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Wilson Electronics has released the SignalBoost, a dual-band amplifier that should work with any cellphone or PCS carrier. The device uses 3W of power to increase mobile output signal, strengthening it by as much as 10 to 15 times over its normal levels. To further improve performance, users can also use various antennas, or the bundled DC power connector for car cigarette lighters. The SignalBoost should function with cellular-based laptop modems as well. Sites such as AlternativeWireless are selling the device for $220.
Without fanfare, prices on Toshiba's HD DVD drives have begun dropping dramatically, note members of AVS Forum. OneCall is cutting the prices of the HD-A2 and HD-A20 to $400 and $500 as of April 1st, while the HD-XA2 is now $800, a full $200 less than its normal MSRP. The price cuts are even more severe at Amazon, where the XA2 is a full $400 below MSRP. In all cases customers can use Toshiba's offer for five free movies.
The move is likely a response to the increasing success of Blu-Ray, which has been gaining ground since January, possibly as a result of Sony's Playstation 3 console. While owners of the Microsoft Xbox 360 can buy an HD DVD drive, PS3s feature Blu-Ray built-in, giving the technology an automatic installed user-base. Sony is the primary backer of Blu-Ray.
Toshiba and Matsushita have together announced a new set of LED-lit displays for notebooks. The 10.4-inch and 10.6-inch, 1280x768 screens are meant for truly ultraportable computers and share all the benefits of LED backlighting, according to Toshiba. Future systems using the screens will be thinner, have improved brightness, and run longer on an existing battery. Even the durability of the system will improve due to the reduced number of breakable parts, the company says.
The screens join several other recently introduced models ranging between 8.9 and 13.3 inches, all of which are used today or will appear soon for upcoming notebooks. The 10.4- and 10.6-inch screens are being sent to computer builders today in bulk prices of $350.
Home theater firm 3NOD has used its time at CeBIT to reveal the A-2903 speaker system. Primarily an iPod dock, the flying saucer-shaped plays from all dockable versions of Apple's music player and for the iPod shuffle and any other digital music player through an aux input jack. Its atypical design is more than cosmetic, however: the design allows for a top-loading DVD player and an internal subwoofer to bolster the 10-watt satellites. An SD card slot at the back will load music directly, and an AM/FM tuner provides radio.
Availability and pricing of the 2903 was not discussed at the CeBIT expo. However, the company does export its products beyond its home territory and should make the iPod speakers available to other regions with the next few months. [via AVING]
More details have surfaced about Microsoft's black Xbox 360, according to online sources. To be called the Xbox 360 Elite, the console with HDMI and a 120GB hard disk will be treated first as a special edition, complete with a black gamepad and Xbox Live headset. Only a few hundred thousand will at most be produced and should ultimately result in the regular, white Premium model receiving the same features once Elite supplies are exhausted. It should also run cooler, the information claims.
An exact release date for the Elite is still unknown, but should be scheduled for late April or May. White versions of the console are expected by summer or early fall and may command an increase over their $399 equivalents today. [via Engadget]
HTC is planning a distinctive phone that will solve the problem of typing at a desk without consuming extra bulk, a leak has revealed. Nicknamed the Kaiser, the smartphone would sit halfway between the Vox and the computer-like Advantage: the QWERTY keyboard not only slides outward but also tilts the phone's body at an angle for a more natural typing experience at a desk.
The leak also confirms certain key details by itself, including the presence of Windows Mobile 6, a 3-megapixel camera, and 3G wireless (confirmed by a front VGA camera). A formal announcement is expected within the next few months; more photos follow after the break. [via Mobile Life]
Sony today revealed the 4GB Micro Vault Tiny, the smallest-ever drive from the company to hold that level of storage. Despite its size, the drive can hold almost 70 hours of music, according to Sony. The drive also comes preloaded with a Virtual Expander program that can roughly triple the amount of data stored on the drive when direct access to the files on the drive isn't necessary.
The 4GB Tiny comes in a single purple color with a unique soft pouch to hold the drive on a keychain or in a pocket, and ships now for Mac- and Windows-using European buyers at an unlisted price. A North American version is expected soon.
