Archive | May 19, 2011

XBOX 360 Spring 2011 Update is right here, adds PayPal integration, updated disk format, better stand-by mode

Good news folks, the XBOX 360 Spring 2011 update is finally here and brings a bunch of new features – the most obvious one being the PayPal integration, so you can now spend money in style. The PayPal integration is available in several other countries beside US and is an addition to the not very intuitive points based payment system.

The Spring 2011 Update starts today and will gradually be available everywhere in the next two weeks. Funny thing, I have seen quite a number of XBOX 360 owners online praying for the first time that an update is messing up their systems. One of the previous updates affected a small number of consoles making them incapable of reading retail disks. To fix this problem, Microsoft promised a new 250GB XBOX 360 slim system as a replacement, combined with 12 month of paid XBOX Live Gold.

Is the XBOX 360 Spring 2011 firmware update available to you yet? Let us know!

How to root / install custom roms and add Android Market for CVS Craig CMP 738a $75 Android tablet

I just got a very cheap Craig CMP 738a tablet from CVS, and, after the $25 coupon code, the total came to be $75 before taxes. CVS is not a place where you would expect to find hi-tech items, but I wanted a cheap tablet to play with and, after I got bored, to give to my 7 old son without the fear that if he breaks it I’ll be too upset. I played with it for about a week (a full review to follow) but the included software sucks: Slow, no official Google Android market, outdated apps. There are some custom ROMs available (that also come with root access) so I decided to try them, and, since the process of installing a custom ROM is not always easy, I decided to write this tutorial and post clear and easy to follow instructions, documenting each step with screenshots. The benefits of adding a custom ROM is mainly better app compatibility, speed and official Android Market.

1. What is Craig 738a?

Craig 738a is a very cheap tablet that can be purchased at CVS pharmacy for $99. There is always a coupon for $25 off available around the web, so you’ll Read More…

People still waiting for an untethered iPad 2 jailbreak

It seems that to date, iPad 2 proved to be the toughest nut , err, apple to crack and without a doubt, Apple will do whatever it can to keep it this way. While many are eagerly awaiting an iPad 2 jailbreak utility to pop-up for legitimate reasons, as customization, tethering (although tethering is available right now via WiFi or Bluetooth – I am using  MyWi / iPhone 4 to connect my iPad 2 while writing this), or many quite good applications only available on Cydia including native Flash support via the popular Frash app, there is also a large group that will jailbreak their iPad 2 just to install pirated content, obviously cutting into Apple profits.

Why iPad 2 is so hard to crack while every other iOS device gets jailbroken promptly for each iteration? The culprit seems to be what differentiates iPad 2 from any other iOS device to date – the A5 processor and its newly embedded bootrom which only seems to be active during the boot process and then turns off until the next reboot, making it harder to access / modify. The bootrom was dumped though (meaning downloaded out of the device), which is an important first step in the jailbreaking process but the whole process will obviously take some time prompting a bunch of hopeful and more or less informed posts around the web (including this one 😉 ) to keep up the hype.

Different from a bootrom jailbreak which would be permanent and applied for every device sharing the same hardware design, a so called “userland” jailbreak is easier to perform (if you find the vulnerability) but also easier to patch since it will be limited to less important, user layer (applications, user interface, various stacks) versus kernel or bootrom layer for the other jailbreaking methods.

Are you waiting for the release of a jailbreak tool for iPad 2? Why? Share with us your thoughts / comments. Read More…

Amazon extends its trade-in program to include other gadgets beside games

If you just got bored with your shiny but less than new toy, Amazon is ready to take it back, if it is among the 2,550 eligible items. What can you return? check the Amazon trade-in page – basically anything from electronics to books, video-games and even video and TV Shows on DVD. The values? Probably less than you would get on eBay, but also with considerable less hassle. For the Star Wars Trilogy, you’ll get $22, for the complete matrix Trilogy in the dead HD-DVD format, only $4. A first generation iPad will get you $235 (I’ll buy one for that much!) while the newer iPad 2 scores as much as $540, but I can’t imagine why you would want to trade it!!! A comparable item, the new Acer Iconia Tab W500-BZ467 Android tablet is only valued at $198 in comparison, so it is obvious that Apple products keep a much better value even used.

Sony announces 13.3-inch Flexible Color E-paper – on display at SID 2011

While we can’t imagine you’ll carry a 13.3 inches eReader with you anytime soon, the technology is important nonetheless and it might make its way into the next year’s eReaders. During the SID 2011 (International Symposium, Seminar and Exhibition), Sony unveiled a rather nice flexible color ePaper, that easily will beat the current LCD/OLED technology in terms of visibility outdoors and power consumption.

Let’s see some technical details: The actual screen is around 150μm thin and at the displayed size (13.3 inches) only weight 20 grams (around 6 onces). The color gamut is 13%, contrast ratio 100,000:1, reflectance 10% and the resolution 800×1200. The subpixels are 4 different colors, red, green, blue and white, 169μm x 169μm each and the density is around 75ppi (pixels per inch).

It will be interested to know where exactly the eInk based readers are heading, since it looks like the customer interest might migrate from dedicated eReaders to thin tablets based on color LCD / OLED screens. While much better in direct sunlight, eInk is not suitable for video / fast action gaming or even fast Internet browsing. Personally, I prefer my Nook Color to a dedicated reader even if I also own a Kindle 3, and the original Nook. Amazon will also announce color LCD tablets in time for the end of this year.


Free XBOX 360 for students buying Microsoft PC in back-to-school offer

If you are a student (or just have an .edu e-mail address and you planned to buy a new PC, there is not a better time than today – trying to revive the dying PC business, Microsoft published a quite compelling offer – a new XBOX 360 Arcade 4GB system with every new PC bought. There is a catch though – you’ll need to spend at least $699 for a Windows 7 based PC and, of course that .edu e-mail address.

The offer is available both online in the Microsoft Store and in the brick and mortar store (both Microsoft and Best Buy) and, if you plan to shop locally,  you’ll need a student ID. In US, you can buy a PC anythime between May 22nd and September 3rd, so we advise to buy as late as possible to ensure you get the best PC for your dollars. Interestingly enough, the offer will also be available in Canada/France as well, although the exact period is not yet known.

Microsoft also goes out of its way to recommend a couple of models “HP Pavillion DM4, a light thin laptop that is only 1″ thin and the Samsung Series 9 a computer that has been described as looking like it is about to rocket off the runway”. We’ll also have to wait and see the effect this promotion will have on the student’s scores by the end of the year…Apple had a similar offer last year, involving a free iPod, so we’ll watch closely to whatever they’ll offer this year.

via Microsoft Blog, Microsoft Store