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Forums: iMac vs. Mac Pro
Forums roundup: Members are discussing the difference in performance between the Mac Pro and an iMac to help a user choose between them for graphics-intensive work.... Other users discuss the possibility of cooling their MacBook without changing any internal components.... A user looks to the forum populous to help find out what is wrong with his computer when applications continue to crash despite reinstall attempts.... Others are beginning to wonder when Apple will place Merom processor in a MacBook and how the switch to Intel has changed the product cycle.... Meanwhile, another user looks for advice while building their Mac Pro weighing RAM against processor speed and the value of Apple's RAM offering.
Parallels, OS update costs
In brief: Boston.com has posted the first look at the proposed image of the neighborhood Board-approved Apple retail store in downtown Boston (800 Bolyston), but notes that it still requires approval from several other city agencies.... Parallels has sold nearly 100,000 copies of its Parallels Desktop software for Mac, enabling those users to run PC software on their Apple hardware without rebooting.... RoughlyDrafted Magazine says that Microsoft Windows actually costs users five times as much to keep up to date when compared to Mac OS X.... Virtual network operator Helio is planning to open Apple-like mobile retail stores.... Despite being knocked offline for about six hours due to database issues, YouTube today announced that it is speaking with records labels to post thousands of music videos online to become a provider of mainstream entertainment.... U.S. consumer safety officials today said they are reviewing all Sony lithium-ion batteries in laptops for fire hazards following Dell's earlier announcement that it would recall 4.1 million laptop batteries.
Apple updates Boot Camp
Apple today released an update to Boot Camp, its beta technology that allows users to startup into Microsoft Windows on Intel-based Macs. Boot Camp 1.1 beta offers many updates and is intended for all new and previous Boot Camp beta users, according to the company. Version 1.1b includes support for the latest Intel-based Macs, easier partitioning using presets for popular sizes, the ability to install Windows XP on any internal disk, iSight camera support, support for built-in microphones, right-click when pressing the right-hand Apple key on Apple keyboards, and improved Apple keyboard support including Delete, PrintScreen, NumLock, and ScrollLock keys. The 202MB download requires Mac OS X 10.4.6 Tiger or later. Apple notes while users do need to partition their hard drive again, it is very important to update the Boot Camp Assistant software, create a new Macintosh Drivers for Windows CD and install the updated software it contains on Windows XP. Users can provide feedback to Apple at firstname.lastname@example.org to improve future versions of the software.
CBS to stream primetime TV
CBS is planning to add star attractions to its "Innertube" online streaming service, which competes with Apple's iTunes Music Store in the digital video download arena. Innertube initially offered internet users free access to TV shows, but restricted the content to non-primetime areas of the network's lineup. Such hit shows as CSI and Survivor will be available starting in September to stream the morning after a given episode has aired, and will remain available for four weeks following each broadcast. CBS also vows that each episode will be free to stream with a "limited" use of commercials to help address costs, according to Electronista.
1TB drives to ship in 2006
Hitachi has announced that it will likely offer a 1TB 3.5-inch hard drive before the years' end, according to Hitachi's senior vice president Bill Healy. Perpendicular recording technology is quickly advancing the capacity of hard drives, which up until recently topped out at the 500GB mark. Hitachi also revealed that it will debut holographic removable storage this year in a 300GB write-once format, according to Electronista, with larger capacities and rewriting capability slated to arrive in the future.
MMScript 1.0 released
Comm-Unity Networking Systems today released MMScript 1.0, a FileMaker plug-in designed to trigger and schedule scripts. The plug-in is fully compatible with FileMaker Pro 8.5, and supports the creation of an entire calendar of events. Users can set up a script to trigger in five minutes or five days, and the software supports recurring events or events which trigger after a designated period of idle time. MMSCript can trigger a script in any calculation engine entry point, when the user is idle, when a new record is created, upon exiting a field, or when a pop-up menu changes. MMScript is priced at $35, and requires Mac OS X (specific system requirements were unavailable).
