RealD to license ZScreen for HDTVs - cheap 3D glasses for the masses


There is hope yet. Those who have seen their favourite content in 3D appreciate the technology, but still find it difficult to look past the glasses, more so the bulkier active shutter types now bundled with 3D HDTVs. Everyone agrees that any 3D glasses that need to be worn are worse than no glasses at all, but the expensive shutter variant makes even less sense. In light of this, ReadD has announced at the 3D entertainment summit that it would license its ZScreen technology (shown above) to manufacturers of 3DTVs. The big question is how much these 3DTVs cost, currently, the expensive active shutter glasses help keep the price of the TV set more in line with the 2D version. Another question is how will the 3D quality from a system which uses the same inexpensive glasses that one would find at the cinema stand up to what active shutter glasses can offer. That said, this is certainly good news for us all, especially for those who hate the expensive, battery running active shutter glasses.

Internet Explorer 9 Beta Review


Whenever I get my hands on a new computer, or after reinstalling Windows, there's always a list of things to do, first of all being opening Internet Explorer 8 to download either Chrome or Firefox. And I'm not the only one. But why is it that we must replace IE with another option? Well, its usually covered with toolbars, making it extremely slow to load even Google. But even with said toolbars uninstalled, it just feels slow and sluggish when compared to Firefox, and downright pedestrian when compared with Chrome. Oh, and there are other (smaller) items, least of which is the download manager, which uses more RAM than the competition.

I've barely touched on the complaints, and it seems as though Microsoft has been listening. For months the company has been saying that Internet Explorer 9 (now available as a public beta, download from Microsoft) will solve those problems, and even more. Many improvements will come in speed - hardware acceleration has been talked about since November last year, but there other features, most notably the "Pinned Sites" and "One Box". So, with that said, does IE9 live up to its hype, and should you go and download it? Hopefully I can answer that question with this review.

User Interface

[image source: Endgadget]

Microsoft has answered our pleas to see more web, and as you can tell from the screenshot above, the new new minimalist design  truly focuses on the content. In fact, , Microsoft claims that with the new design,  more of a web page can be seen than in Firefox. It appears however that Chrome still has the edge,  allowing you to see slightly  more of a page, but in all essence, the difference is insignificant.

The address bar and back/forward buttons now move to the fore, with the menu bar being removed completely. It does look a lot like Chrome, something that Google is bound to be aware of. The compatibility view, refresh and stop buttons have been attached to the address bar, with dedicated favourite and tools buttons on the far right. An aesthetic worth mentioning is the changing colour of the back/forward buttons, which, for instance, change to red after a few seconds after launching Gmail. With its new look, IE9 has really matched the look of Windows 7, a feature that I cannot fault.

New Features

For all the cleaning that Microsoft has done, there are still many new features to be found in IE9. There are a variety of options that help make the surfing experience easier, while integrating browsing better with Windows 7, or, dare I say, Vista (no support for XP over here however, the demise is near). A summary of a few of the new features below:

  • Tabs - by no means a new feature, but Microsoft has added a few little tricks. The tabs can now be snapped out of place, and even if you are playing a video, detaching it doesn't lose your place as the video is constantly rendered. Taking (another) leaf from Chrome's book, there's the ability to close down one tab if a website begins to hang, as opposed to closing the entire browser. The new tab page shows frequently visited sites, and how much each site is visited. Byte Lounge was one of my most visited ;) 

  • Pinned Sites - not one of the most obvious new features, but it does come in pretty useful. Many people keep the same pages open all day long; Gmail, Facebook, Youtube etc, but mistakenly close them when they are together with a group of other open pages. IE9 now lets you sift out these site,s, and pin them directly to the taskbar, pulling the favicon so that it looks like a separate program.
  • One Box – The address bar in IE9 doubles as a search bar, bit it has even more features. Being a Microsoft product, the default search engine is  Bing, but there is the option to  install Google, Wikipedia, Facebook and many others through the Add-On page. Bing is growing on as a search engine, and keeping it as the default has its perks: typing in terms like "Weather AMS" brought up the temperature and conditions online for example.
There's a fair bit new over here, but the main question remains: should you continue switching to Chrome or Firefox everytime you move to a new PC? In my opinion: it is by no means mandatory anymore, at least not when the final release of IE9 is available. The new interface is clean, the feature set has been improved, and speed has seen a significant markup. It at a point where IE9 is a pleasure to use.

But is it worth downloading right now? Should you replace Firefox or Chrome? Well, that is entirely up to you. For what its worth, give the beta a test, there's nothing to lose. I still find Google Chrome to be a faster browser, and those looking for sheer speed will be happiest with Google's Product, yet with the new feature set, IE9 is going to make a very good contender at final release.

From The Apple Show September 1st 2010


So, Apple's Fall Event 2010 has come and gone, and left us with an overhaul of many of its products. Without further ado, let's take a look at just what Apple has in store for us.

Apple iOS 4.1 and 4.2

[Steve Jobs showcasing the new features of iOS 4.1]

The new iOS 4.1 boasts a number of bug fixes and has some notable features. The fixes address issues with the proximity sensor, Bluetooth and iPhone 3G performance, while new features include High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos, HD video uploads over WiFi, TV show rentals and (to the joy of many) Game Center. That last feature boasts a range of new capabilities for multiplayer gaming, including the ability to challenge friends, track scoring, and new ways to find games, of which there will be some fairly interesting ones that will take advantage of the added capabilities. Keep an eye out for the update to be available on iTunes next week as a free update for the iPhone or iPod Touch (all models aren't guaranteed to be compatible with the update).

Apple also spoke about iOS 4.2, which has all the features of 4.1, and then some, and will finally bring iOS 4 (multitasking!) to the iPad. The feature of note is AirPlay, Apple's new iteration of AirTunes, which will be able to stream music and video to your i-Device over WiFi (the iPad can even act as host for the new Apple TV). Another new feature over WiFi is the wireless printing feature, which even has a Printer Center applet which allows you to manage your print jobs. It may not be pretty, but it a welcome addition to iOS. The update will be available in November for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch devices.

