10 million fools subscribe to SKY

The CEO of SKY “Jeremy Darroch”, said new HD customers more than doubled compared to last year to 482,000 to take its HD subscriber base to 2.1m.

Lorna Tilbian, analyst at Numis, said the increase in new HD subscribers was “outstanding” and outstripped forecasts of about 310,000. Overall, Sky added 172,000 new customers to take its subscriber base to 9700,000

Mr Darroch said: “It has been another good quarter in what remains a tough environment, with more customers joining Sky and strong demand across our entire product range.

“The standout performance came in high definition TV with almost half a million [more] customers choosing Sky+HD”.

He said HDTV has proved so popular that the company will now only sell HD-enabled set-top boxes. Sky said selling the HD box as standard would further encourage take-up of the premium service and make it easier for standard definition customers to upgrade.

HDTV helped the group increase its average revenue per user (ARPU) by 11pc to £492.

However, the company conceded that it spent an extra £70m on marketing the HD service in its first-half.

Mr Darroch said the company is now pushing full steam ahead into the “next frontier” of television, with the launch of a dedicated 3D channel in pubs and clubs in April.

Sky will make TV history on Sunday when it broadcasts Arsenals clash with Manchester United in 3D.

Mr Darroch said the wonders of 3D television will be available at home from this autumn when it will launch a new channel broadcasting 3D sport, movies, documentaries and the arts.

“It’s a risk. It’s the next frontier.” Mr Darroch said. “[But], Avatar [James Cameron's 3D sci-fi epic] has changed everybody’s view of 3D.”

He refused to speculate about how many customers the broadcaster expects to sign up, but said demand for HD TV far outstripped analysts early expectations.

Revenue in the six months to December came in 10pc higher than last year, and at the top end of analysts’ forecasts, at £2.9bn.

Pre-tax profits for the period rose 29pc to £358m, compared to £276m in the same period a year earlier. The interim dividend, payable April 20, rises 5pc to 7.875p. The shares closed down 14 at 540p.

Mr Darroch said the company is considering whether to appeal last week’s ruling by the court of appeal that it must sell down its 17.9pc stake in ITV to below 7.5pc. He said Sky has been approached by several prospective buyers of the stake it bought for £940m in November 2006.


OCW Shipping the Mercury Extreme Enterprise SSD

Other World Computing (OWC), one of the many Mac and PC technology companies, has just announced the introduction of the OWC Mercury Extreme Enterprise SSD, and claimed it as the fastest, most reliable and longest endurance 2.5″ SATA Solid State Drive (SSD) that is currenlty available for both PCs and Macs in single or multiple drive use including all RAID configurations.

Unlike most of the other manufacturers, this one at least has its products available for purchase immediately, in capacities of 50, 100 and 200GB. But that’s just a small detail, my friends, as these are supposedly the Speedy Gonzales of SSD units, at least for the time being. Sustained read is rated at 271.5MB/sec, as compared to Intel with 263.1MB/sec and Crucial with 264.2MB/sec, and if that’s not a considerable difference (which is not, actually), then read on about the sustained write speed, namely 263.6MB/sec for the OWC SSD, compared to 102.8MB/sec on the Intel and 222.1MB/sec on the Crucial unit.

Using SansForce DuraClass technology, the OCW SSD offers one of the highest levels of endurance, performance and power efficiency, along with the Ultra-efficient Block Management and Wear Leveling. More to it, the SandForce Processor boosts up read and write performance to ensure a greater endurance and constant reliability of the drive. Speaking of reliability, the OCW drive packs probably the best in class error correction code (ECC), as well as SandForce RAISE technology for providing RAID-like data protection.

Also, and this is probably good for the ones like me, that are a mess with media, they feature embedded intelligent “recycling” for advanced free space management. Last showing off for now, the manufacturer claims an 8.5x longer use hours than any other name brand SSD. Pricing for these are $229.99 for 50GB, $399.99 for 100GB, and $779.99 for 200GB.


EV Mini Sport from Tajima Motor Corp Now Available in Japan

Those of you that have been in a Buggy before probably have a good idea of what it’s like to be driving a vehicle of this sort. It can be adrenaline-pumping fun if you drive it in the right places, but driving it on the streets is pretty dull. Watching cars pass you by is not that fun. Not to mention the frustrating experiences you can have if you are on a dusty or dirty road and there is someone driving in front of your Buggy. You will be a mess when you get out of the vertically challenged vehicle.