Applepeelz film covers
Glyphix is shipping applepeelz, a series of protective film covers for Apple's entire range of current notebooks and the Mac mini. Applepeelz use an 8 mil "self-healing" Scotchgard film originally designed by 3M for the defense department to protect the leading edges of helicopter rotor blades. The covers are entirely translucent, and allow unfettered access to all ports. The films are easily removable, and increase traction on slippery surfaces when applied to the bottom of the device. Applepeelz for MacBook and MacBook Pro are priced at $20 to cover the lid as well as the bottom of the notebook, while "whole peelz" are available for $50 which also cover the trackpad, button, and surrounding palmrest. A "Mini Top" cover ($8) is also available for the Mac mini, and the company offers "Otherpeelz" providing coverage for the video iPod as well as the Apple remote.
Bad Day LA PC demo
The PC demo for American McGee's Bad Day LA has been released through the MTV Website. File size is 258.8 MB. In this action-adventure game developed by Enlight, players assume the role a homeless man who somehow saves Los Angeles from the worst day in its history, as terrorists, zombies, and natural disasters overcome the city. The demo is rather unexpected given the lack of Bad Day news in the past few months.
Palm and TomTom GPS Kit
Those of us with Treo models such as the 650, 700p, and 700w are no longer forced to search for stand-alone Bluetooth GPS receiver to turn a Palm smartphone into a car navigation tool. Palm has been working with the popular GPS hardware maker TomTom on the Palm GPS Navigator Smartphone Edition, which just became available for the latest Treo models. It includes every accessory a Treo owner needs to mount their phone in the car: a cradle, a charger, a Bluetooth GPS receiver and a 1GB SD card pre-loaded with TomTom's version 6 software (which isn't available anywhere else). This latest package has some very appreciated new features such as the abillity to plan trips based on arrival time and constant monitoring of speed limits to prevent that trip being cut short by the police. The GPS Navigator package ships for $299 without a phone.
A new survey suggests that 64 percent of 13-17-year-old teenagers want an iPod as part of their back-to-school supplies, while 70 percent of teens say they want a computer to complement their studying. "We're seeing a great deal of interest in some less traditional 'school supplies' during the back-to-school retail season," said Brian Hand, CEO of ShopLocal.com, a national Web-to-store comparison shopping site. "Among some of the biggest searches are for MP3 players -- iPods specifically -- and cell phones." The poll queried 500 American teenagers commissioned in July by ShopLocal.com, finding that youngsters aren't just tech-hungry but also brand-conscious. Of those who responded that they would "most want" an MP3 player for the new school year, 97 percent cited iPod as the preferred brand.
Planet Moon helps Sega
Planet Moon Studios (Giants: Citizen Kabuto, Infected) will be working to revive a classic Sega franchise for the PSP. The exact franchise is unknown, but Planet Moon's Website lists job openings for people familiar with "action combat" games, flight games, and the Havok physics engine. Could the game be a new After Burner or Space Harrier title? Knowing Sega's long history, there are many possibilites.
CBS Shows Online For Free
In May, CBS announced a service called Innertube, which would let Internet users watch the network's TV shows for free through a Web portal. Its original form sheltered CBS' main shows from the Internet and instead relied on original shows as well as TV programming outside of prime time. Innertube's positive reception and competition from other networks has led the broadcaster to finally make some of its star attractions available through the site. As of September, easily recognized shows such as CSI and Survivor will be available to stream online for four weeks after each episode's broadcast, starting the morning after a given episode has aired. CBS also vows that each episode will be free to stream with a "limited" use of commercials to help address costs.
The ideal home theater PC for many users would both blend into the collection of electronics that accompanies the TV as well as offer genuine performance for games and other high-demand software. Navio has recently given word about what could be one of the better balances struck between subtlety and high-end computer hardware. Its new 902T2 living room PC is undoubtedly ready for both tasks. An integrated HDTV tuner lets it accept the HD feeds you would expect from such a system, while a 7-inch touchscreen should let you manage stored media without interrupting shows. Accordingly, a full 1TB of storage and 2GB of RAM should prevent it from running out of cache or storage space in the near future. 3D performance is clearly above average courtesy of a GeForce 7900 GTX and the available room for a second video card (SLI is the implied option, but not stated). Perhaps the only disappointments are the choice of processor and the cost: a dual-core Pentium 4 in mid-2006 is merely adequate, and at $4995 buyers will likely need to make Navio's system their only computer.
