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Welcome to the Engadget BBS! How's it going? Sorry if you had a busy signal a bunch, the board's been growing like crazy-we're adding a third line next week, so check out the boards to get that number!
Nokia's Mobira Talkman
They're probably best known for their tires, but lately Finnish industrial conglomerate Nokia's been making a big push into the wireless biz with its Mobira subsidiary (best of luck with that, Nokia!). Mobira just introduced its latest ultraportable cellphone, the Talkman (positively no relation to the Walkman, so don't sue, ok, Sony?); clocking in at a mere 11 pounds, this bad boy will have you walking and talking in no time. Too heavy? Just have a junior exec carry it around for you!
NTT's "Shoulder Phone" lets you step out of the car
Someday we'll all have phones as portable as the 11-pound Mobira Talkman. Until then, NTT is making things a little easier with the "Shoulder Phone," which includes a transmitter that communicates with your car phone (you do have a car phone, right?), letting you set up base in a corner cafe around the corner from your parked car, and wow (or annoy, depending on your perspective) the other diners as you chat casually on your phone.
Apple ditches the
Lisa Macintosh XL
We really don't know what's going on at Apple these days. It was bad enough when they renamed the Lisa "Macintosh XL" (for what, Extra Large? Ex-Lisa?) back in January and started shipping it with that Macintosh emulation software. But now they've officially discontinued it and have shifted most development resources to the Macintosh. We'd like to think that this has something to do with Woz's recent departure, but it kind of seems like he's been out of the loop for a while to begin with. We still think this Macintosh thing is an overrated, underpowered poor stepchild to the Lisa, and that Jobs and Sculley will eventually come to their senses and scrap it. At least they've stuck with the Apple II line-without the Lisa, it looks like that's the only real hope for the future of this company.
You loved PC-DOS (or maybe you didn't), you live with MS-DOS, but it's too early to sit around and for Micro-soft's IBM parnership on OS/2 to yield fruit. So after years of delays in finishing this damned thing, we've finally got their big new program, Windows 1.0! It actually lets you run more than one DOS application at a time, and even has a shell they call MS-DOS Executive, and a terminal, cardfile, and calculator program. We don't really know how they think they can take on the Macintosh user interface, though, so don't be surprised if the little Arizona startup that could, well, can't. By the way, have you guys seen that freaking commercial on TV?
The Amiga 1000
Originally designed to be a killer game machine, the Amiga 1000 ended up being so righteous that it has morphed into a full-fledged computing machine in its own right. This baby totally owns with a 32-bit pre-emptive multi-tasking GUI, 4-channel stereo sound, 880k 3.5-inch floppy disks, and video modes up to 4096 colors - at once! That means animators and graphic artists are going to totally eat this system up - who knows, maybe the next episode of Voltron will be made on one of these.
Related entries: Digital Cameras
The good people at Fotomat aren't gonna dig this, but if you're tired of running down to the shop to get your photos developed you should check out this new "still video camera" that Fuji developed. The ES-1 can snap 640 x 480 pixel pics with its 2/3-inch digital sensor and then save the images to 3.5-inch floppy disks (if only those things didn't cost so damn much, anyone have a hook up on cheap floppies?) in a new file format called JPEG, or Joint Photographers Experts Group, that was created last year.
Jim Leftwich's Flatpanel Computer
One day in the future we'll all work at 200MHz tower desktops with 9600 baud modems, but until then we'll just have to keep dreaming. So while we're just making crap up, how's about the Flatpanel Computer mockup, by
crackpot "unconventional" designer Jim Leftwich. One little doozy of a pipe dream the computer actually has a flat screen. Whatever, Jim, it'll happen one day, we so believe you.
The Commodore 128 is an upgrade to the much-loved Commodore 64, featuring a whopping 128KB RAM (expandable to 640K) with an 80-column RGB monitor output. It features a two CPU design in which the primary 8502 CPU speeds along at a 2 MHz clock rate. The second CPU is the Zilog Z80, allowing the unit to run CP/M -- albeit more slowly than most dedicated CP/M systems. Still and all, this baby may just end up winning a place in the hearts and homes of many a hobbyist programmer, especially with those rugged good looks.
Nintendo's Famicom comes to the US as NES
We've been telling it to you for years (they just wouldn't listen), but at CES Japanese upstart Nintendo's finally announced they're importing their Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom, as they call it over in Japan) to the US. They even gave their box a slick redesign! The new Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) isn't top-loading anymore, but features a totally crazy spring-loaded insertion mechanism (you'll have to try it to believe it) and even non hardwired controllers. Unfortunately they made it so you can't play those bootleg games on the NES anymore, but this hot 8-bit piece of machinery might just compete against the Amiga and Commodore... if it's lucky.
