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ASUS PCs held the top rank in the second-quarter RESCUECOM Computer Reliability Report, a comparison between the required maintenance for a variety of computer brands. The ASUS Eee PC, released eight months ago, made a significant impact on the company's reliability scores and market share. The report relates the percentage of computers each company shipped to the number of calls to the RESCUECOM repair hotline over a three month period.
An FCC filing indicates that Sony has created a 250GB variant of the recently-announced PS3 Slim. Despite efforts to conceal the company name as "Sand Dollar Enterprise, Inc." and the product as a "Computer Entertainment System," the documents were still spotted by PS3 News.
Microsoft has filed a motion to avoid execution of the recent court judgment prohibiting the company from selling its Word software without code modifications. The motion is sealed, however, so the exact details have not been publicly disclosed.
The still-growing popularity of netbooks has likely robbed Apple much of its target audience for back-to-school Mac sales this year, a study from Retrevo found on Tuesday. Just over a third of notebook-buying college students, or 34 percent, plan to buy a netbook from any make for their return to class. About 49 percent of the total also specifically plan to buy a regular Windows notebook, leaving just 17 percent either buying a Mac or uncertain about what they will buy.
Research in Motion triggered a surprise in business today when it topped the list of the 100 fastest-growing companies on Earth. The originator of the BlackBerry outpaced others based both on its sheer revenue, which topped $11 billion in the past 12 months, as well as the balance of its growth: revenue grew 77 percent in the past three years, and its earnings per share grew 84 percent. Fortune credits the lead to RIM's push into home smartphone users, who helped the BlackBerry Curve outsell the iPhone this spring.
Qtrax recently announced that its free and legal music download service will soon launch, naming October 28th as the launch date in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. A launch in the US, Canada and the UK will happen before year's end, Qtrax informs, while the rest of the world will get the service within the first half of 2010. The reason for the initial Asia launch is because of the region's record Internet user growth and specifically the ratio of Internet users downloading music, which is more than double that of the US.
Sony on Tuesday announced the upcoming release of four new Xplod in-dash CD Receivers. All four new head units are compatible with the Radio Data System (RDS) technology, allowing compatible FM radio stations to send artist and song information, which is then displayed on the head unit's display. The two higher-end models are the CDX-GT640UI and the CDX-GT540UI receivers, both of which have a USB input and auxiliary input on their front face which allows users to fully integrate and charge connected compatible iPods and iPhones as well as portable audio players.
Phone maker HTC will soon release an update for its Android-powered Hero handset, says a Tuesday SlashGear report, which owners will be able to download via the company's support site. Exactly what the update will bring remains unknown, but faster performance is expected, since many owners are complaining of slowdowns in the Sense UI.
Lenovo this afternoon put an end to speculation and launched its IdeaCentre Q series of mini desktops as well as its first Windows Home Server. The Q110 is Lenovo's first home nettop and gets NVIDIA's Ion chipset, giving it enough power to decode 1080p in hardware as well as render reasonably modern 3D as well as accelerate some heavily optimized tasks like video encoding. Its other specs aren't known but involve HD video output and should be based on an Intel Atom chip at its $349 price.
Buffalo Technology on Tuesday announced its latest storage product, the rackmount TeraStation III, aimed at small- to medium-size businesses. The network device is built on the same platform as the company's standalone TeraStation III, with support for hot swapping, replication, NFS, Active Directory and Time Machine backup. Users can configure the drives in RAID arrays or apply disk encryption for sensitive data.
Acer on Tuesday announced it will soon begin shipping its new Veriton N260G ultra-compact nettop in the US. Meant for use in classrooms or tightly-spaced offices, it can be VESA-mounted to the back of an LCD display or placed right on desks thanks to its retractable stand. Power comes from Intel's 1.66GHz Atom, 1GB of standard memory that can be doubled, Intel's GMA 4500M graphics and a 160GB hard drive that contains Windows XP Professional, although a recovery disc with Windows Vista Business is included.
The PSP Go's launch October 1st will come with easily downloadable small games to match, Sony said during its Gamescom expo keynote. Known as Minis, the titles will be capped at 100MB or less to make them quick downloads over Wi-Fi and are similarly meant to encourage smaller, more independent developers to produce titles that don't have to compete on the same field as full-fledged PSP titles. Prices and other details weren't made public, but up to 50 games should be ready by the end of the year.
Sony today confirmed the existence of the slim PlayStation 3. The new console is built on smaller, cooler Cell and RSX processors and as a result shrinks in size by exactly a third and sheds 36 percent of its weight. It further gets a larger 120GB hard drive without sacrificing the existing features of the PS3, including Blu-ray, two USB ports and built-in Wi-Fi.
Sony at its Gamescom keynote today expanded some of its non-gaming services with the more formal launch of the 3.0 firmware for the PlayStation 3. The new update has a much improved interface that provides quicker access to the news section (now known as "What's New") as well as to shortcuts to the latest games and other downloads without having to leave the regular XMB front end. Users can also now see messages from friends directly from their profiles instead of having to burrow deeper into the system.
iHome has released a set of full-ear headphones that sport an integrated in-line amplifier and can be converted into portable speakers rather than strictly operating in a private mode. The iHMP5 set includes a battery-powered, louder amplifier when users want to set it up in speaker mode while still providing a reduced amount of power at all times for regular headphone use. The 50mm (nearly 2 inches) drivers deliver the sound, and there is a volume control clip.
Garmin has let slip more details on three upcoming nuvi GPS units, beginning with the 1690. The model is described as having a 4.3-inch WVGA display, along with North America maps, text-to-speech conversion, and Bluetooth support for hands-free phone calls. The centerpiece is an EDGE data connection, which can retrieve data relating to traffic, flights, weather, fuel costs, movie times and local Google searches.
