Technology News and Analysis for IT Managers & Acquisition Teams

Sony’s Wild Projector Makes Anything a Touchscreen

Projectors aren’t just for stuffy boardrooms or expensive home theater setups anymore. Sony’s new Xperia Touch (available for movie screenings in a home near you starting summer 2017) can turn any flat surface into an interactive touchscreen.

The concept is similar to what I saw atand one that Sony first talked up at last year’s. But instead of a strategically-mounted projector lamp, Sony packages the whole caboodle into a box that’s about the size of a large coffee tin.

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Speaking of Google, when the Xperia Touch ships, it will run(version 7.0.1). That means you’ll have access to all your favorite Android apps on the big screen without having to Google Cast or mirror it somewhere.

During my demo, I watched as the Sony rep played on a set of piano keys projected onto the table in front of him. The resulting key presses were responsive and accurate, delivering the pleasant plink that you’d expect from an actual instrument.

The device can also project a 80-inch, 1280 x 720 image for your own private movie theater. And while watching movies is fun, you can also project yourviafeature

That means when you inevitably lose control of the main screen to a spouse or visiting family member, you can continue playing your game on an even bigger screen. And as a gamer with a lot different eyes vying for the TV, that’s worth the price of admission in and of itself.

Sony Announces Price Drop for the PlayStation 3

Sony yesterday announced that, effective immediately, it is cutting the price of the PS3 by $50. The price cut, unveiled at Sony’s Gamescom 2011 keynote, means the 160GB PS3 will now retail for $249.99 in the U.S., €249.99 in Europe and ¥24,980 in Japan. The 320GB model is now going for $299. Sony’s Jack Tretton commented on the price cut on the official PlayStation blog and attributed it to the console’s ability to maintain momentum:

‘While others in the space are losing steam, PlayStation 3 is gaining momentum and giving gamers everywhere more of what they want: an unparalleled line-up of exclusive games and access to the best in sports, movies and TV, all at a great value,’ he wrote. ‘The new price will make the PS3 more accessible than ever before, so there’s never been a better time to join PlayStation Nation. We know that while future-proof technology is important to you, content is still king — that’s why we continue to focus on bringing you exclusive “must have” titles that are unmatched by anything else on the market.’

Tretton also announced a new bundle for fans hoping to take advantage of the new pricing. For a limited time only, you can grab an inFAMOUS 2 bundle that retails for $299 and includes a 320 GB PlayStation 3, a copy of inFAMOUS 2 and a 30-day membership to PlayStation Plus.

Sony’s PlayStation 3 console was launched five years ago, in November of 2006. The 60GB model debuted at $599.

Sony Responds to Yellow Light of Death Fix

The BBC’s Watchdog website recently investigated the PlayStation 3’s ‘Yellow Light of Death’ (), a problem many console owners have experienced for years. In the past, Sony has expressed its dislike for the term, saying that the flashing yellow light doesn’t focus on one particular error, but any one of ‘a range of issues that may inevitably affect any complex item of consumer electronics.’

Apparently, the YLoD problem takes place 18 to 24 months after the original purchase, conveniently six or more months after the warranty expires. Sony has acknowledged the problem, reporting that around 12,500 of the 2.5 million consoles that have been sold in the UK have had this error since March 2007. But because the consoles are failing after the warranty expires, consumers are forced to send it off to Sony and pay around $200 for a refurbished replacement delivered directly to their door, or take the console to a repair shop and have it fixed.

However, Watchdog didn’t buy the ‘range of issues’ statement and sent off sixteen consoles owned by viewers who originally complained about the error. An independent console repairer disassembled the devices and heated the motherboard in a special oven, re-heating the solder to a point where the metal could repair bad connections between the components and the circuit board. After this trick, all sixteen consoles began working again; five were later reported to malfunction again.

Was this just coincidence that this solder ‘reflow’ fix cured the overall YLoD problem despite Sony’s claim? After reading Watchdog’s article, Sony fired back with a response, saying that the YLoD doesn’t stem from a manufacturing problem, and actually ‘dogged’ the site for suggesting that the basic solder reflow process ‘can properly be done cheaply and quickly.’ Sony said it was unfair to criticize the company for service charges outside the warranty. To get a better understanding of the drama, check out article and Sony’s full response.

How to Use YouTube’s Take a Break Feature

Often, including during this past weekend, I’ve fallen into a pattern of watchingvideos for hours, and it’s not always a good thing. This is why YouTube is rolling out a new ‘Take a Break’ feature, so that people with habits similar to mine can be warned when they’re in the middle of such a video streaming binge.

  • More: Read our guide on how to

The ‘Take a Break’ feature, available now in the YouTube app available from theandapp stores, is part of Android’s Digital Wellness project announced at. The overarching mission: to get us all to think more about how much time we spend using our phones, and to learn to detach to spend time with those around us.

