Despite winning the high-definition format war, Blu-ray adoption appears to be at a standoff with most consumers. Not everyone is willing to pay the relatively high prices associated with Blu-ray players, and that decision has been aided by the prominence of streaming media (a la Netflix) and upconverting standard DVD players. And it looks like consumers were right to wait.
Panasonic, Philips, and Sony have jointly announced plans to create a single licensing firm for Blu-ray patents, which should help drive prices down across the board. The new license is expected to cover all the essential Blu-ray patents to be overseen by an un-named licensing company in the U.S and run by Gerald Rosenthal, former head of intellectual property at IBM.
"By establishing a new licensing entity that offers a single license for Blu-ray Disc products at attractive rates, I am confident that it will foster the growth of the Blu-ray Disc marekt and serve the interest of all companies participating in this market, be it as licensee or licensor," Rosenthal said.
As it stands today, licensing Blu-ray requires talking to each of the three partner companies, but under the new plan, the group estimates the cost of a license to be "at least 40 percent lower than the current cumulative royalty rate." How much of that ends up being passed on to consumers remains to be seen, though we won't have to wait long to find out. The new plan is expected to be introduced by the middle of the year.
High prices have traditionally relegated gaming laptops, which often qualify as desktop replacements, to niche markets served by boutique vendors, but we're starting to see more manufacturers step up to the plate with affordable models. Gateway kicked off the recent trend with its P-7811FX and others -- take Acer, for example -- have followed suit.
In an apparent attempt to undercut the competition, HP has updated its Pavilion dv7t gaming laptop with new parts and a new lower price tag. The OEM decided to stretch the screen real estate from 17 inches to 17.3 inches (1,600 x 900 resolution), and the Nvidia graphics have been traded in for a pair of ATI parts, the 512MB Mobility Radeon HD 4530 and 1GB HD 4650.
It all adds up (or down) to a new starting price of $800, which is a good chunk lower than its previous starting point of $1,230. However, that includes an AMD Turion X2 processor. A baseline Intel setup starts at $850, which includes a similarly weaksauce T4200 processor. Upgrades are available, and if you can toss $1,125 more into the mix and you can bump the CPU to Intel's Core 2 Quad Q9000.
There has been some renewed excitement over AMD's triple-core Phenom X3 processors after at least one user claims to have been able to unlock the fourth core. The post appeared on Korean website Playwares.com backed by what appear to be legitimately looking screenshots. Using a Bisotar TA790GX motherboard, all it supposedly took was changing the "Advanced Clock Calibration" in the BIOS to 'Auto,' which reportedly unlocks the disabled core.
Citing un-named motherboard makers, DigiTimes says the report has caused an upsurge in demand for AMD's Phenom X3 chips. Those same sources also described the credibility of unlocking reports as very high, but cautioned that it might only apply to specific batches of CPUs and not the whole tri-core lineup.
Not surprisingly, AMD isn't commenting on whether or not the disabled cores can be re-enabled. And until we see it for ourselves or from a reputable source, we remain skeptical that it can be done.
The fruits of a 10-year funded agreement with the U.S. Army that began in 2004 has paid off for Arizona State University's Flexible Display Center (FDC), who has just created the first ever flexible touchscreen display. The display is based on active-matrix electrophoretic technology from E-Ink Corp out of Cambridge, MA, and will find initial application as a military device.
"Our displays have always been flexible, but so far the touchscreens have been glass, which are not rugged enough for many applications," said Sri Peruvemba, E-Ink's VP of marketing. "Now we have a partner that can build a flexible touchscreen to match our flexible display."
That partner is DuPont Teijin films, who manufacturers the plastic used in place of glass in conventional touchscreens. In this case, amorphous silicon thin-film transistors were fabricated on DuPont's flexible Teonex polyethylene napthalate substrate. The end result is a rugged, light-weight device suitable for battlefield scenarios.
Beyond military use, Peruvemba said the technology could become commercially available in as little as 18 months.
When you’re playing a Scout, you have to be nimble, quick, and able to jump over candle sticks burning metal death at a moment’s notice, so shedding a few pounds probably isn’t a bad idea.
With that in mind, in honor of its recently released Scout update, Valve has decided to lop a few digits off TF2’s already trim (and even a tad sexy) price tag. To be honest, we’re not sure if it’s healthy, but then, who are we to judge?
The sale runs until Friday and sees Valve’s Crayola-tinged diatribe about the horrors of war drop down to a mere $10. Not jumping on this would probably be one of the biggest mistakes of your life. Your future wife can wait.
