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How would you change Guitar Hero: World Tour? 28 November 2008 at 11:00 pm by

Interestingly enough, a lot of the gripes you readers had with the original Rock Band were addressed by Activision in the rivaling Guitar Hero: World Tour (cymbals, anyone?), but we’re pretty sure the picky ones out there still have something to complain about. And seriously, when dropping upwards of $180 to $190 for the full-on band kit, you absolutely have a right to nitpick. Now that you’ve hopefully rocked through a few set lists, how are you enjoying things? Are the revamped / new instruments to your liking? Are the sensors accurate enough? Do you wish there was a freestyle mode in order to give real drummers free reign over what beats they play? Is your equipment holding up under the intense pressure of rockin’ it all night long? Grab a mic and spit your feelings (in rhyme or prose, whatever) below.

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How would you change Guitar Hero: World Tour? originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 28 Nov 2008 23:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ask Engadget: Best noise-canceling headphones? By 27 November 2008 at 9:30 pm and have No Comments

Over at the Engadget household today, we staffers have gathered around a cornucopia of good eats, good gadgets, and most importantly, good times. When it came time to list all the things we were thankful for, our readers were undoubtedly the top choice. And with Ask Engadget questions like this one, can you really blame us?

“I’ve been listening to your podcast since the day you reintroduced it and I really like it, but I have a hard time understanding what you’re saying when I’m in the subway. So I’d like to know what are the best noise-suppressing headphones I could get for around $150. Either that, or you could just ask Nilay to speak louder… thanks a lot!”

We’ll be sure to pass the word to Nilay (he’s a bit busy with the pumpkin pie at the moment), but for all of you overstuffed individuals out there, how’s about giving Gabriel an answer he’ll appreciate? Afterwards, send in a question of your own to ask at engadget dawt com.

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Ask Engadget: Best noise-canceling headphones? originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 27 Nov 2008 21:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Sony’s iPod-lovin’ AIR-SA20PK S-AIRPLAY music system reviewed By 26 November 2008 at 5:38 am and have No Comments

We’ll just cut to the chase: if you’ve been cautiously eying Sony’s S-AIRPLAY system in hopes of it solving your multi-zone audio desires, you’ll be sorely disappointed at how it performs in real world use. The AIR-SA20PK showcased just decent audio quality, odd design choices, unintuitive controls and a wireless range that was less-than-stellar. ‘Course, the unit was being held to some pretty high standards, but given the $400 sticker, we can understand that. In the end, critics determined that the unit wasn’t an outright failure, but for four bills, they’d prefer it to be much easier to use and sound quite a bit better. Good thing you didn’t pull the trigger already, huh?

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Sony’s iPod-lovin’ AIR-SA20PK S-AIRPLAY music system reviewed originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 26 Nov 2008 05:38:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Paul McCartney: Beatles on iTunes stalled, I’m not dead By 25 November 2008 at 3:10 am and have No Comments

In a new twist to the wearisome saga of the Beatles digitizing their music catalog for iTunes (or any digital service, for that matter), Paul McCartney says that the negotiations have “stalled.” McCartney said, “It’s between EMI and the Beatles, I think,” before adding, “I really hope it will happen because I think it should.” While an EMI spokeswoman sounded hopeful about the matter getting resolved, we’ll just assume this is all Yoko’s fault in keeping with tradition.

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Paul McCartney: Beatles on iTunes stalled, I’m not dead originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 25 Nov 2008 03:10:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Lenovo ThinkPads to freeze when texted, deter thieves from getting the goods By 25 November 2008 at 2:57 am and have 1 Comment

We’ve seen some pretty sophisticated laptop security measures out here in the volatile civilian world, but Lenovo’s taking things all top secret with its new Constant Secure Remote Disable feature. Slated to hit select ThinkPads in Q1 2009, the Phoenix Technologies, um, technology enables specially equipped notebooks to become utterly worthless if stolen — so long as the owner remembers to text in the emergency code, that is. You see, with the Remote Disable function, proper owners can send an SMS to their missing WWAN-enabled machine in order to make it inoperable; the lappie then sends a message back to confirm that it’s currently irritating the daylights out of a wannabe data thief. ‘Course, said thief can track you down and implement all manners of torture to get you to reactivate it, but we suppose that’s the risk you take with that sort of lifestyle. Full release after the break.

