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SlashGear Week in Review – Week 47 2010

Welcome to this week’s edition of the SlashGear Week in Review! I hope you had a good Thanksgiving and all those irritating family members you really didn’t want at your house have finally gone home. Early in the week Cox Communications unveiled a new whole home DVR solution that was sure to make fans of TV and movies with packed DVRs happy. The service lets you watch and play DVR programs on any TV in your home.

Apple iSO 4.2 for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch landed this week. The update adds some really nice new feature to the iPad like AirPrint, AirPlay, Game Center and more. Audi unleashed its sweet TTS autonomous racecar to attack Pikes Peak. The car went up the legendary mountain racecourse in 27 minutes. A car with a driver is expected to make it in at least 17 minutes.

The NVIDIA dual GPU GTX 595 video card leaked and the thing looks very impressive. The leak claims that the card may be using dual GF110 GPUs inside. We grabbed some hands on time with the cool Dell Inspiron duo convertible tablet. First impressions are that it’s a heavier tablet than we are used to and we figure it’s more for the at home user than the mobile type.

Microsovision unveiled another of its tiny pico projectors early in the week called the SHOWWX+ laser projector. The thing is able to directly connect to Apple devices. Google Chrome OS notebooks have been delayed according to Google’s Eric Schmidt and won’t land for a “few months”. However it appears that the beta version of the OS is set to land soon.

The official website for the Notion Ink Adam tablet has gone live. The site gives you an easy to navigate area that tells all about the machine for those interested in getting hands on one. If you updated your iPhone to iOS 4.2 this week and want to jailbreak, Dev-Team has the steps you need to take. The bad news is that iPhone 4 users need to tether each time you reboot or turn the device off.

A really cool Acer 4.8-inch screen Android smartphone was unveiled with a screen resolution of 1280 x 480 and we are excited about the thing. It has a 1GHz CPU, 8MP camera, and a lot more. Acer also debuted a cool dual-screen laptop called the Iconia that is really awesome. The thing runs Windows 7 and I want one pretty bad.

If you like to take your iPad with you everywhere and want to keep it dry and safe from dust and more the Drycase was revealed this week. The Drycase is sort of like a big zip lock baggie for your iPad and will keep liquids and more at bay. Scientists have devised a special food that can be fed to pigeons. Once the birds eat the food, their poo is sort of like soap that will clean your car and the things they crap on. This is cool and really gross all at once.

Moshi has unveiled a cool iPhone dock called the MM03i that has a Bluetooth phone attached that you can use for making and receiving calls. It reminds me of one of those old phones from back in the day. Google TVs from both Toshiba and Vizio are expected to surface at CES 2011 according to some rumors. That really is no surprise that the offerings are coming, whether or not people will be interested since networks have killed the best features of Google TV remains to be seen.

Russia is planning to spend about $2 billion to clean up some of the space junk in orbit around the Earth right now. The plan is for a pod that will knock stuff out of orbit where it would crash into the ocean or burn up in the atmosphere. Tokyoflash unveils a new watch called the Kisai RPM that looks really cool. The watch has a black stainless steel case and blue LEDs, and I can actually read the thing.

The TSA is the source of a lot of ire over their security practices and the penchant for fondling people. If you want to show them what you think on that full body scan you need these 4th Amendment underwear. Rumors are circulating that the long talked about Sony Ericsson PlayStation Phone will land at MWC 2011. If the thing does land then it had better be more interesting than the PSP or the PSP Go.

Some awesome space tires surfaced Friday that were granted a 2010 R&D Award and were designed by NASA and Goodyear. The tires are built out of 800 interwoven load-bearing springs and look like they were stolen off the lunar lander from the 60’s. That’s all for this week’s edition, have a great weekend!

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Samsung Highnote On Sprint Slashgear Review

Samsung HighNote on Sprint SlashGear Review

Sprint recently announced the Samsung HighNote, and we’ve certainly been surprised at what this phone has to offer. The HighNote is a music-based phone just as the name implies. It appears to be a hybrid of the LG Chocolate and the Samsung Juke, but it far outperforms both.