Apple TV
[The new Apple TV]

Enter the new and improved (and frankly, very cheap) Apple TV. Streaming has improved, as well as the speed of the general interface. The Apple TV will be able to output 720p, which is expected, and Apple says this gives the best balance between stream quality and bandwidth use. Even though it is only 720p, if it works as advertised, nobody will be complaining.

iPod Shuffle, Nano and Touch

Well, unfortunately, there isn't much to say about the new Shuffle, apart from the fact that the clickwheel is back, on the smallest iPod in the range. They do come in a variety of colours.

Presenting a new (complete overhaul), redesigned iPod Nano. Keeping with the Nano trend, its very light, very very thin, and has a capacitive multitouch screen. With the new screen, there is a new interface, with plenty of swiping for moving through sub-menus. It will take some getting used to, but navigation through the menus becomes quite sleek. Holding the middle of the screen to go back is difficult at first, only because you have to avoid the on screen items. Understandably, with the small screen size, there's no pinch and zoom, only double tap for a fixed in/out zoom.

The first thing one notices with the new Touch is that it's small. As one would expect, the functionality  of the device is identical to the iPhone 4, and maintains the function of the cameras. For all intents, its a   slimmer, trimmer iPhone 4, with no cell radio and lower quality still camera. Apart from the higher-res screen to look at, there are a few features the new Touch has that make it a versatile device: an A4 chip, front and back cameras to name a few. The only caveat is that the still photo resolution is at 960x720,a far cry from the 5 megapixel camera on the iPhone 4.

iTunes 10
Going hand in hand with the launch of the i-Devices, Apple has announced iTunes 10, complete with a brand new logo. More than just the new logo however, the feature to note is Ping. Labelled as Apple's take on a music centered social-network (similar to Last.fm), Ping will let you follow people (including artists), post comments, work with custom song and album charts, and even find over 17 000 concert listings. Ping will also jump to the iPhone and iPod Touch, and is available with iTunes 10.

[Update] Although there were many rumours that it may have been axed, the iPod Classic lives on! (Confirmed on Endgadget )

AMD sheds off the ATI Brand


This, ladies and gentlemen, is a very very sad day. Seeing how users are tired of NVidia renaming  their graphics chips over and over, AMD is taking a very different approach. As of Monday, the famous red ATI brand is no more.

The folks over at AMD must feel that having 2 immensely powerful brands is too much for your average consumer, and consequently, the ATI name will be axed. The product lines will be maintained, so you can still have your Radeon or FirePro, but the ATI EyeInfinity brand that was launched with the HD 5xxx series will become AMD EyeInfinity.

The first cards that will "take advantage" of this new naming will ship out later this year, and the whole thing is due to AMD's shift toward hybrid CPU/GPU chips, so its seen as beneficial to work under a unified brand strategy. Sure, this makes it easier to manage, but did AMD realise that there will no longer be a ATI red vs NVidia green war? The end of an era is upon us.

[image source: Endgadget]

Vodacom to Release New BlackBerry Curve 3G in September 2010


We have just received confirmation from Vodacom that the country's largest mobile network will indeed be bringing the newly-announced BlackBerry Curve 3G to South Africa.

It is estimated to arrive in September, and should be a viable replacement for the older Curve 8520 model (the Curve 3G is model no. 9300).

So why should you care about this new phone? Well, if you, like me, are anticipating a move to the BlackBerry for its economical usage and functionality, then this is an ideal choice if you aren't wanting to splurge on the more expensive Bold 9700 or Torch 9800.

The Curve 3G is ready for the newly released BlackBerry OS 6 software (the Curve 8520 is not upgradeable to this newer version). It also includes 3G capability for faster internet browsing on the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS), and has a built-in GPS radio for navigation with BlackBerry Maps and other navigation apps (the Curve 8520 doesn't have these two features).

It's only fault could be the 2-megapixel camera, but in my opinion, if you already own a good-quality digital camera, there isn't much need for something powerful on a mobile phone (although RIM could've done better with this camera, seeing as most smartphones ship today with at least a 3.2 megapixel camera).

So, set your calendars for September 2010, when the new BlackBerry Curve 3G is expected to hit South African Vodacom stores nationwide.

New BlackBerry Curve 3G (9300) Announced [BlackBerry Weekly]


Research in Motion today announced a new BlackBerry model hot on the release of their new flagship model, the Torch.

This new model fits into the immensely popular Curve range, and finally brings 3G support to the series in what may be a full world-wide roll-out.

The model is called the Curve 3G (model no. 9300), and whilst it ships with the older BlackVerry OS 5, it is OS 6 ready, unlike its older siblings the Curve 8520 and 8530.

The 9300 also has GPS built-in, unlike its predecessor, and coupled with its support for an update to the latest BlackBerry OS 6, is in my opinion an all-round great phone. Unfortunately, however, the camera is stil 2-megapixel.

Byte Lounge has already contacted Vodacom in South Africa to find out when this phone will arrive, and we will post the latest as soon as we get a reply from them.

In the meantime, though, what do you think of this phone? Let us know in the comments below.

RIM Introduces the BlackBerry Torch Mobile Phone [BlackBerry Weekly]


Image courtesy of Techland
At a special media event held today, Research in Motion, makers of the popular BlackBerry smartphones, announced a new mobile to their lineup, the BlackBerry 9800 "Torch".

This new phone takes a step away from the company's usual breed of mobile phone form-factor, delving into the area of the slider phone. Essentially, the Torch is a QWERTY-styled slider, and is the first ever BlackBerry smartphone that has a QWERTY keyboard and a touchscreen -- the best of both worlds, one can say.

The phone was unveiled in a joint-venture between RIM and American telecoms operator AT&T, so if this device releases internationally, its name may differ due to international regulations in certain countries.


