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Griffin Technology today announced shipments of two new speaker systems for iPod: its Amplifi and Journi (pictured at right)-- marking the company's official entry into the expanding portable media player speaker business. Journi is Griffin's personal mobile speaker system housed in a "rugged, tuck-under-your-arm & go-anywhere package." The company says the innovative Wrapstand exterior protects 2.0 stereo system and the iPod while on the go and flips open to create its own stand. It features high-efficiency internal Lithium-Ion batteries recharge with the included AC adapter or through any computer's powered USB port ("Dual Fuel" technology).
British company iSymphony has released a new Bluetooth-equipped home stereo system, the V1BLUEe, which (inaccurately) is said to be the first in the world that is A2DP-ready. This allows the streaming of audio to Bluetooth headphones, and for external music sources such as cellphones to do the reverse. Particularly important is the inclusion of the Bluetooth Wireless Universal Dock, which uses adapters to allow any type of iPod to charge, sync and play at the same time.
Other audio sources include an FM radio, an SD/MMC slot, and a CD player able to read MP3 and WMA files. The system is equipped with two 10W speakers and a 25W subwoofer, and when a phonecall comes in, music is paused, and the stereo can be used as a hands-free speakerphone. The product should be out in the UK in June for £250 ($500). [via Tech Digest]
BenQ on Thursday added the FP93GP to its growing stable of 19-inch displays. The LCD tops its predecessors through a heavily upgraded MVA-based panel that greatly increases the image quality over earlier models and most of its rivals. The contrast ratio is a far superior 1,300:1, BenQ claims, and is backed by near-perpendicular viewing angles of 178 degrees both horizontally and vertically. Pixel response times are rated at a modest 8ms capable of handling most movies and games, but the thin half-inch bezel is ideal for multi-LCD setups, according to the display maker.
Though generally not known for its computer hardware, Philips is releasing four new solo mice, plus a mouse/keyboard combo. The most preeminent mouse is the SPM8713, which is a wireless unit devised for laptops. It uses Philips' unique "twin-eye" laser sesnor, and has very high resolution, rated at 1,600dpi. Reflecting its purpose the mouse is also geared to save power, shutting off automatically when it not in use. Battery life is thus estimated to be a full year.
The formal announcement of AMD's forthcoming Radeon HD 2900 have been moved up, according to sources familiar with the company's plans. Previously set for May 14th, the 2900 XT will launch on May 2nd and has had its price set at $399, placing the card in direct competition with the 640MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS that AMD hopes to outperform. The 740MHz core clock speed and 1.65GHz effective memory outlined in earlier leaks should remain in place, the sources said.
The change will mean that the release may become a "soft launch" where official details are published before availability; however, the cards and the mainstream HD 2600 and 2400 versions should be available by the originally scheduled May 14th introduction.
Microsoft won't produce a Zune-branded cellphone, company CEO Steve Ballmer has told inquisitive journalists. The executive suggested that the idea of grafting phone functions on to its recent music player was impractical and would be better-served by adding the interface to Windows Mobile, which is more universal and adaptable to special controls.
"It's not a concept you'll ever get from us. We're in the Windows Mobile business," he said. "We can put Zune into Windows Mobile, we can put Xbox into Windows Mobile. We can pour everything in."
Other World Computing (OWC) today launched its new Mercury On-The-Go USB2+eSATA portable hard drive with transfer rates faster than those supported by USB or USB 2.0 Bus interfaces. The impact-resistant acrylic enclosure boasts a sleek design, and incorporates shock-isolation technology while weighing less than 11 ounces. The enclosure itself utilizes the latest SATA 2.5-inch hard drives, and draws power from a USB cable which negates the need to use the included AC adapter. Users connecting via eSATA must use the AC adapter to power the enclosure, which ships with cables for USB 2.0 as well as eSATA with full retail licensed versions of Prosoft DataBackup III for Mac OS X and NovaStor NovaBackup for Windows. OWC's Mercury On-The-Go USB2+eSATA portable hard drives are priced from $120 with storage capacities ranging between 80GB and 200GB. The company also offers a USB 2.0-only version starting from $100 without eSATA port support.
LG has published a pair of US patents that may affect Apple's ability to produce future iPhone designs. The first, titled "Mobile Communication Terminal Having Multiple Displays," would take the exclusively touchscreen-driven interface of the Apple handset and LG's own Prada and convert it to clamshell form. A second touchscreen would replace the conventional keypad, according to the patent. The change would not only allow a more dynamic finger- or stylus-based interface that could use either display, but could let data elements swap between screens.
Samsung today at last released the Ultra 5.9, also known as the C210. Introduced as far back as January, the phone still delivers on its record-setting, namesake 5.9mm (0.23-inch) thickness though has made a slight sacrifice in camera quality compared to the original plans: a 2-megapixel sensor replaces the ambitious 3.2-megapixel version first set to appear in the wafer-like bar phone. Nevertheless, the design still finds room for Bluetooth, EVDO Internet, and 80MB of flash to store a modest amount of MP3 music.
AT&T today added a new option to its usual mix of phone and data plans. Called Messaging Unlimited, the new plan lets subscribers send messages to any computer or phone in the US without worrying about adding too much to monthly expenses -- including for data-heavy video messaging and Internet-based IM chats, AT&T is keen to point out.
