Google has announced that it is planning to wind down its Labs project as the company aims to its streamline product portfolio and pay more attention on development efforts. The Google Labs project is a platform for all the early stage product prototypes and allows end users to try out without any guarantees of their future existence.

Google's plan to stop Google Labs has already sparked debate whether the Giant Internet company has done the right thing. If we consider the fact that Google has always touted its policy of introducing new products and allowing the users lay their hands on them.

It should be noted that Google Labs was often touted as as the playground for its curious users. The Labs also served as incubator for some of the popular Google products such as Google Maps, Google Readers and Google Groups.

There are more than 50 experimental products listed under Google Labs. When Google Labs disappear, some will be included into existing products. However, there's no comments on which of the products will disappear and which ones will not. Moreover, correct date for shutting down Google Labs has not been announced.

The company added that the most of the Android apps on the Labs will be transferred to the Android Market. Google promises that its product-specific Labs sites, like Gmail Labs, Google Maps Labs and Search Experiments are not going to be affected.

If you've recently made the move from Windows XP or Vista to Windows 7, one big change you've probably noticed is the way the operating system displays icons in its taskbar (the row along the bottom of the screen).

Specifically, it shows icons only, without any text labels identifying what they are. This screenshot is what you typically see:

Although some icons are pretty self-explanatory (like those for Internet Explorer, Microsoft Word, etc.), I like to have the accompanying labels--at least for programs that are currently running. Fortunately, it's an easy matter to tweak this option in Windows 7. Here's how:

Right-click an open area of the taskbar, then choose Properties.
In the Taskbar tab, find the Taskbar buttons pull-down menu.
Choose Combine when taskbar is full or Never combine, then click OK.
The first option, which is what I use, keeps the text labels visible until the taskbar gets so crowded as to make that impractical, at which point Windows will ditch the labels and merge multiple instances of running program (like, say, a bunch of Firefox windows) onto a single taskbar icon.

Here's an "after" shot so you can see the taskbar with text labels:

Password-Protect a Folder in Windows 7
Reader Ash wants to know if there's a way to password-protect individual folders in Windows 7:

"I have a PC and I am the main user of it 95 percent of the time. As such, I don't have it request a password from me when it boots, and haven't setup any user accounts. Occasionally, other people will use this PC, but there are a few documents and personal files I'd like to keep hidden with a password."

Seems logical to me. Alas, Windows lacks any kind of file- or folder-specific protections. You said you wanted to accomplish this without third-party software, but I'm afraid that's the only real option. (With multiple user accounts, it's possible to prevent selected users from accessing designated folders--but that's a hassle to set up. Besides, you said yourself you don't have multiple accounts.)

If you don't want to spend any money, consider going the zip route. Most zip managers, including popular freebie 7-Zip, give you the option to password-protect any zipped files and folders. Yes, you have to jump through the hoops of compressing and decompressing folders, but perhaps that's not a big deal for stuff you access infrequently.

No good? Then drop a few bucks on a utility like Folder Lock, which is designed solely for the purpose of, well, locking folders. It's a little pricey at $40, so you might also want to check out Iobit's similar Protected Folder, which costs half as much.

Of course, all these options overlook one of my favorite methods: misdirection. You could create a folder with the world's most boring name--Widget Sales Projections 2007, for example--and nestle it a few folders deep where no one would ever find it. For someone in your situation, with a computer that's used by you 95 percent of the time, that might be the simplest and most effective solution.

Compress Files in Windows
Need to send someone a big batch of files? Don't attach one after another after another to your e-mail. Instead, compress the files into one smaller, easier-to-manage file. In other words, zip them.

The Zip file format has long been used to compress and archive data. Suppose you have, say, 50 Word documents that have a combined size of 5MB. By zipping them, you end up with a single file that's much smaller--maybe 1MB or even 500KB. Imagine stuffing all your clothes into a tiny, lightweight suitcase--that's what compression does. Even better, when you open the suitcase, everything comes out wrinkle-free.

If you're already using a utility like PKZip or WinZip to compress and decompress files, there's little point in changing. But did you know Windows has zip capabilities built right in? Here's how to use them on the fly, using the aforementioned e-mail as an example:

Compose your e-mail message, then click Attach File (or whatever is your mail client's equivalent).
Using the file selector that appears, find the files you want to attach. (They all need to be in the same folder.)
Select all the files you want to zip. (To select multiple files at a time, hold down the Ctrl key while clicking each one in turn.)
Right-click any of the selected files, then choose Send to, Compressed (zipped) folder.
Windows will quickly compress the files and create a new, zipped file that's immediately ready to be renamed (if necessary--if not, just press Enter).
Attach your newly created Zip file to the e-mail.
That's all there is to it!

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Work Your Windows Key

Quickly view your system specs: Press Windows-Pause to bring up the System Info window. This keyboard shortcut can be especially handy if you're troubleshooting a PC and need to pull up the system's specs in a hurry.

Launch taskbar apps: Put your most commonly used appli cations in the taskbar, and you'll use your mouse a lot less. Pressing Windows plus any number key will launch the program in the corresponding taskbar slot (so Windows-1 will open Windows Explorer, Windows-2 will open the app positioned to the right of Explorer, and so on).

