A Media Center PC in your living room needs to play nice with your existing entertainment system
A Media Center PC designed to pull full-time duty in your living room needs to play nice with your existing entertainment system, both aesthetically-with a sleek horizontal case that disguises its PC-ness-and with high-quality video outputs for connecting it to your TV, such as DVI or component video, and a digital-audio port for piping surround sound to your receiver.
The world’s smallest, lightest robotic helicopter demos the future of evershrinking portable gizmos
Dangerous, dirty jobs, such as sifting through earthquake rubble and investigating nuclear-waste spills, are best left to ’droids. That’s one reason why the Japanese electronics giant Seiko Epson has built the world’s smallest and smartest autonomous flying microbot. Weighing just 12.3 grams and measuring 3.35 inches tall, the wireless FR-II is tiny enough to slip into a mine shaft or buzz about an office building in search of explosives.
Sorry, Edison, your bright idea is a model of inefficiency
The lightbulb has remained virtually unchallenged since Edison invented it more than a century ago, but now scientists believe that zinc oxide—the same chemical that keeps diaper rash at bay—could provide a much-needed alternative to the inefficient lights that dominate our homes. In its crystalline form, zinc oxide can be used to make a light-emitting diode (LED) that
could convert electricity to light 10 times as efficiently as the tungsten filaments used in today’s incandescent bulbs. It also lasts 10 times as long.
The wireless industry braces for malicious code aimed at "smart" devices.
Imagine switching on your wireless Pocket PC device one day and finding your address book wiped clean. Or getting a call from the police, who want to know why your cellphone has been dialing 911 all night.
You’d tell the cops what many tech gurus have long expected: Viruses are going airborne. In June the underground virus lab known as 29A created Cabir, which is believed to be the first cellphone virus, and a few weeks later the same group wrote Dust, the first virus capable
Dilbert gets a newer, greener bachelor pad.
Cartoonist Scott Adams first built the Ultimate Cubicle for Dilbert the office drone. Now Adams is designing Dilbert’s Ultimate House (DUH)—virtual proof that a home can be green without compromising on cushiness.
Irritated by the inefficiencies of supposedly modern homes, Adams
enlisted the help of tech-savvy fans, architects and energy experts to design an innovative, environmentally friendly abode for America’s most
Will Nintendo’s touch-screen tech really fly with button pushers?
Having sold more than 21 million Game Boy Advances since 2001, Nintendo holds the portable-gaming market in the palm of its hand. But when the company announced this spring that its new handheld console, the DS, has two screens, gamers were confused. On paper, the DS smokes the Game Boy, doubling graphics quality (to 64 bits) and packing 4 MB of RAM (versus an anemic 128Kb). Other goodies: dual 32-bit processors, 802.11b Wi-Fi and a built-in mic. The head-scratcher is that one of the DS’s three-inch backlit, TFT LCD screens is touch-sensitive. How will games use this hardware?
It’s been a good year for roboticists, but the biggest challenges are still to come.
This October Carnegie Mellon University will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its renowned Robotics Institute and welcome a few new members into its Robot Hall of Fame. The fact that two of this year’s inductees—Astroboy and C3PO—are imaginary is typical in a field that lingers somewhere between science and fiction. One of the ultimate goals for roboticists, a machine that’s as easy to talk to as a human, is still
A breakthrough cellphone headset that knows what you’re talking about.
Drunk-dialing your former girlfriends from a noisy bar just got intelligible, if not intelligent. A mobile-phone headset from Aliph debuts a noise-suppression system that its designers say can drown out a weed whacker. Jawbone ($150), due this fall, uses a digital signal processor (DSP) running proprietary algorithms to scrub background noise from your outgoing calls. What’s unique is its voice activity sensor, a rubber node that rests against the cheek and picks up vocal vibrations through your jawbone.
What is BitTorrent, and how does it work?
The HP 12C is my all-time favorite calculator. I love its simplicity and size, I love the touch of its keys, I love reverse Polish notation (RPN) ... Did I lose you there? RPN is a more natural way of entering equations on a calculator (see examples at ). The HP 12C can also calculate stuff like interest rates and depreciation—perfect for a finance dummy like me. —Joi Ito, founder of tech venture-capital firm Neoteny.
ESPN’s new gridiron game lets you crush your friends when they’re not even there.
Playing football videogames
is most fun when you’re pitted against your friends. For those of you who no longer live in a frat house, though, finding an opponent whenever you get the gaming jones just isn’t practical. But now there’s ESPN NFL 2K5 ($20 for Xbox and PlayStation2; ). It creates computerized versions of your friends, saddled with their identical sorry style of play, so in their absence you can practice beating up on them.
Innovative tools that turn your work nook into the corner office
Make way for desktop clutter with the IBM ThinkCentre S50 Ultra Small, IBM’s smallest desktop PC ever (3.3 x 10.2 x 11 inches). It weighs just 13 pounds, yet its steel frame can support a 67.1-pound, 22-inch CRT monitor. The thriftiest configuration has a 2.8GHz Intel Celeron processor, 256MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive and a CD-ROM drive.
Sorting the data on the latest digital TVs
Replacing your TV today is more complex than buying a new PC—and a lot more expensive. You can still get a CRT set, but typically not with the size and sharpness you deserve. The myriad digital technologies address every pixel with a precision and clarity befitting a large-screen, high-definition picture. First decide which type best suits your needs: rear projection, front projection or flat panel. Native resolution is no longer a limiting factor; now you can find the superlative 1,080-line picture in any of these technologies.
Buying a PVR? Wait. Decide on your guide before you get locked into a box.
TiVo may be the best-known brand of hard-drive TV recorder around, but it’s certainly not the only one. Two other biggies warrant consideration: ReplayTV and, now, the latest incarnation of TV Guide On Screen, coming out this month. First you need to figure out how plain or fancy a personal video recorder (PVR) box you want—from a rudimentary, freestanding hard drive, all the way north to a souped-up version with an integrated DVD burner. But the biggest decision is what sort of program guide you want to live with.
Q: Is it all right to use generic inks and paper to print my photos?
Photos, songs and movies belong in your living room, not your office. Four ways to free your files.
Dept.: Geek Guide
Investigator: Steve Morgenstern
Home tech: PC-to-TV bridging
Cost: $200 and up