Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Electricpig.co.uk - tech news fast!

Electricpig.co.uk - tech news fast!

Nintendo Wii Inflatable Kart video: ultimate Mario motoring accessory!

Posted: 31 May 2010 08:10 AM PDT

Nintendo Wii accessories are usually pretty pointless but we'll make an exception for CTA Digital's Wii Inflatable Kart. It looks like it could make marathon Mario Kart sessions a million times more fun (a statistic we just didn't think was possible). Sales of the kart are also supporting a charity so we're basically morally obligated to stuff our adult selves into the driving seat. Read on to see a fully-grown man racing the Wii Inflatable Kart…

The $40 Wii Inflatable Kart will bring a faint amount of realism to Nintendo Wii racing games including Mario Kart and Sonic And Sega All Stars Racing. There's a space in its steering wheel to slot the Wiimote (with or without Wii MotionPlus) but besides that its requirements are as low-tech as some hearty lungfuls of air.

CTA Digital says the Wii Inflatable Kart is for kids but it'll take up to 330lbs in weight, so most adults should be able to hop in too. The guy in the video above certainly seems to be enjoying himself.

As well as bringing back childhood memories of causing chaos in arcades, the Wii Inflatable Kart is being used to raise cash for charity, Kids Are Heroes, and 8-year-old Ricky Springer who races real karts in aid of fellow sufferers of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorder.

CTA Digital will be showing off the Wii Inflatable kart at E3 later this month. While we'll be focused on more cutting edge kit like Natal and Playstation Move, we'd be lying if we said we don't want our very own kart too. You do too, admit it!

Out now | $40 | CTA Digital

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Asus Eee Tablet: ebook reader has confusing name, note taking smarts

Posted: 31 May 2010 06:10 AM PDT

The Asus Eee Tablet is the slightly odd name for Asus's new ebook reader. While the Windows 7-packing Eee Pad is aiming to unseat the iPad, the Asus Eee Tablet wants to take on the Amazon Kindle and, according to Asus, neutralise your old school paper notepads too.

Looks can be deceiving: the Asus Eee Tablet appears to be packing a e-ink screen but in fact that's a backlight-free TFT-LCD screen with 64 levels of grey. Asus reckons that combined with the Eee Tablet's stylus will make it a super-sensitive note taking device.

The Asus Eee Tablet promises a fast refresh rate and a stonking 2450 dpi input sensitivity so writing and drawing on it should feel almost like putting pen to paper. There's also a microSD card slot and Wi-Fi and a slightly paltry 2MP camera for capturing images that you can then annotate.

There's no word on what formats will be supported by the Asus Eee Tablet but its touchscreen counterpart the Asus DR-950 plays nice with PDF, TXT, Audible, MP3, ePub, HTML, JPEG, GIF, PNG and BMP. Hopefully the Eee Tablet will be similarly accommodating.

When it comes to battery-life, the Asus Eee Tablet will give you 10 hours of juice for one charge which is not that impressive compared to the days you can squeeze out of the e-ink sporting Kindle. It's also a a little retro looking compared to Asus's own OLED-sporting colour screen wonder, the Asus DR570.

But with the skills of a Wacom tablet wedded to an ebook reader, the Asus Eee Tablet could well be tempting for students and professional folk, especially if Asus manages to get it out for the $199 price that's currently on the cards.

Let us know what you make of the Asus Eee Tablet. Can you see a use for the doodle-enabled tablet?

Due September | £TBC | Asus

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iPad sales hit two million in two months: Steve Jobs talks shortages

Posted: 31 May 2010 05:12 AM PDT

iPad sales have soared to two million in two months, double the amount shifted by the original iPhone in its first 60 days. The international debut of the iPad on Friday is bound to have contributed to the latest bountiful figures with iPad launch queues stretching round the block at the Apple Store in Regent's Street. If you've not nabbed yours yet the latest statement from Steve Jobs suggests more iPad shortages might be on the way…

A month after iPad sales outstripped the original iPhone, the tablet has now tipped over two million sales. Obviously Steve Jobs has fired out a few sentences to celebrate the occasion: "Customers around the world are experiencing the magic of iPad and seem to be loving it as much as we do…"

He continues: "We appreciate their patience and are working hard to build enough iPads for everyone." The iPad is still sold out across large swathes of the US, could British iPad shortages be next? Nine more countries are set to get the iPad next month so it might be worth grabbing one soon if you've been putting it off.