Continue reading Lenovo ThinkPads to freeze when texted, deter thieves from getting the goods

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Lenovo ThinkPads to freeze when texted, deter thieves from getting the goods originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 25 Nov 2008 02:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Kenwood’s CR-iP500 will do the All Black haka with your iPod By 25 November 2008 at 1:46 am and have No Comments

No, it’s not a Doomsday clock, ticking away the precious seconds of your brief mortality. It’s just another iPod dock, the CR-iP500 from Kenwood. The 371 x 175 x 187-mm globule of thump brings a pair of amplified 5W speakers, a built-in FM tuner, slot-in CD player, and a USB 2.0 jack to playback unprotected WMA and MP3 audio files off USB sticks. Yeah, iPods too, just as long as you don’t stretch the definition to include the iPhone which this dock doesn’t appear to support. Expected to hit Japan for ¥27,000 (about $280) in early December.

Update: Oh Kenwood, turns out your dock is just a rebadge of the LG PC12 already on sale in the US and elsewhere for $250 MSRP.

[Via Impress and Akihabara News, thanks PABLO]

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Kenwood’s CR-iP500 will do the All Black haka with your iPod originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 25 Nov 2008 01:46:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Guitar Hero Robot Belts Out a Neat Tune By 21 November 2008 at 4:58 pm and have No Comments

Guitar_hero_challenge

Say hello to the latest rock star on the block: the Cythbot

The Cythbot combines a camera with a vision processing system and pneumatic fingers to create a robot that can play the popular Guitar Hero video game by itself.

The Cythbot is not a single humanoid robot but instead a collection of components cleverly patched together to create an automated device that can read the notes flowing on a screen and play it–mimicking what a gamer can do with the title.

Since its launch in 2005, video game publisher Activision’s Guitar Hero series has become a blockbuster hit. The game comes with a guitar-shaped peripheral that players have to strum in sync to the notes flowing on a screen. Players are judged based on the accuracy with which they hit the notes.

The Cythbot does the same. Here’s how Cyth Systems which created it set up the robot. A camera from Pixelink looks at a screen to analyze the notes that are flowing in.

It is also hooked up to a compact vision system, which is hooked up to a boc called the Configurable Signal Conditioning Enclosure (CA-1000) from National Instruments. The CA-1000 capable of digital signal processing can increase the level of the input signal up to 24 Volts. The stepped up signal is used to operate the penumatics for the guitar.

The penumatic fingers hover the Guitar Hero‘s peripheral housed in an aluminium box frame. The guitar peripheral has also been modified to include a Wiimote inside it.

Two large displays connected to the system show the notes flowing through the screen from the game and which ones are being hit respectively.

Cyth Systems relied on the light intensity of the pixels, rather than the color of the five basic notes that create the music.

"If that light intensity value exceeds a predetermined
threshold we know we need to hold down that key and actuate the strum
bar after a predetermined delay," explains Ivan Gagne, Systems Engineer with Cyth Systems in this video, "while the note travels down the screen
to the bottom play line."

The idea was to demonstrate Cyth Systems’ expertise in integrating different systems, says Andy Long, senior director for the company.

So far the Cythbot, which can play both in solo and compete mode, has been able to hit pretty high levels of accuracy of up to 98 percent, says Long, though typically it is in the 75 percent to the 80 percent range.

The robotic system is on a world tour of its own. It’s a big attraction at many industry conferences focused on robotics and systems engineering and made its latest appearance earlier this week at the Robo developers conference in Santa Clara, California.

Here’s a video of the Cythbot playing Guitar Hero 3

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Microsoft revamps Zune Pass: keep ten tracks per month forever and ever By 19 November 2008 at 11:35 pm and have No Comments

There’s just nothing like the holiday season, folks. That warm, fuzzy feeling you get when spending your last dollar on a gift for someone you aren’t even that fond of — really, what else can compare? On second thought, maybe this can. Microsoft has just announced that, beginning today, Zune Pass users will be able to select ten tracks per month to keep forever (and ever, and ever), and the $14.99 monthly subscription rate isn’t headed up. Agreements have been miraculously nailed down between Microsoft and EMI Music, Sony BMG Music, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, not to mention a number of independent distributors. We must say, we certainly appreciate the gesture here, but is it enough to make fencesitters buy in? What say you?

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Microsoft revamps Zune Pass: keep ten tracks per month forever and ever originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 19 Nov 2008 23:35:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Apple Bends to Studios, Adds Copyright Protection to MacBooks By 19 November 2008 at 8:11 pm and have No Comments

Itunesscreen

Appearing to cave to Hollywood demands, Apple has quietly added a restrictive copyright
protection mechanism to its new MacBooks that is preventing customers from watching movies on external displays.

