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A record industry group that collects royalties from Internet and satellite radio, SoundExchange, has agreed to defer the royalty payments of smaller Internet stations. The US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) has ruled that as of May 1st 2007 and retroactive to January 1st 2006, Internet broadcasters are eligible for paying much higher fees per song; since many stations operate on little or no profit, however, the ruling would effectively kill networks such as SomaFM.
Reuters notes that unfortunately for those affected, the deferment may only be temporary. "Although the rates revised by the CRB are fair and based on the value of music in the marketplace," says SoundExchange director John Simson, "there's a sense in the music community and in Congress that small Webcasters need more time to develop their businesses."
Creative has announced that retailers are beginning to sell the Optia AF, first revealed in March. The device improves on average webcams by having a two-megapixel sensor, as well as an autofocus lens, which can be rotated 270 degrees or tilted over 90 degrees while still retaining proper video orientation. Bundled software allows parents to ban children from using the camera, or any user to add visual and audio effects, such as different accents and genders. Stereo microphones and noise cancellation technology help to improve sound quality. The Optia AF is being sold for $130.
The US Congress today approved a new anti-spyware bill that it hopes will combat the most dangerous kinds of the web-based code. Sponsored by California Democrat Zoe Lofgren, the legislation would outlaw any program that installs itself without permission to commit fraud, such as stealing credit card information or otherwise misrepresenting users through the computer. Those found guilty under the new terms could be sent to prison for up to five years, according to the bill.
Motorola is set to release only the third phone to date for Verizon's V CAST TV service, a new FCC filing shows. Called the ROKR Z6tv, the device will play on the original concept of the Linux-based ROKR Z6m music phone by adding a MediaFLO receiver for picking up Verizon's digital TV channels anywhere inside the provider's coverage area. Unlike the LG VX9400 or Samsung U620, however, the antenna will be hidden within the body rather than mounted externally to avoid disrupting the slider's appearance.
Although still officially limited to Japan, Sony's new TZ-series ultraportable has already become available through Dynamism, the well-known cross-Pacific reseller. The single TZ90 on offer represents Sony's fastest model with a 1.2GHz ultra-low voltage Core 2 Duo, 1GB of RAM, and the choice of either a 32GB solid-state hard drive, a 160GB magnetic drive, or a mixture of the two that replaces the system's internal DVD rewriter. An English version of Windows Vista Home Premium is already installed along with the relevant manual, according to Dynamism.
Complementing an early release in France, Sony has just launched its VAIO BX41 notebook. Despite its professional audience, the system is built both for stronger 3D and other media-friendly roles than typical for its class: a 128MB Mobility Radeon HD 2300 and a 1.3-megapixel webcam are standard. A Santa Rosa-based 2GHz Core 2 Duo on an 800MHz bus is teamed up with 2GB of RAM for better overall speed. Storage is offered through a 120GB hard drive and a DVD rewriter.
The specific PC models that will have Ubuntu Linux as an option have been revealed, says a company e-mail published online. Only a single notebook, the 15.4-inch Inspiron E1505, will have the option of pre-installing the open-source software in place of Windows XP or Vista; two desktops, the standard mid-tower Dimension E520 and the more performance-oriented XPS 410, will also receive the choice. Precise hardware configurations weren't part of the leak, but the choice of models indicates that only Intel-based systems will be on offer, excluding AMD entirely.
SoundTech has released the LightSnake iChat, a USB headset. The product separates itself in that like other LightSnake products, the cables illuminate when connected, and flash as audio is being transmitted. The iChat also relies on an in-line dongle, which allows users to replace the included earbuds with their own headphones. The earbuds have a response range of 20Hz to 20KHz; the microphone records input between 100Hz to 16KHz. Dynamic range is measured at approximately 82dB. Despite the product's name, it is compatible with any Windows system between 98 SE and XP, as well as Mac OS 9 and OS X. Amazon is selling the iChat for $20.
