Runco LS-1: Affordable DLP Projector Hits Shelves Next Week

  • Runco has unveiled a single-chip 1080p projector based on the DLP chip from Texas Instruments.
  • The LS-1, the latest addition to Runco’s LightStyle Series, will be available this month for $3,995 (MSRP).
  • The company claims the unit offers “exceptional color and detail,” due largely to the Digital Light Processing technology.
  • The projector also features Runco’s SuperOnyx with ConstantContrast, ViVix digital video processing, and the ISF calibration suite for adjustments based on room and lighting conditions.
  • The unit’s exterior can be customized via Runco’s FinishPalette, offering a wide range of custom prints and colors. Additionally, with a simple touch of a button users can switch from 16:9 content to 2.35:1 content, without black bars.

Facebook Introduces New Messaging App Dubbed Messenger

  • Facebook has announced a new iOS and Android messaging app named Messenger that will allow users to send and view messages to Facebook friends across the two most popular phone platforms.
  • The app will also include a group messaging feature that will enable users to message multiple people for a single large conversation. Additionally, Messenger will help with coordinating group events by allowing users to include their current location in messages.
  • “Now Facebook’s vision when buying app maker Beluga is becoming clear,” reports Digital Trends. “The company has taken Beluga’s group messaging app and married it with Facebook contacts and messages.”
  • Messenger joins other emerging messaging services such as Apple’s iMessage and Google’s Huddle, but Facebook has the advantage of its 750 million member user base.
  • Will Facebook’s Messenger have an impact on RIM’s BlackBerry?

Review: Gizmodo Selects the Best Cloud Storage Services

  • Gizmodo takes an in-depth look at 11 popular cloud storage services and provides analysis of each based on pricing, features and functionality.
  • This is a great bird’s-eye view for those who may be wondering what makes each service distinct.
  • The site picks SugarSync as the clear winner, which offers 5GB of free storage and has plans ranging from 30-500GB starting at $50 a year.
  • “It combines the best bits of all of the other services and weaves it together into a fast and intuitive package,” reports Gizmodo about SugarSync. “It worked exactly like we wanted to. Super powerful, super easy, and tons of features.”
  • Additional top services include Google (Budget Winner), Microsoft SkyDrive (Free Winner) and Dropbox (Your Mom’s Winner).

Vision Research Camera Shoots Video up to One Million FPS

  • Vision Research has unveiled its Phantom V1610 video camera that the company claims can shoot at one million fps.
  • Gizmodo points out that in order to shoot at the maximum frame rate, the resolution may suffer too much to be effective.
  • However, the in-between settings show promise: “You can shoot 1280×720 HD at 18,100, which is still extremely fast, and if you are willing to settle for a standard-def shot at 640×480 you can crank it all the way up to 43,400 fps, which I’m betting would look pretty amazing.”
  • According to the Vision Research site, the camera can acquire and save up to 16 gigapixels-per-second of data with its proprietary widescreen CMOS sensor. “That means at its full megapixel resolution of 1280×800, you can achieve 16,000 frames-per-second. At reduced resolutions, the v1610 offers frame rates of 650,000 fps.”
  • Be sure to watch the video demo included in the Gizmodo post.

Vizio Releases $299 Android Tablet in Time for School

  • Vizio has released an 8-inch Android tablet priced at a mere $299. It features Adobe Flash, a three-speaker configuration and a MicroSD slot for expanding to 32GB.
  • The Wi-Fi tablet is being promoted by Vizio as an affordable back-to-school option and as a media device designed to interact with TVs.
  • According to the press release: “The VIZIO Tablet features VIZIO Internet Apps Plus which combines the latest technologies with a unified, easy-to-use and fun user interface across select future VIZIO HDTVs, Blu-ray players and other devices — further differentiating the sleek VIZIO Tablet. In addition, the new Tablet is able to control nearly every element of a user’s home theater with a universal remote app and includes a built-in HDMI port with HDCP support for content protected HD playback on the big screen.”

