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Smaller computer companies such as Apple are continuing to make the greatest inroads into the US PC business, according to preliminary data for spring 2007 just released today by market watchdog IDC. The company noted that while HP continued to take marketshare from current leader Dell and shipped over 4 million PCs in the last three months, it was relative newcomers to the top five that showed the largest gains in the country. Acer in particular saw a "rapid" explosion of business, delivering 881,000 units -- 164 percent more PCs than in spring 2006. Toshiba also grew 50 percent to 901,000 but was eclipsed by Apple, which reached is estimated to have grown 26 percent and shipped 960,000 Macs in the same period.
In an unusual promotional move, all terminals of the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) now have charging stations installed by Samsung. There are 51 stations in total, each consisting of an 8.5-foot pole with four outlets. The stations are wired for portable electronics that run on US voltage (120V), which includes devices such as laptops, cellphones and more. Shelves on the poles hold the devices. There is no immediate fee for using one of the stations, but since Samsung is not paying for the power they consume, the cost may indirectly require higher terminal fees.
European Commission officials today announced that they had chosen DVB-H as the preferred format for mobile TV in Europe, setting the basis for any future cellphones and other handhelds that would offer digital broadcasts on the continent. Created by Nokia and already in place for phones such as the Nokia N77, the Digital Video Broadcast - Handheld standard was described as the "strongest contender" among its rivals and could even become mandatory depending on the business climate, the Commission said. The move is intended to eliminate confusion and ensure fair competition between handset makers.
Echoing the steps of its American neighbor Sprint, Canadian cell provider today began carrying the m620 music phone in its stable. Better known as the Samsung UpStage or the F300 Ultra Music, the device includes the characteristic dual-sided design that flips to one side for calls and text messaging and another for media playback and Internet use. What separates the m620 from other versions is software, Telus notes; in addition to accessing the Telus Mobile Music Store, the device taps into the provider's Mobile Radio service that provides 22 XM radio stations streaming over the Internet.
In apparent counter-response to a Sony initiative, Toshiba has decided to extend its "Perfect Offer" deal until September 30th. Until then, people who buy a Toshiba HD DVD player are eligible to send in for five free movies from a list of 15, including the likes of Apollo 13, Blazing Saddles and Casablanca. This follows a recent announcement by the Blu-Ray Disc Association, also offering five movies from a list of 21.
Disney and its music label Hollywood Records today revealed the CDVU+ (CD View Plus) format, a new music-only disc standard it hopes will reverse the shift to online-only music sales and downloads. In addition to the music itself, the standard adds a magazine-style digital component that triggers when the album is loaded on a computer; in addition to a printable guide, the format can include videos and links to live web content, such as Flickr photo albums or band news. The discs themselves are also environmentally friendly and made completely out of recycled material for those who want to minimize the physical impact of buying an album.
A new technology may lead to the replacement of conventional LCDs in many areas, research suggests. Scientists at the University of California have created a new fluid filled with iron oxide particles, each approximately 100 nanometers wide and coated in a plastic polymer. The signficance is that when exposed to a magnetic field, the particles arrange themselves into a pattern known as a photonic crystal -- so called because gaps between the particles are just wide enough for the wavelengths of light.
SanDisk this afternoon introduced its Ducati Edition flash storage, promising some of the fastest data cards ever released. Reinforcing this concept through the red and white colors of the Italian superbike maker, SanDisk says its 8GB CompactFlash and 4GB SDHC cards are fast enough to satisfy even owners of high-end professional cameras; the CF card transfers 5MB per second faster than SanDisk's previous best at 45MB per second, while the SD card is also quick for its format at 20MB per second. The SD card also boasts a trick design that exposes a thin USB connector for plugging the storage into a computer without a card reader.
TiVo's upcoming Series 3 Lite has been confirmed with technical details to match, say testers and others who have spotted information (now pulled) on TiVo's own website. The budget recorder will carry 160GB of storage good for roughly 20 hours of HD versus the 30 of the 250GB premium model. It should also drop the OLED display at the front and use a simpler, Series 2-like remote without a macro mode. Parts may also be cheaper.
