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Microsoft expects to sell one million of its Zune players by June, says the Associated Press. The statement was made by entertainment group VP Bryan Lee, who also claims that Microsoft will one day "be the leader" in high-end digital audio players. The company has considerable work to do: one million units is high for the average consumer electronics product, but Apple is boasting sales of 39 million iPods within the year ending September 30th. It was also announced recently that sales of the Zune fell from second to fifth place in the product's second week. Microsoft itself admits that the current Zune is merely a stepping-stone in its long-term plans.
Buffalo declared on Wednesday that it had developed the RHW-01, a USB travel mouse which uses the iPod's distinctive circular scroll wheel to aid in navigating websites or other long documents. The design saves repetitive strain on the user's finger by allowing for a continuous scrolling motion and also conserves space, Buffalo writes. Its shallow, aluminum shell is only 8mm tall and weighs a single ounce.
The company claims to provide further convenience through the cable mechanism. A single button press automatically retracts the USB cable, storing the plug closely to the mouse body for easy storage in a travel bag. The RHW-01 uses an 800 DPI optical sensor for added precision. Black, silver, and white editions of Buffalo's mouse will go on sale in mid-December for $58.
It is with regret that we must announce that James Kim, a senior editor at CNET, was found dead today at 12:03 PM Pacific by rescuers searching for him in a remote part of the Oregon wilderness, according to a CNN report. The editor, 35, had left the safety of his family's car in an attempt to find help and had left clothing strewn along his path as clues to his location. The cause of death has not been revealed at this time.
As fellow members of the technology news community, our sincere sympathies go out to James' wife Kati, daughters Penelope and Sabine, as well as all his coworkers at CNET. James died caring for his family and deserves a hero's commendation for his efforts.
In an unusual step for a historically conservative cellphone maker, Pantech on Wednesday introduced its distinctive PG-6100 handset. Its form, while still a clamshell phone in practice, is deliberately built to resemble a digital camera, complete with an external OLED display positioned to help take 2-megapixel photos with a more camera-like hold. Other features include MP3 playback, an FM radio, and support for both video playback and recording. The PG-6100 makes its official debut with the Argentinian GSM-based cellphone carrier CTI Movil this month; details of a North American equivalent were not mentioned with the announcement.
Samsung has just made its initial release of the E890 in Singapore. The Korean cellphone maker says it borrows the touchscreen concept of many PDAs to save size and weight as well as simplify the user's experience: instead of a slide-out number pad, owners can dial numbers as well as control the phone as a whole by tapping the 2.3-inch screen itself. A pop-out stylus is included to preserve the screen, but the built-in sensors can also read less precise finger presses if necessary, Samsung notes. The phone is also multi-talented and caters to its mid-range audience with a 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.0, and EDGE support. Music is also playable in AAC or MP3 formats. The E890 can be had from cellphone carriers for $360 by itself or $298 when paired with a two-year service plan.
Mobile TV maker HANNSpree has just released its HANNSmobi portable DVD and TV combination. Meant to be used equally at home and in the car, the set has a 7-inch widescreen ideally suited to DVDs but also incorporates a TV tuner for watching over-the-air broadcasts. This works regardless of whether the viewer is at home or on the road, the company boasts. A magnet-mounted external TV antenna ships with the HANNSmobi to boost reception while in a car or an interference-laden room.
Beyond DVD and TV support, the company adds that the player handles recordable DVDs and will play VCDs, JPEG photo discs, and CDs with either standard CD audio or MP3s. An integral lithium-ion battery is viable for up to 3.5 hours of continuous viewing, and a stand is built-in to rest the set safely on a desk or table. HANNSpree stocks its new TV today for $300.
Brando today listed the USB Robo-Pup Cam. Shaped much like a smaller version of Sony's well-known Aibo pet robot, the camera does not move automatically but can be adjusted at its head and legs. As such, it can assume different poses that not only appeal to children but also position the nose-mounted lens at a comfortable angle. Its camera is limited to VGA resolution but offers the user a significant level of control, according to Brando. Brightness, focus, and white balance can be manually adjusted to fine-tune the resulting image or left in an automatic mode. The online retailer exports its Robo-Pup for $23.
Cyber Snipa's Dog Tag combines several convenient tools with USB storage. The sides of the Tag hide pliers, a screwdriver and a can-opener, while an LED light provides extra illumination. The real feature of the device though is its USB flash drive, which comes in increments of 512MB to 4GB, and can be removed from the Tag for safety's sake or simply to transfer to a computer. A light on the end of the drive indicates whether it's full, and the unit as a whole can be worn with a chain necklace. Snipa is selling the 512MB version for $36; at the high end, the 4GB model costs $149.
Apple is likely to produce a video-capable iPod using 16GB of flash memory, according to a research note from W. R. Hambrecht analyst Daniel Amir. While most experts studying the computer company in advance of MacWorld San Francisco are focusing primarily on the heavily anticipated iPhone, Amir believes that Apple will introduce a player that merges the video capabilities of full-size iPods with the smaller and skip-proof flash memory of the iPod nano. The media player should be released in the first quarter of 2007, according to the analyst, which places its launch in the same timeframe as the Apple phone. Pricing and other details were not mentioned in the note.
Brightonnet today unveiled its simple, portable Tube Speaker for iPod. The 4.4-watt stereo set comes in metallic black, blue, green, and silver to match the aesthetics of the second-generation iPod nano but is compatible with any click wheel iPod courtesy of a universal dock adapter. The system is light and small enough for traveling at 6.3 ounces and 7 inches long, and can be powered by four AAA batteries. Brightonnet does not list battery life but does note that the Tube Speaker can be powered and synchronize its attached iPod through USB. The company officially delivers its speakers on December 11th for $26.
