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Speaker docks for music phones carry an inherent risk that limits their appeal: as they are often tied to particular phone models, the commonplace act of replacing one's cellphone usually renders the speakers obsolete as well. A more future-proof means of broadcasting phone music is Trust's new Mobile Phone Sound Station. While explicitly compatible only with certain Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony-Ericsson phones, the Sound Station is capable of docking any of those handsets and is not just limited to playing audio. As with an iPod dock, it can recharge the battery of the attached phone and even synchronize data with a host PC. An auxiliary input jack is present for dedicated music players and other audio devices. Trust is shipping the speaker set now; pricing is unavailable.
Click through for news of potential problems that may also affect the use of virtualization with Vista.
The fledgling Internet service provider FON has caught the notice of many by promoting a uniquely egalitarian access method. Instead of establishing its own infrastructure, FON encourages users of existing Internet connections to open their access to others by purchasing a public WiFi access point from the company. The latest element of that strategy was announced today in the form of the La Fonera wireless router. A replacement for an earlier model, the access point differentiates itself by separating the Internet connection into public and private arenas: two different wireless network IDs are broadcast, with one reserved only for the WiFi host and another available to customers. This improves security, says FON, and also lets the owner customize the bandwidth available to outsiders.
This dual environment is also the key to FON's pricing and its impact on WiFi adoption. While the general public must pay $3 per day to access the connection, purchasing a La Fonera router for $5 gives free access to other members' access points -- spurring users to offer their own access instead of simply relying on others. The La Fonera is available now and will be demonstrated in New York and San Francisco later this month.
In a highly-anticipated press conference on Thursday, Palm released its first Treo handset targeted at the rapidly growing base of mainstream smartphone users. The Treo 680 occupies a space between the now-inexpensive 650 and the newer 700/750 models, but should also have appreciated new design elements. Conspiciously, the 680 sheds a considerable amount of the bulk of the 650 and 700, dropping slightly in overall size and internalizing the antenna. The PalmOS-based phone has also been modernized with EDGE broadband support on GSM-equipped models, a faster web browser, and Internet radio streaming.
To liven the phone and appeal to buyers outside Palm's normal business sphere, the company says it will ship the Treo 680 in four colors: crimson, graphite, orange, and silver. Pricing and availability have yet to be determined and will vary by carrier, but a key indicator of its likely cost is the reduction of the camera to VGA (0.3-megapixel) resolution from the 1.3 megapixels of the 700. The 680 will be the lowest-priced Treo ever, says Palm. Click through for a gallery of the four available colors.
[Updated with real photo] Friday will mark the introduction of multiple handheld devices colored red in support of PRODUCT RED, a charity initiated by DATA chairman Bobby Shriver and U2 singer Bono to promote the fight against AIDS in Africa. One of these will be a red version of Motorola's RAZR, the by now omnipresent slim flip-phone. The US carrier Sprint is expected to sell the special color handset to its subscribers for $289 without a contract, with a portion of the profits earmarked for the charity. Features will otherwise be unchanged from Sprint's version of the same device. Shipments will begin in November.
Also slated to appear tomorrow is a red iPod nano, according to AppleInsider. Though Apple seldom produces charity-related products, the company has agreed to donate $10 for every 4GB iPod given the special color without changing the existing $199 price. The new version is expected to debut on The Oprah Winfrey Show as part of a Bono guest appearance. Click through for a real photo of the iPod as well as the RAZR.
NVIDIA is devoting its presence at DigitalLife to releasing a new video chipset aimed directly at desktop replacement laptops. The GeForce Go 7950 GTX is an enhancement of the 7900 that boosts the core clock speed from 500 to 575MHz and the memory from 600 to 700MHz. Features have remained the same, but the improved frequencies make it the fastest mobile video chipset anywhere, according to NVIDIA: pixel and vertex fill rates are about 15% higher compared to the earlier GeForce Go chip. Two 7950 chips can operate in SLI mode to improve performance even further compared to the 7900 (which also had an SLI option).
Dell shared the spotlight in the announcement as the first company to use the GeForce Go 7950 GTX in its laptops. The 17-inch XPS M1710 laptop now has the option of NVIDIA's latest hardware for an additional $499. Systems are also expected to be available from gaming-oriented laptop makers such as Falcon Northwest, Sager, and Voodoo PC.
