Apple and Samsung CEOs to meet by February 19th, give peace another chance

BY JON FINGAS

Previous attempts by Apple and Samsung to negotiate a truce in the patent wars haven’t exactly panned out, but they haven’t given up hope yet. The companies’ CEOs have just agreed to attend mediated settlement discussions no later than February 19th, potentially averting a trial in March (and likely future legal action). We’d like to believe that Apple and Samsung will finally reach an understanding, but we’re not optimistic given how long the two have been at each other’sthroats.

SOURCE: Reuters

full story: http://www.engadget.com/2014/01/08/apple-and-samsung-ceos-to-meet-before-february-19th/

Samsung’s 105-inch curved UHD TV and 85-inch bendable screen hit retail this year

BY TIMOTHY J. SEPPALA

If you dug the 105-inch curved Ultra HD TV and bendable 85-inch UHD screen (above) Samsung debuted this week, we have good news. They’ll both hit retail sometime in the second half of this year, according to the tech giant. If you were expecting pricing info, well, you’re going to have to wait a little longer because we don’t have that just yet. However, it’s going to be at least six months before these sets hit stores, so we suggest you start saving your pennies right about now — unlike other options, we have a hunch that these beauties won’t be cheap.

full story: http://www.engadget.com/2014/01/08/samsung-uhd-release-window/

Chromebooks on a tear? Fear not: More horsepower coming

Chromebooks are finding a home in the education market. But as makers expand their lineups, the devices are expected to gain more processing power.

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The lineup of HP, Dell, Toshiba, and Acer Chromebooks at Intel's CES booth.

The lineup of HP, Dell, Toshiba, and Acer Chromebooks at Intel’s CES booth.
(Credit: Brooke Crothers)

LAS VEGAS — As Chromebooks become more mainstream, they’ll gain more processing power to take on games.

Most Intel-based Chromebooks today come with Celeron processors — that’s a step below the low-end Core i3 processor.

New Dell and Toshiba Chromebooks — shown off at the Consumer Electronics Show this week for the first time — are both powered by Haswell, aka fourth-generation Core, Celeron chips.

While those processors, so far, have proved adequate for the low-cost laptops, that’s going to change later this year as the appeal of Chromebooks broadens and device makers expand their lines, according to a source at CES familiar with Intel’s Chromebook strategy.

Some Chromebooks will move up to Intel’s mainstream U series of Haswell processors, for example, the chip of choice for most Windows 8.1 ultrabooks.

That need will be driven, in part, by HTML5 gaming, which will require more horsepower than a Celeron can deliver, the source said.

The problem is, Celeron-based Chromebooks don’t use Intel’s higher-end Iris graphics silicon.

(An exception is the pricey Chromebook Pixel, which uses a mainstream Core i5 processor.)

So far, the Google Chrome OS-based laptops have been popular in the education market, but are expected gain traction in other segments where customers spend the majority of their time inside the Chrome browser, the source said.

report from the NPD Group last month showed the Google Chrome-based laptops grabbed about one-fifth of sales in commercial laptop channels — which the report said was largely shipments to educational institutions — in a 12-month period, up from virtually nothing the year before.

One reason for their popularity is price. They’re typically priced between $200 and $300. In addition, some organizations, such as those in education, only need Google services such as Google Docs and Google Drive, according to NPD.

The Dell Chromebook 11 will be available in January.

The Dell Chromebook 11 will be available in January.
(Credit: Dell)

full story: http://ces.cnet.com/8301-35291_1-57616857/chromebooks-on-a-tear-fear-not-more-horsepower-coming/

 

Xbox One’s first big update will address ‘the Live experience,’ expect streaming before E3

BY BEN GILBERT

Xbox — and Microsoft in general — doesn’t really show up for CES. It’s not hard to understand why: for a big company like Microsoft, there’s no point in competing with the cacophony of voices shouting for attention. “Whenever we want, we can talk about Xbox stuff and get coverage. Why try to talk with 100,000 other things going on?” Xbox chief product officer Marc Whitten told us in an interview this week. Though Xbox isn’t here to show anything off, Whitten’s in town to meet with partners and, as he put it, “It’s just a good time to pop up and see an environmental scan you can get in an immediate dose.” After a long 2013 head down on the Xbox One launch, he’s finally got a second to take the temperature and see the world outside of Microsoft’s Bellevue, Wash. campus.

