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Writing in an unofficial forum, an Asus reseller claims that the company will soon be releasing a media-focused 17-inch laptop. The Z84Jp will run on an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and an Nvidia Go 7600 graphics card, but most importantly, it will come with a number of niceties such as Bluetooth, a two-megapixel webcam, S-video and HDMI outputs, plus a full four speakers and a subwoofer. The only weaknesses in the system may be the DVD-RW drive (no HD), and the weight of the machine, which is a substantial 8.8 pounds. The Z84Jp should launch later in January with Windows XP onboard, but will come loaded with Vista by February. No price has been disclosed.
Video card maker EVGA today unveiled custom-tuned versions of NVIDIA's GeForce 8800-series boards. The KO ACS3 Edition cards, shipping in high-end GTX and slightly reduced GTS models, each sport a custom cooling system that gives enough headroom for the company to "superclock" every card beyond NVIDIA's official speeds: the GTX sees a major increase from 575 to 626MHz at its core and a boost to an effective 2GHz memory speed, while the ostensibly more modest GTS card sees a still greater leap from 500 to 580MHz core speed and a memory boost from 1.6 to 1.7GHz.
The increase is dramatic enough to set records, according to the company's tests: a pair of 8800 GTX KO ACS3 cards operating in concert has contributed to a 3DMark06 score of over 24,000 points, marking one of the highest-ever rankings in the history of the highly competitive benchmark. Both cards are now available and ship at slight premiums of $480 for the GTS model and $650 for the GTX. [Via I4U]
Electronics firm BenQ late today started shipping four multi-role projectors it says are equally made for formal presenttions and home theaters. All four share multiple additions that should help in the former presentation setting, the company says. Users now have added control over every step of the startup and shutdown: in addition to a subtle tone that indicates when a presenter can safely display the picture or shut down the system, the new line also sports a MyScreen function that replaces BenQ's logo with a custom image. An on-screen timer can help prevent miscues, and a special blackboard mode adjusts the image to properly display a picture on a dark background.
The four models are primarily separated by digital video support, BenQ says. The higher-end MP721 and MP721C (pictured) share a 1024x768 resolution, and introduce DVI-I ports alongside component, RCA, S-video, and VGA; the more mainstream MP621 and MP621C models use 800x600 projectors and forego pure digital output. The company has not clarified the meaning of the C designation. Every model should be widely available in mid-January for prices of $749 (MP621C), $899 (MP621), $999 (MP721C), and $1499 (MP721).
Coming in February from Directed Electronics is the Clifford Scout420, a combination GPS unit/media player that can be used with an optional $99 cradle to receive SIRIUS satellite radio. Directed asserts that theirs is the only such GPS unit headed to market. The 420 also has a 100-channel FM transmitter, and has AV and mini-USB ports for recording from TV, DVDs or camcorders. Files are stored on 20GB of internal memory. Various North American maps come pre-loaded, but new maps (and other files) can be loaded through the bundled memory card or full-size USB cable. The display is a relatively large 4.3-inch touchscreen. The Scout420 should sell at retail for about $699.
The official USB Forum this afternoon revealed a new standard for USB connections dubbed Micro-USB. The new connector is said to accommodate the gradual shrinking of cellphones, media players, and other pocketable devices by reducing the size of the connector itself; smaller even than the mini-USB connectors of today (shown), the plug will still support both data and power on the same cable and can speak to any USB device with the right cabling. Support for the Forum's On-the-Go technology will let devices equipped with the new ports transfer information between each other, bypassing the need for a full-fledged computer on one end.
Specific devices that will use Micro-USB have not been revealed. However, the cellphone producer Nokia has said it will soon use for its new designs. "Micro-USB offers innovative design and a flexible platform that our technical teams can easily take on board," says the company's technology platform director Jouko Junkkari. The technology may be especially relevant to Apple and other developers of extra-small devices, as the iPod shuffle and similar compact devices often resort to using the headphone plug as a substitute for a true USB connection.
Sonic today finalized its long-anticipated legal download-to-DVD recording system. Titled Qflix, the technology lets those buying videos from strictly digital outlets, including online download stores, burn the movies directly to discs that work properly in standard DVD players but still prevent easy copying. Customers could theoretically produce as many copies of a movie or TV show as their license allows while the discs themselves cannot be mass-duplicated, Sonic claims. Newly revealed is the necessity for an end-to-end protection system: the software, computer drives, and discs need to be Qflix-certified to prevent simpler workarounds. Hardware and software that supports the technology will be announced soon.
