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LuvBook S: Japan Gets Super-Cute “Hello Kitty” Laptop

Posted: 25 Nov 2011 01:36 AM PST

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We have covered the one or the other Hello Kitty gadget in the past, but it’s been a while since the last notebook featuring the popular cartoon cat. But now Japan’s Mouse Computer is selling the so-called LuvBook S, [JP], an 11.6-inch laptop with Hello Kitty all over it. It has been co-developed with Hello Kitty maker Sanrio and luxury goods maker Swarovski.

Swarovski designed the body of the laptop (the Hello Kitty face and heart you see below is made of about 1,100 Swarovski stones):

These are the three different wall papers buyers can expect:

Screensaver and box:

Spec-wise, the LuvBook S features an 11.6-inch LCD with 1,366×768, an Intel Core i3-2330M CPU (2.20GHz), a 500GB HDD, 4GB memory, Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0+HS, a 1.3MP web cam, a USB 3.0 slot, two USB 2.0 slots, an SD card interface, and an HDMI port. The LuvBook S runs on Windows 7 Home Premium (64bit/SP1).

Mouse Computer has already started selling the device in Japan (price: US$900). Visit specialized sites like the Japan Trend Shop or Flutterscape if you really want to get one shipped outside Japan.

Chrome Getting Native Gamepad, Webcam, And WebRTC Support In Early 2012

Posted: 24 Nov 2011 12:30 PM PST


It’s not always easy to tell when Chrome has been updated, and at any rate the changes aren’t always significant enough to even wonder about it. But a pair of features worth caring about are user-bound come early 2012, according to Google developer advocate Paul Kinlan, who spoke recently at the Develop conference in Liverpool.

The conference is focused on game development, so it’s no surprise that the features are also game-centric. First, there will be plug-and-play gamepad, webcam, and microphone support in Chrome, and second, the nascent real time communication protocol WebRTC will begin to be implemented as well. This opens the door for seamless video chat and conceivably OnLive-like gaming services.

It’s not as if there are already tons of games and applications waiting to take advantage of gamepads and WebRTC. And while it would extend the capabilities of Chromebooks, for instance, so it would extend the capabilities of any netbook or desktop running Chrome. Still, making the browser platform natively support peripherals is an important step towards making it less of an application layer and more of a primary OS layer.

Replacing the driver layer always introduces all sorts of complications, so it’s no surprise that this hasn’t been properly implemented yet. A passthrough from the OS drivers and device managers has been the standard, and this may take a while to supplant. But if it works, it works, and no one will care whether it’s Microsoft, Apple, Logitech, Adobe, Google, or Halliburton making their webcam work. All they want to do is video chat with their kids.

Kinlan also said that an OnLive-type streaming video/game service is in the works at Google, which should come as no surprise. Google + integration is almost a certainty as well: “Blank is playing Modern Warfare 3! Click here to watch. Click here to rent.” Naturally the hardest part of this service would be the licensing agreements, in which OnLive and others have a long head start. Servers Google has. It’s content they need.

“First quarter” is as specific as Kinlan got, and it’s fairly early to make those determinations anyway, so no doubt we’ll be hearing more when we are nearer the release date.

2011 Holiday Gift Guide: Laptops Are A Geek’s Best Friend

Posted: 24 Nov 2011 11:09 AM PST


When it comes to gift-giving, there are a few presents that siimply go above and beyond. Getting a first car on your sixteenth birthday (if you’re so lucky) is one of those moments, and some young couples are even lucky enough to get a house as a wedding present. But after a house and a car, a brand new laptop is probably the best gift you can get. We’ve compiled a list of notebooks ranging in price from $839 to starting points of $1,999, so there should be something here for everyone.

Without any further ado, here are some of our recommendations if you’re looking to get your loved one a new notebook.

Acer’s Aspire S3 Ultrabook

I’m actually typing this post on an S3 as we speak, and I must say it’s a pleasant, comfortable little notebook. The first thing you should know is that this is one of, if not the first computers to fall in line with each of Intel’s ultrabook requirements (like being under .83 inches thick, having at least a 5-hour battery life, employment of Intel’s rapid start technology, and a sub-$1000 price tag), meaning you’d be getting your loved one the first in an entirely new category of Windows-powered laptops.

The S3 Ultrabook is powered by a Core i5 processor, packs 4BG of on-board memory, and combines a spinning hard drive with an SSD for speed performance and greater memory. It’s super thin, at just .51-inches thick and weighs just 2.94 pounds, which you’ll surely notice the first time you pick this little guy up. The 13.3-inch screen isn’t amazing by any account, but with a 1366×768 resolution at 450-nits it gets the job done.

You can pick up the Acer S3 Ultrabook for the low price of $839.99.

Apple MacBook Air (Thunderbolt):

If the S3 ever had a competitor, it would be the new MacBook Air. In fact, the MacBook Air is seemingly the inspiration for the entire sub-category, so if you’re in a Mac state of mind (or are ready to convert), look no further. With its unibody aluminum construction, waist line of .11 inches at its thinnest point (.68 inches at its thickest), and new LED backlit island-style keyboard, the MacBook Air simply can’t be beat in terms of design.

