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Wow Wee's increasingly popular Robosapien toy will soon be joined by a couple of themed versions, tied to movie releases. Click below for photos. The first is the Spidersapien, built to coincide with Spiderman 3. The robot has been given the hero's traditional costume, and comes loaded with a number of famous Spiderman quotes, rather than the Robosapien's stock vocabulary. It also pretends to shoot webs while making sound effects. The other robot, meanwhile, is the Homersapien, which should launch around the same time as the Simpsons movie. This robot also has a new vocabulary, but other than samples and appearance, should behave fairly similarly to the basic Robosapien. The Spidersapien should be out by May, while the Homersapien will be out by July. [Via Pocket-lint]
Fujitsu on Thursday released the Happy Hacking Lite 2 for Mac, the latest version of its well-known hobbyist's keyboard. The input device is only half the size of normal keyboards but still includes the essential Command and Option keys specific to the Mac as well as a set of arrow keys. The diminutive stature makes it an ideal fit for a Mac mini, Fujitsu says. Its enhusiast roots are also reflected in software drivers that allow owners to visually reassign keys by dragging and dropping functions over the keyboard. A two-port USB 1.1 hub is built in for attaching a mouse or other low-power peripherals.
The keyboard works with any USB-equipped Mac and launches today in Japan for $52 with either English or Japanese Kana characters. A North American launch is certain given the popularity of earlier Happy Hacking boards with Western buyers, according to Fujitsu.
AT&T plans to offer 18 months of free cellphone service with the iPhone, according to a claim by TheStreet's Jim Cramer. Referring to a recent AT&T financial conference call, the presenter said that AT&T would tie Apple's device to a year and a half of free service. Executives see the touchscreen phone as a prime opportunity to steal customers away from Verizon and other key rivals in the US market, Cramer said.
While Apple did not mention such a plan during the MacWorld San Francisco keynote, announcing only that the phone would be available from $499 with a two-year plan, the apparently confirmed plan has already sent ripples through the community, according to preliminary results from an ongoing poll by AppleInsider. The news and rumor site indicates that over 75 percent of potential buyers would be more likely to buy the phone, indicating a likely surge in real-world sales should the free service come about during the June launch of the iPhone.
Cellphone provider Softbank today unveiled its Spring 2007 phones, and in doing so also marked the introduction of a new Toshiba media phone. The 911T slider centers around a relatively sharp 3-inch, 480x480 widescreen useful for watching mobile TV on Japan's 1Seg network and sharing the same underpinnings as the company's Regza LCD televisions. A 3.2-megapixel camera is present, as with some of the newest phones; however, Toshiba says, the 911T adds anti-shake correction to stabilize often blurry cameraphone images. Storage for media is supplied through 1GB of internal flash as well as a microSD card slot, either of which can be used to record TV shows for later viewing. Special attention is also given to Internet access. Unlike most phones, a full HTML browser is preloaded for viewing pages intact and takes advantage of the full speed of Softbank's 3.6Mbps HSDPA broadband connection.
The phone will be available through Softbank in black, bronze, silver, and white hues as of March. Each will be accompanied by a set of Oakley's O ROKR Bluetooth sunglasses, providing stereo sound for calls and music. Pricing is unavailable. A photo showing the four colors of the 911T is available after the jump. [via MobileWhack]
GTX today provided an early glimpse of its Xplorer Smart GPS shoes. The runners include their own GPS transmitter and regularly broadcast their position to a central service, helping track progress as well as location. Meant for closely following the locations of children and patients, the shoes also have a distinct dual-mode virtual fence that can be changed based on the exact limitations. A green-zone fence will warn when the shoes' wearer ventures outside of a predefined area; in just the opposite approach, a red-zone fence will raise an alert if the shoes are brought into pre-marked dangerous areas.
The footwear even ties into cellphone service, according to GTX, and will send a text message if boundaries are crossed. Battery levels are also relayed wirelessly to prevent the signal from going silent without warning. A typical full charge of the power supply is estimated to last several days. Pricing and availability for the Xplorer shoe remains unknown, but should be clarified at the company's public unveiling on February 1st.
