3-D TV is still experiencing some growing pains, in large part because of its reliance on bulky, uncomfortable and expensive active-shutter glasses. That’s now changing. A new wave of 3-D sets are using lighter glasses to make immersing yourself in the third dimension less cumbersome. Eventually, believable 3-D won’t require specs at all.
You might have heard of Google's Chrome OS, and how it's essentially a computer with a web browser...and nothing else. How can a web browser replace all the other elements of a computer? It turns out, with more ease than you'd think.
The days of rummaging for your cellphone may be over. Bluetooth-enabled timepieces now pull all your phone alerts right to your wrist. Eventually, these watches will communicate directly with the Web and serve as mobile hotspots on their own.
Soon, putting a beer on the bar could launch a readout of the brewery’s history, assorted tasting notes, and suggestions for the best barbecue to accompany your pint. In the Samsung SUR40, Microsoft has introduced a svelte touchscreen table that doesn’t just react to pokes and prods; it sees and identifies what’s on it. This ability allows developers to make apps that cater to products or text cues. Here’s how it works:
Cramming surround sound into an LCD TV is tricky. TV makers have tried but, to protect the screen, have ended up with bulky, subwoofer-less sets. Bass causes shaking that can blur images and damage pixels over time, and more speakers generally means broader frames. Now Bose has designed a 16-speaker setup for its HDTV that disperses audio from what looks like no more than a 46- inch LCD. Here’s how a subwoofer and room-filling virtual surround sound disappear into a case only a couple of inches thicker than other LCD TVs.
Like all A/V gear, dirt-cheap Blu-ray players can suffer from flaws caused by poor construction and cheap components. Once you’ve moved up from sub-$100 models to name-brand equipment, though, picture-quality differences are subtle.
With only a handful of 3-D channels and titles available, the task of filling the growing number of 3-D TV screens falls to snap-happy vacationers and amateur auteurs. They finally get their choice of 3-D cameras this fall, but the images they produce are not all created equal.
How do you make video-games more lifelike? Get the players off the couch. Nintendo’s Wii got families on their feet with a controller that senses swings and other motions. In November, Xbox 360 fans will rise for Microsoft’s Kinect. And now Sony wants serious gamers to stand. Its Move is designed for even those who prefer precision shooter games.
Smartphones already act like mini computers—they send e-mail, play YouTube, let you shop on eBay. Now laptop makers are getting wise. Instead of trying to create ever-sleeker machines by shrinking ordinary PC parts, they’re tacking bigger screens and keyboards onto high-end cellphone brains. Witness the three-quarter-inch-thick, letter-paper-size Lenovo Skylight, which surfs the Web for 10 hours on a single charging cycle.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.