Key digital video architect MPEG LA has filed a lawsuit against Haier America for allegedly infringing on patents it holds for technology used in digital TVs. The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and maintains Haier's TVs in the US are sold without the needed patent licenses for the country.
Qwest announced it plans to no longer provide wireless services by October 31st, according to statements by the company (subscription required). Qwest will begin notifying its customers soon, telling them they have 60 days to find a new provider, but will not charge early termination fees for those still in mid-contract. The provider had piggybacked onto Verizon's network to provide its wireless voice services, and announced in July that more than 75 percent of its wireless business was on Verizon Wireless network by the end of the second quarter.
Three American firms are ultimately going to take control of the smartphone business, RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky said today in a research note. He believes that Apple, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion and eventually Palm are all "positioned for leadership" and should command the smartphone market when it reaches 35 percent of all phones, or over 500 million smartphones, by 2012. They represent the few companies that properly integrate the hardware and software from top to bottom, according to the analyst.
Palm on Tuesday began accepting developer submisssions of paid apps to the Palm App Catalog. The move follows a month after the smartphone creator opened its SDK to all developers and will give developers a similar deal to what Apple has struck for its iPhone App Store or Microsoft for its Windows Marketplace for Mobile. While free apps are still an option, Palm will take only a 30 percent flat cut of the revenue from any paid app regardless of the number of copies sold.
Rogers this morning switched on its promised 50Mbps Ultimate tier of cable Internet service. The $150 monthly DOCSIS 3.0-based service is the fastest outside of Quebec and is now known to have the largest transfer cap: increasing it from the initially proposed 120GB, the provider now gives users up to 175GB of data in either direction before overage fees start. Unlike some providers, Rogers caps its overage fees at $25 extra per month.
Exactly one quarter of all music sold in the US now comes from iTunes, the NPD Group said today. Its portion of the market for the first half of 2009 is up from 21 percent in 2008 and represents 69 percent of the digital-only market. By comparison, Walmart now has just 14 percent of all music while Best Buy claims third place with an unspecified amount. In digital, Amazon MP3 is a distant second with just 8 percent of the market.
Blockbuster today said will soon offer its online video content on next-generation Motorola handsets via an OnDemand application. Some future handsets will have the ability to download the movies from Blockbuster, which marks the first time Blockbuster has offered its service on cellphones. Users will have access to "thousands" of titles offered by Blockbuster, including movies and TV shows. Technical details as well as timelines have not yet been made available, nor how much movies will cost.
Sony launched a new rang of bookshelf audio systems specifically meant for Best Buy. The Altus line is all built on Sony's S-AIR wireless system and is designed for multi-room audio as well as simply reducing the number of wires. Topping the range are two systems intended for iPhones and iPods: the ALT-SA31iR includes both a central dock for an Apple device as well as two wireless speakers, each with their own remote controls and on-speaker buttons. The AIR-SW10Ti has just one speaker that itself has the iPhone or iPod dock but has a wireless subwoofer and puts out a total 60W of sustained power.
Apple continues to hold first place in tracking conducted by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, says Fortune. The company has scored 84 out of 100 in a 2009 study, leaving it in a dominant position over rival computer builders. It has also dropped a point since 2008 however, when it achieved its highest-ever score.
Samsung Mobile on Tuesday released a trio of Bluetooth headsets, including the WEP870, the WEP850 and the WEP470. The high-end WEP870 is a noise-canceling Bluetooth mono headset with music streaming capabilities. It can be paired with up to two Bluetooth handsets at the same time, and can be worn on either ear. It also ships with a stereo earbud lanyard that places the WEP870 around a user's neck, with the dual microphone pointed toward the mouth, still allowing for phone conversations.
Western Digital shrunk its media hub today and produced the WD TV Mini, a new extra-small version of its earlier media sharing device. The set-top box omits HDMI output but now measures just 3.6 inches square and 0.8 inches deep while still capable of playing 1080i video depending on the codec. RealVideo format support is equally new and complements the existing MPEG-1/2/4, VOB and XviD formats.
With little fanfare, Dell this morning has launched its first notebook based on Intel's CULV (Consumer Ultra Low Voltage) platform. The Inspiron 11z costs as much as a netbook but uses an ultra-low voltage 1.2GHz Celeron that Dell estimates is about 40 percent faster than a 1.6GHz Atom. It also has a larger 11.6-inch, 1366x768 screen and faster GS45 integrated graphics, but isn't tangibly bulkier at about 1 inch thick and just over 3 pounds in weight.
MSI plans to preempt the rest of the market by launching the first netbooks based on Intel's Pine Trail Atom platform, according to PC industry tips. Still maintaining that the smaller, much more integrated processors may not be officially ready until early 2010, DigiTimes has heard that MSI intends to ship portables in December rather than wait for the rest of the market. The lead time would let it avoid competing on price for weeks or more.
Casio this morning upgraded its Exilim Zoom compacts with two new models that focus on software, not hardware. The EX-Z450 and EX-Z90 both have an Intelligent AF addition that can recognize many objects in a scene, not just humans, and automatically tune both focus and exposure to capture what it believes is the right subject. They also have a new Dynamic Photo compositing mode that can cut out a moving subject and put it in another shot by taking a single photo with a solid-hued background.
(Update with Kmart pre-order info) A pair of ads uncovered overnight have all but confirmed Sony's plans to launch a slim, low cost PlayStation 3 later today at the gamescom expo in Germany. A visit to the Kmart front page now shows a banner claiming "the rumors are reality" and tout both a lowered price for the PS3 as well as a "new exciting" model. Simultaneously, a poster received in advance at retailer FYE shows the prices on 80GB and 160GB PS3s each dropping by $100 to $300 and $400 respectively, but only "while supplies last."
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