Open-source beer. Were it only as easy as walking to the store and picking up a free case of alcoholic something that's been built and licensed by a team of geeks. At the very least, we can all can build our own booze-making machines following a handy set of open-source software and hardware instructions. But the fun doesn't stop there.
What is open-source hardware? I've chatted about this before. In short, open-source hardware is be a combination of software code and hardware instructions (or, really, just the latter) that's given to you for a set price (not necessarily "free as in beer") and license for use. You're free to use the instructions to develop carbon copies of that which you wish to build, or create derivative works of said hardware, provided you offer up your diagrams/code/instructions under the same licensing as you received it.
Now that's out of the way, let's check out the open-source home brewery kit along with a few other crazy projects from the OSH world!
Scientists at the University of Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory are on the verge of launching the "world's first flexible electronic screen", The Times Online reports. The new display represents a decade of development and would compete with the various electronic readers currently on the market, such as Sony's e-book readers and Amazon's Kindle.
Plastic Logic, the company responsible for the device, says it doesn't plan to release a roll-up screen just yet, saying consumers aren't interested in that level of flexibility.
"People worry that it will break if they roll up a device and dump in in their bag," said Martin Jackson, vice president of technology at Plastic Logic.
Plastic Logic says its touch-screen reader only needs to be charged once every two weeks and that the screen uses no power when the image isn't changing. The device is expected to be especially popular for e-versions of newspapers.
Look for the device to be launched in the U.S. sometime in early 2010 at a similar price point as Amazon's Kindle.
Sony today released a pair of new e-book readers the company hopes will help put it in a better position to do battle with Amazon's popular Kindle. As such, Sony also plans to reduce all new releases and best sellers at its e-book store from $11.99 down to $9.99 each.
On the hardware front, Sony's new Reader Pocket Edition weighs 7.76 ounces and sports a 5-inch display. There's enough memory to store 350 standard e-books, but no expansion slot for memory cards. Users can expect about two weeks of use before having to recharge the battery. The pocket-sized reader is available in navy blue, rose, and silver with an MSRP of $200.
As the name implies, Sony's new Reader Touch Edition ups the ante with a touchscreen display, which supports finger or stylus enabled note taking with the virtual keyboard. It comes with five adjustable font size and expansion slots for both Memory Stick PRO Duo and SD cards. This one comes in red, black, or silver with an MSRP set at $300.
While we're big fans of the proven awesomeness of open-source software, we don't automatically download every free application that's labeled as an open-source project. What make more sense is the use of open-source as the tool that effects some kind of massive or otherwise unreachable change in a common device. Case in point is open-source firmware, named not for any philosophical belief behind its creation, but because few would want to heft the banner for these changes themselves. After all, creativity comes from a wide range of sources and inputs--as does software testers. You sure wouldn't want to be the one person working on third-party iPhone firmware, bricking device after device in a quest to add additional functionality that Apple didn't first design.
But that kind of unintended funcitonality is the sole benefit to open-source firmware. Throw those aspirations of community membership and open-source allegiance out the window: You want to increase the power of your device akin to a Sim tinkering his or her hardware to gain mechanical skill points. There's no shame in that. In fact, you can accomplish much by adopting third-party firmware in place of standard manufacturer packages. For example, building increased sound codecs into your MP3 player of choice, or adding on-screen level meters to your digital SLR. You can even turn your router into a bridge, perfect for extending the range of your neighbor's wireless signal so you can thieve his connection from additional locations in your apartment. You can also brick your device.
We jest, but only partially. For the danger of running third-party firmware--safe as many of the packages can seem to be--is that you could render your device of choice unusable. It happens to "real" firmware upgrades; it can happen to "unofficial" firmware upgrades as well, only I venture that you'll probably find more problems in the latter scenario than with a manufacturer's tried-and-tested update. But still, the benefits can often outweigh the risks, especially if you're looking to extend your legacy devices with additional features. An entire ocean of open-source firmware fixes awaits your perusal -- we take a look at some outstanding examples of open-source firmware, and teach you how to install them on your own gadgets!
Less than a month ago, NZXT released the funky looking M59, a $60 chassis aimed at attention-seeking gamers. If the aesthetics weren't your style but the price point was, NZXT's latest case, the Beta EVO, might be more your style.
Part of NZXT's Classic Series, the Beta EVO mid-tower sports a more subdued look, but there is more here than meets the eye. The major focus is on airflow, and to that end, the Beta EVO accommodates up to six 120mm fans with the option of dual 140mm at the top.
Other amenities include support for 10.5-inch graphics cards, screwless installation for hard drives and external 5.25-inch drives, front-facing HDD rack, external dual radiator support, a sleek all-black internal finish, CPU cutout for easier third-party heatsink installation, and a handful of wire management cutouts.
