29 May, 2009

Google wants developers to ride its Wave

Posted: 29 May 2009 1255 hrs

090529-1255hrs SAN FRANCISCO: Google encouraged software developers to ride into the future of email with a project called "Wave," which opens inboxes to text, video, pictures, maps and even social network feeds.

"Wave" expands the capabilities of email to let people communicate and work together in real-time with text, photos, videos, maps, and more, according to Google software engineering manager Lars Rasmussen.

"In Google Wave you create a wave and add people to it," Rasmussen wrote in a blog post at the California Internet giant's website.

"Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. You see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave."

A "wave" prototype built by a five-person team "holed up in a conference room in the Sydney office" for months was previewed at a Google developers conference in San Francisco on Thursday.

"After more than two years of expanding our ideas, our team, and our technology, we're very eager to return and see what the world might think," Rasmussen wrote.

A Wave software kit was provided to developers at the conference.

Wave allows for collaboration and communication by letting people send out pictures, messages, or videos that can be built on or modified as they stream from recipient to recipient.

Waves can be rewound to see how exchanges evolved, according to Google.

"Developers are going to see the potential of Google Wave as a platform; we hope they'll leap on it," Wave engineer Adam Schuck said in an interview posted at the US firm's website.

"They'll be able to integrate it with existing systems they use today, or produce new tools that allow people to improve and manage their communications."

The computer code for Wave will be open source, meaning developers are free to modify it as they wish.

"We're inviting developers to add all kinds of cool stuff before our public launch," Rasmussen wrote.

No launch date for Wave has been specified. Rasmussen and his brother, Jens, founded an online mapping firm bought by Google in 2004. The brothers' technology went into Google's free Internet map service.

Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle said that while the Wave goal is feasible, building a central station for various online photo, video, text and social networking feeds presents complex challenges.

Such a project also calls for cooperation from an array of technology firms, some of them Google rivals, according to Enderle.

"You start throwing these complex things together and things start breaking," Enderle said. "And, Google has not shown an ability to drive the kind of collaboration it would take to make it happen."

Google Wave has solved "a bunch of stuff that has traditionally been very hard" such as real-time collaboration and hosted data, according to team engineer Casey Whitelaw.

"Developers won't have to think about all of that, they'll be able to just build their app and go," Whitelaw said in the interview.

"The primary ideas are that everything is live, and everything is editable."

The Wave team in Sydney held weekly "team huddles" that evolved to include theme songs, prizes, and one member's quest to "help us develop our chocolate palate beyond M&M" candies, according to Whitelaw.

"Rather than try to anticipate every possible use it will be put to, we've made it open and extensible so developers can come up with what they think is cool and useful," Whitelaw said of Wave.

- AFP/yb

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

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Who’s afraid of quarantine?

Not exactly the geek things, but what technology can serve a geek who is (or will be) quarantined…



HEDIRMAN SUPIAN, hedirman@mediacorp.com.sg

Influenza A (H1N1) has finally arrived on our shores. If you find yourself under home quarantine, don't despair. With the help of technology and the Internet, it doesn't have to be boring, unpleasant or socially-inhibitive. You make your own fish bowl, we say.


Being cooped up at home doesn't mean your culinary tastes have to succumb to whatever's available in the fridge. With the Internet, you can find the best food online.

HungryGoWhere's Gourmet Food Delivery service (www.hungrygowhere.com/singapore/food_delivery) gets us salivating. You have to call to place an order but the site allows you to enter your postal code and sort the available restaurants by distance and search through their menus if you're craving for something specific. Fish and chips? Check. Satay? Check. Risotto? Check. Chomp.

Supernature (www.supernature.com.sg) delivers organic food to your doorstep. Apart from eggs and dairy products, its online store sells specially packed boxes of fresh organic produce, for example, an "Asian box" that includes kai lan, pak choy and choy sum.


Despite being constrained by the size of your home, you can still exercise. Although your pet hamster might disagree, treadmills are boring and passe and you can rule out burpees if it gives you nightmares of physical education lessons in school.

