Episode 7: 3D printing and a new fusion phone

This week on Always On, we unbox the Samsung Galaxy Beam, whose slightly middling specs belie its party-trick secret. Plus, 3D print your own iPhone case, and robot sushi.

I have to put our Always On supervising producer, Eileen Rivera, on front street a little bit this week: that woman hates the Samsung Galaxy Beam. More accurately, she hates the cheeseball YouTube videos that promote the Beam's signature feature: its built-in pico projector. And I agree ... those ads are bad. Like, bad, bad.

But after spending some time playing with the Beam, I have to confess, I was kind of taken with its little parlor trick! I can't imagine using it often, unless it was for work, but it would certainly thrill the grandparents as a better way to show off kid pictures, and I suspect it might even brighten a party a bit! Eileen and I will have to agree to disagree on this one. Although, Jessica Dolcourt and our CNET review like it, too !

Samsung Galaxy Beam
The Samsung Galaxy Beam is part projector, all smartphone. Josh Miller/CNET

Also in today's episode, Sharon Vaknin brings back the hands-on, with an only slightly impractical how-to on 3D printing your own iPhone case. 3D printing is just so cool! In this case, she visits San Francisco's Tech Shop, where you can get some time with 3D programs and the in-house MakerBot printer to make whatever you can dream up. But stay until the end, where you'll find out how you can remotely 3D print your own items through various Web services. Or, if you're sleeping in a bed of money, you can buy your own MakerBot printer ! I have to admit, I'm tempted.

Also this week, we have the first Web video anywhere of one of Willow Garage's amazing PR2 robots setting and clearing a table and serving a sushi dish. It sounds simple, but when you think about the mental and manual dexterity involved in recognizing and then manipulating things like dishes, utensils, glasses, and food items, and you see how hard the robot is "thinking" about the tasks, you realize we humans are lucky, lucky prehensile creatures.

Episode 8 is next week, and though it's technically our "season finale," we'll still be putting out episodes of Always On for the next four weeks with all new Mailbag segments and studio shoots, so check those out. And let us know what you think of the show in the comments; we'll have a month to shoot and tweak our format, and we want to keep getting better! E-mail us at always on at cnet dot com with story ideas, feedback, and pictures of yourself posing with robots. And stay tuned... next week, we torture-test an iPhone 4S!

 

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