Naughty Dog's PS3 game
Some snooping through the resume of actor Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5's Byron) has uncovered further information about Naughty Dog's current PS3 project, an action-adventure set in the Caribbean jungle. Downes plays a character called Navarro, and the game's internal codename is "Big," as a Sony spokesperson confirms. Naughty Dog is probably most famous for its system-selling Crash Bandicoot and Jax & Daxter games, so any new titles may contribute to the success (or failure) of the PS3.
Helio Opening Stores
Carrier-based retail stores are not a new concept; neither are the recent Nokia and Samsung stores that showcase the cellphones themselves. Helio, however, will likely be the very first MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) to have a retail presence of its own. The young provider says it plans to open its first store in Santa Monica during October, followed by others in San Diego, Palo Alto, Denver, and New York City. Without a physical infrastructure to support, Helio has shifted its emphasis to promoting its phones and the lifestyle associated with them. Each store will have an ultra-modern look (pictured) that resembles the airy, metal and glass look of many Apple stores. It will also formalize Apple's largely unrestricted store browsing through a lounge intended to draw in younger users who want to access the Internet and socialize.
Silicon Knights keeps UE3
It seems that the gaming media (including the Scan) jumped the gun when it declared UE3 absent from Too Human. 1UP has reversed its previous statements, and is now reporting that the engine will still be used in the game, at least in part. Silicon Knights' Denis Dyack elaborates: "Although we do not usually comment on speculation, rumors of Silicon Knights completely scrapping the Unreal Engine 3 on Too Human and massive delays for the Too Human product release are false." This denial is echoed by Microsoft, but note the use of the word "completely" - does that imply that portions of UE3 are indeed gone?
Hitachi 1TB Hard Drives
Perpendicular recording technology is quickly advancing the capacity of hard drives, which up until recently had been mired at the 500GB mark. Seagate's 750GB drive leapt ahead of this barrier, but before the year is over that new record will be surpassed yet again. Hitachi should have a 1TB hard drive ready for the market before the end of the year, according to company senior vice president Bill Healy. The drive would be a 3.5-inch drive of the sort typically found in home computers. Additionally, Hitachi is not limiting itself to conventional technology. Holographic removable storage will arrive this year in a 300GB write-once format, with larger capcacities and rewriting set to arrive in later years.
Norway to discuss iTunes
Nordic consumer regulators are scheduled to meet in Iceland on August 24-25th to discuss possible legal action against Apple. The meeting in Reykjavik will seek to resolve whether to file a lawsuit against Apple if the company refuses to lift restrictions preventing tracks purchased via iTunes from playing on rival music players, according to the Associated Press. Meeting attendees will also discuss whether to address the Apple case individually or jointly. Consumer agencies in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden cried foul in June, saying that Apple was violating copyright laws by restricting music purchased from the iTunes Music Store to play only on its iPod portable player, locking out competitors. Apple responded to the complaints, saying that its business model would not change and that it was not in violation of those country's laws.
PSP Store opens to the UK
If you live in the United Kingdom and you've got a PSP, you're in luck. Sony has opened the official online PSP Store for the region, which makes for a convenient source of files like the (free) Loco Roco demo. That's about the only important game content at the moment though, with the rest of it coming as updates or bonus material. The music, photo and video sections of the store are equally anemic. Sony should be rolling out many more downloads, but there's no information on what they will be, or how soon there will be a North American store.
Smartphones have been taking on increasingly complex tasks; even so, they are ultimately compromises. Whether it be the Danger Sidekick or a Palm Treo, the keyboard is often very limited and the display rarely useful for real work. The German company ROAD, a recent startup, has aggressively claimed that its new handyPC s101 is not just a good smartphone, but better than any smartphone through its design and software. When closed, the handyPC has the controls of a candybar phone, complete with regular-size buttons. Open the phone, however, and there is a very different device underneath. The inside is effectively a small PC: a 640x240 screen and a 63-key keyboard let you use as a much more comfortable environment than usual for e-mail, web browsing, and viewing Microsoft Office files. It currently uses a Linux-based interface it plans to let other manufacturers use. The company is also set to ship in versions with Windows Mobile and Symbian operating systems as well. Few other details have been made public; the company is expected to reveal more in September at the IFA conference in Berlin. Photos of the inside and outside are available after the jump.
