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Up To 30 Gbps: New Chip Enables Record-Breaking Wireless Data Transmission Speed

Posted: 22 Nov 2011 03:21 AM PST

rohm wireless chip

It looks like we can expect faster wireless connections in the near future: Japanese electronic parts maker Rohm yesterday announced [JP] it has developed a chip that reached a wireless data transmission speed of 1.5 gigabits per second in experiments, the highest level ever. And according to the company, even 30Gbps will be possible in the future.

The semi conductor device uses terahertz waves for data transmission, has a micro antenna attached to it and is 2cm long and 1cm high (size of the module). Rohm developed the technology in cooperation with a research team at Osaka University.

According to Japanese business daily The Nikkei, Rohm expects the new chip to cost just “several hundred yen” to produce (100 Yen currently translate to US$1.30). By way of comparison: the terahertz-based wireless chips out there now cost “several million yen”, are about 20cm square and reach a top speed of just 0.1Gbps, The Nikkei says.

Rohm plans to start mass-producing the new chips in three to four years.

SmartPal VII: A Humanoid That Can Be Remote-Controlled Via Kinect (Video)

Posted: 22 Nov 2011 02:03 AM PST

Picture 2

We’ve shown you many Kinect-based hacks and applications over the past months, and here is a new one from Japan: major robot maker Yaskawa has developed a humanoid that can be remote-controlled using a Kinect interface. Dubbed SmartPal VII, the telepresence robot can be used to communicate with other people over a distance or even help them cleaning up rooms, for example (by controlling the robot’s arms using Kinect).

Yaskawa explains:

This robot resembles a person, so it has many degrees of freedom. We’ve given it technology that lets people utilize that freedom easily, just by moving their hands, while the robot itself considers how to move its hand, back, and trolley in optimal ways.

SmartPal VII runs on wheels and is equipped with a gyro sensor, improved wrists and arms (the previous version was shown in 2007), a set of touch sensors, an infrared sensor in its head, and a stereo camera with pan tilt.

This video (in English, shot by Diginfo TV) provides more insight:

Apple May Have Won The PC War… By Losing The Windows Battle

Posted: 22 Nov 2011 01:44 AM PST


What exactly is a PC? That question is likely to become a hot topic over the next few years.

Originally, we thought of PCs as the Apple II or then the IBM PC. They were machines that had to sit on a desk because, while significantly smaller than a mainframe, they were still big and bulky. They had large monitors, boxy bases, and big keyboards. The original Macintosh attempted to make this footprint a bit smaller and the package more compact, but the IBM clones won the day. Windows won the day. PCs by Compaq and HP led to machines by Gateway and Dell. Boxy bases were joined by massive towers. Bigger seemed better. Small monitors were replaced by huge monitors. Then something changed.

While laptops had existed in various forms for years, by the mid 2000s, the prices, performance, and size made them viable “desktop replacements”. They were different enough from traditional PCs that they had their own name, and people thought of them differently. But eventually, as they started to dominate the market, people just began thinking of laptops as PCs as well. They were, after all, personal computers.

Now we’re in the midst of another new age. People are now carrying around computers in their pockets, called smartphones. But those aren’t considered PCs. Instead, they’re considered descendants of the original mobile phones. The truth is that they’re closer in just about every way to a personal computer — in fact, they may be the most personal computers ever. But they look more like phones, so we consider them phones — even as people make fewer and fewer actual phone calls on them.

And now this line is being further blurred by the rise of the tablet. Cosmetically, it’s almost like a PC screen merged with a smartphone. People have still been very hesitant to call this a PC. That included Steve Jobs, whose iPad dominates the market. Jobs instead thought of the iPad (and the iPhone) as ushering in the “Post-PC” era. He did not want to lump his new devices together with the PC world he had long since lost.

But is that right? Again, if anything, these machines seem more personal than the personal computers of yesteryear. To some, we’re simply arguing cosmetics. The iPad isn’t a PC because it doesn’t look like a typical computer. Of course, neither did a laptop to most people back in the day. Others argue that since devices like the iPad can’t do quite as much as a traditional computer, it’s not a PC. But it’s silly to think that this won’t change over time. The lines will continue to blur.