The EV Mini Sport that Tajima Motors has recently launched in Japan is just like a Buggy, only with an electric motoring system. The top speed it can reach is 43 miles per hour, which makes you wonder why they are calling it „sport” or „racer.” It works on an electric engine so let’s say that the speed is justified. It will, however, lack that feeling a Buggy gives you when you accelerate and not only hear the little engine meowing, but you can also feel the gas fumes around you. That’s a huge fun factor while driving such a vehicle.

They say it is designed to be driven across town, like any other eco-friendly electric vehicle. Well, why this shape then? No speed and no cover from rain or any other weather-related problems that might occur in Japan? It looks like a shorter, chubbier Formula 1 car as you can see. The fact that it has only one sit can also be considered a minus.

It will drive you for about 15 miles with a standard lead acid battery but that distance can be enhanced up to 55 miles with a lithium counterpart. Tajima Motor Corp also says that it is designed for mainstream users, but they contradict themselves when they show the $23,000 USD price tag. Also, like any other toy car, the batteries are not included in the price.


e-NUVO Humanoid Robot from Japan Teaches Kids About Robots

Without a doubt, robots will become even more important in the future than they are today and, for this reason, getting the younger generations used to their presence might be an extremely important thing to do, since children will most likely be the ones who’ll have to live, work and play alongside robots at some point, when the more advanced versions of today’s automatons will become as mainstream as… TVs are nowadays, for example.

Anyway, while the rest of the world tends to their mundane business, the Japanese are already thinking ahead and are rolling out new robots like there’s no tomorrow. And the latest device of this type we’ve come across is the e-NUVO, a tiny humanoid robot meant to show very young children what robots are all about (although I’m pretty sure the future holds some more or less different things in store).

Anyway, the 126-cm high robot (that’s pretty much the same as the average height of elementary students, who will represent the e-NUVO’s target audience) was developed by a group of companies and organizations, namely the Nippon Institute of Technology, Harada Vehicle Design, ZMP and ZNUG Design.

The aim of the project is to let children learn about humanoid robots and actually see one in action for themselves, this hands-on approaching being a lot more beneficial for their further development than simply reading about robots from a text book or watching them on TV.

In any case, extending such courses to other parts of the world would be a great idea, but since there’s no place on Earth with such a love or admiration for robots as Japan, it should come as no surprise that this is the first place where the e-NUVO will be deployed. Also, I’m pretty sure that, should this project prove to be a successful one, fully-automated robotic teachers are just around the corner.


Ipad will not kill Netbooks

For many people, it’s a safe bet that the iPad will not replace or preclude the purchase of a Netbook. A quick look at the specifications and it’s pretty obvious why.

The iPad is definitely not a laptop and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

(Credit: Apple ) As this tweet succinctly put it: “What has no webcam, no multitasking, no HDMI port, and (possibly) no Flash, and costs $500? Hint: Not a netbook.” This tweet, of course, is referring to the Apple iPad. And, by the way, you can eliminate the parenthetical; the iPad definitely does not support Adobe Flash video. (Also see this post at Gizmodo.)

But specifications aside, here’s the most fundamental difference. The iPad is what analysts call a purpose-built device. It does certain things very well (e.g., video, Web browsing, e-reading) and other things (most notably office productivity apps) not so well or not at all.

The Netbook–though not as fast as a standard laptop and handicapped by a relatively small screen–is still a PC and is capable of doing pretty much everything a standard PC does. In other words, it’s a general-purpose device.

Then there’s the physical difference. Consumers who make the leap from a notebook or Netbook to a tablet will immediately recognize the ergonomic limitations of a tablet. In short, the inconvenience of not having a physical keyboard: the keyboard on a laptop also acts as a ballast–or stand–for the screen. Needless to say, that’s why laptops decorate Starbucks tables and airplane trays. (Yes, Apple will sell an iPad case that serves as a stand but that does not make it a laptop.)

That said, preemptively panning the device is foolhardy. Consumers will undoubtedly find novel ways to use the iPad. And I will likely be rubbing elbows with an iPad user at Starbucks as soon as it hits stores.


LSI & Seagate Collaborate in a Joint Effort for Delivering PCIe-Based SSS

LSI Corporation has just announced a collaboration with Seagate Technology in order to provide solid, PCI Express-based solid-state storage solutions for the data center and cloud computing environments. Among this joint effort, LSI should be delivering board-level products that embed the LSI SAS and PCIe technology with Seagate solid-state drive technology. These products are developed to ensure enterprise OEMs and channel partners with increased levels of performance, as well as reliability and ease of use while addressing architectural challenges that have limited SSS adoption.

