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Troubled electronics retailer CompUSA today said it has been sold to investment firm Gordon Brothers Group, ending a significant component of the company's business. The plan will see CompUSA sell off some of its physical stores as well as its company website and its TechPro technical support service. The 103 stores that have remained since the company's previous round of closures will remain open until the end of the holiday season. Key Gordon Brothers Group principal Bill Weinstein will take over from current CompUSA headman Roman Ross as part of the deal.
With an abundance of MP3 players that have come out over the course of the year, buying the right player as a gift can be tricky. USA TODAY's Kim Komando has assembled a list of this year's most wanted multimedia players, with offerings from Apple, SanDisk, Microsoft and Archos. First on the list is Apple's iPod touch, with its large, bright touchscreen and up to 16GB of storage. WiFi allows users to browse the internet and purchase music - something that the others either don't do, or require additional subscriptions or components in order to have that functionality. Komando laments the lack of access to subscription-based music services. The Touch sells for $300 for the 8GB model, and $400 for the 16GB model.
A new Chinese iPhone knock-off is being sold on the internet, billed as "High quality copy UNLOCKED IPHONE AV-P688 SIMILAR STYPLE IPOD GSM CELL PHONE WITH MP3 MP4 FUNCTION". iTech News Net reports that performing a Google search for the device yields several results for sites that are selling the imitation iPhone. While the iPhone features simplistic finger-driven touch functionality, the doppelganger uses four physically movable buttons surrounding the home button to navigate around the device, and reportedly requires a stylus for the screen. The CECT P168 sells for $200.
ScotteVest today introduced a full line of clothing designed for Apple's iPod that includes 19 different garments, ranging from jackets and vests to hoodies, pants, t-shirts and polos. The new technology-enabled clothing (TEC) also includes two new women's garments designed to answer the demands of women who would rather not carry a purse. ScotteVest clothing features patented 'Personal Area Network' technology that allows users to wear clothing without any visible wires, and connects devices through a hidden conduit system.
AMD has revealed the first video card with a native DisplayPort connection, the RV635 XT. While specifications on the card itself are not yet available, more information on DisplayPort has emerged as a result. The technology is eventually intended to replace DVI and VGA connections, and may well produce competition for HDMI, in part because it is also capable of 24-bit, eight-channel audio. DisplayPort connections also contain a dedicated auxiliary link, which can be used for panel I/O and mic connections.
Delkin on Friday claimed to have the fastest-ever memory cards for high-end digital SLRs such as the Nikon D300. The storage maker's 16GB CompactFlash Pro uses the Ultra DMA bandwidth technology made available by some newer devices to achieve an unprecedented 305X speed rating, just topping the 300X record set by Lexar with enough speed to sustain 45MB per second regardless of the conditions.
Pixel Lab Korea is launching a new notebook for its home country, the RippleNote T7700. Its name stems not just from a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor, but also its lid, which has an unusual weave pattern engraved deep into the outside surface. The styling extends to the inside of the lid as well, which features a glossy screen with a visible metal rim.
Internal specifications include an above-average 2GB of RAM and 1GB of Turbo Memory, along with a 1.3-megapixel webcam and a 7-in-1 card reader; more attractive may be 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and an abnormally large 160GB hard drive. No prices are available, but the system is unlikely to ship outside of southeast Asia. [via AVING]
Fulfilling predictions, Creative has begun shipping a 4GB version of the ZEN Stone Plus. The player has all the dimensions of the entry-level ZEN Stone but holds the same storage as many larger players. 1,000 typical songs fit on the device, Creative boasts. It also adds a feature absent from earlier models, supporting AAC songs (including those from iTunes Plus) in addition to MP3 and WMA. Battery life is the same at 12 hours.
EchoStar has formally split up in a way that could impact the future of Sling Media's Slingbox devices, based on details of an SEC filing. The company has formally changed its name to DISH Network. The change reflects the former EchoStar's core businesses of satellite TV service and producing its own set-top boxes, according to the update. Part of the company, now called Echostar Holdings, will break away from DISH and carries Sling Media with it. The Slingbox maker was bought by EchoStar in September and was originally believed to be used for adding Internet-based remote viewing for DISH subscribers.
Gemstar-TV Guide International will be bought by Macrovision in a deal worth $2.8 billion, Reuters says. The deal is unusual for several reasons; among these is the fact that Gemstar is actually larger than Macrovision, requiring the latter company to enter $800 million in new debt, which in turn has triggered a 25 percent drop in its stock. For most people, however, the deal is important because Macrovision is responsible for the CSS copy protection on DVDs, and Gemstar produces both TV Guide magazine and similarly-themed TV channels.
ASUS finished its week with an update to its EN8800GT video cards. The new version of the company's GeForce 8800 GT card is the first to carry 1GB of video memory and increases the amount of space for textures and other data that can sometimes choke performance on the stock 512MB card. This is especially useful at the very highest resolutions and game detail settings, the company says. The card further veers away from NVIDIA's reference model using a custom heatsink and fan combo that ASUS claims will drop the running temperature of the card by 7C (44F) and result in either a more reliable card or more headroom for overclocking.
Nextlink has just released the Invisio G5, claiming it to be the world's smallest Bluetooth headset and also one of the most unique. At a weight of about 0.25 ounces, the piece is light enough to only just be noticeable and is small enough to avoid being intrusive. It should also be more comfortable than most such earpieces for long stretches of time, Nextlink says. An unusual earbud implementation known as Soft Sprung designed to stay in place without exerting much force on the wearer's ear canal.
