HP's TouchSmart TX2 - The Multitouch Laptop

HP-touchsmart-tx2Everyone has been talking about multitouch technology since some time now. Its like the techie in us can never be satisfied! First we needed voice-activated, then we needed everything touch-screen-capable, and now, we need Multi-touch capable! As the tech world scrambles to keep the consumers happy, HP answers your requests with their latest TouchSmart tx2, the first consumer laptop to feature multi-touch functionality. If you haven't seen the cool promos on TV, you've really missed something! The new TouchSmart is not only sleek and cool, it indeed comes with a lot of functionality to satisfy your geeky-techie side! [image credit - Gizmodo]

HP's Touchsmart tx2 is a 12.1-inch convertible tablet that provides iPhone-like ability to scroll, zoom, flick, and drag and drop by using your fingers on the screen. For example, you can scroll up and down by using two fingers on the screen or zoom in and out by using a pinching motion.

Aside from its multitouchness, the tx2 looks like a standard convertible tablet with a center hinge that lets you twist the display to switch between notebook mode and slate tablet mode. Pricing starts at a reasonable $1,149. For that price, the TouchSmart tx2 features a 2.1GHz AMD Turion X2 CPU, 3GB of memory, a 250GB hard drive, integrated ATI HD3200 graphics, and 32-bit Vista Home Premium. Unfortunately, Core 2 Duo processors and discrete graphics are not offered. The Mediasmart 2.0 software lets you watch movies, look at photos, play music, listen to radio and watch TV on demand. HP is also partnering with MTV networks to bring IPTV content in from MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

HP accomplished this feat, right in time for the holiday season, by partnering with an Israeli company called N-trig. Yes, you don't always have to wait for Microsoft to come and lend you a hand! I think its great that HP announced this new laptop, as it gives a nice option to those trying to choose between a Macbook and a PC.

It might not be able to lure away hard-core Mac followers, but the new Multi-touch TouchSmart tx2 surely has potential to attract a few consumers, especially those in their 20's or 30's, who want to look cool with their laptops! Efficiently designed, stylish, and affordably priced, HP might just see some sales this coming Holiday season!

To learn more about the features, functionality and configuration, visit HP's store and check out the buzz on TouchSmart tx2!

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Google's GPhone G1 vs iPhone 3G

google-gphoneFor those who haven't heard yet, Google and T-Mobile introduced the world to Android and the first Android device, the T-Mobile G1 yesterday evening. And with the much-awaited GPhone out, the natural comparison of how it fares vs the iPhone has become a hot topic! As expected, the T-Mobile G1(device by HTC) boasts of a lot of features & controls that look impressive, but the device is definitely not as good-looking as the iPhone. While people have been buzzing and raving about Android, the Google ODS that powers the gPhone, let's take a look at how the actual G1 devicee compares with the industry-leader iPhone 3G.

Apple and Google employ different strategies, different ideals, and different means but the goal is the same—to take as much of the cell phone market as they possibly can. Is either of them a clear winner? Read on to see if you can tell!

Henry Blogdet has a concise article that compares gPhone with the iPhone, as far as features and hardware is concerned. This should be a good starting point for your comparison. He's been testing the new G1, and considers it a worthy competitor to the iPhone. "But the two devices have different strengths and weaknesses, and are likely to attract different types of users", he adds.

While the iPhone is much more sleeker, stylish, lighter and thinner, the G1 aims to get an edge for its features like a user-friendly design, a keyboard, a 3M Auto-focus Camera, a changeable battery, a built-in navigation compass, the ability to copy/paste and others that iPhone lacks. Add this to the fact that its cheaper ($179 vs $199), and is not tied to just one carrier (though you'd have to pay a huge price to switch!), it does have some edge over the iPhone.

The iPhoneBlog also has a cool hardware comparison for both the phones. While its no eye-catcher, the first version og Google Phone is way better than what others generally offer, and Android is really up on really raving reviews! Google says the G1 is just a device to introduce people to the power of Android, and not to serve as an iPhone competitor. And hence there are mixed reviews about the device. While iPhone was a trend-setter, the gPhone aims to accomplish a different objective, making people embrace the power of Android - and I think it is successful in doing so! As Engadget says : "It’s a fine, solidly designed device that has enough style to please most users — but it won’t win a ton of beauty pageants."

Here's another article on gPhone reviews, which shows that while it doesn't set things on fire, it surely superceeded a lot of expectations. Where stalwarts like Samsung and RIM came out with devices that couldn't even come close to the iPhone, HTC has done a decent job of making a gPhone that is attractive and commendable for a first edition! T-Mobile has set up a page for G1 Emulator which allows you to become familiar with the G1’s basic functionality. I think it looks impressive, but hop on to play with one yourself, and you can decide who wins the gPhone vs iPhone wars!

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BerryStore - One-Stop-Shop for Cool Blackberry Applications

blackberry-appsAs RIM prepares to open its Blackberry Application Center to answer the iPhone’s App Store, an unaffiliated startup called the BerryStore has already launched a competing app store for Blackberry Apps. What makes it better than the official BlackBerry App Center (besides the name), is that apps in the BerryStore work across both old and new BlackBerries alike and across carriers. The BlackBerry Apps center, in contrast, is designed to be a carrier-specific store, with different apps for different carriers.

You can download the BerryStore as an app itself by visiting www.berrystore.com on your BlackBerry. (The App Center will require users to download apps through their Blackberry browsers, which is not the best experience). Already there are about 40 apps in the store, ranging from Loopt, 3Jam, and TwitterBerry to Obopay, Citysense, and Google Mobile. All of them are currently free, although the company plans on offering paid apps in the future. Here is a short list of Apps that I found interesting:

Books & Reference
NeoReader: Turns your Blackberry into a barcode scanner.
Blackberry Wiki: Wikipedia reader.
Beyond411: Yellow pages, maps, and directions.
MobipocketReader: Mobile e-reader.

Business & Finance
Obopay: P2P payments.
Bank of America: Manage your dwindling bank account.
NyTimes DealBook: A bookmark icon to the popular blog.
E-Trade Mobile Pro: Manage your dwindling stock portfolio.

Google Mobile: Search, Maps, Gmail.
Opera: Opera Mini Web browser.
Zumobi:Mobile widgets.
Google Mail: As in Gmail.
Poynt: Local search.
Maufait InstaFind: Al-in-one 411, flight tracker, movie showtimes, stock quotes, weather, news.
Puretracks:Mobile music store.
Tellme: Voice-enabled GPS info.
reQall: Voice-to-text recorder, to-do list, and idea manager.
Nobex Radio Companion: Shows you the name of the songs playing on the radio.

News & Weather
Viigo: News, sports, entertainment, weather, stock and traffic alerts.
New York Times: Bookmark icon.
ABC News: Bookmark icon.
The Washington Post: Bookmark icon.
CNBC Mobile: Bookmark icon.
USA Today: Bookmark icon.
Slate: Bookmark icon.
PinStack.com: Forums

Social Networking
TwitterBerry: Mobile Twitter client that avoids SMS charges.
3jam: Group text messages.
eBuddy: Instant messaging app
Dexrex: Archives your text messages.
Pinger: Voice IM.

Sports Illustrated: Bookmark icon.
ESPN Mobile: Bookmark icon.

Travel & Navigation
Google Maps: What it sounds like.
GPSed: Map your GPS tracks, save them, and share them. Also geotags your photos.
Citysense: Live hotspot tracking.
WorldMate Live: A personal digital assistant for travelers

So all those Blackberry users out there, who've been tired and jealous of all the cool iPhone apps, here's your chance to show you off what your new blackberry device can do! Check out the BerryStore, and get ready for a wave of cool Blackberry Applications coming your way!

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How Safe is Your Internet Experience?

It is perhaps a little late to be asking this question, as Internet has become the lifeline for all of us. However, as more and more data keeps being added to the web space, and as we turn to the Internet for almost all of our needs, it becomes imperative to spend an honest thought on how safe the Internet really is! Hence the idea about a Trusted Internet has been floating around for some time now. We go online accepting the fact that not all sites are equally trustworthy or that we probably shouldn’t trust most online sites with our identities. But if Trusted Internet becomes a reality, every online interaction will include a new layer of security and trust enabled by an entire infrastructure designed to help us create mutual and real time trust, and make the web surfing a more stress-free and safe experience.

