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The 80GB GStor Plus drive promises near-instant hard drive restoration, reverting to an earlier drive image in approximately three seconds. Users also have the choice of two different run modes: Live Disk lets you make continuous changes to the system, adding files to backup with a few key presses, while RAM Disk restores an original backup image after every reboot. The latter is suggested for public computers such as those in college labs. Security-minded users will appreciate the 64-bit run-time encryption, as well as the option of 10 bootable partions, each with its own password and the ability to run a different operating system. Information on pricing and distribution for the Plus is unavailable, though GStor does ship to North America.
Green House today refreshed its Kana D music player range with a new 1GB model. The updated jukebox is unique in the feature-laden Japanese market by focusing on basics: it primarily gains a sleeker design and is safer for pockets, the company says. Music support is limited to MP3 or WMA but is bolstered by voice recording. Power is supplied relatively inexpensively by a single AA battery, which lasts for 7 hours by the company's estimates. Green House points out that its essentialist Kana D will cost only $52 after tax when it ships later this month.
Reference design maker Siano on Wednesday said it would partner with Samsung to produce the tentatively-named SuwonExpress TV tuner (PDF). The receiver will be the first ExpressCard/54 adapter for laptops and should drastically shrink the amount of space consumed by these adapters, which are normally plugged into the USB port. It should equally deliver an extremely rare level of support for multiple over-the-air digital broadcast standards: Europe's DVB formats for handheld and terrestrial TV will accompany Korea's DMB and other protocols in a single card.
More advanced users can also exploit the card's multi-signal handling. On a basic level, the card will allow picture-in-picture viewing; the card additionally serves as a DVR that can record one channel while the viewer watches another. No pricing or availability has been revealed for the SuwonExpress, but Siano says that the card will be demonstrated at CES 2007 in mid-January and thus paves the way for a North American launch when mobile digital TV is available on the continent.
Japan's Hagiwara today said it had taken a new approach to flash storage with its new ExpressCard< Flash Memory cards. The use of the more recent ExpressCard/34 standard eliminates the transfer rate bottlenecks that plague USB and PC Card adapters, Hagiwara claims. In combination with the use of faster single-level cell flash memory, the card can be read at 35MB per second and written to at 22MB per second and compares more closely with portable hard drives.
The card's extra speed is beneficial to both Apple's MacBook Pro and Windows PCs but is especially useful for the upcoming Windows Vista, the company says. When plugged in to a system running the future OS, the ExpressCard functions as an exceptionally quick ReadyBoost cache that helps program load and response times by offloading work from the hard drive. Hagiwara is set to release the card well in advance of Vista with 1GB ($68) and 2GB ($126) models available today, while 4GB ($237) and 8GB ($450) capacities ship on December 20th.
Cellphone maker Sony-Ericsson today demonstrated a prototype phone that will likely represent the company's design future. The handset introduces technologies that keeps the phone slim without compromising its safety or its strengths. Instead of lighting the number pad with LEDs that add bulk and potentially consume large amounts of power, the concept uses thinner and more efficient OLEDs. This also lets the company use touch-sensitive buttons that further reduce the needed thickness. Protection for the keys is provided by a sliding cover plate.
Even with these features, Sony-Ericsson claims features associated with its much thicker contemporary designs. The cellphone partnership says its concept integrates a 3.2-megapixel camera inspired by the CyberShot line, signalling the concept as an equivalent to the existing K790. The company has not committed to formal production of the concept but promises that its influence will be felt in the near future. Additional photos follow after the jump. [Via Ubergizmo]
IOPS has just shipped its compact BlueQ media player to the US. One of the only players with Bluetooth in the country, the BlueQ can transmit its audio wirelessly to headphones and speakers that fit the A2DP Bluetooth profile. The company also boasts of the BlueQ's blend of battery life with display quality: in spite of its small frame, the player can play music for as much as 33 consecutive hours even though it uses a higher-quality, 1.8-inch LCD in place of a less expensive but potentially more efficient OLED screen. Media playback is diverse with support for MP3 and OGG audio, MPEG-4 and AVI video, as well as JPEG photos and a host of Windows Media music and movie standards. FM radio is built-in. IOPS sells the Korean-made player in the US with 4GB of flash storage for $249 at normal pricing, though says it will sell the player for $189 until the end of the year.
Mayflower Designs today introduced its Chicago line of TV-oriented furniture. Both the Chicago Bed and the Chicago Cabinet (pictured) depend on a hidden door mechanism that lifts an LCD or other flat-panel TV mounted inside the furniture. The system is useful for space-conscious viewers or those who prefer to keep their TV out of sight, Mayflower says; since the system closes over the TV completely after it retracts, it also prevents damage or theft of the frequently valuable electronics. The cabinet holds room for DVD players and other peripherals. Available today, pricing can vary for either Chicago piece as each can be custom-ordered with different materials and sizes.
