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Canada's Federal Court of Appeal has reversed a decision that would have imposed a levy on iPods and other removable devices with memory installed, says Retail Board of Canada lawyer Howard Knopf. The court took less than 24 hours to reach the decision and ruled primarily on technical grounds, referring to a previous case when arguing that the Copyright Board of Canada had overstepped its boundaries in asking for as much as a $75 levy on each removable memory device.
Amazon.com today said it is now selling unprotected music from Sony BMG, making the online retailer the first store to offer DRM-free songs from all four major music labels in MP3 format, according to a report from Reuters. Apple's iTunes Store announced the availability of iTunes Plus in early April, with unprotected MP3 music files from EMI's catalog at a slightly higher price.
A side project of the One Laptop Per Child team plans an even less expensive portable than the XO, according to news from the CES floor. Calling the firm Pixel Qi, Mary Lou Jepsen says her business intends to produce a $75 portable that will borrow key aspects of the XO's design while reducing costs. The system is still in the very early stages but will rely heavily on the unique technology of the XO's LCD (created by Jepsen) that allows it to be read even in broad daylight. Other parts of the system that can be drawn from the OLPC group will be purchased at cost and while others will be sold in the opposite direction, Pixel Qi says.
Though not as well-known for them, Sony has announced two new in-car GPS units, the NV-U83T and U73T. Both systems support text-to-speech guidance, and show 2D and 3D views at the same time, so that users have a better sense of when to turn. Additionally, the units' touchscreens feature gesture shortcuts, so that a user can go home, call home, or zoom in and out without tapping through menus. 2GB of on-board flash memory comes pre-loaded with maps of Canada and the US, including regions such as Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Expansion is provided through a Memory Stick Pro Duo slot.
ASUS' booth at the Consumer Electronics Show has revealed first details of a new notebook graphics chipset that will launch soon, HotHardware says. Visting the PC maker's kiosk at the expo revealed the G1Sn, an unannounced variant on the company's well-known 15-inch gaming notebook; the system is not only based on Intel's 45nm Core 2 Duo but will also include a 512MB GeForce 9500M GT. The NVIDIA-made video chipset is not yet public but is believed to be a direct replacement for either the 8400M or 8600M lines and will likely add support for new pixel shader effects as well as boost performance over earlier models.
VTech this week contributed to CES with an addition to its lineup of DECT-based home phones. Taking a cue from smartphones, the IS6110 has a full QWERTY keyboard as well as an enlarged LCD that can be used to send instant messages without having to start a computer or shoulder the costs of messaging from a cellphone. The unusual approach works by connecting the base station to a computer through USB as well as to a phone line, VTech says. The digital nature of DECT also provides enough bandwidth to allow voice chats over IM using a button press and effectively creates free online calling without needing dedicated software.
An executive responsible for some of Microsoft's biggest acquisitions has declared his intentions to leave the company, reports indicate. Bruce Jaffe, Microsoft's VP of corporate development, has announced that he will leave his position in February, with the stated goal of starting his own business. Jaffe has been with Microsoft since 1995, and is said to have been involved in the $240 million investment into Facebook, and the $6 billion purchase of the ad firm aQuantive. Microsoft just this week made an offer of $1.2 billion for the Norwegian search firm Fast Search and Transfer.
Investor jitters over statements by AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson about the home phone business are "overdone" and neglect the likely growth triggered by the iPhone, says a new research note from financial institution Cowen and Company. The group contends that a 10 percent drop in AT&T's stock value triggered by warnings about sagging landline subscriptions are exaggerated and that the company's cellular service is more than compensating for the drop. The carrier will outgrow its rivals by as much as 15 percent over the next year, Cowen predicts.
Ricoh today introduced the Aficio SP C222DN color laser printer alongside the Aficio SP C222SF series of color laser multifunction products (MFPs, shown at right). The six new models feature a sleek and compact design to provide a more personal look and feel for small offices requiring color documents, according to Ricoh. The SP C220DN, SP C221DN, and SP C222DN are priced at $530, $630 and $760, respectively. The Aficio SP C220S is available for $830, while the SP C221SF is priced at $950 and the SP C222SF sells for $1,050.
In addition to its new ZEN Stone players, Creative this week has also introduced the MuVo T200. It follows in the steps of the ZEN Stone Plus and adds a screen to its T100 predecessor. The color LCD gives listeners a chance to view track information and also enables features that were previously impossible on the earlier device, such as FM radio and voice recording with an integrated microphone.
Vodafone UK today supplied frequent travelers subscribed to its cellular service with a new USB adapter to bring most any computer or UMPC online. Nicknamed the Stick, the white and red device provides Internet access on the most recent incarnation of HSDPA which just went live on the carrier's network. In peak conditions, the modem can download as quickly as 7.2Mbps and upload at 1.44Mbps, or more than 20 times faster than the company's original third-generation network from just three years ago. The entire device is also shorter than many past modems and more easily fits in a bag.
