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Sling Media Launches $29.99 SlingPlayer App For Android ‘Honeycomb’ Tablets

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 01:11 AM PDT


Sling Media, an EchoStar subsidiary, this morning announced the availability of SlingPlayer for tablets running Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) or later. The app is available on Android Market now and costs $29.99, the same price Sling Media charges for any of its mobile applications.

The application basically lets Slingbox owners watch home TV from their Android tablets. (The Slingbox retails for $180 and up).

New to this release of SlingPlayer is a revamped program guide that Sling Media says makes it easier to browse content choices while continuing to watch TV, change channels and control their DVRs.

The earlier released SlingPlayer app for Android phones will continue to work in “Compatibility Mode” on tablets at no extra charge – that version of the application streams from all Slingboxes but not at the higher-quality resolutions available on tablet devices.

Sling Media first teased its SlingPlayer app for Honeycomb devices a few weeks ago with the video below, but you can download it now for $29.99, ¥2600, £20.99 or 23.99 euros.

Company: Sling Media
Funding: $14.5M

Sling Media is the maker of Slingbox, a piece of hardware that enables users to watch and control live television on their computers or cell phones. The Slingbox takes the video from cable, digital cable, satellite, or DVR programming and sends it to your devices over the internet. Video is played on computers using SlingPlayer, a downloadable application for Macs and PCs. The company was acquired by EchoStar in September 2007.

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Company: Android

In July 2005, Google acquired Android, a small startup company based in Palo Alto, CA. Android’s co-founders who went to work at Google included Andy Rubin (co-founder of Danger), Rich Miner (co-founder of Wildfire), Nick Sears (once VP at T-Mobile), and Chris White (one of the first engineers at WebTV). At the time, little was known about the functions of Android other than they made software for mobile phones. This began rumors that Google was planning to enter...

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Daily Crunch: Two Face

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 01:00 AM PDT

Velocity Micro Gets Competitive, Drops The Price Of The 8-inch T408 Android Tablet To $199

Posted: 10 Oct 2011 06:10 PM PDT


Velocity Micro launched the $240 8-inch T408 Android 2.2 tablet on September 7th. Amazon announced the $199 Kindle Fire two weeks later. But Velocity Micro isn’t going down without a fight. The company just sent over a note indicating that the T408 now costs just $199. It’s no doubt a smart move, but that’s where it should have been priced initially.

Velocity Micro sent over both of their new models and I rather like the small Android 2.2 tab. But they were a tough sell at their initial MSRP price of $240 for the 8-inch and $299 for the 10-inch. These aren’t iPad killers, but rather enthusiast tablets for the Android crowd. They’re cheap and lack the native Google apps. But they’re quick, thin and completely unlocked for all sorts of modding tomfoolery.

A quick Google search shows that retailers including Velocity Micro’s own website apparently didn’t get the memo yet. But the price cut is real. Look for it in the coming days.

An average consumer will still likely opt for the Fire or next-gen Nook Color. That’s fine. This tablet isn’t really for your mom. But if you have a folder of ROMs, XDA-dev set as your homepage, or flame every MG Siegler post, you should take a serious look at the T408. Look for our full review in the coming days.

And The Lion Shall Lie Down With The Lamb: Nintendo Issues Blue Sega-Themed Wii

Posted: 10 Oct 2011 05:03 PM PDT


I remember the time when you were either a Nintendo kid or a Sega kid — assuming you were lucky enough to have one of the consoles at all. You’d ask your friend if they had played Super Mario Bros 3 warpless, and they would respond that no, they were still trying to beat their Casino Zone times in Sonic 2. Things would be a little tense after that. And this was a prejudice that I felt would never be mended. But when Sega went all-software after the Dreamcast (R.I.P.), things changed.

Sure, we’ve had Sonic games on Nintendo systems — have for years. But a Sonic-blue Wii? According to my inner child, they’ve finally crossed the line.

