GameStop Set to Acquire ThinkGeek

GameStop logoThinkGeek is an extremely popular online purveyor of all things geeky. Recently, it appeared that Geeknet Inc., (ThinkGeek’s parent company) was going to be acquired by Hot Topic. Things have changed, and it turns out that GameStop is now set to acquire Geeknet, Inc. There are those who are breathing a sigh of relief because they weren’t so keen on Hot Topic.

GameStop posted a press release that states that Geeknet has terminated its agreement with Hot Topic. The press release says that GameStop and Geeknet, Inc., “have entered into a definitive agreement under which GameStop will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Geeknet’s common stock for $20.00 per share in cash.”

The press release goes on to say that this transaction has been approved by the board of directors of both companies. It also says: “The transaction has a total equity value of approximately $140 million, including $37 million of cash and cash equivalents as of March 31, 2015.”

What happened to the potential sale of Geeknet, Inc., to Hot Topic? Geeknet, Inc., has posted the same press release as GameStop did. Either one explains a bit more about the situation.

Geeknet also announced that it had terminated its previously announced merger with Hot Topic, Inc. (“Hot Topic”). Following discussion with both GameStop and Hot Topic, the Board of Directors of Geeknet determined that the GameStop transaction represented a superior proposal. Geeknet will pay Hot Topic a termination fee pursuant to the Hot Topic agreement, for which GameStop has agreed to reimburse Geeknet.

Engadget reported that Hot Topic was offering Geeknet $17.50 per share. It is easy to see why a company like Geeknet would want to take the offer from “the highest bidder”, so to speak.

In short, GameStop will acquire Geeknet, (parent company of ThinkGeek and ThinkGeek Solutions). Right now, one can only speculate about what changes will come as a result. I’ve been a long time fan of ThinkGeek and have made several purchases from it. Now might be a good time to use up my remaining Geek Points… just in case.

Logitech Harmony takes control of your Sony PlayStation 4

Logitech LogoThe Harmony line of universal remotes, now owned by Logitech, has been seeing a lot of activity lately in terms of updates and improvements. The remote can control more and more devices all the time, including Amazon Fire TV and even home automation products like Philips Hue light bulbs.

One thing lacking was your Sony game console, a feature cutomers were apparently asking for. That lacks no longer as today Logitech announces that Harmony can now be used with the PS4.

This will allow customers to navigate the menus, as well as control blu-ray discs and apps like Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Instant and more.

There is one thing missing, as Logitech points out — “One thing we do need to mention is, unfortunately, this update does not allow you to power your PlayStation on directly—Sony does not permit any remote other than their game controller to power on the game console”. It’s a minor drawback, but the company promises that once your system is on then it’s in Harmony’s control.

This will all work over Bluetooth, so there are no worries if your console is behind a cabinet door or something like that. No official word is being given about the roll out of this update, but it would seem it’s immediate or at least imminent.

LEGO Worlds Now Available on Steam

LEGO Worlds logoIt has been said that Minecraft is similar to LEGO. People use small bricks (either physical or the pixilated kind) to build structures and landscapes. That comparison just got a bit more apt with the release of LEGO Worlds. It’s now available on Steam as an Early Access Game.

Steam is offering Early Access right now to the LEGO Worlds game. In some ways, this feels like a beta test. Players can access some of the game now, but it is not complete. The developers plan to add more features as time goes on. They will evaluate a “release candidate” sometime in early 2016 and are seeking feedback from the community about different aspects of the game.

The current Early Access version of the game includes the following features: procedurally generated worlds, terraforming and building tools, discoveries and unlocks, ridable creatures and vehicles, and a day/night cycle.

Players will be able to freely manipulate and dynamically populate LEGO models. There is a brick-by-brick editor tool that players can use as well as some prefabricated LEGO structures. Players can modify the terrain by using a multi-tool. It will be possible to get into the game and play with virtual LEGO sets that match the real-life versions. These sets will be taken from both Classic and current LEGO themes.

The LEGO website has some further information. They note that LEGO Worlds is safe for children to play, but that some of the other content on Steam might not be. As such, they encourage parents to view the parental controls on Steam before granting their children Early Access to LEGO Worlds.

OnePlus One Flash Sales

OnePlus LogoIf you’ve been thinking about picking up a new high-end smartphone, then you might want to take a look at the flash sales this week for the OnePlus One. For one week only, sales will start at 02:00 and 12:00 GMT on alternate days, offering the One at US$249 or GB£179 for the 16 GB version. The 64 GB model is $299 / £219. This is great value for a smartphone with a 5.5″ full HD screen driven by 2.5 GHz quad core CPU.

OnePlus OneThe OnePlus One is my current smartphone which I purchased myself to replace my Nexus 4. I love it – it’s fast with a great screen, loads of storage (as I have the 64 GB version) and excellent battery life. Here’s the full flash sale schedule.

