Xbox Handheld Coming  

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Shortly before the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo, rumors surfaced that Microsoft was on the verge of announcing the ZuneX.

The ZuneX was purported to be a gaming handheld that integrated with Xbox Live Arcade and "ZuneX originals" and featured mobile-phone capabilities. That's a marked contrast from the current generation, which offers only a half-dozen games despite promises of titles that would be transferable from the Xbox 360.

The Xbox 360 may soon have a small, sleeker sibling.

With that rumor quickly marginalized as a phony by many industry watchers, Microsoft has now once again signaled that its portable gaming ambitions may extend beyond the struggling Zune. In an interview with gaming site Kikizo, Microsoft executive Shane Kim said that the Xbox brand is destined for the mobile platform.

"For us, it's a matter of focusing on 'when,' " said Kim, who transitioned from his role as head of Microsoft Game Studios to a strategic development position within the Interactive Entertainment and Devices division last year.

As for what's been holding up that "when," Kim said that the division has been focused on fleshing out the core Xbox 360 and Xbox Live experiences.

"If we chased after a mobile or handheld opportunity, we would not have the resources and ability to do things like instant-on 1080p HD, Facebook, Twitter, Project Natal," he said. "And so we've chosen to focus on the living room experience from a hardware standpoint, if you will, but we're building a service in Live that will...will extend to other platforms." [Emphasis in original.]

One other question facing the company is what form a mobile gaming device would take. "How do we enter into that market," pondered Kim. "Do we do our own device, do we create our own phone--that's a question for the company itself--do we continue to go down the Windows Mobile path, which is the path that we're on today, etcetera, etcetera."

Kim concluded by reemphasizing Microsoft's desire to be a player on all relevant platforms, whether that be consoles, desktops, or mobile devices.

This article was originally posted on GameSpot.com.

Microsoft announced the release of Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 Beta, along with news that it will feature Windows 7 support. The update will include several new features that take advantage of features in Windows 7:

Full Image-based Backups of Windows 7 PCs. After the Windows Home Server Connector is installed on your Windows 7 PCs, Action Center should no longer display that your files are not being backed up.

homeserver power pack 3 Windows 7 Libraries Support. Music, Photos and Videos shared folders from your Windows Home Server will be added to Windows 7 Libraries. Content saved to these shared folders will be able to be quickly accessed through your Windows 7 Libraries. And any application, like Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center, will be able to access content saved on your Windows Home Server through Libraries as well.

Windows Search 4 is now included. With Windows Search 4, PP3 offers improved query search times, indexing times and reliability. Easy search through a Library in Windows 7 with files stored in multiple locations.

Windows Media Center Enhancements. Archive old recorded TV shows onto your Windows Home Server in a variety of formats. Use Console Quick View to see statistics about your Windows Home Server through Windows Media Center.

  • Full Image-based Backups of Windows 7 PCs. After the Windows Home Server Connector is installed on your Windows 7 PCs, Action Center should no longer display that your files are not being backed up.
  • Windows 7 Libraries Support. Music, Photos and Videos shared folders from your Windows Home Server will be added to Windows 7 Libraries. Content saved to these shared folders will be able to be quickly accessed through your Windows 7 Libraries. And any application, like Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center, will be able to access content saved on your Windows Home Server through Libraries as well.
  • Windows Search 4 is now included. With Windows Search 4, PP3 offers improved query search times, indexing times and reliability. Easy search through a Library in Windows 7 with files stored in multiple locations.
  • Windows Media Center Enhancements. Archive old recorded TV shows onto your Windows Home Server in a variety of formats. Use Console Quick View to see statistics about your Windows Home Server through Windows Media Center.

There is no set release date for the Power Pack, but Microsoft states that it will be available shortly after the General Availability of Windows 7. If you’re interesting in being involved as a beta tester, you can sign up as a beta participant at Microsoft Connect. Exisiting Windows Home Server customers will receive Power Pack 3 for free via Windows Update.

For more in-depth information regarding the new features in Power Pack 3, head over to the Windows Home Server Team Blog.

Twitter Employee Gets Hacked: Dont Let It Happen to You  

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A Twitter employee just learned a very hard lesson. The employee's personal e-mail account was hacked, and now, the Internet is abuzz because documents—both personal and business related—are being circulated in the blogosphere. Apparently, he (or she) used the same password on multiple accounts. Sound familiar? Thing is, this isn't the first person to fall victim to such an attack—and it certainly won't be the last. In fact, during the recent hubbub, we also learned that the e-mail account of Twitter's chief executive Evan Williams' wife was hacked, which led to his own PayPal and Amazon accounts being compromised.

With all of this going on, it seems like the perfect time to have yet another chat about password security. How many passwords do you have? How many of those passwords do you actually remember? More importantly, are they secure? My answers to these questions would be: lots, some but not all, and, well, some but not all, respectively. Yes, I've been known to be quite lax when it comes to choosing passwords—and I certainly know better. I realized this after reading one of our stories about common passwords (and no, I won't say which one of these I used).

We know it can be a pain to create and manage all of your passwords, but it's important. Very important. Identity theft remains a top concern for consumers. As such, we need remain vigilant about protecting our personal information. That's why we've put this guide together. All you need to know about passwords is right here!

Roundup: Password Managers
Never forget passwords again with these eight password managers—tools that remember and replay all your complex passwords for you.

From updating your MySpace page to transferring money between bank accounts, all manner of online activities require you to log in with a username and password. Proper security practice demands that you make each password different and use random combinations of characters, like "f*&WQb28." But in the real world, you can't remember those, so you wind up either writing down your strong passwords on a Post-it you hide in your desk drawer, or you use "rosebud" for every site. What you need is a password manager—a tool that remembers and replays all your complex passwords for you. That way you need memorize only one complicated password—the one that opens the password manager. (see full)

Should You Write Them Down?
It used to be conventional wisdom among security experts that you should never write your passwords down, but thinking is changing on this. Roger Thomson, a respected anti-malware expert, thinks you should write them down, and PCMag security expert Larry Seltzer agrees, to an extent.

New Thinking About Passwords: Write 'Em Down

It used to be conventional wisdom among security experts that you should never write your passwords down, but thinking is changing on this. Roger Thompson, a respected anti-malware guy, thinks you should write them down. I've seen this from other people and I do it too, to a degree.

As Thompson says, it's not just that you should write them down, but that you should have a lot of them and write them down. It is far more secure for you to have a variety of passwords, so that if any one of them is compromised the damage can be limited. If you write them down you can better handle a larger number of passwords. (see full)

10 Most Common Passwords: Stay Away!
If you recognize yours, you may as well hand over your wallet or purse to the first person you see on the street.

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. qwerty
  4. abc123
  5. letmein
  6. monkey
  7. myspace1
  8. password1
  9. link182
  10. (your first name)

Ulanoff Speaks: Take My Passwords, Please
It's time to kill passwords in favor of smarter, safer technology.