Star Wars fans will probably enjoy the Voice-Activated R2D2 from Hammacher Schlemmer. The robot understands more than 40 voice commands, such as "turn around" or "behave yourself," and makes all of the character's trademark sounds, such as happy and sad whistles. An infrared sensor allows the robot to follow people around, navigate rooms, or operate as a security alarm when you're away. It can also play tag, answer simple yes-or-no questions, and trigger dialog and sound effects from the movies. Power is supplied by four AA- and four D-size batteries. Direct sales of the toy only begin in January, but SkyMall has it today for $120.
British carrier O2 is continuing a spate of new product releases with the O2 blue, a Bluetooth headset with an extremely long battery life. Active talk time is 15.5 hours, and standby time can extend to as much as 22 days. For comparison, Sony's high-performance HBV-100 can only manage 12 hours of talking and 12.5 days of standby. The blue also has three quick-dial buttons and comes with a USB charger. O2 is selling the headset in its British retail stores for £50 ($99); for a limited time, the standard black version is being complemented by a white one, which comes with a stuffed polar bear.
Smart fabric manufacturer Eleksen says it has developed a keyboard that alleviates the common complaints of UMPC owners. As yet unnamed, the device weaves Eleksen's own smart fabric into a QWERTY keyboard on the outside of a carrying case large enough for UMPCs. This gives the handheld computers, which often use on-screen keyboards as their sole typing options, a much quicker way to enter data without adding to their travel weight. The keyboard can virtually double typing speed, according to a test performed by Carrypad.
The case and keyboard combination is currently in the prototype stage while Eleksen seeks a large-volume buyer, but is likely to go into production sometime next year. Pricing will be determined by the number of orders, Eleksen says.
Futiro today launched its unique take on phone design through its Luna VoIP handset. In contrast to the utiliarian looks of most of these designs, the Luna is designed as a stylish centerpiece and has a flat base that lets it stand upright on a desk. This has its own advantages, Futiro says: although the handset plugs into a host computer's USB port, the upright position transforms the handset into a speakerphone, freeing the user's hands during less secretive calls. Echo reduction helps prevent these calls from becoming unmanageable. The phone is Skype-certified but should also work with most VoIP software. Futiro is already selling the Luna today for $75.
Rogers Wireless has adopted the Treo 680, finally giving Canadians a chance to try out the phone. The issue has lain with the 680's use of GSM, since while there are two other national phone providers in Canada (Bell and Telus), Rogers is the only one with a GSM network. The 680 has been one of the most popular "mainstream" smartphones since its release in October, having features such as EDGE broadband, Internet radio streaming, and a low cost compared to its business brethren. Its main competition is the Motorola Q. Rogers' price range for the 680 begins at $300 CDN with a three-year plan, and scales to $500 without a contract.
Furthering its reputation for slim cellphones, Samsung today revealed the V9500, one of the company's thinnest clamshell designs to date. It measures only 11.9mm (0.46 inches) when closed thanks to its use of special materials: a shell made of aircraft-grade fiberglass keeps the phone thin without compromising its strength, Samsung says. Its 2.2-inch QVGA screen is also large for its class. A 2-megapixel camera is promised, as is Bluetooth and a microSD card slot to store music and videos. With support for CDMA and EVDO broadband, the Korean handset is likely to appear in North America in the near future in addition to its recent release in Korea. A larger photo is available after the jump.
MediaREADY today said it had introduced the fourth generation of media center computers with its new MediaREADY MC system. Instead of relying on Windows XP's Media Center interface, the MC uses its own software to provide a custom, TV-friendly interface. Owners can not only watch and record TV shows on the system's 200GB hard drive but additionally play media normally inaccessible through other media centers. In addition to most standard formats, the MC provides simple access to FLAC and OGG music is provided alongside DivX, VCD, and SVCD movies.
Online access is also a staple of the device's features, MediaREADY says. A web browser, e-mail, and AIM messaging can connect to the Internet through either Ethernet or WiFi; the company bundles a trackball-equipped wireless keyboard and remote for full control from across the room. Any content can be displayed through component, DVI, S-video, and VGA outputs. MediaREADY plans to sell its new digital hub for $899 when it becomes available early next year.
Apple's production of MacBook Pros may be experiencing delays due to excessively grainy screens, according to a report from MacBidouille. The French news site has received reports of Apple and its resellers delaying or even temporarily refusing new orders, the system builder claiming that there has been a quality issue identified with the matte displays on 15-inch models. No further details have been given by the company, MacBidouille says. A check of the US Apple Store by Electronista appears to confirm the story, with all 15-inch models experiencing at least a 1-2 business day shipping gap. Glossy 15-inch displays and all 17-inch MacBook Pros remain unaffected. Members of the MacNN forums have been discussing the issue since shortly after the computer's launch.
Meizu this morning unveiled early details of its MusicCard player, also known as the M3. As with the earlier Meizu M6, the M3 draws heavily from the aesthetics of the iPod line, particularly the iPod nano: at 6.9mm (0.27 inches) thick with a 1.5-inch LCD, the new device compares closely to the first generation of Apple's flash-based music player.
Meizu, however, promises different eatures such as playback of FLAC and OGG music in addition to the more conventional MP3 and WMA standards. A touchstrip and buttons will also replace Apple's signature click wheel while battery life is rated at 20 hours. The player is still in development, the company says, but is expected to see production in 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB models next year.
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