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New from Compro is the VideoMate U2700, a hybrid USB TV tuner that can capture free-to-air DVB-T channels as well as conventional analog signals. The U2700 is unique in that it can stream up to four DVB-T channels at once, and play a recorded file at the same time -- all in resolutions up to 1080i. Only one stream can be recorded in any one instance though, and a 3GHz CPU is required to manage this amount of content. Digital radio is also supported. Other features include Transport Streaming, which will automatically sort programs in the background, and an S3/S4 power mode to wake a PC for a scheduled recording. No cost has been published.
Windows Vista will be slow to overtake its existing counterpart, the research firm Gartner said as part of a new forecast. Although Microsoft has been conducting a massive campaign to promote its first new home OS release in over five years, only a small portion of the computer market will actually adopt Vista as an operating system in 2007, with 12.3 percent of the year's worldwide marketshare, leaving 77.1 percent of the market to Windows XP. Almost all of these buyers will come about through systems preloaded with the OS, Gartner says, suggesting that few buyers will consciously choose to buy Vista separately from a new computer. Vista is not predicted to surpass its predecessor until 2009, when slightly over half of the market is likely to have switched at 55.4 percent share.
None of Microsoft's competitors are likely to claim any of the existing XP share, according to Gartner. In spite of XP's increasing age, Mac share is predicted to stay largely flat at 2.9 percent. Linux too would remain small at 4.1 percent. However, the analyst firm added that the seemingly idle Mac share would come through neutralizing at least some of Apple's advantages, rather than any perceived inferiority.
"[Vista's] consumer features are just catching up to Apple OS X and iLife," Gartner said.
Repetitive stress injuries are worry for many computer users, and a possible solution is the Evoluent Vertical Mouse 2. The shape of the unit is closer to that of a mound, and the three buttons (plus scrollwheel) are situated on the side, rather than on top. This is said to relax the hand and eliminate unnecessary arm twisting, which contributes to RSI problems. The mouse is compatible with both Macs and PCs and has a resolution of 1,200dpi. FunShop is discounting the product for 59,000 won ($63). [Via SCI FI Tech]
Chinese cellphone maker Doubao is currently selling the 728, a distinctive cellphone with slots for two SIM cards. The functionality gives it the option of sending and receiving calls from two different phone accounts without swapping phones, including from competing providers. The device is similarly intelligent enough to manage calls based on whichever card is in use: if one of the SIM cards is engaged in a conversation, the remaining card will direct its inbound calls to voice mail.
Its Chinese origin is reflected in its features. The 2.2-inch LCD is touch-sensitive and responds to a stylus for hand-writing Cantonese or Mandarin characters for text messages; it also replaces the number pad for dialing. A VGA camera and a microSD card slot handle media-related tasks. Doubao sells the dual-band GSM phone in continental China as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan for $170. [via MobileWhack]
Dell today began selling the Dimension n Series, its first mainstream desktops to ship without a copy of Windows. Each variant -- including the Intel-based E520N as well as the AMD-based C521N and E521N -- ships only with a copy of the open-source FreeDOS. This gives owners just enough software to more easily install Linux or other operating systems and also reduces the ultimate price, Dell says.
Accordingly, the systems are priced towards the budget level. Both AMD models begin with an Athlon 64 X2 3800+ processor, 512MB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and either a Radeon X1300 (C521N) or GeForce 7300LE (E521N) video card at a price of $624. The E520N opts instead for a 2.8GHz dual-core Pentium 4 and doubles the stock memory to 1GB, using a GeForce 7300LE for video. Dell estimates that all three n series Dimension models will ship next week.
Fujitsu ended speculation today by formally announcing its new LifeBook P7230. The 10.6-inch widescreen was custom-designed by the company's product head for a clean look and closely resembles the MacBook, shipping in either solid black or white colors. Befitting its size, however, the Japan-made ultraportable is designed for longevity and travel. A 1.2GHz ultra-low voltage Core Solo gives it an average 6 hours of battery life when using a standard battery; using a lower-capacity but lighter battery, the new LifeBook weighs as little as 2.6 pounds despite carrying a DVD rewriter and 80GB hard drive. Bluetooth and a webcam are equally built in.
