Thursday, November 09, 2006

Nov. 07, 2006: Major update to Fujitsu's T4200-series tablet convertible.



Fujitsu has just announced a major refresh of its class-leading T4200 series. With the new T4215, you can now once again opt for an SXGA+ (1400x1050) indoor screen. The option was originally available for the T4000 series, but mysteriously vanished when the first iteration of the T4200 series was released. The other major update? You can now opt for the ubiquitous Intel Core 2 Duo CPU - all the way to 2.13 GHz, if your wallet can stand it.

The only knock against it is the inclusion of Intel 950 integrated graphics, which means the T4215 may rock Windows Vista, but not when it comes to any kind of serious gaming.

I recently got to play with a 4200 for a while. The build quality and overall feel of sturdiness were - as I expected - first-class, but I must confess that I found the unit a tad tiresome to use in full-out tablet mode. It's about a pound more than I'm used to, and that would be sufficient to give me pause before thinking of purchasing it. If, on the other hand, you're looking for an exquisite laptop that can do occasional tablet duties superlatively well, this is the machine for you.

U.S. product page:
http://store.shopfujitsu.com/fpc/Ecommerce/buildseriesbean.do?series=T4215

Nov. 07, 2006 - Finally here: Fujitsu P1610 !!!





As expected, the North American version doesn't offer integrated 3 G connectivity, but the inclusion of a PCMCIA card will go a long way to making up for it.

The U.S. configuration options are more plentiful (and powerful!) than the ones on Fujitsu's Canadian webstore, however the essential selling points are there in both locations:

  • 2.5 pounds with extended battery
  • up to 80 GB (1.8-inch, 4200rpm) hard drive
  • special software that eliminates vectoring when using the touchscreen.

As always with Fujitsu, a nice range of accessories are available, most notably a convertible bump case that allows you to use the P1610 in tablet or notebook mode.

U.S.A. product page:

http://store.shopfujitsu.com/fpc/Ecommerce/buildseriesbean.do?series=P1610

Canadian product page:

http://store.shopfujitsu.com/ca/EcomCA/buildseriesbean.do?series=P1610

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Who said hard drive manufacturers don't have a sense of humor?

Check out the Flash animation (complete with singing and dancing bits!) on the Hitachi GST website! It does a nice job of explaining perpendicular storage painlessly - provided you like the song ...

Here's the link:

http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/research/recording_head/pr/PerpendicularAnimation.html

For a more traditional explanation - as well as some nifty benchmark comparisons between various models of 2.5-inch mobile hard drives, check out Seagate's take on the subject:

http://www.seagate.com/cda/newsinfo/newsroom/coverage/article/1,1113,3160,00.html

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Toshiba's 'Mazing Midget Multimedia Marvel !



This little wonder has been popping up all over the web in the past week or so. Business travelers will enjoy such a tiny device, and folks looking to spruce up their home theatres just may be licking their chops, since it can't possibly be as noisy as its bigger projector cousins.

Some comments, though:

  1. The inputs are somewhat limited, as you can see in the second picture above. You get SVGA, USB, or composite video, that's it: no fancy-pants HD inputs or HDCP-compliant plugs.
  2. I'm a bit suspicious of the advertised brightness spec. 400 Lux -what's that in ANSI Lumens?
  3. If the projector is capable of displaying an 11 to 68-inch picture, why does it ship with only a 23-inch folding screen? Is it only in the interest of portability, or does picture quality degrade for larger images?

Look at the bright side, though: connect this puppy to a laptop or media PC, and you'll have no trouble throwing a DVD or DIVx picture up on your wall, at a fairly reasonable cost (USD $699). Sadly, it would appear that this small wonder isn't available in Canada yet. *sigh*

Official Toshiba press release:

http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20061017005252&newsLang=en

U.S. order page:

http://www.toshibadirect.com/td/b2c/pdet.to?seg=HHO&poid=353143

Could this be Fujitsu's Vista strategy for Stylistic slates?




Both Engadget and jkontherun have reported on an upcoming Fujitsu Stylistic 5112, which supposedly sports a Core 2 Duo ULV processor (albeit at a low clock speed of 1.2 GHz).

The dual-core CPU, combined with an Intel 950 graphics chipset, will presumably allow this slate-only tablet to run Vista at a decent clip. (productivity apps only, folks, gamers should look elsewhere)

The great news is that apparently Fujitsu have elected not to mess around with their highly successful form-factor. Based on postings found on tabletpcbuzz.com and elsewhere, the only component that is clearly not interchangeable with older models are the batteries. Otherwise, I/O functions, ports, interfaces, etc. seem to be unchanged. (Betcha the older docks all work!)

