Ever get that eerie feeling you're being watched? Forget what your therapist told you, you have every right to be paranoid. NEC Corp. has just developed a new 50-inch plasma display that not only likes being watched, but watches back. On top of the display sits a tiny camera capable of identifying a person's age and sex, and it can perform the same trick with a group of viewers. Armed with that information, the display can then target advertisements based on the predominate demographic. For example, if most of the viewers are determined to be senior citizens, it might show an ad for the Jitterbug instead of Apple's iPhone.
"Changing advertising products in accordance with the viewer would bring advertising closer to the purchaser," said Hiroshi Takahashi at NEC's solution business promotion division.
And he's right, but is that a good thing? Imagine stopping near a billboard with your longtime girlfriend and as you bend down on one knee to propose, the display starts belting out a "Viva Viagra!" jingle. Or Herpex. Interested parties need only hold their cell phone over a special device and the display will feed them a URL, coupons, and any other pertinent information, but depending on what's being advertised, you may want to wait until your girlfriend's not looking.
The 50-inch display will make an appearance later this summer at an annual festival in Tokyo run by Fuji Television network and be presented as an entertainment device. Visitors will know they're being watched, but will they like it?
The guys at CruchGear want to design a web tablet that would cost $200 and they want your help to do it. I’ve always liked the idea of a tablet for doing little things like surfing from the sofa. With netbooks catching on, can a net-tablet be far behind?
They pitch this basic idea; make it as thin as possible, run low end hardware, headphone jack, a built in camera for video, low end speakers, microphone, wifi, USB port, a built in battery, 512 RAM, and a 4Gb solid state hard drive. No keyboard, input is via a touch screen. It will run on some flavor of Linux or BSD.
The extra twist is they want to build a few and then open source the specs so anyone can create and improve on them. I like the idea! You can read about the mock up here, and the article that started it here.
I see it as handy item for browsing the web and reading email, but with it's only interface is a touch screen, don't expect to write a book the size of War and Peace on it.
We still have a ways to go before being able to print out an entire PC's worth of components ordered through Newegg, but imagine taking that killer motherboard layout you've been brewing in your head and printing out a 3D mockup. Then the only question is do you send your design to your favorite motherboard maker, or start up your own company and show the competition what a real enthusiast's layout is supposed to look like? Forget about Fatal1ty, and slap your own forum nick on your custom mobo!
Sound farfetched? It is, but only because of the high costs associated with 3D printing. Looking to break that barrier is Netherlands-based Shapeways, an ambitious startup who hopes to help you transform your 3D modeling designs from software creations into hard printouts, all without breaking the bank. After submitting your object, Shapeways decides whether or not it can be produced and provides a real-time cost estimate, which the company claims usually runs between $50-$150.
It's all part of Shapeways' private beta for a new online consumer co-creation community and do-it-yourself 3D printing service. The site beta has just gone live, but the only way you'll get to try it out is with an invite. That's no problem for Maximum PC readers, as we've secured 250 exclusive invitations!
Hit the jump to learn more about Shapeways' 3D printing service and to snatch your invite. But hurry, they're first come, first served!
Remember that old economics lesson about supply and demand? If demand for a product rises, the company producing it can raise the price to the point where the supply and demand curves intersect. But when the demand for a product is almost non-existent, the invisible hand of economics demands that price falls. In the case of Microsoft’s Games for Windows LIVE initiative, the price has now fallen to zero. Microsoft just announced today that Games for Windows LIVE will be free for all users (both Silver and Gold accounts), which is the price it should’ve been at all along. Gamertags, buddy lists, and achievements will be enabled on all accounts without an annual fee, though gamers who play on Xbox LIVE will still have to pay for that service.
Check back later today for our interview with Kevin Unangst, Senior Global Director of Games for Windows, who will reveal what other plans Microsoft has next for the GFW program. Click through the jumpf for Microsoft's official press release.
Don't worry, you needn't fear seeing your neighborhood turned into a tricked out light display with gimmicky LEDs (the same can't be said about your neighbors' PCs), but inside those homes, incandescent and compact fluorescent lightbulbs might be on their way to becoming extinct. Helping put them on the endangered tech list are researchers at Purdue University who claim to have found a way to create low-cost LEDs.
Light-emitting diodes are said to be about four times more efficient than your standard lightbulb, they're easier on the environment, and with a lifespan perhaps as long as 15 years, LEDs seem destined to light up your living room. One thing preventing them from doing that are the high manufacturing costs, driven in large part by a costly sapphire substrate used to make LEDs. Compared to conventional incandescent and fluorescent lightbulbs, LED replacements would be at least 20 times more expensive.
