Kingston Technologies is the latest to throw its hat into the ring with a range of mobile oriented flash drives.
The Datatraveler Microduo has both standard USB 2.0 and microUSB slots allowing for easier data transfer between mobile and desktop devices.
Built with Android devices in mind, the device uses the On The Go (OTG) function in most modern Android microUSB ports to provide extra storage.
The device comes in capacities ranging from 8GB to 64GB with a five year guarantee and full technical support for anyone struggling to use the device.
“[The Datatraveler] Microduo is a great companion device to mobile phones or tablets as it lets users back up files on the go thus freeing up space, or share files between devices with ease,” said Nadine Frost, Kingston Technologies EMEA Business Manager,
“Its steel design has a built in key loop and rotating cap, so it is small on size and big on storage. Travellers can take entire libraries of music or videos with them on trips without worrying about filling up the memory on their own device.”
Kingston is not the first company to bring out a twin input USB port. In December we reported on a similar product from Sony.
The OTG port is already compatible with flash drives through the use of an adapter, however as storage companies look for ways to stay one step ahead of the cloud, these products play on their added convenience and are already proving popular.
Verizon Communications is engaged in discussions with content providers to deliver web-based TV services to mobile platforms, chief executive Lowell McAdam, said at an investor conference earlier in the week.
Just recently, Dish Network Corp and Walt Disney Co announced a landmark deal that will allow the No. 2 satellite TV provider to deliver Disney-owned network content online, outside of a traditional TV subscription.
Verizon’s goal “is to work with the content providers,” said
McAdam at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference.
“I have personally had discussions with the CEOs of the large content companies, and we would love to partner with them to see how we can take FiOS contact mobilely across the country.” he said.
McAdam said the company could also look at providing a service delivered over wireless airwaves and not just broadband.
According to PwC’s annual entertainment and media forecast, North American consumers will spend $6 billion in 2014 on entertainment from services such as Netflix that are offered over the top, meaning they are utilized over a network but not offered by the network operator.
“I think you can actually get a virtuous cycle where broadcast viewing goes up and over-the-top viewing goes up, if you time this properly,” McAdam said.
In January, Verizon acquired Intel Corp’s OnCue service for an undisclosed sum to accelerate its push into next-generation video services, including integrating it with Verizon’s FiOS fiber-based Internet and TV service that has more than 5 million video subscribers, about 5 percent of pay TV households. The company said it was open to providing over-the-top content to any device.
McAdam also stressed that Verizon expects Netflix to pay for faster video delivery as part of a so-called interconnect deal, in an arrangement similar to the one the video provider has made with Comcast Corp.
“I have spoken live and via email with (Netflix CEO) Reed Hastings, and I believe that we will get some sort of an arrangement with them as well,” said McAdam.
We already knew that Android was the mobile operating systems most targeted by malware, and that isn’t about to change any time soon.
Security firm F-Secure has reported that malicious activity on Android accounted for 97 per cent of all detected mobile threats for 2013.
The figures were revealed in F-Secure’s latest Threat Report for the second half of 2013, finding that there were 566 more Android malware variants found last year than during the previous year.
“97 percent of the mobile threats in 2013 were directed at the Android platform, which racked up 804 new families and variants,” F-Secure said in its report (pdf). “The other three percent (23) were directed at Symbian. No other platforms had any threats. In contrast, 2012 saw 238 new Android threats.”
F-Secure found that the top 10 countries reporting Android threats saw a little over 140,000 Android malware detections, with 42 percent of the reported detections coming from Saudia Arabia and 33 percent from India. European countries accounted for 15 percent of the total and the US just five percent.
F-Secure said that due to Android itself having relatively few vulnerabilities, the main distribution method is still through shady apps downloaded from third-party app stores.
“For mobile platforms, the continued dominance of the Android operating system makes it almost the exclusive target for mobile threats we’ve seen this period,” F-Secure’s report explained.
“Though the relatively low number of vulnerabilities found in Android makes the operating system itself difficult to attack, this security is largely circumvented by the relative ease with which malware authors can provide their ‘products’ and dupe users into installing it on their own devices, with the necessary permissions to straightforwardly use the device (and the user’s data) for the attacker’s own benefit.”