OK, so this baby likely won't rock Vista, but, like its predecessors, it is guaranteed to ROLL!

(NB: I use a Stylistic 5020D myself, and can vouch for the value of the design)

Engadget link:
http://www.engadget.com/2006/10/13/fujitsus-stylistic-st5112-tablet-goes-core-2-duo/

jkontherun link:
http://jkontherun.blogs.com/jkontherun/2006/10/fujitsu_stylist.html

Highly imperfect Babelfish version of the original German store page:
http://babelfish.altavista.com/babelfish/trurl_pagecontent?lp=de_en&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thetabletstore.com%2Flshop%2Cshowdetail%2C2004g%2Cd%2C%2Chersteller.fujitsu-siemens%2Cfsc0046%2C%2CTshowrub--hersteller.fujitsu-siemens%2C.htm

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Samson tries to tear down the walls of pro audio mobile recording


(image from: http://www.gizmodo.com/gadgets/gadgets/zoom-h4-mobile-recorder--hotshot-audio-in-the-palm-of-your-hand-205152.php)

I did extensive research on this type of product. The M-Audio unit had nice specs, but real-world reviews from web users gave me some serious concerns about build quality. The Marantz unit is bulky and a bit pricey. The older Edirol R-01 uses Compact Flash memory cards and looks uncomfortable to use. After eliminating the competition, and thanks to some serious wheedling, I received Edirol's R-09 as a gift, and boy does it ever live up to expectations !

Now, Samson's Zoom H4 enters the fray, and it looks like one sweet deal: 4-track recording, dual XLR inputs, phantom power, uncompressed WAV or selectable-bitrate MP3 recording, and more !

Did I mention it's about $100 cheaper than competing products in its category?

Product page:

http://samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=1901

You can find video of an interview with Samson's CEO on neo-fight.tv:

http://www.neo-fight.tv/2006/10/episode_075_samson_technologie.html

Propeller-assisted cycling: this can't be legal !



It's a simple idea: strap on a propeller backpack and go for a bike ride. While it looks like a lot of noisy, riotous fun to ride this way, I would recommend that anyone who wants to try this out wear as much full-body leather as Mad Max. Oh, and don't forget your crash helmet !

Pic, story and You Tube video at:

http://www.gizmodo.com/gadgets/gadgets/pacificwind-thrustpac-the-most-fun-you-can-have-with-your-clothes-on-204942.php

Irresistible Space Pic


(image from: http://www.gizmodo.com/gadgets/gadgets/take-a-ride-in-spaceshiptwo-courtesy-of-neiman-marcus-205185.php)

I couldn't resist the above image. Click on it and see for yourself. The story itself is ho-hum, but follow the link and read the story...

Artists, sick b*st*rds, or both?



Just when you thought it was safe to get into the elevator, you suddenly realized some evil artist/prankers had carefully crafted a superb trompe l'oeil illusion designed to convince you that you're about to become shaft meat...

See the pix and judge for yourself how comfortable you would be riding in this particular elevator car.

http://www.hemmy.net/2006/10/03/elevator-floor-illusion/

First spotted here:

http://www.gizmodo.com/gadgets/gadgets/elevator-with-no-floor-go-ahead-step-inside-205177.php

News Flash: Wal-Mart is creepy...

So 10 Wal-Mart stores are trying out new software that allows the retail giant to spy on your every move while you're in their stores, and correlate your movements with actual cash register activity.

Hmmm, at least when you shop at Amazon.com, you can customize your recommendations so you see more items you're actually interested in while you're being click-tracked and spied on!

The ugly story can be found at:

http://www.engadget.com/2006/10/03/wal-mart-to-use-infrared-to-track-shoppers-promotions/

with more details at techdirt.com:

http://techdirt.com/articles/20061002/150452.shtml

You'd be better off burning a 20-dollar bill !


Image from http://www.gizmodo.com/gadgets/gadgets/dvd-rewinder-yes-its-real-205286.php

I've seen this before, but - really- shouldn't this thing win some sort of prize?

Another heavyweight shows an e-book reader: heeeeere's Fuuuujitsu !



Unfortunately the incredibly cool images found on Akihabara News and gizmodo.com provide next to no detailed information beyond the fact that the gadget is very lightweight. Well, whoopety-do!

Some things that might actually be useful to know:

  • Does Fujitsu's e-paper work like e-ink ? (i.e. very high-contrast, miserly battery utilization, etc.)
  • What file formats will the new device support?
  • The photos seem to indicate a fairly high degree of glare coming off the screen. If this is true, does the high glare impede readability?
  • When will it come to market?
  • Will it be released in North America?
  • Will it be affordable?

