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Microsoft has released the Xbox 360 Messenger Kit, an integrated chat and game control device that attaches as an appendage to Xbox 360 controllers. The kit is designed for chatting via keyboard with other users through Xbox LIVE and Windows-based PCs while maintaining game-play functionality. It includes the Chatpad keyboard, which sports backlit buttons for typing in dark environments, and and an Xbox 360 Headset. The kit is priced at $30. In April, Microsoft announced new instant messaging functions for users of the Xbox 360, allowing users connect and chat directly from their television with a network of more than 260 million active users. At that time, the Redmond-based company announced plans for a "QWERTY text-input device (pictured), which will connect directly into the Xbox 360 controller to support text and instant messaging," embodied in the new Chatpad.
MSI today produced one of the smallest notebooks to date with home theater support as a goal: the MEGABOOK MS-1221 is more closely in tune with ultraportables with a 12-inch screen but includes the performance necessary for larger tasks: the use of Intel's Santa Rosa-based GM965 chipset lets it include HDMI output for displaying images on an HDTV, GMA X3100 graphics able to handle most HD and Windows Vista, and the fastest Core 2 Duo processors. A 1GB Turbo Memory cache also unique to the platform should help loading times.
A new lawsuit filed in Florida alleges that Microsoft's Xbox 360 console has been damaging game discs, making them unplayable. The attorney for Jorge Brouwer claims that discs are being scratched by the console's optical drive, specifically when users attempt to change the position of the console from horizontal to vertical, or the reverse.
"They don't tell you not to move the tower," says Jeffrey Ostrow. It is even suggested that scratches sometimes occur when the console isn't touched, but these are less likely. Ostrow's suit asks for Microsoft to not only fix consoles that are causing damage, but to replace games for free, something Microsoft is currently charging $20 for. Class action status is being sought for the lawsuit.
WiebeTech has begun shipping 200GB and 250GB 2.5-inch hard drives, marking the largest capacity 2.5-inch drives on the market today, according to the company. WiebeTech's ToughTech mini (shown at right) and ToughTech XE mini pocket drives use 7200rpm (200GB) and 5400rpm (250GB) hard drives. ToughTech mini with a 200GB hard drive is available for $415, while the ToughTech mini with a 250GB hard drive is priced at $400. WiebeTech's ToughTech XE mini with a 200GB hard drive ships for $425, and the ToughTech XE mini featuring a 250GB hard drive is priced at $405.
Danger's Motorola-produced Zante is a working device and has been given a different name for its shipping form, a new photo and accompanying details show. Now rechristened the Sidekick Slide, the horizontal slider includes slight differences from the concept images leaked in the past and includes an offset, more ergonomic keyboard as well as larger call answer and ending buttons to prevent accidental hits. Other features such as EDGE and the 1.3-megapixel camera are hidden, though the on-screen graphic appears to confirm Bluetooth through a small icon in the menu bar.
A new FCC proposal could prevent the carrier lock-in that plagues US cellphone access, argues the agency's chairman Kevin Martin. The FCC head is set to propose that any wireless service using the 700MHz frequency being abandoned by analog TV must give customers the option of using any device and any "mobile broadband application" on the network. This choice would prevent cellphone carriers or Internet providers from carrying exclusive handhelds that only work with one service or deliberately throttle Internet phone calls to force use of more profitable cell services. Such artificial limits "hamper innovations," Martin says.
Better known for its receivers and speakers, TEAC is nevertheless pushing farther into the "entry-level" media player market with the MP-600. It comes in 1, 2 and 4GB capacities, with an SD/MMC slot permitting expansion. File formats are limited to JPEG photos, XviD movies, and MP3 or WMA/WMA-DRM audio; this is however compensated for, somewhat, by the presence of an FM radio with recording functions. And unlike many low-end players, the 600 has a 3.5-inch screen, an e-book reader, and a copy of Tetris. Battery life is 10 hours for music or 5.5 for video. A 4GB player is now on sale in Germany for €169 ($230). [via Anything But iPod]
Sony's latest console may soon have the ability to buy and download HD movies, according to a passing comment made by a spokesman for the PlayStation division. The company hopes to take advantage of the 80GB PlayStation 3 and the lower price on the 60GB model by letting users buy both full-length features as well as TV shows. Rental options and other details weren't revealed, but the future service is expected to make good use of Sony's role as a movie studio and offer at least its own content on launch.