Get on Nintendo's Wii Fit. The Balance Board that comes with it works as a weighing scale and tracks your balance. There are plenty of balance-based games such as snowboarding or tightrope walking. You can also try boxing using the handheld controllers to simulate punches. The Wii Fit also allows you to keep track of your body mass index, chart your progress and set goals.

If you want something more intense, Electronic Arts (EA) recently launched the EA Sports Active fitness game which is compatible with the Wii's Balance Board. It comes with a leg strap that fits the Wii's nunchuk controller to track lower body movements, adding kicking and kneeing components to its cardio boxing exercise, for example.


Update (and annoy) your contacts with what you're up to on Facebook and Twitter. Friends and family will appreciate the updates and you get to keep track of what they are doing as well.

Go a step further and use Qik (qik.com) to share live video from your phone via GPRS, 3G or WiFi connection to the Web. Qik can also notify followers on Twitter that you're streaming video. Live video is recorded, so you'll be able to embed it on your blog.


Musicians, if you're sick of playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band, you can jam online with your band or connect to musicians around the world in real time with eJamming AUDiiO (www.ejamming.com).

The service claims near zero latency, which means there's little lag when you're jamming. Up to four people can jam in one session. A Virtual Recording Studio mode lets you record your live session. Like other social-networking platforms, you can chat and send messages. But the service isn't free — a subscription costs US$9.95 ($14.50) a month or US$89.95 a year. Each download comes with a 30-day free trial — more than enough to tide you over that quarantine.


Now's the time to dust off those old photos and digitise them before they fade. Set your scanner at 300 dpi so that you get a high-quality image. Once you're done, touch up and archive the shots using Picasa (picasa.google.com). Share your pictures by uploading them on Picasa's online album. Mac users can rely on iPhoto, which comes with their computers. The latest iPhoto '09 boasts a face recognition tool, and you can publish photos directly to Facebook and Flickr.

From TODAYOnline.com, InfoTech – Friday, 29-May-2009; see the source article here.

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Future of newspapers is digital, says News Corp. chairman

Posted: 29 May 2009 1132 hrs

New York Times

WASHINGTON: News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch said on Thursday that the future of newspapers is digital, but it may be 10 to 15 years before readers go fully electronic.

Murdoch, in an interview with the News Corp.-owned Fox Business Network, also said that newspapers, faced with eroding print advertising revenue and circulation, are going to have to start charging readers on the Web.

The News Corp. chief said newspapers in the future will continue to make money "from our readers, from our advertisers (but) the newspapers may look very different.

"Instead of an analog paper printed on paper you may get it on a panel which would be mobile, which will receive the whole newspaper over the air, (and) be updated every hour or two," he said.

"You'll be able to get the guts or the main headlines and alerts and everything on your Blackberry, on your Palm or whatever, all day long.

"All these things are possible. Some of the greatest electronics companies in the world are working on this very hard," Murdoch said.

"I think it's two or three years away before they get introduced in a big way and then it will probably take 10 years or 15 years for the public to swing over."

Murdoch, who has announced plans to charge readers of his publications online, also said "you're going to have to pay for your favorite newspaper on the Web."

The days of free news online were "going to stop," he said.

"I believe newspapers will be selling subscriptions on the Web," he said. "A (newspaper) website will be vastly improved, much more in them and you'll pay for them."

"There's a case that newspapers rushing on to the Web to try and get a bigger audience and get more attention for themselves have damaged themselves," he said. "Now they're going to have to pull back from that and say 'Hey, we're going to charge for this.'"

Asked by Fox about a government bailout for newspapers, Murdoch said News Corp. would never take government money.

"We'd give up our freedoms and everything else to criticize or to play our full role in the community," he said. "Nothing that News owns will ever take money from the government and I don't believe even The New York Times would."

The 78-year-old Murdoch announced this month that he planned to begin charging readers of the websites of News Corp. newspapers "within the next 12 months."

Murdoch's holdings include The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, The Times of London, the Sun and The Australian, among others. The Wall Street Journal online already requires a subscription fee for access to all of its content.

