Huawei is launching another phone in the United States, and it’s managed to recruit a powerful ally to share it with consumers: Walmart. On the same day that founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei pushed back against US national security allegations involving his company, Huawei has announced that its W1 Windows Phone 8 handset will be available this month from America’s largest retailer. The W1 isn’t exactly a new addition to the Windows Phone portfolio, but this marks the first time US buyers will be able to secure the device. As a refresher, the hardware contains a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 5-megapixel rear camera, and a 4-inch Gorilla Glass IPS display. You’ll find just 1.7GB of storage available out of the box, but thankfully that can be…
One of the hacks at Disrupt NY’s Hackathon this year employed hardware startup Leap Motion’s new 3D gesture controller, which unfortunately just ran into a delay. Leap Motion’s issues aside, this project, the combined effort of Chao Huang, Cedrich Pinson and Jorge Martinez, brings a Facebook Home-style experience to the desktop.
With “Leap in Time,” Leap Motion is used to navigate through a Facebook timeline via hand gestures that are intended to be as natural and intuitive as possible. You swipe left and right to go through photos and posts, and there’s inertia built-in to make it feel even more immersive. Then there’s a motion to pause and focus on a particular piece of content, with a palm outward gesture, and you can simply make a thumbs up to like a post.
Working with the Leap Motion was fairly simple, the team said, but does seem to experience difficulty with some environment issues like changing lighting conditions. It’s also crucial to maker sure that the Leap Motion app you’re building is cued to pay attention to certain things at certain times and to ignore specific motions in different settings. You have to cue the app to not pay attention to sideways hand waving when you want it to be able to recognize the thumbs up, for instance.
The hack was surprisingly smooth given that it was built in fewer than 24 hours, and Huang said there’s plenty more they could do given more time, but they wanted to focus on what they considered the core Facebook experience. The project is also reminiscent of a recent concept design making the rounds of a Facebook Home app for Windows 8.
Leap in Time is a simple enough implementation of Leap Motion, but it does act as a pretty solid example of how gesture control might actually work well for navigating apps and software that we use every day. I know that Leap Motion is eager to get as much software as possible into Airspace, the app store for the controller, but this team said they weren’t sure whether they’d actually pursue this any further.
Sonos is a wireless audio company that makes solid – albeit comparatively expensive – audio hardware. Setup is drop dead simple – to add a component you simply press one or two buttons on the new device and everything “just works” and the remote control UI, refined over most of the past decade, has a cult-like following. You can create different audio zones around your room and play different music in each one or enter party mode and turn your house into a massive disco. In short, Sonos makes whole-home audio easy.
So what of this new Playbar, a long sound bar that sits above or below your television and connects to your system via a single optical cable? This new device has nine speakers built-in, six midrange and three tweeters, and works with Sonos’ SUB subwoofer and Play:3 mini speakers that can act as satellite surround sound speakers.
To use the Playbar you need at least a Sonos Bridge – the central device that talks to all Sonos devices – and an iOS or Android device. Setup requires you to connect the Playbar to your TV (or receiver) via a single optical cable. You then plug in the power and you’re set. It also has an Ethernet port, but Sonos has excellent QOS control via wireless and I’ve never had a problem with streaming.
The $ 699 Playbar can be mounted above or below your TV – a built-in accelerometer senses the direction – or you can put it on a TV stand.
Unfortunately, this reliance on a single optical cable is both good and bad. If you don’t have a receiver and connect all of your devices directly to your TV, you’re golden. If you have a receiver, however, setup is a bit more difficult. I set my receiver to output HDMI audio as well as video and turned it down all the way. The TV, then, does all of the audio output via optical and your receiver becomes little more than a switch. You can control the Playbar’s volume with your TV remote or the Sonos app.
The app also bears some discussion. The Sonos app breaks your sound system into different rooms and nearly everything is managed through the app, including the addition of more speakers to the system. You can add music services and grab multiple songs from multiple services – an album from your own collection, a few songs from a shared drive on your network, and maybe a playlist from Rdio – and play it as a queue. You can save queues (playlists, really) and all of the audio manipulation, including control of bass and treble, are done in the app. With the addition of the the Playbar, the app adds a “TV” input that allows you to control the volume of the Playbar remotely.
