Wednesday, August 11, 2010

TheAppleBlog (3 сообщения)
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  • Samsung Leading the Interactive TV Revolution

    Google and Apple are talking, hinting and teasing about their take on upcoming advances in television. Samsung, on the other hand, has all-too-quietly actually been adding new features to its stellar line up of LED backlit HDTVs with hardly any technical notoriety. Perhaps if competition in this space cared about more than just pixel depth, refresh rates, upscaling and dare I say 3D, we’d be able to see more details behind what’s going on in the race to completely remove the set-top box from the home entertainment center.

    To wit, there are four aspects of what Samsung has to offer that any company interested in entering the consumer television market should take notice of: Internet@TV Yahoo! Widgets, AllShare DLNA Media Sharing, Skype Video Calling, and iDevice Remote integration.

    Yahoo! WidgetsSupport for Third Party Apps

    You may recall Konfabulator, originally released in 2003 as a Mac OS X-only application before Apple came out with a very similar feature called Dashboard in its Tiger release in 2005. Yahoo bought Konfabulator in 2005, and it’s now branded as Yahoo! Widgets.

    Samsung has adapted its line of HDTVs to take advantage of this technology right out of the box via a feature it calls Internet@TV. It needs no additional computer — no set-top box to wire up to the HDTV. Yahoo! TV Widgets come with the HDTV ready to run. All you need to do is connect the HDTV to the Internet. From Amazon Video on Demand to the latest movie rentals from Blockbuster, movie purchases for your in-the-cloud media library can be accessed directly from your HDTV without any intermediary set-top box or in-home device. You can even connect to your Pandora music stations.

    There are Facebook, Twitter, Weather, News and Stock widgets that can all be accessed directly from the HDTV. While not quite the App Store just yet, the list of apps that Samsung has created is impressive to say the least.

    DLNA CertifiedStreaming of Personal Media

    Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) has the support of at least 200 companies and has been integrated into thousands of consumer devices. Neither Apple nor Google appear to be among the companies that support this specification. Prior to 2010, only devices — not software — were certified by the group. This would explain why certain software solutions work better than others with certain devices. What’s become quite popular with gaming consoles is to stream media from a PC or Mac directly to an XBOX 360 or PS3, as these two game consoles support UPnP/DLNA specification.

    Samsung also supports the specification which negates the need to have a set-top box like an Xbox or PS3 to watch content off of your media server. You can directly connect a Samsung HDTV to your home network and access any DLNA server on the local network. The included server software from Samsung is PC only, but there are Mac alternatives like Twonky Media and NullRiver MediaLink that can turn any Mac into a DLNA server.

    Skype VideoVoIP Video Calling

    In some of the newer HDTV models that Samsung has been building, there is an optional component available that will enable Skype calling directly from your HDTV. For about the same price as an old iSight Camera, this Freetalk TV Camera can be attached to any Samsung LED HDTV (model C7000 to C8000) via USB (yes, Samsung HDTVs have USB ports).

    A little more Jetson than Dick Tracy, both Samsung and Skype have been working together to make this FaceTime like feature a Family Room reality.

    iDeviceiDevice Support

    iDevice support is the extra mile. Samsung has created an iPhone App that can be used as a remote control for its HDTVs much like Apple’s Remote. The app controls basic features like volume and channel with touch gestures and accelerometer motions. The remote app can also serve as a game controller, supporting some of Samsung’s more advanced apps. In addition, companies like Bianor are creating iPhone Apps like iMediaShare, which allows iOS devices to instantly share photos via DLNA to any Samsung HDTV.

    It all makes sense if you look at the diminishing size and awesome capabilities of a modern smart phone compared to the ever-increasing size of HDTVs. Including something like an iOS or Android device into a 46″ or larger HDTV seems almost trivial. The era of set-top boxes is about to come to an abrupt end. Partnering with Yahoo, DLNA and Skype has made today’s Samsung HDTVs a well-connected, powerful and complete out of the box iTV solution that both Apple and Google will have to catch up to.

    Alcatel-Lucent NextGen Communications Spotlight — Learn More »


  • Apple Buys Exclusive Rights Metal Alloy Technology

    Apple’s aluminum unibody laptop enclosure technology is pretty sophisticated. The housing and chassis of the computer comprise a single, seamless part, laser-carved using computer numerical control (CNC) machines from a single billet of extruded high-grade aluminum.

    However, it looks like Apple may soon have an even more technologically avant-garde device enclosure technology. CrunchGear reports that an SEC filing reveals that Apple Inc. has concluded a deal to access all the intellectual property of LiquidMetal Technologies regarding a CalTech-developed, amorphous, non-crystalline, metal alloy with unique atomic structures that can be used to create products that are stronger, lighter, and harder than is possible with alloys of titanium or aluminum. Not only is this material resistant to wear and corrosion, it’s easily and economically formable, somewhat like plastic.

