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NEC MEDIAS PP: Waterproof Android Phone With 4-Inch OLED Screen, 1700mAh Battery, Wireless Charging Support

Posted: 02 Dec 2011 04:05 AM PST

nec medias

Japanese mobile carrier NTT Docomo has announced [JP] it will start offering the Medias PP N-01D on December 9, the latest Android phone in NEC’s Medias smartphone series. And if NEC ever gets its act together regarding its internationalization plans, this pretty cool device might hit the US and other markets soon, too.

NEC is especially proud of the 1,700mmAH battery that’s built into the phone and promises about 630 hours of standby and 380 hours of talk time.

But this isn’t the only interesting spec – here’s a list of the main features of the Medias PP N-01D:

  • Android 2.3 as the OS
  • 4-inch OLED screen with 480×800 resolution
  • MSM8255 CPU (1.4GHz, single core)
  • wireless battery charging support
  • 8.1MP CMOS camera
  • 2GB internal memory
  • Bluetooth 4.0 with Bluetooth Low Energy support
  • Wi-Fi (tethering is supported)
  • DLNA support
  • e-wallet function
  • digital TV tuner
  • infrared connection
  • microSDHC card slot
  • water- and dust-proof body
  • size: 128×63×10.9mm, weight: 135g

Video: Anti-Sleep Apnea Robot Pillow

Posted: 02 Dec 2011 01:09 AM PST

robot pillow

Sleep apnea can be a big problem for people affected by the disorder, but there is help from Japan on the way. A team of researchers at Waseda University in Tokyo have developed a robot pillow that monitors the sleep of patients and helps them by touching the face or neck whenever it detects irregularities in the sleep cycle.

The pillow, which is dubbed Jukusui-kun, is shaped like a teddy bear. In Japan alone, about 2 million people are estimated to suffer from sleep apnea (out of a population of 128 million), meaning the target group is quite large.

Teruko Otani from the Jukusui-kun’s research group explains how the pillow works:

In this system, a pulse oxymeter, worn on the finger, measures oxygen concentration in the blood. Also, a microphone in the teddy bear picks up the sound of snoring. The data from these two devices is evaluated by a PC, and reflected in the signal sent to an actuator, so the actuator movement can be varied depending on the person’s condition. The actuator movement helps the person roll over in their sleep, and if their breathing is badly interrupted, it wakes the person up.

This video, shot by Diginfo TV (in English), shows the robot pillow in action:

Daily Crunch: Climb

Posted: 02 Dec 2011 01:00 AM PST

2011 Holiday Gift Guide: iPhone Accessories For Every Type

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 03:12 PM PST


Apple has sold over 17 million iPhones in this past quarter alone, so chances are that someone you’ll have to buy a holiday present for will already have one. Instead of the usual “cheesy card and sweater” combination, why not give them something that takes advantage of their constant electronic companion? Here are a few iPhone-friendly gift ideas to consider, all organized by personality type. Happy hunting!

For the rough-and-tumble type:

Take it from a guy who bought and broke an iPhone 4 on the same day: the iPhone 4/4S’s glass panels don’t play nice with concrete. That’s where the Otterbox Defender comes into play: combining a hard polycarbonate body with a silicon skin that wraps around it, the Defender is robust enough to keep up with even the most negligent users. Oh, and did I mention it comes in eight fetching color combinations?, $49.95

For the artists:

There are enough iPhone cases floating around on the internet to make your head spin. Instead of digging through countless options for a case in that one particular shade of puce, why not make one instead? Case-mate offers customers the ability to upload their own images and slap them onto the case of their choice, perfect for the artistically-inclined and the picky to boot. You can even be ironic like me and get an iPhone case emblazoned with HTC phones on it!, prices start at $35 depending on the style of case.

For the athletes:

If you’re anything like me — which is to say avid runner/prodigious sweater — then you’ll probably enjoy taking a pair of Sennheiser Adidas PMX 680is on your next excursion. They’re lightweight, have a water and sweat-resistant neckband, and sound rather good to boot. The “i” in this case refers to the iDevice specific model, which features a line-in remote for taking calls and finding just the right song in your “GET TOUGH” playlist. Just don’t plan on doing any bench presses with these things, because the neckband will get in the way mighty quick., $69.99

For the power-hungry:

The iPhone 4S’s battery has historically been a little shaky, but who wants to be tethered to a power outlet all day long? Mophie has been making external batteries/cases for years now, but those who would rather dodge the added heft should check out their Juice Pack Boost. It’s a small external battery that packs 2000mAh of juice, which more than enough to keep your iPhone chugging along until you can plug it in proper., $49.95

For the beach-goers:

