Sony Ericsson, a joint mobile phone venture between Sony and Ericsson, are hiring actors to hang out pretending to be tourists at famous landmarks like the Space Needle and the Empire State Building and ask real tourists to take their picture with the T68i, a cellphone that has a built-in digital camera. The Wall Street Journal has the story here.
Olympus and Fujifilm announced a new storage format for digital cameras yesterday, called xD-Picture Card, which can hold up to 8GB and is less than one inch square. Of course the first ones will only be able to hold up to 128MB, which makes me think these will have a tough time catching on in the face of better established storage media for the digital camera like CompactFlash. CNet has the story here and Digital Photography Review has some extensive information about it here.
Ric Danning, of the Louisville Courier-Journaldoes a roundup of portable DVD players in his weekly column. Don't know how I missed this before, but Sony actually makes a DVD Walkman now! Where have I been?
CNet has a piece about how Micron and Gateway are using desktop processors in their laptops in order to drive down prices. A pretty savvy move, when you think about it, since consumers seem to prize chip speed over things like battery life.
Another story from CNet, this one about HP's new line of printers and digital cameras aimed at consumers who want more professional quality images and prints.
Elitegroup introduced today the Aio, an all-in-one PC with either a 15" or 17" LCD screen.
SFGate has an article about the ever-shrinking hard-drives that are at hearts of so many of today's gadgets. I never knew that the hard drive was invented in 1956.
They've been talking about disposable cellphones forever now, and supposedly they're about to hit the market. CNN has a piece about Hop-On, which has apparently just won regulatory approval to sell barebones mobile phones, $40 for 60 minutes of air time. They look like crap.
EETimes has a piece about how the price of chip sets for DVD recorders is dropping, which should translate into $300 DVD recorders by the end of 2003.
Qualcomm announced today that it is going to add Wi-Fi capabilties to its cellphones.
I swear I never realized just how important the market for these universal remotes has become until today, when the New York Times ran its second piece about universal remotes in just three days. Maybe I should start Universal Remote Magazine to capitalize on what must be the massive interest in these gadgets.
MSNBC has a review of the i95cl, the latest all-in-one Motorola. It's a combo cellphone, pager, and PDA, with a color screen and a Java-based OS. You can do email and instant messaging with it too. The price tag, believe it or not, is $400.
There's been talk about wearable computing for years now, but with news of a recent deal by Infineon to create chips that integrate into ordinary fabric, maybe we really will see MP3 players built into t-shirts. CNet has the story here.
From the story:
The most sophisticated prototype Infineon has created is a 1.25-inch-square MP3 player, controlled by a half-inch-square chip, that is woven into a jacket. The 8g unit uses a small battery and a multimedia card (MMC), but is otherwise invisible to the user, all its functions being controlled by voice commands.
Rumor has it that Dell is going to enter the handheld market later this year with a combination cellphone/PDA along the lines of Handspring's Treo. CNet has a story about it here.
Reuters has an article about how counterfeit Nokia products are the number one choice for smugglers in Europe.
This is my favorite part of the article though:
Asked about the terrorism connection, Alexander Wiedow [The EU's Director of Customs Policy] said a consignment of fake Vaseline intercepted on its way from Dubai to Denmark via Britain had been linked with al Qaeda, the principle target of Washington's "war on terror."
Tom's Hardware has a very thorough look at PaceBlade's new Tablet PC. I'm not sure that many people really need Tablet PC yet, but I suspect in a few years we'll all be wondering how we got along without them.
Speaking of remote controls, The New York Times has a piece on the Harmony remote, which you can program using your PC (it connects using a USB cable) to do all sorts of things with just the press of a single button.
From the article:
Using a side-mounted thumbwheel, you choose activities, not components, from a list on the remote's small illuminated screen: "Play a DVD," "Listen to a CD," "Record a Show," "TiVo Television" and so on. That's a huge idea. It reduces a long list of steps � turn on TV, turn on DVD player, turn on sound system, switch TV input to AUX, start playing � to a single button press.
The Guardian has a review by John O'Mahony of what he terms the "ultimate gadget" - the Archos Multimedia Jukebox.
CNet has a selection of pieces about the pressures that handheld manufacturers are feeling given their slow sales recently.
Western Digital just unveiled the world's largest hard drive - a full 200GB. You can read the press release here, and get the specs here.
