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Microsoft is clearing the way for a unique two-way docking stereo for cars, according to a US patent granted to the company earlier this week. Simply referring to a "portable computing device-integrated appliance," the patent allows for a handheld device to dock directly with a car stereo or similar head-end unit to share its media. More important, Microsoft notes, is the ability for the device itself to send information to the stereo: docking the device could change its display to serve as a replacement for the stereo's native interface, controlling both its own local files as well as those on the stereo. Using the handheld this way would take away the clutter of an external docking cradle, Microsoft says; though unstated, it would also let owners guard against thieves by removing the main screen and even storage for the stereo.
Garmin will make sweeping changes to its eTrex line of mapping handhelds, a Canadian brochure (PDF) reveals. All four of the systems will have GPS positioning support, including the option of an installable chip that can relay data through Europe's Galileo satellites. Waterproofing and a ruggedized shell will also help them withstand the punishment of a trail hike while power through a pair of AA batteries should keep them running without the need for an PC or wall outlet.
Sony today used the SID (Society for Information Display) Symposium to unveil what it says is the world's first OLED display to combine both full color and a flexible screen. The 2.5-inch sample takes advantage of the organic technology to display 16.7 million colors -- more than most small LCDs -- but puts it on a plastic layer rather than glass, allowing the display to bend and twist without breaking the image. OLED also delivers a bright 1,000:! contrast ratio for the small screen area and provides near-instant response times for video. This all is achieved with a panel only 0.3mm (0.01 inches) thick at its bulkiest point, Sony boasts.
Quad Micro Works on Thursday introduced a major overhaul to its Square One home server. Alongside increases in storage to 320GB and 500GB for its larger models, the compact network device also gains 802.11g Wi-Fi and can serve as a wireless router of its own. Software has also been upgraded, says the company. A BitTorrent client is now in place that can download and store the peer-based files on its own, even when other PCs are turned off. Owners will also have free access to an Internet TV service from Casgle that can automatically queue and download TV shows offered by CNN and other networks. More serious owners can also host extra servers for e-mail, FTP, and a handful of new services.
Microsoft is receving some unusual attention for a decoration in its corporate offices. A user of Flickr recently uploaded a photo of the company's "iPod Amnesty Bin," found in the Zune headquarters, apparently encouraging employees to abandon Apple's media player in favor of Microsoft's competitor. The bin has drawn the ire of voices such as Macworld UK, which suggests that it is emblematic of "child-like and unrealistic behavior," a view aided by the lack of iPods in the Flickr image. The Zune has not sold as well as expected; it has in fact sapped the profits of Microsoft's entertainment division, which is in otherwise healthy shape thanks to the Xbox 360 console.
Stealth has just updated the LPC-450, one of its smallest PCs as well as one of its fastest. The new model remains roughly as tall as but deeper than a Mac mini while upgrading performance. A base system starts with a Merom-era 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo but can be configured with up to a 2.33GHz chip for especially hard work; the new system is also built to run in harsh conditions and can be custom-ordered with a solid-state hard drive to guard against shocks or bumps. Using mobile parts also makes it easy to ruggedize the aluminum shell and to run the PC solely off of a 12-volt outlet in a car, Stealth adds. Expansion is slightly broader than Apple's system with parallel and serial ports providing connections to servers and other legacy hardware.
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) today unveiled the TransDock Deluxe, its latest addition to the TransDock family of in-car iPod entertainment systems. The TransDock Deluxe broadcasts iPod music through any vehicle's FM stereo, and shows videos on in-car video systems. DLO's newest dock also adds a steering-wheel remote for safe as well as convenient control, enabling users to manipulate the iPod on-the-go without ever taking their hands away from the wheel. The device offers AV output as well as built-in USB connectivity, and features interchangeable face plates to coordinate colors with the interior of the vehicle. Additionally, DLO's latest iPod dock offers a choice of three LCD display colors and ships with a 6-foot AV cable for connecting to in-car entertainment systems. The TransDock Deluxe is priced at $130.
The launch of Windows Vista hasn't created a significant increase in PC sales, according to a new report by In-Stat. The new Microsoft OS is said to have primarily shifted customers' purchases rather than accelerating them, as the reported sales spike was chiefly the result of a backlog of delayed purchases while experienced users waited to receive a preinstalled copy. Few customers actively sought out a Vista PC outside of their normal upgrade patterns. This was attributed in part to the lackluster appeal of the software itself, which hasn't been seen by many as a significant improvement over Windows XP.
A companion to ASUS' newly-released G1S has been put up for pre-order at EXcaliber PC. Despite the name change, the G2S has most of the same specifications as the G1, such as a 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo T7500, and a GeForce 8600M GT card with 256MB of video RAM. The real difference is in the display, which has been expanded to 17 inches, and now supports resolutions up to 1920x1200, surpassing the 1080p threshold.
RIM's BlackBerry Curve will land on AT&T's network soon, the carrier says through a notification page just posted to its website. Features of the smartphone remain unchanged from its hardware angle and retain the 2-megapixel camera, GPS support, as well as media playback from the reference design. Software will show far more obvious differences, AT&T says. Aside from a new visual theme, the Curve will be the first AT&T-shipped BlackBerry to include the company's Mobile Music Internet streaming service, Media Mall for buying custom ringtones and software, and an enhanced jukebox program that exposes the new features.
