Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Option XYFI is 'world's smallest' personal hotspot

Option's XYFI (pronounced ex-WiFi) was announced earlier this week with little fanfare but piqued our interest with its claim to being the world's smallest personal hotspot. Option has been out of the data connectivity game in any significant way -- for what seems like forever -- in a segment it once led with some 70% of market share. The XYFI is indeed small and at first glance looks like a simple USB modem and not an access point that can support up to 8 people's roaming internet needs via WiFi or 3G connectivity. The USB plug swivels open in switchblade-style and then pops into your desktop for a quick 4-step setup. The XYFI doesn't have a battery of its own but rather relies on a beautiful 4000mAh xpal adapter the Option device plugs into -- and once connected you can expect about 8 hours of battery life. Option's other accessories for the XYFI include a plug for the car and AC adapter.

Costa Allegra Cruises Liner Ship Towed to Seychelles Island

The Costa Allegra cruise liner ship stranded off the coast of Seychelles due to an electrical room problem was towed by a French fishing ship. Costa Allegra, with over 1,000 passengers, is on its way to Mahe, Seychelles when fire struck the ship’s electrical room. The electrical room fire left the ship without power. Reports say that backup batteries were being used to run essential machinery.

On-board Costa Allegra are 636 passengers of different nationalities and 413 crew members. The cruise ship reportedly can handle a maximum of 1,400 passengers. The cruise liner, a 600-foot long ship with eight passenger decks and 400 cabins, left the port of Diego Suarez in Madagascar on Saturday, February 25.

Different planes, ships and tug boats were on their way to provide support and help in the rescue operation on Costa Allegra. The ship’s company, Carnival, revealed that “Costa Crociere and the relevant authorities are acting to provide the ship with the necessary support. Costa Allegra is going to be reached by tugs and other naval and aerial units.”

Italian coast guard Commander Cosimo Nicastro explained the scenario that occurred during their rescue operation and the current state of Costa Allegra.

    The shipboard fire-extinguishing system and procedures were promptly activated and the special fire-fighting squads intervened to extinguish the fire. As a precaution, the general emergency alarm was given and all passengers and crew members not engaged in the management of the emergency reached the muster stations with the relevant safety equipment.
Inspections on the state of the engine room are on-going in order to restart the necessary equipment to reactivate the functionality of the ship.

New Limited Edition Glossy White Xbox 360 Kinect Family Bundle Announced

The Xbox 360 may now be over six years old, but Microsoft is showing that there is plenty of life in the old dog yet, with a new console bundle being released across multiple markets. Dubbed the Xbox 360 Special Edition 4GB Kinect Family Bundle – and the new bundle comes in a fetching glossy white color and is being shipped to retailers. 

With white Xbox 360, as the name suggests, 4GB of storage is available. A white control pad is included as is a shiny new Kinect. Shiny, being the operative word. This is the first white Kinect to come out of Microsoft, and it’s rather fetching indeed. It is not sure how well it will blend in with all those black televisions that are out there.

Two Xbox Kinect games are thrown in, too, with Kinect Sports and Kinect Adventures providing the gaming fun for your new machine. The shiny white controller is also going to be made available as a standalone purchase, and will have privilege of having what early adopters considered to be the only Xbox 360 controller. Granted this one may be a little shinier than the ones we had, Xboxes and their accessories should always be white in our eyes. 

Samsung Galaxy Mini 2 hands-on

This Android handset retains the overall sensibilities of its slightly larger stablemate, but also tones down those already mid-range specs, accordingly. 

At first glance, the Mini 2 is an endearing handset, bordered by a silver trim and encased with a sunny, yellow plastic casing. Generally, the phone follows in the Ace 2's design footsteps, with the same layout of hardware keys: signature home button on the base, power on the right, volume rocker and microSD slot on the left, 3.5mm headphone jack up top, as well as a port for microUSB at its bottom. Below its removable back are a 1,300mAh battery and a SIM slot hidden just beneath it. Thanks to its ultra-compact construction, the handset is a joy to hold, fitting quite snugly in our palms. 

Power on the screen and you'll immediately notice the lower pixel density of the HVGA display. Surprisingly, performance on this Android 2.3.6 handset exceeded our expectations. Somewhat curiously, the device, sporting a sole 800MHz processor, managed to outpace the dual-core Ace 2, responding much more rapidly to touch and moving in and out of applications with an appreciable speed boost. Browsing, however, wasn't quite as speedy. 

Imaging aficionados won't have much to salivate over here, as the Mini 2 comes equipped with a 3.2 megapixel shooter capable of 480p video capture. As you might expect the camera app is customized for Samsung's UX and offers up the usual array of scene modes and exposure settings.

The Mini 2 will be the first of Sammy's two low-to-mid rangers to hit Europe early this spring, with a planned March launch for consumers in France. 

Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 4.2 hands-on


This is Samsung's latest Android-based media player and it's got a sumptuous glossy white coat. 
The redesigned media player felt solid in the hand, despite the plastic build. Metallic features, like the chrome-styled speaker grills either side of the display, looked to be of premium quality although the primary 2-megapixel camera leaves plenty to be desired. Sound quality out of the speakers seemed respectable, but it's obviously pretty difficult to tell within the madness of MWC and this is a device made for earphones. It's just under 9mm thick.

Video playback on the TFT IPS screen was noticeably clearer than its predecessor although it still matches the 480 x 800 resolution of last year's PMP. Navigation and UI is a typically TouchWiz affair, with the obvious exception of telephony apps. If you've used any Android device you should have no problems making your way through the media player's smartphone-esque feature set.

Performance-wise the 1GHz processor gives a similar performance to existing phones sporting the same hardware; the web browser stuttered along at times but was functional, while the availability of both 8 and 16GB models (and microSD support) should ensure that there's enough space for all those binaural beat tracks. Unfortunately, both pricing and availability still remain a mystery.