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It has been well established this week that the Zune will arrive preloaded with music from multiple artists. Most media outlets have reported the few that have been made public. That list is not yet complete, says Zune developer Cesar Menendez. There will be further announcements in the weeks leading up to the official Zune launch, indicating that Microsoft plans to give its music samples as more than just a demonstration of the hardware; it intends to use the music itself an incentive for tentative buyers.
Sometimes there can be a simple pleasure in having a digital audio player with a large amount of storage for the money. The A215 from Aigo fits that bill quite well. Its design is fundamentally similar to that of many small players, with a basic button information and a small screen; where Aigo saves its money is clear. Regardless, it offers 2 GB of storage, protected WMA, and voice recording for an uncharacteristically low price of £70 including taxes, or roughly $130. Players such as these occasionally arrive in North America, so it may be worthwhile to search your local electronics store for one when the opportunity arises.
An Internet service such as YouTube, which claims to distribute more than half of all online videos, will indisputably have a far-reaching effect on viewers' exposure to news. The Cabinet Office of the British government agrees strongly enough that it recently began uploading new public service announcements to YouTube as a way of adapting the spread of government information to an increasingly Internet-dependent society. The current PSAs, which can be found by searching for the user "publicservice" on YouTube, are currently narrow in scope but may expand as the British government updates its ministries to reflect its new attitude towards technology.
When Sirius announced its new systems yesterday, there was a general dearth of imagery for the Conductor remote/receiver combination that would let listeners stream satellite radio to any stereo in their home. An initial photo of the remote sheds light on the hardware and its abilities: as seen in the supplied photo, the Conductor is much closer in appearance to a television remote than the radios Sirius is known for. This limits the screen size, but it also gives a large amount of control to the user - including over other home theater hardware. The Conductor can hold up to 30 preset stations and doubles as a remote for up to six other pieces of audio or video equipment, which should help reduce the sheer volume of remotes that accumulate in many living rooms. We can learn how well this concept works in practice when the remote ships in November for $150.
Connecting cars to the Internet has been feasible since the introduction of mobile Internet access, but in most cases the connection is limited to a single user with a laptop. At the CarTronics show in Taiwan, small form factor PC manufacturer Shuttle demonstrated a prototype of a PC that fully integrates 3G wireless Internet access into the car for all users, not just the front passenger. A variant of the SN21G5 design includes a 3G modem and lets anyone sitting in front of one of the three LCDs placed in the Mercedes S-Class test vehicle browse the web, make VoIP phone calls, play audio, or plan car trips via GPS. Shuttle's concept relies on a special power supply compatible with the 12-volt port on many cars to power the system. The prototype would eventually use WiMax to provide an even faster connection. There was no word from the computer manufacturer regarding when a production model would appear.
Game players who regularly bring their desktop computers to network parties have seen the displays and systems they use shrink in recent years, but often the keyboard remains the same. Action game players in particular may ask why they need a full-size keyboard when most of the other keys will just consume extra space. For those users, the new WOLF KING Warrior may be a better option. It takes the subset of keys that most computer action games use (particularly first-person shooters) and arranges them in a circle for easier reach. The Warrior does not require a full-size keyboard, though a model is available with a regular keyboard attached. You can currently find the new input device for $35 online.
Amazon has been shifting increasing amounts of attention to its video features: the company now regularly features video interviews and its Fishbowl Internet video show. Today, Internet users investigating the company's publically accessible browse nodes - the identifiers associated with every Amazon feature or product - and found pages confirming the existence of Unbox Video, the name of an upcoming direct-download video store from the Internet retailer. The service is still unfinished and could change, but the discovery reveals that Amazon's service should be both reasonably-priced and complete. Television programs will be available for $2 per episode, while movies will sell for approximately $10 each. Crucially, the early design tells users that they can watch their videos on both portable players and TV sets, which until now has been unheard of in the video download market. The likelihood of this service working fully with iTunes and the iPod is slim as the copy protection would very likely depend on the Windows Media Video format, which iPods currently cannot play.
