It’s Friday, and here’s a rapid-fire bunch of news from the week…

  1. The Microsoft XBox 360 has been lowered in price. The hard-drive-less Arcade version is now $199 (less than the Nintendo Wii!), the 60GB “Pro” version is $299 and the 120GB “Elite” edition is $399, the same price as the 80GB Sony PlayStation 3. Microsoft has said publicly that they have no expectation of catching up with the Wii’s sales; they just want to be the second-biggest game console on the market, ahead of the PS3. With these price drops and despite the PlayStation 3 technically being better than the 360 (you can, for one thing, buy your own laptop hard disk and put it in the PS3, something you can’t do with the XBox), Microsoft should reach that goal without too much of a problem.
  2. RealNetworks, maker of Crap…er…Rhapsody and the infamous RealPlayer, has come out with a new product: RealDVD. This $30 app looks to do a direct copy of a DVD from optical disk to hard disk, applying its own DRM wrapper on the media in the process. The way RealDVD does this doesn’t violate the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, though movie studios, ever protective of their intellectual property, may still be very miffed about the software. If you’re wondering what the DRM does, it ties the DVD rip to your machine, unless you pay another $20 per license for up to four other computers. Okay, maybe RealDVD is easier to use than the other programs currently available, but there are free ways to get the job done that don’t involve RealNetworks’ historically bloated excuses for software.
  3. HP will be intro’ing a version of their Elitebook 6930p that, with an “ultra capacity” twelve-cell battery, an “IllumiLite” LED-backlit display and a brand new Intel solid state disk (SSD, think glorified flash drive), will last 24 hours on a charge. No misprint here, that’s a full, 24-hour day computing marathon without having to plug in. Whether the claim holds up once the computer ships in October is another matter, but if it gets even close to the 24-hour mark, this 14-inch-screen beauty will be my next laptop. I do use Apple products right now but I’m also brand-agnostic; may the best specs win!
  4. Sprint is pushing several new phones onto the market in the few weeks. On the high end are HTC smartphones: the HTC Touch Pro (with a keyboard) and the HTC Touch Diamond (without one). Next in line are the Samsung Highnote, a high-end music phone, and the Samsung Rant, basically the Highnote with a slide-out keyboard instead of slide-out music controls. There’s also the LG Lotus, a squarish flip phone that has a full keyboard instead of a standard keypad. Lastly, for the Nextel iDEN network there’s a new Blackberry (a version of the Curve) and a new ruggedized flip phone (the Motorola i576).
  5. Speaking of flip phones and Blackberries, RIM’s new Blackberry Pearl Flip 8220 will be out on the market soon for T-Mobile. It looks to be a winner, especially for T-Mobile users.
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