  • 4.4" (5.8" open) x 2.4" x .57"

  • 5.68 ounces

  • 3.2-inch 360x480 capacitive touch-screen

  • Backlit full QWERTY keyboard

  • Optical trackpad

  • 624MHz processor with 512MB flash

  • 4GB of built-in memory

  • 5-megapixel camera w/ flash, image stabilization and video recording up to 640x480

  • GPS

  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n

  • Bluetooth 2.1

  • Wi-Fi Sync: view your iTunes or WMP library from your BlackBerry in OS 6. Create or edit playlists and select music for download from your BlackBerry.

  • 1300mAh battery with 5.8 hours of talk time, 30 hours of audio playback and 6 hours of video playback

  • Source: Techland
    Interestingly, the Torch also includes the newly-released BlackBerry OS 6, which includes improved social media management, RSS feed incorporation for easily accessing your favorite blogs, and a new Universal Search tool.

    BlackBerry OS 6 Coming This Week? [BlackBerry Weekly]


    This week, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is expected to unveil their latest update to the software that powers the smartphones you know and love – the BlackBerry OS.

    But there's a lot of work RIM has to do in order to bring the ageing operating system on-par with its younger, more sophisticated counterparts from competitors Apple and Google.

    As GigaOM writer Colin Gibbs wrote, "BlackBerry OS has failed to support the kind of rich-media that lures consumers". And this could never be true. Whilst the latest BlackBerry devices are able to play a host of video and audio files, the user experience leaves much to be desired.

    And coupled with the emerging trend that pushes most mobile users into engaging via the Internet, the OS's native browser does not compare to the experience provided by the likes of Apple with it's intuitive and almost desktop-like Safari Mobile browser.

    Furthermore, BlackBerry OS 6 will have to compete with the much-hyped and now finally released iOS 4 that powers the latest iPhones, and is soon to back the iPad. This could be the one major factor that RIM can win in; at present, Apple has been receiving a lot of bad press over the iPhone, especially concerning iOS 4 running on older iPhone 3G models; reports have been coming in fast of the devices freezing and not functioning as they used to when upgraded to iOS 4.

    What I'd like RIM to do with the BlackBerry OS in version 6:
    • Overhaul the user interface; bring it into the new age of mobile, and make it more intuitive to use.
    • Improve the native browser; bring it on-par or make it even better than Apple's Mobile Safari.
    • Allow the upgrade to be compatible with older BlackBerry smartphones; in other words, don't make it exclusive to newer, yet-to-be release phones.
    • Make synchronising with computers easier.
    What would you like to see in the new OS? Drop a line or two in the comments section below.

    The Magic Trackpad from Apple: Notebook Tech for Desktops


    This week Apple released another cool gadget to make Mac fans salivate: the Magic Trackpad.

    Essentially, it's a trackpad for desktop computers, bringing the functionality of the company's famous multi-touch trackpad technology used on the MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air to the desktop. Naturally, it's also the "largest multitouch trackpad ever", according to the company's product page.

    Now, the big question here is: why on Earth would someone need a trackpad for a desktop computer?

    But we must remember that this is Apple we're dealing with here: they can sell you a cardboard box and make it sound as if it's so revolutionary you just have to have it.

    The Magic Trackpad retails for $69 – about R503,43 when it comes to South Africa.

    This gadget allows you to use this new peripheral to interface between yourself and your computer, using your fingers instead of holding a mouse. Think of it as a larger version of the Magic Mouse – just that you can't move it around.

    What use could this be to us consumers, I hear you ask? At the present, graphic artists can perhaps use it to draw directly to the screen – if the application they're using can support this. Really, in my opinion, this gadget it merely eye-candy to show-off to your friends. If you really desire multi-touch for your desktop computer, then I guess this could fit the bill as well. By the way, this sleek gadget is for Mac computers only. Sorry, Windows folks... (although I don't think you'll be missing out much though).

    What's your opinion of this new Apple product? How would you see yourself using it? Is it even worth buying? As always, share your opinions in the comments section below.

    What MXit Needs to Do


    Mobile instant-messaging giant MXit has become a common buzz word in South African households, and has catapulted South Africa's tech industry well into the age of social 2.0. But looking ahead into the near future, the company needs to shake-up a few things to make sure it can remain the leader in cost-effective communication for South Africans wanting to talk to the rest of the world.

     When MXit started out, the landscape was pretty desolate: they were a lone sole preaching their glorious technology to a country that hadn't yet experienced a feature-rich interactive communication tool. Coupled with mobile operators battling it out in a new, democratic South African economy – often to the detriment of the consumer – this new piece of software was like a godsend to South Africans; we were able to talk for less than a cent a message to friends and family across the country.

    However, fast-forward a few years, and the social networking boom hit the world, most notably with Facebook "stealing" the limelight from MXit (both in users and controversy). Many people who I spoke to about this sudden shift in the communications landscape said relatively the same thing: MXit is boring; Facebook is far more fun.

    And, for me, this still reigns true. Now, instead of logging on to MXit on a regular basis, clocking a fair amount of hours chatting to friends, I find myself increasingly visiting Facebook (either via my mobile or through the desktop site) to see what friends are up to, get the latest social buzz and occasionally chat to friends.

    MXit's options are fairly limited, and what makes it worse, the software has been stuck on the version 5 moniker since late-2006, only offering updates in point-increments.

    But let's not get too carried away with MXit's transition into the Web 2.0–era; the company is doing incredibly well at the moment, with major deals being inked with a myriad number of brands.

    However, in order to capitalize on a whole new era, the company needs to adopt technology that can offer the features that users want: an integrated social experience. They currently do offer something akin to this, in the form of Twitter updates direct from the MXit client, but how about a more updated interface, with a desktop interface similar to a social networking website? Now that'd be a great way to drag users over from Facebook, and continue to propel the South African tech industry.

    What are your thoughts on MXit? Do you use it as often as before? Share them in the comments below!

