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UDI connection for PC-TV
Apple is working with Intel and other big electronics companies to create a better link for connecting computers to high-definition televisions and other consumer devices. The Wall Street Journal reports that the companies are "working to develop a specification known as the unified display interface, or UDI. The goal is to replace a nondigital technology called VGA that has long been used in connecting PC monitors, and plug into sockets on TVs and other products that use a technology called HDMI, for high-definition multimedia interface." The group also includes companies such as Samsung, National Semiconductor, and Silicon Image. Computers with UDI connections, however, may be up to two years away, according to one group member. The report says that UDI will support a content-protection technology that now works with HDMI, and is supported by movie studios worried about piracy of high-definition movies.
Symphonic Instrument v1.1
MOTU is now shipping Version 1.1 of the Symphonic Instrument universal orchestral plug-in for Mac and PC. Version 1.1 adds stand-alone operation, 64 parts per plug-in, support for 64 MIDI channels, support for multiple independent outputs and disk streaming. The company said that the Symphonic Instrument can now run as a stand-alone instrument application, independent of a plug-in host, turning a Mac or PC into a streamlined orchestra instrument powerhouse with 64 parts, disk streaming, 16 independent audio outputs and 8GB of orchestra sounds. The multitimbral application enables a single instance of the plug-in to load different instruments (presets) simultaneously, and each instrument can play its own individual part via a separate MIDI channel. It is available as a free update to the $300 application.
VectorWorks for Intel-Macs
Nemetschek North America today announced its VectorWorks 12 line of software products will support Apple's forthcoming Intel-based Macs. The company, which has been develing CAD software for the AEC, entertainment, landscape design, and manufacturing fields since 1985, said that existing VectorWorks 12 users will receive this new support without additional upgrade fees. "Nemetschek North America has been working closely with Apple and our other technology partners to create a native Intel version of VectorWorks for Mac OS X ," states Paul Pharr, Nemetschek North America's chief technology officer. "Apple's Intel plans open up new possibilities for fast and affordable hardware to run their industry-leading operating system, so we understand the keen interest in the Mac community regarding Intel Macs. As the makers of the best-selling CAD program for the Mac, we want to assure our many users we are committed to providing an Intel-native VectorWorks 12 application for Mac OS X."
Refurbished Macs at Apple
Apple has added several iBook, Mac mini, and iMac G5 configurations to the refurbished Mac section of the Apple Store--many of which qualify for free overnight shipping (for a limited time) for holiday delivery. iBooks are available in a 1.33GHz/Combo drive config with 12-inch screen for $800 or with a 14-inch screen (and AirPort Extreme) for $100 more at $900. SuperDrive models of the 14-inch iBook are available for $1000 (previous generation) and $1050 (current-generation featuring more memory, scrolling trackpad, and Bluetooth 2.0). A refurb 1.25GHz Mac mini is $380, while the 1.42GHz version is $440. The company has also added both 17- and 20-inch iMac mdoels, starting at $850 and $1150, respectively. (Apple Certified Refurbished products are pre-owned Apple products that undergo Apple's refurbishment process prior to being offered for sale. All Apple Certified Refurbished products are covered by Apple's One-Year Limited Warranty.)
MS looks to CE after Xbox
Microsoft, which recently joined forces with MTV to debut a new music service that will compete with Apple's iTunes Music Store, is apparently hoping for an iPod-like "halo effect" from its popular Xbox 360 game console/media center to push the company further into the consumer electronics space. Barron's Tech Trader column over the weekend was dedicated to the increasing speculation that Microsoft's next move will be to enter the digital music player business with its own iPod competitor, after the company reshuffled execs to put more talent in charge of its online enterntainment division. Microsoft is expected to try its hand at dethroning Apple, but doubts remain as to whether Microsoft and MTV can do what Sony--one of the big four music labels--could not, according to one Motley Fool columnist.
Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor v4
Runtime Revolution today announced a major upgrade to its award winning Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor solution for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. The company describes the software tutor as "your personal typing trainer that features the Five Habits of Highly Effective Touch Typing," and says it now also includes greater productivity features as well as fun features like iTunes music library integration." The new Personal trainer approach teaches the Five Habits of Highly Effective Touch Typing. It also features daptive lessons that automatically adjust to each user's skill level, teaching new keys when they're ready and adjusting the lesson plan. In addition, SongSeeker links Ten Thumbs to iTunes allowing you to download and type your favorite song lyrics while you learn. Electronic delivery, currently available is $26, while upgrades are $8 or $9. It runs on Mac OS X 10.1.3 or later.
Toast Titanium v7.0.2
Roxio today released a free Toast Titanium v7.0.2 update, which Includes Toast Titanium v7.0.2, CD Spin Doctor v3.0.2, Motion Pictures v2.1.1, and Deja Vu v3.2.1. The update fixes several issues in the software application, including prompting a reburn of a DVD disc during disc spanning if a failure or error occurs while burning a single disc, issues with burning iMovie 5 projects with chapter markers, support for video via MPEG4 and H.264 for iPod video; fixes for crashes while decoding and exporting DivX video files; and more. Toast Titanium is available for $100 with a special $20 competitive/standard mail-in rebate offered.
iPod nano competition
Taiwanese makers of MP3 players are planning to offer hard disk drive-based music players late this month or next quarter in order to avoid direct price competition with Apple's flash-based iPod nano, Digitimes reports that 2GB flash memory is about $100 more than the $60-65 for 2GB microdrives (miniature HDDs), which will allow the smaller manufacturers produce music players at a more competitive price. "Micro-Star International (MSI) will launch two 4GB HDD-based MP3 player models for sale in the Taiwan market later this month with each at a recommended retail price of NT$5,990 (US$180), slightly cheaper than a 2GB iPod nano and about 25% lower than prices for the 4GB version of the popular MP3 player, the sources indicated." While prices are cheaper for 2GB microdrives, the report notes that there is currently a short supply due to fast growing use in handsets, PDAs, and GPS products.
Podner 1.2 released
Splasm Software today released Podner 1.2, an update to its video iPod formatting tool. Version 1.2 offers significantly improved H.264 processing performance--10-50 percent faster, as well as improved MPEG-4 quality. The update also reduces MPEG-4 file sizes, and includes Traditional Chinese localization. The application reformats movie collections into iPod-ready files up to six times faster than QuickTime Pro's Movie to iPod option, and allows users to tweak settings while Podner works. Processed movies show up in a special playlist in iTunes, ready to be sync'd with an iPod. Podner 1.2 requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, and is available for $10.
iPod TV recorder
Hauppauge Computer Works today released its "Wing" software, enabling customers to record TV shows on a computer for playback on Apple's iPod with video capability, as well as the Sony Playstation Portable (PSP). Wing records in H.264, MPEG-4 and Divx formats, and also records directly to a recordable DVD disk. Alternatively, the software can be used to convert existing TV recordings to the iPod video format. The Wing application comes with three components--a plug-in for the TitanTV internet based electronic program guide for automatic recording of TV shows, a plug-in for Hauppauge's WinTV Scheduler for manual TV record scheduling, and an off-line recorder which turns MPEG-2 videos into any of the formats supported by Wing. Hauppage's Eskape Labs division is also developing a version of Wing for the Apple Mac using the myTV.PVR, the Eskape Labs Mac-based personal video recorder, to be released in early 2006.
Apple online sales strong
This year's winners in the online shopping universe are Wal-Mart, Amazon and Apple, according to a report published today. Market research indicates these vendors have been most effective when it comes to converting visitors into buyers via their online portals. Along with websites of shipping companies UPS, DHL, and FedEx, these were the e-commerce sites receiving the heaviest traffic over the past few weeks. No official sales numbers have been released by any of the companies, but analysts are able to estimate the market leaders based on traffic figures. Hitwise analyst Bill Tancer also pointed out that "looking at things like shipping are great proxies for how much people are buying."
