HP Unveils Exciting New PCs and Notebooks

Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced the release of several exciting new products today, including new desktops and notebooks for both professionals and consumers. Continuing in the direction in which the company has been going, these new models are sleek, stylish and equipped with many advanced features, such as Beats Audio, HP TrueVision webcams and a choice of Intel or AMD processors. Let’s take a look at some of the innovations HP has in store for the near future, beginning as soon as late October.

The HP Spectre is a very nice looking ultra-thin all-in-one desktop with a 23-inch flush glass display, 3rd Generation Intel processors and an optional solid-state drive. Perhaps most impressive of all, it features near field communication (NFC) technology that allows easy wireless sharing of photos, contacts, websites and more, all with a simple tap of the touch-sensitive screen. In fact, the Spectre can be used in conjunction with a user’s smartphone or tablet, which then becomes like a remote control for the computer’s operation. The Spectre is expected to be available in the United States on November 14, at a starting price of $1,299. The HP ENVY 20 and ENVY 23 TouchSmart PCs and the HP Pavilion 20 All-in-One PC also feature this technology, and will be available in the United States on October 23, at even lower starting prices. These devices are all a step up from traditional non-mobile units in that they provide connectivity with mobile devices the consumer may already have.

Some of the most impressive new devices announced by HP today are its notebooks, the HP ENVY m4 Notebook, and the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 14 and 15 PCs. The latter are especially nice-looking, in sparkling black or ruby red finishes, with super-slim, lightweight design. They each weigh under four pounds and measure only 21 mm thick, and at a starting price of under $500, they offer many of the same features as most $1,000+ models.

The HP ENVY m4 Notebook, on the other hand, features faster renders and more powerful graphics than the Sleekbook series, as well as a few very innovative HP exclusive features. CoolSense is a new development from HP that keeps the exterior of the notebook cool during extended use, and SimplePass is an extraordinary new security technology that uses fingerprint identification instead of typed passwords. In fact, each of a user’s fingers can be programmed to a different website, if the user so desires. For example, your index finger could bring up Facebook, while your middle finger accesses YouTube, etc. With these and other cutting-edge devices, it is easy to see why HP remains on top of the game for both professional and consumer electronics. 

  

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HP and Arjan Writes Present Special Preview of Ellie Goulding’s New Album in New York

Last night at Manhattan’s posh Hotel on Rivington penthouse suite, HP and blogger Arjan Writes presented a special preview of “Halcyon,” the new album by British pop sensation Ellie Goulding. Best known in the United States for her monster hit, “Lights,” Goulding has gone on to great success stateside, appearing on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “Saturday Night Live,” as well as a special guest appearance at the White House last December, where she sang Christmas carols onstage with Barack Obama. For all of her enormous success in the last few years, though, Goulding is a very humble, down-to-earth and endearing personality.

The evening began with a bit of background on Goulding, who grew up in the small town of Hereford and got heavily into music early on. “My mum was cool with music,” she says. “She would buy every new thing that was out. We really had no money, but whatever we did have, she’d spend it on CDs and tapes.” Idolizing singers like Bjork, Joni Mitchell, Beyonce and Stevie Nicks, Goulding says she quit college because “something was pushing me into music.” Elaborating on what that something is, she also says, “Having people come together for the same cause is really important. The fact that I can do that with shows is really awesome.”

Delving into “Halcyon,” we heard samples of a few tracks, including the clearly Bjork-influenced “My Blood,” which shares thematic water imagery with other songs on the album. Goulding says, “I have a fascination with the ocean, being lost at sea. I kind of want to be a mermaid.” The title track, “Halcyon,” addresses another theme of the album in its plaintive chorus: “When it’s just us, you show me what it feels like to be lonely, you show me what it feels like to be lost.” “I write songs out of being alone,” Goulding says. “I’m around people all the time, but there’s a theme of loneliness on this album.”

