Wednesday, 24 November 2010 - tech news fast! - tech news fast!

US Update: LG 240Hz, Nokia Aura, E7, Unreal Engine

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 07:00 PM PST

lg 240hz nokia aura nokia e7 unreal engineYou want your morning dose of tech news and we've got it. Piping hot and fresh from across the pond it's that time again for your morning US Update.

Breaking cover this fine morning was an announcement by LG that they plan to mass produce a 23-inch 240Hz IPS LCD which looks to redefine computer gaming. Hot on the heels of our last MeeGo concept is the new and improved Nokia Aura. Could this be the future of MeeGo mobiles?

Over in Germany a group of Google fans has decided to take their hatred towards blurry buildings in Street View to new heights. The group has reportedly begun throwing eggs and leaving "Google is cool" signs at homes and businesses. Android gaming looks for a complete overhaul as the Unreal Engine is scheduled to debut in December with the launch of Dungeon Defenders.

Last up we've spotted the Nokia E7 up for pre-order over at Expansys. The price is a bit high for our liking, but the release date indicates we might not see the next Symbian flagship until 2011.

That wraps up things this fine morning from the states. Thanks for spending your morning with us as we break the headlines fresh off the press from our side of the world. Until tomorrow, this is Nick saying over and out.

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Nokia E7 pre-order: now available but pricey

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 06:00 PM PST

pre-orders for the nokia e7 are currently available at expansysMark your calendars, the Nokia E7 is set to release on January 10 with pre-orders starting today over at Expansys. At launch the Nokia E7 will be the most expensive Symbian device on the market — are you ready to pony up the bill?

Priced at £584.99 on pre-order, the Nokia E7 is poised to be the company's Symbian flagship with a tough-to-stomach price tag. The device is arguably the N8 minus the camera, but adds a sleek QWERTY keyboard and larger screen to the mix.

At this point it remains to be seen if Nokia's announcement that the E7 would ship on December 10 holds true. What we do know for certain is that the device will cost nothing short of an arm and a leg and that Expansys will not receive their units until January. So what's it going to be my Symbian confidants — pre-order today or hold tight and see if the price drops?

via Unwired View | Expansys

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Unreal Engine coming to Android smartphones

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 05:00 PM PST

unreal engine coming to android smartphonesSince the Unreal Engine was developed by Epic Games in 1998 we've seen a plethora of top video games titles, now those games could be headed to our Android smartphones. Will the Unreal Engine take Android gaming to new heights and possibly overtake the mobile gaming reigns from iOS?

Whether you've played Unreal Tournament, Gears of War, Medal of Honor or Mass Effect, you've undoubtedly had your fair share of game time using the Unreal Engine. This engine has been at the core of some of the world's top video games released over the past 12 years. The biggest hurdle for Android apps has been gaming, but that may all change when the Unreal Engine comes to the platform.

According to an announcement from Trendy Entertainment, Dungeon Defenders is "coming to all iOS devices 3GS & up, and most OpenGL ES 2.0 capable Android devices, and with cross-compatible characters has essentially all the same features as the console version". Right off the bat this tells us that the Samsung Galaxy S line, Droid 2, Droid X and most HTC devices with Snapdragon processors will be sitting pretty come release time.

dungeon defenders unreal engine

Powered by the Unreal Engine, Dungeon Defenders will be the first Android game to tap into the power of the engine and judging by the trailer it could be the single most exciting gaming announcement for Android this year. According to the developers, Dungeon Defenders: First Wave will be released in December for iOS, Android, PC, Xbox and Playstation.

Now that the Unreal Engine is coming to Android smartphones, what games would you like to see ported to the mobile OS first? Let us know your top picks using the Unreal Engine that you'd like to see come to your Android phones.

via Dungeon Defenders | YouTube

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Google Street View Germany: blur and be egged

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 04:00 PM PST

google street view germanyThe next time three percent of Germans request that their buildings be made fuzzy in Google's Street View they might want to think twice. Reports that Google fans are pelting some of the blurred-out homes with eggs are coming in from across the web. Eggs now, what's next?

