So, if the rumor mill is to be believed, Microsoft’s Zune should be launching this October, ready to get jacked on your trick-or-treat romp through the neighborhood. While others are hearing rumblings of a November launch date, one thing is for sure. If the Zune is to launch this year, it will hit retail by Black Friday. No one launches anything after Thanksgiving, as retailers want to plan out their holiday setup before the end of November. So, the good news is that this thing will drop by November. Other items of note appear to be that the Alexandria codename we have been hearing about may turn out to be the music and video service associated with the product. Not sure why Microsoft wouldn’t just play along with URGE here, since they have been pushing it pretty hard over the past month or so, but I guess we will all find out when all this conjecture becomes verified.
Read More | BetaNews
Not one to run from controversy (as evidenced by the last year’s DRM scandal), Sony has placed billboard ads like the one above in Holland. Though the ad appears to carry a racist sentiment against black people, Sony responds to criticism by stating that it has numerous photographs in this ad series focusing on the contrast between the new ceramic PlayStation Portable and the classic black model, and that there are no racist overtones intended. It is true that other photographs in the stark black and white series show the black woman in a dominating position, but even if this is the case, Sony’s argument that it is merely using chiarscuro for effect is weak in the face of the evidence.
Whether the ads take sides is not the issue. At issue is Sony’s apparent use of racial schism to promote its products, and so far, the pictures speak much louder than Sony’s defensive rhetoric.
Read More | Real Tech News
Before there was Benq, before there was Lite-On, there was Texel. Ummm, who? Texel America was the name Plextor went by before they changed in back in the mid 90’s. They’ve been manufacturing and selling optical drives since 1990, and I even remember owning one of their first 1x CD-ROM drives. Yes, I realize that dates me somewhat. Anyway, Plextor is introducing their first Blu-ray drive, the PX-B900A. The PX-B900A is an internal ATAPI drive that features dual-layer burning and supports writing and re-writing at 2x speeds. A large 8MB buffer ensures a constant flow of data, and support for a wide range of formats offers up great versatility.
The PX-B900A not only uses the latest Blu-ray technology, but is also a highly versatile dual-layer DVD drive that combines multiple formats – DVD+/-R/RW and RAM - into one. It can accept both 12cm and 8cm discs (in the horizontal position) and has a large 8MB buffer to ensure there is no data interruption. Write speeds: 2x BD-R/BD-RE, 8x DVD+R/-R/+RW, 6x DVD-RW, 4x DVD+R/-R DL, 5x DVD-RAM, 24x CD-R and 16x CD-RW.
One thing that has changed over the years is the manufacturer of Plextor’s drives. Once upon a time, Plextor ruled the roost so to speak and their drives were arguably second to none, and priced to match. As time has progressed, Plextor seems slower off the line in regards to innovation, and they’ve developed a habit of simply rebadging another manufacturer’s drive as their own. Rebadging is a common practice in the industry, but it does detract from the main reason to own a Plextor drive - because it was a Plextor and you knew you were getting a cutting edge piece of hardware with few peers. For what it’s worth, rumor has it that the PX-B900A is a rebadged Panasonic.
The PX-B900A will be availble in the September/October 2006 time frame, for an as of yet undisclosed amount.
Someone over at Apple may have let the cat out of the bag as it pertains to what everyone believes will be the Intel replacement to the iBook line. Earlier this morning, if you went to the official iPod product page at http://www.apple.com/ipod/, instead of being blasted with an iPod silhouette, you would instead see a mostly empty page with a breadcrumb featuring the MacBook. Notice - there is no “Pro” verbiage anywhere. Even better, MacRumors is saying that Apple retail stores are getting signage that is marked with “Do not open until Tuesday, May 9th.” Are the new MacBooks upon us?
Read More | MacRumors
Amid a handful of other oddities that seem to be causing havok among the ranks of MacBook Pro owners, comes a new issue relating to the battery. As per Christopher Price, “Symptoms of battery failure include battery cutting off power to the system at very early stages, sporadic ampere hour reporting (coconutBattery), and the battery failing to respond when pressing the charging status button (after being charged and only slightly drained).” AppleCare has allegedly indicated that there is a known issue with early MacBook Pro batteries and are cross-shipping replacements to customers with afflicted laptops.
The problem is said to potentially effect only MacBook Pros shipped during the first two weeks or so of production, with serial numbers up through W8608. Keep in mind that Apple is quite mum on the subject, and there is no word on how widespread the problem may be. While other sites are happy to imply that a “silent recall” is in the works, the reality of the situation is, if you don’t currently have a problem there is no problem and Apple will disavow any knowledge of the aforementioned issue.