June 1 – 12:00 GMT (8 am EST)
June 2 – 2:00 GMT (10 pm EST -1 day)
June 3 – 12:00 GMT (8 am EST)
June 4 – 2:00 GMT (10 pm EST -1 day)
June 5 – 12:00 GMT (8 am EST)
June 6 – 2:00 GMT (10 pm EST -1 day)
June 7 – 12:00 GMT (8 am EST)

Asus Debuts ZenPad S 8.0 at Computex

Asus logoComputex 2015 is in full swing in Taipei and new product announcements are coming fast and furious. One of those products is a new tablet by Asus called the ZenPad S 8.0. This 8-inch ZenPad boasts some impressive features. Including:

  • Intel 64-bit Atom Z3580 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • PowerVR 6430 GPU
  • 3.4 times the browser performance of some competitors and 2.2 times the GPU performance
  • Optional stylus (this is where the ZenPad gets the “S” in its name)
  • Metallic finish with “diamond cut edges”
  • 6mm (0.25 inches) thick
  • Weighs 298 grams (10.5 ounces)
  • Screen is a 2K (2,048×1,536-pixel) IPS panel, offering 324 pixels per inch

This new ZenPad could be seen as a strong competitor to Apple’s iPad Mini, as the two devices are pretty similar in terms of overall size and spec. Also, the ZenPad comes with many of Asus’s proprietary enhancements, including TruVivid and Tru2Life (known collectively as VisualMaster), both of which are designed to increase screen clarity, contrast and brightness. The TruVivid technology actually alters the traditional screen manufacturing process to eliminate the “air gap” between the touch panel and the LCD ZenPad models, increasing optical transparency.

ZenPad S 8.0 also comes with optional accessories like the Clutch “fashion” cover as well as a Power Cover that offers an additional 15 hours of battery life.

ZenPad tablets will offer both 4G LTE and Wi-Fi only versions. Availability of these will differ from region to region. Full pricing and release dates haven’t yet been announced.

GNC #1036 New Speed 300/20

I talk about the Insider program and set some goals so you all know where we are headed. I also talk about the new blazing 300mb down and 20mb upload speeds I was able to activate just prior too the show.

Download the Audio Show File

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Windows 10 Gets an Official Release Date

Windows logo blueMicrosoft is probably in a bit of a hurry to release its next version of Windows. After all, the current installment of the venerable operating system, Windows 8, hasn’t been well received. And while in some ways, Microsoft deserves credit for trying to break with old ways in the design of 8, the company was also smart to realize that it had some work to do in bringing the next iteration of Windows to market.

Windows 10 (Microsoft has curiously skipped over Windows 9) has been in the beta oven for awhile. And it looks like Microsoft believes its newest operating system has been baked long enough. Today, the Redmond, WA based technology giant announced that Windows 10 will be officially released on July 29th. Windows 10 will not only run on laptop and desktop computers but it’ll also power a plethora of mobile phones and tablets as well as other connected “Internet of Things” devices. Windows 10 is also planned to work on Microsoft’s new Hololens augmented-realty headset as well as the Xbox gaming console.

Windows 8 users who miss the familiar Start Menu function that Microsoft first implemented in Windows 95 will be happy to know that this function is returning with Windows 10. And while it may seem as tho Microsoft is looking backward with this move, the company is also trying some new initiatives that are true firsts; Windows 10 will be released as a free download even tho all previous Windows upgrades had to be paid for. Also, Microsoft is offering tools to developers to help them port apps from platforms such as iOS and Android to Windows 10. This could greatly increase the number of apps available to Windows mobile devices, which is important as the overall lack of developer support for the platform has led to slow adoption rates among consumers.

Check our the official Windows 10 website to learn more about how you can make the upgrade next month.

Your Android factory reset may not erase all of the data

Android LogoWe change devices like clothes these days, with new phones and tablets emerging seemingly every day. What to do with all of those used devices? You can sell them or donate them, or simply give them away — all that is needed is a simple factory reset to get your data off, right? Not so fast.

New research from Cambridge University has found that some data is still recoverable. That’s a scary prospect when your device is now in other hands. We have all sorts of interesting info stored there, from email logins to bank logins and more.

Researchers at security firm AVG analyzed the data, finding “The issue arises from the way devices store information on flash memory. Reading data has a negligible impact on flash drives, but writing new data to them can cause considerable wear”.

Researchers also offer some advice on protecting things. — first and foremost is encrypting your data before doing the reset.

“The Cambridge researchers were able to retrieve some encrypted data and run brute strength attacks until they found the right passwords. So make sure you create a long password of over 15 characters, using upper and lower cases, numbers and symbols: a longer, more complex password would take years to crack. Ideally, use a password generator: you don’t have to remember this password, since you’re erasing this data”.

