Xbox 360 Fall Update Details Revealed: 1080p, Auto-Download, WMV Playback And More

Microsoft has finally seen fit to release the details of its Xbox 360 dashboard update. Scheduled for release the morning of October 31st — yes, that’s today — the update will add the much-talked about 1080p / HD DVD support, as well as the ability to play WMV files from a connected PC, disc, or USB storage device. Currently, users can only stream video from connected Windows Media Center PCs, but any XP machine running Windows Media Connect or Windows Media Player 11 should be able to do it post-update, as demonstrated during a press conference in Japan with several 720p-encoded videos. This compares to the PlayStation 3’s recently-revealed compatibility with MPEG-4 and other video files, but so far neither has announced support for DivX / Xvid and Media Transcode 360 still requires Media Center. Apparently only 84 things needed fixing this time, down from the 125 in the spring update, including the option to automatically download demos of new Xbox Live Arcade titles, Zune media streaming, wireless headset support, XNA Game Studio Express and numerous improvements to video playback and menu handling.

[Via AV Watch]

Virgin Gives Birth to One-Eyed Monster

Kyocera%20Cyclops.jpg

The verdict is still out on Virgin Mobile’s new Cyclops phone (the red and white is too Santa Claus for us), but the one-eyed monster will have a few, albeit modest, features. In addition to its 1-megapixel cam, it’ll have a new feature called TXT Tones ($1.50/each), which lets you pair incoming text messages with a distinct ringtone. It’ll also have Mobile Audio Messaging, a way of sending recorded voice messages as instant messages (sounds a little silly to us, why not just type your message or leave a voicemail). Pricing hasn’t been set on the latter, though chances are you can expect a nice gouging from the one-eyed monster. The Cyclops will be out Thursday for $100 bucks.

Virgin Mobile Intros Kyocera Cyclops [via Electronista]

Patent Granted For Walking On Water Invention

October 31, 2006 History suggests humans have always been captivated with the possibility of walking on water with references to it in Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. In Egyptian mythology the god Horus walked on water, and in Greek mythology Orion, the son of the gods walked on water. Indeed, Leonardo da Vinci even conceived a set of shoes and stocks which would enable this highly improbable act. Now, thanks to an invention by Massachusetts inventor Yoav Rosen, it seems we may be in need of a new colloquialism for the impossible. Rosen’s Da Vinci-like pontoon shoes have just been granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for an “Upright Human Floatation Apparatus And Propulsion Mechanism” and enable him to do just that (video here). Rosen’s company wishes to focus its business activities on its equally remarkable standing kayaks, and is seeking to license or sell its water-walking technology. We spoke with Rosen about his invention. See a video here. (read more…)

Product Packaging Screenshots: Windows Vista & Office 2007

With Windows Vista and 2007 Office system, Microsoft didn’t just redesign the software packages themselves, but they are also introducing new packaging for the two products. The packaging has been completely revised and, they hope, foreshadows the great experience that awaits you once you open it. ~Oh God!!!~

Check out the photos below.


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Microsoft Offers Free Accounting Suite

Microsoft released on Monday free business-management software aimed at either the smallest of small businesses or at painfully late adopters.

Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007 is for “starting businesses and home-based businesses that currently use pen and paper or spreadsheets” to run their operations, according to the company’s online FAQ.

The software is available for free download at Microsoft’s IdeaWins Web site. It resembles the Microsoft Outlook e-mail client and integrates with other Microsoft Office software.

Functions include creating invoices, quotes, receipts and customizable reports, as well as expense tracking, payroll and tax processing, credit reporting, online sales and monitoring employee time. Office Accounting Express 2007 users can also import data from Intuit QuickBooks, Microsoft Money and Microsoft Office Excel, and they can use Office Live to share information with an accountant.

Office Accounting Express 2007 also links to third parties that offer additional fee-based services, including ADP for payroll, eBay for online sales, Equifax for credit checks and PayPal for online payments.

The new product is an example of how Microsoft has been forced to change its business model as more software for small-business owners becomes freely available.

Office Accounting Express 2007 will also be included in the Small Business, Professional and Office Ultimate versions of Microsoft Office 2007.

Microsoft recommends that small businesses “with more-complex needs, such as inventory management, multicurrency invoicing, multiuser access and fixed asset management,” use Office Accounting Professional 2007, which is set for release in early 2007 for $149.