Press Windows-P to switch display modes when you attach a peripheral. Ditch the Displays Control Panel: To switch display modes instantly when you plug in a projector or dock your laptop to an external display, press Windows-P.

Run apps from anywhere: You can launch applications and set parameters from your keyboard, without having to waste time digging through the Start menu to find the one you want to use. Press Windows-R to bring up the Run dialog box.

Taskbar Techniques

Restore your Quick Launch bar: Windows 7 got rid of the Quick Launch bar, but bringing Quick Launch back is fairly easy. Right-click the taskbar and uncheck Lock the taskbar; then right-click the taskbar again and choose New toolbar. Type %appdata%\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch into the file path, and then click the arrow button on the right to navigate to that folder. Quick Launch will be back in action.

Clean up your system tray: Your system tray probably contains lots of icons that you rarely use. Instead of clicking the arrow to expand the system tray every time you need access to its contents, just drag the icons you use most often from the expanded tray to the minimized tray area on the taskbar. That way, you can click them immediately instead of having to expand the tray and root around for the icon you need.

Drag and drop to your taskbar apps: A taskbar icon's behavior depends on which modifier keys you hold down as you click it. Hold down Shift while you click an app's icon to open a new instance of the app. Hold down Ctrl-Shift while clicking the app's icon to open the program as an administrator. Drag a file from your desktop (or from an open window) over an app's icon on the taskbar to pin the icon to the app's jump list, or hold down Ctrl to open the file with that program.

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Sony Ericsson today announced the regional launch of Xperia neo, the first GreenHeart smartphone from the Xperia range featuring the best of Sony technology. Taking into consideration green innovations that reduce the impact of phones without compromising on quality, Xperia neo is built on the stunning design language that Sony Ericsson is reputed for. The smartphone boasts a unique shape that not only looks good but is ergonomically designed to fit perfectly in the user’s hand, especially when taking pictures. Xperia neo is equipped with 8.1 mega-pixel camera that boasts Sony's award-winning Exmor R for mobile sensor. The CMOS sensor allows the capture of high-quality, bright pictures and HD video recording even in poor light conditions, which can be shared on an HD TV via the built in HDMI-connector. It can also be viewed on the 3.7" screen featuring Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine that delivers exceptional visual brilliance and a crystal clear image to enhance the overall entertainment experience on Xperia neo. Izzat Kittaneh, Business Marketing Manager, Sony Ericsson, Middle East, said: “Sony Ericsson remains committed to catering to the eclectic preferences and needs of consumers in the market. With our recently launched range of Xperia smartphone, we seek to offer a unique communication and entertainment experience that gratifies our consumers’ well-informed choices. “Xperia neo’s availability in this market is in line with our strategy to ensure that the Middle East remains among the primary regions to receive and experience all the latest products launched by Sony Ericsson.” Xperia neo runs on the latest Android 2.3 Gingerbread platform that gives users access to over 200,000 applications for an augmented communication experience. ‘Facebook inside Xperia’, a unique application that allows instant communication and advanced social media experience, is also included. Available at leading electronic stores throughout the UAE at a price of AED1,799, Xperia neo comes in blue gradient, silver and red colour.

Apple has finally unleashed OS X 10.7 Lion, the revamped operating system for the company's desktops and laptops. Lion is the latest in a string of major OS revisions released over the past 11 years, and this newest cat borrows some tricks from Apple's mobile lineup. In fact, when Apple CEO Steve Jobs first unveiled Lion last fall, he made the point that it would incorporate some of the lessons learned from iOS, including automatic document saves, saved states for apps, and systemwide gestures that until now have been more common to the iPad and iPhone.

 In some ways, the rollout of multi-touch gestures may be the biggest change Lion offers when it comes to how you interact with the new OS, but it's other features, like Auto Save, Versions and Resume, that many users will appreciate most. The last major desktop operating system from Apple was Snow Leopard, which arrived in August 2009. When that OS was introduced, the iPhone 3GS was all the rage and the iPad was still under wraps. But Apple was already figuring out how it could use swipes, pinches and taps in what would become Lion. Was the company's decision to change in a fundamental way how Mac users interact with their computers a desperate bid to emulate the success of iOS or a stroke of brilliance?

 I think it was both -- without the desperation. Getting started Lion, which costs $29.99 and is available only through the Mac App Store, requires users to have Snow Leopard in place first. And it has beefed up system requirements compared to Snow Leopard. Chief among them, Apple's new OS requires an Intel 64-bit processor, so anyone with a Mac that doesn't have at least a Core 2 Duo chip can forget about upgrading. Lion also wants at least 2GB of memory to run -- 4GB is better -- and at least 4GB of free space on your hard drive for the file download. Yes, download. Rather than dashing to the store for a Lion installation DVD, you fire up the Mac App Store, buy the OS online, then download and install it. (No doubt, MacBook Air users will be delighted, since the Air doesn't have a built-in optical drive.) The bad news: Anyone on a slow connection is going to be waiting a while for the OS to download, although Apple has offered the Wi-Fi in its stores to help out people who don't have broadband. The good news: If your household has more than one Mac, you can hop on that other Mac, use your App Store login there, click on the "Purchased" tab and install Lion using the same Apple ID. The bonus? You don't have to enter a ridiculously long Genuine Protection ID like Windows users do.

