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Cheaper versions of the Optimus Maximus LED keyboard will be available, says the Russian design firm Art Lebedev. Starting next week, customers will be able to place pre-orders on models below the $1,000 and $500 price marks, a dramatic improvement on the standard keyboard's cost of $1,564. Some 200 units of the latter went up for pre-order in May; following delays, these should finally ship in December and January, but in white instead of black, and with limited functionality that will expand through firmware updates.
Japanese accessory maker Buffalo is launching a new series of network area storage (NAS) drives in its LinkStation series, the LS-WTGL/R1s. While in many respects normal NAS drives, allowing multiple users to access files in a local network, users can also register them through Buffalo's website, which grants users with proper IDs and passwords access to download files via the Internet, though uploading is blocked. Users must otherwise connect to the LinkStations via gigabit Ethernet.
AppSnapp, an iPhone jailbreaking app, has been updated to add some new features and bug fixes. The jailbreak utility will no longer run unless the iPhone's firmware is version 1.1.1, and the developer has improved the reliability by using HTTP instead of raw sockets to deliver the payload files, which the developer says will increase the probability that the jailbreak will only need to be run once. A progress indicator has been added, and the process is now a push-button concept. The developer has added log files so users can see exactly what happened during the update through the use of SSH or IPHUC - the latter of which now has AFC2 service. AppSnapp is a free download through the iPhone, although the developer is taking donations.
Drivers will soon be able to access online directions directly from gas pumps, according to the Associated Press. Google has announced that beginning next month, special pumps built by Gilbarco Veeder-Root will include an Internet connection and a small color screen, through which users will be able to locate hotels, hospitals, restaurants and other landmarks via Google Maps. A printer will then allow drivers to receive paper directions. Initially, destinations will be limited to those selected by gas station owners; Veeder-Root says, however, that it hopes to later provide ways of typing in unique addresses.
Sony today provided details for the upcoming 2.0 upgrade to the PlayStation 3, which the company says should provide some important new features to the game system. The free upgrade will extend the console's Remote Play feature to allow remote activation through the Internet; users no longer have to leave their PS3s switched on to access music and videos from a PSP in another location. The patch is also the first to allow distinct themes for the main interface. In addition to changing the backdrop, users can alter the color or brightness of the menu items and drop in completely different icon sets. Some themes will be available initially with others to go live in the future, Sony notes.
Hitachi today slipped out a pair of hard drives destined to ship for DVRs and other media-centric devices. The 3.5-inch wide CinemaStar P7500K is one of the most capacious at 500GB and has enough room for as many as 178 full-length movies but runs safely in the tight space of a media hub: the disk consumes about a third less power than earlier models which themselves are better than typical desktop drives, Hitachi claims
The One Laptop Per Child project has announced that its XO notebook is now in volume production, ending years of development and testing. The small, developing-world system is being assembled by Quanta in a plant near Shanghai and will see its first production runs heading to students in Mongolia, Uruguay, and other early bidders; individual North Americans participating in the Give 1 Get 1 program will also get their notebooks when they ship in December, the company says. US residents recently received a bonus in the form of free T-Mobile Wi-Fi access.
Although an official announcement has missed a predicted November 2nd date, one website appears to have confirmed the existence of the Nokia N82 through a brief hands-on experience. The phone is indeed a candybar phone, unlike its N81 sibling, and is centered around a five-megapixel camera with autofocus, xenon flash and a Carl Zeiss lens, complete with a cover. Connection options should also be plentiful, including Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi and an unspecified form of 3G broadband.
T-Mobile today rolled out its promised Sidekick Slide messaging phone. True to the original announcement, the Danger/Motorola collaboration is the smallest Sidekick to date and is the only model to slide open rather than swivel. It still maintains the features of the Sidekick 3 and larger models with a 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, and music playback from microSD cards using AAC, MP3, or WMA formats.
Sharp this morning upgraded its Internet AQUOS line of media center desktops with a trio of new models designed to match the company's HDTVs. The AX120V tops the range and is meant to capture digital video as well as relay it at full quality, Sharp notes. It includes a digital TV tuner and a 500GB disk dedicated to video recording in addition to a separate 250GB disk for normal computer use. HDMI output guarantees video will display at maximum resolution on a companion TV. Performance is enough to both decode and encode video with a 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo and 1GB of memory in this fastest model.
