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Some airline passengers boarding in Houston, Texas today may be the first in the US to use their cellphones as boarding passes. Continental Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration have launched a pilot project at George Bush International Airport, in which fliers with cellphones (or PDA-like devices) are able to receive on-screen barcodes, which are in turn scanned by TSA employees at an appropriate checkpoint. The specific implementation of the technology is not being used anywhere else in the world, claims TSA official Melvin Carraway.
Sony is genuinely considering an online store that would let users download games directly to writable storage on the PlayStation Portable, the PlayStation Network's operations director Eric Lempel has hinted to MTV. Where current owners of the handheld game system have to receive content after first buying it through a PC or the PlayStation 3, the electronics maker is 'definitely thinking about' establishing a service which would use the Wi-Fi onboard the PSP to buy and download games from the device itself. Time has been the chief obstacle to establishing the heavily requested feature, according to Sony.
Some additional bidders in the FCC's auction for the 700MHz band have been revealed, according to filings and public revelations. In addition to confirmed bids by cable provider Cox and open access advocate Google, Leap Wireless (which owns the cellular provider Cricket) has submitted an SEC filing indicating that it use a subsidiary to participate in the auction. A partly-connected firm known as Denali Spectrum License will also join in, Leap notes.
The decision to open up the Verizon cellular network was at least partly motivated by costs, says Denny Strigl, the company's COO. The Associated Press notes a speech given today by Strigl, in which the executive explained to investors that by involving third parties, it will be able to collect revenue while offloading important costs, most notably marketing and customer service. "We think it's a phenomenal new source of revenue for us," Strigl commented.
Sprint's heavily anticipated Xohm WiMAX Internet service will see its first practical service within days, states the company's VP of product management, Bin Shen. The fourth-generation wireless will be used by trial members in Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington D.C. with the intent of proving the viability of the service before it becomes widely available in spring 2008. Initial users of the connection's multi-megabit speeds will primarily use add-in PC cards to access the network.
BenQ on Wednesday inaugurated the X series, its first complete line of LCD displays made just for gamers and others who demand fast response times. Aside from a checkered flag pattern at the base to reflect its gaming pedigree, the X is the first line to include two different gaming modes: an action mode adjusts the color and response for first-person shooters and most typical games, while a racing mode does the same for the typical camera views found in driving simulations.
Belkin today tackled one of the most common problems of modern cameraphones. The Bluetooth USB Adapter with Kodak Technology uses the camera maker's photo upload process to simplify offloading images from a phone without needing a cable or a card adapter to fit frequently small microSD storage. The system can be set up simply enough that just bringing the phone within range will automatically upload photos to the computer, Belkin says. Bluetooth 2.0 also ensures that photos can reach the PC quickly without having to be resized or compressed.
Cellphones will have the option of not just playing but also recording high-definition video in as little as two years, Nokia chief technology officer Tero Ojanpera said in an interview today. The senior official explains that the technology strong enough to encode the sharper video on a handset in real-time is "a couple of years away" for practical purposes given the current state of video. The Finnish company only began shipping phones with NTSC (640x480) video capture late last year with the release of the N95, which is considerably smaller than the minimum 720p (1280x720) often considered the baseline for HD.
Japanese carrier Softbank has begun carrying two new 3G phones by Sharp, the 820SH and 821SH. Both are extremely flat, stainless-steel clamshells, and come in an unusual assortment of colors: the 820 can be had in blue, black, red, white, gold and green, while the 821 has deeper hues of red, green, purple, silver, cyan and brown. The phones also have Bluetooth, GPS and two-megapixel cameras, but the primary attraction is 1Seg TV recording, saved to microSD cards up to 2GB in size.
A select number of people now have access to HD video-on-demand through FiOS, Verizon has announced. Customers in Tampa, Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, Richmond and Virginia Beach can now download approximately 75 HD videos through FiOS TV, among these free episodes from shows such as Golfweek Magazine, and paid movies like Transformers and The Hoax. An HD set-top box is required, which costs $10 a month in addition to FiOS TV service.
Access will expand in 2008 to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington, DC; during the same year, the number of videos should gradually increase to over 1,000, while the total HD channels available will grow past 150.
