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eBook readers have rarely surfaced in North America, lending extra importance to the introduction of even a single model. Sony's introduction on Tuesday of its first mainstream eBook device, dubbed simply the Personal Reader System, certainly carries with it the potential to affect North American attitudes towards digital reading. The new design uses electronic paper to display still text and images using a minimum of battery power, changing the display only when needed. Sony claims up to 7500 virtual pages before the lithium-ion battery inside needs to be recharged, giving enough opportunity to read several large novels. Its 64MB of internal memory is capable of holding roughly 80 books and can be expanded dramatically through either Memory Sticks or SD cards. Lastly, Sony has not restricted the Personal Reader System to text or embedded images: audio is possible using AAC or MP3 files, and image support is present for popular formats like JPEG or PNG. The relatively long wait for Sony's reader is expected to come to an end when the company ships the new model by the end of October for $350.
At the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco today, Intel CEO Paul Otellini discussed the advancements in case design made possible by the lower power consumption of his company's Core processor. Smaller, more stylish PCs are needed to advance beyond the current standards of design, Otellini said. Notably, the Intel executive cited Apple's Mac product line as an example, allowing Apple senior VP Phil Schiller to make an unprecedented guest appearance during the Developer Forum keynote speech to explain how the Core architecture has helped Apple's design process. Otellini subsequently issued a challenge to other manufacturers: his company will offer a reward of $1 million to any manufacturer who develops a small, style-oriented PC using both Intel's Core chip and Viiv home theater technology. As described, the competition effectively asks system builders to compete against the compact, media-focused Mac mini, whose relatively unique construction already fits almost all the requirements of the contest except for the use of Windows XP Media Center. Companies have until the next Intel Developer Forum in March to create their finished designs, which will be judged by a group of computer and style experts based on the system's features and visual appeal.
Professional photographers quickly find the limitations of flash memory. Cards that would normally store hundreds of photos in JPEG format may only store a few dozen in the uncompressed RAW formats used by most higher-end SLR cameras, making only the largest cards useful for wedding photographers and others who need uninterrupted shooting. SanDisk knows this and today introduced one of the largest flash capacities to date: its new 16GB Extreme III CompactFlash card stores more than virtually any other card in the industry, according to the company. Also, the new 16GB model is capable of a minimum 20MB per second in reading or writing data, allowing them to be used for relatively fast recording such as burst photography and video. SanDisk is shipping the new high-capacity card in December for $1050 alongside a lesser 12GB version, which will retail for $780. An improved CompactFlash card reader optimized for the Extreme III will be released in November for $25.
Previously, storing personal settings and programs on a portable device required explicit hardware support. The most common format for this is the U3 flash drive that can be set to automatically load when used with a computer. Software developer RingCube says its new MojoPac program makes this possible for the iPod as well as most any USB storage hardware. Users can convert free space on a removable drive into a fully functional Windows XP environment when plugged into another XP system, complete with personalized settings for the OS and individual programs; anything installed when using MojoPac is copied only to the USB drive and not the host PC. RingCube suggests that the software is ideal for business users who may have very specific work settings or gamers who want to keep their custom game profiles when playing at friends' homes or LAN parties. MojoPac can be downloaded now for $30; a free trial version is also available.
Microsoft has been criticized in the past for its slowness in acknowledging the success of web-based services that aren't under its control: Windows Live Spaces has done little to usurp MySpace's hold on social networks, while YouTube rival Soapbox is still in a public testing stage. A sign that Microsoft is willing to take a more aggressive approach was revealed today by its introduction of a second, more advanced social networking site. Named Wallop, the new site is the offspring of Microsoft's research labs and promises a more experimental format than any of its challengers. A relatively new addition is live chat: users can socialize with each other live in the web browser. Page owners can similarly change the layout of their sites visually without having to use the code sometimes required on other networks. More radical still is the business model. Instead of the advertising that dominates MySpace, Wallop asks users to buy some of the animation and music elements that customize their homepages for between $1 and $4 each. The company hopes that the more competitive socialites will be willing to occasionally pay for the privilege of a more individualized space. Access is currently limited to e-mail requests and invitations from the company and other members, resembling the format once used by the college-only Facebook.
Sony's TX laptop line has always stressed portability over performance. This is certainly reflected in a significant update to the TX introduced today that shifts attention primarily towards the laptops' networking than raw speed. The TXN10 is one of the first laptop models to receive built-in support for EVDO Revision A mobile broadband, which will first be launched by Sprint later this year. The 11.1-inch computer has an external antenna to help reach the 800Kbps maximum of Sprint's new network. Sony is also upgrading the performance of the systems by replacing the current Pentium M processors with low-voltage Core Solos that should still maintain an impressive 5 to 11 hours of battery life. The TXN10 will be available later this week for $2300 when built with the EVDO option.