What exactly is Trusted Internet? And does something like this even exist? The anti-fraud signs that you see on some web-pages, especially e-commerce websites is a step towards achieving trust. It basically means that every digital interaction is safe and hack-proof. You no longer will be pestered with fraudulent sellers or identity thefts, and online search and shopping can become a universal standard, eliminating the shred of doubt about identity thefts.

With a Trusted Internet, we will be able to do things we can’t even try to do today - our PCs will automatically be able to find products or information we want from reputable, authenticated merchants and experts. Our computers will be able to proactively defend our identities ensuring, in real time, that our information is safe and has not been compromised. But most fundamentally it means that we will all able to connect with each other with full confidence that we can create trust online when and where we need it.

Today, Internet has become the go-to destination for most of the answers to our queries. I for one, spend almost 10-12 hours surfing the net, and that means a lot of time and data; it is advisable to not give out your personal information for anything and everything over the net. be careful while divulging important information, and don't go signing up for each application and newsletter unless you trust the source. Credit Card theft is a very small fraud, people have lost way more than money due to security issues on the net.

It is imperative to understand the need for a Safe Internet, and take steps to achieve it. Have a standard PC software at the minimum on your desktop or laptop; there are several browser applications available too. Choose something that comes with recommendation, and which safeguards your data. Don't forget a backup utility too, if you store data online!

Try installing some free software like Comodo’s award-winning firewall, anti-virus software & secure email software. Perform transactions only on known websites which use digital certificates to protect your personal data. It seems like a small thing until you actually face a fraud - so prevention is better than cure. Do your part in preserving your online data, and share the message about helping to develop a Trusted Internet!

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SearchCloud - A New Search Engine Set To Beat Google!

searchCloud search engineAlmost everyone, including me, turns to Google for all our search queries; and though some of us have always been cribbing about a better search engine than one that just focusses on keywords, semantic search is not yet mature enough to compete with Google! However, looks like SearchCloud.net has gone one step further in enhancing keyword-based search. It uses weighted keyword search so that the results one gets are focussed more on the 'weight of the keywords' rather than the type or frequency of the keyword. It looks promising, but does it deliver? Read on to find out!

SearchCloud, a new search engine that launched on July 17, has a new take on search refinement that it hopes will make it a useful alternative to the likes of Yahoo and Google. Instead of simply entering multiple keywords, users can rank how important each term is to the search. Each term is placed in a "search cloud", where its weight is indicated by the size of the font.

The Homepage is a clean layout with a huge cloud box, and a bar to enter your keywords. For first-timers, there is a HO-To video at the end of the page. For example, you could enter the words "iPhone" and "Ideas & Gadgets" with the latter more strongly weighted to find articles about iPhone on this blog. Try this and it shows my site in the 3rd position (hooray!!:)) You can choose a "Standard" or a "Grid" view, but the Standard is much better!

To further refine the search, you can Edit your search cloud by adding or modifying search terms, e.g, you could enter other terms like "iPhone-apps", or "Free" with smaller font size to find more focussed articles, which are then displayed on the top of the search results, alongwith the other related results following them. Each listing displays the "relevancy" of the result, which helps you know how the search query was executed, and what you could revise to get better results targetted to your search. it is good that you can "edit" your weighted keywords rather than having to start a new search. But on the downside, I tried comparing a few queries between SearchCloud & Google, and the latter performed better 75% of the time!

SeachCloud uses Yahoo!'s BOSS technology, which allows an ordination of results, before returning them to users. The techology provided by Yahoo! is not, in fact, totally free of charge, as SearchCloud has to display some of Yahoo!'s ads without receiving part of the revenues.

Weighting keywords has the role of filtering the best results, which the team from SearchCloud assures the search engine does. "Your results will be better than with Google because the search terms were prioritized the way you wanted them to be," says one of SeachCloud's affiliates in a tutorial meant to show people how to use the new search engine.

It’s a nice concept that clicks as its more user-friendly, but then again, it works on a similar concept as Google (keywords-based-search) rather than a Semantic search, and hence, is not a huge leap! in fact, Ask.com has been providing similar features via their search engine facility too. But there is room to grow, and like any other new venture, it would be fair to cut them some time to enhance their tool as they expand their features and algorithm.

It is definitely not easy to challenge a tried-and-tested search giant like Google (or Yahoo and Microsoft would've done it by now!), but SearchCloud has gone one step further to make keyword-driven-search a more relevant and user-friendly experience. If it kicks off, Google may have to re-think its search-engine strategy too!

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Another Affordable Web Host to Consider

IMhosted.comEvery website-owner, whether big or small, knows the importance of choosing a good and reliable web host. Names like Go Daddy have become legends, and even Google has partnered with a few domain-name providers to enable Custom Domains. Another player worthy of mention is "imhosted.com" Choosing an affordable web hosting can be a very daunting task at times, but it is also the most important one. I particularly like this new web-host, for its affordable prices and a bundle of services that they offer!

They offer domain names for as low as $6.95, and the smallest bundled package starts at $30. It uses powerful dual-quad-core enterprise servers with multiple GIGe redundant network connections,providing reliability and speed. Most web hosts just ell you the space, then disappear from the scene; you are left with the burden of designing everything yourself, or choosing from the simple sample layouts that they offer. But IMhosted is different - it provides everything you need to get your business or blog onto the Internet. From establishing your online presence on the Internet to hosting, storing, promoting, and maintaining an industrial strength eCommerce site, they have a comprehensive suite of services. it's especially good for newbies who have no web-development experience as a 24/7 live online support is always there to answer your questions!

They have a cool bundle of services, with packages like regular, Gold & Premium, for different needs. I really liked the Submit-Pro feature that they offer; it's often hard to get an initial page Rank for your site, but with their service, you can submit your website to some of the biggest search engines for a considerably small fee!

They also offer all the standard services that people have been used to like Credit-card procesing, E-mail, Online data storage, etc. Check out the detailed services for a better comparison. But what is important is that I found them to be extremely reliable, and offer great customer service. It's hard to start an online business, but its even more frustrating if you start running into problems as soon as you buy a new domain, and there's no one to answer your questions or reply to your emails! I have to say I've had some bad experiences with we-hosts before, but IMhosted.com made it less painful this time around!

Go take a look at their site - check out the list of their clients so you know what you are getting into. They may not be as big as Go Daddy, but they do look promising for their first-rate support and affordable web hosting solution! If anyone has used them, please feel free to share your experiences with us!

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3G Mobile Internet Picks up in UK

mobile-broadband-donglesThe imminent rise of 3G technology in the UK over the last few years has been a sudden burst of fresh energy, but has also generated quite a flurry of activity! Unlike US, the 3G hype was merely seen as another mobile voice calling technology. However, looks like the people have become more adaptive about the 3G based mobile internet technology as it promises to become a viable alternative to traditional broadband for UK users. The rapid rise in 3G followers is nevertheless intriguing, and definitely worth a second look at the technology in question!

As Rory Cellan-Jones of BBC puts it "Mobile Broadband has really taken off!", supporting his statement with a graph showing how the amount of data crossing the 3G network has increased 14 fold in just six months! This massive increase in traffic is attributed e to what is referred as dongle - a plug-and-play USB modem that use High-Speed Downlink Packet Access or HSDPA technology (sometimes referred to as 3.5G) to enable laptops to use mobile broadband, which simply means "fast computer internet access without a land-line", in layman's terms.

The dongles are being offered with a fixed price plan (for example 3GB of data for £15 a month) which has triggered a price war in the UK market with other operators such as T-Mobile and Vodafone competing with similarly aggressive deals. It is estimated that as many as half a million new users have signed up to 3's dongle and now use mobile broadband with their laptops!

This means this is certainly the preferred choice for users in the UK, who are letting go of traditional wireless LAN or fixed broadband services, which often incur significant installation fees for new users andmay not be as cost-effective as the dongles. This also poses a serious threat to WiMax (or 802.16e), as the success of 3.5G/HSDPA based services may impact it's roll-out over the next few years.

Like anything new, people take time to warm up to an idea or concept, and same was the case for 3G. But now, after comparing their options, 3G technology and Mobile Broadband seems to have gained a significant foothold in the UK market. Whether it can maintain its winning streak, or lose to competing technologies like WiMax, only time will tell. Till then, I'm happy that we have found something that at the end of the day, is more beneficial to everyday users like you and me!