Photoco's PhotoShare7 is a digital picture frame that's also engineered to be a portable album, being encased in plastic and measuring just eight inches long and 0.9 inches thick. Instead of built-in storage, the PhotoShare has slots for a Memory Stick and an SD card. The unit tucks into an included conventional frame to appear more presentable and can connect to a TV for larger images. It should be noted though that resolution on the unit's seven-inch screen is limited to 480x234, and the frame is not portable unless you buy the optional lithium-ion battery. The package comes with an AC adapter. J&R is selling the PhotoShare7 for $95. [Via Chip Chick]
The internationally dominant VoIP provider Skype today announced that it would begin charging for its SkypeOut phone service. The feature, which lets Skype account holders call real-world phone numbers from online, has been free since May for North American Skype users but will now cost $30 per year, providing both unlimited calling within the continent as well as an hour of international calling. International calls will be an average of 2.1 cents per minute depending on the region and whether the recipient is using a landline or mobile phone. Strictly online calls willl continue to be free, Skype said.
The news comes in the wake of many recently announcd Skype phones, which aim to completely replace analog phone service by replicating Skype's normally computer-only functions on the devices themselves.
UK communications company BT today said it will soon broadcast what it says is the first truly participatory TV show. Named Accidental Lovers, the comedy will be the first to accept changes to the plot even while the show airs. The feat has been accomplished by means of a tagging system similar to that used by many websites, BT says: shows are broken into individual sections tagged with relevant information that flags a scene for play depending on its popularity with the audience. The system not only eases the burden on the show producers but also allows the host network to air a different version of an episode each time.
In its current version, the scene choices are voted in by SMS text messages and are broadcast along with viewer comments on a conventional TV channel. However, BT notes that the system is ultimately built for IPTV networks and could result in programming where virtually every aspect of a program could be decided by the audience. Accidental Lovers will debut on Finnish TV beginning December 27th.
Taiwanese phonemaker HTC is preparing the Love, a PDA phone that places more emphasis on its media functions. Mobinaute observes that the display is a 2.8-inch touchscreen, and the Bluetooth 2.0 chip supports A2DP stereo and AVRCP remote control. The phone is also eqipped with an FM tuner, a two-megapixel camera, and a microSD slot with a bundled 512MB card. Music and videos can be downloaded through EDGE broadband, or retrieved locally through a MiniUSB port or 802.11b/g wireless. The Love's SD storage is supplemented by 128MB of ROM and 64MB of RAM. Most notable may be the phone's proprietary front-end, which layers over Windows Mobile 5.0 and takes advantage of the display by using a large visual interface. The product should ship in the first quarter of 2007.
Wal-Mart on Wednesday listed the Visco 32-inch LCD at its online store. The TV, which is available for $598 from the company, represents a significant milestone in LCD pricing, which has collapsed dramatically over the course of 2006 as manufacturing improvements and sheer volume have reduced the premium for each set. Visco's LCD matches the performance of many sets in its class regardless of its price, according to Wal-Mart. The 720p-capable set has a 1,000:1 contrast ratio, an 8ms response time quick enough for games and movies, and an integrated ATSC tuner than can receive both analog and HD broadcasts. Wal-Mart is shipping the set today alongside an $800 37-inch model.
According to a tip received by AOL's Blogging Stocks, the Apple iPhone may debut as soon as January 15th, defying analyst expectations that it could launch as late as the second quarter of 2007. The date would also be shortly after the expected announcement of the product at MacWorld Expo, scheduled for January 9th to the 12th. Because MacWorld is such an important event for Apple, AOL speculates that this would give the iPhone a considerable launch buzz, which in turn could translate to improved stock performance. Apple's stocks have recently fallen out of the $90 range and currently sit at approximately $88.
IXOS today released its characteristic Disco Cube iPod speaker dock to stores. Its system charges, plays, and synchronizes any dockable iPod and lights all five visible surfaces in time with the music, creating the visual effect of its namesake. IXOS claims an audio quality advantage that stems from the available space of the cube shape: in addition to a 3W subwoofer that adds proper bass response, the 2W satellites are side-facing and produce a better stereo separation effect despite the unit's small size. A stereo minijack input is built-in to accept audio from generic sources. Debenhams is currently the sole reseller for the Disco Cube, which retails for £50 ($98) after tax.
A common problem of "barebones" cellphones is that when they often lose the styling cues of their more expensive brethen. Not so the R9 by Japanese company Willcom, writes Impress Watch. The phone has a sleek, minimalist candybar design, just 0.5 inches thick. And while it may have jettisoned camera, music and video functions, it still has a two-inch screen, and features support for e-mail and wireless Internet services. Buttons on the phone include a direction pad and quick navigation options. The R9 goes on sale in Japan December 14th in black and white colors, with gray and other choices a future possibility. Pricing plans are currently undisclosed.