We love Google services like the rest of you, but that passion has caused a group of misguided individuals to take their allegiance to new heights. In the Bergerhausen district of Essen, this group of Google supporters has decided to egg-bomb some of the blurred-out houses on Google Street view. The group did not stop with eggs, apparently they've even taped signs on the homes that reads, "Google is cool".

Spreading your message is one thing, but choosing to opt out of Google Street View does not warrant these outrageous repercussions. If the first step was to egg-bomb homes and tape up signs, one can only imagine what the next step might be for the group's half-witted behavior.

For the record, Google itself has has expressed its disapproval for the group's actions. Even more interesting is that Google's Munich office is one of the buildings in Germany that opted to have its building blurred out. One can only wonder if this group of mischievous supporters managed to uncover that tidbit of knowledge prior to launching their chicken projectiles.

Now that the word is out to take cover if you've blurred your home or business in Germany, will anyone else think twice before opting out of Google Street View? I'm not exactly sure that the risk of eggs would affect my decision, but at this point I wouldn't be shocked if the group of misfits raise the bar very soon. Let us know your plans for Google Street View — to blur or not to blur, that is the question.

via Cnet

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Nokia Aura concept phone: the future of Meego

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 03:00 PM PST

Nokia Aura concept phone: Meego meets the futureThe future of the MeeGo platform may lie in the success of this Nokia Aura concept phone. The latest MeeGo concept phone, the Nokia Aura, brings together a 4-inch touchscreen display in a sleek and sexy package with all the bells and whistles we've come to expect from a flagship Nokia smartphone. Is this the Nokia you're looking for?

Let's cut to the chase. Nokia's MeeGo platform is off to a shaky start, but ultimately the success of a software platform in today's market depends on top-notch hardware paired with a platform that boasts hoards of developers. While the second requirement remains to be seen, this Nokia Aura MeeGo concept phone delivers on the promise of top-notch hardware.

Tucked away in this sexy concept is a 4-inch touchscreen display with a 12-megapixel camera, Xenon flash and HDMI output. Cased in a full aluminum body with dedicated volume, keylock and camera buttons, the Nokia Aura looks to be a beefed up Nokia N8 at first glance.

meego concept phone nokia aura

Upon further inspection you can see the device's profile is convex on both sides, something rare in today's smartphone market. A microSD card slot, micro USB connector and a 3.5 mm audio jack round out the feature set. At the end of the day we can't help but think the Nokia Aura is one of the best concept designs in recent memory.

Even more important is that this MeeGo concept is actually a piece of hardware we could see Nokia produce in the short term. For the rest of you MeeGo hopefuls out there (us included) let us know what you think of the latest concept and whether or not you'd replace your current N8 with the Nokia Aura. That is, of course, if Nokia decides to produce it, right?

via Concept Phones

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LG 23 inch 240Hz IPS LCD redefines computer gaming

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 02:00 PM PST

LG 23 inch 240Hz IPS LCD redefines computer gamingRefresh rates of 240 frames per second are nothing new, but bringing that technology to LG's 23-inch IPS LCD is ground breaking. LG has announced plans to mass produce a 23-inch 240Hz IPS LCD monitor that looks poised to redefine the computer gaming experience. Is this the future of computer gaming?

The quest to take traditional 60Hz broadcast signals and improve motion picture response time (MPRT) with fresh rates of 120Hz or 240Hz began well over a year ago. Currently the technology has almost entirely been applied to LCD panels for high-end TVs that are 40-inches or larger. The LG 240Hz IPS LCD will mark the first time the technology has been applied to a 23-inch product under mass production.

