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Apple's new opponents in the cellphone industry are only maintaining the illusion that the iPhone won't affect their plans, ThinkEquity Partners analyst Jonathan Hoopes observed today. Though he acknowledged that the iPhone's success was far from certain given its lack of 3G wireless and expensive, Cingular-only price plan, the industry expert argued that apparent disinterest from competitors such as Nokia and Samsung was just a ruse, disguising their own uncertainty.
The cellular mainstays face "an extremely savvy marketing competitor with a huge user base," Hoopes commented. "They better be nervous. But they are all trying to feign complacency."
Everex today helped inaugurate this week's launch of Windows Vista by releasing the StepNote VA4101M. One of the most inexpensive notebooks yet to ship with Microsoft's new OS, the system achieves this by focusing on features over speed, using a 1.46GHz Celeron M but gaining a dual-layer DVD rewriter -- a feature rarely seen in its class. A 60GB, 5400RPM hard drive is also built-in and the system keeps the 512MB of RAM, 802.11g Wi-Fi, and VGA output offered by many of its rivals. Battery life is rated at an average of 1.5 to 2 hours of real-world use, according to its developer's estimates.
The notebook has already landed in stock at Wal-Mart for $498 without discounts when preloaded with Vista Home Basic. A slightly faster and potentially more expensive 1.6GHz Celeron M version of the computer is available at other resellers.
Sony-Ericsson is developing a pair of new cellphones specifically for the entry-level market, an arena seldom explored by the company. The J110i and J120i will both be replacements for the current J100i and should see useful improvements in their displays. A brighter, higher-resolution display on the two editions will help with SMS text messages and using the phone in direct sunlight. The J120i in particular will also break away from the J100's strict focus on calling and will have an FM radio tuner for music. Minor changes such as a more stylish black shell and an improved keypad are equally anticipated.
Both phones should remain faithful to the original creation, but in doing so will keep the phone's record-setting battery life: active talk time will be rated for a full eight hours, with standby lasting for 300 hours. An official announcement for the J-series duo is set for Barcelona's 3GSM conference on the 12th, which should also confirm launch dates and prices. [via Terminal]
Quebec-based cable provider Videotron revealed today that it will soon offer some of the fastest Internet access in North America. Using Cisco's pre-certification version of the faster DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem standard, the Canadian ISP says it will offer 100Mbps download speeds to its customers. The speed would open up previously impractical features on the Internet, Videotron boasts. A 50MB high-definition video takes only four seconds to load in ideal conditions; music would download almost instantly. The new DOCSIS format achieves this in part by bonding normally separate cable channels together, more than doubling the 40Mbps theoretical limit of DOCSIS 2.0.
A trial of the 100Mbps service is set to begin shortly in Montreal and will require a special Cisco modem to achieve the record bandwidth limit. Videotron has not committed to any definite plans but hopes to expand the service to regular customers across Quebec by the end of 2007. [via BBReports]
Though not scheduled for North America at the moment, Korean company Fusionsoft has premiered a combination GPS unit and media player, available with up to 80GB of internal memory. The 7star ODD-I uses a SiRFStar III GPS receiver, which feeds to a CPU running Windows CE 5.0. The QVGA display is an sizable seven inches long, which is ideal for the built-in DMB TV tuner, and other unspecified audio and video formats. Buyers can opt for a 40GB version should they not want to splurge on a full-featured system. The 80GB ODD-I should be out for approximately 697,850 won ($741); the 40GB model is 597,458 won ($634). [Via Akihabara News]
Microsoft has begun planning a Zune-based rival to the iPhone, according to a tip received by CrunchGear. A "sound" informant has indicated that strategists from the Redmond company are already solidifying plans for the device and are holding meetings today to plan its final release. While many elements of the design are still unknown, the cellphone is expected to mimic the music-only original and will dismiss Microsoft's existing Windows Mobile phone OS for a customized control scheme.
Tighter integration with Microsoft's existing hardware and software will be even more critical to the design, the source says. The company plans to expand the limited Wi-Fi options of the original Zune by linking the phone edition with the Xbox 360, allowing the phone to stream media -- including video -- directly from the game console when it forms part of a wireless network.
Launch details and ramifications follow after the jump.
