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Nokia tonight signed on Warner Music Group to its Comes With Music unlimited subscription service, joining founding partner Universal and recent entrant Sony BMG in offering its back catalog. The deal lets users buy phones with a Comes With Music premium attached and download an unlimited amount of Warner's music (or of any other label) for a year; all tracks downloaded during that time are the user's to keep, addressing a common complaint regarding most subscription plans.
Skyhook Wireless on Monday launched a new map positioning system that will potentially solve many of the problems associated with GPS navigation today. While the company has already designed a system that can alternate between real GPS and rough triangulation using cellular towers and Wi-Fi, a new method nicknamed XPS 2.0 can combine multiple services at once to find a position even in poor conditions.
Microsoft should raze the current foundations of Windows and begin again, argues a New York Times article. The editorial notes that while Windows Vista supports a variety of older hardware and software, greatly smoothing out the cost of upgrades, this also burdens it with decades' worth of old technology, making it difficult for Microsoft to achieve any fundamental advances in its operating systems as compared to similar efforts from Apple. It took six years to upgrade from XP to Vista, notes the Times, a period during which Apple released three new versions of Mac OS X.
Microsoft today is on schedule to formally drop Windows XP sales to PC makers, signaling the company's complete transition to Vista for its regular home users. The move effectively represents the end to the unusually long lifespan of nearly seven years for the operating system for most users, although Microsoft plans to continue offering XP to PC makers until 2010 for very low-cost nettops and netbooks such as the ASUS Eee PC, which often lack the performance necessary to run Vista well.
A great proportion of current smartphone shoppers have already set their minds on the iPhone 3G, says RBC Capital Markets. The investment bank says it ran a survey of some 3,600 members of its Technology Adoption Panel in the aftermath of June 9th's 3G announcement, and found that of those planning to get a smartphone in the next 90 says, 56 percent wanted the new iPhone. RBC notes that this contrasts with a study conducted in March, in which only 35 percent were expecting to buy a new iPhone.
MCE has announced its Blu-ray recordable drive, capable of 6X Blu-ray write-speeds and 16x DVD±R speeds. The drive plays both Blu-ray and HD-DVD media and features LightScribe compatibility and it will allow professionals to author Blu-ray movies using Adobe Premier Pro CS3's Encore software. In addition, it supports the production of basic Blu-ray movies from Roxio's Toast 9 Titanium (with the Toast HD/BD plug-in). The player also can play Blu-ray and HD-DVD media using Windows XP/Vista on a Boot Camp partition. The bare drive, for a Mac Pro or Power Mac G4/G5 running Mac OS X 10.4 or higher, available now for $500; an external FireWire/USB 2.0 option for $750. (The site does not mention any compatibility--for the USB/FireWire external version--with other Macs; and MacNN has contacted MCE for more details.)
Sony is exploring the development of a likely game-oriented touchscreen device that may also be a communicator, according to a newly published US patent filing. A patent shows a handheld touch device that would allow both direct and gesture-based input and which would also provide force feedback across the entire display through a system known as "tactile pixels;" a grid of small bumps would lift to reach the screen and help simulate physical button presses or other effects based on touch input.
Olympus in Japan today unveiled a prototype of what's claimed as the world's first-ever true 360-degree camera and matching lens. The sensor can not only capture the entire horizontal view of a given scene but improves on early technology first outlined last year for taking vertical shots. Thanks in part to a uniquely curved lens with specially-made glass, the example can also capture at up to a 180 vertical angle versus an earlier 45 degrees, essentially allowing the camera to snap a complete dome-shaped picture of a scene.
Gateway today revamped both its notebooks and its desktops with a technology upgrade to keep them current ahead of the back-to-school season. The 15.4-inch budget M series, retail-only 14-inch T series, and the 17-inch P series all get newer generation Core 2 Duo processors, more storage, and in some cases more memory. The example M-6848 and T-6836 updates (both $800) both have 2GHz Core 2 Duos as well as 250GB hard drives, 4GB of memory and a 64-bit edition of Windows Vista Home Premium to support the extra RAM.
