Wireless Universal-Serial-Bus (W-USB)  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in ,

The rapid pace at which computing technology advances often makes us fantasize about ‘the next big thing’! Frequently, the fantasy becomes reality. Let’s find out if it has happened with USB.
The Universal Serial Bus (USB) came into existence at a time when our world was ruled by cable clutter, driver issues and constant computer reboots. It took the world by storm, and now almost every peripheral under the Sun works with USB. Now, after a few incremental upgrades to the standard, there’s a new technology brimming with the potential to change the way we think about computer peripherals once again. This technology aims to get entirely rid of the messy web of cables behind our desktop PCs. It promises to eliminate the need for the physical contact of peripherals with computers. The nearly-decade-old USB standard is about to get a facelift. Yes, it’s about to go wireless! That’s right folks, by the end of this year we will witness the launch of the wireless USB (WUSB) standard. With this interface, we will soon be able to use our future peripheral devices such as digital cameras, printers, scanners, multi-function devices, and many other gizmos without any wires at all. While the technology will boast the same specifications as USB 2.0, it will not use any cables. Currently, we’re aware of wireless solutions such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and WiMAX that play their own roles in fulfilling our computing needs. However, WUSB can give Bluetooth technology a marathon for its money as it is based on a similar principle. However, it’s too early to pass that judgement—only hands-on experience will give us a completely clear and practical picture. The most obvious distinction between Bluetooth and USB is—you guessed it right, a cable! WUSB is here to eradicate that niggling difference. Of course there are other significant technical aspects that differentiate the two (more on that later). First, let’s get a taste of the technology and find out what it has to offer.

What is Wireless USB (WUSB)?:

Using WUSB instead of USB is somewhat like using a cordless phone instead of a fixed landline phone. It’s a peer-to-peer data transmission method which can be useful and hassle-free, because it offers the speeds of the wired technology and convenience of the wireless. It works somewhat like Bluetooth, wherein two devices are paired for secure communication. The main difference is that WUSB will work at a considerably higher speed. WUSB works on the Wimedia Alliance’s UWB platform and is capable of transmitting data at a speed of 480 Mbps up to a distance of 3 meters, and at a speed of 110 Mbps up to a distance of 10 meters. Its frequency ranges from 3.1 to 10.6 GHz.

Here’s how the technology will work:

According to the USB-IF association, there will be two methods to establish a wireless connection between a device and the host/computer. The first method is to connect the device physically to the PC for configuration and later re-establish the connection wirelessly. In the second method, WUSB-compliant devices flash a numeric code which is then entered on the host computer to help pair the two devices. If a device does not have an LCD display, the host has to search for it and approve it to establish a successful connection. This also applies to handheld devices such as PDAs that might not have a keypad—they too will have to be searched for to detect a wireless connection.

USB over the air:
Wireless connectivity to nearby devices will become astonishingly easy with this development. Frequent flyers and business executives will now be able to connect their laptops to a nearby printer, scanner, or any other storage device in a jiffy. This technology will also ensure security as a device will exchange data only with the computer it is connected to at any given time. As discussed earlier, one can pair a device to the computer and map a key (number) that will act as a pass code to prevent a security breach. One of the most striking features of WUSB is that there will be no interference with neighboring radio controlled devices, because WUSB does not transmit continuous radio sine waves like other wireless devices do (see box, ‘UWB’).
WUSB vs other wireless technologies:
Bluetooth is a technology that makes use of a specific standard for short-range wireless communication. It connects handheld, portable, and even stationary devices to each other. These devices can be paired with each other on a one-to-one basis. Only one device can be connected to another at the same time, ensuring a high level of security.
Based on the IEEE 802.11 standard, Wi-Fi is a generic wireless interface mainly used for networking computers that are in limited proximity. Lately, mobile computing devices such as mobile phones and laptops have also started using Wi-Fi technology to go wireless.
Wi-Fi is seeing wide use in creating completely wireless environments in homes and offices. With the integration of ADSL modems into wireless routers, one can now get wireless Internet access out of the box. But it gets better with a live Wi-Fi connection and Wi-Fi compliant devices. You can now watch movies, listen to music, keep a watch on your home over the Internet and do a lot more wirelessly.
While having numerous wireless communication standards to choose from, one might wonder which one is ideal to use. Each one of these technologies has their own place in the consumer and corporate sectors. WUSB being a short range connectivity method (at least for now), would be best suited for a personal area network such as at home or a close-knit office environment.
So why do we need to use WUSB instead of other wireless solutions such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi? Besides the difference in speed, WUSB is an ultra-low power interface which conserves battery life. Wi-Fi is faster, but requires additional hardware and configuration unlike WUSB that will not require any add-on hardware. The user can simply pair the device and start using it, hot-plug style.
This new technology might have the potential to penetrate the consumer market to such an extent that in no time shall we see it conquering our home networking space. This could particularly mean eradication of cables to a great extent. At first there will be WUSB dongles and hubs available to establish wireless connectivity with computers. By the second quarter of 2008 there may be certified WUSB-capable (built-in) devices introduced such as digicams and printers. With the introduction of the USB interface, serial and parallel ports became obsolete faster than one could imagine. Now that we have a more convenient technology at our disposal, the wired USB interface might just vanish. Poof!

