Monthly Archives: February 2012
Whether you’re into widescreen gaming, day trading, multitasking, or just stretching windows until they’re really,really big, a multiple monitor setup is the only way to fly. Us geeks have been keen to the secret for a while now, but sales numbers from 2011 seem to indicate that dual-screen madness may be starting to take the world by storm — and that most buyers think bigger is better.
The average computer monitor sold these days measures in at 21 inches, a three-inch increase over the 18-inch average way back in 2007. According to numbers that IHS iSuppli, well, iSupplied to the New York Times, 179 million monitors were sold in 2011, compared to just 130 million desktops. Rhoda Alexander, iSuppli’s monitor-watcher, told the newspaper that difference means “more screens per desk.”
Don’t necessarily chalk that increase up to a rise in multi-monitor gaming, though The Times says that business use likely contributed to the spike.
“NEC Display, a major supplier of monitors, said 30 to 40 percent of the employees of its corporate customers now used more than one monitor, up from 1 percent four years ago,” the article reports.
One thing’s almost certain: as multitasking increases and monitors continue to get wider, thinner and cheaper, multi-screen usage should continue to rise. Do you rock a dual (or more!) screen setup, or are you a one-screen kinda guy/gal?
Android Ice Cream Sandwich Focused HTC owners, here’s some sensational news: The manufacturer on Thursday announced that the initial Ice Cream Sandwich wave will hit devices by the end of March. First in line will be the HTC Sensation, HTC Sensation 4G, HTC Sensation XE and soon after the HTC Sensation XL.
The cavalcade of dessert-y goodness won’t rest there. Other devices slated to receive the Android 4.0 treatment later this year include:
HTC Amaze 4G
HTC Evo 3D
HTC Evo Design 4G
HTC Incredible S
HTC Desire S
HTC Desire HD
Quite a few versions to behold. Unfortunately, the second round of updates hasn’t been given a release date, but the company said to “stay tuned for more updates on Ice Cream Sandwich releases in the coming weeks.” Perhaps the company is going to reveal more information at Mobile World Congress.
It’s a pretty robust roster, and ambitious of HTC to promise ICS for so many devices. Any handsets HTC left off? Verizon’s ThunderBolt, anyone?
Not satisfied with only announcing a streaming service yesterday, Redbox has also said it’s gobbling up its kiosk competition, Blockbuster Express.
When DISH Network bought up Blockbuster, one thing it did not include was the 10,000 Blockbuster Express rental kiosks. Those were the result of a licensing deal with NCR, a company that makes all sorts of various stand-alone kiosk machines such as self-ticketing stations in airports. Like the company they were named for, the kiosks under performed, and NCR reported a $13 million dollar loss in the third quarter off of $42 million in sales.
Redbox to the rescue!
The leading DVD kiosk brand has said it will pay NCR $100 million for the 10,000 kiosks, specific retailer contacts and the remaining DVD inventory. The deal is said to be completed by the third quarter of this year and will also include a strategic arrangement between the two companies that will see Coinstar, the parent company of Redbox, purchase products and services from NCR.
This new deal will essentially give Redbox a monopoly on the DVD rental kiosk business, and should the company keep all of the Blockbuster Express locations going – which is doubtful due to inevitable overlap – it would put the company at close to 40,000 locations around the nation.
As many reports have said DVD and Blu-ray rentals are tapering off, it’s intrigiuing to see Redbox looking to increase it’s hold on the market that much more. Perhaps they know something other companies don’t?
Minecraft has grown to become a very popular sandbox construction game with over 4 million downloads. It has been around for a couple years now, but the full game was not officially released until November 18, 2011. A couple days ago, I decided to take the plunge and buy it. So what have my first few days with Minecraft been like?
Well my first time playing the game was actually with three of my friends. As soon as I finished downloading the game, I sent my bud Preston a text and got into a server with him and some others. Minecraft is a surprisingly large game with tons of possibilities. I feel that it almost would have been overwhelming if I didn’t first play with some friends. As I played the game, with their guidance, I pretty quickly got the hang of it.
The first steps in Minecraft involve, well, mining. As you break down pieces of the environment (commonly referred to as “blocks”), you get items to use in various ways. Early on you will be crafting these items into important tools, and more. Almost everything can be broken down in some way and turned into something else. For more info on early building and crafting help take a look at minecraftwiki.net. The more I played, the more I wondered: “What is the point of Minecraft?”
I then realized something important. There is no absolute point to Minecraft. There is no boss to kill, no princess to save, no final objective to accomplish. The point of it all is to just play. You get to test your creative limits with the tools presented before you. As you pick up more of the game, ideas will pop into your head of things to try, like buildings to create. It almost can be compared to playing with Legos. This style of sandbox, open-ended game may not be for everyone, but it definitely has some appeal.
I can only encourage everyone out there to give the game a shot. Maybe head over to minecraft.net and play the classic version before you spend any money on the game. (Side note, the full game has absolutely no DRM when purchased. Being an avid hater of DRM, I love that.) If you already play the game, or buy it and want to have some fun in a server, leave a comment.
Verizon has taken the wraps off its launch plans for the Droid 4. Get ready to hit up Big Red on February 10 and lay down $199.99 with a two year contract to take this one home with you.
Leaks have been plentiful when it comes to the Droid 4, but we finally have official confirmation of the newest member of the Droid family launching on this Friday, February 10. We already had a strong suspicion of the $199 price tag thanks to a leaked Verizon roadmap, but that data point has also now been made official when you pick it up with the usual two year agreement.
For your two bills you’ll be getting a 4G LTE phone with a full slide out QWERTY keyboard, Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread (upgradeable to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich), 8-megapixel read camera, a front-facing camera, 4-inch qHD display and a dual-core 1.2GHz processor.