Zonbu today officially launched its self-titled Zonbu PC, a concept it hopes will break the pattern of big, expensive, and power-hungry desktops. As previewed in May, the company offsets the initial costs of most PCs by shifting most of the storage demands from the computer to the Internet. While the PC itself only contains a 4GB flash drive, the optional subscriptions offer between 25GB and 100GB of online data; the space hosts much of the user's apps, updates, and normal working data, guaranteeing that receiving a replacement system will never mean losing crucial information.
Canon's long-rumored EOS-40D may finally be nearing a proper announcement. The camera is one of many listed as PictBridge-certified on the CIPA (Camera and Imaging Products Association) website, and more importantly, it is distinguished from the EOS-400D, also known as the Rebel XTi.
The 40D has been discussed in various forms since 2006; it would be an upgrade to the current EOS-30D (pictured), a professional-level DSLR with an 8.2-megapixel sensor. This is the likely reason for an upgrade, since even the XTi has 10.1 megapixels, and the rival D200 by Nikon has 10.2 megapixels. [via PhotographyBLOG]
In line with its decision to preload LocationFree software on its VAIO laptops, Sony is moving future LocationFree stations under the VAIO brand. The first of these will be the LF-V30, going on sale in September. LocationFree stations allow users to access video from TVs, DVD players and video recorders via IP; compatible devices include laptops, PSPs and Windows Mobile phones. The V30 features component input and output, as well as wireless local streaming to a PC.
Apple is poised to consume a full quarter of worldwide flash memory production during the summer, according to a new report from DRAMeXchange. The research group estimates that while Apple is receiving an exceptionally large amount of NAND flash for the iPhone and iPods during the summer in anticipation of the holiday season, this in tandem with production troubles with newer, denser flash chips is creating a shortage for other companies that might want flash for their own devices. The cut in readily available memory has sent prices upwards for the past three months to try and curb demand, and has already forced some electronics makers "unable to secure" some of the storage they need, DRAMeXchange says.
Sony has announced the VRD-MC5, a direct-to-DVD recorder being brought to North America. Its most notable feature is the ability to copy AVCHD videos, which are burned to DVD in their native 1080i format; the tradeoff is that they can only be played by Blu-Ray drives, whether they are PC, PlayStation 3 or stand-alone models. Burned SD videos can be played on any conventional DVD drive. A DVD+R or RW disc can hold 95 minutes of AVCHD or six hours of SD.
MicroNet Technology has introduced the PlatinumNAS Plus, its latest SMB NAS (Network Area Storage) device that integrates with Apple's iTunes software to serve as a centralized repository for storing up to 4TB of digital content. "With the addition of embedded iTunes server software, MicroNet provides a turnkey SMB NAS solution that allows all Windows and Macintosh network users to easily access and view digital content, including product and company training content, podcasts and other digital media," the company said. The PlatinumNAS Plus consolidates file and digital media services into a single easy-to-use Web-based management utility, and utilizes an Intel IOP RISC network processor optimized for network file services. The device includes four independent SATA drive channels, while automatic RAID set rebuild and background RAID creation help to keep data online during a drive failure. USB 2.0 expansion slots support further external storage, and an unattended download manager with a built-in scheduler enables users to run bandwidth-intensive downloads during off-peak hours. The PlatinumNAS Plus is priced from $800 (1TB) to $3,000 (4TB).
Novatel today produced one of its fastest USB devices yet with the Ovation MC950D modem. Despite the limits of its external form, the device can deliver HSUPA cellular broadband at speeds rivaling even home Internet access. In peak conditions, the modem downloads at the same 7.2Mbps of the best HSDPA modems but will also upload at 2.1Mbps, outpacing nearly any everyday connection. Setup is also trivial thanks to drivers embedded on the hardware itself and a compact flip-up antenna that helps establish a good signal.
Trans International has released the miniXpress825 S, an upgrade to its basic 825 external hard drive. The S has not one but two FireWire 800 ports, with a bundled 6- to 9-pin cable allowing FireWire 400 connections. The focus however is on the eSATA port, which allows speeds of up to 150MB per second on compatible systems. The same cable for eSATA also shares a USB 2.0 link, making the S portable to virtually any computer a person might use. An 2.5-inch enclosure without a hard disk costs $99; including a disk costs anywhere between $139 for 100GB to $349 for a 200GB, 7200rpm model.