The DigitalLife Expo served as a venue for another series of launches today for Dell, which took the opportunity to improve its computer and HDTV displays. The 3207C (pictured) and 3707C are 32- and 37-inch LCD televisions with improved image quality that should help with fast-action scenes in movies and games. The leading 3707C has both analog and digital tuners, dual HDMI ports, and stand-alone 30W speakers with virtual surround support. Buyers of the simpler 3207C get most of the same features save for a single HDMI input and built-in 30W speakers. Both models are shipping today for $1,199 (32-inch) and $1,699 (37-inch) respectively.
For computer users, Dell also extended its LCD displays to include a new budget model, the E207WFP. The new widescreen is a stripped-down version of the existing 2007WFP that sacrifices the USB hub and all but a single DVI input (with HDCP encryption support) for a lower absolute price: the E207 is shipping today for $289 versus the $399 official price of the higher-end model. Click through for photos of all three displays.
With the impending release of Casino Royale, Sony is hoping to draw attention to its more recent camera phones by releasing them in exclusive editions that reflect the handset used by James Bond in the movie. The K790 and Europe-oriented K800 will be available for only three months in silver, and as might be expected, will come preloaded with related content such as wallpapers, ringtones, and the complete movie trailer. The phones themselves already fit the espionage theme by including a 3.2-megapixel camera and support for either EDGE (K790) or UMTS (K800) broadband. Both phones will be available worldwide by the end of the year; expect the K790 version to appear in North America. A full photo is available after the jump.
At the DigitalLife Expo in New York, peripheral maker PNY said it would be the latest company to produce flash drives with U3 support built-in. New versions of PNY's Attaché and Mini Attaché will rely on U3's smart drive technology, which can run web browsers and other programs directly from the drive on a Windows PC without having to install any files on a host computer. The drives will ship in 1GB (Mini Attaché) and 2GB (Attaché) capacities by early 2007 for an as-yet undetermined price.
When PNY's new storage ships, it should also take advantage of a collaboration between the online store eMusic with music software developer Inmatrix. U3 drive owners who buy the latter's Zoom Player Mobile can not only play most common music formats -- including protected Windows Media -- but also receive 50 free MP3 songs from eMusic's online store. The player itself is compact at 2MB and thus leaves even smaller drives free to both play and store a listener's music. The software is available for $36 and is also available as a trial version.
Bluetooth systems for cars are no longer rare. Even so, most are single-purpose and only handle phone calls: other Bluetooth audio devices are largely wasted. Wireless specialist Parrot has realized this and developed its new MK6000 hands-free kit to give all the mobile devices in a car an opportunity to use the speaker system. It still performs the traditional task of routing calls through a vehicle's speakers and includes a dual-microphone adapter to ensure voice accuracy, but can also pair with a music-capable cellphone, a dedicated music player with a Bluetooth transmitter, or any audio source that fits the A2DP profile to stream music. To reflect this role, the MK6000 has basic music controls and will automatically pause music while a call is in progress. Parrot promises to ship the kit in early 2007 for $240.
For those who only require a conventional speakerphone, Parrot also recently announced its MINIKIT mobile device. A one-piece microphone and speaker, the MINIKIT not only relays calls from Bluetooth cellphones but relies on voice recognition to make it a true hands-free system. Up to five different phones' contact lists can be given 150 voice tags each, making it possible to dial any number through speaking a keyword. The MINIKIT should be available later this month for $125. Click through for a photo.
[Updated with American launch details] Sony used a press conference in Japan on Thursday to launch an aggressive update of its Network Walkman flash players. Briefly leaked by a British retailer, the new S600 and S700 players are a cross between the company's basic E500-series players and the more advanced A-series. While the new Walkmen continue to use the rotary controls that keep the E500 small, they include color OLED screens that can display album art and can store up to 4GB of music in the S700 model, placing Sony's players in direct competition with the iPod nano for the first time.
Unique to both lines is the ability to transfer music directly from a CD or MiniDisc -- an essential feature in the players' native country, where home PCs are less common. The S600 and S700 are chiefly separated by their earbuds, as the S700 (pictured) ships with Sony's NC22 active noise-cancelling earbuds while the S600 ships with more conventional designs. The S700 arrives first in Japan on October 21st at $243 US for the 4GB model; the S600 will arrive November 18th. US customers can pre-order the S700 series now at $169 for a 1GB version and $199 for a 2GB black model. Click through for brief news of Sony's video player strategy.
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