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Online retailer Amazon on Wednesday announced it will launch what it calls Frustration-Free Packaging in an effort to help customers free their newly purchased products from their packages. The first products Amazon will focus on include ones enclosed in hard plastic clamshell cases and ones secured with plastic-coated wire ties. In the US, 19 products with such packaging will begin shipping from partnering manufacturers that include Fisher-Price, Mattel, Microsoft and Transcend. Not only will the new packaging ease the pains of getting products out, it will also be easier on the environment, as there will be less of it.
Over the weekend, ASUS introduced a new flagship notebook to its line-up, the 14.1-inch B80A. Buyers will be able to pick from a choice of four Intel Core 2 Duo processors, with clock speeds that include 2GHz, 2.16GHz, 2.4GHz, and 2.5GHz. While 1GB of RAM is standard, it can be optioned up to 4GB. The B80A will support a fast 7,200RPM SATA hard disk drive that can be found in a desktop PC, with an optional 250GB HDD. Otherwise, there are 5,400RPM SATA drives available in 160GB, 250GB and 320GB capacities. For wireless connectivity, a Draft-N Bluetooth connection is built-in.
Roku representatives have responded to rumors on its online forum board regarding when it will launch streaming HD services and announced, earlier than they'd like, that it will team up with Netflix to bring HD content to its subscribers. Compared to the recently announced Xbox and Netflix tie-up that will also see streaming HD content to the Xbox, Roku will use different Advanced Profile encoding to deliver the HD content at significantly lower bit-rates.
ASUS has recently posted up official product pages of its upcoming Eee Top-series desktop PCs, the ET1602 and ET1603. The main difference between the two is the latter's use of an ATI Mobility Radeon HD3450 graphics card instead of the former's onboard Intel chipset paired with ASUS' Splendid Video Intelligence Technology for video processing. Aside from this, both share a 15.6-inch LCD touchscreen with a 16:9 aspect ratio, a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor and 1GB of RAM. Windows XP will be pre-loaded onto the 160GB hard disk drive, along with Eee Cinema, ASUS' multimedia center software. Wireless network access comes via an 802.11n Wi-Fi module.
Rogers today became the second North American carrier to pick up the BlackBerry Pearl Flip. The clamshell carries the same updated BlackBerry OS, two-megapixel camera and EDGE data of the stock Flip but takes advantage of its built-in Wi-Fi for Rogers' TalkSpot calling service, which like T-Mobile's HotSpot@Home bridges calls between GSM and Wi-Fi to save on calling time or to improve reception indoors. As always, the short-range wireless also serves as a faster alternative to EDGE for data.
A weekend report reveals a Japanese newspaper and news agency are reporting electronics maker Panasonic may buy majority stake in Sanyo Electric before 2009. While the news is unofficial, Sanyo has made a statement saying it is considering options of selling its preferred stock shares but is yet to make a decision. Panasonic's press release, meanwhile, simply reads the company has not made such an announcement, but nothing was yet decided in regards to the rumored purchase, confirming the two companies are in talks.
Dash Navigation announced on Monday that it will cease making it Dash Express GPS navigation devices for cars that include Web 2.0 services as part of a bigger company move to change its business model from a consumer-focused one to a business-to-business orientation. The company will instead sell licenses for use of its platform to other makers of automobile on-board navigation systems, smartphones and mobile Internet devices (MIDs), among other electronics. Earlier this summer, the company halved prices of its navigation units, which the company launched started selling near the beginning of the year for about $600.
First tests of Intel's new Core i7 processors released today are showing what's billed as "historic" speed increases over earlier Intel architecture. Benchmarks of the range-topping, 3.2GHz Core i7 Extreme along with the X58 mainboard neeed to support the chip show it surpassing even workstation-class Xeon processors, which are often Intel's fastest. In Geekbench for Windows, the quad-core i7 part reached a 7998 score, or about 7.7 percent higher than a dual-socket Xeon server.
Canadian cell carrier Fido is poised for an overhaul that will change its role in the market, a claim by purported sources of the Financial Post says. Under this new strategy, the Rogers sub-brand would more closely compete with Telus' Koodo, Bell's Solo and Virgin Mobile with an emphasis on lower-cost plans and a wider selection of phones than today's selection, which is partly a subset of Rogers' own lineup. Among other changes, the controversial $7 System Access Fee would be dropped to reduce the practical monthly rate.
Samsung on Monday announced it has released the RFG299 French Door Refrigerator with a 7-inch touchscreen LCD that not only allows users to control the refrigerator's temperature or monitor its water filter status, but also access integrated calendars, schedules, photos, nutrition facts and unit conversions. Apart from the built-in gadget, the fridge has the largest capacity of any standard-sized refrigerator with a French door design, at 28.5 cubic feet, Samsung claims. The company achieved a 14 percent bump in capacity compared to its older French door design by using high-rate urethane insulation technology to reduce the wall thickness.