But we’re not here to ask Whitten about the past. Yes, he’s “really thrilled” with the console’s launch (over 3 million sold by the end of 2013). And yes, he’s very happy with the reaction from consumers. That doesn’t mean work’s over, of course. “There are seams in the product [XB1]. There are still seams in the 360, nothing’s ever done,” Whitten said. As such, first up on the fix docket is what Whitten called, “the Live experience.” Essentially, that’s much of the social features on the latest Xbox console. Whitten takes that stuff personally, having worked on Xbox Live as a service for the last 10 years:

“The feedback we’ve gotten is pretty valid; some of the social stuff is hidden or harder to use than it was on the Xbox 360. So you’re gonna see us come out with an update where, well, we’re going to fix those things. As a person who’s been pretty involved in building Xbox Live for the last decade, I take it pretty seriously when people say it’s harder to get into a party, and the defaults aren’t right, and I don’t like the model. So what I’m trying to do with the team is kind of theme some stuff up. Let’s take an update and really go through a big list of what we’re hearing from customers, what we know is broken with the architecture, areas that we want to improve or complete. I think that’s a theme you’ll really see us push on — that Live experience.”

Based on our conversation with Whitten, it sounds like those Live fixes are coming sooner than later. Promised game streaming functionality, however, may not be coming as quickly. “This is not 100 percent,” Whitten prefaced his statement with. “But my general strategy at E3 is to talk about things that are gonna happen from that E3 to the next E3. So, we are not yet to the next E3,” he added with a smile. So, uh, before June then!

Updates in general, though, will come much faster. While Whitten said we’ll still see the traditional large Dashboard updates, the Xbox One was designed around lessons learned from the 360 before it. One major facet of that design facilitates more regular updates. “The Xbox 360, which I’m still very very proud of, the software architecture was built in 2003. Rethinking [updates] based on everything we learned from 360 was a lot of what went into the Xbox One,” he told us. “You’re still gonna see the big, ‘Hey, here’s the cool stuff we’re doing.’ But you’re also gonna see the box just get better faster than you did in the past.”

First up on that front? “Everything from getting more apps out faster, some of the TV stuff — improving some of that, getting the scale of that internationally where we don’t have some of that. So I think you’re gonna see that come pretty quickly,” Whitten said.

The next big push for Microsoft’s Xbox One starts by March’s Game Developers Conference. As it turns out, the Xbox One gets its first major exclusive game that month in Titanfall as well. And hey, if you ask us, there’s serious incentive for Microsoft to have partying up perfected in time for Respawn Entertainment’s big game.

full story: http://www.engadget.com/2014/01/08/xbox-one-updates/?ncid=rss_truncated

Incredibly sketchy, thin, and unverified next-generation larger iPhone frame photos surface

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Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 1.44.54 PM

The latest iPhone model came out just a few months ago, so that means that rumors and speculation about the next model are already emerging. Sometimes reliable CTech posted the above snaps on Weibo. They and others believe that the above kit represents frames for the rumored larger-screened iPhone. While such a device is due out later this year, the above photos appear to be incredible sketchy in nature. They are also completely unverified by us. The frames also look particularly thin, but in the age of the iPad Air, maybe there is some truth behind the blur.

full story: http://9to5mac.com/2014/01/08/incredibly-sketchy-thin-and-unverified-next-generation-larger-iphone-frame-photos-surface/

CES 2014: Haier announces first smart appliance with Apple’s MFi certification

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HAIER APPLE MFI

Announced at CES this week in Las Vegas, Chinese electronic and appliance manufacturer Haier is notably the first in its industry to pick up Apple’s MFi certification for one of its products. Haier’s Tianzun air conditioner (press release) is the first smart appliance to pick up Apple’s Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad seal which notes Apple’s standards for ease-of-use, quality, and functionality were met. Haier, which manufactures other appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators, plans to implement the same connected technology found in its MFi air conditioner in other products as well potentially leading a move toward more user-friendly smart home appliances…

For many consumers, Apple’s MFi certification offers a vote of approval for a product that serves as a major marketing endorsement as well.

“It used to be complicated to control smart appliances, but it is very easy now. The operation is greatly simplified and all of us, including adults, children and the elderly, can use it as we want to,” a merchant from India at the exhibition said. Haier used Apple’s MFi technology successfully and thus created a simpler and more accurate intelligence appliance control experience for users. Users can use their phone, iPad or other mobile ports to control their smart appliances simply by pressing a key.

We’ve recently seen a new market of iOS compatible game controllers emerge, and being the first to meet Apple’s MFi standard has served as a differentiator in that market. Other MFi firsts from CES this week include Resound’s Bluetooth LE hearing aid and Sigma’s full-sized Bluetooth gaming controller.

full story: http://9to5mac.com/2014/01/08/ces-2014-haier-announces-first-smart-appliance-with-apples-mfi-certification/