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Zii Lives: First Look at the 1080p Android-Powered Trinity Phone

Remember the Creative/ZiiLabs StemCell system-on-a-chip from a while back? The one that spawned that Android PMP design? Well, the Zii project is marching on, which means new hardware, including the dual OS Trinity phone, 360º HD webcam and more.

Creative and ZiiLabs are showing off a pile of Zii reference hardware to potential hardware licensors in China today, in hopes that someone will manufacture it. The Zii phone reference design, pictured for the first time above, is the only one we can see right now, and promises full 1080p video playback over HDMI, OpenGL 2.0 accelerated gaming, and support for both Android OS and ZiiLabs’ Plaszma software. And that’s just the phone—ZiiLabs also has a 360º full HD webcam, a PCI-E video coprocessor, a pocket synthesizer and, well, lots.

But before we get to the rest of the new stuff, a little timeline for you. Back in January, Creative announced, with of an offshoot company called ZiiLabs, “Zii StemCell Computing.” There were not adjectives strong enough, no superlatives super enough, no words wordy enough to describe the wonders of this StemCell computing. Unlimited Flexibility! Incredible Scalability! High Energy Efficiency! ET! CET! ER! A!

But wait, what is this thing? The Zii StemCell processor is basically an extremely flexible system-on-a-chip, which is to say a multi-talented slab of hardware with an ARM Cortex chip at its core, intended to power all manner of multimedia devices, from PMPs to phones to settop boxes to, well, whatever. Creative promised low power consumption, high processing power, and plenty of uses. The platform would be licensed to hardware manufacturers, and eventually, we’d find these Zii-powered gadgets in our possession, under familiar brands. (But not necessarily Creative itself.)

Then we were shown the Zii Egg—pictured above—which is an Android-powered PMP with an alternate OS called Plaszma. This was actual hardware—that’s more like it—and it looked compelling: media playback was strong, and the device itself was hot, and most importantly for Creative, new. But this, like anything else out of ZiiLabs, was reference hardware—unless someone picked it up for manufacture, it was strictly for developers.

Fast-forward to this month, and the project is finally springing some leaks. A smartbook shows up out of nowhere. Rumors about netbooks, which could leverage the Zii chip’s power for 1080p video playback, real-time encoding, HD video conferencing, Flash acceleration and more, emerge. And finally, today, an announcement. ZiiLabs is pitching more reference designs, like the Zii Egg, to manufacturers:

The line-up of Zii Powered devices on display include a dual OS concept mobile phone which supports the Plaszma OS and Android OS, a desktop touch screen video conferencing device, a web-box, a 360° multi-view camera system, a PCI Express add-on card that instantly empowers notebooks with HD video encoding for high quality video conferencing, a pocket-sized synthesizer that can emulate the sound of some of the world’s best pianos, as well as the world’s smallest credit card-sized Blu-ray quality media player – based on the ZMS-08 chip.

The headliner here is obviously the Trinity phone, which can count itself among the first wave of 1GHz Android phones, and promises serious media and 3D support. The reference hardware, as you can see, is conservatively designed, though undeniably nice—and apparently iPhone skinny.

But the other Zii Wares are compelling in their own ways. The videoconferencing system can apparently process a distortion-free 360° view in full HD. The PCI Express add-on card will do video offload duties, a la Nvidia’s GPGPU systems. And that little “Blu-ray quality” media player, well, I really don’t know. All of the Zii hardware is propped up by the Plaszma-centric ZiiLife suite, which includes videoconferencing software with media sharing, educational software, and an app store.

As they are now, these gadgets will probably never see the light of day—it’ll be up to hardware manufacturers to pick up the reference designs, after which they’ll undoubtedly put their own spin on each concept. And as far as the associated software goes, it’ll most likely remain under wraps until there are actual products to use it with. At any rate, over the next few months we can probably expect to see some of these Zii-powered gadgets show up as actual, buyable products, whatever forms they may take. And honestly, I’m eager to see them. [ZiiLabs]

DIY cat feeder now enabled by a Cisco switch, streams food and video

You know, there are times when you have to part ways with your adorable kitties at home, and you might not be so keen on getting a cat sitter in case he or she touches your precious game consoles (even if it’s an old granny). We’ve seen the lazy man’s solution before, but Britain’s Mathew Newton has brought us a new DIY internet-enabled cat feeder just in time for a new decade. Rather than using a CD-ROM tray to push-release unknown quantities of cat food, Mathew’s version has a motor-driven cereal dispenser controlled by signal from port status LEDs on a Cisco switch — an ingenious way to avoid expensive Ethernet relay units. When it’s feeding time the user logs onto a web interface to choose the dispensing quantity, or you can also have an automatic feed schedule set up if you trust the system — Mathew said he “can rely on it 100%,” and his cats do appear to be healthy. Fortunately, you can always check the live video stream just in case you have doubts. All is explained in the video after the break.

Continue reading DIY cat feeder now enabled by a Cisco switch, streams food and video

DIY cat feeder now enabled by a Cisco switch, streams food and video originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 30 Nov 2009 23:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Dell, HP, and Lenovo bringing SDXC to laptops alongside 32nm Intel chipsets?

