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Turntable.fm music discovery

Right now I'm at SXSW, sitting in on the Turntable.fm DJ Battle that's taking place over the next two hours. There are a few DJs on stage playing their best tracks in an attempt to rock the crowd, and as things are unfolding, I can see some real potential for Turntable.fm to bring something to the table that the Spotifys, Rdios, and Rhapsodys of the world just aren't able to deliver at the moment, especially now that Turntable has secured licensing rights from all four of the major record labels here in the U.S.

Click to continue reading Why Turntable.fm matters, and how it enhances music discovery


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A few nights ago I found myself, along with two of my friends, shooting the breeze at a local watering hole. All of us come from different walks of life and hold different views on politics and social matters; but our love of good food, cars, and company puts all that aside. If you put us together for an extended period of time, one of us is doomed to end up in a hospital because of another, but it’s all fun and games.

Mid-way into the evening, my friend mentioned that he’s in the market for a new pistol. The other guy highly opposes guns. The bartender chimes in with his two cents, stating knifes kill people, cars kill people, and since people die in hospitals, the hospitals must be killing people, too. With these two bickering back and forth, it got me wondering just how many people get injured, or killed, on a yearly basis due to getting his by a car and how that compared to gun fatalities. Recently the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed a bill that would require all automotive manufacturers to include a backup camera in all vehicles by 2014. However, this wouldn’t come out of the manufacturers pocker, as the expense is passed on to the consumer. It would end up raising the cost of a vehicle by about 200 bucks. It's a small price to pay, and would more than likely save a bunch of lives.

Click to continue reading Can the NHTSA make cars safer with mandatory backup cameras by 2014?

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Ford Focus ST

Europe always seems to get the best of breed when it comes to cars. Regardless of the make or model, Europe takes delivery of vehicles we can only dream of over here in America. Here in the States we’re often left with slightly bland, dumbed down, and unappealing vehicle selection. Even Ford, an American company, offers vehicles in Europe that we can’t get here at home like the Ford Falcon and Focus RS, which we’ll zone in more later in the article.

Europeans have a knack for the ultimate driving experience, and one thing we noticed during a visit over the Atlantic during the summer was their love of hatchbacks. No, we're not talking about some hokey-puck cheap car that you'd find a teenager racing around town in. These vehicles are actually pretty awesome. We've put together our list of five hot hatches to look out for and consider if and when you’re in the market. Read on!

Click to continue reading Top 5 Hottest Hatchback Cars in the U.S.


iPad 2 giveaway

We've come to the end of another year, and as we wave goodbye to 2011, we figured it was only fitting that we share the most popular stories published on Gear Live this year, as determined by our readers (we've also got the top ten most read stories regardless of publish date, as well as the ten most popular Gear Live videos of 2011!) These are the ten stories that were read the most, and when you consider that fact, it's pretty surprising to see what made the list. Let's kick it off with our most read story of the year:

Giveaway: Apple iPad 2 32 GB!:
The iPad 2 certainly got a lot of attention this year, and our iPad 2 giveaway served as our most popular post out of them all for 2011.

Click to continue reading Top 10 Gear Live stories of 2011


Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword

Here we are in the week before Christmas, and while we hope that everyone's got their holiday shopping completed, we know from experience that it's a little too optimistic to think that way. We put together our 2011 Holiday Gift Guide in order to help guide you, but we've heard loud and clear that some of you felt the guide was a little light in the video game area. With that in mind, we've decided to compile three big holiday game releases that we think you should add to your wish list, if you haven't already. The holiday season is chock full of major game releases, so this obviously isn't a definitive list. Instead, it's a look at three titles that we think you shouldn't miss. A big thank you goes out to Sony's Xperia Play, which sponsored this post - if you're looking for the ultimate smartphone that can also run Playstation games, you'll wanna check out the Xperia Play.

These games should all be easy to find at your local Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Gamestop, and the like - so you don't have to wait for slow shipping that might ruin an otherwise perfect Christmas gift exchange. Now, on to the list - click on through for our thoughts!

Click to continue reading 3 big holiday game releases to add to your wish list


Normally at this time of the year, I predict tech trends for the New Year.  As I think about 2012, I realize that over the next 12 months, the personal computing and consumer electronics industries are poised to see some big disruptions that could change their course for the next five years.

In fact, I believe that when we end 2012, we will look back and realize that it was the most disruptive year we will have had in personal computing in over a decade. In the next 12 months, the market for personal computers of all shapes and sizes will have changed dramatically.

So, what will be the major forces that could reshape the PC business in 2012? There are four technologies and trends in the works that I believe will force the computer industry in a new direction.

The first will be Intel's huge push to make ultraportables 40 percent of its laptop mix by the end of 2012. Although I don't believe it will achieve that goal, especially if ultrabooks are priced above $899, the fact is that ultrabooks are the future of portable computing. Instead of thin and light laptops driving the market as they are now, ultrabooks, which are thinner and lighter, with SSDs and longer battery life, will eventually be what all laptops will look like in five years. The heavier and more powerful laptops that exist now won't go away completely since there are power users who will still need that kind of processing power. But ultrabooks will be the laptops of the future and 2012 will be the first year of their major push to change the portable computing landscape.

