Font : The capital times
The economy might be mired in the deepest recession in decades, but that didn't stop companies from introducing a wide range of new gadgets at the 42nd annual Consumer Electronics Show last weekend in Las Vegas.
CES did see about a 10 percent drop in exhibitors with 2,700, down from 3,000 last year. In part, that's because the lead time for developing new products meant most were well along before the economy went south. It's likely that next year's CES could see a bigger impact from the recession.
77 Square took a look at the hot trends gadget lovers should keep an eye on:
Palm drew lots of attention when it unveiled its new smartphone, the Pre, which sports a large touch screen and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Yahoo called it the "clear winner" of best of show at CES, defining it as "a smartphone that's really going to give Apple a run for its money ... provided Palm and Sprint don't screw up in the ninth inning and price it way above what people are willing and able to pay."
The Pre will be available on Sprint Nextel Corp.'s wireless network in the first half of the year. The price was not released.
Panasonic unveiled the first portable Blu-ray player, set to go on sale in May, and it's expected that other manufacturers will follow suit.
Also in the Blu-ray arena, Sharp introduced a new line of high-end LCD HDTVs with a side-loading slot for Blu-ray discs, as well as DVDs and CDs. Some models will start shipping this month. The 32-inch models will start around $1,100, CNet.com reported.
That sure sounds more convenient than going to wherever your Blu-Ray player is set-up -- it's not uncommon to place equipment in the corner or even another room while the TV hangs on a wall -- to install a disc.
LG unveiled a wristwatch cell phone, the first with cellular broadband access and a camera. That means it could make two-way video calls, much like Dick Tracy did in the comic strips with his two-way "Wrist TV." The LG GD910 will go on sale overseas this year at an undetermined price, the Associated Press reported, but it's unclear if the gadget will be available in the U.S.
Anyone who connects devices to their computers should get excited over Symwave and Seagate providing the first demonstration of "SuperSpeed," or USB 3.0. It is the first major upgrade since USB 2.0 debuted nearly a decade ago, eventually becoming the dominant technology for connecting devices to a computer.
In addition to jumping speeds from 480 megabits per second to a theoretical 5 gigabits per second, USB 3.0 promises backward compatibility with the 10 billion USB devices shipped to date.
"In our simulations, we're seeing in the neighborhood of six to seven times the throughput" compared to USB 2.0, Craig Stein, Symwave's vice president of engineering, told PCWorld.com. "We think that, over time, as more software optimization is done, we'll get closer to the theoretical improvement" of about 10 times.
The company hopes to roll out peripheral devices with USB 3.0 in time for the 2009 Christmas shopping season, Stein said.
HDTVs with a 120 hertz refresh rate -- twice the rate of the previous standard -- have been hot in the last couple of years, particularly among sports fans who appreciate how the 120HZ rate minimizes the blurring of fast action common with the old standard.
Sony is among the companies that have introduced 240HZ TVs but LG Electronics is taking refresh rate to new levels with a 480HZ TV previewed at CES. No timeframe for release was available on the 480HZ TV.
Both LG Electronics and Vizio announced that some of their TVs will have built-in access to movie rentals from online video retailer Netflix, as the TV and the computer continue to converge.
One apparent casualty of the weakened economy is new giant screen TVs. The only major manufacturer that pushed the size envelope at CES this year was Sharp, which introduced an 82-inch screen to fill a gap between its models at 65 inches and 108 inches.
Instead, green TVs, attracted more attention at CES this year.
Sony introduced what it called its "first green line" of LCD TVs. The "Eco Bravia" models will use 40 percent less power than last year's models, exceeding the latest Energy Star requirements. Samsung and Panasonic announced TVs with similar cuts in power consumption, without branding them as "green."
3D TV was another hot topic at the convention, having garnered much publicity recently for 3D broadcasts of football games at selected movie theaters across the country.
"I believe 3-D is the next big wave coming to the consumer electronics industry," Woo Paik, chief technology officer at LG, told the Associated Press.
Panasonic is pushing the hardest for 3D TV and wants the industry to unite on standards to get 3-D content to TVs, which it thinks could lead to commercial products in 2010. Many TV sets are already capable of showing 3-D images that can be viewed with special glasses, but there are no discs or disc players for 3-D content, nor are there 3-D broadcasts.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., said the studio now makes all its movies in 3-D, and thinks that transition is as important as the one from black-and-white to color. But home viewing is not first on his mind.
Instead, 3-D "represents the opportunity to re-energize our audiences worldwide about the film medium, to give them a new exciting premium experience that can only be seen in the movie theaters," he told the Associated Press.
Satellite TV provider DISH Network unveiled a new DVR that is the first with embedded Slingbox technology that allows people to watch their favorite TV shows on any Internet-enabled device. For example, a traveler can use a laptop or mobile phone with a broadband connection to watch the programming DISH delivers to their home DVR, including recorded programs. The device won a "Best of CES" award from the editors of technology news site, Cnet.com.
Sony released the first digital camera that has a built-in Web browser. The Cybershot DSC-G3 uses Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet, and the browser makes it easy to upload to photo-sharing sites like Flickr and Picasa. It will be available this month for $500, according to the Associated Press.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced the release of the beta test version of its new Windows 7 operating system. So far, the reviews for 7 have been better than the much-maligned Windows Vista.
"Given the beta (test version) that I'm using, I think the reaction to 7 will be far more positive than it was for Vista," blogger Adrian Kingsley-Hughes said on ZDNet.
Touch-screen computers also were a head-turner at CES, with HP, Asus, Shuttle, and MSI all unveiling touch screen PCs, according to PCWorld.com.
