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Microsoft has announced that to a certain extent, files from the Zune Marketplace will be re-downloadable at no extra cost. Gizmodo notes that songs and videos will be downloadable up to five times past the initial point of purchase. This should ensure that if an initial download fails, or an existing copy is lost, users will still to able to receive their content. This has been one of the key complaints about the iTunes Music Store, which (with rare exceptions) only allows one-time downloads. Past customers have had to speak to Apple technical support in order to secure second copies. The Zune and the Zune Marketplace launch on November 14th.
RCA's MPC4000 is a forthcoming portable antenna system that will serve several functions, writes SCI FI Tech. Its main purpose will be to receive over-the-air HD signals and display them on a PC, feeding them through a USB port. But the antenna will also be able to catch standard-definition signals, and broadcasts of both qualities will be organized into a program guide. Bundled software will enable a hard disk to become a DVR unit, with features such as scheduled recordings and pausing live TV. The 4000 is not due for some time, however: it will debut in April for the price of $199. Clip-on and tabletop antennas will be included out of the box.
Archos today said it has developed a unique attachment to extend the usefulness of its newest x04 media players. The newly-added Helmet Camcorder plugs into any Archos 404, 504, or 604 media player and records video in 640x480 MPEG-4 video directly to a given player's internal hard drive, allowing the wearer to create hour-long clips from the resulting footage. The combination of an included headband and a wired remote make it ideal for sports or other circumstances where conventional cameras would be too dangerous, Archos writes. A high-sensitivity CCD lets the camera record even in near-total darkness; slow-motion capture as precise as 1/8th time is possible for preserving highlights. Video is transferrable to any computer through USB. Available this month, the Helmet Camcorder sells for $150.
USB device maker Brando today presented its latest generation of flash storage readers. The WorkShop 55-in-1 card reader boasts support for virtually every major format, Brando claims, including those that normally require special support. Cellphone users can plug miniSD, Memory Stick Micro, and T-flash cards into the reader without the need for an adapter, while the next-generation SDHC standard can also be read natively. This comes without a sacrifice in speed, according to Brando: the 55-in-1 reader can transfer data as quickly as a SanDisk Extreme III CompactFlash card, copying 100MB of data in as little as 6 seconds. The new reader is being prepared for a late November release at a price of $28.
Creative today announced a new set of portable speakers for its iPod nano-rivaling ZEN V and ZEN V Plus flash music players. The simply-titled TravelSound ZEN V cradles the player securely between two 4-watt speakers, but also adds a unique, extractable radio antenna for boosting the reception of the more advanced ZEN V Plus' built-in FM tuner. Creative also promises rarer expansion options such as a subwoofer input to bolster low-end frequency response and 25 hours of playback time when powered using disposable batteries. With support for both third-party audio through a minijack plug and synchronization through USB, the TravelSound is set to launch in late November for $108 US for Creative's home of Singapore and should be available in North America soon afterwards.
Ricoh's newest camera is the RR730, a 7.1MP compact. It has 3x optical zoom with 4x digital, for a possible combined factor of 12x. Maximum apertures range from f/2.8 in wide-angle to 4.8 in telephoto. In addition to using SD cards as external memory, the 730 has 32MB of internal memory, which is twice as much as its predecessor and can be useful in cases of overflow or for taking brief snapshots. The camera also records video, and images are displayed on a 2.5-inch LCD. The whole unit runs on two AA batteries. The RR730 is not available in North America at present, but since you can find the RR630, expect it to appear in the near future.
As a complement to its GeForce 8800 graphics chip announcement, NVIDIA this week also unveiled its nForce 600-series mainboards for systems using Intel's Core 2-based processors. One of the initial companies to take advantage of this new platform is ASUS, which has just unveiled its new P5N32-E SLI gaming-oriented mainboard. The new design uses the high-end nForce 680i chipset to provide a third, full-speed X16 PCI Express slot that can be used with a video card supporting NVIDIA's CUDA technology to process AI, physics, and other general code, alleviating the load of the main system processor. The slot can alternately serve as a standard graphics slot for as many as two separate displays, even when the main video cards are paired in SLI for extra performance. ASUS also emphasizes a fanless, heatpipe-cooled chipset that ensures quiet, a dedicated SupremeFX sound card that replaces Intel's built-in audio hardware, as well as an option to automatically overclock the system when it's sufficiently cool. Though board pricing varies by area, ASUS is already shipping the P5N32-E SLI to NewEgg and other computer resellers for $300.
Online store Gadget Universe says its newly-offered TA 454 Digital Video Player is one of the smallest video-capable players available. Its dimensions more closely resemble that of a car's wireless key fob, the company claims. Regardless of its size, the 454 is said to make very efficient use of its available space, sporting a 1.5-inch LCD and support for videos transcoded into the rarer SMV format, eBooks, JPEG photos, and music in MP3 or WMA. Voice recording and a built-in speaker allow for sharing audio. Storage is handled via 256MB of built-in flash memory; for more demanding content, the player can accept SD cards for additional space. Gadget Universe ships the TA 454 for $80.
