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AMD marked the start of CES with the formal debut of the Phenom II, its first mainstream 45 nanometer processor. The upgrade is based on the same core "Shanghai" architecture as recent Opterons and gives a roughly 20 percent speed boost over the previous-best 2.6GHz chip through changes that involve an optimized design with more instructions handled per clock, 4MB of total extra cache, and support for up to the same 1,333MHz DDR3 memory as rival systems from Intel. The design is also now much more tolerant of high clock speeds and will run up to 3GHz in stock trim.
OWC has announced its latest Mercury Rack Pro Quad-Interface four-bay Rack Mount Hardware RAID at Macworld Expo (booth S-2218). Designed for audio/video production and data/network operation centers, the quad interface RAID storage server supports up to four 2TB 3.5-inch SATA I/II hard disk drives providing a maximum of 8TB total storage and works with FireWire 800/400, USB2, and eSATA. Simple configuration of the hardware RAID settings is possible through the rear panel selector switch, enabling either mirror or stripe RAID functions without using software.
OQO in a late-night announcement revealed the model 02+, a significant revamp of its veteran UMPC. The new version is said to be the first ever PC to have an OLED display and, as a result, has a much more colorful, 1,000,000:1 contrast touchscreen that is also more visible outdoors. Without the need for a backlight, it also improves battery life. OQO claims that, in tandem with changes underneath, the 02+ lasts about 20 percent longer with 3.5 hours of use on a normal battery and 7 hours from an extended pack. It also accepts both finger and stylus input.
Microsoft helped open CES on Wednesday night with an introductory keynote. We were at the event and and provided live information plus photos as they became available; Microsoft in particular provided details of a Windows 7 beta for the public. Click through for the events in reverse chronological order (all times are Eastern).
Samsung on Wednesday overhauled its TV range with both altogether new models as well as updates to existing sets. At the top, the new 6000, 7000 and 8000 series LCD sets are all dependent on LED backlights and so have much higher contrast ratios than fluorescent-lit TVs; Samsung hasn't published numbers but in previous generations has managed 1,000,000:1. They all also have built-in Internet access and, on the 7000 and 8000 models, use the new Internet@TV service to access content news and media from Yahoo, including Flickr, as well as YouTube streaming videos. 6000 models get Samsung's InfoLink service that supplies news through RSS feeds.
Just ahead of CES, Sony took the opportunity to unveil two new cameras designed to capture and upload MP4 video and photos directly to the Web. The MHS-CM1 and MHS-PM1 Webbie HD cameras capture high-definition video (1440x1080/30p) and 5-megapixel still photos and automatically connect to websites via USB connection to your PC> The software makes it possible to quickly upload content online in a few simple clicks. Sony offers two portable designs in three colors---eggplant, orange and silver.
At its CES press conference on Wednesday and a day ahead of the show's official opening day, Panasonic North America's CEO Yoshi Yamada announced the company will work on integrating a 3D HD 1080p standard for TVs, kicking off with a 3D Blu-ray disc by 2010. To reach the goal, the company is working with Hollywood film producer James Cameron who is using Panasonic's specialized gear to film his upcoming blockbuster, Avatar, using the 3D HD tech. The company announced it will also launch its Panasonic Hollywood Advanced Authoring Center (PHL-AC) on February 1st.
As part of its CES campaign, Sony on Wednesday updated the Walkman line with two models that enter uncharted territory for the company. The Walkman NWZ-X1000 is its first touchscreen media player in North America and aims squarely at the same field as Apple's iPod touch or the Samsung P3. The player claims a much more vivid picture through a 3-inch OLED touchscreen which is both more color-rich and quicker to respond than LCDs. Sony also asserts that the X series is easier to control as it has hardware side controls that can be used in addition to finger input.
Sony tonight at its CES pre-show conference unveiled its long-expected VAIO P. The frequently leaked device is Sony's approach to netbooks but also explicitly takes on tablets and smartphones through a unique, extra-long design with an 8-inch 1600x768 screen and pointer-only mouse control: the system is small enough to fit in many pockets, Sony claims. The wide design has the side benefit of giving the mini PC a much larger keyboard than most systems its size.
Griffin Technology has launched its latest audio offerings at Macworld with the SmartTalk Bluetooth headset. Equipped with dual-microphones in the earpiece, the device compares sounds between the two microphones to figure out what is the user's voice and what's background noise. This helps the headset filter out any unwanted background and wind noise to provide better quality sound for the listener. With the in-ear fit and sound isolation capabilities, users are also expected to receive improved inbound audio clarity.
