Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight Bringing Some Light to the Halloween Night

As the Halloween night sets in and the ghouls and goblins are out in the streets what better way for the avid book reader to read but in a darkened room wrapped up in their blankets. For e-reader fans who want a simple e-reader that has backlighting and offers a different option that Amazon’s range of readers Barnes & Noble have their Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight.

This is just Nook is designed for the people who want one thing from their e-readers and that is a lighted view that allows them to read without having to have a light source exterior to the Nook itself. Recently released in the UK there are plenty of options for materials to read, from a choice of 2.5 million titles already (that includes magazines and newspapers). It’s light, cheap and has a bright screen, but does it have what it takes to go up against the Kindle and its new variety of readers?

Design
The Nook Simple Touch is fairly simplistic and square in its design. This means it’s not the most stylish e-reader on the market but it still is easy to hold, which of course is its main task. It’s also comfortable in the hand with its matte rubber finish, so won’t wear on the hand with constant use. The “Simple Touch” part of the name gives away that this version of the Nook is a touchscreen interface, with physical buttons kept to a minimum to save the space for the screen itself. There is a button for sleep mode though which will save the battery on the Glowlight. There are also two buttons to flip the pages if you want to use this method instead of the actual touch screen. The choice is yours.

Features
The specs for the Nook Simple Touch is 2GB of on board memory. 1GB of this is used to store the books with other space used for Barnes & Noble content. This gives you the ability to hold up to around 1,000 books easily. If more space is needed there is a Micro SD slot to expand storage capacity.

Screen

If you are going to be reading in the dark then the important question is how good is the Glowlight technology the Nook uses? The 6-inch screen is an E Ink Pearl Display which is designed to give the screen a “paper” look. The actual screen is not actually backlit though, rather lit from the front. The light levels for this are adjustable to fit your personal taste and need.

Verdict
With a battery life that spans months rather than hours (with constant use you’ll probably need to charge it every month) there is plenty of life in the Nook and as long as it has the titles that you want to read this is a reader that does stand up against the Kindle’s more basic varieties. It fits in your hand, it’s comfortable and well lit for the less well lit places you may be reading so by the look of it is perfect if you want a basic Nook with a little light on whatever subject you are reading.

NVIDIA Project SHIELD a Preview of the Android Gaming System with PC Game Streaming

Yesterday I took a look at the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 tablet prototype which was an interesting gaming tablet, but the one that is raising most of the questions for gamers is NVidia’s Project SHIELD game system. Looking like a game controller with a five inch touch screen added on the top of it, NVIDIA promise a platform where Android games can be played and full scale PC games can be streamed to the games system and played through the use of shared processing with your computer. This is an interesting idea but also raises a lot of questions.

As tablets and other mobile systems look to steal some of the fire from consoles and PC gaming NVIDIA may be onto something unique with the idea of streaming to an Android tablet like this and it’s a concept that may just work. With questions though on processing power required from the PC and the pricing of the system itself there may be quite risky for the company and too expensive for the average gamer to consider.

Build

As I said in the introduction Project SHIELD as NVIDIA call it looks like a gamepad with a touch screen added on top. The gamepad itself looks reminiscent to the Dreamcast controller from the now long dead console but does feature everything that you would expect from a console, with added features such as speakers and a few extra buttons such as home and back buttons which are obviously for the Android touch screen.

The black colouring and nice design though does make SHIELD look good and it definitely will catch interest in that respect, but it’s questionable as to how comfortable the controller will feel in your hand, especially when you want to use the multi touch screen features as well. It may take some time to get used to the feel of it, but it does show some potential.

Features
Project SHIELD will come with the Jelly Bean variety of the Android Operating system and will be a fully working 5-inch tablet (other than 3G connectivity, this will be through Wi-Fi which will include connecting to your PC for streaming). This game system though portable in nature is probably designed to be used around the house, especially to play your PC games. The fact is though as well as Android games you’ll have the ability to download all kinds of apps onto the system itself. For games you’ll also be able to use the NVIDIA TegraZone to download games too.

