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Microsoft intends a high-profile launch of its upcoming Windows Vista OS similar to that of its predecessors, according to a report by the Seattle Times. Scheduled for January 29th, the event -- dubbed "The Wow Starts Now" -- will combine a press luncheon at Cipriani's in downtown Manhattan with a public event at 1515 Broadway in Times Square to celebrate the launch of the upgrade. The party will likely eclipse the November 30th launch of Vista for business, which was marked by Microsoft's ringing the NASDAQ bell.
The spectacle will represent the end of a five year saga for the beleaguered Windows XP replacement, which missed shipping in time for the all-important holiday season and prompted a last-minute upgrade coupon program offering upgrade discounts to hesitant buyers.
Best Buy is planning to offer ConnectedLife.Home, a less expensive home integration system which will let users control media, heating and lighting from a central location, or even from the web. Users will buy the package from a retail outlet, which will contain an HP Media Center PC, Lifeware control software, an Xbox 360 for media extension, plus two wireless cameras, a thermostat, five dimmers, five switches, and two keypads.
The key to the cost is the use of powerline Ethernet, which replaces the custom wiring used in more elaborate home automation technology. Customers will have to install the dimmers, switches and keypads themselves, but will then be able to call a 1-800 number to have a technician finish the work. Best Buy is currently testing the system in Rancho Cordova, California, but expects the final package to sell for $15,000. Remote access to a ConnectedLife network will cost $20 a month. [Via CE Pro]
iQua today began carrying its simple BHS-302 wireless headset for cellphone users. The company breaks with the traditional one-piece shape by breaking the speaker away from the receiver: callers can attach the iPod shuffle-like receiver to their clothes or a bag through an integrated clip. The separated hardware is better-suited to joggers or others who might otherwise lose a headset through exercise, iQua says. Simple controls allow for quickly answering or rejecting calls, which can last as long as 9 hours courtesy of a built-in battery. iQua retails the headset today in black, silver, or white trim for $50 through its online store. [Via Chip Chick]
Producing a higher-end counterpart to its Syrius receiver, Snooper has just launched its Indago GPS mapper. In contrast to its larger but more basic predecessor, the 3.5-inch Indago sports a 256MB SD card preloaded with UK-only street level maps but gains extra camera detection features. Snooper promises speed-sensitive warnings not only of the country's fixed speed cameras but also of mobile cameras, congestion toll cameras, and even roadwork cameras. The Indago can be plugged into a car's power supply but also has its own battery for completely wireless use. It can be found online today for £399 ($776) or less after tax. [Via NaviGadget]
Bluedot today used the close of 2006 to reveal its BTV-400K media player. The company has focused the 4-inch widescreen handheld solely on tuning Japan's 1Seg digital mobile TV broadcasts; its single-purposed nature simplifies the controls and slims the device down, according to Bluedot, which measures the system at only 11mm (0.43 inches) thick. Support for an electronic program guide allows the BTV-400K's owner to see programming in advance and switch channels accordingly. Battery life is rated at three hours and can recharge just as quickly through either an AC outlet or a computer's USB port. The company expects an official launch in early February for $254.
Photos of a uniquely-styled version of the Zune have surfaced, according to a newly discovered Flickr stream. The back of the digital music player is decorated with custom art by artist Jeremy Fish, who is responsible for much of the artwork behind Microsoft's advertising campaign for the new player. The otherwise commonplace brown player also garners attention for its connection to Microsoft's controversial Zune Masters program: the special edition is available only to ambassadors of the program aged 18-22 and is meant to reward college-age listeners who actively promote the new jukebox to friends and peers.
Microsoft has previously attempted to drive the exclusivity of the Zune through special editions, handing out orange and pink Zunes to the project's staff as well as to random stores. Click through for a selection of photos from the collection.
Chinese company AOC has launched the V500, a media player that's barely thicker than an iPod nano, measuring just 0.4 inches. The screen is a 2.4-inch LCD capable of QVGA resolution (320x240), and it plays AVI and MPEG-4 videos, or MP3, WAV and WMA audio files. Users can also browse JPEG images. Storage on the player is internal, offering anywhere between 128MB and 2GB of flash depending on the particular model. Content is transferred via a USB 2.0 cable. The V500 should be shipping to Chinese retail shops in the near future, selling at several unknown price grades. [Via imp3]
Device maker digitalXtractions has revealed its SCIRC t1 webcam for outdoor travelers. Unlike notebook-orientedwebcams, the stand-alone SCIRC model is independent of any separate host device or network connection. The 1.3-megapixel camera can send still images or video to the company's own Web hosting service by using built-in support for GPRS and EDGE mobile Internet access, bypassing a computer entirely. Even a battery is sometimes unnecessary, the company says. A rechargeable battery is packed with the camera, but optional 6- and 12-watt solar panels will keep the t1 powered and recharge the battery during idle moments.