Wii online play free
Nintendo of America's Reginald Fils-Aime (yes, Reggie) has told USA Today that the company views online gaming as "essentially an enhanced way to enjoy the gaming experience and drive more sales of hardware and software." Following that logic, there will be no subscription fees for playing Wii games online. "We will offer online-enabled games that the consumers will not have to pay a subscription fee for. They'll be able to enjoy that right out of the box. The Wii console is going to be Wi-Fi enabled, so essentially, you'll be able to plug it in and go. It won't have hidden fees or costs." This would seem to be a direct jab at Microsoft, which charges $50 a year for full multiplayer options on Xbox Live.
BS4100 GPS For Bluetooth
GPS software exists for multiple platforms at this point, including cellphones and PDAs. While the latter might soon change, not everyone would care to replace their phone just to add positioning. There may be a solution in RoyalDigital's new BS4100 receiver. Its sole purpose is to act as a GPS receiver through Bluetooth for any hardware that can make the connection. The receiver uses Bluetooth 2.0 and can receive power through a USB cable. RoyalDigital makes no mention of price or availability; the only option is to submit a quote request. Still, this could be instrumental to users who want accurate map data beyond a dedicated GPS unit.
Apple CEO still at risk
Apple CEO Steve Jobs remains at risk of criminal charges related to the company's stock option grant irregularities, which the company announced in late June. Apple at one point did not have an independent compensation committee, and shareholders are concerned that Jobs may have been implicated in the options case, according to Macworld UK. Apple elected not to begin expensing stock options until 2004, when the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) insisted that all companies charge options against company profits. "Because stock options are now accounted for as an expense, companies who secretly backdated grants will have been overstating their profits in recent years and may have to pay higher taxes in future years," wrote The Independent.
Driver vX 5.0 ($20) is professional logbook software for users to track their car or even the complete carpool of their company with the ability to put into perspective costs of running a car, report printing, and Google Maps integration. Version 5.0 brings Universal Binary support, Filemaker 8.5 Runtime, a refined GUI, an integrated Web viewer, and full Google Maps integration. Driver vX requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
[Download - 35.5MB]
TextExpander 1.4 ($30) lets users define abbreviations for frequently-used text strings and images allowing users to save time by quickly typing words and phrases with a few letters. The update adds user-specified delimiters; the ability to import comma- and tab-delimited text, RTF, and RTFD files; a new style menu bar icon; the ability to sort snippets by date created; and the option to sort snippets by date modified. [Download - 2.4MB]
MailTemplate 1.6 ($15) automates and streamlines the process of composing e-mail messages by using predefined templates with embedded macros reducing the time involved in both composing replies and making new e-mail messages. Version 1.6 adds Address Book integration, drag-and-drop support for addresses or attachments, an enhanced attachments menu, improved message composition, and new project resources. MailTemplate is a Universal Binary and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. [Download - for Mail or for Entourage]
pearLabelizer 0.6 (free) is a utility to print addresses or other text onto specific labels of a label sheet; it features an easy-to-use interface and drag and drop support from Apple's Address Book application. The update adds support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, AddressBook field Nickname, printing support for the Smart Groups feature, newline and space stripping, and invisible newline characters at the end of entries are now handled properly. PearLabelizer requires MacOS X 10.3 or higher. [Download - 259KB]
E-Mail Commander 1.1.4 ($30) helps with sending press releases, wedding invitations, and other bulk messages using dynamically customized messages on a per-recipient basis to increase the relevance to the reader. Version 1.1.4 adds inline images for Raw HTML messages, a completely revised parsing engine for quick e-mail previews, an enhanced Find feature for the recipient databases, improved reliability and error handling for sending messages, complete import and export features with support for field mapping or CSV files, an interface overhaul and a completely integrated Help system. It requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later. [Download - 3.9MB]
Xcode 2.4, Dell recall
In brief: Apple's Developer website has released Xcode 2.4 -- the company's software development package -- as a free download.... Following numerous reports of Dell laptop batteries overheating and catching fire with little warning, the computer-maker has issued an unprecedented recall of 4.1 million batteries used in its Inspiron, Latitude, Precision, and XPS systems.... Memorex today announced that it has begun shipping the first HD DVD-R discs ($20 each), and said it would offer HD DVD-RW discs by the fourth quarter.... Kollective.de today revealed that it received a letter from Apple stating that its Tinpod -- an MP3 player case made of tin featuring artist illustrations -- is "confusingly" similar to Apple's own iPod trademark.... SanDisk today announced that the European Imaging & Sound Association (EISA) has named the new SanDisk Extreme IV line of Compact Flash cards as the European Memory Card of the Year 2006-2007.
