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NVIDIA and Rambus settle, sign patent deal, kiss and make up
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Some of you thought it would never happen. You thought that these two mortal enemies would spend the rest of their multinational corporate lives alternately at each other throats and eyeing the other with suspicion from across the boardroom. After dropping some claims and winning others, Rambus has signed an agreement with NVIDIA that puts to rest their remaining legal disputes. The deal will allow NVIDIA to use patented Rambus tech in its products for the next five years, without fear of legal action – though, neither side will say how much that privilege cost. Now that the battle between the two, whichbegan way back in 2008, has finally come to a close we can all finally get back to the very important business of forgetting who or what Rambus is.
Mad Catz Cyborg M.M.O. 7
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Mad Catz’ Cyborg RAT series of adjustable computer mice has seen its fair share of minor revisions, and while wireless upgrades and whitewashed DPI tweaks have given consumers a hair of choice in transforming desktop pests, the differences between these devices has been modest, at best. Until now, at least. Enter the Cyborg M.M.O. 7, the outfit’s latest addition to its aggressively styled line of gaming mice, minus the RAT moniker. Despite shedding the name of its predecessors, Mad Catz’ latest point-and-clicker is as much of a RAT as the mice that came before it, but distinguishes itself with more buttons, more features and more color. Read on to see what’s new, what’s different and what should have stayed the same.
Samsung shareholders approve spin-off of LCD business
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It’s been less than a month since Samsung confirmed that it would be spinning-off its LCD business into a separate company, and it looks like things are proceeding along speedily. The company’s shareholders have now approved the spin-off, paving the way for the tentatively-titled Samsung Display Co. to come into existence on April 1st. Samsung Electronics will have a 100 percent stake in that company, and the current executive vice president of its LCD business, Park Dong-gun, will take on the position of president in the new firm. All of that, Samsung says, is being done in an effort to make the company more nimble and able to respond to its clients’ needs more quickly.
Google tells Android devs to kick the menu button to the curb, seriously you guys
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If you’ve seen Ice Cream Sandwich and the Galaxy Nexus in action, then it should be clear that the menu button has no future in the Android ecosystem. In order to drive that point home, Google has posted over at the Android Developer blog urging app creators to “say goodbye to the menu button.” With the until now standard key getting the boot, big G wants devs to start designing interfaces that focus on the ActionBar introduced with Honeycomb. Of course, there’s only so much room on the screen, and that’s where the “action overflow” button comes in handy. Those vertical elipsis hide useful, but perhaps secondary options, that don’t fit in the action bar. It also pops up on the far right of the navigation bar as a replacement to the menu button… basically because it behaves the same as menu, just in a different location. If nothing else at least Google is pushing Android and its apps towards a moreuniform design. Check out the source for more details.
Windows 8 Beta coming February

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There has been some speculation over the last few months over when to expect the beta release of Windows 8. During Microsoft’s final CES keynote tonight, Microsoft put that speculation to rest (more or less), announcing that the Windows 8 beta will be released to the public in late February. Also being released alongside the Windows 8 beta will be the Windows Store, Microsoft’s central repository for Metro applications. The Windows Store will be available globally, and will support every language that Windows itself supports. There was no discussion of a release candidate, but at this point it’s highly likely that we’ll see a single release candidate, similar to how Windows 7 was launched.

VLC 2.0 now available
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The release candidate version slipped out a few days ago, but those waiting for the final release will be glad to know that version 2.0 of the open source VLC media player is now officially available for download. It’s being dubbed a “major” release of the software, and with good reason. In addition to some UI changes (a big change in the case of the Mac version), VLC 2.0 also brings with it faster decoding on multi-core processors, GPUs, and mobile hardware, and the ability to open yet more file formats, including a number HD formats used by professional users. Also making its debut is support for Blu-ray playback, although it’s being dubbed an “experimental” feature at this time. It also promises to fix “several hundred” bugs. Naturally, it remains completely free as ever – hit the source link below to download it for the platform of your choice.
AMD outs cheap Athlon II X4 Llano-based processors, minus integrated graphics

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Given that superior integrated graphics was one of the key selling points of AMD’s low-power Llano desktop chips, it might seem like a strange move to offer two new Athlon-branded variants that have been stripped of their GPUs. However, while one hand slaps your face, the other hand gives you more cash to spend on aproper graphics card for your ultra-cheap rig – because both the Athlon II X4 641 and it’s lower-power buddy, the 638, are priced at just £60. Go out and buy yourself something nice.

