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United Airlines today launched a major revision of its United First Suite to reflect digital reality of its passengers. While it keeps a seat that converts into a perfectly flat bed, the new suite is surrounded by electronics. At the front of the occupant is a 15.4-inch widescreen LCD that provides on-demand music, video, and games; amongst the programming be 50 channels of pre-supplied XM radio content with over 3,000 songs available, according to United.
Flyers who bring their own equipment onboard are expected to receive similar treatment. An iPod connector will keep the Apple device charged during long-haul flights while listened to with a pair of noise-cancelling headsets. Laptop owners can also plug their systems in during the flight using a 110-volt universal power port. As with the existing suite, the airline will only make the refreshed United First Suite available to international travelers on wide-body planes such as the Boeing 747 or 777. A different angle of the suite is available after the jump. [Via Orbitcast]
Samsung is set to launch the W531 (PDF) cellphone for Americans traveling abroad, according to a recently discovered FCC filing. The phone add a GSM radio, giving subscribers to CDMA phone networks in the US the opportunity to roam in Europe and other areas where the opposing standard is more common. Its design also promises much-needed modernization to US carriers' dual-mode lineups and revolves around a 1.3-megapixel camera, MP3 playback, and extensive support for Office documents and most photo formats. Launch details for the US remain an official secret, but the phone is slated to appear first with Sprint. Complete photos can be found after the jump.
Sharp on Monday started delivering its RD-CX100 electronic dictionary. Intended for travelers in or to southeast Asia, the folding handheld translates between English, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, and other local languages using an extremely large 63-volume word library. Importantly, translations can be spoken to the user through Sharp's Voxware voice feedback system for use in conversations. An eBook reader is built-in for normal text.
As a secondary element, the dictionary can play audiobooks and other files in MP3 format. An FM radio provides music when storage is unavailable. The CX100 should be available today in Korea for $334.
Dutch manufacturer QM-Entertainment is developing a speaker set exclusively for the second-generation iPod nano. Similar to the company's existing speakers for the first-generation model, the new speakers are no thicker than two CD jewel cases but now have colors matching all of Apple's newest music players. The as yet unnamed stereo is powered either by a USB cable, which also synchronizes the iPod, or four AAA batteries. A line-in jack is provided for third-party players. Battery life and other details haven't been revealed for QM's latest audio hardware, which is expected to launch in January for 30 Euros ($39). [Thank you, Jeroen]
Removing the key limitiation on most camera phones, Brando today shipped its telescope attachment for Nokia and Sony-Ericsson handsets. Both models strap on to the back of specific phone models from around the world and provide 6X optical zoom. This adds true long-distance photography to cellphones, Brando says, since most such devices are hampered in range by a virtual zoom effect. The large size relative to dedicated point-and-shoot cameras allows for a wide-angle lens and eliminates the distortion effects common with smaller optics. Brando exports either telescope model today for $19.
i-Station has officially unveiled the peak of its NetForce media player line. The NetForce Navi adds to the company's basic NetForce player by supporting GPS mapping in 2D and 3D moves. This comes without sacrificing any of the existing media features and makes the Navi an ideal in-car entertainment system, i-Station says. Other wireless reception is crucial to the design as well. HSDPA mobile broadband is included for web browsing while driving; likewise, a digital tuner is integrated into the Navi for both T-DMB mobile TV broadcasts as well as DAB radio. The Windows CE-based player can also play stand-alone media files and includes viewers for Microsoft Office documents and even camera RAW photos. No availability has yet been published. [Via NaviGadget]
Although Cingular has not made any official announcements, the cell service provider is already shipping demo units for the Treo 750 smartphone, according to the Boy Genius Report. Photos snapped of the device clearly reveal its Cingular branding, corroborating previous online leaks that signaled the company's intent to be the Treo's first US carrier. The Treo 750 is already available in Europe through Vodafone and is the company's flagship, carrying a 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. Unofficial Cingular plans have indicated that the carrier will ship the Treo 750 before the end of 2006, suggesting an imminent release.
