Friday, January 30, 2015

Dell XPS 13 (2015)

Engadget has published a review of what is currently the world's smallest 13-inch laptop.

Summary & 'Pros & Cons' follow:

"With Intel's new fifth-generation Core processor, the redesigned, 1.2kg XPS is notable for its nearly bezel-less display -a design feat that allows it to have the footprint of an 11-inch machine. And a starting price of $800 (or, if you are in the UK, £1,099! Ed.)."

Other than an update to the touchpad, there's very little we would change about Dell's redesigned XPS 13: It's compact and well-built, with a gorgeous screen, fast performance and surprisingly good audio quality. You'll pay dearly to get it with a touchscreen, but even then, it's priced in line with other flagship Ultrabooks.


- Nearly bezel-less display
- Vibrant screen
- Excellent audio
- Attractive & well-built
- Comfortable keyboard
- Powerful


- Average battery life
- Touchpad not great
- Expensive with touchscreen

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bionic Bird

BBC reports: [edited]

This 9g device looks like a bird and flies like a bird - flapping wings included - and is controlled using a smartphone.

A big part of the Bionic Bird is the related Flying App. There's a 100 meter range, a 'cruise control' mode, as well as easy and expert modes, and sensitivity settings to help ensure you don't lose control while getting the hang of things.

Charging is accomplished via an 'egg'. The bird is perched on top of it, with charging taking place in 12 minutes. The bird, then, is able to fly for a total of ten 8-minute sessions. As for the bird itself, the device is made from 'indestructible foam' and carbon fibre.

For more information, click here.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Leatherman Tread

Wired reports: [edited]

The Leatherman Tread is an interesting departure for the company, and an industry first: a serious multi-tool that can be worn on the wrist. Each link on the band includes two to three functional tools, for a total of 25 usable features.

The bracelet is fully customisable and can be re-built with slotted fasteners. The user can rearrange links, add or remove tools, or just adjust the bracelet’s size for comfort down to one quarter of an inch. Even the clasp is functional, with a bottle opener and #2 square drive. Other tools include hex drives, screwdrivers, box wrenches, a carbide glass breaker, and a hook-style box cutter that doubles as a SIM card pick.

The wristband is constructed of metal-injected molded 17-4 stainless steel. The tools may be tiny, but they’re not going to snap or bend under stress. There’s an optional Swiss quartz movement watch available in the fall of 2015.

It is TSA- and security-friendly. In fact, that was the original inspiration for the Tread: being able to travel and pass security checkpoints with a full complement of Leatherman tools.

The Tread bracelets will be available in May 2015. The stainless steel finish will cost $150, and the black diamond-like carbon finish will cost $200. The tread watches will cost $500 for stainless steel and $600 for black DLC.

Friday, January 23, 2015

96W 10-Port Desktop USB Rapid Charger Cradle

Because you can never have enough charging ports :-)

Allputer reports: [edited]

Charge up to 10 USB devices simultaneously from one wall outlet. Simply connect any USB mobile device, such as an iPhone, iPad, iPod, Tablet PC, Smartphone, camera, a Wireless Hotspot etc. and quickly charge all your devices from one place. This giant USB Charger is durable and lightweight and works great at home or at the office. This is a must-have travel companion to charge all your USB-power devices.

Price: $119.95

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Laser etching makes metal hydrophobic

Sploid reports: [edited]

Scientists at the University of Rochester have created a metal that is so extremely hydrophobic that the water bounces on it as if it were repelled by a magic force field. Instead of using chemical coatings they used lasers to etch a nanostructure on the metal itself.

From the construction of airplane surfaces — which will avoid water freezing of the fuselage — to non-stick pans to phones to computers to TVs to cars to whatever you can imagine made of metal.

They are also thinking of applying the technique to create 100-percent efficient water recollection systems in underdeveloped countries and the creation of latrines in areas where water is not abundant enough to allow for effective cleaning.

The lead scientist says that 'the structures created by their laser on the metals are part of the material surface' so they will not disappear over time, like current chemical coatings do.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Quantum Dots

Wired reports: [edited]

Quantum dot is gonna be the next big thing in TVs‎, bringing better image quality to cheaper sets. Quantum-dot televisions are a new type of LED-backlit LCD TV. The image is created just like it is on an LCD screen, but quantum-dot technology enhances the colour.

On an LCD TV, you have a backlight system, which is a bank of LEDs mounted at the edge of the screen or immediately behind it. That light is diffused, directed by a light-guide plate and beamed through a polarised filter. The photons then hit a layer of liquid crystals that either block the light or allow it to pass through a second polarised filter.

Before it gets to that second polariser, light passes through a layer of red, blue, and green (and sometimes yellow) colour filters. These are the subpixels. Electrical charges applied to the subpixels moderate the blend of coloured light visible on the other side. This light cocktail creates the colour value of each pixel on the screen.

