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The US Federal Justice Department today approved the highly controversial XM-Sirius merger, with some in the industry claiming that despite over 10 years of rebellious behavior against the FCC, the decision will grant monopoly status to the two companies. Just over a month ago, the two satellite radio content providers had officially announced the desire to merge, which many Sirius shareholders voted to approve.
Intel's heavily rumored Netbook is now official, being renamed the 2go PC, and manufactured by PC builder CTL. According to Engadget, the education-oriented budget laptop will feature an Intel Celeron M, as well as a 915GMS graphics chipset. The 512MB of included DDR2 memory is upgradable to 1GB, while the PC features 40GB of storage. CTL will sell the 2go PC for approximately $400, and will see distribution within two months.
Fully half of all phones shipped in the world will be music-capable within three years, according to a study by MultiMedia Intelligence. The research group estimates that while the cellphone market will largely remain flat, with 941 million phones being sold in 2011, about 50 percent of those devices will have at least some level music playback. This includes both high-end devices as well any phone that offers at least support for non-ringtone music files and a memory slot, the company said.
Australia's WiMAX pioneer, Buzz Broadband, closed its network, with the operator's CEO publicly calling the technology a "disaster" that "failed miserably." The speech took place at the WiMAX World Asia Conference & Expo in Bangkok on March 19, according to reports. Garth Freeman went on to say the wireless broadband technology's indoor performance was limited to about a quarter mile, while he called non-line-of-sight capabilities, at just over 1.2 miles, "non-existent." Latency reached as much as 1 second, which makes the technology useless for Internet applications and VoIP. The latter was a major selling point for customers to make the switch to Buzz Broadband.
The FCC has agreed to look into accusations of extortion following its 700MHz wireless auction, reports say. While major blocks of the sought-after spectrum were quickly snapped up by companies such as AT&T and Verizon, the D block was largely abandoned, receiving a single $472 million bid by Qualcomm -- well short of the FCC's asking reserve price, $1.3 billion. The investigation will be headed by the FCC's inspector general, Kent Nilsson.
The proposed merger between Sirius and XM took a major step forward today with tentative approval by Department of Justice. The government agency's ruling notes that the threat of a monopoly isn't likely as their satellite radio services compete against many other formats besides themselves, including iPods and HD Radio. A combined entity would have no chance in the market if it tried to raise prices, the Department said. The statement also dismisses claims by HD Radio that a merged Sirius and XM would exclude competing technology from car stereos and other equipment.
Motorola is being deliberately guarded about the prospects of its cellphone business, a lawsuit from a prominent investor alleges. Carl Icahn has been unhappy with the declining fortunes of the company, and for a year has proposed the installation of four new directors; Motorola has fought back, however, and is claimed by Icahn to have resisted attempts at accessing useful records. The lawsuit, filed in a Delaware court, looks to obtain those records, to "ascertain what the board could have done" to persuade shareholders that financial comments were right and would not give "an inaccurate perspective on the prospects for the mobile devices business."
NEC announced the release of two mobile projectors on Monday, the NP100 and NP200, aimed for use in small or home offices and developing businesses. Both look nearly identical and feature Texas Instruments' DLP technology that allows for a 1,300:1 contrast ratio. The NP100 has just SVGA (800x600) resolution, while the NP200 increases that sharpness to XGA (1024x768) for computers and other high-resolution sources.
A technology partnership between Quanta and ooVoo will produce the first plug-and-play, real-time, high-definition video chat and messaging system, the two companies announced Monday. The companies, in response to the continuing growth in HDTV sales and popularity of chat programs, plan to create a product that will easily turn a laptop computer, HDTV or desktop PC into a high-definition chat screen. Quanta Research Institute, a research center of Quanta Computer Inc., the world's largest laptop maker, would develop the hardware, while ooVoo, a provider of real-time video communication over the Internet, would work on the interface and related software.
Seagate may pull a lawsuit as its trump card if solid-state drives (SSDs) threaten to undermine its conventional hard drive business, company head Bill Watkins has said in a new interview with Fortune. The executive alleges that both Intel and Samsung are violating patents dealing with the interaction between computers and storage and that a formal complaint could follow that would either force them to change their technology or else compensate Seagate for their purported infringement.
Quickly following on the heels of its GeForce 9800 GX2 update, Alienware on Monday afternoon refreshed the Area-51 gaming tower to add Intel's 3.2GHz Core 2 Extreme QX9770 as its best processor option. The new speed eclipses the 3GHz limit set by the older system and also brings with it a faster 1.6GHz system bus; the extra bandwidth helps keep traffic going to all four cores and also more properly feeds the DDR3 memory.
Memorex has begun shipping a new clock radio for various iPod models, includin the iPod Touch, Classic, nano and mini. The device, dubbed iWake, features a digital AM/FM radio, dual alarm function and a gradual volume increase for the alarm. There's also a clock backup capability that is invoked in the case of a power failure -- that function requires 2 "AAA" batteries (which aren't included). Other standard features include a snooze function. The iWake powers and charges any iPod with dock connector. The iWake clock radio is priced at $80.
Two major music labels are close to signing a deal for the rumored MySpace Music online store, say sources talking to the New York Post. Both Sony BMG and Warner Music are reportedly near the end of talks that would make their catalogs available the service, which is still expected to offer paid MP3 downloads as well as ad-subsidized free streams of music and videos. The feature is also now said to have downloadable ringtones through a deal with News Corp.-owned (and MySpace sister company) Jamba.