The reason is normal enough: it’s a Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games bundle. The Wii itself is of the new, slightly crippled variety (doesn’t have wi-fi or play Gamecube games) but it’s a perfect little collaboration for the upcoming Olympics — if you lack the soul of a gamer. To anyone who grew up in the 80s, this is a gross dereliction of fanboy duty by the obsessively self-centered Nintendo.

It also comes with a sticker sheet. I have to assume that someone at Nintendo threatened to disembowel themselves if Sonic were permanently placed on a Wii.

This abomination will be available in Europe starting November 18th. Or as they might say, 18 November.

The $4 Retro Computer

Posted: 10 Oct 2011 04:18 PM PDT


The Kenbak-1 apparently predates the Altair and is the earliest “personal” microcomputer in existence. To use it you flipped a bunch of switches and watched the lights. A PS3 this definitely wasn’t.

A tinkerer named Mark Wilson recently rebuilt a mini version of the Kenbak using an Arduino board, timing chip, and some memory, allowing him to add realtime clock functions and storage to what amounts to a very smart Lite-Brite.

Not long after discovering the Arduino it seemed to me it could be a fun project to re-create an early computer, one with just LEDs and switches. I looked at things like the Altair 8800 (1975) but it has 30+ LEDs and 20+ switches and seemed like too much work. Then I stumbled on the KENBAK-1 (1971). Perfect! Only a dozen LEDs and 17 switches.

The wee computer looks almost like the original but is considerably smaller and costs much less than the 1970 price – $4 for parts as compared to about $750 in disco dollars. The handsome case and front panel probably cost a bit more to manufacture but look accurate. However the Arduino guts are most definitely more complex than the original machine and have essentially been dumbed-down to emulate the old Kenbak.

via Retrothing

A Ten-Minute Charger For The Nissan Leaf – In Time

Posted: 10 Oct 2011 02:36 PM PDT


One of the drawbacks of current (if you will) electric cars is the rather long time it takes to charge their batteries. We found with the Leaf that as long as you adapt your lifestyle to it a bit, it’s not a problem, but the unexpected happens and it would suck to be at low charge when you suddenly need to get to the hospital, or what have you. Quick-charge solutions are out there, but few are really practical and many still take hours to reach full charge. Nissan says they’ve created one, however, that could charge a car in only ten minutes.

It’s a collaboration with Kansai University in Japan, and the technology breakthrough has to do with the electrode material used, though it’s not clear where in the process the new vanadium oxide and tungsten oxide electrodes are being implemented.

The ten-minute charge uses a new compact charge station that costs less than half what the previous quick charger did, and could also be used on other automakers’ vehicles. Still, at around a million yen (~$13,000), it’s more suited to institutional use. Gas stations, parking lots, that sort of thing. It’s bad enough already that you have to get a 220V adapter in order to get your Leaf back on the road in good time.

The advanced processes and materials used mean that this isn’t likely to be found at your local shop any time soon, though. And of course there aren’t really enough electric vehicles out there to make this a priority just yet. But by doing the theoretical work now, Nissan can be ready with a product when the time is right.

[via SlashGear; image: AFP/Yoshikazu Tsuno]

Google, Vocre, Apple, And Now Raytheon Diving Into Cloud Speech Recognition

Posted: 10 Oct 2011 01:36 PM PDT


If you were following along at Disrupt SF, perhaps you caught Vocre’s impressive demonstration of their near-real-time spoken translation app. As I was watching, I was picturing the gears turning behind the veneer of the app, though: the cloud transcription, translation, and speech APIs, and how there’s a nice big market for this kind of thing. Google knows it, and of course we’ve had speech on Android for a long time. Apple knows it, but took its time to release it in a more consumer-focused package.

Now even defense contractor Raytheon is getting into the game. Their TransTalk app, which has emerged from the soup of defense contracts and government research funds that is DARPA, is specifically designed for deployment in the middle east.

It’s for Android, which jives with the military’s earlier lean towards the operating system, though it look simple enough that it wouldn’t be much of a task for the defense giant to port it to a government-sponsored fork or whatever gets decided on.

