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Logitech's Harmony line of remotes is indispensable for owners of complex home theaters: they can control most audio and video systems, and in some cases can even trigger basic functions in consoles such as the Xbox 360. At the IFA expo, Logitech demonstrated a new model which adds even more functionality to the range. The company's upcoming Harmony 785 is not only compatible with over 150,000 possible devices (with more through compatibility upgrades), but can also receive Internet updates for news, sports, weather and other information. No launch details are available, though its model name and feature set place it at the higher end of the Harmony product line. Closeup photos of the remote are available after the jump.
Tapeless DV cameras regularly fall into two categories: hard drive-based models that store large amounts of data but require a computer for any DVD authoring, and DVD-based models that streamline the process but hold limited amounts of video and rewrite slowly (if at all). Two new camcorders from Hitachi will offer both features at once, giving the option of recording to either an 8GB hard drive or to 30-minute rewritable mini DVDs. The DZ-HS301 will feature 15X optical zoom, a 2.7-inch LCD, and the ability to take 1-megapixel still shots. At the higher end is the pictured DZ-HS303, whose optical zoom is reduced to 10X in exchange for a larger sensor, 3-megapixel stills, and double the battery life. Either variant connects to Macs or PCs via USB 2 and will be available in Europe as of November for $900 (HS301) and $1279 (HS303) in US dollars. North American equivalents will be announced soon.
Though its ads are frequently polarizing, Apple continues to produce new "Get a Mac" commercials as part of a concerted effort to take advantage of its resurgent influence in technology. Word has arrived from blogger Nick Starr that Apple has begun showing new ads in the campaign at its stores ahead of potential Internet or television appearances. The three new segments continue the earlier approach. One of these (pictured) is said to feature model Gisele Bündchen and likely focuses on Apple's computer design, while a second sees the main actors in business suits and a third presents them in psychotherapy. The commercials' introduction may be timed to coincide with Apple's special event later this month. See photos of the other two ads after the jump.
As most accessory manufacturers for portable audio still develop with the iPod primarily in mind, rivals are left to create their own hardware ecosystems to encourage new buyers. SanDisk is the most prominent of these challengers and, accordingly, announced today a dock made just for its new Sansa c200 and e200 players. The new Base Station serves as a multi-purpose hub for the flash-based players, connecting to a computer through USB to ease the sync process or to a set of speakers for direct music playback. SanDisk also ventures beyond Apple's current iPod dock by including an IR remote with the Base Station to let Sansa owners control music wirelessly without an extra purchase. The dock ships in October for $69.
The relative abundance of iPod-ready speakers has left many manufacturers scrambling to offer a unique approach that will garner attention. Harman Kardon's new Go + Play stereo, introduced at the IFA expo in Berlin, stands out courtesy of several atypical features. Its stainless steel handle lets owners carry the system with one hand, and a near-horizontal iPod dock layout keeps the digital audio player safe while in transit. An S-video port gives users the option of playing video on a television. Inside, the sound system is above-average and sports bi-amp digital amplification as well as a DSP chip for improved quality. The Go + Play is powered either through an AC adapter or eight D-cell batteries, the latter of which provides up to 18 hours of battery life. Harmon Kardon is pricing the Go + Play at €349 for its European release in November; American pricing is not yet available but is expected to be $349. Click through for a profile photo.
Japanese electronics maker Sharp is famous for the LCD televisions on which the company now depends, but until now it has never seen fit to join Sony and others in using its advantage in the television business to make home theater PCs. The company's first steps into the field begin with its new Aquos PC-AX sets. Each model has a 20-inch, 1366x768 LCD screen and a slim-profile computer controlled with a keyboard/trackball board and remote. The base PC-AX50M is modest, driven by a 1.6GHz Celeron M, 512MB of RAM, and an analog-only TV tuner for recording to its 250GB drive. At the higher end is the PC-AX100M, which receives a 1.66GHz Core Duo, 1GB of RAM, a digital TV tuner and an ample 500GB hard drive. Both versions ship in late September for equivalent prices of $2075 and $2940 US respectively. It remains to be seen whether Sharp will follow Sony's practices and introduce the PC-AX to North America.
The cartridge-based format of the Nintendo DS is very conducive to functions beyond gaming. The handheld console is already capable of Web browsing in some regions; according to Gamer Scan, Nintendo will also add music playback through an add-on. Simply called the Nintendo MP3 Player in a catalog from the Leipzig Games Convention, the adapter will plug into the GameBoy Advance slot on a DS (or an actual GameBoy Advance) and play music from user-provided SD cards. Track information and user-chosen interface skins will appear on the main system display. Nintendo also lists a secondary headphone jack. Little else is known: a European launch on October 8th for 30 Euros has been reported but not yet confirmed.
Confirming news previously revealed first on the Web by Electronista, Apple has formally announced a special event set to take place on September 12th. The announcement graphic, which features a dark blue background and spotlight beams crossing the Apple logo, simply announces that "It's Showtime." The presentation begins 10 AM Pacific Time at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, located in the same facility as the Moscone Center. Multiple movie-related announcements are expected, including a 23-inch iMac, an iTunes movie store, and a video-capable Airport Express base station. Click through for an image of the invitation, courtesy of AppleInsider.