If you’re fortunate enough to live where you won’t the next few months blanketed in perpetual cloud cover, check out Eton’s solar-powered battery case. It’s got a little of heft to it for sure, but that’s a small price to pay for a (very marginally) smaller electric bill, right? Alright, so the Mobius won’t be the best choice for every iPhone 4/4S owner, but for those of you who like lounging around in the sun will appreciate the juice this thing provides while you get that much-needed tan., $80

For the young (and young at heart):

No one’s too old to pilot a small, mechanized whirligig through the air, and Griffin’s Helo TC helicopter lets you do just that with your iPhone. After snapping your iPhone (any kind will do) into the included Flight Deck control mount, the Helo TC will leap into the air. Just be carefully to log a little bit of practice time first — the last thing to need to do is steer it headlong into a wall., $49.99

For the college student/party buff:

Jawbone’s pint-sized Bluetooth speaker can pump out some surprising sound and will fit in even the smelliest, most cramped dorm rooms. Jawbone pushes out software updates pretty frequently, and has added nifty features like LiveAudio mode to make tunes sound more immersive. Pair it up with a free JamChain, and you’ve got a mobile party — all that’s missing are the red Solo cups., $199.99

First Nvidia Tegra 3 Benchmarks Score The Quad-Core Chip Just Slightly Faster Than Apple’s A5

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 09:03 AM PST

Fight Club fightclub fight-club

Forget that specs do not matter for a minute. The first bit of competitive benchmarks of the Nvidia Tegra 3 are just now hitting thanks to the Asus Transformer Prime. Nvidia’s quad-core mobile platform will likely be the de facto chipset to power Ice Cream Sandwich tablets; it will be everywhere next year. Nvidia has long touted the Tegra 3′s processing power, stating that the platform will absolutely trounce all competitors including the aging dual-core Apple A5. That doesn’t seem to be the case though. Early benchmarks are stating the A5 keeps up just fine.

Hot Hardware and AnandTech both got their hands on a Transformer Prime tablet and ran it through their exhaustive tests including a number of benchmarks. In most tests the Tegra 3-powered Transformer bests the iPad 2, but only just slightly. Most of the benchmarks used test real world activities such as web browsing and JavaScript. However, graphic rendering was tested also tested and only when using GLBenchmark 2.1 does the Transformer Prime completely destroy the iPad 2. The A5 in the iPad 2 actually outpaces the Tegra 3 in BaseMark ES 2.0′s frame per second OpenGL test.

The tests do show that the Tegra 3 is a big improvement over the Tegra 2.

Of course these early benchmarks could be skewed in a number of ways. The benchmark mark software might not yet be optimized for the quad-core Tegra 3. GLBenchmark’s Android app was last updated in September. Also, there isn’t a benchmark yet available on both platforms that tests CPU performance. The Tegra 3′s quad-core setup will likely clobber the A5 when directly compared.

The Tegra 3′s rendering and OpenGL performance is just one part of the chip’s appeal. The quad-core chip actually features a fifth so-called companion core for low-level and background processing that will ultimately improve battery life. The Tegra 3 also offers developers a much more robust system, which will hopefully improve the overall Android ecosystem.

Once again, specs (and benchmarks) are becoming less meaningful. The average consumer doesn’t care about companion cores or Javascript performance. Simply stating that a tablet is powered by a powerful processor that’s easy on the battery should satisfy most. But the iPad once again wins if that same consumer is told Apple’s tablet features a just slightly less-power chip but ten times the amount of available apps. Content is still king.

Curly Cables, Where Have You Been All My Life?

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 07:07 AM PST

Screen shot 2011-12-01 at 10.00.09 AM

Some of my favorite “inventions” are the simple ones. The ideas that are so obvious that we overlook them entirely. This new Kickstarter project, the Curly Cable, falls squarely into that category. Honestly, why hasn’t this been created yet?

The Curly Cable is an iDevice charge/sync cord that looks an awful lot like the telephone cords of yore, when you were chained to the wall by a curly knotted 30-foot mess. I’m not actually old enough to have used one of these ancient wired phones, but I hear they used to come in a nice mustard yellow or avocado green. The Curly Cable, fitted in Apple white, is much less tangly, and gives you an extra few feet of leeway when using a plugged-in iPad or iPhone.

You’re already excited, I know. Why? Because we’ve all been there. You want to lay in bed and play a game or chat on the phone, but you have to hang your head off the edge or whip out a pair of headphones because your damn iPhone/iPad is almost down for the count in the battery department. It sucks.

But Curly Cable effectively fixes this issue by offering you an added 5 feet 10 inches (8 inches – 70 inches total) to conduct your iBusiness while plugged.