The app itself (running on a Motorola Atrix) is a simple affair; it’s meant for deployment with English-speaking troops and has very little in the way of decoration. You select a language (Arabic, Pashto, and Dari are supported, as these are the primary dialects in the middle east theater), speak to it, and it prints and speaks a translation. The other speaker does the same, but pressing a different button.

So the app isn’t noteworthy for its purpose, but what is interesting is that it isn’t a self-contained app, but rather calls out to the cloud. Military applications tend to concentrate as much functionality as possible on the local device, because as you may have heard, warfare tends to be on the unpredictable side, and data infrastructure isn’t guaranteed. So cloud solutions, as practical as they may be for a consumer application, have been viewed with skepticism by the military establishment.

On the other hand, could the choice be viewed instead as shrewd, considering the efforts that DARPA and others are going to in the creation of a connected battlefield? My guess is that this isn’t actually a strategic move, but a pragmatic one: they bait the hook with a cloud solution and reel it in when they’ve got the resources to make it something locally-hosted. Last year they showed a similar app but on a larger platform. Miniaturization isn’t a trivial step, and they probably thought it worthwhile to gauge interest with this cloud version before going all in. Right now the military smartphone platform is still in flux so it would be unwise to start loading their eggs into one basket or another. But decentralized processing isn’t such a bad bet to make, and Raytheon seems to understand that.

A Hands-On With The Metawatch

Posted: 10 Oct 2011 12:14 PM PDT


We’ve been “watching” the Metawatch for a while now, wondering if it will ever take off. While I feel that the phone-watch connection is tenuous at best, it’s cute to watch people try to get it to work over and over again. took a closer look at a beta version of the product and found it interesting.

From the ground up, the Metawatch has been built to serve as a tool to make using your phone simpler. What exists now, the watch that I placed on my wrist, is a device with seemingly unlimited potential. The creators of the Metawatch were kind enough to provide me with an in-depth look at the device and the plan behind making it a success.

The Metawatch Manager app allows you to choose which notifications get sent to your watch, and what kind of notification the watch will give you. If you choose to just have the display change to show that you have a new email, or if you want the watch itself to vibrate to notify you of a new notification, it's all controlled via smartphone. The settings app is pretty basic, perfect for most users who want to just pair to the watch and enjoy. For developers, however, the Metawatch team has given you an unprecedented level of control for how your notifications show up on the watch.

The watch currently connects with your phone via Bluetooth and supports contact lookups, phone calls, and simple messaging. You can buy an analog or digital beta version right now and the API allows you to send almost anything to the watch, including images. They expect to start shipping real product this month, although, again, I doubt it will get any traction. That said, it’s interesting to see this thing in the wild and I look forward to the improvements to come.

Motorola Hints At October 18 Debut For The Spyder (Or Droid RAZR)

Posted: 10 Oct 2011 10:38 AM PDT


Samsung and Google got some considerable mileage out of their Nexus teaser video, and Motorola apparently wants to join in on the fun. Their own mysterious video went live earlier today, and hints pretty strongly at some impressive hardware due to be unveiled soon.

As with most teaser videos, Motorola’s latest is heavy on imagery but light on detail. In between the images of fast cars and a Douglas Adams reference, Motorola alludes to something faster, thinner, stronger, and smarter ready for a debut on October 18.

On top of that, Motorola sent out press invites to that event, and Engadget discovered that Motorola’s PR team named the image “spyderlaunchinvite”. I’d say that pretty strongly hints at the existence of the Motorola Spyder, which also made the rounds with the monikers Droid HD and Droid RAZR.

What really gets me here is that there are hints that point to different names, provided you look hard enough. The teaser video quickly flashes a razor blade, which seems like a call-out to the Droid RAZR rumor. It doesn’t help that Motorola (with the help of CSC) has recently picked up a handful of RAZR-related domain names that are about seven years too late to be relevant for the original models.

Then again, the invite should theoretically be the most up to date of all the materials that have made the rounds. It seems pretty unlikely that someone tagged it with the wrong filename, unless Motorola has been sitting on the invite image for longer than we thought.

