Monthly Archives: March 2007

Spain refutes charges that it is blocking Galileo

Heise: Spain refutes charges that it is blocking GalileoSpain is refuting charges that it is blocking Galileo, the European project for a satellite navigation system. In its Saturday issue, El País of Madrid quotes a high-ranking Spanish government official in Brussels who said that, “We only fighting for what was agreed in 2005.” Specifically, the official said that there was an agreement that Spain would have two control centres. But now, the Spaniard said that Germany and Italy are trying to undermine this agreement to get a larger mandate for themselves. He says that Spain will insist that this agreement reached at the end of 2005 be upheld at the meeting of EU transport ministers next week.

The Spanish official was reacting to charges from industry representatives that Spanish industry partners were preventing Galileo from moving forward. Apparently, all of the members of the industrial consortium aside from Spanish companies AENA and Hispasat have signed an agreement to found an operating company and appointed a representative to that company. Everyone else allegedly wants to launch the company “as soon as possible.” In addition to the two Spanish firms, the consortium includes Alcatel-Lucent, EADS, Finmeccanica, Inmarsat, TeleOp and Thales.

Industry insiders say that the dispute concerns a Spain’s demand for a third Galileo control centre, among other things. Up to now, only two control centres are being constructed, one in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich and the other in the Italian town of Fucino. Industry experts say that a third centre is not needed.

On Friday, Germany’s Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee (SPD) threatened to support a renewed call for tenders for the project, which is designed to help Europe break the monopoly that the United States currently has with its Global Positioning System (GPS). The consortium is expected to have a final deadline of May 10.

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Apple to debut Apple TV today?

Bizjournals: Apple Inc. is expected to debut its much anticipated Apple TV on Tuesday, possibly allowing the high-tech company to sell high-definition movies and TV programs, according to a published report Monday.

Apple has fixed some problems and updated software to prepare for the launch, according to Investor’s Business Daily. The company’s most recent versions of iTunes includes a “Look for Apple TV” panel and an Apple TV Help section. (…)

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A design concept by a cellphone hater

Gizmodo: Here’s a concept for a cellphone patterned after a matchbox, where the most often-used buttons are on the outside. The inside slides out just as a matchbox does, revealing its numeric keypad.

Designed by self-professed cellphone hater Lv Zhongfang, this ultra-small design it would fit well in a pocket but expands into a more practical size when needed, much as a clamshell does. (…).

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Google Phone is in the works, say insiders

Reuters: Google Inc. is developing its own mobile phone, according to industry insiders and analysts, while a Google official in Spain last week acknowledged the company is “investigating” such a project.Google isn’t commenting directly on leaks from Europe and the United States which describe a low-cost, Internet-connected phone with a color, wide-screen design. Newspaper and blog reports in recent months have Google shopping its phone design to potential mobile phone manufacturing partners in Asia.

“Mobile is an important area for Google,” Google spokeswoman Erin Fors said on Friday. “We remain focused on creating applications and establishing and growing partnerships with industry leaders to develop innovative services for users worldwide. However, we have nothing further to announce.” (…)

To be sure, feverish speculation about Google products has been wrong before. Google was widely reported to be building its own line of personal computers a little over a year ago. What in fact materialized was a set of free software programs designed to make any existing Windows PCs easier to use.

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205-inch LCD TV: big, but is it clever?

Ubergizmo: Just when you thought those 108″ LCD TVs were just about the largest HDTVs available in the market, Technovision throws everyone into disarray by displaying the massive 205″ Luxio LCD TV at CeBIT.

This monstrosity measures 4.55m by 2.56m, requiring you to live in a mansion at the very least. The Luxio TV is HD ready and comes with a 16:9 widescreen format for your enjoyment.

Luxio 205-inch LCD TV

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The world’s first “personal cinema system”

Electronista: Headplay has announced its Personal Cinema System. Composed of three parts, the unit creates the equivalent of a 52-inch screen six feet away through its goggles, serving as an alternative to seatback screens on passenger planes or for viewing at home.

What makes this different from other systems that have tried the approach before is a breakout box dubbed the Liberator, Headplay notes. Besides allowing both PCs and TVs to attach to the visor, it has a video decoding engine that plays photos or videos directly from one of several inputs: a Dock Connector handles video directly from iPods, while full and mini USB ports as well as a CompactFlash card slot handle input from cameras. RCA and S-video jacks accept most analog video sources. The PCS also includes a distinctive remote.

