Archive for February, 2012
Late last year, we showed you a sneak preview of the FXI Cotton Candy; a dual-core computer that’s the size of a USB stick. Well, production is underway, and you can pre-order one right now.
Packed inside its tiny little frame is a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor built by Samsung, along with an ARM Mali-400 GPU. It also packs HDMI-out, WiFi and a Micro USB port— and comes with Android or Ubuntu pre-loaded as the OS. It also handles MPEG-4 and H.264 video formats, so you could plug it into a TV and use it as a rudimentary media PC.
It’s soon set to be rivaled by the Raspberyy Pi; a British effort to produce a similar product for around $35. To use the Pi, however, you’ll need to be at home with a command line.
If that’s not for you, the FXI Cotton Candy is available for pre-order at $199, and should arrive sometime in March.
Keeping its promise to include iOS users in the Photoshop-enabled slate party, Adobe has announced the arrival of its Photoshop Touch iPad app today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Sporting a number of core PS features and new tools especially designed for use on tablets, the new release joins the Adobe Touch Apps family with further iOS software expected to drop in the coming months. This mobile version of Photoshop enables users to create layered images from several different photos, make edits, apply pro-style effects, touch up photos and carry out several other essential tasks directly on their Apple slate.
A Scribble Selection Tool makes for easy deletion of unwanted objects simply by scribbling on what’s a keeper and then on what needs to go. Refine Edge technology offers some help for those tedious soft-edged selections and integration with both Facebook and Google Image Search makes sharing your edits a breeze. The aforementioned upcoming iOS releases include Collage (moodboards), Debut (presenting and reviewing work), Ideas (sketches), Kuler (color exploration) and Proto (web and mobile application prototyping). But for now, you can snag Photoshop Touch for your iOS 5 wielding iPad 2 from the iTunes App Store for $9.99. If you’re in search of some more details before taking the leap, hit the gallery of screenshots or the full PR below.
Windows8 Consumer Preview Betta Fish
Tom Warren at theVerge is reporting that the final build of Windows 8 (8250) is expected to get signed off on this coming Friday.
More significant is the news of a download time:
Microsoft will unveil its Windows 8 Consumer Preview work during a special event at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona next Wednesday. We are told that the company will release the preview to the public at the beginning of the event, which kicks off at 3PM CET (9AM ET). Build 8250 includes a number of preinstalled games and applications, as well as the new Windows 8 logo.
Time to start your engines..
Remember, you can find moderately priced Windows 8 Tablets at :
Windows/Mac/Linux: Wildly popular open-source media player VLC has updated to version 2.0 and brought a mountain of new and upgraded features with it–including enhanced codec support, hardware decoding, and experimental Blu-ray support.
The new release is a substantial overhaul of the VLC platform that includes a rewritten video output core, half a dozen new video filter algorithms to clean up video and provide a smoother viewing experience, audio resamplers, faster audio processing, multi-thread processor support for popular video formats like H.264, enhanced hardware support for CrystalHD cards and other hardware decoders, and even experimental support of Blu-ray playback.
Whether you’re a long time VLC user or you’ve never heard of it, the new release is worth taking for a test drive. Hit up the link below to read more and grab a copy.
CRAZY STATS for Apple.
There’s an amazing quote from Tim Cook about the 55 million Ipads sold so far.
This 55 is something no one would have guessed. Including us. To put it in context, it took us 22 years to sell 55 million Macs. It took us about 5 years to sell 22 million iPods, and it took us about 3 years to sell that many iPhones. And so, this thing is, as you said, it’s on a trajectory that’s off the charts.
Windows 8′s Metro UI is a pretty dramatic departure from what most Windows users are used to. In light of this, Microsoft has seen fit to redesign the Windows logo we’ve all come to know and love. The company unveiled the new logo via the Windows Team Blog late on Friday afternoon. Have a look at the brand new logo, as well as a timeline of Windows logos, below:
Microsoft’s Sam Moreau explains that over the years, and as the operating system evolved from Windows 1.0 to Windows Vista and Windows 7, the Windows logo had evolved from a simple window to a waving flag. However, Microsoft is eager to take Windows back to the logo that started it all.
” [...] if you look back to the origins of the logo you see that it really was meant to be a window,” Sam says. “‘Windows’ really is a beautiful metaphor for computing and with the new logo we wanted to celebrate the idea of a window, in perspective.”
