The mark that Steve Jobs left on the industry is a deep one, indeed. But aside from regular product announcements, we didn't see all that much of the Apple founder. Jobs's appearances at the All Things Digital conference certainly do a little to remedy the late-executive's notoriously private nature, and now you can watch them all from the comfort of your own Apple-branded media player. All Things D has released Jobs's six lengthy interviews in video and audio format via iTunes.
PowerA's best known as a company that crafts controllers and accessories for console gaming systems, but at E3 this year the firm is announcing its first foray into the mobile space: a Bluetooth controller for Android. Called the MOGA, its got dual analog sticks and shoulder buttons, along with a fold-out, spring-loaded center portion that holds phones of all sizes in place while you get your game on -- not unlike Gametel's controller we saw at CES. The front of the device is glossy black plastic, while the rear is swathed in rubber, with ribbed portions on the grips to keep it firmly in hand.
A companion app, available for free through the Google Play store, is also a part of the Moga experience. Called the MOGA Pivot app, it scans your phone for games compatible with the controller, lists them, and lets you launch them direct from the app. Not only that, it'll periodically update the games list as new games are acquired and it'll download patch kits automatically for existing games as they become compatible with the controller. Additionally, it's got a store (powered by Google Play) that'll let users download new compatible games, and titles in the Play Store will have a badge to let folks know which games work with Moga. Currently, the company has 14 games on board -- including Duke Nukem 3D, Virtua Tennis Challenge and Sonic CD -- and are in talks with some other big publishers, so more titles will be supported in the coming weeks and months. We got a sneak peek at the MOGA ahead of E3 and talked with the folks from PowerA about their newest bit of kit, so join us after the break for our impressions.
In our time with the MOGA, we found that it fit well in our hands, and our sweaty palms appreciated the rubberized grips round the back. The controller is solidly constructed, and its spring loaded clamp worked quite well holding a GSII in place while we played. MOGA's buttons have a shorter throw than we'd like and that results in a hollow clicky feeling when pressed -- as opposed to a satisfying snick you get from say, a Sixaxis unit. That said, we had no problem timing our ground strokes while playing Virtua Tennis. The analog sticks are shallow as well and will feel familiar to anyone who's used the nub on a PSP Go, and we had no issue tracking enemy planes in our Sopwith Camel in Sky Gamblers: Rise of Glory. In short, we found the MOGA to be a good option for folks looking for some tactile controls to use while gaming on their phones. As we said above, it's currently an Android-only peripheral, but PowerA has plans to put it in the hands of iOS and Windows Phone users as well. We don't have an official price for the thing just yet, but we do know it'll be available during this year's holiday season, when it'll be joined by the MOGA Pro -- the MOGA's bigger, more console-like cousin. Good news is, that gives you plenty of time to peruse our gallery of photos while you wait.
SparkFun struck a chord with many when it released the ProtoSnap series last year. The perforated perfboard housed not only a tiny Arduino compatible chip, but a small host of sensors and components that made assembling simple projects a snap (pun not only intended, but relished). Tomorrow, the company will begin selling the next member of its ProtSnap family -- the MiniBot. Just like its predecessors, the ProtoSnap MiniBot is based around an Arduino compatible microcontroller (specifically ATmega328) and features a number of components that can easily be detached when you're ready to move from prototype to a more permanent arrangement. The onboard selection components is fairly limited. The base is a relatively bare perfboard with a 9v battery holder on one side and two wheels connected to a motor on the other. Up front is two IR sensors that can be used for basic controls.
Of course, it's simple enough to expand on the basic platform with any host of sensors and components, like servos or RF receivers. Ultimately it's up to your imagination and skill level, which is why SparkFun is primarily targeting the kits at the educational market. The company's new educational outreach program is making a big push to put the ProtoSnap MiniBot in classrooms across the country, starting with high schools and trade schools, as a bridge from more simplistic robotics kits to the more advanced projects tackled at the university level. The completely open source robotics platform will be available tomorrow for $74.95. As soon as we can get our mitts on one our own we'll return with a thorough hands on... one that reveals just how much smarter the average high school kid is than us.