Wireless reader tablet
iRex Technologies today announced that it has developed a wireless "electronic reader" tablet that it calls "Iliad," based on a high-contrast "electronic paper" display technology display technology from E Ink. The company claims that the e-reader can be viewed outdoors in sunshine, as well as in the shade. The device allows users to write comments and mark or underline sections to provide a paper-like experience, according to a report from the EE Times. The Iliad features an 8.1-inch display with a 16-level grayscale and utilizes a touch-screen to capture user input. Iliad is iRex's first-generation electronic reader product, and is expected to be available in April of 2006 (pricing was unavailable).
XtremeMac iPod cases
XtremeMac today rolled out the MicroFlip (shown at right), MicroFolio, and MicroFolio Chic cases for Apple's video iPod. The MicroFlip case features a black, brown, dark brown, or saddle leather exterior that provides access to the iPod's headphone jack and hold switch. The MicroFolio is a compact case with interior pockets to store miscellaneous items, and features a soft exterior in black, brown, dark brown, or saddle colors. The Microfolio offers access to the Dock connector, headphone jack, and hold switch. The MicroFolio Chic offers the same features as the MicroFolio, but is offered in pink or white. All three cases offer an interior that provides built-in protection for the screen and clickwheel with play-through access to all controls. All of the cases fit both 30GB and 60GB video iPod models, and are available for $40.
HP to honor iTunes deal
Hewlett-Packard is considering re-entering the digital music market, following the termination of its HP-branded iPod program, according to Macworld UK. While the company is expected to honor its obligation to install iTunes on new PCs through January 2006, insiders suggest the future of the Apple-HP relationship is unclear. HP's executive vice president Todd Bradley stressed his belief that opportunity remains in the digital music market, but gave little away: "It's going to boil down to who can create a solution that lets you get the music you want, when you want it, and where you want it," he said.
School renews iBook lease
Apple has renewed its "breakthrough" one-to-one education program in Greene County, North Carolina. The County Board on Monday voted to renew its lease of more than 2,000 iBooks from Apple about six months early, saving the company more than $1 million in computer costs, according to The Free Press. The report says that computers' unusually high trade-in value--estimated to bring in $450,000--along with existing wear and tear on the laptops along with a lower drop out rate and bringing technology to its students were the primary motivation to renew the school's lease. Students will receive updated 12-inch iBook notebook computers with Mac OS X Tiger, a faster processor and more memory, while Teachers will receive 12-inch PowerBooks, which include additional software and more sophisticated technology.
FM 8.0v2, Mac mini in car
In brief: FileMaker today released FileMaker 8.0v2 updates for both the standard and advanced versions of its popular database application, bringing dozens of fixes, including those for printing fonts on Mac OS X, optimized search functions, and several fixes in ODBC/JDBC connectivity (for FileMaker Advanced 8.0v2).... Leftlane News has posted another look at a Mac mini installation in a car--this time the test vehicle is an Infiniti M45 with two LCD displays.... IDG World Expo today appointed Mac industry veteran Paul Kent as Vice President responsible for the overall growth and management of Macworld Expo.... Fluffpod today launched Fluffpod video ($25), a new addition to its protective covering lineup for Apple's video iPod.
Dolet v3 for Sibelius
Recordare has released version 3 of its Dolet plug-in for the Sibelius 4 music notation program. Dolet 3 for Sibelius writes MusicXML 1.1 files for the highest-fidelity translation available between music notation programs. Dolet 3 also includes a batch translation feature to automate the process of moving music notation files from one program to another. Dolet 3 supports Sibelius 4.0 and 4.1 on Windows and Macintosh. Recordare's Dolet plug-ins serve as "universal translators" between music notation programs. While Sibelius 4 can read MusicXML 1.1 files, Dolet 3 for Sibelius adds the ability to save MusicXML 1.1 files. The combined products allow two-way sharing of files between Sibelius, Finale, and other programs at a level that has never before been possible. Dolet 3 for Sibelius is available for $130.