The Texas Instruments TI4100
Damn, dude, GPS (that stands for global position system) receivers are shrinking like crazy. We thought things were getting out of hand when we saw those $140,000 four-channel receivers that only weigh 80 pounds and need two car batteries to run, but the Texas Instruments TI4100 gets away with reducing that size by halving the channels, yet it still plots longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates... simultaneously, no less. Welcome to the future, friends.
The Texas Instruments TI-74
The Texas Instruments TI-74 programmable calculator replaces the CC40 and adds mass storage in the form of an optional cassette interface. It's a workhorse as a scientific calculator and as a portable BASIC programming environment at a size of about 4 x 8-inches. Its 4 AAA batteries can power its 31 character LCD well into the double digits of "on" time, which means plenty of juice for those long into the night calculation parties (we know you're out there). Plenty of horsepower here at 8K RAM and 32 4K ROM, so don't be shy -- get calculatin'!
NHK's Hi-Vision kicks it into high gear
So NHK has been working for years on this new technology called Hi-Vision, another name for MUSE (multiple sub-nyquist sampling encoding), which is basically a way of making your TV picture look a lot sharper (let's call it "sharp definition TV," or SDTV for short). Current sets have a 4:3 aspect ratio and as many as 480 lines, where these new Japanese "SDTVs" will be 5:3 ultra widescreen, and have 1125 lines (they could even one day look as good as the picture above, taken of a Hi-Vision test unit). Really, is there anything the Japanese can't do?
Mitsubishi's 35-inch direct view color TV
Sure, you could sacrifice picture quality and pick up one of those newfangled projection TVs that are popping up, but you're probably above that, right? Right, which is why we're all over Mitsubishi's latest salvo, which includes a 35-inch color TV that ranks as the world's largest direct view screen. You so can't even mess with this.
The Tandy 600
The Tandy 600 sports a flip-up 80x16 LCD, built-in 300 baud modem, parallel port, reset button, display control, floppy disk expansion port and an RS-232 serial port. Its onboard 32K RAM 160K ROM is maybe a bit cramped, but you can add up to two additional 96K RAM modules for plenty of leg room to stretch out. Its internal nickel-cadmium battery pack takes 14 hours to charge, but gets you between 6 and 11 hours of computing time on a single run. It's pretty light to at only 9.5 pounds (11 with the AC adapter), but maybe a little ungainly (13 x 12 x 2.75-inches). At least it's not too unreasonably priced at $1599 to $2528.85 depending on configuration. It's not like we can predict the future or anything, but this is where we're going, people.
Kaypro 2000 lap-top marks new era of affordable portability
We really like portable computers; we've broken our backs with Osbornes, Compaqs and others without complaint, glad that we can work on the road. But we're really impressed with the recent lap-tops from companies like Toshiba, and the Kaypro 2000 looks like it's destined to be a major step forward. Weighing in at just 13 pounds (our trusty Compaq weighs 28 pounds) - including its tiny 3 1/2-inch floppy drive - the IBM PC-compatible computer has a solid 256K of RAM (expandable to a massive 768K), a sharp 80x25 liquid-crystal-display screen and options that include an adaptor to add a second floppy drive and a "base unit" that has slots for floppy drives, expansion cards or hard-disk drives. While the lack of a standard 5.25-inch floppy drive is a frustrating oversight, you can pony up the $295 for the option and use it to load WordPerfect and VisiCalc, since we're not huge fans of the bundled software, WordStar and CalcStar. Kaypro's added some nice touches though, including a detachable keyboard and a battery that can run for up to four hours after charging for a day. At just $1,995, the Kaypro 2000 looks like a computer that will keep the Kaypro name alive well beyond the year 2000.
The Apple LaserWriter breaks ground by bringing cheap quality printing to the consumer for the first time. It's hard to imagine true laser printing could ever come in as low-cost as $6,995, but the LaserWriter delivers near-typeset quality prints to small businesses and offices. It uses the AppleTalk networking protocol to make the printer available across the network, so listen up, worker drones - your printouts aren't going to your trusty desktop dot matrix anymore. Just don't slip up and print out that letter from your new "special friend," because the rest of your office knows you're married, dig?
The first CD-ROM: Grolier Encyclopedia available on compact-disc
As much as we love new gadgets, we haven't exactly rushed out to buy compact-discs (though we did pick up a player last year). After all, the music we want comes out first on records, so why wait longer and pay more for a CD - other than the fact that the record industry says they're scratch-proof and will last forever? However, now that compact-discs for computers have arrived, we may just change our tune. The first compact-disc read-only-memory (CD-ROM) disc to hit the market is the Grolier Electronic Encyclopedia. Yeah, we'd much rather have Britannica, too. But the fact that all 9 million words in the encyclopedia fit on one disk with room to spare, may just make this thing worth buying. And we really can't wait for other software to start showing up on these things, so we can finally stop having to swap floppies a hundred times when we install new programs. The only downside of these new disks seems to be that they're not recordable. Imagine that: storing over 500 MB of space on a single disk. We're not quite sure how we'd actually fill all that space, but we'd still take it over a box of floppies in a heartbeat.
