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Computer maker Dell has announced preliminary fourth-quarter finances, amounting to $14.4 billion in revenue, with $801 million in operating income. This made 30 cents per share for stockholders, and gave the company a total of $12.5 billion in cash and investments. The company will bring in even more money due to not paying bonuses, which were tied to operating targets, but it will lose a substantial amount of that due to investigations into accounting practices. The Securities and Exchange Commission is conducting an ongoing probe into the company; neither they nor Dell, however, have disclosed what the source of concern is. It in fact marks the second quarter in a row that Dell will not be holding a conference call for the results, which the company says would not be "prudent" given legal concerns.
Apple late Thursday announced that it would hold a special event at next month's NAB Expo for broadcasters and other video producers. Although the company opted out of detailing what would appear at the event, expectations have Apple releasing a major new edition of Final Cut Studio, which was introduced at the same show in 2005. This year's presentation is currently set for April 15th.
While other announcements are possible, the company has generally refrained from revealing hardware or separate software at NAB events in the past. The timing, however, is notable for its proximity to the expected release of Mac OS X Leopard as well as Apple's habitual spring computer updates. The booth for the show floor will also be one of the largest of all the exhibitors, say the show managers. [via Macworld]
Lenovo on Thursday sent out an urgent recall notice for 200,000 notebook batteries. Working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the computer builder said that the extended-capacity, nine cell batteries of roughly 100,000 R-, T-, and Z-series ThinkPads were at risk after the company learned of four instances where dropping the notebook triggered a minor fire. Over 105,000 of the same batteries were sold internationally, the firm added. Lenovo and Sanyo together said they were already redesigning the battery shell to prevent these problems in the future.
The recall only serves to compound Lenovo's existing troubles with batteries, which began last year when the China-based company learned that over half a million of its batteries were affected by Sony's global recall. Neither problem is related, Lenovo said, as the Sanyo batteries only ignite in a sudden impact.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs' attempt to call for the removal of DRM has backfired, according to reactions by panel members at a conference yesterday. Speaking at the Digital Music Forum East conference, multiple participants in the discussion specifically critized the Apple executive's open letter, calling it a "red herring" that distracted from the real issue of Apple's FairPlay copy protection shutting out other stores and device makers.
"I don't think anybody is necessarily down on Apple," said Ruckus music store chief Mike Bebel. "The problem is the proprietary implementation of technology... and it's causing everybody else who is participating in the marketplace -- the other service providers, the labels, the users -- a lot of pain. If they could simply open it up, everybody would love them."
Brookstone has shifted its attention to single-purpose devices with the Digital Photo Keychain. Its 1.4-inch screen and 8MB of memory are just efficient enough to hold photos of family and friends, the mail-order retailer says, storing up to 56 shots. The entire device is equally simple to use and transfers photos through a drag-and-drop interface.
Power is provided through a 2.5-hour lithium-ion battery charged through the same USB cable used to transfer files. Brookstone hopes to entice buyers with a $50 price for the keychain, which is shipping today. [via Everything USB]
Ferrari and Meridian today partnered to introduce the F80. The one-piece receiver's style is influenced by the supercar maker and is claimed as stereo equivalent to Ferrari's performance: though small, the system delivers 80W of power across two satellites and an internal subwoofer. This translates to the sheer variety of media options, Meridian says. DAB digital radio allows for pristine broadcasts; the disc drive also handles DVD movies when the F80 is attached to a TV through the video output.
Details of its launch are being kept quiet until a full announcement later this year, but Meridian has said it will ship the stereo in several popular Ferrari colors, including the signature red or yellow. Limited-run finishes for the main body should also be available. [via Shiny Shiny]
Shortly after announcing a version with Blu-Ray, Samsung has announced another M55 laptop with an HD DVD drive. Like the Blu-Ray computer, but unlike an earlier HD DVD model, the new system uses a 2GHz Core 2 Duo. The computer is similar to its Blu-Ray sibling in other ways as well, such as 2GB of RAM, a 120GB hard drive, and a GeForce Go 7600. One of the main attractions remains a 17-inch screen, which supports resolutions up to 1080p. The system is on sale in Korea for the equivalent of $3,215.
iLuv today provided an early look at the i185, a video dock that links any fifth-generation iPod with a TV for controlling and watching the Apple player's content through the larger display. The dock replaces the iPod's menu with its own to provide more choices on-screen. The sharper resolution of iTunes videos now lets the iPod serve as a real DVD player replacement, iLuv says, making the dock's introduction well-timed.
Individual sets of RCA and S-video outputs are provided for the TV connection. The i185 will be ready by May of this year, when it will retail for $150. [via iLounge]
Blockbuster Video is in late talks to acquire the download store Movielink, says the Wall Street Journal. If the reports are true, Movielink would be bought for less than $50 million in cash and stocks, and give Blockbuster a quick means to compete with outlets such as Netflix and BitTorrent. The company would in fact have CEO John Antioco describes as a "triple play": mail, in-store and online orders all from the same source. Movielink is currently owned by MGM Studios, which in turn is shared by Sony, Viacom, Universal and Time Warner. It has mostly been unprofitable, but the potential is great, with recent attention drawn to video downloads by companies like Apple and Wal-Mart.
Although making its second announcement with less fanfare than for the video-capable A800 line, Sony on Thursday has also introduced the E01 series of players. These sequels to last year's E00 models have a more conservative look but gain a three-line, color OLED with support for album art -- an unusual feature in its class. The audio-only flash jukebox plays AAC, ATRAC, MP3, and WMA songs for as long as 28 hours on a single charge and (as before) plugs directly into a USB port for charging and music sync.
