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Sony on Thursday unveiled the HT-IS100 Bravia Theatre Micro System, consisting of five miniscule speakers that the company claims are roughly the size of a golf ball. The system comes with three 1080p inputs with repeater functionality, with support for eight channels of audio, with the ability to add optional wireless rear surround speakers, which are automatically configurable. In addition to the five tiny speakers, the HT-IS100 also includes a subwoofer, with built-in 32-bit S-Master digital amplifier.
Apple is expected next week to unveil the 3G iPhone and related software infrastructure – v2.0 OS, downloadable apps, the official app store, and SDK – but Microsoft on Thursday issued a letter to industry partners in an attempt to dull the roar of Apple's announcements. Seattle Post-Intelligencer reveals that Microsoft wrote of its intent to sell 20 million Windows Mobile licenses, with group product manager Scott Rockfeld and Windows Mobile chief Andy Lees enforcing that their team is "on track" for the generous target.
Sony in an afternoon announcement updated its high-end BRAVIA XBR line with three new set ranges that it hopes step up the quality of its TVs across the board. In keeping with a leaked roadmap, the XBR8 series starts with 46- and 55-inch sets that are Sony's first to include LED backlights: the lighting not only provides a more even and color-accurate image but builds in local dimming that shuts off unneeded lights in darker areas, giving a major boost to the contrast ratio. The two sets also sport Sony's updated BRAVIA Engine 2 PRO for rendering the image, 120Hz panels to improve the picture in fast movement, a hooks for the BRAVIA Internet Link adapter, and a media port for connecting iPods and other media players.
ASUS yesterday announced the launch of two next-generation notebook computers with the recently introducesd AMD Turion X2 Ultra dual-core mobile processors. The 15.4-inch widescreen F5Z and 14-inch F8Tr notebooks share ATI's Radeon HD 3000-series graphics cards for improved graphics and video processing. Along with the rest of the ASUS notebook range, either new notebook PC offers a proprietary operating system that grants access to programs such as Internet, email and chat programs just eight seconds after powering up the laptop.
Ofcom, the UK communication industry's independent regulator, is planning to make a voluntary standard for Internet providers to follow when advertising their maximum connection speeds. More than 90 percent of the country's ISPs agreed to complying with the new code, which would give customers a more accurate comparison of performance between companies when shopping for a new provider.
At the Complex 2008 show yesterday, ASUS revealed its Xonar HDAV1.3 HDMI-ready sound card. ASUS says the HDMI1.3a-compliant card is the first of its kind in the industry to offer advanced audio and HD video capabilities for PCs. The card will give desktop PC users without high-end CPUs or graphics cards the option to watch Blu-ray movies in their full 1080p DTV or UXGA (1600x1200) PC resolution, as it features a PCI Express x1 interface. The company's own AV200 codec chip featuring 24-bit digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital converters is responsible for the high resolution levels.
Tsutaya, Japan's biggest rental chain, today announced it will launch an HD video on demand service, allowing users to download titles from home. The service will be made possible via the acTVila portal, and give customers a 48-hour window to view the content. The acTVila service works directly with dozens of plasma and LCD HDTVs, and Japan will stop analog signal broadcasting by 2011.
HP's Voodoo PC gaming division today hinted at a planned major update to its lineup through both its website and a teaser video (posted below). The company's website appears consumed by flames, suggesting a complete overhaul of what customers are familiar with in Voodoo's gaming-oriented systems; the video points to a much more refined look for the company's desktops and notebooks with aluminum, carbon fiber, and much more seamless, minimalist designs.
AT&T is beginning to train its retail staff in preparation for the next-generation iPhone, according to a purported tip sent to CrunchGear. The details themselves of training are uncertain, though the news alludes to preparation for Apple's Worldwide Development Conference next week and implies a relatively short turnaround for the announcement. A previous report has suggested that Apple may not only announce the iPhone at the expo but sell it soon after in one or more countries.
T-Mobile mid-Thursday updated its Sidekick messaging phones with its first limited edition of the current generation. The Sidekick LX Tony Hawk Edition both puts the pro skateboarder's look on all sides of the device, complete with blue, gray and white trim and his personal logo. It also includes functional upgrades, the carrier says: the back is given an easy-to-hold texture meant to resemble grip tape. The software is conspicuously different with a special Tony Hawk theme as well as a preloaded video and skateboard sounds when the screen swivels open.
ASUS today has provided PC World and other guests at a company-run seminar their first glimpse of its Eee Monitor all-in-one PC and confirms an iMac-like design that should cost less than half the price of its Apple-made rival. Resembling a cross between a white third-generation iMac and Apple's easel-like Cinema Displays, the system is already being marketed as a fashion item that fits into an interior decor; all its expansion ports are tucked to the back to avoid cluttering the front.
