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The crew at Electronista would like to wish you a merry Christmas, a festive Yule, a happy Chanukah, or simply a good winter vacation. We'll be back by the middle of next week, but for those of you taking extended breaks, have a happy New Year as well. Remember to watch your alcohol consumption and to be careful driving those icy roads. Take a moment, too, to think of those too poor to afford the gadgets we write about here.
Designed in Russia by Voxtel, the W740 is a Windows Mobile pocket PC phone with the unusual trait of a four-megapixel CCD camera, putting it on par with some dedicated compacts. The screen is a 2.4-inch TFT with 65,000 colors. It uses a tri-band GSM/GPRS connection, and is also USB- and Bluetooth-enabled. Internal storage is restricted to 64MB of RAM and 128MB of ROM, but this can be expanded with a TransFlash or microSD card. Notably, there is no support for broadband or WiFi of any sort. Cost and distribution outside of Russia has not been disclosed.
The first exploit released since Windows Vista was completed has been released, according to a confirmation by Microsoft Security Response Center head Mike Reavey. The vulnerability corrupts Windows' MessageBox protocol to raise system privileges, potentially allowing far greater control over a system than allowed by default.
Although the exploit is currently limited to a proof of concept released on a Russian forum and demands that the hacker already have administrative access, it has already garnered attention for challenging Microsoft's claim that Vista is more secure than its predecessors. The attack is known to work across multiple versions of Windows -- including Windows 2000, Reavey says. Microsoft does not believe the threat to be serious but promises to closely follow any attempts to use it in the wild.
Neosonik this afternoon declared that it would have a complete wireless home theater ready early next year. The 7.2-channel system will rely on a central wireless control hub that will stream all audiovisual content -- including HD video from HDMI sources -- to a separate video receiver as well as the accompanying wireless speakers. The wireless system transmits a 60Mbps digital signal that is much more powerful than most such theaters and will reach as far as 200 feet from the controller, Neosonik claims. Exact details of the system have yet to be revealed, but should be available when the system makes its public debut at CES in early January. Prices will start at $8,000 for a complete home theater. [Via Engadget]
Microsoft's Xbox Live movie service may well be at the forefront of paid movie downloads, according to a story by Variety. The online edition of the magazine reports that the recently launched Microsoft service is dramatically outperforming Amazon's Unbox store, which in some cases sells as little as 100 downloads per day on its titles.
Although no figures are available to directly compare Xbox Live's success with that of iTunes, Variety's Ben Fritz adds that the former's service is much better suited to TV use, as the console is already connected to a TV and has the ability to purchase as well as rent HD-quality content, while Amazon's service is limited to computers and at best matches the quality of DVDs. Apple too faces these restrictions and may depend heavily on its anticipated iTV media hub to match Microsoft's technology.
Adding to computers like the Intel Classmate and the Encore Mobilis, Lite Appliance has announced a new entry into the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) genre called the LiteComputer. The machine will cost $150 and eschew name-brand hardware and operating systems, instead using custom software and a Blackfin processor from Analog Devices. Applications from the company will be limited to a media player, a web browser, a VoIP phone, and an instant messenger; users needing a word processor or a spreadsheet program will have to turn to sites like ThinkFree or Google Docs. Storage on the computer will be limited to flash memory. Lite hopes to begin selling their laptop in the third quarter of 2007. [Via CRN]
The Japanese division of Toshiba late yesterday revealed the W46T designer phone. Nicknamed the Drape for the satin effect of its metallic finish, the phone is meant to evoke a classic look and ships with an analog clock program that produces the effect of an older timepiece on the 2.6-inch LCD display. The clock's background will even match the black, bronze, or white color of the handset itself, Toshiba says. The company also boasts of including a 3-megapixel camera inside the relatively slim clamshell handset and has built in EVDO broadband plus a microSD card slot for music. KDDI's au cellphone network carries the phone today for $185.
A full-sized image is available after the jump.