A seem deal with Warner Bros. could hand Blu-ray victory in the fight against HD DVD, claims a tip from industry insiders speaking to BusinessWeek. The magazine points to rumors of its own and from Lionsgate Studios vice-chair Michael Burns that Sony and other backers of the Blu-ray format are close to persuading Warner to ship movies only in Blu-ray, abandoning its rare policy of shipping movies in both of the HD formats. The studio is mainly waiting on holiday sales figures for each of the standards to make its choice, the publication says. The conversion is said to be so important that Sony chief Sir Howard Stringer is negotiating personally with the heads of Warner's parent company, Time Warner.
American Airlines may be the next company to adopt in-flight Internet via Wi-Fi, an anonymous tip claims. According to the source, transcontinental 767-200s will be fitted with broadband and Wi-Fi in 2008, the responsible company being AirCell. Earlier this year, AirCell announced that it had acquired FCC frequencies which would allow it to resurrect Wi-Fi; the technology had by that point long vanished from US flights, as Boeing's Connexion service had suffered a financial collapse.
Accessory maker Nyko has announced an important add-on for Nintendo's Wii game console. While the system's remote has always connected to the console wirelessly, the accompanying "nunchuck" controller has traditionally remained tethered to its sibling, meaning that players can only hold it s short distance away. Debuting at next month's CES expo will be Nyko's Wireless Nunchuck, with comes with an adapter that plugs into the remote's bottom port.
Samsung took advantage of the quiet before the end of the year to release the ML-2851. The monochrome laser printer is focused on homes and small shops that want output without the bulk or price of larger printers: though short enough to fit in a small cabinet at 8.5 inches tall, the printer takes just 8.5 seconds from warm-up to printing its first page at a sharp 1,200DPI; a large 160MB of memory lets it finish a total of 30 pages per minute. Cost-conscious users can also auto-duplex their output and use a toner-saving mode to avoid replacing the cartridge prematurely.
Intel is due to bring out its first dual-core Celeron just weeks after the mobile Penryn processor makes its debut, say tips from Taiwan mainboard producers. Confirming earlier leaks, the company will reportedly introduce a 1.6GHz chip under the E1200 model name that will serve as Intel's new extreme budget chip while still providing the multiple processors needed for modern software. It will share the outgoing Core 2 Duo family's support for 64-bit code but run on a slower 800MHz system bus and carry a small 512KB of Level 2 cache for instructions to reduce its price.
Online media sharing site SmugMug today rolled out a major upgrade that provides an edge over Flickr and other media sharing sites, including .Mac. The site is now one of the first to provide both photos as well as HD video: users can upload QuickTime-ready video up to 720p (1280x720) that can be played at native resolution. High-resolution videos are automatically downsampled for extra editions that will scale properly for DVD players and iPods; the iPhone and iPod touch are supported as well and now play video directly from the website, SmugMug says.
Radiohead may break from its policy on digital music stores with the band's latest album, according to news from Billboard. The British group's current representation, Courtyard Management, tells the music chart keepers that discussions are underway with Apple to bring In Rainbows to the iTunes Store; though terms are still uncertain and have not been discussed, any resulting deal will require either Apple or Radiohead to make concessions, according to the report. While Apple has insisted that every artist available through its store allow individual sales of tracks that run under 10 minutes in length, Radiohead has so far only allowed its albums to be sold as a whole for artistic reasons.
Kenwood on Friday trotted out the CLK, its new tabletop stereo for space-conscious listeners. The entire cabinet is seven inches deep and fits its CD player into the slim body by using a vertically mounted, slot-load reader instead of the trays that often dictate thicker designs. Though it can play regular CDs and MP3/WMA discs, the system is geared towards digital media players and includes a USB port that not only offers both audio but also direct control: with optional cables, the CLK can charge and play most recent iPods (including the iPod classic and 3G nano) as well as pause or skip tracks using the stereo's own controls. Any media player with USB mass storage support will also have its MP3 and WMA songs (including DRM variants) recognized, such as Kenwood's own Music Keg line.
The PlayStation 3 may receive an update to support Blu-ray features previously reserved only for newer devices, claims CVG. Sony is said to be readying a firmware patch that will allow the year-old console to support the HD movie disc's Final Standard Profile 1.1 format, allowing it to play picture-in-picture director's commentary and download content related to the movie, among other features. The upgrade will be free like all of Sony's PS3 firmware upgrades to date and would arrive in time for the end of the month, according to the report.
CradlePoint recently unveiled a new EVDO-sharing WiFi router, the PHS300, allowing users to connect 3G-based cellphones or 3G USB modems to the device and share the connection with any WiFi enabled device. The device features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and AC power, both of which provide enough current to run a USB modem. The PHS300 supports WEP and WPA encryption, and uses a built in firewall to protect connections to the router. CradlePoint will ship the PHS300 on December 20th, and is taking pre-orders based on a price of $180.
Palm on Thursday announced its preliminary second quarter financial results for the 2008 fiscal year, which ended November 30th, falling short of previous forecasts based in part on a failed "mystery" product launch. Palm expects earnings to sit between $345 to $350 million, close to $30 million short of its October 1st projections for the first quarter. Palm expects gross margin to be within 29.3- to 29.8-percent on a GAAP basis. The gross margin reflects an as-of-yet unforeseen increase in warranty repairs over the course of the quarter, partly due to higher-than-expected shipments of Palm's new Centro smartphone, and a delay in product shipment.
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