News Archive for 06/12/05

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ARC Wireless Freedom Antenna boosts signals

12/05, 6:00pm

ARC Freedom Antenna

ARC Wireless has launched the Freedom Antenna, an "all-in-one" add-on for cellphones and other wireless devices. It's currently compatible with 210 phones sold in the United States, and will support more products with future adapters. The device is meant to boost wireless signals, expanding their range and reducing the number of dropped cellphone calls. It's described as compatible with "all major" wireless carriers and technologies. The Freedom comes bundled with a stand, suction cups, and a host of adapter cables for compatible phones. It can be bought for $25 at DiscountCell, or $35-40 at retailers such as RadioShack.

LG demos Windows Mobile Chocolate phone

12/05, 5:15pm

LG Windows Chocolate phone

Presenting at the ITU Telecom World show in Hong Kong, LG has unveiled a Chocolate PDA phone running Windows Mobile 5.0, Cetizen writes. The KC1 will debut in South Korea and play WMA audio and WMV video. It should rely on the WiMAX mobile network for calls, and use EVDO broadband for data transmission. The candybar design features a 2.8-inch, QVGA touchscreen, as well as a two megapixel camera and a microSD slot for extra storage. As with many LG phones, Bluetooth will come standard. Pricing and (expanded) distribution information is presently unknown, but some past LG phones have left Asia for Western shores, so an American version is not out of the question.

Elecom ships USB drives with fingerprint readers

12/05, 5:05pm

Elecom Fingerprint Drives

Japanese device builder Elecom took advantage of the compact size of flash memory today by releasing two new USB flash drives with biometric readers. Both the CR-FP2 and CR-FP3 models can require a fingerprint swipe before they allow access to the stored data, preventing password cracks or other brute force attempts to steal sensitive information. To ensure that this works safely, the system is extremely accurate and secure, according to Elecom. Each drive uses a reader that has an error rate of 1/1,000,000 and which erases the scan from memory.

The two variants are separated by capacity and protection. The 256MB FP2 edition is protected by a clear, removable plastic cap that covers both the USB port and the reader. In turn, the higher-end FP3 doubles the available storage to 512MB and uses a more advanced sliding cover that shelters the entire drive. Both should be available this week at prices of $77 for the FP2 and $107 for the FP3.

EVDO, HSDPA to see massive speed upgrades

12/05, 4:25pm

EVDO and HSDPA Upgrades

Both the CDMA-based EVDO mobile broadband technology and its GSM equivalent HSDPA are set to see significant increases in speed, according to announcements made today by organizations involved with both standards. The first to arrive will be HSUPA, Nortel and Samsung jointly revealed today at the ITU Telecom conference in Hong Kong. Although its theoretical download speed of 5.6Mbps is a modest upgrade relative to the 3.6Mbps of the HSDPA original, the newer technology achieves much improved real-world speeds. Samsung demonstrated an example connection that achieved not only a true 3.6Mbps download rate but also a much improved 2Mbps upload rate, far outclassing the respective 800Kbps and 300Kbps rates often seen in practicewith the earlier format. The new speeds will allow higher-quality television and Internet-based tools previously thought impossible for cellular Internet access. Actual deployments of HSUPA are expected in 2007, with Europe's Orange scheduled to be the first carrier.

Read through for etails of the EVDO enhancements.

Chronotech Bluevoice Bluetooth headset watch

12/05, 4:25pm

Bluetooth headset watch

Recently imported from Europe, Chronotech's Bluevoice watch contains a detachable Bluetooth headset, giving you not only a convenient unit but a place to store it other than your pocket. When a call comes in, users simply remove the headset from the strap and put it to their ear. The watch can pair with any Bluetooth-enabled cellphone within a six-foot radius -- holding a button down begins the pairing process. The Bluevoice has four hours of talk time and 120 hours of standby, and can be charged with either an AC adapter or a USB cable (both are included). Several different colors are available, depending on whether you choose digital or analog; these include black, white, gray, green, pink and more. DHS Marketing is selling the digital watch for $120, and the analog version for $128.

Yoto readies V200 ultra-slim media player

12/05, 3:35pm

Yoto V200 Media Player

Aiming at the same market as the Clix, Yoto today previewed its V200 media player. The Chinese model is yet more streamlined than its iRiver challenger and shifts all controls to the sides of the player, shrinking its form beyond the Clix despite its larger 2.4-inch screen. Its dimensions are not a limiting factor in its features, Yoto claims. The V200 is capable of playing DivX and H.264 content at a full 30 frames per second and will also read eBooks as well as JPEG photos. Internal memory is limited to 1GB of flash storage; however, the player contains a miniSD card slot that can enlarge its total capacity by an extra 2GB. Crucially, Yoto says its new player will ship for only 399 yuan ($51) when it debuts in February, making it one of the least expensive full-function media players available worldwide.

