MyFlix was showcasing their Game Boy Advanced DVD player, a device that allows you to plug in a GBA SP through its cartridge slot and play back full DVDs. The quality of the screen was definitely watchable, and they assure me that they’ll be slimming down the actual unit, which itself was just a tad bulky. It will retail for close to $70 and be available in normal retail markets and online in July. Battery life was the one element that I had a few misgivings about—3-4 hours for four AAs. (They suggested rechargeables, natch.) The unit does have an AC adapter and they’re looking to integrate speakers. It also has a standard minijack headphone jack.
In addition to the MyFlix, they were also demoing the MyFrame, an affordable, USB-based digital picture frame. Essentially a tiny, USB-based display, the unit pulls pictures and power from your nearby computer. Adding pictures is as simple as dragging them to their software, and you can control the slideshow details. The unit will retail for about $70 as well, and the way they can get the cost down is by using a smaller, limited viewing angle LCD. It’s about 3.5”, and the easel it rests on is adjustable so you can set it for your normal sitting position at your desk. It’s actually a pretty neat solution for office pictures, and affordable enough to make sense to buy for mom.
I had the opportunity to spend close to 20 minutes interviewing and picking the brain of one of the Microsoft Vista product managers who in the Driver Group for the Windows Vista OS. John Clavin let us in on how the development process works over at Microsoft and what sort of manpower is required to develop, test and release a product of this size. As a developer myself, I was like a kid in a very, very nerdy candy store, begging to learn more about the system. (The ladies love it when I talk code to them. I swear.)
Versioning, stress testing, lines of code, distribution, builds, rebuilds and more, after the jump, straight from the horses mouth and only on Gear Live.
I was definitely excited to see and explore the new TiVo Desktop. More than just an incremental upgrade, the new Desktop introduces auto-scheduling of transfers. Desktop detects if a show is part of a Season Pass and allows you to tell your Desktop client to automatically grab any new episode of that series your TiVo records. Perhaps the most exciting new feature is the inclusion of automatic transcoding and transferring to your portable devices. If you have an iPod Video, for instance, you indicate that you want your scheduled transfers to be used for your iPod. TiVo Desktop will automatically grab the shows from your TiVo, transcode them to iPod Video’s preferred format, and even transfer it directly to your iTunes library and straight to your device, if it’s docked. Another such option exists for the PSP and the ability for other portable devices is definitely there. It’s about to enter beta testing and they estimate its release date will hit around sometime Q1 2006. (Or “very soon.”)
Oh, and watch this space for an in depth video interview and hands on shot of the Series 3, along with some extra-juicy information that only we have.
Stopping by HP’s rather large booth in South Hall’s upstairs, we stumbled upon their SLC3760N 37” LCD HD TV. It’s quite a mouthful no matter how you try to say it, but the TV had some stellar features that looked to function brilliantly. The TV is a uPNP device that allows you to hop on your local wireless (802.11a/b/g) or wired (100-base) network and instantly start watching media from your home’s PCs. It’s able to playback MPEG-1, MPEG-2, DivX, XviD (or, at least, MPEG-4), MP3s, AOL Radio and Rhapsody, and whatever photo formats you can throw at it.
It also features a 176° viewing angle, which looks quite stunning, and a 6,000:1 contrast ratio on a 720p screen. Release date is set tentatively for “early Spring” with a price “to be announced.” After trying a bit harder to eek a price out of him, he mentioned that the LCD on its own, minus all the connectivity functions, is (of course) absolutely top of the line, so you can expect to pay what a similar-quality tv might cost. He mentioned that the connectivity stuff adds only about $300 to the cost, which is pretty reasonable for such a flexible device.
Another interesting aspect of the forthcoming Windows Vista is how closely integrated it will be with your gaming experience. Games are now installed and tracked as their own element, complete with metadata that allows them to be sorted and managed better. By going to the Games menu in Windows, you’ll be able to quickly jump to the manufacturer’s support page, see installation details and quickly launch into your games. It’s not terribly exciting or even all that different, but it allows Windows to maintain a firm grip on parental controls with games, restricting play to games installed and approved through the system. This sort of tight integration with the OS makes me wonder if its extensibility might allow for more severe DRM and copy-protection schemes. Microsoft says they have legacy metadata for more than 2,000 games, and most developers will be including the small amount of metadata that will let them take advantage of the system. (And for those of you wondering, the picture is a shot of the advanced, DirectX 9-based application switching animations in Vista. We’ll likely have more on the graphical improvements in a later post.)
Check after the jump for a quick look at Microsoft’s new method to measure system performance, and some of the enhancements we found in the System Properties console.
We thought this one might be interesting enough to tell you about - at first glance, the Tao Wireless Media Player is just like all off your standard run-of-the-mill MP3 players. However, this device has integrated 802.11b which allows it to stream content stored anywhere on your network (or any network it is allowed to access, for that matter.) Even better, it also has a 20 GB internal hard drive, so you can still store your tunes on it as well. When you want to stream music, you can even use the built-in WiFi hotspot finder, which will sniff out networks for you to jump on. Focusing on a “sharing” theme, the device also has an FM transmitter built-in, so you can send the streaming music or MP3 files to a radio. Not only that, it also has two headphone ports - great for listening to tunes with your honey.
We’re live at the Larry Page keynote for Google. We’ll do our best to make note of the cool stuff…
4:15 Very cool Google Earth demonstration video, featuring a bunch of National Geographic pictures overlayed, showing sheep and such. And the Grand Canyon.
4:20 Google’s Larry Page has come on stage
on Stanley, the winning DARPA entry.
4:22 Larry’s showing us the results of a collaborative effort with VW to develop Google Earth into a car dashboard… Perhaps this is the beginning of Google in embedded devices…
Now, he’s showing us Google Maps on a live cell phone… AJAX over cell? He’s showing scrolling on a satellite map. google.com/glm
4:27 I’m noticing Page sounds sort of like Ernie from Sesame Street…
(The rest, after the jump…)
Okay guys, we are sitting in the auditorium, primed and ready to take in the keynote of Google Larry Page. We just got a peek at the TelePrompter, which an employee shut off when he noticed me trying to grab an image. Anyway, we can confirm that Google will be announcing a paid video download service - the rumors are true. The service will offer a wide range of entertainment, sports and news programming. Users will need to download a Google video player to take advantage of the service. We will have more from the keynote when it starts.
The LaCie “Two Big” [sic] enclosure is pretty fun, and includes two SATA IIe drives in configurations of either 500 GB (total capacity) or 1 terabyte. It’s user-configurable with RAID 0, RAID 1, Big Disks or JBOD. (And, although the configuration is set by a dial in the back that requires a screwdriver to change, it’s not recommended you go shift from RAID 0 to 1 after you’ve put your most precious data on it.) Coming in at $470 and $950 for the 500GB and 1TB sizes, it also includes a PCI-X SATA IIe card that lets you plug in and get going right away. It’s hot-swappable (although I’m guessing only in a few configurations) and thus, easy to boost the capacity when larger drives come out, even if it does weigh the same as a cinder block. (...almost.)
Alright peeps, check it. We know that all of those who can’t be here want to see as much as they can of the event. That being the case, we just set up a CES 2006 Gallery/Moblog that you can all check out to see what we are seeing. We have just a few things in there now, but we will definitely be updating throughout the rest of the conference with product images, random Vegas musings, and anything else we might want to show (note to self - throw up an image of the “Foldaway Bed of Doom”) to y’all.
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