Top 10 Tech This Week [PICS]
By Charlie White,
Mashable, 24 June 2012.

Just when we were thinking last week was going to be hard to top, this week brought even more techno-goodness for us to exalt here on Top 10 Tech This Week.

For instance, Microsoft gave us a double-barrelled look at two of its hot upcoming products, including the surprise rollout of Surface tablet, as well as a revealing peek at its Windows Phone 8 operating system. Both promise to shake things up in the tech world.

That was by no means all. We got to listen to some kick-ass headphones, fantasize about a helicopter bike, test the world’s first super-fast Wi-Fi router and gazed upon the biggest LED TV on the planet. All that, while laughing at the goofiest airplane design we’ve ever seen.

So click through this gallery and experience all that futuristic techno-goodness and more on Top 10 Tech This Week, and be patient with us, because Top 10 Tech will be on vacation for the next couple of weeks, returning mid-July for even more of the best technology on the planet.

1. Sharp 90-inch smart TV
You might not be able to tell by looking at this picture, but this is the world's largest LCD TV. The US$11,000 beast is 6'8" wide, and you'd better be sitting more than a dozen feet away from it or you'll see every pixel. I know this for a fact, because I own a considerably cheaper 80-inch Sharp TV that's a lot like this. If this giant is anything like its 80-inch "little" brother, you're in for some crispy video with great colour - if you have a room (and bank account) big enough to accommodate it.

[More information from Sharp USA]

2. Wireless Data That Never Expires

I love the little Mi-Fi access points you can carry around and experience decent broadband speeds wherever cellphone coverage is available. The only problem? I don't need one often enough to keep paying the steep tariff every month, usually upwards of US$50 - US$60 a pop.

Now Walmart steps in with a MiFi 2200 mobile hotspot (costs around US$100), and doles out data that never expires. With its new "Internet on the Go" service, you pay US$10 for 100MB, US$25 for 500MB and US$45 for 1GB, and the connectivity rolls over each month, waiting for you to use it whenever you'd like.

All you have to do is use some data at least one time each year, and you can hang onto your bucket of bytes as long as you'd like. Take that, greedy cellphone providers.

[More information from Geeky Gadgets]

3. Helicopter Bike

I had a dream like this one time, where I was riding my bike and suddenly a bottomless pit opened up, and then I could simply fly over it. That's the promise of Flybike Virtual, an electric helicopter bike that can only fly for about 3 to 5 minutes at 30 mph - but that short amount of time might be quite valuable if you want to beat some traffic, fly over an obstacle or simply impress the hell out of everyone around you.

Helicopter Bike

This crazy thing is reportedly real, set to roll out at an engineering fair in September. We shall see. Electric helicopter bike? What could go wrong? Whomever is the first person to ride this contraption has my utmost respect.

Helicopter Bike

[More information from DVICE]

4. Wild Airbus Plane Design

Now we take you from a flying helicopter bike to an insane backwards double airplane designed by Airbus. This recently patented aircraft is designed to save fuel, benefiting from its reduced weight. It's lighter because it's lashed together like a fence, increasing its structural integrity and reducing the need for so much heavy structural support.

Wild Airbus Plane Design

But just look at this crazy thing. Who would've thought of lashing together two fuselages with a couple of boomerang-shaped wings, powering the thing with energy-efficient turboprops? I wouldn't call it beautiful, but it's certainly, well, interesting.

[More information from Gizmodo]

5. Microsoft Surface Tablet

Now it's Microsoft's turn to get into the tablet game. The company rolled out this 10.6-inch Microsoft Surface tablet on Monday. The idea here is to give you a "hybrid" device running Windows 8 that's powerful enough to replace a PC. Microsoft will offer another model with a lower-powered and more energy efficient ARM processor running an altered operating system created for it called Windows RT.

Microsoft Surface Tablet 2

Earning Surface part of its hybrid credentials is this Touch Cover, a case with a pressure-sensitive keyboard built in. Microsoft says it will let you type faster than you could with a virtual keyboard on the screen. And that kickstand is built into the back of the Microsoft Surface, letting you stand it up and use it just like a laptop.

Microsoft Surface Tablet 3

There will be a variety of colourful cases available for the Microsoft Surface, which looks a lot to me like an iPad. But then, how many different shapes can you possibly use when building a tablet? I know, somebody make a circular tablet, or an octagonal one.

Microsoft Surface Tablet 4

This is going to be one thin device, with the Pro version that runs Windows 8 just 13.5 mm, and the even-thinner Windows RT version that will be 9.3 mm thin. The biggest remaining questions? How much will it cost, and when will it be available? And why is Microsoft building this hardware itself, rather than continuing its tradition of creating software for hardware built by others?

6. Sonos SUB

Heads-up Sonos fans: The main weakness of that pricey wireless audio system - lack of deep, powerful bass - will soon be vanquished with the Sonos Sub, available in mid-August. I tested one here, and can tell you first-hand that the US$699 subwoofer rocked the rafters here at our Midwest Test Facility.

Sonos SUB 2

Seriously, this piano-black beauty was almost as loud as some of those subwoofers packed into the trunks of the pocket-rocket cars the kids drive around here. There are a couple of force-cancelling woofers facing each other inside that rounded rectangle, giving you some of the cleanest and throatiest bass that's ever shaken or stirred us.