ClearCase Video for iPod
ezGear today launched the clearCase Video, its crystal clear case that provides a full 360-degree view of the iPod. The case is constructed from clear acrylic, offers access to the dock port, earphone jack, hold button, and the clickwheel. The front of the case flips open for easy removal of the iPod, and the case ships with an integrated removable belt clip, as well as a removable neck strap. ClearCases come in two sizes to fit both the 30GB and 60GB iPod video models, and is available for $30.
More ABC content on iTunes
Apple has quietly added yet another popular television show from ABC primetime to its iTunes Music Store, extending the networks's catalog of digital content. ABC today began offering its new primetime Commander in Chief drama to its digital television show catalog on iTunes, after the network said it was working to bring more television content to iTunes by early 2006. iTunes is offering the first nine episodes of Season 1 for $1.99 each. Earlier this year, Apple surprised the industry by partnering with ABC during the launch of the iPod video, offering some of the most popular television shows, including Desperate Housewives and Lost. In early December, Apple added digital content from NBC (Law & Order, The Tonight Show, The Office, Knight Rider, etc.), USA Networks (Monk), and the Sci Fi channel to iTunes, while reports indicate that both ESPN and CBS are looking to add their content in the near future.
Earbuds, hearing loss
A Northwestern University professor and audiologist claims that the earbud-style headphones which ship with Apple's iPod and other MP3 players can cause serious, permanent hearing loss. "Insert earphones can boost the signal by as much as six to nine decibels. That's about the difference between the sound of a vacuum cleaner and a motorcycle," said Dean Garstecki, a professor at Northwestern. "It's a significant difference." The earbud-style headphones which rest inside the ear can lead to permanent damage after just an hour of high-volume music in the 110-120 decibel range, equivalent to the noise level of a concert, according to the professor. Garstecki says the large storage capacity of iPods also contributes to problems: "not only do you have a signal that is likely to be more intense, you're likely to be using this device longer than people have been using CD players and Walkmans in the past. This increases the likelihood of hearing loss down the road."
Finale, Application Wizard
Finale 2006b ($600) is a free, downloadable update available to registered Finale 2006 users that includes EPS Export, automatic update checking, expanded documentation, and numerous other improvements. Finale is musical notation software that offers robust tool sets with various options to compose, arrange, hear, and print music. The update includes all of the improvements found in the previous release, which includes real-time save-as audio support for Finale's integrated Garritan Personal Orchestra sounds, the ability to copy measure-attached "Smart Shapes" via the clipboard, and more.
Application Wizard 1.5 ($15) allows users to open, quit, show, and hide single applications or groups of applications. The software can open applications automatically at startup, force applications to open in Classic, force applications to quit and relaunch, and quit background-only applications. Version 1.5 adds support for volumes, as well as the ability to configure the "Special" menu. [Download - 2MB]
Intaglio 2.6 ($90) updates the Quartz drawing application, improving CoreImage resolution independence, as well as the editing of arbitrary path shapes. Version 2.6 adds a scissors tool to break or add path anchor points at arbitrary locations, as well as calligraphy-style stroke brushes. The update also includes the "Unite," "Intersect," "Exclude," and "Subtract" path combination operations. [Download - 3.4MB]
Appscript 1.2 (unknown) is a high-level, user-friendly MacPython to Apple event bridge that allows users to control scriptable Mac OS X applications using ordinary Python scripts, making MacPython a valid alternative to Apple's own AppleScript language for automating a Mac. Appscript provides an Apple event based RPC mechanism for sending commands to applications and receiving their results, a simple embedded query language for constructing references to an application's object model, and automatic translation of these references into human-readable form using application-defined terminology. [Download - 1.5MB]
NewsFan 1.8.3 ($25) updates the child-safe RSS news aggregator, improving the handling of Web kit for Tiger. Version 1.8.3 supports video podcasts, Atom 1.0, XML output of subscriptions as .webloc format, and more. The update improves the handling of search words, fixes sound handling for Tiger, and improves the handling of windows for Tiger. [Download - 2.1MB]
HistoryHound 1.9 ($20) allows users to perform fast keyword searches on the content of all recently visited or bookmarked websites and RSS feeds. The application searches pages viewed in Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox, OmniWeb, Camino, Mozilla/Netscape, Opera, and Shiira Web browsers as well as the built-in browsers of the NetNewsWire 2 and PulpFiction RSS readers. The update is free for registered users. [Download - 2.2MB]
3D snowglobe, iBoxershorts
In brief: Freeverse has released its free 3D Snowglobe, customizable with your own pictures via drag-and-drop.... popXpress has announced that its iBoxershorts (ú17) are available in stores.... Graphisoft is set to offer a free seminar dubbed "Embracing the BIM Process - From Concept to Virtual Building" on December 6th in Marlboro, Massachusetts.... blinkx today launched blinkx.tv To Go, a service enabling users to search for specific video content online and sync it with one click to their iTunes or personal video player software, regardless of its original format.... Walt Disney World Resort will launch a weekly podcast on Christmas day, as part of the "Happiest Celebration on Earth," a global commemoration of 50 years of Disney theme parks.
