Xbox 360 dashboard update beta in October

Microsoft is getting ready to launch a major update for its Xbox 360 dashboard later this fall, with beta testing to roll out in October. The revamped interface will mean easier, faster navigation, and integration of more Kinect voice commands to search for movies, music, games, and more.

VentureBeat got an early preview and had generally positive things to say: “Overall, it’s a big improvement on the user interface.” The upgrade is all about making the process of accessing content much faster and making content more discoverable. This is especially important because of the growing amount of content on the Xbox 360, which has already gone way beyond just games.

The interface redesign looks like a step towards merging Xbox LIVE with Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8. The new dashboard interface uses large tiles that are reminiscent of the Windows Phone 7 Live Tiles and the scrolling is sideways rather than up and down, similar to what we’ve seen with the Windows 8 tablet UI.

The update also brings more Kinect integration for improved speech and gesture commands, a new Beacon feature for non-expiring game invitations to friends, a more integrated and less restricted Microsoft Bing search, and YouTube support.

Nokia Essence promises 99.8 percent noise cancellation, lets you listen to Ke$ha in peace

In-ear headphones that cancel out almost all of the background noise? Yes, please. The Nokia Essence is the latest stereo Bluetooth to hit the market, and it’s poised to eliminate as much of the world around you as possible – 99.8 percent of it, at least. As many earbuds impel the user to turn up the volume level just to hear more bass, the idea with the Essence is to zap out low-frequency background noises (such as traffic) to provide a deeper bass sound without having to crank up the knob to 11. The Essence is also equipped with NFC for easy tap-to-pair functionality. Scroll down below to see a video showing a guy who’s getting the most out of his new headphones.


USB stick plus monitor equals an Android computer

I doubt mobile computing will evolve to computers on a USB stick for most people, but this prototype device offering found by The Verge is certainly intriguing to a gadget geek like me. Called the Cotton Candy, the small device looks like a traditional USB flash drive with one extra hardware bit on the outside; an HDMI port. While the stick can be plugged into any computer’s USB slot, it works as a standalone computer as well, capable of running Android, Ubuntu Linux or, through a virtualization client, Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X.

We’ve seen “PC on a stick” products before, but the HDMI port helps make the Cotton Candy stand out. Attach a monitor to the HDMI port and a power supply to the USB jack and y0u’re up and running. Adding to the feature set is a microSD slot, and integrated Wi-Fi and BlueTooth radios; these wireless options provide both connectivity and support for a keyboard or a mouse.

Of course, if the Cotton Candy prototype ever makes it to market, don’t expect a full desktop or laptop level of performance. Internally, the device is expected to have the guts of a capable smartphone: 1.2 GHz Cortex A9 processor, 1 GB of memory, and a quad-core graphics chip supporting 1080p video encoding and playback. But with dimensions of 8 cm x 2.5 cm, you weren’t really expecting an 2.8 GHz multi-core desktop processor, were you?

While I like the mobile aspect of the Cotton Candy, a better use for the product may be to extend the feature set of a traditional laptop or computer. It can be used to transfer media from a mobile operating system to a desktop environment or for running Android inside Windows or Mac OS X as needed. Sure, it’s a very niche product, but we geeks often gravitate to such things!

Xbox 360 Dashboard update pictures and hands-on

Bing search, Metro-styling and more…

Microsoft is set to release its most ambitious Xbox 360 Dashboard update in the six-year-old console’s life to date, and Pocket-lint was invited to a swanky location in the heart of London to test the new features.

Available for download globally from 6 December (tomorrow), the new update is a complete refresh for the user interface and brings the experience in line with the styling of the company’s Windows Phone 7 operating system, and the front end of the forthcoming Windows 8.

It adopts the new Metro-style interface, offering a tiled aesthetic, and splits content categories into tabs that run across the top of the screen. There’s some that are familiar, some not so, and all have been simplified.

Video and Games are still present, obviously, but new to this update are entire categories for Social, Apps, TV and, possibly the standout new feature, Bing. The latter brings about a new way to search for content, whether it be a movie, game, music video or such-like, and it can be accessed or controlled via the joypad or, as we experienced, Kinect – using the microphone and our voice.

In essence, the new Bing search functionality comes across a bit like Apple’s Siri software found on the iPhone 4S, and has already been advertised on UK TV. However, the feature is much more impressive in the flesh. It’s not a fully functioning version of the Bing in-browser search engine, and technically can only find content that’s available to play, download or stream on or to your Xbox 360, but it is revolutionary in the way that you can access it all through speech.

If you have a Kinect plugged into your console, all you have to do is say “Xbox. Bing. Search…” and choose a term. In our demonstration, we performed several searches, including “Xbox. Bing. Search Batman” and “Search Christian Bale”, and both of which came up with plenty of entertainment suggestions. “Batman”, in fact, came up with the game Lego Batman, some of the full length cartoon series and Batman Begins, both available to rent. Additionally, some of the new content partners that come with the update also have content that will be displayed after a Bing search, as well as those that are Microsoft-hosted. And, as more join up, the results will become farther reaching still.

You can search for common titles, actors names and directors, and, like with Siri, half the fun is finding out what works and what doesn’t. The Kinect certainly recognises a hell of a lot of vocal commands, and can now be used throughout the new Dashboard experience too (not just in-game or in a Kinect-specific menu). The same is true for motion control.