Expected to launch in the first quarter of this year, the OPPO V5 is an extremely compact media player, having the same length and width as a credit card. The thickness is a mere 0.4 inches. Few other facts have been leaked for the moment, but we do know that the screen is a three-inch, 16:9 LCD, for which the controls have been moved to the panel just above, in order to preserve space. MP4 video playback will be supported, and the body has a metallic finish. No prices or exact release dates for the V5 have been mentioned. [Via iMP3]
Alba today hopes to offer a more advanced flash music player named the PRDAB210MP3. Instead of using FM radio as a secondary feature, the Alba tunes the digital audio broadcast (DAB) stations popular in Europe. As with satellite radio in North America, the digital nature of the stream gives finer control over playback, according to Alba: an owner can scrub back or forwards through a station's broadcast as well as record sessions for posterity. Up to 20 station presets can be held for quicker access.
For use outside of radio, the Alba player can also play back existing MP3 and WMA songs, including protected files from Napster and other online stores. Power is supplied through a single AA battery, which lasts for 14 hours of continuous DAB radio or 50 hours of pre-recorded music. Online retailer Argos sells the jukebox for $167. [via Tech Digest]
The heat and noise of computer cases can be problematic, and to that end Matrox has announced the Extio F1220, a remote unit that lets owners move a case to a different part of a room, or even a building -- up to 820 feet of fiber-optic cable can be used. PCI and PCIe interface cards are sold separately. Partly because of this connection type, little lag should occur. Truly important local devices plug directly into the Extio, which can support up to two 1080p monitors, two FireWire ports, six USB 2.0 ports, and a variety of audio jacks including optical S/PDIF. Audio hardware is built in. The F1220 should ship in the second quarter of 2007 with pricing available on a request basis. [approximate pricing removed at request of manufacturer]
Creative today opened up sales of a limited, Valentine's Day Edition of its Zen Neeon 2. The 1GB, 2GB, and 4GB versions of the flash player can now receive one of six visual designs that match the romantic themes of the holiday, sitting just above the space for an engraved personal message. The custom design is currently for Japan alone but adds only $12 to the base price regardles of the specific model. The personal message is free and optional, Creative says. Click through for a larger photo. [via New Launches]
If you're willing to carry it with you, the eMotion Portable Media Player DVD by MediaStreet can play virtually any type of content you might want. Aside from playing standard CDs and DVDs, it can also read ones loaded with photos, or MP3 and WMA audio, and DivX, VCD and MPEG-4 video. Since memory cards are becoming increasingly prevalent of course, it can also read the SD, MMC and Memory Stick formats directly, or other formats (such as CF) through an external USB reader. The USB 2.0 port can even be used to access files on portable hard drives. Red, silver and black versions are currently being sold online for $130; a special edition loaded with Public Enemy/SLAMjamz tracks will ship in the second quarter.
Rogers Wireless continued the flurry of iPhone news on Thursday by stating that it will be the sole provider for the iPhone in Canada, according to an e-mail message sent by the company to some of its customers. Confirming early investigations, Rogers said that it alone would offer the iPhone in the country and that it was actively working with Apple to speed the launch.
Wording in the e-mail may also point to a release sooner than expected. Although Canada traditionally lags behind the US by several months for high-profile phone releases, which would all but ensure a delay to 2008, Rogers said in the e-mail that the iPhone will first be introduced in North America, raising the possibility that the handset may ship to Canada in advance of an expected October European launch. Rogers is closely associated with AT&T, which will be the only provider to offer the iPhone in the US.
The iPhone is not a true smartphone, according to a study published today by ABI Research. Though the Apple device runs Mac OS X at its core, its creator's intention to close the platform and block third-party software from being freely installed prevents the iPhone from living up to common expectations of what a smartphone can do. The handset is instead a "very high-end feature phone," ABI's Philip Solis said, referring to devices where only the carrier or designer chooses what core software can be installed. This may put Apple at a disadvantage when compared directly with rivals at the same $500 price level.
"Sure, feature phones have third party applications too," Solis commented. "but these are relatively weak and limited applications... applications designed for smartphones can be written to access core functionality from the OS itself, and are therefore usually more powerful and efficient."
The research firm also warned Apple that it could not simply lean on its iPod expertise to muscle its way into the phone market. "Consumers will not be willing to settle for a second-rate cell phone just to have superior music," said ABI's Stuart Carlaw. ABI observes that Apple's lack of history compared to industry veterans will pose a major challenge that the company will need to overcome if it hopes to survive in the phone business.
When someone steals a cellphone, there's often little that can be done to stop them, since even if the number is cancelled, they can probably swap in a new SIM card and keep using it. The Tianyu B832 promises to help by sending an SMS message when the card is replaced, identifying the thief's new phone number. Users must be able to keep their old number for their new phone, but this feature will also allow the stolen phone to be locked down when it comes back to the network.