And it all sets up so easily. After clicking into Sonos PC application, a couple of button pushes on each speaker gets the whole system working in concert. And, you can place it anywhere in the room, even setting it up lying flat under a bed or couch.

Sonos SUB 3

We tested it with a couple of Sonos Play:5 speakers configured as a stereo pair, along with the Sub bringing up the bottom. What bliss! Everything from Sonos is pricey, but if you want great sound you can place in any room in your home - and all you have to do is plug it in - this is certainly worth your consideration.

[More information from Sonos]

7. Netgear R6300 Router, First With New 802.11AC

This is not just any router. It's the first one in the world using the new 802.11AC protocol, and I tested it. It reaches farther and does a much better job of wireless networking than anything that came before.

It's significantly faster than the fastest 802.11n Wi-Fi available now, but it's kind of hard to test that because there aren't any laptops or USB devices that can receive such signals yet. So Netgear sent us two of these US$200 R6300 routers, and I connected them with each other using one as a bridge. I noticed a huge difference in the distance this router can cover compared with its older 802.11n brethren.

Netgear R6300 Router, First With New 802.11AC

Not only that, but at a distance in our facility where old router signals can't even make it at all, this new one delivered a strong signal at speeds rivalled only by wired Ethernet connections. The fastest I could transfer files from one computer using this 802.11 AC set up was 31.5MB per second, gaining on our speedy gigabit Ethernet connection that measured 57MB per second (that's pushing the capability of the hard disks to transfer data any faster). That's particularly impressive considering that I could only get 7.3MB per second in a file transfer using my 802.11n Wi-Fi from a distance that was twice as close to the router.

Netgear R6300 Router, First With New 802.11AC

Neat. This first 802.11AC router gives you is a peek into the future, and it looks like soon, you'll be able to go wireless with speeds that feel just as fast as Ethernet. Until then, if you have this router, you'll be future-proofed, ready for the new protocol that is certainly to be ubiquitous within a couple of years.

[More information from Netgear]

8. Windows Phone 8

Microsoft was on a roll this week, showing off Windows Phone 8, adding support for multi-core processors, adding cool point-of-purchase tech using near-field communication (NFC), and paving the way for super-sharp screen resolutions that will rival Apple's Retina display.

You'll notice more than a passing resemblance to the Microsoft Metro interface on Windows 8. The Redmond giant has ditched all that old code it was dragging along from back in the days of Windows CE, pulling its smartphone OS kicking and screaming into the future. And those "live tiles" will work a lot like they do in Windows 8, showing actual useful information instead of just sitting there like most icons do.

When can we expect to see this shiny new OS from Microsoft? Microsoft's not quite saying, only mentioning that it'll be available this fall - at the same time Windows 8 for tablets and PCs rolls out.

9. Fanny Wang 3003 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Fanny Wang 3003 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

We had a lot of headphones and earphones to test this week, and the winner of the bunch was the Fanny Wang 3003. The gorgeous cans with the funny name did a great job of cancelling noise, and delivered sound in pure, clean fidelity that was oh-so-pleasing to the ears.

Fanny Wang 3003 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

The Fanny Wang 3003 over-ear headphones by designer David Adam are available in white, black, or this pleasing blue hue.

Fanny Wang 3003 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

They fold up into a pleasantly compact shape, and fit into a semi-hard shell carrying case that's great for the road. And you'll enjoy wearing these babies on an airplane, where that constant drone of noise is reduced to near-silence. They're just as effective as the best noise-cancelling headphones I've tested from Bose and others.

Fanny Wang 3003 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Check out the switch on the side of one of the earpieces, marked Off, ANC, and Bass. You get noise-cancelling on the ANC setting, but flip that Bass Boost switch and get your noggin rattled in the cleanest possible way.

Fanny Wang 3003 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Here's a look at the ear cushions, which are exquisitely comfortable, practically inviting me to wear them for hours on end. And like all Fanny Wang headphones, included is a dual jack so a friend can plug in and listen to the same thing you are.

Yeah, these are premium headphones at US$299.95, but you get a lot of great sound, comfort, noise-cancelling and good looks for your money.

[More information from Fanny Wang]

10. Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

The long-awaited Tesla Model S rolled out at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California on Friday, and Mashable's Chris Taylor was there to take a close-up look.

Tesla Model S

He says the car is "as considered in every detail as an Apple iPad. Indeed, the car itself bears something that looks like an iPad, only larger: a 17-inch touchscreen map display on the dashboard."

Chris' favourite feature was the car's key, a remote control that unlocks everything when you get close enough to the car. He says it looks like a miniature version of the Model S: "It’s like carrying a Hot Wheels in your pocket. Walk into the car with it, and you’re ready to go (no need for ignition, or inserting any keys). Touch the trunk on the model, and the sedan’s trunk pops open.

Tesla Model S

Here's a picture we shot of the Tesla Model S in Las Vegas, and we thought it was gorgeous even in its prototype stage.

Tesla Model S

Now, you can order one that will cost you somewhere between US$57,400 and US$77,400 before government rebates. If you want one of the fancy Signature Series Model S cars, that will set you back US$105,400.

Tesla Model S

Better sign up quick, though - Tesla's only making 5,000 of them this year, but plans to ramp up to manufacturing 20,000 next year.

[More information from Tesla]

Top image: Helicopter Bike (left) and Windows Phone 8 (right)

[Source: Mashable. Edited. Top image added.]

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