Pioneer today marked the official launch of its Kuro high-end plasma sets with full details. Rather than emphasize sheer resolution, the 42- and 50-inch Kuro and Elite Kuro screens stress image quality alone; each panel features some of the deepest blacks ever seen on flat-panel TVs, Pioneer boasts. All screens are ready for sources that can exploit this fact courtesy of four HDMI 1.3 deep color ports, fine-tuned image customization, and a 3:3 pulldown conversion that wipes out the judder effects seen with non-native movie and TV frame rates.
Coders at the iPhone Dev Wiki (not linked for bandwidth concerns) claim to have circumvented some of the locks placed on the device by Apple and AT&T. Buying the product normally requires a two-year, iPhone-specific contract, a move which has drawn critcism mainly for the $175 cancellation fee. But by using a program called iASign, users can liberate the phone for use with existing SIM cards registered under AT&T or Cingular, and possibly MVNOs on the same network. This could be especially useful for those on corporate AT&T plans, who can use a company SIM card and enjoy significant discounts.
Budget TV designer Vizio is planning to overturn the US TV business with a 52-inch LCD, claim sources near Vizio's Taiwan manufacturer Amtran. The American firm will reportedly use a combination of an LG-Philips LCD panel and its typical design process to launch a large TV at $2,200 -- well below sets from Toshiba and other mainstream brands, which often sell sets well over $3,000 at the same size. Specifications are unknown but are unlikely to include premium features such as a 120Hz panel or an advanced dynamic contrast system. Shipping models are allegedly due to reach Costco stores next month, the sources add.
Continuing to expand its young range of iPod accessories, Sony today released a pair of docking iPod stereo systems. The C1iP (pictured) clock radio both plays the music from most of Apple's digital players and uses the devices for an alarm function, waking owners up to either an iPod's music or the more familiar AM/FM radio and buzzer options. Its wireless remote controls the iPod's menu system as well as the radio itself. Sony plans to ship black and white versions of the C1iP in August for $100.
Sanyo expanded its still fledgling Easy Street line of navigators with two new models that pack better-than-average features for the price. Both the NVM-4050 and NVM-4070 offer a 4-inch wide touchscreen that improves on the standard-aspect 3.5-inch screens often seen at the price. They also feature Bluetooth for hands-free calling (including sending contacts and photos to the GPS device) and make it a point to include full maps for Canada and the US, including Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Either player also includes MP3 and WMA music playback either from free space on internal memory or on SD cards.
Voodoo PC on Wednesday launched a new desktop replacement notebook for its hardcore gaming audience: the 17-inch, full HD Envy H:171 is based heavily on the Clevo D900C and focuses on raw performance above all else. Desktop CPUs are mandatory and peak at the dual-core, 2.93GHz Core 2 Extreme; the system can also be equipped with up to three 250GB hard drives with the option of a RAID stripe or mirror to provide either the maximum amount of continuous space or a backup for safety. Dual GeForce Go 7950 video chipsets also provide the sheer 3D speed needed for recent games.
Everex this morning took advantage of its expertise with low-cost PCs to produce a what it hopes will be the ideal back-to-school system. The Impact GC3502 fights back against the tendency to strip software from budget computers by bundling OpenOffice. This gives a complete and largely Microsoft Office compatible suite out of the box without inflating the price of the system, Everex says. Also going against the grain is the company's choice of a 1.5GHz VIA C7-D, which transforms the desktop into an environmentally friendly PC: the CPU consumes only 2W on average and 20W at peak, eliminating most of the power footprint compared even to some notebook processors.
Sony early Wednesday ended the wait for an American version of the 11-inch VAIO TZ. Like the Japanese and European systems, the US edition is Sony's smallest complete notebook yet and uses an LED-backlit screen to both slim down the casing to under one inch and to provide a bright image despite the small size. The TZ has also pioneered a new keyboard similar to that for the MacBook which provides steadier typing and reduces the vulnerability to spills. Carbon fiber construction also sheds weight and reduces the system to as little as 2.65 pounds.
Research in Motion on late Tuesday unveiled the BlackBerry 8820, its first and long-anticipated smartphone with Wi-Fi. The full-QWERTY device includes the ability to connect to most wireless hotspots for Internet access and is one of very few phones to support 802.11a for corporate networks and homes that use the format. The handheld is similarly rare in providing Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) and, on supporting carriers, is the only BlackBerry capable of automatically hopping from cellular to VoIP and back to maintain calls without either consuming service plan minutes or wandering outside of Wi-Fi coverage.
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