I'm dead, dog tired of trying to conceal my passwords—almost as exhausted as I am by trying to memorize and recall all of them.  I have dozens of passwords, and, to be quite honest, they're not even good. Then again, whose are? They're variations and repetitions on a theme—essentially, stuff I can remember. I'm safe for now, but if someone figured out one part of my useless encryption system, my password lattice would crumble faster than a house of cards. (see Full)

PCMag's Premium Utility Download: Password Profiler 2
Our own utility cuts your form-filling time down to seconds and makes remembering usernames and passwords a thing of the past. (Yes, there is a charge.)

Best Free iPhone Twitter Apps  

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There's only one Twitter, and there's only one iPhone OS, but for some reason there are more iPhone Twitter apps than you can shake a stick at. We took a look at the best free ones, and discovered that you can get quite a lot for your lack of money—as long as you don't mind an occasional banner ad or prompt to upgrade to a paid version.

twitter-buttons Twitter may be simple—posting 140-character messages and reading them from your contacts isn't very involved—but you'll still need to ask a lot of questions to find the mobile app that's right you. Can it display hot trending topics? Does it let you follow and unfollow others? Does it have an integrated Web browser? Can it shorten your tweets? Does it let you easily post a Web address you saw in Safari? Does it allow multiple accounts and UI themes?

Some iPhone apps even let you do things you can't when tweeting from your PC. Most can display "nearby" tweets, even letting you decide how near or far their maximum distance should be. You can include your exact location with your tweets; some apps, such as the excellent Twitterrific, also let you include a map link.

These apps also let you tweet a photo taken on the spot with your iPhone, but none of the free ones lets you post video from your 3GS —currently only the exorbitant ($5) Twittelator Pro lets you do that. We'll be posting an in-depth review of that as well as of another paid app, the crowd-pleaser Tweetie, in the near future. But as you'll see in the reviews below, there's a free Twitter client that will please all but the most demanding tweeps.  (full Story)

MS Announces Volume Discounts for Win 7  

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Microsoft announced volume discounts on Windows 7 for its business customers at its Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans on Monday.
As of Sept. 1, business customers will be able to order Windows 7 through Microsoft's software licensing partners.  Microsoft will also offer customers up to a 15 percent discount to upgrade to Windows 7 Professional.

Microsoft Windows Partner Conference logo.JPGSpecifically, Microsoft will give a 15 percent discount on the Windows Vista-to-Windows 7 Professional upgrade to its Volume Licensing partners, who will have the choice to pass along the discount to corporate customers. The discount, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman, refers to the Volume Licensing price Microsoft previously charged to upgrade from either Windows XP Professional or Windows Vista Business to Windows 7 Professional -- a price Microsoft hasn't previously disclosed. The additional discount will represent 15 percent off of that price, she said. (Upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7 Professional costs $199.99 via retail.)
Specifically, Microsoft will offer discounts of between 15 and 35 percent, based on the volume and geographic region, Bill Veghte, senior vice president of Windows Business, told attendees at the Partner Conference, in a keynote address that Microsoft posted to the Web.

To determine whether customers are ready to deploy Windows 7, Microsoft is providing Solution Accelerators, automated tools to scan and remotely upgrade a network to Windows 7. A related tool, Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 4.0, will help consumers scan the network and determine if the hardware is compatible with both Windows 7 and Windows Server, or if an upgrade is required. (story Link)

Sony E-Series Video Walkman  

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Sony announces that a new line of Walkman music players will be available in Europe.  If you love to have your very own OLED Walkman but you do not have the money to buy one, these entry-level video MP3 players might do the trick.

Sony Walkman E-series Video MP3 Player

The Sony Walkman E-Series Video MP3 Players feature great looks and easy listening features that are packed with innovation that only Sony can provide.  The E-Series appear in slim and light body (measuring just 9.3 mm thin) in choice of black or red, with high-resolution QVGA 2-inch color LCD screen, and clear stereo and bass technologies that assures you with superb sound quality.

These MP3 players also support video file format conversion, allowing you to convert other video formats if you have a decoder software.  Its long battery life provides you with non-stop listening pleasure for up to 30 hours and up to 6 hours of video-viewing pleasure.

The Walkman E-series features the Clear Audio technology by Sony for high-quality and detailed sound.  It reduces leakage between left and right channels while delivering powerful, controlled bass without distortion.  This video MP3 player also has a 5-band equalizer that fine tunes your listening enjoyment, as well as a Dynamic Normalizer that balances volume levels between songs for that comfortable listening experience.  Sony also throws in a high-quality FM audio tuner that can be recorded at a touch of a button and enjoy your favorite songs wherever and whenever. (story Link with Thanks)

Microsoft today released a "technical preview" release of Microsoft Office 2010, the next version of the world's most widely used application suite. The beta is available to anyone who preregistered with Microsoft for a chance to download and test it. After running it for a few days of intense testing, I'm impatient for the final release.

Hands On: Office 2010 Technical PreviewAs far as I can tell, this should be the smoothest upgrade for Office in many years. If you're used to Office 2007, you'll need no help using Office 2010. Old features remain where they were, although some are now displayed on spacious menus with lots of explanatory text instead of the cramped menus of 2007. In fact, the new features are slotted in so smoothly that it may take you a few moments to realize that they're new.

You'll see major changes in the new version if your company also updates to SharePoint Server 2010. Office 2010 is packed with features that let SharePoint users edit and manage each other's files either through an internal connection to a SharePoint server or remotely through a Web browser or smartphone. Microsoft's obvious goal is to persuade corporations to pay for Microsoft's collaboration tools instead of using those from Google or any other cloud-based service. Microsoft's look technically dazzling, but it's an open question whether Microsoft can convince companies to lock themselves into a high-priced proprietary offering in a time of economic uncertainty.

One other innovation is that Office 2010 will be the first version of the suite available in both 32- and 64-bit versions. We haven't received the 64-bit version yet, but we'll report on its performance on a 64-bit version of Windows as soon as we can.

Digging into Office 2010

If you haven't registered for the preview, the suite can be found on software-piracy sites—but Microsoft warns that many of these bootleg copies are infected with malware. If you're curious about the new version, don't risk compromising your Windows system. Just wait for the public beta that's slated for later this year. Otherwise, you can wait until the final code is released. Office 2010 won't ship in final form until sometime in 2010—Microsoft is tight-lipped about the exact date. Meanwhile, here's my initial take on what you can expect.

System requirements for Office 2010 are essentially the same as for Office 2007: Windows XP SP3 (the older SP2 won't cut it), Vista, or Windows 7. Any hardware that can run Office 2007 can also run Office 2010.

The first thing you'll notice is a lack of big, obvious changes to notice. Office 2007 introduced the ribbon interface for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook's message editor. Office 2010 extends the ribbon throughout the suite, adding it to Publisher, OneNote, and Outlook's main menu—and introduces a customization feature that lets you add your own tab and remove some (but not all) items on the default ribbon.

