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In a major win for record companies seeking to establish precedent for prosecuting those who trade copyrighted material on the Internet, a federal jury awarded six firms $222,000 in damages from a Minnesota woman who shared music online. Jammie Thomas, 30, was ordered to pay $9,250 for each of 24 songs that were part of the case. The complaint alleged that she had shared 1,702 copyright-violating songs online. The Associated Press quotes Richard Gabriel, lead attorney for the music companies: "This does send a message, I hope, that downloading and distributing our recordings is not OK."
On the heels of the Special Pink iPod Edition, Casio on Thursday announced that it will release a special-edition bundle featuring a pink EX-Z75 camera (shown at right in a different color), a case embossed with the pink ribbon, and a pink ribbon-clad lanyard to show its support of the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The 7.2-megapixel EX-Z75 is part of Casio's zoom line of EXILIM cameras, and features a 2.6-inch wide LCD display with Anti-Shake DSP for reducing photo blur and an eBay mode which takes photographs with the right size for selling items on the popular auction website. "We are proud to be a sponsor of the National Breast Cancer Foundation," said Bill Heuer, Vice President of Casio's Digital Imaging Division. "We hope that by purchasing the EX-Z75 in honor of breast cancer patients and survivors, users will capture every valuable moment with their friends and family." Casio's new special-edition camera will be available some time this month for $180.
Apple intends to revitalize its flagging Apple TV hub by launching HD video downloads on iTunes, according to a rumor from a source which in the past accurately described the iPod touch in advance of its launch. A "selection" of the movies and TV shows available from the company's store would receive a significant step up in resolution from today's videos, which are currently limited to the maximum 640x480 size officially supported by the iPhone and all existing iPod models. Apple is stocking up on supplies of its media hubs in anticipation of increased demand spurred by the HD videos, says the purported insider.
A new format promises to double the capacity of current Blu-Ray discs. Hitachi has announced the creation of a quad-layer, 100GB Blu-Ray disc, an advancement over the current 50GB dual-layer format, which is still rarely used for movies or computer backup. Companies such as TDK and Panasonic are said to have attempted 100GB discs in the past, but these versions required special optical heads; critically, the Hitachi discs can be read by any existing Blu-Ray drive, the only requirement being a firmware update.
FCC chairman Kevin Martin on Thursday backed away from what many believed was an attempt to soften the rules for the upcoming 700MHz wireless auction, according to claims from sources connected to the organization. Although the regulatory chief was feared to be relaxing open access conditions to appease Verizon after the latter's executives lobbied Martin's office in mid-September, Democrat-affiliated FCC commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps are said to have ensured that the rules remained as-is and would ensure that any company licensing one of the wireless bands would have to allow any compatible device and any software to run on its service.
Audio equipper M-Audio is now shipping its IE-40s, a set of reference-level earbuds. Each bud is fitted with three different drivers, devoted to high-, mid- and low-end end frequencies, and reproduces a range between 20Hz and 16kHZ. Sound is further divided into separate acoustic canals, so that high- and low- end sounds do not intermix. The buds also come with four different sets of tips, providing a tight fit, and shapable ear loops to keep cables out of the way. A bundled attenuator caps the volume of loud sources, while the earbuds' main 46-inch cable can be replaced if damaged. The IE-40s are shipping today for $500 with a metal carrying case.
Audio Technica today provided a first look at its CK10 in-canal earbuds, an upgrade to the popular CK9. The new set both improves sound quality and fit at the same time thanks to miniaturization. Though each earbud has a dual armature that separates different sound ranges and improves the signal-to-noise ratio to 107dB, both have been reduced in size dramatically. The result is a casing even smaller than for the CK9 and an easier placement in most ears, the company says. A stainless steel shell both protects the buds against accidental crushes and gives the earbuds a refined look compared to the plastic of the CK9.
Having first released it in Europe, ViaMichelin is now exporting its X970 GPS unit to the United States. The unit features a SiRFstar III receiver, and comes with a 2GB SD card loaded with NAVTEQ maps of the US and Canada. Users can import routes and addresses from the web, and choose between six different route types, including pedestrian, bicycle and toll-free methods. A built-in Bluetooth receiver supports hands-free calling, but those wanting traffic information will need an optional accessory and service. This is compensated for somewhat by a database with "millions" of points of interest, and special material from Michelin's Green Guide.
The 970 has a 3.5-inch touchscreen, and runs off a 400MHz processor and 64MB of RAM. No firm release date has been set, but J&R is taking pre-orders for $349. [via NaviGadget]
Sirius and XM today revealed that their shareholders will vote next month on the companies' proposed merger, helping both firms finalize the deal first begun in February. A newly published SEC filing lists November 13th as the date and confirms the companies' intent to close the deal by the end of 2007. While only XM is voting on the merger itself, both companies' shareholders are required to approve the transaction, which would leave a unified company as the only satellite radio provider in North America.
While little known in North America, Spanish electronics maker Energy Sistem has launched the Inngenio 3500 HDP M-EX, a new flash-based media player. One of its key attributes is a 2.4-inch, QVGA LCD, providing a size and sharpness rarely found in middle-range players. The 3500 is also extensible; while it only contains 4GB of onboard memory, it features a slot for miniSD cards, a format more typically used in cellphones. This allows owners to expand their storage in increments up to 2GB, and share it between multiple devices.