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10 Free iPhone 3G Applications You Need Now

iPhone3G-free-applicationsThe revamped 3G iPhone has everyone buzzing about the cool applications that you can have on your phone, and guess what, while they are great to show-off in front of friends, some of them are actually pretty useful too! Now that the iPhone platform is open to young developers, one can surely expect a wide range of fun games, cool apps, social-networking adaptations for iPhone, and of course, the more important tools for navigation, maps, browsing and search. But not all of them are free, and not all of them are worth it! So here's a list of the 10 free iPhone applications that should start with on your new iPhone. Download them, use them, and tell us what you think! I've left out social networks, as I know you already have them there!

Google Mobile App
This is similar to Firefox 3's "Awesome Bar" for the iPhone. Not only does this search-bar-on-steroids suggest popular query matches for you once you type in a few letters, but it'll also search your phone for any contact names that start with the same few letters. Tapping a search result launches it in a browser window, and tapping a contact name lets you message or call them. The program’s Search with My Location feature taps into the iPhone’s ability to detect your location in order to help you find businesses near you. Easy to use, and backed by Google's tried-and-tested search quality, this is definitely the first thing you need to have on your iPhone.

This is the best application for taking, storing or reviewing notes. You can take notes either by typing them, taking a photo or recording your voice. The best thing about it is the web component which allows you to synchronize your notes and access them from where ever you happen to be. You can use Evernote for lists (to-do, shopping, etc), expense tracking, and more. Check more detials on their website.

Pandora's Music App
Thanks to the iPhone version of Pandora's free music Web site, you may never need to use the iTunes Music Store again...just as long as you like your music to play randomly. Just enter an artist's name, press the Create button, and listen as your selected artist and similar-sounding acts play in no particular order. If you already have a Pandora account, the Pandora iPhone app lets you access your preexisting stations and even sends your listening data to your Facebook profile automatically. One fun use for this app: Put your iPhone on your bedside table and have it play your custom stations through the phone's on-board speakers--it sounds like a clock radio playing all your favorite acts. Surprisingly, this music-streaming app works without a hitch even at EDGE speeds.

Truveo Video Search
Trying to find cool videos to watch on your iPhone? Truveo Video Search lets you find videos from a variety of sites. You can play highest ranked or most popular videos and you can customize the interface with your favorite categories. You can also share videos via email.

Loopt Mobile
This is a location-aware social network that will help you connect with your friends while on the go. You can also use Loopt to discover and explore nearby places and events recommended by your friends and other popular services like Yelp. its good to know that their service is entirely opt-in, and only approved users can track your whereabouts. More for young teenagers, but then, they are the biggest clientele for the new iPhone too, right?!

Remote App
The free Remote app lets you control your iTunes library or on-screen Apple TV action directly with your iPhone via a Wi-Fi connection. Once your iPhone establishes a Wi-Fi connection, you simply select your iPhone from iTunes' 'Devices' list, enter the four-digit passcode on your iPhone's screen, and use it as a touch-screen clicker. It worked seamlessly in my tests with iTunes.

NYTimes & Mobile News
If you are a news-junkie, and would love to remain in touch with what's happening around the world, you need to get the NY Times and Mobile News ; between these two apps, all your daily dose of news fetching and sharing is covered! NY Times has content from the New York Times, classified into a number of sections, including Latest News, Business, Opinion, and a Photos section where clicking on an image will take you to a story associated with that image. Stories can be read in either portrait or landscape mode, and the summary page for each category shows headlines, a small portion of the article, and a photo. Mobile News gives you the ability to set up a number of locations for local news. By default, it will set up your current location as one of your locations, and you can easily add others, read saved stories later, or flip between multiple locations. At the bottom of each news story, there are four buttons—you can SMS or email the story to a friend, actually send in a report on a story if you have personal experience to add, and a button to save the story.

If you are an avid reader who likes reading on the phone-screen, this is a must have app for someone like you. Even if that's not something you do often, you could read something while commuting in a public transportation or waiting in some queue. I often wonder why Apple did not pre-load a similar eReader app itself? maybe there' room for iPhone-3!!:) Anyways, for the time being, the eReader app, courtesy of FictionWise, is going to be available for free at the iPhone app store.

If you are a sports-freak like my husband and need to be up-to-date with the latest buzz, SportsTap is totally for you. Be it MLB, NFL, NBA, international soccer, NHL, car racing, NCAA, PGA, tennis, or anything else, SportsTap covers them all--it's a nice free app that will put these at your fingertips. The interface is clean and intuitive, and the scores load fast, even on EDGE. SportsTap doesn't allow you to select a favorite team or teams to keep an eye on, but even so, the score you're looking for is always a couple of taps away.

This is not an absolute necessity, but these days, the Global Warming is making it very difficult to predict weather based on seasons! So the WeatherBug can help you get satellite weather maps, current radar, detailed forecasts, weather cameras, and severe weather alerts. You can get weather from 45,000 locations all over the world. A weather junkie's dream, if not yours!

The iPhone is not longer a phone; its a device that replaces your mobile phone and your laptop. With hordes of free applications to choose from, it can be hard to decide what you wan the most. Hope this list helps you find a beginning, and do share with us more iPhone apps via your comments!

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RankNoodle - A New Search Engine Reviewed

Yahoo Fire Eagle
It seems like new players are emerging every day in the search engine industry, and one of the recent entries is RankNoodle.com. I stumbled upon their site a few days back, and stopped by to check out if they added anything to the search space. However, I was not really excited at what I saw! Forget competing with the top players like Google, Ask and Yahoo, this one is not even close to its recent peers like SearchCloud, which at least offer a fresh approach to search! Neverthless, here is an unbiased review if you are interested.

First of all, I don't think it makes sense to enter the Search space, unless you have a different algorithm or offer semantic search which would be the only alternative to Google that people would warm up to! In any case, RankNoodle tries to incorporate the "better" features of individual search engines, thereby trying to provide a more appealing user experience. Does it work? You'd have to see for yourself.

The Home page is pretty bland, even in a simplistic way. With just a Search Box at the top, followed by Recently Searched keywords, is still acceptable. However, the list of Top 100 Searches is totally distracting, and definitely not valuable! In fact, I was embarrased to see what "things" people search for the most - and can be extremely unsuitable for kids!!

Once you enter a search term or phrase, you get to a detailed page which is substantially useful, but only if it exists in their database! Yes, I tried 3 different queries, "Recipes", "Diet", "Technology" and "Gadgets", and I only received results for "Gadgets" - can you believe that?! Maybe they should consider more work on their database and search algorithm before they make it live to public!

If your query does return some results, then you get to see the only nice feature of this site. A definition/explanation for your search term, followed by related Conversations, followed by actual Search results. I think they need to make it more user-friendly, and of course, more accurate, but the way they present it is good. On the right sidebar, you have a section for related Articles, images and Videos, again, an asset to few, but will be ignored by most.

If there are no results to match your query, it shows some error message, but you actually have to go "back" to enter a new search term! there's no way you can just type it again on the same page - totally unacceptable! i think they need to fix that. Also, the speed is really slow, but I can give them some slack for being a newly-launched site. There's nothing in the About Us page, but luckily there's some information in the Contact page; again, I would have prefered if they had updated these things before launching the site, as it helps improve credibility.

In any case, I think RankNoodle, like any other new search engine player, has a lot to accomplish before it can even try to lure users. I would give it a second shot when they have a more complete database. You cannot expect people to use your site if 3 out of 4 searches return no results!

Hope they try to address these issues soon enough, or its a No-No game for RankNoodle!

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Yahoo Opens Up Fire Eagle to Public

Yahoo Fire EagleIn March 2008, Yahoo opened the beta version of Fire Eagle, its location-based middleware that allows developers to build services tailored to the user's geographic area. Fire Eagle is now open to the public with 22 launch partners providing their services. Yahoo tries to target the large market of social networking, but as with any other plethora of apps and widgets, Fire Eagle comes with its own sets of perks and problems! But for those inspiring to make some money out of writing cool applications, this could be your newest gig, after the Apple iPhone apps!

Fire Eagle begins by asking users for location data, which can be entered as vaguely as the country or as specifically as the global coordinates. From that point, Fire Eagle's job is done as far as the user is concerned, most of a user's interaction will take place through applications built upon the service.

There are applications available now for a variety of devices and operating systems, though most are not cross-platform. The gallery currently includes location-based social networking applications from Brightkite, Plazes, Loki, and Zkout; travel mapping apps from Dopplr, Map My Tracks, eKit, and Navizon; point-of-interest and event listings from Lightpole, Outalot, and Wikinear; location-based search from Rummble; messaging from Spot and Pownce; and news from Outside.in, and many more that I find hard to list here!

