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Congressional representatives Rich Boucher (D-VA) and John Dolittle (R-CA) today introduced the "Freedom and Innovation Revitalizing US Entrepreneurship" Act, shortened in acronym to FAIR USE. According to the Washington Post, the bill would amend the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), currently used by groups like the MPAA and RIAA to attack piracy.
Boucher and Dolittle argue that the DMCA reaches too far. "The Digital Millennium Copyright Act dramatically tilted the copyright balance toward complete copyright protection at the expense of the public's right to fair use," Boucher says. "Without a change in the law, individuals will be less willing to purchase digital media if their use of the media within the home is severely circumscribed and the manufacturers of equipment and software that enables circumvention for legitimate purposes will be reluctant to introduce the products into the market." The bill is backed by the Consumer Electronics Association.
Hammacher Schlemmer has begun carrying the Wireless Water-Resistant iPod Speaker, a stereo system tailored to music enthusiasts at the poolside or the shower. Though wireless iPod systems aren't new, the company says that the combination of this feature with a splashproof chassis allows for close listening while keeping the iPod itself in a dock safely out of harm's way. Other options are integrated for listening and even viewing, the retailer says: an AM/FM alarm clock radio is built-in, as are three audio/video output jacks for sharing the iPod's sound or video with a TV.
The dock is compatible with all current iPods and thinner fourth-generation models. It ships from Hammacher for $200.
Cell service providers in the US are attempting to muddy the waters in an attempt to kill public Wi-Fi access, according to John Dvorak. The columnist notes that American carriers seem to be deliberately sowing confusion, leading customers to believe that expensive 2G wireless is equal to (or even synonymous with) Wi-Fi. Campaigns to promote cell-based broadband appeared at roughly the same time as some of the first Wi-Fi-capable phones arrived in stores -- falsely presenting the costlier cellular Internet access as the only real option.
Many cellular subscribers don't even know that their phones (including the future iPhone) have Internet access, he said.
Radiosophy announced on Wednesday that it had started shipping its MultiStream HD radio. Close in spirit to other receivers that support the HD Radio standard for receiving multiple data and digital radio streams, even on one frequency band, its key advantage is portability. The receiver is small and detachable from the main speakers, allowing it to be used either with a larger stereo or in a vehicle when used with a special adapter. To that end, the receiver has ports both for optical and RCA audio out as well as a minijack output for connecting to aux inputs in car stereos and computer speakers.
The radio's support extends back to AM and FM radio, and includes a USB port for updating features through an Internet connection. The company is selling the receiver and speaker dock combination today for $269.
The last pieces of Verizon's cellphone TV service have been revealed, according to an informant with access to the plans. Confirmed for a March 1st launch date, the digital broadcast network will offer a mixture of TV shows aired live from networks such as Comedy Central and ESPN as well as timeshifted content from the previous day.
The service's costs will be tiered based on access to pre-recorded video, the source says. A core, TV-only service will be available for $15 per month beyond existing cellphone service, including all eight channels; a premium $25 tier will add V CAST video downloads.
GPS device maker TomTom plans to make a mapping unit which would be the heart of a larger ecosystem, according to an FCC filing. Dubbed the TomTom DUO, the handheld would have support for a unique USB docking station in the style of a car stereo's faceplate, allowing direct control of iPods through its touchscreen and routing the audio of any portable audio device through the car's main speakers. Bluetooth and FM transmitters would help eliminate cabling in the link between the car, DUO, and Bluetooth-equipped cellphones, the leak revealed.
Exact technical details remain a mystery, but should be revealed by next month's CeBIT expo in Germany, which begins March 15th. Click through for photos. [via Engadget and GPS Review]
Famous DJ suppliers Stanton have debuted the Uberstand, which is used to a support a mixing laptop in clubs that don't otherwise have the equipment or space. It's made of lightweight, aircraft-grade metals, is collapsable such that it can fit in a 12-inch carrying bag. The stand may also be alternative to a desk for ordinary computer users, but given its intended use, buyers will probably have to stand or use a tall stool. Though the Uberstand is not yet on sale, it should retail for approximately $80 from retailers such as Top DJ Gear and Erikson Audio. [via I4U News]
The Recording Industry Association of America will offer a possible reprieve to college students, according to a statement by the group. The RIAA plans to offer "discounted" settlements to 400 suspected illegal music traders spread across the campuses of 13 universities, hoping to discourage many students from contesting the claims in a costly and protracted lawsuit. "Hundreds" more of these offers will follow every month, the RIAA said.
