Thursday, 4 February 2016

The coolest camera gear of CES 2016

Most people nowadays snap pictures with a smartphone, but a stand-alone camera is still a vital tool with a big presence at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Here’s the coolest camera gear from the show.

Windows 10 Redstone Insider seeds are on the way

Patience, grasshopper: According to Microsoft's Gabe Aul, a new build will come to Windows Insiders in "a few more days." Meanwhile, a new Windows 10 Mobile Insider build is now available.

If you’re eagerly awaiting the next PC-centric Insider build of Windows 10, here’s some good news: You can expect the next build to arrive soon.

Aul added in a followup that “Once we actually *start* flighting in 2016, then we expect to see more frequent builds than last year.” More good news.
It’s been a few weeks since Microsoft seeded its last build to WIndows Insider testers.According to Neowin, the most recent Insider build for PC users was a Windows 10 “Redstone” build released on December 16. Neowin also reports that Microsoft began seeding a new Windows 10 Mobile build to Insiders on Friday, the first such build since December 17.
The story behind the story: Windows 10 codenamed Redstone is Microsoft’s next big revision to its flagship operating system. Due for release sometime later this year, we’re still not entirely sure what Redstone will bring, but reports suggests that improvements to Cortana and support for third-party extensions in the Edge browser are on the way. Redstone may also herald the return of OneDrive’s Placeholders feature, a space-saving feature from Windows 8.1 that went missing in Windows 10’s initial release.

The world's first 13TB SSD is here

Be prepared to fork out around $13,000 for the drive.

If you have around US$13,000 to spare, the world's first 13TB solid-state drive could be yours.
Fixstars on Wednesday announced the mammoth SSD-13000M, which will ship by the end of February. SSDs today have no more than 6TB of storage, and the 13TB drive more than doubles that capacity.
An official price hasn't been determined by Fixstars. But a rough estimated selling price is around $1 per gigabyte, or $13,000, said Shien Zhu, a spokesman for Fixstars.
The pricing could fluctuate, but not by much, Zhu said.
The 13TB drive will be sold directly by Fixstars and won't be available through online retail stores or sites. The company is targeting the SSD at enterprises, but anyone with a big wallet can touch base with Fixstars to purchase the drive.
The 2.5-inch drive plugs into SATA 6 slots on motherboards. It has sequential read speeds of 580MBps (megabytes per second) and write speeds of up to 520MBps. The random read and write speeds were not provided by the company.
Competitors haven't indicated they would catch up to the 13TB capacity. SanDisk has said it would release 6TB and 8TB SSDs this year. Samsung has said it would release a 4TB SSD this year.
The Fixstars 13TB SSD is based on NAND flash from Toshiba, which holds a minority stake in Fixstars. It uses a proprietary controller from Fixstars that is designed for faster sequential read and write speeds.
The drive is targeted at companies creating or streaming video, which requires sequential reads and writes by accessing large blocks of data. It could also be used for scientific computing and cold storage.
Fixstars, based in Japan, started off as a software company serving parallel computing needs, but started making SSDs with its controller to meet the sequential data transfer needs of enterprise users.
Fixstars also announced a SSD-10000M, a 10TB drive. The price for the drive wasn't immediately available.

Razer's selling all of its PC peripherals for 50 percent off for 24 hours

If you're looking for a new mouse, keyboard, headset, or any other PC peripheral, you won't want to miss Razer's 24 hour sale.