Murdoch's comments came as The Atlantic magazine reported that top US newspaper executives held a "discreet" meeting in Chicago on Thursday to discuss the future of the troubled industry. - AFP/yb

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

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Microsoft unveils new Bing search engine

Posted: 29 May 2009 0132 hrs

SAN FRANCISCO - Microsoft on Thursday unveiled a new search engine, Bing, designed to intuitively understand what people are searching for on the Internet and challenge online king Google.

The US software colossus refers to Bing as a "Decision Engine" and said it will begin deploying it online at bing.com in the coming days.

"Today, search engines do a decent job of helping people navigate the Web and find information, but they don't do a very good job of enabling people to use the information they find," said Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.

"When we set out to build Bing, we grounded ourselves in a deep understanding of how people really want to use the Web."

Bing search employs semantic technology intended to help it recognize not just key words but what is intended by phrases typed in as online queries, according to Microsoft.

Internet search engines have traditionally relied on matching key words to words found at websites.

Bing is built to "go beyond today's search experience" by recognizing content and adapting to query types, according to the Redmond, Washington-based company.

Bing takes aim at Microsoft arch-rival Google, which dominates the online search market. Bing will replace MSN Live search, which has languished in a distant third place behind Google and Yahoo!.

- AFP /ls

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

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Microsoft launching Zune HD

Posted: 28 May 2009 1544 hrs

Microsoft's Zune music players

WASHINGTON - Microsoft plans to release a new version of its portable Zune music player later this year featuring a touch screen, Web browser, Wi-Fi connectivity and high-definition radio receiver.

The Redmond, Washington-based software giant said late Tuesday that the Zune HD, Microsoft's rival to the hot-selling Apple iPod, would be available in the United States before the end of the year.

It did not say how much it would cost.

Microsoft said the device would feature high-definition video output capability which would allow it to play HD quality video on HD televisions using a docking station.

Microsoft also said it was integrating the Zune with its Xbox Live video offerings "bringing an exciting catalog of TV and film to the platform."

"This marks an important development in the Zune strategy and brings the Zune brand to more than 17 million international Xbox Live subscribers," Microsoft said.

It said the integration of Zune and Xbox Live would be demonstrated at next week's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles. - AFP/sh

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

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26 May, 2009

Acoustica's Mixcraft

I have downloaded the software, and am currently evaluating it now.

I haven't tried working on GarageBand, and as I have mentioned, I am currently a PC user, and the primary reason for me to switch to using Mac is their music package that is bundled with the Mac unit: GarageBand, CuBase, etc.

Well, if I can figure Mixcraft properly, I may not make the move anymore. since I would have to be using my laptop for coding purposes, which is my primary livelihood.

Music is my main hobby, and it would be costly to buy a Mac just for my hobby. Of course, there are other hobbies that are more costly, and the expenses would be continual, like golf, which is just every time you go on a golf-ing spree, you spend. Buying a Mac is a one-time deal, and there may not be upgrades necessary later on.

Anyway, I will again post the update on my evaluation. There is a video tutorial, and the other part I am trying to do is to hook up my MIDI keyboard so I can do live performance, or controlled editing.... whatever.

Till then.

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23 May, 2009

The ultimate showdown Microsoft’s Kumo set to wrestle with Google


HEDIRMAN SUPIAN, hedirman@mediacorp.com.sg

090522-WolframAlpha THERE has been plenty of buzz online about Wolfram Alpha (www.wolframalpha.com), a unique online tool that tech pundits say could beat Google Search at its own game.

Unlike conventional search engines, Wolfram Alpha does not generate links to information from across the web to answer your search query. Instead, it tries to understand what you’ve asked and presents factual data from a database of curated content (currently only 10TB in size). Thanks to its algorithmic-rich backbone, Wolfram Alpha can present its results in tables, charts, diagrams and other visual means as an answer to your query. And there’s no guesswork needed to ascertain the data since it comes from valid sources.

Here’s what we found when we compared the results generated by Wolfram Alpha with other search engines.