What is a DJ? Everyone who considers him or herself one can probably give you a unique answer. Is everyone with a music collection and a sense for good timing a DJ, or does their music collection have to exceed a certain number of gigabytes or slabs of vinyl to be in the club (no pun intended)? Audio playback devices are certainly getting more plentiful and powerful on a large scale; anyone who's played with an iOS DJ app can tell you that. In the deeper end of the DJ pool, things aren't expanding at such a frantic pace. But every once in a while a new toy crops up that adds depth and breadth to the way music nerds play back music. Native Instruments' just-released Traktor Kontrol F1 is a blinking slab of rainbow-tinged hardware with an intense devotion to manipulating samples. While boxes from Roland and Akai have been defining genres for decades, this 16-pad add-on takes the sampling game to a new arena. Will DJ's want it? We feel it's safe to say they will. At $279, should they buy it? That question's a little more complicated.
The bottom half of the 5- by 11.5-inch F1 is home to a grid of 16 MPC-style sample cue pads, each around 3/4-inch square. Every translucent button houses an assignable 16-color LED. This eye candy will catch newcomers' eyes and, perhaps just as importantly, help the operator classify sample types according to his or her own preference. The pads also form a low-resolution display that elegantly aids in navigating tasks: scroll to another sample page, and a white bar "flips" the current page away kind of like an e-book. Four "stop" buttons bring sounds into or out of the mix.
Four pairs of filter knobs and volume sliders sit atop the box, offering individual control of each column. The function keys in the center are typical Native Instruments fare, offering precise control over each pad's settings as well as more general control of the columns and remix decks. The 14-segment LCD display and clickable rotary encoder will also be familiar to Traktor hardware users. Everything feels slightly more rigid than earlier hardware: sliders are more ratcheted, filter knobs offer more resistance than usual, and the pads themselves feel more spry than those on the drum-sequencing Maschine controller, another NI mainstay.
Like any good member of a commercial ecosystem, the F1 eventually tugs at your heartstrings to bring home a friend: although it's simple enough to switch between controlling left and right remix decks with one unit, we certainly couldn't help but wonder how much more we could get done with a companion to address both sides of the crossfader.
We're growing a little weary of NI's (very) standard design. The typefaces, coloring and weight will certainly match your other NI gear. But we'd prefer more diversity in the appearances of our setup, or at least the option to get something that looks slightly less...techno. Shift-functions of buttons have been drilled into gearheads' fingertips since Roland popularized them decades ago, but they are starting to feel antiqued in an era defined by multitouch interfaces. Until Colorware starts doing F1's, we'll make do with this: a hard-working black box that feels fine-tuned to the more performance-driven direction Traktor is marching in.
Along for the ride with the F1 is a key upgrade to Traktor Pro -- version 2.5 brings Remix Decks into the fold. They're a bit like Sample Decks, cubed from a meager four slots to a stately 64, and have gained more control over many of the tricks their elder siblings, Track Decks, have had forever: keylock, FX, individual monitoring, fine playback and level controls. The takeaway here is that you'll now be able to manipulate samples in ways that are more akin to how you're used to manipulating entire tracks.
Each sample slot reflects the user-defined color of the corresponding pad in hardware. Traktor Pro 2.5 comes with 1.4GB of samples, so even if your hard drive is a little bare in the kick, snare, and loop departments you'll be able to get a feel for the flow of synthesizing and re-constructing sets with the F1.
Capturing new sounds from existing tracks is one of the trickier tasks to master. Familiarity with the Loop Recorder feature in older versions is a pre-requisite -- routing, quantization, loop size, trigger types and synchronization are all thrust into the foreground with Remix Decks.
It's important to note that only one sample can be played back at a time per column, which essentially limits each Remix Deck to four-voice polyphony. We understand this limitation: it allows the hardware controller to remain simple enough that the operator can always grasp what's going on quickly without getting caught up in parameters. And considering that this is software for DJs, nimbleness should always take precedence over sonic detailing. With only four voices to work with, the F1 won't be winning any live MPC production contests soon. But precise customization will help users mold the F1 into the device they want it to be. We dumped all the one-shot samples from our trusty SP-404 into a Remix Deck and, within a half-hour of tweaking, found ourselves with a nice little 404 emulator enhanced by Traktor's synchronization capabilities.
Usage and the learning curve
Are there other ways to integrate samples cleanly and perfomatively into DJ sets? Any Ableton user will tell you they've been doing it for nearly a decade. We have been career-long devotees to Roland's SP line of sampling products, triggering completely independent of timecode, and experts can of course use non-synchronized sampling to monumental effect. With Traktor Pro 2.5 and the F1, the digital DJ becomes even further separated from the traditional vinyl-lugging jock, a trend that we expect will continue to evolve in interesting ways. Not that this is a bad thing.