The P7230 is already in Taiwan stores at a price of $2,030 with 1GB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, and Windows Vista Business. A release in North America and other regions, including its home of Japan, are likely in the near future. [via DigiTimes]
Alltel on Wednesday began carrying its own version of the PalmOS-based Treo 700p smartphone. While functionally very similar to Palm's reference design with a 1.3-megapixel camera and Bluetooth, the carrier-branded Treo has the latest software installed and can immediately connect to AOL, Gmail, or Yahoo e-mail accounts. Every technical feature of the 700p is enabled, the provider notes. Unlike some networks, Alltel allows the phone to pair with a nearby computer and use its EVDO access to provide an Internet connection to the PC when Wi-Fi or a physical connection is unrealistic.
The Treo 700p ships immediately from Alltel for $350 when bought as part of a two-year contract, but is also available by itself for $670. The company began carrying its Windows Mobile-equipped 700wx equivalent last month.
Peer-to-peer software developer BitTorrent has revealed that it will open an online movie store dubbed simply the Online Marketplace. Working in collaboration with NetGear, the company said it would let owners buy from a catalog of over 10,000 movies, including those from three major studios as well as 25 international studios. BitTorrent's technology will download movies without requiring monolithic and frequently expensive servers, distributing the load of traffic amongst subscribers while potentially lowering the ultimate prices for each title.
NetGear's involvement will come through its recently introduced Digital Entertainer HD, BitTorrent said: the new wireless streaming hub will be ready to automatically share downloaded movies to the TV, eliminating the guesswork of converting or finding movies on an attached computer. BitTorrent has not discussed the quality or format of the videos and has not given an exact schedule for its store launch, but does say that it intends to streamline buying and viewing movies for other hubs soon. [via Crave]
Sony today updated the PlayStation 3's system software to 1.5, bringing with it a slew of key changes. Foremost of these is an addition for that adds Edy wireless payments; intended primarily for Japanese users, the Edy system (pictured) revolves around a USB adapter that scans prepaid cards, allowing its owner to buy games and media from the online PlayStation Store without entering sensitive credit card information.
More universally relevant is better video support for older PlayStation 1 and 2 games, according to Sony: where earlier games that ran in interlaced mode would frequently display visual glitches on HDTV sets, the 1.5 update forces these games into a fixed display mode, ensuring that they display as they would on the previous consoles. Other fixes are said to include support for an image associated with a user ID, better wireless support, and an option to use Korean keyboards. The update should be available immediately.
PC users who need to know how well their cooling is doing will appreciate the Slim Tower S19 from DAOkorea. At the top of the case is a color LCD display, which indicates fan use, internal temperature, and even hard drive activity. A timer can record how long the system has been in operation. Two fans come built in: an 80mm fan in the rear, and a 120mm fan on the side. The form factor supports ATX, Micro ATX and Flex ATX configurations, with two 5.25-inch bays and three 3.5-inch bays. Unusual attention has also been paid to the power button, which is extremely large and made of polished aluminum. Pricing and availability (outside of Korea) were unknown as of press time.
ASUS has just launched four new mainboards with specific support for new features in Windows Vista. Both the AMD-based M2N32-SLI Premium and its Intel-focused equivalent the P5B Premium now ship in Vista Editions with support for an attachment named the ScreenDUO (pictured); as with the external display on the Taiwanese company's W5Fe notebook, the ScreenDUO uses Vista's SideShow feature to display e-mail, RSS feeds , and other information even while the host PC is turned off.
Both these mainboards as well as the more mainstream M2N Plus and P5B-Plus also support the AI Remote, a wireless control that can remotely power the computer or launch specific programs, as well as ASAP technology that improves the responsiveness of the system during start-up or while launching apps. The four boards should all be ready at or near Vista's launch next week. [photo via Mobile Whack]
The "world's first" 20x DVD writer with a SATA connection is being claimed by the Taiwanese maker LiteOn, who note an increasing number of motherboards shipping without parallel ATA ports. The LH-20A1S can play and write to all major CD and DVD formats, including double-layer discs, and the rarer R9 standard (single-sided 8.5GB). Throughput on the 20A1S is only rated at 1.5Gbps, but should be compatible with motherboards that use 3Gbps SATA II connections. The first 20A1S drives will go to the European market in mid-February, selling for €49 ($64).
