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Ben Heck builds WASD-replacement footpedals

Ben Heck builds WASD-replacement footpedals

Ben Heck’s footpedals, built in response to a viewer request, are designed to replace the traditional WASD control scheme in PC gaming.


Noted hacker and maker Ben ‘Heck’ Heckendorn has published details of his latest creation under Element14′s auspice: footpedals designed to ‘replace’ WASD gaming controls after their 32 year run.

The WASD control system, which uses the aforementioned letter keys in place of the traditional cursor keys, was first seen in the 1982 game Mazogs where it served to make up for the Sinclair ZX81′s lack of sensible keyboard layout. It caught on in the era of first-person shooters when mouse-look became the norm, allowing the left hand to sit at a more comfortable distance from the mouse-controlling right – unless you’re a sinister lefty, of course – while also providing easy reach to other keys that could be mapped to weapon changes, jumping, object usage or leaning.

WASD as a control layout has become so normalised that gaming keyboards typically come with replacement keycaps for those specific letters in eye-catching colours or with a deeply scooped design. Now, though, its days may be numbered – at least, if Ben Heck has his way.

Known for his innovative controller designs and homebrew laptops, including one based on a Commodore 64 and another on an net/news/modding/2008/02/04/ben_heck_unveils_xbox_360_elite_laptop/1">Xbox 360, Heck is now the resident hacker at electronics giant Farnell/Element14 where he has created one possible successor to the WASD layout: footpedals.

A viewer of the Ben Heck Show, dissatisfied with the ‘finger-twister’ training required to excel at modern games, suggested the creation and Heck obliged. A pair of foot pedals provide mapping to four keys by responding to two levels of motion: a partial press activates one mode, while a heavier press activates the second. The result, Heck claims, is a natural-feeling control system that allows for forward, backward and strafing motion without the need to lock the left hand to the WASD cluster.

The entire project has been created from scratch, using a 3D printer for the pedal parts and the popular Teensy microcontroller – chosen for the ease at which it can be turned into a joystick, keyboard or mouse Human Interface Device controller – for interfacing with the PC.

If you’re curious how it was made, or how it works, Heck’s video on the project is reproduced below.

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Intel upgrades the Edison

Intel upgrades the Edison

Intel’s Edison has undergone a significant redesign since CES, dropping the Quark chip for an Atom and losing its SD card form factor – although the original design may yet hit the market.


Intel has announced an upgrade to its yet-to-launch Edison embedded computing platform which looks more like a ground-up rethink of the whole project, ditching the company’s flagship Quark processor for tried-and-tested Atom and losing the tiny SD card form factor.

Intel unveiled Edison in January of this year as part of its renewed focus on embedded and particularly wearable computing technologies. Prototype-proven and in a product-ready design, Intel claimed at the time, Edison was the second outing for the company’s low-power Pentium-based Quark processor which had previously launched in the hobbyist-oriented Galileo development board.

Now, Intel has announced a redesign which loses the two unique features of Edison: its SD card form factor and its Quark processor.

The shift sees Intel swap the Quark chip out in favour of a 22nm Atom processor based on the Silvermont architecture. A dual-core design running at 500MHz, the Atom will give considerably improved compute performance compared to the Quark, but requires a separate microcontroller unit to drive the input-output portions of the board.

The shift to Atom also does away with the SD card size of Edison, and while Intel hasn’t confirmed precise sizes for the new edition it has admitted that the last-minute shift in architecture means the new Edison will be ‘slightly larger‘ than the design chief executive Brian Krzanich showed off at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year.

The Atom-based Edison won’t replace the planned Quark version, Intel claims, but instead augment it as part of a new Edison-branded range of products. ‘We have received an enthusiastic response from the pro maker and entrepreneurial communities, as well as consumer electronics and industrial IoT [Internet of Things] companies,‘ claimed Intel’s Michael Bell of the move, ‘and have decided that in order to best address a broader range of market segments and customer needs we will extend Intel Edison to a family of development boards.

Intel has not yet confirmed availability or pricing for the Atom or Quark variants of the Edison.