That is not to say the album is relentlessly downbeat or somber, however, as Goulding is quick to point out that “I like making things that give people hope, I suppose, in the least cheesy way possible.” Ellie Goulding’s career certainly seems to show a lot of hope, with unreleased collaborations with the likes of Skrillex and Swedish House Mafia possibly on the way “in the next couple of years,” proving her mantra that anything could happen.

  

Nissan reveals 2103 Sentra; Alabama crushes Michigan

I traveled to Dallas last weekend as a guest of Nissan as they introduced the new 2013 Sentra in connection with everyone hoped would be an epic match-up between two iconic college football programs. As you can see from the photos, the new Sentra looks great, but the game didn’t live up to the hype as Alabama made a statement by whipping Michigan in majestic Cowboys stadium. You can see the view from our seats in some of the photos above that capture the incredible big screens in the stadium.

All wasn’t lost, however, as we were treated to a great tailgate on the day of the game featuring some incredible BBQ from Big Bob Gibson along with the chance to meet Heisman Trophy winners Mark Ingram from Alabama and Desmond Howard from Michigan.

Nissan has been heavily involved with college football and the Heisman Trophy in particular. On Friday night they had the Heisman Trophy on display as they revealed the new Sentra, and Desmond Howard shared some stories like what was going through his head before he struck his classic Heisman pose against Ohio State. Nissan then showed some of the new and hilarious Nissan Heisman House commercials like this one below featuring RGIII.

On Saturday before the game, Nissan set up a virtual Heisman House for fans of both teams to enjoy. Outside they had two new Sentras decked out in Alabama and Michigan colors as you can see in the slideshow above. Fans loved it.

We won’t have a chance to test drive the new Sentra until next month, but Nissan had plenty of vehicles available for us to drive on Saturday morning, so I made sure to take out the blue 370Z pictured above for a spin around Dallas.

As for the new Sentra, I’m definitely looking forward to driving it. I loved the new Altima so I have high expectations for the Sentra as well. As you can see from the photos, the styling has evolved with Nissan’s new front grille standing out in the new design. Sitting in the vehicles I was also impressed with the interior as well. Check back for our driving impressions once we get a chance to take this out on the road.

  

HP Previews Three New Touchscreen Laptops

Hewlett-Packard (HP) previewed a number of exciting new products on the evening of Tuesday, August 27, most of which will be available in December of this year or January of next year. Unfortunately, there is a non-disclosure agreement in place until Thursday, September 20, for many of these products, so tune in on that day to find out more. For now, though, let’s take a look at three impressive new laptops offered by HP.

The HP Spectre TouchSmart Ultrabook is a sleek, stylish, 4.77 pound notebook with a 15.6-inch screen featuring edge-to-edge glass. It is a multitouch touchscreen device that also features a fully functioning keyboard and a full array of ports, including Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, and HDMI. It is also HP’s first notebook to feature Intel Thunderbolt technology, a new technology similar to FireWire, but not based on it. Also used by Apple, Intel Thunderbolt allows for high-speed connectivity and daisy chaining of multiple devices. The slightly smaller HP ENVY TouchSmart Ultrabook 4 features a 14-inch multitouch HD display with a backlit keyboard and a subwoofer featuring Beats Audio. It delivers up to eight hours of battery life and, like the Spectre Ultrabook, is expected to be available in the United States in December, with a starting price of $1,399.

The HP ENVY x2 takes the touchscreen and keyboard synergy of these devices to a whole new level. The ENVY x2 is a tablet and a laptop at the same time, with a detachable 11.6-inch diagonal HD touch display featuring IPS technology. It has a sleek aluminum finish and an innovative hinge system with magnets that smoothly guide the tablet portion into place with the keyboard, which, when opened, wedges up from the table or other surface on which it rests, providing a more convenient angle for typing. The ENVY x2 features Beats Audio, NFC technology and an optional stylus, as well as two different types of cameras for its two different operational modes: an HD webcam on the front and an 8.0 megapixel camera on the back. It is also expected to be available in December.