Panasonic recently released its plans to sell a 103-inch Plasma TV. The new TV’s display measures 7.5 x 4.2 feet with the standard 16:9 aspect ratio and a 1920x1080 resolution. As is expected by today’s HDTV enthusiasts, the new TV will be a 1080p device. While most people don’t need the biggest plasma TV in the world, it would be nice to watch Firefly in 103-inch Plasma goodness, no? Nothing has been said about pricing, but we are sure this is one of those things where, if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it. Panasonic has hinted around at a December 2006 release date, but no date has been officially set.
Read More | Daily Tech
It seems that some companies are attempting to pass off counterfeit iPods to unsuspecting consumers. Apple warns that the two players that are most likely to be ripped off are the iPod nano and the iPod shuffle. It has been noted that several of the fakes are even stamped with legit serial numbers, one of which is 6U545TK2TJT. The fake iPods also lack a dock connector, and often have non standard headphone jacks. Apple said that the counterfeit nanos also ship without the standard USB cable, and have a screen that is slightly longer than that of the real thing.
One key mark to look out for is a play/pause symbol on the center select button. The players that are similar to the shuffle lack a battery or status indicator light, and have a power switch that lacks a repeat option. The counterfeit packaging is the same as Apple packaging except that the counterfeit package has the words “Digital Music Player” on the top of the box. Some of the counterfeit players have also known to have documentation included that asks the user to copy their music to a directory on the device rather than using iTunes. Apple is taking this matter very seriously and has released a bulletin to its service providers asking them to photograph the fake iPod, find out where the buyer purchased the fake iPod, document the serial number, and pass the information along to Apple’s technical support group.
Read More | Apple Insider
These days it seems like everyone and their mother is trying to rip off Motorola’s RAZR design, and LG is no different. The CU500 is a slim clamshell with an internal antenna. It is a quad-band GSM/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900) and tri-band UMTS (WCDMA) (850/1900/2100) phone. Rumor has it that the only supported US bands are UTMS 850 and 1900 which means it is a perfect candidate for Cingular’s HSDPA high speed data network. The included 1.3 megapixel camera swivels and eliminates the need for a second camera for video calling. There are also external buttons to control music playback. The phone is expected to be officially announced by Cingular soon. We will keep you updated with details as more details about this handset become available.
Asus has released the details on its new Lamborghini notebook. Unfortunately the specs are disappointing, and do not justify the higher price tag. The VX1 sports a 2GHz T2500 processor, while most would think that a notebook of this caliber would feature one of Intel’s new Core Duos. Intel’s 945PM chipset and 3945ABG 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi adapter are onboard along with 1GB of 667MHz DDR 2 SDRAM, a 120GB hard drive, and a dual-layer DVD±R/RW optical drive. A 15-inch 1400x1050 display (powered an Nvidia GeForce Go 7400 with 256MB of dedicated graphics memory) rounds this one out. The notebook also has the ability to grab 256MB more from system memory thanks to Nvidia’s TurboCache system. The new price is expected to be $2,354.62 rather than the $1,935.75-$2,177.87 that was previously announced. Expect to see the new laptop around the end of April.
Read More | Reg Hardware
If you have been keeping your eye out for a UMPC that doesn’t seem like it will suck, keep an eye on the Averatec AHI. While other manufacturers are designing UMPCs that look pretty much the same, Averatec is mixing it up a bit. Most other UMPCs have 7-inch touch screens, while the AHI has a smaller 5-inch touch screen. With a 7-inch screen, the complaint arises that the device is hard pressed to be considered “ultra-mobile.” Averatec’s approach solves that. In fact, it seems to solve a host of complaints that many have had with other UMPC devices. For example, located directly under the screen is a slide out keyboard. The device also boasts a SXGA 1280 X 1024 display. Connectivity will not be a problem, as it has integrated Bluetooth, Ethernet, 802.11g WiFi, and a dial-up modem. Even better, it should also have 3G functionality, and a GPS receiver as well. A 2 megapixel camera, 2 USB ports, and an SD/MMC slot add to the ultra-portable goodness.
For those that want to use their new UMPC for fun, the AHI boasts a dock that gives it DVD functionality. All these innovative features come at a cost - the Averatec UMPC will not be running the special version of Windows designed for UMPCs; it will be running the Tablet PC version of Windows instead. You can expect to see the AHI by Christmas. Pricing is not yet known, but it’s expected to be available in multiple configurations in the $600-1100 range.
Read More | The Register
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