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USB audio interfaces
MacMice today announced that it will begin shipping its new GuitarPlug and MicPlug USB audio interfaces early next month. Both are cylinder shaped (measuring 2.3" by .7" in size), are USB bus-powered, have an on-off switch, and have a blue LED power indicator. Each converts mono analog audio to 16-bit, 48KHz better then CD-quality digital USB audio. They are USB class compliant, requiring no drivers to operate. The GuitarPlug has a 1/4-inch guitar plug for use with any electric guitar or bass, and the MicPlug has an XLR plug for use with any dynamic handheld microphone. Both products will begin shipping on February 10th for $50.
No OpenOffice for Mac
Developers of OpenOffice.org are no longer pursuing a native Aqua/Mac OS X port of the open-source Office-compatible suite, according to eWEEK. The report says that it has been 18 months since the last work on the native Mac version and that are no plans to do so with the upcoming Version 2.0. PointerClick here to read more about Version 2.0 of OpenOffice.org. The current release, known as OpenOffice.org/X11 Mac, runs in the X11 graphical windowing system, which looks and acts more like the Linux and Unix software than a Mac program....Edward Peterlin, one of only a handful of volunteer developers for OpenOffice.org/X11 Mac, attributes the lack of a native OS X effort partly to a lack of resources."
Apple Store refurbs
The Apple Store is offering refurbished 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBooks as well as refurbished AirPort Express units for $100. The 17-inch PowerBook G4 is available in the 1.5GHz/512MB/80GB/SuperDrive configuration for $2,400, while the 15-inch PowerBook G4 (1.33GHz/256MB/60GB/Combo) is available for $1,700. Apple is also offering both dual-1.8GHz (256MB/80GB/SuperDrive) and dual-2GHz (512MB/160GB/SuperDrive) Power Mac G5 models for $1,700 and $2,100, respectively. All three models of the new iMac G5 are also available as refurbished products, starting at $1,100 anb refurbished AirPort Extreme Cards for wireless connectivity are only $70. The pre-owned products are covered by Apple's One-Year Limited Warranty.
Challenged by the iPod?
For Creative's Sim Wong Hoo, the iPod shuffle is "a big let down ... worse than the cheapest Chinese player." For Dell's Kevin Rollins, the iPod is "a fad" and the Mac mini poses no threat to the company's 17 percent market share. Yet, according to eWeek, analysts have already cautioned that both men might be mistaken about the impact that the iPod and Mac mini might have on the industry. Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter called Wong Hoo's comments "foolish." Gartenberg's colleague Joe Wilcox described the Mac mini as "a potential suitor to Windows users, particularly those who have iPods and enjoy the experience delivered by Apple."
Forums roundup for Jan 21
Topics on the MacNN Forums today include: comparing a Mac mini to an upgraded Power Mac G4.... speculation about PowerBook and eMac updates as availability of current units declines.... initial reaction to the iPod shuffle from those who have purchased it.... the latest Mac OS X interface customizations.... availability of Apple's new iWork '05 suite.
Neat Image 2.1 ($40) is the latest version of the digital filter designed to reduce visible noise in digital photographic images. This update introduces Photoshop action support and fixes several bugs discovered since the first release. [Download - 220KB]
MenuStrip 3.0.2 with PluginPack ($20) is a Mac OS X utility that offers custom menu and control strip creation for launching files, folders and applications. New features and improvements in version 3.0.2 include: the ability to easily create new shortcuts to applications or documents via drag and drop, improvements in memory and CPU usage, and various bug fixes. [Download - 558KB, PluginPack]
PulpFiction 1.2 ($25) is an easy-to-use, powerful RSS/Atom feed reader. PulpFiction 1.2 adds several new features, including Smart Folders, Wide View, Enclosures Support, Authenticated Feed support, and much, much more. [Download - 220KB]
Kids GoGoGo 8.9 ($30) is the latest version of the parental control program from Maki Enterprise. The new version supports history inspection for FireFox, improves kgggIM for Safari, and more. [Download - 3.7MB]
Barcoder ($20) allows users to create many types of barcodes and print them on any of the Avery label templates provided. Users can choose one of the pre-formatted labels, or create a new label from scratch. [Download - buy]
Timeline leverages Apple's Quartz graphics technology to create beautiful and accurate timelines. Automatic context sensing technology automatically selects the best layout and date settings based on your events and output media. Bee Documents is now accepting beta testers for Timeline.
iTunes leads sales
The U.K.-based International Federation of the Phonographic Industry or IFPI reports that the iTunes Music store leads all fee-based music download services. According to findings on the state of fee-based music download services this week, consumers in Europe and the United States downloaded some 200 million songs in 2004, a tenfold surge from 2003. Those downloads generated some $330 million in sales. According to Ipsos-Insight, about 35% of the U.S. population aged 12 and over has paid a fee to download a song. That translates to about 20 million people. The number of Americans who use file-sharing services to get their music is only slightly greater: 25 million at most.