Information has leaked on the remainder of Verizon's cellphone releases for 2008, a report claims. Preeminent in the list are some phones unexpected for Verizon's roster, such as CDMA versions of the Touch Diamond and the Touch Pro, which will likely rebranded under the carrier's own naming scheme. Also mentioned is a Samsung phone, the SCH-U310, which does not have any previously published information. The fact is unusual in that many of Samsung's phones are released in Asia and Europe months before they arrive in North America, and are publicized internationally. No dates have been mentioned for the U310 or the Touches.
Microsoft has laid bare the internal workings of several key formats, according to an announcement. As a part of its Interoperability Principles program, the company has released v1.0 technical documentation for the protocols in several of its programs, primarily the Office 2007 suite. Some 5,000 pages are said to be available on the binary file formats for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, including DOC, XLS, XLSB and PPT files.
Nikon's often-leaked D700 digital SLR has been given further evidence through a leaked set of photos from German magagine Profifoto. The seemingly authentic page spread reaffirms the camera's position in between the D300 and D3 with a 12.1 megapixel sensor and a 95 percent viewfinder; it should shoot up to ISO 6,400 in normal operation (with no word of an expanded ISO 25,600 mode) and up to five frames per second in RAW (8 frames with a battery grip).
After having left the market for several years, Lenovo today returned to home desktops and launched the IdeaCentre K210. The mini-tower is a parallel to the IdeaPad notebooks and borrows design elements from the portables, including face detection security when paired with a BrightEye add-on webcam that clips to most LCDs. The image recognition system also dynamically adjusts brightness based on proximity to the screen.
NETGEAR today jumped into the still relatively young market for aftermarket router hacking with the WGR614L. Rather than clamp down on firmware changes, the 802.11g Wi-Fi router is explicitly approved for use with Linux-based hobbyist firmware like DD-WRT and Tomato and should also support OpenWRT soon--all of which let users fine-tune settings such as signal strength and security without having to depend on NETGEAR to add the features itself.
TeliaSonera today confirmed late-breaking rumors on Monday with the announcement that France Telecom has withdrawn its takeover bid for the company, putting an end to the potentially significant merger of the two companies. Sweden-based TeliaSonera maintains that France Telecom has not "significantly" improved its bid that was hinted at on Sunday and insists that the French firm would have undervalued TeliaSonera, which claims that it's strong enough without other companies' help.
ASUS is developing a new Eee PC that would offer the comfort of its larger 10-inch models at the cost of the 8.9-inch models, according to reports from supply channels. The Eee PC 904 and 905 would have the same 8.9-inch display as the 901 notebook but with the enclosure of the 1001, giving it a larger keyboard without necessarily changing the price. Battery life and storage may also go up with the larger case but are reportedly uncertain.
ViewSonic on Monday lifted up its VA Series value screens and released a new 26-inch desktop LCD that it hopes will drive down the sizes of very large screens. The VA2626WM generates the same 1920x1200 resolution and also promises similar visual quality to more expensive screens. The panel generates a 6,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and includes HDMI to give Blu-ray players and modern HD consoles native output for their 1080p signals.
Mitsubishi this morning took a different approach to its LCD line through the launch of its 149 series TVs. The 46-inch LT46149 and 52-inch LT-52149 both replace the simple stereo speakers of many other HDTVs with a 16-point audio system, much like speaker bars, that can generate a 5.1-channel surround effect without occupying the physical space. Called the integrated Sound Projector, the system lets users optimize the sound field for a certain room size and sweet spot to more convincingly generate audio.
Following on the heels of Real's Rhapsody MP3 store, Verizon today expanded its VCast Music store to include both MP3s and the Rhapsody subscription service. The former lets users of Verizon's PC software as well as any MP3-supporting cellphone on the company's 3G network download unprotected songs that can be used as the customer likes; that includes loading content on to phones that wouldn't otherwise support VCast songs or to outside software and devices, including iPods.
Real this morning opened a test version of the Rhapsody MP3 Store, its first store to go without copy protected files. The MTV co-owned outlet is web-based and, unlike the company's subscription service, promises to work with any computer or device, including iPods; a Mac download manager is available to let users download all their songs as a complete package, Real says. The company has also successfully secured the catalogs of all four major music labels.
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