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Cellphone provider Cingular (soon to become AT&T) today officially carried its version of the Motorola KRZR. The introduction marks the first time the phone has been available in GSM form, having shipped in the CDMA-oriented K1m edition for Alltel, Sprint, and Verizon late last year. The Cingular-branded version ships with support for the carrier's EDGE Internet access and comes preloaded with instant messaging software for chatting on AIM, MSN, and Yahoo networks. All the functionality of the Motorola original remains in place, including the 2-megapixel camera and Bluetooth with A2DP support for wireless headphones and speakers. Cingular sells the KRZR today for $450 as a stand-alone purchase but reduces the initial price to $200 when paired with a two-year contract and $50 rebate.
Samsung is gearing up to launch a GSM version of the popular M610 clamshell phone for Cingular customers. While in many senses identical to the CDMA version already in use by Sprint, the new edition -- named the A717 -- will swap the EVDO broadband access of the M610 for a much faster HSDPA connection. Legacy EDGE support is expected as well. The directional pad will also undergo a change to the ring-like control used by the BlackJack. Cingular should carry the phone by mid-2007 under its impending return to the AT&T name. Pricing should compare closely with Sprint's $180 when combined with a two-year service plan. [via MobileBurn]
Optoma at CES launched a major enhancement to its DLP projector line by releasing three new models targeted alternately at its high- and low-end home theater audience as well as business-conscious users. Topping the releases is the HD81-LV, a refresh of the 1080p-capable flagship HD81 that almost doubles the brightness of its predecessor, jumping from 1,300 to 2,500 lumens of brightness. An optional replacement lens, the BX-AL133 Cinemascope ($3,999), has also been revealed which adds a true movie theater widescreen ratio to both the LV and its original version. The price of the upgraded HD81 has yet to be released, though it will ship soon.
Another updated model is the MovieTime DV11 ($999), a sequel to the DV10 projector and DVD player hybrid that displays at 800x600 with a much brighter 1,300-lumen design. Optoma lastly improved its business range with the TX773 ($2,499), a mid-range business DLP with a 1024x768 display, 3,500 lumens brightness, and input for DVI and VGA signals from computers. These more standardized projectors are also expected soon.
Korean firm Samsung says the iPhone is a threat with a hidden blessing, according to analysts and Samsung executives speaking with the Associated Press. The company on Friday acknowledged that Apple's cellphone likely posed a direct threat to its own cellphone line, which includes high-end smartphones such as the BlackJack, but may by association draw interest to devices that were previously seen as too expensive.
"We have an opportunity [to create demand]," Samsung telecom VP Kim Jeong-han said of Apple's entry into the field.
Analysts also suggest that the iPhone may have an incidental benefit to Samsung in particular, as its ability to produce both CPUs and flash memory that could be used at the heart of the iPhone could profit the Korean corporation even as Apple potentially erodes its marketshare. Apple "will create lots of demand for NAND flash," says Dongbu Securities' Lee Min-hee. Samsung has not yet confirmed its exact amount of involvement with the handheld.
Sony-Ericsson at CES marked the introduction of the PV705 Style Edition Bluetooth headset. Hoping to avoid the overly technical appearance of most earpieces, the cellphone designer has added three removable faceplates in black, purple, and white as well as jewelry that fastens to the necklace strap or carrying pouch. This helps the communicator blend in during social gatherings, especially when worn around the neck for speakerphone use, the company says. Talk time is a long 12 hours, or 300 hours when on standby. The Style Edition will be ready this month with prices to be set shortly.
In tandem with the new Bluetooth headset, the cellphone partnership released the MBR-100 Bluetooth music receiver, a simple attachment that can stream the music from a cellphone or other Bluetooth audio device to any set of speakers with either aux-in or RCA input jacks. As with the PV705, the MBR-100 can play audio for up to 12 hours and will idle safely for 300 hours. It will ship alongside the headset, with a similarly undetermined price.
