Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Dell Inspiron Duo review

When Dell first demoed the Inspiron Duo and its vertically rotating screen on stage at IDF in September, our mouths nearly hit the floor. It looked like a plain old netbook until its 10.1-inch capacitive touchscreen did a magical backflip and folded down over its keyboard to morph into a tablet. It was like nothing we'd ever seen before. And we actually figured it would be the sort of system that would stay locked up in Dell's labs, but when its specs were revealed -- a dual-core Atom N550 processor, 2GB of RAM, and Broadcom Crystal HD accelerator -- it became evident that the netbook / tablet hybrid was the real deal. Running Windows 7 Home Premium and Dell's new Stage interface, the $550 netvertible has the potential to successfully straddle both the netbook and tablet world. It also has a real shot at being the perfect device for those wavering between buying a netbook and a tablet. Indeed, the Duo is filled to the brim with potential, but what's the thing really like to use? We've spent the last few days with the Duo (and its Duo Audio Station) to find out, so hit the break for the official Engadget review!

Editor's note: The review unit Dell sent us was a hardware production unit, but we were told the software was about 95 percent done. We will update this review with our impressions of the final unit when we receive it.

Continue reading Dell Inspiron Duo review

Dell Inspiron Duo review originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 30 Nov 2010 15:01:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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How to Get Student Discounts Forever [Saving Money]

Holiday discounts be damned, nothing saves you money like an old fashioned student discount. Here's how to continue making use of those discounts long after your time as a student has passed. More »


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FCC looking into Comcast / Netflix blocking threat, Level 3 responds as analysts chime in

News that Comcast had threatened to block internet backbone Level 3, which is one of the companies delivering Watch Instantly streams, sent shockwaves through the industry yesterday. Net neutrality advocates geared up for battle, Comcast insisted it was only enforcing the same arrangements other networks abide by while Roger Ebert and the rest of us fretted over Netflix access. Today, Level 3 issued a response to Comcast, claiming it is "distracting from the fundamental issue" which is free use of all content on the internet for its customers. Meanwhile, Multichannel News points out industry analysts say Level 3's claims of traffic discrimination "appear unfounded" while VideoNuze editor Will Richmond supposes Level 3 may have "bid too aggressively for the Netflix business and is now trying to recover." Most damaging to Level 3's argument are its own words from a dispute where it sought financial compensation from Cogent for using too much of its network's bandwidth:
"For example, Cogent was sending far more traffic to the Level 3 network than Level 3 was sending to Cogent's network. It is important to keep in mind that traffic received by Level 3 in a peering relationship must be moved across Level 3's network at considerable expense. Simply put, this means that, without paying, Cogent was using far more of Level 3's network, far more of the time, than the reverse. Following our review, we decided that it was unfair for us to be subsidizing Cogent's business."
Beyond analyst opinions and posturing the question of whether or not Comcast has the power to set pricing for access to its network, creating the toll road Level 3 is accusing it of being, is still at issue. That will certainly come into play at the FCC, where chairman Julius Genachowski mentioned at today's meeting that the agency is looking into Level 3's claims at the same time it continues to review the joining of Comcast and NBC. As far as your Netflix streams? Safe for now, though the company isn't commenting, Level 3 isn't the only provider it relies on for access and how any deal it might reach with Comcast could affect the service is still unclear.

Update: Comcast has issued its own salvo of PR, including a video meant to breakdown exactly what internet peering is and what it wants to charge Level 3 for, 10 of its own facts about what it is, and is not doing, and a copy of the letter it's sent to the FCC about the issue. You can them all out in full after the break.

Continue reading FCC looking into Comcast / Netflix blocking threat, Level 3 responds as analysts chime in

FCC looking into Comcast / Netflix blocking threat, Level 3 responds as analysts chime in originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 30 Nov 2010 15:56:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Oh, to Have a Free iPad [Ipad]

Japan, long heavy on subsidies for phones to lock people into two-year commitments, just offered a 16GB iPad for free if you sign a contract. The UK and France are also doing it. Why can't we? More »


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Real-time discovery of Twitter images with Hashalbum

Hashalbum, Twitter gallery
One of Twitter's greatest strengths is the sheer wealth of data that it produces. Like the Internet itself, though, without search engines, that data is all but inaccessible. Few would argue that Google defined the Internet that we use today, and likewise it is only through ingenious indexing that the Twitter fire hose will ultimately become useful. Which brings me neatly onto Hashalbum, a site that simply searches Twitter for a hashtag (like #tsa), and shows you all of the images contained in that data set.

It's a stupidly simple idea that instantly exposes a treasure trove of funny, poignant and timely images. Supposedly the albums update in real-time, but I can't confirm that -- and I also don't know how much of the Twitter fire hose Hashalbum actually parses. Other than letting you search by hashtag, the site does nothing else.

