Steve Ballmer Clarifies Rumors of New Xbox

Just in case anyone was still clinging to the hope that Microsoft really did have plans to release a new Xbox, Steve Ballmer has put rumors to rest for good by apologizing for his poor choice of words last week.

ZoomFollowing speculation that the company was going to release a new Xbox 360 based around Project Natal, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spoke at The Executive’s Club of Chicago and said some things that at least hinted toward new Xbox hardware in 2010.

TGDaily’s Wolfgang Gruener was at the event in Chicago and reported that, during a speech about the recession, Ballmer “openly” confirmed rumors that the company would launch a new console in 2010. Steve described the device as having a “natural interface,” and went on to say that it will be equipped with technology that is “really, really, close” to actuality as well as have a built incamera with the ability to recognize movement and voice.

Microsoft denied new hardware several times after Gruener’s story was picked up by other major blogs. Xbox’s Major Nelson took to his blog and clarified that as the Xbox team stated at E3, “we’re are not even halfway through the current console generation lifecycle and believe Xbox 360 will be the entertainment center in the home for long into the next decade.” Nelson went on to say that Project Natal will be an important part of the Xbox platform, but added that the company has yet to confirm a release date for the peripheral. Director of Product Management for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Aaron Greenberg said, “There will be no new console,” adding that the company would not be launching a Xbox “anytime soon,” and finishing with, “I really believe he was speaking about Project Natal.”

Ballmer yesterday told IGN that he was sorry, reiterating the point that the company is not planning an Xbox launch for next year. “I confused the issue with my poorly chosen words,” he told IGN. “There is no news in my comments. Things are as reported after E3,” he finished. So there you have it, straight from the instigator’s mouth.

HTC Hero hands-on: Flash, keyboard and ruminations

We’re going to need some real time with the device to make a final opinion, but we’re cautiously optimistic that HTC has a winner with its new Hero. Here’s what we’ve got from our first looks at the phone in London and NY:

  • The beveled edges along the back makes the handset sit comfortably in the hand, and while the teflon coat doesn’t necessarily **feel revolutionary, it’s going to make a world of difference after a couple of months riding in our grubby pockets. It’s certainly solid, but much more so than other “brick” phones.
  • The Sense UI (or as HTC terms it, “user experience”) riding a capacitive touchscreen offers a people-centric approach to managing your information that is absolutely dreamy at first blush — though it shares a lot of TouchFLO heritage.
  • The on-screen keyboard also seems quite useable with a nice simulated haptic forced-feedback bounce when you strike each key in either landscape or portrait mode (which can naturally be deactivated). HTC has built its own touch keyboard from the ground up, and in our brief couple of tests we’d say it’s probably the best touchscreen typing experience we’ve ever felt. It never lags behind, and has great colorful visual cues for its auto-corrected words — green means it’s suggesting a correctly spelled word, red means we’ve gone off the beaten path, and the T9-style multiple suggestions are heavenly.
  • This intuitive one-hander isn’t shy with the specs either as we’ve already seen in the official press release. Our only concern is possible sluggishness from the Qualcomm processor that cause the graphic transitions to stutter a bit and results in screen rotations that feel dangerously uncomfortable.
  • We were told that the device we saw was running pre-production firmware so there’s still time to tweak — though not much with a July European launch.
  • The Hero is not a “Google Experience” device. As such, you won’t find the Google logo anywhere (no big deal) but you also won’t be downloading any firmware updates over the air — sideloading only kids. Not a deal breaker but an annoying and seemingly arbitrary limitation nonetheless. There’s still a small lack of clarity of how updates will work with HTC’s “mods” living on top of basic Android — even if they’re able to port in new Android versions seamlessly, we imagine there will be some breakage.
  • For a device without a physical keyboard, the Hero seems a little thick up against its HTC Magic, Nokia N97, and iPhone 3G counterparts, but not overly so.
  • HTC has confirmed that whichever (unspecified) carrier gets the phone in the US will have a modified version, both in software (carrier-specific services) and in hardware chassis tweaks. Just don’t take our teflon away, ok HTC?
  • The phone will be available for free on T-Mobile UK — if only we could be so subsidy lucky in the US.