For companies worried about updating a lot of Macs in the workplace, Apple has a solution: Enterprise customers with volume licenses can download the Lion installer, which places itself in the Applications folder, and then copy that installer to the machines being upgraded. Apple sent out the info in a PDF explaining what enterprise and education users should do. It also will offer a copy of Lion on a flash drive for $69.99 sometime next month. Note: If you don't save a copy of the installer before you update to Lion, you won't be able to save it later.

The installer deletes itself after the installation is complete; if you need it later, you'll have to download it again from the App Store. A couple more caveats: Lion no longer allows you to run software written for PowerPC, as the Rosetta framework that allowed older apps to run is now gone. And if your machine doesn't have a glass multi-touch trackpad, you'll be missing out on the new gestures built into Lion.

Here she be, folks. The Motorola Droid 3 on Verizon. We're knee deep into this sucker right now. But our initial thoughts are that this is a pretty worth upgrade to the Droid 2, even if nobody seems to be making a big deal out of it. Fast with a dual-core 1GHz processor. A larger, 4-inch display at qHD (960x540) resolution. And Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread -- egads, the most recent version of Android! -- on there to boot. Other specs to note: Android 2.3 Gingerbread 5-row keyboard with dedicated number row Display: 4-inch qHD (960x540) Processor: Dual core TI OMAP at 1 GHz RAM: 512MB Storage: 16GB internal, support for up to 32GB microSD card Front camera: VGA Rear camera: 8MP with LED flash Dimensions: 2.5 x 4.9 x 0.5 inches Weight: 6.49 ounces Cellular data: CDMA/Quadband GSM/Triband UMTS Battery: 1540 mAh (up to 550 minutes talk time, 300 hours standby time) 3.5mm headphone jack USB 2.0, HDMI, DLNA Bluetooth 2.1+EDR FM radio Video: 1080p video capture (up to 30 fps), 1080p output via HDMI We've got lots more on the way. For now, feast your eyes on the quick hands-on video above.

The Google+ app has just received a pretty major update that brings bug fixes, some UI changes, and new features to Googles new social media venture. From the changelog in the Android Market: Customize the main stream view to show streams from individual circles Fixed some issues encountered by users with the Swype keyboard Set permissions for who can start a huddle with you (Anyone, Your Circles, Extended Circles) If someone you've never huddled with before invites you to a group huddle, you can now dismiss the invitation New UI allows adding multiple people or entire circles to a huddle Set photo as wallpaper Performance improvements and bug fixes throughout the app This addresses the biggest gripes I've been hearing about the mobile app -- a way to add entire circles to a huddle, and a way to customize which circles are visible in your main stream. I'm sure the Google+ team is still hard at work and things will only get better. If you don't have your Google+ invitation yet, be sure to hit the forums and sing out -- invites seem to be wide open.

Almost two months ago, Zinio, the popular magazine browsing app, released its first Android version which was exclusive to Honeycomb tablets. The developers have now released a version that will work with any device running Android 2.2 (Froyo) or higher. With the release, Zinio is giving users 12 free current titles through Aug. 15. These titles are: Bike magazine BlackBook ESPN The Magazine House Beautiful Juxtapoz Art & Culture Magazine Maxim Outdoor Photographer Redbook Robb Report Seattle Met SURFER Magazine Wine Enthusiast In addition, T-Mobile customers who are signing up for Zinio for the first time will be able to select five additional titles from T-Mobile's Freemium offering. If you've been wanting to experience Zinio on Android but don't yet have a Honeycomb tablet, you can now get it for your phone or tablet running Froyo or Gingerbread.

While Google may have given the Motorola Xoom the first nectar-filled glaze from its recently released Android 3.1 Honeycomb, almost everyone knew, by intuition, that the other smartphones and tablets will eventually have their taste of Honeycomb updates soon. Google did announce at its I/O 2011 developers’ conference last week that the updates will trickle down to the other phones and tablets but never gave a definite date.

It turns out that the wait won’t have to be long for ASUS and Acer. Both companies have reportedly conveyed their intentions to freshen up their respective tablets–the Iconia Tab A500 from Acer and the Eee Pad Transformer from ASUS–starting early June.

PCWorld reports that Acer has confirmed the June updates, while ASUS announced the upcoming update via its Facebook page. Neither company declared any exact date for the release. Acer did not specify whether the update release will be simultaneous worldwide. Both ASUS and Acer will provide over-the-air (OTA) updates.

Both Iconia Tab A500 and Eee Pad Transformer are strong Xoom contenders. All three tablets run on dual-core Tegra 2 processors and carry a large display width of 10.1 inches.

With the Android 3.1 Honeycomb updates coming in early June, both Iconia Tab A500 and Eee Pad Transformer will start enjoying the new and sweeter perks that Xoom is now enjoying: better performance, more apps displayed in the task switcher (as opposed to Android 3.0′s restriction to show just 5), vertically and horizontally flexible widgets, USB peripherals support, support for Adobe Flash 10.3, and more.

Meanwhile, another contender in the tablet race, the T-Mobile G-Slate / LG Optimus Pad, has not whispered anything down the grapevine as far as the Android 3.1 Honeycomb update is concerned. To date, both LG and T-Mobile continue to assure the public that the G-Slate’s Honeycomb update will be “coming soon.”