Office 2007 introduced the pearl-like Office Button menu that worked like an enhanced version of the traditional File menu. Office 2010 replaces that button with a small, rectangular icon that opens a spacious "Backstage" page of fully explained options for saving, printing, and managing files, making it easier to plumb the depths of Office's enormous feature set. The Backstage view is essentially a single menu for accessing features that apply to the whole of a document, such as printing, saving, and sharing; the main editing screen is used for accessing all the actual data that's visible in the document. On the ribbon, a tiny up-arrow icon reminds you that you can temporarily turn off the ribbon by clicking that button—and you can, of course, still toggle the ribbon on and off with the little-known Ctrl-F1 keystroke introduced in Office 2007.

A new Print menu is especially impressive, with options like page orientation (portrait or landscape) and one- or two-sided printing instantly accessible instead of buried deep in the Windows Print dialog. PDF output is finally built in from the start, and doesn't require a special download as it does in Office 2007. The suite also includes the open-source Open Document Format as one of its default formats. (story Link)

Acer Aspire One D150 Netbook  

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Netbooks are becoming quite popular among those who go online most of the time. Netbooks provide the means for some people who use such gadgets to browse the Web without having to shell out a lot of cash. Netbooks such as the Acer Aspire One D150 surely makes the point clearly.

Acer Aspire One D150The Acer Aspire One D150 netbook is designed with a frequent Web user in mind, especially the one that's always mobile. It is provided with features mostly required to make the online experience more convenient and portable. It is equipped with a 10.1" display which allows more than a convenient browsing experience for such a portable device.

Its Intel Atom N270 1.60 GHz processor provides enough computing power for browsing the Web. Add in a 1GB DDR2 533 SDRAM memory, integrated digital microphone, stereo speakers, a 160 GB hard drive, WLAN capabilities,  multi-card reader and webcam, you then have for yourself an all-in-one Netbook that provides all the Web browsing capabilities that you need. And just weighing under three pounds and costing just around US$330, it certainly is quite a handy and affordable device to bring along. (story Link)

One year from today Microsoft will retire support for Windows XP Service Pack 2. Windows XP is not being retired, but support for Service Pack 2 is. It may be the case, and in fact I would guess it would be the case, that from them on you will have to have Service Pack 3 in order get support, including patches to subsequently disclosed vulnerabilities.

xpsp3.jpgIt has been policy in the past for Microsoft to retire support for service packs. You can no longer get updates for XP with no service packs (what they call SP0) or with SP1. You must have SP2 in order to get updates. After Patch Tuesday, July 13, 2010 you will have to have SP3 installed in order to get updates for Windows XP. And in fact, if a vulnerability is found in SP2 that is not in SP3, it will not be patched.

And we have reached the end of the line for Windows XP service packs: After SP3 no new service packs are planned. Microsoft will not end support for Windows XP itself for almost 4 years more. That is scheduled for Patch Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

Given that SP3 was released in May 2008, this would mean 6 years of updates since the last service pack, which adds up to quite a mess. Deploying a new system under such circumstances requires a large update process. By then we should be on to Windows 8 or 9, but the determination among many of you to keep your XP systems forever seems strong. (story Link)

ASUS HD TV Monitor T1  

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ASUS TV Monitor T1 HDTVASUS attempts to grab a slice of the HDTV market pie with the unveiling of its TV Monitor T1 series in Europe, which combines a desktop monitor and LCD TV technology, giving you high-quality HDTV broadcast as well as Full HD Blu-ray Disc playback.

The ASUS TV Monitor T1 has built-in TV tuners, allowing you to watch both digital and PAL/ SECAM channels, maximizing your European viewing pleasure.  Apart from Full HD capabilities, which let you watch high-quality videos in 1920 x 1080 pixels, the ASUS TV Monitor T1 also features surround sound through its 7-Watt speakers, together with a rich complement of I/O ports and ASUS' Splendid Video Intelligence Technology that enhances color reproduction.

The T1 Series also features ASUS Smart Contrast Ratio technology that brings the display's contrast ratio up to 20000:1.  The ASUS TV Monitor T1 comes with a remote control, customizable sound presets, a Splendid Video Intelligence Technology that lets you adjust the display's parameters to ensure optimized colors, and a Splendid Game Mode that boosts those dim and hard-to-see areas in video games all while keeping well-lit area untouched.

Let's hope that a NTSC capable version will come out soon for the North American market. (Link)

How to Choose the Best Web Browser  

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Today's Web browsers are faster and more feature-rich than ever before. If you're not sure which one you should use, our look at the most popular options will help prep you for prime surfing.

The recent launch of Firefox 3.5 was just the latest in a crescendo of activity on the browser front over the past few months. We've seen Google tout speed with its bare-bones Chrome 2. We've seen Apple's Safari 4 bring on both the speed and all the interface eye candy we've come to expect. Opera has come in with not only a beta of its feature-packed version 10, but also an alpha of an app called Opera Unite that makes the browser a server as well as a consumer. Starting it all was that juggernaut Microsoft, coming out with Internet Explorer 8, which the company claimed was more compliant with open Web standards.

But it turns out that standards are a far murkier issue than they may first seem. Firefox's promoters will brand IE as a completely behind-the-times, non-standards-supporting browser, but the standards Firefox supports haven't yet been ratified by the organization that's been the official keeper of the standards, the W3C. Firefox's support for the <video> tag is a good example: Though the tag itself is adopted by the W3C, the Ogg Theora video codec Firefox supports with the tag is anything but.

Rendering speed is another issue to consider when choosing a browser. Though all browsers today are much faster than they were a few years ago, the clear winner—at least as far as JavaScript rendering—is Chrome. JavaScript rendering is important for modern sites, which are behaving increasingly like applications rather than static pages. Chrome performed best in my tests using the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark, finishing in just 1,503 ms. But Safari isn't far behind, at 1,707 ms, and Firefox is right in the mix, at 2,413 ms. The once-snappiest Opera trails at 7,974 ms, and IE8 is left in the dust with a 10,281-ms time.

In terms of features and customizability, Firefox, IE, Opera, and Safari all outshine the stripped-down Chrome. But no browser can come close to Firefox in both its extensions and theming capabilities. Mozilla's "Fashion My Firefox" and "Personas" tools make it simple for novice users to customize the browser to their hearts' content. IE also has an add-on capability, but there's nowhere near the ecosystem for it as there is for Firefox. True, only IE offers WebSlices and Accelerators, which deliver up-to-date data to you with little fuss, right inside the browser, but few sites currently support WebSlices. (full Story)

Samsung SMX-K40: Near HDTV Quality  

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Samsung has recently released a new line of interesting HD camcorders, but for those who want to have high definition videos without suffering your savings, the company has just the right camcorder for you.

