News Archive for 06/08/03

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Vista: a moment of crisis?

08/03, 7:55pm

Vista Moment of Crisis

The doubts about Windows Vista continue to mount. In recent days, multiple prominent critics have stepped up to suggest that Vista isn't where it should be in terms of code quality for an October gold master, the most notable being former Microsoft tech evangelist Robert Scoble. One of the latest to chime in is pro-Microsoft journalist Paul Thurrott; though he believes Vista could still be an excellent operating system if given time, he says Microsoft was "fooled" into committing to a date and that the beta has so far been a "train wreck." Could this be the a critical turning point for Microsoft, especially given the approaching release of OS X Leopard? More observations after the jump.

Soloist Universal Media Dock

08/03, 4:50pm

Soloist Universal Dock

Media docks are usually exercises in compromise: if it sounds good, it's usually too big to fit on your work desk. If it's small, it sounds feeble. And in many cases, the inputs are often limited to a single device. Directed Electronics' new Soloist Universal Media Dock just might be a better balance between size, support, and quality. It uses NXT flat-panel speakers with a 10W amp that should offer better sound without a lot of extra bulk. You're also free to use multiple device types. While native docking support is limited to more recent Sirius satellite radio units and iPods with Dock Connector ports, there's also front and rear aux-in jacks for just about any other audio device you might own. You even get an alarm clock that can start playing music when you wake up. The Soloist should hit the streets in September for $149.

Turtle Beach noise-cancelling headphones

08/03, 4:05pm

Turtle Beach Headphones

This is an era when it often seems safer to shut out the outside world than deal with the aural nuisances that plague it. It's not uncommon to hear of people who wear noise-cancelling earbuds and headphones even when the music has stopped - all in the name of enjoying a few moments of peace. That makes the new ANR series of headphones from Turtle Beach all the more welcome. As the acronym suggests, these earpieces use active noise reduction through microphones to counteract whatever sounds surround the wearer. There are two models to accomodate different people: the ANR-10 (pictured) is a smaller, behind-the-head set clearly meant for the street, and the price is right at $60. The more stationary among us can opt for the ANR-20, which promises better sound quality in a bigger package for $100. The 20 also has a detachable cable for when silence is the top priority.

Ericsson sues Samsung - again

08/03, 3:50pm

Ericsson Sues Samsung

When 2005 came to an end, so too did a legion of technology patent agreements between the cellphone maker Ericsson (one half of the Sony-Ericsson alliance) and Samsung. No one seems to have told Samsung this, if you believe Ericsson. Samsung is still selling cellphones made while those patent agreements were in force, according to Ericsson, and the latter company is suing to stop production of those phones after attempts to strike a new agreement fell flat. The legal process began in February when Ericsson filed suit regarding EDGE, GPRS, and GSM patents; today marks the second phase, covering CDMA and WCDMA network patents.

WWDC: 64-bit Intel Macs and OS X?

08/03, 2:45pm

WWDC 64-bit Macs

Just as the World Wide Developer Conference rumor mill is starting to reach a fever pitch, a seemingly authentic photo of one of the banners Apple will use at the annual developer conference has surfaced on the Internet today. The information found in the photo is far from complete, but it contains strong indications of what Steve Jobs will discuss in his keynote speech on Monday. One expected revelation is that OS X Leopard, the next version of Apple's operating system, will run 64-bit code natively - possibly without separate 32-bit and 64-bit versions, as Windows requires. Additionally, the banner suggests that the Mac Pro (the heavily-rumored Intel replacement for the Power Mac) may not be as dramatic redesign as many had once thought. Click the article title for the full photo.

AOL slashes 5,000 jobs

08/03, 2:40pm

AOL Slashes 5000 Jobs

AOL may have used yesterday's news of itsnewly free services as a cushioning blow for harsher steps the company planned to take while switching to an ad-driven business model. Today, the access and content provider let employees know that up to 5,000 jobs, or a full 25% of the company's staff, will be cut within the next six months as part of restructuring efforts. While specific divisions weren't mentioned, it's likely that more of the cuts will come from the Internet access portion of the company, which is losing its customer base at a rapid pace.

CinemaNow DVD burning is broken

08/03, 1:45pm

CinemaNow Burning Broken

The news that CinemaNow would let customers burn some movies to DVD was celebrated in the tech community: it was supposed to let us finally treat direct-download movie stores as mainstream options for renting movies. The reality is far from ideal, an engineer has discovered. CinemaNow software deliberately introduces checksum errors into the discs with the intent of making them hard to copy, but the errors are so abundant that the discs will either fail to burn or are rendered unplayable on many DVD players. Potential customers have been told not to be "fleeced" by such a clearly crippled service.

