On Gear Live: Panasonic Ora brings together the smart home of the future

Area 51There has been mixed reviews about Midway’s latest FPS Area 51. Some hold this game as just another shooter while others go as far as claiming this is the next Halo. Want the truth? The truth may be harder to uncover and the road to it certainly isn’t without its share of conspiracies add that to a montage of people and creatures out to kill you in more ways than bullets can. According to the box, the U.S. Army has received a distressed call from; you’ve guessed it, Area 51 where a viral outbreak has forced the facility to shut down and a quarantine to be called. You play the part of Ethan Cole, a specialist in a HAZMAT team who has been sent in to investigate the mess. Easier said than done, right?


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Xbox 360 HD-DVD It’s hard to tell for certain, several months before the launch of Xbox 360, what Microsoft has planned for their “2.0” console.  However, recent statements made by none other than BillG himself point to a console that will be constantly evolving in terms of specs and capabilities ... something that has spelled danger for consoles past.

At a recent event in Tokyo, held jointly with HD-DVD standard bearer Toshiba, Microsoft reiterated their commitment to the standard.  Microsoft and Toshiba have a cross-licensing deal which extends back to April of this year, which has resulted in Toshiba being one of the leaders in Media PC and Tablet PC development.  The stakes in the next-generation DVD battle are huge, and having Microsoft as an ally would certainly add a certain amount of credibility to the format.

At this same event, Bill Gates stated that while the initial shipments of the Xbox 360 would contain a standard DVD drive, they are considering putting HD-DVD drives in future versions of the console, as well as other alternatives.  “We are looking at whether future versions of Xbox 360 will incorporate an additional capability of an HD DVD player or something else.”

Typically, consumers don’t like to hear that it’s possible that their hardware will be obsolete the moment it is released, and is part of the reason why Sony is throwing as much hardware at the PlayStation 3 as possible and eating the cost, including Blu-Ray support, the other format competing with HD-DVD as the standard for high-definition movie content.  By including the drive at launch, not only does Sony “future-proof” the machine, but they can possibly propel Blu-Ray to the forefront in the standards race, giving them an competitive advantage.  The success of the PlayStation 2 is widely credited towards including DVD movie playback.  In fact, in the first year of the PlayStation 2, more movie content was attached to PS2 sales than were game software.  It also helped that the PS2 was a fairly inexpensive DVD player upon its release.

What is baffling is that considering what is at stake, and Microsoft’s close ties to Toshiba, why Toshiba is not supplying the drives at no- or low-cost to Microsoft, in an effort to simply get the hardware into consumers homes and get a head start on Sony.  Given Microsoft’s willingness to add the hardware at a later date, potentially skewing the installed base and giving no competitive advantage to Toshiba, it is truly strange that Toshiba isn’t willing to eat the cost now to guarantee themselves an early leadership position.

It’s important to note that this won’t necessarily impact people planning to use the Xbox 360 solely for game play, but for those buying into Microsoft’s philosophy of turning the game console into a media component in the living room, it’s a potentially hazardous decision.  Announcing the decision this close to the Xbox 360 launch may even cause some consumers to wait until the HD-DVD capability is included, by which point Sony may already have the Blu-Ray capable PlayStation 3 in the marketplace.

This is not the first time that confusion has been expressed over the specs of the Xbox 360.  Initial photographs released indicated a 40GB hard drive attached to the machine, but the final specs released at E3 showed the storage device as 20GB, but that the drive is upgradeable to higher capacities later.

