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Batteries or Capacitors? Tesla CEO Speaks Out

clock March 23, 2011 00:48 by author Jeremy

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla MotorsElon Musk, CEO of famed motor company Tesla, admits he believes that the long term war of energy in vehicles would be won by capacitors, not batteries. An ironic statement, coming from the man whose business currently utilizes numerous lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. It's also a statement with a lot of weight behind it, considering the other accomplishments Musk has in his belt (including having a hand in the creation of PayPal).

"If I were to make a prediction, I'd think there's a good chance that it is not batteries. but capacitors," stated Musk recently while at the Cleanteach Forum in San Francisco.

Currently, batteries continue to be a leading resource for energy throughout the world. Musk's statement, however, is backed by the knowledge behind capacitors and ultracapacitors. For example, unlike batteries, they can withstand more charge / discharge cycles.

More research is needed behind capacitors and ultracapacitors, and before that happens, batteries will continue to provide the energy needed for many electronic devices. But perhaps one day, Musk's prediction that capacitors "will supercede" batteries will come true.

Source: GigaOm



HTC Thunderbolt and Kyocera Echo, Released March/April 17

clock March 16, 2011 01:16 by author Jeremy

Two phones that have been teased around the web for a while now are finally getting official release-statements: Verizon's HTC Thunderbolt and Sprint's Kyocera Echo. The former is going to be the first smartphone on Verizon's 4G LTE network, and will be available March 17 (just two more days!). Meanwhile, the latter smartphone will be out on April 17th (just two more days! ...oh, and a month on top of that).

What's so special about these two, you ask?

As mentioned previously, the Thunderbolt is the first 4G smartphone using Verizon's LTE network, which should provide faster download/upload speeds. The Thunderbolt will come with a 4.3" display, an 8-megapixel rear camera with 720p HD recording, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video chatting, and the latest 1GHz Snapdragon processor.

This, of course, should be a power-hog, so expect to charge your battery quite a bit. The Thunderbolt has already been delayed several times due to poor battery life, relating to issues around signal strength. These issues have been fixed, and there's even news circulating of an extended battery being offered by HTC, which will have roughly 2750mAh (almost double the phone's stock battery of 1400mAh). The phone-stand also comes back, just for your viewing pleasure.

Meanwhile, on Sprint's end, we'll be seeing the Kyocera Echo, a dual-screen smartphone that offers "simul-tasking". Consumers can use the two screens to simultaneously check their email, text message, browse the web, and more. During the Sprint event in February, they showed how the dual-screen phone could be used for gaming: The Sims was demo'ed with the top screen showing the game, and the bottom screen showing the control buttons. Alternatively, you could also converge both screens together (not physically, of course!) to use them as one large viewing apparatus. Nifty, indeed.

The smartphones of today just keep getting smarter, it seems.



Google Sets Up "Person Finder" In Reponse to Japan Earthquake

clock March 11, 2011 18:27 by author Jeremy

This morning, our thoughts and wishes go out to those who have suffered in the wake of the earthquake that hit Japan recently. The quake, reported at a magnitude of 8.9, has even caused tidal warnings for all those in the pacific area.

Google has set up a "Person Finder" site specifically for this natural disaster. This tool works based on user-fed information, letting others know of who you've seen recently. The database is continuing to grow as news of the site spreads.

Hopefully, the Person Finder will help many separated families and loved ones find each other. Every little bit helps.



Aerogel: Frozen Smoke, or Pure Awesome?

clock March 11, 2011 01:25 by author Jeremy

Well, it certainly looks like something the future would hold, doesn't it? Aerogel, also known as "frozen smoke" (can that name get any cooler?) is currently one of the world's lightest solids. It contains MWCNT - multi-walled carbon nanotubes, which are so small that thousands of them can fit on just one strand oh human hair.

Aerogel currently has many potential uses, ranging from detecting toxic substances to improving robotic surgery. One of these possible applications even includes something that could affect our daily lives: batteries.

Thanks to carbon nanotubes and the large surface area that they provide, aerogel is capable of storing vast amounts of energy. If used in conjunction with present-day batteries (whether they be lithium, alkaline, or other types), the aerogel could very likely increase the capacity that a single battery can hold.

"This has many potential applications and could really open up new areas to explore that we haven't even imagined yet," says Associate Professor Lei Zhai, who worked on the engineering team for aerogel. Along with Zhai were postdoctoral associate Jianhua Zou; University of Central Florida professores Saiful Khondaker, Sudipta Seal, and Quanfang Chen.

Source: UCF Today

 



Lights! Camera! ...Atrix!

clock March 7, 2011 23:05 by author Jeremy

I'm normally not one to have the latest gadgets, best technology, or shiniest toys, but after seeing the Motorola Atrix at CES with its Laptop Dock and HD Dock, I just couldn't resist. I went ahead and pre-ordered one and got it the day before its official release. After two weeks of playing with it, I'm still amazed at the service the phone brings.

