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Samsung today released the VLUU i70, one of the first cameras to support a broadband Internet connection regardless of its location. An HSDPA transmitter is built into the chassis for uploading photos directly to a remote computer or website, skipping the process of connecting to a local PC or relying only on a lower-quality cellphone camera. The required hardware does not tread on the i70's usefulness as a full camera, Samsung claims. A 3X optical zoom lens is paired with a 7.2 megapixel sensor that can reach ISO 1600 sensitivity and resists blurring with anti-shake correction.
Media playback is just as important to the Korean-made camera. MP3 songs are playable directly from removable storage; the i70 will play not only its own self-recorded MPEG-4 videos on its 3-inch LCD but also those transferred from a PC. It can also receive SMS text messages, the company says. A launch is planned soon for an unknown price. A gallery follows after the jump.
A trend that emerged at the recent NAMM music tradeshow was the concept of the "podcasting kit," exemplified by the Alesis USB-Mic. At the heart of the kit is of course a USB microphone, which promises 16-bit, 44.1-48KHz quality on both Macs and PCs. This is supplemented by a pair of headphones for monitoring purposes, and a copy of Audacity, the free multiplatform sound-editing tool. Alesis is also offering a 30-day subscription to its hosting site, the Podcasting Center. Users can have RSS files embedded automatically, and episode notification can be sent to iTunes, Podcast Alley, search engines and more. Alesis has not divulged any information on pricing or ship dates.
Sony-Ericsson's upcoming "Ai" phone has been approved by the FCC, according to a recent filing. Officially announced as the W880, the Walkman-branded phone was previously thought to have been limited primarily to Europe given the inclusion of HSDPA mobile broadband and a front-mounted camera for video messages. Passing the US agency's regulatory tests now paves the way for a release in the US likely to be dubbed the W880a due to its use in the Americas.
No specifics were provided about the phone's exact launch schedule for North America beyond the originally announced mid-2007. However, the approval likely cements a concurrent launch alongside other countries and points to Cingular as a probable carrier, as it has already deployed an HSDPA network in the US.
Franklin on Monday revealed its new Speaking Global Translator to the public. The slider-style handheld is aimed at tourists and other travelers who need quick turnarounds for asking questions, and contains both a 450,000-word text dictionary as well as 115,000 words pre-recorded in all of the translator's twelve languages. Support is provided for most major European languages as well as Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, and Russian; southeast Asian writing is displayed in phonetic English as well as its native characters to aid both travellers and the local population.
More than just direct translation is possible, Franklin says: MP3 songs can be loaded through SD cards and played while translating phrases, while a mix of games and international tools such as a currency converter are already installed. Franklin's latest translator is due to reach stores by the end of the month for $230. [via Crave]
JVC today previewed its upcoming NCX77 earbuds for portable media players. The company's earpiece set eliminates the outside noise that frequently interferes with sound through a combination of active and passive noise reduction. In addition to using in-canal earpieces, which physically block outside sound, the NCX77's remote detects and actively removes as much as 20 percent of ambient sound before it ever reaches the wearer, according to JVC. The remote incorporates its own, separate remote control for adjusting volume beyond the attached source and can be selectively disabled to save power or provide an extra level of awareness of traffic and other potential threats during a walk. A single AAA battery should last for roughly 70 hours. The earphone and remote combination should be available in early February for open pricing in Japan. A North American release is possible but has not been mentioned.
Toymaker Hasbro recently unveiled its new ToothTunes toothbrush. Created to persuade otherwise reluctant children to clean their teeth, the brush automatically triggers music that plays for the two minutes of brushing recommended by dentists. The system works without speakers or headphones by using bone conduction as the child presses the bristles against their teeth, Hasbro says. A single song is pre-supplied for each ToothTunes brush and includes trackss by the Black Eyed Peas, Jamiroquai, and other artists. Power is supplied by three bundled AAA batteries. Hasbro plans to release 14 brushes with their own respective songs in February at a price of $10 each. [via Gearlog]
Major music labels are considering removing the copy protection that currently applies to most online music stores' content, according to a report by the International Herald Tribune. Though officially dedicated to DRM, spokespeople for music organization leaders at the Midem expo in France said that they were investigating the possibility of releasing large quantities of their catalogs in unprotected MP3 format, pointing to slower growth of online music stores in relation to the drop in physical album sales. the increased interoperability may actually be a benefit rather than a piracy risk, they said.