Screen
At 5-inch the screen looks perfect for Android games and I’m sure there will be little issues. NVIDIA state it’s also multi-touch which is pretty standard with tablets such as this now. The problem I can see is with the PC game streaming. Games on the PC rely on big screens, rich textures and high resolutions to look good so it’s debatable whether they will really get a lot out of running on a small 5-inch screen. The idea of streaming the games is quite fun, and quite a gimmick but it’s questionable really if you would want to run a game like Skyrim on such a small screen, though it should be noted an HDMI socket is provided to connect to a TV but that defeats the purpose really. If the games themselves look good enough then this may be an interesting concept. It is fair to say that NVIDIA do know what they are doing when it comes to getting the most out of hardware graphically, and with their new Tegra 4 chip it will be interesting what they can pull out of it.

Performance
The power for Project SHIELD will come down to what the Tegra 4 chip can provide. This is a quad-core processor so will provide all the performance needed for the Android side of things. Graphically NVIDIA also state the GPU horsepower is six times that of the Tegra 3, so there is a lot promised from the new chip. Future reviews will of course be able to look at just how good the chip is, especially when it comes to streaming. It’s also interesting to note that to work alongside the chip the Android Operating System is unmodified which is fairly unique from manufacturers now.

The interesting part is the specs required for the PC you are wanting to stream your games from (which is its main selling point. System requirements at the time of writing (and are likely to change) are an Intel i5 or equivalent CPU, GTX 650 or 660M(Notebook) GPU as minimum, 4GB or RAM and Windows 7 or higher. A router will also be needed for the Wi-fi element of the system. This is a fairly powerful machine to have to stream from, so again questions are raised again.

Verdict
There are a lot of questions around Project SHIELD but there is also a lot to be excited about. The gaming system gives you all the best from Android gaming and also provides the capability to stream PC games and play them anywhere around your house. The question is though is there really a need for it?

Another big question will be what NVIDIA are looking to price the system at, which in ways could make or break the success of SHIELD. Gamers won’t want to pay more than they would for a console, and if the price comes anywhere near a cheap gaming PC it’s likely that many will be put off by this. This creates an argument that Project SHIELD would have to be fairly cheap or interest will vanish quite quickly, and in the end if it’s only streaming games from the PC do we really need that? When tablets are coming out that can power console quality games without the need to stream from a powerful PC will they be a more interesting route instead? Time will tell on this one, and it may be a fact that the Android gaming will dominate the gaming system anyway.

Oculus Rift – Will this New Technology Kickstart Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality as a means of gaming is something that has been tried a few times, and by quite a few big companies and one of the most notable of these was the Nintendo Virtual Boy. This may have had some potential but ended up being one of the biggest disasters that Nintendo ever attempted. Since those years little has really been seen of it, other than in old episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation with the Holodeck.

Back in the days when virtual reality was looked at, the graphics were pretty basic but the idea and the gameplay did prove that if the technology was there and people wanted to actually have a big headset on their heads? It was something that may actually happen. Now with processing power being able to create stunning graphics and the technology for flat screens improving all the time it looks like Virtual Reality may be back in the form of Oculus Rift, yet another creation funded through a Kickstarter campaign.

Technical Side
The examples that people have been shown shows (in this early phase) that the headset is still there, but not as bulky and definitely looking better. The actual gameplay comes through a small seven inch high resolution screens, combined with high-powered GPUs to power them. One thing to note of course is that it’s based on PC only compatibility at this time.

The most important thing for concepts like this is to get developers behind it, if there is nothing to play on the hardware then this is where the Oculus Rift will fail. The good news on this side of things is that not only developers but hardware specialists like Razer are helping, providing support from Hydra motion controllers, Leap Motion device (a portable hand sensor) and even an all-directional treadmill from Virtuix to make the experience immersive for the player (if they use all that hardware of course).