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World’s largest TV, ‘Big Hoss,’ is as long as a jet

Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage looks on during a February tour of the giant TV’s construction.


(Credit:
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and now they have the TV to prove it.

The “Big Hoss” TV was turned on for the first time in front of a live audience Wednesday night at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The screen, built by Panasonic, measures 218 feet wide by 94.6 feet tall. That means it’s longer than Boeing’s biggest 767 (the 400ER), and taller than a seven-story building. To put it in home electronics terms, it’s a 2,852-inch TV. The display features 20,633.64 square feet of HD LED lights that broadcast 4.8 million pixels and 281 trillion colors.

The TV has a 140-degree viewing angle so it can be seen by people in a large swath of seats at the Speedway, and it takes a crew of five people to operate it from within the attached control room. The screen is also allegedly able to handle wind speeds of up to 120 mph, as well as impacts from projectiles like hail, something that was confirmed by workers hitting golf balls at the LEDs, according to ESPN.

So what was all that tech used to show on its big night? An episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s new “Cosmos” series, perhaps? An edition of the Science Channel’s “How It’s Made” maybe? Nope. This is Nascar country after all, so the first show to air on Big Hoss was an episode of “Duck Dynasty.” In fact, “Duck” Commander CEO Willie Robertson and his wife Korie were on hand for the “big” event.

To cement the screen’s rightful place among its teenier brethren, an adjudicator from the Guinness World Record association will be at the speedway to verify the TV as the world’s largest before the Duck Commander 500 race on Sunday, April 6.

The screen was powered on by Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage, who used a giant remote control prop to get the job done. About the addition of the screen to the speedway, Gossage said, “You are going to see the replays. You are going to see the up-close, tight shots. The fans won’t miss a thing. It is the ultimate fan amenity. To have the biggest one in the world, that’s just one of those ‘Everything is Bigger in Texas’ stories that we are really proud to be a part of.”

Now let’s just hope the drivers can keep their eyes on the road and not watch TV while they’re zipping around the track at over 200 mph.

What would be the first show you’d watch on your very own 2,852-inch TV?

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Crave giveaway: $500 shopping spree from Rakuten.com Shopping


Hmmm, so many choices… (Click to enlarge.)


(Credit:
Screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET)

Readers have loved past shopping sprees at Rakuten.com Shopping, so we’re back with another one, and it’s big-ticket.

This week’s winner gets a $500 gift certificate from the massive online retailer, which sells everything from consumer electronics to furniture, clothes, shoes, jewelry, toys, sports gear, and well, more stuff upon stuff. Yep, $500. And next week marks a great time to go all consumer-crazy up on Rakuten.com Shopping, since it will hold a big sale, with goods up to 70 percent off sitewide.

So how do you go about scoring a $500 blank check from Rakuten.com Shopping (formerly Buy.com)? There are a few rules, so please read carefully before you start composing your shopping list.

  • Register as a CNET user. Go to the top of this page and hit the “Join CNET” link to start the registration process. If you’re already registered, there’s no need to register again.
  • Leave a comment below. You can leave whatever comment you want. If it’s funny or insightful, it won’t help you win, but we’re trying to have fun here, so anything entertaining is appreciated.
  • Leave only one comment. You may enter for this specific giveaway only once. If you enter more than one comment, you will be automatically disqualified.
  • The winner will be chosen randomly. The winner will receive one (1) gift certificate from Rakuten.com Shopping, with a retail value of $500.
  • If you are chosen, you will be notified via email. The winner must respond within three days of the end of the sweepstakes. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen.
  • Entries can be submitted until 12 p.m. ET on Monday, March 17.

And here’s the disclaimer that our legal department said we had to include (sorry for the caps, but rules are rules):

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. YOU HAVE NOT YET WON. MUST BE LEGAL RESIDENT OF ONE OF THE 50 UNITED STATES OR D.C., 18 YEARS OLD OR AGE OF MAJORITY, WHICHEVER IS OLDER IN YOUR STATE OF RESIDENCE AT DATE OF ENTRY INTO SWEEPSTAKES. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, ALL U.S. TERRITORIES AND POSSESSIONS, AND WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. Sweepstakes ends at 12 p.m. ET on Monday, March 17, 2014. See official rules for details.