“LSI is uniquely positioned to execute a broad solid-state storage strategy,” said Jeff Richardson, executive vice president and general manager, Semiconductor Solutions Group, LSI. “We’re already deeply engaged in delivering solid-state storage technologies, from custom silicon to storage systems. Entering the emerging PCIe-based SSS market segment is a natural extension of our core competencies. By building upon the industry’s most widely deployed SAS software stack, OEMs and system builders will gain a proven, lower-risk path to market and continuity across technology generations.”

It is market research firm IDC that forecasted that SSD revenue in the enterprise environment segment would reach $2.0 billion by 2013, while PCIe-based solutions would constitute a significant portion on the growing market segment, thanks to the capacity of further boosting performance, reliability and ease of operation within existing IT infrastructures.

“IT professionals want server and storage solutions that can deliver the performance and efficiency benefits of solid-state technology without impacting system resources or further complicating already complex enterprise storage environments,” stated David Mosley, executive vice president, Sales, Marketing, and Product Line Management, Seagate. “These new LSI products will accelerate enterprise application processing and help reduce I/O latency by using standards-based interfaces and protocols to minimize the impact to existing end user enterprise infrastructures. The collaboration extends Seagate’s enterprise solid-state strategy, which is focused on delivering the best-fit solutions for IT using both traditional hard disk drives and solid-state storage.”


James Cameron’s AVATAR Experience at Samsung IMAX

If you haven’t completely disconnected yourself from the outside world (and if that’s the case, then you shouldn’t probably be able to read this either), then you must have heard about James Cameron’s latest cinematographic masterpiece, the famous “Avatar” movie, and the fact that it has really taken the whole world by storm due to the absolutely stunning imagery used in order to create the alien world of Pandora.

Well, seeing all the hype around “Avatar,” we gladly accepted Samsung’s invitation to watch the movie within its IMAX theater, in order to see for ourselves what exactly was the deal with this blockbuster, and whether all of the praises it’s received over the past couple of days are well worth it.

Now, before talking about the movie itself, we’ll make a very short description of the Samsung IMAX venue. The latex screen is 26 meters high and has a width in excess of 37 meters, is ten times heavier than a standard cinema screen and 70 percent of its surface has special perforations, which allow the sound and avoid the movement caused by air currents. Furthermore, the IMAX screen is covered in a special silver dye, reflecting light in the cinema hall and creating an impressive 3D image due to three specific elements: cinema hall design, projector technology and polarized glasses.

Additionally, the Samsung IMAX projector model used within this venue proudly holds the title of world’s largest, weighing almost a ton and featuring 15,000 watts worth of lamps (enough to be visible from the moon, if pointed towards the sky).

But enough about the IMAX system, let’s talk a bit about the movie. Ever since the beginning sequences, it’s quite clear that this will be the most visually stunning flick you’ve ever seen, the quality of the image and the landscapes on Pandora being absolutely… well, breathtaking.

One of the things that we really loved about Cameron’s vision of Pandora is the fact that it’s all large scale. The landscapes are wide open, far and wide, and the 3D feeling is absolutely unbelievable. I mean, in certain situations, you really feel like being there, hanging on the side of a precipice or staring up to a bunch of floating mountains… but enough with the spoilers. Plus, the colors are beautifully rendered, and this is a very important issue, since Pandora is a very, very colorful world, which will leave you dreaming long after the movie’s ended.

There’s plenty of action too, with numerous battle scenes, which take advantage of James Cameron’s experience as a cinematographer and the wonders now available via CGI. And the idea of large scale we’ve mentioned here also applies to the battles, but, again, that’s as far as we’ll go with the spoilers.

The story, on the other hand, is not exactly fantastic. As far as we’re concerned, the story was just a support for the images, the reason for letting the world of Pandora and its inhabitants come to life before our eyes and for James Cameron to write a whole new chapter in the history of movie making.

As a conclusion, we’ll have to say that you should really see Avatar, but it’s for the best to go to either an IMAX venue or a 3D cinema. You’ll simply be missing too much in 2D.


Buffalo Unveiling the TeraStation ES NAS

Buffalo Technology, one of the most known global leaders in designing, developing and manufacturing of wired and wireless networking, network storage and direct attached storage solutions, has just announced the introduction of the TeraStation ES, namely its latest high performance network attached storage unit, targeting the small business sector.

Providing the same quality that Buffalo customers are committed to, the TeraStatio ES was developed to equip businesses with the specific features they need, in essential activities like business continuity and disaster recovery, that are vial for a starting company. Thanks to these robust capabilities, critical data assets can be managed, shared and backed up, easily, accurately and with maximum safety.