And really, what else are you going to buy for ten smackaroos? Oh, right.
That John Carmack! What a gossip, huh? He goes on a beer run with PC gamers and he’s all like, “I just wanted to… I just… I love you guys!” But then, after totally crashing a console-only party, he’s singing a different tune (possibly while wearing a dog costume). And now, once again Carmack’s shacking up with PC game—oh no! He’s here! Please, please, please don’t tell him what we said. That’d be soooo awkward.
"A lot of [Quake Live] was about doing something that the PC was going to be better at than the consoles," he told Gamasutra.
"Our modern triple-A stuff has to be somewhat more console-centric, with the PC as a peer, while this is an opportunity to do something where the PC will really stand alone,” he noted.
Carmack hopes to see Quake Live blossom into a sort of social-networking service – the one toy at show-and-tell that even Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo only wish they could get their grubby mitts on or toss in the sandbox or put in their mouths or whatever makes sense with this flimsy analogy.
"For years, I've often thought about the fact that a lot of people spend vastly more time on websites and forums about the games that they're playing than they actually spend playing the games themselves," he adds. "We hope to have some aspect of that here."
Well, that’s good enough for us, John. We’re yours forever now… wait a minute! Did you just steal this gift from our shelves – our shelves marked “1999” – and rewrap it? Is this all we are to you?
If you've ever been subjected to a babel of echoing voices during a teleconference, Microsoft Research is working on a solution. As demonstrated (link requires Microsoft Silverlight) at this week's TechFest, MR's audio spatialization project enables a PC with stereo speakers to spatially separate different members of a teleconference. Audio spatialization's been used for years in 3D gaming, but Microsoft Research has added a new twist: to make it work for teleconferencing, it's also added echo cancellation. As researcher Zhengyou Zhang puts it:
Audio spatialization uses speakers to create the illusion that call attendees have different locations spatially. This allows you to use the audio sense you already have, that you normally use in conversation, to isolate who you’re talking to, and to associate a location in space with a particular individual... In a conference where there are multiple voices coming out of multiple speakers, it becomes important to eliminate the echoes that might naturally occur.
So you’re a really big fan of a band. Such a big fan, that you’ll find yourself seeking out any new tracks from the artist and grabbing them at any expense. Don’t feel ashamed, there are others just like you!
One such band that (evidently) has such a fan base is Depeche Mode, and it looks like iTunes is helping hardcore listeners get their fix. A new feature recently released, called the “iTunes Pass,” will allow buyers to automatically get anything new that they release onto the iTunes Store within a set period of time (including albums, special tracks, remixes, videos, etc.).
The Depeche Mode iTunes Pass is being released alongside their latest album, Sounds of the Universe, and will allow buyers to get all they can eat before June 16 of this year. And don’t worry; none of the music will have DRM attached.
Currently, Depeche Mode is the only band with a pass on the popular music store, but it’s expected that others will soon follow once Apple works out any kinks that might remain.
Joseph Kohl, a 75-year-old Floridian, proved to be more than a match for a much younger thief. With his life’s very first laptop at stake, Kohl decided to give chase to the 29-year-old thief. Kohl was joined by an off-duty cop - who fortuitously happened to be at the scene - in the pursuit.
Kohl was waiting for his wife outside a Best Buy store after having bought a laptop and a printer, but Samuel Dallas Jarvis showed up instead. Jarvis then proceeded to grab Kohl’s laptop and set out on a run. But, apparently, his pickup was not anything to write home about as he could not really bolt out of the blocks as he would have liked; his elderly victim had to merely run about 8 feet to nab the crook.
When the off-duty cop showed up, it was game, set, match, and laptop to Jarvis. “I have no idea what computers are about, but I didn’t want him taking my first one,” Kohl said after the incident.
Upon the release of the Safari 4 Beta, Apple was boasting some mighty impressive speeds. Now, thanks to some extensive testing, it looks like the boys down in Cupertino deserve a pat on the back, with their browser clocking in at a staggering 42 times faster than Internet Explorer 7.
Most surprising, is that Apple’s latest addition was able to beat out Google’s Chrome (the proclaimed “Speed King”) in testing, along with Firefox 3, Opera 9.6 and Mozilla’s developmental Minefield. The tests were conducted on both a PC running XP SP2, and a Mac running OS X 10.6 with all of the latest updates applied.
If you’re looking to check out the full results of the speed testing, check them out here.