Ever since the HP-Compaq merger it's been clear that it wouldn't make sense to maintain each company's line of handhelds, and in recognition of this, HP decided to discontinue its Jornada line in favor of the better selling iPaq. News.com has a piece about the introduction of the Jornada 928, which will likely be the last of the Jornada line, and will only be sold in Europe.
The New York Times has a nice little article here about mini external hard drives. But what's really hot is the accompanying slide show of a bunch of different mini hard drives. It's almost like tech porn.
ThinkGeek has a pen for sale that has a light attached that flashes whenever your cellphone is ringing. I have no idea how it works, or if the pen flashes whenever any cellphone rings within range.
There are probably few peripherals I need as badly as the Streamzap PC remote control.
When I moved to New York last year I had to leave my vinyl and CD collection back in storage in California. I took it as an opportunity to free myself from a few hundred pounds of stuff and I decided to try and keep my entire music collection on my PC. I bought some nice PC speakers, and now everything I listen to resides on an enormous external hard drive. I don't miss having a stereo (in my small apartment it just seems like an extra piece of equipment I don't have space for at the moment), but having to get up and go to my computer every time I want to skip a track or adjust the volume has definitely been a pain.
I've seen a few different PC remotes, but up until now I hadn't seen one that seemed easy enough to install and cheap enough to warrant buying. The Streamzap is only $30, and you just plug the infrared sensor into a USB port. It's supposed to work with WinAmp, RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, MusicMatch, and most of the other MP3 and DVD software that's out there for the PC.
Sony has decided to go after Palm's share of the low-end of the handheld market with its Sony CLIE PEG-SL10, which costs only $149 and has a high-resolution monochrome screen. You can read CNet's story on it here, and PalmInfocenter's story here. Let's pray for a price war.
Hot on the heels of Toshiba's unveiling of its iPod clone, the Gigabeat MEG50JS, e.Digital has just introduced the Odyssey 1000, which looks even more like an iPod than the Gigabeat. The Odyssey 1000 has a 20GB hard drive, a USB 2.0 connection, and is Mac and PC compatible (it even works with iTunes!). Is there anyone who doesn't work for Apple that has any original ideas?
The Gadgeteer has a review of a 1 gigabyte FireWire keychain from WiebeTech, which is basically just some CompactFlash memory with a FireWire port all in a 2.35 inch by 1.75 inch metal box. Hopefully this will mark the beginning of a trend towards using high-speed connections like FireWire and USB 2.0 for these pocket storage devices, rather than USB 1.1 which can be agonzingly slow for transferring anything larger than a few megabytes.
CNet has a piece about the ten most popular cellphones in Asia. At least according to them. I'm quite partial to the Samsung SGH-T100 myself.
Wired.com has a Reuters piece about a new technology that reduces a television to just 50-millionths of an inch thick. You could roll one up and toss it in your bag.
From the story:
You're effectively printing televisions," CDT Chief Executive David Fyfe said. "They can be printed onto thin plastic almost like paper." Roll-up televisions will allow viewers of the future to flip their sets out of sight like projector screens and will come with a price tag similar to regular TVs.
PDABuzz.com is running what is reputed to be a sneak peak at the next-generation Palm, which is code-named "Oslo". Not much word on what improvements will be made to the Palm OS (besides rumors that Bluetooth will be incorporated), but from the leaked picture that purports to show an Oslo Palm, the major advances seem to be that it the whole thing collapes to cover the graffiti area, and now has a directional pad. Reminds me of Sharp's Zaurus handheld PC, which slides open to reveal a mini-keyboard.
For the last few months I've been thinking about buying a PDA, and I think I just found exactly what I'm looking for. It's called OQO. It's made by the team that designed Apple's Titanium PowerBook, who left to form their own company. Their first product is what they're calling an Ultra-Personal Computer: an iPaq sized, fully-featured Windows XP PC with a 1GHz Transmeta processor, 10GB hard drive, 256 MB of RAM, and a four inch, color touchscreen, Firewire and USB ports, and built-in 802.11b and Bluetooth. All of this in less than 9 ounces.
The OQO should be available sometime later this year. I'm curious to find out how much they're going to cost, as I'd much prefer one of these over a Pocket PC (which seem overpriced when you think about it), or even a PDA running the Palm OS.
Not to focus too much on Mac-related items (though it is Macworld week), Apple announced that next month they'll release a line of PC-compatible iPods. It's about time.