General Info:

What I received was in no means an understatement to what everyone has said about the phone: this thing is wicked fast. With amazing video and sound quality, the Motorola Atrix can load videos and maps in seconds, assuming you're connected wirelessly to the internet.

One of the best parts, I think, is switching between apps. This seemingly nonexistent transition occurs just like in any other smartphone: with the tap of a button or the swipe of a finger. But once you do it, any video you were watching, any facebook status you were updating, or any picture you were taking, suddenly halts and switches to whatever you aimed to do next. Pauses to load screens are minimal, if there are any at all.

This is, of course, on an Android phone with Motoblur. There are customizable widgets and gadgets and whatchamaroos everywhere, and it's up to you on how you want to make your home screens look. You can drop your icons like it's hot (yeah, I went there) throughout seven different screens, allowing one to neatly bypass the alphabetic menu of apps. This is the first time I've had an Android phone before; I was an iPhone wielder previously, and we didn't have this "customizable icon" and "widget-sprees" that you young'uns have.

The best way to determine processing speed? By gaming, of course. The Atrix was nice enough to come with a demo of Need For Speed: Shift. Playing the game was just about as smooth as playing on a console at home: no lag, no bumps, no freezing. I suggest not drinking a cup of coffee beforehand though, as the phone will pick up even the slightest shakes of a hand while you drive.

Sound/Audio:

The sound is just on par with the visuals. Phone calls aren't strained, and I didn't find myself once jamming my phone into my ear thinking it would help hear the other end better - and be honest, you know you've done the same thing before. The speaker on the bottom backside of the phone packs quite a punch, too: whether it's used as a speakerphone or just listening to music, everything comes out loud and clear. Speaking of music, there are pre-set Equalizer settings that you can tinker with. Listening to music on Pandora basically had my phone vibrating, and it wasn't even on a high bass setting at the time.

Camera:

Quality? Definitely not bad. The Atrix came equipped with a 5-megapixel camera that can shoot HD video as well. You can customize your shots too, ranging from things such as sepia tones or landscape view. It may not be a digital camera replacement, but it definitely holds its own against other camera-phones. The best part, in my opinion, was the front-facing camera. This added piece of hardware is becoming very popular in today's gadgets, and with due reason. Thankfully, the Atrix did not disappoint consumers here.

 

Props to you if you can read that bottom line - I wrote so small that I couldn't even read it normally!

Apps:

The Motorola Atrix comes packed with a bunch of extra apps that I, personally, wouldn't use: Blockbuster, Latitude, and YellowPagesMobile, just to name a few. Removable? Some, but not all, which means that I (and possibly you) will have a few useless apps sitting around eating precious space.

Speaking of apps, the Atrix comes with the "Webtop" app, which is what the Atrix relies on when connected to one of its many docks. You can still make phone calls, send text messages, and reply to emails. Which leads us to the...

 

Laptop Dock:

Ah, the infamous Motorola Laptop Dock, one of several accessories that helped drive the Atrix to such popularity. There have been quite a number of negative reviews on the Atrix Laptop Dock, and after tinkering with it for a while, I can see why. Even on a wireless network, loading times are somewhat slow. Granted, the Atrix still doesn't compare to an actual desktop with their fancy videocards and such. Consumers should keep in mind that the visuals on the Laptop Dock are still being powered by your phone; essentially, you're just looking at your phone through a bigger screen.

Pros: This is going to be redundant, but...bigger screen. The phone easily connects to the Laptop Dock, and it's quite quick to boot up. Anything you were previously doing on your phone will be immediately launched on the Laptop Dock, transitioning them seamlessly. The Laptop Dock will also let you do a few things your phone can't do just yet: for example, watching hulu videos. For some reason, Hulu doesn't work on Android just yet, but it'll definitely let you watch it on Atrix's Laptop Dock. It also has Microsoft Office on it, allowing the work-oriented businesspeople to bring their spreadsheets and documents just about anywhere on this sleek device.

Cons: Quite expensive. Even with the $100 discount and the $100 rebate (assuming you bought the Motorola Atrix + Laptop Dock bundle for $500), you're looking at $300 for what is basically a netbook that can't function without the phone. Some say you're better off purchasing a tablet since it can do more, but that's up to you. For $300 though, I'd expect the Laptop Dock to have a bit more "kick" in it. It just seemed somewhat slow, laggy, and delayed. To top it all off, there's the fact that you need to pay a little extra each month for the tethering service that's required for the Laptop Dock.

Overall:

I like the phone, and it definitely gets the job done, whatever the job may be: phone calls, video calls, app-gaming, taking pictures and video, music management, or a social media outlet. The processing speed gets top-notch points, and I only wish I could say the same for the Laptop Dock.



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