News Archive for 06/09/19

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Microsoft defends Zune sharing DRM

09/19, 4:55pm

Zune Sharing DRM Defended

When Microsoft announced the Zune last week, digital rights activists openly criticized Microsoft for statements that it would impose DRM on any music sent from one Zune to another as part of the player's unique wireless sharing feature. Particularly noteworthy is the Zune's potential legal violations: under the terms of the international Creative Commons license, copy protection cannot be added to files where it does not already exist - rendering Microsoft liable for any changes that might be made to relevant songs. Microsoft's Cesar Menendez today defended the sharing practice in his Zune Insider blog. The protection is not applied permanently to any songs in the user's library, writes Menendez, and is limited only to the temporary file. He similarly refutes notions that the Zune's sharing equates to "viral" DRM that protects files which artists intend to share freely. The protection only exists to encourage users to buy music when the usage rights expire, he says. The response does not completely address the issue of whether or not temporary DRM constitutes a Creative Commons violation by its very existence.

Sony unveils pro 1080p video camera

09/19, 4:30pm

Sony HVR-V1U Camera

A clear limitation of even the most advanced home HDV cameras is their 1080i resolution. Despite the improvement over standard-definition video, the interlaced format falls short for professional videographers, even in Sony's HDR-FX7 prosumer camera. Sony recognizes this and today announced the HVR-V1U video camera, an entry-level pro model which shares the same three-chip sensor as the FX7 but records 1080p video at the 24 frames per second common to large-screen films. Higher frame rates are possible when using HDV at 720p or 1080i. Additional pro features beyond the FX7 include better audio controls, a shotgun microphone, a slot that preserves settings to Memory Stick cards for transfer to other cameras, and an optional 60GB hard drive for longer video shoots. Sony plans on shipping the V1U in December for $4,800 at the SonyStyle website.

New Whistler GPS car navigation with media, remote

09/19, 3:55pm

Whistler GPS Car Units

Known for its radar detectors and other in-car equipment, Whistler today introduced a suite of new GPS receivers designed explicitly to cope with the needs of long road trips. First is the WGPX-550 (pictured) that caters to in-car media viewing: the color touchscreen device has dedicated programs for playing back MP3 music and JPEG photos on SD cards. A stylus bundled with the 550 lets users control functions without smudging the display. Also made available today were the WGPX-635 and WGPX-650 navigators. These two new models are largely similar but exchange media playback in favor of road-related features. Both the 635 and 650 have a Speed Alert function that can warn the driver when the car exceeds a speed limit, whether automatically based on map data or manually for special conditions. The 650 adds a wireless remote for basic map controls. All three GPS systems come with maps of Canada and the US pre-programmed with points of interest and are available today. Official prices have been set at $600 for the 550 and 635 models and $650 for the 650 model; online retailers are selling the systems for less.

Lenovo quietly introduces Core 2 Duo laptop

09/19, 3:15pm

Lenovo Core 2 Duo

In addition to inheriting IBM's reputation for durable laptops, Chinese manufacturer Lenovo also inherited the American company's typically conservative approach to system upgrades, often updating its models only after the initial wave of updates from rivals. Lenovo's newly released 3000 N100 laptop at once follows this tradition and defies it. While the new model has become available with Lenovo's common lack of fanfare and misses the flurry of earlier product launches, the adoption of Intel's latest processor is unusually quick for the brand and is targeted at the mainstream user - not Lenovo's more prevalent business travelers. The 15.4-inch N100 ships relatively well-equipped with a 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo, 1GB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, and an 8X DVD rewriter. Bluetooth is standard and a fingerprint reader is optional. Lenovo is taking orders today for $999 but estimates a 3-4 week shipping time. Other models from the company, including the ThinkPad line, have yet to receive a corresponding update.

Warner releasing Blu-Ray, DVD, HD DVD 3-layer disc

09/19, 2:30pm

Warner 3-layer Disc

Toshiba's recent hybrid DVD/HD DVD disc provides an upgrade path for DVD owners who are considering an upgrade to one next-generation disc format, but does not address the more serious dilemma of the new format in question. For now, users' libraries are still at risk of becoming obsolete if Blu-Ray becomes the dominant standard. Video stores are also forced to carry both standards until a clear victor appears. Warner Brothers Pictures recognizes this problem and has taken the unusual step of researching its own hybrid disc, according to New Scientist. The triple-layer format would turn the thinner Blu-Ray layer into a mirror-like surface that would transmit laser light to the deeper HD DVD layer while still reflecting enough light that a Blu-Ray drive could still read the data. These same discs could also have a DVD layer on the reverse side should it be necessary. Warner's first movie to support the new discs will be Lake House, which will run on all current and next-generation players when released September 26th.

Zero-day Internet Explorer exploit strikes Windows

09/19, 1:50pm

Zero-day IE Exploit

Regardless of the public perception of computer security, few malware instances ever pose an imminent threat. Anti-virus software makers and operating system developers are often given enough advance notice about vulnerabilities to develop fixes before viruses take advantage of the holes. This comforting knowledge is also what inspires alarm in those same developers when a zero-day exploit - malware released before companies are aware of the potential danger - reaches the Internet at large. Just such an attack has affected Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 today, according to Sunbelt Software's Eric Sites. The vice president of research and development at the company, Sites discovered a trojan that takes advantage of a memory buffer flaw in the vector image handling code of the browser to hijack an affected system. The trojan affects any Windows-based system using Internet Explorer, even when fully patched and secured with a firewall. Sites notes that the only current fix is to disable Javascript in the browser until Microsoft issues a patch. The zero-day attack comes as Microsoft suffers from experts' doubts about Windows Vista's future security.

