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Sony and publisher Ziff-Davis are discontinuing the Official Playstation Magazine, a staple of the gaming industry since the PS1 console. Nominally a propaganda organ, OPM was nevertheless respected because of the arm's length Sony kept from the editors, resulting in incidents such as one editor saying she wouldn't buy a PS3 this November. The magazine is being dismantled however because of another selling point: the demo DVD. Sony marketing VP Peter Dille notes that now that the Playstation Network will be offering web browsing and free downloads, the DVD has become redundant. The last OPM issue will be dated for January. This contrasts with the status of Microsoft's Official Xbox Magazine, which also has a demo disc but has been continually published despite the arrival of Xbox Live in 2002.
In what may signal a larger trend, Comcast today said it would add cellphone services to its existing collection of services, according to a report by USA Today. The cable company plans on introducing its own cellphone plans in Boston and Portland, Oregon later this month that will use Sprint's handsets and networks. Cox Cable and Time Warner have signed similar agreements but have not announced their launch plans.
The Comcast incarnation of the deal will see the company merge its home phone and TV features with calling functions: subscribers to both cable and cellular service will have a universal voice mailbox, says the company, while also having the option of downloading short TV clips from the Comcast network. Viewers will eventually have the choice of a wireless DVR function to record TV shows directly from their cellphone, according to Comcast spokeswoman D'Arcy Rudnay. Pricing has yet to be revealed, although phones such as the LG-made Fusic (pictured) are expected to be among the initial phone options.
Though it may look like a VoIP or cellular phone, Philips' new CD5351S is a cordless that happens to have cellphone-like features. Central to this is the color screen, which displays an icon-based navigation system with corresponding controls. There are even pre-loaded games. Up to 50 contacts can be stored in memory, and SMS messages can be pre-composed, sent only when the user is ready. Polyphonic ringtones can identify three different groups of callers. The phone's base station supports up to five handsets, charging each with 12 hours of talk time or 150 hours of standby. Popcorn-uk is selling the CD5351S for £47 ($89).
While stand-alone camera additions for media players are already available to transform media players into video recorders, JonesCAM on Tuesday released its SportDVR as one of the first mobile recorders to come bundled with both a camera and a complete media player. Mounting to a hat or helmet to get a unique first-person perspective, the camera relays video to a handheld that can not only capture up to 20 hours' worth of video at maximum quality, but also play back the footage on its 3.5-inch screen. The SportDVR is equally made to last the entirety of a long fishing trip or the majority of a police officer's shift, according to JonesCAM. A 2.5-hour internal battery for the recorder combines with a high-capacity battery pack to record interruption-free for 5-7 hours when paired with the camera. The firm sells its complete kit for $1095.
Large electronics retailer Circuit City plans to capitalize on the often frenetic shopping activity the day after Thanksgiving to set a new record in discount laptops, according to a leaked ad obtained by Black Friday 2006. The store will carry a budget Compaq Presario laptop that will be available for $99 after obtaining an instant discount, a mail-in rebate, and a 12-month subscription to Vonage Internet telephone service. As with similar offers from HP and Wal-Mart, the system is a budget 15.4-inch system with 512MB of RAM and a 60GB hard drive; however, the as yet unnamed Presario model at Circuit City will include a 1.6GHz Celeron M instead of an AMD processor and a DVD rewriter in lieu of the more limited DVD/CD-RW combo drive. The surprise discount from Circuit City, while temporary, reflects an increasingly clear trend towards extremely low-cost portables in the market, similar to the path taken by desktops in previous years.
To reward its team for the release of the Zune, Microsoft today sent its development staff special versions of the new player, according to Zune business developer Bill Wittress. Staff could choose between orange and pink players that reflect the colors of the energy status bar on the devices. They also feature a clear version of the Zune's signature double-shot color effect around their rims. Although the limited-run Zune is only a gift, Wittress asks for reader reactions -- a practice used by other pseudo-official Zune blogs such as Zunester and Zune Insider to gauge the reaction to the device and listeners' habits. The disclosure may pave the way for future color options in stores beyond the current black, brown, and white options. A full photo of the pink edition is available after the jump.
Elecom's SCR-CD001 takes a different approach to making discs unusable. Whereas most destroyers simply break a disc, Elecom's product scratches the surface in a particular pattern, rendering the disc unreadable without completely wiping the data, which can be recovered through more elaborate services. The destroyer is also small and fast, being powered by a USB connection and needing only five seconds per session. The SCR-CD001 begins Japanese sales in late November for the price of 3,000 yen ($25).
