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Sprint could be on the verge of offering a near-unlimited calling plan for it subscribers, a late-breaking rumor claims. A tip sent to TechVI maintains that a known Sprint launch tomorrow will give those with at least an Everything Data plan of $70 per month or more will get unlimited calling between themselves and a cellphone on any other network. The only limitation is a requirement for making the call on Sprint's own network rather than while roaming.
Microsoft, speaking at a Windows Media Center keynote at CEDIA, announced changes to the purchasing requirements for CableCARD tuners. The components will now be available as an aftermarket accessory, enabling customers to add to functionality to their own systems.
Radion has introduced several GearRAID quad-bay data storage subsystems with enhanced data protection when the drives are configured as a RAID 5 array. The storage devices integrate an Oxford936QSE chipset, enabling four 2TB drives to be configured as a RAID 5 array with a maximum of 6TB of overall storage space. The drives are capable of automatically backing-up data, while one hard drive can fail without any loss of data. Each storage system also supports eSATA, 1394b and USB 2.0 host interfaces.
Sony has announced several new Elevated Standard (ES) A/V receivers, the STR-D5500ES and STR-D3500ES. The 5500 model is the company's first receiver to feature IP network control, enabling integration with Control4 home automation systems.
Apple chief Steve Jobs today took shots at Amazon while also explaining some of the decisions behind the new new iPods and his own health. The co-founder is famous for having attacked Amazon's Kindle in the past but has now said that the e-book reader's main flaw its specialized role: its cost is too high for a single function, Jobs said. He moreover suggested to the Times that Amazon's refusal to provide definite numbers for Kindle sales was a sign it hasn't succeeded in the market.
Sony Japan has recently introduced wireless headphones that operate on the 2.4GHz frequency and, more importantly, can reproduce 7.1-channel audio. The MDR-DS7100 set has support for Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, DTS and DTS-ES surround sound formats. Their range is said to be a long 98 feet, while battery life is also longer than for most simpler wireless headphones at 13 hours. Each earpiece packs a near 2-inch (50mm) driver.
LG on Wednesday announced that its BD390 Blu-ray player now supports video streams from VUDU. The service will allow users to view content such as movies and TV shows, with over 2,200 movies available in 1080p resolution paired with 5.1-channel audio. Other supported sources for streaming video include Netflix, Roxio, CinemaNow and YouTube.
Panasonic on Wednesday said it will soon release its first 2.1-channel Blu-ray Disc home theater system, the SC-BTX70. The upright system uses a proprietary Panasonic technology that can reproduce virtual 7.1-channel sound in Dolby's TrueHD and DTS-HD virtual 7.1 formats. The two speakers, made of bamboo, have a top-mounted design for better sound dispersion. The system is rated at 375W of power, with each speaker and the subwoofer getting 125W.
QNAP recently announced it has added two new Turbo NAS servers to its extensive lineup, including the TS-419P for desktops and the rack-mounted TS-419U. Their specs are nearly identical, including the same Marvell 1.2GHz processor, 512MB of DDR2 RAM and support for up to 8TB. Either can hold both 2.5- and 3.5-inch hard drives in four hot-swappable bays. Storage expansion is made possible thanks to four USB ports and two eSATA ports.
Sony was careful to include front projectors in its CEDIA introductions today and introduced two new models that step up the image quality of 1080p in custom home theaters. Topping these, the VPL-VW85 has a high 120,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and a 120Hz refresh rate to bolster performance in fast-moving scenes; it's mostly intended for dark rooms with 800 lumens of brightness. It's also partly intended for pro installations and has relatively flexible lens shifting, an RS-232 serial port for home automation and a comparatively high 1.6X zoom factor for when the projector can't sit in an ideal position close to the screen.
Wireless provider AT&T on Wednesday announced the upcoming launch of its A-List with Rollover plan for qualifying plans. Like similar plans from competitors, including T-Mobile's MyFaves and Rogers' Top 5, A-List will let subscribers pick the five domestic numbers they call most often, with those minutes not counting towards their monthly totals. Unlike those plans, though, the minutes subscribers save can be rolled over to the next month.
Continuing its home theater launches for CEDIA, Sony tonight added its first truly network-aware Blu-ray player. Although earlier players have had BD-Live features, the BDP-N460 can stream videos from Netflix and YouTube as well as get music streams from Slacker, regardless of the attached TV. In a unique touch, the movie player is specifically optimized for Linksys' (Cisco's) WET610N Ethernet-to-Wi-Fi bridge and improves the stability of streaming over the wireless connection.