Verizon and Coinstar announced today that they will be teaming up for a new video streaming service in the second half of this year.
Coinstar, the parent company of Redbox, has been saying for some time now that video streaming was a priority for its DVD rental kiosk empire. While other rumors had been going around for a some time now that Verizon was possibly looking to purchase Netflix as it wanted to enter the video streaming market, it seems that Big Red is instead going to go the route of starting something entirely new while helping Redbox out with its dreams.
Details on the new service are very light at this time with the press release only stating that the new service will offer “subscription services and more in an easy-to-use, flexible and affordable service that will allow all consumers across the U.S. to enjoy the new and popular entertainment they want, whenever they choose, using the media and devices they prefer.” Beyond that there is no name as of yet, no clue as to what the cost will be, if any plans will include rentals from kiosks or what content partners they have signed agreements with. Suspicions are running strong that all of that information will be held back until closer to the launch date in the latter half of this year.
The number of streaming options out there is quickly growing with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon already in the marketplace, and with the money behind Verizon and Coinstar now coming into play, it could get very messy, very quickly.
May 4th can’t come soon enough after watching the new trailer for The Avengers that premiered during the Super Bowl. While the trailer didn’t provide much as far as new information it did have some pretty awesome shots especially one towards the end with the entire team and a peak at some social time between Tony Stark and Loki.
There is one brief glimpse of some alien looking guys jumping out of what looks to be a space ship. I’m hoping that maybe just maybe the rumors are true and this movie will feature the Skrulls.
But regardless the trailer does its job and has me more excited for this film.
Check out the trailer for yourselves and let us know what you think.
If you’re an Xbox 360 gamer with a Silver account on Xbox LIVE, you now have a brand new reason to download the demo for Mass Effect 3. This demo includes with it a glimpse into both the single player campaign and the multiplayer side of the game.
Normally, Silver members wouldn’t be able to access the multiplayer features on a demo as that’s limited to Gold account levels. However, in order to make the demo fully playable, Microsoft will upgrade any Silver account that downloads the Mass Effect 3 demo to Gold until the game releases on March 6th. The demo releases on February 14th.
So, that means that by downloading and playing the Mass Effect 3 demo on your Xbox 360 with a Silver account, you’ll effectively get almost a full month of Gold access for free.
Gold access will let you play games with friends and give you the chance to use premium apps; Netflix, Hulu Plus, Facebook (does anyone use this on their Xbox 360?) and access to the Deal of the Week (which, right now, is Bastion for half-off its normal price).
The same demo will be made available for both the PlayStation 3 and PC platforms, but nothing special happens upon downloading or playing it with either system. Both platforms offer free ways to play games together, so this whole upgrade business isn’t necessary.
In my opinion X-men First Class was one of the more enjoyable “super-hero” films as of late and now it official, it’s continuing education for these mutants. X-Men First Class will get it’s sequel with most of the original cast returning including Jennifer Lawrence, who will be riding high on the inevitable success of The Hunger Games. Director Matthew Vaughn, Producer Bryan Singer and Writer Simon Kinberg are all on board as well.
So let’s recap the movies we have to look forward to: The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, The Hunger Games, X-Men First Class 2, Thor 2, The Nick Fury Movie, and The Amazing Spiderman.
Some of these I know will be awesome (Dark Knight Rises) some I’m hopeful for (The Amazing Spiderman) and others better be good otherwise I may lose all hope and lock myself in my house until you see me on an episode of Hoarders in a few years (The Avengers).
What films are you looking forward to?
I don’t why I’m surprised: We’ve seen pet owners inject GPS trackers on little doggies all over the country. So was tagging humans really going to be far behind?
Footwear company Aetrex has teamed up with GTX Corp., integrating the latter’s GPS technology in its new tracking shoes. That’s right — the goal of this product is to pinpoint the wearer’s whereabouts. The tracker’s inside the right shoe, which also has a GSM antenna that goes through the heel and a USB port, for charging. The product is slated to begin shipping in Canada first, and it appears that an international SIM card supplier may be on board, which would allow for global distribution and service.
At first glance, I thought this looked like a horrible idea. To say this would call up privacy issues would be an understatement. I imagined jealous lovers or abusive spouses coercing their partners to wear the Aetrex shoes daily, effectively using them as a spy tool or an instrument of oppression. And it’s certainly possible that this product could be subverted like that — despite being a radically different use-case than the maker intends.
The product concept is actually a noble one. Aetrex intends to give caretakers a means to safeguard loved ones with dementia, Alzeheimers, certain types of mental illnesses or other conditions. When customers purchase the shoes, they can set up an account with GTX to map a safe zone (or “geo-fence”) using Google Maps. Then whenever their patient or loved one wanders outside that area, an email or text message goes out to alert the primary account holder, who can then call an emergency line if additional help is necessary.
Of course, even used with the best intentions, it’s still not a perfect scenario. The kicks cost $299.99 per pair, not including monthly fees — logging the location data of the wearer every 10 minutes costs $40 per month, and every 30 minutes is $36 per month. That’s not exactly cheap. And the battery life is two days, meaning the caretaker needs to recharge them pretty often (and it’s a sure bet that more frequent tracking will run that down pretty fast). The wearer also needs to be willing to wear the shoes and keep them on for the system to work.
But those aren’t the most troubling aspects. It’s the idea of making human-tracking technology available for widespread consumer use. That makes for an extremely sticky and disconcerting proposition, no matter the reason.
What do you think? Do the privacy concerns make this a bad idea? Or does the potential good from this type of product trump the risk of misuse?