If you're wondering why two million iPads have been shifted, try our iPad UK review or hit the comments to let us know which tablet (if any) looks like the best medicine for you.

Out now | From £429 | Apple

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iPhone 4.0: one week to go – what do you want to see?

Posted: 31 May 2010 04:15 AM PDT

iPhone 4.0 will make its long-awaited debut next week when Steve Jobs takes to the stage at WWDC. Read on for a round up of what we know so far about Apple's most-leaked product ever and head to the comments to let us know what you want to see in iPhone 4.0…

We've all been assuming we know the new iPhone specs since the iPhone 4.0 leak added Gizmodo to the G-section of Apple's hitlist (just before Google). But both that glimpse and the Thailand iPhone 4.0 leak aren’t definitely the finished phone. Do we really know for sure what we'll be seeing on June 7?

Last week's most curious iPhone 4.0 tidbit was the rumour that it's called Mammoth within the once fortress-like walls of Cupertino. We analysed the iPhone 4.0 codename and some other famous gadget pseudonyms to see whether that offers up good omens for the new iPhone.

There's also been several sightings of an entirely white iPhone 4.0. Whether or not we see the new iPhone dressed entirely in a paler shade, a typically pointed Steve Jobs email assured us WWDC won't disappoint. But after the torrent of leaks, rumours and rumblings surrounding iPhone 4.0, what does he need to reveal to delight you?

Would free iPhone to iPhone video chat be enough to wow you? Do the looks of the leaked iPhone 4.0 handsets satisfy your gadget lust or are you hoping a different design to shock us all?

Head to the comments to tell us what you want to see from iPhone 4.0 and what we should focus on in the countdown to WWDC.

Due June 7 | £TBC | Apple

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MSI Windpad: Windows 7 and Android tablets revealed

Posted: 31 May 2010 03:21 AM PDT

MSI has added to the Taipei tablet tally with two new models – the Windows 7-favouring MSI Windpad 100 and the Android-loving MSI Windpad 110. We first spied an MSI Wind tablet back at CES in January but it's now officially broken cover. And unlike the Asus Eee Pad, the Windpad will be blowing our way this year…

After the Asus Eee Pad, the MSI Windpad 100 might look like just another Windows 7-powered tablet unveiled at Computex but we've got more specs to chew on this time. It'll use a 1.66Ghz Intel Atom Z530 processor with 2GB RAM and 32GB SSD drive for storage. There'll also be a built-in webcam, two USB ports and HDMI out.

While the MSI Windpad 100 will run Windows 7 Home Premium, the makers are sticking a custom UI dubbed Wind Touch on top which could make things a little bit more intuitive. Engadget says the prototype is a little bit sluggish but hopefully that'll be fixed before it's flung out into the world.

MSI didn't acknowledge the Windpad 110 Android tablet at its press conference but it's been spotted in the halls of Computex. It's a 10in touchscreen slate but powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 2 chip and running Android 2.1. It's also physically different to the MSI Windpad 100 with a slightly curved look and switchable rear cover.

Availability for both the MSI Windpad 100 and the MSI Windpad 110 is still a bit of a mystery at the moment but both could arrive before the end of the year. The MSI Windpad 100 will apparently come with the $499 price tag we were quoted when the MSI tablet prototype was first revealed.

The MSI Windpad 110 could be as much as $100 cheaper than its Windows 7-packing sibling. Nvidia promised a rash of Android Tegra 2 tablets this year and the MSI Windpad 110 may be among them.

Let us know what you think of the MSI Windpad. Would you plump for Windows 7 or Android? Do either of the options look likely to give the iPad a run for its money?

