Saturday, 6 November 2010 - tech news fast! - tech news fast!

Kinect is not racist says Consumer Reports

Posted: 05 Nov 2010 09:02 AM PDT

Good news! Kinect isn't racist. At least, that's according to Consumer Reports which has countered suggestions that Kinect has difficulty recognising faces with dark skin tones. Consumer Reports says it tested Kinect with two testers (one light-skinned, one dark-skinned) in a well-lit room and all was fine. When the lighting was dimmed, both testers found it difficult to be recognised. So it seems that difficulties with logging in are down to the light level not some hidden racism lurking in the circuits of Kinect.

Want to know more about Kinect? Try our Kinect review and Kinect games review.

Out now | £129 | Microsoft (via Consumer Reports)

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Call of Duty: Black Ops arrives midnight at a Sainsbury’s near you

Posted: 05 Nov 2010 08:44 AM PDT

call of duty: black opsIf you’re itching to get your hands on Call of Duty: Black Ops as early as humanly possible, then you’ll be happy to hear that Sainsbury’s is opening the doors of 200 stores at midnight on Monday.

UPDATE: We’ve got a (very long) list of stores with early opening, so drop us a line in the comments and we’ll tell you whether your local Saino’s is opening early…

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Gurdeep Hunjan, Sainsbury's games buyer, said: "For the first time for a games release, we're opening 210 of our stores at midnight on Monday. We're anticipating queues and encourage people to get there early."

You heard it folks, get there early.

Will you be pulling an all nighter to get your hands on Call of Duty: Black Ops, or will you wait till morning? Drop us a line in the comments…

Colchester Ave
Lee Grn
East Grinstead
Tunbridge Wells
Streatham Common
West Grn
Sedlescombe Rd
New Cross Gate
North Cheam
West Hove
Purley Way
West Park Farm
Lyons Farm
Hampden Park
Rayleigh Weir
Haywards Heath
Cromwell Rd
Forest Hill
Warren Heath
Newbury Park
Low Hall
Coreys Mill
Tewkesbury Rd
Cameron Toll
Dome Roundabout
Ladbroke Grove
Fairfield Park
Finchley Rd
South Ruislip
Weedon Rd
Hedge End
St Clares
Bagshot Rd
Watchmoor Park
Emersons Grn
Water Lane
Pinhoe Rd
Kiln Lane
Marsh Mills
Hankridge Farm
Fosse Park
Ellesmere Port
Newcastle Under Lyme
Heaton Park
East Prescot Rd
East Filton
Castle Boulevard
Archer Rd
Red Bank Rd
Whitley Bay
East Kilbride
Bamber Bridge
Alphington Rd
Rice Lane
Berryden Rd
Hazel Grove
Ashton Moss
Team Valley
Lytham St Annes
Crystal Peaks
Castle Vale
Stoke on Trent
Wood Grn
Wickham High St
Upper Norwood
Newhaven Harbour
Milton Keynes
West Belfast
Andover North
Worcester St Johns
Gloucester Quays
Newport New

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Come play Kinect before launch!

Posted: 05 Nov 2010 08:33 AM PDT

Want to play Microsoft Kinect ahead of all your mates? We'll be holding a session early next week for a few lucky readers to try their hands at Microsoft's motion controller, long before punters queuing up will get theirs. Want to have a go? Read on for the details on our next Reader Inquisition!

On Tuesday 9 November between midday and 2pm, we'll be holding an event where readers can test out – no, play – Microsoft Kinect at a London West End location. If you want to try it out before release, all you have to do is email us at with your name and contact telephone number. We'll do our best to accommodate everyone we can, but places are limited, so hurry, and see you down there!

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Toshiba Folio 100: shipping without Flash

Posted: 05 Nov 2010 08:02 AM PDT

The Toshiba Folio 100 is available from this week, but (and it’s quite a big but) without Flash. We’ve been on the blower to Toshiba for an explanation, after one reader tipped us off that he’d bought a Toshiba Folio 100, only to find that there was no Flash.

Graeme Simons, Toshiba Business Manager for Northern Europe, said that people digging deep for a Toshiba Folio 100 would have to go to the Toshiba Marketplace to install Flash.

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But why? Simons said: “We didn’t want to delay the initial product, and wanted to get it out in time for Christmas. We couldn’t get Flash in in time…This quarter will be one big production run.” Flash will be come preloaded on to the Toshiba Folio 100 in the second production run, which will be at some point early next year, but until then, you’ll have to stump for the Flash-less version.

Simons also said that the packaging was labelled with the info that Flash was not pre-installed, but Tosh have not been open about it until now, and have advertised and pushed Flash 10.1 support on the Toshiba Folio 100 from the get go.

