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Toshiba on Tuesday expanded its line of small-format, high-speed, high-capacity memory cards with the launch of a 4GB microSDHC card. The addition of the new card extends Toshiba's range of microSDHC cards for mobile phone applications; it now includes capacities ranging from 256MB up to 4GB. Toshiba's 4GB microSDHC card meets SD memory card standard Ver. 2.00, the SD card standard for high-density SD products with a capacity of over 2GB (but is not backward compatible with standard SD Memory). The card is designed for use in dedicated microSDHC slots, but can also be used in standard SDHC card slots via a standard adapter. The new card delivers a maximum write speed of 6MB per second and are rated as "Class 4" SD Speed Class for guaranteed sustained data writes of 4MB/sec or more. They will be available worldwide starting in July, according to the company.
Two new small-form mice are officially on sale from Sony Europe. The first is the SMU-C3 (pictured right), a two-tone design that comes in four key colors -- pink, green, white and black. More practically, it samples at 800dpi, and has an adjustable cord that prevents tangling. The SMU-M10, meanwhile, comes in blue, black or white, and has a flat shape for better storage in laptop cases. It is painted with an anti-scratch coating, and has a groove in its shell to make wrapping the USB cable easier. Prices are not yet available online.
Nokia's N800 Internet tablet will get easy roaming on Earthlink's municipal hotspots, the two companies announced today. Under a special agreement, an update to the wireless handheld will let any of its owners sign up for an account in US cities that offer public Internet access and connect at high speed; Earthlink estimates downstream speeds of 3Mbps and uploads as quick as 1Mbps. Access is unrestricted and includes the browsing, media streaming, and video calling possible with the Nokia device.
IBM has made public the existence of the Blue Gene/P, which the company says is the fastest supercomputer in the world. At its normal, continuous speed, the P is cable of speeds in excess of one petaflop, or a quadrillion operations per second. This is nearly three times faster than the previous Blue Gene/L, and approximately 100,000 times faster than a home PC. Critically for any company or agency considering a P, power consumption on the computer is said to be seven times more efficient.
The iPhone could well have explicit support for Microsoft's Exchange mail service after all, according to sources speaking with Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet. While the handheld is so far only guaranteed to support Exchange through the IMAP protocol, a choice seldom used by companies, the veteran journalist says that Apple intends to make the iPhone's e-mail client compatible with Exchange Server. This would come by licensing and then slipstreaming ActiveSync support into the iPhone, which in turn would enable secure corporate mail as well as constant updates for calendars and contact lists.
In a late addition to its notebook introductions, Dell this afternoon formally rolled out the Precision M4300, a new mid-range moblie workstation designed to split the difference between ultraportables and 17-inch high-end models. Like the Inspiron updates, the 15.4-inch M4300 adds a full range of Santa Rosa-based Core 2 Duo CPUs that peak at 2.4GHz. Backing its core market, however, the Precision always features a 512MB Quadro FX 360M video chipset for better 3D and a module bay that stores anything from a DVD drive to a second battery.
Apple's pricing for the iPhone may have pushed the limits of US tech buyers too far, says a new paper by Parks Associates. The research group claims that a representative study in May of US buyers pegs high interest in the iPhone at just 3 percent of American buyers for those aware of the iPhone's cost and contract requirements. This problem has been recognized before but may be more significant than thought, according to the new research. Parks uses its results to estimate that most would only accept a smartphone-class device at $199 with a two-year contract, and just $99 for regular phones; both are well above Apple's $499 asking price.
Shure readied itself for the iPhone today by introducing the Music Phone Adapter, an attachment that lets Apple's phone and most others serve up stereo music while providing a quick switch to incoming phone calls. Similar to Apple's stock iPhone earbuds, the MPA includes a single control. Tapping the button will automatically pick up an inbound call or end the call when finished; for certain phones, the button will also trigger extended features such as call waiting or muting the microphone. A built-in, noise-cancelling microphone also saves the trouble of bringing the phone close in a loud environment.
The first details of the upgraded hard drive Zune have escaped, according to an inside contact at Microsoft. Nicknamed "Scorpio" in keeping with the Greek-themed "Draco" codename for the flash-based Zune, the full Zune will jump from 30GB to 80GB of storage to help cope with videos. The revamped player is also near-complete, the source says. Production will reportedly begin in late July, indicating a launch towards the end of summer that promises healthy stock in time for the holiday season.
Upgrading its top-end notebooks, Alienware today at last released the Area-51 m9750 first previewed in January. The 17-inch desktop replacement is the first to combine dual 512MB graphics chips with mobile Core 2 Duo chips, the company claims: a top-spec version offers two GeForce Go 7950 GTX chipsets paired together in SLI and Intel's CPUs up to 2.33GHz, guaranteeing gaming-class performance better even than some of the newest notebooks. Avid media viewers can also load up on storage with dual 250GB hard disks or a Blu-Ray burner for HD movies.
Accessory maker Belkin has launched three new holders for laptops. Leading them is the Sling Bag, which stores laptops up to 15.4 inches in size, and is worn on a padded strap with a quick-release clip. A dedicated pouch holds cables and a power adapter, while another compartment can be used to hold a cellphone. Two color combinations are available: "jet/cabernet" and "chocolate/tourmaline." Either version is shipping for $50 from the Belkin website.