Developers wishing to capitalize on Yahoo's geo-aware infrastructure can freely access the Fire Eagle API through Yahoo's Developer Center. Applications fall into three general categories: Web, mobile, and desktop. Since each provides a different authentication type, developers have to have a general idea of what they're building before they can obtain an API key. Yahoo provides a few walk-throughs and examples for developers as well.

Privacy is of course a major concern for Fire Eagle, as it allows you to update your location across any authenticated partner site. it is like a centralized service that knows your location, and sends out updates to its participating sites that you have authorized. meaning to address this issue, it allows you to give certain permissions to different sites, and these settings can be changed at any point through the site.

So all you young developers-cum-entrepreneurs out there, hop on to Fire Eagle and see if you can fire it on!!

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PAL-V - The Super Cool Flying Car

Flying-Car-PAL-VOk, so we all know that a day will come when there will be flying cars in the city, and robots will replace humans for most of the work! And though most of us have just seen flying cars in a movie or a video-game, one Dutchman called Jahn Bakker has put his idea into implementation so you can actually buy a PAL-V Flying Car in 2012! Isn't it cool? wow, future doesn't seem to be as far as I thought! If flying cars become a reality, space travel is not too far ahead, I'd say! So all you enthusaistic budding-pilots out there, get ready for some "serious flying"!!

So what exactly is this Flying car that we are talking about? Well, the PAL-V Flying Car, designed by a Dutch engineer named John Bakker, is actually a three-wheeled car (or to some a motorcycle) on the road; however open up its roof and back to find a foldable rotor, propeller and tail section, and you convert it into a helicopter, ready to take off in a few seconds! PAL-V ONE, is the first Personal Air and Land Vehicle (PAL-V) available for anyone's use. It combines the recent "tilting car" technology of the Carver with the safest and easiest principle of flying, the gyrocopter. It has the exclusive rights to all the basic patents covering this magnificent concept.

After 6 years of concept work, PAL-V Europe BV has now entered the next phase. It is starting to build the first commercial prototype, ready to start production and carry out the market launch of the PAL-V ONE by 2012. Since 2004/2005 new European and American regulations allow people to fly the PAL-V with a simple sports aviation license. It takes between 15-25 hours getting a license for flying while driving can be done with a regular car driving license.

Airborne, the PAL-V flies under the 4,000 feet (1,500 m) floor of commercial air space, and can hold one person only. it is highly fuel-efficient and is powered by an environmentally certified car engine. It runs on petrol/gas like a conventional car and can reach speeds of up to 200 km/h both on land and in the air. At less than 70 decibels, it is much quieter than helicopters due to the slower rotating of the main rotor.

In the US the "High-way In The Sky" HITS-program is being developed to allow extensive personal air traffic. In Europe initiatives have been initiated to develop a copy of this system called "Digital freeways", which provide a safe corridor using GPS technology to aid air-regulation and avoid collisions for low flying vehicles.

And now for the most important question: How much does this cost?? Well, there's no price-tag on the PAL-V yet; Commercial prices will be established depending on volume and competition a year before market launch in 2010. but I bet with the growing trends of owning private jets, this coolest innovation will need to be competitive to make it accessible to local public. Check out some more details about safety and working principles on the PAL-V FAQ's page.

I don't know how this will affect the already struggling air-traffic control, but I know there would be many amongst us who would be thrilled to own a flying car, including me! how soon it becomes a reality, only time will tell!

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PowerCube 600 - Scalable Solar-Power Generator

PowerCube-600-solar-generatorWith the growing need to find gadgets that can tap the power of solar energy, the creation of PowerCube 600 is truly a boon! A portable and scalable solution that can generate upto 600W of power is a much-needed asset, especially because it looks much smaller than the tall sheets of solar panels that you'd have to mount on your roof-tops to generate half the amount of power that PowerCube can generate! Its robust, scalable, and defintely makes generation and storage of solar energy more feasible. it may not be as small as today's nano-tech-loving world might want it to be, but its a great option from the choices available as of today!

The PowerCube makes deployable renewable energy simple. By integrating the latest solar energy, power storage and power management technology, the PowerCube is engineered for home use, emergency response, construction, and any other remote power needs. It’s large size (72 x 124 x 50 inches) enables it to produce 600 watts of solar power.

PowerCube is also a scalable solution, so each individual unit can be easily linked to the next one in a "daisy chain" fashion to generate more power. The PowerCube comes ready to use with minimal installation (in just 4 easy steps), making it ideal to generate power either on or off grid, for short or long-term, as primary or back-up electricity.

In emergency situations, access to traditional fossil fuels can be limited and difficult. The PowerCube's primary source of power is the sun, which means that the unit provides essential power without reliance on fossil fuel deliveries. Plus, heat, noise and emissions are virtually nonexistent, making it earth-friendly as much as possible.

Its portable, yes, but its not as small or miniature as it looks in the picture! it weighs about 2000 lbs, so don't think you can just load it in your truck and set it up in your backyard! plus, it does not have a price-tag disclosed, meaning you have to call or email for a quote! However, PowerCube 600 comes with a large range of features that you'd expect from a solar-generator, and is backed with attractive warranties. check for more detailed specifications on their site.

If you are in need of a device that can solve all your electricity needs, PowerCube 600 is something you should definitely check out! I think each of us should make a conscious effort to deploy solar power as much as we can, before the energy and environment that we are so dependent on, runs out on us!!

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Mercedes Smart Coupe- The Tiny Fuel-Efficient Car

zoomii-amazon-bookstoreEvery coming day, I read about a new fuel-efficient car or hybrid car hitting the roads, or a new one unveiled at an auto show. Looks like every car company is out to capture a tiny part of the go-green hybrid-car market, and the latest buzz is about the Mercedes Smart - the 2-seater 2008 Coupe, which is a bundle of fuel-efficiency packed in a small & sleek design, backed by Mercedes' safety rating! Looking very similar to the Tata Nano, but combining way more comfort and style, the Mercedes Smart is surely attracting attention as I see more and more of them on the california freeways!

The Mercedes Smart has been running in the European roads for quite some time now, but it was released in US in January 2008, and that too with a 2-month waiting period. One of my friends actually bought one, and I had the chance to experience it from inside, and actually ride in it. Advertised as the "Smart For two", this cute car that looks like a cross between te tata nano and the Mini-Cooper, runs on a mercedes engine. As the name implies, it is designed for 2 people, or perhaps squeeze one tiny kid, so don't look at it if you want a decent-sized family car. 8.8 feet long, 5.1 feet tall and 5.1 feet wide, it is indeed a small car! However, with 8 cubic feet of storage space – 12 feet if you load up to the roof line, the rear trunk can easily fit numerous bags of groceries, gym bags and other items that are commonly transported every day, including golf clubs!

But what makes this car really Smart? Its actually its fuel-efficiency, and its price! The vehicle is designed to achieve 40 city/45 highway mpg according to 2007 EPA standards and 33 city/41 highway mpg according to 2008 EPA standards, for an 8.7 gallon fuel-tank, which is pretty competitive (just a bit less maybe) with the current hybrids like Honda Civic or Toyots Prius.

The safety that's tied to the mercedes name cannot be ignored! With features like Electronic Stability Program, traction control, cornering brake control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution and brake assist, the SMART helps drivers stay in control on snowy and icy terrains too. Wider rear wheels and tires allow for better grip and traction in marginal weather conditions. Narrower front wheels and tires allow for less traction loss by penetrating into snow and ice deeper for improved steering control. All smart vehicles come standard with all season tires. Moreover, the 2008 Smart models achieved the highest ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for front and side crashworthiness.

All this at extremely affordable price starting from 14,000 USD. Good things come in small packages - is indeed true for this beauty! Available in 3 models, the Smart Pure, Passion Coupe and Passion Cabriolet Convertible, you can choose the one that suits your style, and budget. What's more, its eco-friendly too - the Smart Car has been classified as an Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) on account of its extremely low exhaust emissions. An electric pump blows fresh air into the exhaust port when the engine is cold to almost completely oxidize the carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrocarbons (HC) and render them harmless.

If you've loved a Mini-Cooper, and do not mind a small car that's built for two, yet made efficient and safe, not to mention fuel-efficient, you'll love the new Mercedes Smart Coupe. After all, with a name like Mercedes to back it up, there's not many faults you can find in this tiny-tot!