GammaFax lets you send and receive faxes without the slime
We still get a kick out of fax machines, especially since we upgraded from our old drum-based acoustic-coupler model to a standalone unit. But we still can't stand that slimy paper that always seems to curl up and discolor before we've even finished reading the message we've received. But now that GammaLink has put out the GammaFax card for IBM-compatible PCs, it looks like the fax machine's days are numbered. We can't wait to try this out and start sending and receiving faxes using our computer. Of course, we dread configuring this thing; somehow, we're sure we'll be up for two nights just getting all the IRQ settings right. But it'll be worth it, if we can actually send a fax straight from WordPerfect.
CES this year was a blast (too bad they wouldn't let us in to any of the casinos), but we've been laying low because of midterms. Next year is really gonna suck, though, CATs! Anyway, we have a new tape out, so send in for it, will you?
Get the tapecast
We'll trade for a copy of your tapecast. Or send us $1 (or a blank cassette) with a SASE with your name and address, and we'll shoot it to ya first class hand-delivered by a uniformed Federal employee.
Peter Rojas and Ryan Block
00:40 Windows 1.0 is finally done!
02:23 Our sisters got Petsters
08:14 Nintendo totally rocks!
10:03 We're outta here!
Citizen's AM/FM watch
You're so not ready for this-check out Citizen's new digital watch. Pretty slick lookin', eh? You wouldn't have even noticed if we didn't tell you, but oh, did you see that there happens to be an AM/FM radio receiver in there? Yeah, you heard us right-you can listen to your radio on your wrist with this thing. Man, you are gonna get so many chicks.
Panasonic's SG-J500 lets you take your records on the road
We've wanted a boombox with a turntable ever since we caught sight of the gold-tone Marantz PMS 6000 a couple of years ago. But it looks like we'll just have to settle for Panasonic's SG-J500. Powered by 4 D's (aren't they all?), this is the rock box for us - after all, if we're going to blast the latest from Run-DMC, do we really want to have to copy it to a cassette first? We just worry a little about skipping when we hoist this baby onto our shoulders. Then again, some scratching may just give us a whole new jam.
Sony Discman D-50 MK2
Hold on a second, you're still walking around with a Walkman? Dude, that's so over, Sony's just introduced a new version the D-50, the first Discman which they introduced late last year. That's right, Discman, as in compact-discs, as in perfect sound forever in your pocket (just make sure you don't bop too hard or you'll make the player skip). Taking that first step into the future should only set you back about ¥49,800.
Is it really so hard for someone to build a robot that can grab us a friggin' RC Cola out of the fridge while we're MUDing? Apparently not, since General Robotics just busted out the RB5X, a programmable household bot which comes complete with a robotic arm (for grabbing said RC Cola), a speech synthesizer (finally, someone to chat with!), and a whopping 18K expansion RAM module.
Petster is a remote-controlled and sound-operated feline so powerful it takes six D batteries to operate. When turned on, its green LED eyes glow with a haunting charisma unmatched by any actual pet you could acquire. Your robotic friend can be controlled by specific clap formations that prompt Petster to do unusual tricks, and when left alone she'll eventually fall asleep and start to purr. Petster is a bit on the pricy side - we ain't gonna lie. But really, as compared to the cost and hassle of actual live-blooded pets, we think our choice is clear. We've ordered a fleet of feline robotic overlords to keep us company here at Engadget HQ.
Gibson Light Pen System
Did you ever have dreams where you could just draw on your home computer screen like you can with your Atari or Commodore? Not with a pen or anything-you know what we mean, like, with a device-and it would act like a mouse or the like. Well step back, because for a mere $100 you can get the same kind of Koala Light Pen device you know and love, but by Gibson, and now it works on your Apple IIe. We are so doing all our art on our Apple machines from now on.
Seiko Datagraph UC-2001
Listen slackers, pull yourself together with the Seiko Datagraph UC-2001. It syncs up with your Apple II via the Time Trax II scheduling software, so your appointments are available as plain scrollable text, right there on your wrist! It's chock full of 2K worth of memory, which should be plenty overkill for storing the social life of any geek for the next several decades. But that's not all - oh no! Beyond scheduling, you can also store notes on the Datagraph via the Memo Pad function. And as long as the contents of your brain don't total more than 2K, you're totally good to go.
FCC releases ISM bands
The Federal Communications Commission has opened up the so-called Industrial, Scientific and Medical bands for use by low-power transmitters. We're not really sure what kind of devices can make use of these frequencies, though we're sort of hoping someone can come up with a cordless phone that works better than the one we've got. If you've ever used one of these, you know what we mean; at 27 MHz, the thing is nearly useless, and we're tired of having every cab driver in New York interrupt our calls.