Samsung SMX-K40 digital camcorder with HD upscaleThe Samsung SMX-K40 lets you record videos in standard definition-which is 720 x 480 pixels-but these clips can get a "HD upscale" when viewing through a high-definition monitor using a HDMI output (cable sold separately).  Now you can enjoy videos that are almost at full-HD quality for the price of a standard camcorder.

Another highlight that would make us love the Samsung SMX-K40 is its 65x Intelli-Zoom lens, one of the most powerful zoom lenses that Samsung can offer.  This lets you capture any moment no matter how far away they may be.  And unlike ordinary digital zoom lenses that negatively affect the quality of the image, the Intelli-Zoom lens allows you to go beyond the standard 52x optical zoom.  You can also be assured that your videos are recorded with high quality with Samsung's advanced Optical Image Stabilizer, making your videos shake-free at any zoom distance.

Other great features of this amazingly affordable camcorder includes a 2.7-inch LCD monitor, a built-in intelli-studio program that lets you upload videos on You. (full Story)

Lenovo ThinkPad T400s  

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The wheels were set in motion for the advent of the ThinkPad T400s ($1,995 direct) the minute Lenovo launched the ThinkPad X300 (and subsequently, the X301). A larger version of that highly sought-after 13-inch business ultraportable was the next logical step. At the same time, though, the flagship ThinkPad T400 desperately needed an update, so it's fitting their paths would intersect. Lenovo just added an "s" to the model name, but the system changes are dramatic. The ThinkPad T400s takes the X300's exquisitely thin dimensions and widens them with a 14-inch LED widescreen. Certain features such as a FireWire port, an extra card slot, and options for discrete graphics aren't available on the T400s. Luckily for those who can't do without these things, the old T400 models will still be around.

Lenovo ThinkPad T400S : AngleDesign
Above everything else, the T400s is an aesthetic overhaul. Taking the brilliant engineering that went into the X300 and applying it to a 14-inch model was something Lenovo aficionados were waiting for. It measures exactly one inch thick (13.3 by 9.4 by 1 inches, HWD) and that includes optical drive. It and the Apple MacBook Pros are the only laptops that can pull-off these compact measurements without sacrificing the optical drive (a dual-layer DVD burner in our test unit; a Blu-ray reader is also available).

At 3.9 pounds, the T400s is officially the lightest laptop with a 14-inch screen, a title that was previously shared by the Toshiba Tecra R10-S4401 (4.2 lbs) and the Samsung X460-44P (4.2 lbs). More compelling is that the T400s is over a pound lighter than the original T400 (5.2 lbs), with the Dell Latitude E6400 (5.6 lbs) and the HP EliteBook 6930p (5.3 lbs) heavier still.

You may wonder how the T400s's bland-looking exterior can possibly be considered an aesthetic makeover. Well, you have to look beyond its all-black frame. Stripping the black from a ThinkPad would have been like stripping its brand identity, as Lenovo found out when it tried out a platinum version of its now-defunct ThinkPad Z61m. Likewise, Apple abandoned its black MacBook—certain colors will forever be paired with a particular brand. The T400's chassis is fortified with carbon and glass-fiber, making it both accident-proof and long-lasting. Within the rigid frame is an inner metallic skeleton called the Roll Cage, a concept similar to that used in cars to keep the occupants (in this case, the processing components) from harm. These engineering feats, perfected in X300, have been carried over to the T400s.

The 14-inch LED widescreen is energy efficient and thinner than that of the T400, yet it's not susceptible to bending. The panel is bright and its colors are sharp, and much of the credit belongs to the 1,440-by-900 resolution (the same as the T400). The 1,280-by-800 (or WXGA) resolutions found in the Tecra R10-S4401 and the X460-44P aren't as sharp. Meanwhile, you can find similar resolutions in the Dell E6400 and the HP 6930p. Just as black is synonymous with ThinkPads, so is the magnificently built keyboard, Lenovo's signature TrackPoint pointing stick, and the soft mouse buttons. Lenovo has added texture to the touchpad, which makes it more enjoyable to use than the standard one found in the T400. A ThinkPad's typing experience simply has no equal. (Next: Features and Performance)

Miyoshi Wireless Keyboard with Touchpad  

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The realm of wireless keyboards is still on the launch pad stage.  Although many consumers have not really taken interest with them, these keyboards are interesting enough to catch their curiosity and pay attention.

Miyoshi wireless keyboard with touchpadThe latest wireless keyboard unveiled to the market is the TP-24G01 by Miyoshi.  It has all the basic stuff you can find in a conventional keyboard, but an added touchpad integrated into it, much like what you see on laptops.  It connects to your PC through an USB receiver and a full 2.4 GHz wireless capability.  With the integrated touchpad, this keyboard eliminates the need of having a mouse with you, giving your computer more free ports for your other nifty hardware.

The Miyoshi TP-24G01 wireless keyboard also includes media-specific keys and a larger ENTER key (making it more convenient to type in Japanese).  The manufacturer boasts that each of its keys can withstand up to 10 million keystrokes.

The Miyoshi wireless keyboard is now available in Japan for about $100. (story Link)

HT-AS720ST Home Theater System from Samsung  

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Having a good home theater system at home can really enhance the movie watching experience by providing a theater-like sound quality into a home TV set up. It would be like going into an actual theater, only more comfortable since you are at home. And coupled with a good HDTV, nothing would ever come close to having the best home viewing experience around in terms of audio quality. Samsung Home Theater System

A home theater system such as the Samsung HT-AS720ST aims to provide such an experience for people looking for a more than just an ordinary home movie experience. The Samsung HT-AS720ST offers pass-through support for full HD 1080p TV and Blu Ray Disc players. This will ensure that audio quality from your HDTV devices won't suffer in sound quality when using this home theater system. Although considered as an entry level set-up, the Samsung HT-AS720ST really provides quality sound performance by offering deep bass and treble sound quality from its subwoofer and speaker set.

Dell Offers New FastTrack Option for SMBs  

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Dell-logo.jpgDell is terrific at letting you configure your own PCs. But that takes time. Sometimes you need a laptop, like, the day after tomorrow, for a new hire, a new job, or a business trip.
Dell today introduced the FastTrack for Business option, which offers shipment in about two

days on select, pre-configured business-class Dell Latitude laptops.
The Latitude family includes laptops that are built for organizations with growing or established networks. Models are available with backlit keyboards and docking capabilities, and come in select colors. FastTrack configurations feature 13-inch, 14-inch, and 15-inch models.

NVE-M300 GPS Navigation Drive from Alpine  

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Alpine introduces the new NVE-M300 GPS Navigation Drive, a high-performance black box navigation module that enhances the functionality of Alpine's in-dash AV head units:  The Alpine iXA-W404 and IVA-W505.  Putting the navigation drive makes your regular Alpine car stereo into an extraordinary audio-video-and-navigation solution.