Skyguard has started an emergency rescue service centered around its SkyMinder 500 handheld. The dual-mode device works with both a GSM-based cellular network and a GPS receiver to provide help regardless of where its carrier may be. The former is used to speak directly to Skyguard's dispatchers and has a special, automatic SMS text system that sends an alarm if the signal is too weak to reliably place a call; in turn, the mapping technology transmits the handheld's location and will even record the heading and speed for instances where the owner is driving or has been kidnapped. Other safeguards include a speakerphone for when the SkyMinder falls out of reach and presets for dialing friends and family. Skyguard provides its rescue tool in Britain for $393. Full access to the rescue service depends on a $40 per month subscription fee. [Via Tech Digest]
Generally unknown in the United States, Chinese company Hacha has announced the R280, a media player with an abnormally long battery life of 30 hours (while playing audio). Life drops to five hours while playing video. The 280 can additionally handle Flash and Java applications, the latter of which are accelerated by an onboard chipset. The screen measures 2.83 inches and handles resolutions up to QVGA (320x240). Storage comes in the form of 8GB of internal flash and a miniSD slot for expansion. Pricing and release information for the 280 is known, other than the ship date most likely being after Christmas. [Via The MP3 Players]
Sun has just released its Looking Glass 3D desktop. A more advanced parallel to the Quartz Extreme effects in Mac OS X or the Aero Glass interface of Microsoft's upcoming Windows Vista, the Sun interface allows users to treat program windows as 3D objects: windows can be flipped to see hidden programs or access special commands on the reverse side, much as with Apple's Dashboard widgets. A Dock-style launch bar, translucency, and the ability to move through 3D space to other virtual desktops are also present.
The software developer notes that Looking Glass is platform-agnostic, running only as a Java layer on top of the main operating system. Linux, Solaris, and Windows versions are available immediately as a free download and apply regardless of whether or not the base OS already supports the feature, the company says.
PLAYAWAY on Friday said it would streamline the usefulness of audiobooks with its digital line of players. Each is made to resemble its paper equivalent and comes with a skin reflecting the audiobook preloaded on the device, such as novels by John Grisham. Controls on the reverse face provide the essential navigation for books and can also create as many as 50 virtual bookmarks for revisiting favorite chapters or passages. Storage is provided for anywhere between 6 and 20 hours of audio, as is a lanyard to hang the digital comfortably around the neck. Prices start at $30 for most books.
The FCC has just approved a new NEC phone, the N6207. Initially arresting is the glossy black exterior trimmed in red, similar to the Chocolate series by LG; the 6207 does separate itself with unique features however, namely a large touchscreen display. Other anticipated features include a WAP browser, a 1.3-megapixel camera, music and video playback, and more. The 6207 will be assigned to GSM phone networks and connect to local devices via Bluetooth and USB. Cost has yet to be projected, but it is confirmed to be heading to the United States.
As part of a Singapore exhibition, Fujitsu recently provided show attendees a preview of its upcoming LifeBook P7230 notebook. The 10-inch widescreen ultraportable resembles a smaller MacBook but has been personally designed by Kenichi Kimura, the head of Fujitsu's personal solutions department, to achieve its minimal look. Few specific details of the notebook are known, but the company has readily claimed that the system will be capable of as much as 11 hours of battery life and should use Intel's ultra-low voltage Core 2 Duo processor. A formal launch is expected early next year and should include both Japanese and North American models.
Japan's Arisawa has produced the Teleglass, a video display that mounts via suction to a single lens on any pair of glasses. It weighs just 0.3 ounces and has a 0.24-inch LCD, which simulates a 21-inch image as viewed from 3.3 feet away. A remote unit (not pictured) supplies battery power, as well as a headphone jack, and necessary video inputs including an iPod video connector. Arisawa should begin selling the Teleglass by the end of the month for 50,400 yen ($426); the iPod connector is sold separately for 2,730 yen ($23). A version with a built-in TV tuner should be ready sometime in 2007.