Branching out from familiar territor, Inteset this afternoon listed the Vana VA6420-Sx. Though made with the same case as the company's Vana Media Extender, the Sx is a full-fledged Media Center PC that doesn't depend on a host computer to serve up content: up to 500GB of hard drive storage holds media locally, and a more advanced DVD manager offers movies. The system's independence also gives it support for an additional audio zone to play music in another room. Owners of larger setups can also use the Vana as a substitute extender or integrate it with home automation through an RS-232 serial port, Inteset adds.
Although Chinese media players tend to have rudimentary interfaces, Hacha seems set to change that with the PA20, now due for an imminent release in its home country. The main interface is a 3.2-inch touchscreen, which like the iPhone, is operated not with a stylus but simple finger gestures, such as moving up and down a scrollbar to pick music. Exact features are unknown; it can however play video and FM radio, the former most likely in the MP4 format, and the latter using an easy on-screen tuning interface. As with most Hacha products, the PA20 is not expected to be released outside of east Asia. [via The MP3 Players]
Creative today removed the covers from the Zen Wav, a new media jukebox for those who would prefer listening to or watching their content without headphones. Confirmed in a store leak, the metallic player resembles the iPod nano but places two speakers on the front without adding significantly to the bulk of the player. The Wav also ships with a custom-tailored Acoustic Stand that Creative claims will not only cradle the player but also passively enhances the speakers' sound compared to open-air use. The dock is perfect for barbecues and using the player as an alarm clock on vacations, Creative says.
Japanese carrier KDDI has launched a new and particularly powerful Casio phone, the Exilim W53CA. The camera in the product not only has a 5.1-megapixel sensor, but also a variety features associated with full-size cameras, such as color-correction, anti-shake mechanisms and nine-point autofocus. The display is also an extremely large 2.8 inches, and is capable of resolutions up to 480x800. MP3 files can be played from a microSD card, and minor features include e-mail, a dictionary and an IR Simple port. Exact prices are unknown. [via Newlaunches]
The iPhone may be offered as a prepaid device, according to a leaked list of AT&T product codes. Entered into the cell provider's system on April 19th, the tracking numbers would have the Apple handset available through each of AT&T's main service methods, including familiar subscription-only service as well as the Go Phone Pick Your Plan (hybrid) and Pay As You Go (prepaid-only) methods. The costs for the individual services are unknown, though AT&T hasn't announced any changes to its payment methods for the iPhone versus other devices.
Sprint announced in August that it had chosen WiMAX as the technology it would use for its future 4G network; the company now says it has formalized some of these plans. Late 2007 will see the beginning of trials in Chicago, Baltimore and Washington D.C., with actual commercial services starting sometime in the second quarter of 2008. Sprint says it eventually hopes to cover more than 100 million people with WiMAX, but it has not suggested what other cities will have access. WiMAX allows download speeds of up to 10Mbps at a distance of six miles from a transmitter.
Sony-Ericsson this morning launched an early attack against the iPhone with the W52S, a Walkman-themed slider for Sony's home of Japan. The design pushes music and video playback without requiring add-ons: in addition to 2GB of built-in memory, the phone acceps up to 2GB more through a microSD slot. The difficult balance of battery life for music and phone use is also taken care of through the design, according to the creator. An extra-high capacity battery will play music for up to 100 hours, leaving enough room even in heavy use for important calls. A very large 2.7-inch screen provides a widescreen display for movies and a tall display for choosing contacts or music. A 2-megapixel camera at the back plus a front camera provide photos and videos.
Having only released the J501 three months ago, ASUS has already announced an improved version, the J502. The new phone enlarges screen size from 2.2 to 2.4 inches, and also upgrades the camera, which is now a three-megapixel model with flash. Other planned features include video recording, MP3 and AAC/AAC+ playback, and up to 3.5 hours of talk time; built-in memory is limited to 24MB, but the phone does have a microSD slot. There are no dates and prices attached to the 502, but since it is just a tri-band GSM model without broadband, it is essentially guaranteed to remain outside North America. [via Unwired View]
Sprint today announced that it would pick up the Sierra Wireless AirCard 597E, a new mobile broadband adapter for the carrier's faster EVDO Revision A network. Built as an ExpressCard 34 device for the MacBook Pro and other modern notebooks, the adapter can reach the theoretical peaks of 3.1Mbps downloads and 1.8Mbps uploads without using an external antenna. It also represents an improvement over earlier 3G wireless modems through assistive GPS support: subscribers to GPS navigation through Sprint can rely on the cellular network to find their position in software that supports GPS information.
