May 29, 2009

Gamers locked, loaded for E3 conference

Looks like we're in store for some exciting announcements out of E3 2009, the annual gaming conference that's set to kick off next week in Los Angeles.

Besides the usual parade of new game titles, Sony appears poised to show off the PSP Go, a rumored PlayStation Portable revamp complete with slide-out controls, flash memory, and -- most interestingly -- no UMD disc drive, leading to (even more) speculation that Sony might also be prepping a downloadable game rental service and an online PSP music store.

Meanwhile, Microsoft will have its new touchscreen Zune HD on hand, plus more details on how the Zune Marketplace will take over the Xbox Live video store. Will the Zune finally be able to play movie purchases and rentals from Xbox Live? I certainly hope so.

Finally, motion controllers might make a big splash at E3, with both Microsoft and Sony rumored to have new, Wii-like motion-sensitive controllers in the pipeline. All in all, great stuff.

In other news: Sprint says its Palm Pre exclusive runs through 2009, meaning AT&T and Verizon Wireless subscribers will just have to wait their turn; IMAX boss promises to better inform moviegoers about the smaller digital IMAX screens; the Circuit City Web site comes back to life; and teens are apparently sending scores (or even hundreds, in some cases) of text messages a day, much to the consternation of physicians and psychologists.

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May 22, 2009

Sprint finally tees up the Palm Pre, but supply could be scarce

Feels like we've been waiting months for the Palm Pre to finally get a release date -- and, in fact, we have been waiting for months (since early January, to be exact). But on Tuesday, the word finally came from Sprint: June 6 will be the magic day, and as for the price tag? $199, with a two-year contract and $100 mail-in rebate. Analysts (and even Sprint CEO Dan Hesse himself) have already predicted a shortage of handsets, which means we could be looking at an instant sellout. That would be great publicity for Sprint and Palm, of course, both of which are in dire need of a hit. Release strategy aside, I'm looking forward to the Pre more than I have any smartphone since ... well, the first iPhone, to be perfectly honest. With any luck, I'll be getting a review unit soon.

Also this week: More leaks about the rumored new iPhone (remember the iPhone?) and the BlackBerry Storm 2; I checked out the Novatel MiFi for Verizon and loved it; Sony reportedly mulls a music store and downloadable game rentals for the PSP; and the Air Force promises that it's got the increasingly shaky situation with our aging fleet of GPS satellites well in hand, really.

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May 08, 2009

Countdown begins for Palm Pre, new iPhone

We're just a month away from Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, and for those of us who cover tech, that means just one thing -- a new iPhone is on the way, and the rumor mill has already kicked into high gear. Purported new featuers include an upgraded camera, a digital compass, and voice recognition, as well as (potentially) an upgraded processor for better gaming performance. Of course, Apple and AT&T are under added pressure to wow us this year, given word that the BlackBerry Curve just surpassed the iPhone as the most popular smartphone in the country.

Adding to the suspense this year is Palm's impending launch of the much-anticipated Pre, which is giving the iPhone a run for its money in the hype department. Still no word from Palm about when the Pre will actually launch (it's supposed to arrive in the "first half" of this year, which is almost over), but recent rumors peg either June 5 or 8 (the eve of the WWDC) as the big day.

Also this week: Verizon Wireless and Novatel unveil the MiFi, a credit card-sized Wi-Fi router that taps into Verizon's EV-DO network; 3D Realms, the developer behind the still-unreleased "Duke Nukem Forever," bites the dust; I field reader questions about the upcoming 3G Sidekick LX; and RIM's CEO confirms that a next-generation BlackBerry Storm is on the way.

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May 01, 2009

Psst! It's all about rumors this week

Facts, schmacts. Instead, rumors ruled the week, starting with the buzz Monday that Verizon might get its very own iPhone and ending with Friday's chatter about a motion controller for the PlayStation 3. In between, we learned that Verizon might actually get two new "iPhone-like" devices (a smaller, thinner version of the iPhone, plus a droll-worthy "media hub"), while Verizon may or may not be talking to Microsoft about the long-rumored "Pink" phone, as well. (Or is Verizon just playing Microsoft off of Apple? Or is Apple simply putting pressure on AT&T? Questions, questions.)

Then there's the talk about a new "mini-Pre" from Palm, which may (or may not) be called the "Eos" and arrive on AT&T and/or Sprint later this year, or ... not. And don't forget whispers about a new PSP, dubbed (maybe?) the "PSP Go!," that could/maybe/possibly be unveiled next month at E3.

At least we got a few facts this week, including Cablevision's (official) plans to roll out 101Mbps broadband service for $99 a month starting this month (Verizon execs are calling it a "parlor trick," though), as well as a real-live, 3G-enabled Sidekick, which I got to test on Friday. Also: Readers go nuts for Redbox, the $1-a-night DVD kiosks.

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