Accessory maker iHome has developed the iH82, a new set of portable speakers for the iPod. Based on the existing iH80, the base of the unit is essentially the same, but with an entirely optional second speaker for louder, stereo sound. Crucially, the extra speaker does not require its own power supply; it instead takes its power from the dock speaker, which uses a wall adapter or eight C-cell batteries. The dock itself supports fourth- and fifth-generation iPods along with minis, nanos and shuffles. An infrared remote comes standard. iHome has yet to announce pricing or a release date for the set. [via iLounge]
Samsung is ready to make one of the largest breaks from its historical phone designs, according to a new product leak. The i550 would not only ship in a brushed metal with thin buttons similar to Sony-Ericsson's W880 but would also be the first Samsung phone in the world to come equipped with a GPS receiver. Controls would also veer sharply from Samsung's past with a BlackBerry-style trackball and shortcut keys for the map tool as well as music. Phone users would also have true 3G access to the Internet with a 3.6Mbps HSDPA connection, and could place video calls over the network with a front camera, the source claims.
Businesses cannot make online changes to a contract without informing their customers, according to a ruling by the Ninth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals. The issue stems from the case of Joe Douglas, a customer of the phone company Talk America, which recently merged with Cavalier Telephone. Douglas was initially a customer of America Online, part of which was acquired by Talk, which in turn provided phone service to former AOL subscribers. Following the acquisition, Talk altered its contracts, raising prices and inserting legal clauses protecting it from the likes of class-action lawsuits.
Eurocom has quietly released an upgrade to this year's D900C gaming notebook. The Phantom-X version adds several features sought after by its high-performance audience. Systems can now use Intel's 2.4GHz or 2.66GHz Core 2 Quad desktop processors. The graphics can also be upgraded from the stock GeForce Go 7950 GTX to the newer GeForce 8700M GT, which adds DirectX10 visuals and better overall 3D to the 17-inch desktop replacement. Each hard drive slot is now also rated for up to a 250GB hard drive, stacking to create as much as 750GB of storage either in a RAID array or as separate disks.
Dell has at last begun shipping the XPS M1330, according to a new update from the company's official blog. The 13.3-inch gaming system has encountered a number of delays since its announcement in June that have prevented its shipping as expected. The Texas-based PC maker did not specify what had triggered the more than month-long delay but noted that the extra-thin LED backlit display was the most likely extra to delay ship times. Other general setbacks such as "part shortages, technical glitches, [and] simple cosmetic issues" could also play a role, Dell noted.
The joint venture of LG Philips LCD has created a new flexible display technology which may circumvent some of the costs of current OLED screens. According to an application filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, instead of relying on crystals and diodes, the LG Philips solution fills each pixel with a combination of oil and water. When an electric field is applied from plastic electrodes, the floating oil parts, revealing the color(s) of the underlying layer.
Verizon today announced that it would buy out Rural Cellular for $757 million, bringing all the customers of the smaller provider into the larger carrier's fold. The move gives the larger carrier access to 716,000 new subscribers and should help the company provide service in large portions of the northeast as well as the south, north-central, and northwestern US, many of whom either have few choices in carriers or are serviced by rivals. Most of Rural Cellular's subscribers use GSM phones but will eventually be converted to CDMA networks, Verizon said. However, all the GSM networks will remain active to provide roaming for customers of AT&T, T-Mobile, and other providers based on the competing standard.
ASUS today revealed full details of the P735, the new flagship in its P series of smartphones. The 2.8-inch LCD dominating the front provides extra room for the relatively new addition of Windows Mobile 6, which brings in simple Excel, PowerPoint, and Word editing. It also provides expansive room for web browsing with a faster variant on UMTS mobile Internet that sustains 384Kbps, including during uploads. The addition lets ASUS install a front video camera and is accompanied by 802.11g Wi-Fi that fills the gaps when indoors.
Delphi today broke cover on its new NAV300 GPS receiver. Confirming the earlier leak, the 300 spins the formula set by the NAV200 with the addition of Bluetooth for hands-free speakerphone calls and a new point-of-interest recommendation feature: a September update will add ZAGAT's ratings to hotels, restaurants, and other entertainment spots that surface on maps of Canada and the US included with the 3.5-inch map unit.
