Disney introduces Pixar Cars AppMates toy accessories for Apple's iPad

On Thursday, September 29, 2011 0 comments

Photo courtesy of Disney
Disney is introduce this week a line of toy accessories for the iPad that transforms the tablet into an interactive playground. A $20 set of two toy cars will be available starting in October at Apple or Disney retail stores and free app will be available for download from iTunes at the same time.

Interactive elements of the iPad app include navigating around Radiator Springs, driving through obstacle courses, races and missions. As you can see below, there is a whole assortment of Cars-branded toys to collect and each unlocks new content in the app.

WARNING: Parents...do the math! That's $60!

Photo courtesy of Disney
VentureBeat's Dean Takahashi interviews Disney Mobile chief Bart Decrem about AppMates below...

Samsung is not copying Apple. Here's the proof...

On Wednesday, September 28, 2011 0 comments

As I am sure many of you know, Apple is suing Samsung and vice versa over a dozen patents in dispute. There is a lot of discussion as to what is and isn't a copy-cat and what intellectual properties are protected. A member of Reddit has posted a series of side by side comparisons to review the supposed similarities between Samsung's tablet product and Apple's iPad...

Amazon on Fire with Silk

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos holds up the new Kindle Fire tablet. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
Amazon just announced the "Kindle Fire"...a new tablet that leverages a new type of web browser called Silk.

The Amazon's Kindle Fire is a smallish tablet with a 7" display, a dual-core processor, multi-touch interface and is priced at $199. Amazon Jeff Bezos indicates that they are clearly providing a robust platform for half the price of an iPad or Android Tablets.  Now this is a tablet without a camera, microphone nor 3G connectivity, instead this platform communicates on the Whispersync of the original Kindle or wi-fi.

It is clearly a platform designed to consume content as opposed to generate it. It leverages a wi-fi connection to maintain high-speed connectivity and leverages the power of Amazon's EC2 cloud computing platform for computational computing muscle and storage.

The all-new Silk browser leverages the tablet and cloud computing architecture to split your web browser workload. The concept of cloud computing is something Amazon has spent a great deal of time developing. Their EC2 platform is leveraged by a great many companies today to provide web services and applications and the Kindle Fire and Silk browser take advantage of the cloud to provide predictive outcomes to speed up your web surfing efforts.

Combined, the Kindle Fire, Silk browser, a substantial library of downloadable content (music, movies, books, magazines and games) and online computing results in Amazon having built a viable platform for those seeking as simple, managed content library and online experience. All your content can be streamed to your Kindle Fire from Amazon's EC2 cloud and there are options for downloading to the device for offline access. Amazon has 17 million songs, over a million books and hundreds of magazines and 100,000 movies and TV shows. Amazon's AppStore has thousands of applications that are already compatible with the Kindle Fire as well.

All and all, a compelling package. I can definitely see a consumer demand for this product. It will be interesting to see just how much demand. Will a current Kindle consumer upgrade? Definitely looking forward to checking this out when it is commercially available starting on November 15th.

Here is some details about the Kindle's Silk browser and cloud computing architecture...

More efficient Mercedes Benz cars for America starting now

On Tuesday, September 27, 2011 0 comments

New Mercedes Benz C250 Sedan and Coupe
Mercedes has long been known for its luxury and quality engineering. Typically you get a responsive and dynamic vehicle with the power of a V8 or something strong under the hood. Well that is changing with the times! Mercedes announced that it is bringing a 4-cylinder platform into the mix for this fuel efficient era.

Autonews.com provides some engineering techie details but MB is delivering a 4-cylinder engine that produces 100 horsepower per liter! This is pro-race car type numbers! This doesn't mean this is a sports engine...it is an efficiency play to offer something to compete on the bottom end of the luxury market.

Not only will this new engine be available in the C-series Sedan but a new C-series Coupe is showing up at dealerships right now as well.

Jawbone Icon HD + The Nerd Bluetooth Headset leads the pack...

On Monday, September 26, 2011 1 comments

Jawbone Icon HD Bluetooth Headset + The Nerd USB PC Link
I've owned three different generations of Jawbone Bluetooth headsets. All have been the best-in-class at their respective time in the marketplace. The latest is part of a very cool bundle called Icon HD + The Nerd. Icon HD is their latest edition headset and features the new Noise Assassin 2.5 (their highly effective wind/noise cancellation solution).

The Icon HD can also link with two Bluetooth devices at the same time. This allows for the seamless transition from your phone call to another device such as a Skype call on your PC. This feature allows you to easy switch between the two devices without disconnecting from one device or another.

The Nerd feature is a USB plug that makes it easy to link the Icon HD to your PC or Mac for easy pairing. If you have paired your Bluetooth headset to a PC, you know it is a cumbersome sequence of events that is not always reliable. This simple USB dongle does it all for you!