Unlike the A800, the E01 series is split by features as well as by storage: the 1GB E013F and 2GB E015F both have FM radios, while the basic E013 and E015 go without. Prices and ship dates for the Walkman range haven't been revealed, suggesting a release further ahead than the April launch of the larger devices introduced today.
As expected, Verizon has finally gone live with streaming television broadcasts through V CAST Mobile TV. The service is only available with the Samsung SCH-U620 however, and only in 20 markets, including Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas and Seattle. Contrary to early reports, there are actually three tiers to the service: $13 provides four channels, $15 nets eight, and $25 garners unlimited web access and video downloads. Networks providing content include NBC, CBS, Fox, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and ESPN. Verizon should be expanding Mobile TV in the future, with the LG VX9400 likely to be the next phone to be supported. [via infoSync World]
Speaking with the release manager, Cesar Menendez of Zune Insider has learned that a firmware update for the Microsoft audio player is due in mid-March. Three substantial fixes are planned, most notably a remedy to skipping problems encountered with Zune Marketplace files. The v1.3 patch will also improve device detection and synching, and should increase battery life, fixing an FM tuner bug which caused unnecessary power drains while a Zune was in sleep mode. Menendez adds that feature updates may include requests such as podcasting, but it's too early to know if and when they will come.
Microsoft still isn't complying with demands to give third-party software makers fair access to Windows code, the European Commission said on Thursday. The regulatory body contended that Microsoft had essentially ignored the 2004 ruling that the company had to make core elements of its OS reasonably accessible to developers from outside companies, which in the past have accused the Windows maker of deliberately hiding away code that gave its own programs a distinct advantage over competitors.
"In the 50 years of European antitrust policy, it's the first time we've been confronted with a company that has failed to comply with an antitrust decision," the Commission said.
Japanese outfit Elecom has taken an unusual approach to creating a wireless mouse: instead of relying on Bluetooth or a dock, users plug a dongle into the Prumie's internal USB port, which in turn broadcasts via a standard wireless frequencies. Three different models of the Prumie are available, offering 800 or 1,000dpi resolution, and six different colors: red, blue, brown, black, white and silver. The scrollwheel is both vertical and horizontal, and buttons can be configured to control up to 31 different functions. The mouse will go on sale in late March for prices ranging from 4,410 yen ($37) to 5,775 yen ($49).
Samsung has begun mass production of 60nm DRAM memory, beginning with 1GB DDR2 chips. The advantage to the design is production efficiency, which should create greater yields, possibly decreasing the cost of DRAM in general. Samsung estimates that the 60nm technique should be 40 percent more efficient than current 80nm processes, and 50 percent better than 90nm "general process" technology. What may keep prices from going down, however, is Windows Vista -- the high-end editions require 1GB of DRAM, which could create enough demand to meet the new supply. The new chips should become standard in 2008, with chips 50nm and smaller already in development.
Apple's upcoming iPhone may be entering the earliest stages of production, according to DigiTimes. Sources within the memory industry claim that Samsung is readying its first shipments of flash storage for the cellphone, indicating an early start to the manufacturing process.
The sheer expected demand for flash caused by the iPhone could have a beneficial effect on flash memory prices, the same insiders say. Where competitors Hynix and Samsung have had to drop the prices on their contract offers by a dramatic amount -- by as much as 30 percent, according to reports -- the Apple deal would let the company lock in its prices for the near future by practically controlling the Korean firm's production lines. The effect of the cuts on the iPhone's $499 price tag remain unknown.
Samsung today hoped to appeal to world travelers with the W2500. One of the Korean cellphone maker's increasing number of slim slider phones at 0.54 inches, the phone's chief appeal is its flexibility. The W2500 supports both GSM and WCDMA networks, letting it connect to multiple Asian and European networks -- including the third-generation HSDPA mobile Internet access used in both regions. Equally unique are 3D-effect menus, Samsung says, though the exact workings of the feature remain unknown.
Also present are a 2-megapixel camera at the back and a microSD card slot for storing music and videos. The phone will debut today in Korea with black and silver models, but should find its way to Europe at a later date.
Apple today was successfully granted a patent for an "electronic device formed with doubleshot injection molding." Although seemingly dry, the patent (originally filed in August 2005) effectively refers to the technique used in Microsoft's Zune player to create its distinctive glowing border effect, creating two differently colored walls out of a single plastic shell. The patent suggests that Apple has at least explored the idea of pursuing what Microsoft ultimately chose as the defining aspect of its music player's style.
More details and selected photos can be found after the break.
Virtual network operator Helio on Thursday announced the Heat, a uniquely stylized slider phone. The variant of the Samsung A303 uses touch-sensitive controls around the central keypad, minimizing the clutter at the front. As with the Drift, GPS is built-in and uses Google Maps to both pinpoint the phone's location as well as use the carrier's Buddy Beacon feature to find other users. A 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, and MP3/MP4 playback are further shared with other Helio models. Software and a gallery follow after the jump.
As promised, Sony early this morning launched the A800 series. Also known as the MP3 Video Walkman, the player is dubbed the world's lightest video player by the company considered a blend between a full-sized media jukebox and a slim, flash-based music device. The finished A800 is slightly thicker than the iPod nano at 0.36 inches but uses a larger, 2-inch screen: the extra space provides for video in MPEG-4 or AVC (H.264) at full speed.
The battery life is also exceptional, according to Sony's claims, at 30 hours of continuous music and 8 hours of movies. The new Walkman reflects Sony's more open approach to audio formats and handles AAC, MP3, and WMA along with the Japanese firm's own ATRAC standard.
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