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RCA has launched its new Pearl digital audio players, which join the increasing ranks of devices that double as USB key drives, having a port built right in. Pearls support MP3, Audible and WMA/WMDRM-9 files, and have backlit LCD displays, with several different colors and languages. Owners can record audio directly through an inline microphone, or expand their storage by inserting a microSD card. This should also allow users to share music with their mobile phones.
Another notable feature is the battery life: while only needing one AAA battery, the low power requirements of a Pearl mean it can last as much as 15 hours. Currently on sale are 1 and 2GB players, retailing for $39 and $48 apiece. [via Crave]
LG will refresh its Prada phone before the end of the year, according to new rumors. Although just introduced in February, the touchscreen phone will reportedly receive an upgrade to 3G-level speeds over UMTS and potentially HSDPA; Wi-Fi is also a likely addition but may be stripped out for carriers that insist on subscribers using cellular Internet access, the source claims. The handset would also ship with Windows Mobile 6 Professional running underneath Prada's custom interface and therefore include a copy of Office Mobile for editing and viewing documents on the phone itself.
TomTom hopes to soon overlay GPS navigation on a real-world scene, according to a new European patent. The system described would relay a camera feed from the front of a car to a GPS unit's screen; a smart image recognition system would then recognize the roads and intersections ahead, superimposing directions on top of the video to help the driver turn based on recognizable landmarks rather than simple maps or abstracted 3D images. Onscreen data would still exist to keep tabs on the distance to the nearest turn, the road ahead, and the current speed.
AT&T has announced its intentions to open up its Wi-Fi hotspots to select broadband customers. The Associated Press reports that subscribers to the company's Pro, Elite and FastAccess plans will soon be able to connect to any of the official hotspots for free, which number to about 10,000 across the US in locations such as airports, bookstores, restaurants and coffee shops. Subscribers with cheaper plans will be able to pay $2 per month for the same access, or $8 per day if they are non-subscribers. No reason for the discount has been given, but the move likely coincides with the launch of the iPhone, which depends heavily on Wi-Fi as a selling point.
Some of the first genuine photos appeared today for the M610i, Sony-Ericsson's upcoming messaging phone. The new shots confirm the "Lizy" codename and that the bar design will primarily be intended for professionals and others who frequently need to check mail during work. A side-mounted scroll wheel and a keypad similar to the P1 will help users quickly navigate and reply to messages. A large touchscreen LCD eliminates the need for a dedicated keypad. Contrary to rumors, however, the device will omit the camera to let it into businesses where photography is a security risk.
Freshening its compact DC-series cameras, BenQ has just launched a pair of successors to a pair of its point-and-shoot models. The 8-megapixel E820 is a direct replacement for the 7-megapixel E720 and adds face detection for better portraits plus a forced high-ISO mode that shoots at ISO 1600 for dark scenes; the C740i is a subtler upgrade that keeps an existing 7-megapixel sensor but adds the same face detection and ISO 1600 to the existing formula.
The European Commission is investigating the legality of current HD formats in the continent. According to the Associated Press, Disney, Fox, Sony and Universal are being probed, because each will only release HD movies in a single format -- the first three exclusively in Blu-Ray, with Universal alone choosing HD DVD. In theory any or all of the studios could be breaking antitrust law, which is notoriously firm in Europe. Some recent US companies brought under a microscope include Apple and Microsoft. There is no immediate danger of legal action against the movie companies, however.
Google today announced that it had picked up GrandCentral, an increasingly popular service that establishes a unified phone number through a web interface, letting those with multiple lines receive calls and voicemail regardless of which device they use to answer the call. The search engine giant said it had bought out GrandCentral for an undisclosed amount because the phone technology behind the startup firm would "enhance the collaborative exchange of information" for those visiting Google's sites, according to Google Product Manager Wesley Chan.
Sharp has shipped a unique computer aimed at kids. The KD-E1, also known as the KidsDic, is mainly aimed at teaching English to Korean children; as a result it is loaded with a number of different animated programs, such as quizzes, a picture dictionary and a number of storybooks, with translations on-demand. More importantly, the computer does not stop being useful when learning is over with. Users can store and view photos on the machine, and play MP3 tracks through a simple interface. An SD slot allows transfer of these files to and from a desktop system. Sharp is selling the E1 for 365,000 won ($395). [via Akihabara News]
T-Mobile is the prime candidate for carrying the iPhone in Germany, according to a claim made in a teaser article written for the country's Rheinische Post on Tuesday. The paper alleges that the carrier will sell the base iPhone for 450 Euros ($613) on November 1st, meeting Apple's stated goal of bringing the device to Europe by the fourth quarter of 2007. The media outlet does not elaborate on whether this includes taxes or subsidies. T-Mobile Germany has declined comment on the report.
A low-power version of the next-generation Phenom processor is in the works that could give AMD an edge over Intel's current designs, based on details revealed in the latest chip roadmap from the company. Titled the Phenom X2 GE, the dual-core CPU will match some of AMD's latest low-power Athlons in terms of power consumption, using only 45W at peak compared to the 65W used by many of Intel's desktop Core 2 Duo chips. Every version should have the latest version of the HyperTransport bus clocked at 3.2GHz to ensure a steady flow of traffic between the CPU and all its individual components, as well as 512KB of level 2 cache per core and a 2MB level 3 cache to share information between the cores.
