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Pro digital photographers regularly offload their images to a hard drive, whether in a laptop or a dedicated photo viewer. Neither of these is typically an ideal option for those that travel light: a laptop is usually large and heavy, while a compact photo viewer's basic LCD often hides colors that are present in the actual shot. Epson believes its new P-3000 (storing 40GB) and P-5000 (80GB) photo storage viewers solve this latter problem by introducing a LCD with a four-color filter that increases the color gamut to 16.7 million, bringing the picture quality up to 88% of the Adobe RGB standard used by many photographers and illustrators. Both viewers support JPEG and specific RAW formats. Epson also notes that the new devices double as media players and can play AAC or MP3 video as well as DivX, MPEG-4, or Motion JPEG video on a 4-inch LCD. These updates to the P-series should ship in October at $499 for the P-3000 model and $699 for the range-topping P-5000. Click through for a full-size photo.
Introduced late into Windows XP's lifecycle, Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) was intended by Microsoft as a means of allowing security updates for all users while preventing illegal copies from sharing the feature improvements and general fixes that legitimate owners could enjoy. In practice, a significant number of paying users have been barred from valuable downloads through error or unscrupulous vendors. Recent test versions of Windows Vista show that this problem may well persist, according to ZDNet's Ed Bott. Despite a legitimate download and product key, the release candidate copy of Vista that Bott and other beta testers have received has periodically refused to download updates, inaccurately stating that the affected copies are illegal. The return of Microsoft's controversial anti-piracy scheme is not only a relatively late discovery for Vista users, writes Bott, but in its current state is likely to cause more errors than Microsoft would claim. While they may still be fixed for the final release candidate, these WGA problems are occurring near the end of the development cycle and may affect the final version. Beta versions of Office 2007 are also said to experience the problem.
Rumors of its existence have persisted since May, but until now the Nokia N83 has persisted as little more than a mysterious high-end companion to the N80. Photos inadvertently published by Hong Kong vendor Brando help clarify that mystery and suggest an imminent release given the complete state of the handheld. The N83 will become a defining model for Nokia as it has features rarely seen together in a smartphone: a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera (with VGA in front), an FM radio, and a 4GB hard drive for AAC and MP3 songs are all part of the slider design. Other luxury features such as Bluetooth 2.0 and WiFi are equally present. Without a formal announcement by Nokia, potential owners can only expect the N83 to have a relatively high price and to ship before the end of the year.
Although Apple's iTV may be the first media hub to let users purchase online movies and view them directly on a TV, the company is already facing stiff competition from networking specialist Netgear. Its new Digital Entertainer is both the first streaming device of its kind from the company and the first to be certified for Intel's Viiv home theater platform. The latter step ensures that nearby Viiv-certified PCs can connect to and share music, photos, and videos with the new set-top box. Any system using Windows Media Connect or Universal Plug and Play can also supply content to the device. The Digital Entertainer includes a front-mounted USB port to connect to any external mass storage, including iPods. Output is similarly broad-featured: music can be heard through minijack or stereo connectors, while video is possible through RCA, S-Video, and component ports. Netgear says it is shipping the Digital Entertainer now for $269.
If Skype is one's preferred form of communication but desk space precludes either a dedicated handset or a desktop speakerphone, Sysgration has developed a particularly well-integrated combination of mouse and VoIP phone. Users of the ASG-142 can treat it as a standard three-button scrolling USB mouse in most circumstances. When they want to place phone calls, the top flips open to transform the mouse into a Skype phone complete with number pad, volume control, and a display for caller ID. The device currently requires Windows for Skype functions but should be shipping soon. No price has yet been finalized.
Samsung has gained a greater foothold in North America through its A900 designer phone. Nevertheless, many potential buyers have been dissuaded by the relatively upscale pricing on the Korean maker's flagship. US carrier Cingular made Samsung's design more accessible today by carrying the C417, a low-cost phone that still carries many of the features of a more advanced model. At 0.65 inches thick when closed, the handset is still relatively thin compared to many budget phones. It sports a quad-band GSM radio that adds roaming support for some Asian and European networks. Bluetooth and a VGA camera are also standard. Cingular is asking $80 for the C417 with a two-year contract and before special discounts - a price within considerably easier reach than that of the premium A900.