JiWire, an advertising network that targets mobile broadband, says it has released a new version of its Wi-Fi Finder guide that is optimized for the Apple iPhone. Both the iPhone and regular guides list 150,000 Wi-Fi networks, public and private, in 135 countries; for convenience, users can also get maps, phone numbers and driving directions. Like similar applications, the iPhone guide uses a simplified interface in keeping with the device's overall shape and aesthetics.
HANNSPree today brought more of its unusual displays to North America through the local release of its recent XM-series LCDs. The HANNSboston (shown) and HANNSnewyork each abandon the conventional plastic look of most LCDs for a more artistic design: the boston includes a simulated woodgrain front to reflect the more colonial look of the Massachusetts city, while the newyork takes its cue from industrialization with a metallic look and a brushed aluminum base. Even buttons and other minor touches change, HANNSpree says.
Samsung Mobile became second company today to offer a YouTube device in the form of its new L760 phone. Nicknamed the "Mobile Blog" phone, the slider comes preloaded with upload tools for YouTube as well as other sites such as Ublog and Buzznet. This lets moblog writers and other bloggers quickly post photos or videos directly to the web using its built-in Internet access. Appropriately, the phone packs a 2-megapixel rear camera, a smaller front camera for personal blogging, and a microSD slot for storing movies on the road.
LapWorks this afternoon released the Laptop Desk Futura. Its design is made to work both as a solid surface for a user's lap and also as a desktop stand; unfolding the unit creates a large surface, while locking it into one of five partly-folded angles creates an elevated position useful for a desk or a table. Careful study of earlier stands has also led to several changes that help create space underneath the notebook and the stand that ensure even large widescreen notebooks are cooled properly.
Myvu today launched myvu solo, a personal media viewer that users wear like eyeglasses designed to provide everything needed for watching videos on a fifth-generation iPod. The myvu solo -- which offers a viewing experience comparable to a large screen TV from six feet away -- includes a new charging feature that powers myvu directly from the iPod, and two separate accessories are available to boost battery life and protect the myvu as well as the iPod on-the-go. Myvu's power pack is an 8-hour slim Lithium-Ion battery USB charger with a protective case for an iPod, while the myvu premium travel case offers room to stow both the myvu and the iPod when traveling. Myvu solo is priced at $200, while a Myvu Made for iPod fully loaded edition is priced at $300 with the myvu eyewear along with all the accessories.
The Unbox on TiVo service, which allows Amazon Unbox movies to played on TiVo's DVR units, has just received an important expansion to its abilities. The Associated Press writes that users can now order movies directly from their TiVos, complete with catalog searches using the remote control, and the choice of either renting or buying. While Unbox on TiVo has been available since March, the service previously required ordering from a computer, and then downloading to the TiVo separately. Only Series 2 and Series 3 TiVos are compatible.
Phantom Entertainment, the developers of the never-released Phantom Game Console, has made two announcements indicating conflicting directions for the company. The first is the resignation of Timothy Roberts, the company's Chairman of the Board, who states that he is moving on to "an exciting new opportunity." Roberts has presided over the company since 2004, when the company had first promised the Phantom and was known as Infinium Labs; Roberts was deposed as CEO after May of 2006, when the Securities and Exchange Commission accused him of artificially inflating stock value by hyping the Phantom prematurely.
NEC today revamped its MultiSync 5-series displays with two models that aim to be as unobtrusive as possible on a desktop. The 20-inch LCD205WXM and 22-inch LCD225WXM each build on the company's 3-series by integrating downward-firing speakers; the technique adds stereo sound without the conspicuous "chin" needed for front-facing speakers. Each of the screens further sees three-way adjustments for angle, height, and tilt.