"We could release our products without digital-rights management restrictions on [download stores] in the way that consumers want and still make a lot of money," Consumer Electronics Association head Gary Shapiro told reporters.
Read through for more details.
Ruckus today opened its free music service for college students. Hoping to offer a legal alternative to file sharing, the company says it will offer over 2 million songs from major and minor labels alike by supporting its downloads with ads on its pages instead of charging per track. The number of downloads and computers allowed is effectively unlimited, according to the firm. The system prevents copying by applying DRM, requiring that a subscriber's computer or portable media player have permission to play the Windows Media-encoded songs available through the site.
In addition to its music library, Ruckus today also launched a Video on Demand movie download service, which the company says lets students rent and watch major studio movies. The video store is available today for a currently unspecified subscription fee. [via CrunchGear]
Apple has narrowed down the iPhone's release in Europe to October, according to an internal e-mail leaked to T3. A member of the Cupertino company's online sales team in Cork, Ireland has reportedly confirmed that the cellular device is planned for an October launch on the continent. If validated, the leak will represent more definitive launch plans than those Apple promised in this month's MacWorld San Francisco keynote speech, where CEO Steve Jobs committed only to a fourth-quarter European release date. Official carriers and pricing were not revealed in the e-mail but are likely to involve continent-wide providers running GSM networks, such as Orange or Vodafone.
Samsung's cellphone division was today revealed to be working on a potentially record-setting handset. Titled the Ultra Edition 10.9, the phone should stand as the thinnest slider design available, measuring only 0.43 inches thick despite its two-layer body. Similar to the Ultra Edition 5.9 announced today, the 10.9 will still have features normally found only in much bulkier models. A 3.2-megapixel camera, 80MB of internal storage (with microSD expansion), and Bluetooth will be part of the core design; music and video playback are also staples of Samsung's new communicator.
An official release date has not been provided, but the phone should make its first public appearance at the 3GSM conference in Barcelona next month with a launch to follow soon after. Availability beyond Europe has not been determined. Click through for larger photography. [via Unwired View]
Bang & Olufsen's new BeoVox 1 (seen here naked) is a passive loudspeaker suitable for use in wet areas, such as bathrooms, rooftops and patios. Because it's just 3.3 inches thick, it mounts flush within walls and ceilings, and is also protected by an oval grill that comes in white or black to match the surrounding decor. The grill is further said to be so carefully manufactured that none of the hundreds of holes will be congested with paint. Each speaker has a one-inch treble unit, and a 6.5-inch bass/mid-range unit, which together combine to span frequencies between 50Hz and 20KHz. Treble can be switched to one of three different performance settings. No prices or release dates have been announced for the product.
Speaking at the Midem music expo in Cannes, Microsoft's Chris Stephenson this weekend revealed that the company will introduce its first flash-based Zune music player, directly challenging Apple's top-selling iPod nano. While no details of the player are available, the player should ship in time for the holidays this year, Stephenson said. The as-yet unnamed jukebox is likely to be closely related to the currently Japan-only Gigabeat P but should add increase storage, the double-shot designer casing, and the Zune's signature Wi-Fi sharing feature.
That wireless functionality should also be expanded, Stephenson said. Without committing to any definite strategy, the Microsoft executive expressed a desire to add Wi-Fi browsing and downloading through the Zune Marketplace, allowing owners to add new music to the Zune without first linking to a PC. The player will ideally have "filling stations" at existing Wi-Fi hotspots such as Starbucks, Stephenson adds. Microsoft can't commit to a launch window for the feature, he said, but hopes to bring it to market as soon as possible.
Though the stock Playstation 3s may have more than enough hard drive space for the average gamer, a Japanese company is selling an expansion that multiplies capacity by at least 11 times. An external drive by Century can hold two 750GB units in a RAID configuration, even though a PS3 will only register 698GB. This is still more than 11 times the storage of the top-end 60GB PS3 however, and almost 35 times the storage of the 20GB console. This may prove very useful to some PS3 owners, since the system is capable of storing music, photos and videos downloaded from the Playstation Store, or copied to the console via means like a CompactFlash card. A special SATA cable ($17) is needed to connect the Century product to a PS3; no price for the drive itself has been listed online. [Via Newlaunches]
BenQ today improved its DC camera line with a pair of new starter models. The 6.1-megapixel E610 (pictured) is intended for beginners serious about photography and uses a higher-quality Pentax lens with 3X optical zoom for better image quality than most cameras in its range; it also has uncommon support for 640x480 video at a full 30 frames per second and has anti-shake correction. A lithium-ion battery and a 2.4-inch LCD are equally rare additions for the price, BenQ says.