E-Ten has announced yet another version of its Glofiish smartphone, the X650. Based on the existing X600, the phone returns VGA resolution to a 2.8-inch touchscreen, but there no longer appears to be any sort of cellular broadband. Connection types do, however, continue to include GSM, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, as well as a native GPS system. Other hardware in the 650 includes a 500MHz Samsung processor, 256MB of flash storage, and a two-megapixel camera.
Universal's obligation to support HD DVD alone has already ended and may see Blu-ray titles soon, according to a claim by the Hollywood magazine Variety. Though not hinting at its sources, the publication's online edition says that Universal's commitment "has ended" and that the studio can publish Blu-ray titles at any time. A run of multiple promotions is likely to keep the studio producing HD DVD titles for the next few months, according to the report. However, no details have been provided as to whether Universal will opt to release movies in both formats or remain with HD DVD alone until the promotional campaign is over.
New York has officially begun an investigation into Intel antitrust allegations, Reuters reports. The state's attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, says his office has subpoenaed Intel for a variety of information, following preliminary indications that Intel may have forced companies to exclude rival chipmaker AMD from the CPU market. "Our investigation is focused on determining whether Intel has improperly used monopoly power to exclude competitors or stifle innovation," says Cuomo. "We will also look at whether Intel abused its power to remove competitive threats or harm competition in violation of New York and federal antitrust laws."
Electronista has received its own XO notebook from the One Laptop Per Child project and is about to put the notebook for the developing world through tests to see whether it works well for its stated goal of bringing computers to those who may never have used (or seen) a computer before -- as well as whether the small Linux-based system can co-exist with a world of more complex Mac and Windows PCs. So far, the device is promising and even shows a relatively Apple-like simplicity, but may almost prove too simple for some purposes.
Logitech, the maker of popular mice, speakers and other peripherals, may be on the verge of acquisition by Microsoft. Reuters reports that shares rose 12 percent early Thursday morning, fueled partly by trader speculation surrounding a possible takeover. In theory, Logitech -- which has a market capitalization of 7 billion Swiss francs ($6.3 billion US) -- would be bought for 48 francs per share, a premium of 38 percent on Wednesday's closing stock price of 34.80 francs. Logitech would thus become worth 9.16 billion francs.
Sprint's first device to directly compare against the iPhone will be a lower-cost variant of Samsung's just-announced F490, according to a new leak. The handset will be known as the M800 in Sprint guise but should keep much of the same design, which includes an extra-wide 3.2-inch screen with largely the same touch interface as the Vodafone Croix but without the more expensive phone's slide-out keyboard. Some icons and the overall look will change to reflect the American carrier, the leak shows. Sprint's version will also use its 3G EVDO link for its Sprint TV Internet video streaming service, buying songs from the Sprint Music Store, and navigating using assisted GPS.
Apple has placed second in a list of companies with superior supply chains, according to a research group. AMR Research has once again compiled its annual "Supply Chain Top 25," a list of major retailers and manufacturers said to display the best "performance, capabilities, and leadership." The data used is collected from public information, such as growth, inventory turns and return on assets (ROA); AMR cautions however that the list does not directly take into account customer satisfaction, particularly as companies can manipulate ROA and inventory turns at the cost of delivery dates. DSO, or "days sales outstanding," is used as an alternative on the assumption that unhappy customers delay payment.
Matsushita on Thursday ended years of tradition by formally adopting the Panasonic brand as its name around the world following a board decision today. The move has been described as a difficult one as it drops the name of the company's founder Konosuke Matsushita but is also characterized as a necessary one: most customers only think of the Panasonic label and its association with Viera HDTVs or other electronic devices, the company says. The change is expected to help link the products back to its parent and help the firm's overall image.
At least two major Western Internet providers will have Internet access topping the 100 megabit per second (Mbps) mark before the end of the year, according to announcements. American cable provider Comcast has confirmed at CES that it is readying a service based on the new DOCSIS 3 cable modem standard that will bond together multiple cable channels to achieve Internet speeds far in excess of the version 2 speeds available today. Under good conditions, the technology translates to about 160Mbps for downloads and 120Mbps for uploads. This has led to full-length HD movie downloads in under four minutes during demonstrations, Comcast says.
Sony today confirmed that it would be winding down sales of its original launch PlayStation 3 consoles in Japan. The drop affects both 20GB and 60GB models and comes several months after the systems were discontinued in Europe and North America. Discontinuing both models leaves only the 40GB PS3 on sale in the country but is considered part of a change in strategy relating to backwards compatibility with PS2 games. While supporting the older titles in hardware with the 20GB/60GB versions was important, switching to the newer model (which lacks any PS2 compatibility) will shift the focus more to PS3 software, according to Sony.
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