Oracom is planning a much more compact portable media player to challenge the rapidly expanding list of small media player rivals. Dubbed the Rainbow S2, the player counters the trend of expanding players by streamlining the company's existing UB-890: controls are now placed on the side instead of the front. Exact details of the as yet unannounced player are unknown, but early photos reveal FM radio and text reading in addition to a built-in microphone jack for line-in recording. At least 2GB of flash storage will be onboard, and file transfers will be handled through a standard USB cable instead of the UB-890's proprietary adapter. No launch date or prices have followed news of the Rainbow S2, which Oracom is expected to officially announce soon. [Via DAPReview]
Verizon has begun unofficial support of EVDO Revision A with the AirCard 595, produced by Sierra Wireless. The card plugs into a Type II PC card slot, and allows enhanced data rates without a local connection, with an average speed of 400-700Kbps and a maximum of 2Mbps. A computer with Windows 2000, XP or Vista is required. Standard EVDO and CDMA networks are also supported. Sprint was previously the only American phone carrier to support Revision A, and the company is still working to expand its services. Verizon has yet to formally deploy a single Revision A subnet. The AirCard 595 currently costs $100 online with a two-year contract.
Evesham has just begun shipping its multi-role iPlayer media center. Based on a Freeview digital tuner, the iPlayer plays and records over-the-air digital broadcasts on an 80GB hard drive that can store as much as 70 hours of video. The hub is also future-proof and can play IPTV obtained through a built-in web browser alongside external USB storage or nearby Windows Media Connect hosts. All content is automatically formatted to the TV, Evesham says: a built-in upscaler converts all video to as high as 1080i in standard or widescreen ratios, and an HDMI output connects the recorder directly to newer HDTVs. Evesham delivers the iPlayer as of today for £300 ($583).
Japanese carrier Softbank is now supporting the Toshiba 812T, a cellphone designed specifically for children, writes Mobile Magazine. The clamshell phone comes in blue or pink, and has the notable feature of an emergency tab, which (when pulled) will automatically notify specific contacts of a child's location, relying on a built-in GPS receiver. A buzzing sound is meant to deter potential threats. The phone is also described as 3G, permitting features such as WCDMA video calls, and comes equipped with a microSD slot as well as a three megapixel camera. Softbank has yet to share information on prices and possible distribution points outside Japan.
Sony is preparing to start movie downloads to the Playstation Portable in the first quarter of 2007, says the Financial Times. Users will buy a movie on a PC, and from there transfer it to a PSP, much as videos bought on iTunes are synched with an iPod. Only transfers to Sony devices will be permitted, possibly even one per movie. Sony will not be creating its own online store however; the company is instead talking with sites such as Amazon, Movielink, and CinemaNow about supporting the PSP initiative. Videos downloaded from iTunes will not be compatible, as Apple uses its own proprietary formatting.
The announcement of the movie service follows not long after news of the Memory Stick PRO-HG, which is being deliberately designed with video in mind. Sizes of the PRO-HG will range from 4GB to 32GB, and transfer speeds should more than double those of the Memory Sticks currently used by the PSP. Sony estimates that a 4GB stick will be able to hold 10 feature films at the PSP's compressed size.
Microsoft's oft-maligned Zune player may not have fared as poorly as expected in its first month of sales, according to an NPD study reported by Mercury News. Despite observations of the Zune's quick descent in store rankings and in overall popularity after its initial launch, the new digital player commanded 9% of the hard drive player market, claiming second place next to Apple's ubiquitous iPod. Microsoft's share of the overall market was a considerably smaller 1.9%, placing it in fourth behind Apple, Creative, and SanDisk.
Although the Redmond-based company's share is small and may face an uncertain future, Mercury's Troy Wolverton says, the iPod has lost a slight portion of the market in the face of more aggressive competition. Apple's share of the hard drive player market has fallen from from 86.8% at the end of 2005 to 82.7% in mid-December, while its overall command dipped slightly from 63% to 62.2%. The change may signal at least partial success for the Zune, whose impact was widely expected to steal marketshare from existing Windows Media-based rivals rather than Apple.
Following the trend of recent high-end flash players, Samsung today said it would boost the capacity of its YP-T9 jukebox to 8GB, making the device one of the largest-capacity flash handhelds capable of playing video. The extra storage allows for as many as 16 movies to be stored at 500MB each, Samsung says. Although the features are largely unchanged and range from MPEG-4 video to FM radio and MP3/WMA audio, the Korean edition of the YP-T9 will continue to sport Bluetooth for streaming audio to wireless headphones and speakers. Playback time is rated at 30 hours for audio and 6 hours for video, down slightly from the 7 hours of video claimed for the American 2GB and 4GB models. No pricing has been announced, but it will likely fall in line with that of rivals at roughly $250 US. A launch in North America is anticipated without the Bluetooth feature.