If you already feel overwhelmed by your music collection, or by DJing in general, don't get the F1. You don't need it: spend time with your current setup and bounty, feel comfortable with it and push it to its limits. Remix Decks actually take a good deal of time and dedication to set up and program properly. And they require an intuitive familiarity with the Traktor's timing functions to perfect loop editing. Each time you create a workable remix deck, trying to integrate it into a set is a bit like learning a new instrument. Each pad takes on a distinct life of its own, with stacks of parameters requiring fine-tuning for every sample before it actually gets integrated in a live context.
If you're a producer with leanings towards the DJ universe, the F1 might be a good solo unit to get you familiar with Traktor. Remix decks are certainly easier to setup and handle if you're generating the samples yourself; in fact, we feel straight DJ's might become frustrated with the complexity of loading in samples on the fly for tracks that are not 4/4 electronic music. The F1, for all its multi-colored, popular appeal, relies on a system that certainly requires more than a straightforward DJ is usually familiar with.
If you're the tweaker type, always thirsting for more knobs to rock and more blinky bling in your setup, rest assured you'll be grinning when this thing powers on and struts its rainbow-colored stuff in your man (or woman) cave. If your cave-dwelling friends are anything like you with your hardware and iTunes Visualizer fixations, they'll share your grin with you. And sharing grins is what it's all about!
We get the feeling that hacker types will be having their way with the F1 in all sorts of unholy ways within a few weeks of its mass release today. NI has included a plastic overlay that casts the F1 as a standalone (and fairly limited) DJ controller, an obvious retooling to appeal to a larger group of folks. We can very easily see the F1 helping to bridge the gap between Maschine and Traktor much as The Bridge brought together Ableton's Live and Serato's Scratch. The colorful 4 x 4 grid holds huge creative potential and we can't wait to see how both Native Instruments and its devotees evolve the low-resolution display. It's the anti-Retina display, if you will.
We see the transitioned DJ--someone who learned on vinyl, then made the switch to digital--a bit like a pop producer who's been schooled extensively in classical composition and music history (hitmaker Scott Storch comes to mind): while most audiences can appreciate the outcome, those who know where the techniques come from can appreciate the production on a different level. Those who learn purely in the digital realm are less concerned with the architecture of what they're doing, and just want to make a cool sound. Kind of like a self-taught punk rock guitarist with a knack for what sounds good (a Kurt Cobain type). Both types of producers concentrate on different aspects of performance, and both are completely valid. While the Traktor and F1 may automate and further distance DJ's from previously-essential skills (like...beatmatching!) we don't think dedicated producers will squander the freed-up creative brainspace. They'll just use it for something...different.
James Trew contributed to this review.
Fans of XBMC who've wanted their HTPCs to replace the higher-end components of a home theater setup, like Blu-ray players and higher-end receivers, are having their wishes fulfilled through a completely reworked sound system. AudioEngine, as it's called, can processevery stage of audio encoding and decoding, even with 7.1-channel formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. As the code uses more precise floating point math, the improvements can bolster heavily compressed audio and allow for upmixing from stereo to a native surround format. Sound should sync more closely to video and avoid any jarring interruptions from system sounds, too. The AudioEngine update is still limited to experimental nightly builds of XBMC, so don't be surprised if something goes awry, but it's slated as part of the main development track and should be a boon for just about any XBMC media junkie before long.
It looks like webOS isn't going quietly into the mobile OS retirement home. While its journey to open-source continues, an eager cabal of developers, fans and designers have decided to reignite the ill-fated operating system under the banner of Phoenix International Communications. Focusing its efforts on transporting open webOS to existing devices, both HP-made and otherwise, Phoenix also wants throw in some new features and fixes -- presumably throwing in some extra software gems and UI tweaks. If it all goes to plan, the organization even wants to bring new webOS devices to market -- a heady dream, but you've got to admire their pluck. Any webOS devotees out there can pledge their allegiance (and assistance) to the cause at the source below.
Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2012/05/31/phoenix-project-webos/
We've potentially seen a lot of the next iPhone's exterior; it may be the interior's time for a shakedown, as an unusually detailed rumor out of 9to5 Mac has claimed scads more about the processor and iOS 6. Going by the tips, the 2012 design would use an S5L8950X, a processor with unknown specs but likely a step ahead of what we've seen in the iPhone 4S (8940X) and new iPad (8945X). There would likewise be a new spin on the PowerVR SGX543 graphics from the iPad as well as 1GB of RAM -- which doesn't sound like much next to a 2GB Galaxy S III, but stands to produce a similar speed boost for a lightweight platform like iOS. As for iOS 6 itself, the software is supposedly using underlying code newer than recent OS X Mountain Lion builds and is dumping Google Maps, as some have claimed ever since iPhoto for iOS made that step in the spring. The new Maps app (possibly pictured here) is said to be rough, but the OS as a whole could be coming along so swimmingly that Apple might have no trouble shipping on time.