Apple has made sure to prevent Palm Pre owners from syncing their smartphones with the iTunes 9 update released Wednesday, according to several user reports posted on PreCentral's forums. The company has worked to prevent compatibility, starting with iTunes 8.2.1, after publishing a technical note warning users that third party phones would not be able to sync.
Toshiba has recently unveiled a new lineup of portable hard drives for portable consumer electronic devices, all based on a 1.8-inch form factor and up to 160GB in capacity. All MKxx34GAL units use a single platter that is less than a fifth of an inch (5mm) high, making them suitable for portable media players, digital video cameras and other portable electronics. Toshiba touts its new drives as offering the highest storage capacity, best power efficiency, most durability and quietest seek operation.
Sony used its turn at CEDIA to launch a raft of new home theater equipment headlined by the BRAVIA XBR10. An Americanized version of the Japanese ZX5, they have a new 60GHz Wireless HD media box that lets the TV sit completely separately from most video inputs while still playing them at full quality. It can play a 1080p picture at a full 60 frames per second without dropping frames or otherwise showing differences between this and a wired signal.
Apple regularly promises that each whole-digit iTunes revision is a major overhaul, but in most cases these are add-ons to the existing framework rather than genuine redesigns. Some have complained that this has gradually led iTunes into feature creep, especially at the iTunes Store: the sheer number of features has meant wading through the interface to get at what used to be simple tasks. iTunes 9 theoretically promises the best of both worlds; we're taking a first look to see if the claims live up to expectations.
LG today provided final information for the American launch of its SL90 TVs. The new models will now be priced at $2,099 for the 42-inch version and $2,599 for the 47-inch edition. Both represent LG's new "seamless" design that makes the display surface flush with the bezels and are some of LG's most advanced sets, with LED backlighting that boosts their contrast ratios to 3,000,000:1. They also refresh at a fast 240Hz and have cabinets are thinner than many at 1.15 inches deep.
Dell today quietly put up a teaser site for the Adamo XPS. While it gives few clues, the site touts a 9.99mm (under 0.4in) thickness that would make it far thinner than the Adamo 13 and significantly thinner than the MacBook Air the Adamo series has often fought against. The side profile image shows a uniformly metal (likely aluminum), tapered design unlike the block-shaped original.
Apple today announced the fifth-generation iPod nano, a radical revision of its compact media player. The device now has a built-in video camera, validating earlier rumors. Owners can record clips and sync them with iTunes, and then optionally upload them to YouTube. Video is rendered in 640x480 resolution at up to 30fps, with 15 real-time processing effects such as motion blur, film grain or a simulated x-ray look.
Apple today at its "Rock & Roll" music event launched the third-generation iPod touch. The media player now has the same processing power as the iPhone 3GS and is up to about 50 percent faster than the older model and supports the same OpenGL ES 2.0 visual effects. No mention has been made of cameras on the devices, which run iPhone OS 3.1 and still have the familiar tapered chrome back.
As part of its music event, Apple on Wednesday refreshed the iPod classic and third-generation iPod shuffle. The iPod shuffle has received the most noticeable changes with new color options. Beyond the original black and silver, the screenless player will now also come in blue, green and pink at its existing $79 price. The company is also introducing a special stainless steel trim that will cost $99 at the same capacity and is rolling out a 2GB edition with the same features for $59.
Microsoft announced on Wednesday that it has teamed with UK-based retailer Tesco to bring out a new service that will provide customers with DVD-quality movies delivered to them over the web using Microsoft's Silverlight technology. While details are scarce, customers who buy DVD movies from Tesco will be able to download digital copies of the title to their Windows PCs and Macs.
Earlier this week, Samsung announced it will soon start shipping a new addition to its Spinpoint M7 hard drive lineup, with the 2.5-inch internal HDD. At 640GB, it's the largest offered, topping the current 500GB unit. Also compared to the 500GB unit, the new hard drive has a 28 percent increase in areal density, now at 516 gigabits (64.5 gigabytes) per square inch for each 320GB platter. The new hard drive is meant for high-performance notebooks that require greater shock resistance.
