Sharon Fisher

'Intel Inside' moves outside the PC, and fast

When Intel sold off its networking processor group to Marvell three years ago, some said Intel was letting go of its dream of connecting the planet's media devices. Wrong.

While Intel has been in the process of achieving Master of the Universe status over AMD for PC chips since last summer, it has also been taking steps to conquer the more mundane -- but potentially overwhelmingly profitable -- areas of industrial computing and consumer electronics devices.

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The case for VESA DisplayPort: Both open and shut

The Video Electronics Standards Association announced the next steps in its DisplayPort specification, but copy-protection features that can make it difficult for users to play back legitimately acquired content are still there.

First proposed in 2005, DisplayPort's advantage is that a single digital interface connects both internal and external displays. This means that DisplayPort can carry pixels directly from any display source to any LCD panel. Other advantages of DisplayPort over Digital Visual Interface (DVI) and VGA include a small USB-sized connector with available latching, two-way display connectivity, optional audio support, higher performance than dual link DVI at 10.8 Gbps, and a unique micro-packet architecture that enables new display features.

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Reading Palm's fortune: Does its life line now lead to glory?

It's a question worth asking: With the Pre looming upon the horizon, is this the same Palm we were talking about only 48 hours ago -- the Palm that was very near to being buried in the desert and fed upon by vultures?

The Pre is a tremendous device, but let's not forget that it has to get here. Sprint and Dan Hesse need to deliver on their promises of delivering a network for this device, and consumers might not have an easy time picturing those 10,000 guys in red and grey coats with service trucks and helicopters, standing behind them wherever they go, when they think of "Sprint." And Palm as a company is in very bad shape. Yes, it may have designed the product of the year, and it could very well have one-upped the iPhone -- we'll see. But Apple had a healthy business infrastructure going for it two years ago at this time, and it's even much healthier now, stock price notwithstanding. Palm is another affair.

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Verbatim's new keyboards add not only sound, but light

Having trouble finding space for speakers amidst the clutter on your desk? How about building them into the keyboard?

That's the theory behind TuneBoard, Verbatim's new product. The keyboard, which works with either Macs or PCs, features integrated dual stereo speakers that are angled towards the listener In addition, it includes a media console with seven multimedia keys for controlling iTunes or a Windows default music player.

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How many titles, again, are available in BD-Live?

Andy Parsons, who chairs promotions for the Blu-ray Disc Association, said during the Blu-ray press conference Thursday that only 21 Blu-ray titles included bonus features using BD-Live technology.

[ME's note: Correction made above to Mr. Parson's title.]

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Seagate evolves external storage into a media console

If you're the sort of person who likes to save lots of digital photos, video, and similar content to a hard disk drive, and would like to show it on a television rather than a computer monitor, here's the product for you.

The Seagate FreeAgent Theater HD media player, which works with a remote, is intended to work with the Seagate FreeAgent Go portable hard drive. The media player gets plugged into the TV once, and thereafter users can plug their FreeAgent Go drives into the media player without having to fumble with cables each time. It also includes a USB port for linking other non-Seagate FreeAgent Go devices.

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A once-unthinkable combo: a picture frame that hides a router

You know those dolls with the crocheted skirt your grandmother had on the back of the toilet, combining home decor with hiding the spare roll? Now D-Link hides a network router inside a digital picture frame.

The D-Link Xtreme N DIR-685 includes an 802.11n Wi-Fi router, an FTP server, network attached storage (how much, D-Link doesn't say), SharePort technology for sharing USB printers and scanners -- and a 3.2-inch LCD monitor that displays pictures, live streaming video and other Internet content, the weather, and network performance statistics and gauges.

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Kindle to deliver your daily news, sports, money, and life

USA Today -- which veteran journalist Linda Ellerbee once described as the newspaper for people who find the evening news too complex -- is now available on Amazon's Kindle electronic reading device.

The paper is said to be the top-selling newspaper in the U.S., with a total average daily circulation of 2.3 million and a daily readership of 5.4 million.

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Toshiba SSD creeps into an SAS

Showing the expansion of the use of flash memory into enterprise hardware, Toshiba said it was developing a solid-state drive using a SCSI (SAS) interface, making it suitable for high-performance enterprise storage.

Flash memory is solid state, is faster than traditional memory, uses less power, and produces less heat. But although it's earned a bad reputation lately among foundries for being cheap, compared to DRAM, it typically has been more expensive -- at least by the gigabyte -- and thus far it's been used primarily in laptops. On the other hand, servers that take less power and produce less heat could save data centers a lot of money.

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Making gestures at Hitachi's latest displays

Those of us who like to gesture at the television while watching news and sporting events are going to have to watch it, thanks to Hitachi.

This week at CES 2009, Hitachi is demonstrating a prototype television that is controlled by hand gestures instead of a remote.

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CES Countdown #1: How are manufacturers' perceptions changing about the consumer?

Up until now, the ultimate CE consumer has been the young 20-something male with money to burn and something to prove. With the credit market drying up, that fellow has to prove something else now.

Now that the carnage of the Christmas shopping season is over -- whether you're thinking of the pile of non-recyclable wrapping paper and bows under the tree or the success (or failure) of retail sites -- Consumer Electronics Show manufacturer attendees are bracing themselves and figuring out how to restructure themselves to make it through the rest of the recession.

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Sony expands the IPTV connection for its latest Bravias

Like Vizio, Sony announced at CES 2009 that its Bravia line of LCD HDTVs would include built-in streaming Internet capability without a set-top box.

The capability will be present in the XBR9 and Z-series models, which will include an Ethernet connection.

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Gateway's MD series tries for the multimedia mid-range

Gateway is announcing two new lines of notebooks: the MD Series, intended for entertainment and multimedia, and the UC Series, intended for "all-around mobility."

The MD Series has a 15.6-inch display with a 16:9 aspect ratio. It has an integrated webcam, as well as built-in wireless Internet and gigabit Ethernet. In addition to black, it also comes in burgundy.

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LG: 'Life's Good When It's Green'

Jumping on the green bandwagon, LG Electronics said it, too, was taking steps to make its products easier on the environment, a project it calls "Life's Good When It's Green."

The company did not offer specifics on how much energy would be saved or how much packaging would be reduced, but listed a number of components, including design, manufacture, reduced use of hazardous materials, improved recycling, reduction in greenhouse gases by 150 kilotons per year by 2020 in manufacturing and 30 megatons by 2020 in products, imposing similar standards on its vendors, and initiating a labeling program so consumers know about the programs.

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Panasonic's latest Blu-ray player is a tag-along

Panasonic announced what it said was the first portable Blu-ray Disc player, which will be available in May for an undisclosed price.

The company said the DMP-B15 will have the same functionality as other Panasonic Blu-ray players such as the DMP-BD60, the DMPBD80, and the DMP-B70V, but would include a three-hour rechargeable battery (okay, no epics), and an optional headrest mounting bracket for use in a car (by the passengers, presumably).

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