The official launch today of Intel's first quad-core desktop CPUs has seen multiple announcements of multi-core desktops. However, Tyan today revealed what it characterizes as a personal supercomputer. The Typhoon 600 series uses as many as ten of Intel's quad-core Xeon 5300 processors, producing a forty-core system that can achieve an unprecedented 256 gigaflops in peak performance. Unlike most systems at this performance level, however, the Typhoon doesn't require a rackmount or special power needs. The entire system fits in a wide tower case that can plug into an ordinary wall socket, Tyan boasts. This allows professionals to use the system as a personal CPU cluster, rendering 3D images or science data in a fraction of the time that a conventional desktop would take. To this end, the system has DVI and VGA video output and multiple front-mounted USB ports to serve as a true desktop rather than a backroom server. Tyan expects the system to sell for under £10,000 ($18,959) when it arrives in January -- a low price for the available power, the company says.
JVC has revealed the DLA-HD1, a new LCD projector coming to Japan next year. Beyond being a "Full HD" system capable of resolutions up to 1080p, the projector will have a response time of 4ms, and an unheard-of contrast ratio of 15,000:1. Even Sanyo's PLV-Z5 can only achieve 10,000:1. JVC claims that this will allow "true" black reproduction without sacrificing picture brightness, which on the HD1 should run to 700 lumens with a 200W bulb. The projector will not be cheap, though: JVC expects to sell it in late January for the price of 798,000 yen ($6,767). Plans for distribution outside of Japan have not been mentioned.
Offering an alternative to normally vertically-oriented music docks, Brookstone today began carrying its tub MP3 Speaker System. The tub includes a space on top especially built to safely hold an iPod or other music players while continuing to output audio from any given player's headphone jack. In addition to protecting the jukebox, the design saves space by placing the stereo speakers directly underneath. Rubber feet at the bottom both keep the tub still and elevate the design to prevent spills from seeping into the speaker grilles. In accordance with its simple design, the speaker set relies on AC power and has only simple volume adjustment controls. Brookstone delivers the tub for $50.
The Ultra Pin is digital pinball machine, simulating six conventional tables by Bally and Williams: Attack from Mars, Medieval Madness, F-14 Tomcat, Sorcerer, Xenon, and Strikes and Spares. The actual parts of the machines have been replaced with a 16:9 plasma display, and in place of the standard dot matrix screen, Global VR has substituted a color LCD. To make the Ultra Pin play like a classic machine, however, the company has included force-feedback sensors, which allow players to bump and tilt the playing field. Additional games such as FunHouse and Pin-Bot can be bought in table packs. The cost of the table itself is undisclosed, but given Global's arcade-based market, it may well be several thousand dollars.
Online exporter Brando today released its own Battery FREE Wireless Optical Mouse in hopes of outperforming the Royche NB-57D released earlier this month. As with its competitor, Brando's model uses electromagnetic induction from the mousepad to charge the controller without batteries or cords. Unique to Brando's model, however, is a second, horizontal scroll wheel. The extra input can be used not just to pan left or right across documents but also to adjust zoom or turn pages in documents or websites, Brando says. Buttons also exist to replicate a double-click and navigate back or forth when using Internet Explorer. The Wireless Optical Mouse ships from Brando for $36.
Klegg's newly-announced KLM401A is a Windows Media Center TV with the unique support of "smart home" systems by the likes of AMX, Creston, and HAI. The TV connects to the rest of the system via Ethernet or wireless. From there, all the user has to do is download specific Autonomic Controls modules from the Klegg or AC websites. He can then send IP-based commands to the TV from anywhere in the home. The 401A runs resolutions up to 1080i and has a 1,000:1 contrast ratio. Pricing and availability is currently unknown.
While Microsoft is today officially launching its Zune media player with an extreme level of publicity, the company is simultaneously facing an uncertain future, according to sources speaking to Bloomberg. Discussing the prospects of the Zune with the media outlet, Microsoft executives recognized that the jukebox will likely have a difficult path ahead even in ideal circumstances.
"We can beat them, but it's not going to be easy," says company CEO Steve Ballmer. "Obviously we're the David in this one. Apple's the Goliath." Zune marketing head Chris Stephenson similarly downplayed the company's ambitions, emphasizing that relevance, not dominance, is the crucial factor. "We would like people to say there's a clear No. 2 in the marketplace," he says.
Comments from analysts follow after the jump.