HTC’s latest social networking device, aka the “Facebook Phone”, is now on sale on AT&T’s website.  The Re branded HTC Chacha packs a front facing Qwerty keyboard, a compact 2.6-inch touchscreen, Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and HTC’s Sense UI overlay.  In addition, the device has a dedicated Facebook button which lights up when the ability to share content arises.

Furthermore, you get a 5-meg rear facing camera with auto focus and flash, a front facing camera for video chatting and WiFi b/g/n capabilities.  There’s support for a micro sd card for a total of up to 32 Gigs.  Overall, we can’t argue with the amount of features you get for the price.

Obviously this is for a new user agreement.  So, if you’re in the market for a new social friendly Android device, head on over to your nearest AT&T retail store or check out AT&T’s site via the source link.  Don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments below.

Sprint and Motorola Mobility freshly announced the availability of Sprint’s first international 4G Smartphone, the Motorola PHOTON 4G. The new Smartphone features a 1GHz dual-core processor and will be available for pre-order from July 31 and is priced at $199.99 exclusive of taxes. It comes with a new line or eligible upgrade and also a two-year service agreement.

The Smartphone offers its users the latest in Android technology and also provides business users high quality security. It also offers worldwide GSM capabilities for users traveling abroad.

The Smartphone is Sprint’s seventh Sprint ID-capable device and in that it supports a range of apps, ringtones, shortcuts, and widgets. It is suitably designed to deliver the users’ mobile needs and interests in just a few clicks.

The PHOTON 4G is built with Android 2.3 Gingerbread boats a hefty 4.3-inch touchscreen with qHD display. It also includes 8-megapixel dual cameras – a dual-LED flash camera with a front-facing webcam and a VGA front-facing camera used for video chat.

It also features Android Market that allows access to more than 200,000 useful applications and widgets for easy download to further customize the experience. It has 16GB of onboard memory and additionally supports up to 32GB SD Card totaling to 48GB.

Sprint and Motorola Mobility freshly announced the availability of Sprint’s first international 4G Smartphone, the Motorola PHOTON 4G. The new Smartphone features a 1GHz dual-core processor and will be available for pre-order from July 31 and is priced at $199.99 exclusive of taxes. It comes with a new line or eligible upgrade and also a two-year service agreement.

The Smartphone offers its users the latest in Android technology and also provides business users high quality security. It also offers worldwide GSM capabilities for users traveling abroad.

The Smartphone is Sprint’s seventh Sprint ID-capable device and in that it supports a range of apps, ringtones, shortcuts, and widgets. It is suitably designed to deliver the users’ mobile needs and interests in just a few clicks.

The PHOTON 4G is built with Android 2.3 Gingerbread boats a hefty 4.3-inch touchscreen with qHD display. It also includes 8-megapixel dual cameras – a dual-LED flash camera with a front-facing webcam and a VGA front-facing camera used for video chat.

It also features Android Market that allows access to more than 200,000 useful applications and widgets for easy download to further customize the experience. It has 16GB of onboard memory and additionally supports up to 32GB SD Card totaling to 48GB.

Apple's 27-inch LED cinema display could soon be joining a host of other Apple products that support the higher-speed Thunderbolt technology.

MacRumors has picked up on a number of non-posted images from depicting the company's $999 display. In the pics, the display sports a new part number (in the URL), and a newer background to match the default of Mac OS X Lion, which is expected to be released next week.

The part number is the same one that was previously believed to be a newer version of Apple's white, entry-level MacBook from a purported parts list that surfaced earlier this week.

It's worth pointing out that there are no images of the back of the display. The current model sports just three USB 2.0 ports, but no mini-Displayport, which has given way to Thunderbolt in other Mac models. However, another image--with what appear to be two of the newer display models (pictured above)--depicts one of the displays plugging into the other.

Perhaps Apple plans to let users mirror or extend displays through USB, but a more likely scenario would be adding a Thunderbolt port to the back, as it's done with the latest-generation iMacs, which share many design similarities with the LED cinema display. After all, if Apple intends to get people using Thunderbolt, which lets users daisy-chain Thunderbolt-equipped gadgets to one another, it can't be taking up the entire port on something like a MacBook Pro without providing a way to string together other gadgets.

Thunderbolt is Apple and Intel's collaborative input/output technology that promises to bring transfer speeds exceeding those currently available with USB 3.0, as well as extending that speed across several devices at once. The technology makes use of existing DisplayPort and PCI-Express data protocols to open up what you can do with a single port into multiple uses and at high speeds. This includes "daisy chaining" up to seven Thunderbolt-equipped devices together, while retaining full speed across all of them at once. The technology first appeared in Apple's MacBooks back in February.

Apple's last refresh to the Cinema Display product came nearly a year ago with the introduction of the 27-inch display, which replaced Apple's 24- and 30-inch models.

If you can overlook the ThinkPad X1's underwhelming battery performance, it is exactly the kind of business ultraportable for frequent flying executives - slim, sturdy and easy to tuck away. It looks decent, feels good, is built like a tank, and has one of the best keyboards you’ll ever find on a laptop.