Apple has secretly included a copy protection scheme called High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) in the external display ports on the latest models of it MacBooks, released in the middle of October.

Apple has not disclosed the new anti-copying mechanism, and now increasing numbers of customers are discovering that they cannot play movies bought from the iTunes online store on many external monitors, TVs or projectors. 

"I tried all the movies that I have purchased from the iTunes Store
with the same result," said "Maxyourmacs," who
complained about the issue on Apple’s support forums. "None of them
will play on anything but the MacBook’s small 13-inch screen. This is
crazy unacceptable."

Released by Intel in 2001, HDCP is designed to prevent digital
pirates from outputting movies to copying devices, such as digital video recorders. In industry parlance, the technology plugs the "analog hole" — the security hole created by analog devices like TVs and monitors.

By definition, the technology also prevents movies from playing on non-compliant devices like older computer monitors or flat-screen TVs, which many Apple customers are just now discovering. Even TVs a couple of years old may not be HDCP compliant.

The issue is complicated by obsessive secrecy surrounding the technology. HDCP has been added to many models of Blu-Ray players and other entertainment devices, and several laptops from a range of PC manufacturers. However, it is unclear how many devices are HDCP-compliant: Manufacturers
don’t explicitly label which products are and aren’t. Even industry analysts don’t know how widely the technology has been adopted.

Intel declined to comment, and Apple did not respond to several requests for comment.

However, the surging popularity of Apple’s laptops and its iTunes online store is bringing the issue to the fore.

The copyright mechanism is posing problems for some customers, who are complaining
in Apple’s support forum that they had no idea their viewing devices were not compliant with the HDCP standard,
forcing them to watch movies purchased from the iTunes Store on their
small laptop screens.

"You really shouldn’t be expected to know whether your video devices are compliant," said James McQuivey, a
technology and media analyst at Forrester Research. "It’s not your job. To require that burden on them is an unfair thing to do."

Apple’s new MacBooks (including the MacBook Pro and
MacBook Air) are the first
Macs to include HDCP. McQuivey said Apple is clearly giving in to pressure from its studio partners.

McQuivey said studios are reluctant to deal with iTunes since its
movie-purchasing model involves downloading content straight
to a hard drive, where it is vulnerable to copying. Movies are easily
copied and shared with friends on DVDs or thumbdrives (as long as the sharer also provides their password).

Movies from services like Vudu and
Netflix, on the other
hand, which stream movies over the internet, are much more
difficult to copy and easier to
police, he said.

McQuivey noted that iTunes’ movie offerings (about 1,500 movies) pale in comparison to Vudu (5,000 movies) and Netflix (15,000 movies) because studios are distrustful of customers downloading movies to their hard drives.

Michael Cai, director of digital media at Parks Associates, a digital
market research firm, said the headaches caused by HDCP is largely a result of poor communication between manufacturers.

"The industry hasn’t done a very good job
in coordinating with each other to make sure their devices are
compatible with each other so you won’t feel this issue," Cai said.
"And they haven’t done a very good job in terms of educating consumers
with these issues."

Cai, himself, experienced the pains of HDCP.
He recently tried to plug his Blu-ray equipped Sony VAIO laptop into
his Sharp high-definition TV, and the image wouldn’t show up.

McQuivey
added that the HDCP restriction might be counterproductive for both
Apple and movie studios: It could encourage MacBook owners to resort to
illegal means of downloading, such as BitTorrent.

In the Apple support
forums, this already seems to be the case.

"Apple will be out of
luck, because we will, as of today, buy no more movies from the iTunes
Store," writes a new MacBook Pro customer, who said he couldn’t play an iTunes-purchased copy of Terminator 2 on his TV. "If this starts hitting the TV shows and the music videos, too, then
we’ll stop buying them from the iTunes Store as well."

Intel declined to comment. Apple did not respond to several requests for comment.

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‘Guitar Praise’ lets you ‘blast that solid Christian rock’ By 18 November 2008 at 3:51 pm and have No Comments

(Credit: Digital Praise)

If you’ve been champing at the bit to play some Guitar Hero, but have found that the music contained therein just doesn’t meld with your Christian values, you may be in luck.

Digital Praise, a maker of Christian computer games, has released Guitar Praise, which …