The Icon HD + The Nerd is a great combo set and I can highly recommend!

Apple, Tim Cook and iPhone on stage October 4th

On Wednesday, September 21, 2011 0 comments

The crew over at Walt Mossberg's AllThingsD.com are reporting that Apple will hold their fall product presentation on Tuesday, October 4th. At this event we are expecting the introduction of the iPhone 5.

Speculation of what will be in the iPhone and it's overall design are still ranging from an iPhone 4 update to an all-new design. There is much more leaked information on an update to the iPhone 4 platform but the thoughts here is that this will be the for cost sensitive markets like China.

Specific to the iPhone 5. Best guess is that it will feature a larger retina (high resolution) display and an improved camera and lighting solution.

Also at the event will be the fall update on Apple's iPod line-up. The products will get slight tweaks but nothing earth-shattering is expected. A white version of the iPod Touch and some minor tweaks to the Nano. There has been rumors to the affect of a 3G connected iPod Touch but that hasn't gained any momentum with any leaked component information.

Check out the full update here.

Canon announces Powershot S100 (update to the well regarded S95)

On Thursday, September 15, 2011 0 comments

Anyone that has spent any time with me will know I carry my Canon Powershot S95 everywhere I go. I love its pocketable size and amazing F2 aperture lens that results in some amazing photos. The announcement today of a forthcoming Powershot S100 is something I will keenly follow as the details unfold on comparisons with its predecessor.

The new camera looks quite similar on the outside except for some subtle hand grips that may or may not be a welcome addition. But the guts of this device is all new...

Also available in this brushed titanium finish
1) An all-new 12 mega-pixel imaging processor from Canon debuting on the S100 imaginatively called DIGIC 5. This new processor is 2 mega-pixels higher resolution than the S95 and is 6 times faster, allowing for more complex image processing and noise-reduction. In theory this could help but the proof will be the inevitable side-by-side comparisons.

2) A new lens that offers greater range of zoom comparing its wide-angle (24mm vs 28mm) and improved zoom up from 3.8x to 5x. It maintains its F2 aperture at wide-angle same as the original but goes up to F5.9 (not great) at full telephoto. The original stopped at F4.9 but that was because it was only a 3.8x zoom. Adding the extra zoom capability in such a small size inevitably results in this drop off. So I'll be interested to see the photos generated from full zoom in night-time and non-full daylight shots.

3) With the power of the new image processor, the camera also is afforded some pretty amazing upgrades in the video capture area. The camera now shots full resolution video 1920x1080 at 24 frames a second. Canon has also added the ability to zoom during recording...a feature lacking in the S95.

This isn't your regular inexpensive point-in-shoot camera clocking in at $430 retail pricing. But as I've written about before, the photos that come out of an S95 can easily be mistaken for photos taken with high-end prosumer camera gear.

All together, this sounds great but I'll post an update once I get time to play with one. You'll catch my write-up at Wouldn't Mind This blog.

Look for the S100 to be available in November.

You can read a brief hands-on comparison report with images at dpreview.com

Canon also announced the PowerShot SX40 HS which shares similar technical inners but includes an impressive 35x optical zoom (24mm - 840mm) as well as some other key features for products in this zoom camera category. This is not a product I usually look into but might follow-up with some details when it comes out in September.

PowerShot SX40 HS

Press Release if you are interested is below...

Canon U.S.A. Announces PowerShot S100 and PowerShot SX40 HS Models With New DIGIC 5 Image Processor Providing Enhanced Resolution and Faster Shooting Speeds

