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While the major players in digital entertainment are shifting the brunt of their efforts to Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, there are companies who still care about perfecting an existing (and more stable) DVD medium. NuTech is one such example. The CinePlayer PDP100 boasts an Apple-like obsession with efficient and sleek design. Its chrome metal shell is barely larger than the DVD drive inside: it's 0.7 inches thin and 5.9 inches tall. This is also more than a stripped-down generic player, as it has component and S-video out as well as support for DivX and MPEG-4 video. There are certainly higher-end DVD players available, though at $167 it's both less expensive than those high-end models and a better visual companion for a new HDTV.
Ever since the Internet became a practical reality for computer users, analysts and other technology luminaries have been predicting the end of software development as we know it. At first the belief centered around the concept of "thin clients:" users would onnly need to connect to a main server on a network and run their programs remotely. In recent years Web 2.0 concepts like blogs and wikis have lead some to believe that software as we know it is dead and that we should focus on making the hardware less expensive and easier to manage. Some people disagree, reports ZDNet. Fewer gains in computer speed may limit what new software can do, but it might be artificially limiting to say that no more real development is possible. The next few years may determine the ultimate fate of dedicated programs.
Sometimes advantages in flash storage are about more than just larger capacities. Making that storage more affordable is equally valuable, especially for students who can easily lose a flash drive that they might not have the money to replace. The Memorex FlashDisc confronts all these factors at once. A donut-shaped and brightly-colored design make for drives that are harder to forget and easier to hold in a busy classroom. More impressive is that the consequences of losing one are relatively trivial. $15 at the store will get a three-pack, guaranteeing that there will almost always be a spare ready to go. You would be forgiven for disbelieving the claim by Memorex that the FlashDisc is the definitive replacement for the old 1.44 MB floppy disk, however; at a $5 effective price for 16 MB of storage per drive, the FlashDisc is more expensive than an old 3.5" disk and not quite as useful as much more capacious (if also higher-priced) traditional flash drives.
Many large computer OEMs were disappointed by the news that Windows Vista would not be ready for volume shipments of home-oriented PCs by the end of the year. Operating system upgrades are often strong incentives for users looking to replace their old computers, and manufacturers such as Dell and HP were hoping to capitalize on the intended Fall release of Vista as a way to boost their holiday season sales. Without Vista as a selling point, manufacturers and Microsoft have resorted to offering buyers coupons for free upgrades to the new operating system, says DigiTimes. Customers who buy from certain vendors later in the year will be eligible for a free copy of Vista in January 2007, when the software is expected to ship in bulk. Although OEMs stand to gain the most from the sales drive, Microsoft's contribution indicates that it is worried slow adoption of Vista will seriously damage its long-term prospects.
If you have a Bluetooth-equipped cellphone and you need to take a call while driving and your phone's speakerphone features are less than adequate, you now have an option that will let you answer without strewing wires across your car. Blue Ant, a company that focuses exclusively on Bluetooth hardware, is selling the Supertooth II, a wireless speakerphone that has an adjustable, noise-cancelling microphone and a speaker much larger than any phone can muster. It lasts for 20 hours of talk time or 800 hours of standby on a single charge of its lithium-ion battery. The Supertooth II has an official price of $130, though you can find it for $100 on the street.
With the Zune player's Fall launch timeframe rapidly approaching, retail stores need to know what they can sell and what to promote when the hardware is finally ready. This is why sources in retail now have additional information beyond what little Microsoft has made public. First is the price: despite claims that the Zune would ship for $399 due to its features, the most recent update puts the price on par with Apple's current 30 GB iPod, which sells for $299. This may well be impressive given that the production player should have a bigger screen than the iPod. There will also be three colors, though what those will be isn't public yet. Lastly, the WiFi features are relatively limited on the initial Zune model. Users will be able to bookmark tracks shared through WiFi to remind you to buy them later, but it won't be possible to buy songs directly from the Zune itself.
For awhile, Garmin has given runners a way of tracking their exercise progress through GPS. The Forerunner 305 works by tracking your distance and speed using GPS to measure the effectiveness of your exercise. However, even Garmin knows that GPS isn't uniformly reliable: urban obstacles and unusual geography can block the GPS signal occasionally. The solution comes in the form of the Foot Pod (a clear reference to its main rival), a newly announced wireless transmitter that mounts to any shoe and sends info such as distance and speed to the Forerunner as you run. It runs on a AAA battery and can last for 70 hours on a full charge. It won't be for everyone when it ships in October for $100; the focus is primarily on accuracy over motivating the runner.