Phone carrier Alltel Wireless has launched a new feature that should help identify long-distance callers before picking up the phone. Called "City ID," it displays both the city and state of most numbers in North America, giving customers the ability to spot a relative calling from a business trip, or harassment from the same telemarketer. At the moment the option is only available on the LG AX275; it will, however, eventually come to every phone on the Alltel network. The service also costs $2 monthly, but there is currently a seven-day trial, and future phones will come with a 15-day trial.
Those interested in buying Dell's forthcoming Ubuntu Linux PCs for the mainstream will have a very specific level of hardware and software support, according to new updates from the company. An entry in the company's feedback blog reveals that hardware will be a portion of the company's normal Windows offerings to ensure that Linux runs smoothly, the company says. Controversially, however, some of the drivers will be proprietary closed-source drivers when open-source drivers aren't available, limiting the choices available to those who insist on complete access to their software's code. Developers from Dell will work with part makers to improve the quality of Linux drivers to put the options for Dell Linux systems on a closer level to their Windows equivalents, the PC builder adds.
Dell today ended speculation with the launch of the XPS 720 H2C. The water-cooling that forms the cornerstone of the H2C line gives Dell the ability to tune Intel's quad-core, 2.66GHz Core 2 Extreme to a factory-overclocked 3.73GHz in top models. Video performance has also seen an upgrade with two GeForce 8800 Ultra video cards providing their own clock speed boost beyond the still available GTX versions. A new nForce 680i SLI mainboard streamlines data traffic through the whole system and is bolstered by overclocked 1.06GHz DDR2 memory from Corsair.
Averatec's parent company TriGem today released the Averatec 8300, its first portable based on the latest Core 2 Duo architecture. Although some details are still unreleased, the company promises CPUs based on the faster 800MHz bus of the Intel Santa Rosa platform as well as "the latest graphic card," suggesting dedicated graphics either through AMD's Mobility Radeon HD line or the NVIDIA GeForce 8M. Confirmed in the launch are a 15.4-inch display, 160GB of hard disk storage, a 1.3-megapixel webcam in the lid, and a DVD rewriter.
Sanyo on Tuesday rolled out the Xacti E1, one of the company's first truly waterproof camcorders. The watertight shell lets swimmers capture footage one-handed at depths of up to five feet for an hour at a time -- without using an underwater shell, Sanyo says. The use of SD or SDHC cards, in tandem with the use of higher-quality H.264 (AVC) recording formats, also helps the camera record for a long time even while snowboarding or other shock-prone circumstances: up to 10 hours of footage at 640x480 can be captured on an 8GB SDHC card. A new processing engine also improves image quality and is said to capture images as dark as 7 lux at full speed or 2 lux with a reduced frame rate. The E1 further doubles as a still camera, taking 6-megapixel photos with a 5X optical zoom lens.
T-Mobile this morning officially launched the Wing, its custom version of the HTC Herald for the US. The smartphone is the first new device in the US to ship with Windows Mobile 6 and combines a 2.8-inch touchscreen with a slide-out keyboard to provide full control for browsing, Office Mobile, or other heavy-duty apps. The body itself is also upgraded from the HTC reference design with a soft-touch blue shell and a slip-resistant keypad, T-Mobile says. The phone can also connect virtually anywhere with Wi-Fi filling in for Internet access when EDGE coverage runs out; the GSM radio is quad-band for call roaming in Europe and other areas. A 2-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, and a microSD slot handle media capture and playback duties.
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