News Archive for 06/09/06

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HP upgrades business laptops to Core 2 Duo

09/06, 4:55pm

HP Core 2 Duo Business

Attention to HP's laptop line usually centers around its revitalized home models. However, as many mobile workers can attest, its business line is every bit as important to those who depend on a company-assigned laptop away from the office. These users now have the significant advantage of a suite of new pro laptops from HP that center around Intel's mobile Core 2 Duo. While most of HP's business line has the option of the new chip through custom configurations, notable highlights include the $1299 nx9420 (pictured), a 17-inch mobile workstation with a 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo and more than double the battery life of previous 17-inch HP portables, as well as the $1479 tc4400, a 12.1-inch Tablet PC with the same processor. All of HP's new laptops are shipping today through the HP business website.

femto3G access point shares 3G wireless access

09/06, 4:20pm

femto3G Access Point

We frequently laud 3G mobile broadband for removing many of the limitations of land lines. Even so, there are still serious restrictions: most 3G connections can only be accessed by one user at a time without special effort, and these services are largely useless if indoor interference ruins the signal. HSDPA users (such as those in some Cingular areas) may gain some relief from both problems if British firm ip.access' new femto3G is chosen by carriers and stores. As suggested by the name, the femto3G connects to an existing HSDPA service and shares the connection over a large enough radius to reach everyone in a typical home, including areas which would normally be out of range of a 3G receiver. It can also tap into existing IP-based networks to let computers with more conventional network hardware take advantage of 3G Internet access. No launch partners were announced with the femto3G's introduction, but the rapid expansion of mobile broadband should see the new access point become an option in the coming months.

New Sony receiver uses PSP-style onscreen interface

09/06, 3:40pm

Sony PSP Receiver Controls

More news from Sony arrives today in the form of an upcoming home theater receiver. Most receivers rely on relatively arcane interfaces through either the receiver itself or a television to manage the different A/V connections and their features. The cryptically-named STR-DA5200ES evades these pitfalls by implementing a much simpler, icon-based interface heavily influenced by the Cross Media Bar from the PSP and upcoming PS3. Users can assign, control, and rename inputs by delving into a hierarchical system which identifies inputs by their appearance and role in the home theater as well as by type. Moreover, the onscreen interface can overlay on top any source currently in use, including HDTV signals. The I/O features of the receiver are similarly capable and include multiple HDMI ports with video upconversion, audio-only HDMI with 7.1 surround, and support for external XM Satellite Radio receivers. The DA5200ES will retail for slightly under $2000 when it makes its North American debut next week, but may easily justify its price by making its strong feature set more accessible to inexperienced users. Additional details are available by visiting the receiver's product page for Australia, where it is already shipping. More photos of the interface are available after the jump.

Denon bookshelf stereo with hard drive, iPod support

09/06, 2:55pm

Denon D-F103 Stereo

Most home stereos aware of digital audio files are limited to reading those files from a single source, be it an iPod dock or an MP3 CD. Introduced at the IFA expo in Berlin, Denon's new D-F103 bookshelf system can accept music files from various sources inside and outside the main unit. Similar in behavior to the Panasonic D-dock, the D-F103 can transfer as many as 10,000 songs to a built-in hard drive by ripping CDs; track information is automatically filled in by a CDDB database also incorporated into the system. An Ethernet connection lets the stereo update its catalog of titles via the Internet as well as stream audio from a nearby PC or Internet radio station. Lastly, Denon's system has connections for external devices such the iPod and USB mass storage. Track data from all supported digital sources (including the iPod) can be displayed on the stereo's main screen. Denon is scheduled to ship the D-F103 to European customers by the end of September for the equivalent of $1695 US; no North American release details have yet been announced.

Wireless HDMI standard eliminates home theater cables

09/06, 2:15pm

Wireless HDMI Standard

HDMI by itself streamlines much of the elaborate cabling required for high-definition video and sound, combining both into a single cable. That simplifcation needs to be taken one step further, says chip manufacturer TZero. The company has been working on a wireless version of HDMI that would eliminate the need for anything but a power cable. Using ultra-wide bandwidth (UWB) signals, the 500Mbps chipset can distribute three full HDTV streams with sound even when interference from microwaves and WiFi networks is present. The technology uses lossless image compression to maintain a constant stream regardless of bandwidth. TZero additionally promises that a single HDMI transmitter can broadcast to three receivers at once, making it possible to send content to three different devices at once - even if that content varies. Adapters should be available for electronics that already have physical HDMI in place. A television with built-in wireless HDMI is set to debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in January; other hardware announcements are pending.

Creative Live! Cam Voice

09/06, 1:35pm

Creative Live Cam Voice

Audio quality often suffers with web cameras due to their open nature: they can pick up any nearby sounds regardless of their immediate relevance to the conversation. Creative's recently released Live! Cam Voice is the first to solve this problem by incorporating two microphones, according to the company. Using an intelligent sampling system, the new Creative device compares audio from two microphone arrays to reduce background noise that might interfere with voice chat. The camera itself has an ultra-wide-angle lens with a 1.3-megapixel sensor and automatic exposure correction; unique features include interpolation to 5 megapixels and automatic tracking to follow head movements. A Live! Cam Voice requires Windows 2000 or XP and is currently shipping for $100.

Sony developing PlayStation phone?