There are four videos for you after the break. The first shows Flash running at full screen on the HTC Hero courtesy of YouTube. The second, however, shows it failing when running a trailer from Yahoo Movies, just like Adobe did — in fact, it crashed all four times that we tried it on what we were told was a Hero running the final build of the OS. Third one is a quickie showing the on-screen keyboard rotating from portrait to landscape and back. Lastly, we demonstrate the hardware a little bit and show off our lightning speed at typing. For the real completists, there’s also a new gallery of hands-on shots from the NY launch event right below.

iPhone 3GS: $179 to build says iSuppli

iSuppli’s just released its estimated cost of Apple’s newest offering, the iPhone 3GS. Total costs for the 16GB model costs $178.96 to manufacture, according to them — give or take $4.63 more than the 8GB iPhone 3G estimate from last year. It’s also about $40 more than iSuppli’s most recent manufacturing estimate for the Palm Pre. The estimate covers only materials, and doesn’t take into account various costs such asshipping and distribution, packaging, royalty fees or all the miscellaneous accessories included with each handset. Regardless, it definitely looks like Apple’s managed to step up the innards of the phone without a significant bump in costs.

Train your brain everyday!

The game Brain Age was a massive success for the Nintendo DS all around the world. Based on Dr. Kawashima’s research, Brain Age was originally targeted to consumers as a way to keep their brains active and ‘young.’

Kawashima’s research is still best known for its implementation in the Brain Age games, but those who don’t carry around their Nintendo DSes for any spare moment may be pleased to know that brain exercises are now available for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

It’s called Brain Exercise with Dr. Kawashima, is published by Namco Networks America, and is available to download from the App Store immediately for $5.99 (or £3.49 or €4.99). A full Sudoku game with bonus levels has also been included to help raise a mental sweat.

“It’s not often that Apple aficionados have to play catch-up but the 27 million users of Dr Kawashima’s various brain training platforms are testament to the rise of this genre of casual gaming,” Barry O’Neill, president of Namco Bandai Networks Europe, commented. We look forward to seeing how iPhone and iPod touch users rank against others who are already using Dr. Kawashima’s approved brain training games on the move.”

iPhone/iPod Touch users can upload their brain age to the global leaderboard and compete in world scores. Click here for the App Store link.

The ability to legally copy Blu-ray movies could be just around the corner.

A recent report in Electronista cites Michael Ayers, chairman of the AACS Licensing Authority as saying that an updated version of the the Blu-ray standard will allow for copying. Reports say that the feature, dubbed ‘Managed Copy’ will allow users to make a single full-resolution copy of the film which can then be burned to a DVD or Blu-ray disc.

However, while it may seem like a dream come true for most folks, it’s not exactly fitting for these penny pinching times as new Blu-ray players will be needed to support the feature. We don’t know about you guys but we think the cost of a new player is definitely worth it if it means we’ll have the ability to back up our movie collections before the discs get chewed, scratched or generally maimed by pets or inconsiderate roommates.

Will you be buying a new Blu-ray player when this feature is available? Let us know in the comments below!

Hillcrest Labs Introduces the Loop(TM) Pointer: In-Air Mouse for TV

– Targeted to Consumers who Connect their TV to a PC or Mac(R) –

– Available for $99 via or

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 15 /PRNewswire/ — Today, in time for Father’s Day, Hillcrest Labs launched its award-winning Loop(TM) pointer to be sold directly to consumers. The Loop pointer is a unique Freespace(R) mouse that lets users control an on-screen cursor with the flick of wrist. The Loop pointer is designed to be used by the growing number of consumers who connect their PC or Mac(R) to a TV.


According to data derived from a recent Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)(R) report, there are now more than 7 million US households that have connected a personal computer to their home television sets(1). With the Loop pointer, these consumers now have an engaging new way to search, browse, and navigate the Web or their home media content on TV.

The Loop pointer’s distinctive design is round and ergonomic including just four buttons and a scroll wheel. Originally developed as a concept product to showcase Hillcrest Labs’ Freespace in-air pointing and motion control technology, the Loop pointer is available to consumers for the first time for just $99. Consumers can purchase the Loop pointer or

“As our flagship Freespace product design, the Loop pointer has captured the imagination and interest of most people who have used it,” said Dan Simpkins, CEO and founder of Hillcrest Labs. “Although today we are introducing our first product directly to the public, at our core, we remain a software and IP licensing company.”

