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HTC quickly developed a following in the smartphone market as a feature-laden alternative to Palm and other mainstays. It's for that reason many users now follow the company's future models closely: a new model for some users could easily be the ultimate phone. Thanks to a recent leak, these fans will have no trouble deciding what to buy this year: the entire 2006 HTC roadmap has surfaced on the Web. While details of the sought-after Excalibur phone were previously revealed, the new roadmap lists several new HTC phones on the horizon for the Fall and Winter. Many of them share features in common such as Bluetooth, EDGE, and WiFi, there are highlights. The Artemis (pictured, left) and Trinity (right) both feature built-in GPS for maps; the Melody in turn has 4 GB of flash memory and a music-friendly interface. See a picture of the Melody after the jump.
A key obstacle to portable video players is space: one factor in Apple's decision to focus on music videos and TV shows has been the dramatic increase in file size. Even at the iPod's relatively modest 320x240 resolution, a music video can amount to dozens of megabytes. The one full-length movie currently available on the US iTunes Music Store, High School Musical, is nearly half a gigabyte large. As such, the pressure is on for Apple to make room for longer-running clips. Just such a change is looming as soon as this year, according to Seagate's CEO William Watkins. He says that the company should have 60GB and 120GB 1.8-inch drives in the last quarter of 2006 and references Apple as a likely customer for them. These would provide exactly double the 30GB and 60GB capacities of Apple's existing models. While no definitive link was made by the CEO, there is little doubt that Apple is under pressure to surpass the 60 GB ceiling it reached in 2004 with the iPod photo and has held ever since.
Navigation systems in cars have been heralded as saviors for drivers forced to travel unfamiliar territory: with the exception of the occasional miscalulation or user mistake, satnav units should in theory replace the combination of good memory and a map. This isn't the case for London cab drivers. Despite availability this year, all but 4-5% of London cabs have a system installed. Officials from the London Taxi Drivers' Association attribute this in large part to the extremely demanding testing all London cab drivers must go through to drive in the city: they have to understand not only all routes within a 6-mile radius of the city center, but also the subjective aspects of city life that a navigation system can't offer. Drivers have to be aware of shortcuts or traffic problems that would never register on a current satnav system. Moreover, many drivers feel that satnav adds too much of a delay to a process that often involves snap judgments. Technology is catching up, but it may be a long time before precision mapping replaces intuition.
Compared to most Internet users in North America, customers of Verizon's FIOS fiber-optic Internet access have a surplus of bandwidth - so much so that the company can place IP-based TV on the same line without much strain. The challenge for Verizon has been to convince users they should subscribe to both services; Internet users frequently stay with their existing TV providers. The goal may have just been met in the form of Verizon's new Home Media DVR service. Starting Wednesday, subscribers to IPTV will be able to record up to two HD-quality channels at once and play them back on as many as three receivers at the same time. The technology streams data through co-axial cable in the house and can also accept streaming of photos and music from PCs. The additional $20 per month for DVR services could well be worthwhile for HDTV supporters who want more flexibility in their viewing than they've had in the past.
Soldiers posted to stations in the Middle East and other harsh climates know all too well the headaches associated with bringing a laptop overseas. Even in the safest conditions, desert dust and tropical moisture can creep into computers - and if the system breaks due to corrosion or a drop, service simply isn't an option. Panasonic's Toughbook has been the main choice for these soldiers and anyone else at high risk of losing a computer to damage, but now there is an alternative from an unusual source: General Dynamics. GD is best-known for the F-16 fighter and other large-scale military electronics, so it comes as a surprise that the company just announced the GoBook XR-1, which is meant for both those in uniform and the private sector. It meets official US military standards for dust and water resistance, altitude, shocks and more. The XR-1 is also unique for its built-in GPS tracking. The price is very much in line with military pricing, however: at $4330 for a 1.83 GHz Core Duo and 12.1-inch screen when it ships in September, the XR-1's main clients will be those who absolutely must rely on their laptop in the field. See a full picture after the jump.
For many of us, the 3Com name is inseparable from networking equipment. They rarely come to mind for hardware outside of computer cases and server rooms. The company is clearly eager to branch out to the more public (and rapidly expanding) market of VoIP phones. As exposed by the FCC, the 3Com 3108 is a pseudo-cellphone that relies on an 802.11b/g WiFi connection to handle calls, regardless of whether the other participant is on a conventional phone or not. Not much else is known about the phone: we do know that it will have a 1.8-inch screen, e-mail, and wireless firmware updates. Its range is limited to between 20 and 50 meters from the WiFi access point, but this may make it an ideal home phone for people used to both cellphones and VoIP services such as Skype.