Games
What good would a virtual reality system be without games? Not much, and this is why even at this early stage demonstrations are being shown with fairly well known games. Doom 3, Unreal 3 and Hawken have been used to show how the technologies potential with first-person shooters though reports say that the games can be quite hard to control, though this will probably change when people get used to the technology. The number of games ready for the time Rift is released will no doubt be quite high, especially if games already on the market are updated to work with the new headset. Valve as an example of a big name in the gaming industry have already updated Team Fortress 2 to use the headset which means a potentially huge fan base could be caught just out of that sort of industry support.

Verdict
It’s hard to say how Virtual Reality as an interface will take off, especially when we don’t know the price. If there is a market out there though for this, then this is a step in the right direction for the technology. The future of gaming will be to make it a truly immersive experience for the player, and with the technology that is being incorporated to do this, it looks like the Oculus Rift is on the right track. In the initial stages motion sickness is still said to be an issue, but this is something that is to be expected at times. With a small headset though and excellent graphical quality, it does look like virtual reality has a future.

Online Advertising- A Profitable Means of Promotion!

Online Advertising can be in any form. A banner advertising campaign, a classified ad, a social networking ad, a PPC ad, email marketing etc. all these are categorized under advertising. Banner advertising is however the most commonly adopted means of online promotion among brand owners and advertisers. Online Advertising is considered a profitable means of promotion among small and big business owners. It is researched that online media is also the fastest means of reaching out to a wider target group. Following are a few more advantages of advertising.

An online advertising campaign is targeted in nature. One can easily reach out to those prospective customers through a single online ad campaign of a brand. The number of internet users has dramatically increased over the last few years. People surf internet for social networking with friends or for watching videos or simply to study or find out valuable information about places, people and of course brands and businesses. By placing an online ad, any brand owner can easily reach out to those internet users among which many prospective customers could also be included. A random online ad campaign can even reach out to many customers who surf the site where the ad is displayed.

Any advertising campaign provides two-way communication flow between brand owners and customers. Most of the online ads provide contact details or website link or address of the brand where interested customers can contact and seek any detail.

Unlike television commercials, an online ad is more interactive. These days the social networking norm among brand owners is quite in vogue. Brands that have social networking accounts continuously communicate with their target groups. Besides bridging the communication gap, customers find it more accountable to check out a brand on a social networking site and follow it for any update or offer.

Evaluating all the benefits of online advertising, it can be well summed up that online media is indeed a profitable means of promotion.

Fastest means of brand communication Internet is the fastest means of communication among people across the world. Internet is also the easiest and fastest means of communication between brand owners and prospective customers. For example, a brand promotion campaign launched few minutes back can be accessible for various customers within minutes. Also with customers’ heavy reliability on internet media, online advertising is the best branding solution for any brand, service or business.

Many business owners have benefitted from various online advertising campaigns. If you want to join their league, start adopting the various internet advertising means. Good luck!

Open the iPhone?

My friend William Hurley (whurley to most) has a post up on his blog about opening up the iPhone. This has proven to be predictably polarizing as is often the case when opinions regarding Apple or Open Source are voiced, for reasons I can’t say I fully understand. Don’t worry, it’s a harmless robot, see? I do think the the topic is an interesting one, though. It seems inevitable that Google’s Android, being open source, will propagate to a wide variety of devices from various manufacturers that will function on many different carriers’ networks. This broader market penetration will back Apple into a corner and force them to open the iPhone platform to some degree.

The interesting aspects to watch are Apple’s choices about timing and methodology. Will they pre-emptively open up or dig into their proprietary position, only to be dislodged when there’s no other alternative? What aspect of their platform will they open — will it be possible to buy applications from alternative publishers, or for unlocked iPhones to be sold legally, or will they actually open source aspects of the phone’s software stack, hoping to extend the ecosystem to other devices? jailhouse rock

Given Apple’s seeming preference for maximum control, the most likely path is one of very conservative moves made incrementally, each one spun as radical steps towards openness. A surprise announcement about DRM, for example, or additional carriers licensed to sell the iPhone. Still, Jobs has proven himself capable of springing genuine surprises on the market before, so anything is possible.