Pantech designs Flexus 03 concept phone

12/05, 3:05pm

Pantech Flexus 03 Phone

Korean cellphone designer Pantech today revealed its new Flexus 03 prototype, which has been nominated for the IF Design 2007 award. The slider phone earns its distinction through an exceptionally minimalist design, according to the company: instead of the plethora of buttons common to many of these devices, the Flexus relies only on a trackball and two hidden buttons for controls on its top shell, while a Motorola RAZR-style number pad is the extent of its control on the bottom. The display in turn is also flush and maintains the phone's smooth shape. Though little else is known regarding its technical features, the design is known to be music-capable. Click through for photos courtesy of Akihabara.

LG adds HSDPA, storage to Chocolate flip phone

12/05, 2:30pm

LG Chocolate U830

LG today began shipping the U830, an enhanced version of the company's recently launched VX8600 (also known as the KG810). Its primary addition is enhanced 3G wireless, according to LG: the U830 can connect through HSDPA, achieving a theoretical 3.6Mbps download rate. The company has suitably added internal storage, providing 185MB of memory alongside removable cards.

Media functions have also been improved, LG says: a 2-megapixel camera replaces the 1.3-megapixel model of before, while a second forward-facing camera has been integrated for self-portraits. The U830 still retains external music controls and support for AAC, MP3, and WMA music. The phone is already available in the UK for free when connected to a £30 ($59) per month plan from Three; a North American launch has not yet been announced.

Sony-Ericsson intros Bluetooth headset combo for PCs

12/05, 2:00pm

Sony-Ericsson PC Headset

In addition to its HBV-100 Bluetooth headset combination for computers. The package unites the company's existing PV705 Bluetooth earpiece with a special USB adapter that connects the earpiece with a PC for hands-free Internet telephone calls and other voice functions on a PC. The headset and USB adapter are already paired out of the box, Sony-Ericsson says; this eases the setup process for newcomers by limiting the installation to a simple driver installation.

The headset is not limited to computers, however, and can be linked to a cellphone for as much as 12 hours of continuous talk time or 300 when on standby. It includes its own rechargeable internal battery and a dedicated charger to recover power regardless of where the headset may be used. The HBV-100 is set to launch later this month, though pricing remains unlisted.

Zune sales drop from second to fifth place

12/05, 12:45pm

Zune drops from 2nd place

Though the Zune initially made a healthy debut as the second-best selling digital audio player, it fell to fifth place in its second week, says Dow Jones. Citing an analyst with the marketing firm NPD Group, Jones notes that Zune sales dropped to 2.1 percent in the week ending November 25th, ranking alongside a player sold by Disney. The Apple iPod, conversely, continued to dominate at 39.4 percent, while SanDisk's market share followed in close pursuit at 39.3. Creative Labs and Memorex occupied the third and fourth places. However dire these results may seem for Microsoft, NPD analyst Stephen Baker cautions that the second week was the difficult Thanksgiving period, and that unit production was kept up where most companies would falter.

Prudential: Apple iPhone production has begun

12/05, 12:20pm

Prudential on Apple iPhone

Apple has reportedly begun production of the iPhone, according to a research note provided to Barron's by Prudential analyst Jesse Tortora. The researcher notes that "the production ramp has already begun" on a small scale and should be ready for a full launch late in the first quarter of 2007 or early in the second. A music phone is likely to mark the launch with a more full-featured smartphone following one or two quarters later, Tortora said. The analyst further anticipates the release of a widescreen iPod in the same time frame and claims evidence that the company is hiring game designers. "Apple may have interest in entering the video game market longer-term," he said.

Accordingly, Tortora has raised his valuation of Apple stock from $74 to $87 based on sales estimates for the iPhone, which could sell between 7 to 8 million units in 2007, according to predictions. The introduction is also likely to benefit Broadcom and Intel, both of whom have been singled out as potential part suppliers for Apple's cellular device.

Herman Miller Leaf Light

12/05, 11:50am

Herman Miller Leaf Light

Rather than use a single bulb, Herman Miller's new Leaf Light uses a series of 20 LED lights that can vary in color temperature, from a warm "mood" setting to a cool "work" level. The choice of lighting also enables considerable power savings, using between 8 to 9W of power versus the 13W of a comparable compact flourescent bulb. The unusual arched shape of the lamp was created by Yves Béhar, whose fuseproject studio has designed award-winning products for the likes of Birkenstock, BMW, Swarovski and more. The unit's vertical blade swivels and extends to reposition the horizontal one. The Leaf is on sale now for $450 from retailers such as highbrowfurniture.com and Home Office Solutions.

Sony-Ericsson debuts Z310 mirror-finish phone

12/05, 11:45am

Sony-Ericsson Z310

Cellphone partnership Sony-Ericsson on Tuesday launched the Z310, a new budget cellphone meant to be stylish without the accompanying high cost. Much like the earlier Z610, the Z310 uses the mirror-finished shell from Sony's Walkman music players to conceal its external display until needed. The effect creates a solid, unbroken surface until caller information or a notification icon must be lit, the cellphone maker says. Lights on the phone can also flash in different colors depending on the caller, helping to identify important calls without first looking at the external display.

