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Mustek has announced a new version of its current personal video recorder, to be called the PVR-H240 Plus. While it should be able to play MPEG, ASF and AVI videos as well as MP3, WAV and WMA audio, its main purpose is in recording TV, saving to MPEG-4 files based on timed schedules. The hard drive in the recorder holds 40GB of content; both NTSC and PAL broadcasts are supported, but not unfortunately any HD formats, such as QAM or ATSC. Owners can view videos on the 2.6-inch display, or output them to a TV through an AV cable. Pricing and release dates have yet to be declared. [via Tech Digest]
iSkoot on Monday afternoon unveiled a new version of its self-titled iSkoot for BlackBerry, giving RIM's device line a chance to use Skype's voice-over-IP service to save on cellphone plan minutes or to reach those who use Internet calling at home. The app is completely independent of a PC and is usable for all of Skype's core services. Owners who have switched on payment plans can receive SkypeIn calls from real-world numbers and reverse the direction with SkypeOut, iSkoot says.
AMD today hoped to preempt Intel's anticipated late-July price cuts by making its own, touching on virtually all of the CPU maker's home processors. Most processors see cuts at about 25 percent, according to the company. The gaming-oriented 3GHz Athlon 64 FX-74 sees the biggest drop and declines from $799 to $599 in bulk; its mainstream equivalent Athlon 64 X2 6000+ drops a similar percentage to just $178. Low-end processors also see a reduction with the most basic, 1.8GHz Sempron 3200+ costing as little as $31.
Asian manufacturer Pontus is preparing the EN-4500, a combination media player and GPS unit. The product is notable not so much for its abilities however as where it is expected to be used -- despite having a 4.3-inch widescreen display, it is not limited to cars, as it is only 1.3 inches thick and can be carried handheld. Graphically it can produce maps in both 2D and fully-textured 3D views, and it is capable of WMV movies and 1Seg digital TV. Supported audio formats include MP3, OGG and WMA; storage is handled mainly through SD cards. Pontus expects to ship the 4500 to Japan for 60,000 yen ($487) by the end of July. [via Akihabara News]
Microsoft is planning radical changes to the inside of the Xbox 360 to combat the chronic overheating problems that prompted the three-year warranty for related issues, says one purported inside source. Codenamed "Project Falcon," the new architecture will not only shrink the processor from a 90-nanometer to a 65-nanometer process, the AMD-made graphics chipset will also receive the same treatment and (combined with improved heatsinks) should dramatically cool the inside of the case by using less energy therefore generating less heat.
Reflecting its position as the "official cellphone manufacturer" for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Samsung has announced the P318+, clad on the back and sides with authentic 18-carat gold. The launch of the phone, the date of which is unavailable, will also see the release of a variety of Olympic downloads, including ringtones, wallpapers and video clips, possibly including event highlights.
The P318+ is otherwise based on the existing P310, notable mainly for its compact "credit card" shape. It also boasts Bluetooth 2.0 and a two-megapixel camera, which can be used to record stills and MPEG-4 video. Music playback supports AAC, MP3 and WMA formats. Being branded for the Korean carrier AnyCall, it is doubtful that a North American version will appear. [via Akihabara News]
Software developer Mexens today launched Navizon desktop, a computer-based version of its virtual GPS tool for cellphones. The suite gives any Mac OS X or Windows PC the opportunity to get an approximate location fix using the computer's built-in wireless features. Users with only Wi-Fi can triangulate using the position of local hotspots. Those with Bluetooth can optionally use their cellphone's connections to nearby cell towers to achieve a similar effect.
Research in Motion head Jim Baisilie believes the iPhone could be potentially toxic for the cellphone industry, according to a recent interview. The head of the BlackBerry firm points out that while AT&T has obtained a multi-year contract for the device, the terms leave the carrier out of much of the sales process and give it little influence over the customization of the phone's hardware or software. Apple may be putting AT&T -- and other networks -- in danger of becoming simple enablers for hardware from other companies, Balsillie warns.
Microsoft is about to follow Sony's lead in cutting the costs of its consoles, says one analyst. Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan is predicting that the "Core" Xbox 360 will be reduced to $249 from $299, while the Premium will slide from $399 to $349, and the recently launched Elite will drop from $479 to $399.
Pachter observes that if the cuts do happen, they will not be altruistic, but rather a direct response to both internal problems and Sony's tactics. "Last week," he says, "Microsoft announced a slight Xbox 360 shipment shortfall and we do not believe that the company is prepared to allow Sony to erode its pricing advantage." By contrast, the reduced price of the 60GB PS3 is $500.
AT&T is set to launch the LG Trax, a clamshell phone that merges both the carrier's faster mobile Internet linkup with a dedicated music phone. The Trax includes touch-sensitive external music controls; it also has a quick-access button inside that jumps to the media player no matter where the user may be in the phone's menus. LG additionally brings extended microSD card support up to 4GB and playback of AAC and WMA tracks beyond the more typical MP3 format. As the device runs on AT&T's HSDPA network, it also taps the provider's Internet music and video streaming services.
Samsung and Ericsson today agreed to drop lawsuits filed against each other, ending a patent dispute between the cellphone makers relating chiefly to their use of 3G Internet technology. The two firms have struck a cross-licensing deal that will let either company develop their phones without further legal trouble relating to the patents. Neither company has commented on the deal.
V-MODA today unveiled its VIBE Duo for Apple's iPhone, a dual-use earphone with microphone combination. The VIBE Duo headset for iPhone features hi-def sound and features black fabric cables with an all-metal design. The earphones are lightweight and come with three sizes of soft silicon fittings to fit most ears, while a small clip ensures the accessory doesn't jar loose during strenuous activity. V-MODA's VIBE Duo headset for iPhone is priced at $100, and is designed to complement Apple's cellular handset with its metallic finish and sleek black cabling.