FireWire 800 Pro Z-RAID
FirewireDirect.com today announced the Pro Z-RAID for multi-stream, uncompressed SD, HDV and DV non-linear video editing. The Pro Z-RAID's high-performance external RAID storage solution offers ultra-fast hardware-based striping (RAID 0) over two internal drives and FireWire 800 connectivity for maximum performance. It is available in configurations with storage up to 1TB, can sit both horizontally and vertically on the desktop, and utilizes 7200rpm drives with up to 16MB of cache. Pro Z-RAID features an all-aluminum enclosure that matches the design of the Power Mac G5, near-silent, dual-fan operation, Mac OS 9/X support, and a 1 year warranty. It is available now in total capacities of 320GB ($300), 400GB ($360) 500GB ($420), 600GB ($600), 800GB ($990), and 1TB ($1200) as well as a enclosure-only model for $120.
Mac mini at Target.com
Apple's Mac mini is now available from Target.com. The company is selling both the 1.25GHz/40GB for $500 as well as the 1.42GHz/80GB version for $600, the same prices as the Apple Store. Target lists a 2-6 week expected delivery time. It is not clear if Target will also sell the Mac Mini at its retail store locations across the US. The company currently sells the iPod and the iPod mini as well as iTunes Music Gift Cards and several iPod accessories.
Apple, Dell to gain in \'05
Apple and Dell are the best positioned to gain marketshare in 2005, according to a new analyst report. Credit Suisse First Boston reiterated a "market weight" rating on the personal computer industry, saying growth will moderate in 2005 due to a lack of significant new product introductions, inelasticity of demand and a refreshed installed base. "Specifically, we expect unit growth in 2005 to be 8% following the 11% growth recorded in 2003 and 12% in 2004. For 2006, we expect unit growth of 7%," as customers await the launch of Windows Longhorn from Microsoft late in the year, according to Forbes.com. CSFB also said hard drive vendors and two-tier distributors are well positioned to benefit from current market conditions.
Presentation Prompter 4
NextForce's Presentation Prompter 4 is a major upgrade to its teleprompting application for Mac OS X that scrolls text smoothly at an adjustable rate. Version 4 offers improved performance, a smaller application, and a redesigned interface as well as improved text editing features (spell-checking, better find/replace, ruler support, scrollwheel support, etc.) and both RTF/MS Word import. The teleprompting features now provide custom forward/reverse speeds, more customizable hotkeys, smoother overall scrolling, and more. A new feature called "text markings" also allows prompter controllers to mark errors in a document and correct them later. Presentation Prompter 4 is available for $65 with upgrades priced at $35.
New 5MP Konica cameras
Konica Minolta today launched its new compact DiMAGE Z5 digital camera with a built-in 12x optical zoom, 5.0-megapixel CCD, and a large 2.0-inch LCD. It features a 12x optical zoom lens and 4x digital zoom and a high-quality movie mode as well as a proprietary CCD-shift Anti-Shake System that enables shutter speeds of up to eight times longer than when shooting without an Anti-Shake function. Konica also says that the Rapid AF is the fastest autofocus digital camera. Konica today also launched its new DiMAGE Z20 5.0-megapixel digital camera with a built-in 8x optical zoom lens. Pricing and availability, however, were not announced.
DoThisNow 2.0 released
Radical Breeze has released DoThisNow 2.0, a free update to its launcher and automation tool with support for hot keys and scheduling. Version 2.0 brings performance improvements, bug fixes, new preferences and other enhancements. "DoThisNow 2.0 provides maximum flexibility for Mac OS X users to automate just about anything.... With 22 distinct, customizable actions and the ability to run those actions by definable hot-key, schedule or a global menu item, the possibilities are almost limitless: Launch applications, run nightly backups, type commonly used text, etc." The application allows you to run a wide variety of customizable actions either at the press of a button, the click of a menu item or on a schedule. It runs on Mac OS X 10.3 or later and is available now for $20.
Bear Stearns ups AAPL
Bear Stearns raised its 2005 earnings forecast for Apple to $2.25 a share from $2.10, citing evidence that hard drive-based iPod sales won't see the normal seasonal weakness during the quarter ending March. The stock is up in current trading. Analyst Andrew Neff also raised his year-end 2005 stock price target to $97 from $87 and his 2006 earnings forecast to $3.05 a share from $2.80, according to CBSMarketWatch.
NI debuts Kontakt 2
Native Instruments today launched Kontakt 2, the second generation of its flagship sampler audio application with a new sampling engine that features multiprocessor and AltiVec support for improved performance on G4/G5 machines. It also features comprehensive surround integration, the unique Kontakt Script Processor (KSP), integrated convolution effects, an improved interface and new "universal" import support. The company also announced Komplete Sound, a "massive" collection of NI's eight audio applications and Electronic Instruments 2 XT, an extended version of its Reaktor instrument collection. The company also introduced a new Absynth 3 Tutorial DVD for helping users with its semi-modular software synthesizer. Kontakt 2 is due in March for $580 ($170 upgrade).
Ableton releases Operator
Ableton today released Operator, a new software synthesizer instrument optimized for use inside Live 4, Ableton's realtime music production platform. Operator brings an eclectic spectrum of sonic possibilities and musical inspiration with the "fusion of depth and usability, allowing even the most complex sounds to be created quickly. Whether you long for evolving synthetic textures, rich expressive leads, gritty percussion, rhythmic atmospheres or anything in between, Operator has the cure." It features a set of highly varied and musical presets, sorted by category as well as two intuitive macro controls ('Time' and 'Tone') that can be used to modify the overall characteristics of the sound, handling complex operations through a single action. It runs on Live 4.1 and costs $150.
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