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What sounds like a frivolous lawsuit was filed in a California court at the start of this year against retail giant Walmart and online video rental company Netflix. The lawsuit alleges that, by letting Netflix take over its struggling online DVD rental business nearly four years ago, the two companies have created a monopoly and have driven Blockbuster to raise its subscription rental prices by $3 to match Netflix' pricing scheme.
For one day only, Friday, January 16th, the maker of Peek device is offering the hardware along with a lifetime subscription that allows sending and receiving e-mails as well as text messages for nearly $300. Before this limited-time offer, the Peek cost just shy of $100 and a monthly subscription to the mobile data service that would allow users to receive and send e-mails that cost $20.
While at the debut of the Palm Pre smartphone at CES, one of the things the company kept under the radar was the battery specs. On Thursday, the company revealed the device's battery looks identical to the one used in the current Palm Centro and Palm Treo 800w, potentially giving it the same 1,150mAh rating. There is also the possibility the new smartphone will have a 1,350mAh power pack, just like the extended battery used in the Centro and 800w. Another report has the battery listed at 1,200mAh, so the final rating is still up in the air.
At CES, automotive car audio hardware manufacturer Blaupunkt and Australian-based Internet radio website miRoamer, showed off what they call is the world's first Internet radio-capable head unit for vehicles. The challenge of getting an Internet connection in a moving car is solved by relying on a Bluetooth-connected, data-enabled cellular phone. The phone connects to miRoamer and has access to more than 16,000 stations from around the world.
Phidgets has launched its 1019 PhidgetInterfaceKit 8/8/8 w/6 Port Hub for USB sensing and control, to provide a way for users to interface their computer with various devices that aren't already set to recognize the input. Featuring eight analog inputs, eight digital inputs with hardware noise filtering, and eight digital outputs, the device also comes with six on-board USB ports, each with a maximum current supply of 500mA.
Alleged sources have claimed late yesterday that Sony may have sabotaged plans for its Sony Ericsson partnership to make a PlayStation-branded phone. The electronics firm is said to have directly denied Sony Ericsson's requests in December to use the PlayStation brand and that it would only ever produce a PlayStation phone if the device was made by Sony itself. The statement is characterized as distancing Sony from its relationship with Ericsson.
At the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) expo, Akai showed the APC40 MIDI control surface it has developed in conjunction with Ableton, making it the first such device to be ready to run out of the box with the Ableton Live music editing software. As there is no need to load drivers, users simply plug in their notebooks via a USB port and can begin mixing or otherwise modifying their music using Ableton Live. The APC40 is being touted as the simplest, most direct hardware interface with the popular software, yet still allows advanced users to assign the board's 40 buttons, knobs and fader controls to any virtual controls in the software.
Microsoft recently provided testers with the alpha builds of its latest work suite, Office 14; as a result, screenshots have been leaked to the public, a report indicates. The images are specifically attributed to a Russian tester from wzor.net, and list a host of applications: Access 14, Excel 14, Groove 14, InfoPath Designer 14, InfoPath Filler 14, InterConnect 14, Outlook 14, OneNote 14, PowerPoint 14, Project 14, Publisher 14, Visio 14, Word 14 and SharePoint Designer 14.
Microsoft today said it has received a Statement of Objection from the European Commission that finds the software developer has violated European competition law by tying Internet Explorer to Windows. Though preliminary, the message tells Microsoft that the forced bundling is unfairly excluding competitors from Windows PCs. It adds that the changes made to open competition as the result of a US antitrust ruling in 2002, such as letting PC vendors bundle non-IE browsers and change defaults, aren't enough to avoid violating European law.
In its third round of recent cutbacks and job cuts, computer chipmaker AMD will cut 9 percent of its global workforce, amounting to about 1,100 jobs, and lower the pay of existing employees, according to a Friday report. The company announced today 900 workers will be cut, while the remaining 200 or so are a result of attrition and the sale of AMD's business unit. Existing employees will suffer what are called temporary pay cuts, with CEO Dirk Meyer and executive chairman Hector Ruiz getting 20 percent lopped off their salary, while vice presidents and other top management get 15 percent reductions. Salaried workers will make 10 percent less, with hourly workers getting a 5 percent wage cut.