What seems certain is that mobile computing is truly beginning to come of age. The App Store, with 10,000 applications and 300 million downloads, is undeniably a breakthrough. Achieving what no wireless carrier or handset manufacturer could accomplish before, Apple has opened the door to a new era where a mobile client is becoming a standard feature of every up and coming new Internet application.

That’s openness from which we all benefit.

Optimus Black, First android phone LG has a front camera 2 MP in the World

The black nuance was covering the launch of first android phone LG who came out fourth in Indonesia, LG Optimus Black, in the morning on Mei 25, 2011 at the Hotel Aston Kuningan Suite.

First android phone LG has a front camera 2 MP

Previous LG Mobile Indonesia has presented Optimus One which the first phone to use Froyo in Indonesia, LG Optimus Me android phones at affordable prices, and first android phone LG has dual-core mobile in the world.

LG Mobile in Indonesia introduced first android phone LG which using the NOVA display. This technology presents an optimal brightness of 700 units, so that users can read in bright or outdoor atmosphere.

The first android phone LG at this time has a sleek shape and lightweight, only 9.2 mm and 109g. LG Optimus Black is normal priced 4 million rupiah. But, special for HSBC credit card holders became 2, 999 million rupiah with 0% installment for 6 months. There was also a special price 3, 499 million rupiah during the exhibition at the Mall Kelapa Gading which took place on 28-29 May 2011.

In addition, the display on the LG Optimus NOVA Black P970, the first android phone LG is circulating in Indonesia also has another advantage, namely the front 2MP camera. Chief Marketing Manager of LG Mobile Indonesia was claiming that LG is the world’s first Android phone that has a front camera 2MP.

The first android phone LG is back of the camera and the facility itself has a 5MP autofocus, timer, white balance and macro mode. Similarly, a video recorder produces high definition images are very clear too smooth.

Ouya – Are Open Source Consoles the Way of the Future?

The Ouya Android console is arguably one of the success stories from Kickstarter, raising more than $8 million dollars for the project and making sure that the console would be made. With that level of backing it showed that there was an interest in a console that could be made cheaply and use a lightweight operating system to power the games.

Journalists and backers were given a preview at the GDC this week of the console, and although it’s arguably early days in terms of the impact it will have the overall impact seems to be positive. Looking at the experiences of the people who saw the demo and were able to try the console it’s possible to gleam some information about what we can expect.

Console and Controller
The console itself look quite simplistic, but this was already known from the images that have already been shown. The controller that comes with the Ouya is obviously shaped in the same veign as the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 design which is a wise decision as this is a design that is known to work. The dual controls and button placing all look to fit what we are used to so as long as the games play well, there is no obvious reason why the controller should hold gamers back. Although small in design the Ouya has to perform well to catch the gamer’s eye.

Features & Hardware
The Ouya will be powered by Google’s Android 4.1 Jellybean which is the latest operating system, so is another plus. The menu system for the Ouya appears at this time to be quite simplistic but in a way this can actually work in its favour. The more intuitive the interface is to use, the easier gamer will adapt to it and accept it as a gaming console.

In terms of connections the box itself has an Ethernet port, though Wi-fi is built in. HDMI is available for the connection to the TV with micro-USB and USB ports available to copy files onto the box. This is obviously for use for developers who will be testing their software on it. A menu option called “Make” also provides the teasing chance that amateur programmers can write their own games and test them on the machine, this is obviously something that will provide an edge for hobbyists. With USB confirmed to allow for external storage, this also means the machine can be upgraded.