The organization has been routinely criticized for the practice by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other advocacy groups, which have often accused the music label coalition of intimidating targets into paying compensation regardless of their actual guilt. An Oklahoma judge recently ruled against the RIAA in a recent case, arguing that the group bullied a woman whose only connection to file sharing was her Internet service account.
Produced by PBteen, the Tune-In Bed could be considered the world's largest dock for digital audio players. It's available in Twin, Full or Queen sizes, and comes with a pocket for storing an audio player, which connects to a pair of built-in four-inch speakers located in the headboard. The board is angled on either end to aim the sound at the sleeper, and is also being sold in five different colors. The frame itself is only offered in white or brown. Prices start at $699 for a Twin-sized bed, and range to $999 for Queen size.
Japanese maker I-O Data has announced two new LCD monitors that specifically support HDCP, enabling movie playback from Blu-Ray and HD DVD drives. The 19-inch LCD-AD192X is capable of resolutions up to 1440x900, and has 800:1 contrast, plus 330cd/m2 brightness. The 22-inch LCD-AD221X increases resolution to 1680x1050, but actually loses 50cd/m2 of brightness. It does however have a 5ms response time. Both monitors should ship in either white or black by late March, and cost $331 and $417.
Seizing the moment, OSRAM has announced the OSTAR Lighting LED. Despite containing only a single, small light, the snowflake-like layout of chips gives the LED a brightness of over 1,000 lumen. That's as much light as a 50-watt halogen lamp while using only a fraction of the power, the company brags. The advancement lets the single light cover an entire desk when bounced off of a reflector.
The eco-friendliness of the design could represent a potential breakthrough for lighting, slashing the normally steep prices of LEDs while also letting LEDs substitute for power-hungry incandescent bulbs in smaller spaces. OSRAM is sampling the OSTAR lights over the next few months and hopes to see real-world products on shelves by this summer. [thanks, Demannu]
Sony's product lines have once again expanded, this time with the Muteki series of audio systems. The units are designed specifically for parties, incorporating karaoke and light sync functions, and power levels between 520 and 880W. The low end is represented by the MHC-LX10000, which is essentially a two-channel stereo except that one disc can keep playing while two others are changed. The LBT-ZX6 upgrades to a five-disc changer and three-way, 560W audio, and also adds CD recording and automatic volume control to prevent distortion.
At the high end are the LBT-ZX9 and LBT-ZX80D. The ZX9 is a 720W four-channel system, and includes DJ-style functions such as wave, fade and balance panning, and a jog dial that can cut music for voice-overs. The ZX80D has 5.1 Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS surround-sound, and features a three-disc DVD player, which can be used to play movie, DivX and MP3 files as well as audio CDs. At 880W, the system is so powerful that it has its own air intake to maintain performance. The ZX9 will be ready in March for $600; the ZX80D is due in May for $700. Meanwhile, the ZX6 and LX10000 are already in retail stores at $400.
Dell may be on the verge of announcing a shift to retail sales, according to claims made in the run-up to the company's delayed fourth-quarter results call on Thursday. While unconfirmed, the allegations point to Dell partnering with an unknown large retailer to get its systems into retail shops on a wide scale.
The change will likely be triggered by the company's rapidly degrading performance, sources said. The once-unassailable Texas firm has lost share in recent months, giving up its dominance of computers to HP. The company has also seen an overhaul of its management after its latest troubles, with Michael Dell taking back the CEO position of his own company and hiring an outsider, Motorola's Ron Garriques, to handle its worldwide strategy.
Malaysia may not be known for high technology, but a startup firm from the country is preparing its first smartphone. Gupp's upcoming Phreedom should be similar to the Palm Treo or the Motorola Q, sporting a full QWERTY keyboard, a 2.5-inch QVGA screen, and extensive wireless in the form of 802.11b/g/i. Perhaps most useful may be its "VoWiFi" functions, which will let users save on phone bills by switching to VoIP calls when possible. The phone normally uses "double tri-band" GSM: 850/1,800/1,900 or 900/1,800/1,900MHz. Inside the Phreedom will be running Mobile Linux 2.6 on a 312MHz Intel processor, storing content on 320MB of combined RAM and flash memory. The Phreedom should launch in unspecified regions starting in the second quarter.