Nintendo late Thursday claimed an industry record by pointing to NPD Group data revealing that it sold 10.17 million Wii systems in the US for 2008, making it the first video game system of any kind to crack the 10 million mark. The achievement tops Nintendo's own previous best of 8.52 million for the Nintendo DS in 2007; the handheld itself topped the older record this year with 9.95 million trading hands. The console creator further observes that about 132 million games were sold just for its platforms in the same year.
According to a Friday report, HP will soon launch more model to add to its Mini family of netbooks. Most recently, the computer maker launched the Mini 2140 at CES, which replaces the Mini 2100 and brings with it an Intel Atom chip instead of a VIA C7-M as well as bumps up the screen size to 10.1 inches from 8.9. The report claims a Mini-note 2150 is the next model due for release, adding integrated 3G data network access to the specs.
MVNO carrier Helio may ship its second Ocean smartphone as early as February, according to a company representative. The phone is at least due this quarter, which would put a release date no further than the end of March. The current Ocean is Helio's signature phone, a messaging device with many iPhone-like features such as a YouTube client and a built-in GPS receiver. The Ocean 2 is expected to have similar features, such as a microSD slot and a two-megapixel camera with flash.
Circuit City today revealed that it has decided to liquidate all its assets and effectively shut down the company. The retailer says the move comes after it was unable to strike a deal with its creditors and other moneylenders to fund the company's business following its move for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November, which gave it an opportunity to reorganize its business. It also warns that there is unlikely to be enough money left from selling its stores and other resources to pay equity holders.
Intel could push back the formal launch of its mainstream, desktop Core i7 processors by at least a month, say claims from mainboard producers. Chips based on the quad-core Lynnfield design, which are expected to bring Core i7 below its current high-end focus, are reportedly now being pushed back from late July to at least late August along with the P55 mainboard chipset meant to run it. Poor economic conditions are said to have created significant overstock problems that will require mainboard firms to continue selling existing hardware for longer.
Sanyo on Friday announced the upcoming release of what it says is the brightest projector in its class, the dual-lamp PLC-XF71, rated at 10,000 lumens. It has a native resolution of 1024x768, and sports a 3,000:1 contrast ratio. To keep the light output uniform from the two lamps, Sanyo uses a three-mirror system that at the same time is said to reduce color irregularities. The 4:3 aspect ratio professional-grade projector has Sanyo's in-house Durable Inorganic Optical System (DIOS) that has heat- and UV-resistant optical components to keep it running longer.
Samsung this morning said it would take the major step of reorganizing itself into two major divisions in a bid to improve its competitiveness. The Korean electronics giant says it will divide itself into a consumer group, which will produce the company's fully-assembled products such as appliances and cellphones, as well as a second group for its strictly part-related businesses such as displays and flash memory.
Australia's Kogan on Friday delayed its Agora smartphones for an indefinite amount of time due to a conflict between their designs and Google's Android mobile operating system. Company namesake Ruslan Kogan explains that production had just started but that Android's standards for app resolutions may render a significant number of apps incompatible with the resolution of the Agora's 2.5-inch screen. Redesigning the phone is necessary to avoid unnecessarily limiting users, Kogan says.
Sony Ericsson finished its week on a low note with word of significant declines in the last quarter of 2008. The cellphone maker reports having shipped 24.2 million phones in the three-month span, a 6.2 percent drop versus the summer and a 27.3 percent plunge versus the same period a year ago. Its phone shipments for the year also registered a decline and fell to 96.6 million phones for all of 2008 compared to 103.4 million in 2007.
Panasonic on Friday stepped out of its usual update schedules with three new Lumix pocket cameras that all add live autofocus tracking absent in most previous models. The leading model, the 12-megapixel FS15, can not only use this to maintain focus even as the subject moves but has a new auto-exposure function to avoid blowing out highlights or to bring out detail in darkened areas. The FS15's 29mm wide-angle lens also contributes to a better image and comes optically stabilized and with a 5X zoom.
Native Instruments had announced two of its latest products, the Guitar Rig Mobile and the Audio 4 DJ. Guitar Rig Mobile is a portable bus-powered USB 2 audio interface. The device is equipped with a selection of three amps, 12 speaker cabinets, and effects from its Guitar Rig 3 LE modeling software including time-based, distortion and overdrive, modulation, and filter effects. Roughly the size of a cigarette box, the interface contains 24bit/192 kHz Cirrus Logic converters. Amps provided are Twang Reverb for the sound of classic amps, Bass Pro to deliver a more gritty sound, and Lead 800 which gives lead sounds with flexibility options.
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