That’s why I agree with British research firm Canalys’ decision to include tablet sales alongside PC sales in their new report. That’s going to piss some people off because the combination has them projecting that Apple will become the top PC vendor by the middle of next year. If their data is right, Apple will unseat HP to take the crown.

That statement is amazing when you consider that just 15 years ago, Apple nearly went out of business. And just 5 to 10 years ago, they still had single digit market share in the PC space. But that may have actually helped them pull off this stunning comeback. Because they didn’t have the baggage that other PC makers had, they were free to re-invent the wheel — the personal computer — with their iOS devices. Because Apple lost the PC battle to Windows in the 1990s, they may end up winning the personal computing war.

Again, not everyone will agree over this classification of the iPad as a PC. But the whole classification system is really nothing more than marketing (which Jobs also clearly knew). Who cares what the computer looks like or what category it falls in? What matters is what it does and who is using it.

Other numbers released today by eMarketer are staggering. By 2014, they believe there will be close to 100 million U.S. tablet users (the vast majority using an iPad). Meanwhile, HP reported their quarterly earnings today. The traditional PC numbers continue to fall. Things are bleak enough that HP had said they were going to sell off their PC business entirely (though they ultimately decided against that after a CEO change).

Things are crazier still when you look at the numbers from a bottom-line perspective. Apple is the juggernaut making far more profit than anyone else in the industry. We’re arguing semantics about the meaning of the term “PC”, but doesn’t this matter more? Shouldn’t the most successful PC vendor be aligned with the most successful company in the space? Otherwise, who cares who is winning the “PC War”? Great, some guys losing money sold more desktop PCs than Apple last quarter. Does that mean anything of any significance other than showing that the traditional PC business is a shitty one to be in right now?

One high profile person who does believe that tablets should be labeled at PCs? Steve Ballmer, as Nick Wingfield reminds us on Bits today. But Ballmer wants us to buy that so he has a justification for putting Windows on these machines. He doesn’t seem to realize and/or care that by helping to unify the personal computing space, he’s eroding his company’s own dominance.

Apple is set to become the top personal computer maker in the world. They’ll never win the desktop PC battle, but who cares? That fight hasn’t mattered for years.

Daily Crunch: Invoke

Posted: 22 Nov 2011 01:00 AM PST

Samsung And Google Still Talking Google TV, Won’t Launch At CES Anyway

Posted: 21 Nov 2011 06:23 PM PST


Uh-oh. Samsung and Google are still in talks regarding its upcoming Google TV offering. Reuters is reporting that Samsung’s president indicated that the two companies are in “late-stage talks” and that Samsung’s devices will launch in early 2012, just not at CES like it was previously thought.

Google has been working with Samsung for sometime now. In fact Samsung demonstrated a Google TV companion device at last year’s CES. Here’s a demo and the press release. But here we are, almost a full year later and Samsung has still yet to release a model, which in retrospect, was probably for the best. Isn’t that right, Logitech?

Reuters also reports that Sammy’s models will be different from the “those of competitors.” This begs a question, though: How will it be different?

There are currently three mainstream Google TV products available: the Logitech Revue, the Sony Internet TV Blu-ray Player and the Sony Internet TV. The Logitech is a simple set-top box with a full size QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard is great for serious typing. I wrote the majority of TechCrunch’s original Google TV review directly on the device. Sony took a different route. Both of its models use a Playstation-style controller. One version is a Blu-ray Player while the other is a HDTV with Google TV directly baked in. The three models seem to cover all the hardware variations available.

The only logical difference could be in a custom user interface. Google TV is essentially Honeycomb reskinned for a larger screen. If Samsung wants their models to stand out — and they usually do — perhaps they turned to the same engineers that designed its current line of Internet TVs. Samsung’s Smart TVs have been doing the app dance for several years now. The platform already has a modest app development community and the amount of downloaded apps surpassed 2 million last January. Samsung isn’t likely to abandon one already seemingly successful platform for a struggling one.

