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Though few details are currently available, Apple is scheduled to hold a special press event on September 12th, according to an official e-mail sent to online radio show Your Mac Life. Importantly, the event is set to take place on the opening day of Apple Expo 2006 in Paris, an event which the company previously said it would not open with a keynote. It should be noted that hardware introductions are frequent at such Apple press conferences and that the recent launch of the mobile Core 2 Duo makes upgrades to numerous Mac models likely in the near future. Electronista will obtain further information about the event as it becomes available. UPDATE: BusinessWeek refers to sources who claim that an Apple movie download service will launch in mid-September. UPDATE 2: French site MacBidouille corroborates the story and indicates that iMac and MacBook Pro stocks are running low, a frequent sign of imminent updates.
Bluetooth headsets are often plagued by batteries with short talk times or else the substantial bulk needed to provide enough power. Though adopting a one-piece shape similar to many other compact sets, Teling's X-Sport BTH-11 can sustain a long 15 to 18 hours of conversation between charges of its lithium-ion battery while still weighing only a third of an ounce. Standby time is 450-500 hours. Charging the battery is straightforward: a cradle charger (pictured) prevents the headset from being lost, and owners of Nokia phones can power the headset through a standard Nokia charger. A BTH-11 will cost $90 in Australia but is FCC certified for the US, where its price translates to a more reasonable $69.
In what the company describes as a first-of-its-kind announcement, Adonis Furniture today unveiled a reclining chair with an integrated iPod dock in the armrest of certain models. Named the iRocker, the seat incorporates Alltek Vision speakers as well as a 10-watt amplifier to supply sound directly behind the listener. Controls on the right-hand side of some models let users adjust the volume of the speakers themselves while an auxiliary input jack gives listeners the option of outside sources such as game consoles. The iRocker is available today in six microfiber cloth and three simulated leather colors; prices vary between $100 and $600 depending on the inclusion of the iPod dock, a Base Tube subwoofer, and the choice of cloth or leather surfaces. A standard model with the dock sells for $320. See a photo of the iPod dock and armrest after the jump.
Sony had much reason to celebrate earlier today when it announced its new 52-inch Bravia LCD. North American television buyers, however, will likely prefer the announcement by Samsung of a 52-inch LCD set of its own. The LN-S5296D shares the same 1080p panel as the new Sony unit and has an impressive claimed contrast ratio of 6000:1 as well as an 8ms response time. A 10-bit processor should deliver 12.8 billion colors while a Game Mode optimizes the panel for response time over absolute color accuracy. One VGA and two HDMI inputs exist to support digital video signals. The 52-inch Samsung is expected to sell for under $5000 when it ships to North America in September; the price places it above plasma models, but it may be better suited to computer and video game duties.
Multifunction stereos with iPod-friendly connections are increasingly familiar, though their functionality rarely extends beyond entertainment. A new unit from Sharper Image fulfills considerably more demanding tasks: the NW402 includes the expected iPod dock that both charges and plays iPods through the integrated stereo speakers, but also provides a 2.4GHz cordless phone unit that uses the stereo as its base. Moreover, an AM/FM radio and alarm clock are part of the design and let users program the alarm to trigger either the iPod or the radio at a preset time. It ships today for $250 through the Sharper Image website.
Cellphone carriers in North America are still struggling to adopt 3G wireless technology, yet in Korea development of 4G is already well underway. The gap between the two regions will be made clear when Samsung demonstrates a prototype 4G wireless network at its annual 4G Forum, which begins today. A bus will drive guests around the roads near the Forum to prove that Samsung's latest 4G technology can stream data at 100Mbps in a fast-moving vehicle, allowing for multiple streaming videos even as the connection switches between cell towers. More impressive still is the 1Gbps speed Samsung claims during regular use. Attendees can watch HDTV, browse the Web, and place video calls at the same time. Adoption of 4G by carriers is not expected until 2010 at the earliest, but when the technology arrives it may well match fiber optic lines for sheer performance.