There is an interesting twist with ultraportables that could be even more important starting next year: the introduction of ultraportables with detachable screens that turn into tablets. In the past, this hybrid, as it is called, ran Windows when in laptop mode and Android when in tablet mode. But this approach was dead in the water from the start. With Windows 8 tablets ready to hit the market next fall, you will see ultraportables with detachable screens that will run Windows 8 with the Metro UI both on the laptop and in tablet mode. This will bring a level of OS consistency across both device modes and I think that this concept is a sleeper. In fact, if done right, this alone could reshape the traditional PC market in the near term.

Click to continue reading 2012: The Year everything gets disrupted


Protecting the nation's electric grid from cyber attacks is imperative, but a lack of standards and a designated federal agency to handle the issue could hamper progress, according to a new study.

"With rapidly expanding connectivity and rapidly evolving threats, making the grid invulnerable to cyber events is impossible, [but] improving resilience to attacks and reducing the impact of attacks are important," according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The 268-page report focuses on the future of the electric grid, with a chapter on cybersecurity efforts.

"Much as cybersecurity was not a key factor in the design of the Internet, cybersecurity has not been a high priority—until recently—in designing grid components," researchers concluded.

It's not cheap to secure the grid, however. A 2011 report from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) estimated that it would take at least $3.7 billion to secure grid cybersecurity. Trouble is, "the probability of a serious event is still very low," so it's difficult to get businesses to invest in grid cyber efforts.

That could change as more and more devices come on to the grid, and consumers turn to generating their own electricity via fuel cells, wind turbines, solar roofs, and the like.

Click to continue reading How do we protect the power grid from a cyber attack?


Airplane Mode

I must confess that I sometimes neglect to power down my iPad, iPhone, and other electronics during takeoff and landing. People near me also don't switch off their iPods either, and yet, despite flight attendants' instructions to turn off our electronics, the plane arrived at its destination safely.

Chances are, we weren't the only ones who broke the familiar rule. So just why does the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) still require people to turn off their gadgets?

A Sunday report from the New York Times claims that even the FAA hasn't found proof that the use of electronics pose a threat during takeoff and landing. But FAA spokesperson Les Dorr told the Times that it would prefer to be overly cautious when it comes to the policy.

In 2006, the FAA commissioned the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics to test the effects of cell phones and other portable electronics on flights.

It concluded that there was "insufficient information to support changing the policies," Dorr said. "There was no evidence saying these devices can't interfere with a plane, and there was no evidence saying that they can."

Click to continue reading Why do we have to turn off electronic devices during flight takeoff and landing?


Black Friday Crowd

With the sheer number of sales and offers being flung around during Black Friday weekend, there's a chance that you may encounter an item you're interested in that doesn't appear in any ad. Although you can easily price compare offers from competing stores, how can you be certain that it's actually the best deal you can get? Below, we've detailed a few steps that you should take to ensure that your purchase is a wise one. And though you may feel pressure to move quickly on Black Friday — with extremely limited-time offers and deals selling out — a few moments spent researching will make you much less likely to regret your purchases later.

1. Know the Price History for the Item: Many people don't realize that there's an option on dealnews that allows you to view expired deals. This info is useful when assessing the dealworthiness of a current price for a specific item. If the model you're considering was offered for less a few weeks or months ago, it's probably a pretty weak Black Friday deal. We've noticed a few such offerings in the ads already, so be on the lookout.

2. Consider Other Colors: If you're not particular about the color of your item, it's worth doing a quick check to see if a less-mainstream colorway is seeing stronger discounts. For example, some of the deepest cuts on items like Vibram FiveFingers shoes tend to be brightly-colored styles. When searching for additional options, keep in mind that sometimes the model number integrates color information. (Cameras and camcorders frequently do this.) Simplify the model number to broaden your search, and you may find a blue camera for less than the standard black or silver model you were originally considering.

Click to continue reading 8 rules to get the best deals on Black Friday


iTunes Match

I belong to the MP3 generation. Mine was the first to confront the choice between an $18 CD filled with marginal tracks and free MP3 downloaded from Napster in minutes. It was a test of character, and like many of the MP3 generation, I failed. But my days as a copyright violator, music pirate, and intellectual property profiteer ended long ago, and after enabling iTunes Match, previous guilt is gone.

To be fair, I haven't actually stolen music in years. I actually have multiple music service subscriptions, mostly because I am too lazy to cancel when I switch. So I have access to Rdio, Zune Pass, Rhapsody, Slacker, and Spotify Premium. But the truth is, I have a 32GB music collection sitting on my home PC that was built illegally downloading from services like Napster, Limewire, and BitTorrent. But now Apple is offering me amnesty for just $25 a year.

Apple's iTunes 10.5.1 launched yesterday, and it includes the much-anticipated Match feature. Install the software and it will scan your hard drive for music and make high-quality, 256-Kbps AAC versions of every file available to you in the cloud. The kicker is that this includes not just songs you purchased through iTunes, but any music file on your system, no matter where or how you got it. It will cost $25 a year to maintain access to this newly rebuilt and legal library, but for that price you can have access to up to 25,000 songs. Apple will pay the labels a small fee for the rights, but all you pay is the $25 per year. For those of us in the MP3 generation, this is library liberation.

Click to continue reading With iTunes Match, Apple has ended piracy as we know it


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