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Electronics manufacturer Genius has released a pair of new game peripherals, one relatively mundane, the other distinctly unusual. The latter is the ErgoMedia 500 (pictured), a keypad designed explicitly for gaming. A padded extension keeps the user's hand comfortable, and there are 11 programmable keys, as well as a four-way direction pad located by the thumb. To make things even easier, gamers can assign macros to the keys, and switch between three configurations to handle different gameplay situations. Speaker and microphone jacks eliminate the need to reach behind a computer.
Pantech's luxury division Sky today confirmed that it was at last shipping the IM-R200. Still claimed as one of the most original cellphone designs to date, the slider's keypad replaces physical buttons with an OLED touchpad that changes the interface depending on the use: a keypad is used for calling, but camera and music controls can also take their place as the situation demands.
System builder ASUS played its part in the Intel Santa Rosa release with a comprehensive update to its notebooks. Again revealed in advance, the update centers around gaming with the 15-inch G1S and 17-inch G2S both sporting 256MB GeForce 8600M GT graphics and Core 2 Duos between 1.8 and 2.4GHz. Either will have a 1.3-megapixel webcam, the choice of between 80GB to 200GB of storage, and 802.11n Wi-Fi. Each keeps the signature side lighting and carbon fiber-like styling of the pioneering editions.
Creative today revealed the X-Fi Xtreme Audio Notebook, its inaugural sound card for modern notebooks with an ExpressCard 54 slot. First suggested by its quiet CeBIT intro, the adapter not only offloads sound processing from the notebook's main CPU but also uses its Crystalizer technology to restore much of the detail lost in compressing sound to MP3 or other formats. It can also simulate 3D sound through a stereo speaker arrangement.
Validating earlier FCC leaks, Fujitsu put itself in the midst of the Santa Rosa launch today with four new LifeBook models using the enhanced processors. Commanding the announcement is the T4220 tablet. As confirmed, the system will be unusually quick among tablets with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo. 1GB of RAM, a 120GB hard drive, and a DVD-RW drive are now part of the stock configuration along with the already-known 802.11a/b/g and Bluetooth. It ships later in the spring starting at $1,750.
Moving forward with the total dissolution of the Cingular name, the Cingular 8525 smartphone (pictured) has been simply renamed the AT&T 8525. Some upgrades have been included with the change though, most notably support for AT&T Mobile Music, which includes 25 XM Radio stations. The service further enables more conventional streams, plus the download of songs, ringtones, videos and track identification.
The phone has also been updated to use AT&T's Push-to-Talk technology, but is otherwise unchanged. It still has WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0 and a two-megapixel camera, as well as a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, typical of the HTC phones the 8525 is based on. The new 8525 will go on sale May 14th starting at $400; the older verision can be upgraded through a download. Windows Mobile 6 will become available later in the year.
Gateway on Wednesday led its updates to the newest Core 2 Duos with a pair of E-series notebooks. Instead of choosing NVIDIA's new 8M graphics, however, the company is defining its new portables through an AMD-based video chip. Buyers of specific variants on the 15.4-inch E-475M or 14-inch E-265M can opt for a Mobility Radeon HD X2300 with 256MB or 512MB of video memory, giving a tangible boost to 3D, movies, and Windows Vista without eating significantly into the battery. Some models also come with 802.11n wireless and up to a 12-cell battery, which can extend battery life to over 10.5 hours by Gateway's estimation.
Acer today took the wraps off the first definite portable PC to use the Gemstone design. The Aspire 5920 serves as the PC creator's technology showcase with both Core 2 Duos from Intel's Santa Rosa generation as well as a 256MB GeForce 8600M GT, a gamer-friendly 15.4-inch LCD with an 8ms pixel response time, and 802.11n Wi-Fi. Certain models also have an HD DVD drive with HDMI out, a DVB-T tuner for European TV, and hard drives with Intel's Turbo Memory for flash-boosted hard drive access.
