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Delphi has announced a second handheld today in the form of a new GPS receiver that challenges TomTom's ONE and others in the entry-level field. The newly unveiled NAV200 is built as a simple car or handheld GPS unit that also offers some useful media functions. Its direction-finding abilities are basic with the exception of an optional accessory for real-time traffic, but its software is uncommonly flexible for its range: it can play MP3 or WAV files, display GIF, JPG, or PNG photos, and show AVI movies. A calculator, a clock, and a game round out its features. Delphi provides a suction-mount car kit with a 12-volt power adapter and says that the device will last for 3 hours on battery power. Shipping in October, the NAV200 is available for pre-order at a price of $349, which makes it considerably less expensive than most rivals.
Cellphones are rarely given the ability to display their visuals beyond the built-in screen; the assumption is that mobile content which needs a larger resolution will be transferred to a computer first. MicroVision, an American developer of small displays, contends that some users may want the higher resolution and visibility of a larger screen and has developed the PicoP, a laser-based projector that could be integrated with cellphones or other handhelds. It aims a laser at a minuscule vibrating silicon mirror that generates a much sharper image than the handheld's own screen is likely to display: the company says it can display an SVGA (800x600) picture at laptop brightness up to a half meter away, and larger in a dark environment. The technology could be used for presentations, complex games, and other software that might otherwise be impractical on normal handhelds. MicroVision claims that the PicoP is ready for finished products, but has not yet revealed any design partners.
Though Windows users are currently in the majority, a disproportionate number of external TV tuners are designed for Macs, often leaving owners of Media Center PCs searching for internal PCI cards or laptops with built-in tuners. Pinnacle has come to the aid of those seeking a more easily replaceable tuner in the form of the PCTV HD Pro Stick, a compact USB 2.0 tuner that can accept both ATSC over-the-air HDTV broadcasts as well as standard NTSC for analog signals. Cable, satellite, and DV camera users can also plug non-HD video sources directly into either co-ax or RCA ports on the HD Pro Stick. Timeshifting software is included that can play video and record it in several different formats, including iPod- and PSP-ready versions. Pinnacle claims direct support for Windows XP Media Center's TV features as well. The HD Pro Stick is available immediately for $130. External antennas and a Media Center-capable wireless remote are optional.
Details of Delphi's first truly portable SkyFi system became available late last week, hinting at a portable XM satellite radio with an unusually large 2.8-inch display and microSD storage for the listener's own songs. The company ended speculation about features on Wednesday through officially announcing the SkyFi3, shedding new light on the device's intended role. Much of the previous information was accurate, including recording of up to 10 hours of satellite radio on the player's built-in flash; an important new detail is the addition of an optional $49 antenna-equipped headphones that let the user listen to live radio without a separate tuner or power supply. Delphi has designed the SkyFi3 primarily as a car or home radio, however, and says that its new receiver will only play 90 minutes of live satellite when using the battery. Alternative sources of audio on the SkyFi3 include MP3 and WMA tracks as well as FM radio. Delphi plans a December 1st launch for the new XM adapter at a $229 price.
An all too familiar experience for computer users is trying to keep track of e-mail or instant message conversations while the main focus onscreen is a work program or a game. The expense and size of a full second display is not always an option. ForeSight Systems is counting on this latter fact with the release of its updated Pertelian X2040 PC Assistant. Using a simple 20x4 monochrome display, the X2040 is capable of not only displaying important information from its host PC but of responding to some of that information as well. A user can see instant messages from common IM clients such as AIM or MSN and also respond to them without having to leave an existing program. The device can also keep track of eBay auctions, IRC channels, TeamSpeak communications, RSS feeds, and media jukeboxes including iTunes. ForeSight says its new Pertelian display should become available in October for $49.
The revelation that Apple was lowering its higher-end iPod pricing likely caught Microsoft off-guard, according to analysts; a recent Wal-Mart price leak discovered online indicated a $284 price tag for the Zune, pointing to a considerably higher official price than Apple's new $249 player. Late yesterday, however, Zune project worker David Caulson emphatically denied that the Zune would be priced higher than the iPod despite its built-in WiFi and larger screen. Writing in his blog Zunester, Caulson said bluntly that his company's new player "won't be undercut on price by iPod." Microsoft has as of yet declined to set a price and has received criticism for refusing to provide full details about the Zune or its copy protection support in the wake of its official debut.
Voice over IP handsets are the current focus for many electronics firms, but alternatives will soon arrive for those who simply consider Internet calling a secondary feature at the PC. Kensington has just entered the Internet telephony business by announcing its new Vo300 USB Speakerphone as a complement to an existing PC. Plugged into a computer, the Vo300 can interface with Skype on the host system to not only dial and receive calls but also browse the call history and contact list on a built-in LCD screen. Headset jacks are also present for private conversations. Kensington is shipping the speakerphone on September 24th for $90.