Updated Microsoft's heavily rumored third Xbox 360 is real, according to Game Informer editor Matt Helgeson. The magazine's April issue reports that a new, top-end version of the console will ship in a home theater-friendly black and have the hardware features needed to take advantage of HD video. A now-confirmed HDMI connector would let the Xbox send audio and video to an HDTV through a single cable, including at the 1080p resolution for protected movies played by Microsoft's HD DVD add-on. Also confirmed is a 120GB hard drive to help cope with the multi-gigabyte videos from the firm's Xbox Video Marketplace.
More details and magazine scans follow after the break.
Smartphone developer Palm may be sold to a competitor by the end of the week, according to an anonymous financial analyst speaking with Unstrung. The trade news site claims that investment firm Morgan Stanley is keen to have any one of four buyers close a deal by this Thursday -- including offers from Motorola and Nokia.
Motorola is particularly interested, according to the report, as a successful buyout would not only help to keep Nokia out of the US business market but would also help it compete against RIM, whose BlackBerry smartphones frequently dominate the workplace.
Velocity Micro is preparing to ship what should be the first-ever Media Center PCs with CableCARD support -- essentially, special PC Cards that replace the set-top boxes used by many digital TV providers. The technology will filter through AMD's TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner, which also tunes in QAM, ATSC and NTSC signals. Two specific models will carry the TV Wonder: the CineMagix Pro Cinema, which uses an AMD CPU as well, and the Intel-based CineMagix Grand Theater. The computers are also unique in that they will ship with an optional 2x Blu-Ray burner. They should go on sale in early April, and will start at $1,755 for the Pro Cinema and $2,195 for the Grand Theater. [via DailyTech]
Envision this afternoon shipped a pair of computer LCDs under its AOC label ready for protected videos. The 22-inch 212Va-1 and its 19-inch equivalent the 912Vwa-1 both have HDCP encryption support, letting them play movies from certain protected Blu-Ray or HD DVD discs without degrading the image resolution. The LCDs are also smart enough to properly display 720p and 1080i images from game consoles and movie players that work with DVI, Envision notes, and have bbeen Vista-certified.
The new screens also claim 5ms pixel response times suitable for fast-action scenes as well as 800:1 and 700:1 respective contrast ratios. The displays ship starting today at $299 for the 22-inch panel and $189 for its 19-inch equivalent.
Approved earlier this month by the FCC, alleged photos of the Nokia 7088 have appeared at Hungarian site Terminal.hu. Though it has an usual aesthetic in its control pad, it otherwise appears to be a fairly low-end slider phone, operating only on CDMA networks with no sign of broadband data connections. Likewise, the screen is limited to 128x160 resolution and 65,536 colors. A GSM version is a possibility but by no means confirmed. The phone may also run the Symbian S40 OS. No prices or release dates have been suggested so far. Click below for larger photos.
Microsoft on Tuesday brought its cordless desktops to a wider audience with the Wireless Laser Desktop 4000. As suggested by its name, the combo connects through RF wireless to a PC and upgrades the company's earlier optical 4000 model with the company's Wireless Laser Mouse 5000 for better mouse pointing.
Like the company's newer add-ons, the keyboard also includes shortcut buttons for Windows Vista. A Gadget button quickly accesses the operating system's mini applications for weather or stocks, while a LiveCall button speeds access to live text or AV chats. The entire set will arrive in April for $80.
8x8 has started shipping the Tango Video Terminal Adapter, meant to complement its VoIP phone services. The difference with the Tango is that users can plug it into a standard home phone, enabling video calls using the existing hardware's keypad and audio equipment. The secret is that the Tango also connects to an Ethernet port, through which it streams H.264 compressed video. Users can also make voice-only Internet calls. The Tango's camera is a 0.25-megapixel model that swivels 180 degrees, and displays its images on a five-inch LCD, through which users can also access a graphical interface with phonebook and settings menus. 8x8 is selling the adapter for $250 along with a $25 monthly phone plan.
Though only sold with the company's Pro software packages, the DigitalPersona U.are.U Fingerprint Keyboard may make things simpler for governments, businesses and other institutions that ask for extra security at each computer. It not only integrates a reader directly into the keyboard, it simplifies the process by eliminating the need for swiping the digit, and (depending on settings) can be used to automatically log-on to computers and networks, or lock and unlock operating systems. Only Windows 2000, 2003 Server and XP Professional systems are supported. Both the Pro Workstation and Pro Kiosk packages cost $169.
