Helio delivers the Ocean

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Helio announced their latest phone today, and it’s a doozy. The Ocean is a dual-sliding smartphone, featuring a QWERTY keyboard that slides to the side and a numerical keypad that slides down.

The Ocean comes loaded with all the standard Helio features you know and love — GPS with Google Maps, unlimited 3G web access, and Helio’s music store — with new goodies like IM integration to your contact list, a smart search that returns results from Google, Yahoo, and Wikipedia simultaneously, and an upgraded OS that works in both portrait and landscape.

If you’ve been looking to get a slick smartphone, this might just be what you’ve been waiting for. It’ll be available for $295 with a 2-year contract from Helio this spring.

Helio, via Gizmodo

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Crazy building places too much trust in physics

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Due to the highly regulated building environment in Singapore, developers are forced to get creative when they want to cram as many apartments as possible into a building. Case in point: check this insane apartment building out, due to be built in the near future.

Built by surrounding one central tower with four additional attached towers, I’m not sure how comfortable I would be sleeping in this thing every night. But despite my reservations, something tells me they won’t have too much trouble selling the 68 high-end units, seeing people love to live in insane, iconic buildings such as this. It’s all yours, Singapore.

Sleeping pod lets you take napping way too seriously

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With science having recently determined the health value of midday siestas, no self-respecting power-napping exec will want to be without the Transport from architect Alberto Frias, an elliptical pod equipped with speakers, subwoofers and a bevy of LEDs that pulsate to whatever sleep-inducing music a tired soul chooses.

On his overly minimalist website, Frias declares the cocoon-like transport to be a “personal light, sound and space environment,” which makes it sound more like a setting for a private rave than a nap, but hey, nothing a few Ambien can’t cure. The Transport isn’t the first sleeping pod on the market — a company called MetroNaps offers pods for installation in public places such as universities, gyms and offices, but minus the light and music show.

The Transport’s $10,000 price tag notwithstanding, its mere existence is good news for the nap nuts of the world, who are busily trying to raise awareness of the value of a few Zs. You may be saddened to learn the Transport doesn’t ship with the long-legged beauty pictured here. That would be too much of a distraction from the task at hand anyway, though she’d certainly be a welcome sight upon waking up.

The New York Times, via Gizmodo

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Xbox 360 Elite coming in April

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Well, that rumored upgraded Xbox 360 we told you about a couple of months ago looks like it’s becoming a reality. Microsoft unveiled the new Xbox 360 Elite late last night, a black version of its popular console loaded up with a 120-GB hard drive and HDMI outputs.

It’s set to hit stores on April 29th for $480, which isn’t too much of a price increase for all that extra hard drive space and the improved connection. For you poor schulbs who are now stuck with a suddenly-outdated Xbox, you’ll be able to drop $180 on an external 120-GB hard drive for your older version as well, although that’s kind of an insane price for so little space. The really exciting stuff may be to come, however, as Microsoft is said to be announcing “exciting partnerships” later this week that might turn the Xbox into more of a multimedia hub, really using all that extra space. We’ll have to wait and see about that.

Via Gizmodo

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Nokia XpressMusic 5700 cell phone ready for European tour

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You can’t throw a Bluetooth earpiece without hitting a music phone these days, but Nokia’s latest multimedia phone adds something new to the field. What’s the word I’m looking for…? A turn? A spin? In any case, if you want to fire up music, video, or the 2-megapixel camera onboard the XpressMusic 5700, you just rotate the keypad. That’s quite a… um, bend? Loop-de-loop? I don’t know.

The 3G phone uses a an microSD card for storage, with a 2-GB card getting you about 1,500 songs. Possibly notable is its ability to play music protected with Windows Media Digital Rights Management (WM DRM) as well as MP3, AAC and MP4 files. “Stereo” speakers are built right in, and you get some no doubt really crappy earphones in the package, so you’ll probably be more inclined to use a pair of Bluetooth headphones (which probably aren’t included, despite some photographic clues) since, hey, you can with this baby.

The XpressMusic comes to Europe this spring and will cost 350 euros. No plans for any U.S. gigs at this time. Check out another pic of the XpressMusic after the jump.

Nokia, via Engadget

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Virgin Galactic and NASA to team up for super-speedy hypersonic flights

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Virgin Galactic has huge wads of cash and NASA has lots of research chops, so the two plan to combine those strengths to develop this hypersonic plane that could go Mach 5, taking you from New York to LA in about 45 minutes. This kind of point-to-point speed is nothing new for the U.S. space agency, which has already tested a scramjet that can go twice that fast, hitting 7000-mph. The idea here is to make this super speed more financially feasible, opening it up to you and me.

The proposed space plane will be able to reach 3500-mph by flying up to 95,000 feet and higher, where there’s very little air to slow it down. What, is this like that spacecraft we mentioned earlier that uses magnetic fields to move? Nope. This scramjet technology, which NASA has already proven to work with two test flights, compresses air into the plane’s engine by using the shock waves developed by such intense speed. Once the plane gets up to supersonic speeds, this scramjet technology takes over, and it requires no moving parts.

How do we sign up?

While Virgin Galactic has plans to take tourists into space in 2009 on SpaceShipTwo for $200K a pop, that’s just the first step in getting people accustomed to flying at such lofty altitudes. That’ll prepare them for Virgin’s true goal: quick, point-to-point, regularly scheduled flights aboard these hypersonic craft. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a hell of a ride.

National Geographic, via Oh Gizmo

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Samsung issues BlackJack ROM update, sensibility surrenders

Just so we don’t get your hopes up: no, it isn’t a Windows Mobile 6 update, but Samsung has found it within themselves to issue a ROM update for the Cingular BlackJack (Samsung i607) Windows Mobile 5 phone. However, unless you’re having issues with roaming, especially internationally, there isn’t much else to this update besides some new icons for some apps that come bundled with the phone.

Speaking of something to not get excited about though, check out Samsung’s update process. We haven’t seen this many steps for updating a device’s software since… well, probably ever. The update process requires a functioning ActiveSync connection to work, and we haven’t even tried this through alternative syncing systems like Missing Sync for the Mac yet, but venturous updaters be warned: this update completely erases your BlackJack, resetting it to a factory default software state.

That said, go forth and update ye old BlackJacks, especially if roaming has given you more than one headache since the phone debuted last November.