As reported by Gamer Scan, the publication PlayStation Magazine claims to have news of a PSP refresh for March 2007 that would see the portable game system follow Apple's own strategy of constant hardware upgrades with stable pricing. Previously, consoles have largely remained the same after their introductions and dropped in price as components became less expensive over time. If the new report is accurate, Sony will keep the PSP at its current price but upgrade the features dramatically to include 8GB of internal flash memory, a camera, and a smaller design. More storage has been a frequent request for the PSP as owners have generally spurned UMD discs for movies in favor of downloads from their home PCs.
Music-capable phones in ultra-thin forms are extremely common this summer, but ultimately most of their designs follow the same concepts from before. Most of Samsung's own lineup this year follows this trend. A notable exception is the new X830. Currently available in Europe and Korea, the X830's interface and shape should make it easier to hold and use as a music player. The phone abandons the standard three-key-wide layout for a narrower slider shape that you can grip more completely with one hand. On the outside, a scroll wheel lets users manage beyond the usual pause and track skipping features. The phone also includes 1GB of built-in memory and a card slot for more. There is no news on details of a possible North American release. Click through for a full-size photo.
Palm has seen itself losing marketshare in recent months to smartphones from challengers such as HTC. The company knows that reversing its fortunes will require newer and more capable phones; to that end, a new Treo phone is set to be announced in London on September 12th, the company announced today. While details are scarce, Palm says the new Treo will ship before the end of the year. Comparisons to rival smartphones indicate that the most likely new features will be built-in Bluetooth and WiFi connections, which so far have only been possible on the Treo 700 series through add-in cards. A greater emphasis on music and videos is also possible given new entries in the market from BlackBerry and others.
Until recently, Steve Jobs was a mainstay of the yearly Apple Expo in Paris. The event, which usually takes place at the end of summer, has often been used by Jobs to showcase new products from Apple that were set to launch for the holidays. His presence as the keynote speaker is often a sign that a major product announcement is expected. The likelihood of such news has been mitigated for Apple Expo 2006, which begins September 12th; Jobs will not speak at this year's event, the organizing company Reed Expositions said today. While this does not rule out the use of Apple Expo as publicity for new products from Apple, the computer and iPod maker has historically turned down keynote offers when updates are minor at best.
A key reason why many prefer over-the-ear headphones to earbuds is the problem of obtaining a stable fit. Unless the earbuds match a listener's ear canal very well, they can slip out or affect sound quality. Sennheiser just recently introduced a novel solution to the problem: its new MX90VC earbuds have a Twist-to-Fit function that uses a second bud to press against your earlobe and keep the main speakers directly in front of the ear canal. The MX90VC set also focuses on a greater sense of style through the rectangular shape of the casing. You can find them in stores right now for $80.
Dell first surprised the public in May when it said it would begin using AMD's Opteron in servers. The company has been one of Intel's strongest supporters, using nothing but Pentium and Xeon processors in its computers even when it was clear that the Athlon and Opteron were dominating the performance landscape. Though the Core 2 Duo and Xeon 5100 series are just now breaking AMD's performance records, September will bring the first AMD-based Dimension desktops, Dell announced today in its quarterly report. Where AMD will fit in the Dimension line is unclear, but recent Athlon 64 price cuts and the budget focus of the Sempron suggest that Dell will use AMD to improve its lower-end systems, which sometimes struggle against less expensive models from companies like HP.
Sometimes a digital audio player can be more than just the technical features. The Maxfield MAX-SIN TOUCH is evidence of this in action. As a player, its features are thoroughly average: MP3, OGG, and WMA can be played during 12 hours of battery life from 1GB of flash memory. What distinguishes the MAX-SIN TOUCH is its extremely minimalist style that could very well trump the iPod nano. The front face is entirely flat, controls and all; even the screen is an OLED display that blents in with the case. The player itself is barely any larger than the nano as well, which makes it a useful alternative for those who want an exceptionally thin player with support for rarer audio formats. No pricing or ship dates have been made available yet, though the player is set to be formally introduced at the IFA expo in Berlin next month. Click through for the full photo.
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