But the talks aren’t done yet. Something could fall through. Samsung clearly doesn’t mind waiting until the time is right. Google TV needs Samsung more than Samsung needs Google TV.

HP’s Failed webOS Experiment Cost Them $3.3 Billion, But What’s Next?

Posted: 21 Nov 2011 03:42 PM PST


We knew that HP’s gamble on webOS was an expensive one, but thanks to the company’s Q4 and full-year financials, we’re finally getting a feel for just how dearly the webOS experiment cost them. This past year, the company lost a staggering $3.3 billion thanks to their most recent foray into the mobile space.

I know I’m not the first to say this, nor will I be the last, but one word comes to mind: Ouch.

HP’s financial results also reveal that the TouchPad fire sale netted HP $200 million in revenue, though the tablets were sold below cost. It certainly explains why the company seems intent on using their remaining TouchPads to drive sales across their other product lines. It’s perhaps a fitting end for the TouchPads — the HP tablet that didn’t sell was used to support a division of HP’s business they nearly sold.

I was a very big fan of webOS (the Pre was the first phone I ever sat in line for), and to see it lose support so unceremoniously was actually sort of painful. Frankly speaking it was unlikely that webOS would have ever become a major player in the market, but it still embodied a few concepts (cards/multitasking, for one) that deserve to live on. And live on they may, if HP can decide what the next step is.

As Greg pointed out a few months ago, webOS isn’t completely dead yet — rather, it’s stuck in OS limbo while HP decides what to do with it. Earlier reports suggested that HP would sell off webOS to whomever wanted it most, but newly-installed CEO Meg Whitman said it was important to make “the right decision, not the fast decision,” and held off on the sale. Now that we understand how much webOS cost HP, I’m surprised HP didn’t cut webOS free as soon as they could, but the waiting game continues and we’re still left without answers.

So, with the year’s numbers on the books, HP has a decision to make: should they go ahead and sell webOS? Or should they take the “expensive bet” and give webOS another go? Or should they pursue some other unseen option? Meg Whitman said that answers would come within the span of a few weeks, and that time is running out. What’s it going to be, Meg?

Hands On With The Wimm One Data Device

Posted: 21 Nov 2011 01:28 PM PST


We first talked about the Wimm One in August, noting that no wearable device has ever made sense to me, at least in watch format. I believe I may need to eat my words. The Wimm is a clever little module – the watch band is removable – that runs simple applets. It runs a stripped down version of Android and includes a fairly complete SDK for programming little widgets. In this incarnation, it includes a stopwatch, worldtime clock, and a few other treats. The watch drops into transflexive LCD mode when it needs to conserve power.

As it stands, the Wimm One is still a platform and I’d be hard-pressed to suggest you drop everything and develop for it. However, for the size, weight, and power, I think the device is outstanding and quite unique. I could see it as a platform for smaller devices although I’d worry about general adoption of the technology. This is more likely to be bought and assimilated into a bigger company than stand on its own.

That said, feel free to check it out if you’re looking for a small, wireless development platform.

Estimate: 90 Million U.S. Tablet Users By 2014; iPads Drop To 68% Share

Posted: 21 Nov 2011 11:08 AM PST

emarketer tablet estimates

By the end of the year, there will be an estimated 34 million tablet computer users in the U.S., according to new numbers out today from eMarketer. Of those, 28 million (or 83 percent) will be using an iPad.

The iPad still rules the tablet world, jumping nearly 160 percent from an estimated 13 million users last year. By 2014, there will be an estimated 61 million iPad users in the U.S. But the iPad’s share of total tablet users will drop to 68 percent. The total number of tablet users in 2014 is estimated to be 90 million.

While eMarketer doesn’t break out numbers for any tablet other than the iPad, the obvious question is how much of those remaining 30 million tablet users will be on Kindle Fires or Nooks. Those two seem to be the strongest contenders right now precisely because they come in at a lower price point and are addressing a more limited media consumption set of scenarios.

