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Friday, December 23, 2011

Lego for girls!

Lego is introducing a new line of Lego toys for girls, with a targeted release date somewhere in 2012. With a price tag from $5.99-$99.99, which I would say is a decent entry price level for children toys.

The new product that they are coming out is called Lego mini-doll figure. There would be a pipeline of 29 new dolls in 2012. Parents are glamouring for a toy that mimics that of the boys-targeted toys that Lego makes, this is after research shows that it helps to build children's mind.

The storyline of the mini-doll line is along the lines of five girls in a fictional hometown called Heartlake City. Each of the friends—Olivia, Mia, Andrea, Stephanie and Emma—has a distinct personality and interests, such as animals, performing arts, invention and design, that are reflected in the models. Building sets reflect different parts of town where the girls’ adventures take place—downtown, suburbs, beach, camping grounds and mountains.

With Lego reporting $1 Billion in total revenue just recently. I think that they might just catch the waves with girls! Although it would be a largely smaller market.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

First with Kinect, now with mind control!

New technologies like using motion to control your console (Kinect) and using voice to control your phone is now nothing exciting. What IBM is planning in stores is something that would excite the geeks more, which is using your mind to control your computer.

As part of IBM's "5 in 5" forecasts of predictions, the company says that "minding reading" (more like mind control) will no longer be a science fiction dream and that within five years, we'll all be controlling our computers and smartphones by just wiggling our brains.

Well, the technology may come true in 5 years, but it could well take another couple of years before it reaches entry level price for the consumer market.

IBM Research News and A Smarter Planet, via CNET

Mozilla is safe for now

Mozilla is safe from now as it manages to sign a new licensing deal with Google to be it's default search engine. Many wondered what would happen to Mozilla, now that Google has Chrome on their cards. This combined with the rising popularity of Chrome is set to bury IE into the dust.

No details on the transaction was given.

Mozilla 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Google set to release new tablets

After announcing it's intention to acquire Motorola not so long ago, Google is set to take on the tablet battle with Apple and release a line-up of tablet products within the next 6 months.




Exact details of the upcoming tablet were not revealed, and it’s unclear whether the slate will be specifically branded with Google’s Nexus nomenclature or be another manufacturer’s model that the search giant will champion. A similar strategy was put in place earlier in the year, when Google worked with Motorola to launch the XOOM, the first Honeycomb tablet on the market.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Two technology giants launch cloud-based solutions for consumers

Two technology giants have released cloud-based solutions to the consumer market today. Microsoft introduced Skydrive for Windows Phone and the iPhone platform, while Sony have released it's cloud music for non-Walkman phones.

SkyDrive Windows Phone Folder
Skydrive on both platforms allows you to move your files from the phone into SkyDrive and access it from any web browser anywhere in the world. Running on the latest web technologies (like HTML5 and CSS3) to give you better speed.
They have been working on making the Skydrive experience better for Windows phones and making folders so that users can access their files easily. With the ability to share folders and files with other users.
Sony's connected Music Unlimited offering is already available online, on gaming devices, on Android phones and tablets, so nice to see it's finally available on its, you know, Walkman music players. In what feels somewhat like an afterthought, "compatible Walkman devices" (currently just the NWZ-E465) can play your favorite channels and playlists on the move -- no connection required. Only those paying the $9.99 premium, however, get to add songs from the actual Unlimited music catalogue. Plug-in at home, sync the music, and listen at your leisure offline via the dedicated app, but with so many other competingways of enjoying your music from the cloud, on a plethora of connected devices, it really is surprising this wasn't already possible. Still, if you own an NWZ-E465, and subscribe to the Music Unlimited, you can feel all gooey knowing Sony has your back. Hit the PR after the break for more info.
Source: Engadget

Dell unveils Alienware Aurora gaming rig, will serenade you for $2,200

Dell has just taken the wraps off a brand new addition to the Alienware family, hailing it, rather poetically, as "a serenade to raw gaming power." It's called the Alienware Aurora, and it's staring at you with a Cylon-like grin in the image above. Beneath its menacing veneer lurks Intel's six-core, 3000 seriesCore i7 CPU, an X79 Express chipset and quad-channel DDR3 memory, all of which are kept in check by Dell's liquid cooling and active venting technologies. The gaming rig also supports both multi-display and 3D configurations, with GDDR5 memory-laced graphics cards. In case you're not satisfied, you can always get under the hood and tinker with it yourself, without even busting out your tool belt. The Alienware Aurora is available now for prices starting at $2,200

Apple's founding documents pull in $1.6 million at auction

The documents that Apple founders signed when they founded the company is officially being sold to an anonymous phone buyer who offered $1.59 million at Sotheby’s (BID) in New York today. Although it has a starting bid of $70,000, the final auction price did not surprise any.
Wayne was initially one of the co-founders but he quit 12 days later as he figured out that the rollarcoaster ride that both Jobs and Wozniak was a little too much for him. He was paid a total of $2,300 for his 10% stake which is worth more than $36 billion today.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Command and Conquer General revamp coming soon!