Due late-2010 | £TBC | MSI (via Engadget)

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Asus Eee Pad: iPad-battling Windows 7 tablet unveiled

Posted: 31 May 2010 02:34 AM PDT

The Asus Eee Pad has been unveiled but we'll have a wee wait before we can get our hands on it. The 10in Asus Eee Pad EP101TC and the 12in Asus Eee Pad EP121 both come packing Windows 7 and aren't set to be released until 2011. That's bad news if you had your fingers-crossed for the imminent arrival of an iPad rival from Asus. Read on to see whether the Eee Pad specs will be worth the wait…

Though Asus announced two Eee Pad models at Computex, it’s only given proper details for the 12in Asus Eee Pad EP121 so far. It’s packing an Intel Core 2 Duo CULV processor to power Windows 7 Home Premium and claims an iPad-matching 10 hour battery life.

While the Eee Pad EP121's 12in multitouch screen has a virtual keyboard and handwriting recognition, there's also a keyboard dock accessory. We're promised an integrated webcam and can expect at least a couple of USB ports to be packed in there too.

The smaller 10in Eee Pad EP101TC will run Windows Embedded Compact 7 (the new name for Windows CE) and weigh in at 675g and 12.2mm thick. That will make it lighter and thinner than the iPad which comes in at 13.4mm thick and 680g in its Wi-Fi only form.

We had previously heard that the Eee Pad release date could be as soon as July but it seems that was just wishful thinking by Far Eastern rumour mongers. Asus has confirmed that we'll have to wait until Q1 2011 for the first two Eee Pad models. A version running Android is also still on the cards.

Asus has a big press conference penciled in for later today so expect to hear more details on the Eee Pad then. Let us know what you think: can a Windows 7 tablet like the Asus Eee Pad compete with the iPad? Or do Android powered options like the Dell Streak look like a better bet?

Due Q1 2011 | £TBC | Asus

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Cowon J3 review

Posted: 31 May 2010 01:45 AM PDT

The Cowon J3 doesn't do apps. It won't multitask, and it doesn't have Wi-Fi to get you surfing online in hotspots. This is no iPod touch, but then Cowon never intended it to be: this is a media player for musics fans first, with an OLED screen for some easy video watching on the side. Is this a combination that still cuts it in 2010? Find out in our full Cowon J3 review.

Read the rest of our Cowon J3 review
Cowon J3 review: Design, build and screen
Cowon J3 review: Music and video skills

Cowon's struck a different path to the iPod and Zunes of the PMP world: its line of media players may have not changed the world, but for a certain audience they can't be bettered, and the South Korean company's latest, the Cowon J3, is no different. While it won't provide over the air media downloads and all the extra bells and whistles of an iPod + iTunes setup, for those who don't like to play in Apple's walled garden, it's ideal.

We've got mixed feelings about the Cowon J3's build, we have to admit. We were wowed by the press photography when it was first announced earlier this year: it promised to be one beautiful aluminium clad tune chucker. In reality, it's mostly a smudgy, plastic affair, bar one metal trim along the bottom, with a bezel that feels as wide as the iPad's.

The Cowon J3 more than makes up by virtue of its weight however: it's shockingly light compared to an iPod touch, and despite the width of its 3.3-inch screen, something you could easily strap to your arm for gym workouts. The ports and buttons are well placed, with track controls on the left, a 3.5mm audio hole along the bottom for your own cans, and a microSD slot so you can bolster the 16GB of storage with up to 32GB more, enough for thousands of tunes.

And then of course, there's the screen. Like the Cowon S9 before it, the Cowon J3 boasts a dazzling OLED display more eye popping than a pug dog left in a vacuum. It's a touchscreen, and even capable of pinch to zoom gestures on pictures, and gives deep and rich colour reproduction traditional TFT screens can't match. Indoors, videos look lush, and even outdoors – a common weakspot for OLED screens – visibility is decent, let down more by the reflective glass over the top than anything else.

