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Sennheiser's new PXC 450 headphones use an over-the-ear design and the company's NoiseGard 2.0 technology (powered by two AAA batteries) to effectively eliminate outside sound. The headphones can operate for up to 16 hours with or without noise cancelling, as the speakers are driven by a separate battery, and wearers can hit the "TalkThrough" button to allow external audio via microphones. All controls are located in a cluster on a single earpiece, and using the power switch will fade audio in and out. The headphones will ship to the UK latest this month for £300 ($595), and come with a travel case, as well as adapters for airplanes and 6.3mm jacks. [via Tech Digest]
Even clearer photos and technical details of the VAIO TZ ultraportable have leaked courtesy of French retailer GrosBill (PDF). Confirming the pick of a 1.06GHz ULV Core 2 Duo, a DVD rewriter, and an integrated VGA camera, the new info also points to an exceptionally thin, MacBook-inspired design. LED backlighting slims down the shell to under 0.9 inches at its thinnest point, and the hinted-at radical keyboard change borrows Apple's trayless design to guard against spills.
After considerable delay, Zenum has confirmed that its first smartphone, the Opus, will at last be released later this spring. Once known as the Opus Operis, it appears to have undergone considerable changes, mainly an aesthetic overhaul that includes switching from white to black and enlarging the QWERTY keys for easier typing. Despite indications on the website, it should also ship with Windows Mobile 6 instead of 5. A version with HSDPA broadband is due by the end of 2008.
iRiver today hoped to spin conventional ideas of the player dock through its Clix Cradle. Built as an accessory just for the second-generation Clix media player, the dock's unique shape lets it flip depending on the role: owners can stand it upright on a USB mount for charging and synchronizing with a computer, but also rest the unit on a flat side for pumping audio through a one-watt speaker system. The Cradle is also unique among docks with a lithium-ion battery that can play about 7 hours of music on a single charge before returning to a PC for its own charge.
The flood of Santa Rosa announcements continues, with Two Top joining NEC in pushing the platform for Japan. The premiere laptop is the ViP Note-ZS (pictured), which has a 15.4-inch WXGA (1280x800) display, a 2GHz Core 2 Duo, and Nvidia's newly-announced GeForce 8600M for video. The system comes stock with 2GB of RAM and 120GB of hard drive space, plus a Super Multi DVD drive. It should be available by the end of the month for 159,800 yen ($1,333).
Samsung is nearing the release of what could be its lowest-cost 3G phone ever for AT&T, an FCC filing shows. The A617 will be a simple clamshell design but will have the extra advantage of a dual-band HSDPA radio, tapping it into AT&T's faster 3G Internet access in the US as well as UMTS in Europe. More mainstream Internet access is available through EDGE and calling is worldwide with a quad-band GSM radio. A mention of 2.4GHz in the filing also points to Bluetooth for headsets and PC sync.
Acer on Thursday followed up its Gemstone notebook announcement with news of a pair of fresh desktop PCs. Updated versions of the home-oriented Aspire SA90 and work-minded AcerPower S290 are each designed to be as fast or frugal as needed with the option of CPUs as low as a Celeron D and as quick as the Core 2 Duo. The two are also exceptions to most PCs with integrated Mirage 3 graphics from SiS rather than Intel. 3D-focused buyers can plug a full-speed PCI Express card into the SA90.
Hisense has just fused a handful of newer technology into its new D907 phone. The candybar-shaped device is one of the still rare phones to run on both CDMA and GSM phone networks; while either radio is only dual-band, the hybrid design lets it roam on CDMA networks worldwide as well as GSM in most areas outside of North America. Other components cater equally to world travelers, such as a 2.2-inch touchscreen that can be used for handwriting recognition for Mandarin and other languages as well as a GPS receiver for a position fix in unfamiliar territory.
Not satisfied with traditional flash memory, Xmultiple today revealed the SQ card, a new format that aims to fix the flaws of earlier formats. Speed is the greatest improvement, the company boats. Every SQ model eliminates the typically slow transfer rates of flash. A mid-range 1GB card can read data at 24MB/sec and write at 12MB/sec, several times faster than SD or similiar formats; top cards can peak at 60MB. The design is also innovative, te company adds. Since each card is perfectly square and has a connector on each side, owners never have to worry about which end to use.
The company behind Sony's Reader e-book, E Ink, has announced the production of a new form of e-paper that should dramatically improve appearance and performance. E-paper is often criticized for being dim and slow to refresh; the new technology, called Vizplex, increases brightness by up eight percent over previous E Ink offerings, and has had its average switch speed cut from 1.2 seconds down to 740ms. The top speed may be as fast as 260ms.
There should also be more tonal range in images, since greyscale levels have been doubled from four to eight. The first Vizplex displays will begin production this summer, and will come in five different sizes, ranging from 1.9 to 9.7 inches. Even this is an improvement, since E Ink had previously been limited to six-inch screens. [via MobileRead]
Nokia today announced that it has begun including a new, eco-friendly alert system into all of its newer phones. Starting with the 1200 series as well as the 1650, the company's handsets will now warn owners to unplug their cellphone charger when the battery is full, preventing the charger from consuming power that will simply go wasted. The savings from this act alone could supply power to 85,000 homes a year, Nokia says.