November Web traffic
Apple's website was the fasting growing site on the internet among the top brands during the month of November, showing over 50 percent year-over-year growth and outpacing Google growth, which ranked No. 2, by nearly two times. Internet media and research company Nielsen//NetRatings today announced the fastest growing Web sites among the top 10 Web brands for November 2005. Yahoo!, which only saw 10 percent increase (No. 7) in traffic over last yaer, still leads all Web properties with the most unqiue visitors--more than 100 million during the month of November. However, Apple ranked No. 1 in year-over-year growth in November 2005, climbing 57 percent over November 2004--to nearly 31 million unique visitors. The traffic increase was driven primarly by traffic to the increasingly popular iTunes, according to Nielsen/Netratings.
Final Cut Pro 5.04
Apple today released Final Cut Pro 5 Updates, which it says brings improved reliability to the powerful video editing suite. The 85MB update offers updates to all Final Cut Pro 5 applications, incuding Final Cut Pro 5.04, Cinema Tools 3.03, LiveType 2.02, Compressor 2.02. LiveType 2.02 addresses certain missing LiveFont characters in LiveType 2.0 and 2.0.1. The free update requires an AppleID and valid serial number for Final Cut Pro 5 or Final Cut Studio.
The Print Shop 2.0
MacKiev today announced it is now shipping The Print Shop 2.0, its powerful layout tool for Mac OS X that introduces several new easy-to-use layout tools such as rulers, grids and guidelines, along with more than a hundred other new and improved features. The software also allows users to create CD labels and cases with track names and times imported from iTunes playlists as well as print directly onto printable CDs with many EPSON Direct-CD printers. The Print Shop 2.0 can Import photos from iPhoto to create personalized holiday greeting cards and can also merge-print address labels using the data in Mac OS X's Address Book and print poster-size calendars from iCal.
Macworld \"Creative Corner\"
IDG World Expo today introduced the "Creative Corner," a new exhibit hall feature at the Macworld Expo taking place January 9-13th, 2006 at San Francisco's Moscone Center. The Creative Corner is a dedicated area on the exhibit hall floor that is open to all attendees which will highlight music and audio in the Berklee Dream Studio; digital photography with the "Dr. Is In" digital photography help area; and creative products and services on the creative professional stage and special interest pavilions. The creative professional stage will feature organizations such as FileMaker, HP, Fujitsu, Academy of Art University, Filmloop, Exabyte, TOLIS Group, Extensis, and AIGA will be on hand to discuss and demonstrate their creative products and services. The Berklee College of Music will present the Dream Studio, a state-of-the-art music studio filled with Mac hardware and software that is to feature a self-guided tour, music production demonstrations, and daily lectures by Berklee faculty.
Waterproof the iPod nano
Otter Products today announced the OtterBox for iPod nano, the highly anticipated protective case for Apple's popular flash-based memory player. As the fifth case in the popular OtterBox for iPod line, the OtterBox for iPod nano also promises waterproof, interactive protection at depths up to 3 feet: "With its lightweight, thin design, the OtterBox for iPod nano is the most versatile nano case on the market," said Curt Richardson, CEO of Otter Products. "The case provides a compact enclosure for ideal protection. Unlike other cases on the market, users can take the OtterBox for iPod nano virtually anywhere--to the beach, working out, on vacation and more!" The case features an interactive membrane that provides clickwheel access and a hard screen cover to shield the display.