Lexar JumpDrive Mercury with storage meter

09/19, 12:10pm

Lexar JumpDrive Mercury

External displays on flash drives are rarely practical because of the inherent power draw, leaving users to plug the storage in before they can see available space. Using e-paper is the solution, according to flash storage manufacturer Lexar. Its new JumpDrive Mercury takes advantage of the permanence of e-paper displays to reflect internal storage. The storage meter can remain static without consuming any power whatsoever; as the capacity only needs to be updated when the drive is plugged in, power for the display comes through the USB port instead of a dedicated battery. No special software support is needed and the drive will work with both Mac and Windows PCs. Lexar is shipping the new drive in 1GB and 2GB versions for $75 and $100 respectively.

Sony-Ericsson launches M-BUZZ cellphone music service

09/19, 11:40am

Sony-Ericsson M-BUZZ

Although Sony-Ericsson is one of the best-known musicphone manufacturers, its Walkman phones have never had a compatible music service designed to work with them; their format support is limited to AAC and MP3 files. The cellphone alliance is changing its approach with Tuesday's announcement of the new M-BUZZ portal. In contrast to other cellphone music services such as Verizon's VCast, Sony-Ericsson is not opening the site as a conventional music store. M-BUZZ instead will initially serve as a means of highlighting specific Sony artists and their music, offering songs and other content from the musicians that can be downloaded by supporting phones. The first phones ready for the site's features are the higher-end W850 and W950 models shipping before the end of 2006, with more support to come at the same time as new phones arrive. Sony-Ericsson opens access to M-BUZZ on October 2nd.

Motorola KRZR launches in Hong Kong

09/19, 11:00am

Motorola KRZR Launches

Announced earlier in the year, the KRZR is intended as the direct successor to the RAZR cellphone that many credit for saving Motorola from obscurity. The company is looking for repeat success as it begins its global launch of the KRZR in the Chinese market today. The new flip-phone exchanges the absolute focus on thinness for a considerably narrower and smaller overall design. It also continues the trend initiated with the PEBL and will arrive in bolder colors than the generally subdued RAZR, starting with a deep blue enhanced by a glossy glass front shell. The functionality of the phone is also improved: the KRZR shipping today has a 2-megapixel camera and can play AAC or MP3 music stored on microSD cards. In its current form, it operates on GSM networks and can connect to EDGE broadband. Launches in the rest of the world, including North America, are imminent. Motorola says it will launch the KRZR in other countries over the course of the next several weeks. Details of the upcoming CDMA version and the music-oriented K1m variant were not revealed in the Chinese launch.

Intel Core 2 Quadro details

09/19, 10:15am

Core 2 Quadro Details

Intel has previously announced that it will advance the release of its first quad-core desktop processors to late 2006. Little else has been revealed about the chip designer's plans since then. New information about the processors and their support have come to light Tuesday, according to DailyTech. Officially titled Core 2 Quadro, the new line of processors will debut in November with a flagship Core 2 Extreme model. The introductory QX6700 will run at 2.66GHz per core; this is lower than the 2.93 GHz of its current dual-core equivalent due to heat issues, but should be faster overall for programs that support more than two processors. It should ship in November at the same $999 price as the dual-core chip it replaces. More important is the mainstream Core 2 Quadro Q6600: while it will launch at 2.4GHz in early 2007, it should also be priced dramatically lower and compare to the $530 price of today's 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo. Both quad-core designs are likely to require new mainboards using Intel's 975X chipset. Users of workstation systems such as the Mac Pro can expect a Xeon equivalent to the QX6700 to arrive before the end of 2006.

Sony announces 18X external DVD writers

09/19, 9:40am

Sony 18X DVD Writers

Recording DVDs has until recently been limited to a 16X speed, even for internal drives; external models at higher speeds are even less common. This bottleneck becomes less of an issue today with Sony's announcement of two new external drives that write single-layer DVDs at an 18X rate. A full 4.7GB disc can be recorded at this speed on standard 16X discs within 5 minutes, Sony says. The new drives can also write to dual-layer media at 8X. Models are differentiated primarly by interface and software: the USB 2.0-based DRX-830U is meant primarily for Windows users and includes the full Nero 7 suite for authoring DVDs and videos. In turn, the more advanced DRX-830UL/T includes both Firewire and USB 2.0 ports to improve support for Macs and ships with both Nero 7 and a Mac-only version of Roxio 6 Lite for DVD burning. Sony will sell the 830U in early October for $140; 830UL/T drives will arrive in mid-December for $150.

Microsoft Soapbox beta begins, takes on YouTube

09/19, 9:05am

Microsoft Soapbox Beta

Microsoft has seen its share of influence in social networking erode steadily in the wake of MySpace and YouTube: the combination of the two sites has left Internet users (especially younger ones) with few reasons to ever venture to Windows Live Spaces. In hopes of reversing this trend, Microsoft today launched a beta of its new Soapbox video service, a direct response to the abundance of web-based video sharing sites. Currently invitation-only, the service is notable for the absence of any proprietary Microsoft technology: unlike MSN Video, all videos are Flash-based instead of Windows Media and can be accessed by most any modern browser. Also significant is a hands-off approach similar to YouTube. Soapbox users can freely upload, exchange, and comment on videos without active monitoring by Microsoft; the company says it will only remove videos if copyright holders or other involved parties object. Advertising is not present in the beta but is expected to appear when the service is completed within six months.

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