In a quantum-dot set, the changes start with the colour of the backlight. The LEDs in most LCD TVs emit white light, but those in quantum-dot televisions emit blue light. Both types actually use blue LEDs, but they’re coated with yellow phosphor in normal LCD televisions and therefore emit white light.

Quantum dots have one job, and that is to emit one colour. They excel at this. When a quantum dot is struck by light, it glows with a very specific colour that can be finely tuned. When those blue LEDs shine on the quantum dots, the dots glow with the intensity of angry fireflies.

Quantum dots are tiny, and their size determines their colour. There are two sizes of dots in these TVs. The “big” ones glow red, and they have a diameter of about 50 atoms. The smaller ones, which glow green, have a diameter of about 30 atoms. There are billions of them in a quantum-dot TV.

Because that coloured light is the good stuff, quantum dots have an advantage over traditional LCD TVs when it comes to vivid hues and color gamut. In a normal LCD, white light produced by the LEDs has a wider spectrum. It’s kind of dirty, with a lot of light falling in a color range unusable by the set’s colour filters.

So with a quantum-dot set, there is very little wasted light. You can get brighter, more-saturated, and more-accurate colours. The sets I saw in person at CES 2015 certainly looked punchier than your average LCD.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

ZX Spectrum Vega

BBC reports: [edited]

Production is set to start on a remodelled version of the ZX Spectrum, which will come pre-installed with 1,000 classic game titles.

The machine, which has been developed by Luton-based Retro Computers, is due to go on sale in April.

Although emulators exist to allow smartphones and computers to play Spectrum games, the Vega has the advantage of being easy to plug into a TV.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Expose iPhone Flash

Cult of Mac reports: [edited]

Expose's iPhone app lets users blast light in photo and video modes, with flash, strobe or continuous settings. You can adjust the white balance and brightness, and the device weighs so little you’ll barely notice it’s in your pocket.

Expose is six-times as bright as your iPhone’s built-in dual-LED flash, up to 130 lumens.

Its body packs a USB rechargeable battery with one hour of run time. You can use it with or without an iPhone case thanks to the four included attachments that pop into your Lightning or 30-pin connector port, and the lanyard will make sure your light never leaves your side.

Price: $60.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mercedes F 015 autonomous automobile

gizmag reports: [edited]

The F 015 is a collage of futuristic technological concepts. The smooth, pod-like car is driven by a fuel cell hybrid powertrain.

The swivelling front seats can face forward as in a normal car, but given the lack of any human driving responsibilities, they can also swing around to face the rear passengers, creating a roomy interior space. The seats automatically swivel 30 degrees outward when the doors open, making it easier to get in and out.

The "digital arena" of the F 015 keeps occupants connected by way of six high-resolution displays integrated into the instrument and side panels. The displays can be operated via touch, gesture control and eye tracking.


Friday, January 09, 2015


The Independent reports: [edited]

A new antibiotic – the first in nearly 30 years – has been discovered by scientists who claim it appears to be as good, or even better, than many existing drugs with the potential to work against a broad range of fatal infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Laboratory tests have shown the new antibiotic, called teixobactin, can kill some bacteria as quickly as established antibiotics and can cure laboratory mice suffering from bacterial infections with no toxic side-effects.

Studies have also revealed the prototype drug works against harmful bacteria in a unique way that is highly unlikely to lead to drug-resistance – one of the biggest stumbling blocks in developing new antibiotics.

Such a development would represent a huge boost for medicine because of growing fears that the world is running out of effective antibiotics given the rapid rise of drug-resistant strains of superbugs and the spread of these diseases around the globe.

Thursday, January 08, 2015


core77 reports: [edited]

The Gates Foundation is backing a machine that can solve two pressing problems at once. It transforms faeces into clean water.

Developed by Seattle-based engineering firm Janicki Bioenergy, the machine burns faeces at a temperature so hot that there's no nasty smell. It meets all the emissions standards set by the U.S. government.

The machine also generates electricity - more than enough to power itself.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Seagate Seven Portable External Drive

The Register reports: [edited]

The Seagate Seven is a 7mm thick, 500GB portable external drive. It has a bare drive look with its steel enclosure punched into shape via a deep draw manufacturing process.

Seagate claims its low profile motor technologies include "extreme Gyro handling capabilities with tablets and thin computing in mind".

It hooks up to host computers with a braided USB 3.0 cable.

Price: $99

Monday, January 05, 2015

Ants Are Cleaning Up the Streets of NYC

Scientific American reports: [edited]

Over a period of six days, a team from North Carolina State University dropped hot dogs, cookies and potato chips around a 150-block section of New York City to study how much food-waste scavengers could eat in 24 hours.

They found that arthropods — invertebrates with an exoskeleton, including insects and spiders — act as a rapid trash-clearance service. Pavement ants in particular are voracious consumers of food waste and together with other arthropods are capable of eating up to 6.5 kilograms (about 14 pounds) of waste per block per year. This chomping adds up to 60,000 hotdogs, 200,000 cookies or 600,000 potato chips across Broadway and West Street. The study was published December 2 in Global Change Biology.