Ruggedized laptops are relatively commonplace. General Dynamics, Panasonic, and Twinhead already ship portables capable of surviving extremely harsh conditions. Even so, none of these system builders have adapted this durability to the newer ultra-mobile PC format - a design arguably better suited to soldiers in the field or workers in hazardous conditions. Specialist electronics company Black Diamond has took it upon themselves to release the first rugged UMPC, named the SwitchBack. Its computing features are modest by ruggedized and UMPC standards with only a 1GHz Celeron, a 40GB hard drive, and a 5.6-inch touchscreen as standard. Where it excels is its suitability in areas where accessories or repairs may be impractical. Alongside a shockproof case, the SwitchBack has a replaceable hard drive and can also mount attachments that add backups or extra features: examples given by the company include a breathalyzer, a two-way satellite radio, or even an entire second system that can run a separate operating system such as Linux or Windows CE. Pricing for the SwitchBack is handled on a case-by-case basis, according to Black Diamond, but models running Windows XP will ship by the end of 2006 with others arriving in spring 2007.
Toshiba used the initial unveiling of the mobile Core 2 Duo processor to update its HD DVD-equipped Qosmio line. The computer maker is now using the wider availability of these chips to upgrade the performance of its less expensive Satellite line. Most prominent is the gaming-oriented Satellite P105, a 17-inch laptop which starts with a 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo and can be upgraded to a 2GHz model with 2GB of RAM and a GeForce Go 7900 GS video chipset. Similarly improved is the Satellite R25 convertible tablet PC with a 1.6GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 100GB hard drive. Lastly, Toshiba revised the 15.4-inch Satellite A105 and has given its top model a 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB of RAM, and 200GB of hard drive space. The new Satellites are shipping now and vary on price depending on configuration; the range-leading P105 model sells for $1999.
Nokia believes that its premium N-series smartphones are so relatively advanced that it refers to them as multimedia computers. After a slew of phone updates today as part of the company's Open Studio 2006 in New York, this description may well be accurate. At the forefront of the new lineup is the N95 (pictured), which has enough features to replace multiple other devices by itself. It includes a 5-megapixel camera for photo and video recording as well as built-in GPS mapping functions. Appropriately given its map emphasis, the N95 can additionally connect to either GSM or WCDMA networks abroad and includes EDGE broadband support for browsing the Internet. Storage is also plentiful with 160MB of internal storage and an included 128MB miniSD card (up to 2GB of miniSD storage is optional). Users are encouraged to take advantage of this by means of a two-part slider design: while one slider holds the standard number pad for dialing, another at the top of the phone reveals dedicated music controls for AAC, MP3, and WMA songs. Nokia has not officially determined a launch date or price for the new model. Click through for extra photos and details of the N75 as well as the new Music Editions in the N series.
Sirius has finally delivered its response to XM's current dominance of 'true' portable live radios several weeks after a formal announcement. Bringing flexibility to Sirius subscribers is the newly announced Stiletto 100, whose features are expressly designed for traveling listeners. Beyond the key feature of listening to live Sirius broadcasts without a car kit or home receiver, the Stiletto can record 6-hour blocks of any programming for later playback or 10 hours of individual songs from music stations. Up to 100 hours of total Sirius content can be stored on the radio's 2GB of internal flash storage. The Stiletto also features tight integration with Yahoo! Music: songs bookmarked during a live radio broadcast can be purchased later as WMA files when the user returns to a Windows PC and even transferred back to the player as permanent copies. Unprotected MP3 and WMA songs are also supported. Lastly, Sirius has incorporated WiFi to give the player access to the network's Internet radio services at any access point, keeping the user connected even if the satellite signal is blocked. The Stiletto 100 should ship by the end of this month for $349 (the product page currently lists an incorrect $379).
Well-known for both its cameras and its lenses, Sigma on Tuesday released two new models that take advantage of its expertise in both areas. First introduced is the SD14, a 14-megapixel digital SLR which uses the unique Foveon sensor technology that overlaps three different color-specific sensors to improve image quality. Sigma also notes that the long-anticipated camera has a new viewfinder with 98% coverage of the final image and a sensor with a dust removal system. More unique is the new DP1 (pictured), which may well be the most full-featured point-and-shoot camera available. Though considerably more compact than the SD14, the DP1 shares the same 14-megapixel sensor as its more professional counterpart, clearly exceeding the 10-megapixel ceiling of this camera class. The camera also includes a 16.6mm F4 wide-angle lens and an improved image processing engine that can capture RAW as well as the more common JPEG format. Sigma is shipping the SD14 now for £1100 ($2090); the DP1 has not yet received formal launch details. Click through for photos of both models.
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