The highly successful expansion from the Command and Conquer series is now back with a new update. Command and Conquer Generals 2 is coming soon! I kinda of bet you would have read of this news online already.










This piece of good news comes amidst the online backlash that EA Games faced when they decided to drop Westwood Studios. Loyal fans complained about the lousy gameplay that Command and Conquer 4 and Red Alert 3 have, some have even gave up on the Command and Conquer series totally.






A quick shot of an EU tank rolling down the street toward the convoy. We can't be sure if it's a Crusader or a Paladin -- if it's either one, it's been heavily redesigned -- but it's definitely a tank. It may have fired the shell that destroyed the Technical, but we're not sure. Those treads are amazingly detailed -- so many moving parts! 


EA Games have decided to team up with BioWare to create the new series with Frostbite 2, with a release date slated to be around 2013. It is slated to be only for the PC platform. Although I believe EA would release a slimdown version for mobile devices running on Android or Apple's iOS platform, given that PC game sales would not be spared from the industry shift to mobile gaming devices and platforms.



Can EA come out with other factions rather than playing with the 3 common factions, mainly USA, China and GLA? Given that the terror threat for terrorist organisations have died down quite recently, the GLA faction would not be an compelling idea. Maybe the inclusion of India and Russia to replace GLA would do this franchise good. The inclusion of EU into the picture give new breath into the gameplay. As for me, I am excited as I am a loyal fan of Command and Conquer, especially the Generals Zero Hour edition.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Why webOS failed to take off?



Bye Touchpad!

HP has recently announced plans to sell the remaining of their Touchpad inventory for the last firesales. But mind you, those are refurbished units, so it is a sort of buyers beware situation. The great news aside, why has HP failed in a tablet market whereby Apple and Samsung is succeeding? Don't get me wrong, I think webOS is great with better browsing experience than other tablets out there, in addition, I am receiving favourable comments from my geeky Touchpad users about how good it's battery life is. But I think it's failure is HP's failure to capture the minds and hearts of consumers.

It could be due to it's late foray into the tablet market when everyone is already in the game. But it is highly unlikely, given that Samsung still succeeded despite being late into the game. I believe that it is due to the software that they have on the tablet that marked the table's doom.

The reason is simple, consumers in the tablet market is looking for either something that is cool or are looking at the flexibility of the operating system whereby they can customise their operating system in order to fit their needs or to place add-ons.

With the former being Apple fans who would glamour for any phones that are released by Apple and care less about the specifications of the gadget that they buy. Have you realised that Apple does not release much details of the hardware inside the iPhone? Instead, they focus on the wow aspect of the new phones that they release. Initially with the multi-touch screen and maybe in the future with the crack-resistant screens that they have patented.

The latter group of people that I describe would be those geeky fans in the Android marketplace. They seek to custom-rebuild whatever they brought. They seek to tear down the barrier that mobile applications company errect in order to force you to buy their awesome game. That is why you see an very active community of people that is actively trying to break the legal barrier and provide those software for free. There is a smaller group of people doing that for Apple.



Even the one of the world's most successful Android phone manufacturor is not immune to it. They faced massive backlash and decided to unlock the bootloader of all the phones that they sell earlier in the year.

So where does HP place in the two community? It's Touchpad is neither glamorous or sexy to start with, in fact it looks a little like the Galaxy Tab rip-off. So it is good-bye to Touchpad for good! For those adventurous Android users, you can pick up the Touchpad and port it over to Ice-Cream Sandwich as the kind folks at Cyanogenmod has successfully done it quite some time back.

Friday, December 09, 2011

High Resolution iPad3 Coming In February: Analyst


The iPad3 will be released in February with a high-resolution screen, a new selling point for the entertainment and productivity device that will drive Apple shares up 27 percent to $500 in 12 months, according to an analyst with Citi Investment Research.

“Current iPad builds are up sequentially in 1CQ12 (the current quarter) thanks to the February launch of a new iPad with double the screen resolution of the current model,” wrote Richard Gardner in a note to clients. “Several sources have confirmed the timing of this launch and there do not appear to be any significant technical hurdles remaining.”

iPad2’s current display is 132 pixels per inch. A doubling of that resolution would put it well ahead of the current displays for Amazon.com's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's Nook, which sport tech specs of 169 pixels per inch each. (Note: Their screens are 7 inches, compared to 9.7 inches for the iPad2.)

