Tag Archives: Gadget

FAA Panel Recommends Lifting Ban On Gadget Use During Flights

Gadgets On An Airplane

After receiving countless complaints, abuse towards flight attendants who are only doing their jobs, and standup bits, the FAA finally set about determining whether electronic gadgets actually are dangerous during a flight’s takeoff and landing. A 28-person advisory panel just concluded its study and, says the AP, will recommend that the FAA lift or at least loosen its restrictions.

The panel does not recommend the use of cellular networks like 3G and 4G LTE; you won’t be streaming Netflix while taking off, if the panel has its way. (Not that you probably could; the airplane’s speed means that you’ll be switching from tower to tower faster than your phone or tablet can reasonably hope to connect to each one in turn.) Instead, devices in “airplane mode,” meaning devices with all their radios (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular) turned off, would be just fine to use. So you can’t stream your favorite TV show, but if you’ve downloaded it and flipped your gadget to airplane mode, watch away.

Gadget manufacturers have been campaigning for years for a change in the FAA’s policy (which currently bans any electronic use when the plane is below 10,000 feet). Amazon, especially, is annoyed, as its Kindle ebook reader suffers a distinct weakness compared with physical books, given that you aren’t currently allowed to use a Kindle during part of your flight. Amazon has previously tested interference on its own by “testing an airplane packed full of Kindles,” as an Amazon representative told the AP. 

The advisory panel’s decision is likely to be implemented by the FAA; the FAA not only created the panel but also had a hand in selecting some of the members, so it would be surprising if the agency chose to ignore the panel’s conclusions. The AP says that the decision could be implemented as soon as early 2014.


Sony Unveils A PlayStation-Powered Streaming TV Gadget

The PS Vita TV is a tiny media player for playing games and using apps through your TV

Earlier today, Sony announced a new gadget: the PS Vita TV, a cheap set-top box that’ll let users play some (only some!) games and stream video through their televisions.

The Vita TV can use video streaming apps like Hulu, which play video without saving the full file, but more importantly, the box can download and play games. Users download the games through Sony’s online store, then with a standard PlayStation control, play them. The Vita TV also comes with a slot that can play physical copies of games for the PS Vita, Sony’s latest handheld gaming machine.

So: Which games can you play with this? Right now, the box can’t handle the high-end stuff the PlayStation 3 plays. Instead, it plays games with less demanding graphics: there are digital versions of PlayStation 1 games, PSPS games (Sony’s previous-generation hand-held console), and PS Vita games (although Sony says not all of the latter will be supported). The box will also be able to hook up to another TV and remotely stream PlayStation 4 games, provided your PS4 is connected to another TV on the same network.

You’re out of luck right now if this sounds up your alley and you’re not in Japan: the PS Vita TV is being released there first, for about 10,000 yen, or about $100, on November 14. There’s also a 15,000-yen version (about $150) with a controller being released. No word on when the box is coming to other countries.