Those incredibly sexy (as far as portable storage capacities are concerned) 64GB SDXC cards coming on the horizon? You’re gonna want some hardware to work with it, and according to DailyTech, three of the largest computer manufacturers are looking to bring the upgrade with Intel’s forthcoming Arrandale CPUs. Lenovo, HP, and Dell are reportedly working on new designs that’ll contain both the new 32nm chipsets and SDXC readers. Not that we’re surprised to see new SDHC’s time running out, but it does give you something to look forward to.

Dell, HP, and Lenovo bringing SDXC to laptops alongside 32nm Intel chipsets? originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 30 Nov 2009 22:47:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Inside Sharp’s new LCD factory, we can see our next HDTV from here

The path back to LCD leadership for Sharp begins at its just opened Sakai City manufacturing facility. Being a 10th generation facility means it can roll out more and bigger displays, producing six 60-inch LCDs from each glass substrate, 60% more than older 8g facilities. Check out the pics for a peek at where 72,000 substrates per month will be made, delivering those slim LED backlit televisions getting so much love, along with solar panels (also being installed on the roofs for that extra green vibe that’s in vogue these days) and a few of the more than 100,000 energy efficient LEDs lighting the factory itself. Whether your closest HDTV purchase is a turkey fueled memory from last weekend or yet to come, bargain hunters and AV fans alike can appreciate an eyeful of the robots and testing equipment slicing, dicing and stamping screens headed for shelves nearby, whether bearing an Aquos brand or any number of other nameplates.

Inside Sharp’s new LCD factory, we can see our next HDTV from here originally appeared on Engadget HD on Mon, 30 Nov 2009 21:46:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Google Maps Navigation makes trip across the pond, thanks to some hackery

Apparently us Yanks have been spoiled by the warm embrace of Google Maps Navigation, forgetting that our friends in the UK don’t have the same luxury. Leave it to Electricpig to connect worlds, finding a somewhat hack-induced way to bring the app upgrade to British Android 1.6 devices. Instructions are pretty easy, so if you’re game, don your DIY hat and click over.

Update: As indicated, the gang at xda-developers forum have been doing this for some time now. Consider the tutorial provided here as very straightforward and easy to follow — anyone with an Android 1.6 device would be remiss not to give Navigation a shot now.

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Google Maps Navigation makes trip across the pond, thanks to some hackery originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 30 Nov 2009 20:49:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Hands-on with Ilford’s Gold Silk inkjet paper

A hands-on review of Ilford’s Gold Fiber Silk inkjet photo paper.

2011 Chevrolet Volt gets taken for a test drive

The Chevy Volt is one vehicle we can really get behind. It’s hard not to be a little excited over it — we have, after all, been watching its development for quite a long time now. The electric car gets an impressive 230 miles per gallon in the city (and, all shaky rating practices aside, that’s nothing to scoff at). Autoblog Green‘s just taken one of Chevy’s 80 IVER pre-production prototypes for a little spin, and they seem to have come away pretty impressed with the car. They report that the brakes are better than most hybrid vehicles, and said that when the engine does kick in after the battery’s depleted, they didn’t even notice it until they stopped and heard it running quietly. It was a short spin, so they weren’t able to gauge, for instance, whether the car can actually pull the full 40 miles per battery charge that Chevrolet claims it gets, but check out their full, detailed observations at the Source link.

2011 Chevrolet Volt gets taken for a test drive originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 30 Nov 2009 20:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Gizmodo’s Essential iPhone Apps: November ’09 Edition

Each month, the best new iPhone apps—and some older ones—are considered for admission into Gizmodo’s Essential iPhone Apps Directory. Who will join? Who will live? Who will die?

For the full directory of Gizmodo’s Essential iPhone Apps, click here.

The Month’s Best

As gathered from our weekly roundups.

If you hate hate hate galleries, click here for a single post.

Essential App Directory Inductees

This month was BOUNTIFUL, as we welcome seven (7!) new apps to the fold. Here are your new inductees:

I Am T-Pain: This app was fun when it first came out, but now that you can sing over your iPod library, it’s priceless.

Waze: Because it’s getting to be good enough to depend on (in a few areas), because it’s free, and because their video-gamey plan to make the app better is totally charming.

Voices: Because when your iPhone isn’t acting as a tool, it’s a toy. And everyone loves some good voice modulation.

Snapture: Because full 3GS support, which Snapture recently added, was the only thing holding this app back from replacing the iPhone’s camera completely.

ShopSavvy: Because any iPhone decent a good, free barcode scanning app.

Chorus: Because finding new apps is hard, y’all.

Jailbreak: Kirikae: Because without a solid task switcher like Kirikae, fantastic jailbreak app Backgrounder is kind of useless. With it, your iPhone is a full-fledged multitasking smartphone, finally. (Don’t get defensive!)

And Farewell To…

Our current directory members are all safe this time around. But next month, expect hell. (Maybe!)

What counts as an essential iPhone app changes all the time, and so should our guide: If we’ve missed anything huge, or you’ve got a much better suggestion for a particular type of app, let us know, or say so in the comments. We’ll be updating this thing pretty frequently, and a million Gizmodo readers can do a better job at sorting through the app mess than a single Gizmodo editor. Enjoy!

Fancy a free phone?

A service contract can save you serious cash on a new cell phone. CNET shows you the handsets that carriers are offering for free.