The B832 is impressive in other regards as well: it has a two-megapixel camera, a 2.4-inch QVGA screen, Bluetooth A2DP, and a microSD expansion. The camera can further be used as a webcam when linked with a computer. The phone is being sold in Hong Kong and the rest of China for approximately $225. [Via Mobile Magazine]
Samsung this morning unveiled its SpinPoint N series, a line of 1.8-inch hard drives destined for digital media players and ultraportable notebooks. The miniscule disk is the first to achieve 60GB of storage on a single platter through perpendicular magnetic recording and measures only 5mm (0.2 inches) thick. This is the first time such storage is feasible without resorting to a much thicker dual-platter case, Samsung says. The N series equally represents one of the first lines of hard disks to support the recently created CE-ATA standard built specifically for handhelds and other consumer electronics. The company said it has already begun shipping the new SpinPoint in its flagship 60GB model as well as 20GB, 30GB, and 40GB versions.
The implementation may signal upgrades later this year for the iPod and other key video-capable jukeboxes, as it increases the minimum amount of storage for even the thinnest devices. Many larger hard drive-based players rely on two platters or even separate disks, Samsung says, opening the door to 120GB players at the high end.
Confirming earlier reports, the Federal Communications Commission has published filings related to the Nokia E61i. The basic E61 is a European smartphone; though not every device approved by the FCC makes it to the US market, this does suggest that Americans will finally be able to get their hands on some of the same technology. The E61i should be a quad-band GSM phone, and will at least support EDGE broadband, with UMTS being a possibility given its presence in the E61. Other rumoured features (such as a camera) have yet to be confirmed. [Via Phone Scoop]
LG's cellphone service LGT released both a new phone as well as a new guide to help manage the exploding growth of mobile TV. The B6550 stems from Samsung's Anycall line and is the first dual-action folding phone to support digital broadcast TV. An enhanced version of the US-bound U740, the handset uses its double-hinged display to its advantage for video. It can be opened normally for data and other text-based functions, LG says; opening it laterally, however, creates a more natural widescreen display for DMB TV and pre-recorded clips. The phone otherwise shares many of its American counterpart's elements and integrates a 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, and external music controls for when the phone is closed.
The B6550 also represents the first phone from LGT to carry the DMB Channel Guide, the carrier said. Subscribers to Internet plans can use their connections to download detailed schedule information about current and upcoming programs for on the 16 channels LGT offers, applying equally to TV and radio. The service is not limited to the B6550 but is tailored to use the dual-folding modes to its advantage. LG says the Guide along with black and silver versions of the B6550 will debut soon.
Sony early this morning revealed the final launch details for the PlayStation 3 in every region that uses the PAL format for TV. Africa, Australasia, Europe, and the Middle East will all see the Blu-Ray-based console ship on March 23rd. A total of one million of the systems will be available across all these areas, Sony said. The console maker has set Europe-wide pricing at €599 ($776); Britain will offer the PS3 for £425, while Australia and New Zealand will receive the system for $1,000 and $1,200 respectively.
Controversially, Sony has also confirmed that none of these areas will receive the lower-cost 20GB model on launch, noting that the majority of existing sales in North America and Japan were of the higher-end 60GB version. The company also does not plan to ship its less expensive model to these areas in the future, Sony spokesman Satoshi Fukuoka said. The decision raises the minimum price significantly compared to other areas, in some cases almost doubling the $499 price of the 20GB US PlayStation 3.
Camera maker Olympus today overhauled large portions of its camera lineup with several new point-and-shoot models. Topping the announcements is the SP-550UZ (pictured), a high-end model the company says is the first of its kind with 18X optical zoom. With an equivalent focal length of 28-504mm, the 7.1-megapixel camera can take photos from far enough away to avoid disrupting most scenes without also affecting image quality. The new addition to Olympus' UltraZoom line also has an extremely high-speed burst mode for sports and other fast-action scenes that will capture 1.2-megapixel shots as quickly as 15 frames per second. Dual image stabilization is handled through shifting the CCD as well as high ISO settings (up to 5,000). Powered by four AA batteries and using xD-PictureCards for storage, the SP-550UZ will ship in February for £375 ($737) but should reach closer to $500 for its US release.
Details and photos of Olympus' first ISO 10,000 camera as well as the rest of its upgraded compact models follow after the jump.
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