Good luck.

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MIT’s super-speedy robot fish makes flashy escape

Robot fish

MIT’s Andrew Marchese and Daniela Rus put the soft silicone rubber outer skin on their robotic fish. The rubber was cast in a 3D-printed mold.


(Credit:
M. Scott Brauer)

Some robot fish we’ve seen wouldn’t be able to escape a predator if their fins depended on it.

Enter the new fish-shaped “soft robot” developed by Andrew Marchese, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. It can execute an escape maneuver called a “C-turn” in about 100 milliseconds, matching the speed of fish in the wild. Such swiftness is one of the things that most sets this robofish apart.

Soft robots are machines that have gushy exteriors and move around through the use of fluids or gases pumping through vein-like internal tubes. They’re of interest because they don’t hurt when they bump into people (nor do they scratch the furniture). “We’re excited about soft robots for a variety of reasons,” Daniela Rus, one of the researchers who designed and built the fish, said in a statement. “As robots penetrate the physical world and start interacting with people more and more, it’s much easier to make robots safe if their bodies are so wonderfully soft that there’s no danger if they whack you.”


Like a robot fish to water…


(Credit:
Video screenshot/CNET)

The fact that the fish can perform an escape maneuver “is really important for the field of soft robotics,” Marchese said in the below MIT video about the invention. “It shows that soft robots can be both self-contained and capable of high performance. The maneuver is so fast and it’s got such high body curvature that it shows soft robots might be more capable than hard robots in some tasks.”

The robofish consists of a hard control module that stores the electronics and a carbon dioxide canister in its head and abdomen. From here, two inflatable tubes travel down each side of the fish to its tail. These tubes have nozzles that feed them carbon dioxide. The opening of the nozzle controls how fast the fish moves, while the amount of tube inflation controls the angle at which the fish changes direction. The electronics module also contains a receiver that allows it to be controlled wirelessly, and the entire robot is covered in soft, waterproof silicone rubber made from a 3D-printed mold.

The novel gas-though-tube-controlled movement differs from other robotic fish we’ve seen, like the one invented at the U.K’s University of Bath, which moved thanks to an undulating fin on its underside.

Rus, director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, said a normal robot with hinged joints couldn’t possibly move so fast and that the unique propelling mechanism of the robofish — inflating and deflating internal tubes with carbon dioxide — gives it a distinct advantage over its land-dwelling clunky cousins. “The fact that the body deforms continuously gives these machines an infinite range of configurations, and this is not achievable with machines that are hinged,” she said.

Currently, the robofish can only swim for a few minutes before it runs out of gas. The researchers are working on a new version that should last up to a half-hour and will use water to pump through the tubing in the fish’s body to propel it.

Of course, the MIT crew didn’t build their robot with the thought of lazy fish-tank owners in mind. In addition to pushing along the science of soft robotics, Rus believes the invention can also help wildlife scientists conduct research, by having it swim along with schools of fish while collecting data about their movements and habits like this robofish invented by an engineering professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University.

Additionally, “we also view this research as a first step toward creating soft robots that can operate in human-centered environments,” Marchese told Crave. “We are especially interested in developing a new kind of soft hand and manipulator that embodies the materials and principles demonstrated by the soft robot fish.”

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Dong Nguyen on the return of Flappy Bird: ‘I’m considering it’

This picture taken on February 5, 2014, shows Nguyen Ha Dong, the author of the game Flappy Bird relaxing inside a coffee shop in Hanoi.


(Credit:
STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The creator of Flappy Bird is doing quite well since he decided to pull the smartphone game from the iOS App and Google Play Stores last month. Dong Nguyen, the 28-year-old Hanoi, Vietnam-based game designer, is still making tens of thousands of dollars off the addictive mobile hit that pushed smartphone users to a game-playing fever pitch, as well as his other titles, Shuriken Block and Super Ball Juggling, that earned success by association.