Body Glove case for iPod
Body Glove Technology Accessories today announced the launch of a custom-fitted MP3Suit case for new Apple's iPod nano. Offering a stylish design, the Body Glove Scuba case for the Nano is expected to be available next year. It features Body Glove's signature Scuba material in black with a silver trim and the Body Glove logo. The water-resistant material protects the iPod nano from nicks and scratches and features custom cut-outs for instant access to ports, buttons and the iPod-famous click wheel. In addition, users can also dock the iPod nano while it is in the case. The Apple iPod nano Scuba cases are available for the 2GB and 4GB models. The case comes with a belt and armband attachment, and will be available in January 2006 for $30.
Fluffpod video case
Fluffpod today launched Fluffpod video, a new addition to its protective covering lineup for Apple's video iPod. The furry iPod case for Apple's iPod video is available in white or pink. The new case is both soft and furry on the outside and is lined with white or pink silky soft satin for "super soft" protection. "Two white leather boots on the bottom of the case keep your iPod secure, with room for the dock connector to be attached without sacrificing your iPod's safety, or comfort." It also features a thick reinforced plastic window to protect the iPod screen, while allowing users to use the clickwheel. An optional strong Silver Hook to hold the Fluffpod video case to a belt loops, purse, and more is available for $2. Fluffpod video is available now for $25 via the company's website.
Griffin debuts iTrip Auto
Griffin Technology today announced iTrip Auto, a new addition to its iTrip product lineup. Griffin's iTrip products allow users to send any iPod's audio content to the car FM tuner enabling them to listen to the iPod on the car's built-in stereo. The company says that iTrip Auto, the newest addition to the iTrip lineup, is "the most versatile iTrip to date, accommodating every dock connector iPod, including iPod nano and 5th Generation iPods with video." iTrip Auto combines Griffin's renowned FM transmitter technology--for selecting any station any station between 88.1-107.9MHz--with an integrated charger. Designed specifically for use in the car, iTrip Auto's large, easy-to-read backlit LCD screen affords quick, precise station selection and easy status at a glance. It is available now for $70 via Griffin's website.
blinkx.tv To Go
blinkx today launched blinkx.tv To Go, a service that enables users to search for specific video content online and sync it with one click to their iTunes or personal video player software, regardless of its original format. The search engine, which uses advance speech recognization and video analysis to listen to and watch cotent, allows users to find the large variety of independent content--most of which is not widely available at traditional download sites, such as iTunes.com. "blinkx is throwing open the doors to a wide variety of new, user-generated video and making it fully searchable and portable with one quick click."
Walt Disney World podcast
Walt Disney World Resort will launch a weekly podcast on Christmas day. The podcast debuts on Dec. 25 as part of the "Happiest Celebration on Earth," a global commemoration of 50 years of Disney theme parks. Hosted by David Brady, the official Walt Disney World podcast will feature a mix of exclusive content including behind-the-scenes tours of Disney's four Florida theme parks, celebrity interviews, news about upcoming events and conversations with Walt Disney Imagineers, the men and women responsible for the design, creation and expansion of the company's theme parks and resorts.
Third Nano model coming?
Apple is reportedly considering a third model of its popular iPod nano player. According to a published report on AppleInsider, the computer company is deciding whether to introduce a new low-end 1GB iPod nano to capitalize on the staggering demand of the most popular iPod model. "Last week members of Apple's marketing team wrangled over the release of 1GB iPod nano -- essentially a 2GB nano sans half the flash memory -- which the company recently showed to its business partners and considered for release early next year." Central to the debate was whether the 1GB Nano would occupy the "same value space" as a redesigned iPod shuffle, which Apple is expected to introduce at the Macworld Expo in January 2006. Earlier today we noted that Apple and many retailers are already out of stock of the 1GB iPod shuffle and does not expect to replenish it until mid-January.
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