Hopefully, when the device is finally announced, we won't be looking at yet another online store where you can download overpriced e-books in a proprietary e-book format that can only be used on one hardware platform. Hello, Sony, Rex and Panasonic!

I know I'm repeating myself, but the only software platform worth a darn is the PDB format used by www.ereader.com .

Gizmodo link:

http://www.gizmodo.com/gadgets/gadgets/fujitsu-demos-its-ebook-reader-that-weighs-only-177g-039-pounds-205321.php

Akihabara News link:

http://www.akihabaranews.com/en/en/news-12521-CEATEC+-+Fujitsu+Electronic+Paper+e-book+reader.html

So now information can be teleported?

Here's some truly mind-warping technology: what if you could teleport information across distance, without benefit of wires, microwaves, or standard Wi-Fi? Well, those happy-go-lucky research scientists at the Niels Bohr Institute claim to have done just that.

A nearly-incomprehensible account of this feat can be found on News.com:

http://news.com.com/Quantum+information+teleported+from+light+to+matter/2100-11395_3-6122801.html?tag=nefd.top

The boffins in question live here:

http://www.nbi.ku.dk/english/

Ransom Notes: just what we all want to get from Microsoft !

Perhaps I'm just a cynic, but it seems to me that, if Microsoft sees as many bootleg versions of Windows as their ridiculous anti-piracy efforts would suggest, they might benefit from revamping their pricing models. Seriously, if Vista Basic cost $49.95 and the Premium version cost $99.95, would there be any need to put up with a shifty little tap-dance that involves Microsoft sending you hate mail while supposedly still allowing you to download the latest security updates ?

See the dirty details here:

http://www.engadget.com/2006/10/04/microsoft-will-cripple-pcs-running-pirated-copies-of-vista/

Here's a further pile-o-stuff about Vista:

http://news.com.com/Piecing+together+Windows+Vista/2009-1016_3-6050105.html

As for Microsoft's current anti-piracy strategy, Windows Genuine Advantage, that has proven to be no bed of roses either. I mean, once you've allowed WGA to run on your machine once, why would you need to put up with it over and over and over and over again?

Here's some supporting information:

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/?p=142

Talk to the Hand: Sharp demos handheld voice translator


(Image from: http://www.engadget.com/2006/10/04/sharps-portable-voice-translator-talks-back-at-ceatec/)

Check out this little beauty - this upcoming device from Sharp purports to deliver voice-to-voice translation - talk to it in your language, and it spits your words back at you in another language!

For such a specialized device, I doubt the monochrome screen would get in the way, but... you have to wonder if the speaker's output can be heard over, say, the lunchtime crowd at a busy restaurant. Unless, of course, you're supposed to use earplug and try to mimic what the unit says back to you. lf that's the case, good luck!

For more information, you can always try to decipher this babelfish link provided by Engadget:

http://babelfish.yahoo.com/translate_url?doit=done&tt=url&intl=1&fr=bf-home&trurl=http%3A%2F%2Fpc.watch.impress.co.jp%2Fdocs%2F2006%2F1003%2Fceatec.htm&lp=ja_en&btnTrUrl=Translate

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Eyeball-to-eyeball with your computer

Better not have jiggly eyeballs: a German research team is claiming that they have developed technology that may soon allow us to swap our trackballs and mice for... our eyes!

Years ago, something similar was tried with early Macs: that system included a small control box that sat on top of your Mac, as well as a special overlay that you would stick on your keyboard: it would mimic the Mac's sole mouse button. That product sped to an early demise, however: in order to use it, you needed to glue a small reflective disc to your forehead! And, if that wasn't already enough of a major turn-off, early adopters reported dizziness and vertigo from trying to use it...

What the Germans have been working on is a horse of a completely different stripe. EYClN purports to use special algorithms to compensate for very fast involuntary eye movements and blinking, as well as some special logic to make sure you only select what you mean to select.

Sounds interesting, but it's (for now) primarily aimed at helping folks with limited mobility. As the team continues to develop EYCIN, we may see a consumer version in a few years.

After that, of course, we can expect Microsoft to come out with their own version and screw up their first 2 iterations - but I'm not bitter, not me!

Anyway, here's the link:

http://www.theengineer.co.uk/Articles/Article.aspx?liArticleID=296371

Handcrafted wood computers from Suissacomputers.com


Suissa Yuki model, seen here: http://www.suissacomputers.com/products.htm

Well it's about time ! Too often computers, even the ones with smokin' hot features and performance, are housed in butt-ugly generic boxes or in ugly plastic toy enclosures designed for 12-year olds. Now Suissa, based in Thornhill Ontario, is unleashing the power of custom woodworking on some nifty AM42 innards.