Kensington has just launched the Vo200 Bluetooth Internet Phone. Designed to fit in the PC Card slot of a laptop, the phone connects to any computer via Bluetooth, and is compatible with all major VoIP networks, including Skype, MSN, Yahoo and Google. Unusually, the receiver mic flips out like a cellphone, and can even be rotated backwards to serve as a stand for a speakerphone mode. The phone charges constantly when it's in storage, providing up to three hours of talk time and 30 hours of standby. An LED light blinks when only 10 percent power is left. Call signals are enhanced by echo cancellation and noise suppression. The Vo200 is shipping today for $90, and requires Windows XP and a free PC Card slot.
Electronics giant Samsung on Thursday demonstrated three new LCD panels with LED backlighting, each of which takes advantage of the newer technology to improve the color accuracy and uniformity across even the often-neglected corners of the screen. Most advanced of these is the 40-inch panel, according to the company. Intended for 720p-capable TVs, the screen is bright at 500cd/m2 and is intelligent enough to selectively dim portions of the LED for dark scenes -- effectively generating a 100,000:1 contrast ratio by creating truer black levels. The technology of the 40-inch panel is expected to make its way into the rest of Samsung's LED-based LCD TVs when they launch later this year.
More significant, however, were public demonstrations of two displays that are likely to find their way into mainstream computer hardware. Samsung at its demonstration revaled a 15.4-inch widescreen panel with the new lighting technology (pictured), touting as an ideal choice for notebooks. The display's backlight reduces the overall thickness to 0.22 inches while consuming an average of only 3.1 watts. Although no companies were mentioned as using the new part, the screen's 1440x900 resolution appears to confirm earlier reports of LED-based MacBook Pros and similarly-equipped HP notebooks, many of which already use a similar screen size. A formal launch for the panel in finished hardware has not been revealed but is likely to occur in Spring.
Read through for details of Samsung's third panel.
NEC has announced the NP60, which the company is promoting as the brightest projector under four pounds. The 60 actually weighs 3.5 pounds, and has a brightness rating of 3,000 lumens, with a contrast ratio of 1,600:1. Supported resolutions top out at 1024x768 (XGA), though inputs can be running at 1600x1200 (UXGA). With the target audience of the projector being business travellers, the 60 starts up the moment it's plugged in, and will automatically detect and optimize signals within moments. It also corrects focus and image shape on the fly. The projector is shipping today for $1,299.
Recently announced by Navigon is the P9611, a GPS unit designed in tandem with Porsche, emulating the car company's famous aesthetics. The LCD is a widescreen, 4.3-inch touch display, and inside the unit is 520MHz Intel processor, running Navigon's MobileNavigator Premium software and Zagat's points-of-interest data. Other unusual software features include speed warnings, and an automatic volume increase to compensate for car noise. RAM and ROM are limited to 64MB each, but the device is still be capable of MP3 playback, as well as text-to-speech conversion. A Bluetooth receiver should allow cellphone owners to go hands-free. Navigon will ship the P9611 in the summer for $899. [Via Navigadget]
Onkyo said today that it would buck tradition by releasing the HDC-1.0, billed as one of the few true HD audio PCs. Rather than focus on video playback as with a home theater PC, the Onkyo system is designed solely for audiophiles and revolves around an Onkyo-built, 24-bit/192KHz sound card with a 110dB signal-to-noise ratio for cleaner stereo music. Audio purists will further appreciate the external power supply and single 80mm fan, Onkyo claims, as they reduce the likelihood of electromagnetic interference or noise with the computer itself. A 1.66GHz mobile Core 2 Duo, 1GB of memory, a 120GB hard disk and audio output in both analog as well as optical form are part of the sole configuration.
The PC's software also reflects its musical focus: though based on Windows Vista Home Basic rather than the Media Center-equipped Home Premium, the HDC-1.0 comes preloaded with the stereo maker's CarryOnMusic 10 for managing music and has access to the e-onkyo music store, which is one of the few such services to sell music in WMA Lossless format. Onkyo sells the system by itself today for $1,739; an optional APX-1 digital amplifier raises the overall price to $2,054. [via New Launches]
The Federal Communications Commission has given its seal of approval to a new Sony Ericsson phone, the Z310a. Judging by reports, the phone is essentially the same as the basic Z310 announced in December, complete with EDGE broadband, a camera and the same "mirror-finish" exterior. Newly revealed aspects include a web browser, an RSS reader and an e-mail client, which are normally unremarkable, but not always included on an entry-level phone. Music playback has been omitted, but the phone can still record sound snippets, and ringtones can be created with the MusicDJ application. Prices and ship dates have yet to be finalized.