“In this information society, small business’ digital asset management is vital, and SMBs are in need of a solution that supports the quick storage, backup and management of data in an efficient and cost effective manner,” said Ralph Spagnola, vice president of sales at Buffalo Technology.  “With an attractive price tag and a fantastic array of features, we are confident that the new TeraStation ES is the perfect data management solution for any small business.”

The TeraStation ES comes as a cost-effective, reliable RAID-based network attached storage option that is also packed with a comprehensive set of features, implemented for businesses of all sizes and budgets. Active Directory integration, along with real-time share replication and hot swap and hot spare hard drives are just a few of the aspects that make the TeraStation ES one of the optimum solutions for businesses that are looking for a low-cost, secure and high quality central file or backup server.

And with the multi-location replication and other features easily managed via the intuitive web-based GUI, the TeraStation is a sure winner, especially with the multitude of protocol support for SMB/CIFs, NFS, FTP/SFTP, AFP and AppleTalk, making inter-platform operability seamless. This for the price of $699.99 for 2TB capacity, $899.99 for 4TB and $1,299.99 for 6TB.


The Portable Card Speaker Looks Better than Sounds

 I don’t think an ordinary iPod portable speaker needs any introduction, but for this one, I will make an exception as it prides on being better in design than most mp3 accessories, and even more, puts them to shame. As for the design, it may be able to do that, since the Card Speaker has been developed by IDEA International, to come in an (so-called) elegant case. We all know that light travels faster than sound, so that’s probably why the Card Speaker shines, as long as it doesn’t play.

Sure, just regarding the design, this is definitely something different from the common accessories of this kind, but there’s not much stuff to be said about the audio. I mean, I know that with nowadays’ technology, manufacturers are capable of developing very thin and slim products, but just by looking at the picture of the Card Speaker, I can tell that the company surely exaggerated when claiming “puts most every mp3 accessory to shame with its good looks and crisp fidelity.”

Well, at least the crisp fidelity part is definitely bogus, or very likely to be. First of all, because fidelity is not something you just add or embed in a product, but something that you actually work for, optimize, redo, redesign, optimize again, smash the product and start all over again. As a high fidelity fan, and a former sound engineer, I really think that companies have been abusing and dirtying words like this one.

Nevertheless, let us not deprive the Card Speaker of all its pride, and continue detailing that the package is complete with two cables – one with a 3.5mm plug and USB for charging the Card Speaker’s internal battery, the other with two 3.5mm jacks for the audio source. Speaking of audio source and charging, the Card Speaker is said to last on playback for about five hours on a single charge, audio source independent. All this for the price of $75.


Centurion 5 II PC Case was brought by Cooler Master to the Market

The flood of news that came upon us during CES 2010 was quite a bit difficult to handle, so, unfortunately, some of them managed to slip pretty much under our otherwise ever-watchful radar. That’s also the case with one of the latest products to come from Cooler Master, namely its Centurion 5 II computer case, which provides some pretty interesting features for a wide category of consumers, whether we’re talking about gaming addicts or people who’re simply looking for a decent case to accompany their all-purpose desktop system.

As things usually go with hardware overhauls, the Centurion 5 II kept the best features of its predecessor but added a few new ones, meant to cater to the latest developments in the field of hardware components (as for example the rapid proliferation of SSDs as desktop storage solutions or the emergence of some pretty large-sized GPUs, such as ATI’s HD5970).

So, the new chassis from Cooler Master features 1.8-inch or 2.5-inch SSD drive adapters, which can really come in handy for installing these storage solutions (typically designed for portable computing systems) within a desktop case. Furthermore, it provides a seriously improved airflow, including a larger 140mm blue LED fan with on/off switch and a dual-fan side vent to quickly insert cool air, while unwanted heat is removed from the top and back vents.

Another interesting innovation by Cooler Master implemented in its new Centurion 5 II computer case is the removable 5.25-inch front I/O module, which can be easily positioned by the user wherever he or she might choose to. Other notable features include the tool-free 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch installation drive bays, CPU cooler retaining hole and a bottom-mount PSU filter at interior to prevent dust build-up.

Cable management is extremely important within any computer case, and, for this reason, access retaining holes have been added to the Centurion 5 II to secure cables from routing cables in and out. This smart design of cable management also prevents the cables and components from being damaged.

Sadly, Cooler Master has not yet provided any pricing or availability details, but we do know that the case should, at least theoretically, become available over the next couple of weeks.

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