I should note that these estimates are for numbers of users, not devices sold. One iPad or Kindle Fire can be shared by multiple people in a household. For instance, my wife has already absconded with my Kindle Fire, so I guess we count as two users, although I don’t have high hopes of actually getting my hands on it anytime soon. (when she puts it down, my kids grab it to play Fruit Ninja). So I might just have to get my own. I think over time we will see more households with multiple tablets, just like we do today with multiple laptops.

The Future Of Foxconn: The Birds

Posted: 21 Nov 2011 10:43 AM PST


At first I thought the birds in the trees at the Foxconn’s largest plant in Shenzhen, China were fake. They sang so sweetly that I was sure my hosts had planted speakers for my benefit – a sort of Potemkin aviary high in the branches.

The plant, called Foxconn City, is one of Foxconn’s 26 major and minor factories around the world. Built by founder Terry Gou in 1974, the City was the first of the many sprawling Foxconn complexes and covers three square kilometers. It is home to over 400,000 workers, many of whom live in university-style dorms on the Foxconn campus. It is reported to be China’s largest private employer and holds a place in the Western mind as the home to a new form of economic slavery, an eternal boogeyman that haunts the fever dreams of anti-techophiles. It’s also a place where thousands of young employees – some completing their degrees while they work through school, others simply trying to escape the grinding poverty of their home districts, and still others hoping for a leg up in China’s wild economy – come to assemble the items that surround us. Here they make our PCs, our MP3 players, our routers. Here they make our laptops, our cellphones, and our cameras.

In the past year, only one other journalist has been allowed past Foxconn’s gates to see the factory, which is why I thought they had brought the birds (or at least fake Bose birds) out for my benefit. What better allegory for the doings of a secretive, destructive force for evil than fake birds in fake trees?

“Are those real,” I asked my guide, a PR representative from Burson-Marsteller hired to smooth over Foxconn’s image in the West.

“What?” she asked.

“Those birds, are they real?” The moment I said it I noticed one flit from one branch to another. They were real.

Having established that there was no ruse, no trickery, I began to see Foxconn City for what it really was: a place that made things. It was, by any standard, amazingly large. Wide avenues ran the length and breadth of the factory and along the main thoroughfare leading to the gate was a sort of Foxconn strip mall complete with stores selling food and sundries. There were two electronics stores on the strip, one modelled on their Ten Thousand Galloping Horses plan, a sort of Mom-and-Pop mail-order store familiar from the days of Sears catalog stores and another, larger IT Mall-style store that sells electronics and household goods. At a crossroads there is a red marble fountain set into the concrete. It is topped by a spinning marble sphere – about a meter around – that spins freely thanks to a flow of water that is two tenths of a millimetre thick.

This main drag, a sort of meeting place/cafe/Main Street would be familiar to anyone who has gone to a college in the US. The streets – and the paths between buildings – are lined with lush trees and there are dark green lawns with little signs warning away errant feet. All over the plant young people walk from building to building. They wear sweaters and jeans even in the near tropical heat. It’s cold on the plant floor, kept cool to protect workers and the items they’re assembling. They walk nonchalantly even as cars roll through their midst. This is their turf.

We began at the employee assistance center. In this building, below the employee lounge, there is a large waiting room where a few employees doze quietly. There is a bank of receptionists here, and they check people in for help. There are eighteen counselors on-site who are trained to assist in psychological counseling.

What kind of help is available? This office offiers a hotline for employees to report problems and chat about personal concerns. It also offers counseling in private sessions with trained mental health specialists. It is available to all employees and, although the phone bank looked lively when I was visiting, the waiting room was empty.

“This is for employees who are unhappy at home or have problems with their relationships,” said our guide.

In 2002 Foxconn opened cybercafes for their workers – large, open rooms full of computers and lounge chairs as well as private rooms for couples and folks who want to phone home in a quiet environment. They play movies here and employees can read or nap or, as evidenced by most of the occupied screens, play video games and watch TV.