Converting any live video to a format ready for the iPod, the PSP, or other small video players is usually a multi-step process that requires massive amounts of hard drive space: you have to find a way of getting the video feed to your PC, record it, and then encode it into the format you originally wanted. Neuros' MPEG4 Recorder 2 PLUS is meant to eliminate at least one step. Any video source that can output to RCA can be sent through the recorder and encoded into one of several pre-defined formats as the video plays. You can save the resulting video to a CompactFlash, SD, or Memory Stick Duo card. Neuros' hardware is available immediately for $160.
The blossoming of online movie download services has forced the major Hollywood studios to rethink its sometimes harsh attitudes towards DVD copying. Previously, the DVD Copy Control Association (which is run by the same studios) forbid DVD copying for any reason, which angered advocates of fair use backups and those who wanted to watch out-of-print movies on their DVD players. While the terms have yet to be finalized, the DCCA is ready to permit copying of movies downloaded from legal sources to copy-protected DVD discs that would work on any standard player, reports the Associated Press. Buyers could visit a terminal at a store and burn a copy of a movie no longer released in stores, or make permanent copies of movies they downloaded online. Blank DVDs ready for copy protection are also a part of the plan.
Though some Internet users would be loathe to admit it, BitTorrent is a driving force of the Internet. In numerous cases, torrents actually make up the majority of traffic on some Internet providers and network backbones. Asus' new WL-700gE router is designed expressly for those BitTorrent enthusiasts who download so often that they need more than just a computer left on overnight. In addition to four Ethernet ports and 802.11g wireless, the 700gE has its own BitTorrent client that can not only download as many as seven torrents to its built-in 160GB hard drive while your computer is off, but can also be accessed remotely to either queue new torrents or download files through the built-in FTP server. A USB 2 port makes sure you can add additional drive space. At $500 it's an expensive but ultimately more efficient alternative to a dedicated download computer.
One reason why professionals still insist on optical viewfinders in higher-end cameras is the sharpness of the image: the only detail lost is through the slight distortion of the lens. LCDs on digital cameras are often very low-resolution; they're good enough to assist with framing and spotting obvious problems, but it's impossible to spot some color and focus problems at a glance. Samsung has developed a new display that might solve a lot of the problems associated with previewing photos on cameras. While even the larger LCDs on cameras stop at a 320x240 resolution, Samsung has found a way to produce a 3-inch LCD that manages a dramatically improved 640x480. This is large enough for some point-and-shoot camera models, and it could display some smaller shots without any lost detail. The new design can display 260,000 colors and maintain a good 350:1 contrast ratio. Set to be previewed in Korea on August 23rd, we'll see these displays in production cameras during the first half of 2007. UPDATE: see a photo of the LCD after the jump.
There are plenty of audiophiles who cling to older music equipment. Some will say it sounds better; others just miss the days when the hardware was treated less as cold technology and more as a work of art. Doubtlessly, though, many of these music traditionalists will privately admit that older isn't necessarily better. A classic jukebox could only hold a few dozen songs at best. Pacific Rim Technologies is betting that at least a few of these conflicted music lovers will be interested in merging the old and new into one unit, the Jukebox Station. While Wurlitzer was the first to release an iPod-ready jukebox, Pacific Rim's new system is more advanced. In addition to letting users play music from the iPod (or CDs, or FM radio), the Jukebox Station also has RCA and S-Video output to let you see photos and videos on newer iPod models. The $700 price should be easily manageable for anyone who wants a stereo that doubles as a focal point of the room. It starts shipping in early October. See a complete photo after the jump.
The Nokia 8800 series (including the 8801 in the US) is stylish and technologically capable, if not necessarily the best value for money. It seems as though the phone maker plans to remedy this soon with a special edition of the 8800, the Scirocco Edition. The existing phone will receive a visual upgrade with this design and come in either glossy black or silver trims. The keys will also get a revision at the same time. As for improved specifications, these are uncertain. One German site offering pre-orders claims that there will be a 2 megapixel camera (which would be very logical for a late-2006 phone), while another says otherwise. Expect to pay a premium when it arrives. The pre-order price of about $1069 (equivalent) in Germany may have been spurred by anticipated demand in an expensive country, but when the updated version arrives here it won't be a trivial purchase.
Keeping track of a baseball game can be very tough: games often run long enough that there's a good chance you won't be within range of a TV or radio at least some of the time. And if you are, you would have to be very dedicated to get a TV or satellite radio package that includes out-of-town games. Sprint is counting on enough of us wanting a cure for these occasional frustrations through its new deal with Major League Baseball. For $6 a month beyond your regular plan, you can listen to every MLB game on your phone through the WAP site on mlb.com, regardless of whether the game is local or not. You can even choose whether you listen to the home or away team's coverage. While it's unfortunate that fans are locked into a specific carrier, a baseball fan might consider the cost a worthwhile sacrifice.
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