Another reason for Gardner’s bullishness is that he believes there will be an upside surprise in iPhone shipments this quarter on strong holiday demand. Apple shares rose as the rest of the market fell Thursday, in part because of Citi’s bullish note.

Still some investors have their doubts that the iPad can maintain its tablet supremacy without more bells and whistles than just a better screen for watching movies, playing games and reading books.
“Apple will not be able to continue to get away with this ‘evolutionary’ $500 tablet thing for much longer as very good and much cheaper products like Amazon’s Fire at $200 are available,” wrote Dan Nathan, an investor and editor of RiskReversal.com.

Still, the growth numbers for the iPad brand have been more than impressive. The original iPad, launched in April 2010, sold 3 million units in its first 80 days, making it the most quickly adopted non-phone electronic product ever. Last quarter, the Apple sold 11.1 million iPad2s, a 166 percent jump from the same period a year ago.

Toshiba Excite Android tablet gets release date



When the first Toshiba Android tablet was released, it seemed like a really big deal – at one point it was even rumored that they’d be the ones to host the tablet-centric Android 3.0 Honeycomb as a hero – alas that did not happen, and now that the first iteration (call the Toshiba Thrive, just so you know) is both too fat and unwieldily to sell as a top dog, the big T is sending out a new generation called Toshiba Excite. This tablet was revealed a few weeks ago as a contender for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 with its dual-core 1.2Ghz Texas Instruments OMAP4 processor and its 10.1-inch display at 1280 x 800 resolution – and today Mobile Syrup relays Toshiba information that it’ll be on sale come February 2012.
By that time we expect Toshiba to once again be in the same boat – with a tablet that on its own is certainly worth the cash that a person dropped on it, but compared to the rest of the current Android tablet lineup just does not compete. Even though this tablet will still be 7.7mm thin, will have a 5 megapixel camera on the back, a 2 megapixel camera on the front, and will of course have a 16GB and a 32GB option, will certainly be shut out by such masterpieces as the Asus Transformer Prime. A brighter screen, twice as powerful a processor, and two color choices to boot? I think so, yes.
That said, the OMAP4 is certainly nothing to scoff at, and this unit does look quite enticing to the eye with its stark aluminum silvery back and its microSD card slot, not to mention its miniHDMI-out port. Like the original Toshiba Android tablet, we’ll certainly have a few options for connections. With a market of consumers looking to get the tablet that suits them perfectly, it’ll be the people who trust the name TOSHIBA that pick this bad boy up — other than that, those who love things that are SHINY.
[v

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

HTC's revenues in November drops 20% (My views and outlook)

HTC reports that it's revenues in November is set to drop 20%, although it's total revenue from January to November 2011 was NT$439,432 million, up 78.87% YoY.


Htc-revenue-nov11

Despite this gloomy news, HTC's revenue has risen significantly over the past new years. I remember when I first found out about HTC when I first came into this industry was in 2006. The range of products that were available was limited and unsexy. It's main selling point was for enterprise users with a very Dopod like look. However, ever since the release of Android, their phones became sexier and had lots of other functions that other phone manufacturer do not have.

But could this mark the fall of HTC from the robust growth that they have been enjoying over the past few years? They have reported over 400% of growth annually over the past few years, slower growth would be inevitable for the company as other platform like Windows 7 and iOS works to fight back the competition for the Android platform.

Having signed the cross-platform licensing deal with Microsoft quite some time back, Nokia is now back in the game and is endorsing the Windows platform. As it tries to get it's mojo back in the smartphone market, it would be committed to release a constant stream of new Windows phone in order to win more market share. This would help Windows platform to gain traction, since the other phone manufacturer have neglected the Windows platform by releasing 1-2 phones. This would help steal some market share from Android to Windows.

As for iOS, Apple is set to have a massive revamp of it's iPhone product, this is after it was reported that Steve Jobs have racially redesigned the phone months before his death. I suspect the delay in launch is due to him wanting to perfect the design of the phone before it is being released to the market. However, Apple have to keep up with the product lifecycle, hence they copied Microsoft's strategy of releasing a small upgrade and crossed their fingers that it would catch on, luck for them, it caught on.

I think what HTC can do to avoid having anymore revenue falls is to streamline the number of products that they are currently having. To demystify the range of products that they are currently having. I do not really understand why HTC wants to have XE / XL, maybe it is to go around the brand of Sensation, whereby they are trying to maket it as a multimedia phone that is capable of watching movies, playing games.