Search: GDP of Singapore

>> Wolfram Alpha: In its results, Wolfram Alpha presented the 2007 estimate of our GDP (gross domestic product) and charted a useful graph of our country’s GDP growth overtime. It also displayed relevant information, like the country’s inflation and employment rates.

>> Google Search (www.google.com.sg): The first link on Google’s search results was a sponsored link by a bank — hardly useful. Next in line was a link to the website for the United State’s Central Intelligence Agency, which has Singapore’s 2007 GDP figures.

Search: Earthquakes in Indonesia

>> Wolfram Alpha: It displayed a graphic map littered with dots pinpointing the areas in Indonesia that are affected by earthquakes. The dots vary in sizes to illustrate the magnitude of the earthquake. With the aid of simple drop-down menus, you can filter the earthquakes by magnitude and by the period of time they occurred.

>> Yahoo (sg.search.yahoo.com): Related links to news stories from different media outlets formed the mainstay of Yahoo’s search results.

Search: Big Mac

>> Wolfram Alpha: It’s not localised yet, so Wolfram Alpha won’t recognise food items like rojak or nasi lemak. In fact, for a little surprise, see its response when you query this: “Do you speak Malay?” So, we fed McDonald’s almost universal Big Mac into Wolfram Alpha and were treated to a detailed list of the fast food’s nutritional values.

>> Microsoft Live Search (search.live.com): Two Wikipedia entries on the Big Mac made the top of the list on the search engine’s results, with the link to the official UK website for McDonald’s appearing at number three on the result list.

Search: Singapore weather in May

>> Wolfram Alpha: Not only did Wolfram Alpha state the average temperature and range of conditions, humidity and wind speed, it also provided charts indicating cloud cover and temperature.

>> rednano.sg (www.rednano.sg): The local search engine churned out a list of largely irrelevant results. Under its web results tab, it displayed a link to news stories on Indonesia and China, followed by a blog listing “wild happenings in singapore” while under its news results page, it listed links to technology-related sites. Huh?

Wolfram Alpha won’t quite render search engines obsolete. Its strength lies in providing you ways to crunch factual data and manipulate it to your liking. Because it lacks information on pop culture or news, users who try to use it like a conventional search engine might be disappointed.

This “computational knowledge engine” can be daunting because it isn’t very flexible with processing certain phrases or queries. We sometimes had to rearrange our queries to get the right results.

However, Wolfram Alpha holds much potential and is a step in the right direction for a web tool that serves as an encyclopedia on steroids.

Microsoft might be unveiling a new search engine next week. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Microsoft plans to demonstrate the search engine, code-named Kumo, at D: All Things Digital, a conference organised by the WSJ. Said to be a revamp of Microsoft’s Live Search, Kumo aims to provide a better web search experience by shortening and grouping search results into relevant categories.

From TODAYOnline.com, Tech – Friday, 22-May-2009; see the source article here.

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22 May, 2009

20 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute

Posted: 21 May 2009 2200 hrs

WASHINGTON - YouTube just keeps getting bigger. The Google-owned video-sharing site said late Wednesday in a blog post that 20 hours of video are being uploaded to YouTube every minute.

It said that in mid-2007, six hours of video were being uploaded to the site every minute. It grew to 15 hours in January of this year and now stands at 20 hours a minute, YouTube said.

"Let's see if we can get to 24 hours -- a full day's worth of video uploaded every minute," wrote Ryan Junee, a YouTube product manager.

Google bought YouTube in 2006 for 1.65 billion dollars but the Mountain View, California-based Internet search and advertising giant has not yet managed to turn a profit with the site despite its massive global popularity.

YouTube has been gradually adding professional content such as full-length television shows and movies to its vast trove of amateur video offerings in a bid to attract advertisers.

It recently announced partnerships with Sony Pictures and other Hollywood studios and rolled out new platforms for watching television shows and movies.

- AFP/ir

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

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21 May, 2009

Google drops idea of buying newspaper

Posted: 21 May 2009 0923 hrs

Google Chairman and CEO Dr. Eric Schmidt

WASHINGTON: Google considered buying a newspaper but dropped the idea, the head of the Internet search giant said in an interview with the Financial Times published on Wednesday.