Verizon may soon force its smartphone customers to spend more on data than has previously been required, an alleged leak indicates. A document states that as of November 14th, buyers of smartphones (and PDAs) will be expected to subscribe to a data plan worth at least $30 per month. This would eliminate several options the carrier currently supports, including a 10MB block, and the Pay As You Go plans, which enable incremental data charges.
Microsoft is allegedly planning to launch Windows 7 in the fall with a mobile bundle to drive sales, a rumor from the Register notes. Cellular retailer Carphone Warehouse is reportedly in the early stages of a deal for September or October next year that would give users both a copy of Windows 7 upon its launch as well as a free smartphone using Windows Mobile 7, which is also anticipated during the same year.
Nokia has started its week with the official launch of the N96 in the US. The black handset is the company's range-topping media phone and comes with both dedicated media controls on its two-way slider as well as 16GB of built-in storage and a microSDHC card slot to boost its storage further. It lacks support for the DVB-H TV tuner from Europe but continues to carry a five-megapixel camera with flash, true GPS, Wi-Fi and dual-band HSPA-based 3G that supplies faster mobile Internet access when on AT&T.
Sprint on Monday announced the addition of a new handset to its range, with the Katana Eclipse X flip-phone. The main change from the original Katana Eclipse handset includes Sprint's One Click interface that allows users to customize their home screen with one-touch access to their most often used applications. The Katana X also sports lighting effects that users can assign to certain callers, alerts and incoming messages.
Windows' online presence increased during the month of October at the expense of the Mac, new figures from Net Applications indicate. In tracking the prevalence of operating systems online, the company has determined that Windows' marketshare rose 0.19 percent to hit 90.46 in October, as a result of a 5.24 percent increase in the use of Windows Vista. Mac OS X's share in fact fell 0.24 percent during the month to reach 8.21, and while iPhone usage has continued growth and sits at 0.33 percent, the rate of expansion dropped to 3.12 percent versus the 6.67 percent achieved in September.
After a short teaser campaign, Alienware has revealed an upgrade to its M17 desktop replacement notebook that boosts its all-around performance. The 17-inch system can now go quad-core and has the option of a 2.53GHz Core 2 Extreme for those gamers who would prefer multi-thread performance over sheer clock speed; a 2.26GHz Core 2 Quad is also an option for less demanding tasks.
Vodafone UK's version of the BlackBerry Storm could beat Verizon's model to launch by a week or more, a tip sent to Pocket-lint suggests. Third-party reseller Phones4U claims it should start taking pre-orders for the touchscreen BlackBerry as early as Tuesday and will start shipping the device on Friday, substantially ahead of the November 16th date widely rumored for Verizon. Phones4U is reportedly the only third-party UK retailer allowed to sell the Storm outside of Vodafone.
Samsung today stepped up the quality of its flagship smartphone with the launch of the T*Omnia. A major upgrade to the original model released just in mid-year, the new version carries a slightly larger 3.3-inch LCD but with a much higher 800x480 resolution versus the earlier 400x200. The extra resolution helps both with Windows Mobile as well as with a new DMB TV tuner that gives it over-the-air digital TV in its native Korea. The size has increased slightly to fit the new display and hardware.
Navigon on Wednesday announced the release of the 5100 max personal navigation devices, spotted earlier this month at the FCC, along with the 2090S. Both units sport Navigon's newest software that can generate routes quicker and makes entering information faster and easier thanks to the company's SmartSpeller software. The 5100 max uses a 4.3-inch touchscreen display with a 16:9 aspect ratio that will display real-time traffic updates. Buyers get these updates for the life of the unit without having to pay any additional subscription fees or having to buy additional hardware.
Circuit City today confirmed a drastic step to save its retail business and says it will shutter 155 of its stores across the US as well as renegotiate its store licenses and curb its launches for new stores. The move leaves 566 stores and is said to target those locations that were unprofitable, particularly after marketing was involved. The shutdown takes effect quickly and will see closeout sales as early as November 5th.
Western Digital on Monday took its own turn at media hubs by introducing the HD TV Media Player. In place of using a network connection, the company is taking advantage of its skill with external storage to let users locally transfer content: users can attach up to two USB hard drives, certain portable media players or other devices (including the company's MyBook drives) and browse the contents of the drive with an on-screen menu and a bundled remote.
A group of "incensed shareholders" calling itself Save Sirius today said it was suing Sirius XM over allegedly profiteering at the expense of investors. The lawsuit, filed in a California Central District, Southern Division court, accuses the satellite radio provider of violating RICO anti-racketeering laws and the Sherman antitrust act through decisions relating to the Sirius and XM merger only completed earlier this year.
LG and Microsoft this morning said they have both signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a strategic link between the two companies in mobile devices. The deal will see the two companies team up in research and development of devices as well as the creation of apps, devices, and marketing campaigns. LG makes clear that the deal centers around Windows Mobile and will take advantage of Microsoft's software experience.
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