The NVE-M300 measures only 4 3/8 Alpine NVE-M300 GPS Navigation Drivein. by 4 1/8 in. by 1 in. and is designed to be mounted in an inconspicuous location, like behind the dashboard.  Connect it to your Alpine AV head unit and the GPS Navigation Drive adds a fully-integrated routing experience.

The little black box features an innovative OnPoint Advanced GPS Positioning, which ensures that the vehicle's icon stays accurately positioned on the map, even where it is difficult to receive GPS reception like tunnels, around tall buildings, or under forested areas.  This is achieved by satellite-linked GPS data, solid-state gyro sensor, and accelerometer technologies to deliver improved performance.

The Alpine NVE-M300 is also easy-to-use with its graphical user interface combined with voice-guided driving directions.  Drivers can easily identify landmarks such as one-way streets, junctions, buildings, and other landmarks with big and bright icons, while large buttons provide easy identification of commands or maneuvers.  The text-to-speech technology gives drivers turn-by-turn driving instructions, including street names, freeway numbers, and even exit names. (full Story)

LG Launches New Sprint Phone  

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LG_LX290.jpgLG has unveiled the LX290, a low-end slider with a 1.3-megapixel camera, a GPS radio with optional voice-enabled turn-by-turn directional capability, and Sprint Mobile E-mail for Web and work e-mail access.
It also includes a music player and a (sadly, non-standard) 2.5mm headphone jack. It supports Sprint's NFL Mobile Live audio and video broadcasts, and lets you send a voice message to up to 25 friends at once without making a call.
The LX290 measures 4.1 by1.9 by 0.6 inches and weighs 3.6 ounces. It features a 2.2-inch QVGA LCD with 240-by-320-pixel resolution. LG claims the handset offers up to 6 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge. The LX290 is now available from Sprint as of July 12th (Sunday) for $29.99 with a two-year contract and after a $50 mail-in. (story Link)

Blue Badge tool unlocks all known protected features in Windows 7

Last week, Rafael revealed a weird protection scheme around some unfinished features in Windows 7 (build 6801). Well now, he’s finally created a stable all-in-one tool that will unlock all the mentioned features: the new taskbar (superbar), gestures, panning, and Desktop Slideshows.

Before you go to install the patch, the patched files are not backed up. However, I have created a .bat file, which will automatically backup all the required files as long as you have installed Windows 7 on your C Drive, and your system 32 directory is located at C:WindowsSystem32
There is some risk involved so it’s very important that you backup these files.

You can download the .bat file for backup here

Just choose the save option, and double-click it. The .bat file will create a new directory – C:patched_files_backup and copy the following files into that folder:

  • WindowsSystem32wisptis.exe
  • WindowsSystem32ieframe.dll
  • WindowsSystem32shell32.dll
  • WindowsSystem32stobject.dll
  • WindowsSystem32TabletPC.cpl
  • WindowsSystem32themecpl.dll
  • WindowsSystem32themeui.dll
  • WindowsSystem32powercfg.cpl

Please open up C:patched_files_backup afterwards to make sure all files were properly copied. Once you have backed up the files, you can download the tool here.

Only the 32-bit version (x86) is up for now. I’ll update this post once he gets the 64-bit version of the tool ready.

Here is a look at the protected features the tool can unlock:

  • The new taskbar (Superbar):
    Blue Badge tool unlocks all known protected features in Windows 7

The unlocked taskbar (superbar) is much like the one demonstrated at PDC on build 6933. Large icons are used, window previews can be shown by hovering over them, applications can be moved around in the taskbar, you can close windows as shown, and the new graphics engine displays a bright hue that follows your cursor as you move your cursor around the taskbar (kind of difficult to describe but you’ll know what I mean when you see it.) You can check out the review on the features here.

  • Gestures and Panning:
    Blue Badge tool unlocks all known protected features in Windows 7

Unlocks the panning tab under Pen and Touch and unlocks new settings shown above. The options seem to be greyed out.

  • Desktop Slideshows:
    Blue Badge tool unlocks all known protected features in Windows 7

Desktop slideshows was talked about previously in this post. You can have your desktop wallpaper change at certain time intervals specified by you. Although you can’t seem to draw images from feeds or add your own feeds just yet. (story Link)

Windows 7 : Desktop Slideshow  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , ,

Rafael from Within Windows is just on fire with his reverse-engineering skills. Just a few days after discovering the hidden taskbar, he was able to discover another hidden feature which he called “Desktop Slideshows.” This feature was found under the Personalize option in the desktop menu.Windows 7 Prebeta Secret Feature Discovered: Desktop Slideshows

The feature basically allows your desktop wallpaper to automatically change itself from intervals ranging from 10 seconds to 1 day. There’s also an option to pause the slide show when using battery power.

Windows 7 Prebeta Secret Feature Discovered: Desktop Slideshows

Another neat aspect of “Desktop Slideshows” is the ability to draw images from feeds. This is good for those who don’t have a lot of images, or want to draw their images from an outside source. You could subscribe to a comic feed and read a new comic every time you turn on your computer. However, Rafael reports that this feature is not yet fully functional. Afetr all, it is build 6801 and Microsoft did not intend us to find or use these features at all.

He’s working on a workaround to get this feature unprotected for us to play with. Updates will be posted as soon as we hear word that he’s got it working. (story Link)

Remove the Windows 7 Watermark  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , ,

Microsoft imprints their evaluation and testing versions of Windows 7 with a Watermark like the one below:

How to remove the Windows 7 Watermark
It’s a minor detail that only exists in the pre-release versions of Windows 7, but some don’t like it there. Personally, I think it sucks to have it say “For testing purposes only” when you want to show off your Windows 7 installation to your friends.

Getting rid of the watermark is simple. There is a manual way to do it, which involves modifying a system file. But lhjhyc from PCBeta has provided a patch that can remove the watermark automatically. The documentation is in Chinese, so I will explain it in English here.

Warning: Some users have reported some slight stability issues after implementing this tweak. You may or may not want to implement this tweak. (Personally, I have experienced no stability or OS issue other than not being able to run MSN in Compatibility Mode)

How-To:

  1. Download the patch here
    (Use this patch if you are on Build 7048 or newer)
  2. The documentation asks you to disable UAC. I managed to run the patch with UAC at its highest level for some reason. If you want to know how to disable UAC, you can access your UAC settings by typing UAC in the Start menu Search.How to remove the Windows 7 Watermark
  3. Once you’re at the UAC settings window, drag the slider all the way to the bottom. You’ll have to reboot for changes to take effect.How to remove the Windows 7 Watermark
  4. Once you’ve rebooted, extract the RAR’s contents and open the extracted folder. Right click the appropriate file, and choose Run as Administrator.
    If you are on a 32-bit version of Windows 7, run RemoveWatermarkX86.exe
    If you are on a 64-bit version, run RemoveWatermarkX64.exe

    The program will make some changes to your user32.dll file and create a backup of the previous file.

