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Amazon MP3 and Walmart weren't immune to pressure for variable song pricing and today started quietly charging higher prices for popular songs. In particular, about 10 of the top 100 songs on Amazon now meet the same $1.29 prices as similar tracks on iTunes, including recent Beyonce, Britney Spears and The Fray songs. Walmart's store, in turn, is now charging $1.24 per song for some titles and has a section dedicated to tracks at the higher price, most of which have been long-term hits rather than just recent releases.
Acer tonight launched a slew of systems that include the first desktop based on NVIDIA's Ion graphics and system controller platform. The AspireRevo is based on a low-performance, low-cost 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor but draws on the 9400M-based graphics to run apps and content that are ordinarily impossible on Intel's reference hardware. Built-in decoding lets it play 1080p video at a full frame rate and even play some modern games at reasonable performance, such as Call of Duty 4 or SimCity 4.
Acer has introduced its latest all-in-one computer systems, the eMachines EZ1600 and the Aspire Z5600, according to Engadget. The EZ1600 features an 18.5-inch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio, with support for 720p video resolution. The device uses an Atom N270 processor paired with the 945GSE chipset, along with a 160GB hard drive, DVD burner and Wi-Fi. Two slots are available for SO DIMM memory, while color options will include silver and black.
Sanyo announced on Tuesday that it has added the PLC-WXE45 LCD projector to its broad lineup, intending it for classroom use as it has both a short throw range and networking capabilities. The WXE45 can create an 80-inch image from a distance of 34 inches away at a native 1280x800 resolution and in a 16:10 aspect ratio. A network interface lets the PLC-WXE45 integrate with wired networks, letting users or IT administrators oversee its functionality remotely. The unit can be set up to send out e-mail that reports its operating status.
Chinese cellphone maker Huawei will reportedly supply wireless provider T-Mobile with its third handset running on the Google-developed Android operating system in the second half of this year. The handset, thus far called the G3, is expected to be the lowest-priced Android phone from the carrier and come equipped with a five-megapixel camera, 3mm headphone jack and a Wi-Fi connection.
Canada's Telus is now offering the Palm Treo Pro smartphone, the handset maker announced on Monday, and has also recently added the Samsung Omnia handset to its lineup. The Treo Pro is being touted as an ideal handset for business professionals, as the 320x320 pixel touchscreen-and-QWERTY handset runs on Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, has integrated Wi-Fi and 3G data network support through EVDO. Its keyboard has dedicated shortcut keys to the e-mail client and calendar.
The Samsung Impression handset that was being demonstrated at the CTIA show in Las Vegas last week and has officially become the first commercially available handset to be offered in North America with an AMOLED touchscreen, as AT&T is now offering the device for just short of $200. From our hands-on experience with the phone, we can say its 3.2-inch display sports impressive color accuracy and peerless black level reproduction. The device has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and includes a 3-megapixel camera.
The Reading Rights Coalition today staged a counter-protest in New York City against the Authors' Guild for its resistance to text-to-speech conversion for books. The group accuses the Guild of discriminating against the blind by pushing Amazon to partly disable a Kindle 2 feature that automatically speaks out books, letting authors disable the feature. By making TTS only optional, the Guild is allegedly preventing the blind and poor-sighted from having equal access to books and simultaneously punishing them by making them go through special channels to get audio versions.
Wireless provider MetroPCS announced on Tuesday that it will soon offer a GroupLINE service, allowing users to get rid of their wired home lines in favor of a flat-rate, contract-free wireless service. GroupLINE will allow as many as five MetroPCS Family Plan subscribers to receive calls on one shared main line that will ring all of the subscribers simultaneously, like a home number would. They still retain their regular mobile numbers, however. A shared voicemail can also be accessed by all users on the plan.
High-speed solid-state drive maker Fusion-io today marked the occasion of getting $47.5 million in extra funding by providing early details about a new storage device. The ioSAN (Storage Area Network) will borrow the same concept of a PCI Express drive with multiple SSDs in a RAID stripe but put it on a local network, theoretically giving the benefits of the extra-quick read and write times as quickly as the network allows. It's unknown if it would use Ethernet or else a faster but more exotic networking method like Fiber Channel.
BFGTech at mid-day updated its Phobos gaming PC to give it better performance at the base level and to improve its storage options. The stock Performance Edition system now comes with dual GeForce GTX 275 cards instead of a single GeForce GTX 295. BFG argues that the clock speeds of the single-chip discrete cards when combined in SLI are faster than the dual-chip 295 without hurting the price.
A new rumor today from PocketGamer appears to corroborate claims that Sony is developing a touchscreen PSP to replace the existing model. Echoing recent descriptions, a developer purportedly says the device would purportedly look "far more similar" to the iPhone but would have a slider design that tucks the control pads behind the screen when not in use. The feature would let developers write touchscreen-centric games but add support for both older PSP games and those that could use a new, second analog stick.