DesignMerge supports Quark
Quark today announced that Meadows Publishing Solutions has released the DesignMerge XTensions module to support QuarkXPress 7. DesignMerge is a suite of software modules allowing users to easily create variable-data output from QuarkXPress projects. Each copy of a printed document is customizable by changing items such as name, address, and graphics. The entire process is database-driven, flexible, and easy to use, according to Quark. The XTensions module features "CopyFit," which automatically fits text into the space allotted for it, and the DesignMerge Rules feature, which provides the ability to perform specific layout actions based on the contents of one or more database fields. DesignMerge XTensions require Mac OS 9.2 or later (pricing was unavailable).
Molyneux's old games
Gamers who've only played Fable or Black & White may wonder why designer Peter Molyneux is treated with such reverence. The answer is that during the 1980's and 90's, Molyneux's Bullfrog Productions produced many influential classics, among them Populous, Syndicate, Theme Park, Magic Carpet, and Dungeon Keeper. The good news is that if it's possible, Molyneux says he would like Lionhead Studios to revisit some of these franchises after they're done with Fable 2 - and their mystery game. He brings particular attention to Syndicate: "Aside from the licensing complications, some sort of next-gen online version of Syndicate would certainly be popular with gamers. I'd love to reprise games like Syndicate, Populous, and Dungeon Keeper, but as you point out, we'd need some business development people to sort this out."
iriver ships 2GB player
iriver America today launched a new higher-capacity version of its T10 portable media player which is capable of playing Audible content, offering competition to Apple's iPod player. The iriver 2GB T10 can store and play back Audible's audio titles out-of-the-box, and is PlaysForSure verified to support subscription-based music download services such as Napster or URGE. iriver is also offering customers who purchase the new player a free book from Audible. The new player offers the same storage capacity as Apple's 2GB iPod nano flash-based device, which is currently available for $200 from the Apple Store online. iriver's 2GB T10 is priced at $150, and features up to 45 hours of battery life with a built-in FM tuner/recorder. [image included]
Kingston Mini Fun
In contrast to Memorex, whose approach to back-to-school flash drives has been to target the floppy disk's price and shape, Kingston believes the best approach is to make existing flash drive formats more entertaining. Its new DataTraveller Mini Fun drives can stack together like the familiar brick toys or attach to a keychain. All sizes also include the Big Fish games Atlantis and Magic Vines to entertain younger owners using Windows. Drives are available in different colors depending on capacity: a 256MB model ships in orange, while blue and yellow signify 512MB and 1GB respectively. Prices start at a low $15 for the 256MB model and ends at $33 for 1GB. All of them are available immediately.
There is an abundance of speaker accessories for digital audio players, but in many situations the bulk, cost, and power can be excessive: few listeners at work can afford to buy or carry a speaker set for the office only to turn down the volume for coworkers. At least one manufacturer has addressed the cost issue, but now the Samsung YP-K5 could make it trivially easy to carry a speaker set with you that should offer just enough volume for the workplace. Currently available only in Korea, the new player hides an actual speaker behind a minimalist black exterior and can slide it out for those times when your player serves as a desk radio. More information and a full photo after the jump.
The Sims 2 OfB goes gold
Aspyr Media today declared The Sims 2 Open for Business (OfB) as gold master for the Mac, and said the title is scheduled to ship to retail outlets early next week. The Sims 2 Open for Business allows sims to design clothing boutiques, beauty salons, florists, high-end electronics shops, bustling restaurant chains, or virtually any other type of business. Players can hire staff as the business grows while putting talented Sims to work making toys, running the register, crafting floral bouquets, giving sales pitches, or manufacturing robots. The Sims 2 Open for Business allows players to pick a business theme, set prices, and treat customers as desired. Players can turn talents into cash by learning the tricks of the trade, training good employees, and firing slackers. The Sims 2 Open for Business is priced at $35, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later as well as the full version of The Sims 2 for Mac OS X.