Laptop maker Averatec on Tuesday expanded its fledgling GPS receiver line with the simpler yet capable Voya 320. Despite its budget emphasis, the navigation system has a sharper display than the more expensive Voya 350, according to Averatec: the 320 displays information at 640x320 versus its predecessor's 320x240. The system is otherwise basic and focuses on GPS only, but includes a 1GB SD card with North American map information and 1.6 million points of interest. Designed to be car-mounted with a 12-volt charge cable, the new Voya can also be handheld and will last for two hours with a built-in rechargeable battery. Its price is expected to be its primary selling feature: at $299, it will cost far less than most similar GPS systems. The company will ship the GPS unit from its online store and OfficeMax outlets later this year.
Intel has formally rolled out the Core 2 Extreme QX6700, the first quad-core processor aimed at desktops. Each core is clocked at 2.66GHz, and the front-side bus reaches 1,066MHz. It has an 8MB L2 cache and a split L1 cache, divided into two 16KB units. One of the first companies to adopt the processor is Dell, who've made it an option in their new XPS 710 systems. The computers use Nvidia's nForce 590 SLI motherboards and support up to 2TB of storage, 4GB of DDR2 RAM, and four GeForce 7950s or two ATI Radeon X1950s. In general, less expensive options are offered by default. A stock 20-inch LCD can be upgraded to 24 inches. Prices for the 710 range begin at $3,699, but can easily approach $5,000 or more as extra hardware is added.
Dell today revised its flagship 30-inch display to increase its appeal for artists and other color-sensitive viewers. The improved 3007WFP-HC incorporates a cold cathode fluorescent light that should dramatically increase color accuracy. Where most computer LCDs display only 72% of the NTSC color gamut, Dell says, the cold cathode in the 3007WFP-HC raises this to a full 92%. This makes it an ideal work environment for photographers, according to Dell. The display similarly improves the pixel response time to 8ms and can optionally use a speaker bar for sound in small desktop environments. A 9-in-2 card reader and a 4-port USB 2.0 hub are standard. Dell expects to ship the HC variant of the 3007WFP by the end of 2006 for $1,699. Click through for a full photo.
TiVo announced today two upcoming new services that will let its subscribers easily share video between their PCs and televisions. Of these, the most dramatic is a new collaboration with media host One True Media that will let users share their unprotected video clips to a private group through the Internet. By uploading videos to a special One True Media account, TiVo owners will be able to send videos or photo slideshows to friends and family simply by providing them with a private channel code, TiVo says. The content can then be downloaded through any active TiVo Series 2 or 3 DVR; subscribers will even have the choice of subscribing to a Season Pass -- similar to that of TV shows -- which automatically downloads photos and videos as they appear. TiVo plans on launching the service in early 2007 at a cost of $4 per month to upload content. Downloads will be free of charge.
Click through for details of TiVo's new broadband video conversion.
Having previously conceived of the X-series as a fixed-screen ultraportable, Lenovo today revamped the lineup with the tablet-based ThinkPad X60. The updated computer has been transformed into a convertible tablet PC that can either serve as a conventional 12.1-inch ultraportable or, by swiveing the display, a compact tablet. Rare amongst these systems is the choice of using navigation buttons instead of a touchscreen: while a display that supports both finger and stylus input is an option, buyers can save money and instead use a directional pad underneath the screen when hand-portability is the only concern. The X60 is also designed to be used all day, according to Lenovo. Using an extended-capacity battery, the X60 can operate for 7.5 hours due to its use of either low-voltage Core Duo or Solo processors. It also embraces newer standards and integrates an early 802.11n wireless adapter alongside an ExpressCard slot. Lenovo is accepting pre-orders today beginning at $1,799 for a 1.66GHz Core Duo model with 1GB of RAM, an 80GB hard disk and a viewing-only screen.
Toshiba this morning shipped the Satellite P100-ST9742, an update to its earlier range-topping model that primarily adds the speed of Intel's latest processor to the line. The ST9742 uses a 2GHz Core 2 Duo, increasing performance without significantly increasing heat output. Other details are largely unchanged but still reflect Toshiba's approach to the portable as a gaming desktop replacement. A 512MB GeForce Go 7900 GTX is standard for the latest 3D games, as are a 7200RPM, 100GB hard drive and a full 2GB of system RAM that the company says is key to the system's performance. A showcase laptop, this newest Satellite also has a signature copper-colored outer shell to highlight its looks as well as harman/kardon speakers for above-average portable sound. Toshiba takes orders today for $2,899.
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