Related Articles:
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Tata Nano - The World's Cheapest Car!

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Mobile Phone Deals & Comparisons for UK

Samsung W510-green phonesWith the likes of iPhone, Instinct and Blackberry Bold trying to lure customers to switch from simple mobile phones to mobile devices, it gets really tough to decide what to buy. On top of that, there are always the myriad of cheaper options, which may not come with querty keyboards or touch-screen interface, but are still equipped with features more than required by an average consumer. Thanks to the power of the internet, there are several useful cell-phone sites that come to our rescue, and today I'm going to tell you about one such option for my UK readers.

The cell-phone market has become highly competitive, and while the manufacturers try to compete with one another, it only means more options for customers like us. But reasearching mobile phone deals individually can get cumbersome, which i found while trying to get a phone for my neice in UK. Luckily, I found a site that was very well-laid out, and easy to navigate. DialToSave brings you the best deals from UK cell-phone retailers across the internet, along with deals for cheap international calls. Most featured deals include discounted line rental, automatic cashback or free gifts and of course a free mobile phone, but the best part is the ability to have one interface where I can compare all my options, and choose what's best for me.

I needed a pay-as-you-go phone for my neice, and it was easy to find as they have a category of options neatly laid out, alongwith applicable carrier names. the home page shows all the best-sellers for a type of plan, alongwith featured deals and free-gift options, which by the way, include glamorous choices like free cashback, HDTv's, iPod Nano, or even a Nintendo DS! The page also have their own blog, which features some interesting articles about the phones, and also several helpful phone reviews by their editors.

A click ahead will take you to your choice of phone to list all features and compare prices from different vendors, sorted by price or popularity. What's more, when you buy a phone, then submit a review, you automatically enter a draw to win 100 pounds! With almost all carriers and handset vendors in their huge database, you can be sure you'll be able to get the best available price that you deserve! by the way, they also have a section about broadband comparison if you are interested. You can check for providers in your area, compare actual broadband speeds, and choose from cable, high-speed or unlimited broadband options.

There are several similar sites for the US market, but I had not found a good one for the UK market, and landing on to this site was a boon. I got a great deal on the Sony Ericsson S500i Purple Mobile Phone for my niece, and I can't wait to see her reaction when she receives her b'day present! Amazon sells it for 109 pounds, while I got it for only 79! So give DialtoSave a shot before you are ready to order your next UK mobile phone; I'm pretty sure you'll thank me for it!

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Zoomii - Amazon's new Virtual Bookstore

zoomii-amazon-bookstoreWe all love buying books online, as its convenient, and you can share user reviews and opinions, and of course, get the best deals! And I'm pretty sure most of us turn to Amazon for our online bookstore needs. And now Zoomii, the latest addition to Amazon's virtual bookstore world will make it a more real-world library-like experience! You have to admit, there is some charm to traditional libraries, where you can browse through aisles of books arranged neatly in bookshelves, and Zoomii tries to recreate that magic. If you often shop for books online, Zoomii is something you'd want to check out!

Zoomii is a visual bookshelf browser for over 19,000 books from Amazon's catalog, though it can search for over 162,000 titles. Instead of browsing through flat lists of book titles and their cold statistics, Zoomii stacks books in shelves alphabetically by author, organized by type. You can click and drag across Zoomii's landscape of shelves, zoom in and out with your scrollwheel, and click a book's cover for basic statistics from Amazon, including the ability to add the book to your cart or wishlist. I'm not too sure how Zoomii picks the books that stock its shelves, but some kind of system that picks through a combination of top sellers and new releases is a safe bet.

The home page looks like Google Maps, except for books! with a simple scroll and zoom wheel, category tab, search tab, and a short view of your shopping cart, it is pretty simple to navigate. Use your mouse to browse around, jump from one shelve to another, zoom in/out, add items to your cart, add books to your wish list and so on. The categories are aptly sorted so its easy to browse and search for a particular title. The Zoom-in and Zom-out feature is really cool! You get to see the book cover, pretty much the actual size, and a click will take you to a detailed description of the book. Then if you like it, just one click will add it to your shopping cart and after you are done with all your books, use Amazon's trusted store to process your order! They also have a shelf full of best-sellers for each category, just like your local library. Check out this cool Zoomii Video for a better understanding of the features.

Nothing much changes as far as the book selection and purchase is concerned; but it does bring a flair to the process of browsing and selecting books. I agree, its not a show-stealer, but Zoomii does have the potential to keep visitors engaged for a longer time, which is indeed a very important aspect of e-commerce! On the downside, the site does not support AJAX, hence you'd get used to a lot of "clicks", rather than "mouse-overs"; and there is a limited database yet, but I'm hoping Amazon will be updating it soon. it runs pretty slow on Firefox 3, but is fine with other browsers, so you may want to avoid the former!

Overall, Zoomii is a nifty addition to Amazon's attempt to provide more to their customers through the virtual bookstore, but it fails to dazzle. Except the interface, nothing more has been added. A few more features and faster load times could help Zoomii get more following. Its a nice idea, but not extra-ordinary, that's all I can say about Zoomii!

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Samsung's W510 & F268 - Eco-Friendly Cell Phones

Samsung W510-green phonesSamsung rules most of the cell-phone market, and surely beats Nokia for their cool, sleek and stylish phones! I am a Sony-Ericcson fan, but I have to say the idea behind the new Samsung Phones W510 and F268 is commendable! These can be deemd to be the first-ever eco-friendly Green Cell Phones revealed in the World IT Show in Seoul, South Korea. Marketing these phones that are made from "bio-plastic", Samsung is touting its horn of being concerned about the growing need to explore eco-friendly options, but I would never have dreamed it to be a phone!

Samsung will be rolling out 2 eco-friendly phones that have been termed as "Green Phones", the W510 and the F268; the W510 is made out of bio-plastic, a natural material extracted from corn that won't pollute the enviroment as much as a manufacturing standard cell phone does. Also, it uses a water-soluble coating on the top and there is no Lead, Mercury or Cadmium used in this phone, making it safe for prolonged use.

The F268, on the other hand, has all of the above, plus more! It is made without the use of BFRs(Brominated Flame Retardant) or PVC. It is an Energy Star device, rated by the U.S. government to be energy efficient in the same way dishwashers and dryers are. Samsung has also integrated an alarm in F268 which buzzes when the battery is fully charged, so you don't waste any more electricity than needed!

While the W510 will ship in Korea and the F268 in China this June, it's not clear whether either of the cell phones will be sold in the United States. The good news is that Samsung is making a global effort to lessen its impact on the environment by launching more environmentally-conscious products with more renewable material and less energy consumption and setting up a cell phone recycling program. Nokia has been very active in this field too, and I hope the others catch up in the Go-Green race too! after all, eco-friendly cell phones are never a bad idea, especially with all that cell phone-radiation-threat going around!

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Olumpus Stylus Review - The Waterproof, Shockproof and Crushproof Camera!

Olympus Stylus 1030 SWI love taking photographs, and though food photography is my latest craze, both me and my husband are avid nature-lovers, and often take short trips around California, armed with a backpack, our Camera and Tripod! But as we do indulge in a lot of water-sports, I have been on the lookout for a good-quality waterproof camera for some time now. After several days to compare digital cameras, the latest Olympus Stylus 1030 SW looked like a good bet for the features and the price! Olympus has always been struggling to attract consumers, especially as Sony & Canon are unanimous leaders. But with this new waterproof and shockproof camera, I think they do have a chance!

When buying a new point-and-shoot camera, its imperative to compare them with other competitive models, and size and sturdiness were a major factor for us. The camera measures 3.76 x 2.26 x 1.08 in./95.4 x 57.3 x 27.4mm and weighs around 5.47 oz./155g. The 1030 SW is the latest in the Tough range and allows underwater shooting up to 10m, or 40m with the optional 3 underwater modes. It is also shockproof and can be dropped from a height of 2m without suffering undue damage, while its crush-proof credentials allow it to withstand up to 100kg. To top that, the case is also scratch-proof. Finally it's freeze-proof to a temperature of -10°C.

The Olympus Stylus 1030 SW is a 10 megapixel point-and-shoot digital camera features built-in flash, 3.6x optical zoom; the lens is a folded optical design, meaning its zoom is situated internally and doesn't extend from the case, using a periscope-like design. The zoom covers the equivalent of 28-102mm, making it one of the wider zooms on the market. it has a 10.1MP sensor allowing low light shooting with a top ISO speed of ISO 1600, and uses digital image stabilization. The True Pic Turbo III processor controls colour rendition, sharpness and noise reduction as well as faster processing for multi-burst shooting. On the downside, it lacks the true Optical Image stabilisation, and also the Custom White Balance, but unless you really care for these, they should not turn you off!