V-MODA this morning revealed two special edition colors for its VIBE earbud line. Titled Red Roxx and La Mocha, the earpieces are aesthetically designed to match specific players. The former (shown) mixes red and black metal to accompany Apple's Product (RED) iPod nano; in turn, the gold and brown of La Mocha is tailored to suit the optional brown shade of Microsoft's Zune. Either version is functionally akin to the black and chrome models released earlier.
Red Roxx and La Mocha are available today for an official price of $100, and are said to be shipping now from both resellers and the online Apple Store.
Microsoft has launched Beta 3 of the Windows Mobile Device Center, the Vista replacement for ActiveSync. The program makes it easier to share data with portable devices running Windows Mobile 2003 or 5.0. Beyond using an interface reminiscent of Media Center, Device Center puts an increased emphasis on music and photo synchronization, shuffling the former while tagging and importing the latter. It should also be easier to set up a device and have Windows recognize it. The app is available in 32- and 64-bit versions, and requires Vista RC1 or later.
Toshiba on Thursday revealed a pair of new media recorders. The Vardia RD-S600 and RD-S300 let avid TV enthusiasts record their favorite programming both permanently and temporarily. Equipped with dual digital TV tuners, either model records scheduled analog cable and over-the-air broadcasts to an integrated hard disk, even while another show is playing. Shows can also be saved for posterity through the integrated DVD burner. Up to 78 hours of HDTV or 1071 hours of analog vido can be stored on the S600's combined 600GB of hard drive storage; as suggested by its name, the S300 holds half that amount. In either case the interface is simpler than for most of these devices, Toshiba claims. Only 24 easily-read buttons sit on the remote, and virtually every function is controlled through an easier on-screen menu system that visually labels clips for quicker access.
DVD playback is a standard feature, and all non-native sources are automatically upscaled to 720p or 1080i to match newer HDTV sets, the company adds. Both an HDMI port and Japan's native D4 connector are provided for connecting at full resolution; dual pairs of analog RCA and S-video inputs and outputs optionally give the Vardia recorders the option of recording or displaying to a conventional source. The Japanese electronics firm expects to ship both by February 28th in its native country and is likely to be converted for use in other countries in coming months.
Verizon this morning officially unveiled the EVDO Revision A version of its BroadbandAccess mobile Internet service. The plan will initially beavailable in all of the carrier's Florida coverage areas as well as Boston, Chicago, and parts of Utah and Virginia. The upgrade dramatically improves real-world speeds, especially for uploads. Downloads average between 450 and 800Kbps, Verizon says; uploads, however, surge to between 300 and 400Kbps, well beyond the double-digit averages experienced in the field. A 1MB file is said to upload in roughly 25 seconds.
The provider has also announced its first adapters that will connect to the service. Newly announced is the USB720 (pictured), a Verizon equivalent to Sprint's U720 made by Novatel. The device plugs into the USB port of any compatible computer and will officially support both Mac OS X and Windows Vista, allowing the MacBook and computers without dedicated card slots to connect to Verizon's fastest network. The company additionally revealed that the already available AirCard 595 now officially supports the EVDO Rev. A service for older notebooks that use the PC Card format. The Internet access plan and both of the network adapters are ready today for business customers, according to Verizon, and should be available to the public starting tomorrow.
Sony Ericsson's much-anticipated W880 Walkman phone may be slated to arrive as soon as next week, according to news from Swedish site mobil. The slim designer handset should be available as of February 6th in its Swedish home territory, timed to reach stores just under a week before Barcelona's 3GSM World Congress cellphone event on the 12th of this month. Sony-Ericsson had originally promised a launch only in mid-2007, but appears to have confirmed an earlier source which claimed a February launch.
The news site has also posted new photos of the device's interface that verify its localization for the country as well as show new elements of the Cross Media Bar (XMB) interface, including what appears to be a music visualizer. Te phone has already been shown using English lanugage interfaces and is likely to be release in the US within a few months of its Swedish unveiling given recent FCC approval. Click through for a gallery.
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