Microsoft working on its own Tegra-powered superphone? Doubtful.

The popular rumor floating around at the moment is that Microsoft intends to announce self-branded handsets powered by NVIDIA’s beefy Tegra architecture for next-gen phones and MIDs at the GSMA’s Mobile World Congress in February of next year. Let’s put aside for a moment the fact that Redmond continues to vehemently deny having any interest in getting into the hardware end of its Windows Mobile racket — concealing the truth is a part of doing competitive business, after all — and turn our attention to the practical matter of whether this makes any sense whatsoever. First off, Windows Mobile’s strength lies in its incredibly deep and wide partner base, a base that includes visionary teams at HTC, Samsung, LG, Motorola, and countless others. With Android and Symbian finally becoming viable opportunities for third-party manufacturers, Microsoft doesn’t want to do anything that’s going to hasten the revolt before it’s able to wrap up version 7 (or at the very least, 6.5) — and competing with your own licensees would be a bang-up way to do that. Granted, Microsoft did exactly that by introducing Zune following the PlaysForSure initiative, but let’s be honest: Windows Mobile and Zune don’t play in the same league. Zune’s a hobby, a side gig; WinMo’s a monster, a long-term cash cow that’s got to be treated with the same franchise tag as Windows itself.

Second off, Microsoft now has Danger to keep it busy — and Danger’s core competencies have a long way to go to stretch Tegra to its limits, so we don’t think we’ll be seeing any superphones out of those guys any time soon. The more likely scenario is that Microsoft will use its Danger acquisition to step up its consumer-friendly mobile media game, which jibes with talk of a Zune-like smartphone codenamed “Pink” that could be announced early next year sans Tegra. With Windows Mobile looking still looking every bit as stuffy as it did five years ago, the company’s flagship mobile platform is still at least one or two major generations out from morphing into a catch-all that can look equally at ease in the schoolbag or the enterprise — a coup RIM has managed to pull off, coincidentally — and in the meantime, Hiptop is arguably a better starting point with more street cred under its belt, especially considering that Hiptop and Zune are both closed platforms.

So let’s run with the assumptions that: a) Pink does exist, and b) it’s basically Danger’s baby. That game plan prevents Microsoft from rocking the WinMo licensee boat (or yacht, as the case may be) — and every indication is that traditional players are still going full-steam ahead with Windows Mobile 6.5, a platform that actually stands a fighting chance of putting Tegra through its paces (one need look no further than TouchFLO 3D for evidence of that). How does this play out, then? The same as always, we’d wager — Microsoft graciously takes the stage with hardware partners at MWC next year, co-announcing a handful of Tegra-powered phones underpinned by the next generation of Windows Mobile. Now get back to Windows 7, Xbox 720, and making decent mice, Microsoft. And let Danger do its thing, alright?

Kenwood’s CR-iP500 will do the All Black haka with your iPod

No, it’s not a Doomsday clock, ticking away the precious seconds of your brief mortality. It’s just another iPod dock, the CR-iP500 from Kenwood. The 371 x 175 x 187-mm globule of thump brings a pair of amplified 5W speakers, a built-in FM tuner, slot-in CD player, and a USB 2.0 jack to playback unprotected WMA and MP3 audio files off USB sticks. Yeah, iPods too, just as long as you don’t stretch the definition to include the iPhone which this dock doesn’t appear to support. Expected to hit Japan for ¥27,000 (about $280) in early December.

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Pasen is dead, long live Pasen’s new REI-16 PMP

Pasen is dead, long live Pasen's new REI-16 PMP
To say that we’ve been underwhelmed by Pasen’s offerings thus far would be like calling the Meizu M8 slightly delayed, but supposedly we’re in for a pleasant surprise when next we meet a player from the company. The brand has been bought out by Italian Kiwii LTD and is pledging that those awful interfaces and stolen icons are things of the past. The proof will be in the REI-16 PMP, pictured above serving as a precarious looking wheel chock. It should make for a better media player, and while details are few it’s said to offer a “gorgeous” 3-inch touchscreen, “sexy” user interface, and support “tons” of audio and video formats (including ogg). An integrated FM transmitter will pipe tunes to your car, plus there’s video output for your TV and even emulation for 8-bit console games. It certainly sounds promising, but we’ll have wait for the full specs and some hands-on impressions before we can call Pasen reborn or just rebranded.
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T-Mobile G1s now shipping with 3.5mm headphone adapters included

It’s not going to somehow magically conjure a jack where there’s currently nothing more than a sad-looking ExtUSB port, but new G1 buyers can take some solace in the knowledge that they’ll be able to plug in, turn it up, and tune out right out of the box. We’ve received official word from HTC that 3.5mm headphone adapters for the ExtUSB port are now being bundled with the phone, meaning you won’t be stuck with that janky (no, seriously, it’s insanely terrible) headset with the special connector that you get free of charge; after all, when we’re blasting the Jonas Brothers at full tilt, we need the kind of fidelity that only high-end earbuds can provide. What, you got a problem with that?

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Marantz’s IS301 wireless iPod dock elegantly cuts the cord

Wireless iPod docks were all the rage back in 2006 (seriously, we remember nerds camping out for them), but the trend sort of petered out as 2007 emerged and focus turned to more important matters. Now, Marantz is looking to bring it all back in style with the IS301, a Lucullan wireless iPod dock that transmits both audio and video sans cabling and includes a port-filled receiver for tight-knit home theater integration. Practically every dock-connecting iPod (no iPhones allowed, at least not officially) will work fine here, and there’s also Bluetooth 2.1 support for receiving and beaming tunes from BT-enabled devices. Expect the bundle to storm Japan in January for ¥26,250 ($277), after which we Americans will drop down on bended knee and plead for a US version.

[Via Impress]

Gallery: Marantz’s IS301 wireless iPod dock elegantly cuts the cord



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Scosche Passport FireWire-to-USB iPod adapter gets reviewed

Okay, so this adapter doesn’t directly convert a FireWire 400 socket into a USB port, but for all intents and purposes here, it does as much. You see, Scosche’s Passport was designed to channel the energy from older FireWire-based iPod charging gear into the USB prongs that the newer iPhone / iPods only accept. Macworld was able to get ahold of one for review, and in testing, it found that everything worked well when toying with new iPods, and while it was designed specifically for in-car applications, critics found that it even worked (albeit inelegantly) with dock-cradle accessories. Was it worth $30? Absolutely, so long as you’d rather burn $30 than replace that mess of wires you’ve got behind the dashboard (and you would).

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