Tech products for older folks were a special focus at CES this year, with its first "Silver Summit" showcase of products and services dedicated to the aging gadget lover.
HP and Microsoft teamed up for the SeniorPC, a standard PC with software added on top of Windows with simple icons for browsing the Web, listening to music and sending e-mail. HP also includes memory games and prescriptions-management software. Buyers can outfit the machines with options like larger keyboards or a trackball mouse. Several packages are available for $1,175 to $1,295 on Microsoft's Web site.
Microsoft also is improving the screen magnifier built inside Windows 7, magnifying the entire screen (as opposed to just a smaller window) and magnifying video for the first time.
The ClarityLife C900 from Clarity is a smartphone designed for older folks with a large, easy-to-read display and big buttons to simplify dialing. The sound is twice as loud, and it features a one-touch emergency-response button on the back of the phone. Cost is $269.95, or $185 with 1-year service plan.
Font : Varis
SAN FRANCISCO - Google Inc. is offering financial incentives to expand the sales network for the software it sells to businesses while restricting the use of a free alternative in its quest to make money on something besides Internet advertising.
Under a new program to be unveiled Wednesday, Google will sell a package of e-mail, word processing and other office applications to third-party software resellers at a 20 percent discount in the United States. It will be up to the participating merchants whether the savings are passed along to their corporate customers, said Dave Girouard, who runs Google's business software division.
Google charges a $50 annual fee per user for its premium software service, meaning the vendors will have to pay the Mountain View-based company $40 per user. Girouard suspects many merchants will maintain Google's $50 base price to help defray their own overhead and shore up profit margins during hard times.
To increase the pool of potential customers for the software, Google for the first time is capping the number of people who can use a less sophisticated, free version of the applications at 50 individuals per business.
The new limit doesn't apply to the thousands of mostly small and medium-sized companies that have already signed up for free software programs.
Schools and nonprofit organizations will still have unlimited access to the free version of Google's software programs, which are piped over Internet connections and run in a Web browser.
The delivery method, dubbed "cloud computing," is a departure from the long-standing practice of installing programs directly on individual computers owned by the company that needs the applications to help run its business.
Google is betting cloud computing can help lessen its dependence on online advertising, which accounts for about 97 percent of its more than $20 billion in annual revenue.
With the expansion into business software, Google also hopes to siphon some corporate customers away from rival Microsoft Corp., which depends on its suite of office software products for a huge chunk of its profits.
Google has been selling subscriptions to its business applications for nearly two years, relying exclusively on an internal sales team that is now approaching nearly 300 employees. Although the company has been cutting costs to counteract the effects of the recession, Girouard said Google has no plans to trim its own software sales unit even as it recruits more external vendors to sell the products.
"This is meant to supplement what we already have been doing," Girouard said. Google says more than 1 million businesses currently use its application, although most are signed up for the free version.
About 50 vendors have been approved to sell Google's software so far. Most of them are relatively small firms specializing in business software products.
Font : 20 Minutos
l tribunal de Primera Instancia de Madrid nº 59 ha desestimado una demanda de la SGAE "por intromisión ilegítima en el derecho al honor" contra un artículo publicado en la página web de la Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) "por ser una cuestión que está en la calle" y "por afectar a los consumidores en general". El artículo en cuestión, publicado en junio de 2007, llevaba por título Por la desaparición de la SGAE, a las barricadas y en él se criticaba duramente a la entidad llegando a calificarla de "cueva de ladrones".
La sentencia estima que "debe prevalecer la libertad de expresión cuando, como aquí sucede, las retribuciones económicas que la actora (SGAE) obtiene por la aplicación del canon a determinados soportes motiva siempre polémica y posturas enfrentadas entre los distintos sectores de la sociedad".
Si los delincuentes van a prisión, la SGAE debería considerarse asociación criminal", dijo CNT
"Es una cuestión que está en la calle por afectar a los consumidores en general y que se vio reavivada con la modificación de la Ley de Propiedad Intelectual en lo relativo a la extensión del canon al soporte digital, por lo que es una cuestión opinable, sometida a debate, con posibilidad de contradicción y crítica", señala la sentencia.
Recoge el blog El Incordio qe la página web de la CNT publicó un texto de su Sindicato de Artes Gráficas, Comunicación y Espectáculos publicó un texto en el que comentaba la demanda que la sociedad de gestión de derechos interpuso contra la página de contenido anarquista Alasbarricadas. En él se decían cosas como que "Si algo sabe hacer la SGAE es robar. Cualquiera que disfrute de la cultura, cualquiera que la comparta, cualquiera que organice un evento cultural aunque sea sin ánimo de lucro es un enemigo, un objetivo a extorsionar por parte de esta cueva de ladrones dirigida por alguno de los más patéticos representantes de la incultura nacional. Si los delincuentes de poca monta son condenados a prisión, lo lógico sería que a la SGAE se la considerara asociación criminal".
Reflejando el sentir de la sociedad
La sentencia, que puede descargarse desde la web de la Asociación de Internautas, reconoce por otra parte que los términos empleados para este fin "son ásperos y duros" si bien "reflejan el sentir de un sector de la sociedad que entiende que el sistema que utiliza la actora (SGAE) para financiarse es desproporcionado y excesivo y que se está produciendo un enriquecimiento injusto (sea incierto o no) en detrimento de su propio patrimonio, al verse éste gravado con un canon que la SGAE aplica de forma indiscriminada".
Por todo ello, la sentencia entiende que "no existe intromisión ilegítima en el derecho de honor" de la SGAE y desestima su demanda en la que pedía retirar los contenidos "injuriantes" y abonar en concento de indemnización la cantidad de 9.000 euros más sus intereses legales junto a la imposición de costas procesales a la parte demandada