Of course, because the results are unfiltered and the engine is completely 'dumb' (there's no analysis of the images themselves), the quality of the searches isn't very high. Just like Twitter, Hashalbum produces a stream of random, stream-of-consciousness images -- it's still down to you to pick out the interesting bits, but hey, that's Twitter!

Real-time discovery of Twitter images with Hashalbum originally appeared on Download Squad on Mon, 29 Nov 2010 06:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Archos family of internet tablets finally receives update to Android 2.2 Froyo

 Archos Internet Tablets receive FroYo

Archos, which recently revealed its FroYo update timeline via Facebook, has held true to its word.  As of today, anxious Archos internet tablet owners can get in on the Froyo goodness. For their price and functionality, the Archos line of internet tablets are an excellent option if you're in the market for an Android powered portable media player or tablet.  I'm guilty of owning an aged iDevice from 2007, and I'm looking for any reason to ditch it for an Android PMP, and this FroYo update could be what it took for me to get on board with Archos.

FroYo brings quite an impressive list of improvements and enhancements to the Archos family.  In addition to the infamous JIT compiler, Android 2.2.1 brings enhanced Microsoft Exchange support, better 3rd party application support, improved camera operation, faster USB transfer and more.

Hit the break for a full list of improvements.  And of course, head into our tablet forums to share your thoughts.  Let us know what you think of FroYo on your Archos tablet.  [Archos.com]

Archos family of internet tablets finally receives update to Android 2.2 Froyo posted originally by Android Central

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Nooka Zub Zayu watch has no hands, a name only Trevor Horn could love

Call us suckers for odd watches if you must, but there is something about Nooka's timepieces that make you take a second look. Keeping with the tradition of goofy "z" names (remember Nooka's Zot and Zoo from a couple years back?), the Zub Zayu is ambidextrous and eschews hands for something called the "time capsule" display. And if that isn't enough, it also goes into sleep mode to conserve juice. We just hope it comes back to life quicker than the iPod nano! Available now for $175.

Nooka Zub Zayu watch has no hands, a name only Trevor Horn could love originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 29 Nov 2010 11:09:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Enterprise Social Networking Platform Yammer Grabs $25 Million In New Funding

Enterprise social networking platform Yammer, has just raised $25 million in new funding led by U.S. Venture Partners with Emergence Capital, Charles River Ventures and Founders Fund also participating. This brings the startup's total funding to $40 million. Yammer, which launched as the "Twitter for businesses" at TechCrunch 50 in 2008, recently expanded to become a more comprehensive platform for social networking within the enterprise.

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Playboy releases not-so-discreet 250GB 'cover to cover' hard drive

Well, you can finally throw out that trunk in your grandfather's garage. Hugh Heffner's legacy has taken a cue from National Geographic -- in an arguably non-horrifying way -- and partnered with publisher Bondi Digital to release a (presumably Seagate-branded) 250GB external hard drive packed with every issue of Playboy released since 1953. Its $300 asking price is roughly four times what you'd pay for a fresh G-rated 250GB drive today, but compared to a 57-year subscription, the digital vault is certainly a bargain. In contrast to their trail blazin' efforts with the iBod though, thanks to the prominent placement of the brand's iconic bow tie-wearing bunny and name, there's no chance of using this device for practical tasks such as backing up TPS reports at the office. Like the decision to phase out DVDs in favor of VOD however, the move does prove the magazine isn't afraid of staying abreast of today's content consumption trends. Next stop, Nook Color?

Playboy releases not-so-discreet 250GB 'cover to cover' hard drive originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 29 Nov 2010 11:33:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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FeedStore for Chrome lets you catch up on Google Reader news while offline

Back in May, Google axed the offline mode in Google Reader. I didn't use it that often, but it was a nice way to catch up on tech news while I made the 6-hour trek to Winnipeg from my home in the North. Thankfully, there's a new Google Chrome extension called FeedStore which brings back offline reading.

Just install the extension and you're ready to go. FeedStore adds an icon to your browser actions area and notifies you when new unread items arrive -- and stashes a copy you can read later. The reading interface is somewhat customizable, allowing you to choose a font and change the type size and line spacing. There's a dropdown for custom styles, though only the default shows for now (which is nice and clean) -- hopefully we'll see additional options added.

The downside, of course, is that a lot of sites offer truncated feeds. It would be nice if future FeedStore versions could pull the full post from source websites.

Install FeedStore for Google Chrome

FeedStore for Chrome lets you catch up on Google Reader news while offline originally appeared on Download Squad on Tue, 23 Nov 2010 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Domize offers fast, powerful, find-as-you-type domain name search

domize

Coming up with a good domain name these days is akin to finding a parking spot in New-York. Accordingly, tools for finding free domain names abound, and most of them offer some sort of a "brainstorming interface". The idea is to help you come up with a domain name nobody (including yourself) considered before.