German Bluetooth specialists ANYCOM have announced the FIPO, an upcoming bridge device for iPod docks. Instead of enabling iPod content to be played elsewhere, as one might expect, the FIPO actually permits any Bluetooth-enabled music player -- including a cellphone -- to stream audio through the dock. Once paired, the player and the FIPO can then exchange control commands, such as play, pause and track skip. This works both ways, such that buttons on a car stereo, for instance, can change tracks on a phone. The FIPO will begin production for Europe and the US on February 15th and cost about $99. [Via BlueTomorrow]
Microsoft today revealed that it would extend full support for the Home and Media Center editions of Windows XP until April 2009, as well as add a special extended support option for five years afterwards. The change gives home-oriented Windows owners virtually identical support as for Windows XP Professional, Microsoft says, providing regular paid technical support as well as security updates and other crucial fixes until 2014.
The Windows creator has already needed changes to its support plan, which would have ended updates to Home Edition as soon as the end of 2006 -- exactly five years after its widespread availability in December 2001. Delays in Windows Vista's release, however, prompted an initial extension of support until two years after the new OS was launched. Today's second extension is a response to criticism that Microsoft will end support for an OS still being sold today as new in only two years, according to Microsoft Japan's Darren Huston.
Though better known for their PC monitors in North America, NEC has announced two new plasma displays intended for professional use, in realms such as the corporate boardroom. The PX-50XM6J is a 50-inch set, and by extension, the PX-60XM5J (pictured) measures 60 inches. Few other facts are in the public domain, but they do use NEC's Clear Crystal Panel technology, which should add 75 percent more brightness and 360 percent more contrast over previous models from the company. The sets are described as "HD Ready," supporting DVI-I and HDCP, but despite their sizes, are limited to 1365x760 resolution -- below 1080p.
HTC's once mysterious Athena smartphone has been released on T-Mobile in the Netherlands. Now called the Ameo, the smartphone is substantially upgraded from early specifications and features a 5-inch, 640x480 touchscreen as well as an 8GB hard drive to complement its miniSD card slot. Also new is a 3-megapixel camera and an unusually quick 624MHz XScale processor. Bluetooth 2.0, GPS mapping, and Wi-Fi are equal components.
Battery life is long in spite of these features, with 5 hours of talk time and 300 hours when in standby. Exact availability outside of Europe remains unknown, but the presence of quad-band GSM support with both HSDPA and UMTS Internet access points to an eventual North American release, likely with T-Mobile's American division. Click through for photos. [via Pocketinfo]
South Korea's government is advising its citizens to stay away from Windows Vista, according to a report by the national newspaper Chosun. The Financial Supervisory Service, Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, and Ministry of Information and Communication have all recommended that Koreans avoid a hasty upgrade to the new Microsoft OS due to its tightened controls on ActiveX. The new limits to the Microsoft-created web plugin are said to create problems with banking and government sites that have depended on less restrictive earlier implementations of ActiveX for important forms, ironically blocking those most eager to embrace Microsoft technology.
While the Redmond-based developer said it has been cooperating with site providers to develop fixes for their pages, the fixes for seven of Korea's largest banks as well as many online stores are not expected until sometime in February, potentially leaving new Vista users without online access to some institutions for days or weeks after the Korean edition of the OS ships to stores on January 31st. Microsoft attributed the unfortunate timing to complications.
"We've been testing Vista with banks and other service providers since September, but we encountered more delays than we expected," a spokesman said.
Toshiba said today that, together with SanDisk, it would be one of the first to mass-produce truly high-density, 16 gigabit NAND flash memory. The technique was achieved by shrinking the factory process from 70 to 56 nanometers, the company says, and will mark the first time 2GB of information can fit on a single chip without sacrificng speed. Although a slower multi-level cell chip, the smaller size along with optimization work means that the 16 gigabit chip is twice as fast as any of the company's earlier chips of the kind. Even historically slow write performance reaches 10MB per second, Toshiba claims.
The introduction could have a significant impact on digital audio players and other devices that depend on a large amount of flash storage but also need reliable speed. The company expects to ramp up full production by the spring. Samsung has also recently announced 16Gb chips and hopes to release them slightly ahead of its Japanese competitor, though the opening of the field to a second producer should quickly reduce the prices of the technology by the time it reaches final products.
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