In any case, it won’t be long before we find out what Motorola is working on. If I may be so bold as to quote West Side Story, “something’s coming — I don’t know what it is but it is gonna be great.”

Lenovo And YouTube Announce Space Lab: The Ultimate Science Fair

Posted: 10 Oct 2011 10:00 AM PDT


When I was just a wee pupil, an excellent science fair project didn’t get you much. At best, you walked away with a blue ribbon and the satisfaction of knowing your paper mache volcano was better than your friends’. These days, a great science project can win you much more, like the opportunity to attend a rocket launch in Japan. Way cooler, yes?

Thanks to a partnership between Lenovo and YouTube, students from all over the globe will be able to submit an explanation of their experiments through YouTube for a chance to have those experiments conducted in space. The project is called Space Lab and it officially kicks off today.

Here’s how this is going to work:

Students between the ages of 14 and 18 from anywhere in the world can submit projects from now until December 7. During the first week in January, world-renowned judges including Professor Stephen Hawking and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide of Japan will get together and decide who came up with the best ideas.

Then in March of 2012, both the regional and global winners will be announced. Regional winners will include six contestants from each region from both the 14-16 age bracket and the 17-18 age bracket. That’s 36 regional winners, if my math’s up to snuff. Prizes for regional winners will include a special trip to Washington D.C., the opportunity to experience true weightlessness on a ZERO-G flight, or a Lenovo IdeaPad U300s Ultrabook.

There will only be two global winners selected — one from the 14-16 bracket and another from the 17-18 bracket. The main prize will obviously be the chance to watch a live stream of your very own experiment being conducted on the International Space Station in space. The other facet of the prize package includes either the opportunity to train in Star City, Russia (home to the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center), or get a front row seat to watch your experiment blast off in Japan.

The live stream will happen sometime during the summer in 2012. Even though that’s a ways off, you really only have about three months to think up your experiment and submit it into Space Lab. In other words, get to work future space geeks.

Company: Lenovo
Launch Date: October 11, 1984

Lenovo Group Limited, an investment holding company, engages manufacture and distribution of IT products and services. It offers laptops, desktops, workstations, servers, batteries and power, docks and port replicators, carrying cases, software, monitors, touch-screen devices, and printers. The company also provides accessories and upgrades, such as audio and video, cables and adapters, carrying cases, keyboards and mice, memory, projectors, security, storage, and wireless and networking products. In addition, it involves in the property holding and property management, procurement agency,...

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Company: YouTube
Launch Date: November 9, 2005
Funding: $11.5M

YouTube was founded in 2005 by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, who were all early employees of PayPal. YouTube is the leader in online video, sharing original videos worldwide through a Web experience. YouTube allows people to easily upload and share video clips across the Internet through websites, mobile devices, blogs, and email. Everyone can watch videos on YouTube. People can see first-hand accounts of current events, find videos about their hobbies and interests, and discover the quirky...

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Verizon Officially Announces The Samsung Stratosphere

Posted: 10 Oct 2011 08:01 AM PDT


If you can recall that leaked Verizon roadmap we spotted way back in August, you’ll know that the Samsung Stratosphere is pretty delayed. Once slated for a September 8 launch alongside the mighty Droid Bionic, the phone has now been officially announced just a month later.

Similar in style and specs to the Epic 4G, the Samsung Stratosphere will enjoy the benefits of Verzon’s 4G LTE network, reports MobileBurn. The device sports a 4-inch Super AMOLED 480×800 display, a 5-megapixel rear shooter with auto focus and flash, along with a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video chat. Unfortunately, that rear camera won’t be recording any HD video, so hopefully you’ll have a Flip Cam tucked away somewhere for those special moments.

The Stratosphere is an Android 3.2 Gingerbread device powered by a single-core 1GHz processor. If you didn’t notice from the picture, the Stratosphere also comes loaded with a slide-out five-row QWERTY keyboard and Samsung’s TouchWiz UI.