    BlackBerry Weekly: Interlecta, a Translation App [Limited Time Offer: FREE!]


    Translation apps are few and far between on any mobile platform, and although there's always the mobile version of Google's Translate product, the interface isn't that great on many phones.

    BlackBerry users are blessed with a great app called Interlecta that can translate text in a myriad number of languages – their more powerful (and expensive) apps can even translate SMS texts and emails.

    Byte Lounge regular, Imtyaz Rahim, pointed out to us that for a limited time only this great app is available directly from the BlackBerry App World for free. (If you're interested to know, the app usually sells for $4.95... so this is a great deal!)

    It's dead-easy to set-up and use, and for languages such as Afrikaans, can even, to a certain extent, conjugate sentences correctly in the word-order of the specific language – although, use of the app in this way isn't recommended for full essays, as, being a computer application it can be prone to errors in itself.
    For those who travel regularly, or are learning multiple languages (or are interested in spicing up Facebook and Twitter status updates and impressing friends!), Interlecta is a great app for your BlackBerry.

    To get Interlecta, go to the BlackBerry App World (located under Downloads on most BlackBerry smartphones), select "BlackBerry App World", and search for Interlecta.

    Nokia Needs to Shake-up Its Act to Survive


    As the release of the new flagship Nokia mobile approaches, the big question at the moment is whether the Finnish mobile giant can salvage its brand in the face of young competition in the form of Apple and Research in Motion (makers of the BlackBerry smartphone).

    You see, Nokia still operates in the "old school" mindset that hardware is king and software plays second-fiddle in the broader scope of things.

    Well, unfortunately for them, this concept hasn't worked out too well. Their investment in the Symbian OS to power leading product lines -- the N-and-Eseries -- has left them with products that boast superb hardware specs when compared to competitors, but lack the most fundamental aspect the discerning mobile user looks for in their next phone choice: the user experience.

    Let's face it: the S60 operating system in today's Nokias is appalling. From jittery animations to terribly designed graphics (okay, the new Ovi look is cool, but the standard S60 icons from 3rd edition aren't that great), and an underlying system that gets bloated easily and suffers constant freezing and random reboots, the brains behind current Nokia products let down otherwise powerful devices.

    The Ovi services have great potential -- but haven't been exploited to that extent yet. One need only look at the Ovi Store, and experience its poor selection of apps to realize that developers don't have time for a company that doesn't look after its software too well.

    The success of a mobile phone company today relies on the menu of apps it offers its users. And quite frankly, Nokia has almost 0% offerings -- no native Twitter, Facebook or RSS apps for its overall selection of phones (only S60 5th Edition users benefit from a native Facebook app -- albeit one that is totally sub-par).

    Thus the company is pinning its hopes on the face of the Symbian 3 operating system, an apparent complete redesign of the software. We can only hope that this redesign will bring the Finnish giant up-to-speed with current trend-setters like the iPhone and BlackBerry.

    Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Trailer


    Gaming website IGN posted this video trailer of the upcoming Assassin's Creed game -- the third one in the popular installment -- called Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. 

    It will release primarily on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC on November 16, 2010. Will you be playing it?

    New BlackBerry Series


    Byte Lounge will be starting a series on news, tutorials and related media for new BlackBerry users, and current and future BlackBerry fans.

    Research in Motion's BlackBerry range of smartphones have taken the South African public by storm, especially with national carriers Vodacom and MTN offering the BIS service, in effect creating a free mobile Internet browsing experience that's long been sought after by discerning South African tech fans.

    We'll be publishing informative how-to's, the latest news and rumours, upcoming products, opinion pieces and App World app reviews and recommendations.

    The BlackBerry series will be a regular Byte Lounge feature. If you'd like something to appear on the feature, or have any tips for us about BlackBerry, please don't hesitate to drop us a line. Leave a message in the comments box or contact us via Facebook and we'll be in contact with you as soon as we can.

    Enjoy the new BlackBerry feature exclusive to Byte Lounge – coming soon!

    iPhone 4 On Its Way to South Africa "In the Coming Months"


    The iPhone 4, the latest version of the revolutionary mobile phone from Apple has been released across the United States, and will be making its international appearances soon in a host of international launch countries.

    However, not surprising, despite the huge coverage South Africa has been experiencing during the 19th FIFA World Cup finals being held here, we were not on that launch list.

    But fear not, iPhone admirers: Vodacom, the largest network operator in the country, has announced on their website that the iPhone 4 will indeed be coming to our shores in the "coming months". Here's the full text on their iPhone 4 page:

    Vodacom is proud to announce we will launch the iPhone 4, the thinnest smartphone in the world with the highest resolution display ever built into a phone, in the coming months.
     "Coming months" can mean anything from next month to the end of the year. However, looking at the history of iPhone releases in South Africa, we can make an educated guess at saying that the iPhone 4 will be available by around September. Remember, though, that Apple has been experiencing manufacturing shortages of the units, and so there may even be a delay in shipping the device to South Africa.

    In the expected frenzy that this device is to cause at launch, Vodacom is now allowing you to "register your interest" to get the latest news and info on the release of the device. You can do so here.

    Convert to Any Video Format with Adapter


    Byte Lounge reader Giulio Buscaglione sent us a tip in response to a recent article on the site about ripping songs from an iPod to your Mac or PC.

    It's called "Adapter", and it's made by the same guys who brought us "Pod to Mac/PC". This piece of software allows you to convert virtually any video file format to another video file format. This could come in really handy when wanting to, for example, put videos on your iPod or iPhone, mobile phone, or to play on a specific media player software or hardware (i.e. Apple TV). What's more: Adapter is, as Macroplant (the developers) put, "100% freeware".

    Adapter is still in beta, and so bugs are expected at this stage. However, as stated in the opening dialog that greets first-time users of the software, the developers are open to feature requests during this test phase.

