Plantronics Launches GameCom 780 Surround Sound Stereo USB Gaming Headset at CES 2012

Headset offers Dolby 7.1 surround sound, 40mm drivers, a noise-canceling microphone and a volume control right on the headset.

The Plantronics GameCom 780 Surround Sound Stereo USB Gaming Headset which launched at the 2012 CES aims to please gamers who want to hear as much of the thunder, rock and roll of their gaming experience without the weight of a hefty headset.

The $80 GameCom 780 has Dolby 7.1 surround sound support as well as 40mm drivers which enhance bass and provide for an immersive experience hardcore gaming experience, according to Plantronics. The swing-away noise-canceling microphone minimizes extraneous sounds while maximizing the ability to trash talk clearly with online foes.

Plantronics GameCom 780 Surround Sound Stereo USB Gaming Headset

When tested, the GameCom 780 felt very light for its size yet delivered ample bass and clear sound. Gunshots reverberated and whistled clearly while the crackle of a fire rose and fell as the virtual player approached and moved away. The ear pads did an admirable job of muting the noise from the cacophonous 2012 CES show floor.

The speakers swivel, allowing the unit to store flat so that it can slip into a briefcase. The volume, Dolby and mute controls are on the left speaker and the unit has a 6.5-foot, heavy-duty USB cord. The headset has a 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response range while the microphone has a 100Hz to 8kHz frequency response range.

While users with PCs or laptops with top-shelf audio cards might opt for a headset with standard audio plugs such as the $50 Plantronics GameCom 380, the GameCom 780 is aimed at those who want a simple connection which still provides superior audio, said a Plantronics representative. He also noted that the headset is also aimed for use with Internet telephony and videoconferencing services such as Skype.

The unit is on sale now at Best Buy and will be on sale at Amazon and the Plantronics website.

Text and video Copyright 2012, Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features
Photo courtesy of Plantronics

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Swype for Windows 7 Debuts in New HP Slate 2 Tablet PC

The Swype technology that makes it possible to type without lifting your finger from your Android smartphone or tablet screen has cracked the Windows barrier and is included in the new Windows 7 powered HP Slate 2 Tablet PC.

A small, but significant logo sits at the bottom of the screen on the new Windows-powered HP Slate 2 Tablet PC announced today: Swype. Yes, the same Swype utility that lets you type by sliding your finger across your Android smartphone or tablet screen without lifting it has come to Windows 7.

The 1.5-pound Windows 7-powered HP Slate 2 Tablet PC (starts at $699) has an 8.9-inch capacitive multitouch display which supports both pen and finger input, a 1.5 GHz Intel Atom Z670 CPU and a preinstalled copy of Swype, which up until now had only been seen on Android, Windows Mobile and Symbian devices.

HP Slate 2 Tablet PC with optional HP Slate Bluetooth Keyboard and Case

The unit is meant for business and will not be marketed as a consumer device, said Kyle Thornton, category manager for HP Emerging Products at a recent HP press preview in New York. It’s meant for retail and other business uses where full access to Windows applications is needed. It has an SD Card slot for storage in addition to an internal solid state drive and a 3-megapixel digital camera on the rear and a front-facing VGA webcam.

According to HP, the battery should last up to six hours on a charge and the unit offers a number of built-in security features, including a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip. A dock adds two USB 2.0 ports and a single HDMI port to the unit.

Business-friendly options include the HP Retail Mobile Point of Sale Case, which has a magnetic stripe reader and barcode scanner and the $79 HP Slate Bluetooth Keyboard and Case (above), which folds out to support the slate as if it were a notebook and closes up to protect both the keyboard and the HP Slate 2 Tablet PC.

Note that while Swype comes preinstalled on many Android devices, it can also be added to Android devices that didn’t ship with it. Swype Beta is available for download at no charge but does not work on all Android devices, especially those with older versions of Android or have relatively low-resolution displays. (Don’t install Swype Beta on a unit which came with Swype. It won’t work.) Swype is not available as an separate installable Windows application for other Windows tablets.

The HP Slate 2 Tablet PC will ship later this month and will be available from the HP website.

Text and photos Copyright 2011 Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features
Video courtesy of HP

Whap! Sock! Pow! Batman Adds Punch to Samsung’s Ultrafast 830 Series SATA 3.0 Solid State Drives

Samsung’s new 830 Series SATA 3.0 SSDs are not only twice as fast as their predecessors, but they also come with a free copy of Batman: Arkham City.

It takes a lot to make the jaded technology press crack smiles at a press conference, but there were toothy grins all around Monday when a tall, well-muscled, Batman character suddenly appeared onstage to help Samsung introduce its new 830 Series of ultrafast SATA 3.0 solid state drives.

 Not only are the 830 Series 2.5-inch SSDs slimmer (7mm) and twice as fast than Samsung’s 470 Series SSDs, they come with a code for a free download of the PC version of Batman: Arkham City, a new video game from Warner Bros. The game, which launched last week, usually sells for about $50.

“The game will boot in a flash,” said Reid Sullivan, senior vice president for mobile entertainment for Samsung Electronics America just after the onstage visit from the caped crusader.

Samsung is marketing the drives as affordable upgrade options for performance-hungry gamers as well as anyone who can benefit from the inherent speed advantage of SSDs over standard rotating disk hard drives. One chart displayed at the conference showed that gamers can expect to boot their PCs and get into their games twice as fast with a PC with one of the new SSDs than with a standard hard disk.

The 830 Series SSDs offer read speeds of 520 megabytes per second and write speeds of 400MB/sec and come in 64GB ($130), 128GB ($200), 256GB ($430) and 512GB ($850) versions. They also come with Norton Ghost for duplicating data from one drive to another and Drive Magician for maintaining top performance from the SSDs. 

The 830 Series drives come in a fairly attractive metal casing for an internal drive and will fit in many of today’s new ultrathin notebooks, said Samsung representatives.

“We’re raising the performance bar even higher than ever before,” said Sullivan. “It’s an absolutely beautiful product.” 

All drives come packaged with the cables and drive cages needed for installation in a laptop or a desktop. They also come with USB to SATA cables that essentially turn them into external drives, thus making it possible to copy data to and from a computer before they’re actually installed.

“It’s really not that hard to install. Once you’re inside [your computer] you kind of can’t mess it up,” said N’Gai Croal, founder of consulting firm Hit Detection. Croal was part of a panel discussion of SSDs and video games.

The Samsung Series 830 solid state drives are available now from various vendors, including Amazon.