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Matsushita, the parent company of Panasonic, has developed a new lithium-ion battery with increased energy density, which the company claims can produce 20 to 40 percent more capacity. The secret is the material in the negative diode, which has been switched from graphite carbon to metal alloys. This boosts the capacity of an 18650-size battery from 2.9Ah to 3.6, and the energy density to 740Wh/L. The new batteries also have a heat resistance layer (HRL), preventing some of overheating problems caused by short-circuits in recent years. Matsushita 2.9Ah batteries with HRL have been on the market since April of 2006; the 3.6Ah design will arrive within the next couple of years. [Via DailyTech]
Eleksen has just demonstrated a unique approach to Microsoft's new OS through its Vista SideShow messenger bag. Using Eleksen's own smart fabric for control, the bag integrates a 2.5-inch LCD, processor, and 1GB of flash memory to take advantage of Windows Vista's SideShow feature. By connecting a notebook PC stored inside, the SideShow display can synchronize e-mail, contacts, and even music or photos from its host computer which can be read or played without having to turn on the computer or open the bag.
Although the existing design is currently a reference design and will not be sold by Eleksen itself, the company says it will soon license its technology to others and should have the messenger bag on sale by summer for $250, alongside other Sideshow devices. A likely partner is G-Tech, which recently introduced a Bluetooth messenger bag using smart fabric.
Despite heavy promotion, Microsoft's imminent Windows Vista is unlikely to trigger any kind of boom in PC sales in the period immediately following its release, according to a number of Taiwanese computer and mainboard builders speaking with DigiTimes. Sources from the electronics companies tell the IT publication that neither Vista Home Basic nor Home Premium will create a surge in sales in the aftermath of the January 30th OS launch, and are unlikely to have any impact at all until the second half of 2007, when sales typically ramp up for the holidays.
The seemingly cold prediction is based in part on the tepid response to Vista among business users, the sources say. None of the component makers registered a significant change in their sales after the new Windows version became available to companies in November. The ongoing performance and price wars between AMD and Intel have also led many potential buyers to hesitate. The claim is bolstered by IDC sales numbers, which showed virtually flat US sales in spite of a Microsoft coupon plan that offered free or greatly discounted upgrades to Vista after PC makers complained that the delayed Vista launch would hurt their holiday 2006 sales.
Faced with an increasingly digital movie market, Netflix has announced its intentions to start direct Internet delivery. Rather than offer paid downloads, like Amazon's Unbox or the Xbox Live Video Marketplace, existing Netflix subscribers will be able to stream certain videos for free. Next to the standard "Add" buttons will be "Play," which will start a feature as soon as it finishes buffering in the custom Netflix viewer software. Roughly 1,000 movies and television shows are expected to be offered in the beginning, coming from companies such as NBC, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Warner Brothers. A Windows PC with Internet Explorer will be required as well, but Netflix hopes to expand to other platforms as time progresses.
The new streaming service should start slow deployment over the next six months, with the amount of video accessible determined by your subscription level. A standard $18 subscription will give you 18 hours of video per month; correspondingly, cheaper plans will shrink your hours, and expensive ones will increase them. Should you decide to stop a clip partway through, only the time actually viewed will be docked from your monthly limit.
Toshiba on Tuesday revealed its latest DLP projector, the TDP-SC35U. The display aims to give presenters options for showing more than prepared 2D images during a class or meeting without needing exotic equipment, the company says. A removable, 0.6-megapixel document camera is attached to the system and lets presenters switch from a computer or video player's source to live images from the camera itself. Toshiba suggests that the camera is useful for showing 3D objects, transparencies, or anything which is either too fragile or too large to be digitally scanned.
The core projector is based around an 800x600 projector with a 2,000:1 contrast ratio and a 2,000 ANSI lumen brightness rating. Dual VGA connectors are built in for multiple PCs, as are solitary RCA and S-video ports. Toshiba is already shipping the SC35U today at a price of $899.
Cisco rejects the notion that the company may have lost control of the iPhone trademark, the company's general counsel John Earnhardt said today in his official blog. The executive said he has followed recent news in the blogging community and flatly dismisses allegations that the company had let its rights to the iPhone name slip, stating bluntly that Cisco had "met all elements" needed to hold on to the name Apple is now sharing with its cellphone.
"We've been pretty direct about the fact that we've been shipping the iPhone since last spring," Earnhardt said.
The claim directly contradicted new evidence that surfaced over the weekend, which suggested that Cisco hastily applied the iPhone name to a sticker in a single photo while the associated, real-world product carried only its Linksys branding. ZDNet columnist Ed Burnette, who first uncovered the glaring flaw in Cisco's claims, has also reiterated his position with new legal evidence, pointing to a now-defunct iPhone support page which showed that Cisco had let the iPhone name go unused on its website since the buyout of original trademark holder InfoGear in 2000.