    However, there weren't many requests that came to my mind when I tried the software, as it's really intuitive and well-designed. Apart from allowing you to convert video to a myriad number of formats, Adapter also allows you to download video from websites, making it a great tool to use for grabbing clips from sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Once downloaded, you can convert the file to a format of your choice, and even send it directly to iTunes for transfer to an iPod, iPhone or iPad.

    You can download Adapter from Macroplant here, for free.

    Xbox 360 Slim 250GB Review


    Even though it is technically labelled "Xbox 360 S", you will never hear it being called the 360 Slim, and with good reason. The new 360 weighs in 18% lighter than its predecessor, but only a quarter inch slimmer at the waist, with almost the same width measured at the widest point. As said on Endgadget, "Microsoft's taken its rectangular console and moulded it into a square"

    There are a few welcome additions to the new 360, namely a dedicated optical audio jack (embedded A/V cable works fine as well), capacitive touch buttons (which seem a bit out of place after Sony removed them from the PS3 Slim) and a brand new hard drive port. Since the firmware update in April which allowed for use of USB mass storage, one could foreshadow the end of life for Microsoft's Memory Unit (MU), and lo and behold, the new 360 does away with the MU sockets in favour of 2 more USB ports. These are located on the rear of the console, next to the Kinect port.

    On the bottom is a removable panel under which you will find the console's 2.5-inch SATA hard drive. The drive is cushioned in a fully padded cage that offers both protection and silencing, but is not user-replaceable. As mentioned earlier, capacitive touch buttons are used. While these may not be to everyone's taste, the uncertainty that is often present with capacitive touch is removed by immediate response from the buttons. Both the power and eject buttons chime when activated, and the disc tray slides out much quicker than Sony's slot-loader. A caveat however, the new drive does not offer scratch protection when the console is flipped.

    While the outside has changed somewhat, the new 360 still uses the same silicon as the previous one. The 250GB hard drive performs on par with the 120GB from the 360 Elite, with installation times running neck and neck. There is no ethernet port, but the 802.11n WiFi provides favourable results, with only minor lag (everything except fighters can be played with no problem). An improvement comes with the disc drive: DVDs and levels are consistently loaded two seconds faster when compared with the 360 Elite, but it would be wrong to consider this conclusive, as Microsoft has a history of shipping different drives.

    The new 360 is quite power-friendy, perhaps the most energy efficient unit from Microsoft. While it draws ever so slightly more power than the PS3 Slim, gaming and DVD viewing requires less power than the Elite. The system should stay quiet as long as you install games onto the hard drive instead of playing directly throught the DVD. The only drawback is the temperature signature, and even though the console uses less energy, leaving it in a cabinet or stacked with other AV components is definitely not recommended.

    Words like smooth, sharp, stylish and more come to mind when you see the new 360 Slim, from the black console to the cords themselves. However, it does not offer enough to make it a conceivable upgrade. If your current system is too noisy, or you are looking for a more eco-aware system, then by all means go ahead, but if you have already invested in the various addons, then the $300 pricetag does not justify the upgrade - unless you have the Red Ring of Death (RRoD). For those who have yet to buy into the Xbox brand, this is definitely worth looking at, especially if you don't mind paying a little extra for an HDMI cable.

    [Read the detailed and more comprehensive review on Endgadget]

    Facebook: The Movie


    I've always wondered when the day would come when we'd see a movie adaptation of how the world's greatest and most controversial communication device came to be.

    Columbia Pictures is at the helm of this picture, and the way I see it, "The Social Network" (a.k.a. "The Facebook Movie") can go one of two ways: either it adds fuel to the already fuming fire that the site is a bane to the existence of civilization, or it can illuminate the true story and add an emotional "face" to the world's most famous social network.

    Here's an official teaser trailer of The Social Network. It's also been confirmed (as reported by Mashable) that Justin Timerlake has been cast in the film. It's expected to release later this year.

    Sony to recall half a million of its "hottest" VAIO laptops


    [image source] Endgadget

    Now, this is a real cause for concern. Sony has issued a warning that about half a million of its laptops are at serious risk of overheating, and even causing burns. The cause for this is said to be the heat-monitoring chips in the VAIO F and VAIO C series (both launched in January), and the defect causes overheating and physical warping. Sony says that there have been about 40 complaints received, and that customers affected will be able to download a patch that will fix the issue, or contact the company to have the laptop picked up for repair. This is not good for Sony, one of the previous F series (Core 2 Duo, Geforce 8 GPU) had many complaints with overheating. Hopefully the electronics giant will sort out the problem as soon as possible, for both the benefit of the customers, and Sony's (already fragile) reputation.

    [source] Wall Street Journal

    The iPad: What The South African Media Needs to Know


    Apple’s media-consuming tablet offering, the iPad, has finally released in Apple Authorised dealers in South Africa (unfortunately, we’re not blessed with the elegance of an actual Apple Store here, and have to settle for third-party retail outlets to get our fruity fix). As expected, the growing technology market in this country has been “wowed” by such a remarkable device — and rightly so, seeing as the iPad is set to revolutionise the way we consume digital content.

    Already, American publication houses like The New York Times, Wired and MARVEL have created stunning iPad apps to complement their physical print publications, partly in a bid to exploit the iPad’s awesome multitouch interface and larger screen, and partly to save their skins. It’s a kind of “insurance”, if you like — these companies are “securing” themselves for the impending moment when devices like the iPad democratise and completely digitise the print industry to the extent that more people will be reading the news in an interactive format on a slate or tablet device rather than the actual physical paper.

    Thus, as South Africans, although our time to consume the news entirely digitally is still some way off into the future, our media companies must not dawdle and fumble, especially in the face of the incredibly successful FIFA World Cup 2010 where this country received a major IT infrastructure overhaul.