The Android malware families most commonly reported in that period were Ginmaster, Fakeinst and Smssend, which either harvest data from the device or send premium-rate SMS messages.
The F-Secure report also found that web based attacks, which typically involve techniques that redirect the browser to malicious websites, were the most commonly reported type of attack for the period, making up 26 percent of malware detections, followed by the Conficker worm with 20 percent.
“The three most common exploits detected during the period were all Java-related,” the report said. “Java exploits, however, declined compared to [the first half of] 2013. Mac malware continues a slight but steady increase, with 51 new families and variants detected in 2013.”
Fujitsu Labs have worked out a way to improve vibration feedback when typing on a virtual keyboard. The prototype haptic sensory tablet emits ultrasonic vibrations under the surface of the tablet’s display.
The company says that although producing ultrasonic vibrations would generally require a good deal of power, its engineers have come up with a way of shrinking down the tech and allowing a tablet prototype to run its haptic feedback system. Essentially, the vibrations create a layer of high pressure air between a user’s fingertips and the surface of the screen, resulting in reduced friction so the fingers can skate across the screen. This alternates between high and low friction to create the illusion of a textured surface.
It is possible to feel a CD beneath the fingers while spinning and scratching like a DJ, as well as physically feeling and manipulating the deck controls. Research continues to improve the technology, but the company is looking to commercialize the development by next year.
Worldwide sales of tablets to end users totaled 195.4 million units, fueled by sales of low-end, smaller screen devices, and purchases by first time buyers, the company reported.
Android has become the biggest tablet operating system with 62% of the market. In 2012, Google’s OS trailed Apple’s iOS by a margin of about 8 million tablets, but by the end of last year had turned that into a 50 million-unit lead.
The Android camp led by Samsung sold almost 121 million tablets, for a 61.9% share, compared to 53.3 million units and a 45.8% share in 2012. Apple’s tablet sales increased from 61.5 to 70.4 million units, but because the overall market grew faster, the company’s share dropped from 52.8% to 36%.
Microsoft’s Windows tablet sales improved but the share remained small at 2.1%, with shipments growing from 1.2 million to 4 million units. To compete, Microsoft needs to create a more compelling ecosystem for consumers as well as developers across all mobile devices, Gartner said.
Apple’s strong fourth quarter helped it maintain the top position among the manufacturers. Samsung, ranked in second place, had the biggest growth of the worldwide tablet vendors, at 336 %. The expansion and improvement of its Galaxy tablet portfolio, together with a lot of marketing, helped Samsung shrink the gap with Apple.
Samsung sold 37.4 million tablets for a 19.1% slice of the market.
The rest of the top 5 was made up of Asus, Amazon.com and Lenovo. Of those three companies, Lenovo did particularly well with tablet sales growing by 198% to 6.5 million units, or a 3.3% market share. The company’s success was due to a combination of new tablet models launched during the second half of last year, and sales of its Yoga model and its Windows tablets doing particularly well, Gartner said.
However, Lenovo is still behind Asus, with 11 million units sold, and Amazon, with 9.4 million. Asus’ market share grew from 5.4% to 5.6%, while Amazon’s share declined from 6.6% to 4.8%.
As the tablet market becomes even more competitive, this year it will be critical for vendors to improve user experience, technology and ecosystem value beyond just hardware and cost, Gartner said.
The company’s PalmSecure scanners use near-infrared light to scan points in veins that lie beneath the surface of a user’s palm. There has to be blood flowing through a user’s hand for the sensor to work.
Every person’s palm pattern is unique, and scans of vein points are matched against previously registered scans to authenticate users and unlock whatever device or service they’re linked to.
“We have been reducing the size of our palm vein authentication units since their initial development,” a Fujitsu spokesman said. “In the future, we hope to eventually have these units embedded into smartphones.”
Fujitsu claims the biometric technology has a false acceptance rate of only 0.00008% and a false rejection rate of 0.01%.
The company first commercialized the technology in 2004 when palm-sized scanners were embedded in ATMs at Japan’s Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi to help authenticate customer identity and prevent fraud. In-store scanners at Suruga Bank also appeared in 2004.
