Microsoft Arc Touch review

Today there are two major manufacturers of mice that are sold worldwide, namely Logitech and Microsoft. The two companies are competing with each other to see who can outdo who by coming up with the most innovative, feature rich or simply just unusual products. Today we’re taking a look at a rather unusual mouse from Microsoft, the Arc Touch, which is not like any mouse we’ve ever seen before.

We weren’t swayed by the original Microsoft Arc mouse, as it was more of a fashion and design statement than anything else and it’s not what we’d call the most comfortable or practical mouse in use. However, the Arc Touch is a different animal all together, as although it shares the arc shape, that’s about all it has in common with the original.

Microsoft has spent a fair bit of detail when it comes to the packaging which has a textured flat which can be opened to reveal the mouse hiding underneath a clear plastic window. Surprisingly the flat closes with the help of a magnetic lock, not something you expect to see on what ultimately is a cardboard box that most people won’t spend another second with once they’ve gotten the goods out of it. Still, it’s a nice touch and an impressive start.

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Microsoft LifeCam HD-5000 review

This should be the year of the HD webcam, at least if all the announcements at CES back in January are anything to go by.

 

However, Microsoft launched its first HD capable webcam last year when it introduced the LifeCam Cinema. This was a rather pricey at $80/€50 and with that in mind we’re talking a look at its more affordable sibling, the LifeCam HD-5000.

The LifeCam HD-5000 has an MSRP of $49.95 (about €37) and can already be found retailing for as little as $40. This makes it the first truly affordable HD capable webcam. It’s of course “limited” to 720p, but this isn’t a huge problem, since most standard internet connections won’t allow you to stream video in 1080 anyhow.

As this is a more affordable model to the LifeCam Cinema, Microsoft has of course removed a few features, but none of them appear to have a huge impact on the performance.

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Asus U36 thin and light notebook set to launch tomorrow

Despite the launch not being until tomorrow, Asus’ new thin and light U36 notebook has already tipped up on the web, at least in Taiwan. An online retailer jumped the gun and unveiled the details of Asus’ 19mm thin notebook that still managed to cram in both a 35W CPU and a GeForce 310M discrete graphics card.

 

The notebook itself looks very slim, although it appears to have something of a bulge at the rear where the battery is located. Speaking of which, Asus claims that the U36 offers in excess of 10h worth of battery life. Considering that the U36 features an 8-cell 5600mAh battery, this isn’t as unreasonable as one may think, despite the full fat processor.

Only one model has made its way online and it comes with a Core i5 460M processor which has 3MB L3 cache and a default clock speed of 2.53GHz, but it will turbo up to 2.8GHz. This is paired up with the HM55 chipset, but for those that wants a little bit more graphics power than Intel’s HD graphics, it also has a GeForce 310M discrete graphics card with 1GB of DDR3 memory.

The U36 also supports Nvidia’s Optimus technology which allows it to switch between discrete and integrated graphics on the fly.

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Commtiva’s Android line-up unveiled

Commtiva might be one of the smaller players when it comes to mobile devices, but the company is planning four new Android devices which should arrive this year. Two are budget models with QWERTY keypads and the other two are more traditional touch screen handsets.

 

First up is the X1, it’s running Android 1.5 and has a 2.36-inch QVGA (320×240 pixels) display. It doesn’t appear to be a touch screen which is somewhat novel on an Android device, as so far we haven’t seen any non-touch screen devices.

However, Google was talking about handsets without touch screen support back in the early days of Android, although no handsets ever materialized. As such you’ll have to rely on the track ball for navigation as well as some additional buttons around it.

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iPad charging possible from motherboard USB port

There’s no denying that Apple’s iPad has been quite successful so far, but it has annoying little problem, it can’t be charged by the USB port on your PC. Well, at least that was the case until today, as Gigabyte has a solution that will allow you to charge your iPad from selected motherboard models.

 

Although limited to any Gigabyte board that features 3x USB Power, which is mostly fitted it Gigabyte boards that has USB 3.0 support, although it’s not limited to the USB 3.0 ports, as all of the ports on these motherboard can deliver three times the power.

You need to download the On/Off charge utility, install it and the iPad will be able to charge from any USB port on your motherboard. The reason behind the utility is that the iPad needs to be detected so that the USB ports registers that an iPad is attached and will deliver more power than the standard 500mA that you’d get from a normal USB 2.0 port.

As you can see in the video below, the board we tested delivered 1,500mA, slightly lower than the supplied charger, but still plenty power for the iPad to charge, even while switched on. Another advantage is that you can switch off your PC, but the iPad will continue to charge.

However, if you unplug it, it won’t charge when you plug it back in, unless you boot back into Windows first. A neat solution to an annoying problem and this way you can keep the charger in the office and charge your iPad at home from your PC.

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Gigabyte launches unusual ad campaign

gigabyte strange adsNormally we wouldn’t pay too much attention to ad campaigns, but Gigabyte’s new ads for its Booktop M1305 are unusual to say the least. The ads picture people picking their nose, something you definitely don’t see too often in ads.

So what’s the deal here? Well, the idea is that that as the M1305 features a dock with a desktop graphics card in it, the message is (at least this is what we were told) that the action starts when you put/plug it in.

I guess there are other even more suggesting ways of getting that message across, but we can’t blame Gigabyte for using some much needed humor in an otherwise very dull advertisement market. You can see two of the three ads (sadly in Chinese).

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