Not content with offering its shows through the iTunes Music Store, Fox has taken the extra step of releasing TV programs such as 24 and Prison Break, as well as feature-length films like X-Men 3, through the Direct2Drive service run by its IGN affiliate. This may well be an attempt to subvert Apple's likely push for full-length movie downloads through iTunes, as the company may feel that iTunes' dominance could be a limiting factor for video sales. Official details of the launch, however, suggest that Fox copy-protection may be much more restrictive than Apple's service: the Fox service only works with Windows computers and limits purchased video to two computers and one portable player. Apple allows TV shows bought through iTunes to be used on as many as five computers and an unlimited number of iPods. Pricing for movies may also be prohibitive at $20, which is similar to a physical DVD. There is also no word on whether or not Fox will mirror Apple's season discounts. How buyers react will be determined when the Fox service is ready in October.
Whenever the FCC posts documents for unreleased hardware, you can be sure that it will not only show up in the US, but very soon as well. That means that ASUS' p525 phone, which appeared in Taiwan just two months ago, is bound to appear in the US before long - a fact significant in no small part due to ASUS' effective absence in the US as a phone maker. The phone is fairly typical of higher-end phones with quad-band GSM and GPRS, a 2 megapixel camera, and Bluetooth 2.0, although the lack of EDGE or other mobile broadband is surprising What makes the p525 stand out are the 802.11b wireless and the use of Windows Mobile 5.0 on a phone with a traditional number pad: most phones that use such a full-featured OS are smartphones with larger keyboards (such as the Treo 700w). See full-size photos after the jump.
Users of the most recent BlackBerry phones have had access to mobile broadband for months, but so far the choice has been limited to certain phones and certain networks: an 8700-series owner in North America has to use EDGE, while EVDO users are generally limited to the more cellphone-like 7100 models. That should change this week: the 8707g is about to launch with the ability to connect to UMTS networks, which would let users on Cingular get online at speeds of up to 1.9 Mbps (though practical speeds are said to average at 384 Kbps). Hardware features are otherwise unchanged: 64 MB of internal RAM, Bluetooth, and the ability to work as a modem are as they were on the original 8700. You can also expect similar pricing.
Internet telephony certainly has its advantages in cost and flexibility, but convenient hardware is not always one of them - especially not if you intend to continue working at the computer while you take calls. Logitech's EasyCall Desktop focuses less on the media functions of most keyboard and mouse combination sets and more on Internet calling. The set includes both a headset and speakerphone, so users can make their calls as public or private as they want. There are controls on both the keyboard and speakerphone to start or end a call, and the keyboard has both a quick launch button for Skype as well as the ability to use the F9 through F12 keys for speed dialing in the program. Users can also take advantage of the hardware for AIM and other instant messaging clients with audio and video chat built in. A $130 purchase gets you the whole set when it debuts in mid-September.
Acer has had a monopoly on equating performance cars with laptops to date through its Ferrari line, but it will soon have a rival in the form of Taiwanese manufacturer ASUS. The latter is set to officially launch the Lamborghini VX1 on August 18th at the most appropriate venue possible: the Concorso Italiano, a car exhibition that celebrates Italian exotics in California. The design is notable for more than just the option of an attention-getting yellow shell: though ASUS' claims of "top performance" are stretched, the VX1 is a good blend between size and speed. It uses a 2 GHz Core Duo and a unique version of nVidia's GeForce Go 7400 video chip, the VX Special Edition. The addition of 2 GB of RAM and a 160 GB hard drive as standard also mean that a trip to the store for memory upgrades won't be necessary. Lastly, ASUS clearly wanted to buck the trend of widescreen notebooks by shipping a 15-inch, 1400x1050 screen with a 4:3 ratio. Pricing is set at a relatively high $2799, though it could be a trivial price for anyone who dreams of a Gallardo in their garage.
Early news has surfaced about Archos' next generation of media players. The company, which was one of the first to release portable video players, is set to launch a new line of players in September. An early look at both models shows some common traits: both have a 30 GB hard drive, 15 hours of battery life (4 for video), and support for MP3/WMA/WAV audio formats as well as DivX/MPEG-4/WMV/XviD video. Curiously, Archos plans to offer support for AAC, MPEG-2, VOB and more for an additional price. Read about the differences and see full photos after the jump.
As predicted earlier by FCC document releases, Segway today unvelied the latest in its personal transports, the i2 and x2. They both feature a new (if still familiar) design that promises better features and performance. One of these is LeanSteer, which lets you tilt the frame and handlebar while turning as a more natural way of changing direction. More important given the city-dweller segment is the InfoKey system: in addition to giving drivers a convenient way of locking their Segways when they step inside, the key fob also lets you keep track of battery life, performance, and security whether it's attached to the Segway or not. The i2 is the standard commuter model and retails for a not insignificant $4995; if you need off-road tires, you can get the x2 model for $500 more. There are also additional packages if you need cargo space or other features.
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