HTC should have released one new product name for the Beats phone, combining the best of two worlds in the Sensation XE and XL together. This is because both phones have specifications that users would want. One phone has a single core whereas the other has a dual core chip. The phone with the dual core chip has a small internal memory whereas for the single core phone, it has an internal memory of 16GB.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Xbox 360 250GB Kinect Bundle Thoughts and Comments

I laid my hands on the Xbox 360 250GB Kinect bundle yesterday. The purchase of the Xbox 360 was after careful deliberation and consideration between the 3 different gaming platforms which includes the Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and Sony PS3. The difference that makes Xbox's Kinect stand out from the crowd is that is does not require any controller to control the games or the controls in the Xbox, unlike the other two competitors' console which requires either a controller that you can wave to or something that you need to hold so that you can swing the tennis racket. Hence my inclination to get the Xbox 360 instead.

It is retailing at $649 and $449 in Singapore and United States respectively. For those who are torn between buying the 4GB bundle and the 250GB bundle, I would suggest getting the 250GB bundle instead. This is primarily due to two reasons. Firstly, given that there would be updates to the games you play, it is likely that you would run out of space very soon. In addition, some games require you to download it from the store and the redemption code is provided instead. Secondly, I read online that there are some problems with the 4GB mode. I brought Fruit Ninja, Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, preordered Halo 3 as it was out of stock.

Inside the bundle

Inside the bundle includes Kinect Adventures, Carnival Games: Monkey See, Monkey Do, Xbox 360 Wireless Controller (For the Singapore region, we were given another wireless controller for free) and a Three-Month Xbox LIVE Gold Membership. A headset was also provided.

My thoughts on the Kinect sensor

My initial encounter with the Kinect sensor was rather hilarious, the device was stiff and could not be adjusted, hence I decided to retain the protection. When I fired up my calibration tools for the Kinect sensor, it gave me an error message saying that something was blocking the sensor, only the did I realise that the Kinect sensor could move.

Initial setting-up of the Kinect and Xbox was a little of an hassle, you had to sign in with your Xbox account before you could start playing on your console, if you do not have an account, you can sign up for one for free. Keying in my details was tedious, as I had to use the controller to scroll through the on-screen keyboard to key in the keys individually.

After setting up the Xbox, it was time for the setting up of the Kinect sensor. The system played various sounds to test how big the room is. It also tested the background noise that the room had. After which, I was told to stand in front of the Kinect sensor to set-up the system. I was given a various sets of instructions to follow, the most essential one is to wave to the Kinect sensor to activate it everytime.

Kinect Games (Adventure)

The buttons on the Xbox were touch sensitive, hence a gentle touch would do the trick. I inserted the Kinect Adventures disc and played River Rush. It took be a while before I got used to the pace of the game. Afterwhich, it was all hell break lose as I immersed myself in the games and were literally sweating 30 minutes into the game. Games like River Rush, Reflex Bridge and Rallyball are games that are more suited for youngsters who want a workout while playing. The constant jumping made me sweat in no time. Whereas 20,000 Leaks is suitable for elderly who wants something slow and manageable, as you are given more time to patch the cracks in the water tank.

Kinect Carnival

I tried the Gold-Rush Mountain. The game is basically set in a roller coaster, the objective of the game is to catch coins with your both hands but avoid those red stars or you will lose points (10 points for each red star). It’s going really fast and it’s pretty fun.

Fruit Ninja

The game I brought which was not included in the package. Fruit Ninja is an
iPhone game that was brought to the Xbox platform. Imagine the fun of slicing fruits on screen. True enough, it was fun and had new additions like the freeze mode whereby the fruits drop vertically downwards only. There was also the other special fruits you can cut to slow the speed of the fruits. There are a few levels you can unlock and each level gives you a better blade each time. Other then that, it is a rehash of the iPhone application, but the ability to use your two hands make it really attractive.

Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3's single player's experience was nothing as compared to the online experience it can offer. When I first started the game, it was a nice slow start which was suitable for me as I tried to get use to the controller. Afterwhich, the games starts to pick up pace which was about the time I started to get used to the controller. There are some chapters of the game that take place in dark areas like the start of the game where it occurs inside the train tunnel. This can prove challenging when you are playing in low-light condition. For a limited time only, you can get a limited edition map from Electronic Arts when you purchase the Battlefield 3 game during this period.

Call of Duty

Like Battlefield 3, the start of the game was slow and is suitable for people who just brought the game and is getting a hang of things. Afterwhich, the amazing storyline and gameplay makes me yell for more as I completed the game. Online gameplay was amazing too!

Conclusion

Having shell out $649 for the Kinect bundle and another $150 for 3 more games, I would say it is a good buy. Kinect is suitable for all ages and is fun even for hardcore gamers like me.

Hope you find this useful for making an decision on your next console purchase for this upcoming Christmas!!! Enjoy and have fun!

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