Google has submitted a new proposal to the FCC to develop so-called white-space frequencies in the US, reports say. The frequencies lie in the spectrum between channels 2 and 51 in the television range, but are used by neither satellite nor cable providers; Google, one of the members of the White Spaces Coalition, is proposing that the FCC authorize the use of the space for a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide ubiquitous wireless broadband access to all Americans," according to a letter by company lawyer Richard Whitt.
Korean company MIU has unveiled an unusual new product, the HDPC. Its name standing for "Hybrid Dual Portable Computer," the HDPC functions primarily as a handheld UMPC, running Windows XP. Its four-inch screen displays images at 800x480, and users have access to a QWERTY keyboard as well as a pointer controller, and wireless Internet. By closing the lid however users switch into dedicated phone or media player modes, with extra touches such as a camera, an electronic dictionary and voice recording.
Toshiba is about to ship its 128GB solid-state drive, the first SSD from the company and the first it says to offer the speed of faster drives with the storage of slower models. The 1.8-inch drive uses the same multi-level cell (MLC) process as the flash memory used in portable music players but also relies on a new controller that boosts its speeds well past the sometimes slow speeds of these cheaper drives. As promised, the unit can read at 100MB per second and writes at 40MB per second, making it faster than many 2.5-inch, notebook-sized drives.
Acer will knowingly run under the price of the Eee PC 900 when it releases its own 8.9-inch notebook, say claims from its manufacturers. Although specifications are still unconfirmed, the system will purportedly cost a full $50 less to make than the Eee PC and push the real selling price closer to $350 or $400. The ASUS system will in turn sell for between $400 and $500, the report notes, giving Acer a major price advantage in the notebook category.
After some delay, iLuv has announced that it is finally shipping its i399 iPod speaker dock. The system produces 45W of RMS output across 2.1 channels, and can both play and charge an iPod at the same time; "most dockable iPods" are supported, excluding those of the first three generations. The Shuffle and other sound sources are supported through an auxiliary 3.5mm input, and an integrated FM tuner supports up to 20 presets.
Plextor today surprised the computer drive industry with a pair of dual-format HD optical drives. The B920SA and B300SA are both intended as native Blu-ray disc drives but also provide 3X HD DVD reading; while the format war has ended, the new drives give owners of the now-obsolete HD DVD format a chance to watch their movies on a computer, according to the company. The B920SA also loses none of the functionality of a Blu-ray only drive and can burn 25GB discs at up to 4X speed in addition to writing DVDs and CDs.
Having announced it at the CES expo in January, IntelliTouch is now shipping its Eos wireless iPod speaker system. At the core is a base station, which provides 2.1-channel sound, using at its source any iPod or iPhone with Apple's standard USB dock connector; owners can alternately pipe in sound from the Shuffle, and other devices such as computers, through an auxiliary cable input. Output is enhanced through SRS WOW! technology.
Relative newcomer ECTACO became the latest to join the slowly growing field of e-book readers with the jetBook. The handheld uses a 5-inch e-paper display to supply grayscale books and photos without the eyestrain that normally accompanies LCDs. Its primary change from the formula of its rivals is language support: the jetBook not only supports Russian, Spanish, and multiple other languages natively but comes shipped with translation dictionaries to make foreign books readable without hunting down native versions or loading extra software.
Hoping to offer a new alternative to notebook owners and others forced to use only one or two displays, LG on Monday took the wraps from its Flatron LX206WU. Larger than its Samsung equivalent, the 20-inch screen shares the ability to output video using solely a USB connection rather than requiring DVI or VGA output from a video card. The technique allows as many as six of the wide LCDs to run from a single PC, with even notebooks supporting the extra space through a powered USB hub.
Lenovo this morning helped kick off the Olympic torch run with its first international edition notebook commemorating the trip to Beijing. The Olympic 3000-series V200 adds the company's "Cloud of Promise" design previously shown only for China to the company's home-oriented 12-inch portable, adding red with silver clouds to the normally black design. Specifications are unavailable should fit in line with one of the stock V200 models, which starts out with a 1.5GHz Core 2 Duo, 1GB of memory, and a 160GB hard drive.
T-Mobile on Monday hoped to improve on AT&T's formula in carrying the BlackBerry 8820. Like the reference version, the 8820 adds Wi-Fi to the pro smartphone's normal EDGE access and gives it quicker access. In contrast to AT&T, however, the T-Mobile edition adds UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) support to let it place free calls on Wi-Fi and bridge those calls to the GSM phone network and back as the user leaves the range of a local hotspot.
Quickly following its European launches earlier this month, Mio today launched its Moov GPS units in US-friendly versions. The 3.5-inch Moov 200/210 and 4.3-inch Moov 300/310 are the first Mio navigators to include Mio's own mapping software and also integrate SiRF's newest InstantFixII receivers to provide a fix in as little as five seconds -- an important factor in downtown driving where a dropped update means a missed turn, Mio claims. Both Moovs also provide text-to-speech conversion to speak street names and come preloaded with maps of the entire US and Puerto Rico.
Fujitsu is claiming a performance advantage today by introducing the largest-capacity fast notebook drive yet available. The MHZ2 BJ series holds the same 320GB as all but the most capacious 2.5-inch hard drives but spins at 7,200RPM versus the normal 5,400RPM. Combined with 16MB of cache, the extra speed reportedly provides a more desktop-like level of performance without the sacrifice in capacity dictated in the past.
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