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The 700MHz spectrum that will soon be opened up in the US will be made available across much of the rest of the world, governments participating in the World Radiocommunications Conference have mentioned today. Agreements struck during the weeks-long event will have the frequency range used for international calls and high-speed data across most of the Americas and prosperous Asian nations such as China and India, allowing any future cellphones or handhelds to roam between networks without incorporating a second receiver. Europeans are also slated to gain access to a part of the spectrum but will need to wait until 2015 due to licensing issues, the Conference reports.
Google and Sun Microsystems may be headed towards conflict over the former's Android operating system, industry observers suggest. Android is able to make use of Sun's Java programming language, but instead of relying on the official Java Micro Edition engine, Google has developed a virtual machine of its own, called Dalvik; when Android encounters Java, it is converted into a Dalvik format. This may have been done, says developer Stefano Mazzocchi of Apache Labs, only to prevent phone makers from having to pay licensing fees to Sun each time they want to customize Android, or share their code publicly to skip the fee.
Microsoft's Zune division chief J Allard has a mixture of praise and criticism for the iPhone as his company prepares to compete more effectively with its own software, an interview reveals. He argues that it is Apple's attention to the design of the cellphone as a whole rather than its connection to the iPod that is pushing sales, and that it represents a step back for the company in terms of ergonomics for music playback.
Nintendo has an enhanced version of its DS Lite handheld virtually complete and waiting for the right moment to ship, according to a Pacific Crest Securities analyst speaking with GameSpot. Researcher Evan Wilson refers to contacts who say the company has a design that abandons the legacy Gameboy Advance cartridge slot in exchange for built-in flash memory, larger dual screens, and a thinner profile. The delay is only because Nintendo has no reason to discontinue sales of the existing model when it sells as strongly as it does, Wilson says. Pacific Crest so far believes the revamped DS will be used to shore up sales only when they drop significantly across Europe, Japan, and North America at the same time.
Samsung may be looking to mimic LG in building smaller-sized plasma TVs, say anonymous industry sources. While plasma is almost universally reserved for sets 37 inches or larger, Samsung may be aiming to replicate LG's 32-inch 32PC5RV, simply due to a shortage of LCD panels available from suppliers. The shortage has been persistent, accounts say, and may have been the main influence behind the LG set. If Samsung does produce a 32-inch plasma, it will not be in the immediate future however; plasma-building capacity is said to be limited in its own right, as a result of existing demand from Samsung, Philips, and various Chinese companies. [via DigiTimes]
Seiko Epson today introduced a new electronic paper display that may significantly improve the quality of eBook readers. A new 6.7-inch screen is capable of producing the same 1600x1200 resolution as a 20-inch desktop LCD, providing a far sharper picture than current readers and greatly improving the clarity of photos and other images in richer documents. This new development is also thinner and more power-efficient than today's readers, the company says: at 3mm thick, it can still last for as many as 1,400 page turns on a standard watch battery.
Despite the lack of a formal announcement, Dell today has released the XPS ONE, its first all-in-one desktop and one widely understood to be influenced by the iMac. Similar to the Gateway One, the Dell system earns its name by reducing the number of cables needed: when using Wi-Fi and a wireless keyboard/mouse combo set, the XPS requires only the power cord. Unlike the Gateway system, however, Dell's adds media keys to the keyboard with haptic (vibration) feedback, an integrated touchpad for pointing without using the mouse, and media controls embedded into the 20-inch display's bezel.
Official confirmation has been made of two upcoming Area-51 notebooks by Alienware, the m15x and m17x. A formal announcement is expected to be made on Monday in New York City, but in the meantime participants in Alienware's mailing list are being directed to a contest website, requiring visitors to decode a secret message. The company has revealed that the notebooks will come in two case designs, called Skullcap and Ripley; no other details are being made official however, with the exception of some teaser photos, seen below.
Sony's controversial PlayStation 3 console has reached its one-year anniversary, bringing with it a collection of milestones. Sony says that there are now over 200 titles for the system, and that over 60 million downloads have been made through the supporting PlayStation Network service. While sales of the PS3 have generally paled next to those for Nintendo's Wii and Microsoft's Xbox 360, and Sony itself admits that it has only 19 exclusive games, the recent release of cheaper 40GB and 80GB PS3s is claimed to have boosted sales by over 192 percent at the top 10 North American retailers.
Motorola's rumored ROKR E8 is now known to be real, courtesy of a new report by BGR. Once only suspected, the device is now known to drop the conventional keypad in favor of a flat, touch-sensitive surface that illuminates different controls depending on whether the the user is placing a call, playing music, or capturing photos. An equally touch-sensitive scroll wheel flips through music and menus quickly. New in the discovery is word that the keypad provides an advanced form of haptic (vibration) feedback, the leak notes: when turned on, the phone pad effectively turns the flat surface into a set of physical buttons through advanced feedback.
GPS device maker Garmin today withdrew its bid to buy map supplier Tele Atlas for $3.3 billion, opening the door for its primary rival TomTom to make its own deal. The latter firm made its own bid first in July but has since been outbid by Garmin, which claims it has been determined to prevent its competitors from acquiring all the map suppliers themselves and leaving Garmin with no choice but to license GPS maps from a rival. Finland's cellphone manufacturer Nokia recently bought out another major map provider, Navteq, to supply navigation for its smartphones.
Google is virtually committed to bidding in the upcoming 700MHz FCC auction and may well launch its own national wireless network if it lands the winning bid, the Wall Street Journal claims today. The Californian search engine firm is said to feel compelled to bid after successfully negotiating open access rules for the auction. It is also testing an "advanced" mobile broadband network at its Mountain View headquarters that lets prototype phones equipped with the company's own Android operating system use the 700MHz frequency, say the paper's claimed sources. The FCC has reportedly approved the tests to help Google get an early start on the technology.
Rivals to Canadian provider Rogers Wireless are dramatically lowering the prices for data access as a defensive measure against the iPhone even before the device is announced for the country, according to a new report by the analyst firm Seaboard Group. A comparison of the access rates required needed to download 1GB of data per month shows the prices dropping dramatically since June: where customers could expect to pay more than $2,250 for the Internet bandwidth at the time, a price drop by Telus in mid-summer dropped the price to $375. By November, both Telus and its fellow CDMA carrier Bell were charging about $100.
Amazon's much-delayed Kindle eBook reader and matching service are due to launch on Monday, CNET claims late yesterday. Citing an unnamed industry source, the firm alleges that Amazon's device will be introduced at a New York City event and should rely more on an Internet connection than any previous eBook reader. The handheld will include Wi-Fi to let its users buy eBooks from a new Amazon store section devoted to the format. The online retailer is also likely to have signed a deal with Sprint that will give EVDO cellular Internet access for travelers and is even providing each system with an e-mail address, the source says.
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