Report -- Love for personal computers on the decline

Tablets have a small edge over laptops and desktops when it comes to customer satisfaction, but consumer love for PCs in general is down, according to a new American Customer Satisfaction Index report.

Released Tuesday, the ACSI's Household Appliance and Electronics Report 2013 measured the satisfaction levels for personal computers (including desktops, laptops, and tablets) based on interviews with more than 2,700 customers.

On a 100-point scale, tablets grabbed a score of 81, slightly outpacing laptops and desktops, which earned 79 points each. PC devices in general saw a 1.3 percent decline in satisfaction from last year, … Read more

Software turns 2D objects 3D; lets you 'reach into' photos; bends your mind

Modeling products in three dimensions can be a time-consuming process. It's easy enough for humans to identify the presence of 3D objects in 2D scenes, but extracting these with algorithms is tricky. A new system developed by a team of researchers from the Interdisciplinary Center in Israel and Tel Aviv University aims to simplify the process by using a technique to pull out 3D shapes and objects from regular photos.

The system is simple enough to be used and understood by almost anyone. To start with, the user traces around the object, defining its three dimensions. Then the outline … Read more

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, fan of Glass, wants more wearables

Google Glass has proven to be a polarizing technology development, but you can count Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse on the fan side of the spectrum.

"One of my favorite devices is Glass. I have one, though my son always steals it," Hesse said at the IFA electronics show in Berlin.

Of course, as leader of company that sells wireless networking services, he has a vested interest in such developments. "The way we look at it, the more devices the better," he said in a question-and-answer session with Larry Magid, who writes for CBS News and … Read more

The smartwatch that'll be worth the wait

One of the timeless principles of the technology industry is that if your product has to rely on users to do a lot of configuration, then it's doomed to failure. Most will spend very little time doing it. That's why out-of-the-box experience matters. That's why default settings matter. And, that's why the best products are "as simple as possible, but not simpler." (Thank you, Mr. Einstein.)

This principle is important to remember as you think about smartwatches.

If you look at the Samsung Galaxy Gear and the Qualcomm Toq -- each announced on Wednesday … Read more

Itsy-bitsy $45 computer sports Android and Linux

I wouldn't call most computers "cute," but I'll make an exception for the CuBox-i mini-computer from SolidRun. It fits all of its hardware, including an HDMI port, IR receiver, and USB ports, into a 2-inch square black box. It runs Android and Linux. It's like a pet rock that's actually useful.

There are a handful of permutations of the CuBox-i, but the the CuBox-i1 is a real attention-getter, based mostly on its super-low $45 price tag. It comes with a single-core GC880 GPU and 512MB of memory. Those specs aren't going to blow you out of the water, but at that price, they don't have to.… Read more

Google plans to launch app store for Google Glass next year

Google will launch an app store serving Google Glass users and developer next year.

The Web giant on Tuesday confirmed to Marketing Land information published Friday in a lengthy New York Times Magazine first-person article. Describing how the lack of an app store initially limited the high-tech specs' capabilities, author Clive Thomas indicated in a parenthetical sentence: "The company says an app store is coming next year, when Glass is available to the general public."

The company did not give a time frame for an expected launch nor did it say whether the Google Glass store would be … Read more

Man allegedly pawns office computers (gets caught)

There are all sorts of ways to get money.

Some are wise, some less so, while others are just asking for pain to knock upon your door.

Gary Lee Cochran stands accused of perhaps taking one risk too far. The 59-year-old is said to have obtained money without legal justification and, perhaps, sufficient aforethought.

For police in Charleston, W.Va., said he took gadgets from his place of work and into a pawn shop called Kanawha Valley Fine Jewelry and Loan. (Motto: "All Loans Confidential!")

You might imagine that the Kanawha County Schools, where Cochran worked, might have … Read more

What put the brakes on global warming: The Pacific Ocean?

From the 1940s through the 1970s there was no major warming trend in the average surface temperature of Earth. At the same time, the tropical Pacific Ocean, which is responsible for the weather patterns known as El Niño and La Niña that can swing global average temperatures by as much as 0.3 degree Celsius, was anomalously cold. For the past decade or so the tropical Pacific has again gone cold -- more Niña than Niño -- and a new study suggests that the phenomenon may explain the recent "pause" … Read more

Microsoft adds OCR text scanning to SkyDrive photos

Following Google's lead, Microsoft has added optical character recognition (OCR) to images stored on its SkyDrive cloud storage service.

"With this new SkyDrive release, our OCR tool will automatically run on your camera roll photos so you can instantly see the extracted text whenever you view your photos on," Microsoft said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The feature can be useful, especially when people use camera phones to take photos of signs, maps, business cards, or other textual subjects they might want to refer to later. (Windows Phone devices can be set so photos … Read more

Moto X teardown: X8 tech gets marquee billing under the hood

Google's, er, Motorola's new smartphone hit retail Friday and iFixit has wasted no time in taking it apart and revealing the X8 splendor inside.

Over the past few weeks, Motorola has made sure the media knows that the Moto X does not have a stock smartphone chip. And the company won't let you forget that even if you pop off the plastic (see photo above).

As Motorola explained in an interview with CNET, the main component of the X8 system is a 1.7GHz Qualcomm S4 Pro that Motorola has worked with Qualcomm to customize for its … Read more