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Already available in Canada, the Nokia E62 is now being launched in its primary US market. The chosen carrier for the smartphone in the country is Cingular, who began offering the phone on its website today. The E62 is crucial as one of the few phones available on GSM-based cellular networks that compares to Motorola's slim Q, which only works with CDMA. Both have 320x240 widescreens, Bluetooth, and a full QWERTY keyboard for composing e-mail and text messages; however, the E62 uses the Symbian OS common to multiple cellphone companies as its interface, making it a genuine alternative for those who would prefer not to use the Motorola Q's choice of Windows Mobile. Cingular is selling the E62 for $150 with a two-year contract.
Revisions of ATI's Radeon and NVIDIA's GeForce graphics cards this year have been limited to slight improvements on an existing design. True overhauls of their graphics technology are only now beginning to materialize through early leaks. The first to be shown is NVIDIA's GeForce 8800, photos of which have appeared courtesy of Chinese website PCOnline. The images reveal a card which requires extraordinary amounts of cooling and power to run at full speed. Multiple photos show attachments for watercooling pipes as well as dual power connectors, confirming earlier claims that the future NVIDIA card will be much more complex than the current GeForce 7950 and draw much more power: earlier reports have suggested as much as a 300W power draw under load. The leak also appears to confirm that the new GeForce will have 768MB of video memory and a correspondingly larger 384-bit memory interface. Expect the GeForce 8800 to be made official within the next few months.
Click through for a selection of additional photos of the prototype card with notes.
Sony has largely held the leadership of HD-capable video cameras. JVC would like to challenge that supremacy with its new Everio model announced today in Japan, which promises to outperform Sony's Handycam models in image quality. Despite claims of supporting 1080i resolution, most Handycams manage the resolution only at a standard aspect ratio of 1440x1080; widescreen usually requires lowering the recording quality. The new Everio model uses a pixel shifting technique to interpolate a higher-quality image from its 3-CCD sensor and get a true, 1920x1080 widescreen interlaced picture. JVC adds that the new camera is also the first to use the company's FUJINON 10X optical zoom lens, which has until now been reserved for professional cameras, and stores its video on hard drive. A prototype of the Everio is expected at Japan's CEATEC convention next week, suggesting that a final version will ship early next year.
Philips' digital player lineup is so far limited to music and depends heavily on style to distinguish itself from other players. Its first venture into portable media players will be different. The Portable Media Center 7230 is not just a music player with a larger (3.5-inch) screen, according to CNET. The vertical shape and built-in stand make it ideal for watching videos on a long flight or at a desk, removing the necessity of holding the player upright or craning one's neck at an uncomfortable angle. The PMC7230 also includes the ability to record video directly from analog sources such as standard TV or unprotected DVDs up to the player's maximum 30GB capacity. MP3 and WMA audio are supported in addition to JPEG photos and MPEG-4 video. Philips is expected to ship its new handheld shortly for $350.
Rear projection televisions are typically less expensive than direct-view sets and are often the only way for many viewers to afford a set large enough to be comfortably viewable from the opposite end of the living room. Their primary obstacle is bulk: almost every projection TV is much thicker than a direct-view LCD or plasma display. These sets are also impossible to wall-mount and usually require large floor stands. JVC in Japan has developed a new slim projection technology that will resolve these lingering drawbacks of projection systems. Using a concave mirror to bounce light instead of the typical convex shape, the projector in JVC's prototype can reach a much wider angle than traditional sets while also using a smaller optics set -- reducing not just the thickness necessary to fill the screen but the weight of the system as well. JVC has already produced a 60-inch example set (pictured) which is only 10.6 inches thick and is light enough to be wall-mounted. The concave mirror system also has the side benefit of improving the contrast ratio by blocking out unwanted light. Better still is news that the breakthrough is not simply a theoretical demonstration but a practical reality; JVC says the technique will be incorporated into production TV models by spring 2007.
Many computers have fast graphics processors, but when these chips aren't being used for 3D images, much of their potential power goes unused. ATI sees these free processor cycles as an opportunity to accomplish more; the graphics card maker today announced that it has developed a concept called Stream Computing to use these spare resources for better purposes. Since most recent graphics cards are generalized and can do more than just render images, Stream Computing can dynamically assign calculations to recent ATI cards, such as the Radeon X1950, that would normally be handled by the often busy main system processor. The result is that some operations can be dramatically accelerated, especially when they are well-optimized to the massively parallel nature of video hardware. An upcoming version of Stanford University's Folding@Home distributed computing software will calculate as much as 40 times faster when Stream Computing is being used, according to ATI. Physics in games and other simulations will also stand to benefit. ATI ultimately has plans to allow systems with multiple graphics cards to devote even more resources to these tasks and could optionally split processing work equally between graphics and general problem-solving.