09/06, 12:15pm

Sony PlayStation Phone

Increasing convergence in cellphones has pressured even long-term opponents such as Apple to introduce their own models in the near future. Sony is familiar with the concept, having collaborated with Swedish cellphone maker Ericsson on numerous Walkman-branded music phones, but has always maintained its cellphone line at arm's length from its other products. That differentiation will soon end through the introduction of a PlayStation phone, according to Gamer Scan. Declining to go into further details, Sony-Ericsson senior vice president Rikki Sakaguchi said that the partnership was "working on something" that included gaming as a major complement to general cellphone functions. Sony is also planning to connect its WEGA television brand with future cellphones that would support live mobile video, Sakaguchi said. Both brands are expected to make their way into the Sony-Ericsson lineup within the next two years.

Key Microsoft exec resigns as Vista doubts persist

09/06, 11:40am

Microsoft Exec Resigns

Operating system development can take years even in ideal circumstances, yet most releases only truly coalesce in the last several months leading to the final launch as features are integrated together and fixes are made in response to test feedback. This makes the sudden departure of Microsoft's Brian Valentine to Amazon.com a minor but significant blow to the company. The senior vice president of the Windows Core Operating System Division, Valentine was known for his ability to galvanize Windows-related software development in the critical final stages, says the Seattle Post Intelligencer. His resignation adds to further doubts about the viability of Microsoft's planned October release to manufacturing for Windows Vista that were recently expressed by respected magazine author Paul Thurrott recently. Although Release Candidate 1 is a major improvement over Beta 2, says Thurrott, serious issues remain in the current Vista beta with interface consistency, unnecessarily strict security controls, and other software inadequacies that threaten the success of the operating system's January 2007 launch.

Sony halves PS3 shipments in 2006, delays launches

09/06, 11:05am

Sony Halves PS3 Shipments

Game enthusiasts and investors alike were concerned when Sony maintained its claimed goal of shipping 4 million PlayStation 3 systems by the end of 2006 despite idle production lines as late as last month. Such anxieties were justifed today when Sony announced it would drastically scale back the number of PS3 consoles available this year, according to Gamer Scan. Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi said that only 2 million PS3 systems would be produced by the end of 2006, with 500,000 of those systems available by the official mid-November launch window. The smaller production figures have forced Sony to delay the launch of the console for all regions outside of North America and Japan until March 2007, when the company expects manufacturing can properly supply all regions. The company attributes the altered launch estimates to manufacturing problems with the blue laser diode at the core of the Blu-Ray drive used in the system.

Nvidia launches mid-range 7900 GS, 7950 GT cards

09/06, 10:40am

Nvidia Mid-Range Sept 2006

ATI's recent update to its Radeon graphics cards primarily targeted the extremes of budget and high-performance video, but left the mid-range largely untouched as it remained an area where ATI was secure. That stability is being challenged today by Nvidia's introduction of two new video cards targeted at dominance of the highly coveted $200-300 price range. Leading the announcements is the pictured GeForce 7950 GT, which doubles the onboard memory of the 7900 GT to 512MB and increases the core speed dramatically to 550MHz. It offers claimed performance similar to the 7900 GTX at a much lower $299 price. Also released is the 256MB GeForce 7900 GS, which offers speeds slightly lower than the outgoing 7900 GT but at a still-lower $199 price. Both new cards feature quieter cooling systems and are immediately available through major computer hardware resellers from manufacturers such as Asus and eVGA.

Apple refreshes Mac minis with all dual-core lineup

09/06, 10:10am

New Apple Mac Minis

As expected following reports of delays to bulk orders is today's announcement of an upgraded Mac mini line. The new systems eliminate single-core computers from Apple's Mac lineup altogether, replacing the earlier 1.5GHz Core Solo base model with a 1.66GHz Core Duo. The higher-end Superdrive model also sees an upgrade to a 1.83 GHz Core Duo. Memory, hard drive space, and pricing are largely unchanged: new to the line is the option of a 160GB hard drive. All new Mac minis are slated to ship within 1-2 business days.

Apple introduces Core 2 Duo-based iMacs

09/06, 9:55am

Apple Core 2 Duo iMacs

As a prelude to its special event next week, Apple today introduced a significant update to its iMac line that caters to a wider range of users At the forefront is a larger-screened 24-inch model which had previously been anticipated in a slightly smaller form. All four new models use mobile Core 2 Duo processors which Apple claims can improve performance by as much as 50 percent over the original 2GHz Core Duo launched earlier this year. Most models are shipping tomorrow with the new 24-inch iMac available in 2-4 business days from the Apple Store. Click through for detailed information on the new models.

Sprint to offer a-la-carte movie rentals

09/06, 9:10am

Sprint Movie Downloads

Viewing movies on a cellphone is difficult, but not unique: in December of last year Sprint began offering its mSpot Movies service that gave flat-rate access to a collection of full-length movies as well as concerts and television shows. The concept of paying to view specific movies, however, remained untested in North America until today. While Sprint maintains its earlier subscription service, the newly announced Sprint Movies will let users of compatible Sprint phones rent a given movie at their leisure. While movies will only remain viewable for anywhere between one to seven days depending on the title, users can play movies as often as they like during that period. Sprint is also aware that long periods of movie watching are often rare, and has enabled DVD-style chapter markers and a resume function that starts playing where the user last finished. Movies will vary in price from $4 to $6 and, in the case of single-day rentals, can be extended for an extra day by 99 cents.

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