    * Slim and sturdy
    * Gorilla Glass display
    * Spill-resistant, backlit keyboard
    * Great connectivity options
    * Useful proprietary software
    * Very good performance


    * Disappointing battery life
    * Heats up on the left edge

The new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is Lenovo’s ultimate business ultraportable, the latest in ThinkPad’s much-acclaimed X series of business laptops; a successor to Lenovo ThinkPad X300 and X301 laptops. The X1 is sleek, light and built like a tank; it also has the latest Intel processors, unique features, and one of the best typing experiences on a commercial laptop to offer. Let’s take a closer look at the ThinkPad X1’s business-worthiness, if you will.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1: Looks & Design

The Lenovo ThinkPads are perhaps the most boring laptops to look upon -- they don’t dress as well as the Sony VAIOs and Apple MacBooks -- but for their target audience of business men and women which don’t mind the ThinkPads industrial look, they make perfect sense. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is no different -- the business ultraportable has a lacklustre greyish black color all over, which makes them a regular sight around boardrooms and conference tables. The ThinkPad X1’s screen lid has a smooth but tough rubber coating. Prop the slim laptop open to reveal a fine finish on the X1’s palmrest, keyboard and the area surrounding it.

Of course, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 -- like previous X-series ultraportables -- is quite rugged and built like a tank. It survives drop from up to 4 feet high without smashing its innards, thanks to a reinforced metal roll-cage designed chassis and metal hinges. Make no mistakes, when you touch and hold the Lenovo ThinkPad X1, you are definitely aware of its superior build quality compared to mainstream laptops, for example. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is 0.65-inches thin and weighs 1.72-kg -- considering its 13-inch form factor, it’s an ultraportable laptop to rival the likes of the 13-inch Apple MacBook Air and the recently reviewed Sony VAIO S. It may not be thinner or lighter compared to the two, but the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is definitely the most rugged and solidly built laptop of the three.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1: Screen

The Lenovo ThinkPads have pioneered a thing or two for laptops over the years, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is no different. The X1 comes equipped with an edge-to-edge Corning Gorilla Glass display screen, claimed to be the first laptop of its kind to have a scratch-resistant surface found on most high-end smartphones. And it does work -- we tried scratching the ThinkPad X1’s surface with coins and keys and it was impervious to damage, leaving no scratch marks. But it is glossy, the ThinkPad X1’s 13.3-inch LED backlit LCD display, which may not go too well with ThinkPad loyalists -- past ThinkPads almost always had a non-glossy display screen. We’re also miffed by the fact that the X1 comes with only 1366x768 resolution screen compared to the X300/X301’s 1440x900 pixel screen.

As to the screen’s performance, it’s not bad at all. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is not only designed to be the ultimate business ultraportable, it is meant to dual-up as a basic entertainment laptop for business executives who don’t want to carry two different laptops for personal and professional use. The glossy screen of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is very bright -- 350 nits -- brighter than the Sony VAIO S -- and displays both text and video pretty well, sharp and crisp. However, colours aren’t particularly deep and the ThinkPad X1’s screen has average viewing angles. The screen’s top bezel comes with a 2MP webcam for video-conferencing with up to HD 720p video output capability. The webcam worked well with Skype and we liked its Web Conferencing control panel which lets you exert fine control over the mic and camera.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1: Keyboard and Trackpad

Quite simply, without much exaggeration, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 has one of the best keyboards we’ve seen on a laptop -- ever. The key-design on the X1 may not be the same as past X300/X301 ultraportables, but it doesn’t take anything away from the overall typing experience and only enriches it. The island-styled, isolated keys sported by the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 have a slight dip or “scooped” scalloped design -- it helps your fingers nestle on top of the keys perfectly while typing on them. The X1’s keyboard provides a great deal of comfort while typing and your wrists are parked well on its wide keyboard. Every keystroke produces a response and feedback that’s near-perfect and there’s a soft clicking sound accompanying them. Overall, a top-notch keyboard which can resist up to 60ml of spillage -- courtesy a channel along the keyboard’s edge with two see-through vents for water to go out -- and comes with two levels of backlighting for typing in the dark. The backlit keyboard also means no Lenovo ThinkLight at the top of the screen.

The X1 comes with the traditional Lenovo TrackPoint system -- a pressure-senstitive red rubber button placed in the center of the keyboard with accompanying left, right and center buttons on top of the traditional touchpad. The TrackPoint navigation, once you get used to it, is a great way to navigate the mouse on screen, reducing a lot of back and forth time between typing on the keyboard and reaching for the touchpad. The normal touchpad on the ThinkPad X1 is a square box of finely textured pattern -- there are no separate mouse buttons, they are designated at the bottom of the one-piece touchpad. The touchpad works well and has a similar concept like the MacBook Air’s trackpad -- to provide one large clickable area.

Adobe has released the beta versions of their upcoming major updates to the Flash and AIR runtimes.

The previous three releases of Flash Player have focused on small incremental improvements to the runtime that improved its performance on devices, however Flash Player finally opens the floodgate of features, bringing numerous big new technologies to Flash and AIR.

One of the most interesting and most touted new features of Flash Player 11 and by extension AIR 3, will be support for 3D rendered content. Their new Stage3D APIs (previously code-named “Molehill") will allow low-level control over the graphics hardware, thus allowing full-fledged 3D games to be developed using Flash. This feature will also be available on Flash Player for mobile devices, further expanding the scope of said 3D content.