The plan takes effect immediately and adds $20 per month to whatever phone service a customer might already have. Those who know that most of their recipients will be fellow AT&T customers can drop the price to $10 per month.
Audiovox today previewed the XpressR, a receiver it claims is the world's first satellite radio to have a split-screen interface. Its widescreen LCD provides headroom enough to browse the channel guide while still viewing the existing station's track data. The R in the product name also hints at the radio's replay function, according to the company: buffer memory gives the XpressR as much as 30 minutes of audio to pause or backtrack through the recording. Listerns alternately have the option of checking stocks, weather, and other news regardless of station and can set the receiver to automatically switch to stations when a favorite musician or sports event goes on-air.
Ken Kutaragi is leaving his main positions at the head of Sony's PlayStation division as of June, the company announced today. Though staying on with the company as a senior technical advisor to CEO Howard Stringer, Kutaragi is leaving his CEO and chairman spots at Sony Computer Entertainment, which handles all of the company's console-related efforts. SCE president Kaz Hirai will assume the CEO role in his coworker's place.
Officially described as a retirement, the departure is widely believed to be a response to the poor sales of the PS3 since its November debut as well as the hardware design choices that caused shippind delays and inflated the Blu-Ray system's price.
Not content with its dominance of toys and DVDs, Mattel is taking the Barbie franchise online this week with Barbie Girls, which it positions as the first virtual world designed specfically for young girls. Subscribers will be able to engage in a number of stereotypically female activities, including customizing appearance, designing a personal room, and shopping at a virtual mall. Much of a user's time will be spent earning "B Bucks," needed to use all the available options.
The service is essentially a promotional vehicle however for an upcoming music player called the Barbie Girl, launching in July. Shaped like a doll, it will have its own optional clothing and accessories, and will behave as a "key" to unlock new items and locations in the online realm. The player itself is limited to playing only non-DRM encrypted MP3 and WMA files, which are stored on 512MB of internal memory, or else on a miniSD card. Pricing should be $60 for the player and $10 for each Accessory Pack.
Japanese outfit MBCO has released a new media player, the MBR0501A. Perhaps more accurately described as a portable television, its main purpose is to display Japanese broadcast channels, whether they come through the 1Seg mobile format or through MobaHO. MobaHO is a digital satellite service that serves Japan exclusively, and offers video, audio and data channels. Notably, memory on the player (expandable through SD) allows DVR functions wherever an owner goes; MBCO claims that as much as 78 hours of MobaHO video can be saved to disk.
Sharp on Thursday revitalized its AQUOS video recorders with the DV-ACV52. The Japanese firm's hybrid device can record and output most video in just about any modern storage format: a digital TV tuner captures over-the-air HD broadcasts to a 250GB hard drive, including on a schedule for DVR functionality; the same drive can be used to store video recorded from its DVD drive, VHS deck, and DV or HDV cameras attached through an integrated FireWire (i.Link) jack. The system can also write to either DVD discs or VHS tapes.
Klipsch has recently unveiled the iGroove SXT, its smallest-ever iPod speaker dock. The home theater designer hopes to bring the sound quality of the iGroove HG and larger bookshelf speakers into a more compact form without sacrificing quality. The SXT has the same true stereo speaker arrangement as its larger cousin and also shares dual 2.5-inch, long-throw woofers for the company's historically strong bass; its 3/4-inch tweeters are also the only in the class to use horns to better reproduce upper ranges without requiring more power.
The unique peer-to-peer TV service Joost has landed a new set of ads for its channels, the self-titled company revealed today. While most of these services run with small-scale ads or none at all, the service developed by Skype's creators has today secured ads from some of the highest-profile companies in worldwide ads, including Coca-Cola, Intel, and Nike. Different areas will see different ads, Joost said: US viewers will see ads for Microsoft, for example, while Europeans may see ads for Opel or Vodafone among other firms.
The Apple TV media hub's best market may actually be Canada, according to a member of the Apple Independent Retailers Council. Associate and Carbon Computing president Ron Paley notes that the device has been "selling as fast as we get them" at his store chain, which is one of the largest unofficial Apple reseller networks in the country and competes with three Apple-run stores in the Toronto area. The success is especially notable given the lack of content in Canada, as the region's iTunes Store currently goes without the full-length movies and TV shows that form the backbone of Apple's selling tactics in the US.
Sony is ready to abandon some of its most cherished habits for the sake of a new digital music player, according to an anonymous tipster. The B100 line will be the first Walkman to use drag-and-drop song transfer, avoiding use of Sony's preferred SonicStage for synchronizing music. The company is also set to shock by dropping its jealously guarded ATRAC format, according to the source, rendering it incompatible with Sony's Connect online store and other proprietary software. Support will be limited to MP3, unprotected WMA, and potentially AAC as well, the source claims. An FM tuner with recording should be part of the design.
Sony today brought its PlayStation camera into the current generation with the PLAYSTATION Eye. A match for the PS3, the Eye is a near-complete overhaul of the PS2's EyeToy. A newer sensor helps lower-light scenes and dramatically improves the frame rate for improved tracking in motion-sensitive games: a VGA-resolution image runs at a game-friendly 60 frames per second, while a smaller QVGA image runs faster still at 120 frames per second. The camera's microphone is also a major improvement that adapts specifically to voices and filters background noise for chats and voice commands.
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