Samsung today also unveiled a new widescreen portable multimedia player: the P3 leverages the company's EmoTure interface with true haptic feedback. On display at CES (Booth No. 11033), the slim media player is made of reinforced die-cast metal (to prevent fingerprints and scratching) and sports a 3-inch WQVGA TFT-LCD touch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Confirming a previous leak, Samsung's upgraded EmoTure touch interface with true haptic feedback offers a variety of physical feedback sensations on every command gesture -- from swiping a finger across the screen, to switching audio tracks, to holding down a digital button for fast-forwarding video. In addition, the new Music Hot Touch Key, located just below the touch screen, allows users to instantly access favorite music features and selections without needing to cycle through multiple menus.
Samsung has launched a multi-tier approach to CES that includes the third generation of its Blu-ray players. The BD-P4600 is the company's first player to show the "touch of color" design trait and is designed primarily for thinness: at 1.5 inches thick, the player can not only better fit into some AV racks but can be wall-mounted or placed on an angled stand. It also offers subtler touch-sensitive controls and the full Blu-ray Profile 2.0 feature set with Internet access through either Ethernet or a bundled 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter.
LaCie has begun selling the LaCinema Classic, a new hard drive intended to serve as a media streamer for TVs. Users first connect the drive to a Windows, Mac or Linux system via USB, where they load the Classic with music, photo and video files; supported formats include JPEG images, MP3 or WMA audio, and DivX, XviD or MPEG-4 AVI video. A variety of subtitle files can be used as well. Once the files have been copied, the drive can be connected to a TV, where media can be browsed with a remote.
Sharp today joined its rivals in updating its TVs by introducing three key new ranges to its AQUOS models. Leading the group is the BD series, one of the few HDTV lines to include a built-in Blu-ray player. The feature not only lets owners play HD movies without occupying an HDMI port but is also designed to be much more automated than a typical home theater: inserting a Blu-ray movie automatically activates the TV and begins playback.
Samsung at CES unveiled several products including new LED TVs, Blu-ray players, an SSD camcorder, MP3 player and a point-and-shoot camera that also records HD video. The LED TVs include the 8000, 7000 and 6000 series, each featuring high contrast ratios, refresh rates between 120Hz and 240Hz, and power consumption claimed to be 40 percent less than comparable LCD models. The flagship model is slightly over an inch thick and can be mounted just .6 inches away from the wall.
NETGEAR is using CES to announce several new products, beginning with new routers. The WNDR3700 is an 802.11n dual-band router, supporting both 2.4 and 5GHz frequencies. It is additionally equipped with gigabit Ethernet ports, and a USB port intended to connect network storage. Connection stability is enhanced by the presence of eight antennas. The DGND3300 is another dual-band 802.11n router, but whose main features include twin (NAT and SPI) firewalls and the ability to serve as a repeater.
Casio today upgraded its Exilim cameras with the first two point-and-shoot cameras ever to shoot at extremely high frame rates. The EX-FC100 and EX-FS10 both take conventional pictures at 9 megapixels but have a new imaging engine that can record lower-resolution videos at up to 1,000 frames per second, allowing extremely slow motion footage despite the cameras' compact footprints. They can also step down to 6 megapixels to burst shoot at 30 frames per second and will record 720p movies at the same speed.
JVC on Wednesday gave its Everio camcorders a complete makeover for the new year. The HD line revolves around a 3-megapixel CMOS sensor that captures a native 1080p, 60 frames per second signal and includes a new image processing engine that records at up to the full 24Mbps bitrate of AVCHD and offers face detection while still consuming about 30 percent less power. The HM200 uses only SDHC cards for storage while the HD300 and HD320 models carry 60GB and 120GB hard drives for much more capacity. These last two also have both SDHC and microSDHC card slots to offload their content.
Electronics builder Memorex has announced a collection of new audio-video systems, generally focused around support for Apple handhelds. The Mi9490P is nominally a slot-loading CD player with an FM radio, but also features a dock on top which supports both iPods and iPhones. Output is rated at 30W, and the stereo also features an LCD with track display and adjustable equalizer settings. A related system is the Mi4290P, an alarm clock. Though it drops the CD player and equalizer, and is capable of just 10W of output, the clock retains an FM tuner and LCD display along with support for iPods and iPhones. Dual alarms allow couples to wake at different times.
Toshiba this afternoon outed its CES offerings and centered them on its TVs. The Japanese firm says it has produced the first prototypes of TVs that use a Cell processor to handle its image processing. The performance of the chip, which is already shared with the PlayStation 3, is strong enough to handle very high resolution video processing but can also encode live HD and easily handle network video streaming. An example 55-inch set can not only play 4K (3840x2160) resolution video but upscale 1080p footage to the higher resolution while reducing the amount of noise and other artifacts.
LG today made its 2009 HDTV range known and is centering its advances both on sheer image quality and on turning its TVs into full-fledged media hubs. The 55LHX is LG's thinnest TV ever and uses a combination of a breakout box and LED backlighting to reduce the set to just one inch thick. The illumination on the set is also advanced even compared to other LED-lit sets and produces a 2,000,000:1 claimed contrast ratio. It equally delivers a fast 240Hz panel that should eliminate motion jitter and holds four HDMI ports with Deep Color as well as a USB port for viewing content from external storage.