So really, Microsoft hasn’t done much in the way of re-designing so much as return to the old concept of a window to represent Windows. Obviously it’s got a very Windows 8/Windows Phone 7 feel to it, but what’s got us most excited is the fact that this likely means ‘Windows 8′ isn’t just a codename. Microsoft hasn’t ever confirmed that Windows 8 will be what the next version of Windows will be called, but it’s hard to imagine the company unveiling a new logo featuring the Windows 8 name if it’s not the official title.
Have no doubt about this: Apple is revamping their MacBook Pro line in 2012 in a radical way—not merely evolutionary. We know this not because of the usual rumors, but because there is no way this will not happen.
This is what we expect.
A radical but logical change
When Steve Jobs said that the MacBook Air was the future of laptops, he was right. To the disgust of a vocal minority, Apple destroyed lots of ancient technology with the Air. They simplified its guts and squeezed its industrial design to create an amazing machine. The result was a huge success—and the whole industry started their photocopiers once again.
It’s only logical that they will take the same steps with their MacBook Pro. It’s not only a rational consequence of the Air, it’s also extremely convenient for their bottom lineand their public image: The new MacBook Pros—and not the beefed-up iPad 3—will be the first real test for the new executive team at Apple.
They need to make a statement. Here’s how.
The new MacBook Pro will use Ivy Bridge, the new Intel 22-nanometer architecture with 3D transistors that will provide quite a speed boost over the current MacBooks. Intel estimates that it Ivy Bridge will provide a 20 percent performance boost with comparable Sandy Bridge laptops. Ivy Bridge also provides a 30 percent boost in integrated graphics performance, although these machines will use something stronger to drive graphic intensive applications (more on this later).
No hard drives
Screw the hard drives. It’s antiquated technology with a negative impact on battery life. Apple loves SSD and Apple users love SSD. They may not be the cheapest, but it’s the fastest, safest and most power efficient storage technology for mobile devices. Moving their entire laptop line to SSD will also give them more buying power, which will help them keep the same price and benefit margins.
SSDs are also key for speed. In fact, for most consumers, it’s also one of the key factors to boosting speed perception, even more than the processor and the graphic cards. When everything loads and saves almost instantly, people instantly get it, which is what happened with the Air.
No legacy stuff
The new MacBook Pro 2012 line will get rid of legacy technology. That means no more optical drives, and no more Ethernet port and FireWire. These machines will have nothing but a bunch of Thunderbolt and USB ports, plus the SD memory card reader, just like the MacBook Air. By taking this out, the new machines will save space and simplify the electronics on board.
I can’t remember the last time I used my optical drive. All my media and application consumption goes through online services, like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and iTunes. Apple and thousands of developers have already shifted to 100% digital downloads for software distribution. The optical drive is dead.
And I can’t remember the last time I used my Ethernet port. Most consumers are in the same position. And while FireWire is the only point of conflict I may have—since I use it for backups and extra disk space—an adapter will easily an cheaply take care of any legacy equipment. In fact, there’s plenty of Thunderbolt adapters at this point, for FireWire, Gigabit Ethernet, and even PC Cards.
The machines will have a high definition Retina-ish display. This is part of Apple’s ongoing move to HiDPI.
How much? They will not be as dense as the iPhone’s 326 pixels per inch—which is as high as your average printed page—but they will be close enough. The current 15-inch MacBook has a 128-pixel-per-inch display (1440 by 900 pixels), while the 17-inch runs at 133 pixels per inch (1920 by 1200 pixels). These relative resolutions are similar to the current MacBook Airs.
The question now is if they would be able to double these resolutions to 2880 by 1800 pixels and 3840 by 2400 pixels. It seems insane and there’s no evidence of anyone manufacturing these kind of displays.
But we know that there are graphic cards that can push that kind of power. We also know that, before the iPhone 4 came out, nobody had heard of a 326ppi Retina Display before. Apple had bought all of them and they kept the lid on them until the iPhone 4 was announced.
Perhaps Apple will just increase the resolution to 180 or 200ppi. Given the distance from your eyes to the screen, 200ppi will be enough to achieve close to the effect of a “retina” display in the iPhone, the point in which you can’t see pixels. And still, it will be a lot of extra pixels.
All those extra pixels will require a lot of graphic muscle. Apple uses AMD Radeon graphics in all their MacBooks now, so most probably they will stick with them. AMD is set to introduce their new high end, mobile 28nm process graphics engine in the second quarter of 2012. They will be part of the Radeon HD 7700m family.