    Cheaper, But With Superior Material Qualities

    The relatively easy formability of LiquidMetal alloys would presumably facilitate much faster and cheaper production of device enclosures than the current aluminum unibody process, possibly rendering superior materials characteristics as well.

    A Third Industrial Revolution

    Noting that Sir Henry Bessemer’s 19th Century invention of a process to mass-produce steel inexpensively was crucial to the modern industrial revolution, while the invention of thermo-plastics dramatically reduced the cost of manufacturing by using one mold for thousands of parts, the LiquidMetal folks suggest that its technology developed in cooperation with scientists at CalTech combines more than twice the strength of titanium with the processing efficiency of plastics to create a third industrial revolution.

    Smaller, Thinner, Lighter, More Durable

    LiquidMetal alloys enable smaller, thinner and more durable electronic device enclosure designs, helping facilitate the requirement for larger LCD screens, thinner wall sections and pure metallic surface finishes. With approximately 2.5 times the strength of titanium alloy and 1.5 times the hardness of stainless steel, LiquidMetal alloys enable thinner, more compact device designs while providing greater protection for their internal components.

    Using a process called precision net-shape casting, the alloys can be fashioned into intricate, innovative form-factors incorporating advantages like:

    • Excellent durability
    • High Scratch and corrosion resistance
    • Non-reactivity
    • High Yield Strength
    • High Hardness
    • Superior Strength/Weight Ratio
    • Superior Elastic Limit
    • Unique Acoustical Properties

    Not much wonder that Apple glommed on to this. I can hardly wait to see what it does with it.

    Alcatel-Lucent NextGen Communications Spotlight — Learn More »


  • Snow Leopard: This Cat Has Fleas

    After nearly a year in release, Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard still seems be a work in progress.

    I keep trying to upgrade to Snow Leopard, but always end up back with Leopard. I have both operating systems installed, using separate partitions of my MacBook’s hard drive, and keep thanking myself that I didn’t cut the umbilical cord to Leopard when I installed Snow Leopard late at OS 10.6.3.

    My procrastination about installing Snow Leopard had much to do with there being no really “gotta have it” new features in 10.6, but I’ve discovered that there are lots of small tweaks that I like and appreciate using. Unfortunately, it’s just been too buggy to make it worth my time.

    The Bugs

    Even at OS 10.6.4, Snow Leopard is still as buggy as a flophouse mattress. Here are some of the issues I (and others) have encountered.

    Spaces support keeps crapping out, taking keyboard response with it, requiring endless Dock quits and reboots in order to get things working again. See here, here, here, here and here for examples, discussions, and workarounds pertaining to this bug. Less monotonously aggravating, but occurring frequently enough to be tedious, I’ve found that keyboard input also sometimes dies randomly independent of the Spaces issue, and in those instances doesn’t respond to quitting and restarting the Dock. I’m left with just the trackpad or mouse to shut things down in a reasonably civilized manner and reboot the system.

    My MacBook will randomly wake up from sleep unbidden in Snow Leopard. More discussion of this bug here and here.

    The Heat

    Adding insult to injury, my MacBook (2.0 GHz, 4 GB RAM) runs some 15° to 20°C hotter in Snow Leopard than it does in Leopard, with the same suite of applications in play. I absolutely hate fan noise, but it’s nearly constant background accompaniment in Snow Leopard. And I thought OS X .6 was supposed to be leaner and more efficient, imposing lower overhead demands on hardware? Discussion links here and here.

    I can only tolerate three or four days of this before losing my patience and booting back into the serenity and stability of Leopard space. I guess I should be thankful that Leopard continues to do such a fine job, and I am, but the problem is that more and more applications are requiring 10.6 and later for their latest updates. MacSpeech Scribe, for instance, requires OS 10.6. The proverbial writing is on the wall.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that an OS 10.6.5 update  will squash some of this bugginess, but I have to say that it’s not a very lively hope, given that the problems cited here were evident in OS 10.6.0, and four revisions later they’re still with us.

    And yes, I don’t doubt that there are lots of users out there getting excellent service from Snow Leopard. I’m happy for them, but that hasn’t been my experience with this cat species, nor the experience of others who echo my complaints. Leopard, and Tiger before it, are proof that Apple can do better.

    What about you? Nearly a year later, what has your experience with Snow Leopard been?

    Alcatel-Lucent NextGen Communications Spotlight — Learn More »

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