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The ThinkPad, created by IBM and currently sold by Lenovo, today celebrated its 15th anniversary. On July 19th 1992, the former released the 2521 tablet (right), for which the name "ThinkPad" was originally secondary. It had a 10-inch, 640x480 monochrome display, and ran off a 20MHz 386SX processor; network connections were made via a 2.4Kbps modem, and users who wanted a keyboard or removable storage had to connect the devices externally. RAM was limited to 4 or 8MB, but it did have a 20MB solid-state hard drive, technology only now regaining favor in mobile computing.
LaCie has begun taking orders for the 2TB version of the Big Disk Extreme+, which differs from the basic Big Disk by including FireWire 400 and 800 ports in addition to a USB 2.0 connection. Drives are housed in aluminum alloy casing, and a "smart" fan system adjusts cooling as needed. In common with other LaCie drives, a utlity lets users hit the front blue button to engage a particular program, normally backup software -- EMC Retrospect is included. The 2TB Extreme+ should ship later this month for $850 (website says early August); the company also offers 1TB ($350), and 1.5TB ($600) capacities. [pricing corrected]
Sony's European division today announced the DAV-X10, a compact home receiver for budget home theaters or those with tight spaces. An internally developed virtual surround technique known as S-Force PRO generates the immersive audio effect while using only two satellite speakers and a central subwoofer, producing a combined 480W of power. HDMI routing ensures that the device can both accept surround sound built into HD sources and upscale video from lower-resolution DVD and TV sources up to either 720p or 1080i. Owners of Sony's Bravia TV sets can also use the HDMI linkup to control the receiver through their main remote control.
The president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, David Reeves, has hinted at the possibility of a 120GB PlayStation 3. Speaking with the Norwegian site Dagbladet, Reeves downplayed the likelihood of bringing the 80GB model to Europe, arguing that an extra 20GB would not be worth the expense for most buyers. He suggested however that a double-sized console could be justifiable -- "So maybe you'll see something a little bit later," he added.
Broadcom will offer Verizon a unique deal to let the US provider continue importing cellphones in spite of a trade ban, according to a deal unveiled today. Although the block put in place by the International Trade Commission directly touches on allegedly infringing Qualcomm patents used by many of Verizon's phones -- effectively banning new models from shipping to the US -- Broadcom has said it will grant a special license to allow the new devices to reach the carrier. Under the deal, Verizon will pay $6 for every cellphone or notebook data card that can use EVDO Internet access but will not have to pay more than $40 million per calendar quarter and will be capped at $200 million regardless of the ban's duration.
Toshiba today issued a small but significant recall of notebook batteries for systems made between January and April 2006, citing three incidents in the past ten months in which similar batteries have caught fire. Covering mostly Japanese AX and TX models but also including local and international versions of the Satellite A100, the recall is said to only be essential for 5,100 models but has been expanded to 10,000 units to replace batteries which include some of the lithium-ion cells affected by the problem.
System builder Velocity Micro is readying a network media hub based on Microsoft's newly completed Windows Home Server. The highly stylized system will be both relatively powerful and quiet thanks to a current-generation processor based on Intel's current Core 2 architecture; a heavily ventilated case with special cooling should render the system all but silent, Velocity says. Custom orders will outfit the system with varying levels of storage into the terabyte range spread across multiple SATA drives. External SATA and USB will fill in the gaps for customers who need easily removable storage.
The initially discredited "iPhone nano" may be real, purportedly very reliable sources have told AppleInsider. Apple is said to have been developing a smaller, lower-priced version of its phone to be ready just months after the June release of the flagship model. Timing has been close enough that engineering efforts for the sister device were already wrapping up as the current, full-size phone began production, according to the report. Appearances are said to represent a cross between the iPhone and the iPod nano and to focus only on media functions, with at least some Internet-based functions limited or removed altogether.
SynchroTech has announced the CFFire800, a FireWire 800-based CompactFlash Drive Read-Writer. The device uses UDMA Mode 6 (ULTRA ATA/133), and features purported read speeds of up to 43MBs with Lexar's new UDMA 300X and 39MBs with SanDisk's Extreme IV CompactFlash cards. It requires no drivers on supported Macintosh or Windows systems and plugs into 9-pin FireWire 800 (1394b) ports. It also utilizes bus power, requiring no external adapter. The reader supports various CompactFlash standards, including PIO Modes 1-4, DMA Modes 0-2, and UDMA Modes 0-6. It uses a single CompactFlash slot for CompactFlash Type I and II including Hitachi Microdrives and other CFII+ rotating media. The CFFire800 is priced at $60, with an optional CompactFlash Type I to 16-bit PC Card Type I/II Adapter for $26.
