All posts by John Skrhak

John Skrhak | Gadgets, Sports and Toys Fanatic | Read about them all here.

Tokyoflash goes all ’80s with its Space Digits watch (video)


Here’s a timepiece that was acceptable in the ’80s. This week, Tokyoflash is channeling Elite, Tron and Tempest to create the Kisai Space Digits. Like its difficult-to-read brethren, it’s available in steel, gold or black and comes with a date, alarm, EL backlight and, most essentially, a “warp speed” animation. As usual, if you order before December 6th, it’ll set you back $99 (€77, £61), but if you can’t scrape together the cash in time, then you can pick ’em up afterwards for $129 (€100, £80). Fancy watching a tutorial on how to read the thing? Video’s after the break, space cadets.

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PopSlate case adds second screen to iPhone 5

A few examples of how someone could use the PopSlate’s second screen case for the iPhone 5.


Look at your smartphone case. If it’s plastic or rubber, it’s way behind the times, man. You might agree with that sentiment after seeing PopSlate, an innovative
iPhone 5 case with a rear 4-inch e-ink screen currently making waves on Indiegogo.

True to its name, PopSlate offers a customizable slate — sort of like a second screen — that enables the owner to display any picture(s) on the iPhone as a black and white image on the back of the phone case. To change images, owners can tap the back of the phone twice, or alter a pic through the related PopSlate app.

To power the second screen, the case draws energy from the iPhone 5’s lightning power port, which apparently doesn’t affect battery life due to the low power requirements of the e-ink display (think
Kindle). One of the coolest features not immediately noticeable about PopSlate is that you can charge an iPhone 5 with a micro-USB cord — instead of a Lightning cable — as the case doesn’t have a Lightning pass-through.

For those concerned about durability, the creators of PopSlate say the screen is made on a plastic substrate and laminated. “It’s nearly indestructible,” says the related Indiegogo listing.

PopSlate currently has more than $99,000 in funding after just a few days of being on Indiegogo. The start-up seeks $150,000 by January 15 to get the project off the ground, which it will likely achieve long before then. Expect a color e-ink screen PopSlate in early 2014.

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Cars evolve at CES 2013

Magellan RoadMate RV9165T-LM

Magellan promises new versions of its RoadMate GPS devices designed for RVs at CES 2013.


The automotive presence at
CES 2013 looks to be stronger than ever, with an array of aftermarket and GPS companies joined by some of the leading tech pioneers among automakers. In addition, equipment suppliers such as Nvidia, Intel, and Freescale show off their latest automotive-oriented chips.

Big iron
Both Ford and Audi will run major press conferences at the Mandalay Bay. During last week’s Los Angeles Auto Show, a Ford spokesman told us to expect big tech announcements at CES without being specific on what they were. We expect Ford to show off the latest iteration of its MyFord Touch cabin tech interface, which it continues to update even for existing owners. Ford can also look to new app integration with its Sync system, as the company adds new functionality almost monthly.

At this stage, we would not expect a new
car unveiling, unless Ford has been hiding a Fiesta electric in its garage. It certainly already has a significant portfolio of electrified cars to talk about, from the Focus Electric to the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid.

Last year Audi showed off a very a innovative tech interface for its A3 model, so if we are lucky the company will show off the new A3 model we’ve been waiting for. However, that car would most likely be reserved for the Detroit auto show following in the next week. We recently had the opportunity to drive an electric car based on the most recent A3 generation, so it is possible Audi could show off the next A3 with an electric drivetrain.

Audi is most likely to show off more advanced versions of the Google Earth integration it has deployed in its current cars. We would also like to see some sort of social media integration.

Other automakers with floor presence at CES will be Subaru, GM, Kia, Hyundai, and Lexus. Subaru will most likely be showing off its new camera-based collision prevention technology, coming out on its new Outback and Forester models.

PNDs are not dead
With smartphones handling navigation services very capably, portable navigation device companies such as Garmin, Magellan, and TomTom seemed under a big threat. However, Garmin seeks to stay relevant by showing off new Roadmate GPS devices intended for trucks and RVs, where drivers might want a larger format screen than found on smartphones. It will also show off new products in its eXplorist line of outdoor-oriented GPS devices, which tackle activities not generally covered by smartphone navigation.

TomTom and Magellan will also be showing off product lines at the show.

Pump up the volume
In past years, CES saw plenty of carryover from the SEMA show, with car stereo vendors blasting bass from mammoth subwoofers. This year looks to be no different, as Kenwood promises to show new head unit products boasting Pandora integration. Alpine and Clarion will also be displaying their wares.

Metra will be on hand to show solutions for installers, while Pyle and Rockford Fosgate promise thumping sound, the latter showing its speakers at an offsite location.

