Product News Roundup Monday, March 24: Plextor Hybrid Blu-ray/HD DVD Drives, Alienware Quad-core PC

Rather than making you click through several news items, we decided to combine interesting product news into one news item with brief information about each item. Here is the overview of products that caught our eyes today:

NEC NP100 and NP200
projectors: Entry-level priced projectors for consumers and small businesses. The NP100 offers a brightness of 2000 lumens, the NP200 2100 lumens. The contrast ratio is 1300:1, supported aspect ratios are 4:3 and 16:9 and the lamp life is estimated at 3500 to 4000 hours. VGA, S-Video, composite and audio inputs are integrated. The projectors will be available in April for $499 and $649, respectively.

Plextor PX-B920SA and PX-B300SA internal Blu-ray drives for PC: of 4X BD-R (18 MB/s transfer rate) and 2X BD-RE (9 MB/s transfer rate) on single layer and double-layer media. Playback is 4.8X for Blu-ray BDMV (movie) discs and 3X for HD DVD Video discs. Price: $450. The PX-B300SA was shown with the same specs but a $600 MSRP, leaving us a bit confused what the difference between the two drives are. The product pages were not available at the time of this writing.

Ectaco JetBook eBook reader: A new eBook reader with integrated MP3 player that lets you listen to audio books. Comes with a 5" grayscale display, SD card slot and internal Li-ion polymer battery. Price: $350.

Supermicro SuperWorkstation 5035B-T+
motherboard: Supermicro has a new 1600 MHz single-socket server/workstation motherboard based on Intel's X48 chipset. Includes support for 1600 MHz DDR3 memory, dual PCIe 2.0 x16 slots, to IEEE 1394a headers and two PCI-X ports. There was no information on the price of this board.

Corel Painter Essentials Café: Corel launched a new online community for Painter Essentials users. The company hopes that all the scrapbookers, parents, teachers, arts and crafts enthusiasts and aspiring photographers among you will use the service to share ideas and inspiration and exchange tips.

Alienware Area-51 QX9770 quad-core desktop PC: Alienware is now offering the Intel QX9770 processor (3.2 GHz) as an option for its Area-51 PC. Yup, it's a "badass" PC in Alienware terms, but don't expect that the privilege of using this fancy new chip will be cheap. The QX9770 is a $1650 upgrade (!) over the standard 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo 8200. Plan on spending at least $3750 for this quad-core monster (and about $5700 for a fully equipped PC without monitor). Ouch.

JBL ES series speakers:
JBL is shipping this new series of loudspeakers. The family includes a wall-mount/bookshelf monitor (ES10); two bookshelf loudspeakers (ES20, ES30); two floorstanding speakers (ES80, ES90); a center channel speaker (ES25C); and two subwoofers (ES150P and ES250P). Suggested retail prices range from $329 to $1198 per pair.

ZAP XL electric truck: No product news without green news. Zap, the company that is probably best known as the first importer of the Smart car, has upgraded its electric truck: The XL has a top speed of 25 mph and can carry on its 58" x 53" x 11.5" truckbed up to 770 pounds. The truck is expected to become available sometime this fall and will cost $14,950. The smaller, 3-wheeled Xebra truck runs up to 40 mph, but can only carry 500 pounds for $12,500.