Smartphones have been designed in the past for style, but few to the same extent as an upcoming model by Jared Goh, who recently designed the luxury Black Diamond phone for Sony-Ericsson. The Opus Operis from fledgling manufacturer Zenum promises to compete with the current wave of Windows Mobile 5 smartphones while adding a relatively unique set of features. Its design is by far its best advantage: in addition to a minimalist QWERTY keyboard and navigation buttons, the design opts for a 2.5-inch screen that is smaller than the more common 3-inch displays found on the Motorola Q and iMate Jaq. Also relatively unique is a sliding cover on the back that hides the 2-megapixel camera and the inclusion of a 1GB microSD card. Zenum is likely to ship the Opus Operis in November, according to sources, though its intended price and markets are unknown.
Many cellphone manufactuers are devoting the brunt of their attention to musicphones; Nokia today has taken a cue from Apple's recent emphasis and designed its new 6288 phone with video as the primary focus. Though no larger than most other phones, the slider design has a 320x240 resolution screen that Nokia says is well-suited to video playback. Also notable are the dual cameras: a 2-megapixel lens on the back provides sharper video and still image capture, while a VGA camera at the front is intended for video calls and self-portraits. Recorded clips can even be edited before sent to friends or to a PC. A 512MB memory card is also included for storage. Nokia describes the 6288 as a 3G-capable cellphone, but does not specify which networks are supported. The phone is expected to ship before the end of September in Europe for 325 Euros ($412 US); North American details were not announced but may follow soon. Click through for a photo of the open phone in an optional black.
As reported by Gamer Scan, Microsoft used a press conference in advance of the 2006 Tokyo Game Show to reveal that it would soon extend the HD video capabilities of its Xbox 360 game system. Users in all regions will be able to download a software update that adds the maximum 1080p resolution as an option for users who connect their consoles to their TV through either component or VGA cables. Games and videos can use the new format on any supporting display. Most games will still be programmed for the lower 720p resolution, says Microsoft's Shane Kim, but will be upsampled to 1080p to improve the visual quality on those displays that support the sharper format. Accordingly, Microsoft also announced that it would at last release its anticipated HD DVD add-on movie player first to Japanese Xbox 360 owners. While Microsoft does not expect any developers to release games for the drive, the HD DVD drive will give console owners a relatively inexpensive way to watch the next-generation movie format and will include the Xbox 360 Universal Remote to aid with the Xbox 360's new role. The attachment will retail for the equivalent of $170 US when it ships to Japan on November 17th; this places the total cost of an Xbox 360 and HD DVD combination at $520, below the $533 US price of the PlayStation 3 in Japan.
Jabra, the experienced manufacturer of wireless headsets, released a new set of earphones on Wednesday that can link themselves to almost any cellphone or music player that matches the A2DP audio profile for Bluetooth. The BT320s (pictured) automatically pauses music playback whenever an incoming call is detected and doubles as a wireless remote for basic cellphone and music controls. Jabra claims the BT320s are rainproof and can last for up to 6 hours of continuous music or conversation. Owners are not limited to a single audio source; Jabra has also just begun shipping two new adapters that give the option of listening to music players and similar devices. First is the A120s, a basic Bluetooth transmitter that plugs into any standard 3.5mm minijack, offering audio (but not remote control) for devices such as computers or more generic music players. The more advanced A125s is designed specifically for the iPod and plugs into the Dock Connector so that listeners can pause music on an iPod when they receive phone calls on a nearby Bluetooth phone. Both A-series adapters will play audio for up to 10 hours and are available for $50 (A120s) and $60 (A125s). Jabra expects the BT320s to ship by the end of 2006 for $89.
A third high-profile T-Mobile cellphone announcement was made today following earlier news of the BlackBerry Pearl and upcoming Dash. The cellphone carrier partnerned with Korean cellphone maker Samsung to release the latter's T519 model in the US under the more memorable name of the Trace. At exactly one third of an inch thick, the bar-shaped Trace is thinner still than the previous benchmark of the Motorola SLVR but still boasts the same features as more recent phones. A 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, and EDGE broadband support are standard. The new phone also plays AAC, MP3, and WMA music stored on microSD cards. In contrast to many other designer phone releases, however, T-Mobile is pricing the Trace well within reach of many subscribers: the cellphone ships now for $200 without a contract and is available for less through special deals.
One of the frequently-cited concerns about Apple's future iTV device was its $299 price: the cost would be high if it only included networking and television output. As part of the Goldman Sachs conference that revealed over 125,000 iTunes movie sales in the first week, Disney CEO Bob Iger helped justify iTV pricing and further explained the functionality of the media hub for those in attendance, according to The iPod Observer. "It has a small hard drive so [the TV] can download what you put on the device [from] your computer," Iger said, alleviating worries that the iTV would retain its price without having the option of a local cache to reduce load times. He added that iTV users choose a particular computer to "feed" their hub, rather than aggregating the content from every connected system automatically. Impressed with the simplicity and functionality, Iger called the iTV a "game changer" that could make Disney and similar media outlets rethink their existing strategies.
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