    The market leaders in South Africa’s print industry — media houses like Media24 and Independent Newspapers — need to invest in developing digitised versions of their content, and must devise innovative pricing schemes so as not to exploit the average news-seeking citizen. Thus significant research into American companies’ experiences could prove to go a long way in making the next generation of newspapers in South Africa truly successful. One clear example is Wired’s iPad app, which integrates audio, video, 3D content and text in interesting, engaging ways. The New York Times’ pricing schemes, devised to as not to discourage their actual, award-winning print publication, entices readers to embrace the digital news revolution whilst still remaining faithful to the dead-tree version.

    So take heed, South African media: the time to go digital is here. Secure yourself now, and our country will continue to leap ahead into the next generation of technological advances.

    Kinect for XBOX 360: Announced and Launching November 4th


    (source: Endgadget) Microsoft Kinect (left) next to 360 Elite Console and controller

    Formerly known as "Project Natal", Microsoft's motion-sensing add-on for the XBOX 360 was officially announced on Jun 13th, and has been set to launch on November 4th 2010 (Microsoft were very specific about this), and so far, this is deemed as a worldwide launch.

    The announcement was made a day before the "new XBOX 360" was launched, with a starting price of $299, but more on that in the next post ;). 

    For those of you who haven't been following, Kinect is a "controller free gaming and entertainment experience". An add-on peripheral for the 360 console, it allows the user to control the console without the need for a gamepad, through use of spoken commands, physical gestures, or the presentation of objects and images. 

    If you have not seen the Kinect in action, click here to watch a demo video with one of the games to be released at that launch.

    There will be 15 titles released at the launch, including:

    • Kinectimals - similar to Nintendogs, but the animals are oh so cute 
    • Kinect Sports - soccer, bowling, various track and field games
    • Joyride - kart racing, but controller free
    • Kinect Adventures - lots of jumping around
    • Your Shape: Fitness Evolved - frankly, this fitness game looks amazing, from Ubisoft
    • Dance Central - a dance game WITHOUT dance pads, from Harmonix

    The Kinect is set to sell for $149, and $399 when bundled with the XBOX 360 Elite (new slim version)

    [source] Endgadget

    Sony's new OLED screen can wrap around a pencil


    This small screen is a glimpse of what will one day be Sony's 80μm-thick TFT Organic-LED (OLED) display.  The 4.1" display uses Sony's organic TFT (thin-film transistor) coupled with OLED technology, and is bound to a flexible 20μm substrate. This substrate does not have any rigid Integrated Circuit (IC) chips, and it is because of this that the screen can be wrapped around a cylinder with a 4mm radius (or a pencil). The screen has a 432x240 pixel resolution (or 121 pixels per inch - ppi), and can output 16M colours, with brightness surpassing 100nits and 1000:1 contrast ratio. This is still at a highly developmental stage, but a final product will definitely be released, sometime....

    Click here to see this screen in action

    [source] Sony

    Desktop Graphics Card connected to Lenovo T410s - Let the games begin


    In spite of various technologies that give laptops better graphics performance while still maintaining a long battery life (nVidia Ion, Optimus etc), there are times when you have access to an AC outlet, and you just want to game.  This is where an external graphics solution comes into play, and although there are a few official solutions, this very unofficial solution by HardForum member Cyclone deserves a special mention. What Cyclone has done is take hook up a 2GB Radeon HD 5850 with an $85 PCIe to ExpressCard Adapter, add a 550W Power supply for the graphics card, and connect the whole system to his Lenovo T410s

    (Connector for graphics card (upper) and ExpressCard adapter (lower))

    What is described as a "major pain in the ass" to configure, has bumped his 3DMark06 (benchmarking program) score from 1720 (with integrated graphics) to a whopping 12765! This score is lower than if the graphics card was used in a desktop system, so therefore the adapter itself is a bottleneck, but nonetheless this score is very, very impressive nonetheless. If you ane seriously considering turning your humble laptop into a better performing gaming machine, then I suggest you head over to HardForum and read the full article. Beware however, this is not for the faint  hearted.

    [source] HardForum

    (Edit: this setup is designed to output video to an external monitor)

    New iPhone Expected Tomorrow: Here's What It's About


    Tomorrow is an important day for Apple fans the world over. In fact, it's an important day for Apple themselves. They host the WWDC — the Worldwide Developers Conference, a huge gathering of Apple software designers from around the world who will discuss and innovate around the Mac and iPhone — particularly the iPhone.

    On Monday, June 7, CEO Steve Jobs will take to the stage at Moscone West, San Francisco, to deliver the week-long conference's keynote address.

    And at that keynote, Mr Jobs is widely expected to announce the next iPhone — what we're calling the iPhone HD.

    Here's what you can expect in this next mobile product from everyone's favourite fruity company:
    • It'll be called the iPhone HD (iPhone 4G would be too confusing, given the fact that next-generation mobile networks will be called "4G" networks, and this phone won't support that yet).
    • It will have a front-facing camera for face-to-face video chats using a mobile version of iChat

    • It will certainly be running iPhone OS 4, which means it will have the following new features:
      • Run more than one app at the same time with multitasking
      • Group homescreen apps in folders according to their genres
      • A more informative standby screen
      • Hundreds of new APIs that will allow developers to create stunning new app
      • The Game Centre, for interaction with fellow iPhone gamers, allowing you to share scores, participate in a leaderboard, and engage in multiplayer battle
      • An all-round faster experience
      • A more informative standby screen
    • A 5 megapixel camera with flash
    Apple may even surprise us (as they usually do) with more features for this device.

    The iPhone HD (if it ends up being called that) will most likely be released in South Africa not long after WWDC, as was the case last year with the current iPhone 3GS.

    What feature are you looking forward to the most? Is there a feature the new iPhone lacks that you feel Apple should include? Drop us a line in the comments below!

    The Flyfire Project


    Here's a really awesome clip of a project from MIT, called the Flyfire Project. It basically takes any ordinary, mundane living space and transforms it into a fantastical, futuristic sphere of incredible light displays, using a multitude of mini toy-like helicopters with specialized digital lights attached to the rotors.