Marking one of the few instances where the company has released its own fully packaged system, Intel today introduced the Entry Storage System SS4200. The miniature computer is built to offer network-attached storage in homes or small businesses where having a common pool of data is increasingly important; the typical home may have as much as 1TB of information by 2009, Intel claims. To that end, the ESS is breadbox-sized but includes four Serial ATA drive bays that can each hold as much as 1TB, which is shared across a building through gigabit Ethernet; a Celeron M 420 processor and 512MB of RAM are onboard to manage data and optionally turn the system into a Windows Home Server, though both Macs and Windows PCs can use the device without the specialized Microsoft OS.
Cowon today launched the A3, a long-awaited premium version of the A2 designed with videos as its chief focus. The handheld is based around a 4-inch, 800x480 screen capable of playing DVD-level video at full quality. It can play back common video formats such as H.264, MPEG-4, and Windows Media, while also supporting enthusiast favorites like DivX and XviD. In supporting countries, it also adds a digital TV tuner that picks up over-the-air broadcasts in 1Seg (Japan), DMB (Korea), or DVB-T (Europe). An HD output connects the A3 to an HDTV for viewing at home, complete with Dolby AC3 surround sound.
Google's move into the world of cellphone operating systems is unlikely to dislodge the likes of Apple and the iPhone, says Warren East, CEO of mobile processor maker ARM. The executive is generally positive about Google's efforts, and comments that they should "stimulate further growth" in the smartphone world, in no small part because Google is backing its OS with both its reputation and research money. But, he cautions, solidifying a mobile platform can take years, especially when companies such as Symbian have been active for much longer.
Samsung today announced the US launch of the SyncMaster 245T, the company's latest and most advanced 24-inch computer LCD. The screen is designed equally for average users and professionals who might be sensitive to color accuracy. An enhanced color spectrum gives the panel as much as 97 percent of the NTSC color gamut at one time, improving media for home viewers and media editors alike. Blacks are also reproduced more faithfully with a dynamic contrast ratio of 1,500:1 versus the 1,000:1 of a static-contrast LCD, Samsung says. Average pixel response times of 6ms and active motion compensation help eliminate ghosting artifacts.
The first tests for fourth-generation cellular Internet accesss are proving successful, Nokia and several other cellular electronics firms announced today. Known as Long-Term Evolution (LTE), the service has been demonstrated as meeting its peak speeds both for connections fixed in place and mobile users, such as those traveling by car. An ideal linkup will provide as much as 100 megabits in downloads and 50 megabits in uploads; this would outperform even WiMAX by a factor of ten or more in real-world conditions, according to the claim, and offers speed closer to a high-end cable or fiber optic connection.
Monsoon today updated its growing media hub line with the HAVA Titanium HD. Unlike most such hubs, the network device is consciously designed to be future-proof: two USB ports allow users to upgrade to future networking standards or add a hybrid analog/digital TV tuner without replacing the whole box. An 802.11g Wi-Fi adapter is included with the Titanium but can be replaced in the near future by an 802.11n link for the added range and speed, Monsoon says. The new HAVA also includes an Ethernet jack and uses the series' trademark vBooster to bypass normal router traffic and allow playback of raw MPEG-2 video at 480p widescreen resolution on a local network. Video is pushed using MPEG-4 on the Internet for both PCs and many handhelds.
HP on Wednesday upgraded its xw -series workstations with the company's first machines based on Intel's Penryn architecture. The xw6600 and xw8600 will use the upcoming Xeon 5200 (dual-core) and Xeon 5400 (quad-core) in twin sockets to include as many as eight cores in a single system; the smaller 45-nanometer manufacturing process for the chips improves their performance while also reducing heat and power draw. Professionals can juggle intensive modeling and image editing programs without a significant speed drop, HP says. Both systems also boast dual full-speed PCI Express slots for users who need dual high-end video cards, and room for up to 5TB of hard drive storage. The xw8600 can load as much as 128GB of memory with a 64-bit operating system.
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