Not cheap, but these customized enclosures exude class -as long as you manage to avoid termite infestations! And you thought computer viruses were a major pain?

(originally seen on Engadget: http://www.engadget.com/2006/10/03/suissa-computers-offers-up-custom-wooden-pcs/)

Another book-reading device on the horizon: Panasonic to step in.


(image from: http://www.akihabaranews.com/en/en/news-12522-CEATEC%20-%20Panasonic%20Word%20Gear%20e-book%20reader.html)

No word yet on what formats will work with the upcoming Panasonic Word Gear. It looks attractive enough, although with a color screen (and no battery-sipping e-ink display technology), battery life won't be all that great.

Let's reserve judgment on this one for now, shall we?

Engadget post:

http://www.engadget.com/2006/10/03/panasonics-word-gear-e-book-reader-in-the-wild/

Sony Reader delayed already - "overwhelming demand" before ship date

So now, either Sony misjudged the demand and manufactured too few units, or they've run into some production hassles. "Mid-November," eh?

Bottom line: as attractive as e-ink technology is, does the world really need yet another DRM scheme?

See the engadget post below:

http://www.engadget.com/2006/10/02/sony-portable-reader-delayed-again-due-to-overwhelming-demand/

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bad software will kill you

Now here's a truly ugly idea: create a mobile face-recognition tool for soldiers designed to help them decide who's worth shooting in a crowd. There's a creepy logic to the idea; after all, decision support is nothing new, and I can see how you might think that if you see the same face at more than one protest march or demonstration, they may be more likely to be "opposition players." Still, the idea that software could come to take over the process of deciding to take a life is very scary. Think of the average soldier overseas right now; odds are he/she is in the 18- to 25- year old range, scared, and quite willing to pull the trigger to save their skin (understandably). Now you've gone and given that soldier an easy out. "It wasn't my idea to take him out, Sarge, the software gave me 90% probability he was al-Qaeda..."

See the Engadget story below:

http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/27/face-recognition-system-identifies-terrorists-so-soldiers-dont/

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Forget dual-core; try 80 cores !!!

Not content with releasing the exquisitely thermo-efficient core 2 Duo and torturing us mortal users with tantalizing glimpses of upcoming quad-core chips, Intel has come out and announced that they have successfully created a prototype 80-core chip, which can process 1 trillion floating-point operations per second.

Aack! I wonder how much power that sucker draws...

The story can be found at:

http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/26/intel-developers-forum-roundup-four-cores-now-80-cores-later/

Sony's ebook to ship by Halloween


(image from http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/26/sony-reader-prs-500-hands-on-connect-reader-screenshots/)

OK, so it has an amazing screen, it's lightweight and the battery life is spectacular. Sony's new PRS-500 ebook reader, which will ship by October 31st, will cost USD $349 and supports only the proprietary BBeB file format, PDF, TXT and Doc files. Sony's online store, (http://ebooks.connect.com/) currently sports some 10,000 books from six publishers.

Not impressed.

What I'd like to see is a high-viz e-ink reader that supports ereader.com's excellent .PDB format! (http://www.ereader.com)

If it ships on Halloween, Dracula's favorite day of the year, does that mean somehow it's gonna suck?

Multiple OS's at the same time - for a price



In the never-ending battle to create ever-smaller, pricier ultra-portable platforms, Black Diamond Technology have just announced their new SwitchBack rugged UMPC. The specs aren't that interesting right now (Celeron-based, with a 40GB hard drive), the device will soon be able to simultaneously run XP, Linux, Windows CE and Windows Mobile. Price hasn't been announced - and therefore in the nosebleed range, since the 3-pound device seems to be destined primarily for military applications.

The Engadget post can be found here:

http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/26/switchback-ruggedized-umpc-can-rock-multiple-oses-simultaneously/

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Leaked photos of upcoming LG minitablet.



What you're looking at are some spy photos taken through a cell phone by "Talon 88," and apparently showcase an ultra-portable LG tablet with a 10-inch screen. Also, as the next photo shows, the device will feature similar "integrated-SIM" features to the equally unreleased Fujitsu p1610 - see earlier post on this blog.



Full series can be found here:

http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=79031

Encode DIVx 10 to 30 times faster?

It seems that ATI is threatening to unleash a whole new class of acronym soup on the world - stream processing and GPGPU. In a nutshell: what if you could "steal" some of the intense processing power locked in your $600 video card to speed up your computing tasks?