The clones are countless; a new one was sprouting up on the App Store an average of every 24 minutes in the immediate wake of Flappy Bird’s demise. Even now, three knockoffs currently sit in the top 10 of free iOS games. And announcing via Twitter that he was pulling Flappy Bird with one day’s notice earned the game more than 10 million downloads in 22 hours alone.

“I can’t go back to my life before, but I’m good now,” he told Rolling Stone magazine in an interview published Tuesday, accompanied by a picture of the chain-smoking Nguyen with his now-trademark look: clean-cut with minimalistic dress and a cigarette hanging from his mouth. But despite finally finding peace from the torrent of online abuse, criticism, and allegations of fraud, Nguyen reasserted that the decision to yank Flappy Bird from the spotlight was as much for his own mental well-being as it was for those who played his creation.

Nguyen detailed some of the more personal interactions with those who fell prey to the kind of addictive tendencies that game makers like King now purposefully target with Candy Crush and other top-grossing mobile hits. For instance, Nguyen was told of people who had lost their jobs, mothers who had stopped speaking with their children, and school children who had smashed their phones, all apparently because of Flappy Bird and its addictive design. It was something Nguyen never intended or asked for, and yet had no control over.

“At first I thought they were just joking,” he said. “But I realize they really hurt themselves.” Nguyen pointed out that, as an avid Counter Strike fan whose grades suffered from his over-playing, he knows how games can be as addictive and destructive as any other vice, and that he hated the fact that he was putting people through that. “Please take a break,” a suggestion Nguyen began tweeting to obsessive Flappy Bird players in the waning days of his sparse online presence, will now accompany any future games Nguyen releases in the form of a warning message.

Rolling Stone’s David Kushner also got Nguyen to open up about his upbringing and design influences. Nguyen revealed that he first fell in love with games by playing Super Mario Bros. on a knockoff Nintendo his parents bought for him and his brother because of the expensive nature of imported electronics, especially early GameBoys.

A hand-drawn picture of Mario even sat above his desk throughout the course of the holiday weekend celebrating Reunification Day, marking the end of the Vietnam War, that Nguyen spent creating Flappy Bird. The intention was simple: Make a game that could be played with one hand on the subway, and could process the simplest input — a single tap — anywhere on the screen, yet make it simple and incredibly difficult to get good at, like a paddle ball toy. Throwing in some nostalgic Nintendo love from his childhood, Nguyen pushed out Flappy Bird and watched as it lay dormant for months.

“The bird is flying along peacefully,” Nguyen said, “and all of a sudden you die!” The inherent humor of that design was on purpose, he said, but it also created a craving to continue playing.


(Credit:
Screenshots by Nick Statt/CNET)

Years earlier, Nguyen spent time honing his programming, building a chess game at age 16 and, at age 19, joining Punch Entertainment, a Hanoi game studio that was a rarity for the Vietnam capital back in the early ’00s. There he earned a reputation for independent thinking and coding proficiency. Nguyen echoed that assessment when asked for the defining reason he pulled Flappy Bird: “I’m master of my own fate,” he said. “Independent thinker.”

It was originally reported last month that Nguyen lived with his parents in a modest home. Now, thanks to his wealth, he’s thinking of buying his own apartment and a Mini Cooper while he stays with a friend. With a newfound passport and the financial cushion to quit his job, Nguyen is back to designing games, including a jetpack endless-runner variant called Kitty Jetpack and a chess game called Checkonaut.

As for an official Flappy Bird rebirth, “I’m considering it,” Nguyen said. Beyond that, he doesn’t spend too much time thinking about the game’s rise, the aftermath of its popularity explosion, or the numerous clones it’s still now generating, though he sees frequent offers from interested buyers. “People can clone the app because of its simplicity,” he said, “but they will never make another Flappy Bird.”

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Yep, it’s playable Tetris on a business card

Arduboy

The Arduboy is a business card and a tiny gaming gadget.


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET)

Business cards are used to share your contact information and make a good impression. Even the fanciest paper business card can’t hold a candle to technical designer Kevin Bates’ Arduboy interactive business card that comes with a playable game of Tetris built into it.