GE turns butterfly-inspired tech into cheap, accurate thermal sensors (video)
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When last we heard from GE and its Morpho-butterfly inspired sensors, all the talk was about detecting chemicals. And, with $6.3 million in funding coming from DARPA, we’re not surprised. In the latest issue of Nature Photonics, however, the company’s researchers show that the wing-like structures are just as good at detecting heat as they are ricin attacks. By coating them with carbon nanotubes the team was able to create a sensor sensitive to temperature changes as small as 0.02 degrees Celsius with a response rate of 1/40 of a second. The sensors could eventually find their way into imaging devices and medical equipment, and are expected to cost just a fraction of similar technologies currently on the market. Of course, since DARPA is still involved with the project, there are some potential security uses as well – such as screening devices and fire detection. Head after the break for a video and some PR.
Google Docs introduces video player, yet another way to kill time in the office
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Google’s headed ever deeper into the clouds this year with a new function for Google Docs: video playback. As of this week, users can upload videos (up to 1GB) in a supported format, and make them available for viewing in Google Docs. As with the previous video sharing set up, you can still download video, including previous versions. Google engineers have warned of excessive processing time, but once videos are up, viewing is as easy as clicking play – and having a Flash player, of course. We’re not entirely sure what the advantage is over Youtube, but we’re on board for anything that lets us share our love of creepy robot workout videos with our coworkers.

N-Control dismisses marketing consultant, discounts PS3 Avenger pre-orders
By Sean Buckley 
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 posted Dec 29th 2011 8:12AM
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Keeping up with your gamer gossip? Then you’re probably up to snuff on the recent Ocean Marketing / Penny-Arcade spat. We held our tongues as the drama unfolded – no easy task, considering Engadget’sname was dragged into the affair – but now it seems like the internet soap-opera is reaching its conclusion.

Not the gossiping type? Here’s a quick recap: When N-Control's latest Avenger add-on missed its November 8th street date, customers with pre-orders were left wanting. Some reached out for answers, hoping they could still get their PS3 Avenger before Christmas. All they got in reply, though, were some *ahem* choice words from N-Control’s third party marketing contractor, Paul Christoforo – a man who gained instant notoriety when his emails caught the attention of Penny-Arcade’s Mike Krahulik. Krahulik took exception to Christoforo’s insults, threatening tone and name-drop posturing (that’s where we came in) and responded by publishing the marketing mishap on his comic’s website.

Suffice to say, it hasn’t ended well for Paul Christoforo – N-Control has released a statement saying that he and his marketing operation have been “categorically dismissed,” stressing that Christoforo owns no stake whatsoever in N-Control. After ejecting the elephant from the room, N-Control went on to announce that all PS3 Avenger pre-orders would be given a $10 discount, and penned in a new ship date for January 15th. “I created the Avenger to make people happy,” said inventor and company founder Dave Kotkin, who originally designed the controller for a student who had a physical disability, “I deeply regret that so many people have any negative feelings toward it as a result of what has happened.” N-Control seems bent on moving on – which is fine by us, so long as they keep their customers better informed. After all, it’s not every day that such an awkward-looking gadget blows us out of the water.Read on for N-Control’s full and apologetic press release.
Fujitsu announces Stylistic Android tablet
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The BlackBerry PlayBook blues got you down? Fujitsu thinks you should consider riding the Android train to work. The company today announced the awkwardly named Stylistic M350/CA2 Android tablet, a seven-inch enterprise-focused slate aimed at folks looking for a sales terminal, catalog displayer or e-reader. The Stylistic has a WSVGA display and a battery that should give you around six hours on a charge. You can pick one of these guys up in mid-February, if you’re in Japan. An equally exciting press release can be found after the jump. 

