Thursday, 3 June 2010 - tech news fast! - tech news fast!

Windows Live Essentials overhaul: free iLife for PCs!

Posted: 02 Jun 2010 09:00 PM PDT

Windows Live Essentials, Microsoft’s suite of free media software, is set to get a serious dose of steroids. Windows Live Photo Gallery is about to get photo recognition, Movie Maker is going HD and a brand new feature, Sync, will let you access your desktop from a browser: it’s shaping up to be iLife for PCs mixed with iDisk, licence and subscription free! Read on for all the details, and to find out when they hit.

While we liked the changes Microsoft announced for Hotmail recently, we feared they might be too little too late. The newly revealed updates for Windows Live Essentials however could just keep you from picking up an expensive software suite – or even a home server.

First up, Windows Live Essentials’s Photo Gallery is set to get some handy updates. As well as the option to upload snaps to Facebook, YouTube and Flickr (or more with a plugin being made available for developers), facial recognition, as seen in iPhoto 09, makes an appearance, tagging all the photos with someone in for you. We haven’t tested it to see how accurate it is yet, but we can’t complain when the option is free.

Also debuting in the Windows Live Essentials update is an option called “Photo Fuse”, which tries to merge shots for the best results, letting you pick the best grin on each mug and blend them. Serious photographers might frown upon such forgery, but for people who take quick group shots with a compact camera, it could prove useful indeed.

Hotmail revamp takes on Gmail

Movie Maker also gets a facelift, with HD video support and the option to upload clips straight to Facebook, YouTube, Flickr or SkyDrive, but by far the most exciting new feature in Windows Live Essentials is a tool called Windows Live Sync.

Windows Live Sync lets you share and sync folders on one PC with others, with cloud storage included – and it works with both PCs and Leopard or Snow Leopard Macs, so you can keep files in tune across your home network.

Install Windows Live Sync on a PC though and you’ll be able to access that computer from afar from a Windows PC on Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari. You won’t just get access to its folders however, but be able to view the actual desktop in the browser windows.

The technology is nothing new of course, but serving this up to the mass market in a free and easy way certainly is, and we’re hopeful Microsoft can crack this: there are plenty of people out there who’d love to access folders on their home computer at work, but think Dropbox is a euphemism for something unpleasant.

The new Windows Live Essentials goes into public beta this Summer, so you’ll be able to test it all out for free soon.

Out TBC | £free | Windows Live Essentials

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Microsoft hits back at Google Windows ban

Posted: 02 Jun 2010 08:03 AM PDT

Microsoft has got wind of the rumoured Google Windows ban and, unsurprisingly, it's not impressed. Microsoft PR bods have hit Twitter and the company’s official blogs to attack the claims and trumpet Windows security. Are they right to go for Google or are they just protesting too much?

The whispers from within Google yesterday suggested that Windows was on the way out as a direct result of the attack on the search engine by Chinese hackers back in January.

Brilliantly-named Microsoft spokesman Brandon LeBlanc took to the official Windows blog to tell Google it has got it all wrong: "When it comes to security, even hackers admit we're doing a better job making our products more secure than anyone else."

There are certainly some examples for Microsoft to fall back on: in February, Aaron Portnoy of hacking contest Pwn2Own claimed Windows 7 security was better then OS X while in March, security researchers claimed to have found 20 Mac OS security holes unplugged.

That could suggest that Google offering a choice between Macs running OS X and PCs packing Linux isn't just about security. But as the most used OS out there Windows does also get the majority of viruses, malware and  other nasties pointed at it. What's more an Internet Explorer 6 security flaw was apparently the route used in the Google China hack.

While Microsoft was very mature when criticising Google on its blogs, Frank Shaw, its vice-president of corporate communications, was a little cheekier on his personal Twitter account (@fxshaw) He called the original FT report on Google ditching Windows "bad reporting" and fired off a series of parody headlines including "News Flash: Google boards up all windows in global HQ citing security concerns".

Let us know: do you think Google is right to ditch Windows? Has Microsoft been unfairly slighted when it comes to Windows security? Apple fans and PC lovers, scrap it out in the comments.

Out now | £free | Microsoft

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Sonos Zoneplayer S5 back in black

Posted: 02 Jun 2010 07:15 AM PDT

The Sonos Zoneplayer S5 picked up an impressive 4 stars in our Sonos Zoneplayer S5 review but we were sure that something was missing. Now we know! If the Stormtrooper white of the original Sonos Zoneplayer S5 was a little too bright for you, it's now available in black. Read on to remind yourself of the tech residing beneath the newly darkened shell…

The Sonos Zoneplayer S5 in black is exactly the same as the previous white-clad version so you'll be able to use it to stream music over Wi-Fi from your PC or network attached storage. It also has an analog input for plugging your iPod or other MP3 players in the back and a built-in 5-driver speaker system so there’s no need to hook it up to a sound system.

You can also still control the Sonos Zoneplayer S5 black version with the free Sonos iPhone app on your iPhone or iPod Touch (as well as the more pricey but ultra-cool Sonos CR-200 remote) and access streaming music services from, Deezer and Napster.