Have you bought a Toshiba Folio 100? How much of a hassle is it to install Flash 10.1? Drop us a line in the comments and let us know!

[Thanks Chris!]

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Microsoft maps tap into taxi driver smarts 

Posted: 05 Nov 2010 07:32 AM PDT

Microsoft maps could soon include that most ingenious of travel smarts – cabbie's knowledge. Microsoft researchers in Beijing are mining taxi driver smarts to create better driving directions. The researchers have analysed GPS data from 33,000 cabs in the city to find more efficient routes. "These factors are very subtle and difficult to incorporate into existing routing engines," says Yu Zheng of Microsoft Research Asia. If his research pays off, we could see Bing Maps with a built-in London cabbie algorithm…

Out TBC | £TBC | Microsoft (via MIT Technology Review)

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Google locking Facebook out of Gmail

Posted: 05 Nov 2010 07:02 AM PDT

Google has fired another shot in the Google/Facebook war. Mark Zuckerberg slammed Google over the Facebook Android app earlier this week, now Google is making moves to block Facebook from accessing its Google Contacts API – that's Gmail out of bounds for Facebook…

Google has tweaked the Terms of Service for its Contacts API. Now, sites that use it will need to offer access to their data to Google too. Facebook doesn't do that, so it looks like the ability to bring Google Contacts into Facebook is about to go the way of the dodo.

Facebook has never allowed users to export their contact information. They launched a Facebook data download feature recently but that only gives you a list of contact names, there's no contact information there.
The Google/Facebook war is getting bitter and the users will be the ones that lose out.

Out now | £free | Google/Facebook (via Techcrunch)

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Apple dead pixel policy leaked: zero tolerance on iPhone and iPod fails

Posted: 05 Nov 2010 06:32 AM PDT

The day the screen on any device goes squiffy is not a happy one. But a chart that’s leaked from Apple shows the quota of pooped pixels the screen on an Apple device can have before it needs to be repaired or replaced. The good news: if the screen 3.5″ or under then even one measly pixel fail will be repaired or replaced, which means that you can rest assured that should your iPhone or iPod go a tad 8-bit, Apple will weigh in, no questions asked. If you’ve got a top end 22″ to 30″ screen, then you’ll have to put up with 16 or more dead pixels before Apple will repair or replace your device. Click through for the chart…

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Take note Apple fanboys, BGR also reports that “Apple's policy allows Mac Geniuses to offer exchange services even if pixel anomalies are within acceptable ranges. If the customer receives a replacement product with even more anomalies, but it is still within the acceptable range, further exchanges are not permitted.”

Are those with bigger and more expensive screens getting the bad end of the deal here? Drop us a line and let us know!

[via BGR]

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LG Optimus 7 review

Posted: 05 Nov 2010 06:15 AM PDT

Windows Phone 7 smartphones like the LG Optimus 7 are hard to tell apart. The differences are in media tweaks like extra camera capabilities and the design and build. At a glance, the LG Optimus 7 doesn’t have many in the way of stand out features: no ramped up hardware, for instance. Can it still stand out? Read on through for our full LG Optimus 7 review and find out.


The physical buttons along the bottom make a refreshing, tactile change for Windows Phone 7 handsets

All Windows Phone 7 devices look remarkably similar, but the minor details that set the LG Optimus 7 aside are the buttons. The three dedicated hardware buttons are full clickable buttons, which gives a nice physicality to the phone that rivals lack. The Windows Phone 7 home screen button is set in relief for the rest of the device too, which is a nice touch, and good for orientation when faffing around with your phone whilst legging it to the bus stop.

Windows Phone 7

The main selling point of Windows Phone 7 is the "glance and go" aspect, supposedly brought by the Windows Phone 7 live tiles. After having some dedicated time with the LG Optimus 7 Windows Phone 7, we can assure you that there is no more glancing than with any other operating system. Its strength lies in the syncing and integration.

But first, the tiles. The live information conveyed by the live tiles is disappointingly barely more than with an Android or iPhone. The messaging tile does not display any text from a message, or the sender but flags up when you have a new message. The only bit of extra information it gives is a sad face when a message has failed to send. Pin a person to your home screen and you aren't told when they update, there's just some dinky animations, as there is with the Xbox tile. The Twitter app is not a live tile.

Check out the best Windows Phone 7 games now!

The People hub brings together your contacts book, Facebook contacts and email contacts, and syncing simply involves entering account information, and the LG Optimus 7 pulls it all together quickly and easily. Text messages go into a different hub though, into threaded conversations.