The HighNote comes in a small package, measuring 4.0″ x 1.9″ x 0.6″ and weighing 3.5oz. The phone has a 2-inch, 172 x 220 pixel display; the 2-megapixel camera supports video as well as having a digital zoom and night mode. Although the device only has 32 MB of internal memory, it is made up for with a microSD card slot. The HighNote includes GPS, 2.0 Stereo Bluetooth and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The HighNote is very well built, no more dropping your phone and accidentally destroying the slider. The scroll wheel spins freely within the beautifully laid-out face keys. The big twist with the HighNote is the hidden speaker, just slide the screen down to reveal one of the loudest speakers we have seen in a phone.

Navigating the menus is straightforward on the HighNote, the main menu is displayed at the bottom of the screen with sections listed in a line. As you scroll left and right through the options the contents of a section will pop up when you stop, displaying everything in a quick, easy to read list. A convenient shortcut menu completes the GUI, making quick navigation even easier for the user.

Browsing the Internet on the HighNote is not a walk in the park, pages take a very long time to load, with the phone often running out of memory before the entire page is displayed. The part of the webpage that we were able to load however looked as it should, but with a screen so small it would be very hard to navigate.

Now we get to the heart of the HighNote: music playback. Sliding the screen down will reveal the hidden speaker and also activate the Music, TV and Games quick launch menu. Playing music and creating playlists is a very easy task; while playing a song its album cover art is displayed, and if you have other songs in the same playlist as the song you are listening to a slight rotation of the scroll wheel will allow you to cycle through the available music. While watching video on the HighNote’s small screen is not the most enjoyable, the video playback was not of poor quality. Videos looked relatively good, considering the screen resolution, and we found ourself wishing for either an AV out option or, at the very least, a bigger, higher-resolution display. During a video turning the scroll wheel will raise and lower the playback volume.

The battery lasts all day with medium usage and plenty of talk time. Browsing the online store is pretty quick with very little waiting time, videos stream to the handset with no hang-ups at all. The hidden music speaker is extremely loud for such a small device, however with high volume the tone is very sharp and at times ear-piercing. We found that it sounds better with the phone closed as it has a fuller tone. The HighNote includes a car mode: at the press of a button the phone will read any incoming text messages to you.

Overall we recommend the HighNote to any music lover who needs a little of both worlds. Those who are looking for a phone with a user interface that is pleasing to the eye are going to be disappointed with this phone. We do not recommend this phone to those who surf the Internet or use email frequently, who would likely be looking for a larger display, better keypad and, most importantly, improved software. However it’s perfect for listening to music on the go wherever you are. Call quality is very good and dropped calls are few and far between. We give the Samsung HighNote a 7.4 out of 10.

The Samsung HighNote is available on Sprint now, priced from $99.99 after a mail-in rebate and with a new two-year service agreement.

Slashgear Review: O2’S Minimalist Cocoon Cellphone

SlashGear Review: O2’s minimalist Cocoon cellphone

Cocoon, if you remember, was a film about a bunch of cantankerous elderly people who discovered the alien key to prolonging their life; with that horrible thought in mind, I grudgingly agreed to review O2 UK’s Cocoon cellphone, fearing that at any moment a trio of elderly men might leap out and deliver a touching message about not marginalising the old.  Thankfully, O2 have been a little more up-to-date with their latest own-brand handset, and while it’s nowhere near perfect have still managed to inject it with a bit more life than some rivals.

It’s not a small phone.  The white casing doesn’t help, to be frank – any fashionista will tell you that white will make you look wider – but the amply curved profile and sharp edged sides conspire to make the Cocoon feel bulky in the hand.  Where some manufacturers would use that as an excuse to squash in screens galore, Pantech (who build the handset) have instead gone for a band of hidden LEDs that spell out incoming numbers, the time, the first part of SMS messages and MP3 track names as a scrolling marquee.  Five discretely engraved icons – for alarm, message, missed call, battery and silent mode – are illuminated as appropriate.  Clever, yes, but frustrating in equal measure: the at-a-glance purpose of an external display is hijacked in favour of style, and the whole thing, undoubtedly attractive, is simply not as convenient as a normal screen.