The next generation of iPod -- anticipated at this January's Macworld conference -- could well have some form of streaming video support, T3 reports. A Disney filing at the US Patent Office suggests that the company would like to stream video from ESPN direct to wireless devices, among them the iPod, which is listed as a potential target. Select ESPN shows are already on sale at the iTunes Music Store, but the patent refers to game results and other real-time content. Disney owns ESPN and has formed strong ties with Apple, as Disney movies have recently premiered on iTunes, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs sits on Disney's board of directors.
Question Mark Entertainment announced on Friday the release of its new Motion Speaker. The single-piece audio system avoids traditional dials in favor of motion-sensitive controls: listeners change the volume or tune different radio stations by passing a hand in front of the relevant sensor. An auto-scanning FM receiver saves the user an element of effort, Question Mark says. Designed as a fashion piece, the Motion Speaker also has a built-in ambient lighting system and is meant to be used with virtually any power source: it can be powered through traditional AC power, four AA batteries, or a computer's USB port. The speaker works as an audio device for any Mac, Windows PC, or portable audio player with a minijack connection and will ship next week to Europe for €80 ($103).
Ministry of Sound has released another MP3 player, this time the Hed Kandi. Named after the Ministry's house-oriented sublabel, the player's main attractions are its candybar design and the five pre-loaded tracks from artists such as Tennishero and Shaolin Master. It can record voice, play MP3, WMA and WMA-DRM files for up to 12 hours, and comes with a mini-USB cable, in-ear headphones, and a hidden OLED display. Pink and white versions will go on sale mid-November for £70 ($133) from the Ministry website.
Motorola is planning a new version of its popular Q smartphone, as revealed by photos and early details obtained by Hungarian website Terminal. Though since removed from the original website, the information points to a likely enhancement that would cater both to the professional and entertainment audiences. Larger, flat keys are expected to speed typing while the device also gains faster HSDPA and UMTS Internet access. A 2-megapixel camera also represents an improvement over the intiial model's 1.3-megapixel images. Few other hardware specifications were unveiled about the Q Pro, which continues to use Windows Mobile for software; the phone is set to debut in Europe with Vodafone's GSM-based service, opening the possibility of a release for Cingular or other similar carriers in North America. Click through for additional photos.
Seeking to streamline Internet radio for those who prefer not to use their PC, Reciva is now shipping its Magicbox IMP online radio. Instead of manually entering site addresses, listeners press buttons on the radio itself to access an international directory of Internet radio stations broadcasting in most streaming formats, including MP3, RealAudio, and Windows Media. Browsing is possible by country as well as by genre. Receiving the stream is handled through a WiFi receiver that connects to any standard wireless network, including those with WEP encryption. An option also exists to navigate and stream content directly from a host PC, which expands format support to AAC, Audible, and other standards. Reciva currently sells the MagicBox for £149 ($284) and can export to the US.
Silex Technology claims that the wiDock is first iPod dock to sync files wirelessly. Once a computer is configured with the installation disc, users can dock their iPod anywhere in range to begin charging and copying files from iTunes. The wiDock connects through 802.11b/g, or as backup, a direct Ethernet cable. RCA and S-Video jacks let you feed audio and video to a TV. The product comes with five adapters for regular, Nano and Mini iPods, and is compatible with Windows 2000/XP, or OS X 10.2.7 and greater. Data is encrypted via WEP, WPA, or WPA2. The wiDock will go on sale in December for the price of $149.
Online retailer I Want One of Those today began carrying the diminutive P.pod MP3 player. Measured at three inches in length and one inch wide, the player consumes very little space compared to most players in its class, the store says. In spite of its size, the design is toughened with a rubberized protective layer and keeps many of the features of current audio players, including MP3 and WMA playback, a built-in microphone for voice recording, and support for both lyrics and general file storage. The player can connect directly to a PC through USB 2 and is powered by a single AAA battery. Crucially, the player is available for only $27 while storing 256MB of music.
Monster Cable's home automation division Monster Central has just unveiled its Home Theater and Lighting Controller 300, describing it as a "whole-home" remote that can be used to control most complex electronics in a home. The 300 can be configured through online updates to manage not only common home theater equipment, such as DVD players, stereos, and televisions, but also computer music and videos, basic game console functions, iPod docking systems, and Monster-compatible systems. Interference and line-of-sight issues with the remote are avoided through the controller's support for OmniLink bridge, Monster says: a bundled RF-to-IR bridge transmits the remote's commands as long as it stays within range, regardless of walls or other barriers. Built-in memory further ensures that the 300 is always aware of devices' activities, and it can store presets that can trigger several devices at once for movie viewing or other common tasks. Monster ships its premium controller for $600.
The French organization Institut Geograpique National is now shipping its unique Evadeo GPS tracker for both drivers and pedestrians. The Evadeo is one of the first GPS units to provide route information beyond roads, says the institution, and ships with two 1GB SD cards that combined store not only vehicle routes but also IGN maps of park paths, main trails, and small village roads for all of France. Owners living in urban areas can also switch the Evadeo to a special pedestrian mode that clearly labels street names and shows walking-oriented street directions. The 3.5-inch touchscreen handheld also has a built-in location search tool that can find both human and natural landmarks. IGN ships the device for €449 ($576 US).
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