Razer’s known for unveiling audacious new technology at CES—witness Project Christine and Forge TV as recent examples—and mopping up awards as a result. At CES 2016 the gaming hardware company won a Best of CES People’s Choice award for the sixth year in a row with its Razer Blade Stealth laptop, and to celebrate, Razer’s online store is slashing prices on almost everything it sells by a whopping 50 percent for 24 hours.
You won’t be able to pick up a Razer Blade or any other systems at half-off, however. The offer only extends to Razer’s peripherals—which, honestly, is the vast majority of Razer’s product lineup and the way the company earned its reputation with gamers in the first place.
There are a few more caveats. The discount only applies to a single item, and you’ll need a Razer ID linked to Razer’s Insider forum to participate. Information on how to set that up can be found in this Razer Insider post, where you’ll also be able to generate a sale code for the discount once you’re ready to rock.
That code won’t work until the sale kicks off at 9 p.m. Eastern/6 p.m. Pacific time. While the offer lasts for 24 hours, Razer’s warning that “stocks are finite and are expected to go fast,” so if you have your heart set on a particular mouse, keyboard, headset, ormousepad that lights up with 16.8 million customizable colors, it’s probably smart to snap it up sooner than later once the chosen hour hits. You won’t find Razer’s PC hardware on such steep sale very often. Just be sure to keep an eye on shipping costs, which couldtarnish the allure of the sale depending on what you're buying—if the 50 percent discount drops your order total under $50, you'll have to plunk another $14 down for shipping.

What you need to know about home IoT standards at CES

Don't get too excited about all your devices getting along—yet.
The Open Interconnect Consortium used a model house to demonstrate IoT interoperability at the IoT World conference in San Francisco on May 12, 2015.

When Internet of Things devices debut at this year’s CES, one of the biggest questions will be how they’ll connect to all the other smart-home gear on display. But anyone who expects a clear answer to that is like a kid who gets up Thanksgiving morning looking for a bunch of gifts under a tree.
The fact is, it’s too early to say what standard or protocol will become the glue that can turn a pile of cool gadgets into a system that runs your whole house for you. New systems are just starting to emerge, and though they may eventually work with each other and with older platforms, buying one of each and expecting harmony is still wishful thinking.
Connected homes may make life easier eventually. A thermostat linked to a garage-door opener could tell who’s coming home and set the heat or air-conditioning for their preferences. Compatible room lights and an audio system could join in, too.
That vision’s starting to catch on. Ownership of connected home devices in the U.S. grew by 50 percent this year, and fully 43 percent of all households in the country will buy one in the next year, research company Parks Associates said last month.
For now, most people only have their eye on one device, said NextMarket analyst Michael Wolf. They may buy a connected thermostat for its features, or buy a networked garage-door opener because their old one broke, but they’re not after a whole-home setup yet.
For those who are, there are already ways to tie devices together without giving up a weekend. Many vendors offer hubs to make their own home products work together, and some have opened these systems up to others. Samsung has SmartThings, Belkin has WeMo, retail chains like Lowe’s and Staples have their own platforms, and smart-home specialist Insteon has a line of hubs and devices, to name just a few. 
Broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast also offer selected products and ensure they work together. These systems may start with home security and expand to include things like lighting and climate control.
But having a vendor or carrier decide which products can understand each other won’t be enough in the long run. Some new platforms are designed to offer a broader selection of products that consumers can add on easily.

That’s where new buzzwords like AllJoyn, OIC, Brillo, Weave, Thread and HomeKit come in. But there are two things to keep in mind. 

Network protocols to keep an eye on

At CES, some vendors will also be talking about the network protocols they use, though consumers are less likely to shop based on networking. Here are some highlights:
Wi-Fi: The ubiquitous wireless system will remain at the heart of most home networks, but many small, battery-powered devices won’t talk to it directly because of size and power requirements.
IEEE 802.11ah: A version of Wi-Fi with lower power consumption, due for approval in 2016.
Bluetooth: The familiar personal-area network tackles IoT with the power-efficient Bluetooth Smart (or Low Energy) version and is expected to add longer range and mesh capability in 2016.
Z-Wave: A low-power mesh technology licensed by silicon maker Sigma Designs and used in a wide range of connected-home devices.
ZigBee: A mesh network based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard and widely used in low-power home devices.
6LoWPAN: An IPv6-only version of IEEE 802.15.4 mesh networking.
Thread: A protocol introduced in 2014 and based on 6LoWPAN, with added features for security, routing, setup and device wakeup.
ULE (Ultra Low Energy): A recently introduced low-power version of the DECT cordless-phone network technology.