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A change in plans suggested by Sprint may have significant impact on mobile broadband in the United States. The company's VP for global broadband strategy, Don Stroberg, is now saying that it is investigating options for a joint venture or spin-off of its WiMax division, which would offer a two-fold advantage. The first is a "coordinated, cohesive use of the 2.5 spectrum," as both Sprint and Clearwire are planning to build nationwide networks, possibly creating unnecessary duplication. Clearwire has been suggested as the most likely partner for a joint venture.
Playboy magazine is looking to develop a custom-branded (if not custom-designed) cellphone, according to a source aware of its plans. The firm is reportedly intent on offering a glossy, "upscale" device that will reflect the company's sensual but still tasteful image. The phone would have to deliver on several checklist features such as Bluetooth, a camera, and MP3 playback, the tip claims. Only a few companies have been asked to help produce the phone but should involve Chocolate producer LG as well as Motorola and Siemens.
Panasonic has announced the TH-42PZ700U, a late addition to the company's 2007 plasma lineup. It is claimed to be the only 42-inch plasma capable of 1080p, making high contrast and resolution more affordable to the average buyer. The set has a contrast ratio of 5,000:1, and is equipped with two HDMI inputs, as well as an SD slot and compatibility with EZ Sync control technology. Panasonic plans to ship the 700U in early July for $2,500.
iRiver will soon have a premium two-piece media player and docking station combo, the company announced today through a teaser page. The UNIT2 will include a detachable and fully portable player with support for music, video, and Flash movies, including over Wi-Fi. But its base will greatly expand its features, iRiver says. With 2.1-channel speakers designed by home audio expert Niro Nakamichi, the dock will play DVDs, tune TV stations, and serve up content or connections as a wireless access point. A unique metallic controller with a 78-key QWERTY keyboard will steer not only the base station but also the portable unit through Wi-Fi.
An enhanced version of the MOTOMING phone, reportedly trustworthy sources claim. Demonstrated at the same event which revealed the RAZR2 and a popular phone choice for months in China and other areas where its handwriting-capable touchscreen were essential, an upgrade of the device is now said to be in the works with the addition of an HSDPA modem for 3G cellular broadband in the US as well as abroad. Added performance would also see video capture from the 2-megapixel camera improve to CIF resolution (352x288) while the menus would become livelier, according to the report.
Kyocera and Canadian online music shop Puretracks today joined up to help establish what they promise will be a truly international music store. Calling it a "white label" store, Kyocera says a new version of Puretracks' service will be attached to Kyocera-made phones rather than to a particular cell provider. This would let phone users use the same general store regardless of their exact region, the company says. It would also let many smaller carriers, which are rarely able to host their own stores, offer a music service while still giving it a customized feel.
Though Sony's VAIO line is more closely linked with consumer laptops, the company has just announced the VAIO RM1N, the latest in its series of desktop workstations. The system is aimed squarely at digital video editing, since it comes preloaded with Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0, and its default storage comes in the form of a 1TB RAID 0 array. It likewise comes with a jog controller, and is one of the few machines that can burn double-layer Blu-Ray discs as well as play them.
Verizon can use services rather than devices to compete against the iPhone, the carrier's CEO Ivan Seidenberg said today at a press event during this week's NXTcomm expo. The company head dismissed notions that one or more hot devices would be the only solution to counteracting Apple's effect on the US phone market, saying that services were at least as important and would convince users to keep subscriptions where many other carriers suffer from a rapid turnover of users who sign up for but soon leave their services. Verizon's customers are typically far more loyal, Seidenberg said.
LG today officially released the KU580, a phone that takes the glossy black look and touch-sensitive controls of the original Chocolate series but which adds far strong Internet abilities and a fresh design. The wider but lighter KU580 adds 3G wireless through UMTS and takes advantage of the extra abilities: a front VGA camera provides video chats while several Google utilities, including GMail and Google Maps, are preloaded for simpler messaging and route finding out of the box.
StarTech today released the SLIMDVDRW8U2, a compact burner for computer users with either ultraportable notebooks that lack optical drives or those who use the same drive for multiple systems. The Panasonic-made drive is originally built for notebooks and manages to stay travel-friendly, measuring only half an inch despite the new enclosure. Burning a single-layer DVD-R takes place at 8X speed, similar to faster notebook drives. Dual-layer discs burn at 4X while simpler DVD-RW and DVD-RAM discs burn at 6X and 5X respectively.
Taking advantage of the SEK expo in Seoul, LG has unveiled a pair of upcoming phones. The highlight of the SH130 slider is its simplicity, since while it has HSDPA broadband -- allowing speeds up to 3.6Mbps -- it omits increasingly prevalent Korean features such as DMB TV. It will neverthless be capable of global roaming, something still rare in the country.
