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Microsoft's upcoming Zune sequel will try to counter new iPods and other players with higher-quality earbuds than those that typically ship with music players, according to a new report. The pack-in earphones will allegedly be a cross between Microsoft's existing in-canal models (pictured) and V-Moda's VIBE. In a rare touch, the cabling will also be sheathed with a black-and-brown striped cloth layer, preventing the bent cables and fraying that plague most earbuds.
Luxury audio/video specialist Bang & Olufsen has announced the Beo5, a successor to its Beo4 multi-system remote. The new model is a significant departure; rather than rely on a conventional, button-laden "brick," the Beo5 is controlled mainly through a color touchscreen, with a button wheel providing access to common options such as volume and track control. The touchscreen tailors itself to each selected device, and furthermore offers tactile feedback, allowing users to "feel" where buttons are. The Beo5 should ship to retail later this fall at a price of $560; because it consumes more power than before, a table charger is included.
Toshiba has announced two new LCDs in its high-end REGZA line, both of which should ship later this month. The 40RF350U (40 inches) and 46RF350U (46 inches) are fully 1080p-capable, and moreover belong to the Super Narrow Bezel category, with edges extending less than an inch from the screen. The sets use new 10-bit panels, allowing 64 times the colors of 8-bit equivalents; they also support the xvYCC color gamut, said to offer 1.8 times more colors than average HD signals.
There are three HDMI inputs on the TVs, as well as a "PC input," though the company is not saying whether it means DVI or VGA. PC resolutions are capped at WXGA/SXGA. The 40RF350U will cost $1,900, while the 46RF350U will be $2,500.
Polk Audio today introduced the i-Sonic ES2, the second generation of its hybrid digital radio and iPod dock. The new device introduces a new feature in collaboration with Apple known as iTunes Tagging. Songs properly marked on HD Radio stations can be tagged by the radio and have the information sent to a docked iPod; when the iPod returns to its home Mac or PC, the tags create an automatic iTunes playlist with links to buy the songs directly from the iTunes Store. This gives audiophiles a new way to find new music and enjoy it immediately, Polk says.
Pioneer this afternoon upgraded its Elite Blu-Ray players at CEDIA with the BDP-95FD. The electronics giant claims that its movie reader is the first to decode all four HD-level surround sound formats, including Dolby's Digital Plus and TrueHD as well as DTS-HD High Resolution and Master Audio. Like Sony's new players, it will also share media from any DLNA-equipped computer or device over an Ethernet network.
Sony today reinforced its Blu-Ray efforts with two new players, including its first many-disc reader. The V1000 Home Entertainment Server is built upon a 200-disc Blu-Ray changer that in many cases will hold a viewer's entire HD movie catalog in the tower's base. Other media can be stored in a purely digital form on a 500GB internal hard drive that also helps the unit record; for the first time, a non-computer device from Sony can record music, photos, and videos to Blu-Ray discs as well as DVDs, the company says. When connected to a TV across HDMI, the V1000 uses Sony's recent cross media bar interface to generate photo slideshows to music or play movies at their native 1080p resolution.
Another company at CEDIA is Pioneer, which has opened the curtains on a new stereo system and an AV receiver (neither pictured). The former is the Elite X-Z9, a two-speaker setup with a self-contained amplifier, and a CD player that accepts the Super Audio (SACD) format. More crucially, the stereo can stream files from a PC via LAN, or iPods, flash drives and other devices via USB. AAC, FLAC, MP3 and WMA files are supported. Each channel produces 50W of power, and the speaker terminals are gold-plated for full fidelity. The X-Z9 should ship in October for $1,799.
Belkin today unveiled what it says are the first cases for Apple's revised iPod nano and iPod classic, as well as the company's newly introduced iPod touch. Belkin's Sport Armband Plus for iPod nano, iPod classic, and iPod touch features breathable water-wicking "Coolmax" material alongside an included cable capsule to help manage and store earphones. The Sport Armband features a pocket for key or earbud storage and is water-resistant, while Belkin's Remix Acrylic case offers "true-sense" click wheel functionality from within a thin and compact polycarbonate enclosure. (pricing available below)
Taking its own turn at the CEDIA 2007 expo, Panasonic has announced two new plasma TVs, the TH-42PZ77 and TH-50PZ77. Measuring 42 and 50 inches, both are 1080p-capable, and have a 16,000:1 contrast ratio assisted by anti-glare coating. The sets further employ "pixel wobbling," which prevents image burn-in. Other higlights include two HDMI, two component, three S-Video and three composite video inputs, along with an SD slot for viewing photos. EZ-Sync support allows multiple pieces of hardware to be controlled with a single remote. The plasmas should ship later this month, at respective prices of $1,800 and $2,800.
Storage maker Seagate has announced several new hard drives, for a multitude of uses. At the fore is the Barracuda FDE, what the company claims is the first 3.5-inch desktop drive with native encryption. All material on a drive is AES-protected, and requires password entry before a computer can even finish booting. Deleting the encrytion key renders information unusable, a deliberate feature. 7,200rpm models with storage up to 1TB will begin shipping in 2008.
The Momentus 5400.4 is a 2.5-inch laptop drive, spinning at 5,400rpm with capacities rising to 250GB. Ramp-loading and special motors keep the drive quiet, and shock protection measures should protect it against harsh forces, up to 325Gs in operation or 900Gs when dormant. The first 5400.4s will ship in the fourth quarter of 2007.
