Samsung Galaxy S4 Pre-Sales Start At AT&T On April 16, Priced At $249.99 On 2-Year Agreement

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AT&T has just posted an update to its Consumer Blog revealing pre-order details of the Samsung Galaxy S4. The phone will be available for order beginning April 16, for $ 249.99 with a two-year commitment. Samsung had previously announced that the Galaxy S4 would be coming to the U.S. sometime in Q2 2013, and didn’t reveal launch pricing at its event earlier in March.

The ship date of the AT&T Galaxy S4 wasn’t revealed this time around, so there’s still no guarantees about when consumers will be able to actual hold the hardware, which boasts a 5-inch 1080p display, in their hot little hands. Based on Jordan’s initial impressions, the Galaxy S4 looks like a worth successor to Samsung’s flagship smartphone role. The hardware specs include either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, but AT&T hasn’t yet specified what exactly you’ll be getting for your $ 250.

Pricing for the Galaxy S4 at AT&T is interesting, since it puts the smartphone above the starting on-contract price of the iPhone 5 ($ 199.99 with contract), and also carries a lot more sticker shock than the $ 99 downpayment it’ll carry with T-Mobile when it launches with that carrier beginning May 1.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Compelled To Forever Wander, The Nomad Is An Espresso Machine That Gathers No Moss

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It’s not as compact as an Aeropress, but the Nomad looks like a solid way to get an espresso shot from a small device. The tiny machine, which is currently on Kickstarter, boasts the same principles used in full-sized espresso machines. The Nomad is just a lot smaller, more efficient, and doesn’t require any power making it rather portable — hence the name.

The company is looking for $ 100,000 on Kickstarter. Pledge $ 165 to pre-order a Nomad. It’s available in black and green. I’m in for one.

As the videos show here, the shots seem smooth and proper. By using pressure from dual micro chambers, the Nomad can apparently achieve the same results as a full-size lever espresso machine.

To me the Nomad doesn’t seem all the portable but rather movable. I doubt I would throw this in a backpack like I do with my Aeropress, but it seems perfect for a roadtrip. If the small Nomad can make a fine shot of espresso, which it seemingly can, it could quickly become a must-have for small kitchens and the like.

[Darrell “Wordslinger” Etherington contributed to this post]

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Playdek Closes $3.8M Series A To Build A Digital Community Where Tabletop Gamers Can Feel At Home

playdek

Fresh from putting smiles on the faces of tabletop gaming geeks everywhere, with yesterday’s news that it would be helping to bring Dungeons & Dragons to iOS devices later this year, mobile game publisher Playdek has closed a $ 3.8 million Series A funding round.

The round was led by Qualcomm Incorporated, via its venture investment arm, Qualcomm Ventures, with IDG Ventures and ff Venture Capital also participating. Existing investors Deep Fork Capital, Greycroft Partners, Jarl Mohn and unnamed angel investors also joined in. The company had previously raised $ 1.56 million in funding from its seed and Angel rounds — taking its total funding post-Series A to $ 5.36 million.

Playdek said the new funding will allow it to expand its digital hobby games portfolio with new launches, including its forthcoming app, Agricola, based on the strategy board game of the same name. Flagship existing titles from Playdek include its Ascension series.

The company’s other big plan for the funding is to build a hobby gamer community and online platform for players to meet and hang out, due to launch later this year. It said this platform will “provide the services that hobby gamers value” — so presumably stuff like leaderboards ranking players by score and forums to discuss the merits of different gaming strategies. In a press statement, Joel Goodman, CEO, said it would be about “giving gamers that ‘around the table’ feeling in the digital realm”. The platform will also offer events and tournaments.

Commenting on the funding in a statement, Phil Sanderson, Managing Director, IDG Ventures said: “The market category is poised for growth, and Playdek has proven that it is the expert when it comes to bringing this dedicated audience what they want in mobile gameplay.”