The KH1400 is not identified as having global roaming, but it should compensate with DMB support, aided by a screen that can be twisted to match a normal aspect ratio. Video can sent via output cable to a larger display, and still photos can be taken with a two-megapixel camera. LG has not set a timeframe for the release of either of its new products.
Verizon today revealed that it has struck a deal with Obopay to offer wireless payment through cellphones. The deal lets subscribers with supporting handsets buy items from many stores without having to carry a physical credit card. The service also acts as a virtual MasterCard account and allows fellow Obopay members to exchange money anywhere they can make a connection, Verizon says. As a backup measure, Verizon will also supply a conventional card that can send or receive money from Obopay through an ATM and other locations that might not accept wireless purchases as an option.
Joining the list of products marking Ferrari's 40th anniversary, such as Vertu's Ascent phone, is the Art.Engine, a speaker tower that is more closely modelled after the car maker's aesthetics. Beyond borrowing some of the color schemes available, it is made to resemble a Ferrari engine block, and uses similar materials including aluminum and carbon fiber.
The tower is also unusual in that both the left and right channels are in the same cabinet, and it can accept wireless audio from computers running iTunes. More conventional sources must connect through RCA jacks. Interested US buyers must request pricing info; for comparison however, the British price is £18,000 ($35,788). Click below for a larger image.
Apple's update of the iPhone website that accompanies the YouTube feature launch also confirms extra details about the device, Electronista has discovered. In addition to confirming the design of the iPhone dock, which remains largely unchanged from the design first seen in January, the site has also changed to reflect features that have previously gone unconfirmed. New is the ability to synchronize contacts with an "Internet service" as well as with software on Macs or PCs, Apple says. No mention has been made of which services take advantage of contacts or how the sync is performed. The page also confirms that the planned dock for the phone exists and remains unchanged from its January design.
Windows Vista's next major update will let users choose a service other than Microsoft's for system-wide searches, Microsoft and the US Justice Department announced today. Responding to accusations by Google that Vista's Instant Search actively interferes with other search tools, the Redmond software developer says that Service Pack 1 for the OS will let users choose which search is the default. Links inside the Start menu and Internet Explorer will also make it easier to launch a third-party search without other companies modifying the interface themselves. The move is a "step in the right direction," Google chief legal officer David Drummond says, but should be improved to ease access to rival tools even further.
Social networking site MySpace this morning launched MySpaceIM, its first instant messaging network and a different approach compared to traditional IM networks. Instead of relying on a simple screen name, the service draws on MySpace member profiles and hooks into the site's social features. Comments, friend requests, and mail alerts arrive as soon as the messages appear, rather than coming only through e-mail; a music player will stream friends' profile songs, and finding profiles themselves speeds up, according to MySpace. New to MySpaceIM is the ability to trade short sound clips and photos as well as multi-user instant chat.
Sprint on Wednesday announced that it had picked up the Sanyo SCP-3200, a clamshell phone with a handful of features that lift it above strictly entry-level handsets. Bluetooth and a VGA camera add hands-free calling and photography, but the phone's distinguishing trait is its long-range wireless, according to Sprint. The 3200 includes Internet access (though likely limited to basic 1xRTT) for web browsing, mail, and picture sharing; assistive GPS support also lets the phone provide car navigation.
Jeans producer Levi's today ventured into unknown territory by launching the Levi's mobile, its first cellphone. The ModeLabs-designed handset is built out of steel that not only matches the company's famous clothes but also hardens the phone against the impacts that often break other phones. A matching chain also links to a belt loop or a bag to prevent the phone from being easily stolen. The company has refrained from providing concrete hardware details but confirms a camera, music playback, and media sharing features.
Logitech today launched a major expansion of its notebook peripherals with a mouse joining desktop stands and travel cases. The V220 is built to be useful both at home and on the road and includes a 1,000 DPI optical sensor that gives better tracking than many other notebook mice; it also includes horizontal scrolling and an RF wireless USB adapter that stows underneath the mouse for traveling. Battery life is estimated at 6 months but can be made even longer when using an automatic power-down feature that saves energy during idle moments, Logitech says. The V220 supports both Mac OS X and Windows and will ship in July for $30.
Apple today announced that iPhone users will be able to enjoy YouTube's originally-created content on their iPhones when they begin shipping on June 29. A new Apple-designed application on iPhone will wirelessly stream YouTube's content to iPhone over Wi-Fi or EDGE networks and play it on the iPhone's 3.5-inch display. In addition, Apple announced that YouTube is now live on Apple TV, following its announcement last month. Users can download the free software update using Apple TV's built-in software update feature, and then easily navigate through YouTube's familiar video browsing categories or search for specific videos. YouTube members can also log-in to their YouTube accounts on Apple TV to view and save their favorite videos.
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