A few months ago my Sprint PCS cellphone died while I was on the road, and I was forced in a pinch to buy a new one. I was loathe to replace the faulty model that had stopped functioning (and had never really worked that well in the first place), but I also wasn't too enthused about the replacement options available. They were (and still are) distressingly limited and definitely overpriced for those of us on the Sprint PCS network. I ended up getting a nice flip phone that I like well enough, but that compared to the Nokias, Ericssons, and Motorolas out there, is way overpriced.
Anyway, The New York Times has a piece about how to replace your cellphone. A lot of it is pretty obvious (I mean, who really needs to be told to shop around?), but if you're in the market, it's definitely worth the read.
Speaking of Tivo, Moxi announced a big deal yesterday that will have its software incorporated into Scientific Atlanta's set-top cable boxes. Moxi records your favorite TV shows like a Tivo, but it can also play DVDs and MP3s, stream to other TVs in the house, has Firewire and USB ports for adding extra storage space and connecting to peripherals, and can connect to a local area network. It sounds great, and I'm dying to get my hands on one, but I wonder whether something that does so much can be priced low enough that people will actually consider buying one. It took a big drop in the price of DVD players before they became a must-have. EMediaLive has a piece about Moxi here, and a pretty decent analysis of Moxi's prospects can be found here.
At the Macworld New York conference that is going on right now El Gato Software are introducing a new product called EyeTV that promises to give Macs all the functionality of a Tivo. Looks cool, and it lets you archive shows to CD-R or share them with easily friends over the Net (something Tivo won't let you do), but for $199, I suspect that a lot of people would just prefer the simplicty of a Tivo. You can find a review of EyeTV here.
Just a few weeks ago the Copyright Office came down with a decision about the amount webcasters should pay in royalties for streaming Internet radio. Typically, the decision satisfied no one - the recording industry thinks 0.07 cents per song per performance is way too low, while many webcasters counter that even that low fee will bankrupt them, leaving the recording industry with no one to collect royalties from.
Possibly rendering this entire debate moot is a new software program called Peercast, an open source, peer-to-peer software client for streaming any kind of media over the web.
From the site:
PeerCast offers considerable bandwidth savings for broadcasters because they do not have to provide bandwidth for all of their listeners. A single 56K modem can broadcast to the entire network.
PeerCast uses the Gnutella protocol as the basis for all communications, and complies (mostly) to the Gnutella 0.6 protocol. It works in much the same way as other Gnutella clients except instead of downloading files, the users download streams. These streams are exchanged in real-time with other users.
PeerCast is a robust network because there is no central server, each user can be a client, server or broadcaster of streams. It offers anonymity for broadcasters because there is no easy way to trace back to the original stream, it is even possible to broadcast directly to a single client located in a different country and have that provide the source for the entire network.
ZDNet has a story about how Toshiba, the company that manufactures the tiny hard drives that live inside the iPod, has introduced its own iPod clone, the Gigabeat MEG50JS. It weighs a little more, and uses a USB 2.0 connection instead of FireWire, but the drive is swappable and is designed to work with a PC.
CNET has a review of several different 802.11b access points by D-Link, Agere, and Belkin. Where's the trusty Linksys WAP-11?
A couple of years ago I attended the Digital Dividend conference in Seattle. The idea behind the conference was to talk about ways to bring the benefits of the information age to the world's poorest three billion people. While most of the attendees talked about putting solar powered cyber kiosks in remote villages, it took none other than keynote speaker Bill Gates to bring everyone back to reality, pointing out that that the world's most desperately poor citizens need vaccinations and clean drinking water more than they need PCs and email accounts.
Still, the idea of bringing computing to the developing world has its appeal, and numerous news stories abound of villages getting wired up and how living standards immediately increased. With this in mind, an Indian non-profit organization called the Simputer Trust designed a low cost handheld intended to be used mainly by the world's rural poor. It sounded like a good idea, but a recent story on MSNBC.com details how the Simputer Trust is having trouble finding licensees to manufacture the device.
Presenting Watson: With the addition of the new Weather plug-ins, Watson now packs seventeen time-saving, productivity-enhancing Aqua interfaces to the most important web content and services.
For a limited time, you can save on top-brand digital cameras, like the Kodak DX3900. And through July 31, you can get a free 32 MB memory card when you purchase select digital cameras with a resolution of 2 megapixels or more