That's a pretty robust feature-set for NZXT's $50 asking price. Look for the Beta EVO to be made available in September.
We love point-and-shoot pocket cameras for their small size and ease of use, but we lament their relatively paltry feature sets when compared to more expensive DSLR models. The good news, for owners of the popular Canon PowerShot cameras, is that your consumer-grade gadget can be upgraded with custom software to endow it with professional features like RAW image recording and live histogram feedback. CHDK (Canon Hack Development Kit) is an easy-to-install software package created by a savvy group of programmers to supercharge the Canon PowerShot. We show you how to safely install and configure this free firmware add-on with no risk to your camera.
For several months we’ve been talking about what a great value Gateway’s P-7811 FX gaming notebook was (reviewed October 2008). So we were anxious to see how the update to that model, the P-7808u FX, holds up.
At first glance, “update” seems too strong a word for Gateway’s latest 17-inch performance-oriented notebook. The P-7808u FX looks identical to its predecessor, sporting the exact same black-and-orange chassis as the P-7811 FX, the exact same arrangement of ports— three USB, FireWire, eSATA, HDMI, VGA—and the exact same right-angle power connector that we griped about the first go-round.
The P-7808u FX even features the same videocard, a GeForce 9800M GTS. This card helped last year’s P-7811 FX win us over with impressive scores in our standard gaming benchmarks and the new P-7808u FX’s performance in those tests was equally strong. But compared with a dual-GPU notebook such as CyberPower’s Extreme M1 (May 2009), Gateway’s graphics solution shows its age. When faced with a more graphically intensive title like UT3, the P-7808u FX mustered a score of 64fps compared with the Extreme M1’s 114fps—and it would no doubt fare worse in more modern titles.
You can never have enough USB ports, but when it comes to wireless devices, wouldn't it be groovy if they all ran off of a single USB dongle? We certainly think so, and so does Logitech, who today announced the release of its Unifying Receiver.
Logitech's Unifying Receiver lets multiple wireless gadgets communicate with the host PC through a single USB dongle, and to kick off the proprietary technology, Logitech announced four compatible products. These include the Wireless Keyboard K350, Wireless Keyboard K340, Marathon Mouse M705, and Wireless Mouse M505.
As is the case with other Logitech wireless products, the new devices each use 2.4GHz wireless connectivity, but they no longer each need their own dongle. The Unifying Receiver further saves space by only protruding 8mm.
Up to six compatible devices can be connected at the same time, with each subsequent peripheral needing to be configured using Logitech's Unifying software. All devices connect securely using 128-bit AES encryption, and they work with Windows 7, Logitech says.
Setting up and maintaining a liquid-cooling setup isn't for everyone, and it's this crowd BFG is targeting with a pair of maintenance-free, self-contained liquid-cooled GeForce graphics cards, the GTX 285 H2O+ and the GTX 295 H2OC.
Both new cards sport BFG's new ThermoIntelligence Advanced Cooling Solution, which when you take away the fancy title means you can enjoy the benefits of water cooling your videocard(s) without all the fuss. According to BFG, the cards are easy to install right out of the box and never need refilling or additional components. The benefit, says BFG, is up to 30C cooler temps under load when pitted against standard air cooled models.
"We're very excited to be the first company to bring this type of professional grade advanced cooling solution to PC enthusiasts," said John Malley, senior director of marketing for BFG.
BFG's GTX 295 H2OC will sport a 675MHz core clockspeed, 2214MHz memory data rate, and 1458MHz shader clockspeed. The GTX 285 H2O+ will run at 691MHz, 2592MHz, and 1566MHz core, memory, and shader clockspeeds, respectively.
The GTX 295 H2OC will be available in limited quantities starting August 5th, while the GTX 285 H2O+ will also be available in limited quantities, starting August 12th. No word on price.
Rumors of an Apple tablet have been swirling since at least mid-2001 when Kevin Fox, a user experience designer for Google, posted a blog predicting the release of the iPad. That never came to fruition, but it wouldn't be the last time 'Apple' and 'tablet' would be muttered in the same breath (see Mac Life's The History of the Apple Tablet Rumor for a detailed timeline).
Fast forward 8 years and it appears the Apple tablet may finally be on the verge of release. An anonymous source (not ours) claims to have held a prototype and says Apple will have a final design ready in the next six weeks, which could be announced in September for release in November, just in time for the holiday rush. Or so says Barron's, part of The Wall Street Journal.
Barron's speculates the device could retail for $700 to $800, which sounds about right for an Apple-branded tablet. And according to Jon Peddie, head of Jon Peddie Research, look for gaming functionality to be a "big part of what this is about." Maybe it'll play Duke Nukem: Forever.
Anyone think we'll see this thing in the next several months? Hit the jump and post your predictions.