“Hillcrest Labs is recognized as one of the most innovative developers of motion control technology and graphical user interfaces for television,” said Colin Dixon, principal analyst at the Diffusion Group. “Their new Loop pointer is a simple, elegant product whose unique design will make it a great conversation piece in the living room, dorm room, lecture hall, or board room.”

Examples of Applications and Uses

To use the Loop pointer, consumers simply plug a small, USB 2.0 transceiver that comes with the device into a compatible computer or device. As with a conventional mouse, no special driver software is required for use on a PC or Mac. Device applications include:

  • Mouse for TV: For consumers who connect a PC-to-TV or Mac-to-TV, the Loop is an in-air pointer that offers the industry’s highest performance. Users can relax comfortably on a couch, hold the Loop pointer in any position, and control their favorite online video sites, photo sites, music sites, and more. Using the standard on-screen keyboards that are included with the Windows or Mac operating systems, people can enter search terms, passwords, and more.
  • Presenters: Executives, professors or other PowerPoint(TM) users now have a far more useful and eye-catching tool for use with keynotes, company presentations, or lectures. The Loop pointer also makes it easy to switch between presentations, web pages and other applications, all while walking around the conference room or lecture hall.

The Loop pointer can also complement the following products:

  • KODAK Theatre HD Player: Owners of the highly acclaimed KODAK Theatre HD Player can use the Loop pointer as a fully functioning alternative controller to interact with pictures, videos and music, and more.
  • PS3(TM): The Loop pointer is not a game controller for PS3, but it can be used as a complementary device to navigate the Internet using the PS3’s web browser.
  • Apple TV: While Apple TV does not support mouse controllers, consumers who use aTV Flash, from Fire Core (version 3.6), will be able to use the Loop pointer to navigate content on the device and the aTV Flash web browser.

Freespace Technology

The Loop pointer incorporates Hillcrest Labs’ patented Freespace technology. Attributes of the Loop pointer that are made possible by Freespace technology include:

  • High Accuracy/Precision: The Loop is a highly precise pointer which allows users to point to individual pixels on a high-resolution screen.
  • Orientation Compensation: Regardless of the orientation of the device in space (e.g. pointing at the ground, turned sideways, etc.), Freespace generates intuitive cursor motions on the screen. MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) sensors combined with Hillcrest’s proprietary software enable consistent control of the device from any position – standing, sitting or reclining.
  • Adaptive Tremor Removal: Hillcrest’s technology can distinguish between intentional and unintentional movement, including natural hand tremors. Instead of filtering out the entire range of human tremor, which would reduce the accuracy of the pointer, the Loop pointer dynamically measures each individual user’s specific tremor and unintentional movements and removes them.
  • No Line-of-Site: Unlike conventional Infrared devices and optical motion-sensing devices that require “line-of-site” operation, the Loop pointer uses RF (radio frequency) technology, so users do not need to point directly at the computer or TV screen. This gives users greater freedom to move around at a range of up to 30 feet. It also means that the PC or Mac could be stored in a media cabinet while in use.

Freespace technology can also be licensed by companies as a complete hardware and software platform to create peripheral devices that accurately track motion with six degrees of freedom. Companies that have licensed Freespace for use in their products include: Eastman Kodak, Logitech, UEI, and ZillionTV. In addition, Hillcrest Labs licenses a broad set of intellectual property including more than 40 issued patents, out of more than 190 filed by the company.