Storage producer PQI at CES demonstrated one of the largest solid state drives yet available for everyday computers. Shown in early form last year, the 64GB Solid State Disk would double the capacity of the 32GB SanDisk SSD revealed earlier this month while also shipping as a 2.5-inch Serial ATA hard drive, making it a more direct replacement for magnetic disks in notebook PCs. The reliability that comes with a lack of moving parts is accompanied by speed. PQI claims a 100MB/sec peak transfer rate, exceeding even the speed of desktop hard drives in RAID stripes. No pricing or ship dates have been given, though pricing will likely be substantially higher than the $600 price of the 32GB SanDisk model. [via DailyTech]
Cisco may unintentionally create more controversy later this year by introducing its own equivalent to Apple's recently announced Apple TV, according to Light Reading. Although already in testing and in development before the September preview of the Apple device, Cisco's as yet unnamed media hub may enflame tensions in light of the recent iPhone lawsuit due to similar features. The Linksys-branded device, demonstrated behind closed doors at CES this week, is expected to both access media across a network as well as store it on its own hard drive for quicker access.
The adapter will have features absent from other devices, Cisco says. Owners will have the choice of buying videos directly from CinemaNow and could also stream media over Wi-Fi from cellphones and other handhelds. Control will be handled through a ring-shaped remote that will function as a wireless pointer rather than a simple button-operated device. The company plans a release by the end of 2007, which could complicate its launch if the firm's suit against Apple remains unsettled by the end of the year.
The upcoming HD Everio GZ-HD7 by JVC will be the company's first camcorder to record natively in 1080i, while being substantially cheaper than the 720p-limited GR-HD1US, priced at $3,500. The HD7 uses a 3CCD progressive-scan sensor, and can hold up to five hours of video on its 60GB hard drive, which is substantially larger than most consumer models. JVC is likewise promoting the camera's Fujinon lens, the first of its type to appear in a camera for the general market. Most Fujinon lenses are used for commercial and industrial purposes, such as medicine and TV broadcast. The HD7 should retail in April for $1,800.
Samsung may not be known for its digital cameras in North America, but three new ones should be available in the spring, AVING reports. First up is the six-megapixel S630 (pictured), which has Samsung's ASR image stabilization technology to reduce photo blur. ASR is also applied to the camera's movie recording, which can be captured in either 320x240 or 640x480 at 30fps. Ten-second voice memos can be attached to stills. The next step up is the seven-megapixel L73, which also has improved exposure performance, with ISO sensitivity up to 1600 and shutter speeds as fast as 1/2000. Zoom is 3x optical. The S850 ups the zoom to 5x optical, but should otherwise be functionally similar to the L73, the main change being eight megapixels. It should be priced at $250. The S630 will cost $180; curiously, the L73 will be $300, though this may be due to its compactness.
Normally the creator of high-end home stereos, Dynaudio at CES made its beginning forays into the multimedia envirnoment by announcing the MC 15, its first speakers meant for computers, music players, and video game consoles. The copmany hopes to bring the audio quality normally reserved for home theaters to the desktop and has supplied the 2-channel satellites with dual 50W amplifiers, providing more power by themselves than most subwoofer-equiped PC speakers. Tighter bass response is also provided through an extremely rigid cabinet, Dynaudio says. Accurate treble is maintained by fabric dome tweeters and a three-band adjustable EQ.
The system can be expanded even further, the company adds. Extra satellites can be added for more overall power; a new subwoofer, the Sub 250MC, can also be installed to lower the bass frequency from 55 to 29Hz and supply an extra 200W of power to the overal system. Dynaudio sets the price for its premium MC 15s at $1,299; the subwoofer is available separately for $1,000. Both pieces will ship in March.
While the Xbox 360 may have won in terms of new console sales, it turns out that the overall victors of the holiday season were generally older game systems, launched years earlier, says the research firm NPD Group. Counting December US sales, the Nintendo DS -- first launched in 2004 -- took the top spot, selling 1.6 million units. Embarassing to Sony may be the 1.4 million sales of the Playstation 2, a console that is almost seven years old, and was supposed to have been replaced by the Playstation 3. In keeping with the earlier NPD report, only 490,700 PS3s were sold. Even the Nintendo Wii was beaten by the 2005 PSP (953,200), and its own Game Boy Advance (850,700), launched in 2001. No explanation for the results is given, but it may be that the cost of the new consoles is too prohibitive for the general public.
