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Amazon this evening said in a statement that the Kindle 2's text-to-speech feature for reading audiobooks will be strictly voluntary. The move will let individual book publishers decide whether or not individual titles can be read aloud by the e-book device and will change the book formatting to selectively disable the feature for those that object to it. The change follows objections from the Author's Guild which argued that the feature effectively violated the commercial rights of authors to charge separately for voiced editions of their books.
Nokia's plans to offer Skype on its Nseries handsets has stirred conflict with several cellular carriers. O2 and Orange have reacted negatively to the suggestion of introducing VoIP services on the upcoming N97, according to Mobile. The disagreement could drive the carriers to reject consideration for the device altogether if Nokia does not pull the Skype client.
A large number of online retailers currently indicate a lack of availability for the high-end iMac, adding to the speculation of an upcoming product refresh, according to AppleInsider. Amazon, MacMall, MacConnection, Best Buy, OnSale and ClubMac were all sold out of the 3.06GHz model as of Friday, while Apple's own storefront doubled the shipping estimate. Although supply interruptions are not uncommon, Amazon appears to have permanently removed the corresponding product page which now leads to a dead end.
China's Gemei has recently unveiled its latest portable media player, the HD-660, which is capable of playing back HD videos on its 4.3-inch 480x272 widescreen display. The player can hold TransFlash cards with maximum capacities of 32GB and supports JPG, BMP and PNG image files, as well as RM, RMVB, AVI, FLV and MPEG video files. Audio playback consists of MP3, WMA and FLAC formats.
Wireless provider T-Mobile may offer the Sony Ericsson C905 handset with its 8.1-megapixel camera as soon as May, according to a recent rumor. The handset, which passed FCC testing late last year, features image stabilization, face detection and smart contrast adjustment features for the camera. There is a 16x digital zoom and users will be able to capture video at up 320x240 pixels at 30fps.
The One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project announced on Friday it is launching an internship program that will involve as many as 100 teams of university students distribute the XO laptops to children in Africa during the summer of 2009. Undergraduate and graduate students from around the world will be eligible to participate, with each student team receiving 100 XO laptops and related accessories as well as $10,000 to cover operating costs.
After releasing pricing information for its Studio XPS 435 desktop PC on Wednesday, Dell has also posted a new monitor ahead of its official release on its Canadian site, the 22-inch SX2210. It should offered as an option for the XPS 435 system as well as by itself. The widescreen display is capable of displaying 1080p images, and claims a dynamic contrast ratio of 1,000:1. Other specs include a 2ms pixel response time and 300cd/m2 brightness.
Epson Japan recently introduced a successor to its R-D1 rangefinder digital camera released back in 2004 with the R-D1xG. The new model retains the same 6.1-megapixel sensor and vintage look of the old camera but adds a larger 2.5-inch LCD compared to the old camera's 2-inch display. Likewise, the older model's SD memory card slot is now replaced with one compatible with the higher-capacity SDHC standard.
Notebook builders in the Taiwan area have reportedly said on Friday that Nokia is in the early stages of assembling partners for a possible entry into netbooks. The Finnish company is believed to be considering either Compal or Foxconn, both well-known contractors for notebooks, as likely manufacturing partners; it's also still debating whether it should use Intel's familiar Atom processor for the computer or else use the ARM-based Qualcomm Snapdragon, which would have 1080p video support that Atom currently lacks.
Speculation that Apple has been ordering large quantities of NAND flash memory and constraining global supplies has contributed to a recent surge in prices. An inSpectrum report claims that the mainstream 16GB multi-level cell (MLC) components appreciated over 40 percent through February. The spot price has jumped by eight percent just in the past week, following reports suggesting that preparations for the next-generation iPhone were reducing inventory levels for the memory modules.
ASUS has recently added the Eee Box 206 model to its Eee Box range of small form factor desktop PCs, this one capable of delivering high-definition movies thanks to its HDMI output and integrated graphics chipset, though ASUS is not being specific on manufacturer, model number nor any other specs. Like other multimedia PCs, the Eee Box 206 ships with a remote control and dedicated software, in this case the Eee Cinema media player.
Nokia's US launch of the 5800 XpressMusic may have been marred by one if not two significant manufacturing glitches. Multiple reports coming in to BGR report that versions of the company's first touchscreen phone sold at its Chicago and New York flagship stores are being returned in large numbers after some models refuse to get any sort of signal. The issue isn't consistent and only appears to affect the new North America Model (NAM) versions with 3G support for AT&T and Rogers.
Canadian wireless provider Bell has recently began offering the BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8230, becoming the first carrier in the world to offer the new handset, which comes with a GPS sensors instead of the 8220's Wi-Fi module and an expected switch to CDMA with EVDO for 3G data. The handset is priced at just $30 (CAD) when buyers opt for a three-year contract that includes a minimum $45 per month voice and data plan. The offer is valid until March 12th. Otherwise, buyers can buy the handset on a two-year term for $350 or one-year for $450. Contract-free, it costs nearly $500.
