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Tabled Discussion: Could New Table PC from Lenovo Bring Families Back Together?

7 Jan

The mantra from many marketers is the world is more connected now than ever before. In theory, sure people can now find out what is going on around the world and communicate with those people more than ever before. The idea of being isolated from current events, no matter how trivial is something one has to work to do instead of it being the default action in life.

However this “connected” world we live in now comes at a cost. People are not near as engaged with each other on a personal level than previously. Could technology actually help in bringing people back together in real life? Lenovo thinks it just might have an answer.

The company is set to release the IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC. Lenovo is calling it the “interpersonal computer”, a twist on the personal computer label many people are familiar with. The idea of the device harkens back to when a Microsoft Surface device was previewed as a big table and not the recent tablet. The idea and concept was intriguing at the time, and still is to an extent today.

Think of this Table PC as an massive upgrade to the old coffee table. Now instead of boardgames being taken down, setup, played and put away (a somewhat time consuming and arguably annoying process), they can be installed and run on the table. According to the AP article [1], the Table PC is said to be “big enough to fit four people around it, and the screen can respond to ten fingers touching it at the same time.”  Monopoly anyone? No. How about Pictionary instead? The possibilities are pretty much endless.

And with the ability to upgrade the software, even more functionality is possible. So what is limited to ten fingers today could be 20 by the end of the year, or sooner. Now think of using a device like this in an educational setting. The idea of dissecting animals just got an upgrade. Multiple students could be a one table and take turns doing the process multiple times in varying ways. How about looking at the stars but up-close and personal as a group? Again, the possibilities are pretty much endless.

Having some realistic idea of what one could do with device at home and else where currently should temper the grand ideas of its potential use. As most people do with any first generation device. Another possibility is it being a “second screen” to a media program being viewed on a TV.

The cost of the Table PC isn’t as “cheap” as a tablet. This summer when Lenovo says the table will go on sale, the retail cost will be $1699. If successful (which is anyones guess what defines success for a device like this) it is not out of the range of possibility for furniture manufacturers (big-box to mom-and-pop) to beign creating table shells which fit devices such as this. I’m generally not a first generation device purchaser but if I had an extra $1700 lying around, I could see giving this device a try.

Some specs on the device [2]:

  • Up to 3rd generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor
  • Up to Windows 8 Pro
  • 27″ backlit full HD (1920×1080) multi-touch display; 16:9 widescreen
  • Up to 2 hours battery life
  • Up to 1TB HDD
  • Up to 8GB DDR3

 

See it “in action” here:

 

References –

  1. Lenovo to release giant 27-inch ‘coffee table PC’ – AP
  2. IdeaCentre Horizon Product Page – Lenovo
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Keep Calm and Legislate: CALM Act Begins

13 Dec

It has taken a few years but the CALM () Act will begin to be enforcable today. The idea behind the law is to limit the louder volume of TV commercials from the TV show which they air around. As an avid TV viewer I can appreciate this bit of peace and calm. Parents with younger children who go to bed before they do will likely also welcome the news.

However, as I began to enjoy the idea of a more peaceful viewing experience thanks to this new law, my mind began to think back a few decades ago. I could have sworn this technology was tried on the open market before. After doing some searches on the web, I found out I wasn’t just making the idea up in my head.

The technology my mind was recalling was from 1992 and promoted by Magnavox. It was known at the time as SmartSound. Below is a link the commercial at the time illustrating the technology.

Magnavox SmartSound Commercial

I never owned a TV with this technology but if I had, and it worked as advertised, I don’t know if I would have ever thrown it out. The website eHow gives this brief summary of how SmartSound worked:

Smart Sound, introduced by Magnavox in 1992 on its television sets, is designed to reduce sudden extreme changes in volume, namely the sound of TV commercials relative to the sound of the TV shows they follow. Magnavox refers to Smart Sound as “automatic volume control” to describe the feature’s ability to monitor the sound level of TV shows and limit how much louder the subsequent commercials will play.

So why didn’t more companies pick up and run with this? That is a question we might never know. But what is interesting is it wasn’t then, it hasn’t resurfaced almost 20 years later as a feature in TV’s and now we have a federal law requiring TV stations to do the same thing the free market rejected. With the way media consuption is headed, to a more on demand, pay to view (either per viewing or subscription) it will be interesting to see how long this law will be needed after all.

Source –
Magnavox SmartSound – eHow

Hung Up: Addiction to Mobile Phones Ruining People’s Relationships

3 Dec

This news comes as no surprise to many people. Constantly having to check for new messages is an addiction and can ruin relationships. Did someone see Captain Obvious fly by?