Although an increasing number of home phones allow for options such as e-mail or video calls, the Flet's Phone VP2000 -- carried in Japan by NTT -- promises to go beyond these in several respects. It is first of all an upright tablet, operated using a finger-controlled, 12.1-inch touchscreen, with resolutions up to 1024x768.
When not making standard voice calls, it can handle video through a 0.3-megapixel webcam; e-mail is composed using an onscreen keyboard, and websites can viewed using a fully functional browser. Perhaps most importantly, speeds should be smooth thanks to support for NTT's FOMA 3G broadband. The VP2000 is on sale now for 69,000 yen ($559). [via Akihabara News]
Belkin this morning shook up its approach to its USB hub range with three models that put extra ports in unique locations. The Hub-To-Go (pictured) is a rare convertible device that changes its role on the fly: while it includes a stable base with a tray for an MP3 player or other small devices, the 4-port hub detaches entirely to stow away for portable use. Its swiveling connector also lets it fit into notebooks and other systems without blocking nearby ports, Belkin says. The Hub-To-Go will sell in late August for $50 along with the Swivel Hub, which eliminates the base to lower the cost to $30.
Exorbitant data pricing could be the primary barrier to the iPhone launching in Canada, according to University of Ottawa Internet research chair Michael Geist. The professor and expert notes that a distinct lack of rivals in the Canadian cellphone business has let providers effectively monopolize pricing for accessing mobile Internet services, creating a situation where the companies can charge exceptionally high rates and refuse to offer unlimited data plans. The situation is particularly dire for the iPhone's likely carrier Rogers, which is the only major GSM network provider in Canada and has no incentive to discount its services.
Lenovo this morning boosted the speed of its T61 widescreen notebook with the T61p. Its design represents both a performance and ergonomics boost to the popular design with the addition of a new-generation, Quadro FX 570M for better graphics; completely new to any of Lenovo's lines is the option of Ultra-Wideband for connecting wirelessly to a peripheral dock while still retaining the same speed as a physical link-up. Changes have also been made to the notebook design itself, Lenovo says: a new layout improves Wi-Fi and cellular broadband reception while simultaneously quieting the system by three decibels and dropping temperatures by ten percent in nearly all conditions.
Casio on Tuesday tried to capture the web generation by launching two uniquely upgraded cameras in its extra-thin Card and Zoom lines. Both the EX-S880 (pictured) and the EX-S77 share a YouTube Capture mode that streamlines the process of getting video to Google's premier website. Video is optimized to a web-friendly 640x480, H.264 format and is accompanied by a special tool that helps upload the resulting clips to the web; the full process takes no more than three steps and as little as two, Casio says. Either camera can also produce an eBay-optimized shot and includes software-based motion compensation as well as face detection.
InFocus today unveiled what it believes is its best single-chip projector to date. Its Play Big IN82 achieves the native 1080p needed for Blu-Ray and HD DVD but also incorporates a newer DarkChip3 image processor that extends the contrast ratio; while static contrast is strong at 4,000:1, the ratio can climb up to 12,000:1 with dynamic adjustments from the iris. Color is further given help through 10-bit color management and HDMI 1.3 input with deep color for sources with subtler color grades. Skilled home theater enthusiasts and pro calibrators can also fine-tune settings and establish separate daytime and nighttime presets.
Dell has introduced its first new computer label in years, targeting small business with its new Vostro desktops and notebooks. Most are virtually identical to the Inspiron portables and towers but allow the option of no trial software, come with a 30 day money back guarantee with no restocking or shipping fees, and 10GB of online backup for 1 year. A document leak in early June revealed the new Santa Rosa-based portables, which are cased in all-black and feature a sleeker design than the home versions along with a subtler row of media keys for playing DVDs and music without starting Windows.
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