The Cowon J3 doesn't get fussy about the video you try and play either, burning through just about any AVI or MP4 file you care to dump on it, and it's this media format support combined with sound quality that Cowon's famed for. It'll play MP3, WMA and even FLAC files which should sate music fans with large digital music collections that aren't stored in iTunes, and sound quality is unsurprisingly stunning. The internal speaker is weak, but with the bundled (a tad plasticky) headphones or your own plugged it's deep, rich and nearly unmatchable at this price point.

In other words, this is one of the friendliest MP3 players out there for the iTunes phobic. Despite the similar cost and size, the Cowon J3 is not an iPod touch rival. Its UI is at times baffling, and in fact, when it tries to move into iPod touch territory, it fails miserably (There's a memopad with an awful on screen keyboard, and a Flash player that requires you to preload the Cowon J3 with FLV files. Good luck with that.)

But for all those resistant to Apple's ecosystem and way of working, the Cowon J3 is perfect. An OLED screen, wide format support, regular USB file drag and drop, expandable storage and top notch audio quality make a great package for audiophiles who watch the occasional video download on the train. The changes don't merit an upgrade from the Cowon S9, but if you had your eyes on last year's Sony Walkman X series, the Cowon J3 is certainly a better choice.

Cowon J3 review unit supplied by advancedmp3players.co.uk

Read the rest of our Cowon J3 review
Cowon J3 review: Design, build and screen
Cowon J3 review: Music and video skills

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Cowon J3 review: Music and video skills

Posted: 31 May 2010 01:44 AM PDT

The Cowon J3 doesn't aim for the stars – at least, not in the plural. If there's one this lightweight, solid media player shoots for, it's top notch media playback that’s easy on the ears and eyes. Does it hit the mark? Read on and find out in this section of our Cowon J3 review.

Read the rest of our Cowon J3 review
Cowon J3 review
Cowon J3 review: Design, build and screen

Sure, there's no Wi-Fi, but the Cowon J3 more than makes up for it with top notch media playback. Sound quality is near unparalleled on a media player of this size and price: even lowly MP3s sound rich and crisp, with deep, thumping bass should you feel in the mood for it: a ton of presets triggered by the drop down menu at the top of the screen let you pick the right settings for your songs. Scrubbing through songs is just a matter of tapping the time bar along the bottom to the right point, and physical track skip and pause buttons along the side of the Cowon J3 mean you won't have to turn the screen on to move through your music, even if there are no controls on the supplied headphones.

Music file format support is varied, with the low end covered by MP3 (Though not AAC, we should flag up), and FLAC and APE at the top end for audio purists with large lossless audio libraries, and they sound divine. They'll soon fill up the 16GB of storage onboard the Cowon J3, it's true, but you can toss in up to an extra 32GB with the right microSD card, and well, it's worth the trade off for sound quality: they come through crystal clear and beautiful. Make no mistake, the Cowon J3 is one of the best sounding media players ever made.

The Cowon J3's video skills are impressive too, though more for the screen than the file support. While some new smartphones and PMPs are starting to offer broad format support and even HD video playback to a TV, the Cowon J3 just trundles along with H.264 MP4 files and DivX and Xvid AVIs. That said, that's still more varied than any iPod, so will satisfy many a video downloader, and the OLED screen forgives all: clips look absolutely sensational on it.

All this leaves the the Cowon J3 a solid contender for any music fans without an iTunes account. But, and it's a conjunction Sir Mix-A-Lot would be proud of, trying to open all these files in the first place is surprisingly difficult. South Korean gadget companies aren't exactly known for cranking out products with user friendly UIs, and navigation on the Cowon J3 is typically obtuse. It looks nice, right? It's a shame it makes no sense.

Sometimes you'll stumble on a nice list of album art or pictures (If you root around in Settings), but jumping around the different music tag categories while playing a song is baffling. For instance, it took us a good 15 minutes to figure out how to get back to the artist selection screen once you start playing a track. While it's not nearly as hard to find all the different equalizer settings, that still amounts to a navigation fail on Cowon's part.