Technology being developed in the United Kingdom could soon allow GPS navigation without expensive software and displays, according to BBC News. University researchers in Swansea and Glasgow are instead collaborating on an audible guidance system, which could be used in MP3 players and allow music to continue at the same time. After a fixed destination was set, the new system would adjust volume in each ear as direction changes come up. Players could be further programmed to "nudge" a listener towards points of interest, by either adjusting stereo balance, or vibrating the player itself. At the moment, however, this is purely hypothetical -- there is no estimated timeframe for when development will be finished.
Panasonic on Thursday launched the Y7A as its own contribution to the second wave of Santa Rosa notebooks. The Japanese developer's first take on the architecture focuses on longevity over performance with a 1.4GHz low-voltage Core 2 Duo that nets up to 7.5 hours of battery life. Intel's new X3100 video and 802.11n chipset also make their way into the transition. The 14-inch system sees upgrades of Panasonic's own, the company says: base memory sees a boost to 1GB of RAM and an 80GB hard disk, with PC Card and SDHC card readers providing hooks for outside storage.
Two of the United States' most prominent Internet providers are in a race to dramtically improve broadband speeds, writes Broadband Reports. The opening stride was made earlier this week by Comcast, who demonstrated speeds of up to 150Mbps using DOCSIS 3.0 technology -- available in rare instances abroad, but essentially unseen in North America. Comcast's service will only be available in one to two years however, and initial packages will be capped substantially below their potential.
Mitsubishi is readying a fairly remarkable LCD set called the Viseo MDT241WG. Immediately noticeable is the bezel of the screen, which apart from speakers at the bottom, is trimmed as close as that of many computer monitors. But the similarities do not stop there, as despite measuring only 24.1 inches, the set has native support of resolutions up to 1920x1200. Buyers are often limited to sets that are 40 inches or larger before 1080p becomes an option.
The 241 also sports a 1,000:1 contrast ratio and Mitsubishi's MV engine, which should reduce the impact of blur, although response time is rated at a slow 16ms. The set will arrive first in Japan on June 1st, for the equivalent of $1,146. Akihabara News hints at a possible American release.
Microsoft is devising both a more video-friendly Zune as well as major updates to the original's software, according to sources within the company. While the company has reportedly demonstrated a flash-based Zune to developers with little impact, the main hard drive based jukebox will also receive a significant makeover. It should have a larger display better suited to watching movies and should see the first capacity upgrade since the 30GB version introduced in November.
NEC will be among the first Japanese vendors to sell laptops based on the Intel Santa Rosa platform. Its offering is the 15.4-inch VersaPro VD, which has the choice of 1.8 or 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo processors, and up to 2GB of RAM, and 120GB of hard drive space. Buyers can select a DVD combo drive or upgrade to a full burner.
Unlike some Santa Rosa laptops, there appears to be no option for 802.11n wireless, and in fact, just 802.11a/b/g is extra. As befits a Japanese laptop though, users can restrict access to their system through either a fingerprint scan or a FeliCa card. Windows Vista Business or XP Professional can be installed; VD laptops will begin shipping later this month starting at 180,500 yen ($1,505). [via Akihabara News]
Microsoft today adopted a similar exclusivity approach to the Xbox 360 that it has taken with its Zune player. The Xbox 360 Simpsons edition is a special version of the company's standard $399 console meant only to commemorate the upcoming animated movie. In contrast to previous promos with the console, the limited run will color the entire system: the whole shell, as well as the wireless gamepad, will ship in the cartoon's characteristic yellow; the main unit will also have strategically placed art to recall the movie, Microsoft says.
Hitachi today announced that it has started shipping the TravelStar 7K200. The notebook drive is the industry's first to store 200GB while maintaining a desktop-class 7200 RPM speed, and improves even on earlier performance drives: the 7K200 is roughly 18 to 33 percent faster than previous drives operating at the same speed, the company's storage division claims. The updated TravelStar also consumes roughly the same power as 5400 RPM drives and is designed to be quiet enough for watching movies and other clips directly from the hard disk.
Apple has developed a patent that may point the way towards smaller iPhones and touch-sensitive iPods, according to a filing published today. Titled "Back-Side Interface for Hand-Held Devices," the patent hopes to resolve the problem of including touch-sensitive input on smaller screens where the user's hand would obscure the content. The solution described would include a touch-sensitive surface on the opposite side of the screen: users would direct a cursor on the main screen by gliding a finger along the back surface corresponding to the control, triggering actions by applying extra pressure.
Motorola is preparing itself for the iPhone through new hardware, company CEO Ed Zander said at a conference yesterday. The executive claimed that much of Motorola's cellphone strategy is shifting towards Internet access and media playback, and that the company would announce a high-end phone at a European event next week that would reinforce the firm's position against Apple.
"This [phone] has unbelievable video capability. It's a media monster," Zander said.
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