Texas Instruments shows off minuscule nHD Pico projector chipset, USB-powered prototype
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Can’t say we really expected to see Texas Instruments’ DLP group here at Mobile World Congress, but it’s hard to deny just how mobile these things are becoming. In fact, the company came to Barcelona to (re)unveil its thinnest, smallest optical engine to date: the nHD Pico. It’s small enough to fit into just about anything – phones, slates, tiny projectors and the rear of your cranium should you choose to embed it there. As for specs? It’s sporting a 640 x 360 resolution, a contrast ratio greater than 1,000:1, a true RGB LED wide color gamut and reliance on a low-power Pico DPP2601 / 2607 ASIC / processor. TI was using a newly launched Acer device (the C20, if we’re being precise) to showcase the chip, and on-site representatives noted that other outfits are developing new kit with this guy in mind. In related news, another gem was on display that hasn’t quite made it to market yet. The palm-sized nugget you see above is a full-on pico projector, designed to be powered entirely via USB. There’s no built-in battery in this one, and no one would confess as to which company (or companies) were gearing up to ship a branded version of it later this year. That said, it’s most certainly on the way, and you can bet we’ll be keeping an eye out for it. Peruse the gallery’s below at your leisure, of course.

Everything old is new again: NVIDIA rebrands Fermi-based GT 520 and 510 into 600-series
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NVIDIA may have trotted out a brand new beast, ripe with fresh Kepler architecture, but that doesn’t mean it put Fermi to bed. Allow us to introduce you to the GT 520 and the GT 510, or as they now prefer to be called, the GeForce GT 620 and GeForce 605, respectively. These OEM GPUs have traded half of their memory and a few clock speed tweaks for OpenGL 4.2 support and a low-end position in the firm’s new 600-series. Despite their very Kepler-esque numbering (and NVIDIA’s website placing them in the same “product family” as the flagship GTX 680), Tom’s Hardware says the firm’s Bryan Del Rizzo confirmed the 605 and 620 are Fermi-based graphics cards. Then again, not all cousins share the same surname. File this under “extended family” and call it a day.

Google's mysterious 'Solve for X'
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Google’s X Lab is the search giant’s top-secret facility even its own employees didn’t know about. It’s believed to be working on driverless cars, internet connected appliances and Majel: a Star Trek-inspired rebuttal to Siri. It’s also apparently behind the Solve for X website, which hints at a TED-style public-presentation site featuring the great and the good talking about “redefining problems into challenges.” The video (embedded below) and the site’s background seem to agree, given one of the big box-outs reads “What is a Solve for X talk.” Richard DeVaul (a member of the “[X] Rapid Evaluation team”) mentioned on his Google+ page that the videos would be launching at some point today. Presumably we can expect to see innovative new solutions on dealing with Climate Change, new Cancer Treatments and awkward silence if anyone mentions a Canadian super-soldier program.



Supercomputer gets a memory boost with 380 petabytes of magnetic tape

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Remember the Cray XK6 at the University of Illinois that drives the National Science Foundation’s Blue Waters project? Well, it looks like it’s getting a little memory upgrade, sorta. We’re not talking a slick new SSD here, or even a sweet NAS, all that computational power requires nothing less than… tape. Okay, so it’s actually a full storage infrastructure, and some of it – 25 petabytes no less – will be disk-based. The rest – a not insignificant 380 petabytes – will be the good old magnetic stuff. The idea is that the disk part will be used for instant access, with the tape section serving as “nearline” storage – something between an archive and online solution. Spectra Logic is providing the tape, and says it’ll take a couple of years to implement the whole lot. Once complete, the system will support the supercomputer’s lofty tasks, such as understanding how the cosmos evolved after the Big Bang and, y'know designing new materials at the atomic level. And we thought we were excited about out next desktop.