Olympus is releasing three new digital voice recorders that defy their categorization. Beyond voice, the DS-30, DS-40 and DS-50 not only play MP3 and WMA music files, but also audiobooks from Audible.com, and podcasts that can be downloaded automatically when hooked up to a PC. Users simply drag RSS feeds into a recorder's podcast folder. In regards to actual recording, each model has a detachable stereo microphone, as well as an internal mono mic for backup. Sensitivity can be adjusted to lecture, conference and dictation settings, while noise cancellation can be set to low-cut, voice, or noise. An "extra-quality" SXQ mode will record audio at 44.1KHz and 128Kbps. Two AAA batteries supply up to 32 hours of use. The DS-30 holds 256MB and costs $150; the 512MB DS-40 costs $200, and the 1GB DS-50 is priced at $250. All of the recorders should be available this month.
Continuing its series of releases in advance of CES, Samsung today revealed that it would show its Ultra Music and Ultra Video phones at CES, providing additional details as well as opening the door to a possible North American release. The Ultra Music (known also as the F300) has gained a Bang & Olufsen amplifier, using the Danish audio company's expertise to improve the final sound quality. Both it and the larger Ultra Video (F500) will have 2-megapixel cameras and next-generation HSDPA Internet access, the company adds. Exact launch details remain vague, including the possibility of support for North American cellular networks, but should become clearer with the advent of next week's show.
Samsung continues its CES announcements with word of a new line of rear-projection LCDs (not shown), supposedly thinner and lighter than similar models, which are often comparable in size to conventional CRTs. The new LCDs will come with screens ranging from 50 to 60 inches, and will be no more than 10 inches deep, making them light enough to hang on a wall and not much thicker than a flat-panel display. The new sets will also be approximately 30 percent cheaper than the equivalent flat-panel models.
The company isn't devoting itself exclusively to this technology, however. Digital Media President G.S. Choi says Samsung will be doubling production of plasma TVs in 2007, with a particular emphasis on larger sizes, as demonstrated by a forthcoming 80-inch model. Frames are also being redesigned on the sets to make them as much as 30 percent thinner. On show at CES will be a wireless plasma TV, which will receive input from set-top, Blu-Ray and HD DVD sources. Matching this will be Samsung's second-generation Blu-Ray player, expected to cost 20 percent less than the first-generation. Choi says the company has no plans at this time to release a hybrid player like LG's. [Via CNET]
Junior cellphone startup izenMobile on Thursday said that its first two phones will make a public debut at the CES expo next week. The previously announced KRMA (pictured) keeps its uncommon blend of Windows Mobile smartphone software with only a number pad for button control; more advanced functions are handled through a 2.2-inch touchscreen that works with both finger presses and a bundled stylus. The KRMA is now known to be a quad-band GSM world phone with EDGE broadband, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
A completely new aspect of the announcement is mention of the KSMT (pronounced "Kismet"), a more advanced device with a slide-out, 39-button keyboard for those who frequently send e-mail or SMS messages. Its features are virtually identical to the KRMA, the company says. Either model comes with a free service dubbed izenUniverse that synchronizes up to 25GB of files between one or more phone owners and an onilne backup server; the feature also gives businesses a Microsoft Exchange server for group e-mail hosting. Pricing is still unknown, though the KRMA, KSMT, and their services are launching soon after their CES showings.
Image-conscious TV designer HANNspree this afternoon debuted its Style line of LCD TVs in the UK. Each model is built to break away from the all too orthodox shapes of most other companies' sets, HANNspree says. The most conspicuous model is the HANNSvibe (pictured), a 32-inch set with a dual-color design meant to recall pop art. The shape is more than cosmetic, according to the company: the two speakers in the display stand can detach and sit as far as 6.5 feet away from the TV for added stereo separation.
Extra models announced by the company include the HANNSlounge, a model ranging between 26 and 37 inches that recalls the wood-paneled looks of classic TVs; the HANNSnara, a more conventional 37-inch widescreen with side-mounted flat speakers; and the HANNSwing, a compact 32-inch set with large speaker nets and a distinctive curved shape. Every edition is capable of 720p, HDMI input for digital video, and at least an 8ms pixel response time. Prices begin at £679 ($1,320) after tax for the 26-inch HANNSlounge and scale up to £889 ($1,730) for the HANNSnara. The sets are also available in the US, though prices are currently unavailable.