The new Olumpus Stylus fits the bill for a tough, rugged digital camera in the ultra compact digicam choices. The camera produces very good images that are colourful, pleasing, richly saturated with good exposure, and noise is generally low. What I liked the most about it is that is it crushproof!! That makes it perfect for outdoor activities and adventures. But its a good practice tocompare digital cameras to suit your needs, as you may not want to spend $400 on some features that you'd rarely use! However, given the excellent value for money that this camera provides, and the almost endless features, I'd highly recommend the Olympus Stylus 1030 SW, especially if photography is your passion or profession!

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Wii Fit Reviewed - Is It as Good as a Real Workout?

I am perhaps a little late in talking about the Wii Fit, which has been quite a craze since its launch a few days ago. And that's probably because I prefer going to an actual gym rather than a simulated one. But intrigued by what I saw and the reviews that I read and heard, I had to find out for myself whether the Wii Fit stands the test of fitness or not! And luckily for all of you who bought it, this latest Nintendo game sure is a nifty addition to your workout routine, but don't think you can replace your workout with this!!

Wii Fit takes the whole concept of games as exercise to a new level with the inclusion of a balance board peripheral that can tell you on the fly exactly how well you are doing with its various activities. Nintendo is heavily marketing this new addition to Wii Games as a mixture of fitness and fun, which is perfect to lure Nintendo fans, and also compete with Xbox Games or other DS games! Going to a gym, especially on work days can be boring, time-consuming, and sometimes plain impossible, thanks to an already hectic routine. At times like these, the Wii Fit sure comes in handy for a quick yet efficient workout. However, you have to remember that this in fact, is just a video game after all, and cannot replace your 1 hour spent at the gym!!

After creating your Mii, you have to input a date of birth and height, then step onto the balance board for a weigh-in (all guided onscreen by a cartoon version of the board). From the height and weight data, a user's BMI is calculated, with the user tagged as underweight, ideal, or overweight depending on the BMI score. A simple balance test then occurs (usually involving having to shift your balance to certain areas within a time limit) before your Wii Fit Age is displayed in large numbers on the screen. However, even if we believe the BMI calculations are correct, the Wii Fit fails to account for variables such as muscle mass and age that can significantly affect a score (giving an otherwise healthy person with more muscle an overweight rating, for example).

The Good
It offers several exercises split into four different categories: yoga, muscle, aerobic, and balance. With 15 yoga poses and 15 muscle-toning moves to work through, the Yoga poses range from simple to difficult, while the muscle-toning section focusses on basic lunges mixed in with more strenuous activities such as the parallel stretch and push-ups. Virtual trainers guide you through the yoga and muscle exercises, offering praise or criticism depending on how well you're doing. The aerobic and balance activities include hula hoops, Wii Sports-like boxing, step dancing, jogging, and more. The balance activities are the simplest from the lot and include ski jump, ski slalom, snowboarding and more!

The presentation and graphics are amazing, as you'd expect from a Nintendo DS! The addition of virtual fitness trainers barking at you as you perform, and the fun, foot-tapping audio keeps you on your toes, and does provide much more than I'd expect from a game. Clean, friendly and easy-to-use, just like the Wii Sports, you'll be ready to start exercising with the Wii Fit in no time, and it can actually get addictive, at least for the first couple of months or so. And cool features like the extensive Activity Log, giving you a full overview of your daily fitness regime, scoreboards to encourage some friendly competition between registered users and even the standalone Wii Fit Channel, enabling you to check charts and compare results do make this a compulsive & rewarding experience!

The Bad
Wii Fit initially locks most of the exercises; new activities are unlocked roughly every 10 minutes of use, which means you'll need five or six hours of Wii Fit play time before you get full access to all of its activities. Also, you don't have an option to create your own workout program!! Instead, you have to select each individual activity using the Wii Remote, perform it, jump back to the main menu, select another activity, and so on., which wastes half of your workout time for nothing! Another thing that I detest is the fact that there are hardly any multiplayer options, except like two-player jogging, and frankly, I'd rather jog outside with my partner in fresh air than side-by-side in a 2 ft space! Also, while the board is extremely sensitive when it comes to weight, it can't actually track what you're doing with your upper body, which means you can easily "cheat" your way through most of the exercises (though it wouldn't help you in the long run!:))

You are left to blindly follow exercises on the screen, and it does not explain the benefits or side-effects of what you are doing. So unless you have some knowledge about exercising, yoga, and the general moves, do not attempt to imitate all of the Wii Fit moves! Unlike a trainer at the gym, there's no one here to answer your questions or clear your doubts!

There's no right and wrong with the Wii Fit; it excels as a video game, but it aims to provide you with certain fitness features, and if you are looking for just thrill and excitement from a game, don't waste your money on Wii Fit. At the same time, abandoning your gym and relying on Wii will definitely not make you fit; this is just a supplement to your workout, for boring days or raining evenings. That said, the Wii Fit with its unique Balance Board, is surely a step forward from the makers of Wii; with arresting presentation, great graphics and something that gets you into the mood for fitness, Nintendo's Wii Fit does not fail to impress its fans!

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ShadowCaddy - An Electric Robot Caddy for Golfers

shadow-caddyThere are so many chores where you feel having a robot to do them would make our lives so much easier! One such thing is the Golf Caddy; it would be so great if we could have an automatic caddy that could just follow you carrying all your gear so you'd be left to concentrate on your game. Apparently, ShadowCaddy does just that! An innovative breakthrough, the Shadow Caddy is the first ever robotic golf caddy that simply follows golfers around the course. Looking like a small and sleek sidecar, this is your answer to hired-help, as Shadow Caddy can surely be the next best thing to a human caddy! Finding it hard to believe, then read on!!

Research has shown that golfers love the freedom to "just play", and that's the reason they have caddies to hold their clubs and gear. Of course, for people like me, I need a companion to talk to, especially if I'm plating alone on the golf course; but if you are one of those who need no interference while you play, then Shadow Caddy works for you. You simply clip on the transmitter to your clothes, turn it on and keep playing. A simple "Follow me" or "Stop" button is all that is needed to tell the caddy to follow or wait. Just like a "real" caddy, the Shadow Caddy is always there a few feet behind the golfer, with clubs at the ready. A downside, your shadow caddy cannot walk through water or jump over bumps like a human; so you will have to pick it up to make it cross the hurdle!

Shadow Caddy will be available for rental at Golf Courses. It fits neatly between the rented pull trolley and the golf buggy and its proven golfer appeal will mean more business for golf clubs. Shadow Caddy's unique appeal and stylish design attracts a following wherever it goes. Plus, with an all-inclusive payment plan and minimal maintenance, this could surley be a cheaper option than a human caddy.

They have also designed it to be as safe as possible; with multi-CPU on-board intelligence, together with fail-safe backups, the Shadow Caddy functions at all times in a safe and predictable manner. It also has an onboard logic control and clearly defined performance parameters which predict and avoid hazards. Plus, there's no complex gadgetry or wires involved, no need for remote controls or joysticks. It works using only a small sensor that is worn by the player. Check out more details features on their website.

At under 19 kg per wheel, and with wide turf tyres, a Shadow Caddy weighs less on the course than you do, and can complete 2 x 18 hole rounds between charges. It does not cause any damage to the turf, and just follows you silently, carrying all your burden for you, literally!:) So if you are an avid golfer, or run a golf-course, check out if Shadow Caddy is something that you'd be interested in! Fully functional in all weather conditions, this is one golf caddy that will never call in sick!

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Honlai MP100 - Palm-sized Mini Projector

Honlai MP100 mini-projectorAs technology advances, we are moving towards everything "nano", so from a Nano-Car, to a Nano-Projector, we've achieved quite a lot of progress! The latest mini-gadget added to the list of impressive innovations is the Honlai MP100 - the tiny palm-sized mini-LED projector which looks like a bundle of power packaged in a small frame! It looks really sleek and impressive, and is ergonomically designed to look like a mouse, and deftly fit in your palm!