Modern cellphones tend to fall into two categories: simple handhelds, which the majority of subscribers own, or smartphones, which verge on the functionality of laptops but are still prohibitively expensive for the average person. Palm co-founder Jeff Hawkins is now saying that its "third" product category, long in development, will have some initial details unveiled next week.
Speculation by the writers of Brighthand suggests that Palm may be venturing into UMPC territory, but with a special emphasis on connectivity, combining Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with cellular access. Other suggestions include a mini-tablet, a clamshell PDA, or possibly a direct competitor to the iPhone. The device could also be a candidate for Palm's new Linux-based OS, which is set to launch by the end of 2007.
Claims that Wal-Mart will start selling Dell PCs are partially true, the large retail chain has confirmed today. Although the actual release date of the new systems is set for June rather than late May, distribution of the E521 desktop will actually be larger than expected, reaching a total 3,500 shops across both the US and Canada. The systems on offer would also be faster than the $359 baseline system available today, Wal-Mart says. Two models should be available and will include at least one mid-range system priced below $700.
Although rumors of Google creating its own cellphone have largely been dismissed, the company could be making a move which may put it in an even larger role in the industry, writes IDG News. The Federal Communications Commission is holding an auction for the 700MHz wireless band next year, and Google is contemplating participating. "We have not ruled in or out participating in the auction as a licensee," comments Google counsel Richard Whitt.
Sony-Ericsson today announced that it had joined the WiMAX Forum, a group of companies committed to the still new wireless Internet standard. The move gives the cellphone maker inside access to the format and is likely to indicate the company's approval of the standard for its future devices. No hardware has been announced by but is likely to include notebook cards and smartphones that could take advantage of the extra speed. Today's entrance is primarily an attempt to "understand the technology and the opportunities" in the market before jumping in, Sony-Ericsson says.
Owners of newer HD-capable movie discs may soon have the right to make copies of their discs, according to a spokesman from the licensing agency handling the copy protection scheme. Michael Ayers of the AACS (Advanced Access Content System) group notes that a new change in the encryption method, dubbed "managed copy," should let buyers burn or rip Blu-Ray and HD DVD discs in a controlled method. Similar to iTunes and other online stores, the files would require a device with Internet access to authorize copies before they can be played. This would allow backups and transfers to other devices while still giving the content creator control over how many copies could be produced.
While originally pegged to be released in advance of Mother's Day, the pink KRZR is now set to make an appearance at Carphone Warehouse in June. A temporary exclusive to the British retailer, the phone should otherwise be unchanged, centering on Bluetooth, MP3 playback and a two-megapixel camera. It will be available in limited quantities, and cost £100 ($199) as a pre-paid phone, or free on a contract. [via Shiny Shiny]
Samsung's Anycall label today launched a pair of phones tailored for faster wireless without driving prices up through extra features. The company is first confirming the W2700 (pictured at middle), also known as the W270; the device includes an HSDPA modem for connecting at broadband-level speeds and includes a front camera for video calls, but uses a relatively modest 1.3-megapixel camera and a small external OLED display for checking caller ID. Software is nonetheless strong, according to Samsung, with the industry-standard backed up by support for Microsoft Office files and a dictionary. It should be available now in Korea for $430 as a stand-alone device in black or white, but may appear in a US equivalent in coming months.
Dell will start selling its PCs in retail stores very soon, says Current Analysis head researcher Samir Bhavnani. The expert notes that the system builder should start offering a single model, the AMD-based Dimension E521, in over 3,000 Wal-Mart stores in the US. The offering should represent the first-ever instance that visitors to retail stores will not only be able to try the systems but buy them directly. This is a long overdue change, according to Bhavnani.
The as yet unreleased iPhone will be instrumental to the touchscreen market in 2007, according to the Taiwan-based Topology Research Institute. The study claims that Apple's device will help make the touch-sensitive panels an increasingly popular choice with other cellphone makers, many of whom still rely on physically driven controls. The California company's influence should help boost the total business to as much as $2.7 billion, TRI says, though the institution didn't indicate what percentage of the business would be controlled by the 3.5-inch widescreen central to the iPhone.
Fulfilling a promise made in March, Dell today at last took the wraps off of its first three systems built for everyday users with preinstalled Ubuntu Linux. The Texas PC maker has expanded on earlier details and confirms that the two deskops and one notebook seeing the new option will be less expensive overall than their Windows counterparts thanks to the lack of Windows licensing; the company also promises full hardware support from any service outlet alongside software help from Ubuntu's developer Canonical.
Sony today introduced the DAV-IS10 micro home theater system, a 5.1 channel home-theater-in-a-box system that features five tiny speakers -- each about the size of a golf ball. The system, matched with a compact, single disc DVD/CD player/receiver, includes a unique subwoofer that helps the tiny speakers create sounds typically reserved for full size speakers, the company said. It features 450 watts of total system power, including five 50-watt satellite speakers and a two 2-way subwoofer (100W each channel). The system is specially tuned to deliver a natural sound field that takes the focus off the subwoofer while supplementing mid range and lower frequencies, Sony claims. The DAV-IS10 system will be available in July for about $800.
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