Why is it important to consider digital wellness? Aside from the joys found outside your screen, your physical well-being is something to consider. I don’t know if my chronic back problems have anything to do with how I’ve spent years glued to screens, but I bet I’d be in better shape if I spend more time stretching and being physically active.

Also, you can strain your eyes if they stay stuck on a single screen for too long. The last time I saw an optometrist, they suggested I follow the 20-20-20 rule — after spending 20 minutes looking at a screen, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds — to avoid drying out my eyes.

In my testing, I’ve found the Take a Break interface to be easy to use. Not only is the option placed prominently in the Settings screen, but the notifications that say you’ve hit your timer are easy to dismiss and non-judgmental (unlike’are you still watching?’ prompts).

On the other hand, the list of options (every 15, 30, 60, 90 and 180 minutes) feels a little incomplete. Where’s the 2-hour mark? Yes, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that many people are spending 3 hours hooked on YouTube, but that in-between setting feels missing.

Here’s how to use YouTube’s Take a Break feature:

1. Tap the user profile icon in the top right corner. These screens were taken from my account, which is usingand is subscribed to, so while your screen may look slightly different, the instructions will be the same.

2. Tap Settings.

3. Tap ‘Remind me to take a break.’

4. Select an amount of time.

After you watch YouTube for that much time, your video will pause and your screen will tell you you’ve hit that limit. You’ll also see the option to change your settings or dismiss and keep watching.

MatchStick Is a Dedicated Speaker Dock for Kindle Fire

If you’re one of the five million or more consumers who own Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet, you know its audio output isn’t the best. Not only are both speakers mounted at one end of the tablet (bye bye stereo), but there are no external volume buttons. Thus, even with headphones on, users must dig through the UI to manage the audio output. It’s silly and utterly annoying when trying to watch a movie on Netflix or stream music via Slacker Radio.

Grace Digital understands the tablet’s shortcomings and has released a speaker dock built especially for Amazon’s Android-powered gadget., it accommodates the unique USB port, headphone jack and power button, all of which are located on the bottom of the tablet. The dock also charges the device while on AC power, but customers can purchase an optional lithium-ion battery pack (available in August) that turns the combo into a portable boombox.

. Still, is it worth the price given that the tablet itself is only $199 USD?

For more information about the MatchStick speaker dock for Amazon’s Kindle Fire,.

Watch Netflix in a Browser? Update Silverlight

Microsoft Silverlight is one of those technologies that probably should have gone much further than it did. Initially conceived as a kind of all-purpose replacement for Adobe Flash Player, the online media protocol is now mostly just a way to run Netflix and Amazon Video on PCs and Macs.

Like Flash, though, Silverlight makes Web browsers vulnerable to some potentially nasty attacks, and if you haven’t kept it updated, you could fall victim to a pernicious exploit that’s now making the rounds online.

A French security blogger who goes by the name of Kafeine this week shared information about the Silverlight vulnerability on his security blog,. His explanation of the issue was simple and straightforward: Microsoft patched a major Silverlight vulnerability this month, but in so doing, it gave hackers the opportunity to reverse-engineer the previously undisclosed flaw and add it to the widely distributed Angler browser exploit kit.

The Silverlight vulnerability itself, which was given the ID CVE-2016-0034 (rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?) can affect both Windows PCs and Macs. By convincing a user to visit a website infected with the Angler exploit kit, a hacker could use the Silverlight vulnerability to compromise the user’s Web browser and infect the user’s computer. Provided that user has administrative rights on his or her computer (it’s much safer to browse the Web as a limited user), this attack could be really anything: file theft, unauthorized program installation, keylogging or any other common cybercriminal technique.

This is not the first time that Silverlight has come under attack via the CVE-2016-0034 exploit.points out that the vulnerability has been exploited in the wild for at least two years — but only in spyware made and marketed by Hacking Team, an Italian company that buys zero-day exploits from independent hackers and incorporates them into its products. 

Last summer, someone hacked into Hacking Team’s servers and dumped the company’s email correspondence online, revealing the existence of many previously unknown security flaws, including at least one that affected Silverlight. It took some time for Microsoft and Moscow-based security firm Kaspersky Lab to fully research the disclosed Silverlight flaw and devise countermeasures.

The fix, at least, is simple: Keep Microsoft Silverlight up to date. If you run Windows Update or Apple Update frequently, you are already protected. Microsoft has also provided instructions to.

If you want to go one step further, you could just ditch Silverlight entirely. While the protocol is useful for watching Netflix and Amazon Video on most browsers, Google Chrome does not require Silverlight to run either one of the popular video streaming services. Unless you’re a developer, there’s likely nothing else for which you use Silverlight on a regular basis.