“Playdek gives gamers what they want — compelling online games based on the franchises they know and love.  Playdek allows people to explore these worlds and stories in a compelling new way,” added John Frankel, ff Venture Capital, also in a statement. “We love the team, the strategy, and what they have done to date; we expect great things from them in the future.”

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope Maps The Universe With NASA’s Data

Jonathan Fay and WWT

The Microsoft Research team is building an epic map of the universe using data and photographs collected from the many telescopes around the world, including NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. They call it The WorldWide Telescope.

There are roughly 300 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, and about the same number of galaxies in our universe (give or take a couple). With the WorldWide Telescope, scientists and developers have pieced together a detailed 3D view of the universe that lets a user do a fly by of any planet, star or galaxy known to man. You can even view the entire universe in a single frame, which makes us all seem insanely insignificant.

But the WorldWide Telescope is more than just a neat exploration tool for astronomy and physics nerds. Program Director Dan Fay hopes NASA can use it as a research tool and that students from the elementary to graduate levels can use it as an educational resource. The Microsoft Research team has made it simple to manipulate data on a touch surface or desktop. With the touch of a couple of buttons and pinch to zoom, you’re off and flying through the universe. The team plans to bring this magic to mobile devices soon.

Microsoft has also released an API to allow developers to build custom tours and lessons. I was fortunate enough to be given a tour of the nebula of the Milky Way Galaxy, and admittedly it was beautiful. The lessons can be as simple as a fly by of every planet in our solar system, or as complicated as analyzing photographs of the deepest known space objects. The map also lets you look at any part of the sky in a number of light wavelengths, including infrared and X-ray.

After the demo, I took a tour of a scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope, which is due to launch in 2018. The telescope is about 100 times more powerful than Hubble and about seven times as big. It includes a 21-foot reflective mirror and a slew of instruments to study the sky.

NASA hopes to look through dust clouds surrounding the formation of stars using the onboard infrared instruments to finally see how stars are born and to look far enough through the universe that they will get a better sense of how all of this madness is shaped. It will also be able to detect water vapor in atmospheres outside our solar system, and where there is water, there’s a significant chance at life.

(mind = blown).

TechCrunch » Gadgets

The $99 OUYA Console Will Make Its Retail Debut In The US, UK And Canada On June 4

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Didn’t get a chance to back the ambitious OUYA Android game console to lock in your pre-order? Considering how much press the thing has gotten, you don’t have much excuse for missing that particular window, but never fear — OUYA intends to sell the $ 99 pint-sized gaming gadget through retail partners like Amazon, Gamestop, and Best Buy starting on June 4.

The folks at Engadget obtained the full press release, which goes on to note that Android gamers in the U.K. and Canada would be able to pick up an OUYA that same day. Of course by then most (if not all) of the people who shelled out money when the project was in its early stages will have already received their devices. The Verge points out that OUYA began passing shipping notifications to its users earlier today.

While the hardware inches ever closer to its mass-market release, there’s still a question of content to contend with. OUYA hasn’t provided much insight on how many game submissions it’s received since it began accepting them a few weeks back, though quite a few developers have already thrown their weight behind the little console that could.

Of course, there’s a tendency for some gamers to cling to proven hits from years gone by, which is why it comes as no surprise to see some developers taking up the task of making the OUYA a first-rate emulation device. It was revealed earlier this week that NES, SNES, and Nintendo 64 emulators would be available in OUYA’s storefront at launch. And emulator developer Robert Broglia confirmed yesterday that he plans to bring his existing Android emulators for consoles like the TurboGrafx-16 and Sega Saturn (!) to the OUYA before too long.

The OUYA’s journey from kooky idea to full-fledged product has been a long one, and it’s not over yet. Getting the device onto store shelves is certainly a milestone for the young company, but the true test lays in how run-of-the-mill consumers will react to it. Granted, its price point may give it a leg up on more prominent rivals like the Xbox 360, Wii U, or PlayStation 3, but we’ll soon see if the gamers of the world wind up warming to it.


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