Sonos says its clad the Sonos S5 Zoneplayer in black to give customers more options but surely that would need a whole range of colours to choose from. Anyone for a Sonos S5 Zoneplayer in racing green?

Out now | £349 | Sonos

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Sharp Quattron 3D range UK release revealed

Posted: 02 Jun 2010 06:55 AM PDT

The Sharp Quattron 3D TVs and  3D Blu-ray boxes which we enviously noted were arriving in Japan in July are coming our way too. Sharp said this morning that the Sharp Quattron 3D range was set for "a global launch" but we've now got news on the UK release date and when we'll see them shown off in Europe. Head on through for the official word…

Our friends at Sharp UK say: "Sharp's 3D Quattron range will be presented in early September at IFA 2010 and will be available in the UK towards the end of the year."

That's a wee while to wait but we've got the Sony Bravia HX803 3D TV and Samsung 3D TVs on sale to satiate our 3D cravings in the meantime.

If you want to get an idea of what to expect from the Sharp Quattron 3D range, try our Sharp Aquos: Quattron TV review for the skinny on the tech currently on British shelves.

And let us know: are you planning on picking up a 3D TV? In fact, have you already taken the plunge?

Out late 2010 | £TBC | Sharp

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Samsung NX5: affordable Micro Four Thirds fighter incoming

Posted: 02 Jun 2010 06:21 AM PDT

The Samsung NX5, a little brother for the Samsung NX10, has just been delivered. If you were ogling the Samsung NX10's Micro Four Thirds fighting frame but weren't so sold on the price, that's really good news. The Samsung NX5 is a similarly slimmed down snapper and should be set for a similarly cut down price. Read on for all the details on the latest dainty DSLR defeater…

Just like the Samsung NX10, the Samsung NX5 comes packing a large 14.6MP sensor and support for the same range of NX interchangeable lenses. But to cut down on the cost, the Samsung NX5 has lost the expensive AMOLED display and stuck a 3in LCD in its place.

Though the Samsung NX5 is currently pegged with a €699 (£582) launch price, that's bound to tumble pretty quickly as currently has the Samsung NX10 up for £479.

Let us know what you make of the Samsung NX5. Would you pick it over the Olympus PEN or the upcoming Sony NEX 5? Snappers, we need your answers below!

Out late-June | €699 | Samsung (via Engadget)

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Google Chrome OS arriving autumn

Posted: 02 Jun 2010 05:42 AM PDT

The Google Chrome OS will finally arrive sometime in the autumn, over a year after it was first announced in July 2009. The head of the Google Chrome OS project has been spilling the beans on what we can expect at the ongoing computing carnival that is Computex.

Google's Sundar Pichai says the Google Chrome OS will finally be with us in "late fall" which probably translates to sometime in October. While we've heard a lot of talk about Chrome OS tablets, Google says we'll get Chrome OS netbooks first.

Pichai says: "We will be selective on how we come to market because we want to deliver a great user experience. We're thinking on both the hardware and software levels." Could Google even deliver its own netbooks as a Chrome OS equivalent of the Nexus One?

Rumours of an imminently arriving Acer Chrome OS netbook were scotched by the company a few weeks back. But now the search giant has confirmed that Chrome OS won't be with us for a few months yet, we may well see Acer getting back to the project.

Though we're promised Chrome OS netbooks first, Google still has tablet plans for the stripped-down system. It showed us a Chrome OS tablet concept back in February. And though Asus recently revealed the Windows 7-loving Asus Eee Pad, it’s said previously that Chrome OS is on its road map.

Let us know: do you think you'd be able to switch to a Chrome OS machine reliant on web apps? Or do you think Google's OS will just be a niche option?

Due Autumn | £free | Google

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Portal 2 E3 launch cancelled for a surprise: Half Life 3 incoming?

Posted: 02 Jun 2010 05:12 AM PDT

Portal 2 has had its E3 launch cancelled. Normally that would mean the game was delayed but this is Valve we're talking about and they've released a cryptic press release promising a surprise in place of the planned press conference. Could Portal 2 be joined by Half Life 3?

In the run up to Steam for Mac launching, clues started to pop up that we thought hinted at the arrival of Half Life 3. They turned out to be about Portal 2 but rumours of the third installment of Half Life have been rattling around ever since. Now Valve has put out a mischievous memo.

The message is from Aperture Science, the organisation prominently feature in both Portal and Half Life: "Aperture Science is pleased to inform you that we have partnered with Valve to announce the gala CANCELLATION of the June 14 Portal 2 event…the event will be replaced by a surprise."

The new Portal ending that popped up a few months back certainly implied that there would be a bigger crossover between the world of Portal and Half Life on the way. We'd put money on Half Life 3 popping up as the first Portal arrived as a Half Life 2 spin-off.

But do you think different? Is Valve preparing to hit us with the long awaited Half Life 3 or could it be something else entirely? Hit us with your speculation in the comments.