Prepping notebook owners for Vista Home Premium, LifeView today launched a set of ExpressCard TV tuners that link to the upcoming OS and its Media Center functions. The FlyTV Express M5 MST2-A2 and M5 MST-A2 plug into the ExpressCard/54 slot of newer laptops and play or record the DVB-T digital broadcast format, including advance scheduling and timeshifting. Either also receives analog NTSC and PAL co-axial signals plugging in through either an antenna or a direct cable link. Simultaneous playback recording of two channels is possible with both cards, LifeView notes, though only the flagship MST2 version will handle four live feeds at the same time.
The two cards should be available near the Vista launch, and should be accompanied by the M3, a digital-only dual tuner that plugs into narrower ExpressCard/34 slots. Pricing has not been revealed. [via The Inquirer]
Hungarian site Terminal.hu suggests that Nokia may be working on a revision to the E61 smartphone, which is currently unavailable in the United States. Dubbed the E61i, the modified phone has more of a metallic finish, and rearranges the shortcut buttons to be more convenient. Click through to see photos. The phone will also support GPRS, EDGE and UMTS data services, and come with a WLAN module for local connections. Unlike the E61, the i also has a camera, and will use microSD for storage instead of miniSD, permitting more pictures and music files to be kept. The phone may be officially announced next month at the 3GSM World Conference in Barcelona. [Via SlashPhone]
Marshall today added to its MXL computer microphones with the USB.007. Designed for musicians, professional podcasters, and others who want high-quality voice recording, the mic is the first direct-to-digital USB device of its kind to have two large gold diaphragms for capturing sound. Its electronics produce little ambient noise and are complemented by more recent analog-to-digital converters. The result is a microphone that can match or even beat professional studio microphones while bypassing the need for a mixer or preamp to augment the signal, Marshall boasts. The mic works without a separate power source on any Mac or PC and comes with a desktop stand and wind screen for an ideal recording environment. The 007 will sell for $199 and should be on display at the NAMM expo beginning January 18th.
Sony today pushed ahead with its home theater PC strategy by introducing the DT1 digital TV tuner (shown below). Although meant to stack with the TP1 media PC, the DT1 is a self-contained hub that can operate with or without a computer to play both analog and digital broadcast TV. When linked to a Windows Media Center PC, it can also record video in HDTV and standard resolutions, including a 1440x1080 signal for those instances when HD programming is only available in a 4:3 ratio. Computers can also watch live TV from the DT1 whenever the latter is connected to the network through Ethernet. Sony is shipping the DT1 to Japan within the next few days at a price of $415.
Sprint's instant voice division Nextel on Tuesday began carrying a pair of Motorola phones that link to the provider's iDEN network. Named Blend and Buzz, the two can either connect quickly to Nextel's cross-country, instant voice network or use the phones for large-scale walkie-talkie chat in the Us and five other countries, including Canada. Each model can alternately speak to nearby Nextel handsets without requiring service. Both also have built-in GPS receivers for navigation and support the commonplace features of cellphones despite their utilitarian design: they connect to the Internet, send SMS texts, and have customizable ringtones.
The Buzz is designed for subscribers who regularly contend with harsh conditions, and is designed for military-strength resistance to dust, shock, and vibration, Sprint says; the more mainstream Blend (pictured) strips this protection to reduce cost. Sprint sells the pair of iDEN phones today for $250 (Buzz) and $230 (Blend) without a contract, but says that signing a two-year plan will lower the prices to $60 and $40 respectively. A photo of the Buzz while open can be found after the jump.
Targus has just announced its ExpressCard Notebook Docking Station for portable owners who treat their portables as full-fledged desktops. Courtesy of the faster connection inherent to the newer card format, the dock has 5Gbps of bandwidth for all of its attached peripherals -- five times that of the average USB 2.0 dock, Targus adds. The extra speed allows the dock to be used for more than just mice and other low-demand add-ons: an external DVI or VGA display at 1600x1200, microphones or 2.1-channel speakers, and gigabit Ethernet can pass through the dock without bogging down the response of any one device, according to the company. Legacy support is also provided through a single serial connector.
Further extending its usefulness is separate power, Targus says. As the dock is powered by its own AC adapter, wireless mice and other USB 2 devices that require charging can remain attached regardless of whether or not the notebook is connected. The Notebook Docking Station works with either ExpressCard/34 and /54 slots on newer mobile PCs and ships soon for $180.
Launching today is the RAMBoost series of USB flash drives, marketed by US Modular as a cheaper alternative to buying new RAM modules for your motherboard. The drives take advantage of the ReadyBoost feature in Windows Vista, which lets a computer use removable flash drives as a temporary cache. Though not as fast as dedicated RAM chips, they should still improve speed over a similar hard drive solution, and data kept on the drives is encrypted so that it can't be accessed if removed prematurely. There should be no other harmful effects if a drive is taken out. Sizes range from 256MB to 4GB, with prices starting at $19. RAMBoost products will be carried by retail outlets such as Sam's Club and RadioShack, as well as a variety of online stores.
