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Linksys' recent announcement of its iPhone voice-over-Internet handsets may not mark an absolute end to Apple's attempts to use the name for its own devices, according to research conducted by ZDNet's Russell Shaw. The journalist notes that of the four currently active "iPhone" trademarks held at the US Patent and Trademark Office, only one -- serial number 75076573 -- has been granted to Linksys' parent company Cisco. The remaining trademarks are owned by other companies and are hotly contested, Shaw adds, with two (78581563 and 78590673) having seen initial refusal by the office and a third by Ocean Telecom (77007808) having yet to receive any formal inspection.
Significantly, only the Ocean Telecom patent addresses music, referring to "MP3 and other digital format audio players" as well as telephone services. Cisco's patent only covers "integrated telephone communication with computerized global information networks," according to the USPTO entry. In tandem with the previous conflicts between other "iPhone" filings, the limited Cisco trademark may not claim absolute authority over Apple's future attempts to use the "iPhone" name for its widely anticipated music phone.
Major music label Sony BMG today agreed to settle a lawsuit over its contentious anti-piracy software. The company said it would pay $750,000 in direct damages and court costs, and should pay a similar amount in another lawsuit alleging false advertising and illegal computer intrusion. Refunds are also being supplied to California residents who can describe any effect the CDs have had on their computers.
The settlement represents a possible end to a succession of bad press for the music company, which began in the fall of 2005 when customers discovered that certain Sony BMG music CDs contained a copy-protection program that effectively served as a rootkit for potential hackers. The code created new security vulnerabilities on Windows PCs that could not be closed and which were deliberately hidden from users without using special removal tools.
VTech late Tuesday provided an early glance at its i8300 InfoPhone. The company is bucking the trend of VoIP cordless phones by offering a conventional handset with access to more popular Internet text functions. Owners will have access to their instant messaging contact list, e-mail, news, and other live updates through a Wi-Fi connection to a base station. The system is completely independent of a host computer and can plug directly into a modem or router through Ethernet. Voice calling itself has been improved, VTech claims: using DECT frequency-hopping, the phone can maintain a strong signal even when it has to compete with other wireless devices. The i8300 should be ready by March at a price of $130.
French designers ModeLabs this afternoon said it had developed three of the first truly energy- and environment-friendly cellphone concepts. All the concepts rely on the inherent movement of their users to automatically regenerate power and signal the possibility of using smaller batteries or even eliminating them entirely. The most advanced model is the YoYo (pictured), ModeLabs says. Worn about the neck, the prototype recycles the bounces and swings created by its owner and also draws power from built-in solar cells.
Alongside this flagship model, the company has also revealed the U-Turn, a business phone which can draw energy from opening and closing its keyboard, and the Runaway, a wrist-mounted phone for athletes that takes advantage of the faster movement of exercise as its main power source. ModeLabs has not said whether or not its concepts will reach production but hopes to market its custom designs to cellphone makers soon. Photos of all three phones can be seen after the jump.
Storage maker US Modular today catered to practical computer owners with its newly-unveiled Handy Drive. The flash-based USB jump drive incorporates both a flashlight and a pen, ensuring that travelers who frequently carry their computer storage in a briefcase or on a keychain are never without two essential tools close at hand. The USB connector for the memory also retracts safely into the body. No drivers are needed for most computers to recognize the Handy Drive, which works with Linux, Macs, and Windows PCs. US Modular says its latest drive should be available in stores today at $20 for the base 128MB version. Larger versions that store as much as 4GB are also available but have no officially listed prices.
Comcast has taken the potentially controversial step of carrying movies through its on-demand service at the same time as DVDs for the same titles reach the stores, according to the New York Times. The pilot project will initially see Denver and Pittsburgh cable subscribers given the choice of watching new releases at a price of $4 per showing, roughly matching the price of a new rental at video stores but avoiding the weeks-long gap between DVD and VOD releases that normally discourages widespread use of on-demand video.
The trial run may be an essential move for Comcast and other media giants, which hope to encourage the idea of paid on-demand movies as Internet-based TV threatens the longstanding concept of TV channels. Blockbuster and other retail stores are understandably hesitant, the Times' Geraldine Fabrikant writes. "[Comcast] will be very cautious in introducing any new less profitable service that could be cannibalistic," a Blockbuster spokesman said.