Terratec is today shipping the NOXON iRadio, its latest Internet-connected audio device. The iRadio is an all-in-one upgrade to the earlier NOXON 2 and includes its own speaker to let owners listen to Internet radio without toting a separate speaker array. Its extra size also makes room for more direct controls, including quick-access presets and a rotary knob for smoother navigation.
Format support has been expanded since the NOXON 2's release and now includes unprotected AAC and OGG audio streams to complement the existing MP3 and WMA playback. A clock, display magnification, and a sleep timer have also been added. Terratec maintains its cross-platform software and ships the iRadio with El Gato's eyeConnect streaming software for Mac OS X as well as TwonkyMusic for Windows users. The company sells its flagship NOXON for €229 ($303).
The new Navigator 380 mouse from Genius may not be the only mouse to include VoIP functions, but it is unique for its close integration with instant messenging services. Genius' software combines messages from several clients (AIM, MSN, QQ, Skype, Yahoo and GoogleTalk) into one window, and when a message is inbound, an LED light on the mouse and your PC's internal speaker will alert you. The 380 is a 1,200dpi optical mouse with three buttons plus a scrollwheel, and is only compatible with Windows XP, 2000, and Vista. It should be available at retailers around the world, with the notable exceptions of Canada and the United States.
Pantech this morning launched the IM-U160, an update to the company's U series phones that focuses on video above all else. The slider design centers around a large 2.6-inch display the company says is bright and vivid enough for watching video. Accordingly, the U160 incorporates a tuner for Korea's DMB mobile TV and can play live broadcasts while other functions of the phone are being used. General pre-recorded video playback is equally a staple of the design and is aided by 184MB of internal memory and a microSD card slot.
Other elements of the media-rich handset are a 2-megapixel camera, GPS route finding, MP3 music playback and an electronic dictionary. Pantech currently offers the phone in Korea through the cellular provider Sky. A profile photo is available after the jump.
Storage maker Verbatim this morning started shipping its color LightScribe CD-R discs. The company hopes to reduce the often monochromatic look of LightScribe technology, which uses the optical drive's laser to etch a label directly on a disc, by producing the discs themselves in bright colors: each pack of 25 ships with a mix of blue, green, orange, red, and yellow discs. Every CD is rated to burn at a full 52X speed. Spindles of Verbatim's latest discs are available today for $20.
The Detroit Pistons have begun offering the simply-titled Pistons MP3 Player as part of a charity drive. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to Apple's first-generation iPod shuffle, the screenless player has similar controls but substantially different internal mechanics, playing only MP3 and WMA songs. Internal storage is limited to 128MB of flash memory; however, the basketball team promises both a low price and a charitable contribution. Each player costs $25 and makes a donation to the Detroit Medical Center's breast cancer prevention program, and purchasing five of the players obtains a sixth player for free.
Targeting the burgeoning gaming field, BenQ on Wednesday previewed a series of new multi-role LCDs. Four upgraded models, including the 19-inch FP94VW ($299), 22-inch FP222WH ($549), and the 24-inch FP241W Z ($1,299) and FP241VW ($1,499), will all come equipped with a single HDMI input each, allowing the connection of a PlayStation 3, HD DVD player, or any other source that would normally plug into an HDTV source. All four support HDCP video encryption. The 19- and 22-inch models are the first displays in their size class to carry the feature, BenQ says; the 24-inch models are successors to the current FP241W, though the company does not list the exact improvements of the larger screens upon their common predecessor and notes that they share the same component, RCA, and S-video inputs. Both these and the smaller screens support DVI and VGA input.
BenQ adds that its new displays are fast enough for games, sporting a minimum 6ms gray-to-gray response time (reaching as low as 2ms for the 19-inch model) and using the company's PerfectMotion anti-blur edge correction in all but the 22-inch model. The displays will be previewed this weekend at the CPL 2006 finals in Dallas; shipping should begin early next year.
Alltel today introduced a partnership with Sharpcast to bring the latter's photo sharing service to its network. Subscribers with Windows Mobile smartphones from the cellular carrier, such as the Treo 700wx or UTStarcom PPC 6700, can sign up for an online account with Sharpcast that stores and synchronizes a photo collection as large as 5GB between a customer's cellphone and home computers: edited images on a home PC can automatically transfer to the phone through its mobile Internet connection, while photos taken from the phone will be available from the PC. Either device can see uploaded images from the Web and share them with outside viewers, Alltel says.
The Sharpcast service is currently free for any Alltel subscriber with a compatible phone, though the carrier notes that the technology is currently in beta and that the company may begin charging a subscription fee when the testing period ends. Sharpcast itself adds that suppport for additional, more mainstream phones will be available next year and should be reflected in Alltel's lineup.
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