Google chairman and chief executive officer Eric Schmidt said the California company had also considered using its charitable arm, Google.org, to support news businesses seeking non-profit status but was now unlikely to do so.

He told the FT that Google had looked at buying a newspaper but concluded that potential acquisition targets were too expensive or carried excessive liabilities.

The Mountain View, California-based search and advertising company, he said, was "trying to avoid crossing the line" between technology and content.

Instead, Google was working with The Washington Post and other newspapers to improve their online products and with publishers to make their websites "work better" for online advertising, Schmidt said.

He told the FT that "clever ideas" about sheltering newspapers in non-profit structures had been suggested to Google.org but "are unlikely to happen without some massive, massive set of corporate bankruptcies."

US newspapers have been grappling with a steep drop in print advertising revenue, steadily declining circulation and the migration of readers to free news online.

The FT said Schmidt would not comment on reports this month that Google had been approached about buying a 20 per cent stake in the New York Times Co. owned by hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners.

It said Schmidt played down industry calls for Google to increase the amount of revenue it shared with news organisations whose content appears on Google News, saying it would have to take money from "another pocket" to do so.

The Google CEO also said it was highly unlikely that people would pay for general news on the Web when so much was available for free.

Subscriptions and micro-payments would work for specialised content, he said, but were unlikely to do so for general news such as political reporting.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is among the media groups which have announced plans recently to begin charging readers on the Internet.

The FT said Schmidt, whose name has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor of California, also ruled out any political ambitions.

"I can assure you I'm not going to run for politics," he said. "There is no second life after Google."

- AFP/yt

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

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20 May, 2009

Google adds automatic translation to Gmail

Posted: 20 May 2009 0827 hrs

090520-0827hrs WASHINGTON : Google added automatic translation technology to Gmail on Tuesday, allowing users of its email service to translate messages in another language with a single mouse click.

The Mountain View, California-based Internet giant said it had integrated its Google Translate programme into Gmail, allowing automatic translation of messages in several dozen languages.

"When you receive an email in a language other than your own, Gmail will help you translate it into a language you can understand," Google said in a post on the company blog.

"If all parties are using Gmail, you can have entire conversations in multiple languages with each participant reading the messages in whatever language is most comfortable for them," Google said.

Google has already made Google Translate available to provide automatic translations of entire Web pages or blogs.

- AFP/il

From ChannelNewsAsia.com; see the source article here.

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18 May, 2009

Your personal e-analyst?


090515-eAnalyst New search tool Wolfram Alpha aims to complement, and not rival, Google

MILLIONS of web users have Google’s search engine as the homepage on their computer. It’s the first thing they see when they switch their machine on and their first port of call whenever they need to find the answer to a question.

Such is Google’s dominance of the search space that any attempt to launch a rival platform is often met with a mixture of bemusement and sympathy. The problem, as many companies quickly discover, is that it’s almost impossible to beat Google at its own game. Instead, what’s needed is a fresh approach to search which can supplement Google while also carving out its own niche.

That’s the strategy taken by Wolfram Alpha, a search engine that launches on Monday. It’s the brainchild of Stephen Wolfram, a British physicist and former child prodigy who, in 1988, created the Mathematica computer program used by scientists, researchers and engineers to number-crunch huge volumes of complex data.

Wolfram Alpha is designed to provide clear answers to specific questions. For instance, a Google search for, say, the nutritional values of a Big Mac returns 123,000 results, which web users then have to sift through to find the facts they want. A similar search on Wolfram Alpha will, in theory, return a single answer, detailing the calories, fat content and salt levels in the McDonald’s burger.

That’s because Wolfram Alpha doesn’t crawl the web for its answer, as Google does. Rather, it searches its own huge database of factual data to find the correct information.

“Fifty years ago, when computers were young, people assumed that they’d quickly be able to handle these kinds of things, and that one would be able to ask a computer any factual question and have it compute the answer,” says Dr Wolfram. “But it didn’t work out that way. Computers have been able to do many remarkable and unexpected things. But not that. I always thought, though, that eventually it should be possible. And a few years ago, I realised I was finally in a position to try to do it.”