The dorms had rooms for four men or women each, with a small, closed balcony for smoking. Shoes were piled up in the bars of the balcony and one nice selection of books – management, calculus, university-level english and economics – lining their small shelves. It was a college dorm room minus the fun. There were no Mountain Dew can pyramids, just the bare necessities and a few comforts.

Since the rash of suicides at Foxconn plants two years ago, the company is changing its paternalistic attitude towards its workers and offering assistance rather than mandates. For more than a decade most of the workers here ate, slept, and socialized on campus. They did not leave – not because they were kept here, but because the surrounding area was fairly drab and the ride into Shenzhen proper after a long day of work was daunting. Instead, Foxconn became their lives.

“The first change at the factory came after an employee survey that found many of the young people value a sense of freedom,” said Louis Woo, special assistant to the chairman and head of Foxconn’s burgeoning retail operations. Woo is a Stanford grad with a degree in industrial engineering and a PhD in economics. He has been tasked by the CEO to speak to foreign press, a job that he does not relish but does with aplomb.

“In the past we tended to be, I think, more holistic: we take care of your food, we take care of your housing, we take care of everything. And so, that means everything is arranged by the company. In the last year, I think in the sense the workers are different and no matter how good our intentions were had in the past, it may not be what the new generation people want.”

The neighborhood around Foxconn City is now growing. Small restaurants have popped up and there are large apartment buildings going up to house the workers. There are places to go now, and things folks can do on their off time. There is a pool below the dorms although I learned that it wasn’t very popular, even on weekends. I only saw a few night shift employees wandering the dorm halls and rec centers of Foxconn. Most were sleeping during the day, getting ready to head into the factories at night. It is a bleak existence, to be sure, but for many it’s a living.

In order to assuage the drudgery, the company has given the the workers – who now make about 1300 yuan or $240 a month – a small stipend to live off campus.

“So after that conversation we allowed you to live wherever you want to live. If you want to live outside of the factory or you don't want to eat at the factory, you can go outside and eat.”

“Young candidates want to mix, they want to mix with other people, they want to be part of the community, they don't want to be stuck on campus,” he said.

Although we will talk about the problems at the factory later this week, something struck me as I wandered through this factory: it is, in short, just like every factory I’ve visited. The problems associated with Chinese manufacturing, the horror stories, the sad-eyed workers depressed by the monotony of the job were no where to be seen – and I looked, at least in the day I spent on site – and to say that this is a bad place to work is to be naive about the truths of modern manufacturing.

Then there were the 2010 suicides. Fourteen high-profile suicides in the space of a year turned all eyes to the company. Their reaction was threefold: the installation of the “suicide nets,” a request to sign a “no suicide” pledge, and a slight raise from about 940 yuan. There have been no further publicized attempts in the past year, a fact that I’m sure makes Foxconn management sigh in relief. Slowly, the company is digging out from this PR nightmare and their reactions to the tragedy are now muted and respectful.

But still the nets were there, the “means prevention devices” designed to catch people who jump, hanging like fishing tackle from every building. They put them up when the first jumpers took their last looks around and they remain up, often clotted with stray leaves. They are a grim reminder how the human mind, seemingly trapped in a gilded cage, can react. As Joel Johnson wrote in his fascinating commentary in Wired:

It rings as unalloyed munificence—until a man puts his foot on the edge of a roof, looks across the campus full of trees and swimming pools and coffee shops, and steps off into nothing.

If Foxconn has been anything in the past half-decade it’s reactive. For decades the company could depend on a workforce that was provincial and willing to work in a paternalistic environment of long hours, free housing, and three squares a day. However, the globalization of entertainment and what amounts to a booming economy in China has made the Chinese worker considerably more mobile – although not by Western standards. There is always another factory looking for workers and the cybercafe and the kitchens and the handsome campus is more an inducement to stay put. I’ve visited factories that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. In comparison, this is an office park in Virginia, manicured, full of people toiling away towards a common goal.