Find out how researchers from Purdue University say they can get around the cost barrier associated with LEDs after the jump.
When it comes to graphics, killing two birds with one stone means squeezing out better performance from a newly released GPU while also reducing the power draw, and that's exactly what Nvidia has done. The 9800M and 9700M graphics cores are Nvidia's newest additions to its Geforce Mobile line, bringing desktop-like performance to the laptop.
The 9800M comes in three models, with the 9800M GTX taking residence at the top of the heap. Boasting the same G92 core that was so popular on the desktop, the 9800M GTX comes clocked at 500MHz and uses 112 shaders running at 1,250MHz each. Combined with a 256-bit memory interface, that translates into 420 gigaflops of processing power, putting it nearly on par with its desktop counterpart, the 8800 GT. And for the hardcore mobile gamers, the flagship model is SLI capable. As for the rest of the cards:
Here is a product for those that use Carpool Kenny (for security purposes of course) or timers on lights, and is more eco friendly that leaving your TV on. Enter FakeTV, a computer controlled, super-bright multi-color LED lamp with light output equivalent to a typical 27" HDTV LCD television, but it consumes fifty times less power than an actual TV. It creates the effect of a TV that is on, minus sound of course.
This is an item that is sure to land on one of those “as seen on TV” commercials, although it won’t become anywhere near as popular as The Clapper. While FakeTV is sound in principle it’s only going to work as well as the crook casing your house is smart. Leaving the TV on is an old trick, and a TV without sound is only going to fool the most novice of burglars. It’s creepy in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. Oddly enough even Carpool Kenny looks cooler than this thing.
Just how green can we make a PC? Pretty damn green, although the Cherrypal isn’t very pretty or particularly cheap, although $250 isn’t really bad as far as computers go.
On the technical side it can best be described as the 90 pound weakling. The CPU is a 400 MHz Freescale MPC5121e mobile GT triple-core processor, originally developed to run devices like navigation systems in cars. It has 256 MB DDR2 memory, 4 GB of NAND flash memory which contains a Debian Linux-based operating system and the Firefox web browser. It also sports 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, two USB ports, an Ethernet port, VGA out, and Audio out. It’s just enough to fulfill its purpose -cloud computing.
Basically it allows you to surf, email, watch YouTube, watch Flash animations, and create documents/spreadsheets. Something that does bother me is the claims that the device is secure, because it accesses the Internet through the Cherrypal Cloud. I don’t like that all my data goes through one company like that. There are also many “what ifs” to be answered on that point.
We’ll have to see how this compares to the netbooks when they are actually shipping, Netbooks after all at least look cool. From the picture the Cherrypal looks like a bar of black soap.
Not everyone is sold on SSDs, but that isn't stopping almost everyone from trying to sell you one. Competition has started to heat up, and it looks as though OCZ and Super Talent are lining up for a race to see which company can offer the fastest SSDs at the lowest price point. Super Talent kicked things off with its MasterDrive MX line, offering 120MB/sec read and 40MB/sec write speeds in 30GB, 60GB, and 120GB sizes for as low as $299, but OCZ joined the race just a few months later with a low cost line of its own. OCZ's Core series drives upped the ante with a hat trick that includes slightly more storage space, better read and write speeds at up to 143MB/sec and 93MB/sec respectively, and lower price points. Game, set, match?
Not quite. Super Talent doesn't appear ready to concede the mainstream market, and to prove it, the company has revised its MX series SSDs to offer faster speeds. Both the 15GB and 30GB models now sport read speeds of 120MB/sec and write speeds of 60MB/sec, while the 60GB and 120GB boast the same read speed but increases the write speeds to 80MB/sec. "Our expert engineering team is constantly discovering new ways to improve our proudcts, and this is one improvement that will be well received by power laptop users," said Super Talent director or marketing, Joe James.
The tweaked SATA-II SSDs still trail behind OCZ's Core series, but to make them more competitive, Super Talent has begun offering a $40 rebate (PDF) when purchased through Newegg. Is it enough to make you consider a SSD?
Windows Home Server Power Pack 1, in beta since early June, is now available. It rolls up several previous updates, and also fixes a major data-corruption bug affecting systems with multiple hard disks. You can get it right now from KB944289.
However, there's more than bug fixes in Power Pack 1. To find out more about what's new in Power Pack 1, and to learn how to grab updated documentation, see us after the jump.