3M Streaming Projector Powered by Roku: Potent Palm-Size Entertainment Center

3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku.

Internet video in your living room without the TV or the Internet box? That’s what 3M and Roku announced Friday as the companies introduced the 3M Streaming Projector Powered by Roku, a tiny, but potent portable projector which wirelessly streams Internet video content at projection sizes up to 120 inches. The battery-powered unit pulls in content from Roku’s 600-plus channels without the need for a TV or one of Roku’s standalone devices.

Mark Colin, vice president and general manager of the 3M Mobile Interactive Solutions Division, shows off the 3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku.

The $299 3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku comes with a removable Roku Streaming Stick, a USB-flash-drive-size device with a built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking adapter, Roku software and an MHL (mobile high-definition link) port. The Roku Streaming Stick allows the projector to access content from online services such as Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus and Netflix.

“It’s everything you expect from a Roku platform,” said Chas Smith, Roku’s senior vice president and general manager of its platform OEM business. “The big thing about Roku is the simplicity.”

The one-pound unit has a rechargeable lithium ion battery that provides up to two hours and 45 minutes of video playback, thus making it possible to show videos wherever you can find a Wi-Fi connection–even outdoors.

The device comes with a small infrared remote control, but for about $20 you can purchase the Roku Game Remote, an enhanced Wi-Fi remote with an accelerometer, which allows you to play interactive games such as Angry Birds on the big screen. By utilizing a Wi-Fi Direct connection, the unit can also stream images and videos from compatible cell phone and other mobile devices. Of course you can use the 3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku as a standard projector and connect it to a laptop or other device via an HDMI cable.

At a resolution of 800 by 480 pixels and with a 60-lumen brightness rating, the image from the unit, although clear and sharp, doesn’t compare to that of much more expensive plasma or LCD HDTVs. The unit’s performance is best in low-light situations such as a darkened basement as opposed to a brightly sunlit room. The unit has an internal speaker, but a headphone jack is included for external speakers.

Mark Colin of 3M (left) and Roku’s Chas Smith explain the features of the 3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku at New York press conference.

The 3M Streaming Projector powered by Roku is now available for pre-order exclusively from Amazon. The first units will be delivered to customers on or about Oct. 22.

Text and photos Copyright 2012
Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features

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.

Will Amazon Silk Stoke Kindle Fire?

Amazon’s new Kindle Fire Android color tablet succeeds at shaking up the tablet and eBook reader market with its powerful processor, sharp display and affordable $199 price tag, but don’t be fooled: It’s what’s going on in the background that’s more interesting than the tablet itself.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shows off Kindle Fire tablet

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shows off Kindle Fire tablet

What may make or break the Kindle Fire is Amazon Silk, a new generation of mobile Web browser that’s indeed different from what you’re using now, but more on that in a second.

The Kindle Fire has a sharp, 7-inch, 1024-by-600 dot-per inch color display with a pixel density of 169 pixels per inch, which is significantly denser than the 132ppi screen on the market-leading Apple iPad 2. It also has a dual-core, but unnamed 1GHz processor, which is good news for video-heavy and otherwise sophisticated Android apps.

But don’t mistake this for an iPad 2 killer. It has only 8GB of storage, uses Android 2.3 instead of the tablet-friendlier Android 3.x and has no camera. It’s not a pure Android tablet either, which means that getting new apps won’t be as simple as pulling them off of the Android Market.

However, looming ominously behind the Kindle Fire is Amazon’s massive collection of text and video content, its vast Web services and almost unlimited online storage capacity.

Like the other Kindles, everything you put on your Kindle Fire is backed up on Amazon’s cloud. Unlike any Kindle or any other tablet before it, however, the Kindle Fire has Amazon Silk, a new, forward-thinking Web browser that splits the Web surfing work between the tablet and the many servers that make up the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, otherwise known as Amazon EC2.

So what does that mean? It means that the Kindle Fire’s Web browser can potentially speed through the Web much faster than other tablets with similar hardware simply because it has less work to do.

When you access a web page with a conventional Web browser, it often has to make multiple requests to multiple points in the Internet for things like images, video streams, Twitter feeds and other content that appears on a single page. Waiting for all of these requests to be fulfilled can make a Web browser seem sluggish.

What Amazon Silk does is analyze the “aggregate behavior” of Kindle Fire Web users to determine what Web content is in heavy demand. That content is then cached on Amazon’s servers and, if needed, rendered into a form more suitable for the Kindle Fire’s screen. The result is that when a Kindle Fire user hits a popular website, much of the data needed can be retrieved at once from Amazon’s cache, thus speeding up the loading of the page.

If the website has a multi-megabyte image that would look just as well on the Kindle Fire’s screen if it were compressed, Amazon’s servers could intelligently scale the photo down.

For example, if Amazon Silk had detected that a lot of Web traffic was being aimed at web pages covering the heated Major League Baseball battle between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays for the last American League playoff spot, that content could have been cached by Silk for fast access by Kindle Fire users.

Journalists at the unveiling of the Kindle Fire weren’t allowed to touch them.

Journalists at the unveiling of the Kindle Fire weren’t allowed to touch them.

So does Amazon Silk work as smooth as silk? It’s much too early to say since the journalists at Wednesday’s unveiling of the Kindle Fire in New York weren’t allowed to touch the units.

To be sure, Amazon Silk is a ground-breaking concept which could potentially allow a tablet—or other device—with modest hardware to perform like it had higher-end components inside. The proof is in the pudding, but we haven’t seen it yet.

So what do you think? Chime in if you like.

Text and images Copyright 2011
Robert S. Anthony
Stadium Circle Features
info@paperpc.net