How is the audio quality? A single Playbar will make your TV sound better (although that’s usually not hard). I was able to turn up the sound on action movies and get a few solid whomps out of the soundtrack as well as hear clear and distinct dialog, which was actually an improvement over my current 5.1 setup. Your results may vary, but I didn’t get much out of the “simulated” surround sound these speakers advertised but I was pleased with the sound overall.
Music playback over this speaker – because, using the Sonos app, you can beam services like Pandora and Rdio as well as your own collection through the Playbar – was clean and nuanced and these were an excellent replacement for the pair of stereo speakers I usually used to listen to music.
Current Sonos users will be pleased to note that this system does replace the Play:5 or Play:3 speakers, whether you have paired them in stereo or are simply using a single unit. You could, for example, remove a pair of Play speakers and simply use this to play TV audio as well as your music. The Playbar is that good. I saw no discernible difference in using this vs. the two Sonos speakers I already had in the room I was testing this gear in.
The Playbar also answers another home audio prayer – the promise of true wireless 5.1 sound. While the Playbar technically isn’t a center-front right-front left setup, by pairing this with two Play:3 satellites (Play:5 units don’t work) and a sub-woofer, you’ve got a very nice wireless 5.1 system.
The Playbar really shines in this setup, which, in the end, will cost you $ 1,996 to set up, including the Playbar. The Playbar paired with the sub-woofer, for example, really opens up the audio considerably while the satellite speakers – which require all of five minutes to setup – are almost magical in their simplicity. For folks who have pulled wire under or across walls and floors, this setup is a godsend. At the bare minimum I’d recommend the Playbar and the Sub. If you want to spring for the Play:3s in the back, you won’t be disappointed.
Better (or at least more bass-heavy) soundbars can be had for about as much as the Sonos system. However, if you’re already familiar with the Sonos system, this is probably your best bet. It completely replaces any Play speakers you already have (allowing you to stick them in another room) and paired with other Sonos gear it really sounds great.
If you’re new to Sonos, you may not want to start here. Sonos truly shines in music playback and there’s nothing like setting all of your speakers on party mode and creating a soundscape that would normally take you hours of setup and wire management to pull off. The Playbar, then, seems like a device for folks who want to Sonosify their whole home and it’s understandable why they created it. However, it’s not a good introductory device unless you’re in the market for a solid sound bar with a few very cool features. If you’re only looking for music playback, a few Play:5 speakers and maybe a SUB are a good place to start.
Can you get better sound out of equally or more expensive speakers? Potentially. However, the added value of complete control of your music and TV audio is a huge plus. The Sonos system shines when there are a few speakers going at once and if you’re looking for a true wireless surround sound system, look no further. If you’re simply trying to replace the wonky speakers built into your TV, however, the Playbar faces tougher competition but stands firm against similarly-priced soundbars. It is well worth a look when considering living room/TV audio systems.
After previously making the panaroma app available for iOS (and Windows Phone 7 after that), Microsoft is finally bringing Photosynth to Windows Phone 8. As you’d expect, Microsoft has tapped into WP8′s feature set and is offering full Lens support for this version of Photosynth, letting users launch the app directly from the default system camera. Among other functionality Microsoft says is new for Windows Phone 8 is the ability to view shared panoramas and new controls for locking white balance / exposure. The free app should be available from the WIndows Phone Store now, but if you’re not seeing it immediately, give it some time; Microsoft says it may take a few hours for Photosynth to hit every region.
After starting life as a Windows Phone game, Wordament soon picked up Xbox Live achievements on Microsoft’s mobile operating system and made the jump to Windows 8. Microsoft is now taking it cross platform. Available for iPhone, Wordament is the first iOS game to use Xbox Live achievements. Similar to other Microsoft iOS apps, you simply sign in using your Microsoft Account and the game is then linked to your gamertag.
Wordament is a simple word puzzle that lets you join games for two minutes and guess as many words as you can. Now that it’s available on iPhone, it’s also one of the few Windows Phone games that works across-platform with real-time gaming against friends. Microsoft has made other iOS games, including Kinectimals and Halo…
The official Facebook app for Windows Phone 8 is now much faster thanks to a new update. The version 4.1 update doesn’t bring any massive features but, like recent updates to the Android and iOS apps, focuses on improving general performance. We had a quick play with the update and found that it was noticeably faster than version 4.0, with none of the lag found in the old app.