The Korean-based Viliv has just uncovered the X2 Flash, its newest GPS system. The device is based on the P2, which likewise has a SiRFstar III receiver, and an identical Chocolate-like control pad; the main difference is memory, altered from a 20 or 30GB hard drive to 4 or 8GB of flash. Since this may be constraining for some users, the X2 is also one of the few GPS systems to accept SDHC cards, ranging in size from 4 to 32GB. A slot is also present for regular SD cards.
Tekkeon this afternoon revealed the myPower ALL Plus, a successor to its previous multi-purpose charger. The Plus (also known as the MP3450) adds a USB port to charge a handheld device such as a camera, cellphone, or iPod while simultaneously powering most notebooks. When committed solely to a notebook, the charger can extend the useful run time by as much as four hours, Tekkeon says. Estimates also have the average portable media player lasting for an additional 42 hours, while cameras typically see an extra 12 hours. Two batteries at once can be used for even more power, the company notes.
Having recently been bought by CBS, Last.fm is now announcing a deal with the Sony BMG family of record labels, which plays host to artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Justin Timberlake. This will allow Last.fm users to legally stream all Sony music, along with other artists on the site's custom-made radio stations; of particular interest to Sony however is the recommendation function, which suggests new artists to listen to based on what a user has recently played.
Neuro Logic today unveiled a unique folding enclosure for servers or anyone who needs both displays and controls in a rackmountable space. The RFT-2L19 stows away in a two-unit-tall enclosure but slides out to reveal two 19-inch LCDs stacked one on top of the other for multi-monitor support without blocking nearby hardware. The system also includes its own keyboard and trackball for either plugging directly into a computer or piping through its built-in KVM switch to interface with multiple PCs.
A filing recently approved by the FCC has confirmed the existence of the first BlackBerry with Wi-Fi, most likely the Curve 2 (seen right), based on its similarities. Connection options should come in the form of 802.11a/b/g, which is discerned by the 5.4, 5.8 and 2.4GHz frequencies evaluated in FCC tests. Bluetooth and a microSD slot are other confirmed features.
Wi-Fi may be a critical addition to the BlackBerry phones, which have consistently lacked the option despite its presence in other high-end phones, most recently the Apple iPhone. Users should thus be able to access mail and the web without costly cellular data fees. [via Phone Scoop]
Netgear this morning officially shipped its Storage Central Turbo network storage device. Intended as much for the home and work, the device loads up to two desktop-sized Serial ATA drives of the user's choice and shares them across up to a gigabit Ethernet network. This lets it handle even live HD video streams in real-time, Netgear says. Specialized storage area network techniques let users upgrade relatively easily by just adding more of the SCT devices to the network, while SmartSync software allows redundant backups between drives and to guard folders against public access or for individual users.
Acer has quietly rolled out its Gemstone design notebooks to US stores, offering a special configuration for retail that may be the least expensive HD DVD notebook available in the US. A version of the Aspire 5920 provides support for reading the next-gen disc as well as reading and writing CDs and DVDs; it also includes the 256MB GeForce 8600M GT and HDMI output of the upper-echelon portables for displaying 1080p video at its native resolution without dropped frames. Cost savings primarily come through the choice of the recently introduced low-price 1.5GHz Core 2 Duo and a 1280x800, 15.4-inch display.
Cowon this morning confirmed its launch details by shipping the iAudio 7, the company's latest compact music player. The media player builds on the "swing touch" control scheme of the version 6 device but improves battery life and features. In spite of its size, a new power management method extends battery life to as long as 60 hours on a single charge. EQ has also been improved and Windows users can take advantage of Windows Media DRM for unlimited music subscriptions.
The ARM processor found inside the iPhone includes special features for accelerating Java code, a study of the chip reveals. The chip is likely to be the Samsung-made S3C6400 and therefore supports the Jazelle engine, which reduces memory use to a fraction of what would be needed for software and uses a virtual engine that juggles multiple Java programs at once without a major drop in performance. Phones can use this to easily load chat and games without requiring more expensive hardware, the ARM group says.
iRiver today updated its second-generation clix with a new version that makes full use of Real's Rhapsody online shop. Synchronizing the player with a PC set to use the music store will not only auto-fill the player with subscriptions but can also personalize the music using Rhapsody DNA; listeners can optionally have new recommended songs sync directly with the player to provide a fresh experience without hunting for new music themselves.
AMD today grew its TV Wonder line with two models that branch out into unfamiliar territory for the company. The TV Wonder 600 USB is the first from the chipmaker's ATI label to offer both HD and analog cable in an external form with a co-ax input for either an antenna or a cable feed. More advanced users with desktops can opt for the TV Wonder 650 PCIe, the company says: the internal card not only packs dual tuners that allow recording in one format while recording in the other, but offers ClearQAM descrambling for picking up most non-HD digital cable signals. Users can also tune into FM radio with the extra hardware afforded by the PCI Express slot.
Ahead of the E3 gaming conference later this week, Sony on Monday announced a new 80GB model of its PlayStation 3 entertainment system as well as cut the price on the currently shipping model by $100 and promised more titles for the gaming system. Expected to ship in August, the new 80GB PS3 model, which surfaced in April, will be available in North America for $599 and will include the MotorStorm racing game, which allows up to 12 players to play simultaneously via the internet. Following the discontinuation of the 20GB PS3 in April, the company also said that the current 60GB PS3 model will be available in North America for $499 (CND$549), a $100 price cut that was first noted late last week, but initially denied by the company.
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