Bates built the card using the tiniest Arduino he could find, an OLED screen, and a piezo speaker. The whole creation is only slightly thicker than a penny. It has working buttons for controlling the game, and could conceivably be programmed to play a lot more old-school games besides just Tetris. Bates is already working on a Pokemon game for the platform.

The power requirements are pretty low, so the card can run for over nine hours of playtime on a button cell battery. The Tetris game is pretty much full-featured, though it doesn’t come in color. It will even log high scores with your initials.

Bates is planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign in the coming weeks, aiming for a $30 price for a kit to make your own Arduboy. Hand-assembled units would go for $50. He plans to make the kit accessible for beginners as a learning tool for getting into electronics. One of his goals is to release the design files and source code under an open-source license.

Bates hopes other developers will create new games for the platform. Of course, the card could also be used to convey your pertinent work details, but everybody will just skip past the boring stuff and go straight for the Tetris challenge. This is one business card that won’t end up in the throwaway pile.

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Intel picks up wearables specialist Basis

Intel picks up wearables specialist Basis

Basis Science, a specialist in wrist-worn health-tracking gadgets, is reportedly now a wholly-owned Intel subsidiary.


Intel is continuing its push into the embedded and wearable computing markets, with reports that it has acquired a wearable healthcare specialist for between $100 million and $150 million at auction.

Basis Science is a 2011 start-up which specialises in wrist-worn health tracking devices, responsible for a claimed seven per cent of the market to better-known rival Jawbone’s 21 per cent. The company was founded on around $30 million of venture capital from groups Norwest Venture Partners, Mayfield Fund and – interestingly – Intel Capital, the chip giant’s venture capital investment arm.

Now, it is reported by TechCrunch – though not yet backed up by an official announcement by either company – that Basis is to become a wholly-owned Intel subsidiary following its acquisition at auction for between $100-150 million. Intel is believed to have beaten out interest from rivals including Google, which is soon to start pushing its own Google Glass wearable computing system at retail.

While Basis currently offers its products to end-users, the interest for Intel is likely more about the technology behind the products. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Intel promised a heavy push into the embedded and wearables space, showing off smart headsets with health-tracking abilities and baby monitoring systems – all, somewhat embarrassingly, built around ARM processors for the prototypes but soon to be replaced with the company’s low-power Edison chips.

It’s likely that Basis’ products will follow the same path, forming a proving ground for Intel’s Edison while also providing wearables knowledge and a robust infrastructure for end-user support. Whether this means the company’s current products will be discontinued in due course remains to be seen.

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Ultra HD 4K TV Cheat Sheet

February 28th, 2014 No comments

The Panasonic AX8000 series is one of many 4K TVs coming in 2014.


(Credit:
CNET/Panasonic)

Ultra HD, colloquially known as “4K,” is the latest buzzword, and the latest push from TV manufacturers.

While your next TV might not be Ultra HD, the one after probably will be.

Here are the basics of what you need to know about this latest advancement in TV technology.

Higher than HD resolution, and possibly more
To put it most simply, Ultra HD is resolution greater than HD. Today this most commonly means a horizontal resolution of 3,840 and a vertical resolution of 2,160. This is four times the resolution of 1080p, which is 1,920×1,080. Officially, Ultra HD is a minimum of 3,820×2,160, also known as Quad HD. It also includes cinema 4K (4,096×2,160) and future resolutions like “8K,” or 7,680x 4,320.

Four resolutions compared: standard definition; full high definition; and the two kinds of ultra high definition (Quad HD and 4Kx2K).


(Credit:
CNET)

With current products and content, Ultra HD is almost entirely just about this increase in resolution. Resolution is just one part of a good picture, however, and not the most important. Behind the scenes there’s movement towards a new standard, called Rec 2020. This improves other aspects of the image, like color and frame rate. There are no TVs that support this proposed standard yet, but we shall see.