Phones running Windows Phone 7 are not able to benefit from the new update. We’re seeing the version 4.1 update in the UK Windows Phone Marketplace, but it doesn’t appear to be live in all markets just yet. Let us know if you’re able to download the update in comments.
A US Cellular rep confirmed today that the carrier is now offering a new unlimited 4G LTE data plan. Customers within the company’s LTE markets can now add unlimited 4G data for $ 40 per month — only through January 31st of next year, though. If surfing the web on a smartphone isn’t enough, you can add optional tethering for an additional $ 20, which requires a separate tiered hotspot data plan. Just in time for the holidays, this ample offering lines up with the carrier’s recent LTE expansion and its plan to bring 4G access to 58 percent of its customers by the end of the year. In addition to this promotional data plan, US Cellular is offering a $ 100 instant rebate on select smartphones, including the Huawei Ascend Y and Samsung Galaxy S III. Not stopping there, anyone who purchases a smartphone or tablet can score a free Samsung SCH-LC11 hotspot. It’s uncertain if this is truly unlimited data or the type that comes with a throttled cap. So, we’d caution you not to go on a Netflix and Pandora binge, as such activities could result in a nastygram from US Cellular for use beyond what the fine print allows.
Welcome to the future of 360-degree video.
MakingView, a company out of Norway, has created a camera called the ViewCam, an ultra lightweight camera that can be mounted almost anywhere and take full 360-degree video.
Unlike the Dot or GoPro, however, consumers can’t purchase the ViewCam, as it’s only available as proprietary technology, licensed out to companies like RedBull. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t cool, or that we won’t see it (or something like it) on consumer shelves in the coming years.
The potential uses for this technology are bountiful. Just imagine taking a tour of the Egyptian pyramids or the Grand Canyon from the comfort of your computer. Tour Guides for major attractions could strap one of these things on without even noticing it’s there and go about their daily business.
The ViewCam is remote-controlled, with a 2.4GHz processor, has 160 to 224GB of internal memory and takes 4K x 2K equirectangular video at 25 – 50 fps.
Viewers can pan around with their keyboard or mouse to see the sky, backwards, forwards, left and right, and even look down at whatever the camera is mounted on.
In the case below, that would be a RedBull biker flying down a hill.
Since the ViewCam only weighs around 600 grams, it can be mounted on a helmet without affecting the biker, driver, runner, spelunker or what have you.
If your company is interested in licensing the technology, you must contact Making View for a quote.
Chances are it costs a pretty penny, as only RedBull goes to such extremes for marketing.Related Posts:
Extra information when driving can be useful, but also distracting. Enter BMW‘s new M Performance sport steering wheel — which offers a whole bunch of data and information while letting you keep your eyes (mostly) on the road. Essentially it’s a high-grip Alcantara wheel, with a small OLED display at 12 o’clock, and two LED meters on either side. There are three readout modes: EfficientDynamics, Sport and Race. The former will tell you average fuel consumption, speed as well as oil and water temperature. Sport mode will tell you lateral g-force data (that cleverly remains on the display until you bring the wheel back to its neutral position) while the LED strips provide cues for gear shifts. Like to take things out on the track? Lap times, with section splits, and even a drag-style Christmas tree mode will help you get those times down. How much for this king of steering wheels? A racy $ 1,700. Speed past the break for a video of the goods in action.
Filed under: Transportation
As cutting-edge as Google can be, its Chrome browser has trailed in supporting Do Not Track by default; all its major challengers already have the option to cut off tracking cookies. At least that’s where Google’s fast-track development process comes in handy. Following a short beta, the stable release of Chrome 23 includes the DNT protocol to both safeguard privacy and prevent a few eerily well-targeted ads. The update is more fine-grained still with a quick drop-down menu to selectively turn off access to cameras, location and other sensitive details on a site-by-site basis. Even those who live their life in public get something: Windows users at last have graphics hardware acceleration for video, giving a lift to battery life on laptops and smoothing playback for those on borderline-acceptable PCs. More details are available at the source link, so get to clicking if you’re not a fan of small text files shadowing your web visits.