  5. You will have to reboot again for changes to take effect.

If something goes wrong, it says in the documentation that you can always restore your user32.dll since a backup was created earlier.

Other than disabling UAC and two restarts, the procedure should be very simple. The patch also works for getting rid of XP and Vista watermarks. (story with thanks)

IT pros: We hate Microsoft  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , ,

If we're to believe a study about the performance ratings IT pros give to vendors, Microsoft is in big trouble. The study just out from VendorRate gives Microsoft products across-the-board dreadful ratings for customer satisfaction, integrity, reliability, and more.

VendorRate conducted an online survey of IT pros of 347 hardware, software, telecom and service vendors during the second quarter of 2009, and only reported results for those vendors that received eight or more ratings. Microsoft's ratings for that quarter, in the words of Rick Schaefer, CEO of VendorRate, "simply fell off a cliff in this quarter."

The site asked for IT pros to rate vendors in 10 categories, including integrity, timeliness, communications, customer service, expertise, effectiveness, and whether they would recommend the vendor to others. It then added all the categories for each vendor to come up with a total.

For Microsoft, the ratings were universally dismal.Three different Microsoft businesses were given separate ratings, including operating systems, applications, and server/infrastructure.

Here's a brief summary of the findings, taken from the VendorRate summary:

IT pros rating vendors on VendorRate in April, May and June hammered Microsoft across the board with poor customer satisfaction scores for the company’s server and infrastructure software (55 out of 100, down nearly 17 percent), operating systems (67, down 9.5 percent) and applications (64, off nearly 18 percent).

Verizon was at the bottom of the barrel, with a 61 rating, followed by Sprint Nextel with 64, and Microsoft applications with 64. Microsoft operating systems was tied with AT&T Wireless for next worse with a 67. That means Microsoft took two of the bottom five spots. IBM Informix, meanwhile, took the top spot for vendors with a 96.

It's hard to know what to make of the survey, because there was no event or series of events that could have caused such a drastic plunge in a single quarter. But whatever the reason, Microsoft clearly has a lot riding on Windows 7, because if that operating system is a hit, you can expect all these numbers to rise.  (story Link)

Bill Gates: Natal coming to Windows in the future

In an interview with CNet today, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates hinted Natal’s integration with Windows in the future. Project Natal is Microsoft’s project to integrate motion sensing capabilities into Xbox 360, similar to what has been done with the Wii but without the use of any controller. He stated that the Windows team have latched onto the idea of Natal and is working in collaboration with the Xbox team to research on how the concept can be used in the office environment.

I’d say a cool example of [what's going on in Microsoft research labs], that you’ll see is kind of stunning, in a little over a year, is this (depth-sensing) camera thing… Not just for games, but for media consumption as a whole… If they connect it up to Windows PCs for interacting in terms of meetings, and collaboration, and communication, you put the camera in now it’s a cool thing

The Microsoft chairman did not go into specifics, but hinted at possible examples of the concept’s utilization:

Well, I think the value is as great for if you’re in the home, as you want to manage your movies, music, home system type stuff, it’s very cool there. And I think there’s incredible value as we use that in the office connected to a Windows PC. So Microsoft research and the product groups have a lot going on there, because you can use the cost reduction that will take place over the years to say, “Why shouldn’t that be in most office environments?”

The fact that Microsoft is latching on to a potential opportunity to change the conventional way of interacting with computers is exciting. While Apple has been using multi-touch gestures as a productivity feature for Mac laptops for a while now, Microsoft is responding with numerous multi-touch display features that are integrated into Windows 7. Gates wording of the Windows team picking up on the idea suggests that Natal may play a role in next generation Windows. (story Link)

What if Google Wasn't Free?  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in ,

The launch of Google's Chrome OS spurred numerous questions among analysts and bloggers: what is it? How will it be used? Will it displace Android? Microsoft Windows?

The question that's now being asked is: what if it isn't free? And what if Google decides to charge consumers for Gmail, or its Apps package, or any number of additional services?

The questions have been raised by The New York Times and analyst Rob Enderle, among others. At this point, it's merely speculation, but possibly a topic that might be factored in as a "what-if" scenario in future budgets, too. The question remains: what would you pay to use Google?

Hands On With the Nokia Surge  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , , , ,

Nokia's new Surge smartphone for AT&T Wireless is designed specifically for the U.S. market – and a younger demographic.

BOSTON – I spent some time Monday checking out the Nokia Surge, the company's new smartphone for AT&T Wireless. In a twist, Nokia designed the Surge specifically for the U.S. That means there's no unlocked version with a different model number, such as with the E71 and the E71x.

In fact, it's actually Nokia's third smartphone for AT&T in the past 12 months; the first two were the Nokia 6650 and the E71x. That's significant because it signals a change in Nokia's strategy; up until recently, Nokia's diverse lineup of unlocked smartphones have barely made a dent in the U.S. marketplace due to their high upfront cost.

Nokia SurgeThat said, Nokia is aiming the Surge at a younger demographic than the E71x. The big news is the Surge's thin, squat form factor, as if it endured a few passes of a rolling pin. It's made almost entirely of black gloss plastic and accumulates fingerprints like crazy. The handset measures 3.8 by 2.3 by 0.6 inches and weighs 4.4 ounces. But it felt lighter in the hand than I had expected.

A slide-out, horizontal QWERTY keyboard spans the width of the unit. In fact, the entire handset is oriented horizontally, down to the AT&T and Nokia logos and the asymmetrical front panel. As a result, it looks a little weird when holding it vertically. The keyboard's squarish keys felt a bit cheap, but they offered a pleasant, clicky resistance despite their flat look. The slide mechanism itself was smooth but also felt a little chintzy.

The power button doubles as the End key, which is a departure from other Nokia handsets. The Surge's five-way control pad was a little smaller and harder to press than I normally like, but I adjusted pretty quickly. Plenty of buttons adorn the unit's sides, including a messaging shortcut key on the front for texting fiends. Given that most horizontal sliders only rotate the screen when you slide out the keyboard, the Surge's responsive accelerometer was a nice touch. The QVGA screen was sharp and bright, but its 320-by-240-pixel resolution and simple menu graphics felt aged compared with an iPhone 3G or BlackBerry Bold.

As a proper AT&T device, the Surge features support for the TeleNav-powered AT&T Navigator. That's a step up from Nokia's confusing, proprietary GPS software, such as what came with the unlocked Nokia N78 last year. The Surge also features CV for streamed videos, and Nokia's standard-issue Mini Map browser.

There are some minor nods to the younger target market, such as JuiceCaster support, some built-in games, and support for AT&T Video Share. But even as such, the Surge is a genuine Symbian Series 60 Third Edition smartphone. It can multitask, it includes Quickoffice for editing Word and Excel documents, it works with Mail for Exchange 2.9, and it can be used as a 3G modem for a laptop. I tested a pre-production unit, though I didn't run into any bugs for the short amount of time I had the handset.

