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Microsoft's own marketing is reportedly confused over its cryptic "Vista capable" logo, which not only caused confusion among PC buyers, but is also the focus of a lawsuit: a recent discussion with the plaintiff's lawyers indicates that even the company's own staff don't have a clear idea about what the program entails. CNET reports that Mark Croft, Microsoft's director of marketing, inadvertently sympathized with the plaintiffs when he misquoted the intended effect that the company's "Windows Vista Capable" program was to have on consumers.
M-Audio today unveiled the MicroTrack II, a handheld 24/96 digital audio recorder. The device records to CompactFlash cards and Microdrives, providing 48V of phantom power to condenser microphones so that musicians can make use of the device while writing songs, playing practice sessions, and gigs. The MicroTrack II records in 24-bit/96KHz format, and can take signals from the quarter-inch TRS inputs, or the S/PDIF input, with sound monitoring available through the RCA or eighth-inch headphone jack. M-Audio is selling the MicroTrack II for $400, which includes an electret T-shaped microphone, software, a carrying pouch, an eighth-inch stereo extension cable with lapel clip, a power supply and USB cable.
The Universal-owned Deutsche Grammophon, a famous international classical label, has at last launched its own digital online store. While much of the music found on the site can also be bought elsewhere, the DG Web Shop is already playing host to some 600 albums which are no longer on CD, with more out-of-print titles expected in the future. Total album count is currently near 2,400. Perhaps most important is the music's format: while Universal has already been selling some music DRM-free, the DG site goes a step further by using an ultra-high 320kbps bitrate. Even Apple's iTunes Plus service limits files to 256kbps.
Looking to grow the market for in-car computers, Toshiba today introduced the largest-ever hard drive built specifically for vehicles. The MK8050 series stores just 80GB but includes the shock tolerance to handle engine vibration or the jolts from the road underneath. These new 2.5-inch drives are 50 percent more resilient than past models despite the size increase, Toshiba boasts. The company also creates a cushion of air around the read head that prevents it from scratching the platters during a car trip, even at altitudes as high as 3.4 miles above sea level where the pressure would otherwise not be enough to prevent an accident.
Owners of both the original Zune 30 and the new Zune 80 have discovered that the latest firmware is refusing to properly enter its sleep mode, say multiple reports from Microsoft's official forums. While the handhelds are supposed to enter a low-power mode when idle to preserve battery life when not in use, many are finding that the players continue to operate at near full power. In many situations this almost completely saps the battery when left overnight, users complain. Only models with a hard drive are affected, as Zune 4 and 8 devices (including Electronista's review unit) enter sleep mode properly.
Although long known as a RAM producer, Micron has only just introduced its first SSD flash drives, the RealSSD line. Coming in 1.8- and 2.5-inch sizes, the drives are limited to 32 or 64GB capacities, but bring with them a few distinguishing traits. They use a native SATA II interface instead of a bridge chip for example, and can be removed from a computer without turning off power beforehand. They also consume a mere 2W when active, and less when idling or in standby. Plastic casing is said to cut weight by at least 50 percent over similar-sized HDDs.
Blockbuster Video is in the midst of developing a service that would let users bring video downloads more easily to cellphones, company chief James Keys says. The executive notes that his video rental firm is in talks with "virtually all" cellphone manufacturers as well as some software producers to create the service. Its exact function is not described but is believed to involve converting videos downloaded from an online store to a portable form. The decision came as the result of getting help in converting movies to play on a BlackBerry, Keyes says.
In an unusual incident, a cellphone may be directly responsible for killing a South Korean man, says the Associated Press. The victim, who is being identified only by the last name Suh, was found dead in a quarry Wednesday morning, the battery of his cellphone melted in his shirt pocket. One of the examining doctors discovered burn-like injuries on his left chest, while the ribs and spine were found to be broken. It is believed though that the immediate cause of death was damage to his heart and lungs, caused by pressure from the exploding phone.
ASUS today resolved a controversy over the Linux licensing for its its Eee PC, bringing the 7-inch notebook back into line with its open-source roots. The Taiwan company earlier this month was accused of violating the General Public License (GPL) that forms the heart of Linux by failing to publish code for the system's unique power management; this omission is a mistake, ASUS says. In exchange, the company has updated its download section to include the extra code as well as extra features of the Eee's custom Linux distribution.
Memory maker Rambus today unveiled its Terabyte Bandwidth Initiative, a new effort to cross a symbolic barrier for computer memory speed. The plan will see a new form of RAM that can pass 32 bits of data in one clock cycle versus the two bits of today's memory and splits the signaling between data and commands or memory addressing. The net effect is to provide 16 gigabits per second of bandwidth with a single 500MHz memory chip -- about 16 times the performance of today's DDR2 memory standard at the same clock rate.