Fujitsu later shrank the scanners and embedded them in laptops.
It recently showed off a stamp-sized version of the scanner that is the smallest yet. It’s been embedded in tablets for the first time and will be included in about 2,000 tablets provided to Fukuoka Financial Group, which includes the Bank of Fukuoka, Kumamoto Bank and Shinwa Bank.
“No one has this technology, and it’s significantly more secure than fingerprint,” the Fujitsu spokesman said, adding that some banks have shown interest in palm-vein scanners as a means of verifying identity in natural disasters in which ID or bank cards are lost or destroyed.
The customized 12.5-inch Fujitsu Arrows Q704/H tablets have Intel Core i5 processors and run Windows, acting as virtual desktops. Bank employees meeting customers off-site will be able to securely access their bank’s internal system by using the palm-vein authentication scanners.
Only users whose biometric info has been registered beforehand will be able to operate the tablets.
At CES in January, U.S.-based biometric payments company PulseWallet demonstrated a cardless point-of-sale terminal incorporating Fujitsu’s vein-imaging technology. It said registered users could leave their credit and debit cards at home and make payments simply by having their palms scanned.
Dell has become the first major PC OEM to join the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) group, joining over 80 existing members Broadcom, Gill Electronics, IDT, Intel, Qualcomm and Samsung.
Dell’s membership means it could soon be developing mobile devices that do not require a wired power adapter to charge.
The A4WP aims to standardise wireless power transfer using near-field magnetic resonance technology called “rezence”, which seeks to liberate mobile devices from wired chargers, charging multiple devices simultaneously without the need to dock the devices.
“Power levels and charging speed will meet the expectations of today’s ‘always on, always connected’ user,” the A4WP said. “Users can simply ‘drop and go’ their devices onto a charging surface without the hassle of accurate positioning or alignment.”
Along with the news that Dell will jump on board to unshackle users from the curse of wired chargers, A4WP is also introducing a secondary, higher-powered project focusing on wirelessly charging electronic products from 20 to 50 watts, like ultrabooks, laptops, and mid-powered appliances.
“Dell’s addition to the Alliance signifies the importance of defining a wireless power standard that spans these higher power levels thus expanding the range of electronics beyond smartphones,” the group added.
A4WP said it believes the development of magnetic resonance technology will improve the customer experience when it comes to charging and will bring the capability into more homes and businesses over the next few years.
It also said that its development of wireless charging technology will help benefit both industry and consumers as the specification powers broadly adopted wireless technologies such as Bluetooth Smart, “which simplifies development and manufacturing”.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said that its making plans to conduct a roundtable next month to discuss cybersecurity, after massive retailer breaches refocused the attention of the business community and policymakers on the area.
The SEC said that it would hold the event on March 26 to talk about the challenges cyber threats pose for market participants and public companies.
Recent breaches at Target Corp and Neiman Marcus have sparked concern from lawmakers and revived a long-running spat among retailers and banks over who should bear the cost of consumer losses and technology investments to improve security.
Last Thursday, trade groups for the two industries announced they are forming a partnership to work through the disputes.
U.S. lawmakers have also considered weighing in on how consumers should be notified of data theft. But progress on legislation is not guaranteed in a busy election year.
The SEC in 2011 drafted informal staff-level guidance for public companies to use when considering whether to disclose cyber attacks and their impact on a company’s financial condition.
SEC Chair Mary Jo White last year told Congress that her agency was reviewing whether a more robust disclosure process is needed. But she told reporters last fall she felt the guidance appeared to be working well and that she didn’t see an immediate need to create a rule that mandates public reporting on cyber attacks.
Samsung has joined Google, Mellanox, Nvidia and other tech companies as part of IBM’s OpenPower Consortium. The OpenPower Consortium is working toward giving developers access to an expanded and open set of server technologies to improve data centre hardware using chip designs based on the IBM Power architecture.
Last summer, IBM announced the formation of the consortium, following its decision to license the Power architecture. The OpenPower Foundation, the actual entity behind the consortium, opened up the Power architecture technology, including specs, firmware and software under a license. Firmware is offered as open source. Originally, OpenPower was the brand of a range of System p servers from IBM that utilized the Power5 CPU. Samsung’s products currently utilize both x86 and ARM-based processors.