For the specs on this bad boy, Verizon’s $149.99 on-contract price tag is not too shabby at all. The Stratosphere will be available in-store and online on October 13.


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A Pirate’s Life For Me: Police Bust Hungarian Movie Ring

Posted: 10 Oct 2011 06:56 AM PDT


If you had any misconceptions about the noble pirates fighting the nasty, dirty MPAA, put those to rest now. Here’s the inside of a pirate’s lair in Budapest where we find a 70TB disk array (the article claims it held “5000 movies, 4000 songs, 6000 games and 500 pieces of software,” which is a ridiculously low number), blow, and what appears to be a shotgun.

A pirate group called CiNEDUB has single-handedly “forced” Warner Brothers to stop releasing films in Hungary for fear of having their content recorded and pirated on the day of release. Sick of CiNEDUB preventing them access to the ouvre of Harry Potter, the police busted the ring and found a large server room, lots of cash, and a mirror and razor blade combo that suggests some high times.

The bust happened under pressure from the Hungarian National Tax and Customs Administration. Two members of the nine member team are behind bars while the rest are still at large. From Torrentfreak:

"Most of this team were responsible for the great American filmmakers blacklisting Hungary," NAV said in a statement.

Say what you want about freedom and digital rights: these guys were, in the end, making money on pirated video. I don’t like corporations pressuring governments to do their bidding and I agree that it’s stupid to equate piracy with terrorism and gangsterism, you can’t honestly say that whatever these guys were doing in that cocaine- and shotgun-infested flat improved our digital freedoms one iota.

3DPF: Japanese Company Creates Super-Realistic 3D Face Replicas

Posted: 10 Oct 2011 05:34 AM PDT


If you’ve ever dreamed of getting a super-realistic replica of your face for whatever reason, here’s your chance: a Japanese company called REAL-f [JP] is creating so-called 3DPFs (“3 Dimension Photo Forms”), copies of human faces “in 3D”. The startup offers two versions, a mask type replica and the so-called mannequin type, a replica of the head.

The way it works is that REAL-f first shoots pictures of a person’s face from various positions and imprints the image on vinyl chloride resin stretched over a mold. According to the company, it’s unique production technology makes sure that even details like the iris and blood vessels are replicated accurately (see the pictures to judge for yourself).

Buyers can get a 3D “face mask” for US$3,920 (additional copies cost just US$780 each). Each replica of one’s head costs US$5,875 (copies: US$1,960).

More pictures can be found on REAL-f’s Facebook page.

Siine Launches Innovative Icon-Based Keyboard For Mobile Phones

Posted: 10 Oct 2011 04:19 AM PDT

siine writer

Think there’s only one way to type on your phone? Think again.

Siine, a Spain/UK-based developer of software that aims to change the way we communicate using touch-screen phones, is today formally launching Siine Writer for Android, a keyboard application that basically lets people personalize text messages and save time while they’re at it, in public beta.

In addition to a traditional keyboard with letters and numbers, Siine Writer features a screen with special icons (called Siines, pronounced ‘signs’) that people can tap to build messages phrase-by-phrase, thus cutting short the time it takes to add greetings, signoffs, contact info and whatnot.

The keyboard app can be downloaded with several Siines pre-loaded, but user can change them to fit their own styles, create new icons or adopt new ones from a virtual gallery.

From my limited testing, I’d say it takes a while to get used to Siine, but once you do you start seeing the potential of the app rather quickly. I suspect it could be a hit with the teen crowd.

Siine was founded in 2007 by Ed Maklouf, who previously did communication research at Stanford University.

Earlier this year, the startup raised £550,000 in seed funding from Atomico Ventures, the investment vehicle established by Skype founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis.

Company: Siine
Launch Date: October 11, 2011
Funding: £550k

Siine was founded in 2007 by Ed Maklouf. The name is pronounced just like "Sign". Its software development operation is based in Barcelona, though it also has an office in London. The company mission is to improve the most-used interface on the planet – the keyboard interface.

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