Announced simultaneously is the C610, a camera for casual users: using a slightly smaller 6.0-megapixel sensor, the new basic model also trims its price through a 2-inch LCD, AA batteries, and a fixed-focus lens. Video can be recorded at a film-standard 24 frames per second at 320x240, according to the company. Both cameras are shipping today in Europe with prices varying from country to country.
While it has yet to start commercial operations (due to national ownership rules), Virgin America has announced plans to make seats on its airline equipped for digital gadgets and entertainment. Unlike United Airlines, who are only offering such luxuries to first-class passengers, every seat on a Virgin America jet will have WiFi, USB and Ethernet ports, as well as a 110V power outlet for laptops and similar devices. Passengers will even have access to touchscreens, which can be used to shop, order food, view movies and satellite TV, listen to MP3s and radio, or play simple games. There should also be in-plane messaging capabilities, including chat, SMS and e-mail. [Via Pocket-lint]
Samsung's mobile division today added the Ultra Edition 5.9 to its cellphone line. The bar-shaped handset is the world's new thinnest phone, according to its creator: named after its thickness, the latest Ultra is only 5.9mm (0.23 inches) from front to back, making it thinner still than the 0.26-inch and music-only iPod nano. The size does not come at the cost of features, Samsung says. A 3.2-megapixel camera is built in, as is 80MB of internal storage; Bluetooth and playback for music and video round out the phone's features. The Ultra 5.9 is based on a tri-band GSM radio and is set to debut in Europe as of March.
Samsung's thinnest phone for North America is currently the T-Mobile Trace, whose depth reaches a third of an inch. Photos of the Ultra 5.9 can be found after the jump. [via Cellularmania]
ASUS on Monday unveiled both a new notebook and graphics technology with the A8Jr. An update to the company's 14-inch widescreen portable, the Taiwan-based company centers around new, previously unannounced 128MB Mobility Radeon X2300 graphics. Though details remain vague, the new ATI video chipset is a likely replacement for the low-end X1300 that ASUS says offers much more performance per watt, suiting it to Windows Vista's Aero Glass interface as well as decoding HD video or playing games.
As with much of the company's line, the A8Jr is available in many different configurations. A base model begins with a 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo, 80GB hard drive, DVD/CD-RW combo drive, and support for Bluetooth 2.0 as well as 802.11a/b/g wireless; a fully-loaded system is powered by a 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, 160GB of storage, and a DVD rewriter. ASUS is shipping the A8Jr soon using Windows XP with prices varying by region, but expects to preload the system with Windows Vista soon.
The research division of Sharp today revealed that it has developed a sensor that could help compact point-and-shoot cameras, according to NikkeiBP. While a small 1/2.5-inch chip, the sensor captures 8.28 megapixels -- a much higher figure than the 7-megapixel limit imposed on the thinnest cameras in use today. The breakthrough came about through smaller 1.75 μm square pixel cells, Sharp says, and has actually reduced the relative size by 60 percent compared to earlier sensors in the class. The technology should allow for even smaller cameras while still increasing the sharpness of still photos.
Sampling of the new sensor starts this month, with full production expected by April; cameras using the technology should follow soon afterwards and are likely to be commonplace by the end of the year.
LG this morning launched the SH110, a new slider built for those who may be intimidated by the relatively complex and utilitarian designs of most advanced 3.5G phones. Capable of the 1.8Mbps download speed of HSDPA mobile broadband, the phone has simple, easily understandable buttons; it also abandons the hard-edged designs prevalent in cellphones for a rounded, rubber-like textured border which should be much more comfortable to hold than bare metal or plastic.
Despite this simplicity, LG says, the phone supports the latest media features: a forward-facing VGA camera allows for video chats, while Bluetooth not only supports PC sync and headsets but also sharing music through multiple wireless headphones. MP3 and video playback are also standard and can be used even while using other functions of the phone, the company adds. The phone is available now through the Korean provider SKTelecom; though the handset supports global roaming through CDMA, a North American launch hasn't been announced.
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