The intention of the consortium is to develop advanced servers, networking, storage and GPU-acceleration technology for new products. The four priority technical areas for development are system software, application software, open server development platform and hardware architecture. Along with its announcement of Samsung’s membership, the organization said that Gordon MacKean, Google’s engineering director of the platforms group, will now become chairman of the group. Nvidia has said it will use its graphics processors on Power-based hardware, and Tyan will be releasing a Power-based server, the first one outside IBM.
Now shipping estimates for new orders stretched into April in several foreign markets, including China, France, Germany, Japan, and the U.K., as first reported by MacGeneration, which is based in France. Soon after, Apple’s U.S. and Canadian online stores followed suit, showing April as the estimated ship date.
Although the Mac Pro — a distinctive-looking black cylinder that’s 10 inches tall and about 7 inches in diameter — went on sale Dec. 19, it almost immediately slipped into back order. The February estimate was later pushed into March before today’s change to April.
The pricey computer starts at $2,999 for the low-end stock configuration and can be tricked out to a top price of $9,599.
At least one analyst predicted that the Mac Pro, while catering to the line’s traditional power users, creative professionals and engineers, would also become a status symbol of sorts for those with the wherewithal to buy one.
The shipping delays continue to hint at low production volumes at the new Apple factory in Austin, Texas, where the computer is assembled. Apple has touted the Mac Pro’s built-in-the-U.S.A. trait, including a rare tweet by CEO Tim Cook at the machine’s launch.
Shortages of the Mac Pro will not materially affect Apple’s bottom line, as the Mac division accounted for just 11% of the company’s revenue for the December quarter. The Mac Pro, while expensive, will make up only a fraction of the unit sales of the line overall, which last quarter reached 4.8 million, the majority of those notebooks from the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro families.
But the extended shortages mean that the revenue the Mac Pro produces is being pushed from the current quarter into the calendar’s second. They also are reminiscent of the fiasco Apple created in late 2012 and early 2013, when it announced a redesigned iMac without an inventory even as it pulled the older models from its stores.
The shortages also spurred profit takers to list their new Mac Pro systems on eBay at prices significantly higher than list.
Mac Pro prices on the auction and sales website today were as high as $6,250 for a configuration that Apple sells for $3,999, a 56% markup. Another of the several listings asked $4,499 for a system that runs $2,999 from Apple, a 50% profit for the seller.
Tokyo-based investment fund Japan Industrial Partners (JIP) will operate the Vaio PC brand under a newly established firm and initially sell PCs in Japan only.
In another reform aimed at bolstering its restructuring efforts, Sony also said it would turn its beleaguered TV business into a subsidiary.
The moves come as Sony said it now expects a net loss of $1.1 billion for the year to the end of March, a reversal of its October profit forecast.
Vaio, which Sony introduced in 1996, looks set to vanish from most markets, at least for short term, as the new company will initially concentrate on selling consumer and corporate PCs in Japan. Whether or not Sony will continue to produce products under the Vaio brand remains to be seen, Sony said.
Although Sony is selling its PC business, it will continue to produce tablet computers, part of its renewed focus on mobile devices including smartphones.
Sony did not put a price on the sale. Sony will take a 5% stake in the new firm, it said.
Sony will stop making and selling PCs after its 2014 Spring lineup launch, but about 250 to 300 Sony staff, including some from a subsidiary that produces TV sets, cameras and computers at factories in Japan, will be hired by the new company, which is to be based at the hub of Sony’s current PC business in Japan’s Nagano Prefecture.
Meanwhile, Sony said it will turn its TV business, which has faced a decade of losses, into a wholly owned subsidiary by July 2014.
Google said it was partnering with Asus, Hewlett-Packard Co and Dell to offer a specialized version of its Chromebox PC that comes with videoconferencing gear, including a video camera and speakers.
The first Chromebox for meetings to be available is made by Asus and goes on sale in the U.S. on Thursday for $999, Google said. Customers can also pay a $250 annual service and management fee, though the first year is included in the product’s sales price.
