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Microsoft tonight mirrored its approach last year with the Halo Zune by introducing a special, game-themed edition of the Zune 120GB tied into another of the company's Xbox 360 games. The Gears of War 2 edition takes the current, glossy black player and adds a Gears logo to the back while pre-loading the hardware with the game's soundtrack, special videos and an artwork collection that includes backgrounds for the Zune itself. The hardware is otherwise functionally equivalent to the reference Wi-Fi music player.
Apple is taking a hard stance on proposed increases to online music royalties, one which could threaten the very future of the iTunes Store, Fortune reports. The Copyright Royalty Board -- a panel of three judges which oversees licenses issued under federal copyright -- is scheduled to make a ruling on Thursday, on the subject of a proposal by the National Music Publishers' Association. Following last year's end of a 1997 agreement covering music royalties, the NMPA proposed an increase on the amount collected from each individual track sold online, from 9 to 15 cents.
Sprint today quietly revealed plans to pull the PC component of its Music Store service. Members visiting the store's portal are now being told that they can no longer download protected Windows Media copies of songs to their computers after October 14th and that the music will only be available for cellphones after this point. Users can backup content from the phones to a computer but won't have the rights to play it, the company explains.
An image of a print advertisement proof meant for the Japanese market has leaked on Tuesday, believed to offer an ambiguous first look at what many believe to be the upcoming Nikon format, thus far dubbed MX. The ad, while controversial and raising authenticity concerns, features a Japanese word that translates roughly to "big," which is also in line with what is known about Nikon's rumored MX mounts. The ad shows a larger-diameter lens mount with a different lock-ring and connections set up than current DSLRs from Nikon, or what some hypothesize to be a smaller body matched to the company's FX sensor.
At the CEATEC show kicking off today in Japan, TDK announced it has achieved a new milestone in surface recording density for hard disk drives thanks to its prototype TMR head. The company achieved the world's highest surface recording density at 803GB/inch2, which could result in a typical single 1.8-inch double-sided disk having the capacity of 260GB. The TMR head is the same one as introduced in 2007, although TDK engineers have increased its magnetoresistance ratio by more than 80 percent while keeping its bond resistance low.
The UK's biggest mobile phone provider, Vodafone, has confirmed it will carry the upcoming BlackBerry Storm smartphone from RIM by launching an online competition to win the handset. Those who wish to enter the contest are required to register and leave their contact information to get updates on the phone. The Storm will feature a large 3.5-inch, 480x360 touchscreen with a haptic interface, built-in GPS and a 3.2-megapixel camera, among other features.
As promised when the merger between Sirius and XM satellite radio was finalized at the end of July, Tuesday's reports have some Sirius satellite radio subscribers beginning to see XM programming on their existing radios, with at least one report of an XM subscriber already receiving Best of Sirius programming on his XM radio. Others, while seeing XM headings on their Sirius receivers, cannot yet listen to content.
At the CEATEC show in Japan which kicked off on Tuesday, JVC showed off its first Full HD video camcorder that relies solely on an SDHC memory card as its storage medium instead of a built-in hard disk drive and memory card slot, like previous Everio camcorders. While the cameras were officially concepts, they looked production-ready, although JVC did not reveal any specs and even the megapixel count was conspicuously absent from the body of the camcorders.
Samsung Mobile on Tuesday announced it is now offering the Samsung u430 clamshell phone, which features a 1.9-inch, 128x160 main display. The dual-band CDMA phone has a VGA camera capable of capturing images at 640x480 resolution. The camera also includes a 5- or 10-second timer and a Night Shot function that lets it take photos in low-light environments.
Dell on Tuesday released no less than five new mid- to high-end printers to add to its range, including the nearly identical all-in-one V505 and V505w, the photo all-in-one P703w and the 5330dn and 2335dn laser printers. The main difference between the V505w and V505 is the former's inclusion of a Wi-Fi module that allows for wireless connections to a user's network. Apart from this distinction, the two share the same exterior look and are capable of printing, scanning, faxing and copying documents.
Adobe today at the Flash on the Beach expo said the company is actively developing a port of its Flash animation plugin for the iPhone and iPod touch, potentially bringing the phone's web features up to par with certain rivals. Senior Director of Engineering Paul Betlem noted in a presentation at the event that the Flash group was developing a port but that Apple's mobile operating system is a "closed platform" and so is out of Adobe's control; it's at Apple's discretion if and when the port becomes available, Betlem says.
Several major studios plan to sue RealNetworks for what they believe is inherent copyright infringement in the company's RealDVD ripping software, according to a tip sent to the AP. Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner are all said to believe that the software is deliberately bypassing the CSS encryption on DVD movies and so violating their copyrights. They also plan a temporary injunction on just-begun sales of the app, the unnamed source indicates.