The 2-megapixel camera lacks auto-focus or an LED flash, but it's capable of recording smooth QVGA videos. The non-standard, 2.5mm headphone jack is a bummer. But other Nokia smartphones I've tested have sounded quite good when paired with stereo Bluetooth headphones; this one shouldn't be any different. There's also a built-in FM radio for the three or four people who need that. The battery is the same 1500 mAh pack that comes with the Nokia N97 and E71x, which should put talk time in the four-and-a-half hour range.

The Surge will be compatible with the Ovi Store when it launches later this year, complete with integrated carrier billing when buying mobile apps. The Surge will cost $79.99 with a two-year contract and after rebates when it drops on July 19; stay tuned for a full review. (Gearlog)

Nokia: 3720 classic introduced  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , ,

Espoo, Finland - Nokia today introduced the new Nokia 3720 classic, an IP-54 certified mobile phone designed to resist water, dust and shock. Following the footsteps of Nokia's highly popular 'rugged' devices of the past, the Nokia 3720 classic is encased in durable materials and is entirely sealed to protect the inner electronics. The Nokia 3720 is expected to retail for approximately EUR 125 before subsidies or taxes and is expected to begin shipping this summer. http://www.mobileguerilla.com/images/nokia-3720-classic-side.jpg

"Whether using it at the beach or in a dusty construction site, the Nokia 3720 classic has been specifically engineered to withstand the splashes, bumps and drops that come with the terrain," said Markku Suomi, vice president, Connect devices. "While the Nokia 3720 classic is tough on the outside, it is equally functional on the inside - a perfect choice for people who want a long-lasting and reliable mobile phone for any environment."

The Nokia 3720 classic features a sealed, leak-proof design and durable materials in a range of colours. The battery cover, which protects both the battery and the internal circuitry of the device, is locked with a screw, making for worry-free usage in wet, dusty or muddy environments.

As to be expected, the Nokia 3720 classic also offers exceptional battery performance as well as an LED flashlight, to complement its rugged design. Additional add-ons include Nokia Maps, which comes pre-loaded on the 1 GB microSD memory card, and the large and bright 2.2" display is perfect for following the route even in unfamiliar terrain.

About Nokia

Nokia is a pioneer in mobile telecommunications and the world's leading maker of mobile devices. Today, we are connecting people in new and different ways - fusing advanced mobile technology with personalized services to enable people to stay close to what matters to them. We also provide comprehensive digital map information through NAVTEQ; and equipment, solutions and services for communications networks through Nokia Siemens Networks.

Handle without care: Nokia introduces the Nokia 3720 classic,

its most rugged mobile handset to date.

Microsoft's Next Patch Tuesday Could Be Big  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , ,

Next Tuesday, July 13, Microsoft will issue 6 security bulletins and updates to fix the vulnerabilities described in them. Among these will be a DirectShow vulnerability disclosed in May and, possibly, the zero-day vulnerability that hit the Internet this week.

Three of the bulletins affect Microsoft Windows and all are critical on Windows 2000 and Windows XP. The first, for now designated "Windows 1" is rated critical on every shipping Windows platform and must be a doozy. The second appears to be for the DirectX flaws mentioned above, and affects Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. The last affects only Windows XP (critical) and Windows Server 2003 (Moderate).

The other 3 vulnerabilities have the less-urgent rating of Important: vulnerability in Publisher 2007, one in ISA (Internet Security and Acceleration) Server 2006, and one in several current versions of Virtual PC and Virtual server.

A Microsoft blog on the update advance notification indicates that they believe they will be able to get an update of sufficient quality for the zero-day DirectX attack in time for Tuesday, but they aren't making promises at this point. In the meantime they recommend using the kill-bit workaround, a link to which they include in their blog.

The usual monthly update will also be put out for the Malicious Software Removal Tool and the Windows Mail Junk Filter. There will be a non-security update to Vista that should fix intermittent failures experienced by users that have a Bluetooth radio connected to a USB 2.0 hub. (story Link)

Corel's Product Revenue Drops 27 Percent  

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July 10 (Reuters) - Corel Corp, which makes graphics, digital media and office software, swung to a second-quarter net loss as product revenue sank 27 percent.

The Ottawa-based company said it lost $4.1 million, or 16 cents a share, in the period ended May 31. That compares with a net income of $930,000, or 4 cents per share, a year ago.

Revenue fell 25 percent to $50.4 million, dragged by product revenue that dropped to $44.3 million.

However, excluding items, Corel earned 22 cents per share.

In April, as it reported deeper losses and waning sales, Corel said it would cut 10 percent of its staff and institute unpaid days off under a cost-cutting plan.

The company said the measures would reduce expenses by about $2 million through the remainder of fiscal 2009.

Corel once fought a highly publicized, but ultimately doomed, battle with Microsoft Corp, trying to win the word processing market by pitting its WordPerfect software against Microsoft Word in 1997.

Shares of Corel closed at C$2.50 Thursday on the Toronto Stock Exchange. ($1=1.163 Canadian Dollar) (Reporting by Susan Taylor and Isheeta Sanghi; Editing by Himani Sarkar) (story Link)

Schmidt: Chrome OS News in Late 2009  

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SUN VALLEY, Idaho (Reuters) - Google Inc Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said there may be announcements later this year about netbook PCs running its new Chrome operating system, as the Internet giant makes its deepest push into Microsoft Corp's business.

Schmidt also said on Thursday that while the worst of the economic downturn has passed, there aren't any strong signs of an immediate recovery.

"I think the new normal is now," Schmidt said at a one-hour briefing with reporters, along with Google co-founder Larry Page, at the Allen & Co media and technology conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Earlier this week, Google announced it was developing a PC operating system based on its Chrome Web browser, expected in the second half of 2010. The company said computer makers like Hewlett-Packard Co and Acer are working with Google on Chrome devices.

"Everybody we've talked to under nondisclosure is excited about the plan. So hopefully later this year we'll see some announcements," Schmidt said on Thursday.

Schmidt and Page repeatedly steered the conversation away from the rivalry with Microsoft, describing the Chrome OS as a product that would be "additive" to the PC market.

"I don't want to talk about Microsoft," Schmidt said, noting later that Google did not have any particular goals for Chrome to take market share in the PC business.

"We actually don't look at market share at all," said Schmidt.  (story Link)

The 5 Most Interesting Mobile Failures of the Past 5 Years  

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In five years as PCMag.com's phone analyst, I've reviewed more than 500 products. Some have been excellent. Some have been awful. And some have been really interesting failures, the kinds of things that were just a twist or turn away from success. (Read my previous column for a list of true successes.)

