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The previously revealed Harmony 785 remote from Logitech is already a premier control for complex home theater arrangements; an announcement by the company, however, adds a significant new level of control to the universal remote line. The new flagship Harmony 1000 now includes support for the Z-Wave home electronics standard, allowing control of supported appliances such as lighting systems. Logitech has also introduced an enhanced user interface. In place of the rows of fixed buttons, the Harmony 1000 is dominated by a 3.5-inch touchscreen that gives context-sensitive controls and can display the state of one device while the user controls another. Updates to the existing catalog of 175,000 supported devices are handled by synchronizing the remote with a MacOS X 10.3 or Windows 2000/XP computer via USB. Logitech says its new design will ship later in the fall for $500; a Wireless Extender adds range to the main base station for an additional $150. A full photo is available after the jump.
Though it had been anticipated by some sources, many were surprised at Tuesday's Apple press event when the company gave an early demonstration of its first set-top box, known under the tentative name of iTV. The new media device has the appearance of a half-height Mac mini and is intended to stream iTunes audio, photos, and video to HDTV sets through an Ethernet or WiFi connection. Its current design includes the new HDMI 1.3 standard with support for "deep" color on compatible displays, component audio and video, and a USB port. Users will have access to all their media through an enhanced Front Row interface and can stream movie trailers as well as other content directly from the Internet. Apple hopes to ship the iTV in the first quarter of 2007 for $299.
The final component of Apple's new strategy is iTunes 7, which was unveiled today. Taking advantage of the new iPod's enhanced video performance, the new software marks the formal introduction of full-length movie sales to the iTunes Store. Buyers can purchase new titles from Disney and related movie studios (including Miramax, Pixar, and Touchstone) at $13 for a pre-order, $15 for new releases, and $10 for older titles. Although movies cannot be burned to DVD, they maintain the same rights as television shows and can be played back while they download. Multiple simultaneous movie downloads are also possible and all videos on iTunes can now be bought in a much larger 640x480 resolution. The software itself has also seen important enhancements such as an improved source list, a Cover Flow mode that browses albums and movies visually. and the ability to automatically download album art for imported CDs. iTunes 7 is available now for Macs and Windows PCs; movies are currently available only for the US, but will be accessible internationally in 2007.
A relatively minor update to the iPod rounded out the suite of new product announcements from Apple's press event today. Similar in most respects to the previous version, the new iPod has primarily received improvements in capacity, software, and price. A new 80GB model is available which matches the dimensions of the earlier 60GB model but can hold up to 20,000 songs or 100 hours of video. Gapless audio playback is now a standard feature and video playback has been greatly enhanced: a 30GB model can play video continuously for 3.5 hours instead of 2, while the new 80GB version is capable of 6.5 hours (increased from 4). All models support 640x480 H.264 video files. A new search function lets users find content by keyword. Games are also a significant component of the launch: new iPods ship with games from PopCap and other companies including Bejeweled and Pac-Man, while others can be purchased from the iTunes Store for $5 each. Finally, the revised iPod lineup has dropped prices to $249 for 30GB and $349 for 80GB. Both new models are shipping today in black and white colors from the Apple Store.
A surprise element of Apple's iPod announcements on Tuesday was the introduction of a completely revised iPod shuffle. No larger than the Apple Radio Remote, the new model is the world's smallest MP3 player, according to Apple. Its aluminum shell features a built-in belt clip and is small enough to require its own dock in place of the earlier model's built-in USB connector. The dock uses an innovative technique that uses the headphone jack for both audio and data. Also notable is the same 12-hour battery life in spite of the dramatically reduced player size. Apple has consolidated the iPod shuffle line into a single 1GB model, which is shipping in early October for $79 from the Apple Store. Click through for a larger photo of the shuffle in its dock.
As part of its special press event, Apple has launched a major redesign of the iPod nano. All models now feature an extremely thin case resembling the iPod mini discontinued in 2005. Available in black, blue, green, pink, and silver depending on capacity, the new nano has a 40% brighter screen but extends its battery life dramatically to 24 hours. Storage has been doubled across the line with base models starting at 2GB for $149 and ending at $249 for the new 8GB capacity. Apple has also redesigned the earbuds for all iPods to improve quality and has released new accessories including a new armband. The new iPod nano is shipping today from the online Apple Store. See a photo containing all five colors after the jump.
Apple will soon begin its "Showtime" special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. While details of what will be released are still unknown, both the online Apple Store and iTunes Music Store are currently offline and expected to feature new products and services after Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivers his presentation. Click through for periodic updates starting at 10 AM Pacific (1 PM Eastern).
UPDATED Harman Kardon's multimedia brand JBL saw the introduction of several new iPod and computer speaker systems in time for the opening of Apple Expo 2006. Two of these are smaller versions of existing units: the JBL Micro Radial reduces the size of the desktop Radial iPod speakers and shrinks the price to $150, while the battery-powered JBL On Stage Micro at $100 is more affordable and portable than the earlier On Stage II. Another two speakers share a completely new desktop 2.1-speaker design as their foundation. The $130 JBL Spot uses a mushroom-shaped subwoofer and satellites and can be customized with different-colored replaceable shells; the JBL Spyro (pictured, $130) shares the same subwoofer but exchanges customization for unique flower-shaped satellites. Click through for full photos of all four speaker models.