As always, we're skeptical when so much detail is in flux. The rumor still jives with much more tangible behavior from Apple, such as its experimentation with 32-nanometer processors and a tendency for Apple to refine the chip from the current year's iPad for the iPhone months later. We may know the accuracy soon enough: more leaks are promised in the next two weeks, including an "entirely new iOS app."
MSI Now Shipping Acclaimed GT70 Gaming Notebooks with NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 675M Graphics
Superb performance and state-of-the-art graphics deliver unmatched immersive gaming and multimedia experience
City of Industry, Calif. – May 31, 2012 – MSI Computer Corp, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, challenges mobile gaming limits once again by upgrading their acclaimed GT70 gaming beast with NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 675M discrete graphics card. Heralded as the fastest single-unit laptop GPU, the GTX 675M adds even more power to GT70s deadly combination of performance and multimedia experience.
Already outfitted with Intel© HM77 Chipset, Killer™E2200 Game Networking, SteelSeries backlit keyboard, Dynaudio Speakers with THX Surround Sound and more, the GT70 now further immerses gamers in blistering frame rates, extreme special effects and unmatched 3D experience without sacrificing battery life.
MSI also announces the availability of GE70 and GE60, two gaming notebooks designed for gamers seeking a balance in performance, portability and affordability. The new 17-inch and 16-inch units feature a futuristic design and are equipped with the latest Intel© HM77 Chipset, NVIDIA® GTX 660M GPU, SteelSeries keyboard and Headset AMP + Gold Flash Jacks, giving them more than enough horsepower to handle the most demanding tasks.
"MSI believes that exceptional performance starts with outstanding components, and we've exemplified that belief in our spectrum of gaming notebooks, from high performance to budget-conscious," said Andy Tung, Vice President of Sales for MSI US. "We've given our flagship gaming notebook even more power with NVIDIA's GTX 675M, but also unveiled the GE70 and GE60, which packs affordable power for your entire daily gaming needs."
Founded in 1986, MSI designs, manufactures and markets superior technology solutions and products, including Tablets, Notebook PCs, All-in-One PCs, and PC components including IPCs, Servers, Motherboards and Graphic Cards. Committed to innovation and style, MSI products are available in more than 120 countries and employ more than 14,000 people worldwide. To learn more about MSI's complete line of products, visit us.msi.com or follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/MSI.ComputerUS and Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/msiUSA.
Oracle v. Google: Judge finds structure of Java APIs not copyrightable, renders jury infringement verdict moot
Thought the Oracle v. Google litigation fireworks were over? Well, if you weren't aware, during the copyright phase of the trial, the jury found that Google had infringed the structure, sequence and organization of Oracle's Java APIs. However, at the time, Judge Alsup had yet to evaluate the validity of Oracle's API copyright claims upon which that verdict was based. Today, Alsup found that Oracle's argument didn't hold water because it would expand the breadth of copyright holder's rights too far -- in essence, it would allow owners of software code to prevent others from writing different versions to perform the same functions. This ruling renders the jury's earlier infringement verdict moot, and gives Mountain View yet another courtroom victory. Despite this latest defeat, Oracle's sure to run the case up one more rung on the legal ladder, so let the countdown to the appeal begin.
Google lobs antitrust complaint against Microsoft, Nokia in EU, claims they’re playing patent footsie
The gloves just came off at Google: the company has just filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission against Microsoft and Nokia. Its gripe accuses the two Windows Phone partners of playing dirty pool through handing 1,200 wireless-related patents to Mosaid, a Canadian firm which spends most of its time suing the industry over WiFi rather than making products. Microsoft and Nokia are allegedly hiking the prices of devices by "creating patent trolls" that bypass deals preventing them from suing directly, possibly steering a few companies towards picking Windows Phone instead of Android.
Google argues that it's launching the complaint as an early defensive measure. Neither Microsoft nor Nokia has responded, although there's a degree of irony to the action: the complaints assert that Nokia is jeopardizing standards-based patents, but Google's recent acquisition Motorola has itself come under EU scrutiny for possibly abusing standards with its lawsuits against Apple and Microsoft. Either way, it's clear Google is concerned that Microsoft's Android patent licensing campaign might lose its decorum in the near future.