The bottom line is that this is highly unlikely to happen to you, but it is possible, so take every precaution necessary. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Archos 52 Platinum with Fusion Storage Review

Archos LogoOn review here is the Archos 52 Platinum smartphone, a mid-range phone with a couple of tricks up its sleeve. First, the smartphone takes dual SIMs and second, it has a microSD slot. The latter is perhaps not a great trick on its own but when paired with Archos’ new Fusion storage, it’s a smartphone with masses of space. Let’s take a look.

Archos Platinum 52

They say first impressions count and my first impression of the Platinum 52 on opening the box is how much the smartphone looks like a bigger Nexus 4. It’s the silver surround on the front and while round the back it’s not the sparkly glass of the Nexus, I’m still a big fan as it’s a neat clean look.

The physical dimensions are 77 mm wide, 150 mm tall and only 8.8 mm thick. Weighing in at 161 g, it’s a tidy package for a big screen phone.

Specwise, the Platinum 52 is a 3G quad-core 1.3 GHz device with 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB storage and a microSD card slot. It’s not a cutting edge processor by any stretch of the imagination but it’s a solid performer that will handle most tasks thrown at it. The 1 GB RAM is a bit meagre but once Fusion Storage has been experienced, it forgives the 8 GB storage memory. Out of the box, the 52 is running KitKat with extra Archos apps but no significant changes to stock Android.

It’s a 5.25″ IPS screen with a 1280 x 720 HD screen which looks bright with good contrast. The Platinum 52 has hard buttons at the bottom of the screen. I prefer the soft buttons of the Nexus series but that’s a personal choice.

There are two cameras, an 8 MP rear camera and a front 2 MP one. No great surprises from either camera, either good or bad.

Archos Platinum 52 BackRound the back and inside is a removable 1750 mAh battery – performance was in-line with expectations. Also inside is the Platinum 52’s first trick; a SIM carrier that takes two SIMs, one micro and one nano (though the Archos website says that they’re mini and micro).

SIM cardsHaving dual SIMs opens up possibilities that having one SIM doesn’t. One SIM for personal and other for work. One SIM for home and your main number, one SIM for the local country and data services.

When a new SIM card is put into the Platinum 52, the phone prompts to set the defaults for each card, so if on travels, set the data connection to the local SIM to avoid whopping data charges. It’s pretty neat.

The next trick is Archos Fusion storage and the Platinum 52 is one of the first smartphones to take advantage of  the feature. Simply, the internal 8 GB storage memory is joined with the inserted microSD card. Put in a 32 GB card and the Platinum 52 has 40 GB of storage.

It’s a two step process; first enable Fusion and then optimise the storage. It’s straightforward and pain-free, though the optimising process takes a little while as files are shuffled around.

Archos Fusion  Archos Optimise

Archos Games with FusionOnce the process is finished, the addition of the microSD card to the storage memory is seamless. After inserting a 32 GB card, I was able to load a stack of massive games onto an “8 GB” phone – Monument Valley, GTA III, Shardlands, Iron Man 3, The Room, The Dark Knight, Galaxy on Fire 2. In practical use, I could tell no difference – possibly games took a little bit longer to load but these are big games and take time even on standard phone. As far as I could tell, the Fusion storage system worked perfectly; Archos have done a really good job here.

At an RRP of GB£129.99, the Archos Platinum 52 is up against some stiff competition but on the whole comes out ahead in both price, specification and looks. The dual SIMs and Fusion Storage are compelling selling points which should set it apart from the herd, especially for travellers. Fusion Storage is clever, works well and gives the low internal storage a valuable boost.

Ray Kurzweil’s Predictions for the Next 25 Years

Kurzweil2029

Ray Kurzweil has a pretty good track record when it comes to predicting where tech is going. In the past he predicted a computer would defeat a chess champion, that computers would be online wirelessly, and voice commands to computers, among many others.

Here are a few he has for the next 25 years:
By the late 2010s, glasses will beam images directly onto the retina. Ten terabytes of computing power (roughly the same as the human brain) will cost about $1,000.

By the 2020s, most diseases will go away as nanobots become smarter than current medical technology. Normal human eating can be replaced by nanosystems. The Turing test begins to be passable. Self-driving cars begin to take over the roads, and people won’t be allowed to drive on highways.

By the 2030s, virtual reality will begin to feel 100% real. We will be able to upload our mind/consciousness by the end of the decade.

By the 2040s, non-biological intelligence will be a billion times more capable than biological intelligence (a.k.a. us). Nanotech foglets will be able to make food out of thin air and create any object in physical world at a whim.

By 2045, we will multiply our intelligence a billionfold by linking wirelessly from our neocortex to a synthetic neocortex in the cloud.

Via Singularity Hub

Still no word on those hoverboards though. Damn.