The actual power behind the Ouya is the Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset which is powerful enough for most Android gaming, to put it into context with smartphones and tablets this is the chipset you’ll find in the Nexus 7. This is obviously a good sign, but when it comes to consoles will hardly compete with the bigger names and the next generation consoles, but that is hardly the point. The Ouya is not designed to do that, but more aimed at the more casual gamer, or as previously noted the hobbyist developer maybe.

Games
Not much can be said about the games really at this point because there is not much information about what will be available. As with all consoles this is something that can make or break the initial spending spree from gamine (use the Wii u as an example here) but with a release date in June this is something that will obviously be worked on during the build up to the release.

Verdict
With the possibility of media streaming and a few hidden extras still to come the Ouya does seem like a good console, for what it’s aiming to provide. More hard-core gamers will no doubt be more hesitant when considering it as something for them, but maybe they can be won over? The fact is the Ouya needs one of those special titles that will pull them in and make them consider paying the reasonable $99 price tag. As one of the first consoles of its kind though it’s always interesting to see what is possible. It’s too soon to really give a verdict on the console and time will obviously tell, for now though I think the Ouya has still done enough to keep people interested.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-3D1 Taking Pictures and Recording Video in 3D

3D seems to be the buzzword for entertainment now, in the home and in the movie theatre. There are plenty of ways to watch and enjoy it but when it comes to creating 3D media there is not much available to the home consumer. This is where products like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-3D1 come in.

The DMC-3D1 is a camera that can provide a true stereoscopic image by the use of its two lenses, and sensors that it uses when taking pictures and recording video. This is fairly new in cameras as most like the Sony Cyber-shot and Olympus cameras use software to create a 3D effect. Of course the use of hardware like this in theory should be superior, although a pricey option.

Controls
Easy to turn the on the DMC-3D1 is ready to be used as soon as you slide down the lens cover from the dual lenses. It seems to be designed to make taking pictures as easy as possible for the user. It’s possible switch between 2D mode and 3D, which offers two type of file. 3D files are saved as MPO files, while 2D is the normal JPEG which is more standard.

Each lens has a 4x optical zoom and although the two lenses are designed for 3D imagery it is possible to use one lens for a wide shot and the other to zoom on an object within the shot. This could over complicate the function for the user but it’s still a nice option for some complicated shots, with an added unique look. The images are treated as two separate images by the camera meaning on the screen on the back of the camera you can either view the wide shot or look at the smaller image the other lens has focused on.

Screen
The DMC-3D1 is a compact camera that easily fits in your pocket but the screen itself does not suffer because of this. Coming in at 3.5-inch the touch panel has a 460l-dot resolution LCD screen. This means there is no need for psychical buttons on the rear of the camera meaning less space is stolen from the screen itself. The screen is one weakness in the DMC-3D1 camera though if you compare it to the Fuji-W3 which is another 3D camera. That camera comes with a screen that is able to represent what the 3D image will look like, the DMC-3D1 can only achieve a 2D picture, which is of course disappointing.

Image Quality
The DMC-3D1 is a camera that not only offers 3D still shots but also video. It records the video at 25fps in HD (in either 2D or 3D) and offers two file formats of AVCHD or MPEG4 compression. When recording in 3D the user has to think more about the shots they are trying to take. 3D tends to flesh out the picture more and of course there will be more focus on the objects that are closer to the camera than further away, this is the nature of 3D photography. If you organise your shot so that there is just as much to focus at in the background than in the foreground (closer to the camera) this actually makes the camera work better and you get to feel the 3D more.

The 4X zoom is available during recording video clips which is very useful, especially for 3D. Though there is some loss of definition the wider the shot is recorded. Even though there are extra sensor settings to handle low light shooting it was also found that the performance is not as good as promised, providing quality similar to lower budget cameras.

Verdict
The DMC-3D1 offers around 200 2D shots or 150 3D shots on full battery charge so although not spectacular is adequate for normal use, there is not too much battery drain when using the extra features. To say this is a compact camera it does feature plenty of functionality in the slim packaging and this is one way it beats the Fuji-W3 which although being a superior 3D camera is far bulkier and far less compact.