When it comes to gaming and video, the key to reducing motion blur lies in refresh rate. At 240Hz there is a significant reduction in motion blur which in turn leads to less eye strain and ultimately more life-like images. For computer gaming, die hard gamers have been slow to adopt LCD panels due to "ghosting" so many still favor their CRT displays.

LG 23 inch 240Hz IPS LCD redefines computer gaming

LG's jump to a 23-inch 240Hz IPS LCD will eliminate the CRT advantage while at the same time provide far better viewing angles thanks to IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology. The combination of 240Hz and an IPS panel is a killer combo, a combo that will redefine the benchmark for computer monitors and small TVs.

Whether you are looking to use the LG 23-inch 240Hz IPS LCD as your next gaming monitor or simply wanting a second TV, 240 frames per second is a welcomed addition. For those of you hardcore gamers out there sitting pretty with your classic CRT monitors let us know if the 240Hz IPS display has you itching to switch.

Coming Soon | via OLED Displays

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Advent Vega unboxed: photos and video!

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 10:39 AM PST

We brought you the first Advent Vega unboxing courtesy of a reader yesterday, and now we’ve got our own to give you the full review treatment. You’ve been clamouring for this high spec, super cheap Google slate, so you tell us: what do you want to know about it? Read on, see the unboxing, and tell us!

We’ve run down what the Advent Vega is like to use in our Advent Vega review: First look, and we’ll be letting you know if the company has delivered in our full review in just a few days. In the meantime, here it is coming out of its packaging, which comes with a headscratching diagram of the tablet, and the warning in inverted commas that the “Image is for illustration purpose only”.

Still, the Advent Vega is the main attraction here, and we like what we’re seeing so far. It’s surprisingly light, and the physical screen orientation lock by the power button is a relief, after we mourned the loss of it on the iPad with this week’s iOS 4.2 update.

Can it cope running Android 2.2 without any of Google’s core apps though, like Mail and the Market? Read our full Advent Vega review, coming soon, for the answers, and help shape it by jotting down what you need to know about it in the comments below!

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Teatime Tech: Boxee Box review, iOS 4.2 jailbreak and your chance to play Gran Turismo 5 in 3D

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 09:52 AM PST

It’s going home time, but before you do, stick around for one more minute, as we’ve got all the latest tech news rounded up for you right here – get all the gossip in mere seconds in Teatime Tech!

First up, you’ll want to check out our Boxee Box review. The long awaited media streamer has finally arrived, and it’s stomped all over the new Apple TV. Click here for more.

In mobile meanwhile, iOS 4.2 may only be a day old, but it’s already been jailbrokenbut will you be carrying out the precarious process?

Finally, it’s hard to believe, but Gran Turismo 5 is genuinely nearly here. It’s out this weekend, and you can try it for yourself in 3D – here’s how.

Still hungry for more news? Head on over to our homepage, updated around the clock!

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Boxee Box review

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 09:26 AM PST

The Boxee Box first snared our interest at CES in January. Almost a year has passed since then, and yet it's held our fickle affections remarkably well. That's partly down to its odd design, but mostly due to the chipper folks at Boxee itself.

Begun as a media centre-style app for desktop PCs and Macs, Boxee gained notoriety as an Apple TV hack, finally making Apple's set top companion able to play files beyond the reach of iTunes. Now, it's at home inside a box of its own, how does it measure up? Read our full Boxee Box review and we'll spill the beans.

It's not exactly subtle, but we like it

The Boxee Box is beautiful. Not in a classic way, and certainly not in an Apple way. This isn't a minimalist shell with selective ports stuffed in its rear. It's awkward angled shape is actually a bit of a pain. It won't stack with other A/V kit. It won't be neatly tucked into a standard square TV unit's shelves. And then there's the softly glowing green logo. The Boxee Box is designed to be seen, but not gawped at.

We parked it next to our TV in pride of place. Everyone who spotted it was interested in its weird design, and wanting to know why it looked do different. "Because it is different" we explained, and we weren't lying.