Read More | GamesIndustry.biz


Black RAZR Cingular

July 1st seems to be the day that Cingular will officially make the Motorola RAZR black edition available to the masses.  Apparently the price will be the same as the regular RAZR(around $199.99), and they’ll even let you personalize it by engraving your name on the battery cover.  2 weeks ago I would have been excited about this since I absolutely love the black RAZR, but 2 weeks ago I bought a RAZR and it’s seems I’m now stuck with it- the word is that Cingular customers won’t be able to get the phone on their current account, meaning only new customers can get this black beauty.  Say it ain’t so…

Read More | engadget


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iTunes 4.9 Podcasting

Apple announced a new line of iPods this morning: the iPod Color. The new generation of the iPods replaces the iPod Photo and brings a color screen to the black U2 edition of the iPod. The new iPods are available in 20GB and 60GB models and feature the same 15 hours of battery life that the old iPod Photos featured. Apple also dropped the price of their 1GB iPod Shuffle to $129, and dropped the new iTunes (4.9) for OS X on the masses. We are very interested in the podcasting capabilities of the new version of iTunes and will be checking it out shortly. Hopefully Apple will have pulled off the right blend of usability and customization to meet our demanding podcast needs. One thing I am not feeling is you can’t just add any podcast you would like to subscribe to - it has to be one Apple has in their catalog. Lame.

Read More | iTunes Podcasts


SlingboxBlake Krikorian, CEO of Sling Media, has announced that the Slingbox Personal Broadcaster will be available at from at least two national retailers come June 30th.  CompUSA and another unannounced name have already agreed to carry Slingbox for around $250.  The official announcement from Sling Media will be made on June 30th as well.  Just in case its function slips your mind, or your unfamiliar with the product, the Slingbox will allow you to stream TV content from your satellite, cable, or DVR to a computer with a high-speed Internet connection.

Read More | engadget


iTunes 4.9 I am now back from , ready to rock and roll as always. I know a bunch of you missed me, but how about dropping me some email next time letting me know how the lack of my presence affects your day

life? Nonetheless, one tidbit that I brought back with me is that iTunes 4.9 is likely going to launch tomorrow, June 28. I heard this talking to Adam Curry, and Dave Winer also mentioned it on Scripting News making mention of its support of RSS enclosures. What does this mean? Well, aside from being able to have a major one-stop podcasting client, it also means that whateven Apple has going on July 7 has nothing to do with the iTunes 4.9 launch. You may now proceed to scratch your chin.


LED Badge

I swore I saw this last week in my neighborhood but i couldn’t believe it. On his belt, some teenager had this LED badge mounted. Unfortunately I drove by so quickly I didn’t get a chance to read it (or believe it). I turned to my wife and asked, “Was that I think it was?” She said, “Yep, it said ‘Tiny’ - not a good thing to have on you belt.” Words of wisdom, y’all.

Read More | ThinkGeek


MIT Notebook Nicholas Negroponte, Chairman and co-founder of the MIT Media Lab announced to the World Economic Forum the most recent plans of the lab: a research initiative to develop a $100 laptop computer, with a 12” one megapixel screen, 1GB hard drive, and 500Mhz processor.  Other features include some sort of innovative power (possibly wind-up), a plethora of USB ports, and a ruggedized exterior to stand up to the elements in harsher climates.  The machines will be WiFi enabled, and have GSM cell phone connectivity as well.

Click to continue reading MIT Media Lab Researching $100 Notebook Computer


DescriptionSo the Motorola “RAZRberry” rumors have turned out to be true. Details have come forth of Motorola’s Magneto powered smart-phone with a QWERTY keyboard and 1.3 MP camera. The device is codenamed ‘Franklin’. The phone will feature an EDGE connection (what, no UMTS?!) and 128 MB of ram for all your data intensive needs.

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| MSMobiles


Longhorn RSS Microsoft announced Friday that its next version of the Windows operating platform would include built-in support for Internet data feeds. Even though RSS isn’t currently in widespread use, Microsoft believes that in the future this increasingly popular way to get news will become a mainstay. Of course, we reported our take on this a few minutes after the Gnomedex announcement.

In the long-delayed Windows upgrade, code-named Longhorn and expected to be released late next year, an RSS icon will appear in the Internet Explorer Web browser to make it easy for people to find, much like Apple Computer Inc. has done with its Safari browser.  Longhorn will store all data downloaded to a computer via RSS in a single place. It will maintain a central list of all of a computer user’s RSS subscriptions, from Web log entries to photos pulled from an online family picture gallery.

Read More | USA Today


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