NewerTech has announced two new products at Macworld Expo: Voyager Q Hard Drive Docking Base and NuCube (booth S-2322). Voyager Q is a docking platform for any standard 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch SATA I/II hard drive (up to 2TB capacity) that includes four interfaces for users to choose from: FireWire 800, FireWire 400, USB 2.0, and eSATA. The NuCube features a thick 3/8-inch clear acrylic case for the Mac Mini that holds the device in a vertical position and is equipped with non-skid rubber feet, to help keep it in place. Heat tested to insure the mini stays cooler while vertical; the case offers full access to the CD-ROM drive slot and rear ports.
JVC on Wednesday rolled out the second wave of its TeleDock hybrid TVs as well as a raft of conventional mid-size sets. The 42- and 46-inch P500, as well as the 32-, 42- and 46-inch P300 all improve the TeleDock formula by significantly expanding the functions of the built-in iPod dock. Apple devices connected to the TV can now show their music and video title and other information directly on the screen and can play music even while watching regular TV content or browsing media stored on the set's TV port.
The SD Association today revealed first details of SDXC (Secure Digital Extended Capacity), its sequel to the current SDHC standard for flash cards. The format uses the exFAT file system to dramatically increase the maximum storage space from the arbitrary 32GB of SDHC to a full 2TB and would be enough to hold roughly 4,000 RAW photos or 60 hours of HD footage. Notably, the format also no longer sacrifies speed in the process, according to the organization. Unlike SDHC and other card formats, the fastest speeds should be possible even at the 2TB limit.
T-Mobile today became the first American carrier to pick up the BlackBerry Curve 8900. The full-QWERTY smartphone is the same as the stock version already reviewed here but switches to supporting T-Mobile's HotSpot Calling service for its UMA feature, which lets it make calls on its built-in Wi-Fi and bridge these seamlessly to the GSM phone network and back. It also adds hooks for the company's myFaves calling service and comes bundled with a 256MB microSD card.
iLuv has announced the latest in its line of Portable Multimedia Players for iPod and DVDs, the i1166 9-inch. Complete with a docking station for the iPod that charges the device while providing full remote control, the i1166 also offers video output for TV connectivity, and compatibility with DivX videos. Display functions are offered to allow multiple subtitle, angle, and audio options, plus a fast motion playback and zoom operation.
VIZIO today launched itself into the high-end TV sphere in earnest with a CES lineup that includes features still rare among higher-end brands. The 55-inch VF551XVT is the HDTV maker's first set to carry an LED backlight and uses the technology's local dimming to produce an effective 1,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, giving it deeper blacks closer to better plasma TVs. It also uses a 120Hz panel that maintains detail in fast movement and has five HDMI ports. VIZIO expects a release during the summer for $2,000.
Garmin chose Wednesday to reveal its full slate for CES and led off with a new top-end model for its nuvi GPS units. The 4.3-inch widescreen navigator updates the 880 with a lane assist mode that also includes a junction view: drivers are not only told which lane to use for the next change but also shown the layout to properly follow through the next exit or intersection. It further brings an upgraded set of MSN Direct data services and now lets owners check their airport flight status as well as more detailed weather with Doppler maps, better movie listings, local events and the option of sending maps and routes from a computer.
Toshiba SDD has launched the latest in its personal storage devices with the 500GB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive. Designed to be USB powered only, and complete with an internal shock sensor and ramp loading technology for drive and data protection, users can store files, music, video, or any form of digital memory. Capacity for the device theoretically provides storage for either 142,000 digital photos, 131,000 digital music files, 222 of DVD-quality video, or 58 hours of HD video. The hard drive also contains pre-installed NTI Shadow software to allow backups to start automatically while running in the background.
Dell today held an early, low-key launch for its promised Studio XPS notebooks. The 13-inch Studio XPS 13 and 16-inch Studio XPS 16 are both treated as Dell's new upscale competition against the MacBook and come with a new black-and-silver trim as well as new, edge-to-edge display and a revamped keyboard unlike the company's other models.
Apple may be turning to Broadcom for the cellular hardware in future iPhone models, say Taiwan-area manufacturers allegedly aware of the changes. Although the company currently uses Infineon chips for the phone's core functions, the insiders claim to have seen circuit boards for either revised or future iPhones with unnamed Broadcom parts for the cellular baseband and RF functions. The swap could suggest a partial or complete replacement of Infineon for the next wave of Apple's devices.
SanDisk continued its CES news on Wednesday with word of updates to its Mobile Ultra cards. The company now has 16GB versions of both its microSDHC and Memory Stick Micro cards that double the company's previous best capacity without sacrificing performance. Faster transfer speeds let them support higher-resolution video capture, live GPS and other features that sometimes bog down with more basic mobile storage.
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