Archive for November 21, 2009

Daily Dispatch: Create PDFs with your phone; next Flip video to feature Wi-Fi

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The Daily Dispatch is a collection of interesting news about computing,
consumer electronics, and other technology gathered from around the Web
by Dirk Klingner, our technology-trend watcher, and other staffers. If
you have a tip on news you want to share, leave a comment below.


Adobe's Upgrades Acrobat.com, Launches New Mobile App (ReadWriteWeb)

Also new are 35 user-requested features, including file searching capabilities and integrations with web services like Flickr and Google Image Search. However, one of the most exciting pieces to the upgraded service is the newly launched mobile component. With Acrobat.com's smartphone application, users won't just have access to their files on the go – they can also scan in new documents with their phone's camera.

Next-gen Flip camcorder to boast Wi-Fi (Pocket-lint)

Cisco will launch a new Wi-Fi-enabled Flip digital camcorder to go on sale in the early half of 2010, Pocket-lint has learnt.

Second Generation Pogoplug Lets You Share Multiple USB Drives Over the Internet (Gizmodo)

Like the prior model, the new Pogoplug allows for USB drive sharing over the Internet. It'll run for $129, still have no service fees, take up to four USB drives, and have Twitter and Facebook integration.

240 Hz and Beyond (Home Entertainment)

…First it was 120 Hz. Now it’s 240 Hz. Already manufacturers are talking about 480 Hz. I mean, 60 Hz is so 20th century. Are there really any advantages to these faster refresh rates? If so, how do they work?

Intel: Chips in brains will control computers by 2020 (ComputerWorld)

…Scientists at Intel's research lab in Pittsburgh are working to find ways to read and harness human brain waves so they can be used to operate computers, television sets and cell phones. The brain waves would be harnessed with Intel-developed sensors implanted in people's brains.

What is Google Chrome OS (Google Chrome Channel)
Lots of press surrounding Google's announcement of its Chrome OS which has the potential to change how people access the Internet. Click through to watch a Common Craft produced video explaining what Chrome OS is all about.

Lighter side: Google has made a batch of entertaining and informative videos to highlight their search innovations. Read more and check out the entertaining videos in their post titled Cool. Even Batman Uses Google (Official Google Blog)

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Survey shows more consumers to buy bigger TVs

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Source: Consumer Reports National Research Center Holiday Poll 2009

It may sound trite, but it’s true: TV buyers are embracing the concept that bigger really is better. About 57% of the consumers planning to buy a TV intend to get one with a 40-inch or larger screen, and many of those buyers (22%) have their sights set on a 50-inch or larger TV.

That’s what we discovered in our latest holiday survey, in which 21% of the 1,000 consumers surveyed said they’d be buying a TV during or after the holidays. Last year, shoppers had more modest aspirations—only 47% were looking at 40-inch and bigger TVs. The steady drop in big-screen prices over the past year could well be the reason more viewers aspire to live larger.

Screen size isn’t the only thing driving purchases, though. Better picture quality with high-def resolution was the biggest reason buyers are willing to spring for a new TV, cited by 77% of those planning to buy a TV. The appearance of the TV also comes into play: 71% want a set that takes up less space than the one they have now or that can be wall-mounted, and just over half said they were looking for a more attractive design.

Where will these new TVs fit into the household? About 70% of buyers are replacing an older TV that is not a flat panel, 36% are buying an additional flat screen for another room, and 20% are upgrading an older flat-panel set.

In some cases, envy is the motivating factor: 37% of the respondents said they want a new TV because their family or friends have one. (The men surveyed were more likely than the women to keep up with the Joneses, 42% vs. 32%. Gee, that’s a surprise.) There was even more of a gender gap in another case: 38% of men polled want a new TV for a sporting event such as the SuperBowl, while only 24% of women voiced the same sentiment.

With a nod to the season, I’m happy to report that there were several heart-warming reasons for the planned shopping sprees. More than two-thirds of the consumers surveyed said their families really wanted a new set, and one-third said they expected to spend more time at home enjoying it. And fully 21% of the respondents said they were buying a TV as a gift.

Are you in the market for a new TV, and why? If you are shopping, be sure to check out our TV buying guide (free to one and all) and our Ratings (available to subscribers). Learn more about consumer holiday shopping plans in another Electronics blog and in our Money blog

As for me? I have two perfectly good flat panels at home, one of which I love, but I know I’d love a brand new 50-inch plasma with 1080p resolution and Internet connectivity and four HDMI inputs and a USB port even more. (Are you listening, Santa?) Eileen McCooey

Methedology: The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a telephone survey of a nationally representative probability sample of telephone households. 1,001 interviews were completed among adults aged 18+. Interviewing took place over November 5th – November 8th, 2009. The margin of error is +/- 3.2% points at a 95% confidence level.

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Motorola Droid’s strange camera bug

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I have been seeing a lot of blog posts, discussions, and tweets about a bug in the Motorola Droid phone that causes autofocus to fail on certain dates and work on others.

I decided to talk to Mike Gikas, a Senior Electronics editor here at Consumer Reports to see if he could replicate the problem. I brought along my pocket video camera to record the action.

Focus Unfocus

Mike’s findings confirm that the autofocus bug is somehow date related. Images taken with the camera set to November 11th, were very blurry. Images taken with the camera set to November 17th were much more in focus. (Click on the images to see examples.)

Many blogs are reporting that the bug cycles every 24.5 days. Since the camera currently appears to be working correctly, users may be able to coast until December 11, when a patch for the Droid is expected to fix this problem.

We’ll check back with Mike and other Consumer Reports experts after December 11th to see if a permanent fix has been released. —Dirk Klingner

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