TRENDnet has released the TEW-664UB, a dual-band Wireless-N USB adapter that supports transfer speeds up to 300Mbps. The device can be used on either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency bands, including 802.11b, 802.11g or 802.11n networks. The antenna offers Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology and the company claims a coverage area of up to 50 meters indoors or 100 meters outdoors. Data communication can also be protected by 128-bit WEP or WPA encryption.
The Taiwan-area newspaper Commercial Times claims today that ASUS is in the middle of developing a netbook that would be even higher end than the existing S101. Nicknamed the Eee PC Shell, the 10-inch system would have some form of "higher specification" than the current designer model and would be simultaneously more portable as well as longer-lasting than the existing mini notebook. Target pricing for the Shell would reportedly hover between the equivalents of $486 and $571, or about $100 to $150 more than a typical 10-inch system.
Sony is expected to reveal a new, high-feature digital camera at next week's PMA 2009 show, the CyberShot DSC-HX1, says a Thursday report. While Sony is keeping mum, the Internet is rife with rumors of the flagship shooter, which is expected to be capable of recording video in 1080p high-definition just like Nikon's and Canon's latest digital SLRs along with higher-quality sound. There is also said to be a 9-megapixel CMOS sensor, a 20X zoom and a 10fps burst mode with a buffer of 100, although it's not known whether this is at full resolution.
Hearst is in the middle of developing its own e-book reader, claim industry sources cited by Fortune. The publishing monolith is said to be interested in producing a reader mainly as a way of offsetting the costs of ink, printing and delivery, which can no longer be compensated for through ad and subscription revenue. Sources say that the reader will be sold to other publishers, who in turn will have to share revenue from magazines and newspapers crated under the Hearst banner, such as Esquire and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Psion today responded to challenges by Dell and Intel over its trademark on the term "netbook" by claiming that the computers are still sold. A company spokesperson acknowledges to jkOnTheRun that actual manufacturing of the Netbook Pro has stopped but that sales are still ongoing and would thus show that Psion continues to depend on the trademark of its system for commercial success.
Japan's biggest wireless provider, NTT DoCoMo, has stopped sales of Research In Motion's BlackBerry Bold because some of the phones overheat while being recharged, a Friday report says. Of the 4,000 Bolds sold in Japan, the provider received 30 complaints saying the keyboard area heats up, though there are no reports of fires or fingers being burned. RIM said the issue is only prevalent in the Japan-bound devices, as the handsets sold in the country are unique quad-band 3G handsets with an extra 800MHz HSPA band.
Sony PSP marketing director John Koller late Thursday partly fueled speculation in an interview that the company may update the PSP while deemphasizing the company's proprietary UMD disc format. Responding to a rumor from Acclaim's Dave Perry that a PSP2 was in the works without the drive, Koller downplays the possibility of "wholesale shifts" in the hybrid game/media device's design but, uncharacteristically for Sony, refuses to either confirm or deny the existence of a new model and instead drops hints of relying on Internet downloads much more heavily in the future.
ASUS on Friday launched the P835 as its new, range-topping touchscreen smartphone and one of its first more conspicuous challengers to the iPhone. The phone depends on a 3.5-inch, 800x480 touchscreen but also adds a BlackBerry-like trackball for one-handed navigation and quicker scrolling. ASUS bases the phone on Windows Mobile 6.1 but tries to get around interface limitations by implementing a new version of its in-house Glide interface which is believed easier to use and also more visually appealing. Opera Mobile also gives the P835 fuller HTML support than Microsoft's default Internet Explorer browser.
Having just released the Kindle 2, Amazon may release a second model this year with the company's first-ever touchscreen display, Digitimes claims through its market contacts. PVI, the maker of the current Kindle's 6-inch e-paper display, is reportedly gearing up to make a version of the reader with a larger, touch-enabled display. The new reader would potentially arrive sooner than the second-generation did and may be ready by the end of 2009.
Bell Canada today outpaced Sprint by becoming the first North American carrier to pick up the Palm Treo Pro. The Windows Mobile 6.1 phone switches from the GSM and HSPA of the original model to CDMA and EVDO-based 3G. In Bell guise, the phone's built-in GPS is also used for the carrier's own subscription navigation service while also supporting Bell's Full Track Music store, IM chat and YouTube viewing.
Sony on Friday continued efforts to improve its business and said (registration required) that it would launch a major reorganization of its electronics groups. Under the new plan, company CEO Sir Howard Stringer will also become president of the electronics business; simultaneously, the company's key PlayStation, VAIO and Walkman divisions will be united. The moves take effect at the start of April and put current electronics president Ryoji Chubachi in a vice chairman position, while consumer products VP Katsumi Ihara leaves his position and will instead have just a board position at Sony's financial group.
Samsung has finished out its week by launching the NC20. Like its Inspiron Mini 12 rival at dell, the Samsung system is a crossover between netbooks and fuller-size systems and centers on a 12-inch, 1280x800 display that also affords a full-size keyboard and trackpad. Samsung, however, opts out of Intel chips for a 1.3GHz VIA Nano processor and its matching integrated graphics chipset; the move gives the system a claimed 6.5 hours of battery on a stock 6-cell battery pack.
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