The extras are mostly pointless too: an FM radio is welcome of course, but there's also a Flash player crippled by the need to preload FLV files, a memopad with an unresponsive on screen keyboard, and a game that involves you guiding the severed head of a chicken around the sky with your finger (No, really). Oh, and if you want to adjust the screen brightness to save battery life, you can do it from the homescreen, but only by prodding an unlabeled picture of a Mini Cooper (Again, really), so be glad we told you.

It's a pity that top notch media players still require you to trade in a user friendly UI for superb sonics in 2010. We'd rather have our cake and eat it, but if you prioritise the latter over everything else, the Cowon J3 is the best option on the market right now.

Cowon J3 review unit supplied by advancedmp3players.co.uk

Read the rest of our Cowon J3 review
Cowon J3 review
Cowon J3 review: Design, build and screen

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Cowon J3 review: Design, build and screen

Posted: 31 May 2010 01:44 AM PDT

The Cowon J3 caught our eye when it debuted earlier this year, courtesy of its glorious OLED display and audio quality credentials. Now we've got one in our hands, can we say it's lived up to the hype? Read this part of our Cowon J3 review to find out if that screen and case are up to scratch.

Read the rest of our Cowon J3 review
Cowon J3 review
Cowon J3 review: Music and video skills

The Cowon J3's shell is a double edged sword. In the flesh, it's far less attractive than we hoped. That's largely down to the cheap plastic casing which attracts fingerprints like tweens to Robert Pattinson, and made all the more bothersome by the beautiful brushed metal strip just below the screen. Why didn't Cowon just make the whole thing out of it? It's not like there's any radio reception for it to interfere with. The surprisingly wide bezel around the screen meanwhile leaves it looking more like a cheap Creative PMP from 2007 than a 2010 top of the line song slinger, and the plastic door that hides the USB port and microSD slot looks destined to snap in the near future.

These first impressions are allayed however as soon as you pick up the Cowon J3: it's almost as light as air. Though a similar size to the 107g iPod touch 3G, it weighs just 75g. It's a phenomenal design feat and a serious selling point for gym addicts who want a bit more storage than an iPod shuffle.

Turn the Cowon J3 on though and you'll see that the screen is the real centre piece of this media player. It's an OLED panel, a low power but more expensive technology than LCD, which can render colours deeper than a mineshaft, and will have you ogling to the point of rudeness.

At 480×272, the resolution of the Cowon J3's display can't match the latest smartphones, but few of them use the same tech, serving up the same vibrant colours. Like the similarly low resolution Sony Walkman X series from last year, it flings out beautiful images you won't be used to on dedicated media players. You can also pump these to a TV via a TV out cable with the Cowon J3: unfortunately, it's sold separately and we weren't able to test out this feature.

The touchscreen panel is responsive enough for sliding through track listings, and even has surprisingly efficient pinch to zoom gesture support for pictures, similar to the iPhone – though without a web browser on board you won't be using them much. It's also reasonably visible outside, a typical drawback of OLED, and in fact if there's a problem, it's the large amount of reflection off the glass, but that's the case indoors as well as out.

Just as impressive is the battery: Cowon claims it lasts for 64 hours playing music, and 11 for video, and that crowing certainly seems justified. We failed to make more than a smallest dint in its battery while testing for hours, so this isn't one PMP that'll fail you in the middle of a road trip – but then of course there's no option for Wi-Fi to suck down juice faster.

That's ultimately the decision to be made if you're buying a media player these days: it's no longer a questions of sound quality, but all around skill. With the advent of solutions like doubleTwist, automatic syncing of songs and media is no longer a unique feature of Apple's players (It works just fine with the Cowon J3). Instead, you've got a toss up between a beautiful screen, superb sound quality and the option for expandable memory, and internet and apps, apps, apps aplenty on the iPod touch. If you'd rather appreciate your lossless music on the move than play a racing game, the Cowon J3 will prove the sensible choice.

Cowon J3 review unit supplied by advancedmp3players.co.uk

Read the rest of our Cowon J3 review
Cowon J3 review
Cowon J3 review: Music and video skills

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