The final hardware updates made today by HP include two new USB 2.0 drives for avid video enthusiasts. Most important of these is the HD100 (PDF), an external HD DVD drive that can read the newer discs at 2.4X as well as DVDs at 5X and CDs at 14X. The drive is completely powered by the USB bus and includes a special version of CyberLink's PowerDVD that plays HD DVD movies. HP says that a minimum of a single-core 3.2GHz Pentium 4 and a GeForce 7600 or Radeon X1600 video card to play movies at their native 1080p. The HD100 will be available soon but hasn't received a price.
Lastly, HP began shipping its new Pocket Media Drive, which is designed as a convenient way of backing up music, photos, and videos on a regular basis. It uses a 2.5-inch laptop hard drive to store either 80GB or 120GB of data in a portable form. Certain HP Pavilion desktops can actually mount the drive in a dedicated slot instead of connecting through a USB cable. A copy of Sonic's Back Up My PC is included and helps owners automate media backups as well as password-protect stored files. HP says the new drive is shipping immediately at prices of $150 (80GB) and $220 (120GB).
News that Sony will initiate a global recall of certain laptop battery models, regardless of the computer manufacturers using them, is already sending reverberations throughout the industry. Japanese firms Fujitsu and Toshiba have both announced that they will recall particular Sony-made batteries that can potentially short-circuit and overheat, according to Reuters. Though Fujitsu has not yet announced how many of its LifeBook models are affected, Toshiba has said that 830,000 of its systems will qualify for the replacement. The company says that its batteries likely pose no threat of overheating but will be swapped anyways to alleviate users' potential concerns. This latest exchange program increases the total number of recalled Sony batteries to over 7 million after programs initiated by Apple, Dell, and Lenovo. Dell recently increased its recall figure by 100,000 to 4.2 million.
Earlier this month, allegations had been made that Wal-Mart was threatening Apple because it feared full-length movie downloads on iTunes might undercut its discount DVD sales. While Wal-Mart has flatly denied these claims, Variety is reporting today that the large retailer is actively negotiating with Apple to obtain a share of profits from movie downloads. The solution may involve Wal-Mart offering virtual iTunes coupons that would allow the company to collect a small amount of revenue from video sales, according to insiders referenced in the article. While a deal may only be tentative, says Variety, it would be mutually beneficial as it would help to eliminate resistance against iTunes from major movie studios outside of the Disney network. Many of these studios have reportedly been loathe to anger Wal-Mart by supporting movie sales that would significantly undercut Wal-Mart in price and potentially close off a major distribution channel. The retailer is prepared to accept losses and match Apple's prices for key movie releases such as the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel in order to maintain its customer base, according to the article.
More announcements from HP have arrived today with the launch of a new desktop replacement laptop that marks a number of firsts for the company. While other system builders have shipped laptops with next-generation disc drives inside, HP is releasing its first portable equipped this way in the form of the 17-inch dv9000. Though it ships standard with an 8X DVD rewriter, the new system can be configured with an optional HD DVD drive that can play (but not record) movies and data stored in the new format as well as read and write CDs or DVDs. An HDMI output is built-in -- a crucial new feature needed for some movies to play at 1080p resolution on an HDTV. The dv9000t also represents HP's fastest desktop replacement to date: it can ship with as much as a 512MB GeForce Go 7600 graphics chipset and processors ranging up to a 2GHz Core 2 Duo or 2GHz Turion 64 X2. Pricing starts at $1099 for a base model with an AMD Sempron, 512MB of RAM, and integrated graphics. An Intel-based version with an HD DVD drive and dedicated graphics is $1749.
In the wake of new 8GB flash players from Apple and SanDisk, Creative today announced an upgrade to the higher capacity in its music players as well as an inexpensive new entry model. The 8GB Zen V Plus (pictured at far right) doubles the capacity of the earlier model and shares the same features, including MP3 and WMA music playback, video support, and FM radio. Battery life is rated at 15 hours. As with Apple's iPod nano, the color options for 8GB are reduced to a single black model. It ships first to Singapore in October for the equipvalent of $270 US.
Creative has also unveiled the Muvo V100, a relatively simple but capacious player. The V100 plugs directly into a USB port and is very easy to manage: users only have to drag Audible, MP3 ,or WMA songs to the device in the OS to transfer their music. Lyrics display and voice recording are also supported for the 18 hours of playback time possible through a single AAA battery. Significantly, the new Muvo costs only $94 US for 2GB in its native Singapore and is shipping now. A North American launch is likely in the near future.
The PDA market has been rapidly eroding as smartphones and other multi-role devices quickly take over. This may be the motivation for a radically new direction in HP's iPAQ line, which was previously leaked but becomes official today with the formal announcement of the rx5915 Travel Companion. As anticipated, the new HP handheld is a hybrid GPS navigator and media player. TomTom's NAVIGATOR 6 software is preloaded and is accompanied by software that monitors traffic and weather. In its most common form, the rx5915 will come with 2GB of built-in flash plus an SD card slot to store maps, music, and videos. HP has also made Internet access a priority. Browsing the Web is relatively straightforward from the 3.5-inch touchscreen, as the device can either connect to a nearby WiFi hotspot or use its Bluetooth receiver to use mobile access from a cellphone. The rx5915 is available for $600 but hasn't been given an official release date.
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