Dell Latitude XT3 convertible tablet, hands-on
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Dell unveiled a mighty business laptop lineup this morning, but only a few stood out – like this Dell Latitude XT3 convertible tablet PC with a quad dual-core Intel Sandy Bridge processor inside. Yes, it seems Dell’s decided to forgo the incredible battery life of its predecessor for potent performance instead, with this particular unit packing a 2.5GHz Core i5-2520M CPU and 2GB of RAM underneath that swiveling 13-inch display. While the prototype XT3’s screen seemed a little washed-out and viewing angles left something to be desired, we have to admire its matte dual-digitizer display, which takes multitouch input from at least three fingers simultaneously and also recognizes a pop-out stylus pen (the former responsive enough to navigate Windows 7 by touch alone, and the latter beyond our can’t-draw-a-straight-stick-figure ability to easily test). That sunlight-readable screen isn’t just for traveling artists, though, as Dell was quick to inform us that the XT3 is the company’s attempt to make a convertible tablet that corporate IT will accept as one of its own, thanks to the same magnesium frame and universal docking port as the rest of the new Latitude lineup. We can’t lie: we’d be pretty excited about the potential for awesome here, if we had any notion of release dates or price. Find some pictures below, and mosey past the break for a hands-on video.

LG A520 15.6-Inch 3D Laptop

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LG is proud to present their newest 3D laptop ‘A520′ at this year’s CES. Based on Intel’s new Sandy Bridge platform, the machine comes with a 15.6-inch Full HD 3D LED LCD display, an optional Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, a NVIDIA GeForce GT540M graphics card, up to 8GB RAM, up to 750GB hard drive, Bluetooth 3.0 + HS, an HDMI port and SRS Wide 3D sound system. The LG A520 will become available in the first quarter of 2011 for unannounced price yet. 

Prestigio's Multi 9.7 Android 4.0 tablet has an IPS display, arrives in May for 199 Euro
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We were so busy fondling gaming machines and touchscreen Ultrabooks at CeBIT last week that we missed that tablet you see up there. That would be the Prestigio Multi 9.7, which – surprise, surprise – sports a 9.7-inch display. What’s intriguing to us (besides the fact that we’re generally obsessed with this sort of thing), is that we don’t see nearly as many budget 10-inch tablets as we do 7-inchers. As you can see in the video below, it has a nice, fingerprint-resistant rubber back, along with an IPS display and Ice Cream Sandwich as an OS – not too shabby for what’s clearly a low-end device. Then again, the specs are appropriately modest: it has 8GB of built-in storage (expandable via microSD) and runs on a single-core 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 chip, bolstered by 1GB of RAM. According to Notebook Italia, it’ll hit Italy in May for €199, though it’s unclear if it will be available in other countries as well. Head past the break to find a video of it in action (skip to about 1:30 in), and hit that source link for more pics. 

Nokia: 'We don't have a Plan B'
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Wander into Nokia’s corporate HQ and, if Victor Saejis is to believed, you’ll be hard pressed to find any manilla folder bearing the legend “Plan B.” The handset maker’s European Manager told Swedish financial daily Dagens Industri that the company has no contingency plan in the event that Windows Phone loses out to Android and iOS saying that “Plan B is that Plan A is to succeed.” It’s a pretty unequivocal statement that Espoo’s betting the farm on consumers embracing Microsoft’s OS. Commenting on the company’s recent troubles and winding down of Symbian and demise of MeeGo, he said “it’s like starting all over again. But we must succeed in the U.S. if we are to succeed in the world” – pretty honest, if a little disappointing to anyone who hoped there was an Android-powered white N9lying in a Finnish skunkworks.