Apple's announcement of a $200 iPhone has AT&T competitors looking to match the feature-packed device in price and expectations, with Sprint on Wednesday circulated internally a memo noting a $199 price point for the Samsung Instinct, after rebates. The phone normally costs $449, but will be subject to a $150 instant rebate for a two-year contract, as well as a $100 mail-in rebate for the Instinct. This provides Sprint with a high-end touch-screen competitor for the iPhone.
Microsoft and Harrah's Operating Company on Wednesday announced the first deployment of the former company's surface technology at the iBar in the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. The move represents the first official setup located in an entertainment scenario, having already been deployed at AT&T stores as interactive product demonstration centers. The Surfaces include a number of custom-designed applications for patrons to use, as well as a few Microsoft-supplied apps, customized for the lounge.
Images of what appear to be Nokia's new Nseries phones have leaked out on the Internet a couple of days ago, including the N79 and N85, as well as the 5800 Xpress Media. The phones are likely prototype models and are not guaranteed to make it to production, although the 5800 is likely to launch this summer as an iPhone alternative.
A leak of Sony Ericsson's newest phone, codenamed Alicia, surfaced on the Internet yesterday. Looking a lot like the W980 music phone, the Walkman-series Alicia emphasizes the use of animations and graphics on its dual displays. The screens can reportedly display the current weather, if the feature is supported by the user's plan or network, or Walkman animations if not. The display is also said to change themes at various times of the day.
Microsoft's Office Labs division is testing an internal Facebook-like social network, today's reports say. The company's TownSquare social site, still in prototype form, has already been used by about 8,000 Microsoft employees and provides updates about colleagues, including major occasions and promotions. The software works in conjunction with MS SharePoint to get public information on employees, and can notify employees when files are modified. Employees can also check which other employees are accessing their information. While employees aren't required to use the site, about 700 use it daily.
Windows Vista's poor reception will cost Microsoft an estimated $395 million dollars over the next 12 months, says a new investment note by Bernstein senior analyst Charles Di Bona. The researcher predicts the sharp drop in revenue for Microsoft's fiscal 2009, starting in July, after a survey found mounting complaints about the new operating systems from companies concerned about problems with future upgrades.
JVC today upgraded its media players and added its new Alneo V-series to its player mix. Each of the players builds in a technology named K2 that automatically oversamples compressed audio to 24-bit, 96kHz sound and makes the most of the available sound detail; newly designed noise canceling earbuds not only adapt to block outside noise but team up with different environment settings on the player itself to optimize the sound for a given setting.
AT&T and Starbucks today said they have struck an agreement with T-Mobile that puts an end to a short-lived lawsuit by the latter over Starbucks' Wi-Fi service. The three parties have come to a "memorandum of understanding" that will both halt the case as well as continue wireless access at US coffee shops. Terms for the deal remain private and don't reveal any change in the pace of the transition from T-Mobile to AT&T for Starbucks Wi-Fi, which began in April after an announcement in February that AT&T had won the rights to handle Starbucks' Internet service.
Widespread failures of launch-model Xbox 360s are mainly due to Microsoft efforts at cost-cutting, a Gartner analyst claims. Bryan Lewis, the latter company's VP of research, says that when Microsoft was originally designing its game console, it wanted to omit third-party ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) vendors from its graphics hardware, saving tens of millions of dollars. In designing its own graphics technology, however, it produced chips which regularly overheated, forcing recalls that cost the company over $1 billion.
Specifications have been learned for two upcoming Lenovo notebooks, according to Notebook Italia. Both are said to be intermediary computers for the transition to Intel's Centrino 2 platform, and a replacement for Lenovo's current ThinkPad R61. Each has the option of a Core 2 Duo or Celeron M processor, matched to a PM45, GM45 or GL45 motherboard; the systems also support up to 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 320GB 5400rpm hard drive or a 200GB 7200rpm drive. Wireless technologies should include options for Bluetooth, WiMAX, and 802.11b/g or a/g/n.
Users should expect multi-touch displays in notebooks well before the release of official operating system updates like Windows 7, Hewlett-Packard's consumer notebook general manager Kevin Frost says. The feature won't officially appear in Microsoft's software until 2010 but should be available "long before" then in shipping products, according to the executive. Technical marketing head Kevin Wentzel supports the notion and mentions that the advancement is more a question developing software than any limits in current hardware.
Motorola today refreshed its H-series Bluetooth headsets with a pair of new models for use on foot and in cars. The H620 (not yet pictured) is specifically tailored for cars and is tuned to adjust its volume as speed and road noise increase; it also comes with standard anti-echo and anti-noise techniques to improve the quality of the call regardless of the situation. A dedicated on-dash holder and a car charger let users quickly reach for a fully-charged headset.
Apple may be attempting to block competition when it comes to GPS navigation on the iPhone, developers have observed. In the most recent version of the iPhone SDK, Section 3.3.7 of the license agreement tells users that "applications may not be designed or marketed for real time route guidance; automatic or autonomous control of vehicles, aircraft, or other mechanical devices; dispatch or fleet management; or emergency or life-saving purposes."
Verizon on Wednesday responded in kind to the iPhone 3G with the unveiling of three new LG phones. The Dare is the second LG touchscreen phone at the US carrier but relies exclusively on its touch input rather than offering a hardware keyboard; it also represents a camera upgrade with a 3.2-megapixel sensor (up from 2.0) with better low-light handling and on-phone editing similar to the Viewty and other Europe-only phones.
InFocus started Wednesday by introducing two Work Big DLP projectors that are the first projectors anywhere to use DisplayLink's USB video technology. The portable IN1100 series and the larger-sized IN3100 series can both use USB for video output. The approach lets users relay video from a notebook even when the computer lacks a free traditional output of its own or is missing a video cable. It also allows a connection to two or more external displays at the same time.
Sony Ericsson is nearing the launch of a new cameraphone that will sit at the top of its Cyber-shot line, according to a new leak by SE-NSE. Codenamed the "Shiho," the C905 will not only have a sharper 8.1-megapixel camera sensor but also a brighter xenon flash and several image quality features that aren't present in earlier phones, including a rare image stabilization feature as well as smart contrast adjustment; video also receives the same treatment. A GPS receiver with data assist support will both help with navigation as well as let users geotag their photos.
Toshiba this morning introduced one of the largest hard drives in its class with the MK1617GSG. The drive measures just 1.8 inches across but holds 160GB; the storage is more than the 120GB of an earlier Toshiba drive as well as any other small drive using a Serial ATA connection. There is also no sacrifice performance, the company says. The 160GB drive spins at the same 5,400RPM as most 2.5-inch notebook drives and much faster than the 4,200RPM of most disks at the smaller size. Packing more data into the drive also improves speed by reducing access time.
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