If Apple continues with AMD, the top of the line MacBooks will likely use the HD 7770M (their current notebooks us the HD 6670M). Given the boost in resolution, I wouldn’t be surprised if the highest end came with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The current top of the line MacBook has 1GB of GGDR5 RAM. The cheaper option could be the HD 7750M, with 1GB of GGDR5 memory.If Apple decided to change with Nvidia, it’s not clear what would they use. Someone leaked that Samsung’s Ivy Bridge laptop would use a Nvidia GeForce GTX 675M with 2GB DDR5, but GTX graphics would probably run too hot to be incorporated into a super-slim product like the MacBook Pro 2012.
That will be the biggest selling point of these new MacBook Pros. These things will have a super-slim wedge profile. Perhaps even more so than the Macbook Air, given that they will have a largest surface to spread the components. They will also be really light compared to the current machines, all thanks to the saving achieved by getting rid of so much legacy crap. Although maybe they will be less aggressive on the weight shaving and increase the space used by the battery.
Something that will make everyone extremely happy and will be truly disruptive: some insane battery life. Given the reduction of components and the lack of a hard drive, an increased battery life seems more than reasonable no matter what. If they decide to increase the amount of battery cells, then maybe we could witness a laptop that will run for an entire work day on a single battery charge. Or close enough. If Apple is going radical on these, I would expect a radical battery life.
One more thing: Full surface trackpad
This is something that has been rumored before, but now I believe it may happen: the entire palmrest of the new MacBook 2012 will be a multitouch trackpad. It’s obvious that, technologically, Apple can accomplish this. But they would not do it just because they can. They would do it mainly for two reasons.
The first, because the full surface would be the cornerstone for the final step in the metamorphosis of Mac OS X. A metamorphosis that started with the success of multitouch and direct interface manipulation on iPhone and iPad.
But there’s perhaps a more important reason for the introduction of such an innovation: the “one more thing” factor. Cook and the new executive team need to show the world that they have what it takes, that they can keep innovating and pulling rabbits out of their hats just like the old boss did. He would have gone something like this:
“But why have just a trackpad? The current trackpad is very good, but too limiting. What about if we could give you the entire palmrest as a trackpad? It’s a hard technological challenge, but we found a way to differenciate between your palms and your fingers, so your MacBook doesn’t get confused and you can use multitouch with Mac OS X as easy as you can do it in your iPad! So we did it. We are eliminating the little trackpad and giving you a trackpad when you can freely use multitouch. We love it. And we think you will love it too. Let me show it to you.”
Showing the world that they can pull something like this will be the perfect “Yes We Can Kick Ass Without Steve” statement from Cook’s Apple. Because, even while they have their amazing economic results, they need to demonstrate the world that they can keep “making magic” happen for a long time.
Watching the life drain from your laptop when you’re on the move is stressful. Sure, there are extended and slice batteries for a variety of machines, and portable laptop battery packs are available from companies such as Duracell and Lind Electronics. But those options can mean carrying more bulk in a bag already bogged down with cords, files and accessories. One surefire way to preserve the battery you do have is to follow these 11 tips.
1. Lower your screen brightness.
Your screen backlight uses the most power of any component in your notebook, so you can save a lot of juice by turning it down to the lowest acceptable level. You can manually raise and lower the brightness in increments of 10 percent by hitting the appropriate key combination for your laptop (example: Fn + left/right arrows on the Acer Aspire TimelineX series), but we recommend changing the brightness in your power profile so it lowers automatically every time you unplug.
To lower the brightness level in your power profile:
- Select Power Options from the control panel.
- Click Change Plan Settings next to your current power plan.
- Select “Change advanced power settings.”
- Expand Display, then Display brightness.
- Enter a brightness percentage for On Battery, then Click OK.
- Experiment with different brightness levels to determine which is the lowest you can tolerate.
2. Prevent scheduled tasks from running on battery power.
Your virus scanner and disk defragmenter, along with auto updates from the likes of Apple and Google, are scheduled to run themselves on a regular basis—often without your knowledge or consent. Set these tasks to run only on AC power so they don’t eat up precious juice running your hard drive, CPU and wireless while you’re unplugged.
- Select Administrative Tools > Task Scheduler in the Control Panel.
- Select Task Scheduler (Local) in the left window pane.
- Go through each active task that has a future date in the Next Run Time column and do the following:
- Double-click the task.
- Select the Conditions tab.
- Toggle on the first two power options: “Start the task only if the computer is on AC power” and “Stop if the computer switches to battery power” if they are not already checked.
- Click the back button to return to the list of active tasks.