Live tiles really aren't as live as Microsoft claims they are

The lack of glance and go is exacerbated by the choice of font sizes and lack of customisaiton. It's more squint than glance. For example, the text on the people hub, in a very pleasing font it might be, is all wrongly sized. The People title is massive, and the name of the person is slightly smaller, with the actual update, in a font equivalent to a font size 9 or smaller.

On top of this, it's not in black or white (depending on whether you're in a light theme or dark theme), it's in a slightly softer grey, making it even more difficult to read. You’re generally more bothered about seeing what's been said than who has said it. Think about it: you never say "Dave updated his status", you say "Dave said let’s meet in the pub later". On the other hand, the People hub is very easy, quick and simple to sync with your accounts, although it lacks the crucial Twitter integration, which is available as a slightly unsatisfactory separate free app in the marketplace.

On the plus side, the LG Optimus 7 does posses a bespoke media streaming app, Play To, for DLNA juggling of video, music and whatnot. That’s more than any other Windows Phone 7 handset sports right now, but we can’t say it’s a truly killer feature when you can do the same quite happily with an iPhone or Android handset already.

Camera and Video

The LG Optimus 7 has, like many other Windows Phone 7 smartphones, a five megapixel camera, as dictated by the Microsoft minimum hardware requirements, and 720p HD video support. However, the LG is a lesson in how megapixel count as a standalone spec, means practically nothing. The autofocus is terrible, and the colours are washed out and grey, with the flash next to useless. The video quality is poor, and is not sharp or bright. As smartphone cameras go, this is pretty poor, and the video also lacks sharing features, so you can’t post a video to YouTube, or send it via email (although you can with photos). Watch us make some tea in washy colours below:


The Windows Phone 7 UI is very good looking, although the transitional flourishes that make it look so good are also a bit of an imposition on the performance of the LG Optimus 7. Clicking to the lock screen when in an app, and clicking back in is slow, with a couple of seconds wait for the app to resume.

The main bugbear with Windows Phone 7 is the lack of customisability with the size of tiles and fonts. This wouldn’t be a problem if things weren't so inappropriately sized. The live tiles are too big, meaning that if you had say, 20 apps (not a large number for those with Android smartphones or iPhones), there'd be a long clunky list to scroll down, and if you pinned them all to your home screen, your home screen would end up as long as your arm. We downloaded five apps, and already had almost three full screens worth of tiles to scroll through.

However, despite all this the battery lasted a good day and a half of average usage, and could stretch to two days so long as you’re not using the LG Optimus 7 too intensively.


The LG Optimus 7 fails to stand out

In the context of LG phones the LG Optimus 7 is a good LG smartphone, simply because the restrictions of Windows Phone 7 stop LG from making the terrible UI mistakes it so often inflicts on its customers. Windows Phone 7 does offer a new sort of operating system, with menus laid out differently, although it does not give you that claimed glance and go experience, and because of the transitions make Windows Phone 7 slower by at least half a second at doing everything. It is definitely a good looking operating system, and the LG Optimus 7 feels lovely to hold, and the clickable buttons are a boon. But the camera is pitiful in even slightly lowlight, and the video appears to crank down the lighting in whatever you're filming. Compared to a delicious HTC HD7 or Samsung Omnia 7, or the cheap and cheery HTC 7 Trophy we wouldn’t look twice at this, unless you really need its media streaming skills.

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Lunchtime Lowdown: Samsung Galaxy S Froyo update, new EA games galore and UK Facebook deals

Posted: 05 Nov 2010 05:27 AM PDT

We’re just hours away from the weekend kicking in, so to help you make it through for the last push, we’ve got a energy stuffed meal of all the latest gadget news for you right here. Read on for everything that’s happened so far today in the lunchtime lowdown!

First up, that long awaited Samsung Galaxy S Froyo update is finally beginning to roll out in the UK. If you’ve got our number one best Android phone, so go see for yourself if you’ve got it.

In gaming meanwhile, we got hands on with a bunch of upcoming games, including Crysis 2 and Dead Space 2 multiplayer, The Sims Medieval, and a new Kinect game, EA Sports Active 2.

Finally, intrigued by Facebook deals on mobile rolling out in the US? They could be making their way over to our fair shores soon.

Still want more news? Roll on through to the homepage and help yourself to it all as it breaks!

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Is Steve Jobs more powerful than Mark Zuckerberg?

Posted: 05 Nov 2010 05:01 AM PDT

Forbes has published its list of the most powerful people in the world today, and the podfather Steve Jobs, squints down on Mark Zuckerberg, who is a full 23 slots behind him. Jobs slips in at #17, after Obama, Bill Gates, Cameron and the Pope, and Zuckerberg sits at #40. But should Zuckerberg be so far behind Jobs? Zuckerberg surely has more of our data at his fingertips. What do you think? Click and tell…

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