Mac OS Surpasses Linux in Popularity Amongst Developers

  • Apple’s Mac operating system has reportedly edged past Linux in popularity amongst developers in North America.
  • Windows OS remains the clear frontrunner for development with 80 percent of developers. However, while 5.6 percent of developers said they prefer Linux, Mac OS has taken second place with 7.9 percent.
  • “Apple has made tremendous strides in the last few years with innovative products and technologies. [As such], it’s quite reasonable to see developers adopting the Mac and its OS as a development environment,” explains Evans Data CEO Janel Garvin. “Linux has lost some of its luster after years of only single digit adoption.”
  • Mac OS X is based on the Unix operating system. The latest iteration — Mac OS X Lion version 10.7 — features a redesigned UI to help bridge Apple’s iOS for mobile devices and Mac OS for desktop computers.

Lucasfilm and Sony Pictures Imageworks Release CG Interchange Format

  • Lucasfilm and Sony Pictures Imageworks unveiled Alembic, a computer graphics interchange format, this week at the SIGGRAPH Conference in Vancouver. Version 1.0 is now available for download.
  • According to Carolyn Giardina of The Hollywood Reporter, Alembic is “an open source system aimed at helping VFX companies easily store and share complex animated scenes across facilities, regardless of what software is being used.”
  • Sony Pictures Imageworks reports Alembic enables its artists to work 48 percent faster while using significantly less disc space.
  • At SIGGRAPH, leading software suppliers including Autodesk, Luxology, The Foundry and Side Effects are showing Alembic support for their top products.

Disney Demonstrates Surround Haptics System for Gaming and More

  • Disney Research has developed a new technology that leverages phantom sensations and other tactile illusions to provide a wide range of physical sensations for gamers and film-goers via chairs outfitted with vibrating actuators. The technology is being demonstrated this week at SIGGRAPH in Vancouver.
  • Disney says its Surround Haptics system makes it possible for video game players and film viewers to “feel the smoothness of a finger being drawn against skin, for example, or the jolt of a collision.”
  • The system could potentially have a wide range of applications in movies, music and games, even communication systems for the blind.
  • “Although we have only implemented Surround Haptics with a gaming chair to date, the technology can be easily embedded into clothing, gloves, sports equipment and mobile computing devices,” says senior research scientist Ivan Poupyrev. “This technology has the capability of enhancing the perception of flying or falling, of shrinking or growing, of feeling bugs creeping on your skin. The possibilities are endless.”

Rdio for iPad App: Streaming Music Better Than Spotify?

  • Rdio has released a free iPad version of its streaming music app. According to the Gizmodo review: “Spotify may be stealing all the hype and pub for streaming music services but let’s not kid around here, Rdio still makes the best music apps across any platform.”
  • The review raves about the app based largely on its selection, album art, social aspects and quality music player.
  • Users can listen via their iPad headphones or through other devices thanks to AirPlay support — a feature that particularly appeals to the staff at Gizmodo: “I always thought it was funny to use the iPad as your music player but when you think about it, Rdio + AirPlay + Big Honking Screen gives you the biggest remote control in the house for the best audio system in your house with all the streaming music not in your house.”
  • For a better look at the interface, the post includes a brief video demo.

HP Launches 4G Version of its TouchPad Tablet

  • HP unveiled a new 4G version of its TouchPad tablet on Amazon this week.
  • The tablet features a faster 1.5 Ghz processor, an updated webOS, 32GB of memory, 4G and Wi-Fi capabilities, and a 9.7-inch LED touchscreen.
  • It retails for $699 and is available for pre-order on (although the listing does not include a release date).
  • According to PCMag: “Over the weekend, HP offered a $100 discount on the TouchPad, as did retailer Staples, allowing users to get as much as $200 off the tablet. It’s not clear if that was the original intent, however. Staples said rather cryptically that the coupons ‘were meant for different audiences,’ and did not respond to follow-up questions.”