Microsoft intends to hold to its policy of charging royalties for Windows Mobile, says company CEO Steve Ballmer. The operating system is facing increasing competition, most notably from Nokia's newly royalty-free Symbian platform, and Google's open-source Android platform, used on phones like the upcoming T-Mobile G1. "We are doing well," Ballmer tells Reuters, "we believe in the value of what we are doing." Microsoft receives approximately $8 to $15 for each Windows Mobile-based phone sold.
Dell today took a new approach to selling PCs on Tuesday by announcing a movie pre-load service for some of its PCs. Starting with Iron Man, the Inspiron 1525 notebook and XPS 420/630 can optionally carry a strictly digital copy of a movie along with special features, such as the bonus mini-feature included with the inaugural title. The company doesn't provide specific technical details but explains that the movie can be shared primarily through Windows Media Extender devices such as the Xbox 360 and can't be burned to DVD.
Broadcom on Tuesday said it would start integrating Wi-Fi support into its GPS navigation chips, letting cellphones and other devices equipped with the hardware use the local network for positioning. The technique draws on a license from Skyhook that uses known Wi-Fi points to triangulate a rough map location when GPS is unreliable or completely unavailable and should both generate a GPS lock faster in urban areas as well as fill in when indoors or in tunnels where the GPS signal is blocked.
Nintendo is in the midst of developing a pedometer add-on for its consoles, if a European trade document translates to a finished product. The largely mysterious device is described only as a "pedometer" and has just a bare minimum of connections and controls, suggesting a role as an add-on to add data from walking and running to DS handhelds for use with exercise programs and games. One strip on the side also hints at a potential wireless link.
Sony's eventual replacement for the PlayStation 3 may simply rely on a continuation of Cell technology rather than a whole new architecture, according to info obtained by Impress. Where the PS2 and PS3 both represented major changes in architecture, the PS4 will reportedly focus on driving down costs both for actual buyers and for Sony itself, which is said to consider yet another complete change in processor design too expensive when it has to compete against Nintendo's less expensive Wii and has alredy invested heavily into developing Cell with IBM and Toshiba.
Last week, a blurry photo and some specs on LG's second, more affordable camera phone, the KC780 were published, and more photos were unveiled today. LG claims the handset will be the thinnest on the market with an 8-megapixel camera, The included photos show the phone next to the flagship LG Renoir (KC910) handset, which also sports an 8-megapixel camera, and the two are nearly the same thickness. The KC780's back is scalloped, bulging out around the camera, suggesting that the phone will be thinner overall than the Renoir. Thus far, the thinnest 8MP pixel shooter is the Samsung M8800 Pixon, at just over half an inch thick.
Dell brought the newer, rounded designs of its larger displays to the entry level on Tuesday by introducing the 19-inch S1909WX and the 17-inch S1709W. In contrast to the 16:9 ratio S2409W, the new LCDs use a more traditional 16:10, 1440x900 resolution but share design traits of their larger sibling, including a cleanly designed back and a detachable stand that lets owners use a VESA mount for display arms or walls.
Western Digital today leapt into more serious home and SoHo network-attached storage with the appearance of its ShareSpace line. The four-bay system is designed to be simple, with a built-in iTunes server for sharing content over the network and pre-supplied backup software, but is also more powerful than the company's normal home drives. All ShareSpace boxes can run in either a RAID stripe for sheer space or a mirror for simple redundancy; a top-end model with all four bays full can also run in RAID 5 for a combination of backup and striping that makes the most of the available storage.
Super Talent on Tuesday gave notebook owners a potential break by launching the MasterDrive LX lineup, its lowest-cost solid-state drive lineup yet. The 2.5-inch SATA II disks use a relatively low-cost form of multi-level cell (MLC) storage to provide performance faster than many notebook drives without driving up the cost or affecting their longevity. All LX drives claim a peak reading speed of 100MB per second and write back at 40MB per second while lasting for a claimed average of one million hours (114 years) between failures.
AMD early Tuesday took its Radeon HD 4000-series chipsets into ultra budget territory with two video cards that promise better performance than their prices would suggest. The Radeon HD 4550 and Radeon HD 4350 have just 80 stream (effects) processors versus as much as 800 for the Radeon 4800 series but are still capable of full DirectX 10.1 and current OpenGL 2.x effects, rendering them some of the least expensive cards capable of their more advanced visuals. The new chipsets are also some of the only ones of their type to have 7.1-channel audio pass-through over HDMI and the option of DisplayPort.
Microsoft is reportedly shipping the Jasper-based XBOX 360 consoles, Jasper being a 65nm-process chip that the company hopes will reduce hardware failures indicated by the so-called "red ring of death." Microsoft went through a tough time in recent years with the XBOX 360, having to replace a vast amount of consoles due to an overheating issue likely related to the former 90nm-process chips. The recalls ended up costing Microsoft over $1 billion.
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