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Winston-Salem Journal, N.C., Tim Clodfelter Column: Tech Bytes: New iPhone to Hit Stores on Friday

July 10, 2008

By Tim Clodfelter, Winston-Salem Journal, N.C.

Jul. 10–On Friday, get ready for a new round of iPhone mania.

That’s when Apple will introduce its new version of the popular phone/Web browser/everything-short-of-rotisserie grill. The iPhone 3G will have enhanced software and will be able to connect to the Internet with 3G technology, an improvement over the slower connectivity that the first version of the iPhone used.

The iPhone 3G is priced lower — $199 for the 8-GB model or $299 for a 16-GB model for new users or current AT&T customers who are eligible for an upgrade discount. Either requires a two-year service agreement. The service plans are $10 a month higher for the

iPhone 3G than for the first-generation iPhone, ranging from $69 to $129 plus $5 to 20 for text messaging options.

Existing AT&T customers who are not currently eligible for an upgrade can buy the new iPhone for $399 for the 8-GB or $499 for the 16-GB models, both of which require a new two-year service agreement.

Current AT&T customers who are upgrading to the iPhone 3G will have to pay an $18 upgrade fee; new AT&T customers will have to pay the standard $36 activation fee.

In the future, AT&T says that it plans to offer a no-contract-required option, but that will cost $599 for the 8 GB and $699 for the 16-GB versions.

AT&T stores will open at 8 a.m. Friday to begin selling the new iPhones, and all activation will be in-store.

This weekend, Pioneer is expected to announce details on a new Blu-ray disc that can hold 400 gigabytes of information. That far exceeds the 50 gigabytes of a conventional dual-layer Blu-ray disc or the 4.7 gigabytes of a single-layer DVD.

The new disc uses 16 layers to hold the information, with each layer holding 25 gigabytes of data. In theory, one such disc could hold as much data as 85 DVDs, which could allow manufacturers to put TV boxed sets on a single disc.

“Getting a clear signal from each recording layer has been a stumbling block for higher capacity discs with more layers, but Pioneer says it has managed to solve this problem by employing technology it developed for DVDs,” according to a report at PCWorld.com. The discs will work with Blu-ray technology, though some slight changes to the hardware might be needed.

Sony had to pull its PlayStation 3 version 2.40 firmware update last week after it caused some consoles to freeze. The official blog says that technicians “are working diligently to isolate the problem for those few consumers and to identify a solution before we put the firmware back up.”

For updates, check out blog.us.playstation.com.

Tim Clodfelter can be reached at 727-7371 or at tclodfelter@wsjournal.com.

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