If you’ve already been infected, there’s still no need to panic. The Angler exploit kit can install some nasty malware, but nothing that a good antivirus program can’t handle. Run a scan, change your passwords and consider switching to Chrome.

Rumor: Xbox 720 and PS4 Appearing at E3 2012

While we’re currently obsessing over CES 2012, the rumor mill is also peering six months ahead to June where the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4 will reportedly offer a small brief appearance.

The news arrives after Nintendo insiders claimed last week that Satoru Iwata & Co. is building Apple-like app and ebook stores for the upcoming Wii U console. There’s a strong possibility that these two features will be Nintendo’s big selling point during the gaming tradeshow this summer. There’s even talk that Nintendo will provide solid launch details, including a lineup of games available at day one.

published back in October claims that Microsoft will release the Xbox SDK while announcing the 3rd generation Kinect titles during E3 2012. The third-generation Xbox console isn’t slated to make a full debut until E3 2013. With that in mind, consumers should expect a mere taste in June that will likely focus on gaming across the three Microsoft platforms, and a release of the next-gen Xbox SDK so that developers can get started., third-party publishing sources claim the firm had signaled to partners that it will detail its next-generation console plans during the show.

As for the PlayStation 4 news, Sony executives have reportedly made it clear to third parties that it will ‘not be left behind’ in the new generation. Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan even previously admitted that he wants to avoid allowing Microsoft to get the jump on the PlayStation 4, indicating an eagerness within Sony to get the next console out ASAP.

Right now it’s just too early to tell what Microsoft and Sony plan to do in June. However the two Nintendo rivals will likely offer a few goodies to nibble on in order to steal some thunder away from the Wii U launch slated for the end of 2012.

MSFT Confirms 2.5 million Kinects Sold in 25 Days

A lot of people were pretty skeptical about Kinect. Whether it was the device itself, Microsoft’s claims that it would shift 5 million units before the end of year, or the fact that Redmond was urging people to buy it now if they wanted one at all, there was a lot of doubt surrounding the success of Kinect. Still, Microsoft has every right to gloat about the success of Kinect, as the company yesterday boasted about a new milestone in shipments.

According to Microsoft, Black Friday demand boosted sales and, with 2.5 million units sold in the first 25 days of availability, the company fully expects to meet its 5 million unit target before the end of 2010. In fact, the company is scrambling to speed up production so it can restock shelves as quickly as possible.

Europe, Australia Getting White PS3 in November

European and Australian Sony fans envious ofwill be pleased to hear that the console is making its way to Europe and Australia just in time for the holiday spending season. Available exclusively through GameStop, both the UK and German branches of the retailer are now taking web preorders for the console, which is available in the 320GB capacity and with two matching Dualshock controllers. Pricing in the UK is set at £250, while German gamers are looking at a €299 pricetag and the Aussies will have to cough up just shy of $450.

Sadly, there’s no news on when we can expect the U.S. to get this white PS3, or even if it’s headed this way at all. Japan routinely gets a larger selection of consoles in various shades and colors compared to the rest of the world. However, with Europe and Australia now getting the classy, white PS3, we’re wondering if it might sometime make its way to North America. Here’s hoping!

Battery Fueled By Air Could Power Cars, Laptops

According to researchers at the, the St. Andrews Air battery (STAIR) may be the ticket to a new era of laptops, mobile devices, and electric cars, discarding traditional chemicals and using air as a source of power.

While the overall design has not been finalized, the researchers behind the project say that the air-fueled battery could present ten times the energy capacity of rechargeable lithium batteries currently available on the market.

“Our target is to get a five to ten fold increase in storage capacity, which is beyond the horizon of current lithium batteries. Our results so far are very encouraging and have far exceeded our expectations,” said Professor Peter Bruce of the Chemistry Department at the University of St Andrews.

Rather than using the traditional chemical constituent, lithium cobalt oxide, the STAIR battery utilizes porous carbon. Oxygen is freely drawn in from the air and reacts within the pores of the carbon component, creating a constant ‘flow’ of energy, or as Bruce states, a reagent, continuously recharging the battery as it discharges. Because the battery doesn’t require chemicals, it offers more energy for the same size battery currently available on the market, and is relatively cheaper than its chemical-based comrades.

Currently the research project reaches its halfway mark in July. Entitled ‘An O2 Electrode for a Rechargeable Lithium Battery,’ the research began on July 1, 2007, and is expected to end on June 30, 2011. The primary focus of the project is to understand how the chemical reaction of the battery works, and how to improve it. The team plans to create a STAIR cell prototype that can work in a cell phone or MP3 player, however the battery will more than likely not see a commercial release for at least another five years.

While the project is being led by Bruce and the research group over at the University of St Andrews, Strathclyde and Newcastle are also pitching in to provide additional help. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is providing the funding for the project, with £1,579,137–almost 2.2 million USD–donated thus far.