Due June 14 | £TBC | Valve

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Steve Jobs says Apple TV will remain a hobby, we don’t think so

Posted: 02 Jun 2010 05:00 AM PDT

Steve Jobs may not have given us any more clues about iPhone 4.0, other than revealing his side of the story on the iPhone 4.0 leak, but his early morning All Things D interview did throw some light on the future of Apple TV and what he thinks of Google TV. Clue: not much. But while it seems like the Apple supremo is pouring cold water on the idea of super-charging Apple TV, is it just another one of his now infamous sleights of hand?

We predicted yesterday that Steve Jobs would damn Google TV and so he did. He said the problem is that operators like Sky and Virgin Media give out heavily subsidised set top boxes. He says: "Give everybody a set top box for free or for $10 a month and that pretty much squashes any opportunity for innovation."

He then listed projects that face the problem: "Ask Tivo, ask Replay TV, ask Roku, ask Vudu, ask us, ask Google in a few months." Looks like that Google TV Sony Internet Box that bounced into view won't be making it into the Jobs living room any time soon.

But while Steve Jobs pooh-poohed the idea of Google TV, we can't help but read between the lines. As we recalled yesterday, he told the All Things D audience in 2003: "There are no plans to make a tablet. It turns out people want keyboards…we look at the tablet and we think it is going to fail."

Now Steve Jobs says: "I'm sure smarter people than us will figure this out, but that's why we say Apple TV is a hobby." Somehow we just don't believe him, particularly that part about "smarter people".

After denying that Apple was working on the iPhone, then claiming that it wasn't developing the iPad, suggesting that TV just doesn't interest him would complete the most recent Steve Jobs trifecta of misdirection.

He made it very clear in the same interview that Apple is going for Google and it's seriously unlikely that he'll let the search giant's upcoming foothold in our living rooms go unchallenged.

The rumours of an updated Apple TV running the iPhone OS ring true and Apple should go even further putting its tech into a fully-fledged TV set to give the Internet-enabled sets from manufacturers like Sony and Toshiba a real run for their money.

Let us know: do you think Steve Jobs is pulling a fast one when he says Apple TV will remain a hobby? Or will we see Apple delivering an uppercut to Google TV and friends in the very near future?

Due TBC | £TBC | Apple ?

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Lunchtime Lowdown: Steve Jobs talks iPhone leaks, Sharp outs 3D TVs

Posted: 02 Jun 2010 04:30 AM PDT

We’re bang on midway through the working week, so it’s time to take a quick breather and catch up with everything you missed this morning in our rapid fire news round up. 3D TVs? Check. Steve Jobs talking shop? Check. Read on for that and plenty more besides.

First up, Steve Jobs made a rare and frank public appearance, talking in an interview at length about that new iPhone leak, Apple TV and more, and we’ve got all the juicy quotes right here. Be sure to check his thoughts on Flash and Google too, then bounce on over to our iPad 3G UK review. Is it the slate to go for?

Over on the Android front meanwhile, we looked at all the feats you can pull off fast with the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Google phone, so be sure to check out our guides.

Finally, in home entertainment, Sharp served up its first line of 3D slimline Quattron TVs, and they could be coming to the UK. We also took a look at how to stream internet video to your TV using Q-waves‘ smart streaming tech. Find out more about Q-waves.

Still want more news? You know where to find it: over on the homepage, ASAP!

Watch us take Ovi Maps free satnav for a spin…

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Motorola Flipout official: square Android 2.1 phone incoming

Posted: 02 Jun 2010 03:10 AM PDT

The Motorola Flipout, a square Android 2.1 phone that looks like it could be Moto's answer to the Microsoft Kin, has just trundled into view after being rumoured for a good while. It's packing an enhanced version of the Motoblur UI showcased on the Motorola Milestone but what other specs are secreted within the odd-looking square frame?

Swing the Motorola Flipout's 2.8in multitouch QVGA TFT screen  to one side and you're greeted with a full QWERTY keyboard. It's also hiding a 3MP camera with digital zoom at the back, 512MB internal storage inside (with a 2GB microSD card supplied), GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth.

It's not going to sway you away from more heavy-duty Android phones like the HTC Desire or compete with the Motorola Milestone (or the rumoured Motorola Shadow follow up) but the Motorola Flipout looks like a pretty solid device that could take on affordable Android options like the HTC Wildfire.

The social media smarts of the Motorola Flipout are its big selling point. The perked up version of Motoblur UI now allows you to filter messages in your social media feeds so you're not stuck reading updates from annoying friends and there's seven home screens to fill with widgets.

The Motorola Flipout also includes a new Battery Manager feature so you can manage your phone's power demands and a Data Manager which will be pretty handy for folk who tend to accidentally rack up huge bills.

We don't have an exact date for the Motorola Flipout's arrival in the UK yet but it's due sometime this summer on Orange. Let us know what you think of the Motorola Flipout and its square stylings. Is it hip or…um…square?

Out Summer | £TBC | Motorola

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