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Sony leads with in-home 4K videos, Netflix partnership

Sony delivered a long and varied list of gadgets, including a tennis racket sensor and a new wearable tech, on Monday, but kicked off its hour-long showcase by focusing on what it knows best -- home entertainment.

Sony kicked off with an opening video of its "milestones" from 2013, flashing the footage on the screens encircling the curved room. Sony President Mike Fasulo started things off by saying that Sony will be the first to offer a 4K video in-home download service, featuring more than 140 titles. He announced a partnership with online streaming-service Netflix, bringing Netflix CEO … Read more

Review: SwitchResX for Mac provides full control of your display resolution and orientation

SwitchResX for Mac lets you easily change your display resolution and adjust other monitor settings directly from your menu bar or by using the Contextual Menu. This premium product supports resolutions for high-density displays, as well as different orientations. Additionally, you can use it to manage your multiple display setups and create custom per-app rules.

Installing SwitchResX for Mac can be confusing for novices because it actually installs as a preference pane rather than a standalone app, and offers little guidance during installation. In order to have access to the highest number of options, SwitchResX will ask you to run … Read more

Acer's new high-res monitors will charge your devices even when shut off

Acer is offering a few new ultrahigh-resolution monitors for your viewing pleasure. The three recently announced monitors include a highly ergonomic pair and a Windows 8-compatible touch screen.

The new models rock IPS panel displays with 178-degree viewing angles and purportedly 100,000,000:1 contrast ratios. They also come fitted with dual speakers, USB 3.0 ports that can charge your devices even when the monitor is off, and Energy Star and TCO certifications.

Acer T272HUL The 27-inch Acer T272HUL boasts a 2,560x1,440-pixel WQHD resolution -- also known as extreme definition -- and 1.07 billion colors. … Read more

LG bringing high-res tablet, smartphone, and TV screens to CES

As a person who reviews both monitors and tablets, display quality is of particular interest to me. And early next month at CES 2013, LG intends to give me a reason to be excited. However, the company has not confirmed that the following display technologies will be attached to actual products; only that differently sized, impressively specced displays will be showcased. And by "showcased" I mean shown at a "private" booth at the show. But I'm not yet sure exactly what that means.

LG will demo several Ultra High Definition (UHD) TVs at three different … Read more

Best extreme-definition 27-inch monitors

While most 27-inch monitors you'll find at your local Best Buy sport the perfectly capable resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels, there's a growing contingent of monitor enthusiasts, like myself, who understand the real reason for the existence of 27-inch displays.

If you've never seen a 27-inch monitor running at 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution, then you've yet to be touched by a particularly affecting higher power.

Also referred to as "extreme definition" or "XD," this branch of higher-tier monitors will melt your face and not look back. However, as much as the impressive resolution benefits all aspects of computing, it is in games that it provides a particular advantage.… Read more

A 'Google Earth' approach to researching cells

Imagine being able to navigate our own biological tissue much in the way Google Earth allows us to zoom in on our own backyards. Only instead of mailboxes and fences, you could spot, say, rogue cancer cells.

Researchers out of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands may be making such a future possible by stitching together molecular- and cellular-level images of biological tissues into truly gigantic composite images.

One such landscape -- of a zebrafish embryo -- consists of 26,000 images, is 281 gigapixels, and boasts a resolution of 16 million pixels per inch.

The researchers explain their … Read more

Make high-res sketches from your images

My Sketch makes your photos into hand-sketched artistic drawings in only a few easy steps. Upon launch you get the option to take a new photo or choose one from your iPhone photo library. Once selected, My Sketch immediately has you crop the image to your liking, either in portrait or landscape layouts. The next step is to choose a style, and My Sketch offers 20 different types of sketch styles, from long-line sketches to pastel styles. It takes a couple of moments, but once the high-res sketch is finished, you have a chance to apply some finishing touches with … Read more

Sleek, flat microscope could detect skin cancer

While microscopes might be affixed to cell phones, they don't usually look like them. But it seems the researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Germany got the designer bug when they developed this one.

In this case, though, form is actually following function. The microscope is flat because it has been entirely rethought, with several tiny lenses to simultaneously scan one image instead of one that scans and then groups together many images.

"Our ultrathin microscope consists of not just one but a multitude of tiny imaging channels, with lots of tiny lenses arrayed alongside one another" Dr. Frank Wipperman, who managed the team, said in a news release. "Each channel records a tiny segment of the object at the same size for a 1:1 image."… Read more

Texas showdown for transportation start-ups Uber and GroundLink

The battle is on for two transportation network start-ups that are poised to go head-to-head at SXSW to promote their private car booking applications.

West-Coast-based Uber has a head start over East Coast transportation veteran LimoRes, which is promoting its new GroundLink app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. To close the publicity gap, LimoRes is offering attendees $10 rides in a private car anywhere in Austin, Texas, (including to and from the airport) using the GroundLink iPhone app. Uber, which apparently has appeared at the conference before and so its people know how small Austin is and how … Read more

Forget DIY repair. Sometimes, you need the pros

November was a bad month for me and my gadgets. My trusty Pentax K10D got janky and quit recognizing memory cards, and I took a header on the icy hills of Seattle and crunched my iPad, though I was impressed it still worked.

At home, I've got a whole drawer full of busted electronics. I've done some repairs myself (installed hard drives, changed out power supplies, and fixed bent battery pins), but some tasks are beyond my skill set. I love both my camera and my iPad, so relegating them to the drawer of broken toys didn't appeal to me, and I sent them in for repairs. I've never used a tech repair service before, so I was a bit hesitant at first. Here's how it all panned out.

Pentax told me my camera was covered under warranty and had me send it to its repair vendor for the West Coast, CRIS Camera Service in Arizona, with a description of the problem and a copy of my purchase receipt. I was told that it would take up to four weeks to repair my camera and ship it back. It took two, and it's now good as new.

What's great about CRIS is that it has a repair-tracking system on its Web site. It assigns you a customer number and work order number, and you can see exactly where your gear is in the process, from examination to cleaning to waiting for parts. It was really great to be kept in the loop.

Hopefully, I'll never need its service again, but if I do, I won't be a bundle of nerves like I was this time about getting my shooter fixed. And CRIS doesn't just repair Pentax; it can work on pretty much any major brand of camera.

The iPad was a different story. Apple's warranty doesn't cover dumbly slipping and landing on its products, so I knew I was going to have to pony up and just go for it. I took it to Apple, which quoted me $350--plus shipping--to fix the dented case, slightly discolored LCD, and bent glass. I cringed at that, especially when I was told that the repair process could take up to two weeks, depending on parts. Even broken, my iPad couldn't be out of my reach for that long. … Read more