    Now if only we could get these in South Africa, in time for the World Cup parties... a surefire way to impress the guests at home with variations of the playing teams' national flags and LED-like recreations of the players faces... ah, a geek can dream, right?

    3D Photo Frame that lets you 'see around' images without the glasses


    Some people may call a 3D photo frame a bit of an overkill, but the people at Newsight seem to have turned around (no pun intended) the idea with this frame that was on display at the recent SID 2010 (Society for Information Display). The display is AUTO-stereoscopic, so no glasses needed, but Newsight moves the frame one step further by supporting a technology known as "motion parallax", a technology that allows you to look around the image (look closely at the image above, see how you can almost see around the animal). 

    As one would expect, there is some trickery and tweaking that goes into making the image. Newsight says that the processing software can use any traditional 3D (or even 2D for that matter) and bring it to life so to speak. The software creates five separate images out of the source image, and when put together, you can see the same image from different angles. The only downside is that this processing must be done on a PC first, but Newsight promises that with the next model will feature built-in processing capabilities. There is even talk of a third model that allows two frames send images to each other.

    In-Depth Info on the Nokia N8 from the Nseries Team


    Nokia today announced a 3-part video series, fronted by product manager for the Finnish mobile giant, that takes a detailed look at their upcoming flagship device, the Nokia N8.

    The N8 boasts new-generation software developed by Nokia, titled Symbian 3. This is the pinnacle of the phone maker's hope in re-inventing its product lines. Symbian 3 effectively cleans-up the mess that the previous-gen software powering many of today's Nseries, Eseries, Xseries and other Nokia mobiles.

    The first of the three-part series is embedded below, and was flighted on the official Nseries blog earlier today. This is really some exciting stuff coming out of the world's largest phone maker; if Nokia can pull this phone off right, they might just have a chance to redeem themselves in the latest mobile wars being fought between titans Apple and HTC.

    What do you think? Will you be considering the N8 as your next phone? Drop a line in the comments and let us know!

    SnapBill — The Elegant Online Billing System


    I have been, for a long time, a proponent of South African-developed software. I strongly believe that this country has the potential to lead the African continent in the Web 2.0 sphere, taking the continent into the future with innovative, intuitive solutions that can give back to the economy.
    South Africa, like many emerging nations, has an economy that is mainly entrepreneur-driven. These small companies are the pieces that fit into the grander scheme of pushing the economy forward.

    However, these smaller companies are often on tight budgets, and as such, elaborate software is not the option when arranging the computer setup for a new startup, or refreshing an established business's computing systems.

    A major requirement of many small businesses is a comprehensive billing system — a tool that allows a business to issue invoices and payment notification to its customers timely.

    A recently launched service, developed entirely by South African programmers and designers, has revolutionised the way local businesses operate.

    It's called SnapBill, and, as described on the site, it's a "secure, fast and easy to use billing in a Snap™".

    Pod to Mac and PC: Transfer Songs from iPod to iTunes


    iPods are great for carrying your entire music collection with you, in your pocket. Coupled with an amazing music manager, iTunes, your music collection has never been in better hands.

    However, one minor feature that Apple has made sure to omit is the ability for users to take songs from their iPods, and import them into their iTunes library.

    Of course, we can clearly see the reasoning of this move: opening up the iPod to allow people to browse its innermost contents will enable piracy — the bane of the music industry sine the turn of the century.

    But what if you, like me, have a new computer that you wish to transfer your music to? And I don't mean copying your iTunes library over to the new PC or Mac.

    Here's the situation that I was in around the time when I got my new MacBook about a year ago. My current library on my old PC wasn't that great; there were a lot of repeated songs, and plus, somehow, my iPod ended up having more songs than the library on my PC, since that library went under quite a few re-sets. Bottom line: I wanted to get all the songs that were on my iPod onto my new Mac.

    After searching around Google, I discovered a neat tool called Pod to Mac. There's a Windows version available as well, called, naturally, Pod to PC.

    Essentially, Pod to Mac or PC is able to read all the songs on your iPod when it's connected to your computer. You can then either import selected tracks and videos. or the entire contents of your iPod's media content, to your iTunes library.

    Pod to Mac or PC is really easy to use. It's got a straightforward interface, and once you check media you want imported into your iTunes library, just leave it to do the work.

    One thing, however, is that this app is not free; it's free to try, but you'll have to pay the developers, Macroplant, $19,95 for a single-license.

    I managed to get the job done with the freeware version, though. For just a few feature limitations, you can still get the entire contents of your iPod into iTunes.

    Get Pod to Mac here.

    Acer CEO Gives Sneak Peak at 7-inch Android Tablet - Probable Q4 2010 Release


    At their presentation in Beijing today, the highlight of the show was Acer's CEO giving the first sighting of its new 7-inch Android tablet. Shufflegazine has described it as "pretty fast with touch", however, CEO Gianfranco Lanci was reluctant to release any specs of the machine. Even though the release date seems a bit off in the distance, one must keep in mind that a few months ago Acer was not considering the tablet market at all. What has caught the attention of many is that networks operators were described by Lanci as the "obvious" sales channel, revealing that the tablet will probably contain in integrated 3G module. This would make the tablet not dissimilar to Amazon's own Kindle. Even though it seems that Lanci has created more questions than he has answered, what is clear to all is that exciting times lie ahead.

    [Source: Shufflegazine]

    Download the Great Google Pac-Man Doodle


    On Friday, Google changed their logo to what's become one of the biggest procrastination tools recently launched.

    The Pac-Man doodle was launched to commemorate 30 years of one of the greatest, most cherished games ever made.

    However, this awesome logo will be taken down by this evening, according to Google. So if you'd like to save the game to your PC or Mac, playable at a later time, off-line from within your browser, download the game here.

    Twitter for iPhone — An App in Review


    After making the big announcement that it had bought top-rated Twitter app, Tweetie, the up-and-coming social network has finally released the first, official version of Twitter for iPhone this week.