Making companions for its phone launches today, Sony Ericsson has unveiled a pair of audio accessories. The VH300 (shown) is a universal, entry-level Bluetooth hands-free speaker that includes a single earbud and a clip-on controller. The move away from a conventional earpiece both gives it a lengthier 10-hour talk time and also lets wearers with glasses wear a headset more comfortably. It works with most phones and should ship in the summer.
Camera buyers should not expect to see OLED displays on any of Canon's cameras in the near future, according to company technical adviser Chuck Westfall. Although the company demonstrated an EOS-5D with an OLED display in 2005, the technology is still said to be in development, and only partly out of a desire to improve performance. "I can't give you a timeline today, but we're a whole lot closer now," says Westfall. The major issue is said to be manufacturing, as the company only purchased a factory for OLED creation in 2008, and it needs to escalate infrastructure in order to handle the sheer number of screens needed.
A breakdown of new cities in the US that will get high-speed 3G network coverage this year from wireless provider T-Mobile has been leaked on Monday. The screenshot reveals that, for example, T-Mobile subscribers in Shreveport, Los Angeles and Lubbock and Wichita Falls, Texas, will get the service this month, while three more big cities in Texas as well as Springfield and Rockford in Illinois will get the upgraded service in May.
Japan's AU KDDI recently created a new brand, iida, which is meant to appeal to fashion-conscious customers. One of the first products to be released under the brand is a new Sony Ericsson slider known as the G9. The handset sports a 1Seg TV tuner built into its stainless steel body, which is coated with a thin coating of titanium compound. Unlike AU KDDI's other phones, the G9 supports both CDMA 1X and GSM networks. Apart from this, a few exterior changes as well as a different display and camera, the G9 is similar to Sony Ericsson's Cyber-shot S001 handset.
The Beatles on Tuesday confirmed plans to launch remastered CD versions of their catalog in time with their first digital-only video game release through the Rock Band series. The reworkings are claimed to be the best quality since the originals and each include a QuickTime video documentary about the making of their given albums. A separate collection will include the original mono mixes where they existed.
Microsoft will revamp its Zune hardware for 2009, the media player division's marketing manager Brian Seitz said early Tuesday through Twitter. He doesn't provide details but makes clear this year's update will be more significant than the fall 2008 refresh, which simply increased storage capacity and added firmware support for buying songs over Wi-Fi. The core design has remained unchanged since November 2007.
The Australian government today set out to improve the country's Internet access by unveiling a plan to roll out a nationwide, fiber-to-the-home Internet service. The network would provide 100Mbps access to about 90 percent of the country's population and would reach the remaining 10 percent through long-range wireless. Completing the network will take about 8 years and a cost of as much as $43 billion AUD ($30.6 billion US) over that period.
Hot on the heels of Sony Ericsson's release of a couple of entry-level handsets at CTIA comes news of the company's Idou smartphone ship dates. A Sony Ericsson rep from Germany was cited as the source of the news, according to Swedish site Mobil, and has the touchscreen handset launching in October with a fallback date planned for sometime in November. Sony Ericsson Sweden would only go on record as saying the Idou will ship sometime in the second half of the year.
Data Robotics this morning chased after more than just individual users with the DroboPro. The external array now has 8 SATA bays and can carry as much as 16TB of storage using current hard drive technology. It also expands Drobo's well-known automatic data redundancy by supporting the failure of as many as two disks at once and dynamically shuffling information as disks are added, removed or partitioned into new volumes.
Blockbuster yesterday submitted a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing that reveals the company doesn't believe it can continue business. The video store is no longer certain that it can remain a "going concern" and may have to stop operations and close its doors if its financial situation doesn't improve in the near future. The warning comes in spite of a $250 million refinancing loan having been put in place just last week; Blockbuster now says there is "no assurance" that it can meet the requirements of the transaction before it's completed on May 11th.
Sony Ericsson in the wake of CTIA has launched a pair of starter phones targeted alternately at music and photography. The W205 is billed as a first Walkman phone and lifts up Sony Ericsson's low end with more essential features: it supports music playback on Memory Stick Micro cards up to 2GB, an FM radio, a 1.3-megapixel camera and basic Bluetooth. Data is limited to GPRS but is helped by preloading Opera Mini rather than the usual and less compatible NetFront browser. It ships worldwide, including the Americas, during the summer.
Microsoft late yesterday confirmed it would maintain its Windows XP downgrade program even after Windows 7 launches. Originally planned as an effort to accommodate customers hoping to avoid using Windows Vista for compatibility or poor performance, the program's already extended July target has now been quietly revealed as lasting until June 2010 and will let those buying a Windows 7 system optionally pay extra to install XP as the primary operating system, leaving 7 as an optional install for later. A spokesman claims the extension to 2010 was made over a year ago.
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