LG's Cyon brand today launched the KH1300, a 3G phone tailored to CDMA networks. The slider links to HSDPA networks at the full 3.6Mbps speeds of HSDPA. A 3MB song or video clip will download in as little as 7 seconds, by the firm's estimates. Appropriately for its enhanced speed, the KH1300's 1.3-megapixel camera is complemented by a front VGA camera for video calls and messages.
Other staples of the company's cellphones are here, including Bluetooth and a dedicated media jukebox. LG is selling the KH1300 soon in its native Korea for $433 but notes that the handset will roam through much of Asia and Europe. Click through for larger photography.
AT&T has announced its adoption of the Motorola M900, a phone targeted at security professionals and others who value practicality over entertainment. The display is small and uses large fonts, for instance, and there are no music or video capabilities. Its main feature is actually a two-watt RF amplifier, which should enhance call quality in both urban and remote locations. The phone can also be set for strict security measures such as call barring or fixed dialing. It connects via tri-band GSM, and supports limited GPRS data functions. No prices or release dates are currently available. [via Slashphone]
Corsair on Wednesday claimed to have pushed the speed limits of flash drives with the Flash Voyager GT. A new flash controller boosts transfer speeds in both directions, reading at a brisk 34MB per second but writing nearly as quickly at 28MB per second. The jump shrinks the transfer time for a 1MB file to as low as one second versus five seconds for an ordinary drive, the memory maker's tests say.
The drive is sheltered in Corsair's signature splashproof body and has the option of a hidden, encrypted partition for especially sensitive files. 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB versions are already available at prices of $30, $60, and $120 respectively.
ASUS today launched the V2Je notebook. Geared towards frequent travelers who need Internet access from almost anywhere, certain models of the 14-inch laptop include a built-in 3.5G wireless adapter. The modem taps into most HSDPA and UMTS mobile broadband networks to give Internet access as quick as 3.6Mbps in downloads without a phone -- four times faster than most networks, ASUS says. The system itself is also fast, with Core 2 Duos ranging between 1.66GHz and 2.33GHz as well as a 256MB Mobility Radeon X1450 to help accelerate 3D tasks.
The V2Je should be available now in Europe with a 1.3-megapixel webcam, multi-format card reader, and a fingerprint reader for security. A North American version hasn't been discussed and might require changes to its wireless support. [via Core Duo News]
Sharp this morning took the wraps off its new Internet AQUOS PC and TV hybrid. Veering away from the insistence on merging the PC into the TV itself, the Japanese TV maker instead builds them as separate devices meant to work together. A custom interface on the PC controls TV viewing and schedules recording when the computer is on, but isn't required: the TV can write shows directly to the hard drive even while the PC is switched off, Sharp says. A wireless keyboard with trackball works directly with the computer from across the room; however, the TV remote itself has a trackpad for basic mousing without the extra bulk of a keyboard.
Sony has unveiled the Energy Link. Devised as a battery backup for USB-charged gadgets such as iPods and phones, the device is the first to handle three roles in one, Sony claims. In addition to either extending or recharging the battery of another device, the Energy Link works as a power adapter to keep items powered without draining its own reserve.
Also unique are the batteries that ship with the charger: while any pair of AA batteries will work, the Energy Link comes with Cycle Energy batteries that the company says straddle the line between throw-away alkalines and more expensive NiMH rechargeables. Charging the Cycle Energy batteries takes about three hours. The adapter should be ready by the start of the summer for $35.
CyberTouch has just unveiled the Orion 42, one of its largest touchscreens to date. A converted 42-inch LG screen, the LCD is tailored for shops, museums, and other places where the ability to display large widescreen videos is as important as control. The screen is sensitive enough that even a gloved hand will work, the company says. Two VGA inputs, DVI, as well as component and RCA jacks are present to hook the touchscreen to almost any video source.
The Orion 42 is already shipping with either a serial or a USB connection, letting it work with almost any operating system (including Linux and Mac OS X). As is often the case with specialized gear, pricing is set only by request.
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