The other major non-cosmetic additions to this update come in the form of the aforementioned new content partners. Along with new zones and an easier to understand menu structure, come video apps for Lovefilm, 4OD, blinkbox, Demand 5 (Channel Five’s VOD service), YouTube, Dailymotion and MSN. And, unlike on rival platforms, Microsoft has made a clever move in getting them to ditch their own front ends and user interfaces in favour of the Metro approach. On the PS3, for example, the Lovefilm app looks nothing like Sony’s XrossMediaBar – it uses the same UI as found on Samsung Smart TVs, et al. Not so here.

Instead, while it is the same streamed movie content found on all other Lovefilm streaming platforms, it is a seamless experience, looking like the Xbox’s own new Dashboard with minor colour changes. You’ll still need a streaming-enabled subscription, but you won’t feel like you are leaving the Xbox arena at any time.

The same is true with all of the other content partners, including music service Even 4OD shows are offered through a Metro-style interface, although the font has been changed to Channel 4 s.

Remarkably, Pocket-lint was also told that, when it arrives, the BBC iPlayer application will sport the same Metro aesthetic. Seeing as how much the Beeb is protective over its branding and styling, this comes as a massive shock, and much kudos to Microsoft if it manages to pull of such a coup. We were also told that, because of this, and contrary to former rumours, iPlayer will not be available on the Xbox 360 until 2012. The same is true of ITV Player.

The big M won’t end there either. It told us, in our one-to-one briefing, that it plans to release around 15 applications before the end of 2011, and has a healthy roadmap for the introduction of many more throughout the coming year, month-by-month.

Some of those will be social too, although there’s no word at present on Skype integration (considering Microsoft now owns it), but Twitter and Facebook are already present (as before). There will also be new features for social gaming, such as leaving a beacon for friends who are not online. As soon as they log in, that beacon will ask them to join you in a game. Plus, as Gamertag information will be stored in the cloud from now on, rather than locally, you can even log into your account from a different Xbox 360, and play as yourself rather than a guest, with all your achievements and information being accessible.

At this juncture, it’s worth pointing out that some of these new services are only available to Xbox Live Gold members. Silver members still get the new look, the search functionality, and voice and gesture control through a Kinect (if they have one), but will not be able to access a vast amount of the content.

We haven’t been told of an exact time for the Dashboard’s release in the UK, but it is totally on track for this Tuesday. And, given our initial viewing, we reckon it’ll blow your socks off.

Moneto NFC microSD to bring contactless features to any Android phone

DeviceFidelity and Spring Card Systems have teamed up on a NFC-capable microSD card that will hopefully forgo the need of buying specific mobile handsets for the privilege of contactless payments. The card, which has been in development for a few years, houses an NFC radio and antenna that deals with payments through MasterCard’s PayPass system. Moneto’s iPhone case is already available, offering swipe payment delights for iOS users for $80, and includes $10 of spendable cash. The microSD card is set to land in the next few weeks, pegged at $30. Both will be available from the Moneto website, with plans to support several – as yet unnamed – Android devices by Q2, rolling out further throughout 2012.

Beautiful and Powerful: Audi’s E-Bike Wörthersee

The airy frame boasts a low middle of gravitational pressure and a small overall amount. In this way, your e-bike is fantastically agile with the sporty coping with limits. The lithium-ion battery is included in the body and needs Two.5 working hours to fully impose. On prolonged trial organized tours, only a few simple actions are required to take out the battery and change it with a incurred one.

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The frame and the swinging equip that holds the rear wheel are made from carbon fiber-reinforced polymer bonded (CFRP). The same fabric is used for your 26″ wheels, which in turn feature a cutting-edge “Audi ultra blade” style with wide flat spokes on an optimized transmission of pedal power. “We was able to demonstrate with all the choice of supplies just how strongly design goes hand in hand with expertise in super lightweight design,” Hendrik Schaefers opinions.

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The cyclist can choose coming from a total of five cycling settings – natural muscle electricity, the electric motor alone, or perhaps pedaling supported by the electric motor. Inside “Pure” mode, the drive power is actually purely the merchandise of the cyclist’s lower limbs, while in “Pedelec” mode you will be supported by the electric motor in which then makes speeds as much as 80 km/h (40 mph) feasible and gives that you’ range of 50-70 km’s (31-44 miles). Prior to your choosing “eGrip”, the Mercedes e-bike W?rthersee goes solely about the electric motor which enable it to reach a top-notch speed regarding 50 km/h (Thirty one mph). Your cyclist next controls forwards momentum employing a gripshift and can set up the power seeing that desired utilizing the computer.

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The electrical motor is at the lowest stage on the figure and hard drives the bottom range shaft instantly. The maximum twisting delivered to the back wheel is definitely 250 Nm (184.Thirty-nine lb-ft). The electric motor generates a new maximum output of 2.3 kW, a new community best for e-bikes. The total bike excluding electrical components weighs in at 12 kg (All day and.25 single lb), equivalent to the power-to-weight ratio regarding 9 kilo (19.84 lb) for each kilowatt, or perhaps 7 kilo (15.Forty three lb) per horsepower : another record-breaking benefit.

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When doing wheelies, an electronic manage system retain the rider while performing tips and back-wheel biking. Different ways can be placed using a cell phone or close to the e-bike ( space ) either “Power Wheelie” mode, together with adjustable wheelie perspective for less knowledgeable bikers or perhaps “Balanced Wheelie” mode for wearing challenges. Throughout “Balanced Wheelie” mode, the electronic command system retains the rider’s harmony, by compensating the biker’s movements forwards and also backwards with the electric motor. Meaning the cyclist can influence this bike’s rate by changing weight: should you lean onward the motorbike picks up swiftness, and if anyone lean backside it drops. You select “Training” mode if you need to keep your efficiency constant with regard to training purposes.