Can you even see the difference?
Probably not. There’s only so much detail the human eye can resolve. If you have 20/20 vision (common), sit about 10 feet from your TV (also common), and are buying a typical TV (50-inches or so), you’re not going to see the additional resolution. Check out Four 4K TV facts you must know for more info, or check out Chris Heinonen’s excellent 4K Calculator to see if you can benefit from the extra resolution.

Seen side by side from a typical seating distance, it’s very difficult to tell a 4K TV from a 1080p one.


(Credit:
Sarah Tew/CNET)

If you sit closer, or plan on getting a big TV or
projector (80+ inches), then 4K becomes much more worthwhile. For example, last year I checked out Samsung’s 85-inch S9, and it was gorgeous when fed the highest-quality 4K demo content.

“Ultra HD” vs “4K”
The official moniker for this new resolution is Ultra HD. However, it’s commonly referred to as “4K” or even “2160p.” 4K is the cinema standard that deals with a similar resolution (generally 4,096×2160).

Most people, myself included, would rather just call it 4K. Yes, this isn’t strictly accurate, but I’m not nearly pedantic enough to care. Some are. Also, 4K is easier to type and say. We did a poll, and most people agree with me.

For the record the Consumer Electronics Association, the closest the U.S. TV industry has to an authority in this matter, sees “4K Ultra HD” as a “legitimate use” in line with its guidelines. That catchall term, or some variation thereof, appears to be what most
TV
makers
are
using, at least for now.

HDMI 2.0
Your current HDMI cables can probably pass 4K. There is a new HDMI standard coming out, called HDMI 2.0. The main difference between HDMI 1.4 (which is what most equipment is now) and 2.0 is an increase in the possible framerates of the 4K signal. HDMI 1.4 can do Ultra HD at 30 frames per second. HDMI 2.0 can do 60 fps.

4K HDMI cables
(Credit:
HDMI.org/Geoffrey Morrison)

There are no new cables with HDMI 2.0, this is a hardware change, not a cable change. So your current High Speed HDMI cables should work just fine.

However, check carefully that any 4K TV you’re considering has full HDMI 2.0 compliance. If it doesn’t, you’re not “future-proofing” yourself as much as you may think. Nearly all of the 2014 4K TVs announced at CES comply with HDMI 2.0, but it’s a stickier situation with 2013 models.

The casualties
While the march of technology, um, marches on, some things get left behind. One of the biggest casualties is plasma. Panasonic, which recently pulled out of plasma production, listed the difficulty in making Ultra HD plasmas as one of the reasons they abandoned the technology. Samsung echoed this reasoning.

Could OLED, which faces similar challenges, be another casualty? Let’s hope not.

The future
Like it or not, this is happening. Ultra HD displays are the future. Prices are already falling from the major manufacturers, and lesser known brands, primarily Chinese names like TCL and Seiki, are already selling ultra-cheap Ultra HD.

A big issue right now, like the early days of HD, is the lack of content. While Netflix is claiming they’ll start streaming certain shows in Ultra HD this year, and if you buy a Sony TV, you can get a 4K media streamer, there’s very little to watch. The new consoles (PS4 and
Xbox One), can’t do Ultra HD gaming, though a reasonably powerful PC can.

Netflix plans to offer 4K Ultra HD streaming of the drama House of Cards this year


(Credit:
Netflix)

There is content in the pipeline, though. The major movie studios have been converting their archives to 4K (and greater) for several years. Ultra HD Blu-ray is still just rumors, but is likely to happen. The new H.265 codec promises better compression, so Ultra HD can be had at reasonable bitrates. And since many 2014 4K TVs have H.265/HEVC encoding built-in, industry insiders are picking streaming to be the first widespread 4K delivery mechanism. As for actual broadcast or cable TV channels in 4K? That’ll be awhile.

So content is an issue now, but it won’t always be. It’s just something to keep in mind if you feel you must get a 4K TV now: there’s not much to take full advantage of it.

What does all that mean for you? Right now, Ultra HD televisions are impressive up close, but not a vital purchase. It’s likely that in a few years, we’ll get better, cheaper, and more capable Ultra HD TVs. Ideally, with a lot more 4K stuff to watch on them.