Plus, you’ll have between 64GB and 256GB of flash storage (2GB and 4GB internal) depending on the model with either a 1.6GHz or 1.7GHz dual-core Core i5 processor. The Air comes in both 11.6- and 13.3-inch models, with the 11-inch model forfeiting an SD card slot and both models sporting USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt ports.

Configurations start at $999 and go all the way up to $1599.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1

This 13-inch laptop looks and feels about as corporate as you can get. It’s basically a wedge-shaped black box measuring just .65 inches thick at its thinnest point, with sharp corners and a soft-touch finish. It also happens to be the most rugged of the laptops we’re recommending, so if your loved one is prone to spills or clumsiness in any form, this may be your winner. With a water-shedding LED backlit keyboard and Corning Gorilla glass on the display, it’d be a task to destroy this thing. I’ve seen it attempted, first hand.

As far as the guts are concerned, the ThinkPad X1 can be configured with Intel’s Core i3, i5, and i7 processors, and has the same 1366×768 resolution as the S3′s display. Again, like the S3, Lenovo traded out a matte display for a highly reflective, and thus less viewable, one. Still, Dolby speakers produce more than enough volume for even the hardiest of partiers, while Intel’s integrated 3000 HD graphics helped keep things crisp in the entertainment department.

All in all, this is a great option for the laptop gifter starting at $1,349.

Sony Vaio Z

It is here that we venture into pricey territory, but not without extra luxury and performance. The Sony Vaio Z combines a super slim design with powerful graphics and processing in the form of a 2.7GHz Core i7 processor, Intel HD 3000 Graphics, and an AMD Radeon 6630M GPU built in to the included docking station. Oh right, there’s a non-optional Kindle-sized docking station (as in, included in that high price) which features that AMD Radeon GPU and a Blu-ray drive, as well as some extra ports.

The 13-inch Vaio Z has way more processing power, but looks and feels like a competitor to the MacBook Air measuring just .7 inches thick. Of course, you get a little extra heft when you add the optional battery slice, which nearly doubles its five and a half hour battery life. It has an impressive 1920×1080 pixel resolution, along with a 1,600×900 resolution option.

Unfortunately, these high-end specs come at a high-end price, with models starting at $1999.

Dell Alienware M18X Gaming Laptop

Whenever I look at this beast, which is taking up the majority of my desk space at the moment, I can’t help but feel like some sort of all-powerful, futuristic planet conquerer. The M18X is huge, for one thing, but just sexy as hell with a highly customizable back-lit keyboard, back-lit front grills and a Space Black matte anondized aluminum chassis. The display is a solid 18.4-inch 1920×1080 WLED display that I’ve simply replaced my TV with for the time being. Yep, it’s that good.

On the inside things get no less impressive, with Intel Core i7 quad-core processors ranging between 2.2GHz and an overclocked 4.0GHz, between 4GB and 32GB of on-board memory, and the choice between a 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce 560M GPU, dual 1.5GB NVidia GeForce SLI-enabled 560M GPUs, and dual 2GB Nvidia GeForce SLI-enabled 580M GPUs. There are also dual AMD Radeon graphics card options.

That said, things can get painfully expensive with the lowest configuration going for $1999 up to a dual AMD Radeon HD 6990M graphics card, 4GHz Core i7 dual-core processor-powered model for $4,560. A truly generous gift to say the least, but one that will surely go over well in the brownie points department.

Check out the rest of our 2011 Holiday Gift Guide here.

Dream Come True: Ice Cream Sandwich Comes To The HTC G1, Unofficially

Posted: 24 Nov 2011 11:06 AM PST


HTC’s G1, the first Android phone, had a long and interesting life until it was retired last year, and although I loved the phone, I’ll be the first to admit that being limited to Android 1.6 was kind of a disappointment. Naturally modders had their way with it, but development slowed down long ago in favor of newer and more popular phones.

But today, in a feat of nostalgia and hacking skills, XDA-Dev poster Jcarrz1 has made a working AOSP port of the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, for the venerable G1. It may not extend the life of many phones out there (most have been long since abandoned, though not mine), but definitely demonstrates the flexibility of the platform.

Of course, with a lot of work, you could probably get Ubuntu to run on the G1, or Windows 95. But Really, this is a very pleasant development. It’s amazing to think that the G1′s paltry 528MHz processor and 256MB of RAM (paltry compared to modern phones, anyhow) can run a mobile OS designed to debut on one of the most powerful mobile devices out there right now, the Galaxy Nexus.

Naturally not all is well in G1 town. This is just an AOSP port, not a fully customized ROM, and is labeled as “Alpha 1,” which should give you an idea of the state of the thing. Wifi and Bluetooth don’t work, no doubt owing to incompatibility with the wireless chipset used, and a number of hardware features are unsupported, like some buttons and lighting controls. And of course it runs like a dog.

On the other hand, the browser is apparently snappy, calling and SMS work, and interestingly, using the trackball produces a little cursor like a mouse’s. This last detail, if it’s not just a holdover from debugging, indicates ICS will have support for external pointing devices, since few if any phones include a trackball or trackpad any more (though the pointer does feature in Google TV and the Asus Transformer and is in the ICS settings, as commenters note).

What’s next? Now that basic compatibility has been shown, a custom ROM with unnecessary stuff snipped and better support for the G1 hardware will probably appear in the next couple weeks. Thanks to Jcarrz1 for his hard work.