Honlai Technology's latest innovation is the mini projector called MP100, which uses the LCOS micro projection technology capable of throwing an 640x480 image onto a nearby wall or screen, sized between 5" to 37". With the quoted 10-15 lumen specification and a contrast ratio of 200:1, and a 5-watt LED, its not something fancy for a board meeting, and cannot compare to the regular proejctors. But it sure looks like the perfect projector to use if you are the one who does impromptu PowerPoint presentations wherever you go!

The Honlai MP100 is not something that instantly clicks with your geek side, especially when you evaluate it for its use. But I was impressed, because I ahve found myself in several situations where I had something on my laptop which could validate a point or clarify an issue in a meeting, and rather than sharing m,y deskptop with everyone, or making them gather around me while I explain stuff, it would be so cool if I just had the MP100 to project my screen on a wall nearby! Most conference rooms are small, and a 37" proejcted image is more than enough to convey an idea by means of a picture! Plus, this innovation is mainly designed for unplanned and in-promptu uses; if you are makign a business trip for a presentation, of course you are going to use the bigger projectors! But for quick demonstrations, this mini-LED projector works perfectly!

I think I like the MP100 for its sleep design, cool concept, and the easy to carry it in your pocket. If people can think about having a projector in an ink-pen, why not the classy Honlai MP100?? I think as people warm up to the concept of mini-projectors, they can re-design this for better usability and higer capability. No price and release date on this yet, but I'll be sure to update the post when I know about it!

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Netflix & Roku Team Up for a $99 Set-Top Box To Enable Watching Movies on TV

We all know that IPTV is "not there yet", and the rising cable and satellite prices are killing subscribers. Due to lack of high-speed internet, viewing video over IP has suffered a setback, but more and more companies are trying to come up with similar devices that could help solve this problem. Netflix, the most low-priced online DVD rental service now teams up with Roku to introduce a device which will allow customers to watch movies easily on their televisions without involving mailing DVD's. Starting today, Netflix will begin marketing the $99 device that will allow subscribers to play thousands of movies and shows on their televisions instantly, for no charge beyond their normal subscription fee. With the device no bigger than a paperback, and so attractively priced, I think there's a chance it will lure more customers to the online DVD giant, who's been fighting to re-instate its supremacy with tough competition from TiVo, BlockBuster and more!

The size of a small paperback book, the set-top box is made by Roku, a California-based start-up known for its Internet music players. Netflix, based in nearby Los Gatos, owns a small stake in the company. Netflix already has a large subscriber base, and it has been offering online movies on their computers for about a year by streaming them over an Internet connection. But with this new set-top box, Netflix customers who have plans of $8.99 a month or higher will have access to an unlimited number of movies over the Internet. Just plug the settop to your PC and your TV, and you can view the live-streaming content directly on your TV rather than the small PC screen.

Roku’s box is simple to use. All the settings and sorting through the videos is still done on your PC, which makes it much simpler to handle. And unlike the Apple TV or TiVo devices, the Roku box does not have a hard drive. It plays video directly from the Internet by way of an Ethernet cable or home wireless network. Roku recommends that users have a connection speed of 1.5 megabits a second or faster, because slow connections could lead to buffer problems and video freezing. The device’s $99 price( vs $299 for Apple TV) will most likely attract new customers, though only those who have high-speed broadband connection. On the other hand, the Roku box will not provide music and photos, like AppleTV.

Live streaming of content is the next generation of entertainment, and Netflix is not the only one trying to find its place. Stalwarts like HP, Amazon and Apple are already planning to offer similar or imprved services in the near future. So finally, who will survive and who will fade away all depends on the pricing and the quality and quantity of content that they offer.

With cable and satellite companies trying to expand their video-on-demand services and players like Netflix & Roku offering these kind of services, no matter who wins, its going to be much more affordable for the end-user and we can look forward to many more viewing choices over the next couple of years!!

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Personal Health Records Now on Google!

I'm sure we've all been to see a doctor several times, and the most annoying part, other than getting an appointment and waiting for your turn, is to fill out the sheets of health conditions and medical history, not just yours but your family's too! Believe it or not, I was so inclined to launch an online tool that would maintain medical records online, but its just that several others, including Google, beat me to it!:) Google Health is now open to public, where you can choose to update your medical records and information that could be used for future doctor visits, eliminating the need to fill out any more forms!

Google Health has been a "pilot project" for the company, and after a year and half of development, it is now live and offers online personal health records to the public since Monday. It allows the user/patient to send personal information, at his own discretion, into the clinic record or to pull information from the clinic records into his Google personal file. There have been several players who did this previously, (WebMD & Microsoft too), but this concept was a bit hard to accept as people are skeptical to put their personal medical information online. But will a technology name like Google help shun the old fears and coax people into accepting this? A two-month trial this year held at the Cleveland Clinic found that patients were eager to use the Google health records as they somehow felt more safe sharing their information with Google because its a trusted name in online security.

As soon as you enter Google Health, you land on your Profile page. You can create a new profile or update an existing one with your medical information like allergies, procedures, medical conditions, family history and more. You can import medical records from a clinic or make them available to your doctors, but only if you explicitly choose to do so. A list of tabs on the left give you a summary of your profile and also attached test procedures and results. As all Google products, this is fairly simple to use.

They also offer other useful services like "Find a Doctor" and "Explore Health Services" just like any other online program. The look and feel of this tool is simple, and Google is not selling advertisements (yet!). What information should be shared with doctors, clinics and/or pharmacies is totally controlled by the individual (or at least that's what it says!) More than two dozen companies and institutions have already announced partnerships with Google Health, including Walgreens, CVS, the American Heart Association, Quest Diagnostics, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic. They all hope to capitalize eventually (by ads or sponsorships) on the trend of seeking health information online, and the potential of web to help consumers manage their own health care and medical spending.

If you accept that this system is secure, and that your privacy would not be violated, i can see a lot of benefits for this. One, you don't have to rely on your memory trying to remember when was the last time you had a cold or got a vaccination. Its really easy to share history with your doctors, especially when you change them, as you don't need to re-iterate about your conditions to the new physician. Its also useful to request a doctor to view these records before you fly across states or countries just for an appointment and then to be told that the doctor cannot treat you because of a "glitch" in your records! And its so much easier to choose off-the-shelf medication if you can discuss the records with a pharmacist before-hand!

Like everything in life, I can see that Google Health has its pros and cons. With the growing threat of internet fraud, people would be justified to be skeptical about something like this. But with more and more people turning to the web for finding cures to simple medical problems, there are a lot of benefits of sharing medical records online, only if used in the right way,. Whether Google Health weilds its power on people or not, only time will tell!

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Blackberry Bold vs iPhone-2

blackberry bold 9000People are still waiting with bated breath for the release of next-generation iPhone which promises 3G, GPS, enterprise software and more. But looks like RIM will fascinate the crowds with its latest Blackberry Bold, supporting 3G networks worldwide, as well as Wi-Fi and GPS, all packaged in a sleek, elegant yet bold look! RIM (Research in Motion) has always been an industry leader in dishing out cool and powerful blackberry devices. Like Apple, it has a huge fan-following, and with this new Blackberry Bold, it has a headstart in the 3G market which could impose serious competition to the next iPhone version, supposedly being released in June.

Comparing Blackberry Bold with iPhone-2

Equipped with support for tri-band HSDPA and quad-band EDGE (for worldwide support), 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, stereo Bluetooth and both assisted and autonomous GPS, the Bold is RIM's most powerful and most connected BlackBerry to date. With a look and feel similar to iPhone(except for a smaller screen), it comes with a QWERTY keyboard, rounded corners, and personalisable back-plates. The keys are sculpted for easier typing and navigation, and even with a smaller display size than iPhone, the images look much higher-res on the Bold 9000. However, the Bold does not have a touch-screen, which could make it a wee bit less attractive than its competitor.

The Blackberry Bold's 624-MHz StrongARM processor with full MMX (multimedia extensions) is the most powerful CPU on a handheld and can handle full-motion video on its 480-by-320-pixel, 65,000-plus-color display for a smooth and crisp picture. With its 1GB of on-board secure memory (on top of its 128MB of flash) it offers attractive storage for personal and business data that you'd rather not store on an SD card. It also features a 2-megapixel camera capable of up to 5X digital zoom.

RIM has been the dominant player in the corporate-oriented smartphone space for some time. By introducing Bold, it is looking to transform a simple messaging device into an attractive device that is fast and easy to use for e-mail, offers multi-media features, as well as support for 3G, GPS and Wi-Fi. RIM has also announced a deal with Thomson Reuters to create a $150 million venture capital fund to invest in companies developing applications and services for the BlackBerry and other mobile platforms (remember iFund??!!).