Tasty chips
Nvidia gave us some hints about how its chips can enable new driver assistance systems during the Los Angeles Auto Show, and we hope to see actual demonstrations on the CES floor. In addition, we will be looking for parallel processing Tegra chips from Nvidia designed for the automotive market.

Intel is also pushing its Atom processors as an automotive solution for infotainment systems, and will likely have some sort of demonstration tucked away in its massive floor area. Freescale, which has a strong automotive chip business, has dedicated floor space in which it is likely to show next generation automotive solutions.

Join us to see the latest in automotive electronics, and the future of the automobile, during our coverage of CES 2013 beginning January 5.

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Happy or not, Darren Collison can help Mavs

DALLAS – Point guard Darren Collison understandably doesn’t like losing his starting job less than a fifth of the way through the season.

But coach Rick Carlisle really likes the way Collison has performed in a reserve role.

Give Collison credit for performing like a pro despite admittedly feeling that he didn’t get a fair shake as the Mavs’ starting point guard, a job it appeared that he lost for good with the arrival of 17-year veteran Derek Fisher.

Collison had 12 points, six assists and five steals in his first game off the bench, when Dominique Jones started at point guard in last week’s loss to the 76ers. In Fisher’s first game, Collison played a key role in the win over the Pistons, contributing five points, eight assists and no turnovers.

“Regardless of how I feel about the whole situation, at the end of the day, it is what it is,” Collison said. “I can thrive in any situation as long as I’m playing basketball and I’m trying to help us win the game, I can be effective.”

Whether Collison is happy about his role really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. The Mavs just care about how he handles the situation.

So far, Carlisle is thrilled with his not-so-thrilled new backup point guard.

“Listen, this is all about competition and winning,” Carlisle said. “I thought he played great the other night. His response the other night was very positive, and I was very impressed.”

Carlisle calls Collison one of the Mavs’ “starting eight,” and the point guard’s minutes really haven’t dropped off much as a reserve. The Mavs still need Collison to play well to have a chance to make the playoffs, much less do any damage during the spring.

“Who starts and who finishes is not nearly as important as our collective effort toward winning,” Carlisle said. “That’s what we’re all looking at.

“And he and I talk every day. We have good conversations every day about our style of play, things that he can do to improve, things that he sees during the game that have helped me understand what he’s thinking a little bit. Hey, it’s all good and going forward, communication is the key to everything.”

It’s not like Collison is a newcomer to this kind of situation. He lost his starting job in Indiana last season when the Pacers opted to stick with George Hill after Collison returned from injury.

Collison contributed to the Pacers’ two-round playoff run then. The Mavs are counting on him to be a key contributor now.

“All I can do out there is play and when I go into the game try to make an impact, like I did tonight,” Collison said. “I’ve been through enough adversity. Nothing surprises me. You just got to keep plugging and do what I can for the team.”

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Nexus 4 returns to Google Play store in Canada at 3PM Eastern today

It certainly hasn’t been the easiest phone to get a hold for for those interested, but those in Canada now at least know when they’ll have another chance to grab a Nexus 4. Google’s today sent out emails informing prospective customers that the phone will again be available in the Canadian Play store starting at 3PM Eastern (noon Pacific time), although it’s of course making no guarantees about quantities. It also hasn’t specified if both the 8GB and 16GB models will be available, but there’s now less than an hour ’til we find out.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

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Real-life Pixar lamp wants to play hide-and-seek


The Pinokio lamp plays hide-and-seek.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET)

When I see a cute critter like Fizzgig or an Ewok in a movie, I want to take it home with me. I get the same feeling when I see Pixar’s sweet Luxo Jr. lamp mascot. It’s like a little metal puppy you want to hold on your lap and take care of.

The sprightly lamp has now hopped out of the screen and into the real world thanks to a project created at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand by Adam Ben-Dror, Joss Doggett, and Shanshan Zhou. This lamp is black, rather than white like Luxo Jr. The project is called Pinokio and the lamp is imaginatively named “Lamp.”

Pinokio uses six servos, a Webcam, and Arduino to track human faces, play hide-and-seek, hear sounds, and try really hard to get your attention.

The project’s description includes this explanation: “Pinokio is an exploration into the expressive and behavioural potentials of robotic computing.” That may sound a little dry, but what it really means is that humans don’t require fluffy fur and a heartbeat to get all mushy about something.

The lamp’s movements and ability to interact with people imbues the cold metal gadget with a puppy-like charm. Pinokio’s hide-and-seek skills are on par with a baby’s, which somehow makes the lamp even more adorable.

I would love to have a Pinokio on my desk, but I’m afraid I would feel guilty if I neglected it. Plus, my cats would get jealous.

(Via io9)

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