The product uses Google’s free Hangouts video chat technology to connect up to 15 separate video streams from users in different locations.
The product will put Google in competition against Cisco Systems Inc and Polycom Inc, which make the video conferencing systems used by many corporations.
The world’s largest Internet search engine, Google makes the vast majority of its revenue from advertising. But Google also sells services to corporate customers, including special versions of its online apps such as email and word processing, as well as Chromebook laptops aimed at business users.
HP The maker of expensive printer ink, HP has worked out that the best way to get itself out of finance difficulty is to hack off those business customers it already has.
HP has issued an email informing all existing Enterprise Server customers that they would no longer be able to access or download, firmware patches and bug-fixes for their server hardware without a valid support agreement in place. The email said that HP has made significant investments in its intellectual capital to provide the best value and experience for its customers.
Starting in February 2014, HP will change the way firmware updates and Service Pack for ProLiant (SPP) on HP ProLiant server products are accessed. Select server firmware and SPP on these products will only be accessed through the HP Support Center to customers with an active support agreement, HP CarePack, or warranty linked to their HP Support Centre User ID and for the specific products being updated.’
What this means is that if a manufacturer ships hardware with exploitable defects and takes more than three years to identify them, the consumer will have to pay the vendor to fix them. That will go down well with corporates who are probably already thinking of changing their suppliers.
Other batteries that are powered by sugar have been developed before but scientists say this one has an unmatched energy density, which enables it to run far longer before needing to be refilled.
These new sugar-based batteries could run smartphones, tablets and video games in three years, according to Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech.
“Sugar is a perfect energy storage compound in nature,” Zhang said. “So it’s only logical that we try to harness this natural power in an environmentally friendly way to produce a battery.”
Creating a stronger, longer-lasting, environmentally friendly battery has been getting a lot of research attention.
The U.S. Department of Energy is in the second year of a five-year, $120-million project to spur scientists to find a way to dramatically extend battery life.
Last fall, researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology reported that they had built a flexible battery out of carbon nanotubes that could power everything from tablet computers to electric cars.
Scientists at the University of the West of England, Bristol and the University of Bristol worked together to come up with a potential way to enable robots to operate without a battery at all. They announced this past November that they built a system that will enable robots to function using an unusual source — urine.
At Virginia Tech, researchers built a non-natural synthetic enzymatic pathway that strips all charge potentials from the sugar to generate electricity in an enzymatic fuel cell. Then, inexpensive biocatalyst enzymes are used as catalysts instead of costly platinum, which is typically used in conventional batteries.
The fuel cells in the new battery would combine the maltodextrin from the sugar with air to generate electricity.
Since the battery is refillable, more sugar can be added to it like filling the gas tank of a car.
The regulations would be geared towards preventing misconduct such as money laundering without derailing a fledgling technology, said Lawsky, the state’s superintendent of financial services.
Lawsky was speaking at the start of two days of hearings on online currencies organized by his agency, the New York Department of Financial Services.
Separately on Tuesday, the Bitcoin Foundation, an advocacy group which promotes adoption of the bitcoin digital currency, said one of its executives, Charlie Shrem, had resigned a day after U.S. prosecutors charged him with conspiring to commit money laundering.
The bitcoin, while gaining wider acceptance by businesses such as the Sacramento Kings basketball team and ecommerce site Overstock.com, has been coming under increased scrutiny by regulators. The bitcoin is not backed by a government or central bank; its value fluctuates according to user demand.
Lawsky said Shrem’s arrest has cast a cloud over the industry, but said that a virtual currency could have a number of benefits for the financial system.
“It could force the traditional payments community to ‘up its game’ in terms of the speed, affordability and reliability of financial transactions,” Lawsky said.
He said that his intention is not to inhibit growth of the bitcoin, saying that the growing popularity of the digital currency could encourage banks to improve their services. He said that many consumers, himself included, are perplexed that it can often take several days to transfer money to a friend’s bank account.
Lawsky said that while he wanted to set up clear rules, he also wanted to preserve flexibility, given the constantly evolving nature of the technology.
“That is, in part, why we’re evaluating whether our agency should issue a so-called ‘BitLicense’ specifically tailored to virtual currencies,” he said.