A direct successor to the LG Chocolate (also known as the VX8500) is enroute as soon as next week, say those with access to photos and basic details. The VX8550 will represent a subtler cosmetic change with a metallic directional pad and with similar accents, but should also have a lower-cost music kit, including a stereo Bluetooth headset, a gift card for Verizon's music store, a microSD storage card, and a USB transfer cable for sideloading tracks. EVDO will also carry over from the original, though the inclusion faster Revision A access or separate improvements such as a better camera are unknown.
It may be Linux which is drawing programmers away from supporting Windows, says a new survey from Evans Data. Where 75 percent of all coders expected to write programs for the Microsoft OS at this time in 2006, only 65 percent plan the same a year later. Linux development, in turn, grew from 9 to 12 percent -- a 34 percent spike in just a year's time, Evans says. Though the researchers wouldn't identify particular motivations, they noted that overall dissatisfaction with Windows as well as a move towards cellphones and other handhelds were likely causes.
Apple over the weekend sold more than 700,000 iPhones to rocket past analyst predictions and shatter AT&T's record by selling more iPhones in three days than Motorola's RAZR did in its first month. Apple's supply of iPhones depleted at more than half of its retail stores less than a week after the cellular handset hit shelves at 6:00 p.m. ET last Friday night. Buyers cleared out both Apple and AT&T stores in 10 states, with 95 of 164 stores selling out on Monday night, according to Bloomberg. Apple stores located in Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington state sold their entire stock of iPhones yesterday, and AT&T sold its entire stock at almost all of its 1,800 stores. [updated]
Although the standards of LCD monitors have risen to make gaming practical with them, the recently-announced PG221 represents one of the few attempts to target gamers specifically. Central to this is its integrated sound system, which includes a 15W subwoofer, plus two 10W main channels; these in turn can be connected to optional satellites, forming a 6.1-channel system using SRS TruSurround XT. The screen itself is a 22-inch, 16:10 model, with 2,000:1 contrast and an extremely fast 2ms response time.
Long in development, HP's Compaq 2710p Tablet PC has finally been approved by the FCC, clearing the way for an American release. Aside from being a 12.1-inch convertible tablet, the 2710p has been known mainly for its brushed-metal exterior, and support for 802.11n; now however some of its other specifications have been revealed. These include an Intel GM965 motherboard, with 1 to 4GB of RAM and a Core 2 Duo ULV (Ultra-Low Voltage) processor; 802.11a/g/n wireless will be matched with Bluetooth. Hard drive space can configured from 60 to 100GB.
AllOfMP3.com has been taken down today, according to Russian government officials. The move to take down the site is in direct response to pressure from the US and the World Trade Organization, both of whom have been asked by major music labels to make the deactivation of the controversial music site a key condition of Russia's entrance into the WTO. No authorities in either Russia or the US have said whether or not the shutdown would have an impact on the lawsuit filed against AllOfMP3 in December.
Tekkeon has launched a new power adapter which may greatly simplify charging for users with multiple portable devices. By itself the myCharger is a normal AC plug with a USB port, but in tandem with the company's numerous adapter tips, it can charge phones by LG, Nokia, Blackberry, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson. Crucially, it can also charge iPods and iPhones without a special tip, since Apple's own power cords connect directly to USB. Tips exist for other 5V electronics as well, including Bluetooth sets, digital cameras and handheld game consoles. The LG, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and mini-USB tips come bundled with the myCharger, which is now on sale for $25.
Taiwan-based Kenmos is producing LED backlights for future displays that will land in new 13.3-inch MacBook models, according to unverified sources within the industry. The technology firm's Japanese overseer and stakeholder, Stanley Electric, has reportedly been chosen by Apple and its display producer Chi-Mei to produce the lighting for the smaller portable. The introduction would give the MacBook the same advantages in battery life, brightness, and color accuracy as the most recent 15.4-inch MacBook Pro when compared to today's cold-cathode fluorescent (CCFL) backlights.
ASUS today backed up its EN8600 video line with the addition of the OC gear, its previously revealed bay-mounted hardware overclocking tool. A bundle of a GeForce 8600 GT graphics card and the new device will give mid-range gamers the opportunity to overclock the card using a physical dial rather than a software utility. Users can also tap the dial to change over to fan speed or volume control, and can check on frame rates or GPU temperatures.
Panasonic today announced that it had developed the world's first Blu-Ray drive that can write at 4X on a dual-layer disc, outpacing the 2X record of previous drives. A more stable and refined laser lets the unnamed drive burn the full 50GB of information in about 46 minutes, or more than 1GB per minute; a regular single-layer drive will take exactly half as long at the same speed, Panasonic says. The technique has the side benefit of quieting the drive by eliminating the vibration that has slowed down earlier drives.
LG Mobile today revealed that it will be the second major cellphone producer after Apple to install a custom YouTube interface on its phones. The move will allow owners of compatible handsets, regardless of their carrier, to both browse videos over a mobile Internet connection and also to upload videos captured with a phone's camera. No specifics were given regarding the interface, but the company mentions that the feature will require a handset preloaded with the software. Multiple phones with the feature will be available worldwide towards the end of 2007, LG said.
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