Where many TV cards only receive analog cable signals, Hauppauge's new WinTV HVR-3000 further enables users to watch and record digital satellite (DVB-S) broadcasts, as well as the Freeview over-the-air HD service, available in the United Kingdom. The card fits into a PCI slot and also accepts inputs from composite, stereo and S-Video sources. Radio can be piped in via FM or DVB-S/DVB-T digital. Recording is handled with SoftPVR, which allows TiVo-like scheduling and storage, in qualities ranging from MPEG-1 VCD to MPEG-2 DVD. A 1.5GHz computer with Windows XP or Vista is required. Amazon.co.uk is selling the HVR-3000 for £85 ($166).
Maxell has just released the MXSP-100P stereo speaker pack. Fabric is used instead of hard plastic or metal for the speakers' body, rendering it safe and small enough to fit in a pocket while still managing 2.4W through two satellites. The speakers are meant as companions to handheld devices such as a cellphone or iPod, and accept input from any 3.5mm plug. Transport is made easier courtesy of a belt loop that connects the 100P to clothing or a backpack. Power when away from home is supplied through four AA batteries for roughly 20 hours. The speakers are carried by Maxell in black and white colors for $20 each.
Agere this morning provided an early glance at the BluOnyx, a credit card-sized portable server that hosts media for virtually any device. Storing as little as 1GB or as much as 40GB of data, the hub is equipped with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to stream music, video, and other content wirelessly around a room, regardless of the device type: owners will even have the choice of a "digital campfire," according to Agere, that can share the same songs or video clips with multiple users. The BluOnyx further doubles as a backup for the content and sports SD card as well as USB connections for copying files without the need for a computer. The server is lastly useful as an Internet gateway for cellphones or other hardware that can connect to the Internet but doesn't have its own service, Agere says. Prices will vary between $99 and $250 depending on storage, but will depend largely on third-party adoption: as a core component maker, Agere plans to license the BluOnyx to other companies for a release in early 2007.
Taking its integration of TVs beyond DVD players, LG today unveiled the TVPC, an LCD screen that merges the entire computer within the back of a 26-inch widescreen television's housing. The system is bundled with a remote that lets the system easily switch between its full TV and computer roles. LG adds that the TVPC can even link the two halves together, providing web-based content relating to a TV show. A wireless keyboard that also ships with the hybrid can control both the mouse pointer and key commands without a separate peripheral. Similarly, the system avoids further cabling by connecting the computer to its Internet access through Wi-Fi.
The launch edition of the TVPC is intended primarily for light viewing, according to the company's published hardware details. A 1.73GHz Celeron M, 1GB of RAM, and 160GB of storage are standard in the base system, which launches today for $2,005 in Korea. Upgraded systems capable of DVR functions and better overall performance are slated for release by the end of this month.
Cellular network provider Cingular today said it would integrate the vast majority of its cellphones with MySpace. Similar to the functions of the virtual operator Helio, the Cingular tie-in will let MySpace users submit blog entries and photos to their personal pages through their phones, and also lets those users e-mail, search for, and view their MySpace friends. The MySpace interaction depends on a Java program downloaded to a compatible cellphone; 30 phones will support the feature immediately, MySpace says, while another 20 should have the option within the next few weeks. Video playback and submission is anticipated as a feature sometime next year. Cingular's plan adds $3 per month and is launching today.
Dirac on Monday launched the Noah, a barebones PC kit for silence- and space-conscious computer users who still value desktop storage. The casing includes a single, quiet 80mm fan to cool its internal components, which themselves are low-powered courtesy of more efficient Core Solo, Core Duo, or Core 2 Duo processors. The system emits a virtually inaudible 13.8dB of noise, Dirac claims. Personalization is just as important to the company: in addition to stock black, silver, and white front skinks, the Noah is customizable with bolder colors such as blue, red, or green.
Expansion is consciously limited in the design but provides room for a desktop-sized hard disk and optical drive as storage. Peripheral expansion is supplied through either a PCI Express x1 slot or a mini-PCI slot for Wi-Fi adapters and other communication devices. The system is certified for Intel's Viiv media center initiative and can sit vertically with a statnd. Dirac ships its platform now for an unlisted price.
Putting to rest the speculation, Gizmodo today revealed that Linksys, not Apple, is launching handsets with the iPhone model name. The networking company this morning announced the WIP320 iPhone, a Wi-Fi Skype handset that replicates all the core functions of Skype's VoIP software on the device itself, including paid SkypeOut calls and an address book. The phone is unique for its quick access to Internet connections, Linksys says: the Wi-Fi receiver can locate hotspots even before the phone has completely initialized, connecting by the time the phone is ready for use. The WIP320 is available today for $200.
Click through for details of the company's additional dual-mode iPhone and photos of both products.
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