Toshiba has begun selling two new laptops in its Tecra business series, now built on Intel's Santa Rosa platform. The foremost is the M9, which, though it only has a 14.1-inch screen, benefits from the option of dedicated graphics: a 128MB Quadro NVS 130 should boost performance considerably, the alternative being an integrated X3100 chipset. In either case the display has a native resolution of 1440x900. The X3100 is the lone video option on the A9, which is limited to 1280x800 resolution, despite an increase in screen size to 15.4 inches.
In tandem with its new plasma sets, Pioneer has announced four AV receivers in its Elite line (not pictured): the VSX-90TXV, 91TXH, 92TXH and 94TXH. The latter three are the focus of the company's efforts, as they support HDMI 1.3a, which is said to have twice the bandwidth of earlier HDMI connectors. They are also equipped with better sound support, including DTS-HD, Dolby TrueHD, and Dolby Digital Plus. The 92 and 94 go a step further, supporting Neural-THX Surround -- this attempts to recreate original theatrical audio separation, but supports anything from two-channel stereo through to 7.1 surround.
Sony today used the occasion of Intel's Santa Rosa platform to unveil the VAIO FZ, a completely new entry into its PC line. The FZ is said to be the world's first truly thin and light notebook with a Blu-Ray drive: at 5.8 pounds, the 15.4-inch system is far smaller and more portable than the desktop replacement AR-series but loses little of the media-friendly touches. Dedicated media controls ahead of the keyboard, as well as HDMI output on the Blu-Ray model, should streamline playing movies directly from the notebook itself or through a TV. Unlike many PCs introduced today, 802.11n Wi-Fi is standard across every model. An ExpressCard 34 slot and readers for both Memory Stick and SD cards are part of the chassis.
Berkeley Varitronics Systems has unveiled a new Yellowjacket handheld 802.11 b/a/g Wi-Fi analyzer and spectrum analyzer. The new test receiver system demodulates, sweeps, and analyzes all popular 802.11 Wi-Fi network packets including 802.11b (2.4GHz), 802.11g (2.4GHz) and 802.11a (5GHz). Yellowjacket B/A/G is also a spectrum analyzer (accurate to within +1dB) that measures RF energy allowing detailed interference analysis as well as the ability to see the "whole picture" of a 2.4GHz and 5GHz network WISP or hotpsot. An optional Swarm software bundle creates overlays for mapping coverage analysis. The Yellowjacket B/A/G and Swarm Wi-Fi analysis tools are slated for shipment in the third quarter of 2007.
Although Pioneer's new Project Kuro plasmas were announced yesterday, the company did not have dates or prices for the United States; these are now public. The soonest to arrive will be the PDP-4280HD and the PDP-5080HD, coming in June. They are 42- and 50-inch models, limited to an XGA native resolution, and will sell for $2,700 and $3,500. July will see the arrival of Elite PRO sets with similar specifications, but priced at $3,200 and $4,500.
The 1080p sets -- due in September -- will likewise have PDP and PRO versions, but will only be available in 50- and 60-inch sizes. The two PDPs will cost $5,000 and $6,500; the PROs will represent the top of the price scale, weighing in at $6,000 and $7,500.
Apple could have one of its MacBook lines revised as soon as next week, according to multiple claims. Speaking to retail stores, Gizmodo's Jason Chen and other sources allege that replacement systems in at least one line will arrive as soon as next week. In at least one case, quantities of Apple's normally healthy stock were running low at resellers, pointing to an update.
"I was at a small box retailer with a good selection," says one backer of the claim. "They had not received any new MacBook Pros in over two weeks. [The store] hinted that this also meant something new was coming."
Dell today chose its Latitude notebooks as the first to receive an upgrade to Intel's faster Core 2 Duos based on the Santa Rosa platform. Confirmed in a late leak, the D630 and D830 will offer the extra speed as well as enhanced storage: custom orders can pick from Intel's Turbo Memory flash cache, a hybrid hard drive with its own flash buffer, or a completely flash-based solid state drive to cut down on loading times and battery consumption. The combination of CPU and storage upgrades adds as much as 15 percent more speed while also extending battery life to as much as 9.4 hours in the system builder's testing.
