat Samsung  to the punch. luring the big chickens of cable land into their den? Uh, wouldn't count on it.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 10:27 AM

Philly-based "3-D TV-Without-Glasses" innovator Stream TV Networks, Inc. will be sharing its "biggest technological announcement" with the world at the giant IFA electronics show in Berlin next week, said CEO  Mathu Rajan. But as a locally-based company, how could he and they not give Gizmo Guy the inside scoop?

Stream TV Networks, Inc will be touting a technology partnership with Hisense - the "leading TV brand in China" - for a range of televisions and other products using Stream TV's Ultra-D (3-D without glasses) hardware and software. "The technology can be ported to displays in practically all sizes," said Rajan. "We are starting with a 42-inch TV then a 46-inch and products like tablets, laptops, smartphones and PCs thereafter."

While Americans have wavered  on 3-D, in large measure because of the need to wear those dern glasses, the technology is being totally embraced by the Chinese populace and will be pushed with Ultra-D's glasses-free ("auto-stereoscopic") tech through Hisense's 1,000 China  stores. "Avatar" (finally being widely released in 3-D Blu-ray in the U.S. on October 15) is the biggest grossing film in China, with $208 million in ticket sales. 7,000 of China's 11,000 screens are 3-D capable. In the provinces, the tech is there from day one when the first movie theater opens. "They're skipping the 20th century and going straight to the 21st," noted "Avatar" director/advocate James Cameron in a recent interview.   

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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