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Microsoft today revealed the option to buy Windows Vista online from the company's recently launched Windows Marketplace. In what may be a first for mainstream OS software, the Redmond-based developer will give access to both 32- and 64-bit upgrade copies of Vista's Home, Business, and Ultimate editions as direct downloads when the OS is officially available on January 30th. The download of a DVD-sized installation is possible through a digital locker, Microsoft says; the service remembers the license for any downloaded software and lets users download software again, even if a catastrophic failure forces a reinstall of the earlier version of Windows.
Simultaneously, the company has revealed its first family licensing plan for Windows. The simply-titled Vista Family Discount will give purchasers of Vista Ultimate in full or upgrade editions the option to buy as many as two copies of Vista Home Premium at $50 each. The upgrade path marks a stark change in the company's approach to home licensing, where the company has previously insisted on individual licenses. Apple has offered five-system licenses of Mac OS X since the introduction of Jaguar in 2002, but has to date only provided physical media for its updates.
Joining the Visual Voicemail trend triggered by the iPhone, CallWave on Thursday announced a free Visual Voicemail service for checking cellphone voicemail. When at a computer, subscribers can receive voice mail messages through e-mail that separate the user's individual voice messages into individual sound samples, letting the phone owner check messages in any order, saving them or responding through calls and text messages that are relayed through the phone. The notifications are also sent to the directly to the cellphone itself through SMS text messages; while the phone must use a traditional voicemail system to check messages, it provides advance information about callers to save time, CallWave says.
The company's Visual Voicemail is independent of any individual phone and works with most major carriers as well as any Mac or Windows PC. Basic use of the service is free, according to the company. A premium service with call screening and transfers is also available $10 per month.
Search engine developer Google may be working with Samsung on a phone that takes advantage of the former's extensive online services, according to photos submitted anonymously to Engadget. Nicknamed the "Switch," the handset would be virtually dominated by a touchscreen and would have no built-in flash memory of its own to store software; instead, the phone would connect to the Internet to merge the user's GMail, GTalk, and SMS text messaging into a single interface. A GPS receiver will also be part of the design to locate its exact position in Google Maps, the source claims. Productivity through Google Spreadsheets or Writely may also be possible. No detailed technical info was provided with the alleged leak.
Click through for the complete photo. [via Engadget]
Device maker IOPS has previewed the Neo N7, its first step into the GPS field. The Korean firm hopes to appeal to frequent long-distance drivers through a system which is both quick and powerful: in an unusual move, the N7 is based on a dual-core processor that will prevent the system from bogging down in its advanced 3D mode with on-map buildings or while decoding videos. The 7-inch touchscreen is further used for advanced control of MP3 music, photos, and as an optional viewer for Office documents and rear-view parking cameras. An SD card reader is used to load maps and media. IOPS does not list a price but plans to ship the Neo N7 in February. [via NaviGadget]
Brando has just released the MyBlu, a Bluetooth adapter for the iPod that links Apple's music player to most Bluetooth cellphones. The device, shaped like an Apple Radio Remote, interfaces directly with any fourth-generation or later dockable iPod and displays call information directly on the iPod's own LCD, pausing music and giving the option of answering a call while using the iPod's headphones for incoming audio. The iPod can also be used to redial any of the nine most recent phone numbers. An FM radio with autoscan and 15 presets also taps into the iPod, using the click wheel to change frequencies. Brando exports the MyBlu for $88.
Note: the MyBlu is functionally similar to Gear4's previously introduced BluEye, which is only available in the UK.