AOL on Friday morning revealed that it was abandoning its Music Now online music store. The deal will send the company's existing 350,000 subscribers to Napster, which will keep the pricing and other aspects of the AOL users' service intact until the changeover is complete in the next two months. While no exact reason for the change has been given, AOL in late summer of last year said it was exiting the paid content business, switching to a free ad-sponsored model after bleeding large numbers of subscribers to its core Internet access. AOL had only started Music Now in mid-2006.
The adoption of AOL customers may have a dramatic impact in Napster's influence in online music downloads. The copmany recently enjoyed unusual success among non-iTunes stores, jumping by nearly 50,000 subscribers at the end of 2006 to reach a total of 566,000. The AOL deal will see Napster's total user base jump by over 60 percent.
Wireless progresses further into the toy world with the Spyke WiFi Spy Robot, created by Meccano, and set to be released under the legendary Erector brand. The robot moves on treads and is controlled from a PC, where users can watch what it does through a webcam. This should permit control from remote Internet-connected systems, which may also make it useful for home surveillance, especially as the robot can be set to dock with a power outlet automatically. Functions don't stop there either, with the Spyke having support for VoIP and digital music playback. No shipping dates have been confirmed, but Meccano says the price should be about $270. [Via I4U News]
Thermaltake during the CES expo released two PC cases for performance-minded gamers: both the Bach Vx and Soprano Dx (shown) include external SATA (eSATA) ports for attaching external hard drives to the computer without the speed penalty often suffered through USB 2 or FireWire. Cooling is just as important, says the case designer. The Bach and Soprano share an unusually large 140mm front fan, drawing in cool air that can be quickly expelled by a rear 120mm unit. The cases also have room for two of NVIDIA's larger GeForce 8800 GTX cards and have tool-free slots for drives and expansion cards.
The two mid-towers are primarily separated by priorities, according to the company. The Soprano is designed primarily for aesthetics and features a curving aluminum front panel, while the more utilitarian Bach deliberately introduces gaps in its flat aluminum surface for quicker air intake. Thermaltake is selling both cases today in versions with or without side windows and 400W power supplies, though pricing is unavailable.
Japanese electronics giant Toshiba on Friday said it was exiting the development of SED TV technology. The company revealed that it would let Canon, its longtime partner in developing the technology, buy out its share of the jointly-owned SED, Inc. company formed to deliver the new flat-panels to market. The decision was made only to help SED reach the market, Toshiba says; as Canon faces extended lawsuits in the US over the technology, the involvement of a second company in proceedings would only slow development down.
SED has already experienced numerous delays due in part to the high cost of the technology, which is said to combine the color accuracy and immediate response of conventional tube televisions with the much thinner and more accurate flat panels of LCDs and plasmas. Canon still expects to launch SED sets in Japan by the end of this year and plans a North American release in early 2008.
Electronics supplier Delphi took time at CES to unveil the Premium Sound system, its first universal speaker dock for subscribers to XM Satellite Radio. The stereo attaches directly to many typical XM receivers, including the company's own SkyFi3, MyFi, and Roady XT as well as third-party hardware from Audiovox and others. An integral XM antenna boosts the signal and helps the Premium Sound System work properly indoors. A headphone jack and an auxiliary input are included for different speakers and audio sources; the speakers can also operate solely on battery power, although the company has yet to reveal an estimated battery life. Delphi's speaker dock will be ready in Spring for $179.
Accessory maker Gefen at CES released a trio of Mac mini-shaped home theater devices. The company's simply-titled Personal Video Recorder (top) captures video directly from digital sources, including FireWire ports from digital cable or satellite boxes and camcorders, and transfers it directly to removable USB storage such as external flash and hard drives. Video is recorded in MPEG-4, and the user can manually switch inputs -- allowing owners to keep more than one device attached, Gefen says. Two versions are expected in late February: a basic, standard-definition version will be released for conventional footage, while an HD version will ship with native 1080p support and HDMI output. Pricing is undetermined for either model.
Read more for details of the company's new Mac-friendly and home theater scalers.
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