DLO pledged its allegiance to the Zune today and released two new accessories for the fledgling player. The HomeDock for Zune is like its iPod equivalent in putting the Microsoft device's music, movies, and photos on to a TV screen. Owners control tracks with a wireless 18-button remote. The dock connects to any TV with an RCA input and will charge the Zune, also synchronizing it with a PC when connected by a USB cable. It ships now for $100.
The company also began shipping its previously announced TransDock micro for Zune. A small FM transmitter, it plugs into the 12-volt port found on many cars and plays the Zune's music while keeping the jukebox charged. An auxiliary input lets the dock also stream audio from an iPod or other audio sources. It should also be available today for $70.
Motorola this morning tackled the normally cautious world of business computers by releasing a new handheld and a pair of pro notebook PCs. The MC70 handheld (shown) is one of the first shock-proof PDAs to come equipped with third-generation wireless, sporting EVDO (instead of the 2.5G EDGE format) for getting Internet data to its 3.5-inch touchscreen without having to use a local network. The device also stacks up against other PDAs with 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for access where it's safe to use them, Motorola says. The MC70 is already shipping with the new EVDO pack at prices ranging between $2,845 and $3,195 depending on the necessary gear bundled with the device.
Epson has updated its retro-styled digital camera, the R-D1. First released in 2004, the camera mimics rangefinders from the 1960s and '70s, but is actually based on the modern Bessa R2. This extends to the Color Skopar lens, although the new R-D1s comes with a 28mm f/3.5 lens rather than the R2's 50mm f/2.5, and uses a Leica L mount rather than an M. Upgrades over the R-D1 include a 6.1-megapixel sensor and a reduction in weight to 5.7 ounces. This technology does not come cheap however, as the camera is selling in Japan for the equivalent of $2,566. A variety of secondary lenses are available. [via Impress Watch]
AnyTrack today launched the GPS-100 (pictured at right) for both everyday users and businesses that want to track people or their vehicles. The card-sized box contains both a GPS receiver and a cellular transmitter; using CDMA cellphone networks, the device can relay its position indoors when interference would block normal mapping. Checking its whereabouts only requires a computer with secure Web access. Battery life is also long at up to three weeks on standby, AnyTrack says.
The GPS-100 itself is typically available for $229 but is currently being sold for $199. Its accompanying tracking service requires either $15 or $20 per month depending on how often the owner wants to check locations, with the basic Lite plan offering 15 checks per month and the premium Frequent plan offering 50.
Sony today confirmed that it would release its anticipated 1.6 PlayStation 3 Update on Thursday, adding some of the most heavily requested features to the recent game console. Background downloading is one of the most important changes, the company says. As with an update last year to the Xbox 360, the PS3 can now download games, movies, and other content in the background, queuing up as many as six files while browsing the web or playing media through the main console interface. Owners will also have the option of running Folding@home on idle systems, using the specialized Cell CPU to help solve protein folding problems roughly 20-30 times faster than a normal PC.
Sanyo on Tuesday officially confirmed the US release of two new Xacti models recently announced for Japan. The CG65 is Sanyo's first DV camera to capture footage in the efficient H.264 format: thanks to support for the recent SDHC format, it can record up to 10 hours of NTSC (640x480) video on an 8GB card. Also present are gyroscopic sensors to stabilize the image, a 10X optical zoom lens, and the ability to capture 6-megapixel still images while recording videos.
The more mainstream CG6 shares all the same features save for H.264 recording, according to the company; it opts instead for larger MPEG-4 clips that provide up to eight hours of video. The CG65 and CG6 will both go on sale in April at prices of $400 and $330 respectively.
Hitachi this morning launched the new Wooo 01 line of flat-panel TVs. Focusing primarily on recording, most models come with an internal 250GB hard drive as well as dual sets of analog and digital TV tuners to record one show while watching another. The flagship XR models in each line also add support for Maxell's new iVDR removable drives: designed to be interchangeable between TVs, PCs, and other devices, the hard disks slot in without any cables to add as much as 160GB extra storage or to copy unprotected videos to and from the set. Studios such as Warner Home Video are even offering limited-run 40GB drives preloaded with protected movies, Hitachi says.
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