Domize is one of the nicer attempts at this sort of thing. At its simplest form, it's a very fast find-as-you-type service for free domain names. As you type each new letter in the name of your domain, Domize quickly checks whether or not that domain name is free for .com, .net, .org, .co, .us and .biz.

But as I said, that's just scratching the surface of what Domize can do. Click Options and you can change the TLDs (top-level-domains, such as .at, .me and others), toggle the find-as-you-type functionality, and change the domain registrar used.

Once you're done tweaking the options, click Advanced to find out what neat syntax directives Domize supports. It actually has its own expression language: You can type something such as [like:cool] to search for synonyms of the word "cool" (coolheaded.net is up for grabs, by the way).

When you finally find a domain you like, hovering over the TLD shows a pop-up with price quotes from several different registrars, usually with significant differences in price. This is a beautiful tool.

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Domize offers fast, powerful, find-as-you-type domain name search originally appeared on Download Squad on Sat, 27 Nov 2010 10:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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wunderlist is a cross-platform free to-do list manager

wunderlist

wunderlist is a minimalistic, pretty to-do list manager. Here's a quick rundown of what it can and can't do:

Pros:

  • Looks: It looks quite pretty. You can change the background, and it's generally just lovely.
  • Simplicity: That can also be considered a bad thing, I guess, but wunderlist is very simple. There are no nested tasks, for example.
  • Multiple lists: You can easily create extra lists for different contexts and move items between lists.
  • Fast search: Search is "live" and updates as you type. It's very snappy, but I only tested it with a tiny list.
  • Quick filtering: There are quick links to see tasks due today, tomorrow, within the next seven days, etc. You can also filter by "starred" tasks.
  • Online sync: When you save the file, it's automatically synced to wunderlist's online server. Then you can run wunderlist on another computer and keep working on the same task list. I love this feature.
  • Cross-platform: It works with OS X and Windows at this point. The Windows version doesn't feel "native" at all, though - it feels like a Mac app running in a Windows window.

Cons:

  • Simplicity: There's no smart text processing. If I tell it "Buy food tomorrow," it doesn't realize "tomorrow" is a deadline. It's the same for "Talk to Josh @work" - it doesn't make a list with "@work" (or add to it if it exists).
  • No documentation: I know people never read it, but come on, technical writers have to earn a living somehow! Seriously though, I would expect at least an HTML page (other than the "Features" page, which is marketing).
  • No mobile app (yet): An iOS app is coming, but there's no talk of Android yet.
  • No global hotkey: And that's the deal-breaker for me; as I've said elsewhere, quickly capturing ideas and to-do items is crucial for me. There is currently no way to bring up wunderlist's window with a hotkey.

Bottom line: It's nice, if you like pretty software, and it shows a great deal of promise for the future (if the "cons" above are addressed).

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wunderlist is a cross-platform free to-do list manager originally appeared on Download Squad on Mon, 22 Nov 2010 11:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Monday, 29 November 2010

Lenovo teases S800 phone with translucent color display, won't let anyone touch it

Step aside, Sony Ericsson, your Xperia Pureness has been beaten at its own game by an enigmatic new handset that Lenovo has been showing off over in China. The above images come from a Beijing fashion event, where Lenovo chose to debut its S800 featurephone with a color translucent display. It looks to still be at the concept stage, one that not many of these luxury items seem to ever exit, but lest you think it's not for real, the models showing it off at the show were photographed backstage using the lustworthy piece of glass to do whatever it is that models do with their phones. Check out the links below for more.

Lenovo teases S800 phone with translucent color display, won't let anyone touch it originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 29 Nov 2010 09:01:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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BridgeURL lets you send a tour of several websites in one link

bridgeurl

Sometimes you may want to send someone a whole list of websites to look at. Maybe you even want them to look at the sites in a given sequence, like when you're sharing the results of a search for a new car or a vacation spot.

BridgeURL is a fairly elegant service that accepts a list of links, and spits out a single bit.ly link. When you click this link, you're taken to the first website on the list, but it has subtle semi-transparent overlays on both sides. The left one leads to the previous site on the chain, while the right leads to the next site. (They're not semi-transparent on the screenshot because when you hover over them, they turn solid.)

There's also a bottom bar, but it's fairly unobtrusive. There were no banners or pop-ups as far as I was able to see. The only annoyance with the service is that for some odd reason, it forces you to feed it URLs starting with http:// or https:// - meaning, you can't write "downloadsquad.com" or even "www.downloadsquad.com". I have no idea why it's not smart enough to figure out the http:// on its own. Other than that, it's a fairly handy service.

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BridgeURL lets you send a tour of several websites in one link originally appeared on Download Squad on Sun, 28 Nov 2010 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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