R2D2 mobile media robot - more video footage
Look at you, being all blase. You've seen it all before, haven't you? Modern cynic. Try taking a look at this. He may be familiar from CES, but we got new footage of the R2D2 mobile media centre at London's Toy Fair yesterday, and we know you haven't seen it before.
CES 2007: Huggable iPod speaker pillow with FM radio
Don’t you just love your iPod so much you wanna love it and hug it and squeeze it and hold it
and caress it? You’re in luck then, because Princess International (what a name) has been showing off these Plush MP3 Speaker & Radios at CES. And there’s no chance of losing your iPod down the side of the sofa when it takes up most of the space anyway.
It is compatible with any iPod or MP3 player and holds your device in a pouch in the back. If you get bored of your own tunes, you can listen to the FM autoscan radio. Only the volume control and on/off switch are mentioned in the spec list so I’m guessing a few of those in the picture are purely ornamental. It is powered by 2 x AA batteries.
No word on price or UK availability yet, but it will come in a choice of three colours – blue, white, and pink.
CES 2007: Alienware gears up for Vista
I feel like there has been a real lack of decent PC titles in the last few months (especially now that I’ve kicked my WoW habit) and that’s because there’s a lot riding on the back of Windows Vista and its snazzy new DirectX 10 capabilities. Once it’s out though we’re hopefully going to be inundated with great games – Crysis, S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Age of Conan, UT 2007 and Quake Wars spring to mind – but you’ll likely need some new PC hardware to run it on any kind of decent setting. And fancy that, Alienware only has a range of snazzy new bits of hardware to get your game on – I checked out the booth at CES and had a quick chat with the product marketing manager, Marc Diana who confirmed the belief that “Vista will have a major impact on games and PC sales” and talked me through the new products.
First up was the Area-51 7500 desktop. Like most of Alienware’s machines, let’s say the design is, err, gamercentric. The cases are definitely a love it or hate it affair and I personally love the way you can program each of the eight or so case lights to show different colours or even shift when you get new email.
In terms of specs, it can all be tailored to personal preference of course, but by default it offers Intel Core 2 Duo processors, SLi graphics and the new NVIDIA 8800 cards (which support DirectX 10), Aegia’s PhysX system and DDR2 RAM up to 1066MHz – yep, that should just about handle Vista.
CES 2007: More Netgear Skype phone details
After the success of their first foray into the Skype phone market, Netgear has followed up with a new version. This time, the handset isn’t limited to Skype calls alone as it doubles up as a DECT cordless handset as well. The obvious advantage to this is that you can have multiple handsets dotted around the house, potentially allowing you to make one call on your normal landline while someone else makes a Skype call.
In fact, Netgear’s marketing person informed us that you can actually have each handset logged into a different Skype account, which in theory makes it possible to have up to four incoming/outgoing calls going through the system at the same time. Sweet. What isn’t clear though, is whether you’ll be able to input text for Skype chats. The previous version didn’t support it so we suspect this one won’t either, which is a bit of shame.
CES 2007: Netgear offers wireless HD entertainment
It’s one thing to get all your MP3s and DiVX movies all neatly arranged on to one PC, but it’s another thing entirely to try and get it all back to being shown on your nice big HDTV in the lounge without forking out for a full blown Media Center PC. And it’s even trickier to do so without leaving Ethernet cable coiling through every room of the house, just waiting to trip you up as you creep to bed after a late night Xbox session. Luckily, Netgear has a solution with its newly revamped Digital Entertainer HD, which will search for, access and organise media files from your home PC or Mac, and even access the internet to stream video from YouTube too.
Having seen it in action, it looks like Netgear has done a pretty good job of making the various menu systems easy to use and an extensive search system should be pretty handy if you happen to have a very large collection of
porn digital media. The YouTube support looks like it may need some fine tuning before final release as it currently lacks any real resemblance to the site itself. And if you’re worried that YouTube alone is a bit of a narrow choice, there doesn’t seem to be any reason why a quick firmware patch or two couldn’t open up even more options for the device.
Aldebaran Robotics AL-05 humanoid robot
CES was festooned with robots last week, like the R2-D2 entertainment-bot, the Spyke spybot, and Honda's awesome Asimo. I didn't manage to hook up with French firm Aldebaran Robotics, which has been working on its own humanoid robot for a couple of years now. The company says it's aiming to create a robo-companion that's more than just a novelty toy.
Anyway, Aldebaran's AL-05 prototype has made a cheeky debut online, with four video clips released on the company's website.
CES 2007: Golf-Launchpad lets you play against the pros in real-time
You may have heard about Electric-Spin's Golf Launchpad product already: it's a golf product for PS2, PC and Mac that lets you swing proper golf clubs to take your shots. It measures your swing speed, path and angle, and then translates it into shots in EA's Tiger Woods PGA Tour game.
Anyway, at CES, Electric-Spin was showing off the next version of the product, which is a collaboration with digital TV firm NDS. It's a set-top box edition of Golf Launchpad, which will let you play along with golfers during televised tournaments. Take on Tiger! And then look like a buffoon when you trail in 72 shots behind, obviously. That's it there in the photo, by the way.
Interview: Phanfare co-founder Mark Heinrich on the death of free photo-sharing services
While at CES last week, I caught up with Mark Heinrich, chief technology officer and co-founder of Phanfare. It's an online photo and video sharing service that stands out through its use of a subscription model, charging $54.95 a year.
"We have the audacity to charge our customers money!" he told me. "That's why we call them customers, and not users. And because there's no advertising, we don't turn your private photo albums into some kind of billboard for adverts or print-ordering services."
Phanfare started in January 2005, and now has over 5,000 users, 80% of whom pay the annual subscription fee (as opposed to the monthly or lifetime options that are available). And Heinrich has strong views on the prospects - or lack of - for Phanfare's free competition.
CES 2007: top 10 (final edition)
So it's over. The geeks have left town, and there's nowt to do in Vegas but drink and gamble.
Time, then, for us to show you the top 10 videos you've liked the most - the little things we filmed that our counters tell us were most popular with you, the readers. Not only are you everyone's person of the year, but you contributed to Tech Digest in your own special way. I hope that makes you feel good.
1. Asimo. Nuff said.
2. Feeling fat? Want exercise, but don't want to stop playing video games? Put down that Wii and get on your bike. Not that one, silly, the one that plugs into your game. Drive that car with your thighs of
steel mush that will soon become steel. Unless you get bored and go back to killing hookers on GTA.
CES 2007 DocuPen RC800 updated - and now with added accessories
We featured the DocuPen RC800 not long back - it's a pen-sized tool that offers full colour scanning of documents, which can then be saved to a PC or PDA or sent via email. If that appeals to you, you will be pleased to know that it's been improved and now comes with a range of optional add-ons.
The latest DocuPen RC800 has a built-in processor, 8 MB on-board flash memory, a slot for MicroSD memory cards to further increase scanning capacity and is powered by a Li-Ion rechargeable battery. The latest version also offers a 24-bit colour scanning option as well as the 12-bit colour, greyscale and monochrome scanning modes.