Another less touted, but quite important feature is support for H.264 / AVC encoding in the Flash Player, allowing for high-quality video chatting applications built using Flash. The G.711 audio codec is now support, which means it can now interface with legacy phone systems without need for transcoding.

A number of performance enhancing features have also been added, including support for advising Garbage Collection, and a new native JSON parser that is compliant with the ECMAScript 5 specification. The Flash Player will now decode bitmaps asynchronously, thus improving the responsiveness of applications. Also added is a secure random number generator that can improve the security of Flash applications implementing cryptography. Flash Player also supports a new compression format for the SWF itself, which can result in as much as 40% reduction in the size of generated SWF files.

Another step forward for Flash isn’t a new feature, but the fact that Flash Player will now be offered in an official 64-bit version, and in fact a 64-bit version of Flash Player beta 1 is available for all platforms (Windows, Linux and Mac OSX).

A few of the features earlier demonstrated / mentioned for Flash Player 11 do not seem to have made it in this build. This includes support for gamepads, and other such controllers, which would have gone well with the 3D support, and support for threading in Flash applications, using a concept similar for WebWorkers.

While it is already possible to target Flash Player 11, using current tools and software by Adobe, the Adobe AIR 3 SDK is currently not being made available. One of the features it will supposedly bring is the ability to bundle the runtime in an Adobe AIR application, however that is a feature that we won’t see in action till the SDK releases.

You can download the beta version of Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 from the Adobe Labs website.

You've probably seen paid versions of µTorrent before on shady websites, offering faster speeds, or more torrents, but this time it's official!

µTorrent has to be one of the most popular torrent clients of all time, and for good reason. It has a large number of features, including remote access, streaming, applications etc, while still maintaining an astonishing sub-1MB size.

Way back in 2006, BitTorrent Inc. the maintainers of the BitTorrent protocol purchased µTorrent, and took over its development, and some of the recent major features such as support for apps, streaming, sharing, remote access etc have some since then.

The new paid version of the application will exist in parallel to the current free version, which will continue to be offered, and will continue to be developed with the same level of commitment. The new version will be called µTorrent Plus.

So what does µTorrent Plus offer? Well, the details are slim for now, however they do say that "µTorrent Plus is designed for people who are looking for a single solution to find, get and play content anywhere, on any device. Hassles with codec and conversion issues, struggles with device shifting, and more will be a thing of the past."

From this one can assume that media management and encoding facilities will be some of the features offered, and considering patent licences it is understandable why they might need to charge for this functionality.

A beta program is available for those that want to jump of the µTorrent Plus bandwagon as soon as possible.

So, you’ve decided on the Amazon Kindle as your e-reader of choice, only to mourn the fact that it’s mostly only good for one thing: reading. Do you see your friends with their iPads and rooted Nook Colors and are feeling a little left out? BBC’s Mark Longstaff-Tyrrell comes to the rescue, bringing video playing capabilities to the Kindle by way of the iPlayer for Kindle.

Sort of. You see, Longstaff-Tyrrell essentially took the BBC iPlayer video streaming service and adapted it to the Kindle platform by tossing in some software coding of his own and adding closed captioning. You can “watch” the videos on your e-reader because the iPlayer takes DVB digital TV and closed captioning info, together with any frame that has dialogue involved, and puts them together. You get some really, really choppy video, since they’re eliminating a bunch of frames, but you still get a little sense of movement.

The finished product is then converted into an HTML file, which is then converted into a PDF file for viewing on your iPad. So, what you get isn’t a video file at all. Instead, you get a series of frames, not unlike what you’d get with a graphic novel or comic book. It’s a neat idea, to be sure, but not exactly useful.

Want to watch a video? Go get a tablet, but go ahead and keep reading your e-books on your Kindle.

The dangers of cellphone radiation have been a hot topic lately, particularly after the World Health Organization gave the sobering announcement that cellphone radiation could possibly increase the risk of brain cancer. Additionally, research came out that suggested cellphones are responsible for killing off bees. They aren’t getting a good rep right now. While I was scared for a few minutes and considered ditching my Blackberry and running into the woods to live in a shack, I realized I love convenience too much.  They’re not going to turn nearby cell tower squirrels into radioactive freaks just yet, but there is some concern. So instead, here are some ways to keep your brain, and other body parts, safe from potentially hazardous cellphone radiation.

Turn your phone off or use airplane mode.

When not using your phone, turn the thing off. Problem solved. If you can’t, many phones have a function that allows their cellphones to be used on airplanes. Airplane mode cuts off all wireless transmissions from your cellular device, so there is no radiation being emitted. A bonus is that the phone uses less energy to operate when wireless transmissions are halted, so it saves battery.

Guys, don’t keep the phone in your pocket.

If you’re a guy and you keep the cellphone in your front pocket, you could be putting your sperm count in danger. A recent study suggests that cellphone use is linked to lower sperm quality and a decrease in fertility. While cellphone usage seems to increase the level of testosterone in the body, there is a lower level of luteinizing hormone, which plays a big role in the reproductive system. If you’re looking to start a family at some point, better keep your phone away from the family jewels. Turn off your phone, put it on airplane mode or get a satchel.

