In today's news roundup:

  • Toshiba has announced the launch of a new 1.12-micrometer pixel CMOS image sensor for smartphones, which is reportedly the industry’s smallest level pixel size and features the use of back-side illumication technology or BSI to achieve both enhanced sensitivity and improved imaging performance;
  • Hi Tech Legion has published a review of ASUS's GTX580 DirectCU II graphics card, which boasts a combination of direct copper contact and dual-fan cooling to produce up to 600% more airflow compared to the reference NVIDIA design;
  • Google has announced the availability of a new "Download map area" feature in Google Labs which allows users to download map data for use on their smartphones with minimal data consumption;
  • Rumour has it that Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer will be unveiling the first public beta of Windows 8 at the Consumer Electronics Show in early 2012;
  • Konami has confirmed that it will be bringing Castlevania: Harmony of Despair over to PlayStation Network sometime this summer, and
  • EA Games senior vice president Patrick Soderlund is claiming that Mirror's Edge 2 has not been abandoned, and that  DICE is "working on something" to follow up on the  well-received free running original.

Hardware news

Project BMW MPower level 10 PC a Mod project @ XtremeComputing
Description: This all started one day when I spotted the thermaltake level 10 case sitting at show, I thought wow that looks very unique. I had been planning for a little while to do a car themed mod and with the level 10 being designed by one of BMW’s design houses, I thought now was a good a time as any to actually do a BMW 3 series Mpower theme, so the concept was born. Now bear in mind this concept started way back last year.

Corsair Obsidian 650D Mid-Tower Case Review
Description: In many ways, the Obsidian 650D is a miniature version of the 800D, so we can understand why it has many of you swooning. Though at $190 you will have a difficult time justifying its price as it's one of the more expensive mid-towers around. Beyond this price point, the market is largely dominated by Lian-Li and we suspect most users looking to spend north of $200 on a chassis will want to spring for a full-tower model.

MSI N580GTX Lightning Review @ ocaholic
Description: With the GTX 580 Lightning, MSI has a graphics card in its portfolio which promises to be extra class. Therefore the card comes with a completely customized TwinFrozerII cooler as well as a PCB that has been redesigned from bottom up. In this case you'll find numerous overclocking features combined with a reasonable noise level. For us this is reason enough to be very curious about the results.

Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 Full Tower Chassis Review
Description: For some time now Thermaltake as well as many other manufacturers are in an unnamed war to deliver the most feature rich chassis at rock bottom pricing. Just like SilverStone's PS06 we recently looked at, Thermaltake is trying to give the end user a window, USB 3.0 and a hard drive dock. On top of this, you still have to present an attractive full package and offer cooling above and beyond the competition as well.

Toshiba preps super-sensitive CMOS smartphone camera sensor
Description: Toshiba has announced the launch of a new 1.12-micrometer pixel CMOS image sensor. It claims that the new sensor, designed for smartphones, offers the industry’s smallest level pixel size. The new sensor is also said to feature enhanced sensitivity and improved imaging performance, the result of back-side illumination technology (BSI).

ASUS GeForce GTX 580 DirectCU II 1.5GB DirectX 11 Video Card Review @Hi Tech Legion
Description: The ASUS GTX580 DirectCU II is equipped with a large three-slot heatsink designed for a quieter and cooler performance. The ASUS GTX580 DirectCU II’s direct copper contact and dual-fan cooling solution produces up to 600% more airflow compared to the reference NVIDIA design. With two fans operating at lower fan speeds, the ASUS GTX580 DirectCU II can cool the GPU much more efficiently and with much less noise than with a single blower style fan.


Consumer Electronics and Software News

“Download map area” added to Labs in Google Maps for Android
Description: When you’re visiting an unfamiliar location, Google Maps for mobile is great for getting an idea of how close you are to your destination, where streets and landmarks are in relation to each other, or just for getting “un-lost.” But what if you don’t have a data signal, or you’re abroad and don’t have a data plan? We say that if you use Google Maps for mobile, you’ll never need to carry a paper map again. The “Download map area” lab in Google Maps 5.7 for Android is a step in making that statement true even when you’re offline.

What iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 could have
Description: Apple’s next iPhone will be thinner and lighter with an 8 megapixel camera, according to a report Thursday. The new article bears the hallmarks of an intentional leak, and is the surest sign yet that we’ll see new iPhone hardware in September.

Apple's faith-based security fails again
Description: A German government watchdog has just worked out that the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch have 'critical weaknesses' that could be exploited by criminals. Apple saves money by not having to provide virus checking software or worrying too much about security. It has marketed this clever plan through its legions of fanboys who claim that they are safe from hackers because they have never been hacked before. However, the Germans are particularly concerned about the iPhone, which is a little more popular and begging to be attacked.

Motorola Droid 3 Now Available From Verizon
Description: Verizon has put up Droid 3, the grandchild of Motorola’s legendary Droid smartphone, up for sale on its website. The Droid 3 sports a 1 GHz dual-core CPU, a 4-inch qHD (960 x 540 pixel) screen, an 8-megapixel camera and a slide-out, full QWERTY keyboard. It runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread and offers 16 GB of storage, as well as all the other standard bells and whistles that adorn the Android smartphones of today, including Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi, UMTS and aGPS support.

Microsoft May Introduce the First Public Beta of Windows 8 at CES 2012 – Rumours.
Description: Steve Ballmer, the chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., will once again kick-off the Consumer Electronics Show in early 2012. Some web-sites are already reporting that Microsoft will unveil the first public beta of Windows 8 at the trade-show.


Gaming news

Castlevania: Harmony of Despair Hitting PSN
Description: Konami confirmed this morning that Castlevania: Harmony of Despair is coming to PlayStation Network this summer. The game was previously released exclusively through Xbox Live. Included with the PSN version is the "Beauty, Desire, Situation Dire" map pack, which contains the Pyramid of Ruin level as well as downloadable characters Julius Belmont and Yoko Belnades.

Mirror's Edge 2 'not abandoned' – Report
Description: EA Games senior vice president Patrick Soderlund says DICE is "working on something" to follow up well-received free running original.