Web TV done right

The Boxee Box is more than a media streamer. If you've read our Boxee Box review roundup you'll know it can suck music, photos and movies from shared libraries on your network, and it'll swallow pretty much any codec you can throw at it (except RealMedia files, it hates those). But while most reviews fixate on the Boxee Box as a set-top box for files at home (which it does exceptionally well), they're missing the point.

Local playback plays almost second fiddle to the IPTV offering on the Boxee Box

The Boxee Box is the first TV companion to really bring the web to your TV. Fire it up, and it'll show a list of TV shows that're available online. There's no fuss, no bother, and no hint of the hard work that's going on behind the scenes to bring that list to your eyeballs.

It's immediately filled with high profile shows: The IT Crowd, Black Books, The Mentalist. This isn't “Web TV” but rather proper TV delivered via the web. Boxee scours the likes of 4OD and Demand Five, bringing the broadcasters' online streams to your decidedly offline TV. In the case of 4OD, the video content actually comes in a YouTube wrapper, complete with adverts inserted into it.

It's a system that works well, but not flawlessly thanks mostly to the specter of Adobe Flash hanging over most content providers' feeds.

Flash flaws

By heading online to pluck video from major TV stations, the Boxee Box has tied itself inextricably to Flash, but it's an unhappy marriage. Whereas the Boxee Box's menus and interface are slick, simple and designed for the big screen, the moment a Flash video is called up, you're faced with the same interface as your PC. It's tiny on the TV screen, and almost unusable.

Desktop YouTube is not easy to control from your sofa

Boxee has attempted to counter problematic flash interfaces with its own controls. They work well, with overlaid play and pause buttons, as well as volume controls and the ability to skip backward and foward through videos. However, all too often they break down. Flash video just doesn't like to be manhandled, and often we were left with a frozen video which needed to be completely re-started in order to continue.

Instead of a true lean-back web TV experience, what you're left with is a lean-forward shaking a fist at the TV experience, and regardless of whose fault the bugs are, whether laid at the door of Adobe or Boxee, the irksome result is the same.

Flash video, even churned by the respectable D-Link hardware inside the Boxee Box is a repetitive headache. Not only is there a risk that TV streams will stall mid-programme, as happened numerous times during our test, but depending on the TV you set up the Boxee Box with, you might experience display problems to boot.

We tried the Boxee Box with a 46 inch JVC TV and it automatically detected it as a 1080i screen, displaying everything beautifully… except Flash video. We could hear sound, but couldn't coax a picture out of it. Eventually, we fixed our Flash-related problem by lowering the Boxee Box's resolution to 720p, but it took us an hour or so of head-scratching beforehand.

Your eyes do not deceive - 4OD on your TV

When tested with a 32 inch Sony Bravia however, everything went swimmingly at full HD resolutions. We can only assume there's some wonkiness between the D-Link hardware and Boxee Box's Flash output.

When it works, Boxee's web-scouring software is simply wonderful, but wonky Flash implementation means it's sometimes a hit and miss afair.

Add your own sources

As well as offering local playback and a host of TV shows the Boxee Box has found on the web there's the option to add 'apps' or your own content feeds. It's a neat addition, although calling the mini programs hosted by the Boxee Box 'apps' is a little misleading.

Calling them "apps" is cashing in on a buzz word, but the options are certainly welcome

More accurate would be to call them “content areas” although we're the first to admit that's not as catchy. They're neatly coded to avoid looking like web pages, and designed to work with a remote control, but in most cases the content they pull in is simply repurposed from the web.

There are podcast 'apps' offering a quick route to the latest video or audio content, and in a few cases broadcasters have offered up 'app' versions of their own sites: BBC iPlayer, for instance is present and correct (although very obviously a re-worked version of the standard web page).

What's really special is Boxee's "Watch Later" function. Head to on your computer, and drag a small bookmarklet into your browser's toolbar and you'll be able to instantly tag online videos for later consumption on your TV at home.