Inside, the phone is built precisely for its relatively low-cost audience and sports Bluetooth, EDGE Internet access, and a VGA camera. The phone will ship in black, bronze, and pink shells beginning early next year but has not revealed a price. Profile photos of the handset are available after the jump.

First Sony Blu-Ray player now available

12/05, 11:10am

Sony Blu-Ray Player Ready

Sony has announced that its first dedicated Blu-Ray player, the BDP-S1, is now available. The flagship for the company's championed disc format, the BDP-S1 is aimed at high-end movie enthusiasts and is capable of not only displaying the full 1080p resolution of Blu-Ray movies when attached through HDMI, but also of upscaling existing DVD movies to the same resolution. Playback of MP3 music and JPEG photos from DVDs is also supported. Pricing is set at $1,000.

Sony's launch comes after a series of publicized delays as the electronics maker suffered from part shortages and other technical problems, especially with the advent of the company's newly launched PlayStation 3 and its use of Blu-Ray for removable storage.

Playstation 1 downloads begin on Playstation Network

12/05, 10:45am

PS1 games on PS Network

Sony has made available the first five downloadable Playstation 1 games on the Playstation Network. Using a Playstation Portable (PSP) handheld, gamers can now download "Cool Boarders," "Crash Bandicoot," "Hot Shots Golf 2," "Syphon Filter," and "Tekken 2." Each game costs $6 at the Playstation Store and requires a dedicated portion of a PSP's Memory Stick for storage. Sony has been preparing the re-launch of PS1 games for some time, with the recent firmware update the only indication that plans were about to come to fruition. Sony expects a second batch of games to be available later this month, with more to follow over the life of the PSP and the Playstation Network.

Nokia 6086 WiFi phone headed to T-Mobile?

12/05, 10:20am

Nokia 6086 for T-Mobile

Nokia's recently announced 6086 phone is destined for the US, according to an FCC filing (PDF) that has been made public. The certification approves the Nokia handset for the US and signals a likely launch in the near future. An indication of its likely carrier stems from its previously revealed features: as the 6086 is one of the first phones to be equipped with Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA), a technology that switches between cellular networks and WiFi, the phone is likely to see service with T-Mobile USA early next year. The carrier recently launched a trial of its HotSpot@Home service, which takes advantage of UMA to cut roaming charges and to improve reception indoors. T-Mobile has said that it would expand the service in 2007 and would thus coincide with the launch of the Nokia device.

AMD intros 65-nanometer Athlon 64 X2 chips

12/05, 9:50am

AMD 65-nm Athlon 64 Chips

The Athlon 64 X2 processor is now being made on a 65-nanometer process, AMD said today. Codenamed "Brisbane," the updated version of the chip uses a combination of a higher-density manufacturing method and the use of strained silicon, both of which improve the efficiency of the processor and reduce the heat it generates. The newer Athlon 64 X2 consumes an average of 65 watts of power -- a full 30% less than current 90nm chips use, AMD says. The improvement places AMD back in direct contention with Intel, which has had 65nm Core and Pentium 4 CPUs since October of last year.

Four speed grades of the processor are being introduced today: 4000+ (2.1GHz), 4400+ (2.3GHz), 4800+ (2.5GHz), and 5000+ (2.6GHz). All four include 512K of level 2 cache per core and are otherwise unchanged from their 90nm counterparts. The new chips are available to system builders beginning today between prices of $169 and $301 in batches of 1000, though AMD is only expecting large-scale availability early next year.

LG CU400 marks first 3G push-to-talk Cingular phone

12/05, 9:00am

LG CU400 at Cingular

Cingular on Tuesday began offering LG's CU400 clamshell phone. The device is the first 3G Internet phone from Cingular to support a push-to-talk function, giving EDGE broadband while still providing the ability to speak instantly to as many as 30 people at once. Cingular similarly emphasizes the phone's world travel abilities: in addition to a quad-band GSM transmitter, the CU400 is equipped with UMTS for Internet access when roaming in Europe. Bluetooth and a VGA camera are standard.

LG's phone in Cingular trim adds software such as Music ID, which lets owners identify songs, as well as access to music and news videos. Ms. Pac-Man and Tetris are preloaded, the cellular provider says. The CU400 is readily available from Cingular today for $230 at retail or $30 when bought with a two-year agreement.

Toshiba intros 100GB 1.8-inch hard drive

12/05, 8:20am

Toshiba 100GB Hard Drive

Toshiba's storage division today said that it has produced the world's highest-capacity, 1.8-inch hard drive with 100GB of storage. The new drive uses perpendicular magnetic recording, where bits are aligned vertically on the platter, to achieve the new record-setting density. Simultaneously, the disk is also said to spin at a relatively quick 4200 RPM and consume less power per gigabyte than earlier models, ensuring that it remains efficient enough to be used in iPods and other handheld devices without sacrificing speed. Toshiba plans to start manufacturing the 100GB model in January with devices using its extra storage soon afterwards.

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