Two new iPod docks from iLuv promise to allow two-way audio broadcast via Bluetooth. The i277 and i199 come with a transmitter called the BluePin, which enables virtually any device with audio ports (phones, MP3 players, etc.) to pipe music through the docks' speakers, or to reverse the flow, and hear the docks' content from the comfort of somewhere else. The i277 features dual alarms, an AM/FM radio, and a video output jack; the i199 (pictured) adds a CD/MP3 CD player and a USB port. Both units have a remote control and support all iPods (including minis and nanos) from the third generation onwards, charging as they play. iLuv is selling the i277 for $150 and the i199 for $230.
Vizio ended speculation about its plans for CES today by formally launching its GV47L LCD television. As the company previously established, the new 47-inch system is the first to break the $2,000 price barrier at its size while still maintaining the 1080p resolution needed for full HDTV. This price does not come at the cost of features, the company promises. The display is capable of a 1,600:! dynamic contrast ratio (800:1 fixed), 500cd/m2, and an 8ms response time suitable for games or fast-action movies. Pairs of component, HDMI, and RCA inputs are built in, as are single connectors for S-video and VGA. A hybrid ATSC/NTSC tuner is integrated for receiving both HD and standard broadcasts. Vizio's new range-topping LCD is already reaching stores for a price of $1,900.
Two new MP3 players are set to be revealed by iRiver at CES. The Clix 2 is a follow-up to the current Clix model, and will support video, voice recording, and radio recording off the built-in FM tuner. It will come in 2, 4 and 6GB sizes, and use an AMOLED (active-matrix OLED) display, which should consume less power than even conventional OLEDs. The other iRiver player is the W10 (pictured), whose primary feature will be a WiFi receiver, which will also enable VoIP calls. Mapping services will be provided through a Navteq application called Discover Cities. Like the Clix, the W10 will also be able to play video, flash games, and FM radio, as well as record voice samples. [Via MobileKorea.tv]
SanDisk on Thursday said that its new solid state drive, the SanDisk SSD, is the first flash storage device to bridge the gap between capacious hard disks and fast but typically expensive flash memory. Holding 32GB of data, the 1.8-inch wide SSD is a drop-in replacement for the hard drive of most any notebook. In current form, the drive connects to any standard Ultra ATA port, a rarity for the often proprietary nature of solid state disks. The use of flash brings with it more than just an absence of failure-prone moving parts, SanDisk says: the lack of spool-up time allows the SSD to operate much more quickly than a hard drive, reading data as quickly as 62MB/sec. This is nearly 100 times faster than the hard drives typically found in notebooks, the company boasts.
Scheduled to debut at CES next week, SanDisk's flash storage will be ready immediately for larger system builders and should add $600 to the cost of a given system. While expensive compared to hard disks, the price is said to compare very favorably to earlier attempts at using solid state disks in mainstream notebooks by Fujitsu and Samsung, whose prices soared by as much as $1,400 compared to conventional models.
A new technology allows two different images to be displayed on the opposing sides of the same LCD, Samsung claims. The secret is a change to the standard TFT (thin-film transistor) architecture, which normally has a single gate to convert voltage at the pixel level; by creating a double-gated design, power can be sent to two crystals at the same time. This forms a part of Samsung's Amorphous Silicon Gate (ASG) technology, which supports the increased number of gates without requiring larger driver integrated circuits. Moreover, ASG screens need just one backlight, relying on trapped light from one side to aid in reflection on the other.
Samsung expects the new technology to be used primarily in mobile devices, since the current prototype is 2.2 inches wide and only supports resolutions up to 240x320. The main screen is also technically superior to rear one, having 250 nits of brightness versus 100, and 60 percent color saturation instead of 10 percent. The company will be demonstrating the LCD at CES.
Toshiba this morning took its first steps into external hard drives by revealing the simply-named Portable External Hard Drive. A pocket drive with a 2.5-inch hard disk for storage, Toshiba's initial entry is notable for its easy, automated backup. The drive comes bundled with NTI's Shadow software for both Intel- and PPC-based Macs ans well as Windows PCs; once settings are chosen, Toshiba says, plugging the drive into the USB 2.0 port will automatically power it up and transfer data in the background without intervention. The enclosure is also made of a stylized black aluminum and showcases a unique, shock-resistant design by Toshiba that also safely vents trapped heat. The company plans a Spring launch for 100GB, 120GB, and 160GB versions that will start at prices of $140.