This is the first part of a series of four articles I’ll write about Foxconn and its place in history. Manufacturing’s long evolution from piecework to the assembly line, from the ateliers of the great watch and furniture makers to the grime and guff of the Industrial Revolution, from the agrarian to the cosmopolitan, is writ large in China. One expat remembers a time when the worst employees were sent outside of the factory wearing an embarrassing sign when he or she ruined a product. If Foxconn tried that today, a thousand cellphone cameras would wing the shots across the world in minutes. The eyes of the world are on Foxconn, and it is evolving.

To state the obvious, the world isn’t fair. Factories like Foxconn City shouldn’t exist. There should be no reason employees should stand for ten hours a day, six days a week, to manufacture an iPad. But, in fairness, Foxconn sees its own place in the world changing as we speak. I’ll address these changes my final piece, but it is clear that the company doesn’t expect to be in the manufacturing business forever nor does it expect its employees to always stay on the line. The truth is that the sunset of the human worker is upon us and as Foxconn and other factories begin replacing their employees with robots, the societal changes that will take place could be striking.

When I was a kid my dad worked in logistics for the Department of Defense. We would go to visit him on the base in Columbus and he’d show us the warehouses where veterans and civilians would mingle with the military employees, pulling and shipping parts to bases around the world. Over the course of his career he went from pushing papers to tapping on a green screen terminal to logging into a logistics system so rich and so complex that it took teams of IT staff just to maintain it. The pick and ship methods were slowly dying, replaced by automated systems. His warehouse in 1979 was as different from a modern shipping facility like Amazon as the mechanical calculator manufacturers of turn-of-the-century England are to Foxconn.

Foxconn has a place in the economic conversation. Not because it is a huge employer and not because it abuses its power. It has a place because it showed us the future of manufacturing and arguably improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of employees over they years. It provides goods at a low price to a hungry group of neophiles who jump into line whenever the latest gadget is announced. It redefined desire by making everything accessible.

This green, tree-lined campus hides little. Manufacturing is just that – the methodical assembly of items for shipment to sales points around the world. There is nothing glamorous in it and many cultures, our own included, understood that and the resulting backlash pushed the process from our shores to other shores. Foxconn is the apex of that movement. The company takes some of the best minds in China and assesses what can be done to make workers more efficient. Once it was the offer of free housing and a captive workforce. Now it is the promise of entrepreneurship, education, and meals off-campus.

China is changing and Foxconn is changing. Where things go next – whether towards a rich, vibrant middle class or back into the dark ages – has a lot to do with how Foxconn and other factories like it weather the changes that are coming.

Foxconn is now becoming proactive. Looking beyond its lucrative contracts it sees a future past manufacturing and in distribution. Unlike Taiwan’s HTC, Foxconn doesn’t want to be a brand. They want to be a sales channel, grabbing some of the revenue that will surely flow from the Chinese middle class in the near future.

Until then, however, there is Foxconn City where men and women make the things we covet. There are no Wonka-esque secrets here, no fake birds, no smiling shills put up for my edification. This is just the 21st century, its seconds stamped out in a massive factory one transistor at a time.

This is part one of a four part series that will run this week about Foxconn. You can read the whole series here.

Tomorrow: 200 Pigs
Click to view slideshow.

Photojojo’s iPhone Lens Dial Ups Your Mobile Photography Game

Posted: 21 Nov 2011 10:14 AM PST


I’ll admit that I’m a middling photographer at best, but that doesn’t stop me from buying all sort of expensive gear. Photojojo’s new iPhone accessory appeals to that same sense of camera gear lust in me but on a slightly smaller scale. The iPhone Lens Dial is an iPhone case with three different lenses mounted on the back, so you’ll never have to go long without indulging your fisheye fixation.

Just snap your iPhone 4 or 4S into the Lens Dial’s matte black body, and you’ll have three different lenses at your disposal: a 0.7x wide angle, a 0.33x fish-eye, and a 1.5x telephoto. It’s pretty sturdy too — the Lens Dial is made out of aluminum, so in the event you drop it at least the phone inside should survive.