Micronet today unveiled its new 11N Wireless Networking series of Wi-Fi equipment. The company's SP916N WLAN Broadband Router enables numerous users to split internet access and prevent malicious attacks from users with ill intentions, while the SP906N Wireless LAN PCI Card and SP907N Wireless LAN USB Adapter provide a smiple way to add or upgrade notebook wireless connectivity. The Micronet SP916N boasts compatibility with IEEE 802.11b/g/Draft-N standards alongside throughput of up to 300Mbps while sharing a single cable of xDSL with four wired LAN ports supporting 10/100Mbps. The device includes DHCP functionality for easy IP address setup, and offers advanced network features like Special Applications and DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) alongside virtual servers and access control with firewall protection (pricing was unavailable).
Google today publicly responded to Verizon's lawsuit over the open access terms of the FCC's wireless auction with criticism of its own, issuing a public statement in the company's policy blog. The search engine giant argued in its response that Verizon's resistance to the open access rules, which would let any device or software run on a service, was ultimately an attempt to limit the choices of end users. Verizon was illegally lobbying the FCC and threatening to stop the auction entirely because it was uncomfortable with an open business model where even its own devices could easily be switched to another carrier, according to Google's Washington media counsel, Richard Whitt.
The head of the European Commission's Telecommunications section, Viviane Reding, is strongly urging local cellular carriers into drop the prices on their data services and text messaging, says Agence France-Presse. The move follows the installation of price caps on roaming charges, which have been effective since July 30th. The Commission claims that since that date, charges have fallen as much as 60 percent, no longer being allowed to exceed €0.49 ($0.69 US) when dialing or €0.24 ($0.34) when receiving. This amount should fall farther next year. Reding describes data and texting rates as similarly overpriced in Europe, and is threatening that if cellular companies do not voluntarily cut prices, a report would be produced by the end of 2008 evaluating the use of more price caps.
Razer today marked the World Cyber Games final matches with a pair of peripherals for dedicated gamers. The Lycosa keyboard (pictured) is specifically tailored for LAN parties and competitions where even a slight mistake could prove risky: the input device takes 1,000 samples per second with less than a millisecond's response time between key presses. The keys themselves have internal backlighting that will dim to selectively light the traditional W/A/S/D first-person shooter key layout; they can also be programmed for specific games and even include a rubber finish to prevent slips, Razer boasts.
British Telecom and wireless network provider FON today revealed the BT FON Community, a new effort to spread Wi-Fi connections in the UK. In return for a partial financial stake, BT has agreed to help develop FON's wireless community; subscribers to BT's DSL Internet service can automatically choose to enlist with FON for free and can use a La Fonera router (pictured) to split their wireless network into public and private areas with an agreement to share some of their connection with other FON members or paying customers. Those who volunteer can access any other FON wireless hotspot for free -- including non-UK access points, the companies add.
Belkin today pledged its renewed attention to computer gaming by announcing the n52te SpeedPad, the company's first PC-oriented controller in years. The device earns its namesake Tournament Edition title through a combination of hardware and software made for first-person shooters, online RPGs, and real-time strategy. Fifteen programmable buttons have been given an enhanced feel and can be set up by software from gaming specialists Razer to match some of the most common functions in a given game. With onboard memory, the controller can remember settings without needing a program on the attached computer. Gamers can save multiple player profiles and even switch between three different key mappings on the fly.
Gateway on Thursday hoped to make its late entry into the 30-inch computer display field a unique one with the XHD3000. The LCD is aimed simultaneously at creative pros who can use the greater-than-HD 2560x1600 resolution as well as home theater enthusiasts and gamers. For the latter, the screen not only includes HDMI, component, RCA, and S-video jacks to plug in a Blu-Ray player or a game console but is also powered by a Realta HQV upscaler similar to what might be found on an HDTV. The processor can adapt most any video feed to the display's full resolution without much of the blurring or other artifacts that come with non-native input, Gateway says. All six video connections can work simultaneously and even HD feeds will display in a picture-in-picture window.
Sony's largely confirmed PS3 price drop could occur as early as Friday, according to reports from the British games business. Pocket-lint refutes original suggestions that Sony was planning to wait until an October 12th "big bang" event to reveal a discount and instead suggests that an announcement will take place on Friday, shortly after a non-disclosure agreement for retailers expires and the stores can discuss the console maker's plans.
AT&T on Thursday said that its recently announced AT&T Tilt, its Windows Mobile-based smart phone, will be available in the United States beginning Friday, Oct. 5 starting at $299.99, $50 less than previous estimates (and perhaps due to reduced iPhone price). As the first Windows Mobile 6 smart device from AT&T, it features a slide-out QWERTY keypad design, a 3-megapixel auto-focus camera, 3G data speeds from AT&T's UMTS/HSDPA-based BroadbandConnect network, and Blackberry Connect Software. Designed by HTC, the Tilt features a 2.8-inch color screen that slides back to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard as well as tilts up for reading and creating e-mail, browsing online, using applications or just playing videos and games. According to the company, the AT&T Tilt supports Bluetooth 2.0, which allows for up to six Bluetooth devices to be wirelessly connected simultaneously to the device and also supports Bluetooth Stereo.
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