It's a stroke of pure brilliance on Boxee's part. We found ourselves tagging tons of videos from friends and around the web at work, before chowing down later that evening at home. Think of it as Instapaper for video, and you'll be along the right lines.

Social TV? Not quite

Another string to Boxee's 'not just a media player' bow is its built-in social abilities. There are shortcuts to share programmes through Facebook and Twitter, as well as being able to broadcast your viewing habits to friends.

On the surface that sounds interesting, but in practice it's really not. Despite having few friends who use Boxee, we soon tired of seeing their viewing habits on our browser, and disabled the function quick sharp when using the Boxee Box.

What's more, with our own fairly dubious viewing habits in mind (not to mention the prospect of adult material being available through Boxee) we'd rather not spam our friends and inflict our televisual stream of consciousness upon them.

If Boxee can dream up a smarter way to use social networks in TV, we'll dip our toes: A list of most popular web TV from around the globe might help, or recommendations from the most trusted friends in our social media circle… as long as we don't find out each time they've sat down to Eastenders.

That remote

Yay for the remote. Why can't Sky and Virgin figure this out?

By now it should be clear that the Boxee Box is revolutionary. That revolution might not be polished, have rough edges and leave more questions than answered, but it's a solid step in the right direction and by far the most revolutionary aspect of the Boxee experience lies in the palm of your hand: the Boxee Box remote.

Designed to be minimalist on one side, and with a full QWERTY keyboard on the other, it really does offer the best of both worlds. Having lived with an Apple TV, and despised its clunky text entry mechanism, the Boxee Box remote is a dream come true. It’s also RF rather than IF controlled, so doesn’t have to be pointed at the Boxee Box to work.

In practice we found ourselves using the QWERTY functions less than expected, but on the odd occasion they were needed (logging in, searching for content) those teeny buttons were a bonafide godsend. Apple could learn a lot here: when it comes to TV interaction there's a genuine case for more buttons on a remote, as long as you can be rid of them when necessary.

The future of TV?

There's little doubt the Boxee Box has changed the way we watch TV. Not only are we streaming more video around our home network, from networked storage boxes, PCs and Macs, we're watching more web TV too. This angular little box sets out an absurdly ambitious store, but largely speaking delivers on every promise.

Sure, web video playback is a hit and miss experience. The set-up could be more reliable (although not much simpler), and we've heard tales of wonky Wi-Fi connections impacting some reviewers' experiences.

In our time with the Boxee Box however, we had relatively few hiccups. We approached it with high expectations, and with a few caveats the plucky upstart delivered the goods. There's a question of value here though, since the Boxee Box costs around the same price as a nettop computer you could easily load with Boxee software and usher under the TV. You'd get more storage for your money, and the flexibility to play games on it too, if you fancied. That said, Boxee's remote and eye-widening design make it a hard trade off to make.

It's ousted the Apple TV from beneath our living room screen, and with the folks at Boxee promising regular software updates, we're hoping its quirks, especially that janky Flash playback, are eventually ironed out.

Go in with your eyes open, don't expect too much from Flash at first, and if you're looking for a bullet-proof media player with eye-popping web TV abilities to boot, the Boxee Box is guaranteed to impress.

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SeeSaw goes premium with SeeSaw NonStop

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 08:45 AM PST

SeeSaw, the on demand online catch-up TV service that streams content through your browser, is going premium from tomorrow. It’ll be available for 99p until the end of the year, and after that, will be £2.99 per month. This goes along with the news that SeeSaw will be introducing Ad Selector, which allows you to pick what type of adverts you’re shown when watching content through SeeSaw. With a premium account you’ll be able to turn off the commercial messages and ads altogether, meaning this is the only online service where you can watch ad-less 4oD and Demand Five.

Out 25 November | 99p-£2.99 pcm |

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