For a more in-depth look at the history and more of the issues surrounding 4K, check out What is 4K UHD? Next-generation resolution explained.


Got a question for Geoff? First, check out all the other articles he’s written on topics like why all HDMI cables are the same, LED LCD vs. plasma, active versus passive 3D, and more. Still have a question? Send him an e-mail! He won’t tell you what TV to buy, but he might use your letter in a future article. You can also send him a message on Twitter @TechWriterGeoff or Google+.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 announced

February 25th, 2014 No comments

Samsung Galaxy S5 announced

The Samsung Galaxy S5


Samsung has announced its latest flagship Android phone the Samsung Galaxy S5, which as well as packing in much of the latest technology, such as a finger-print reader, is dust and water proof too.

Following in the footsteps of Sony’s well received Z1 handset (and it’s just announced followup the Z2), the new Galaxy S5 is rated as IP67 water and dust proof, which equates to full dust protection and protection from immersion in up to 1m of water for up to 30mins. We’re yet to see exactly how this protection works, given the back of the phone is removable and has a hole for the speaker, but we’ll find out soon enough.

The new handset will also feature a fingerprint reader incorporated into the home button on the front, just like the iPhone 5S. Joining this sensor is an in-built heart-rate monitor on the back, which sits alongside the rear camera’s LED flash.

The core specs of the phone are as would be expected of Samsung’s latest handset with a 5.1in Full HD AMOLED display, a 2.5GHz Quad Core processor, a 16MP rear camera (2MP front), 2GB of RAM, up to 32GB of internal memory and a microSD card supporting up to 128GB of extra storage.

One standout is the inclusion of 4K video recording, and Samsung makes some bold claims about the stills camera, citing its 0.3sec autofocus speed as being the world’s fastest.

What will perhaps be a disappointment to many is that Samsung largely hasn’t changed the physical design. There had been rumours the new handset would have a more premium finish to more directly rival the iPhone 5S. Such a premium version may still be on the cards for the future though.

The design, then, is a tweak to the Galaxy S4, with a full glass front broken up by the earpiece, a central physical home button and two touch buttons. This means the company has again steered clear of going with the Google-recommended control scheme of having one physical button to unlock the screen and then just on-screen controls.

Around the sides the phone uses a chromed plastic while the back retains a plastic removable cover, though this time it has a dimpled pattern. This will be available at launch in a variety of colours: Charcoal Black, Shimmery White, Electric Blue and Copper Gold.

Introducing the handset, Simon Stanford, Vice President of IT Mobile division, Samsung Electronics UK Ireland said, “We’ve decided to go back to basics with the Galaxy S5 and focus on the features and things that matter the most to our customers – namely the camera, ability to view and download data and content quickly and their health and wellbeing.”

Given the list of features for this phone, and that it is even larger than its predecessor some might argue the S5 is anything but ‘back to basics’. In comparison the upcoming HTC One 2 is expected to be a more modest refinement of the HTC One while the just-announced Sony Z2 is a very minor upgrade over the Z1.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Specs

  • Network: LTE Cat.4 (150/50Mbps)
  • Display: 5.1” FHD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080)
  • Processor: 2.5GHz Quad core application processor
  • OS: Android 4.4.2 (Kitkat)
  • Camera: 16MP (rear), 2.0MP (front)
  • Video: UHD@30fps, HDR, video stabilization
  • WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac HT80, MIMO(2×2)
  • Bluetooth: 4.0 BLE / ANT+
  • USB: USB 3.0
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, Hall, RGB ambient light, Gesture(IR), Finger Scanner, Heart rate sensor
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Internal Memory: 16/32GB, microSD slot up to 128G
  • Dimension: 142.0 x 72.5 x 8.1mm, 145g
  • Battery: 2800mAh
  • Standby time: 390 hrs / Talk time: 21 hrs
  • Additional Features: IP67 Dust and water Resistant, NFC, IR Remote, Ultra Power Saving Mode, Download Booster, S Health 3.0, Quick Connect, Private Mode, Kids Mode

Samsung Galaxy S5 announcedSamsung Galaxy S5 announced

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