As a counterpoint to D-Link's MediaLounge, Ruckus is offering its uniquely-shaped MediaFlex router. Rather than connect computers to TVs and other offline electronics, Ruckus' network switch is built to ensure that video and other media files sensitive to interference can reach Internet-connected devices without trouble. The characteristic U shape is is more than cosmetic, according to the company: the rounded design points six high-gain Wi-Fi antennas in different directions and intelligently adapts its reception to nearby devices. The technology not only prevents collisions between multiple streams but can boost range by as much as 300%. An optimization routine named SmartCast also gives top priority to media traffic over regular Internet access. While primarily sold to cable companies and other large-scale providers, the router is also available through MobilePlanet and other stores for $105. [Via Gearlog]
Coming in January, Pure Digital's Legato II stereo can record up to 30 hours of DAB radio, following a seven-day program guide set by the user. Tracks are stored on SD cards, but the stereo has additional onboard memory to pause and rewind live broadcasts, and can transfer files to a computer through a USB cable. Owners can also use the system to play FM radio, standard audio CDs, and CDs and SD cards loaded with MP3s. Twenty different sounds are available for the stereo's alarm. The satellites produces 30W of power each. The Legato II will be sold in maple and cherry finishes for £350 ($681), or piano black for £379 ($737).
Peripheral designer SplitFish today announced that its EdgeFX gaming mouse is reaching stores. First-person shooters and similar action games are best controlled with a mouse, according to the company; the EdgeFX gives this option to PlayStation 2 owners without trading away the gamepad buttons that most games depend upon. The mouse itself includes the four face buttons from Sony's original Dual Shock controller and uses typical mouse buttons. A secondary left-hand controller contains the left-side analog and directional pads needed for movement. Force feedback and all the other controls games expect are included, SplitFish says. The EdgeFX can be found now at GameStop for $70. Xbox and PlayStation 3 editions are promised for next year.
The long-promised web browser for the Nintendo Wii will be available December 22nd, the company has announced. Initially disappointing some gamers, the Wii did not come with Opera - or several other Internet components - when the console launched on November 19th. The Wii version of Opera will finally be ready this week, a free download from the Wii Shop Channel until June, when it will cost 500 Wii Points. Also going live soon (tomorrow, in fact) is the Forecast Channel, which will provide weather information from around the world by browsing list of cities, or scrolling around a 3D globe. Notably, however, the Wii will still be missing the News Channel, which is expected January 27th.
Banking on the popularity of the iPod, IntelliDOT is describing its new CAREt Handheld as the medical equivalent. In reality it's actually used to keep track of medication, ensuring its safe administration without having to tote around a clipboard full of paperwork. Doctors and nurses simply scan a patient's wristband, then use the Handheld's keypad to process the documentation. The unit in turn communicates with a CAREt Server via 802.11b/g wireless. Battery life on the Handheld is 14 hours, which should be enough to last an extended shift. The basic Handheld is currently available to interested medical offices; a Specimen Collection module will be ready soon, and coming in the second half of 2007 will be a Blood Administration module.
Apple's diminutive Mac mini is finding its way into Ford's car manufacturing process, according to a report by MacCentral's Jim Dalrymple. Beginning in early November, the company has been using 14 of the Core Solo versions released early this year to automate sequencing at two of its Indiana plants, where parts must be ordered correctly for line workers to complete assembly quickly.
Ford's supplier of the Mac minis, Information in Place, says it chose the Mac mini for cost and reliability. "We did a lot of research and determined they were the best deal," the company's Jonathan Schalliol said. The squarish computer also fits easily into the production line, sitting in a wall-mounted protective box along with its power supply, a separate uninterruptible supply, and a barcode scanner for secure access. Factory workers use a touchscreen to control the Mac's PickIT sequencing program. Information in Place says that the success of the Ford deal has led most of its workers to use Macs and that it plans to introduce similar installations in other companies next year. [Photo courtesy of MacCentral]
Sony-Ericsson is hoping to expand its range of Bravia-titled phones into Europe, according to a source at the Esato forums. While the poster has consciously avoided posting many specific details to protect himself, he reveals that the phone will be the first from the Japanese and Swedish partnership to support DVB-H, the mobile digital TV standard for Europe. To reflect this, the currently unnamed device will be the first in the continent to use Sony's Bravia engine for improved video quality and should have a large, 240x432 widescreen that slides to reveal the keypad. No launch details have been given.