Don’t check Facebook in the middle of the night.

Some people take their phones to bed with them, which can disturb sleep. According to a survey done by iPass, 58 per cent of those surveyed who keep their smartphones within arm’s reach wake up during the night to check their phones. About 11 per cent of those people checked their phone every single night. Even if you’re not that compulsive and use it as an alarm, cellphone radiation can still impact your sleep. A team of researchers in Sweden did a one-year study where they followed over 4,000 young adult cellphone users. Their research suggested that a high frequency of cell phone use can lead to increased sleep disturbances. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, put it in airplane mode.

Text, text, text.

As I’m sure you know, sending texts requires less signal power than making calls. Texting is a simple way to avoid radiation exposure, so when you can opt for texting over calling them. Unless you’re texting to break up with someone. Then you’re just being a loser.

Use an air-tube headset.

While the cellphone industry loves to tout headsets as “safer,” the wires used can drive harmful cellphone transmission straight into your ear. An alternative is an “air-tube” headset that functions similar to a stethoscope. It uses a hollow air-tube to transmit sound from a speaker located at a distance from the head. The tube and earpiece contain no metal conductors, which eliminates any radiation present in conventional headsets.

Use the speakerphone setting.

No cash for a new headset? Use speaker mode when talking on your cellphone and place the phone at least 5 feet away from you. The farther the cellphone is the better. Just make sure they can still hear you.

Keep conversations short.

Don’t have an hour long conversation with your boyfriend or girlfriend before bed. Even a two-minute call has been found to alter the natural electrical activity of the brain for up to an hour afterwards. Use Skype if you want to say goodnight or to catch up with an old friend or call your parents. Provided you don’t have one of those old school computers with the giant monitor.

Be mindful of good and bad reception.

The harder the phone works to establish a connection, the more radiation is being emitted. Don’t use your cellphone in an area with poor reception. If you’re trying to talk to your buddy on the subway, just wait until you get to an area with better reception. Don’t use the cell phone in enclosed metal spaces such as vehicles or elevators. Also, wait for the call to connect before placing your phone next to your ear.

By following any of these simple steps, you’re reducing the amount of cellphone radiation frying your brain and affecting your body.

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Sony Tablets with Android OS deliver the perfect combination of hardware, content and network with seamless usability for a quality, engaging entertainment experience. Based on decades of engineering heritage, Sony is developing two Android Tablets with unprecedented design, including the Sony S1 tablet which is optimized for rich media entertainment and the Sony S2 tablet hich is ideal for mobile communication and entertainment.

Sony Tablets are equipped with the latest Google Android 3.0 software which is designed and optimized for tablets. Both Sony Android Tablets are Wi-Fi and WAN (3G/4G) compatible and Sony tablet users can not only browse the internet or check e-mail but they can also smoothly access digital content including videos, games and books through Sony's premium network services and more, on-the-go at any time.

Sony S1 Android Tablet has a 9.4-inch display for enjoying the web and rich content on a large screen. Its off-center of gravity design realizes stability and ease of grip as well as a sense of stability and lightness, offering comfortable use for hours. The Sony S2 Android Tablet has two 5.5-inch displays that can be folded for easy portability. In contrast to existing tablets, its unprecedented dual screen presentation and usability allows its displays to be combined and used as a large screen or for different functions such as playing video on one screen while showing control buttons on the other.

Sony's knowhow for combining hardware and software, ?Sony Android Tablets? realizes optimal usability and performance. Because of Sony's rapid response technologies, users can perform smooth, quick touch-screen operations and enjoy fast and efficient website loading. The keyboard arrangement is also optimized for the large screen, making email and SNS communication a breeze.

Sony Tablets can control home entertainment devices as well as enjoy content in new ways. The Sony S1 tablet uses infrared technology and works as universal remote controls for a variety of AV devices starting with Bravia. Users can perform functions like turning on their TVs, changing the channel and adjusting the volume. Also, through DLNA functionality on Sony Tablets, users can throw personal content to large screen televisions or music to wireless speakers.

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MAXX Tiny MQ368 is a Dual SIM phone and has a qwerty keyboard with an optical trackpad for navigation. This phone also boasts of dedicated keys for Facebook and MSN and has a 1000 mAh battery that can churn out a talk time of 4 hours and standby of 300 hours. The MQ368 has a small 2-inch TFT display and a 2 Megapixel camera at the back. Plus it is also Java-enabled and supports Opera?s Mini Browser.

