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ASUS has revealed the HDTV Suite-HDMI, a unique media hub that allows PC users to turn their monitors into Full HDTVs. The stand-alone TV box offers HD video up to a 1,920x1,200 resolution -- even higher than full HD, the company notes -- and will up-convert any signals it receives to 1080p. Source input selection is relatively broad as the Suite-HDMI includes both its namesake HDMI as well as RF, DVI/VGA for PCs, S-Video, composite and component. The hub allows flexible peripherals support as well: via HDMI, DVI/VGA and line-out, the Suite-HDMI also permits using a monitor as part of a multimedia center without ever having to turn on the computer also attached to the device.
Games will finally be added to the Zune in the near future, Microsoft has announced. Although games are not typically the focus of most media players, the Zune is conspicuous for lacking any sort of interactive entertainment, whereas a continuous flow of new titles is available for Apple's iPod. Development for the Zune must be accomplished using XNA Studio, which was originally conceived for the Xbox 360; significantly, Microsoft indicates that first-generation Zunes will not be supported.
PocketMac has released PocketMac GoBetween for Lotus Notes, a tool that allows Mac users to sync Lotus Notes data to nearly 200 devices -- including iPhones, Palm handhelds, and Nokia devices. "Now Lotus Notes users can sync all their data to any of the almost 200 devices that Apple supports with sync services," said Information Appliance Associates CTO Terence Goggin. PocketMac GoBetween for Lotus Notes requires Lotus Notes 7 or later running on Mac OS X 10.4 or newer. The software is priced at $25.
Google is investigating the possibility of using balloons to support future wireless networks, say sources in touch with the Wall Street Journal. The search engine firm is reportedly investigating either a partnership or an acquisition of balloon wireless firm Space Data to use its technology for extending a long-range cellular or wide-area Internet network. While specific implementations are not discussed, the current system floats balloons with transceivers into the upper atmosphere to increase their range; Space Data (and therefore Google) could spread a signal across thousands of square miles, extending coverage without having to install up to 40 cellular towers or repeaters.
In the wake of Dell's addition of Penryn to Inspiron notebooks, systems from Gateway and Alienware have also been upgraded with the Intel processor technology. Alienware's Area-51 m15x has been given the option of a 2.5 or 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo, or else a 2.8GHz Core 2 Extreme; its display measures 15.4 inches, and costs start at $2,149. Gateway's contribution is the 17-inch P-171X FX, which uses a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo chip and is priced at $2,000. The company adds that an M-series notebook will also be equipped with Penryn "in a few weeks," but refuses to disclose further details. [via Crave]
A new lawsuit has been filed against Comcast, once again accusing the cable company of improperly handling peer-to-peer file sharing. In contrast to a previous suit filed in November, the new one specifically accuses Comcast of false advertising, for claiming that it offers "unfettered access to all the content, services, and applications that the Internet has to offer." Plaintiff Sandford Sidner observes that if he attempts to run a P2P application, his connection will "slow to a crawl," rendering it useless.
New information has surfaced on HP's planned UMPC system, a report out of Taiwan indicates. The Chinese-language publication Commercial Times notes that a UMPC order has been farmed out to a company called Inventec, which is expected to deliver hardware to HP for an April commercial release. The report further suggests that the system uses a 45nm Intel Penryn processor, and as previously hinted, an 8.9-inch screen.
MacNN has taken Apple's MacBook Air for a longer test run to experience using the notebook on a day-to-day basis. After two weeks of steady usage, "the world's thinnest notebook" held true to Apple's claims. The device fits neatly into an airline seat pocket, runs applications quickly with no issues, and provides just enough external connectivity via its folding ports for most average users.
Gadget vendor Sharper Image has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, writes the Wall Street Journal. Most famous for selling products through unique retail stores and TV advertising, its assets are said to have dwindled to $251.5 million, while debts have reached $199 million. The California-based company is blaming a variety of factors, including increased competition, diminishing margins, and poor credit. It is also facing a lawsuit over its air purifiers, which have typically been a signature product with high margins.