    The major things to know about this latest addition to the App Store is that Twitter for iPhone, unlike its predecessor, is free. It is, essentially, Tweetie2 re-branded, and in fact, the developer of Tweetie has moved over to work at Twitter, developing this app under its new name.

    Whilst its completely refreshed in its branding, it must be known from the get-go that this app is still based on Tweetie's core, and so the experience will be very much similar to what was once a paid app. For us Twitter fanatics, this is great news! We're ultimately getting one of the best mobile Twitter apps for absolutely free!

    Click through for the full review.

    YouTube Launches South African Version


    Popular video sharing site YouTube has launched a South African-optimized version of their site, with its own ".co.za" domain extension.

    This new site is said to be optimized for South African YouTube users, and as such will allow us South Africans to stream videos much more quickly, get South African-specific video recommendations from the home page, and it all-round improves the Internet experience for South Africans nationwide.

    Mweb instigated a revolutionary phase in the South African Internet experience with their uncapped broadband deals, and this new move from Google-owned YouTube means that we're a step closer to that hope of a Silicon Valley-style technology industry in the country. Sure, it's a really small step, but its a move forward nonetheless.

    YouTube's live streaming feature was hugely successful during the Indian Premier League earlier this year, even resulting in the site gaining a small bit of viewer-ship and competing with prominent sports channels like ESPN, SuperSport and CNN.

    The new YouTube-optimized site for South Africa is: www.youtube.co.za.

    Introducing the Nokia N8: Video from Nokia


    With all the hype surrounding the new Nokia N8, here's a video from Nokia introducing this new device that will be running Symbian 3. Enjoy!

    @NASA: Your Daily Dose of Awe


    The scientific field has long been glanced-over, purely because of it's high-geek factor. Most people aren't always interested in what goes on in the science world, yet its this section of society whose breakthroughs have influenced our lives in a scale so huge, it'd make the Big Bang look like an atom.

    But with the rise of social media, we're seeing a renewed interest in the world of awe, with blogs springing up that post exciting news in a format that's accessible to the ordinary, non-scientific person.

    And with the launch of STS-132, the last flight of Space Shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station, I'm going to share with you some great blogs, Twitter channels and websites to get your daily dose of awe.

    The Daily Galaxy
    Tag-lined "your daily does of awe" (yes, that's where I got the phrase from!), this blog posts awe-inspiring pictures, news and opinions on the latest breakthroughs in the scientific world. From shuttle launches to the latest discoveries in string theory, The Daily Galaxy has it covered.

    The official NASA Twitter channel, this is my own definitive source of what's happening at the world's largest space organization. Get Tweets about the latest shuttle launches direct from Mission Control, posts from astronauts in space (!) and the latest info about where mankind is headed in the future.

    @Astro_ Channels
    The @Astro Twitter accounts are owned by NASA, and are used by current astronauts who tweet from space. Check out @NASA_Astronauts, a syndication channel of tweets from all NASA astronauts in space. Also, @Astro_Mike, who was the first person to tweet from space.

    Fake Science
    For the fun of it, check out Fake Science, which posts hilarious explanations of everyday phenomena.

    Got a science blog you enjoy following? Share it with us in the comments below!

    Nokia's Symbian 3: What You Need To Know


    Nokia recently announced their revolutionary new mobile phone set to release in quarter 3 this year, the Nokia N8. The phone itself looks beautiful: a full touch-screen, with features to make any self-respecting geek drool over. HD video recording with an 12-megapixel camera, and a blazing-fast mobile processor.

    But we all know that its not the hardware that counts in mobile phones today. The user experience, provided largely by the software operating system that powers today's hand-held computers, is an integral part in choosing your next phone.

    Apple managed to get it right with the iPhone. The iPhone OS software has influenced so many other phones, and its development tools have allowed developers to innovate in the mobile sphere, a juncture in the coding world that was once frustrating to write apps for (Sun Microsystem's J2ME, anybody?)

    With Nokia's new Symbian 3 operating system, the software that powers the N8, the Finnish company has decided to start afresh. Developers are also in for a treat, as Nokia is propounding the open-source Qt framework and development tools that will enable potential developers for this new platform to design stylish, iPhone-rivalling apps. This means an over-all better experience for us end-users. It also means that a new age of developers will emerge, resulting in another surge of innovation in the mobile space.

    Here's a run-down of what you need to know about Symbian 3, the software that will be powering the next generation of Nokia devices.

    AMD CPUs to Power More Laptops


    Not even two weeks after their first Phenom II X6 desktop processors were released, sources familiar with the sector say that AMD's newest range of microprocessors will power 109 new mainstream laptop models, to be released in the coming months. This is a very important time for AMD, as most of the laptops will be released in anticipation of the Back to School Rush, and could very well be a make-or-break time in the mobile microprocessor market.This time last year however, AMD microprocessors could be found in 40 laptop models.

    The range of chips are set to be unveiled next week, and early signs are that PC makers have positive views. This is down to AMD's attempt at simplifying the various microprocessor models that it offers; which will all fall under the "Vision" brand name. Other positives include improved battery life, and better performance across the range, sources say.

    The sources also state that all of the microprocessors in the forthcoming laptops will be matched with AMD's chipsets (the group of microchips that actually control the flow of data, controlling the memory, cache, hard drive, keyboard, etc.. The chipset allows direct traffic along the bus and can allow devices to interface without using the CPU). That means AMD can collect more revenue for each laptop sold than it can when its microprocessors are paired with chipsets from other companies like Nvidia Corp.
    Even though this is a marked improvement, AMD is still by far the inferior supplier. In the first quarter of 2010, AMD represented 12.1 percent of worldwide mobile chip sales, according to IDC. Intel's market share was 87.8 percent.

    The PC makers expected to feature AMD's new chips (from June) include Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Acer.

    Read the full article here at Reuters

    Any thoughts or views? Feel free to comment

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