By : Anne Sherber | Posted: 17 Jul 2008
New York — Consumers, both young and old, will have even more demands on their leisure time in the fourth quarter, if participants in the Digital Life Summer Press Preview are correct.
Mattel continues to expand its online environments associated with its most popular toy properties. Barbie Girls V.I.P, a subscription-based version of BarbieGirls.com has gone live. The upgrade includes new locations, new games and new experiences and is four times larger than the very popular free service, The premium service costs $5.99 for a one-month subscription.
Additionally, the company has launched Parents' Place, a micro site the goal of which is online safety. Later this summer, the parents' site will be expanded with interactive content that will enable dialogue between parents and children online.
Mattel's preschool brand, Fisher Price, demonstrated new products aimed at 3- and 4-year-olds. The Kid-Tough Portable DVD player features a three-inch screen, rechargeable batteries, simplified controls, kick stands and easily gripped handles and will carry a suggested retail price of $179.99.
Jakks Pacific introduced UltiMotion video games, a new video game line that features plug-and-play technology in a motion game. The console plugs directly into the A/V jacks of any standard TV, with no additional console or software needed. The first game in the line, UltiMotion Swing Zone, is a multi-sport title that includes bowling, baseball, football, tennis and golf. The game includes snap-on attachments for each sport.
Rhapsody demonstrated its new “Music without Limits” service. The service enables consumers to purchase music free of digital rights management and play that music on any MP3 player, even Apple's iPod. Visitors to the Rhapsody MP3 store can hear entire songs before they purchase, instead of short snippets. And the music can then be downloaded into RealPlayer, Rhapsody or iTunes. The company says its catalog will include music from all four major labels, as well as independent labels. Most albums will sell for $9.99 and most individual tacks will sell for 99 cents.
Several companies have devised products to help consumers keep their content safe, once they obtain or create it. Clickfree Automatic Backup demonstrated its line of hard drives and DVDs that automatically search and back up a PC's data as soon as they are connected.
Mozy provides an online backup service to consumers and businesses. The company offers the first two gigabytes of storage for free. Additional, unlimited storage is available for $4.95 per month.
One of the most interesting items on display was the Neuros OSD, an open source video recorder that comes with full documentation of the hardware platform so users can write new programs for the device. The device can digitize VHS tapes and then store the data on an external hard drive. The data can then be played on cell phones, iPods and laptops. The device is based on the Linux operating system, and the manufacturer actually encourages hacking, holding contests for new applications.