Dell today began shipping its very first rugged notebook, the Latitude ATG (All-Terrain Grade) D620. The portable competes against Panasonic's ToughBook by strengthening the notebook against the accidents and harsher weather conditions often encountered by soldiers or anyone else who regularly uses their portable in the field, Dell says. In addition to a slightly toughened shell, the ATG sports numerous touches that keep the system running. Port covers, a shock-mounted hard drive, and a spill-proof keyboard prevent drops or sustained moisture from ruining the internal parts.
The system is also designed to be used at any time of the day, and has an extra-bright, 500-nit 14-inch widescreen display which remains usable even in direct sunlight; task lights also let the keyboard remain usable even in pitch darkness. Dell says the new Latitude is just as quick as its everyday version and ships with Core 2 Duo processors and up to 4GB of RAM. The base model is available immediately for $2,499 in the US; other regions will see the notebook within the next two weeks.
The research division of HP said today that it had developed what would likely be a revolution for at least some computer chips, according to Reuters. The Palo Alto-based company announced that it had found a way to increase the complexity of FPGA (Flip-Pin Grid Array) chips by as much as eight times, addressing one of the most fundamental limitations of the architecture. Instead of shrinking transistors to increase density -- as is often done with CPUs and most other chips -- the HP researchers used nanotechnology to shrink the wires in between the transistors themselves, letting the processors effectively skip three generations of Moore's Law without any other changes, says HP research director Stan Williams.
The technology could potentially revolutionize the DSP chips found in AV hardware, printers, and other devices that need dedicated media processing, giving them the power to decode higher-resolution videos or multi-channel sound with less effort; the chipmaking technique should also translate to generalized chips like CPUs, HP says. The company says real-world devices should be ready in as little as a year.
Seagate today unveiled a new version of its Savvio hard drive that it says is the world's fastest hard drive. Though it spins at the same 15,000RPM speed as the fastest desktop hard drives, the Savvio 15K is even quicker to access information due to its smaller, 2.5-inch frame: data can be found in as little as 2.9ms, Seagate claims. Though not immediately intended for notebooks, the updated Savvio's similar characteristics also make it more power-efficent than its larger counterparts and consumes only 5.8 watts at idle versus the 8.4 or more seen on the desktop. HP says it has already begun shipping ProLiant servers with the drive in 36GB or 73GB models, and Seagate has also updated its more modest 10K RPM drives with the 146GB Savvio 10K.2. [via DailyTech]
Sony this morning launched a sweeping series of performance upgrades in Japan for its VAIO notebooks in preparation for the increased demands of Windows Vista. All three of the company's ultraportable systems -- the 12-inch VAIO G (pictured), 11-inch TX-series, and the hard disk-based UX-series MPC -- can now use the faster, 1.33GHz ultra-low voltage Core Solo as an option to improve speed without a tangible impact on battery life. Storage has also been increased on the G and TX lines to 100GB.
The company also upgraded its C-series in the southeast Asian country with the option of a GeForce Go 7400 graphics chip, which helps the 13.3-inch widescreen better accelerate video in Windows Vista Home Premium. Most models will be available January 30th, though Sony says the G series will ship slightly later in the first half of February. North American revisions are expected soon.
Bodelin today released the webcam accessory Eye 2 Eye, an attachment that hopes to address the frequent disconnect in video chats between the position of the camera and the chat window below, which often forces participants to look away from the participant and miss important non-verbal aspects of the conversation. The Eye 2 Eye relies on a two-way mirror that projects the video chat window at the level of the camera and keeps the viewer involved in the convesation. The mounting system is available both in versions for built-in webcams on notebooks as well as external models; the latter will even fit unconventionally-shaped cameras such as Apple's iSight, the company says. The Eye 2 Eye can also be used as a separate teleprompter through software to let podcasters properly focus on the camera while reading their scripts. Both models will ship on January 22nd for $99.
HP on Tuesday began updating its extensive notebook line in advance of Windows Vista. Having already announced the Vista-equipped tx1000 tablet, the company today switched its attention to its larger entertainment portables. The new dv6200t (pictured) starts with Vista Home Basic and has seen its base specifications boosted to a 1.73GHz Celeron M (up from 1.6GHz) and a larger 80GB hard drive; the system can be configured with as much as a 2GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB of RAM, a 200GB drive and GeForce Go 7400 graphics.
In the desktop replacement is the dv9200t, HP's newly refreshed desktop replacement. The upgraded version of the dv9000 sees an upgrade to a minimum 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo (from a 1.73GHz Core Duo), a doubling of memory to 1GB, and an increase in storage from 80GB to 120GB. It as well as the dv6200t will go on sale first in Japan on January 29th, a day in advance of the global Windows Vista launch. North American versions are expected shortly. [via Impress Watch]
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