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As much as Best Buy may be a focal point of music player sales, few would expect the company's in-house Insignia brand to offer features that more established companies would miss. However, as hinted at by AVING, the large American retailer is now offering its unique NS-DVxG jukebox for pre-order. Already known to include Bluetooth for a wireless connection to headphones, additional surprises were revealed in the posting. The Insignia player is OS-independent and works with Macs as well as Windows PCs, and includes a significant amount of built-in storage despite its low cost: the range-topping 4GB model ships for $150 and still includes a microSD card slot for an additional 2GB. A less expensive 2GB version retails for $120. Both models should be in stock within the next two weeks and could be a meaningful alternative to the iPod nano for those who prize features over design.
Avid music listeners who believe Apple's iPod recycling program is still not environmentally friendly can now listen to a similarly-styled player that reduces almost all the waste normally caused by these devices. French online store Singulier is listing the AD 80 Solar Radio, a silver-and-white AM/FM receiver that uses a large solar panel to recharge its internal battery while in sunlight. As a fallback, the AD 80 can also use a single AAA battery for power at night or indoors. No digital storage is included, though for 29 Euros this radio is inexpensive enough to import to North America as a demonstration of social conscience.
Those unafraid of persisting with DVD now have the option of a player capable of playing back virtually any common format without hurting its image quality. NeoDigits' Helios H4000 has a wide range of scaling support and can upscale its output to the native 1080p resolution of the most recent HDTVs, whether they accept NTSC or PAL signals. The H4000 can similarly adapt to smaller resolutions or even disable scaling altogether for external receivers that already upsample the picture. NeoDigits doesn't limit the scaling to particular connections and has incorporated component, HDMI, and VGA output.
Just as striking about the DVD player is the sheer number of file types it can play. In addition to the typical secondary role of an MP3/WMA CD player, the H4000 can display raw video files encoded in DivX, XviD, and MPEG-1 through 4. The VCDs and SVCD discs popular in southeast Asia also play natively. NeoDigits is taking pre-orders now for the Helios H4000 at $169 and should deliver it to customers on October 17th.
Bluetooth adapters for iPods are nearly ubiquitous, but the British firm Gear4 believes its latest iPod accessory has features that set it apart from other models. The just announced BluEye attaches to the dock connector found on most iPods and synchronizes key calling features of Bluetooth-equipped cellphones with Apple's music player. Common features such as pausing music during calls and displaying caller ID through the iPod are supported, but the BluEye adds the ability to dial the most recent number through the iPod itself -- a feature useful to owners who miss an important call while the BluEye is connected.
Gear4's device also serves as an alternative to Apple's Radio Remote, containing both an FM tuner with 15 presets as well as basic music controls for pausing and skipping tracks. The company anticipates shipping the BluEye in early November for £50 ($93 US).
With Canon's SED technology still looming as a replacement for current flat-panel displays, a young Australian company named Arasor is preparing a standard that could both replace plasma and challenge SED on its own merits. Arasor's laser TV, made in partnership with the American firm Novalux, eliminates many of the flaws that plague flat panels, according to Australia's News.com.au. Even the best plasma displays can only present 35% of the color gamut visible to the human eye, says Novalux executive Jean-Michel Pelaprat. Using three optoelectronics chips dedicated to each primary color, however, laser TV can represent up to 90% of that same spectrum and create a much more natural picture.
Arasor also observes that its optics reduce the power and size requirements that often limit the relative usefulness of plasma. The company estimates that laser TVs consume only a quarter of the energy and can shed half the depth of the earlier screens, cutting the weight of the resulting TV by a similar amount. As with SED, the technology shown by Arasor is still in its prototype stage; laser TV is expected to arrive sooner, though, with shipping models arriving in late 2007 through larger electronics companies such as Mitsubishi and Samsung.
Apple and Dell are receiving a new competitor in the still small 30-inch display arena courtesy of long-time monitor producer Samsung. The new SyncMaster 305T is the company's first high-resolution computer display larger than 24 inches, and shares the same sharp 2560x1600 resolution of earlier rivals. Samsung promises a 1000:1 contrast ratio superior to that of Apple's 30-inch Cinema HD Display (which nets 700:1), a similar 400 cd/m² brightness, and a 6ms gray-to-gray pixel response time. Connections are kept minimal on the new display with one dual-link DVI port for video input and four free USB 2.0 ports to attach peripherals. The 305T is expected to ship in November for $1999. [Image courtesy of flatpanels.dk]
Even as Blu-Ray and HD DVD continue to battle for leadership in next-generation disc formats, New Medium Enterprises has announced that it will add still another format to the competition. The company has introduced its new HD VMD format and player. HD VMD (or High-Definition Versatile Media Disc) avoids many of the problems inherent to the other formats, says NME. Instead of relying on blue lasers, HD VMD can store as much as 40GB on a dual-layer disc read using more traditional red beams. This carries with it the benefits both of easy support for CDs and DVDs as well as lowering the cost of producing each disc. The initial player can play all three discs and is available now from the company for $175 with a choice of ten movies at launch, including titles such as "Hostage" and "Sleepy Hollow."
NME also said that it would use its presence at the CES expo in January to demonstrate a newer player that the company claims will support Blu-Ray and HD DVD alongside HD VMD discs.
