Nate Mook

Microsoft ODM tells Bloomberg: Windows 7 coming as soon as September

Windows 7

While Microsoft continues to maintain that Windows 7 will launch "3 years from Vista," or early 2010, a Microsoft ODM partner says otherwise. The president of Compal, a Taiwanese manufacturer that builds laptops for HP and Acer, told Bloomberg that Microsoft may begin shipping Windows 7 in late September or early October of this year.

Ray Chen made the statement at an investors' conference in Taipei on Wednesday, adding that he hoped Windows 7 would help boost sagging PC sales due to the global economic crisis. Microsoft, for its part, didn't say Chen was incorrect, but repeated its January 2010 timeframe to Bloomberg. Who to believe? It's hard to say, although some signs have pointed to Microsoft fast-forwarding its release roadmap.

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My first day with Kindle 2: I'm finally ready to drop the paperback

Amazon Kindle 2 top story badge

I've always been a fan of technology that makes it easier for me to consume media. I bought the Diamond Rio PMP-300 the day it came out in 1998, was an early customer of TiVo, and can't imagine renting movies from a physical store after being a Netflix subscriber for over 8 years.

That's why I pre-ordered the first Kindle the moment it was announced in 2007. I had previously tried out electronic book readers from companies such as Sony, but they all lacked the complete ecosystem that makes it actually worthwhile to switch to digital books. The Kindle seemed to have it all: a fairly slim form factor, great screen, and a huge library of books easily downloadable with a single click.

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Sprint adds mobile broadband to 'Everything' plan for $150 per month

Sprint Everything

Claiming it offers a savings of $599 compared to AT&T and Verizon, Sprint has unveiled a version of its unlimited "Everything" plan that includes mobile broadband for both businesses and consumers. The plan will cost $149.99, and include everything its existing $99.99 unlimited voice and messaging plan offers, along with 5GB of 3G access using a laptop.

Sprint charges $59.99 for mobile broadband on its own, so the bundle amounts to a savings of $10 per month. The company says existing customers can upgrade to the new plan without extending their contract; new activations will require a two-year agreement in exchange for a free USB 3G broadband device.

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Palm joins Adobe's Open Screen Project to bring Flash to Pre

Palm Pre

Timed with the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Monday, Palm announced it is joining the Open Screen Project spearheaded by Adobe, which aims to bring applications and web experiences to TVs, PCs and mobile devices using Flash. Specifically, Palm plans to integrate Flash into its upcoming Pre smartphone and future devices running webOS -- something Apple has yet to do with the iPhone.

"We're excited that our customers will benefit from the creativity and broad range of Flash content and applications created by the millions of designers and developers using Adobe's popular tools and technologies," remarked Pam Deziel, vice president of software product management at Palm. Whether it will be as simple as downloading a Flash app onto the Pre is not yet known.

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LG to make Windows Mobile its primary smartphone OS

LG GM730

In a big win for Windows Mobile, LG -- the world's third largest mobile handset maker -- has agreed to make Microsoft's struggling and aging operating system the primary for all its smartphones.

The move is a gamble for LG, which doesn't have its own smartphone platform like market leader Nokia. Samsung, which has been the fastest growing mobile company and controls the #2 spot, said it will continue to dabble in Symbian, Windows Mobile and Google's Android platforms.

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Verizon Wireless completes Alltel purchase, will begin rebranding in Q2

Verizon

As expected, Verizon Wireless on Friday announced the completion of its purchase of Alltel, pushing it past AT&T as the largest wireless carrier in the United States. Rebranding of Alltel will begin in Q2 and last through Q3 of 2009.

Verizon paid about $5.9 billion for Alltel, which holds about $22.2 billion in debt. With Alltel's 12.9 million subscribers, Verizon will now serve 83.7 million total users, although 2.1 million will be lost when Verizon leaves certain markets as part of its agreement with the DOJ and FCC to gain approval for the merger.

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Intel turns Classmate PC into a convertible tablet for students

Convertible Classmate PC

Intel has given its low-cost Classmate PC laptop a makeover at CES 2009, adding a touch screen and making the 8.9-inch display swivel 180 degrees and morph into a tablet PC.

Designed for students (sorry, Netbook fans), the Classmate PC is reportedly doing much better than OLPC's $100 laptop for developing markets, largely because Intel is farming out the manufacturing process to local OEMs. Intel scored its largest contract in Portugal thanks to the government's Magellan initiative, which aims to provide the laptops to all students in the country. Venezuela is working with Portugal to implement a similar program.