Indeed, says Mr Conrad Wolfram, Stephen’s brother and the project’s strategic director, creating the database that underpins the search engine has been a “huge undertaking”.

“It has taken three to four years to generate this database,” he says. “But because we use Mathematica to help structure this information, you could say we’ve been working on it for even longer.”

The secret, says Conrad Wolfram, is in the value that’s been added to this data. “We believe in human expertise, which is very different to traditional search - that relies much more on computer science to pick out results,” he says. “The database is a structured environment in which we’ve added meaning and computational knowledge to the data. This allows it to come up with an answer to the question a user asks.”

Much of the hype and speculation surrounding the launch of Wolfram Alpha has framed the website as a potential “Google killer”. But Wolfram Alpha is designed to be “highly complementary” to other search engines rather than a direct competitor, says Conrad.

“If you use a search engine, it’s a bit like a librarian who gives you a whole set of papers that you need to look through to get the answer. If you use Wolfram Alpha, it’s more like having your own personal analyst who takes the question you’ve got and tries to come back with a specific set of answers unique to your question.”

Wolfram Alpha, he says, will grow in accuracy and scope as more people use it. He says that experts will analyse aggregated, anonymised data about searches performed and the success rate of results, to learn how people are using the search tool and find ways of improving the service.

Drawing relationships between complex data has long been a holy grail for web developers. For years, companies have been working on building a so-called “semantic web”, in which data contained within webpages is labelled with keywords, or digital “tags”, to associate meanings to information and enable it to be interpreted in a wider context.

But that’s a difficult idea to implement. “It’s hard to get people to tag their data in this way, and no consensus has been reached on what tags to use, says Wolfram. “Our approach is different - to suck the data in so that we can structure it, curate it, tag it with meaning and make it computable.”

It is here that Wolfram Alpha could really make a name for itself, becoming a “destination website” for students and researchers seeking an easy way to distil complex information into manageable chunks, which can then act as a springboard for further research and discovery.

Even Google, the old master of web search, has seen the potential of this, launching a tool called Google Squared that allows users to type in a specific query - such as London boroughs, or United States Presidents - and receive a list of information that relates to that search term. For example, the list of London boroughs aims to list all boroughs alphabetically, along with links to relevant websites and information about population and the leader of the council. The results are presented in a grid, and users can remove columns of unwanted information or add a column of data they would prefer to see.

Wolfram Alpha, it seems, is ruffling a few feathers. “We’re at the start of a very long project,” says Conrad Wolfram. “We’re not going to have everything right to start with, but I think people will find Wolfram Alpha a very powerful system, and it’s going to get a lot more powerful still. Many new things will come over the months ahead.” THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

From TODAY, Tech; Friday, 15-May-2009

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Samsung puts its money on LED


090515-SamsungB7000 Enjoy higher contrast and enhanced efficiency on this media-friendly television set

Hedirman Supian, hedirman@mediacorp.com.sg

FLAT-PANEL television sets are becoming a commodity, no thanks to sliding prices. But how can manufacturers differentiate their products to lure the picky consumer? Well, electronics giant Samsung has gone the extra mile this time with its new series of LED-based full high-definition television sets.

Divided into three lines (the 8000, 7000 and 6000), the series employs light-emitting diodes (LEDs), instead of conventional cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs), for backlighting. LED technology makes the sets slimmer, increases the screen contrast and enhances energy efficiency.

The 40-inch model from the B7000 series appears amazingly svelte, looking thinner than the 3cm it actually measures at its thickest point. The only drawback was that it took quite a shove for some of the thicker cables to be plugged in, as the ports are positioned in such a manner that they are almost flush with the back surface.

Samsung has categorised the product’s interactive and content features under what it calls Medi@2.0, which includes Internet@TV, Content Library, USB 2.0 Movie and DLNA Wireless. Like its recent predecessor, the B7000 incorporates a range of pre-loaded content dubbed the Content Library. It includes a picture gallery, games, as well as cooking and fitness programmes.