Verizon Wireless has begun selling a new version of LG's VX8350, the VX8350R. The R is simply a cosmetic enhancement, sporting a glossy red coat instead of the basic black of the original. It is otherwise unchanged; the device sits in the middle range of Verizon's lineup, with features such as Bluetooth, a 1.3-megapixel camera and a microSD slot that supports sizes up to 4GB.
External controls ease music playback, and the phone is also enabled for V CAST Video and Music downloads, as well as VZ navigation. A VX8350 (black or red) is normally $100 with a two-year contract, but can be had for $50 online.
The well-known ratings firm Nielsen has produced a tool it vows will stamp out piracy of web-based video services, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Called Digital Media Manager, the feature will let content providers identify the nature of embedded Flash videos and prevent casual attempts at converting the clips into potentially illegal downloadable versions or preventing bootleg uploads. While the technology will primarily be marketed to companies that create the content they host, such as the NBC/News Corp joint venture Hulu or the Discovery Channel, it will also be applicable to sites that often host user-made video, such as MySpace or YouTube. This will allow certain copyright holders to post videos on these pages knowing that any ads or other revenue deals are intact, says the Journal.
Dell is near the end of developing its return to the handheld market through a smartphone, according to a hint in the latest issue of Forbes. Expanding on a leak from earlier this year, the Texas PC maker is allegedly coordinating the production of a phone with the Taiwanese manufacturing firm Quanta and is drawing on the expertise of recently added executive Ron Garriques, who previously headed the mobile division at Motorola before he jumped to Dell early this year. The new phone will focus heavily on music and video playback as well as Internet access, although the report is unclear as to whether the computer builder is customizing the interface or using off-the-shelf software.
Verizon today provided a new alternative for world roaming through the Motorola Z6c world edition. Like the earlier BlackBerry 8830, the Z6c supports both the carrier's native CDMA and also GSM networks: with a good SIM card, the phone can operate in Europe and other areas where CDMA service is non-existent, the company says. The slider drops the digital broadcast reception of the similar Z6tv but retains 3G access for downloading and streaming music or video over the Internet.
TiVo today added Music Choice content to its digital video recorders as an alternative to conventional TV. The service provides "several thousand" music videos as well as custom news and similar content through the DVR's TiVoCast feature: with a broadband Internet connection on the TiVo, users can search for and pull down videos on request rather than waiting for full downloads and frequently paying for these clips, the two companies say.
Intel's first mobile processors using the company's 45-nanometer Penryn architecture have been exposed and have a fixed release date, according to a new leak. The initial release will continue to use the Santa Rosa mainboard platform but ramp up clock speeds, add new media-oriented SSE4 extensions, and increase the Level 2 memory cache without affecting the power use or the price. Every mainstream processor will have a typical peak power use of 35 watts virtually identical to the larger and slower 65nm models they replace, according to the tip. The introductory processors will all be dual-core chips, with quad-core waiting until the release of Intel's new Montevina mobile platform in the summer.
T-Mobile today gave more clues to the imminent launch of its third-generation wireless network with the introduction of the Nokia 6263. As confirmed in an FCC leak, the clamshell is the second phone after the Samsung t639 to support T-Mobile's future 1,700MHz UMTS network for 3G speeds. It also adds an unusually strong musical focus for its class with dedicated music controls on the outside as well as a bundled 512MB microSD card for storing AAC, MP3, and WMA tracks. Nokia also touts extended capacity for the card slot at up to 4GB versus the 2GB of most phones, and adds an FM radio for extra music.
Cambridge this morning upgraded its home theater speakers, starting with the introduction of the Newton II. The speaker series builds on the original by adding aluminum domes to the tweeters that improve clarity without affecting the overall sound; low-end and mid-range drivers have also been bolstered, the speaker designer says. Certain bookshelf and center satellite speakers also have new front ports to install them in cabinets or for wall mounts. Prices vary depending on the size and focus of the speakers, but start at $350.
Olive Media and designer Karim Rashid recently unveiled a stylized version of the Olive's OPUS N°5 digital music player. Rashid - having designed things from Dirt Devil vacuum cleaners to the Smiramis Hotel in Athens, Greece - has created four designs, inspired by binary notation. The boxes can hold up to 2200 CDs in lossless quality, and is capable of outputting up to 352.8 kHz, or up to eight times what a CD is capable of. Olive is currently selling the OPUS N°5 Karim Edition for $3000, and is available from the company's web site.
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