Inside, though, things take a huge leap into practicality.  Number keys are almost a centimetre-square and indecently easy to use, while a large, simple platter of end/dial and softkeys surrounds the distinctly thumbable D-pad and centre-select.  The whole thing is surmounted by a gorgeous, 2.1-inch QVGA display capable of 262k colours, and a discrete internal VGA-quality camera for video calls.  Special mention has to go to the retro-simple volume wheel, embedded into the clamshell’s hinge, which also does duty as a zoom control for the 2-megapixel main camera.

O2 are positioning the Cocoon as a their flagship music handset, and so there are obviously external controls (track skip and play/pause, as well as a hold switch and toggle between FM radio and MP3) and memory expansion above its inbuilt 2GB thanks to a MicroSD slot.  More unusual are onboard stereo speakers, which sound full-bodied and are easily capable of annoying fellow travellers on public transport, and – disappointingly – no 3.5mm headphone socket.  Instead you have to use either the headphones O2 supply (which are, admittedly, pretty good) or the included double-adaptor.  Stereo A2DP Bluetooth is supported, too, if you’re allergic to wires.

There’s no denying that the Cocoon is different; eye-catching, too, with the broad, solid body and monochrome colour scheme.  The main camera – complete with autofocus and an LED flash – takes par-for-the-course photos and YouTube-friendly video, while HSDPA cellular broadband and quad-band GSM mean the internet browser (which, as ever, pales a little in comparison to the S60 browser Nokia’s handsets are blessed with) does a decent job making the most of that gorgeous internal screen.  The heavily-O2-customised UI is thankfully more classic than garish (helped by the carrier’s dark blue colour scheme), and borrows a lot of imagery from the recent sponsorship of the O2 arena in London (formerly the much-maligned Millenium Dome).  Indeed, if you step into the arena with your Cocoon, it’ll automatically start a venue guide and offer further music information. 

Consider, then, the O2 Cocoon as a fashion-phone, with the usual compromises that title predicts.  It looks good and performs reasonably as a phone, and there are flashes of brilliance such as the ample onboard memory and straightforward music and volume controls.  However battery life and a sense of style over function prevent me from recommending it wholeheartedly.  If the external display tickles you, then you’ll be far more likely to appreciate the handset as a whole so, just like most fashion, it’s a particularly subjective thing.

The Cocoon is available now from O2 UK, priced from free with a new contract.

Last Week In China – No Internet And Google Invests In P2P

Due to an earthquake in Taiwan I have experienced again what it was like before the Internet existed. It’s liberating on the one hand, as there’s no need to check my mail every so many hours or keep track of what is written in the blogosphere.

It was also slightly frustrating as I had some domain names that were about to expire and some other business that needed attention. But without a working connection there is not much one can do.

The quake happened on Boxing Day and the Internet in China is still grappling with getting its international connections up to speed. The earthquake showed as well as how interconnected the world has become as how dependent even China is on it. Let’s hope Asia starts investing in more backup cables.

A not-working Internet doesn’t mean that there was no business done. Google has been very active in the last week.

Google invests in video download website Xunlei

Google has invested in Xunlei Network Technology, a Chinese website that offers a peer-to-peer video and software download services (through using tailor-made software) to Internet users. More than 80 million (or 100 million or maybe even 120 million, depending on the source) users have installed Xunlei’s software.

According to a quote from Xunlei co-founder and chief executive Sean Zou they expect to have 700 million users in 2007. I wonder how that will work, as there are only 132 million Internet users in China according to the latest statistics.

It’s not yet clear how the investment will be put to use.

From Reuters

Google wants to win back search market share from Baidu, currently the leading search engine in China. Having access to the Xunlei users and integrating search and their toolbar on the website and in the software may be one of the ways they will try to achieve this.

Xunlei is peer-to-peer, as mentioned, which means no hosting of files by Xunlei itself. From the point of possible copyright issues this seems better to handle, contrary to what Youtube is facing. Next to that, the downloading is done in China and IPR enforcement here is still rather light. Season 4 of Nip & Tuck is already available on dvd.

Business week has a nice write up on the popularity in China of the homegrown versions of MySpace and YouTube, if you’re interested to read more about this topic.

Google search on China Mobile Portal

Google will provide their search engine technology to China Mobile’s Monternet WAP portal. The portal offers sports and entertainment news, ringtones, games, images, videos and novels and other content. China Mobile is the world largest Telco with more than 250 million subscribers.