You can download new content online and delete content you no longer need. USB 2.0 lets you hook up USB-based storage to view JPEG images, listen to MP3s, or watch movies. Its DNLA Wireless feature lets you access media on other DNLA-compatible devices, like the Sony PlayStation 3, mobile phones and computers. We loved the built-in YouTube feature because it provided a wealth of easily-accessible content. The movies on the online video-sharing site loaded fast and looked great even on the 40-inch TV.

With the TV being so reliant on networking and Internet connectivity for so many of its interactive features and content, we like the fact that Samsung is bundling a free wireless USB dongle with each set.

In terms of performance, the TV offered a marked difference in contrast, allowing you to see textures and details in dark scenes. While the display brightness was way above average, we noticed some over exposure in brightly-lit conditions and had to tone down the settings. Fast-moving action scenes weren’t as smooth as expected when it came to movies at 1080p resolution. There was slight fuzziness, but it was a non-issue over time when we started playing action games at 1080p using a PlayStation 3. The TV also ran much cooler than other sets we’ve reviewed before.

Apart from the long remote that allows for total control of the B7000, you get a mini-remote that lets you adjust the volume and switch channels. This was a nice touch, but with the plethora of cable boxes and other home theatre equipment hooked up to the TV, you’ll be better off with the full-featured remote, which also has a nifty backlight that allows you to use it in the dark.

The Samsung B7000 series ($5,399) shows that there’s still much room for improvement for TVs when it comes to bundling it with content and Internet connectivity. The added YouTube feature is a first for a TV and the device’s media-friendly features certainly make it easy for you to access content without the hassle of hooking it up to a computer or media centre.

From TODAY, Tech; Friday, 15-May-2009

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Power-hungry gadgets cause alarm


Soaring electricity needs of home electronics a threat to environment

PARIS - Charge your iPod, kill a polar bear?

The choice might not be quite that stark, but an energy watchdog is alarmed about the threat to the environment from the soaring electricity needs of gadgets like MP3 players, mobile phones and flat screen TVs.

In a report released on Wednesday, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates new electronic gadgets will triple their energy consumption by 2030 to 1,700 terawatt hours, the equivalent of today’s home electricity consumption of the United States and Japan combined.

The world would have to build around 200 new nuclear power plants just to power all the TVs, iPods, PCs and other home electronics expected to be plugged in by 2030, when the global electric bill to power them will rise to US$200 billion ($294 billion) a year, the IEA said.

Consumer electronics is “the fastest growing area and it’s the area with the least amount of policies in place” to control energy efficiency, said Mr Paul Waide, a senior policy analyst at the IEA.

Electronic gadgets already account for about 15 per cent of household electric consumption, a share that is rising rapidly as the number of these gadgets multiplies.

Last year, the world spent US$80 billion on electricity to power all these household electronics, the IEA said.


More TVs, higher consumption

The IEA estimates the world will soon have 2 billion TVs in use, or an average of 1.3 televisions for every household with electricity. In addition to becoming more numerous, TVs are also getting bigger screens and are being left on for longer each day. The group predicts 5 per cent annual increase in energy consumption between 1990 and 2030, just from TVs alone. AP


Most of the increase in consumer electronics will be in developing countries, where economic growth is fastest and ownership rates of gadgets is the lowest, Mr Waide said.

“This will jeopardise efforts to increase energy security and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases” blamed for global warming, the agency said.

Existing technologies could slash gadgets’ energy consumption by more than 30 per cent at no cost, or by more than 50 per cent at a small cost, the IEA estimates, meaning total greenhouse gas emissions from households’ electronic gadgets could be held stable at around 500 million tonnes of Carbon Dioxide per year.

If nothing is done, this figure will double to around 1 billion tonnes of Carbon Dioxide per year by 2030, the IEA estimates.

Mr Waide said simple measures, such as allowing consumers to regulate the energy consumption of their gadgets according to the features they actually use, should be adopted to counter this growth. AP

From TODAY, World; Friday, 15-May-2009

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