Translating its relative success with the original Zonbu Desktop to portables, Zonbu today unveiled the Zonbu Notebook. Like the original Linux system, the Everex-made 15.4-inch system is based primarily around a subscription for network storage and programs: 50GB of space not only backs up information stored on the local system but offers a continually updated software suite that never needs to be manually updated. Unlike the desktop, however, the portable includes a 60GB hard disk with enough space to store many files locally and comes with both a DVD burner and built-in Wi-Fi.
Systemax is deploying four new notebooks, all based on Intel's Santa Rosa platform; as a part of this, each machine supports 802.11n Wi-Fi, and comes with Turbo Memory to cut loading times in Windows Vista (XP is an option). The top of the line is the Medallion XVII (pictured), a 17-inch system with a 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo processor, and a 512MB GeForce 8600M GT graphics card. It comes with up to 4GB of RAM, and supports native resolutions up to 1680x1050, with the option of native HDMI output. Bluetooth, stereo speakers and a subwoofer are built in, and the case uses a "piano black" finish. Prices start at $1,380.
Google today upgraded its mobile Maps program with a feature dubbed My Location, a feature that helps pinpoint the whereabouts of a cellphone without demanding a potentially expensive GPS receiver. Similar to assisted GPS, the utility calculates the rough position of the user based on their distance from cellular towers. The feature is usually accurate to within several meters and can even supplement devices which already have GPS, providing a location fix when buildings block satellite reception or consuming less power when a precise fix is less necessary.
The public is generally avoiding digital media adapters such as the Apple TV and Sonos' wireless audio system, a new study suggests. The market research group Parks Associates claims that within a reporting group of US broadband users, only nine percent even had a stereo connected to their computer, and of those, 50 percent relied on simpler output techniques such as RCA cables. Only 28 percent used a wired or wireless media adapter. Similarly, a tiny four percent of broadband subscribers had a TV connected to their computer, and 31 percent of those connected to TVs using the likes of S-Video cables. A closer 30 percent did rely on media adapters, however.
The One Laptop Per Child project today was found to be the target of a lawsuit from Lagos Analysis over the XO notebook's keyboard. Known for short as LANCOR, the US-based but Nigerian-owned firm has filed the complaint in Nigeria claiming that the OLPC team deliberately reverse-engineered its keyboard driver code. By including multiple Shift keys to accommodate special characters in non-English languages, the XO violates LANCOR's own patents for a similar technology used in a dedicated international keyboard; the OLPC team bought two of the keyboards with the explicit purpose of stealing the technology inside, the Nigerian firm claims.
Nokia may encounter a patent dispute with Apple if it pushes ahead with its plan to offer a promised touchscreen phone, according to a report from Nomura analyst Richard Windsor. The financial institution's researcher believes that an upcoming update to the Symbian Series 60 OS used on Nokia's smartphones may infringe on as one or more of Apple's patents for the iPhone, potentially triggering a legal battle . This could be very likely with Apple owning at least 200 patents relating just to its handset, Windsor says.
Nokia and UK cell carrier O2 this morning announced a pilot run for O2 Wallet, a unique service that lets users pay for services just by approaching with their phone. Using a special version of the Nokia 6131 flip phone with NFC (near-field communications), owners can send payment automatically as though the phone were a virtual credit card or access pass, even while making a phone call or using data. Every trial member will have built-in access to London's Oyster service that lets them pay for rides on the Underground without requiring physical tickets. Some of these early members will also have preloaded Barclaycard credit cards that will let them pay at certain book stores and restaurants, Nokia adds.
TiVo and software developer Nero on Wednesday announced that they were jointly developing a TiVo interface for an upcoming version of Nero's software, giving the suite digitial video recorder-like features very similar to TiVo's set-top boxes without the need for stand-alone hardware. The particular features have not been detailed but are targeted specifically at the increasing amount of home theater computers with TV tuners, Nero says.
Verizon today launched sales of the XV6800, its long-delayed version of the HTC smartphone. Sharing the same platform as the Bell 6800 or the Sprint Mogul, the device is the spiritual successor to the PPC6700 and runs Windows Mobile 6 Professional with Office Mobile for handling work on the road. It also brings an upgraded 2-megapixel camera with flash and 802.11g Wi-Fi to back its EVDO connection, although unlike either Bell or Sprint the company makes no mention of an expected upgrade to the faster EVDO Revision A standard.
Nintendo today revealed that it has come close to setting a record for sales of its Wii console over the Thanksgiving week, selling about 350,000 units in the seven-day span for the US alone. The number is a jump of roughly 50,000 over the previous week, the company says; the result is less than the 600,000 units sold on launch a year ago but shows the console selling at least as well as it did in the immediate aftermath of the release. About 40 percent of total sales were from Americans and Canadians while about 35 percent came from Asia, particularly Japan.
Sony today provided a quick boost to traveling gamers with the PSP Extended Life Battery Kit, a drop-in replacement for both the recent slim PSP and the original. The new pack slides into the same slot as the normal battery but provides about 2,200mAh of power. Despite the slim model already lasting longer, the new pack effectively doubles the battery life and provides "hours" more game or movie time, by Sony's estimates.
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