Another product to be launched at CES next week is the Iqua Chameleon, a Bluetooth headset that serves in both mono and stereo modes. The base unit fits onto a single ear for standard phone use, but by plugging it into a provided adapter, it suddenly becomes a receiver for proprietary stereo earpieces. A second adapter lets you use the headset with generic earpieces. Other features of the Chameleon are a DSP chip, noise-cancellation, and a Fractus Bluetooth antenna. Phone controls on the unit include dial, redial, answer/end/reject, and a switch between phone and hands-free modes. The headset will cost $99.
Cellular provider Sprint today added Motorola's Q to its range of smartphones. Available in the US chiefly through Verizon beforehand, the Q in Sprint guise includes access to the company's new Powerdeck portal, a Web link built into the phone's web browser that gives quick access to special mobile-formatted content as well as an online help guide. The handset also taps into the carrier's EVDO-based PowerVision broadband access, NFL Mobile news and score updates, and customized on-demand content from a myriad of sources.
Technical features of the Q remain largely unchanged; however, Sprint says its incarnation of the phone maintains the full Bluetooth functionality that Verizon has partially disabled in its version, including the ability to use the phone as a broadband modem for a nearby computer. Motorola's device will be available through Sprint in mid-February. Pricing remains unknown but should compete closely with the $200 Verizon price when combined with a two-year contract.
Two announcements today in advance of CES are poised to change how home theater enthusiasts approach Blu-Ray and HD DVD, according to news from LG and Warner Brothers. The former has confirmed that it will uses its presence at the Las Vegas show to demonstrate a hybrid player that can read both of the opposing next-generation disc formats, eliminating the fear of obsolescence that the company says has driven many potential early adopters away from the new technology. No details of the player beyond this key feature have been revealed, but the company plans to release the mystery device early this year.
Additionally, a report by the New York Times notes that Warner Brothers will complement LG's design by releasing hybrid movie discs. Confirming early news, Warner Brothers said it has developed a multi-layer format known as Total HD that can store a movie in Blu-Ray format on one layer of a disc while offering the same content on a deeper layer inside. The disc standard could be more popular than a multi-format player as it would cost only a few dollars more per movie and would ensure that shoppers could always find a copy in the store, Warner claims. The availability of Total HD will remain unknown until the CES introduction but may eventually include discs with DVD video on the reverse side.
Logitech this morning previewed its X-240 speaker set, a unique approach to the problem of tethering handhelds to their host computers. The central control unit of the system, while providing quick access to volume controls, also incorporates a universal cradle that charges and synchronizes most handhelds through a USB connection to the host Mac or Windows PC. Special adapters are included for third, fourth, and fifth-generation iPods as well as the iPod nano and Microsoft's Zune; the X-240's dock is also said to work with cellphones, PDAs, and other portable hardware. The 2.1-channel system delivers 25W of sustained power and will ship in April for $50.
A second announcement also revealed the Cordless MediaBoard for Sony's PlayStation 3. Opting for RF wireless instead of the built-in Bluetooth of the game console, the keyboard links to the PS3 with a USB dongle and provides a full-size keyboard in addition to an integrated trackpad for computer-like control when browsing the Web or navigating the PS3's crossbar menus. The MediaBoard will be ready by February for $80.
Fujifilm today released a trio of new cameras in its FinePix range that advance image quality while also recognizing changes in storage. Leading the announcements is the F40fd, the company's latest point-and-shoot to feature face detection. The F40fd boosts the sensor to 8.3 megapixels while still retaining the ability to identify and focus on as many as 10 faces at once. A sixth-generation CCD and processor combination produces up to ISO 2000 sensitivty, while image stabilization and intelligent flash ensure sharp, properly lit pictures. Also bolstered is the company's entry-level A-series. The A800 uses the same sensor as the F40fd but relies on a simpler, less expensive design, while the A610 uses a more modest 6.3-megapixel sensor. All three models will go on sale in March for prices of $129 (A610), $179 (A800), and $299 (F40fd).
Crucially, all three cameras now feature a hybrid card slot that accepts both Fujifilm's own xD-PictureCard format, co-developed with Olympus, as well as the more widespread SD format used by other camera makers. The change is a recognition that many camera buyers today already have an investment in memory cards they would like to keep, the company says. The company plans to continue supporting xD. A gallery of the A800 and F40fd cameras is available after the jump.
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