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Google Earth, the mapping software from the tech giant, was updated last year with Virtual Reality capabilities. This time around, another update brings Street View to Earth VR.

Google Earth VR now supports Street View

With the VR upgrade, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift owners could fly around various cities and mountains across the world. It was as easy as turning their gear-mounted heads.

With this new update, VR users can now explore Street View images from 85 countries around the world. If the location supports the Street View on Earth VR, a button will pop up (same as the one seen on classic Google Maps) when flying at that location towards ground level. You can then click that button using the hand-held controller to enter the immersive 360-degree photographic view of the place.

If you own a VR headset and unsure about what you should look at first, take Google's advice and look at San Francisco's AT&T Park, or at the Old Port in Dubrovnik, Croatia (the King's Landing in HBO's Game of Thrones).

The update is available for the owners of Vive and Rift, and also via the Street View app for Google Daydream and Google Cardboard.
Hewlett-Packard has launched the fourth-generation of their Z-series workstations in three new variants. They are aimed at professionals who need more-and-more computing power in their day-to-day work, including people creating 360-degree video and Virtual Reality content.

HP Z4


HP Z4

It is the entry-level system among the three. It features a single Intel Xeon W chipset (you can choose from the eight available options), up to 256 GB DDR4 SDRAM, up to 4 TB storage, and eleven graphics options from AMD and Nvidia. The chassis comes with front and rear handles. HP Z4 will be available in November later this year at a starting price of $1,239.

HP Z6


HP Z6

It is the next-in-line and cozily sits between the Z4 and the Z8. It supports dual chipset, and you can choose from a wide range of Intel Xeon's family of Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum processors. Other features include up to 384 GB DDR4 SDRAM (twelve slots of 32 gigs each), up to 4 TB storage, and thirteen graphics options from AMD and Nvidia. Connectivity options include ten USB 3.1 (four in the front and six at the rear), two USB Type-C ports, Ethernet port, and serial ports for mouse and keyboard. Bluetooth and WiFi are also supported. HP Z6 will be available next month onwards at a starting price of $1,919.

HP Z8


HP Z8

At the top sits the Z8. One can choose the Operating System to buy along with - Windows 10 Pro for Workstations or Linux. It weighs a whopping 49.4 lb (22.4 kg). Dual CPUs are supported, and you can choose from a wide range of Intel Xeon family processors ranging from Bronze and going all the way up to Platinum. The highest variant (2.5 GHz Intel Xeon Platinum 8180) comes with 28 cores, thus making it 56 cores owing to the dual chipset support. All this processing power reportedly makes the Z8 capable of doing 8K video edits or running real-time 3D simulations. There is also a mechanism to cool the second CPU with fresh air than with recycled air from the first chipset's duct. Other features include up to 3 TB DDR4 SDRAM (twenty-four slots of 125 GB each), up to 4 TB of storage, and thirteen graphics options from AMD and Nvidia. Connectivity options include ten USB 3.1 ports, two USB Type-C ports, and an option to add Thunderbolt 3 as well. HP Z8 will be available next month onwards at a starting price of $2,439.

Watch the introductory video below:

Hasselblad, the high-end camera manufacturer, has today announced the Hasselblad X1D Field Kit. As the name suggests, it is nothing but a collection of tools and accessories professional photographers might need to get the most out of the X1D mirrorless camera.

Hasselblad X1D Field Kit

The kit consists of the X1D-50c camera itself, along with three XCD lenses (30 mm, 45 mm, and 90 mm), two batteries, shoulder and wrist strap, cleaning cloth, dust blower, lens pen, and a USB cable. A sturdy Pelican case sporting custom-cut foam inserts is used to keep all the stuff together.

Hasselblad X1D Field Kit comes in a rugged Pelican case

Regarding specifications, the X1D camera comes with a 50 MP CMOS sensor, 24-bit TFT touch display, GPS and WiFi sensors, and XGA electronic viewfinder.

The Hasselblad X1D Field Kit can be pre-ordered for $17,495. It will start shipping September 20 onwards.