Yesterday's appointment of Google CEO Eric Schmidt to Apple's board of directors has created a ripple effect in the technology industry. Microsoft and other companies investing heavily in digital media should be especially worried, says technologist Om Malik. Though the alliance is strictly informal, both companies have technology and services the other could use to great advantage, challenging Microsoft's own efforts at media consolidation through its upcoming Zune player and store. Malik suggests the possibility that paid videos hosted on Google's website could be purchased through iTunes, increasing the focus on direct video sales instead of Google's existing advertising model. Apple's rival Microsoft has already established deals with video providers in advance of the Zune launch.
Reports of lost or stolen data from businesses and government agencies have underscored the importance of guarding secret information whenever it leaves the office. The Corporate Secure USB drive from Verbatim not only bolsters this protection, but makes it mandatory: users are required to login to the drive to access any of the data, which is secured using 128-bit AES encryption. Owners and their employers can also rest easy knowing that brute-force attacks are much more difficult, as ten consecutive failed login attempts will lock the drive altogether. Its only limitation is the Windows 2000/XP operating system requirement. Capacities range from 1GB to 4GB, all of which will be shippin in the very near future.
Creative had inadvertently revealed the existence of its updates to the Zen Vision line in advance through print magazines, but today the Singapore-based electronics firm made those updates official by announcing both the anticipated Zen Vision:W and a 60GB version of the Zen Vision:M. Similar in appearance to the original Zen Vision (pictured), the Vision:W is a video-focused media player with a 4.3-inch widescreen display. It can play MPEG-1/2/4 and XviD videos for up to 4.5 hours on its removable battery. It also features a CompactFlash card slot that lets owners of some cameras transfer photos to the player without first uploading to a computer. The Vision:W will ship to Singapore in 30GB ($412 US) and 60GB ($475 US) models during September, with an American release to follow. Creative expects the 60GB Vision:M, functionally identical to the existing 30GB model, to ship at the end of September for the equivalent price of $380 US.
Building a digital camera to protect it against the elements usually involves closing the sealing gaps in a conventional design or offering a waterproof housing. Japanese electronics firm Ricoh has taken a much larger step by developing its new 8.1-megapixel Caplio 500SE model. In addition to a dustproof and waterproof shell, the 500SE's body is built to absorb significant drops without damaging its electronics. The design also reduces the need to remove and potentially lose the SD cards used inside: variants of the camera ship with either Bluetooth 2.0 or WiFi to transfer photos wirelessly, and all models include 26MB of internal memory for when cards fail. Ricoh is shipping the 500SE to Japan on September 1st for the equivalent of $990 US with Bluetooth included and $1100 US with WiFi. No details of a North American launch are available.
LCD television sales are surging beyond those of plasma through smaller (and thus less expensive) display sizes, but reaching the larger and more profitable sizes common to those plasma sets has typically required rear projection, introducing viewing angle problems even for Sony's much-lauded SXRD line. That difficulty was reduced with the introduction of the largest Sony Bravia LCD to date at an event in Japan today. The new 52-inch screen, part of the X2500 line in Japan, is large enough to replace many plasma and projection units but yet has the brightness of a direct view LCD. Importantly, the set not only features native 1080p output but will also upconvert lower-resolution signals, eliminating many of the visual artifacts that appear with non-native resolutions. The X2500 arrives in Japan before the end of the year. No American details were announced, though the close ties between the two markets should see the 52-inch LCD available here in early 2007.
Most tablet input devices are designed to parallel as much of the existing screen area as possible. Those who would rather free up desk space or focus on retouching work will likely appreciate the new Wacom Intuos3 4x6 tablet. While much smaller than earlier Intuos3 models, it shares the same resolution of 5080 lines per inch and includes their important features. The included pen is battery-free and registers up to 1024 levels of pressure. There are also 4 programmable ExpressKeys and a touch-sensitive scroll strip for panning or zooming in images. Wacom's new model also includes a collection of software to help new artists get started, including Photoshop Elements 4 and Corel Painter Essentials 3. Available today, the 4x6 model works with either MacOS X Jaguar or Windows 2000/XP and ships for $229.
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