From the Google Press Center:

Wang Jianzhou, chairman of China Mobile, said: “We are delighted to be providing China Mobile users with mobile and Internet search services via our cooperation with Google. Mobile search will help users access the information they need more easily and quickly. This is an important move for China Mobile’s transformation into a mobile information expert. China Mobile will unite the industry chain, rapidly enhancing the whole industry’s value. Our cooperation will not only satisfy our users’ diverse communication needs but also build a new mobile world for Chinese users to communicate freely and live comfortably.

I use this quote as I always enjoy the PR blurb Chinese style. I also hope China Mobile will cut back the time in delivering my sms. The idea is that it gets there before I meet up with someone.

Philipp from Google Blogoscoped ponders whether Google will bring along their infamous censorship module, too. They probably will, but that won’t stop Chinese users to communicate freely.

The last week shows that Google is actively creating partnerships in China to strengthen their foothold. Seeing what happened to Yahoo and eBay that both sold out their businesses to Chinese Internet firms their strategy is smarter. Partnering up on the sideline but keeping their core product, their search engine, in their own hands.

My gut feel says that Google will win back market share in China, maybe not soon but eventually they will. It’s the only prediction for the Chinese Internet market I dare to make.

Gemme van Hasselt is an Internet Marketing Consultant, living in Shanghai, China.

This Week In Games: Call Of Duty’s Battle Royale Is Free

This week, the spring release season begins in earnest. “But Hayden, didn’t we just finish up the holiday release season?” Yeah, tell me about it. But the Resident Evil 2 remake next Friday kicks off about a month and a half of non-stop games, from Total War: Three Kingdoms to Far Cry: New Dawn to The Division 2 and Anthem and more. So many more—and you’ll find a few pertinent trailers below, as the marketing machines proceed apace as well.

This is gaming news for January 14 to 18.

Breakout hit

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is the first Call of Duty to surprise me in recent years, mostly because its “Blackout” battle royale mode is really damn good. “PUBG without the jank,” I’ve said multiple times now, and I stand by it.

Going rogue

The Division had one standout idea: The Dark Zone, where players were encouraged to team up to score high-level loot while most of the server tried to gun them down. It was a pretty thrilling multiplayer setup, and no surprise to hear it’s returning for The Division 2—this time, in triplicate.

There will be three Dark Zones in Washington D.C., each with a unique look. “Rogue Agents” are a bit more granular this time as well. You can be classified as both violent or non-violent, depending on whether you shoot another player in the head or just steal their fancy vest and run off with it. And hey, there are turrets at the entrance now to cut down on griefing. That’s pretty cool.

Cold wars

As for the current tally, EA’s had the Star Wars license for almost six years now and released two mediocre Battlefront games. That’s it. I can’t imagine Disney renews this partnership, though who knows? Respawn’s got a Star Wars game releasing this fall. Maybe it’ll wow us—provided it’s not canceled between now and then.

Band of strangers

Now here’s hoping Anthem’s fun enough that you’ll want to stick around. There’s eight minutes of “Freeplay Expeditions” below, courtesy of IGN, if you haven’t gotten sick of watching Anthem videos yet.

Lightning Strikes

Raiden’s rage

Did somebody mention lightning? Mortal Kombat 11 got the full reveal treatment this week, courtesy of an event in Los Angeles. There’s a lot to watch, but I’ve gone ahead and embedded the best trailer below, which is to say “The one where angry Raiden decapitates a demi-god.” You might also get a kick out of this Fatalities-centric trailer though, or the one focused on Geras, a new character who a) manipulates time and b) punches people’s faces off.

It’s my money!

A short note here, but the Epic Games Store updated its refund policy this week—and wouldn’t you know it, it looks a lot like Steam’s. You can now refund a game on the Epic Games Store for any reason, so long as you put in the request within 14 days of purchase and have played less than two hours.

Wait, how much? Hack and slash

It’s been nearly four years since I first played Katana Zero, and at some point last year I actually wondered what happened to it. It just…disappeared for a while, perhaps because it was changing hands behind-the-scenes. Back in 2023 it was being published by Adult Swim. Now it’s apparently jumped ship to Devolver, though it’s kept the same “ Mark of the Ninja x Hotline Miami” vibe. It’s stylish as hell, is what I’m saying—and due out in March, at long last.