7" MyLeap MV02 from HCL  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in ,

The HCL MiLeap is a small form factor tablet-PC which will mainly attract you for its compact size and stylish look. Besides looks, let’s find out what more it offers!!!
Features: Powered by an Intel A110, 800 MHz mobile processor, it is based on the Intel 945G chipset. The lower FSB and clock speeds conserve power and the MiLeap impressively offers more than three hours of usage time. Its basic configuration along with 1 GB DDR2-667 RAM, should easily handle all your office work. The onboard graphics—Intel 945G—is good enough for watching movies, but intensive graphics processing is not happening on this one.
The stylus and the 7-inch touch panel, make a good digital notepad. Using hotkeys on either side, you can rotate the screen, launch the webcam, and adjust the screen brightness and so on. The standard connectors include two USB ports, card readers (CF/SD), an Ethernet port, audio jacks and a VGA port. Finally, the package contains an OS recovery disk, Microsoft Works 8.5 and a driver disk which make it a good deal.
Build quality: The most striking feature of the iLeap is its portability, stylish looks and the sturdy build. The iLeap is so light and handy, that you can even carry it like a personal diary.
The touchpad and buttons are manageable; however, people with large or fat fingers would find typing difficult on this model. But, if you need a PC of this form factor, then you obviously can’t have standard sized keys. The quality of the plastic used and the glossy screen is pretty impressive.
Performance: With a basic configuration, such as what this tablet PC has, stellar performance is certainly not expected. The iLeap is mainly intended for mainstream applications. For instance, running Microsoft Office, sending/receiving e-mails and running other work related applications is quite effortless.
The only contender that comes closest to the iLeap in terms of price and portability is the Asus Eee PC. However, the Eee PC doesn’t offer as much as the iLeap does, for instance, the former has upto 8 GB SSD hard drive and a native resolution of 800x480, where as the latter has an 80 GB hard drive and a native resolution of 1024x600. More so, the latter is a tablet PC, so the feature set offered is certainly superior.
Verdict: This is by far, the most affordable ultra portable tablet PC we have come across. If you are a frequent traveler and all you need is a light and portable PC to use only for office work, this one’s for you.But remember, typing is a bit inconvenient with those miniature sized keys.

DirectX 11 to get Announced this Month  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in ,

Microsoft will start talking about DirectX 11 in less than two weeks. Sources have confirmed that Microsoft game technology conference, previously known as Meltdown and now renamed to Gamefest 2008, will be the place where Microsoft plans to officially announce DirectX 11. This conference takes place on the 22 and 23 July in Seattle, Washington and it will set you back $550 if you register online. You can find some more details about the conference here. The big feature of DirectX 11 is Tessellation/Displacement while we also heard that Multithreaded Rendering and Compute Shaders are part of it. DirectX 11 also brings Shader model 5.0 but we don’t know many details about it. It looks like DirectX 11 will stick to rasterization as there is no any mentioning of Ray tracing support. Nvidia will also talk about DirectX 11 at its Nvision event / conference in late August 2008.

They will go for DirectX 11  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in

The eternal question whether Nvidia will go for DirectX 10.1 with its next generation of chips is answered. It won’t and it never will. Nvidia will skip ATI’s DirectX 10.1 and plans to move to DirectX 11. DirectX 11 is scheduled for next year and this is the one that Nvidia wants to focus on. Nvidia has TWIMTBP and this gives them lot of close friendships with developers and publishers and most of them won’t ever touch DirectX 10.1 simply as Nvidia doesn’t supports it. 55nm Geforce GTX 280 is certainly DirectX 10 only while the real next generation will go for DirectX 11. This chapter is finally closed but we are sure that this won’t be enough to stop all the rumours. Naturally next generation ATI, lets call it R8x0 will also support DirectX 11 as this is the way to go in 2009, pre Windows 7 times.