Samsung today kicked off the official release of the G600, its latest camera and media-focused cellphone. The slider design makes use of the company's latest refinements in sensors to provide a 5-megapixel camera in a 14.9mm (0.6-inch) frame, including 5X digital zoom and an LED flash for night shots. A front camera is provided for video calls and is accompanied by unspecified 3G wireless (likely UMTS). Users also have a wide range of choices for music, according to Samsung: FM radio and a microSD slot are backed by a still-rare USB 2.0 port that helps sideload MP3 music and other files quickly.
Sprint and Internet provider Clearwire today struck a deal that would see the two companies jointly build WiMAX networks, creating the first genuinely US-wide service of its type. While both companies will build their own segments individually, subscribers to the future services will be able to use either network. Branding, the network backbone and the development of the 4G service's future technology will also be shared, both companies said. Sprint in particular will take on the majority of phone-related development, offering dual-role CDMA and WiMAX devices as well as helping virtual carriers such as Helio use WiMAX should they decide to support it.
Nokia today announced that its Nokia Maps service could now use assisted GPS, providing owners of the right handsets with a much quicker way of tracking their position. As hinted in a software leak, Nokia devices with built-in GPS receivers will now be able to use their Internet access to check their position against online information and help the GPS chipset acquire its first position fix sooner. The technique improves lock-on times by about 25 percent and also helps in situations when 2.5G or 3G access is strong but GPS is weak, according to informal tests. Local carriers will also be able to replace Nokia's servers with their own for more accurate regional mapping.
The iPhone may have been successfully activated on a network outside of AT&T without approval, according to a UK report. A user who bought both an iPhone and an AT&T prepaid SIM card says that he used the recently developed iASign hack to enable the phone's basic use, but promptly placed the SIM into an unused phone, asking Vodafone to enable the device on its network; reactivating the phone again using iASign allowed the phone to operate natively on the European carrier's network, he says.
The interenational phone carrier Vodafone is saying that while it would like to distribute the iPhone in Europe, its major issue is the lack of 3G in the device. Reuters writes that in a recent Vodafone conference call, during which it reported healthy third-quarter finances, the company expressed doubts about success for the iPhone in Europe using its current design -- its cellular broadband comes in the form of EDGE, a "2.5G" technology that even Apple CEO Steve Jobs has admitted can be slow.
KVH today introduced its TracVision SlimLine satellite TV receivers for RVs and trailers, hoping to catch vacationers looking to take HDTV with them on the road. All the new models rely on a 12-inch dome with a high-efficiency antenna that captures signals as easily as a 15-inch unit, making it easier to fit the receiver into tight spots; they also boast provider independence and will tune video from DirecTV and DISH as well as Bell Canada's ExpressVu service. New to any KVH set is an optional feature called AutoSwitch that lets DirecTV subscribers flip between HD and SD content as well as pick between any one of three satellites to find the sweet spot for reception.
Sources close to mainboard designers claimed today that the first processor to use Intel's 45-nanometer Penryn architecture will be a quad-core gaming model with an extensive boost to its clock speed, reflecting a dramatic reduction in power use and the resulting heat output. Although going without a formal model name, the chip would become the top model in the Core 2 Extreme line and would be clocked at 3.33GHz -- about 11 percent higher than the just-announced 3GHz QX6850 and also faster than the future 3.16GHz Xeon. This would also be accompanied by the expected boost in level 2 cache from 8MB to 12MB and the Core 2 Extreme's unlocked multiplier that allows for overclocking when using strong enough cooling.
Apple has been researching technology that would let the iPhone or the iPod double as a remote control for steering playback of music and videos on the Apple TV or other media hubs, according to a new patent filing. The application, originally submitted in December 2005, would let a wireless portable media player synchronized with a server and tell that server to play files based on metadata such as the song name, album, or genre; the server in turn relays its sound to a stereo or a TV using either a wireless method such as the company's AirPort Express audio output feature or a direct, wired connection.
Young Palo Alto firm ooma today revealed a new Internet phone system that it believes could change the American approach to long-distance calls. Based around an ooma Hub plugged into an Internet connection, the system lets any analog phone attached to an ooma Scout peripheral automatically make VoIP calls as though they were on a normal phone line; the use of an online peer-to-peer technology lets the company not only avoid running large numbers of servers but eliminate the connection costs for reaching physical lines or cellphones. Any calls made inside the US become free as a result, ooma says.
JVC on Thursday expanded its Everio cameras with the HD3, a new model that it says will bring HD video to more people. The 3CCD camera is 27 percent smaller than the HD7 but still produces 1440x1080 video and contains a 60GB hard drive for extensive recording; in extended mode, the camera can record as much as 7 hours of video at full resolution without a substantial drop in quality. Video can also be captured to Class 6 or higher SD and SDHC cards when footage needs to be easily transportable, JVC says. The camera includes a handful of image quality assist tools such as digital shake reduction, aperture or shutter priority, and visual aids for exposure and focus.
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