Total War: Three Kingdoms is out in early March, and I hope it’s solid. After years spent pining for another historical Total War game, last year’s Thrones of Britannia met with tepid response. The series could use a winner that’s not subtitled Warhammer. You can get a look at some espionage in the new developer diary below—provided you have the patience to watch an eight-minute, slow-moving video about diplomacy and tech trees. (A very beautiful tech tree, I might add.)

IO 2

Lest you think IO’s recent independence means it’s condemned to forever churn out Game-of-the-Year nominated Hitman games, the developer announced this week the existence of a new IOI Malmo, saying “This will expand our muscles for creating brand-new and exciting endeavors, new universes, new franchises.” So no, don’t get your hopes up for a Kane & Lynch sequel, weirdos.

Can’t dance if you wanna

The dance wars have begun. Following the news that Fortnite was being sued by multiple artists for the inclusion of various dances, including the Floss and the Carlton, Forza Horizon 4 has now yanked its own version of both emotes from the game. No longer can you Floss on top of the UK’s beautiful landmarks. Let’s take a moment to mourn the loss, shall we?

RTX ready?

Lastly, a pretty fun video courtesy of YouTube channel UFD Tech. Armed with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, UFD Tech set out to answer the question “Can you even tell the difference?” And by that they mean, can you tell whether ray-tracing is active or not? Short answer: Sort-of! If you really pay attention! Maybe we should throw my good friend and graphics snob Gordon Ung into one of these challenges, eh?

The Week In Drones: Cameras That Follow You, Retro Police Copters, And More

Here’s a roundup of the week’s top drone news, designed to capture the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft.

Spy From The Past

Paleofuture recently unearthed a police drone — from 1976. The Westland Wisp was a prototype surveillance drone designed for police work. Foreshadowing future drones, it could transmit regular video (and maybe infrared) images back to a control station. After the Wisp, Westland made two more drone helicopters, the Wideye and the Sharpeye.

The Westland Wisp

Don’t mind me, just carrying around a flying police state here.

A Possible Private Privacy Violation

Long rumored, it appears the feared arrival of a “peeping Tom with a drone” finally happened this week. In Seattle, a woman called police after seeing a drone hovering outside her window.

**Update: **It appears that while the drone was outside the window, its purpose was not capturing lewd photographs. Instead, the drone company was apparently trying to capture an aerial panoramic view for a developer.

Following Filmographer

Hexo+ is a drone that carries a camera and automatically follows a specified person. Currently a crazily well-funded project on kickstarter, the drone can fly at about 45 mph for 15 minutes. Set up with a smartphone app, the drone then follows and films a person with an attached camera. The end result? Awesome video footage of one’s jogging, and one annoying flying machine closer to a future of robot smog.

Watch a video about it below:

New FAA Rules For Tiny Drones

We’re living in a weird pre-regulatory limbo of drones before drone law. Particularly challenged for the Federal Aviation Administration are small drones and model airplanes, which until the past decade were largely indistinguishable. The FAA wants to keep model airplane hobbyists happy at the same time they tightly restrict all commercial uses of drones. This challenge is inherent in new guidelines the FAA put out this week for model airplane use.

FAA Model Airplane Guidelines Detail

The most obvious impact of these rules are on drone delivery services, a common drone gimmick. More revealing is the first row, which says it’s okay to have model airplane clubs but not okay for those clubs to have contests with cash prizes. It’s good that the FAA is trying to regulate drones, but attempts like this to distinguish between hobbyist model airplanes and small drones have unintended consequences for both communities.

A Predator Drone Waits At Balad Air Base, Iraq. 2004

Back To Baghdad

The United States revealed this week that, as part of their renewed presence in Iraq, they are flying armed Predator drones as part of reconnaissance efforts there. The drones are flying from bases in Kuwait, according to the Pentagon.

In related news, Stimson Center, a DC think tank, released an in-depth study of the role of drones and targeted killing. The report, co-authored by retired Army general John P. Abizaid and defense analyst Rosa Brooks, calls into question several of the myths concerning drones at war. Perhaps the biggest finding is that we don’t even know if drone strikes are working towards any strategic goals. The report states:

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