Palm has announced that later this month, Sprint will begin carrying the new Treo 755p (link down). While a relative of the GSM-based Treo 750, the 755p marks several firsts. It is for instance the first CDMA Treo to use a completely internalized antenna, making the phone easier to carry in a pocket; it is also the first Palm OS Treo to support Microsoft Direct Push, enabling automatic e-mail downloads from Exchange servers. Finally, the phone is the first Treo to be preloaded with Google Maps, eliminating the hassle of downloading content every time a user wants directions or traffic information.
After numerous leaks, NVIDIA today has rolled out its officially-titled GeForce 8M series of mobile graphics chips. The GPUs are the first to support unified shaders in portables, enabling full DirectX 10 support for Vista as well as improved OpenGL for faster 3D. The architecture can be twice as quick as the last generation, NVIDIA claims. Just as important is video decoding: like the desktop GeForce 8600, the 8M can accelerate the entire H.264 video process, making it easy to play Blu-Ray, HD DVD, and other 1080p-native movies on a notebook without siphoning away CPU and memory resources.
Lenovo this morning contributed its own share to the series of Santa Rosa-based notebooks unveiled today. Two 14-inch notebooks see the performance upgrade and also mark firsts for the company's ThinkPad line: the T61 is the first-ever widescreen T-series at the size, while the mid-range R61 is the first widescreen R-series of any kind. Either system also has a series of improvements to the battery and safety performance, Lenovo says. A new honeycombed shell, dubbed the Top Roll Cage, reduces impact stress by as much as 25 percent to prevent the LCD from shattering in a drop; owners can also count on a more efficient and quieter cooling system as well as Battery Stretch software that draws running time out by an extra 15 percent. Wireless reception has also seen a step upwards.
Toshiba on Wednesday launched a sweeping series of changes to its notebooks, topping them all with the introduction of a new Qosmio media center portable. As alluded to by a European leak, the G45 will represent a major shift in the style of the previously all-black system and should also be loaded with the company's best features. While the company will only confirm that it will use GeForce Go 8600-series graphics, European and Japanese news points to a 256MB GeForce Go 8600 GT. The hardware will let the PC run full DirectX 10 graphics effects and should also help with video.
Samsung today also joined in the suite of notebook releases matching Intel's Santa Rosa unveiling with full Korean details of the Aura notebooks first revealed at CeBIT. The 12-inch Q45 will make some tradeoffs versus the edition destined for Europe: while the 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo and 1GB of memory remain intact, the ultraportable will step down its graphics to Intel's X3100 in exchange for a DMB tuner for over-the-air digital TV. It should also pack 120GB of hard drive storage.
Complementing its newly introduced flagship 20-inch 1080p notebook, HP today debuted more than a dozen new stylish consumer and business notebooks with more advanced features. The Pavillion notebooks offer consumers the option to add Verizon's high-speed wireless broadband network card: the EV-DO Rev and are expected to be available starting May 9, 2007. In addition, to simplify product selection, HP business notebook model numbers are now based around three product groupings - Ultra-Light (2000), Balanced Mobility (6000) and High Performance (8000). HP is also introducing four feature packages in its business notebooks -- standard (s), business (b), professional (p) and workstation (w) to allow customers to easily identify the different feature sets.
Market-leader Hewlett-Packard today debuted a range of mobile computing services and devices--including a 20-inch 1080p-capable notebook--at the third annual HP Mobility Summit in Shanghai. The company unveiled more than a dozen notebook PCs as well as mobile device management software, mobile messaging and collaboration services, and 3G mobile video solutions, including messaging and mobile blogging services. HP also announced "mscape," a prototype software suite and website that overlays digital sight, sounds and interactions on the physical world to create what the company calls "immersive and interactive experiences."
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