Photojojo has been making iPhone-friendly lenses for a while now, but they all required you to pop the lens off and stow them somewhere else when you were finished. The Lens Dial (as you may have guessed by the name) allows you to rotate between each lens as needed, and you’re welcome to leave the whole shebang on if you don’t mind lugging a brick around.

Part of the fun about using the iPhone as a camera is that it you get pretty impressive performance with a minimum of know-how. Photojojo’s Lens Dial adds some fun new capabilities to the iPhone’s already-solid camera, but it comes at a price: the Lens Dial will set customers back $249. Worth it? Tough call, but if you’re like me, you’re already searching the couch for loose change.

Google Drops The Price Of Chromebooks to $299 And Polishes The Interface

Posted: 21 Nov 2011 08:58 AM PST


Happy holidays, everyone! Yours Truly, the Google Chromebook team!

Google just announced several Chromebook updates that should wash away the holiday blues. First off, prices are dropping. Per a post at Google’s official blog, Chromebooks from both Acer and Samsung will be available starting at $299 “beginning this week.” That’s a $50 price drop on both the Acer AC700 and Samsung Series 5 models although some retailers are currently selling the Acer model at $299 already. No word on if the higher-priced, 3G models are getting a lower price, though.

Today’s Chromebook news also includes user interface updates. The platform now sports a new swanky log-in screen that simplifies the experience. The New Tab page also looks just like the revamped version found in the latest version of Google Chrome. The app and bookmark icons now take center stage while shortcuts like recently closed tabs are downplayed.

Google introduced its desktop OS in May of this year. The rethought operating system boots nearly instantly and features an experience completely around its web browser, Google Chrome. However, the notebooks have failed to make a huge splash in the marketplace mostly because of limited marketing and retail placement. Most consumers do not know they exist. But Google does hardware differently and this update shows that the platform isn’t dead (yet).

Chromebook retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy have yet to update their pricing — maybe they didn’t get the memo yet. If you have a little extra room in your holiday budget, the WiFi-only Samsung Series 5 now comes in black and retails for $349.

The Nook Tablet Gets Torn Apart For Fun And Profit

Posted: 21 Nov 2011 07:43 AM PST


The fine folks over at iFixit just posted their latest trademark teardown guide. This time around the victim is the brand new Nook Tablet. Much like its Kindle counterpart, the low-cost B&N tablet doesn’t hide anything all that surprising. It is, after all, just an upgraded Nook Color.

We won’t spoil all of iFixit’s findings but they found SanDisk memory, Hynix memory and that the pretty 7-inch IPS screen is manufactured by LG. However, the best part of the Nook Tablet’s innards is that the battery is labeled NOOKCOLOR even though the Nook Tablet’s battery life is rated 3.5 hours longer than its predecessor’s. All the glory deets are posted at iFixit.

The EXOdesk Is A Poor Man’s Microsoft Surface, But It’s Still Dripping With Multitouch Awesomeness (Video)

Posted: 21 Nov 2011 06:16 AM PST


Raise your hand if you want a Microsoft Surface for a desk? Everyone, right? Of course. It’s the hottest thing out of Redmond since this picture set. But they’re damn expensive. There’s no way I’d use one for my desk. I spilled coffee on my desk just 10 minutes ago. Instead, if I was a member of the 1%, I’d buy a Surface and hang it on the wall. So you know, it was safe from me and my offspring.

EXOpc has an alternative: the EXOdesk. It seems to have most of the Surface’s magic and it only costs $1,299. That’s within the price justification range of some of the 99 percenters!

The EXOdesk is set for a CES 2012 debut but the company just released this teaser video. Stick with it. The video gets exponentially more interesting. EXOpc says it will only cost $1,299 when it’s released next year. Of course they’re not stating the hardware chops of the screen or computer just yet. But it at least looks awesome. With the current Surface incarnation, the Sasmung SUR40, costing $8,400, the lower-priced EXOdesk seems like a fun device even if it’s not as capable. We’ll no doubt seek out the EXOdesk at CES but in the mean time check out the teaser below.