A new webcam from Mustek promises smooth, high-resolution images in an attractive package. The SI302A has an aluminum barrel casing, and is small enough to clip to the top of an LCD monitor. It can also rest flat on a desk by twisting the clip into the appropriate position. The camera itself uses a 1.3-megapixel CMOS sensor, which connects through a USB 2.0 cable to provide 30fps video at 1280x1024, substantially better than the many VGA/QVGA products on the market. A built-in microphone allows both audio and video chatting. The 302A should ship in March of this year, but no cost has been set for it. [Via SlashGear]
An anonymous Taiwanese system builder has developed the US700W, a thin ultra-mobile PC that stands in contrast to the characteristically bulky designs introduced in 2006. The company promises a design only 0.8 inches thick while still maintaining a 7-inch touchscreen and at least a 1.3-megapixel camera for video chats. Choices will also exist for more performance-driven owners: while the basic 700 model starts only with an 800x480 screen and the essentials standard with every UMPC in the range, the uprated 701 adds a sharper 1024x600 display, a GPS receiver, and a 2-megapixel camera. A mid-range 702 will swap the receiver and improved camera for a dedicated keyboard.
All models will have a 1.06GHz Celeron M, 1GB of RAM, and connections through Bluetooth 2.0 as well as Wi-Fi; storage is flexible and varies between 20GB and 60GB. No information has surfaced indicating an official launch, though the US700W design should be available through third-party system builders in the near future.
Not to be confused with the m9750, Alienware's new m5790 Special Edition still sports a number of high-end options, most notably an overclocked 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo processor. The actual speed is unspecified. Graphics can be powered by a Mobility Radeon X1900, and HD content can be viewed using a Blu-Ray drive and a 17-inch 1080p LCD. A choice of two hard drives provides up to 400GB of storage, with a media card reader providing access to SD/MMC cards and Memory Sticks. The m5790 SE is shipping today for prices starting at $1,299.
Fujitsu's storage division said today that it had developed a new recording technology for hard drives that could potentially balloon maximum storage to unprecedented levesl. The company has refined patterened media recording, a nanotechnology-based approach introduced in 2005, to create hard drives with recording pits that are only 25 nanometers apart. The result when combined with an improved perpendiular magnetic recording technique is a full terabit of data -- or 125GB -- per square inch. Such extra storage could be vital for frequently cramped notebooks and handhelds, Fujitsu says.
While the company has not said when buyers can expect drives at the new density to reach the market, it notes that patterned media recording is already in use today, pointing to a sharp spike in hard drive space within the next one to two years. The rival firm Hitachi has already introduced the first 1TB hard drive.
In the Comes v. Microsoft anti-trust trial taking place in Iowa, Microsoft may not be disclosing APIs (application programming interfaces) required by the 2002 United States v. Microsoft settlement, writes Groklaw. The plaintiffs recently filed a motion for permission to show this to the court, and the judge has agreed, though it is now up to the Department of Justice to make a request if the information is to become public.
The 2002 case revolved around APIs, since it was argued that one of the ways Internet Explorer had an unfair advantage over other web browsers was the favoring of IE by Windows. It was also suggested however that simply by bundling IE with Windows, this discouraged the use of other products. The company has since been allowed to keep bundling its browser, which is now shipping with Windows Vista. Microsoft may face serious repercussions if the DOJ finds that it violated the terms of the past settlement.
JVC this morning released a series of new music players under its Victor label in Japan. The updated Alneo C series of flash players adds features still relatively unseen in music players: every model is now capable of gapless playback for AAC, MP3, and WMA songs, ensuring that continuous mixes remain intact. Also added is the ability to stream music directly through a USB connection, providing a clearer digital signal for JVC's line of USB-equipped stereos.
The company says its new Alneos retain all their existing abilities, including line-in recording, an FM tuner, and 20 hours of playback achieved in part through an energy-efficient 1.3-inch OLED. Capacity has been doubled, however, with the leading C210 carrying 2GB of music alongside the 1GB and 512MB storage levels of the C110 and C51 respectively. All three will make an appearance in black, gray, and silver metal shells during early February for prices ranging between $166 for the base C51 and $248 for the 2GB C210. [via Akihabara]
US cell provider Alltel today broke from traditional approaches to cellphone interfaces by revealing Celltop, a quick data access tool that brings the widgets of the Mac OS X Dashboard or Windows Vista's Gadget Sidebar to handhelds. Rather than ask the phone owner to delve into individual menus for new information, Alltel added a top-level program which shows the user two side-by-side widgets, dubbed cells, that provide a quick glance at useful information ranging from call history to weather. As with the Apple and Microsoft technologies, cells can be added, removed, or reordered; knowledgeable developers and hobbyists can even program their own, Alltel says.