Creative will finally join companies such as Apple and Microsoft in offering a wireless music player, say some reported insiders privy to the details. Purportedly named the ZEN Share, the device will use Wi-Fi for its network connection. Most details are unavailable, though the name directly points to a sharing ability likely based on that of the Zune. The Microsoft player allows users of similar players to share tracks over a peer-to-peer wireless network and wraps songs in a temporary copy protection system to prevent trading of copyrighted tracks.
Users of Research in Motion's BlackBerry cellphones have been saddled with yet another service outage, according to widespread reports. Beginning before dawn today, RIM's e-mail system became unavailable for some 80 percent of subscribers in the continental US, affecting people with carriers including Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint. As of press time some subscribers had begun indicating resumed e-mail access; problems may still be ongoing however, and RIM has not said when full service will be restored.
Although the companies have just finished a battle over HD formats, Toshiba and Sony have announced the creation of a new joint venture to produce semiconductors. It will begin operating in April of this year, and will actually be 60 percent owned by Toshiba, with Sony controlling the remainder. For Toshiba, this will come at the cost of a 90 billion yen ($837 million) manufacturing equipment purchase from Sony.
Sprint is poised to fire the first shot in what may be a price war for unlimited cellphone calling, say analyst reports. UBS researcher John Hodulik believes that the provider is likely to offer an unlimited plan that would cost at most $80 per month but may be as low as $60 -- a 40 percent drop over just-announced $100 plans from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. The wide gap could force other carriers to drop their own prices, the analyst says, potentially leading to a succession of rate cuts or feature bundles from rivals concerned about losing customers to Sprint.
Dell on Wednesday followed up on previous upgrades to its XPS line with speed boosts to its Inspiron line based on Intel's 45 nanometer Penryn processor architecture. The 14-inch Inspiron 1420 and the 17-inch Inspiron 1720 now have the option of Core 2 Duo processors that use Intel's new platform to run cooler as well as faster than older designs. As Dell's desktop replacement, the 1720 is the fastest and uses a 2.5GHz Core 2 Duo with 6MB of Level 2 cache; the 1420 scales back only slightly by using a 2.4GHz processor with 3MB of Level 2 cache.
Sony today continued its succession of music player updates with the release of the E020 Walkman, the latest version of its budget music player. In addition to a new style, the new player is also unusually customizable through "Style-Up" panels: users can swap in faceplates that change the look of both the front and back of the device using anything from conservative solid colors to special patterns. The device is also built to offer better audio quality than its rivals with both accurate output and a pair of EX earbuds more advanced than the stock earbuds from Apple and other challengers.
Logitech this morning helped kick off a round of announcements at the Game Developers' Conference through a new Driving Force wheel. The Driving Force GT (pictured) is the latest wheel controller officially connected to Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo racing games and is the first Logitech wheel specifically tailored to the upcoming GT5 Prologue PlayStation 3 title and its eventual GT5 follow-up: a dial at the front of the wheel allows drivers to adjust real-time settings that are available in some actual cars, such as brake bias, dampers, and the level of active traction control.
Amazon today said it would make Blu-ray its preferred digital format, promoting the standard over all other physical formats. The move follows Toshiba's decision to put an end to HD DVD but will see Blu-ray promoted above both regular DVD and the now discontinued HD DVD format. This will include both the movies themselves as well as hardware, including both dedicated movie players and the Sony PlayStation 3. The company has not said whether it will promote Blu-ray computers, which are relatively rare.
MySpace is currently in talks to create a music service that would offer both free and paid service, according to alleged leaks from those familiar with the negotiations. The social networking site is reportedly securing rights from all four major music labels for a simply-titled MySpace Music service that would allow it both to provide free, streaming music from its pages as well as paid MP3 tracks; the cost of the former would be offset by the advertising that already forms a staple of the company's web pages.
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