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Taiwanese electronics maker LiteOn has developed the BSK-100, a Bluetooth speakerphone that also serves a headset, in both mono and stereo modes. The key is its six-level volume control, tuned to each of the speakerphone's particular functions. The 100 can also answer a call automatically if the phone it's paired with is set to do the same, which means that when clipped onto clothes, it can effectively become a hands-free walkie-talkie. The unit can of course be set to respond only to pushing the Talk button, as with most Bluetooth headsets. LiteOn has not published any pricing or release information. [Via SlashPhone]
Online retailer I Want One of Those today listed the Scotty Pro, a portable solar charger that its creator says can not only revitalize USB devices low on power but dramatically extend their use. When fully charged, the Pro can drive some PDAs as long as 15 hours by itself; even a thirsty device such as a cellphone will last for an additional hour of continuous talk time, the online store claims. Charging the device itself takes 7 hours from either the sun or the power outlet of a car or home, but can be given a quick burst from a pair of AA batteries. The Scotty Pro has been tested with iPods, cameras, most USB-equipped cellphones, and other key devices and ships in the UK for $99. [via Ubergizmo]
What Windows users may have gained in security over the past year may have been lost in stability, a study by the computer help firm RESCUECOM says. While requests for help with virus and spyware infections dropped substantially from 16.4 to 13.7 percent, problems with Windows itself largely filled the gap and became the dominant reasons for getting in touch with the company, jumping from an already high 19.5 percent to 22.3. No exact reason was given for the spike, though the company noted that hardware-related problems had also surged from 15.2 to 18.1 percent as more people shift towards fragile laptops.
The help desk also observed that the likelihood of security problems remained high for Windows desktop users: this is usually because the systems are more likely to be connected to the Internet, RESCUECOM writes. The trend suggests that while security problems have dropped overall as more systems patch to the latest Microsoft security updates, the Windows operating system itself remains a primary source for problems with most computers.
Video card maker EVGA said today that it will soon release a special, watercooled edition of the GeForce 8800 GTX for the most dedicated of gamers. Nicknamed the Black Pearl, the board replaces the potentially noisy active cooling fan of most cards with a quiet and more efficient watercooling system. The modified design is factory overclocked to the same dramatic 626MHz core and 2GHz memory speeds of the ACS3 Edition card but has the headroom for even higher speeds than its aircooled predecessor, EVGA claims.
Although it uses a double-width mounting plate, the Black Pearl's design reduces the size of the board itself to a single slot and potentially improves airflow. EVGA anticipates shipping the premium card soon for a European price of €800 ($1,037). American pricing has not been announced but should be significantly less. [via The Inquirer]
The CPU at the heart of Apple's iPhone is only tangentially an Intel processor, according to an Intel executive speaking with the Italian business publication Il Sole 24 Ore. Clarifying earlier reports that Intel was directly involved with the iPhone's hardware, Intel Italy executive manager Dario Bucci said that the iPhone is driven by an Xscale processor, which found its inception at Intel but whose design was sold to the Marvell Technology Group in June of last year. Only the basic architecture relates to Intel, Bucci said.
Intel is nevertheless directly involved in the iPhone's developent, according to the interview. Seemingly ending earlier speculation, the Intel executive claims that his company provides the NAND flash memory used for storage in the Apple cellphone. Apple is in fact one of Intel's main customers for flash, he went on to say. The revelation could have serious ramifications for Samsung and other chipset manufacturers, as Samsung and other chipset makers hoped to benefit from the iPhone by supplying essential components.
The second prototype form of the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard has been completed by the IEEE, according to a report by a member of the standards group. The organization decided unanimously to send the spec to the companies involved in developing the 200Mbps-plus wireless format. If approved, the second iteration -- named Draft 2.0 -- will become the official working model, leading ultimately to the final version due in early 2008.
Controversy has surrounded 802.11n since its inception, as competing chipset makers threatened to make routers and network adapters that were incompatible with each other and disagreed over differences in features; many existing 802.11n devices, the most recent of which include Apple's Airport Extreme and Apple TV, currently use the early Draft 1.0 interpretation. However, most if not all existing hardware running the initial 802.11n draft should be eligible for a seamless upgrade, according to their manufacturers. [via Ars Technica]
Native Instruments opened its appearance at the NAMM expo by unveiling the Audio 8 DJ interface for serious live artists. Made to connect to virtually every device a DJ might need during a performance, the device has four pairs of RCA inputs and outputs as well as MIDI input and output connectors; microphone input and quarter-inch headphone jacks are also present for announcements and sound monitoring. Dual sets of phono pre-amps and 96KHz Cirrus Logic analog-to-digital converters preserve audio quality, Native boasts.