The interface is available immediately at no extra charge for new subscribers who buy the carrier's Samsung U520, and is also available now as a free download for existing owners. Alltel plans to spread Celltop to other phone models over time. [via Crave]
BenQ on Thursday reworked its Joybook line in anticipation of Windows Vista's launch at the end of the month. Beginning the updates is the pictured S31V, the company's smallest and most media-friendly system. The 13.3-inch widescreen centers around video and is one of the few notebooks to have the option of an internal DVB-T tuner, letting it tune Europe's digital over-the-air broadcasts without the trouble of an external card. A 1.3-megapixel webcam is built into the lid, and a special QShot button will take still photos of video chats or the PC's desktop -- including TV broadcasts, BenQ adds. The S31V ships in either black or white with a minimum 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo, 512MB of RAM, and a 60GB hard drive.
Further updates include the S73V, a performance model that fits a 256MB Mobility Radeon X1600 with true DVI output into a 14-inch widescreen design, and the R55V, which the company claims has the world's fastest notebook LCD with 16ms response time. The latter is built around a 15.4-inch widescreen and is driven by GeForce Go 7400 graphics. No release dates or prices were given for the new Joybooks, though they should be available near the Vista launch.
Without fanfare, ViewSonic today released a new entry LCD named the VA1703wb. The 17-inch model follows the more heavily publicized large-screen introductions at CES and is intended to bring widescreen visuals to every user. Average pixel response time is rated at 8ms, which the company says is quick enough for games. Brightness, in turn, is measured at 250cd/m2 and is complemented by a 500:! contrast ratio. An integrated power supply eliminates the need for a separate AC adapter. Although only a single VGA connector is included, the design reduces the display's sale price to $205. ViewSonic expects to ship the VA1703wb soon but has not specified a release date.
Canon today launched three new additions to its PowerShot line aimed expressly at the entry level. The A450 and A460 (pictured) are 5-megapixel models designed for true beginners, with a wide grip and intuitive buttons. Each is similarly capable of five-point autofocusing and recording 640x480 video at 10 FPS. Available only in grey, the A450 is the starting point and is equipped with a 3.2X optical zoom lens; the A460 adds blue, red, and silver options as well as a 4X lens for better image framing.
The third model launched today, the A550, helps novices who are more interested in mid-range features. Sensor density increases to 7.1 megapixels while features are made even easier, the company says. Commonly used auto scene modes, including Night Snapshot, are placed directly on the mode dial instead of remaining in the menu. The more compact A550 also raises the number of autofocus points to nine while boosting the maximum frame rate on 640x480 videos to 30 FPS. A dedicated playback button also finds its way to the back for quickly replaying footage.
All three cameras use Canon's newer DIGIC II processor for better image quality, display images on a 2-inch LCD, and support higher-capacity SDHC cards. The AA battery-powered cameras have yet to receive pricing; the A460 and A550 will be available next month, while availability for the A450 has not been determined. A gallery of the cameras is available after the jump.
LG on Thursday morning introduced its eagerly anticipated Prada phone. Also known as the KE850, the handset was designed in tandem with the Italian fashion designer and is said not only to bring the design to the exterior but also the Flash-based interface, which is consciously drawn in high contrast black and white and selectively fades out icons when not in use. The Prada model is the first to ship with a completely touchscreen-based control system, LG says: aside from basic call buttons, every menu is controlled through the touchscreen.
While the LG device bears striking similarities to Apple's iPhone, the Korean cellphone maker takes a different approach by downplaying built-in storage and size: media is stored primarly on microSD cards, while the 3-inch, 400x240 screen reduces the overall size compared to the Apple model. Nevertheless, media support is broad with the option of playing videos in MPEG-4, H.263, and H.264 formats as well as music in AAC, MP3, WMA, and even RealAudio standards. A 2-megapixel camera is built in for capturing both photos and video clips.
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