Dell today posted an update to its XPS 710 website referencing a technology only known as Black Ice. The company makes an allusion to a "cold front" but does not reveal more than a teaser image. Sources, however, suggest that Black Ice may be a phase change cooling system similar to that of asetek's Vapochill cases, which dramatically reduce the temperature of the system beyond even liquid cooling. The improvement would let Dell overclock even the hot-running Core 2 Extreme four-core processor without affecting other components. The system builder has not committed to an unveiling date but may reveal Black Ice in time for the CES expo in early January.
Earlier this year, Dell released a special edition XPS system known as the Renegade which featured an overclocked, factory-warrantied Pentium 4 as well as a then special quad-SLI video card offering.
While only a reference design, Kleer's Stereo Wireless Earphones manage to do what Creative's recent alternatives can't: eliminate all wires, even the link between the left and right ears. Instead the phones use a 2.4GHz radio link to connect with any Kleer-based audio system, which can include speakers, media players, and car audio decks. It's unclear when the design might make into production devices, but the phones should be capable of 10 hours of battery life, with an external unit providing recharges.
Keian this morning introduced its latest DVD player, the KDVD850HDMI. The player is relatively rare for its inclusion of dual microphone inputs intended for karaoke: as many as two viewers can sing along to music or videos at the same time. Equally uncommon is the inclusion of a multi-format card reader on the front for smaller formats such as Memory Stick or SD. A USB port is nearby for flash drives or external hard disks.
Video remains a high priority in the player as it can upscale DivX, DVDs, and MPEG-2/4 videos to as much as 1080i resolution on HDTV sets. Input support is broad with component, HDMI, RCA, and S-video for output. A release is planned for December 26th, when the KDVD850HDMI will retail for $91.
Microsoft today said that it has extended the warranty on its Xbox 360 game system to one full year. Previously limited to 90 days, the warranty now covers any hardware failure up to a year after the purchase. The protection is also retroactive, Microsoft says, and extends to anyone who has bought a system less than a year ago. Those who have had to pay for repairs over the past year can claim a refund for the costs. Microsoft has previously agreed to repair for free any Xbox 360s made in 2005 due to chronic overheating and power supply problems. No specific reason was given for the current extension, though reports have circulated of consoles being blocked from Xbox Live or malfunctioning after firmware upgrades.
Tivoli has recently announced its iYiYi bookshelf speaker set for iPods. The system recalls classic one-piece stereos and uses a blend of knobs and large buttons to control its sound. In addition to playing and offering basic controls for all dockable iPods through a universal adapter, Tivoli's new speakers incorporate an AM/FM tuner with RDS support for radio stations that display text information. Also present are five radio presets, auto-scan channel tuning, and a 20-minute sleep timer that can control either the iPod or the radio. An aux-in jack is present for connecting to outside audio devices. Tivoli says the iYiYi ships now in a glossy black or white for $300.
Hoping to create a controller ideally suited to long presentations, Kokuyo today released its laser pointer mouse. The input device connects to a Mac or Windows PC through the USB port, but still includes a switchable laser pointer at the front; this actually provides an advantage over wireless presentation mice as neither the laser nor the mouse itself are in danger of running out of battery power during a meeting, Kokuyo claims. The mouse tracks using an 800DPI optical sensor and requires no drivers. Shipments begin on December 27th, when the mouse will sell for $20.
Electronics maker Sunconnection this morning launched its MP512MWP flash player. Specifically designed for the beach, the player is heavily guarded against splashes and brief immersion in water; a clear waterproof case is bundled with it to add an additional layer of protection. The buttons are also deliberately oversized to simplify control during exercise. Up to 512MB of MP3 and WMA songs are supported. The device runs on a sole AAA battery, although battery life is unavailable. It ships today for $25 including the battery and case in black, red, and white colors.
Nintendo's special edition of the Opera web browser for its Wii console is now available, according to early reports. Owners who have connected the console to the Internet can now download what Nintendo describes as a trial edition of the browser. While currently in testing and still scheduled for completion in March, the current version of Opera is known to work with Flash, Java, and other common Web plugins. The software will remain free until June, when future downloads will cost 500 Wii points ($5), Nintendo says.
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