The Audio 8 DJ is designed to work with Native's Traktor 3 live software and connects through USB to computers using Mac OS X 10.4 or Windows XP PCs, but will work with most DJ suites, the company says. It requires a 1.4GHz G4 or Athlon and should be ready to ship by April for $450. [via Tech Digest]
Continuing the slew of pre-announcements for systems using Microsoft's latest operating system, Mouse today released a set of new pre-built gaming systems, each shipping in a dark black and sporting aming-friendly options such as thin-profile speakers or Shuttle's carryable 17-inch LCD. The NEXTGEAR line (pictured) represents the system builder's mainstream system with a Coolermaster designer case, running Vista Home Premium. An entry-level model begins with a 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo, 1GB of RAM, 250GB hard drive, and GeForce 7600 GS video; a higher-end counterpart with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, double the memory, and a GeForce 7900 GS is also ready for more demanding gamers, Mouse says.
At the summit is the company's MASTERPIECE, which upgrades to a case with more aggressive case cooling and Microsoft's flagship Windows Vista Ultimate. It adds to the NEXTGEAR's performance with a GeForce 7950 GT and a larger 320GB hard drive. All three systems are planned for a simultaneous launch with Vista on January 30th. The NEXTGEAR versions will sell for $947 and $1,484 in Japan; the MASTERPIECE will be available for $1,813. Click through for photos of both PCs. [via Impress]
The latest major manufacturer to attempt wireless speakers is JBL, who have announced the On Air Control 2.4G. The units have 30W of power each, and connect to their primary source through a 2.4GHz receiver module up to 70 feet away. A mini-jack port allows secondary sources such as an iPod, and another input allows the addition of a dedicated subwoofer. It's suggested that the wireless aspect makes the speakers ideal as a replacement for a second audio system -- alternately, the speakers could be integrated into an existing setup as surround channels. JBL plans to debut the 2.4Gs in February for $350. [Via Crave]
Lifepod on Friday opened sales of the Rock Steady. Said to recall classic gym bags, the bag holds a special compartment for an iPod or any other digital audio player that connects to the bag's built-in, three-satellite speakers while leaving ample room in the bag itself. A set of external controls on the outside give basic adjustment of the sound without having to reach for the player inside. The stereo delivers three watts of sustained power and will run for "hours" on four AA batteries, according to the company. The Rock Steady is available in several different two-tone colors ranging from black and white to an overt gold and platinum scheme and sells today for $130. [via Brandish]
Taiwanese company Genius has launched three new speaker sets, most notably the Look 313 (pictured). An all-in-one USB speaker with merged satellites, its most noteworthy feature is audio and video recording, handled by a camera with a 330K resolution. The camera can also be used for still photos and surveillance, and the USB 2.0 setup allows the 313 to be used as a hub. The suggested price is $70, but Amazon is currently offering it for less than $47.
The remaining two sets are more conventional. The SW-Flat2.1 850s are a 20W desktop unit with a subwoofer, the separate satellites having a tall, thin bookend design. The SP-i202Us forego the subwoofer, but are portable enough that they come with a travel bag, and can run on batteries or USB power. The Flat2.1 850s should ship for $50 while the i202Us are $60.
Taiwan's ASUS today added two GPS units to its navigation range. The S102 (pictured) reinterprets the company's original dedicated mapping system and is made to be used both in-hand as well as in cars: the 3.5-inch touchscreen device is small enough to be carried outside of a car and will run for up to four hours on a lithium-ion battery. It also doubles as a basic media jukebox capable of playing MP3 songs and JPEG photos, either of which is stored along with maps on removable SD cards.
More advanced users now also have the option of the company's new A6x6 PDA. Resisting the trend towards smartphones, ASUS' handheld focuses exclusively on data: while equally ready for GPS, it uses a taller 3.5-inch touchscreen than the S102 and is equipped with both Bluetooth 2.0 and Wi-Fi for links to peripherals as well as Internet access. A custom program dubbed Remote Presenter also lets the PDA steer presentations and slideshows through a Bluetooth PC. Music playback is suitably expanded to Windows Media files and is bolstered by support for virtually any Windows Mobile 5 software. Two variations on the device are being revealed today, ASUS says: the A686 is built around a 312MHz Intel Xscale chip and a 128MB flash ROM, while the higher-end A696 boosts its speed to 416MHz and doubles the internal storage.
Pricing for neither the S102 nor the A6x6 has yet to be released. Photos can be found after the jump.