Alienware today released a companion piece for its Hangar18 home theater PC. The HD Media Server is designed to feed the Hangar18 and other systems with live and pre-recorded HD content. Slots for four hard drives give it up to 4TB of disk space for downloaded movies, which can be hot-swapped for upgrades. Internal CableCARD support also lets the device either play HDTV shows as they happen or record them for later use. A slot-loading Blu-Ray drive provides a third option for watching HD video as well as a backup option for offloading content. Owners can also backup content online if necessary, Alienware says.
NEC on Thursday took a further step into becoming a genuine HDTV producer with five new LCD sets. First is the completely new MultiSync Residential series; the 40-inch SC40 and its larger cousin the 46-inch SC46both display 1080p but are said to have an edge over most home HD sets with an in-house signal processor which NEC claims produces better images; officially, however, the company nets 1,000:1 and 1,200:1 static contrast ratios respectively with 8ms pixel response. Both screens are built with custom home theaters as an option and can be plugged in either through HDMI or HDCP-encrypted DVI as well as legacy component video. ATSC TV tuning is optional, NEC says. Both ship today at $3,300 for the SC40 and $4,200 for the SC46.
In the wake of an accidental leak yesterday, Sony has now officially announced its A700 DSLR camera. A 12.24-megapixel sensor is confirmed, as is HDMI output and an 11-point autofocus system, whose accuracy can be improved by setting aperture to f/2.8. Image quality is aided not only by an image stabilizer, but by two in-camera noise reduction filters, one before and another after analog-to-digital conversion. The camera can shoot at an infinite 5fps in JPEG mode, or up to 18 frames in RAW.
Panasonic this morning contributed to CEDIA with two fresh AE and AX series home theater projectors. The AX200U (shown) is the company's first projector targeted explicitly at console gamers: a special toggle cuts response times to one third of their normal rate and tunes the image to help reveal details in dark areas. Players can also set as many as eight preset image settingss for different games. The 720p projector is flexible with a 2X zoom lens that allows a wide range of positions and dual HDMI inputs for multiple game systems or a stand-alone movie player.
Wacom today introduced three new Intuos3 Special Edition pen tablets (site not updated, older product pictured) to celebrate its 25th year in the business. The tablets, which are available in three sizes which include 6x8, 6x11, and 9x12 boast refined black and gun metal gray color scheme. The new devices include Wacom's Classic Pen, as well as the Intuos3 Grip Pen. Each tablet includes a "Professional Accessory Kit" that includes five standard nibs, five stroke nibs, five flex nibs, an alternate pen grip without side switch holes, one nib removal tool, and one replacement side switch. A transparent overlay can substitute with the traditional gray overlay when needed, and Corel has agreed to ship a special software package for Intuos3 Special Edition customers only on September 27th. The new tablets are priced at $370 (6x8), $410 (6x11), and $500 (9x12).
Apple could potentially deal with a lawsuit from cellphone maker HTC after naming its one of its latest music players the iPod touch, according to one trademark lawyer. While the name by itself is distinctive enough to potentially avoid a suit, the media player's similarity to the HTC Touch in its media playback, touchscreen, and Wi-Fi functions may be enough to warrant a trademark dispute. Though Apple had announced its iPhone with closer functionality months ahead of the HTC phone's June debut, the iPod touch has launched roughly three months after, potentially exposing Apple to claims of stealing its Taiwan rival's product name.
Seagate on Thursday introduced the next generation of its Maxtor OneTouch storage solutions: the new Maxtor OneTouch 4 family is available in three models and storage capacities of up to 1TB and offers new data protection and security along with software tools to help manage content and data in a new industrial design. Seagate's new drives are now bundled with improved software for performing multiple-computer data synchronization, drag-and-drop encryption and a "bare metal system" restore. In the event of a fatal crash or virus attack, Maxtor's new (Windows-only) SafetyDrill restore feature enables the nearly instantaneous restoration of an entire computer, according to the company. The external drives feature USB 2.0 connectivity, 7,200 rpm disks, and 16MB of cache.
Joining in the announcements made during the CEDIA expo, Sharp today revealed its intent to launch its first AQUOS Blu-Ray player in the US. The BD-HP20U keeps in tune with its European equivalent, the BD-HP20S, and outputs its 1080p image with HDMI 1.3 for deep color support and the ability to scale back its frame rate to 24 FPS for some movies. CEC support also lets the player control other supporting devices over HDMI, such as turning on a TV and setting its input to the Blu-Ray player.
Sony today bolstered its Bravia SXRD front projectors with two high-end models. The VW200 is the first SXRD projector (and potentially the first of any projector) to include LCD panels capable of 120 frames per second, generating artifact-free movement similar to the most recent direct-view LCD sets. It also adds HDMI 1.3 with deep color to play Blu-Ray or HD DVD movies that support the wider color range, and a rare Xenon lamp with a more accurate color temperature. The VW200 further adds an Ethernet jack to let users remotely control the projector over the Internet.
During an evening gala on the eve of New York's Fashion Week, where the company hosted an audience of nearly 1,000, HP unveiled a new gaming PC dubbed the Blackbird 002, a direct result of the Voodoo acquisition. The machine sports a removable side panel, completely open BIOS -- for easy overclocking, interior and back panel LED lighting, an aluminum chassis and cast-aluminum foot. The Blackbird 002 also features liquid cooling. Processing power comes from chips ranging up to Intel's Core 2 Extreme Quad-Core QX6850 at 3GHz with 8MB of L2 cache per processor (16MB total) with an 1.33 GHz, 64-bit front side bus. Graphics card options include the monster NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX with 756MB of GDDR2 SDRAM. The system sports five independent Serial ATA slot loading hard drive bays that don't require tools for access and 3 PCIe x16 slots. Pricing ranges from approximately $2,500 to $7,100 depending on configuration.
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