Check out the plain English explanation on Engadget here:

http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/21/ati-to-announce-stream-computing-on-september-29/

Much more detail here:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/09/19/ati_gpgpu/print.html

Looks like it's a going to take a while to get out, and the coding issues aren't trivial. Still, a "Firestream" videocard might be just what you need to accessorize that 8-core CPU...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fujitsu to upgrade its ultra-portable Tablet

















The Fujitsu P1510 is an extraordinarily nifty little convertible tablet, weighing in at about two pounds. Depressingly, at the time of its release, there was no room for a PCMCIA card, and the touchscreen digitizer was famously prone to registration errors. As I write this, Fujitsu is poised to release a major upgrade, to be called the P1610. See
http://fabiandietrich.wordpress.com/2006/09/13/fujitsu-p1610
or
http://jkontherun.blogs.com/jkontherun/2006/09/hugo_fondles_th.html

Both of the above credit Hugo Ortega, Australia's tablet evangelist, for a first glimpse of the new device in a YouTube video. Unfortunately, it looks as though someone has pressured Hugo into removing the video. When you click on the YouTube link, you get a message saying it is a private video. I suspect Fujitsu wants to sell out its inventory of P1510's before rolling out the upgraded version...

Hugo's blog can be found at:
http://ubertablet.blogspot.com/

Hey! Who killed the Pocket PC?

Somehow, over the past year and a half or so, the most high-powered Pocket PC PDA's have disappeared. Say goodbye to the good iPaq's (eg the hx4700), the Toshiba e800 and others. Everywhere you look, you see Smartphones and the like, a delightful move that reduces options for most consumers since mobile phones are often a corporate purchase and most of us don't get to pick the device our employer assigns to us. Meanwhile, so-called "consumer" PDA's are overpriced, fragile, and light on features and specs. If you're looking for the kind of mobile productivity a good Pocket PC provided, you almost have to go with a UMPC - which costs twice the price and has half the battery life. Sure, you can argue that UMPC's deliver more functionality, have fat hard drives, etc. All true, but the darn things are huge! It's probably just sour grapes on my part, but I miss the Pocket PC.

Why Tablet PC Will Disappear

Are Tablet PC's a good thing?
Much has been written about the disappointing sales of Tablet PC's - the fact that "only" 5 million units were sold last year is seen as somehow uncommercial in comparison to the number of traditional laptops sold. Somehow, tablets have garnered the image of an obscure, specialized technology that only appeals to doctors or engineers. Further, the stellar Wacom digitizer technology used in most tablets adds a significant price premium. In Canada, you can get a bargain-basement laptop for $1,000-1200, while modestly equipped convertible tablets go for about $1500. What you get for this money is, bar none, the best application of computer technology I've ever seen, and I've been around for a while. The current version of the Tablet PC OS provides flawless stability, while the digitizer provides flexible and speedy input whenever you want. So far, Tablet PC is a good thing.

Why aren't tablets selling better?
You just don't see too many tablets in retail outlets. Regardless of marketing efforts by Microsoft and the OEM's, there's been no easy way to get your hands on a tablet and actually try it out. In my case, it took a $3000 act of faith - I purchased a Fujitsu Stylistic slate tablet over the phone. Of course, I did a great deal of research ahead of time - I wasn't disappointed. In addition, I followed the golden rule and waited for the second generation of the OS before making my move. No consumer should ever be expected to operate this way - it jusn't doesn't make sense for most people to operate this way.

Windows Vista - the kiss of death for Tablet PC (it's a good thing)
Microsoft has confirmed that several versions will integrate tablet features directly into the OS. OEM's will therefore be free to implement whatever digitizing solution they see fit - from Wacom to Finepoint or much cheaper touchscreens. As the cost of tablet components declines, you'll see OEM's start to add tablet functionality in order to differentiate their gear from everyone else's. Hey, even Dell is looking into tablets! Monkey see, monkey do: once the larger manufacturers see increased sales on the tablet side, you'll see all the others jump on the bandwagon. It's a plain fact that when people get their mitts on a tablet, they want one. I'm convinced that Bill Gates is right, and that inking will become a laptop essential, just like USB ports and LCD displays are now. Once that happens, there will be no further need for the TabletPC brand. (As a sidebar, I'm frequently amused at the fact that Apple hasn't caught on to inking for the masses; their oh-so-hip TV ads don't recognize just how banal the Macbook design is)

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Welcome to the Technivity blog! In this space, you will find a variety of articles, photos and links featuring technology that WORKS!