Despite their cost, most phone headsets are single-purpose devices that only save the trouble of bringing the cellphone to one's ear. Mvox used its presence at the 2006 DEMOfall Expo to improve on the existing formula with its Duo Communicator earpiece. In addition to the standard role of a Bluetooth headset that privatizes incoming calls, the Duo can be used for voice-activated dialing at near-100% accuracy. A small array microphone is said to eliminate the background noise and other problems that would normally plague voice recognition. Mvox has also opened support to VoIP calling with the Duo and includes a speakerphone function for group calls. Owners can expect roughly 7 hours of battery life in normal mode. The Duo will be available in November for $199.
The American company Kodak is known best for its compact point-and-shoot cameras. In advance of the Photokina show tomorrow, however, it has released a new prosumer camera that the company says is a balance between image quality and features. The EasyShare Z710 has the same 7.1-megapixel resolution as many more expensive compact cameras but uses a much larger Schneider-Kreuznach lens with 10X optical zoom. Kodak promises full manual control for veteran photographers while still giving access to 19 preset modes and the EasyShare function to quickly share photos with computers or printers. Kodak expects the Z710 to ship in October for £279 ($530 US) in Britain including tax; the American price should be less. Click through for profile photos of the new design.
Since few cellphones have access to satellite radio, music services built for the handhelds usually require a complete download from a separate source before the music can play. Mercora has today launched a service that not only saves subcribers from having to preload music, but gives them access to a much larger potential collection of music than modern storage would allow. Instead of asking the user to buy songs and transfer them from a computer or a provider's network, the M service streams the user's computer music library to a compatible cellphone on request, giving access to the entire computer's catalog. M is also capable of sharing music from others, according to the company. Subscribers have access to thousands of Internet radio stations and will eventually be able to stream music from the libraries of five other M subscribers without legal restrictions. The service currently requires a Windows PC and a Windows Mobile 5 smartphone but is also a relatively inexpensive alternative to microSD cards: it is offering subscriptions now for $50 per year and says initial subscribers will have free service until the end of October.
Security for workers with laptops is important, but is often hard to manage and a serious drain on system performance as programs constantly monitor even the slightest changes in the system. A new startup company named Yoggie Security Systems has developed a much simpler alternative named the Gatekeeper. Instead of loading software on the user's system or storing it on a U3 flash drive, the Gatekeeper is a self-contained security computer. The Linux-based device handles anti-spyware, anti-virus, firewall, and VPN functions itself without asking the user to install any programs that might consume CPU power. It automatically adapts its security based on incoming threats, taking some of the burden away from IT administrators, and can even manage traffic for as many as 5 systems by itself. Yoggie has targeted the initial device at Windows XP users and hopes to ship in November.
While graphics in desktop replacement laptops have seen performance upgrades and even two-chip SLI variants in 2006, the mid-range graphics that thinner, more portable systems depend upon have remained largely unchanged since late 2005. NVIDIA began the series of much-anticipated upgrades earlier in September through the introduction of the GeForce Go 7700; on Monday, ATI announced a sweeping update of its laptop graphics line that improves performance without increasing the power draw. The Mobility Radeon X1700 is a refinement of the mid-range X1600 made on a new strained silicon process that improves performance by a relatively modest amount but should extend battery life. In turn, the X1450 and X1350 are being marketed as alternatives to integrated graphics for laptop builders who need improved 3D performance for Windows Vista. Both share the architecture of the earlier X1400 and X1300 versions and use the strained silicon technique to reduce the heat and power that would otherwise keep them out of ultra-portable systems. ASUS is expected to be the first company to use all three new Mobility Radeons in its laptop line and should announce the new computers soon.
With the Photokina tradeshow set to officially begin tomorrow, camera manufacturers are quickly stepping up the frequency of announcements that began earlier in the month. Monday marks the introduction of two new models from Fujifilm that serve casual photographers as well as professionals. First is the FinePix F31fd, an update to the 6.3-megapixel F30 that adds an advanced face recognition system: Fujifilm says its technology can find as many as ten faces in a scene and optimize exposure, flash, and focus to improve the accuracy of portrait shots. Also new is an IR-based wireless transfer system that can share photos between cameras and other similarly-equipped hardware. The F31fd should ship in November for an as yet undetermined price. Click through for details and photos of this new model as well as the 12.34-megapixel S5 Pro.
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