The 3.5-inch LCD screen is a big selling factor though and is definitely easy to use but it is a shame that trying to use the 2 lenses for 2D shots can be quite confusing at times. This camera is perfect for the “early adopters” of the 3D world and shows that there is true potential in cameras like this; it will be interesting to see what other companies come up with in the future.

Plants Vs. Zombies Adventures

One of the more popular and well know of the facebook games is Plants VS. Zombies Adventures by popcap games, and with over five million players its not hard to figure out why. In this game you try to hoard off waves of zombies with well placed plants that kill them…again. There are a few different types of plants, like peashooters that shoot the zombies, sunflowers that create more sun so you can grow more plants, and asparagus that shoot stalks. You collect the sun as it falls from the sky and use it to place your plants along the paths in your area.

The zombies come in waves, and are confined to the paths, so you just have to make sure you put enough plants along the path to deal with them. There are also different perks you can use to freeze the zombies or extent your plants range, and these all cost sun to use like everything else. The plants also have to be grown in your town base, and this costs money which you can gain by building more houses in town which generate money. The game has a play system where you move from one location to another as your levels progress, and you unlock more and more plants and items to allow you to slay zombies like a pro. It gets progressively harder wave after wave, and you can only put your plants down as fast as your sun levels are regenerated to do so. The graphics are very cartoonish, but they look nice and add a sort of fun undead feel to the game which only furthers to add to its appeal. Another feature of plants vs. zombies adventures that I enjoy is how you unlock different areas and lands as you progress. This adds a good sense of achievement to the game and gives you some fun goals to try to work for as you play. You also complete quests in this game that can range from cleaning up the property in your area, to going out on the road and taking care of some zombies. All in all this is a very fun game to play, and reminds me of something like FarmVille only with zombies.

Play with Smartglass and Forza Horizon on Desktop PCs

When you play around with Windows 8 on a desktop PC you soon come to realise that the Operating System assumes it’s working on a tablet. Instructions tell you to tap on areas of the screen, to move your finger along the tablet etc. it’s like you are actually using a big screen tablet. This can be ignored and you can use your computer as normal but one thing it does give you is a few nice extras.

One of the most obvious is that you can play and use all the apps on Windows 8 on the big screen and use your mouse (or if you have it the touch screen of course). One nice little touch is when it comes to Microsoft’s much touted Smartglass for use with the Xbox 360.

Smartglass on the Bigger Screen

When I first wondered how the Smartglass app would work on a big screen I launched it when my Xbox was on and the answer is (just as with tablets and other interfaces) not much unless you have software that uses it. Then I loaded up Forza Horizon and I saw what fun can be had. Any gamer who has used Smartglass with Forza Horizon will know that the Smartglass becomes a map with GPS so that you can see where you are driving on the game and the fun part of this is that you can actually set the routes through the Smartglass app.

This is of course nothing new when it comes to the game, but the novelty with this is that you can actually have the smartglass on a second screen instead of a small tablet. In Forza for example this means that you have the map available in high definition without having to constantly go to the menu in the game to visit it. As I said, this is just a novelty on the desktop really but it’s still a nice touch especially when it comes to games. It’s fun to have that second screen (in tablet form or on a second screen additional to the one you are playing on) to provide you with more information.

This feature of the Smartglass won’t always translate to the big screen of course, for example I doubt you’ll want to use another screen as a remote control for the movies you are watching, or look to the second screen to read the information when you are trying to watch your show but for some things it adds even more to the experience. Smartglass is a nice new feature for the Xbox 360 and other devices but it’s still a waiting game to see what real use it is in the real world. Forza Horizon does show there is potential (and other games and apps that use it of course) and with SOME games and apps it will have even better value on a bigger screen. That is if the same level of support exists of course.

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