Iomega has targeted the world of external storage today with two new products, now on sale. The first is the eGo Portable Hard Drive, designed for laptops. It stores up to 160GB, and connects to computers through a USB 2.0 port, from which it also draws its power. Special traits include a curved, "cherry-red" chassis, DropGuard disk protection, and a bundled copy of EMC Retrospect HD for manual or automatic backups. The eGo is priced at $160.
Apple has posted details on the rate plans available to iPhone customers, including family plans and the ability to add the iPhone data plan to existing service as well as an option to tack on extra minutes. The Cupertino-based company is set to launch the cellular handset this Friday at 6:00 p.m. Existing AT&T customers who want to add unlimited data (email/Web) and visual voicemail service can do so for $20 (200 SMS text messages allowed), while $30 and $40 packages exist that offer 1,500 and unlimited SMS text messages, respectively. A minimum new 2-year wireless service plan and activation fee are required to activate the iPhone's features, however, including the iPod functionality.
Sprint today hoped to bolster its music phone lineup with the LG-created Muziq, a media-oriented clamshell that adds multiple firsts to the company's phone lineup. The handset is the first from the provider to include a high-capacity microSD slot; owners can slip a 4GB card in the phone, doubling the peak 2GB of most earlier phones and providing ample room for songs bought from the Sprint Music Store or for photos and movies captured with the 1.3-megapixel camera. An FM transmitter is also onboard for beaming audio directly to a car stereo or any nearby radio. Other music touches involve dedicated, iPod-like external controls, stereo Bluetooth and Pandora Mobile support for customized Internet radio streams through EVDO.
Dell today supported the launch of its Inspiron desktops with the US release of two new widescreen LCDs. The 2407WFP-HC takes the core design of the original 24-inch, 1920x1200 screen and adds improved cold-cathode backlighting plus a PVA panel to reach 92 percent coverage of the NTSC color gamut. This helps visual editors and graphics-focused gamers see a far more accurate picture, Dell says. Its expansion features are intact with a four-port USB hub and split 9-format card reader. The display ships in July for $679.
Sony on Tuesday unveiled Backstage, a new addition to the company's Sony Style retail shops that adds in-store support for the first time. Unofficially taking its cue from the Genius Bars at Apple stores, the service supports both technical help and consultations: owners of VAIO desktops or notebooks can take them in for diagnosis or part replacements, but can also help customers transition to a new PC both before and after money has changed hands. Customers can get help choosing the right system, Sony says, and also have the choice of transfering data from an old PC (up to 100GB), installing RAM upgrades, or performing general system maintenance.
AT&T and Apple today have finally revealed the official service plans for the iPhone, all of which are unique to the carrier's normal offerings and reflect the special attention given to the device. Unlike traditional plans, all include a mixture of calling, data, and 200 SMS text messages to ensure that every phone has the same basic feature set. Crucially, all three plans to be made available for the device include unlimited Internet access through EDGE -- allowing every user to take advantage of the entire feature set without metering issues or worrying about the benefit of a specific plan, according to Apple.
Attempting to seize public attention, Toshiba has made several laptop announcements at once. The first is the immediate launch of the Qosmio F45-AV412, a media-centric system. Sized at 15.4 inches, it features an HD DVD/Super Multi drive with HDMI output for TVs, as well as stereo speakers and a built-in subwoofer. It further supports a variety of Dolby sound codecs, including Digital and Pro Logic II. It runs a 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo processor with 2GB of RAM (upgradable to 4), and uses a 250GB hard drive; the disk spins at 4200rpm, however, and the computer is further limited by integrated graphics. Wireless support extends to 802.11a/g/n. At Toshiba's website, the AV412 costs $1,600.
In addition to revamping its notebooks, Dell on Tuesday launched an even greater change to its desktop line. Bringing over the Inspiron name from its portables, the company's new mid-tower Inspiron 530 and slim-line Inspiron 530s represent both a radical change to the company's look and a functional upgrade: the design helps cooling and expansion, with the 530s in particular sporting dual USB and audio jacks on the front.
Dell today officially unveiled its home notebooks based on Intel's faster Santa Rosa tech, headlined by the gaming-oriented XPS M1330 (pictured). Following not too long after the company's own confirmation, the 13.3-inch widescreen system is both one of Dell's fastest-ever small notebooks and one of the most portable in the entire class: the body's thickest point is no larger than 1.33 inches, and a complete system weighs just under four pounds. The new XPS also takes the design upscale, Dell says. Aside from a new, one-hinge shape, the shell is painted either in a glossy pearl white or a micro-satin black or red.
RealNetworks on Tuesday released a beta of its new RealPlayer v11 media software for PCs. Announced in late May, the company's new media player software can record and download videos from tens-of-thousands of Web sites with a single click. The new software displays a "Download this Video" button in a Web browser whenever playing a video and allows users to to view other videos, switch to another site or even close their browser -- while the video downloads in the background. The software also enables users to share their videos via a new "Share Video Link" feature that will email friends a link to the original location of the video. It supports multiple, simultaneous video downloads as well as most popular formats including Flash, Windows Media, QuickTime and RealPlayer. It is available now for Windows XP/Vista.
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