Logitech has unveiled their latest wireless keyboard, the Logitech Craft, at IFA 2017 in Berlin. What is new in this smart keyboard is the presence of a multi-function dial. It is aimed at professional designers and other creative professionals to help increase their productivity. The idea is to use the keys for typing, the mouse to navigate, and the newly added dial to access critical software functions and toolsets.

Logitech Craft

The keys on the Logitech Craft are backlit when needed. The intensity of the light adjusts automatically depending on the room conditions. It can be wirelessly connected via Bluetooth or a USB plug. An Easy-Switch button will switch the connection over up to three connected devices.

Logitech Craft wireless keyboard comes with a multi-function dial

Aptly named the Crown, the smart dial is located at the top-left. It is made up of aluminum. It can be used to perform various context-specific actions when running a list of software on your Windows PC or Mac. Think of it as a second mouse, but with auto-defined actions (depending on the software in use) on touching, tapping or turning the dial.

For instance, the knob can change the brush size in a painting application, or adjust the image's brightness, contrast, and saturation in Adobe Photoshop. It can also alter the font size in Windows Word, or choose a chart type in Windows Excel. Other than app-specific functions, the Crown can also adjust system volume and help navigate across desktops or applications in use.

Logitech Craft comes with a built-in battery that is chargeable via USB. The manufacturer promises one-week backup before charging again. It is due for release next month at a price of $200.

Watch the keyboard in action in the video below:

Smart Assistants are aimed at empowering their users to perform various day-to-day tasks conveniently. Major technology giants have already entered this domain. Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Google Assistant, and Samsung Bixby are the leading names that come to my mind when talking about digital assistants and Internet-of-Things devices. Various startups are also based on this concept, and much more is yet to come.

Amazon Alexa and Microsoft Cortana will now talk to each other

Each of these voice assistants is capable of performing a standard set of tasks. Moreover, each one of them boasts of features unique to them. For instance, it is easy to shop on Amazon and control smart home devices from Alexa than from Siri or Cortana. Alternatively, it is easy to make Skype calls and perform tasks on Office suite from Cortana when compared to Bixby or Google Assistant.

Depending on the ecosystem you are in, you may opt for the most compatible assistant, i.e., one from the same brand. If you own all devices from Apple, you will undoubtedly go with Siri. If you own Windows-based handheld and computers, Cortana will be the choice.

However, the irony is that these virtual assistants are so unconnected from each other in this connected world. You cannot avail the services of one Smart Assistant while owning the other. Not anymore.

Amazon and Microsoft have announced that Alexa and Cortana will be able to talk to and understand each other, thereby opening many new possibilities for Echo and Windows 10 users. You can say "Alexa, open Cortana," or "Cortana, open Alexa," and as expected, the other voice assistant will appear to serve you.

Amazon says the two virtual assistants will start talking to each other later in the year.
Due to limited space, or budget, or both, people tend to avoid investing in a high-end audio setup for their television sets. Sound bars try to solve this problem as they deliver loud sound while occupying lesser space. Sky, the cable provider from England, has teamed up with French start-up Devialet to create Sky Soundbox.

Sky Soundbox

The collaboration involves Devialet designing and producing the speaker, while Sky is just adding its brand name to the product.

Sky Soundbox comes in a compact black package (375x210x95 mm). It consists of six woofers and three full-range speakers. The walls of the room (in which the soundbar is deployed) are used to reflect the sound for an immersive experience.

Dynamic volume management automatically adjusts the volume depending on the content being played on the screen - whispers are loud, and explosion sounds are controlled. Dialogue Enhance mode makes speech clearer. Kids mode allows configuring the maximum volume. Late Night mode drops the bass.

On the connectivity front, Sky Soundbox supports HDMI, optical cable, and Bluetooth 4.1. In the UK, the speaker will be available in autumn this year at varied prices. Sky subscribers will be charged £299 ($390 approx.), while those who have the top Sky cable plan will pay £249 ($325 approx.). The retail price is £799 ($1,045 approx.).