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Sony's new DSC-G3 Wi-Fi camera includes... a Web browser

Sony DSC-G3

Left out of its press event yesterday, Sony today launched a new Wi-Fi enabled camera, the 10.1-megapixel DSC-G3. Most notable about this slim digicam is a built-in Web browser for connecting to public hotspots.

While Wi-Fi in a digital camera can make it possible to upload while on the go, many hotspots require a login or registration using a Web page. To get around this problem, Sony simply embedded a browser into the camera, which can be accessed by pressing the WLAN button on the back.

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Skype launches on Android, Java-capable mobile phones

HTC's Dream, now known at the T-Mobile G1

For the first time in the United States, mobile phone users can now download a "lite" version of Skype that can be used for making calls to other Skype members and to landline and mobile phones at a low rate. Unlike Truphone, Skype lite doesn't require Wi-Fi and instead utilizes the phone's data plan.

Skype has been beta testing a version of its software for a limited number of mobile phones since last year. The new beta release works with the Android based T-Mobile G1, along with 100 other handsets that run Java applications.

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SlingPlayer Mobile beta now available on BlackBerry handsets

Sling Media logo

Sling Media has released a beta version of its SlingPlayer Mobile software for BlackBerry smartphones, currently supporting six devices. Blake Krikorian, Sling Media's CEO, said BlackBerry support has been one of the top requests of customers since 2005. SingPlayer Mobile is a mobile version of the company's software for watching and controlling TVs hooked up to a Slingbox.

SingPlayer Mobile works with the BlackBerry Bold, Curve 8900, 8820, Curve 8320, Pearl Flip 8220 and the Pearl 8120. It requires BlackBerry Device Software 4.5 or greater, and Sling Media says it will further expand supported handsets as it continues to work with Research in Motion. To download the beta, which is free, BlackBerry users can visit mobile.slingmedia.com in their browser. With the final release, SlingPlayer Mobile for BlackBerry will cost $29.99 USD.

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SlingGuide beta to offer Web-based control and viewing of EchoStar DVR

SlingGuide

Sling Media has announced a new product at CES designed to enable remote scheduling on DVRs made by its satellite TV parent company, EchoStar. SingGuide offers much of the same functionality as TiVo Central Online.

Currently in beta testing, SlingGuide users can browse, search and record programs via their Web browser for Dish Network DuoDVR 722k, 722 and 622 models, as well as the new 922, which was just announced at CES 2009 and features built in SlingLoaded technology that works like the separate Slingbox device.

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Samsung monitors go 3D, multi-display and over IP

Samsung 3D Monitor

In addition to its standard bevy of monitor upgrades, this time with LED backlighting, Samsung rolled out a trio of new monitor products with interesting capabilities.

First up is a 22-inch display that is compatible with Nvidia's 3D vision graphics card. At a price tag of only $349, we don't expect a super high quality screen, but the Samsung 2233RZ is a useful offering for 3D modeling and some video games. If sports a resolution of 1680x1050 pixels, 300cd/m2 brightness, 160 degree viewing angle and 5ms response time in 2D.

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Dell's new Studio XPS laptops get aluminum accents, leather

Dell Studio XPS 16

They're still made of plastic, but Dell's new Studio XPS laptops -- unveiled today at CES 2009 -- are quite the lookers, featuring aluminum and leather accents atop their glossy piano black finishes.

Available in a 16-inch model and a more-portable 13-inches, the new Studio XPS is Intel Centrino 2 based, sporting a 2.0-megapixel webcam and USB ports that can power devices even when the laptop is turned off.

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Photos: Palm's new Pre smartphone takes a few cues from Apple

Palm Pre Launcher

Palm on Thursday at CES 2009 unveiled its effort to rejoin the battle for a stake of the mobile smartphone market with a completely new device running Palm's new webOS. The company seems to have learned a thing or two from Apple's iPhone. Click below for images of the Pre and tell us what you think: Is Palm back in the game?

View images of the Palm Pre

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SD Card, Memory Stick formats to reach 2 terabytes, but when?

SDXC

The two major flash memory card formats for consumer electronics devices both announced plans to launch versions of their technology that expand capacities to up to 2 terabytes, but neither specified an expected release date.

The SD Card Association said yesterday that it would be rolling out the SDXC (SD eXtended Capacity) standard to succeed SDHC and become the format for capacities greater than 32GB. Eventually SDXC cards will be able to hold 2 terabytes of data and offer transfer speeds of 300MB per second.

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