Hitachi has revealed one of the first phones to use its recently developed high-resolution LCD. The W51H is being released in Japan, and does in fact have a 2.9-inch screen capable of 800x480 -- by contrast, the iPhone has a 3.5-inch screen, but only renders at 320x480. Notably however, the W51H does not have a touchscreen. What it will have is a fingerprint scanner, and a two-megapixel camera with LED flash. The onboard memory is a just 30MB, but it can play music and video thanks to Lismo and a microSD slot. The phone should be launched in red, silver and white on January 26th.
Terratec has announced the Cinergy T Express, a new ExpressCard digital TV tuner made specifically with the MacBook Pro in mind. The adapter plugs directly into Apple's aluminum portable and receives digital over-the-air broadcasts in Europe's DVB-T standard for both audio and video shows. Teletext is supported for channels that supplement their media with information. Each adapter comes bundled with El Gato's EyeTV for timeshifting and designed to work explicitly with iTunes, creating iPod-ready versions of recorded programming; owners with CD and DVD writers can also burn copies of recorded content, the company notes. A wireless remote is also part of the package for changing stations at a distance. The adapter requires a Mac using OS X 10.4 or later and a G4 500MHz or faster. Terratec anticipates shipping its more portable Cinergy T card throughout Europe by the end of this month for €129 ($167).
Though Venzero posted a teaser image on its website in the fall, the company has only now revealed a bit more about the Tube, its upcoming media player. The main attraction is intended to be a DVB-T TV tuner, but the feature will be mostly irrelevant to American owners, since these broadcasts are rarely used outside of Europe and east Asia. The player will however be able to play AAC, MP3 and WMA audio files, as well MPEG-4 video, and BMP, GIF and JPEG images. There is no onboard flash storage, but it does come with a 1GB SD card and can support greater capacities. The lithium-polymer battery provides up to 12 hours of music or six to 10 hours of video. The cost and final release date have yet to be announced.
Key major music labels have explicit control over the songs they allow to be shared through the Zune's signature Wi-Fi sharing, Cliczune has discovered. Investigating the results of a test by fellow enthusiasts Zunerama, the site revealed that many songs by major Universal and Sony-BMG artists, including Jay-Z and Beyonce, will not transfer between Zunes despite the three-day/three-play DRM protection added to every shared track. The limitation is not absolute and allows some artists' content to copy, Cliczune notes, suggesting that the restrictions are controlled individually based on popularity or artist demands.
Such restrictions have fostered particularly harsh criticism from Zune owners, as the limits compound already arbitrary licensing agreements Microsoft has made to guarantee access to key labels' catalogs. Both Microsoft and Universal were previously shown to have signed a royalty deal which saw the latter receive an automatic $1 royalty per Zune regardless of the origin of a user's music. The label CEO previously hinted that he believed all digital music players to be homes for stolen music.
Online retailer Comfort House is this morning selling the aptly-named Wireless Speaker Mousepad, an input surface with a combination FM transmitter and speaker set, allowing a computer user to plug in iPods or any other device with a headphone plug for listening without having the source near the computer itself. The wireless signal broadcasts up to 50 feet away, the company says. FM radio is also an option when the external FM adapter is shut down. A solar-powered calculator is built in opposite the volume controls. Comfort House says its speakers are powered solely by three AAA batteries and ships the distinctive mousepad today for $30. [via OhGizmo]
Famed digital music hardware creator Roland today marked its presence at the NAMM music expo by revealing three new production tools. Highlighted in the announcements is the pictured MV-8000, an all-in-one production unit. The device handles virtually every stage of song creation, Roland says. Beat and other loop creation is possible by drawing in samples, either through the three MIDI ports or digital tracks copied directly to an internal hard drive; the MV-8000 can also apply effects in real-time for DJs, handle multi-track recording, and author final creations to CD. A mouse and VGA display can be attached for expanded control.
More devices and photos follow after the jump.
HandHeld has just launched a major overhaul of its jukeboxes with the ZVUE 260. Adopting a slimmer profile than the outgoing 250 and adopting a more iPod-like shape, the 260 is nearly an ounce lighter than its Apple counterpart at 3.98 ounces. The player also gains greatly improved video playback, quadrupling the maximum resolution of its MPEG-4 and WMV clips to 320x240 at full speed. An external speaker has also been added to the ZVUE and makes it one of the rare players that can play content without requiring headphones. Audio playback now includes the latest protected Windows Media clips as well as MP3, OGG, and WAV tracks.
As with its earlier devices, HandHeld's new player depends solely on SD cards for storage; this keeps the initial price down while creating room for more storage over time, the company says. The ZVUE 260 is expected to ship by mid 2007, though the company has not specified whether or not this will include any memory cards.
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