More and more people are on their phone on a constant basis. Whether they are at home or at work, their phone has become another apendage of their body. We all should have seen this coming though. For years people have been telling each other, “I feel naked without my phone,” if they left it somewhere and could not immediately get a hold of it. From the article in the Telegraph[1]:

“Nomophobia is the term created by British researchers in 2008 to identify people who experience anxiety when they have no access to mobile technology.”

These little pieces of technology have made slaves of people and feed the narcissism of people in nations world wide. One only has to look away from their own phone to the people around them. They will see the eyes of almost everyone fixated with the 3 1/2″ plus screen in their hands.

The need to feed their addiction of being “connected” is coming at a cost of creating real relationships. Its no wonder people are choosing to take vacations where there is no cellular service. The idea of unplugging is being embraced by adults but not as much by the younger generations.

Children today are growing up in a world where there has always been an Internet and everyone has always been “connected”. They can communicate instantly with someone across the globe as easily as they could with someone across the table. However, they and most other people are not looking away from their mobile devices enough to know someone is sitting across the table or right next to them.

Interestingly enough, one of the “hit” shows today is about what would happen if suddenly all the power in the world went out. Revolution takes a journey to possible future without the conveniences of electricity and the hyper-connected society we are currently involved. On one had society needs electricity for things like medicine and food. On the other, unplugging from technology isn’t such a bad thing.

As noted in article on Mark Cuban’s thought on Facebook [2]:

“Baratunde Thurston, recounted an event following hurricane Sandy. He was in New York and a woman stopped him and told him to listen. She noted it was the sound of people actually talking to each other instead of being on their phones.”

Approval addiction is on a whole new level when people have feelings similar to “the “phantom limb” syndrome suffered by amputees.” It’s time people start letting go of their digital masters and reclaim their lives.

Source –

  1. Mobile phone addiction ruining relationships – Telegraph
  2. Mark Cuban Gives His Insight on Facebook

Pop a Top: popSLATE Creates iPhone 5 Case with Second Screen on Back

30 Nov

While not an iPhone users, I can say having an extra screen on my phone would come in very handy. A screen which uses very, very little battery would be amazing. For iPhone users, say hello to popSLATE.

This ingenious little device is as combination of a protective case with an e-ink second screen on the back. How does it all work?

“The popSLATE case includes the latest, ruggedized, E-Ink screen, so it protects your iPhone just like any ‘dumb’ case. In fact the screen is nearly indestructible.

The screen only uses power when the image changes so it sips negligible power from the phone. We use the lightning connector for both power and data exchange.  For shortcut navigation, we’re also integrating a tactile interface based upon the phone’s accelerometer. Double tap the back of your phone to cycle through images or accept Pops from your friends.

Then there’s popSLATE app on the iPhone side.  You can take pictures with the camera, browse the image gallery, manage your library, connect with other users, send/receive images and messages, and Pop what you want, when you want it.”

Currently the screen is only in black and white, but the company is looking at new color screen technologies and will hopefully have the option in 2014.

Source –
popSLATE

Net Affect: Internet Traffic Shut Down in Syria

29 Nov

Syria as pulled the “nuclear” option on the Internet and shutdown communications to anything outside of its borders. According to the Renesys Blog:

“Starting at 10:26 UTC (12:26pm in Damascus), Syria’s international Internet connectivity shut down. In the global routing table, all 84 of Syria’s IP address blocks have become unreachable, effectively removing the country from the Internet.”

Globally Reachable Syran Networks - Renesys

Basically the Syrian government went into digital darkness and silenced the voices of support or dissent from outside its borders. Taking measures this drastic are not very good signs for the people in Syria. It is also why people outside the country must keep a close and watchful eye on what happens there.

When a single person or group is in charge of any country, their will can be forcefully imposed on the people and freedom can be destroyed. How this situation plays out not only in the digital world but in real life should be watched carefully and cautiously.

Source –
Renesys Blog

Toying Around: Working Automated Transformer

28 Nov

As someone who grew up in the 80’s with the original Transformer cartoons this makes my inner child jump up and down with excitement. A toy transformer robot which works like the robots int he TV show. This guy deserves some kind of award and Hasbro needs to get him on contract ASAP. When, not if, they make an Optimus Prime G1 which works like this, it will sell out faster than any Apple product could dream.

For the Wanna Be Spy Geek in All of Us: USB Drive Cuff Links

27 Nov

Ok this is just too cool. Can’t you just hear the Mission Impossible or James Bond theme playing when you see them?

4GB USB Flash Drive Cuff Links