Viewsonic marked the opening of Apple Expo 2006 in Paris with a unique addition to its computer LCD line. The ViewDock is one of the first computer displays to integrate an iPod dock into the base of the unit, according to today's announcement. The new widescreen monitor can charge and synchronize an iPod as well as play its music directly through built-in speakers without any additional cables. An 8-in-1 card reader and multiple USB 2.0 ports also allow the ViewDock to serve as a storage hub. Viewsonic claims fast response times and wide viewing angles that are ideal for games and movies. The company expects the new display line to ship before the end of the year; pricing and exact specifications have not been released.
Obtaining GPS navigation for laptops, smartphones, and other portable devices is difficult without a physical (and often proprietary) cable. Bluetooth solutions exist but are generally rare. Garmin thus becomes the first North American company to truly make Bluetooth GPS available on a wider scale through today's announcement of two new GPS units designed to pair with common mobile hardware. The Mobile 10 (pictured) is a general-purpose GPS receiver that can connect wirelessly to most PCs, PocketPC handhelds, and either Palm or Windows Mobile smartphones to provide real-time GPS data. A replaceable battery gives the Mobile 10 up to 22 hours of battery life; it can also be charged in a vehicle through a 12-volt charging cable or carried outside of the car on a belt clip. The Mobile 20, in turn, is designed explicitly for car use and revolves around a suction mount that cradles and powers a Palm, Symbian, or Windows Mobile smartphone while transmitting GPS maps. Both GPS units can take advantage of more advanced GPS features such as hands-free calling, traffic re-routing, and improved tracking through WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System). Garmin expects the Mobile 10 and 20 to both be available by November for $199 and $299 respectively. A photo of the Mobile 20 is available after the jump.
Having already addressed the DSLR market in advance of the Photokina expo with its S9100 model, Fujifilm is now turning to its entry-level A series of cameras. The new FinePix A700 is the first camera with a 7.3-megapixel sensor, according to the company. While cameras with higher-resolution sensors exist, the A700's sensor offers it a slight quality advantage over 7.1- and 7.2-megapixel models from other manufacturers without adding to the price. Fujifilm has also added 12MB of internal memory alongside the standard 3X optical zoom and 2.4-inch LCD. Significantly, the A700 will retail for $199 when it ships to the US in early October, making it one of the least expensive 7-megapixel cameras available. Click through for complete photos of the front and back.
Home theater projectors demand carefully controlled environments. Overly bright ambient light or the wrong screen size can easily ruin what would otherwise be a good image. Panasonic claims its new PT-AX100U LCD projector solves a number of the common problems that plague normal projection systems at home. The new model has a class-leading 2000-lumen brightness and achieves a 6,000:1 contrast ratio, according to Panasonic, which ensures that the resulting picture should be visible without being unacceptably bright. The projector also delivers much more accurate color than most, using a three-color filter instead of the more common white balance adjustments to achieve the intended output, the company says. Screen size should not be an issue for most homes: the AX100U can output a 100-inch, 720p image anywhere between three and six meters from the screen. Panasonic says that its new design will begin shipping later this month for $2999.
External hard drives typically carry with them a certain expectation not just of features, but also of appearance. Western Digital is keenly aware of this in its release of a new line of Passport portable hard drives. The new models have a streamlined design with a glossy black finish that invites attention. Capacity and performance has also increased in the new models: 60, 80, 120, and 160GB versions are available and all spin at 5,400 RPM. Each 2.5-inch drive is powered solely by the USB 2 interface and is compatible with either MacOS X or Windows 2000/XP, though included encryption and sync software functions with Windows only. Complete pricing was not announced at the launch; Western Digital is currently shipping a 120GB model for $179 and also offers 160GB for $199.
After months of anticipation and uncertainty, TiVo has officially released its Series 3 personal video recorder to the market, confirming earlier reports on new features while adding new details. The new PVR is designed for HDTV recording with two CableCARD 1.0 slots that can record two digital signals at once (analog cable is also supported). TiVo has also expanded the Series 3's capacity to 300 hours of standard-definition programming, or 32 hours at HDTV quality. A similarly welcome addition is the inclusion of Internet functions as a basic feature; while Series 2 models could take advantage of these as well, they could only be unlocked by a separate fee. TiVo Series 3 owners can immediately gain access to music, photos, and podcasts on their home computers as well as program their set remotely from the TiVo website. Curiously, however, the external SATA port in the system is disabled until a future software update. Previous launch details have proven to be accurate. The new TiVo model carries a top-tier price of $799 without a subscription - well above Series 2 models - but is available today through the TiVo website and in retail stores as of next week. [Photo courtesy of Engadget]
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