Federal Communications Commission chief Kevin Martin on Thursday told CNBC that his agency is nearing approval of the long-delayed Sirius and XM merger. While declining to give a timetable for any decision, Martin says the FCC hopes to make its choice "soon" and that the two satellite radio providers have agreed to make changes to their price structure to clear legal hurdles, including an option for subscribers to order individual channels rather than complete bundles and to specifically exclude channels with objectionable content.
Vudu, the maker of a self-named video streaming set-top, has released a new upgrade for its system called the Wireless Kit. The add-on enables users to download movies and TV shows via wireless Internet rather than an Ethernet cable, a factor which may be crucial given the distance of many TVs from routers and computers. Competitors such as the Apple TV and the Roku already have Wi-Fi.
France Telecom has entered negotiations to buy Sweden's TeliaSonera, writes the Wall Street Journal. Although no formal offer has been made, France Telecom says it has begun discussing the idea with TeliaSonera's board of directors, as well as its two biggest shareholders. A combination cash and share offer has been proposed, valued at 39 percent over TeliaSonera's share price on April 15th; when considered with its present stock value, this makes the deal worth approximately 252 billion kronor, or $42 billion.
Apple is prototyping not one but two different screen sizes for future versions of the iPhone, if a leak propagated by iLounge proves to be accurate. Taiwanese display maker Host Optical is providing photos and other technical information of what it claims are 2.8-inch and 3.2-inch panels, at least one of which will be used in an upcoming Apple handset. The screens would also switch from the existing capacitance touchscreen to a "projected" capacitance screen that is reportedly more likely to resist humidity and water as well as conventional wear and tear.
Dell's recently uncovered mini Inspiron system will arrive by mid-summer but with unusual sacrifices to reach its goals, says APC in an interview with the PC designer. The still unnamed micro notebook is now known to be scheduled for a launch no later than August and has the advantage of a much larger keyboard than normal for an 8.9-inch portable through its dropping the traditional row of F-series keys; the change is necessary to allow the remaining keys to be larger, Dell senior VP Alex Gruzen explains.
Quickly following up on earlier confirmations by its partner Vodafone, Verizon on Thursday said it would buy out Alltel in a cash merger with a total value of about $28.1 billion. The deal is mutually agreed upon and should see the union take place by the end of the year following approvals from the US government; Alltel chief Scott Ford will continue to run Alltel until the deal is completed.
Computer-oriented Blu-ray drives should quickly drop in price to where such drives are easily practical for both desktops and notebooks, SonyNEC Optiarc says. The joint venture estimates that desktop Blu-ray combo drives, which can only read the HD format but can burn DVDs and CDs, should reach the key $100 price point by the holidays this year. Slim drives for notebooks will be more expensive to build but should still reach the $150 price point, according to the device maker.
VIA this morning continued a string of announcements for its computer platforms with the launch of Mini-ITX 2.0, its latest platform for mini desktop PCs. The spec for mainboards is designed to allow small (6.7in square), quiet systems using processors such as VIA's own Nano but is unique in mandating a full-speed, 16-lane PCI Express 2.0 slot; the requirement gives all systems room for a fast video card, virtually guaranteeing support for DirectX 10 and OpenGL 2 in games and other apps that demand advanced 3D; an integrated DirectX 9-class chipset is also present as a fallback.
International cellphone provider Vodafone on Thursday confirmed earlier rumors that its US partner Verizon is nearing a buyout of Alltel that observers value at approximately $27 billion. The two American carriers are described as being in "advanced discussions" to strike a deal with a warning that no agreement is certain at this stage.
Sanyo has launched its compact, lightweight Xacti HD1010, a full 1080i high-definition digital camcorder featuring "Face Chaser" face detection technology for both video and stills as well as a new slow-motion video mode at 60 fps and seven frames-per-second sequential shooting for action photography. The HD1010 features a 10x all-glass optical zoom, image stabilization, and a large 2.7-inch LCD; it takes 1920x1080 video at up to a slow-motion 300fps and 4-megapixel digital still images and records both to SD memory cards or SDHC cards up to 32GB.
As aggravations rise over the controversial $2.1 billion severance plan, Yahoo insists that talks are ongoing with Microsoft, rebutting against criticism from investor Carl Icahn, who recently wrote Yahoo's chairman a disparaging letter. Yahoo highlighted its recent ad partnerships with Wal-Mart and several others, but president Susan Decker said that an arrangement with Microsoft could still occur. Icahn recently blasted the search giant, calling Yahoo's board "deceitful".
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