Archos Tablet Features Hard Disc Tweaked to Perform Like Flash Drive

  • French CE manufacturer Archos announced it is getting ready to launch an Android Honeycomb 3.2 tablet with 250GB of internal storage capacity.
  • The Archos G9, expected to hit shelves in September, will be available in 8- and 10-inch models ($370 and $470, respectively).
  • The new tablet will feature a Seagate Momentus Thin 2.5-inch hard drive modified to include 4GB of flash storage.
  • “Another marquee feature is the 1.5GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 dual-core processor,” CNET reports. “This is the same processor that Google has approved for upcoming Android Ice Cream Sandwich devices. That means consumers can expect to see a new wave of tablets and smartphones built around the TI 4460.”

Quixey Search Engine Targets Social Media Apps

  • Quixey is an app-specialized search engine funded by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
  • The service hopes to make it simpler for social media users (developers and consumers) to find applications and widgets for social networks.
  • Last week, Quixey got closer to that goal when it added Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Foursquare integration.
  • The engine also indexes and categorizes tools and apps based on social chatter, blog posts, reviews and other third-party descriptions of their function. The search technology bypasses the clutter by efficiently mining data and app-related keywords.
  • Quixey co-founder Tomer Kagan explains: “A lot of apps on Facebook [for example] don’t even have a description attached — just a name. From a search perspective, if all you have to work with is like three words, it’s extremely difficult.”
  • The Mountain View, CA startup has raised $400,000 in seed money from Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors.

Pro Photographer Tests 2X Lens Converter with RED Epic Camera

  • Photographer Vincent Laforet has been testing a new 2X Canon lens converter with his RED Epic camera.
  • Gizmodo explains that he uses a 600mm Canon lens “to effectively double focal length to 1200mm at a 4K resolution.”
  • “The results are nothing short of amazing,” reports Gizmodo, “but then, he is a professional, and had some beautiful scenery to work with.”
  • “This was shot with the yet-to-be-released RED Canon mount — which has full support of autofocus, image stabilization, digital aperture control, touch to focus, touch to rack focus, and distance readout. These are pretty amazing times to be behind the lens,” writes Laforet on his blog. “While long lenses are nothing new in the motion picture world — this type of resolution combined with Canon’s Image Stabilization technology is utterly impressive and should be a huge hit with wildlife and sports photographers around the world.”

GLMPS iPhone App Creates New Approach to Image-Sharing

  • GLMPS (pronounced “glimpse”), a new iPhone app, hopes to stand out from the growing collection of available image-sharing apps by creating a new type of media that combines stills and video.
  • Digital Trends describes the basic premise: “When you take a picture with your smartphone through the app, GLMPS captures a photo as well as a short, 5-second video clip of what took place just before the picture was taken. When viewing the GLMPS file, the video plays first, and is then shrunken down and superimposed as a thumbnail over the photo. The video then plays on repeat, much like a GIF file.”
  • All images are automatically stored to the iPhone’s camera roll. Users can then share the images through the free app, or post GLMPS files to social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Home Entertainment Spending Seems to Have Stabilized in Q2

  • An increasing number of viewers are turning to rental programs for movies and TV shows, according to a report from Digital Entertainment Group.
  • DEG also reports that consumer spending on home entertainment has stabilized with an unexpected recovery to the disc-based business in the second quarter.
  • The report concludes that consumers spent $4.2 billion on transactional video services — disc rental, streaming and VOD — during the first half of 2011. These figures mark an 11 percent increase over the same period last year.
  • The report also mentions a 16 percent drop in disc purchases, with combined Blu-ray and DVD sales falling to $1.8 billion in the second quarter. However, rental — including streaming and VOD — was up 11.16 percent. (Blu-ray sales increased 10 percent, while demand for DVD declined.)
  • Netflix rose 45.7 percent in the first six months of this year, while kiosk rental (mostly Redbox) rose 39.8 percent.
  • The Hollywood Reporter adds: “Spending on Blu-ray Discs was up a solid 10 percent in the first half. DEG estimates that the number of U.S. households with at least one Blu-ray Disc playback device rose 16 percent in the first six months of 2011 to bring total household penetration to more than 31.6 million, making the format one of the fastest-growing new technologies in the home entertainment industry.”

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