The Maxx Tiny MQ368,a Qwerty phone with 2.0 TFT display and an optical track-pad, weighs 64 grams. Powered with 1000 mAh battery, the phone allows a talk-time of up to 4 hours and a standby time of up to 300 hours, the company claimed.It has also dedicated keys for Facebook and MSN. Besides, it is Java enabled and supports Opera mini browser. The dual SIM phone comes with a 2MP camera

Maxx Tiny MQ368, a QWERTY with 2.0 TFT display and an optical track-pad, weighs a mere 64 grams. Powered with 1000 mAh battery, the phone allows a talk-time of up to 4 hours and a standby time of up to 300 hours. The Maxx Tiny MQ368 is just perfect fit for social networking enthusiasts, with dedicated keys for Facebook and MSN. MQ368 is a dual SIM phone that comes with a 2 MP Camera and is Java enabled and supports Opera mini browser
The Maxx Tiny MQ368, a Qwerty phone with 2.0 TFT display and an optical track-pad, weighs 64 grams. Powered with 1000 mAh battery, the phone allows a talk-time of up to 4 hours and a standby time of up to 300 hours, the company claimed.Maxx Tiny MX372 is a dual SIM bar phone with 2.0 TFT display and weighs 61 grams. Available in four funky colours - purple, pink, wine red and white, MX372 comes with optical track-pad and flaunts a 2MP camera with flash

Asus Released ROG G53JW-IX162V 3D Laptop Like Alienware, the 3D solution has NVIDIA's active shutter glasses and an integrated receiver in the guts of the laptop. That's particular good on this model because it doesn't need the extra hardware on the outside. The massive fans at the back mean Asus had to cram the ports at both sides - Asus even had to add the card reader at the front.

It is an unfortunate design feature but we'd rather have the comprehensive port layout than bugger all. For your wonga you get four USBs, one HDMI  for outing your content to an HD source, one eSATA, one VGA and the fastest wired LAN connect you can get. You'll also be pleased to hear you get a Blu-ray player and very nice chiclet keyboard, which is complemented by a solid matte touchpad.

Despite only sitting on a small 15.6-inch chassis, we found the Asus ROG G53JW-IX162V to be a bit weighty. It's bulked up by the nice stealth bomber design and it's still essentially fine for carrying around over to a mates but you wouldn't want to carry it for too long.

The Colour-Shine LED screen only supports a resolution of 1366 x 768. If that were on a bigger model you'd notice the difference but it is fine here. In fact, we streamed 720 HD (half full HD) content from You Tube and the screen was excellent for movies playback, offering accurate colours and good detail if you are happy to sit close enough when you're using it. Our only bone of contention is the really tight viewing angle and dimmed 3D screen. You aren't going to get away with sociably playing any 3D content on this for more than one person and, even though all screens dim when you put 3D glasses on, this one could've been brighter.

 Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
Processor: 1.73 GHz, Intel Core i7 740QM
Memory: 8GB installed/ 8GB upgradable
Storage: 640GB
15.6-inch Screen: 1366x768 LED display
Graphics: 1.5GB GeForce GTX 460M
Battery Life: 112 minutes.

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Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse

Friday, June 17, 2011 0 comments

There's a new mouse in the Microsoft house. The new Arc Touch is the latest update of Microsoft's Arc wireless mouse series. Does it bring anything new to the wireless USB mouse genre or should you skip this iteration of the product? This is where you find out.

Packaging and Contents

The Arc Touch comes in a box significantly sleeker than the original came in. Inside the box is the mouse with the USB dongle, 2 AAA batteries and the manuals. MIA: the nice carrying case that the original Arc came with, something that would have been of use since the shiny surface of the mouse is easily scratched and the rubbery back can attract a lot of dust.

First Impression

It is difficult not to refer to Apple's magic mouse or the previous generation Arc mouse while talking about the Arc Touch. The Arc Touch is as sleek as, if not sleeker, than Apple's magic mouse. But unlike the completely touch sensitive magic mouse, the Arc Touch has two plastic physical keys for the left and right click, with a silver touch sensitive scroll in between.

At first glance, the Arc Touch does not look like a mouse at all. It is flat, like a mobile phone, in its 'dormant' or off state, and is not curved like a normal mouse. Bending it physically not only shapes it into a conventional mouse, but switches it on at the same time.

There is a distinct clicking sound once the mouse snaps into its operating position. We've never seen such a feature in a mouse before, and it gets points for slickness. You just need to straighten it back to switch it off. No small fiddly buttons required.

The USB connector of the mouse is pretty interesting too. It is extremely small and sticks to the magnetic bottom of the mouse, which is both a good and a bad thing. Black mark: it's really small and does not interfere with devices plugged into adjacent ports. Red mark:, if you slip the device into a bag loaded with goodies and the dongle comes off, finding it will be like searching for a needle in a haystack.


The Arc Touch performs well as a mouse with its BlueTrack laser sensor ensuring that the device runs smoothly on all surfaces and is very accurate. But, the touch-sensitive scroll-pad in the middle needs some getting used to.

It gives you a vibration feedback as you scroll. The vibration feedback however lasts for a heartbeat longer than comfortable even after you are done scrolling. Also, you have to double click on the slim strip in the middle for a middle click.

Another noticeable disadvantage is that if you wish to use the device with an Apple computer, you have limited customization options.


This is a lifestyle product, built for style rather than utility. It has a couple of unique innovations that convert a mere peripheral to a stylish accessory. But, at a price of Rs. 3,600, it may be difficult to recommend, as there are other devices in this category that cost less than half.

It is certainly meant for those who want to spend something extra to set them apart from the crowds. Do not buy if you are looking for good value for money - there are other, albeit more boring, options.

         Easy plug and play
         Small USB donglel
         USB dongle can easily be lost
         No carrying case
Price: Rs. 3,600

         Performance: 3
         Price: 2.5
         Ease of setup: 5
         Ergonomics: 3.5
         Wow Factor: 5
         Overall: 4

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