Interesting failures are just as fun to review as fabulous successes, because they show ways the world didn't go. Maybe somewhere out there is an alternate reality where no parent would dare send her six-year-old to first grade without a phone to call Mom, or one where small startup companies can bring cool phones to the U.S. market, or one where geeks get a wireless carrier that fulfills all of their high-tech dreams.

None of those worlds are our world, though. That said, I found five products over the past five years that are peeking through from those alternate realities. Do you remember other fascinating failures? Tell me in Talkbacks below.

My top five failures:

Helio Kickflip. Helio was probably the biggest letdown of my five years in mobile. At first, it was supposed to be a new wireless carrier that brought super-powered Asian phones to geeks—hooray! Then they scrapped that whole idea in favor of bringing midrange Asian phones to some demographic they couldn't quite identify. Uh, yay. Its first phone, the Kickflip, didn't actually work. The Helio Ocean worked brilliantly, but by that point, the whole edifice was crumbling. To this day, no carrier has taken up the mantle of offering super-powered phones to geeks in the USA.

Curitel Identity. The first mass-market Linux phone, with fabulous personality-shifting technology and removable covers that actually contained software, the Identity was a perfect example getting slapped down by the way our market works. First, it took the inventors years to find a manufacturer that would build it. Then, when they sealed a deal with Korean manufacturer Curitel, the big wireless carriers wouldn't even look at their product. The Identity vanished, and nothing has ever been quite like it.

Sony Mylo (both the first and second versions). Sony's insane internal structure sometimes results in insane products. For instance: I assume Sony isn't allowed to make cell phones, because only Sony Ericsson can make cell phones. So Sony made the Mylo, which makes calls with Skype over Wi-Fi networks. The Mylo's complete failure shows that if you're selling a communications tool nowadays, it better connect everywhere—and that means having a cellular radio on board. (The iPod touch gets away with being Wi-Fi only, in my mind, by being an iPod and gaming device first.)

Motorola ROKR E1. The first iTunes phone was a hideous disaster and a warning to the rest of the industry that Apple doesn't play well with others. The ROKR started out late, with the launch so poorly managed that a bunch of press were shipped to Miami to see a phone that was yanked from the podium days before it was supposed to appear. When Apple actually launched the ROKR, it took away its thunder within minutes by introducing the iPod nano on its heels. The E1 itself was an uninspiring paste-job, slapping a crippled version of iTunes onto an existing midrange Motorola phone. It almost looked like Apple wanted this phone (and the whole idea of non-Apple products running iTunes) to fail.

LG Migo. For a brief moment in 2005, a bunch of manufacturers were selling cell phones to six year olds. This may sound crazy, but I think there are safety-related reasons for giving little kids simple devices with which they can call Mom or Dad. Apparently, I am the only person who thinks so, because the whole product category has basically vanished. Hysterical news reports from the UK about how cell phones will boil a small child's brain didn't help, even though these kiddy phones were meant to be used for only a few minutes at a time.  (story Link)

Google’s not-so-surprising announcement that it would launch an operating system, the Google Chrome OS, in 2010 was full of heady promises, but painfully lacking in detail. Naturally, I have some questions for Google.

1. Why Do We Need This?
Consumers like variety, but stress levels tend to rise when there are too many technology options. I think this is mostly because each platform has its own metaphors. And while some may tell users that this operating system is better than that one, most users are too scared to switch because they don't know if they can learn to use a new OS. Google, however, is applying the same thinking it used when the search giant launched the Chrome Web browser: We can do it better. They did build a super-fast Web interface, but Chrome still lacks many of the basic features we've come to expect from a good browser. Will a Chrome OS have similar gaping holes?

2. Hardware Support?
Google's blog post on the new Chrome OS seems to gloss over hardware support. "[Users] don't want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware." In other words, the Chrome OS should work seamlessly with all of the peripherals you currently use. But why is that? The OS is being built on a Linux kernel, which means that while driver support is decent, it's not foolproof. Will Google work with OEMs to have a rich set of drivers available within the OS? Will you have to download all the drivers you need for your existing hardware? How will they ease the process of installation?

3. Linux? Really?
I know I've said this before, but why do people keep going back to Linux as the best alternative to Windows? There are excellent Linux distros out there, such as Ubuntu, but none of them are quite as easy to use as Windows or the Mac OS. More importantly, two years of Vista did not create a new user bonanza for the Linux platform. It didn't even do all that much for the Mac OS. Instead, Windows users suffered but stayed put. Now many feel like they're about to be rewarded for their patience with Windows 7. Look at it this way: When gas prices soared to record highs, people did drive less and they even traded in their Hummers for Hyundais. What they didn't do is rush to hybrid vehicles. I know there are more of them on the road than ever before, but they are far outnumbered by traditional gas-guzzlers. Face it, the tried and trusted (Windows) seems to stick around even when better alternatives are available.

4. What About Android?
Android is a decent little mobile operating system, and it may even do a good job of powering a new generation of netbooks—I'm still waiting to see the first one—but it hasn't exactly taken its primary market by storm. In fact, it's taken almost a year for the second Android-based phone to arrive. I don't know what caused the holdup. Perhaps it's the same problem that Linux has: consumers have found the mobile platforms they really prefer and aren't interviewing any others.

5. Which OEMs?
Most major PC manufacturers have offered Linux boxes at one time or another, but they don't push them. There are no ad campaigns out there, and they're typically not featured on, say, Dell's homepage. Google certainly has the clout to get into the offices of Acer, Dell, and HP, but how receptive are these companies to Google's platform overtures? Like the rest of us, they've suffered through a bad 2008 and a dismal 2009. Would they really want to risk precious marketing dollars on an untested platform? All are gearing up for Microsoft's Windows 7 push (which kicks off in earnest on October 22). It's the closest thing these manufacturers have to a sure thing. The Chrome OS has risk written all over it.

6. Can We Trust Open Source?
The open source community is brilliant at building out new OS features, but it also tends to fracture. Does anyone know how many different Linux distributions exist? Can Google depend on the open source community to put the interests of the lowest common denominator first?

7. Will the OS Be in Beta?
Okay, I'm asking this one somewhat facetiously. Google officially grew up this week when it pulled most of its major apps and services out of Beta. I'd say it's no coincidence that it did this right before the Google Chrome OS announcement. The ever-present "beta" tag on many of the company's products made it seem somewhat less than serious about software. The company can't afford that perception now.

8. Is Chrome Chrome?
One thing that isn't clear is whether the Chrome OS desktop is actually going to be a brand new interface, with new code, or if the whole thing is simply a rejiggering of the Chrome Web browser with a Linux kernel underneath. Google's blog post makes it sound more like the latter. That could be kind of cool; you get things like tear off tabs and an incredibly lean, speedy interface. On the other hand, how does it handle tasks and applications, navigation, file storage, networking? Does that all get passed off to the Linux platform?

9th and 10the will continue on full post Link

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