3. Turn off backlit keyboards.
If your notebook has a backlit keyboard, it will certainly help you see keys in a dark room, but it’s also sucking juice out of your battery. You’ll save some power by turning off that light. Every notebook has its own way of enabling or disabling its keyboard backlight, but the method usually involves hitting a Function key on the top row of the keyboard.
4. Unplug all USB devices and remove all discs.
Every USB peripheral attached to your notebook is eating up power just by registering itself with the operating system. By the same token, CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays can drain battery life, even when they’re just sitting idle in your optical drive. Remove any discs along with USB keys, card readers, modems or other peripherals you don’t need while on battery power.
5. Turn on High-Contrast mode.
The LED-backlit screens used on most modern notebooks expend less energy displaying black pixels than those showing colors. Setting your computer to show white and yellow text on a black background can improve battery life and even make text more readable when sunlight is hitting your screen.
To enable High-Contrast mode in Windows 7, simply hit the key combination Left Shift + Left Alt + Print Screen and click Yes when asked to confirm. You can turn off High-Contrast mode by hitting the same combo.
High-Contrast mode will affect your desktop and most Windows programs, including the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox. However, if you use the Chrome browser, you will need to install the Change Colors extension, which is available for free from the Chrome Web Store. Once the extension is installed, it will show an icon in the right side of your address bar. Click that icon and select “Apply override on all pages” to enable high-contrast mode.
6. Close messaging software and apps that ping the Internet in the background.
While you’re surfing the Web, checking email or watching a movie, messaging apps such as Google Talk and Skype are hitting the Internet constantly, just to see which of your contacts are online and whether you’ve received any messages. Automatic updating apps from the likes of Adobe, Apple and Google may also be pinging the Internet to see if there are updates to your copies of Adobe Reader, Chrome browser or iTunes. To stop these silent power vampires before they start, prevent them from loading at boot time.
To see and disable programs from starting when your computer starts:
- Type msconfig into the Start Menu text field, and click msconfig.
- Select the Startup tab.
- Uncheck messaging programs such as AOL Instant Messenger, Gtalk and Skype. You can always launch them manually if you want to use them.
- Uncheck autoupdaters such as Adobe Update, Apple Update, Google Update and Java Autoupdater.
7. Hibernate instead of sleep.
When you close the lid on your notebook and put it to sleep, the computer is still sending some power to the RAM and motherboard in order to keep the current session in memory so your system can wake quickly. Some newer lightweight notebooks such as the ASUS ZenBook UX31 have been designed to use little power during sleep, but most notebooks suck down quite a bit of juice unless they’re completely powered off.
In Hibernate mode, your notebook will save its memory to disk and completely power off, rather than just going to sleep. It will take nearly as long to wake from hibernation as it does to boot, but once it wakes, your session will be right where you left it.
To make your computer hibernate on demand, simply click the arrow next to the Shutdown button and select Hibernate. If you do not see Hibernate available as an option, your computer does not support this mode.
If your computer supports hibernation, you may want to set it to hibernate every time you close the lid.
To set your notebook to hibernate upon lid close:
- Type Lid into the Start menu text field.
- Click “Change what closing the lid does.”
- Select Hibernate from the “When I close the lid” menu under On Battery.
- Click Save Changes.
8. Disable Bluetooth.
To disable Bluetooth:
- Type Network Connections into the text field in the Start Menu.
- Select View Network Connections.
- Right-click on the Bluetooth Network Connection > Disable.
9. Turn off Wi-Fi when not in use.
If you’re connected to the Internet via Ethernet, or if you’re working some place that has no wireless signal, you can save a lot of power by turning off your notebook’s Wi-Fi radio. Most notebooks have a Function key on the top of the keyboard that toggles Wi-Fi on or off, though some have a dedicated button or switch.
10. Minimize hard drive usage.
- Defragment your hard drive on a regular basis. If you run Windows 7’s Disk Defragmenter program every couple of weeks, your drive will spend less time spinning around looking for data.
- Replace your hard drive with an SSD. Because they have no moving parts, SSDs use less power than hard drives. They also don’t need to be defragmented.
- Add more RAM. Going from 2 to 4GB or 4 to 8GB of RAM should allow your computer to use less virtual memory and more physical memory, which means fewer hard drive accesses.
11. Turn off visual effects.
To disable these effects:
- Type Advanced System Settings into the Start Menu text field.
- Select “View advanced system settings.”
- Click Settings under Performance.
- Select “Adjust for best performance.”
- Click OK.