Microsoft is said to be working on updates that may address some of the most common complaints about Windows Vista, without requiring the highly-anticpated Service Pack 1. According to sources at nV News, testers in the Windows Server 2008 beta are eligible to download early versions of new "Performance and Reliability" and "Compatibility and Reliability" packs, for both the 32- and 64-bit editions of Vista. The former should improve speeds when copying large file folders, an issue that has made Vista problematic for many modern computing demands. It should also reduce the time needed to reach the Login screen from Hibernate.
Acer today released a new version of its starter notebook, the TravelMate 2480. The budget 14-inch widescreen system achieves a low price through the inclusion of a newer-generation 1.6GHz Celeron M, 512MB of RAM, and modest storage with a DVD/CD-RW drive and an 80GB hard disk. Vista Home Basic also helps lighten the demand on the system for most users. The system nonetheless includes a few extras such as a multi-format card reader for camera files and an ExpressCard slot. Users can upgrade the system to 2GB of memory and can buy the system in the US now for $539.
Panasonic backed up the release of its 5-series cameras today with its new SDHC Pro card. Where most cards have to focus on either storage or speed, the new card stores 8GB while keeping a Class 6 speed rating that guarantees at least 6MB per second and as much as 20MB. The combination of features is enough for the SD5 and SX5 to record 1080i HD video in real-time for as long as three hours in an economy mode or 80 minutes at maximum detail.
BlueAnt on Monday morning launched the Z9, a Bluetooth earpiece the company claims will break from the traditions of most headsets. At 1.5 inches long, the Z9 is one of the smallest headsets ever and is small enough to hide as a tie or shirt clip without drawing attention. The piece is also less of a burden to the ear at 0.35 ounces, BlueAnt says. Size is also said to be no obstacle to call quality as a dual microphone array actively reduces background noise and is switchable to a Max setting that ramps up filtering in particularly noisy environments.
Hoping to bring relief to crowded home theaters, IOGEAR today launched its new 4-port HDMI switch. In contrast to some AV switches, the new model automatically detects and routs the audio and video of an active HDMI source to an attached HDTV or receiver. A wireless remote will also allow manual control of sources. Either method is ideal for the Apple TV and other media devices that may compete for limited space on the default ports of most HDTVs, according to IOGEAR.
Panasonic on Monday revealed that it would bring two of its latest HDC cameras to North America. Both the SD5 and SX5 are based on new 3CCD designs that can produce a 1080i widescreen HD picture. The Crystal Engine onboard processing has been upgraded at the same time and ups contrast and lowers noise across most shots while still extending battery life. An advanced optical image stabilizer also helps steady shots, Panasonic says. Owners can also take advantage of a new pre-record mode that continuously records 3-second short clips and tacks the most recent clip to the front of a deliberately recorded video to capture sports or other impromptu scenes where the user is likely to press the record button later than necessary.
Apple and Dell are driving a resurgence in demand for 20-inch computer LCDs, according to claims made by Taiwan display market insiders. Although most computer monitor producers are now focusing almost exclusively on 19-inch and 22-inch widescreen displays, the two American firms have placed orders that are expanding the relatively small market for 20-inch models. The moves are expected to help AU Optronics, CPT, and LG-Philips LCD, as all three companies are the highest-volume suppliers of 20-inch LCDs while Samsung and other manufacturers only produce a small percentage of screens at that size.
Sony has made a surprise expansion of its Xplod head units through the XAV-W1. Marking two firsts at once, the W1 is both the first in-dash SACD player from Sony as well as the company's first large visual jukebox for cars. Owners with both the special disc format and a compatible audio system can listen to music in 5.1 surround; stereo is also available for regular CDs as well as MP3/WMA tracks. The same optical drive includes DVD support for movies (including DVD-R discs) viewed on the built-in 7-inch touchscreen, complete with either Dolby or DTS sound with surround audio systems.
Samsung today catered explicitly to Americans with the release of four new Lifestyle cameras. The NV8, NV15, and NV20 upgrade the sensor depth of the NV point-and-shoot series to 8, 10, and 12 megapixels respectively; the improved sensors are matched by equal processing improvements with ISO sensitivity up to 3200, noise and shake reduction, and an auto-contrast feature that automatically adjusts the brightness of central subjects in poor lighting conditions. Face detection and 14 preset modes further help compose shots.
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