Weekly high-tech product releases: Nexus One, interactive microprojector

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The Independent Tech

High-tech product releases announced the week of January 6 include Google's Nexus One superphone, an interactive projector that creates a virtual touchscreen device, a notebook that transforms into a touchscreen tablet, a convertible notebook-slate PC, a bendable touchscreen e-reader, an international update for a large-screen e-reader and a prototype for a 7" touchscreen tablet for less than $200.

Android-based superphone
Consumers across the globe will soon officially be able to get their hands on Google's Nexus One superphone. The Android-powered, HTC Corporation-manufactured device is the first Google-branded phone to be released and will come unlocked from any data network. The device sports a 3.7 OLED display, 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset for super-fast speeds, and provides users with a rich multimedia experience. There is also a voice-enabled keyboard, and a host of native Google applications. The phone will be sold through a dedicated Google-hosted web store for $529 unlocked or for $179 on a two-year contract. The phone will be available to US, UK, Singapore and Hong Kong customers first. A wider roll-out is expected to take place in spring 2010.

An interactive projector that converts any flat surface into a touch screen
UK-based company Light Blue Optics (LBO) has unveiled a revolutionary compact projector that lets users interact with images that are projected onto any flat surface. Light Touch projector converts the usually static images created by projectors into interactive multimedia content using the Light Blue Optics' proprietary holographic laser projection technology. The ultra-compact device creates a virtual 10" interactive screen and uses an integrated infra-red touch sensing system to enable intuitive interaction. WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity allow users to access and connect with internet-based flash-based applications and engage in social networking and multimedia sharing. No pricing or availability information is currently available.

A notebook with a detachable touchscreen tablet PC
Lenovo's IdeaPad U1 Hybrid Notebook is a portable computing device fit for the future. The IdeaPad U1 is an ultra-portable laptop that features two-digit multitouch screen. What differentiates the laptop from others in its class is the ability to detach the display from the laptop base, converting it into a multitouch slate tablet PC. The device also integrates two WiFi cards, letting you download a file on the base while you wander around the house browsing the internet on the tablet. The computer maker is set to debut the "hybrid PC" at the CES on January 7. The IdeaPad U1 will be priced starting from $999 and is expected to ship in June.

First consumer notebook PC with convertible design and integrated multitouch technology
HP's TouchSmart tm2 notebook is the first consumer-available device to combine a versatile convertible notebook-come-tablet design with multitouch technology. The TouchSmart tm2 will be unveiled at the CES on January 7 and is part of a new generation of compact laptops that are capable of multitouch gesture inputs. The laptop can be used for traditional keyboard entry or can be flipped into a slate when users need to sketch or write with a digital pen. New technology also enables consumers to "spatially organize" their photos and files by "tossing" the documents across the screen using the touch-enhanced 3D interface called BumpTop and multitouch finger gestures. HP's TouchSmart tm2 will start shipping on January 17 in the US from $949.

Bendable touchscreen e-reader built for magazine reading
The Skiff Reader is a new flexible e-reading device optimized for large-format content such as newspapers and magazines. The high-resolution device has a full touchscreen and sports the largest and highest-resolution electronic-paper screen (1200 x 1600 pixels) available in a consumer-ready e-reader. At one quarter of an inch (around 0.7 cm), the Skiff Reader is currently also the thinnest e-reader. The black and white e-ink reader has an 11.5 (29.2-centimeter) inch touch sensitive display and comes with WiFi and 3G connectivity. No price or availability was disclosed.

Large format e-reader becomes available internationally
Amazon's large-screen e-reader, the Kindle DX, is now available in 100 countries with an international wireless connection. The Kindle DX e-reader is designed for larger-format reading and is suited to reading digital versions of newspapers and magazines or for storing and viewing PDF documents. The device comes with a 9.7" diagonal E Ink screen and can hold up to 3,500 books. Users across the world can now download digital content using the device's wireless 3G coverage. The DX can also read to you with its text-to-speech feature. The Kindle DX is priced at $489 and will start shipping on January 19.

A 7" touchscreen tablet for less than $200
US-based company Freescale Semiconductor has created a touchscreen tablet reference design to demonstrate the functionality of their semiconductor components when used in compact slates. Second-generation tablets based on the technology are expected to cost end users less than $200. These first designs have been created to inspire future tablet developers and are set to fuel the race for the next generation of inexpensive tablets. Freescale will demonstrate their advanced ARM processor technology - crafted to provide instant - on functionality and to enable all-day use on just a single battery charge - at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 7.