Choosing an added sense of style over complexity, the Japanese firm Elecom today announced a new iPod speaker dock that can fit into even more conservative homes. Its ASP-WR8 series is one of the few stereos with a true wood cabinet, which Elecom says should improve audio quality as well as appearance. Three different finishes are available, including walnut (pictured). Speaker functions are straightforward with two 5.5-watt satellites being driven by any dockable iPod or the audio from an auxiliary input jack. An infrared remote is included. Elecom is shipping the ASP-WR8 in Japan for the equivalent of $135 US. Click through for photos of the additional finishes.
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Attempting to use a laptop as the heart of a desktop system can be frustrating. Traveling with the computer often involves unplugging cables for displays, input, networking, and sound before you can leave. Docking stations have existing in the past, but eripheral maker Belkin has found a particularly elegant way to solve this problem with its Notebook Expansion Dock. Rather than plug into each individual port of the computer, the dock plugs only into a single ExpressCard slot. The 2Gbps bandwidth provided by the newer card format is enough to handle all the common add-ons for a laptop, according to Belkin. Five USB ports, analog and optical audio, Ethernet, and even a 1600x1200 DVI or VGA display can all be run at the same time without devices affecting each other's performance. The Notebook Expansion Dock is shipping in late November for $199 and currently requires Windows Vista or XP; a Mac equivalent has yet to be announced.
Canon was not the first to embrace digital photography, releasing its first home cameras in 1996; however, the Digital ELPH line was one of the few at the time to focus on size and style instead of raw features. The company has clearly been successful since then, and has announced today that it would commemorate the tenth anniversary with a special edition of its 10-megapixel SD900 camera. Designed by NYC Peach, the anniversary model will have jewels placed around the lens ring and will be particularly exclusive: only fifteen examples are being made, ten of which will go to winners of a contest on Canon USA's PowerShot website that begins in late October while the remaining five will be auctioned off in early January. The announcement is rare for Canon, which generally refrains from launching special editions of its cameras.
Point-and-shoot cameras are only now reaching the 10-megapixel mark in higher-end models, but Samsung today has already set the bar equally high for cellphones. The B600 is the only phone to have a 10-megapixel camera sensor, giving it the same sharpness as even the best compact cameras. It also refuses to sacrifice zoom quality, as is almost always the case with cellphone lenses: the B600 has a 3X optical zoom that can focus properly on a distant subject. The new handset's 2.2-inch LCD is also one of the few displays of its kind to display a full 16.7 million colors -- making this phone's image previews more accurate than even some professional cameras.
Samsung has not ignored the other features of the phone in the process. For its native Korean market, the B600 has built-in mobile TV support for watching live video. Bluetooth, EVDO broadband, and AAC/MP3 music playback are also standard features. The only limitation to the phone is its availability. Targeted at Korea, the current form of the B600 is currently shipping to that country alone. Nonetheless, those who can justify the $900 US equivalent price will have one of the most feature-rich phones of any country. Click through for additional photos.
Even though its GeForce 7950 GT has only been available for a month, NVIDIA is preparing a dramatic overhaul of its graphics card line very soon. The company said today that it would launch its next-generation gaming platform -- "GPU and MCP together" -- at the upcoming GeForce LAN 3 on November 7th. The news effectively confirms that the GeForce 8800, seen previously in prototype form, will receive an official launch at that time and is likely to be accompanied by the new nForce 6-series mainboards for Core 2 Duo processors.
The new graphics chipset is expected to be the first to use a unified shader model, where instead of specialized per-pixel and vertex (3D point) units the entire pipeline can adapt depending on the work at hand, substantially improving theoretical performance. Two models are expected to ship at the November 7th launch: the flagship 8800 GTX with a 575MHz core and 768MB of RAM, as well as a scaled-down 8800 GTS with 500MHz core and 640MB of RAM. Both will have dual-link DVI for extra-large displays as well as HDCP encryption support for next-generation movies.
Having updated its HD DVD-playing Qosmio laptop as well as its larger Satellites with the faster Core 2 Duo, Toshiba is ready to update one of its smaller models. Its Satellite M115-S3144 is its first 14-inch laptop to use the Core 2 Duo and also contains a few pleasant additions for its class. The CPU is only a basic 1.6GHz model, but the system ships with a surprising 2GB of RAM and 120GB of hard drive storage. Toshiba also gives this latest Satellite a significant multimedia component through harmon/kardon stereo speakers and dedicated media controls that can play CDs and DVDs without booting the system. The new model ships within one to two weeks for $1249.
Although most of Logitech's recent efforts to improve the Harmony line have focused on luxury models, the company showed its commitment to more modest home theaters on Tuesday by releasing an update of an existing model. The Harmony 670 is a revised version of one of the earliest Harmony remotes, the 659. While many buttons have been slightly adjusted, the most significant change is around the center directional pad. Most Harmony users own DVRs, according to Logitech, so all the related buttons (such as Advance, Pause, and Skip) have been arranged in a circle around the directional pad.
The company also says that the 670 is the first Harmony remote to ship with version 7 software, which simplifies the process of setting up an online account (necessary to update the remote's device support) to as little as four steps. The Harmony 670 is shipping today for $150. See a full photo after the jump.
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