Nokia will mirror Apple's approach to carrier software with all of its Maemo Linux-based smartphones, the company said on Wednesday. Rather than agree to include carrier-specific apps and modify the look of the OS to appease carriers, as it does with most of its Symbian phones, Nokia told Reuters it will insist that devices like the N900 come only with their default apps and interface. The choice is characterized as an attempt to focus on an ideal experience for the user and less an attempt to placate carriers.
Harman Kardon today brought out a trio of new AV receivers that, in one case, may hint at future iPod features. The AVR 3600 comes with a new Bridge III universal dock that the company claims can play HD videos directly from an iPhone or iPod. It's not clear whether the company expects the Apple devices to handle decoding the videos themselves or if it provides the work itself; officially, current iPhone and iPod touch devices will only play 640x480.
Profits in the smartphone market are increasingly linked to a single business model, says Needham & Co. analyst Charlie Wolf. At present there are two distinct approaches: integrated hardware and software, used by companies like Apple and Research in Motion, and a software licensing focus, favored by Google and Microsoft. The integrated approach is clearly winning, says Wolf, as evidenced by the growing control of BlackBerries and iPhones, and the secondary status of Android and Windows Mobile devices.
Microsoft on Wednesday announced the upcoming release of its thinnest Bluetooth keyboard to date, the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 6000. At its thickest, the keyboard is only a few millimeters thicker than an AAA battery, but it also tapers down at the front. The keyboard can also be had with an optional number pad for accountants and others who need the extra input.
Leica today added two long-anticipated upgrades to its more compact cameras. The X1 shares the rangefinder-like design of most Leicas but is deliberately designed as a cross between these and compact cameras: it has a fixed f2.8, 36mm equivalent lens but an APS-C sized, 12-megapixel CMOS sensor that the company bills as the largest ever in a compact. The combination of a zoomless prime lens and the large photo receptors give the camera a DSLR-like sensitivity to light (ISO 100 to 3,200) and reduced noise.
ZVOX late Tueday added new home theater speaker systems to its lineup, including the high-performance 430 and 440 sound bars along with the IncrediBase 575. All are one-bar speakers without any separate satellites or a remote subwoofer, with all drivers built into one cabinet. The 430 and 440 models use three 3.25-inch speakers and a four-inch subwoofer, with one of the speakers a devoted center channel while the other two create a wide stereo sound stage using ZVOX's own PhaseCue sound processing.
AT&T this morning provided more definite plans for its promised rollout of 7.2Mbps 3G on its network. Only six cities will receive the upgraded HSPA-based network this year and will focus mostly on the southern US: Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami will all see the doubled download speeds at first. Expansion in 2010 will have 25 of the 30 largest markets receive the update, while about 90 percent of AT&T's entire service will have been upgraded in 2011.
Logitech this morning countered the launch of Beatles: Rock Band with the launch of three music game controllers, including its first two for the Wii. The Wireless Guitar Controller for Wii and companion Wireless Drum Controller for Wii both replace the stock plastic controllers with more authentic metal and wood that both feels more natural and is quieter to use. These Nintendo-specific models also have a slot for the Wii remote to provide normal controller functions in a single body.
Western Digital this morning began shipping the 640GB Scorpio Blue, one of the first drives above 500GB to fit in most notebooks. It uses two 320GB platters to reach its capacity while still measuring 9.5mm thick and thus thin enough to fit in particularly slim portables like the MacBook Pro. As a Blue series drive, it's aimed at the mainstream and spins at 5,400RPM with an 8MB cache.
Apple in a rare move this morning dropped the prices of most iPods at the online Apple Store ahead of today's special music event. The iPod touch has received the largest drop and now costs just $279 for a 32GB model, $249 for a 16GB model and $189 for an 8GB version. The iPod nano has received more modest drops from $199 to $149 for a 16GB edition and from $149 to $129 for 8GB versions. The iPod classic has also received a mild price cut to $229 from $249.
Palm this morning backed rumors by launching the Pixi, its second webOS phone and its direct replacement for the Centro. The handset (once known as the Eos) is aimed at the budget segment and has a smaller 2.6-inch multi-touch screen as well as a fixed QWERTY keyboard, a 2-megapixel camera, and no Wi-Fi. It still keeps 3G, GPS and 8GB of storage; in a new feature for any Palm phone, the Pixi adds LinkedIn and Yahoo contacts and messages as well as Yahoo IM to the Synergy platform that unifies the platform.
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