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Hitachi has announced that it is pulling out of the personal-computer business due to poor sales. The company's Prius-brand PCs were not redesigned for the 2007 holiday buying season, and won't be produced henceforth. The company ranked eighth in Japan's PC market with just under 5 percent market share, representing roughly 600,000 units per year. NEC Corp, Fujitsu Ltd, Dell Inc and Toshiba Corp are all bigger fish in the Japanese pond. The company will continue to produce server-based computers for businesses at its production factory in Toyokawa. Other manufacturers are also struggling in Japan, one of the few markets where PC unit shipments are contracting. For Apple, Japan saw only moderate growth in the company's fiscal fourth quarter, with 72,000 units shipping compared to 62,000 in the year ago quarter. However, Apple's Japan revenue fell 11%.
Hoping to capitalize on the growing adoption of VOIP, the NoiseFree VoIP is a new technology algorithm that purportedly cancels background noise on VoIP calls. Now available for user trial, the company claims "near landline" voice quality and says that the service offers a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) enhancement in excess of 15dB. The purely software-based solution includes has voice activity detection, fast echo cancellation and supports Skype, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk and soft phones. According tto the company, it has been tested and is compatible with Windows XP and Vista.
Wacom's European branch has become the first to launch the Cintiq 12WX, a unique variant on the company's successful touchscreen displays. The device uses a 1280x800 LCD that allows full pen control but measures just 12 inches across -- making the system small enough to sit on a lap as a sketching pad as well as a desktop device with a portrait-like stand, unlike the larger and more desktop-oriented Cintiq models. A series of ten programmable buttons split across both sides of the display bring the same or better custom functionality as a Bamboo or similar tablet, Wacom says.
Verizon has begun offering a unique plan for its FiOS fiber-optic Internet service, says the Associated Press. Within New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, customers can now sign up for a $65 per month scheme that grants 20Mbps uploads in addition to more conventional 20Mbps downloads. This stands in contrast to most cable and DSL providers, who typically offer uploads a fraction as fast their downloads; even FiOS' 50Mbps download plan still permits just 5Mbps up. Verizon claims that with its 20Mbps uploads, a 3GB movie can be transferred in just 20 minutes, instead of a typical nine hours.
Sprint is still intent on releasing its Xohm WiMAX service despite a change in top management, the company's acting chief executive Paul Saleh told USA Today. Although the open nature of the upcoming 4G service had often been seen as the brainchild of recently departed chief Gary Forsee, Saleh vowed that the company would not fall back to a traditional American cellphone strategy of locking down the service. An open platform where any device and any program would work was the inevitable "future" of cellular Internet access, he said.
UTStarcom has launched a new phone targeted at seniors, the CDM8630. Befitting this audience, the phone has larger on-screen fonts, a clearly labelled keypad with larger buttons, and a special "In Case of Emergency" directory, where users can hold special contacts and personal information. There is even a unique 911 button, so that help can be called with minimal effort. TTY/TTD support aids deaf or hearing-impaired users.
Features are otherwise deliberately stripped-down, as demonstrated by the 262-color, 176x220 main LCD, and the monochrome external display. A highlighted power jack is meant to ensure charging is an obvious process. Two carriers now have the phone in their libraries: Alltel is charging $20 after a discount and a two-year contract, while Verizon is charging $50 without a discount, but under the same contract.
Lenovo today upgraded its ThinkVision displays with a trio of 19-inch LCDs that help meet green targets and occupy little space on a desk. The standard-ratio L193p is the first LCD to meet the EPEAT environmental standard that demands both a low power draw as well as eco-friendly materials. More than a quarter of the screen is made from recycled material, Lenovo boasts. It includes both a DVI port with HDCP encryption support and VGA for analog video and should be available next month for $299.
Palm has announced the production of a new GPS Navigator, one that marks of a pair of changes. Unlike the current model (pictured), which supports only a select range of Treos, the new one is the first to also support the low-cost Centro smartphone. The device further marks a switch to Garmin's Mobile XT software, which comes preloaded on a microSD card. XT includes NAVTEQ maps of Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, with over six million points of interest, and automatic re-routing for missed turns. Free access is included to Garmin Online, which supplies data such as traffic, weather, and gas and hotel prices.
Linksys on Tuesday put a unique spin on wireless networking with the advent of its first dual-band Wi-Fi devices. Rather than operate two frequencies one at a time to accommodate different wireless standards, the WRT600N router and WPC600N PC Card adapter can run both at once: a standard 2.4GHz frequency handles typical 802.11a, b, g, or n devices, while a 5GHz transmitter operates on 802.11n for devices that are particularly susceptible to interference, such as computers used for gaming or streaming video to a media hub. The dual-band approach lets users effectively reserve a high-bandwidth, low-latency connection for their most important devices, according to Linksys.
i-mate helped kick off the CTIA phone expo by releasing its Ultimate series of smartphones in the US for the first time. Each of the Windows Mobile 6-based devices includes a touchscreen for much of its control and includes quad-band GSM for calling, Wi-Fi, and tri-band HSDPA for 3G Internet access in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia; unique to the i-mate devices is a high-resolution video output that presents a 1024x768 image for presentations or displaying video clips with an on-screen interface. NVIDIA's G5500 graphics chipset provides the extra screen space and even accelerated 3D to the devices.