To get your very own Curly Cable, submit a $15 pledge (shipping included) through Kickstarter. $27 will get your two Curly Cables, while a super pledge of $400 will get you 40 Curly Cables.

5.47mm: Sharp’s Super-Thin CMOS Camera Module Paves Way For Thinner Smartphones

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 07:06 AM PST

sharp cmos

Smartphones are soon to become thinner: Sharp has developed a 1/3.2-inch CMOS camera module that’s just 5.47mm high, making it the thinnest module out there. The so-called RJ63YC100 features 12.1MP resolution, optical image stabilization and is specifically designed for use in handsets.

Sharp says it used “proprietary high-density packaging technology” to make the back-illuminated module as thin as possible. The device supports full HD video shooting and is sized at 11.0×11.0×5.47mm.

The good news is that the camera is ready for mass-production, which (according to Sharp) is scheduled to start in January (100,000 units per month). The company will ship the first samples to cell phone manufacturers tomorrow, at US$154 each.

Video: Japanese Robot Climbs Up And Down Ladders By Itself

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 06:18 AM PST

robot feat

We’re getting closer and closer to the Robocalypse: Osaka-based industrial equipment maker Muscle Corporation and a few other Japanese companies have developed a humanoid that can climb up (and down) ladders all by itself. Considering how hard it still is to create robots that can walk smoothly, this is quite an accomplishment.

The so-called “Dream Robo” was actually showcased last year during the Shanghai Expo. It stands 1.4m high, weighs about 30kg and moves with the help of five motors that are built into its body.

Muscle Corp.’s president Hirofumi Tamai explains how Dream Robo actually climbs walls:

For example, if the robot suspends itself and moves to the next step, first of all, it raises its right hand. Then, it rotates its back. Next, it raises the hand a bit more, returns its back to the previous position, and pulls the hand downward. The force needed to grasp the pipe is transmitted in the motor, and after the motor has grasped it properly, the next motor is instructed to raise the left hand. So the robot’s motion involves that kind of dialog between the motors.

This video, shot by Diginfo TV in Tokyo, provides more insight:

And this video is proof that Dream Robos can handle walls outside buildings, too:

Acer President: Ultrabooks To Cost $799-$899 In 2Q12, $499 in 2013

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 06:10 AM PST


Ultrabook book prices are dropping. A report surfaced a few days back sourcing supply chain partners that stated ultrabooks should decline in price by 5-10% early next year. Now, Acer’s president is on record saying he expects even deeper price reductions and at least models from his company will cost between $799-$899 by the second half of 2012. Company president Jim Wong even stated that he expects prices to hit $499 in 2013.

The low prices, he stated, will be in part thanks to the uptick in ultrabook shipments. Right now Acer ships 100,000 ultrabooks a month but sees a future where that number is between 250,000 and 300,000 units. Acer hopes to hit that goal by the end of 2011 but that could be tough with the current prices. However, once the company hits mass shipments, prices should organically fall even farther.

The first half of 2012 will make or break ultrabooks. Most PC makers will be shipping their second generation models en mass and will be looking for these models to perform well. If they show any sign of faltering, expect at least a few companies to pull back, which will likely cause the entire ultrabook movement to collapse like a human pyramid topped with a fat kid.

Barnes & Noble Reports Q2 Net Loss Of $6.6M, Says NOOK Is Now A $220 Million Business

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 05:54 AM PST


Barnes & Noble this morning reported sales and earnings for its second quarter ended October 29, 2011, and they’re a mixed bag. Total sales decreased slightly, from $1.9 billion to $1.89 billion, compared to the prior year.

The company posted a net loss of $6.6 million for the quarter, or $0.17 per share, as compared to a net loss of $12.6 million last year. This is below Wall Street expectations.

Physical book sales declined, Barnes & Noble says, offset by increases in NOOK products and positively affected by the liquidation of the remaining Borders stores. sales, meanwhile, increased a decent 17 percent over the prior year, from $177 million to $206 million.

Zooming in on its NOOK business, Barnes & Noble boasted about the successful kick-off for its NOOK Tablet.

The $249 device was introduced on November 7, 2011. In the first few weeks of launch, the company says the NOOK Tablet has become the fastest selling NOOK product in its history.

Says William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble:

"We expect to sell millions of devices during our third quarter, adding to the millions of current NOOK customers."

B&N further said that the consolidated NOOK business across all of the company's segments, including sales of digital content, device hardware and related accessories, increased 85 percent in the second quarter to $220 million, on a comparable sales basis.

The company also says it plans to invest more heavily in customer acquisition activities to fuel NOOK digital growth. However, as a result, B&N expects full year EBITDA to be at the lower end of the previously issued range of $210 million to $250 million.