Featuring Full HD Video Recording, High-speed Burst HQ and Intelligent IS

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., September 15, 2011 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging, today announces the addition of two feature-packed digital cameras, the PowerShot S100 and PowerShot SX40 HS, to its award-winning lineup of point-and-shoot models. In addition to superb low-light performance and increased overall speed, these two cameras include a new DIGIC 5 image processor, HS SYSTEM, Full HD video capture, High-speed Burst HQ and Intelligent IS providing clearer, smoother looking images.
"Photo enthusiasts are always on the search for that next great camera to help them achieve the best results," said Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Technologies and Communications Group, Canon U.S.A. "The inclusion of the new DIGIC 5 image processor and Full HD recording capabilities on both new models will provide users with the tools needed to capture brilliant images and videos as they continue their photographic journey."
A challenging task for the photographer on assignment or appointed family photographer is working under low-light conditions. Helping improve the quality of images from those situations is Canon's HS SYSTEM, where the camera's image processor and high-sensitivity image sensor work in tandem to enhance low-light image quality. With the PowerShot S100 and PowerShot SX40 HS, Canon has introduced a new DIGIC 5 image processor, maintaining the cameras' superb low-light image quality while improving overall camera operation and color accuracy. The new image processor has improved noise reduction and advanced Multi-area White Balance optimizing color tones of both subject and background under multiple light sources.
High-speed, High-quality, High-performance
An added benefit of the DIGIC 5 image processor is the incorporation of the new High-speed Burst HQ1providing users with the ability to continuously capture a maximum of eight frames. This new feature will allow the story of a child scoring the winning goal on the soccer field or a marathon runner crossing the finish line to be told frame-by-frame through the eye of the photographer.
Intelligent IS
One of the most important innovations for a point-and-shoot camera has been Image Stabilization (IS) since it helps improve image quality by reducing camera blur for both images and videos. Canon has taken this technology one step further with the new Intelligent IS which automatically chooses from six different modes (Normal, Macro, Panning, Dynamic, Powered, Tripod) to optimize image stabilization and help achieve crisp, blur-free images for various shooting conditions.
It's an HD World
When the time comes to share one of those "can't miss" moments from a family day at the park or of a pride of lions on a safari expedition, the use of HD video is becoming more popular than ever. As a leader in HD video capture, Canon has incorporated Full HD recording (1920 x 1080) capabilities for both new models. Providing exceptional resolution for crystal clear HD video, both cameras have a dedicated movie record button in addition to having the ability to zoom while recording, further enhancing the overall user experience. An HDMI terminal output has also been included for easy sharing of videos with stereo sound on HD ready televisions
PowerShot S100 Digital Camera
When the PowerShot S95 Digital camera was announced in 2010, it received critical praise for having an impressive feature set and superb low-light capabilities. Building upon the success of this model is the PowerShot S100, featuring a host of upgrades making it a must-have for any photo enthusiast. Featuring a 12.1-megapixel CMOS image sensor -- part of the HS SYSTEM -- this versatile camera has a 24-120mm wide angle lens with 5x optical zoom, GPS functionality and is capable of achieving improved low-light performance of up to ISO 6400. Additionally, the camera utilizes an f/2.0 lens increasing the camera's low-light performance by allowing additional light to reach the sensor while creating a shallow depth-of-field for portraits with dynamic, soft backgrounds. The PowerShot S100 will also now be available in either black or silver. Other features of this camera include:
  • A large 3.0-inch wide LCD screen for easy viewing of those images and menu options.
  • GPS capabilities2 where satellites collect data of the latitude, longitude and altitude of an image's location, which is then stored to the image's EXIF data3. A map utility software is included with the camera to view the locations where images were captured. There's also an internal GPS logger to track the day's photographic route.
  • A full range of shooting and recording modes similar to those found in DSLR cameras including RAW + JPEG and a control ring on the front of the camera for quick, manual adjustment of key functions such as ISO, zoom and focus.
  • Compatibility with the HF-DC2 High-Power Flash, which is an optional flash accessory that operates wirelessly and increases the effective flash range up to approximately 30 feet.
The estimated selling price of the PowerShot S100 Digital camera is $429.99 and is scheduled to be available in early November.*
PowerShot SX40 HS
When visiting the local zoo or sitting in the stands of a youth football game, having a camera that has the flexibility to capture images at close-up and far-off distances is a necessity. Canon's PowerShot SX40 HS is just the camera one would need to ensure those images are of high-quality. Other features include:
  • An incredible 35x optical zoom range (24mm-840mm) with image stabilizer and a 12.1-megapixel CMOS image sensor -- part of the HS SYSTEM – the camera can capture low-light images of enhanced image quality up to ISO 3200.
  • A 2.7-inch wide vari-angle LCD has been included for easy viewing of images and menus from almost any angle.
  • Improved Smart AUTO settings to ensure the settings are intelligently selected based upon the cameras 32 predefined shooting situations.
  • The Zoom Framing Assist button, which helps the user steady the camera when tracking a moving subject at extreme telephoto settings keeping it in focus.
The estimated selling price of the PowerShot SX40 HS Digital camera is $429.99 and is scheduled to be available in late September.*

Windows 8 Gunning for iPad Turf?

On Tuesday, September 13, 2011 0 comments

Techcrunch's John Biggs did a thorough write-up of his hands-on experience with Microsoft's Windows 8 tablet OS.

It's worth a read considering Microsoft's precarious situation of being the primary OS solution for desktop computing...but tablets are nipping at their tails. Both Google and Apple have viable tablet OS' and a head start.

Success for Microsoft is not purely an OS issue but is primarily a price, hardware and developer support challenge.

Techcrunch Previewing the future - hands-on with Windows 8

Cinematic quality animated GIFs from Gustaf Mantel

On Sunday, September 4, 2011 0 comments

Gustaf is a masterful storyteller in the realm of photography. He captures stunning imagery that excites the senses. But Gus has turned his eye to creating these cinematic quality animated GIFs from some amazing and iconic motion-pictures.

You can see many more of these stunning, eerie and surreal images at Gustaf's tumblr site.