Confirming a leak from earlier this month, AT&T has officially announced that it will adopt the BlackJack II by Samsung. The QWERTY smartphone features a 2.4-inch QVGA screen and a built-in GPS receiver, with support for navigation software by the likes of TeleNav. Also present are a two-megapixel camera and tri-band HSDPA, the latter enabling access to AT&T's live Video Share service, as well as streaming television clips through CV. The phone runs on Windows Mobile 6 (with Office Mobile), and is said to have "increased" memory and battery life, though AT&T has not specified how much has been added. Bluetooth connectivity is merely described as "stereo."
Western Digital says that it has released a new version of its My DVR Expander hard drive, now officially certified for TiVo HD and Series 3 recorders. The Expander is an external device that enables DVRs to record programming over and above their normal limits; the first of the new Expanders is sized at 500GB, which should be enough to hold as much as 300 hours of SD broadcasting, or 60 hours of HD content. The drive remains compatible with Scientific Atlanta 8300 HD, MR and HD-MR DVRs, with certification expected to increase as more DVR makers introduce eSATA functions. The TiVo-ready Expander is being sold at retail and through TiVo's online store for $200.
Hitachi has announced the creation of a new group of HDTV sets, called the Ultra Thin line. The central draw is of course their thickness, measured at 1.5 inches, making them well-suited to mounting or placement in shallow cabinets. Screens will come in 32-, 37- and 42-inch sizes, the latter two supporting 1080p, as well as an "anti-judder" technology that eliminates problems converting from 24fps to 60fps. All sets have a 178-degree viewing angle, and a 6W+6W digital amplifier that powers the speakers.
Sonos today undertook a sweeping upgrade to its digital music hub line with a new component as well as important software upgrades. The ZoneBridge 100 (shown) is the first device from Sonos to establish a connection rather than serve as the end point: attaching a ZoneBridge to a router and tapping a button automatically creates a secured wireless mesh network that ZonePlayers and the core Controller can use to navigate and play music, saving potentially difficult setup on existing network devices. It can also serve as a range extender for an existing ZonePlayer setup and has dual Ethernet jacks to either serve as a pass-through on a network or else connect game consoles and other Internet-capable devices, Sonos says. The ZoneBridge 100 is available today for $99.
AT&T saw its largest number of new cellular subscribers during a summer quarter, the company announced today as part of its latest quarterly report. The telecom firm's wireless division reported an effective gain of about two million new subscribers in the quarter following the iPhone's release in late June, a 46.8 percent increase over the same period a year ago and an all-time record for the season for the carrier, which was already considered the largest in the US. Customer "churn," or the turnover of subscribers, was also lower for the period at just 1.7 percent of the total user base, AT&T said.
Microsoft today allowed little time between a Billboard leak and the official release of the Wisin y Yandel Zune, the latest special run of the 30GB hard disk player and the first to be tied to a specific musical group. The limited edition takes a stock, black Zune 30 and adds a customized back design reflecting the Latin duo. Onboard, the device comes with a loaded advance copy of the group's Los Extraterrestres as well as an exclusive single, music videos, and photos that can be used as backgrounds for the interface. Special content will also be made available on the Zune Marketplace, Microsoft added.
Samsung late Monday announced that it had produced the world's first working NAND flash memory based on a 30-nanometer manufacturing process, promising a greatly increased storage density over today's chips. The smaller manufacturing technique was made workable through a new technology known as self-aligned double patterning. By stepping up the use of lithography, the company is able to write both a coarser, more conventional pattern of memory cells as well as a finer pattern that fills the gaps; this makes the best use of the available space, Samsung says.
Dell this morning quietly slipped out the XPS 420, its first significant redesign of the mid-range performance tower in more than a year's time. The new model is housed in a glossy black case and is the first Dell computer of any kind to include a Windows Vista Sideshow LCD; the top-mounted screen lets users play music, view photos, and track basic information through gadgets without having to turn on the full system. An optional internal card, dubbed the Xcelerator, also boosts the system's ability to encode video. Using the hardware to re-encode video for an iPod or similar player takes 25 percent less time and offloads as much as 86 percent of the CPU work, according to Dell's estimates.
After a series of retail leaks, Microsoft today has formally released the Xbox 360 Arcade. This replacement for the stripped-down Core system is intended for families and others who need the storage the Core lacks but would stop short of the regular Xbox 360's hard drive; a 256MB flash card provides both room for saved games and a handful of Xbox Live Arcade games, five of which (including Pac-Man and UNO) are loaded out of the box. The Arcade also receives the HDMI output of the Elite and other higher-end models and can output 1080p with surround audio on an optional cable.
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