Game - Lost Odyssey  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in

Lost Odyssey is the latest JRPG from Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Mistwalker Studios.
Gamers who have played through pretty much any Final Fantasy game will feel right at home the moment they take control of Kaim, the main character in Lost Odyssey. The game is huge—it comes on 4 DVDs, which guarantees many days of gameplay.
After a truly spectacular opening sequence, the journey begins with Kaim Argonar, a thousand year old immortal, surviving the deadly impact of a meteor crash on a battlefield. There are three other immortals and they have all lost their memories. They are all searching for their identities and their memories, which they unlock through the game in the form of dreams, revealing the key to thwarting a sinister plot threatening two worlds.
Kaim is the strong silent type, the mysterious hero with a soulful scowl and a deep sea of unfathomable secrets. But he doesn’t struggle alone; Lost Odyssey does not neglect the rest of its fascinating cast. Lady pirate Seth, benevolent queen Ming, the simple and noble prince Tolten and several others provide companionship. All their lives intersect at one point or another. The storyline is serious, but comic moments are plentiful and most of it involves the inadvertent spy Jansen. He is a flamboyant ladies’ man and one of Kaim’s very first companions, managing to be both annoying and charming.
The main story follows a predictable path but it is really beautiful and is about self discovery and the timelessness of the relationships we develop. The memories of our hero and his companions are presented in simple but effective sequences and are recounted via stylized text, accompanied by static images and subtle music. They make for a good amount of reading, but if you skip through these memories, you will miss the game’s most touching and heartfelt moments. In fact, these moments make you stop everything and consider how beautiful and cruel life can be at the same time.
Virtually everywhere you go, someone can provide a morsel of helpful information. Talking to everyone you see, from boring old innkeepers to hyperactive children is very useful—you never know whose knowledge will lead you to a special item or prompt one of Kaim’s memory-inducing dreams. The story is just that much richer when you get the perspective of the people in it.
Some quests are more elaborate than others; for example, one puzzle will have you paying your respects to 16 statues scattered all across a mountain village, while another will require you to play tag with a young girl.One of the weak aspects of the game is combat. It is typical JRPG—turn based and random. You can attack, use an item, cast a spell, defend, activate a skill and even attempt to flee if the situation gets too hot to handle. Weapons are pretty boring as none hold any special properties whatsoever; they have an attack rating and nothing else. Spells and most enemies are based on the usual Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water elements which counter each other.
Combat animations take an astonishingly long time, slowing everything down. Enemies and combat animations are the prettiest part of the game, and are in fact outstanding examples of next-generation beauty. For every round of battle, you must choose what you want each character to do—fight, cast a spell, defend, etc. What you can’t decide directly, however, is when your characters will perform their actions during each turn. Each member of your party has a speed rating that serves as a baseline for when they will perform their maneuvers, but many factors (such as spells and status effects) can go into changing that speed. When you’re choosing what action to perform, you won’t be able to see the turn order of the upcoming round—only once the battle sequence begins will you see who is attacking via a row of icons on the bottom-left of the screen.
In addition, each monster has his own speed rating that has to be factored in—pay attention to when a monster attacks, as a given monster tends to strike at the same time during every round of battle. There are a number of ways for you to engage in battle. Most of the time, battles will occur randomly while you are in field and dungeon areas. You can save your game by standing near glowing orange save points. Save often, even in towns, as challenging areas tend to sneak up on you.
A couple of additions to the combat and leveling system add to the thrill. There is an interesting ring building system. Defeating enemies and searching through the huge game world will earn you components which you can combine to form “rings”, which offer hand-to-hand combat bonuses. The first few rings created can be upgraded with other components or combined with other rings to turn them into more exotic and powerful ones. Rings can be switched anytime during combat without losing a turn. This allows you to use a water-based ring against a fire-based monster, etc.
Equipping a ring also adds an interactive element to combat. As your character runs towards an enemy to attack, a targeting ring appears on screen. This is the ‘Aim Ring system’ in action. Holding the left trigger creates a second Aim ring which begins on the edges of the screen and quickly shrinks in. Release the trigger when the Aim ring overlaps the target ring. Do it perfectly and you will dish out bonus damage; miss and you actually hear the character curse on screen.
Your party consists of a mixture of humans and immortals. A human acquires skills and spells as they level up. Immortals are quite different—they learn skills and spells from the humans in your party and from the accessories they use. At the end of combat you earn your standard XP and also ‘Skill’ points. You don’t use skill points as you might in other RPGs. Instead, SPs progress you towards learning a specific skill you have linked to a human party member or from an accessory which you are wearing. This also creates an interesting dynamic between mortals and immortals. When an immortal falls in battle, he or she is automatically resurrected after a few turns. But immortals can learn certain skills only from humans who must be fighting alongside.
Powered by the awesome Unreal 3 Engine, Lost Odyssey boasts stunning visual fidelity and rendering quality. The technology pushes high definition visual designs to a higher level and brings out the smallest details in the largest battles. Story sequences are penned by the award-winning Japanese novelist Kiyoshi Shigematsu, artwork is handled by famed Japanese comic artist Takehiko Inoue, and renowned composer Nobuo Uematsu creates a soulful yet contemporary soundtrack.
Lost Odyssey sets a new benchmark for the RPG genre with a combination of true-to-life cinematics and a heart-wrenching story of an immortal man and his companions. The massive worlds, memorable characters and epic story play together as an intense blockbuster film.If you have an Xbox 360 and you are an RPG fan, I would definitely suggest you go out and get Lost Odyssey. It is not just a great game but also a heart-touching experience that you’ll remember for a very long time.

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