The price is not yet determined, nor does RIM share any details on which U.S. carrier will introduce the Bold (though AT&T seems to be the most likely). However, there's no single-carrier commitment like the iPhone. The Blackberry Bold is supposed to hit the market in Summer 2008, possibly around the same time frame as iPhone-2 (around June). So if you've been waiting for buying a cool, sleek new device, it might be a good idea to compare the two and see which one fits your needs! While iPhone continues to be a choice for video and multimedia features with its large display and attractive touchscreen, the Blackberry Bold could be a competitive option for business and enterprise needs.

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Solar-Powered Workspace Desk - No more dungy cubicles!

Though you may find it hard to believe, there are many people who love their jobs, but it's the location of where they do their job that can make the task unpleasant. Cubicles and offices can get very dull and dark, the artificial lighting does not help much, nor do the artificial plants! Research shows that a little daylight, fresh air, and greenery would do wonders to a workers mentality and perhaps even increase work productivity. What if there was a way to actualy make this happen? Before you start thinking that I'm insane, let me tell you that I'm talking about the Solar-Powered Desk which acts as an eco-friendly outdoor workspace so you can choose to work in your campus, without wasting your time!

What do you do when you really need some light and fresh air, but cannot afford to take a break? You could grab your laptop and work under a tree, but that not being the most productive way to work, you'd be forced to step back into the dungeons in no time. Not any more though! Just carry this solar powered outdoor workspace with you and you can work outdoors as much as you want!

Designed by Mathias Schnyder, the solar powered outdoor workspace is basically a chair with solar roof that retains and converts solar energy. The energy is then delivered to an outlet in the middle of a round table in front of the chair, serving to be a power-outlet for your laptop. You can even carry a group of these chairs together for an outdoor conference! A neat way to conduct an off-site, I must say! Nicely contoured with no sharp edges, its a great ergonomic design too.

There is no information yet on the price or the availability of this solar powered outdoor workspace. But it sure looks like something companies could invest in! Just imagine how much more you'd enjoy working outside enjoying the summer sun! In fact, this could also be a great alternative to home-offices as with these solar-powered chairs you could work in your garden or backyard, in a more relaxing, refreshing and brighter environment. This idea surely appealed to me, just like the Solar Laptop Bag. It looks elegant, is eco-friendly and definitely useful; now let's just hope its priced good too!!

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Animated Wi-Fi Detector T-Shirt - Tech and Fashion Sensation

Can you imagine your life without internet and wi-fi hot-spots?? Definitely not, right? well, the only concern would be unavailability of wireless access everywhere. Fret not, my friends, for the ultimate in fashion and technology is here, and you can buy it for simply $30!! ThinkGeek offers an animated Wi-Fi Detector T-shirt that makes your Wi-Fi dream come true. With this cool t-shirt that detects 802.11b and 802.11g networks, you no longer need to open your laptop just to find out a wi-fi hotspot!

The Wi-Fi Detector shirt is a Think Geek exclusive available online for $29.99. The shirt features glowing bars that illuminate as the wearer gets closer to an IEEE 802.11b or 802.11g access point. Inspired by Cingular's "raising the bar" logo, the embossed print on the t-shirt intensifies with proximity to access points and connections; a classic white and blue signal meter on a black background does more to your style too. And what's more, its not just a tech-geek-freak thing, you can remove the peel-off the animated decal from the front of the t-shirt and wear it as a regular shirt. And yes, it can be easily washed too, so don't worry!:) Check out some cool features below:

Glowing animated shirt dynamically displays the current wi-fi signal strength.
Shows signal strength for 802.11b or 802.11g
Black 100% Cotton T-Shirt
Animated Decal is Removable (with hook and loop fasteners) for Easy Washing
Battery Pack is Concealed in a Small Pocket Sewn Inside the Shirt
Runs for hours off three AAA Batteries (not included)

I think its a cool fashion gadget that's affordable too, and will definitely strike a chord with the young generation. Designed precisely for the tech-savvy, this Wi-Fi Detector Shirt will surely win you some deserved attention!! So what are you waiting for? Check it out on ThinkGeek and order one for you today!

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Opera Headphones with Kleer Wireless Technology

opera wireless headphonesWhenever I have to travel in a bus or flight, I make sure I have my iPod and Panasonic headphones tucked into my travel kit; but everytime I wish I had a pair of wireless headphones that can easily sit behind my head while I sleep and listen to my music, without all that wire-entangling mess! That would be such a cool gadget, not to mention comfortable too! So I was plesantly surprised to find that Opera Headphones using Kleer technology are designed for just this, and are perfectly matched for all the Apple iPods!

Made by Korean "company" DigiFi, the Opera is a headset that wraps around the back of your head — the 'buds are still tethered together, but there's no cord going from your ears to your iPod. Instead, you plug a Kleer wireless transmitter into your player's headphone jack and you're good to go. In fact, up to four people, each with Kleer earbuds, can tune into the same transmitter! Now that's cool!

So what is this Kleer technology I keep talking about? Well, its a wireless technology that claims to have better specifications than Bluetooth. It is optimized for high quality wireless audio transmission between portable audio devices. Kleer’s patented sub-sampling radio architecture combines lossless audio transmission, low-power consumption, low latency, and best-in-class ISM band co-existence to provide far superior audio quality with up to 10 times the battery life of a comparable Bluetooth solution. In the case of the Opera, all you need to do is plug in the Kleer wireless transmitter to the MP3 Player’s headphone jack, and the headphones will be synced wirelessly to your player.

RCA's Jetstream MP3 Player used the Kleer technology, and now Opera is the second revolutionary product designed on the same technology. The initial price of this wireless headphone is set at $98 for one kit (earbuds and transmitter, which might be a wee bit more than what one would wish to pay. But the product looks promising, and if they can get to a universal solution that works across multiple devices, Kleer technology's Opera Headphones may prove to have a lot of buyers, including me! So lookout for these when they are out in June 2008 - it's surely a neat way to make your iPod wireless!

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Google Targets VisualRank for Enhanced Image Search

The world of web search relies a lot of Google's PageRank technology, and until semantic web comes into existence, feeble efforts by Ask may not be able to compete with the PR concept. But the one area where google lacked its credibility was in image search. Using the title or alternate-text associated with images is not exactly the most efficient way to conduct image search. However, Google researchers say they have a software technology intended to do for digital images on the Web what the company’s original PageRank software did for searches of Web pages, which may be the first prototype of this kind that has VisualRank for Images.

As stated in a recent article in NY Times, two Google scientists presented a paper describing what the researchers call VisualRank, an algorithm for blending image-recognition software methods with techniques for weighting and ranking images that look most similar. The prototype solution was demonstrated at the International World Wide Web Conference in Beijing.

Although image search has become popular on commercial search engines, results are usually generated by using text associated with images rather than the image itself. Image analysis remains a largely unsolved problem in computer science, and though automatic face detection has seen some light of the day, finding other objects such as mountains, landscape or small objects is still a challenge.

"We wanted to incorporate all of the stuff that is happening in computer vision and put it in a Web framework," said Shumeet Baluja, a senior staff researcher at Google, who made the presentation with Yushi Jing, another Google researcher. The research paper, "PageRank for Product Image Search", is focused on a subset of the images that the giant search engine has cataloged because of the tremendous computing costs required to analyze and compare digital images. The company said that in its research it had concentrated on the 2000 most popular product queries on Google’s product search, words such as iPod, Xbox and Zune. It then sorted the top 10 images both from its ranking system and the standard Google Image Search results. With a team of 150 Google employees, it created a scoring system for image "relevance". The retrieval returned 83 percent less irrelevant images than those based on text.

Google is not the first into the visual product search category. Like.com, started in 2006, offers a service that refers users to shopping sites, makes it possible for a Web shopper to select a particular visual attribute (ability to match shapes and objects rather than text), such as a certain style of brown shoes or a style of buckle, and then be presented with similar products available from competing Web merchants.

We all know that an enhanced image search is definitely required, and the current search technique based on text is not 100% accurate. But with the imperfect image-recognition techniques currently available, does Google's claim see too tall?? And will this be a scalable solution, considering the large amount of images foound on the web? VisualRank sure seems like adding value to the quality of image search, but seeing this implemented is something I'd like. However, i hope Google would focus more on semantic web first so web search can get more meaningful!

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