With these and other devices previewed recently, HP continues to move in the direction of thinner, lighter laptops without sacrificing its many innovative features. Don’t forget to check back with us on September 20 to see what other exciting new products HP has in store.

  

Universal’s “Battleship” out on Blu-ray with extended Special Edition interactivity

Universal Studios’ early summer action blockbuster “Battleship” hit Blu-ray on August 28th, and critic and fans alike are well in for a treat. Director Peter Berg, of “Hancock” and “The Kingdom” fame, helms this action–adventure experience with industry-standard mind blowing effects, thrilling battles and an all star cast with Liam Neeson, Rihanna and the lovely Brooklyn Decker as Samantha Shane. This action epic follows a young naval officer and his heroic crew as they launch an all out military showdown against a superior alien force with amazing results.

Bullz-Eye was recently invited to an exclusive Blu-ray preview in San Francisco at the legendary special effects studio that makes it all happen in this film, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). Founded by George Lucas in 1975, ILM has set the standard for visual effects in film with a chain of classics including “Star Wars,” “E.T.,” “Indiana Jones” and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” to name just a few. ILM has played a key role in seven of the top-10 world-wide box office hits of all time.

Upon arriving at the impressive ILM production campus on the former grounds of the U.S. Army Presidio complex near the Golden Gate Bridge, we were escorted to the preview screening of the Blu-ray release of “Battleship.” Here, in arguably the best screening room in the world for special effect films, we watched the film along with the new bonus features exclusive to the Blu-ray release. These included a remarkable “Visual Effects of Battleship” feature, featuring the ground breaking water simulation programs and the cutting edge motion capture effects where ILM pushes the boundaries to bring the aliens to life. The fascinating “behind the scenes” footage here is techie heaven!

Even more unique is the innovative Second Screen feature, which provides an interactive viewing experience that lets you control, interact with and explore “Battleship” with your networked tablet or computer, all in synchronization with the movie on the television screen . . . very cutting edge! With “flick view,” you can interact with the movie by moving content from your tablet to the television screen during the film and compare storyboards, animatics and other exciting content by “flicking” them from tablet to TV screen, by gesturing fingers upward on the tablet. Far out! The “Battleship” box set has more ways to store, collect, download and feature the film, including a Blu-ray disc, a DVD disc, a digital copy for downloading and the innovative UltraViolet version, where you can collect your movies on a “cloud” for instant streaming and downloading anywhere, any time on computers, tablets and smart phones.

After the screening, we were taken through the impressive production compound and grounds with its many iconic models and props of some of the greatest films of our era. You can see some of these props in the slideshow above. Members of the press were then treated to a green screen immersion of ourselves in the climatic “Battleship” deck scene, where an alien gets blown off the ship by main cannons on deck. It was wild! Here’s the clip they created with me in the scene and you can see the green screen setup in the first photo above.

Some of the individuals who brought this action-adventure film to life were members of the top special effect team with ILM. Grady Cofer and Pablo Helman acted as Visual Effects Supervisor and Second Unit Director, respectively. These two skilled craftsman have an amazing wealth of experience behind them, with epic sci-fi and action films to there credit including “Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones,” “Star Trek,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Bourne Supremacy,” “Terminator 3,” “Men in Black,” “War of the Worlds,” “Titanic,” “Apollo 13” and more. During our time with them, they both described their personal influences and their approach to this film, as well as thoughtful tips on how budding graphics designers and visual programmers may break into this world of computer visual effects. We also spoke with Animation and Digital Supervisors Glen McIntosh and Willi Geiger. They described their breakthrough animation techniques for the fluid “water” effects, with blasts of water particles expelled onscreen with breathtaking realism.

The extra features in the Blu-ray set are absolutely worthy of a film with these incredible special effects. The Second Screen feature definitely stands out and the entire package will keep you entertained hour after hour.

  

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