WirelessHD Standard Coming in Spring 2007

New Special Interest Group Employs 60 GHz Technology for True Uncompressed High-Definition Video/Audio/Data Transmission
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SUNNYVALE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– LG Electronics Inc., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (Panasonic), NEC Corporation, SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS, CO., LTD, SiBEAM, Inc., Sony Corporation and Toshiba Corporation today announced that they are working as a special interest group called WirelessHD to develop a specification for a wireless high-definition digital interface (WirelessHD™ or WiHD™), that is intended to enable high-definition audio video (A/V) streaming and high-speed content transmission for consumer electronics (CE) devices. In addition to actively promoting the new format throughout the industry, WirelessHD will present the format available for adoption as soon as the specifications are completed, in Spring 2007.

The migration to high-definition content along with the proliferation of digital source devices has intensified consumers’ desire to simply and flexibly connect to highest quality, high-definition displays and consumer electronics systems. In-Stat notes that global sales of devices with a high-speed digital A/V interface is expected to grow from 60M units in 2006 to 495M units in 2009.

“Emerging as the first consumer electronics industry initiative for wireless uncompressed digital video transmission, WirelessHD will provide consumers wireless flexibility and ease of use while preserving the benefits traditionally associated with popular wired alternatives for point-to-point display, such as HDMI and DVI,” said Brian O’Rourke, a Senior Analyst with In-Stat/MDR. “The data rates (or bandwidth) that WirelessHD will support are truly impressive.”

WirelessHD, which intends to specify the unlicensed, globally available 60 GHz frequency band, will enable wireless uncompressed high-definition, high-quality video and data transmission and is first targeted to be built into HDTV’s as well as a wide range of audio video (A/V) devices, both fixed location and portable.

“The availability of high-definition wireless connections stands to eliminate the morass of cables, switches and other complexities traditionally needed to support the wide variety of devices consumers have and will continue to buy, such as HDTVs, HD disc players, digital video cameras and game consoles. With high-definition wireless links, media streaming and transmission from any source to any display or recorder is dramatically simplified by removing the need for a hard-wired connection. WirelessHD will provide a high-speed wireless digital interface that will enable customers to simply connect, play, transmit and port their HD content in a secure manner,” stated John Marshall, Chairman of WirelessHD.

The participants’ commencement of WirelessHD relates to acknowledgement that industry support is critical. In addition, commencement of WirelessHD relates to the recent availability of several new technologies that make it possible to achieve the multi-gigabit data rates required for uncompressed video streaming. Such breakthroughs enable low cost, better image quality, and higher performance wireless A/V systems. The key characteristics and focal technologies include:

  • High interoperability supported by major CE device manufacturers
  • Uncompressed HD video, audio and data transmission, scaleable to future high-definition A/V formats
  • High-speed wireless, multi-gigabit technology in the unlicensed 60 GHz band
  • Smart antenna technology to overcome line-of-sight constraints of 60 GHz
  • Secure communications
  • Device control for simple operation of consumer electronics products
  • Error protection, framing and timing control techniques for a quality consumer experience

“After its launch, WirelessHD has great potential to be adopted rapidly in the consumer electronics segment. WirelessHD should first appear in adapter products, followed by digital televisions and projectors, DVD players, and set-top boxes. Other potential markets include game consoles and portable devices,” said O’Rourke of In-Stat/MDR.

The convergence of these industry leaders with a common application focus, accompanied by the latest advances in wireless technology and available spectrum, represents a unique opportunity for the industry that stands to change the way consumers access and manage high-definition digital content today and tomorrow. In the development of this industry initiative, WirelessHD looks to build momentum at this time by issuing a call for additional interest. Interested companies can visit www.WirelessHD.org or email info@wirelesshd.org.

About WirelessHD

Formed in 2006, LG Electronics Inc., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd (Panasonic), NEC Corporation, SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO., LTD, SiBEAM, Sony Corporation and Toshiba Corporation, have joined together to create the next generation wireless interface specification for HD media streaming and transmission. WirelessHD will facilitate technical advancement by creating a specification focused on fixed and portable devices. WirelessHD is the first consumer electronics and technology industry-supported, high definition digital wireless interface for simplified media streaming and HD content portability. For more information on WirelessHD, please visit www.wirelesshd.org.