Bravia phones have already enjoyed success in Sony's native Japan, where both the SO903i and W44S have already used the Bravia engine. A version of the latter is rumored for a European launch next year.
The new Mi-Sound iPod Case from the Ministry of Sound does protect against scratching, but further serves as a portable speaker system, producing 0.6W from a unit in an separate compartment. That compartment also contains a pouch for storing earbuds and other small objects. The flap for the iPod section can fold over backwards to create a makeshift stand. Power comes from two AAA batteries, and the case fits full-sized iPods as big as the 60GB fourth-gen models. The Ministry is selling the Mi-Sound for £25 ($49) from its website.
In addition to its V960 phone, Samsung today launched two displays that capitalize on the imminent release of Windows Vista. The 20-inch CX206BW (pictured) and the 22-inch CX226BW are both certified for Microsoft's future OS and have HDCP support for encrypted videos. Both panels also have superior performance for movies and games: Samsung claims an impressive 3,000:1 contrast ratio and a 2ms gray-to-gray pixel response time. Pricing and launch details have not been revealed, though both displays are expected to appear before Vista's launch in January.
The mobile division of Samsung on Tuesday said it had developed what could be a revolution in the way cellphone owners control their devices. The V960 replaces the by now everyday four-way joystick with an optical sensor that tracks movement as the finger glides across the surface. As with an optical mouse at a PC, the system is sensitive to movement in 360 degrees. This provides an opportunity to refine the steadily aging control system on most phones, Samsung says: an on-screen pointer replaces button highlights or a costly touchscreen, replicating the quicker control of a computer's mouse without the added size.
The V960 is also rare for its use of an illumination sensor that controls the brightness of the main display and key backlighting. A 2-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, and a microSD slot for music and video complete the package. Samsung hopes to launch the V960 in Korea by the end of this month, but is likely to introduce the CDMA-based handset in other regions next year.
Korean camera sensor experts Sydnt have revealed their Volvox (Korean PDF) camera and storage hybrid. The developer says its cameras are now small enough that it can now incorporate a webcam into a USB jump drive without adding significant bulk: sharing the same USB connector, the Volvox can hold as much as 2GB of flash memory while still providing a 1.3-megapixel camera that supports a full 30 frames per second in video mode. It can plug directly into the side of a computer for storage purposes but also ships with an adjustable neck attachment that places the camera at the user's eye level. No pricing is available, but the Volvox can be had in black or silver trim in 512MB, 1GB, and 2GB versions.
BitTorrent client developer Azureus today revealed that it had landed a major deal with the BBC to carry some of the British network's programming on its new Zudeo service. The first ever such deal for the BBC, the agreement will see some of the most popular classic and recent British TV shows, amongst them Doctor Who, Little Britain, and Red Dwarf, reach a peer-to-peer network legally for the first time. Though formal details were not revealed, much of the content is expected to be freely available as neither company has to incur bandwidth costs.
The BBC has historically resisted attempts to view its content online without explicit approval and has repeatedly shut down BitTorrent sites as well as YouTube video links that pointed to episodes of recent shows. The station's negotiation with Zudeo marks a conscious break with this practice. "“We want to ensure that our most popular content – as well as programs that have rarely been seen in the territory – are part of the latest dynamic entertainment environment and can reach the largest audience possible," says the BBC's Beth Clearfield.
D-Link this morning rolled out its DSM-510 MediaLounge hub. The media player is one of the first truly HD-capable ways of streaming content to a TV, the company claims: plugging into either an Ethernet or Wi-Fi connection, the DSM-510 can supply video as sharp as 1080i from end to end by using an HDMI connector at the TV. Tight integration with Intel's Viiv media center technology is also a relatively new feature. Owners can stream media from any readily accessible Windows XP Media Center PC (though this is not required, the company says); however, the hub can also reach Intel's Viiv Zone to play on-demand content -- such as music, news, or TV shows -- without depending on a host PC. A front-mounted USB port provides storage space for content on the MediaLounge device itself. D-Link sells the DSM-510 for $240.
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