Intel-based TabletKiosk UMPCs

08/03, 12:45pm

TabletKiosk Intel UMPC

TabletKiosk has generally been regarded as one of the better early UMPC manufacturers, even as it has dealt with the same problems that plague other vendors (especially short battery life). This explains why the company now has the confidence to release two new UMPC models by the end of August: the i7209 and i7210. While earlier models shipped with Via's C7 processor, 2.5" notebook hard drives, and an anemic 256 MB of RAM, the new units seem better tailored to the compact and battery-dependent nature of a UMPC. They're equipped with ULV Intel processors, more RAM, and the 1.8" drives that we typically associate with iPods and other digital audio players. The i7209 starts at $1099 for a 900 MHz Celeron-M with 512 MB of RAM and a 30 GB drive, while the i7210 steps up to a 1 GHz Pentium-M with 1 GB of RAM and a 60 GB drive. These are clearly high-end units that cater to those of us who may treat a UMPC as our only portable computer.

Phantom Lapboard: still real

08/03, 12:15pm

Phantom Lapboard Demo

While many have been keen to write off Phantom Entertainment (formerly Infinium Labs) as champions of vaporware, having yet to release any products after years of operation, the company may be ready to turn a corner. Having previously announced the Lapboard controller from its still unreleased game console as a stand-alone product, Phantom today announced that it would demonstrate the Lapboard at the European Games Convention in Leipzig, which begins August 24th. For those who are unfamiliar, the Lapboard is a wireless mouse and keyboard set with a twist: the keyboard has a mousing surface underneath, giving users room for a full-size mouse on their lap instead of the trackpads that are more common for these living room devices. Phantom hopes to launch the final Lapboard in November.

ExpressCard EVDO adapter available today

08/03, 12:10pm

ExpressCard EVDO Available

Those of us who buy laptops on the cutting edge have faced a dilemma when trying to connect to mobile broadband services: many of these computers either offer internal support for only one of these services, or else have abandoned the old PC Card format in favor of the much faster ExpressCard - for which we've seen few if any adapters. Thankfully, Verizon customers can now pick up the V640, an EVDO ExpressCard adapter made by Novatel if they order from the cellular provider's online store (retail stores will see the adapters on the 24th). Sprint customers will probably get the unit under the S640 name. The V640 is expensive at $180 alongside a two-year agreement, but for those of us who need to go online and can't rely on WiFi hotspots, it will be worth the price.

Imation flash drive with Sudoku pack-in

08/03, 11:20am

Imation Sudoku drive

Since flash drives are virtually ubiquitous these days, manufacturers often have to cater to specific desires to escape obscurity. One of those desires is to play a favorite game away from home. Many of us have faced a situation in the past where we were at a campus terminal, a friend's house, or at work and wanted a quick game to get us through an idle phase. Imation clearly thought of this when it designed a newly released version of its Clip Flash Drive, which includes a copy of the still-popular Sudoku that can be run straight from the unit. It's also primed for students heading back to school with a carabiner to clip to their backpacks and a modest price of $35 for 512 MB. You can already find it in the US at your local Target store.

More pixels, less focus?

08/03, 10:10am

More Pixels Less Focus

HP recently released the Photosmart R967 point-and-shoot camera, which boasts a 10-megapixel sensor. To the stereotypical amateur camera buyer, that sounds like incredible quality for the money. After all, that's similar to more professional cameras such as the Nikon D200, which is well over a thousand dollars more even without a lens. However, with 7 or more megapixels so common on models like these, are we ignoring the underlying quality issues surrounding point-and-shoot cameras? Professional photographer Ken Rockwell has already argued against the importance of megapixels, since even cropping doesn't benefit as much from current megapixel counts. In the meantime, almost all compact cameras are still limited to 3X optical zoom and display visual artifacts such as purple fringing (the off-color "glow" you sometimes see around trees and other objects set against the sky). While optics aren't easy to fix in such small spaces, amateur photographers might appreciate the ability to keep more of the photos they take instead of more pixels to crop.

FCC Leaks: is Segway simplifying?

08/03, 10:00am

FCC Leaks Segways

Though it's not always apparent, the Segway HT isn't a single, all-encompassing model: the company tailors models for specific uses, whether it's police patrols or taking your golf clubs to the next hole. That's why new FCC documents are at once interesting and expected. The i2 (pictured) and x2 aren't dramatically different on the surface from what Segway offers already: the i2 is a general-purpose model useful for indoor and city environments (like the existing i180), while the x2 has chunky tires and a wide design meant for off-roading (as with the XT). The specs are also fairly similar, with the i2 still getting up to 24 miles on a charge and cruising up to 12.5 mph. Odds are that most of the real changes are subtle or undocumented. What the FCC documents can suggest is that Segway may be simplifying its lineup and eliminating niche models: naming schemes such as "i2" and "x2" leave little room for other variants like the p133 (a smaller, sidewalk-only model). See another photo from the FCC data after the jump.

Ford, GM, Mazda offer iPod integration

08/03, 9:15am

Ford GM Mazda Support iPod

For most people, iPod integration with cars is typically associated with either high-end marques (such as BMW or Mercedes-Benz) or else those targeted explicitly at hipsters, like Scion. Volume brands like Honda or Volkswagen have only recently begun making iPod hookups available. Today, however, Apple announced that three more major, mainstream car manufacturers - Ford, GM, and Mazda - will offer full iPod integration (including stereo control and power charging) in their US cars for the 2007 model year. This isn't simply for a token model or two: in the case of Mazda, integration will be available for the entire global market. GM in turn will offer an iPod option in its complete US lineup of 56 models.

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