The camera ships today for $450, although a subscription to the company's image hosting requires $60 per month. Solar panels are also available now for $150 (6-watt) and $250 (12-watt) each. [Via The Raw Feed]
Created by Yanko Design, the Square CD is a wall-mounted CD player that's as much about aesthetics as audio. Made out of white corian, the player normally sits as a featureless square on your wall; turn it on, however, and light begins to radiate from the tray, the sides, and the controls. The buttons are actually just pressure-sensitive regions in the Square's uniform smart surface, which can also double as a speaker using technology from FeONIC. The Square CD is not yet available to order, but should be sold directly from Yanko when it is. [Via Crave]
Young startup Mywaves today announced the finished version of its self-titled video subscription service for cellphones. A combination of RSS news feed technology and agreements with major content providers lets owners of 3G wireless handsets subscribe to regular video streams. As many as 10,000 separate channels are available, the company boasts, giving access to content such as CNN news clips or highly-rated YouTube videos. A Mywaves user can filter by category and tag channels with ratings; though the software is primarily managed on a PC, word of new videos can also be sent by SMS text messages.
Mywaves says the service will remain free for anyone with a compatible cellphone, but requires a 3G wireless data plan with most major cellular carriers in Europe or the US.
Trinity this morning launched its DS-CHFMT car FM transmitter for iPods. Fitting only in car cupholders, the combination dock and tuner provides a stable base for the iPod without obscuring the radio or other controls on the car's central column. Audio from the digital player is broadcast through a user-specified FM channel while the holder attaches to the car's 12-volt power port to keep any dockable iPod fully charged. A 3.5mm minijack will also stream music from generic music players.
The new design further helps drivers by surmounting some of the audio quality problems that plague most FM adapters, Trinity says. A new PLL chipset actively monitors treble in the initial music source and adapts it to the sometimes distorted FM output. Available in black or white, Trinity's audio adapter ships now from Japan for $55.
Based on filings with the Federal Communications Commission, Sony appears to be developing two new Cyber-shot cameras, the DSC-S650 and S700. Each has a seven-megapixel sensor and runs on AA batteries; the 650 has a two-inch LCD display, while the display on the 700 is 2.4 inches and supports resolutions up to 480x240. Little else is known about the cameras except that they don't appear to have any WiFi or Bluetooth capabilities. The formal announcement of the cameras will most likely be at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show, scheduled between January 8th and 11th in Las Vegas. Several Sony cameras have been nominated for awards at CES, including the Sony Alpha A100. [Via LetsGoDigital]
Brother on Tuesday expanded its MPrint line of handheld printers with the new MW-260. Positioned as a balance between normal desktop printers and the smallest handhelds, the printer uses larger A6-sized paper instead of the A7 found in earlier models: this provides extra room for graphs or for enlarging fonts without sacrificing the level of information per page. Size is no barrier to its speed, Brother further claims. At its maximum 300x300DPI resolution, the MW-260 can output 20 black and white pages per minute.
Its design also signals the first three-interface MPrint device and connects using either Bluetooth, IR, or USB. The added support ensures that PCs or Windows Mobile-equipped handhelds can print away from home or the office without bringing a relevant cable. Brother hopes to release its latest mobile printer in Japan during March; a North American launch is set to follow shortly afterwards. No pricing has been set.
Nokia intends to ship an updated version of its high-end N93 smartphone to the US, according to a recent FCC filing. The new approval reveals that the update, named N93i, will see key changes to its iconic design. The thick size of the existing handheld will be slimmed down considerably and should also see a glossy mirror finish replace the solid black of the current model. A seamless, RAZR-style number pad should also make its debut. Nokia says it will also make a concession to standards: instead of the company's own Pop-Port connector, a standard mini-USB port will let the phone sync with a PC using any A-to-B USB cable.
No release date has been confirmed for the updated phone, which in FCC testing is currently a tri-band GSM phone with EDGE and UMTS broadband; to see an official release in the US, the phone will require a fourth band. Extra photos are available after the jump. [Via Slashphone]
VisionTac this weekend said it would adapt a new Bluetooth-based GPS receiver, the VGPS-700, for the US market. The adapter adds mapping to PDAs, phones, and other Bluetooth-equipped devices that lack the feature. However, the company stresses that its receiver is small and light enough at 2.1 inches long and 33 grams to be carried easily in a pocket alongside its host. Despite this, it uses the current-generation SiRFStar III chipset accurate to within 1 meter and also sports its own lithium-ion battery for between 8 to 12 hours of active use. An external battery pack will extend that time to between 18 and 20 hours. VisionTac has not committed to a launch date or price but promises a low cost thanks to the VGPS-700's minimal design. [Via NaviGadget]
Having chosen conventional satellite TV in favor of the more recent terrestrial digital broadcasts, MBCO today launched its Moba Ho! MBR0201 receiver. The small tuner is built for both in-car mounts and home use and is rare for its ability to record as well as play satellite TV: a miniSD card slot is built in to capture as much as 2GB of video for later viewing on an attached display. The reliance on a larger screen for the main picture leaves room for channel information and navigation on the unit's own LCD, MBCO says. A bundled wireless remote can manage playback from the back seat. Ths new receiver is due to launch in mid-January with open pricing on the Japanese market.
Lexon this weekend introduced its Lexphone handset. While a simple USB attachment meant to simplify calling in Skype or other voice chat software, the Lexphone is designed to match the aesthetic of Apple notebooks and other designer computers with an aluminum-like finish. The company keeps the phone small at 4.1 inches long by focusing on its core role as a PC companion but says it still has room for extra features such as muting, call holding, and independent volume adjustment. Unica sells Lexon's phone for $75. [Via Crave]
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