Phone frenzy

Gadgetbox is usually a strictly Wednesday affair, but as I spent the first half of the week in San Francisco for the madness that was Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, topped by last night’s red-eye back to the East Coast, it seemed prudent to delay a day. Now you get the ramblings of my addled, sleep-deprived mind—lucky you! If someone would just invent a device that could, say, transport me instantly across the country , that’d be great. Get on that.

On today’s special Thursday episode of Gadgetbox we’ve got a slew of new phones from Sony (don’t worry, I won’t use the words “iPhone killer”); a new portable media player from Archos; and a new way to skyrocket your lameness quotient: electronic rock, paper, scissors.

You know what? I think it’s time we admit the truth: this world’s a loss. Time to write it off.

Here comes the Sony

Sometimes it seems hard to believe, but there was a day when Sony was the undisputed king of the consumer electronics space. Given, that was back when a portable cassette tape player was the height of technological sophistication (how quaint!). Nowadays the consumer electronics market is staggering in its enormity , and Sony has tried hard to compete in each and every segment of that market.

While they haven’t necessarily had much success with MP3 players, mobile phones is a market in which they’ve done quite well, through their joint venture with Ericsson. Today, they rolled out a bunch of new phones (is there a term for that, like a “pride of lions”?), including a pair branded under their long- suffering serving “Walkman” brand.

The Walkman entries, the W910 and W960 (oh, Sony, when will you learn how to name a product?), are HSDPA and UMTS handsets respectively. The former has a nifty “Shake” functionality that lets you skip tracks by just flicking the phone (that’s a cool idea, but I wonder how it weeds out extraneous input), and something called SensMe that lets you build playlists based on tempo and style:

The unique visual shows each of your tracks as dots in a matrix, placed along a horizontal and vertical axis according to their attributes. This way you can circle a group of tracks that match your mood to create a playlist, or simply select individual tunes as you wish.

Weird sounding, but potentially cool. I wonder if I could identify a certain set of songs as my “anxious because I have to crank out a column on three hours of sleep” playlist.

Meanwhile, the W960 features 8GB of included memory, and the ability to navigate and browse your media on the 2.6” LCD screen with a stylus or your finger (it’s an iPhone killer friender !). With 3G, Wi-Fi, stereo Bluetooth support, and a 3.2 megapixel camera built-in, the W960 is no slouch. Both it and the W910 will both be available in Q4 this year.

Other handsets introduced include a pair of Cybershot camera phones, the K850 and Z320, the former of which is a HSDPA phone with a 5 megapixel camera (holy cow, that’s more than my digital camera); the Z250 clamshell and the K530, a slim 3G phone that will integrate with Sony’s HGE-100 GPS enabler to provide location information.

That’s a hail of new phones—I’m still trying out collective nouns—from the Big S, just to remind you how hotly contested a market this is.

[via Engadget Mobile ]

Archos: Greek god of media players?

Our society is increasingly a media-centric one, and it seems unlikely to become less so anytime soon. While taking my cross-country-and-back plane trip this week, I had the following options to entertain myself: watch 30 channels of satellite television, listen to over a 100 channels of satellite radio, buy a movie for $5, listen to my iPod, watch some television I’d downloaded onto my MacBook, and, of course, read my book.

So, of course Archos has to go along and roll out a new portable media player. The Archos 605 features a 4.3” 800x480 pixel screen and either a 30, 60, or 180GB hard drive (plus 4GB of flash memory built-in and an additional SD media slot for expansion up to 16GB). The 605 will play all your music (AAC, WMA, MP3, and WAV), movies (WMV, MPEG-4, MPEG-2, and H.264), photos (JPG, BMP, PNG), and it’ll let you view PDFs too, for the crazy literati among you.

But the big feature of the 605 is the built-in Wi-Fi connection, which will let you not only download content wirelessly from the Archos Content Portal (featuring such killer content as Attack of the Giant Leeches ), but stream music, videos, and photos from your computer. The 605 claims 17 hours of music playback and 5.5 hours of video playback. Optional add-ons will let you use the device as a DVR and audio recorder, and you can download an optional browser plug-in to surf the web.

Just what I needed: yet another way to while away my life staring at screen. Thanks, Archos.

[via Gizmodo ]

Electronic Rock, Paper, Scissors ushers in era of digital lameness

Rock, Pape, Scissors (or, for the enlightened and snotty among us, Rochambeau) is a classic way of settling arguments, establishing out-and-out superiority, and, of course, determining the location of witness depositions for Federal Court. But what about those sufferers of arthritis and other conditions that might afflict one’s manual dexterity? How are infants, the old and infirm, or your dog supposed to engage in the time-honored tradition without the ability to contort their hand into the correct shape?

With the Electronic Rock, Paper, Scissors, naturally.

Based upon the traditional “rock, paper, scissors” game, this electronic version will randomly display one of four pre-set patterns. It’s an ideal gift for the extremely lazy or indecisive. It’s also a great gag gift for that video-gamer in your life!

I disagree. This is a terrible gag gift, no matter who it’s for. Even at $8.89 for a pair of two (so you can have someone to play against who will feel equally lame ), this is money not well spent. In fact, this is the kind of thing that the loser of a Rock, Paper, Scissors game should be forced to buy as penance .

Hey, wait a second: four pre-set patterns? The name of the game is Rock, Paper, Scissors , genius—how many items do you count there?

Unless this thing throws bloody fire .

[via Ubergizmo ]

That’s it for this week’s Gadgetbox. Having managed to trump the powers that be in a virtual game of Rock, Paper, Scissors I’ve managed to reclaim our rightful Wednesday spot for next week. See you then.

  
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