Many current digital cameras and cellphones pack some degree of internal storage to save the user the trouble of bringing a flash card with them when they travel. These are almost always exercises in compromise: they often hold well under 100MB of data, making them poor substitutes for the expanded storage rarely included in the box. A new technology may turn this backup-only format into a complete replacement for storage cards altogether. Samsung's moviNAND embeds both an I/O interface and flash memory into a single chip, drastically improving the amount of storage that can fit into a truly small device. The Korean electronics firm announced today that it was shipping as much as 2GB of flash memory on a single chip, which is several times the capacity of current technology. A 4GB chip is also slated for release by the end of the year. No specific products were announced as using moviNAND, though these should become public shortly.
Canon refreshed much of its mainstream camera lineup last month, bringing a number of older models up to 7 or 10 megapixels while addding new features. The EOS-400D, better known as the Digital Rebel XTi in North America, was an especially significant update as it introduced features to an entry-level DSLR that were not even present in the company's otherwise superior EOS-30D. Today, information surfaced courtesy of Swedish site Fosfor Gadgets that reveals an imminent upgrade to the mid-range professional camera. The EOS-40D receives the 10.1-megapixel sensor of the Rebel XTi as well as the self-cleaning sensor that reduces dust artifacts. Many other aspects of the new camera will remain unchanged over the 30D, but logic dictates that the 40D should receive its less expensive counterpart's enhanced processing as well. Its price should match the $1300 of the existing unit when it reaches the market soon.
Auxiliary input jacks are increasingly prevalent options for car stereo head units, but they limit playback only to devices that already have minijacks for sound output. This forces sound to pass through typically weak amplifiers in digital audio players, potentially hurting the quality of the sound as it reaches the car stereo. Kenwood recently announced six new head units that solve this problem through the introduction of new head units that all include a USB port. The new stereos scan the storage systems of any device attached via USB, allowing the stereo to use any USB storage - including digital audio players and hard drives - as a source for music. Common audio formats such as AAC, MP3, and WMA are supported. The stereo manufacturer also indicated that there will be an iPod adapter to fully control Apple's ubiquitous music player. No prices or shipping dates were given, though Kenwood noted that there would be both single- and double-DIN stereos to accommodate different cars and listener needs.
Television networks habitually see TiVo and other PVR systems as enemies: commercial skipping and timeshifting skew the networks' assumptions about ad revenues and ratings. CBS will be the first such network to take a step towards embracing PVRs instead of shunning them: the provider announced Tuesday that it would give TiVo subscribers the premiere episode of "The Class," a new comedy for the Fall season, a full week ahead of its official debut. Moreover, CBS will also be providing previews of the shows "Jericho," "Shark," and "Smith" at the same time, and will give TiVo subscribers a chance to automatically record all four shows through one season pass. There is no word on how CBS will handle ads for the advance release.
The Slingbox has been generally unchallenged as a means of streaming television both throughout a house as well as to mobile users: while Sony's LocationFree technology is widespread, its flexibility is relatively limited in the current version. This changes courtesy of newly announced additions to the LocationFree line: Sony's two new base stations and completely new TV Box promise better and farther-ranging access to source videos. Resembling the slim PlayStation 2, the LF-B10 uses Ethernet to stream video from a nearby TV to almost any device with an Internet connection - including MacOS X and Windows computers, the PlayStation Portable, and Windows Mobile smartphones. It also uses the AVC (H.264) codec to improve video quality on relatively low-bandwidth signals. Similar in design, the LF-B20 uses 802.11g wireless networking to eliminate the need for Ethernet cables. Finally, the TV Box is an expansion of the line that acts as a receiver for LocationFree signals rather than a transmitter. It connects to an existing base station and can output that video to a remote TV, whether in another room or in a completely separate location. The LF-B10 starts at $200, while the wireless feature of the B20 raises the price to $250. A TV Box unit will retail for $230. All the new LocationFree sets display either NTSC or PAL and are shipping in October. Click through for full photos of the LF-B20 and TV Box.
The recent introduction of the Sony Mylo has helped trigger a new interest in WiFi-based communicators - an interest which will be very beneficial to HP as it introduces its new iPAQ rx4000 Mobile Media Companion. Unlike previous iPAQ versions, the rx4000 is not a PDA or smartphone: it instead shares the Mylo's emphasis on Internet access and media playback. The rx4000 relies on a 2.8-inch touchscreen for controlling its Windows Mobile 5 interface, providing easier playback of music and videos in either landscape or portrait mode (a scroll wheel exists to speed up some tasks). WiFi is naturally the cornerstone of the design and can be used to browse the Web, download files, and communicate with others through VoIP software such as Skype. Bluetooth is also present for connecting devices such as cellphones or headsets. Some details are absent in the current announcement, such as internal storage or pricing; however, a Fall release near the estimated $350 price of the Mylo is entirely possible depending on the amount of included storage.
Acer is targeting both business and entertainment at once with its introduction of new laptops using Core 2 Duo processors. On the conservative side is the TravelMate 3290, a 14-inch system oriented towards business users who need a portable but still flexible computer for the road. A DVD writer, 5-in-1 card reader, and a 128MB Mobility Radeon X1600 make the 3290 one of the more full-featured systems of its size. More interesting is the media-focused Aspire 9520, a 17-inch desktop replacement clearly intended as a media hub. Beyond faster GeForce Go 7600 or 7900 GS graphics that make it suitable for gaming, the new Aspire model (pictured) adds a hybrid analog/digital TV tuner for watching video locally and an HDMI output for relaying sound and video to a nearby flat-panel TV. Both the Aspire and TravelMate share some unique Acer technologies: QuicCharge can get as much as 80% of the battery charge back in one hour, while SignalUp can boost the WiFi signal to reach hotspots at the edge of normal wireless range. Each model should be available soon, though no official pricing has been set.
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