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As part of its presence at Apple Expo 2006 in Paris, Hercules on Thursday announced two new iPod speaker sets as well as an iTunes-specific remote. The pictured i-XPS 250 is a home system that focuses on quality for the price. It balances its audio by including a built-in subwoofer and producing 25W of sustained power. A wireless remote and an aux-in jack are also part of the design. Second in the company's announcements was the shockproof and water-resistant i-XPS 120. Made with the outdoors in mind, it features rubber corners and shelters the iPod cradle in a watertight casing. The i-XPS 120 can also be run entirely on four C-cell batteries or through a car adapter. Both speaker sets will sell for £69 ($130 US) when they ship to Europe in November. Beyond these, Hercules has also revealed the Tunes Explorer Wireless, an RF-based remote that shows track information in iTunes and offers basic controls for either Macs or Windows PCs. It will arrive in October for £50 ($94 US). Photos of the i-XPS 120 and Tunes Explorer Wireless are after the jump.
News that Europe would be first to see Toshiba's improved HD DVD players had left North American users without a clear alternative to the native 1080p output of Blu-Ray. Those concerns were put to rest at the CEDIA expo in Denver today through Toshiba's unveiling of two second-generation HD DVD players for the North American market. Much as with the European models (pictured), the new HD-A2 and HD-XA2 are split between mainstream and high-end features. The A2 retains the same 1080i output as the original A1 but improves general performance. More impressive is the high-end HD-XA2, which is capable of true 1080p and also supports the HDMI 1.3 standard and can display "deep color" 36-bit images versus the normal 24. Toshiba says it will release the basic HD-A2 first in October for the same $500 price as the pioneering A1; the HD-XA2 will ship in December for $1000.
While Apple has garnered much attention for previewing its iTV streaming media device this week, Sling Media has quietly built a reputation for its existing Slingbox that can stream video not just to televisions but also to handhelds and smartphones. The company is planning its first revision to the device since its release in 2005, according to an FCC filing. The new version, which has been given the early title of Slingbox A/V, appears to be a shrinking of the three-piece original design into a single unit. Sling Media has also exchanged its earlier 3-in-1 video adapter for direct RCA and S-video connections that will let users record or stream directly from a standard-definition source. Features of the device itself are still a mystery, but the presence of the FCC article indicates a likely release by the end of 2006.
A final round of large-scale camera announcements was made by Leica today in advance of the Photokina expo later this month. The four new cameras share the company's traditionalist design and cater to serious amateurs. Beginning the announcements is the 7.5-megapixel DIGILUX 3 (pictured), Leica's first purely digital mirror-lens reflex camera. The camera uses a unique blend of new and old technology: automatic image stabilization and a dust removal system are standard with the kit lens, but the camera relies on manual adjustment rings for aperture, exposure, and zoom. Bundled with the camera is a 1GB SD card. Leica has not announced a launch date or price for most of the new models. Photos and information for the D-LUX 3, V-LUX 1, and the distinctive M8 can be found after the jump. [via DPReview.com]
Months of rampant speculation have come to a close as Microsoft has formally launched its first self-branded music player after years of collaboration with other manufacturers. As widely expected, the Zune is a 30GB music, photo, and video player designed around the concept of sharing music with other listeners. Music and photos can be shared with nearby Zunes through a wireless connection; interestingly, users can not only flag songs to purchase later, but can even download and listen to a complete song from another player up to three times over three days. The player also includes a built-in FM radio and lets owners personalize the interface theme. Microsoft's similarly new Zune Marketplace is launching alongside the player and will give the choice of buying albums and songs individually or subscribing to an unlimited Zune Pass service. Players are shipping this holiday for an unannounced price. Click through for a photo of the Zune in its shipping black, brown, and white colors as well as the full press release with details on accessories.
Further camera announcements have been made today by Pentax, which is updating its camera line with two new compact cameras in its Optio range alongside a new entry-level DSLR. The Optio T20 is one of the thinnest cameras with a 3-inch LCD at 0.77 inches, according to Pentax, and uses a touchscreen interface to keep physical controls to a minimum. The 7-megapixel camera also has a lens with 3X optical zoom, 12MB of internal memory, and a movie mode capable of 30 frames per second at 640x480. Pentax anticipates shipping the T20 in October for $350. Click through for information and photos for the E20 and K10D cameras.
The CTIA expo in Los Angeles has seen the introduction of numerous phones to North American shores, including yesterday's announcement of the Cingular 3125 and the RAZR V3i with iTunes. The latest and perhaps most technically advanced release so far at CTIA is the HTC Libra. Also known as the UTStarcom 5800, the Libra will be one of the first handsets to support the higher speeds of EVDO Rev. A. It will also shrink in size compared to other HTC models by using a slide-out QWERTY keyboard for messaging. The CDMA-based phone will be available through North American carriers by the first quarter of 2007; a GSM version likely to use EDGE or HSDPA mobile broadband should arrive later that year. Prices and other details have not been announced.
As reported by Gamer Scan, Nintendo has officially announced details of its upcoming Wii console's release and platform details. Most surprising amidst the announcements is that Wii users will have access to Internet-enabled "channels" that let Wii owners use their system outside of traditional game functions. A photo channel can be used to display and edit photos accessed from the included SD card slot; news and weather channels keep track of relevant information; a Mii channel also exists for creating personal avatars. There will be over a dozen games at launch alongside 30 emulated NES, SNES, and Nintendo 64 games available to purchase online for between $5 and $10. The game Wii Sports will be included with the system when it ships to North and South American stores on November 19th for $250.
Canon on Thursday made a new series of camera announcements to complement the earlier release of entry-level DSLR and point-and-shoot models. The four new cameras in the company's PowerShot line occupy the mid-range field of ultra-compact and 'prosumer' models. All four use Canon's new DIGIC III processor, which Canon says will add hardware-based face detection, improve color accuracy and movie mode quality, and reduces noise at high ISO settings. First is the SD40, an update to the style-oriented SD30. The 7.1-megapixel SD40 is designed to be narrow and thin enough to carry in a small bag and, while limited to 2.4X optical zoom, has a high ISO 1600 sensitivity suitable for low light. It ships in October for an unspecified price in four distinct colors including Noble Blue (pictured), Olive Gray, Precious Rose, and Twilight Sepia. Click through for details and photos of the SD800 IS, SD900, and G7.
The option of full 1080p projection for home theater has been available for awhile, but virtually all of these systems have been priced well above the level of already-expensive 1080p televisions without necessarily adding any extra features. Sony hopes to change this state of affairs with the announcement today of its new VPL-VW50 front projector. The new system has many of the features common to high-end units beyond the full HDTV resolution: the SXRD (liquid crystal on silicon) design and automatically irising lens provide an exceptionally high contrast ratio of 15,000:1. A full range of connection options exists, ranging from RCA and VGA to two 1080p-capable HDMI inputs. All these features, however, are only made relevant by the price. When the VW50 ships for $4,999 in October, it will undercut the prices of even some new 720p projectors, such as the Epson PowerLite Pro 810 HQV. Also announced today was Stewart Filmscreen's special Firehawk SST projection screen designed specifically to complement the new Sony projector. It ships this month for an unspecified price.
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