Loop Pointer Specifications

  • Diameter: 4.8 inches (approximately the size of a CD or DVD)
  • Width: 1.2 inches
  • Weight: 4.9 ounces
  • Color: Black with silver buttons
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0 antenna with built in RF (radio frequency transceiver)
  • Power supply: 2 AA batteries (included)

To order the Loop pointer, consumers should visit or For more details about Hillcrest Labs, visit

Members of the press or industry analyst community can also download images of the Loop pointer from the company’s newsroom at

About Hillcrest Labs

Hillcrest Laboratories (a.k.a. Hillcrest Labs) sells an interactive media system for TV called HoME(TM), which enables consumer electronics manufacturers and service providers to create unique interactive digital media products for TV and other digital media devices. HoME Applications are controlled by pointing and provide consumers an intuitive way to browse, discover, and interact with large volumes of digital media. Hillcrest Labs’ pointing technology, called Freespace(R), can be used in a wide range of consumer devices including remote controls, PC mice, and game controllers. The company also sells the Loop(TM) pointer – an iconic mouse replacement that lets users control a standard on-screen cursor with natural hand motions. HoME and Freespace have received numerous awards including the CES Innovations Award and Popular Mechanics’ Editors Choice. Based in Rockville, Maryland, Hillcrest Labs was founded in 2001 by Dan Simpkins. The company is funded by AllianceBernstein, Columbia Capital, Grotech Ventures and NEA,. For additional information, visit

All product and service names listed in this release remain property of their parent companies and do not indicate official support or endorsement for the Loop pointer or Hillcrest Labs. Mac(R) is a registered trademark of Apple Inc. PS3(TM) is a registered trademarks of Sony Corporation. PowerPoint is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation. All other trademarks, product names and company names or logos herein are the property of their respective owners. Freespace is a trademark of Hillcrest Labs. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Hillcrest Labs, Freespace, and the Loop are trademarks of Hillcrest Laboratories, Inc.

(1) – Source: Data derived from 2009 CEA study: “Net-Enabled Video: Early Adopters Only?”

Palm Pre How To Guide – Enable Tethering Over Bluetooth!

Credit goes to fish199902 for this one.  Basically, you setup an SSH tunnel to the Pre, which supports running as a SOCKS proxy.  You then configure your browser to point to this proxy and BAM, you’re tethering away.

First, you must have rooted your Pre and installed/enabled SSH.

Connect to your Pre’s NAP (network access point) via Bluetooth:

Connect to Pre NAP to Tether

Ignore this error message on your Pre:

Ignore Pre Tether Error Message

Using PuTTY, configure the following settings under Connection -> SSH -> Tunnels:

  • Source port: 8080
  • Destination: Dynamic and Auto radio buttons
  • Click Add and you’ll see the port in the “Forwarded ports” box

Pre Tether Putty Setup

Then, initiate the SSH connection to your Pre.  Going through Bluetooth and using port 222, your connection window will look like this:

Pre Tether through SSH SOCKS proxy

Once you’re at the login screen, configure your browser’s SOCKS proxy with:

  • Address: localhost
  • Port: 8080

Pre Tether IE7 SOCKS Proxy Setup

Now you’re good to go!

iPhone could be more powerful than Nintendo DS and Sony PSP, but the software is holding it back.

Next week, one of the best looking games yet for the App Store will be hitting iPhone and iPod Touch gamers – Doom Resurrection.

id Software lead programming whiz John Carmack, who has developed 3D engines from Wolfenstein 3D to the yet-to-be-released Rage, has been quite charmed by the iPhone since its release, an opinion that he’s not afraid to share.

“I love the iPhone,” Carmack said in an interview withVentureBeat. “It’s a real game platform, not a tiny little toy.”

According to Carmack, the iPhone/iPod Touch has stronger gaming hardware than the Nintendo DS–which should be no surprise–but even stronger than the PSP. So then why have iPhone/iPod Touch games thus far been below the graphical and audio quality of the PSP? It’s a problem with the software, said the programmer.

“If you look at it in raw hardware horsepower, the iPhone should be better in performance than the Nintendo DS and the PlayStation Portable,” Carmack said. “But the truth is, you can’t exploit it all because of software inefficiencies.”

While the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP are purpose built for gaming in mind, the iPhone software must also manage other forms of applications and even (gasp) phone functions.

Escalation Studios, the developers behind Doom Resurrection, expect to be able to take advantage of various features of the upcoming iPhone OS 3.0, though the game is designed to run fine on the current 2.x base.

As with any development platform, the software tools will get better over time, which should yield better games. The only disappointing bit of news for diehard first-person shooter fans is that Doom Resurrection will be an on-rails experience.