Titled the Navigator, the device lets the wearer manage content on some digital playback sources and also doubles as a headphone jack for the supplied earbuds or another outside speaker system. Headplay anticipates delivering the PCS as a bundle in June for $499 (375 euro).

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HD DVD sets up European promotional group

RTO Online: Studio Canal, Universal, Toshiba and Microsoft have announced at CeBIT the formation of a new trade organization to promote HD DVD in Europe. The European HD DVD Promotional Group is the European counterpart to the North American HD DVD Promotional Group and completes the global promotion structure for HD DVD, working to educate consumers on the quality and value of the format.

The existing marketing campaign, which showcases HD DVD as “The Look and Sound of Perfect” will be used to highlight European perspectives, with the launch of country-specific pages the groups website.

The association and its member companies plan to back the campaign with promotions, and trade and consumer marketing through the 2007 Holiday season and into 2008. The campaign will promote the format and co-market HD DVD hardware.

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Design speakers with a soft touch

Popgadget: Designed by Jacob Palmborg, these cute little speakers attach to your backpack, your belt, or your tent should you happen to be camping. Jacob recommends combining a bunch of them to make a portable sound system. The bottom half houses a carrying strap and protection sock that can be dragged out for protection (that’s the fushia-colored core you see in the pictures).He won a design award for these but there’s no word on the site about when — or how — these would be coming to market. I just know I want a pair, or maybe 6.

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US Equity Firm gets JVC

TWICE: Matsushita has reportedly accepted a bid from the U.S. private equity firm TPG to purchase its JVC unit, according to the Nikkei Business Daily.

According to that report, Matsushita and TPG reportedly reached a preliminary agreement late last week and are working out details of the acquisition, including the final sale price. Nikkei said Matsushita will sell all of its shares, totaling 52.4 percent of JVC’s equity.

“Nothing has been decided,” Matsushita and Victor Company of Japan, maker of the JVC brand, said today in separate statements filed to the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Nikkei also reported that TPG’s bid was estimated to have been 50 yen per share higher than that of rival U.S. bidder Cerberus Capital Management.

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Euro chairman of Blu-ray Association optimistic

AV Zombie: Blu-ray has already beaten HD DVD and will replace DVD in just three years. That’s the wildly optimistic prediction of Frank Simonis, European chairman of the Blu-ray Association.

Speaking at the Cebit tech-fest in Germany, on the eve of the European launch of the PS3, Simonis said that by the end of 2006, Blu-ray had taken 96 per cent of the HD market in Japan, and that Europe would follow. He concluded “Content is king and BD has the content.”

Currently there are thoughts to be in excess of 140 million DVD players in use worldwide. The Blu-ray market consists of approx. 2 million units, most of which are games machines.

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Mobile roaming fees set to fall 70% under EU deal

Guardian: The cost of ringing home from Europe on a mobile phone could be capped at about 30p a minute (0,43 euro) from the early summer after telecoms ministers from the EU’s 27 countries agreed in principle yesterday to cut operators’ “roaming” fees by up to 70%.The ministers, who reached a deal during informal talks at the CeBIT technology fair in Hanover, hope to wrap up a legislative package by early June after it gains approval from MEPs in May, with the new law coming into effect by early July.

Heavily promoted by heads of government at their spring summit in Brussels last week, the new law is seen as effective proof of the EU as a consumer champion that is willing and able to act on behalf of the interests of its 500 million citizens.

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BMW’s new WiFi multimedia system

Engadget: BMW recently revealed their latest in-car multimedia system at the Geneva Motor Show.

According to Wired blog Autopia, the system can be loaded up with audio and video content off your PC via WiFi while you’re parked in the driveway, or via a cellular link when you’re on the road.

Unfortunately, they didn’t provide many details on the console itself, other than that it boasts 20GB of storage and will apparently be able to record radio content as well.

It’s also not clear when we might see such a system installed in a future BMW, with the company only saying that it “could” be commercially available within three years, adding that licensing and copyright issues are (not surprisingly) the main things holding it back.

BMW Multimedia System

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