MS Gamefest: Windows
The coverage of Gamefest continues with Microsoft's schemes for Windows software. Under their Games for Windows rebranding strategy, games will be divided into two categories: Essentials and Showcases. Earning the Essentials tag will require a "basic" level of support which includes the 360 Windows controller, Windows Media Center, Vista's Windows Game Explorer, and the use of Direct3D as the primary graphics driver. OpenGL will still be an option. Showcase games must (in general) also support DirectX 10, error reporting, multiple cores, and 64-bit processing. Other features that may warrant a Showcase tag include multi-monitor support and three-click, DVD-only installs.
Sonic Studio, a developer of ultra-fidelity production tools for audio engineers, has announced that it is now shipping soundBlade, First shown at the 120th Convention of the Audio Engineering Society in Paris, the company said that that soundBlade has entered distribution channels worldwide. Designed as an answer to audio engineers' need for a streamlined, high-fidelity alternative to available PCM production applications, soundBlade runs natively on Mac OS X, leveraging Apple's Core Audio engine; it offers AU and VST plug-in support and says that either type can be used in any order in the signal path. The application also combines Sonic Studio's EFM and four-point editing capabilities with the company's SSE real-time audio engine and optional, accelerated DSP processing to deliver the "finest fidelity money can buy." The solution combines Sonic Studio's benchmark premastering functionality with signal processing, restoration and comprehensive editing. soundBlade is shipping now for $1,500.
ConceptDraw MINDMAP v4.5
CS Odessa today released ConceptDraw MINDMAP v4.5, a free update to its popular mind mapping and brainstorming software that works both on Windows and Mac OS X. Version 4.5 offers user interface improvements in the Mac OS X version, Spell Checker, improved Export to PDF and a number of other improvements and fixes. "We always strive to improve our program according to our customer's needs and maintain our existing users paying attention to their feedback." says Yury Varbanets, the product manager of ConceptDraw MINDMAP. ConceptDraw MINDMAP is a brainstorming tool that uses standard mind mapping techniques to help organize ideas and tasks. The company claims that it speeds up understanding, decision making and learning up to 90 percent; MINDMAP can also be used to illustrate your MS PowerPoint presentations, generate project plans, draw pro-quality flowcharts and more. t is a free update to v4.x owners and $70 (Standard) or $130 (Professional) for other previous registered users.
Sirius Stiletto Leaked
Earlier in the month, Sirius had publically stated that it would announce a truly live satellite radio later in the month, though it would not provide any further details. However, the electronics retailer Crutchfield has prematurely revealed the details of that radio through the latest issue of the company's catalog. The Stiletto, as the radio is known, has at least two unique features that may give it an edge over XM-ready players such as the Pioneer Inno. One key feature is the set of antennas built into the included headphones that promise better reception than the internal antenna on other players. Another useful feature is integrated WiFi: a Stiletto user can stream satellite radio to computers if within range of a WiFi access point. A final and crucial element revealed in the leak is news about the launch itself: the Stiletto will ship on September 1st for $399.
iRiver Ships 2GB T10
iRiver has certainly felt the pressure of the iPod nano on its flash-based music player lineup, but the Korean brand is still very much prepared to compete with Apple on terms that the latter can't yet match. The newly released 2GB version of iRiver's T10 player is a quintessential example of this in action. This new model has iRiver's typically broad audio format support (including OGG) as well as FM tuning and FM/voice recording. More significantly, iRiver is determined to compete aggressively on price: in addition to selling the 2GB model for a surprisingly low $150, iRiver is also letting buyers choose a free Audible book at the same time. The new T10 is available immediately.
Apple beats out Dell
The quarterly American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) today released its 2006 second quarter report, saying that Apple continues to lead the PC industry in customer satisfaction with a score of 83, up 3 percent bringing it into the top 15 percent of all companies measured. Google still retains the top spot in its own industry -- which it has held since it was first measured in 2002. Dell also rose to break its downward trend, but Yahoo fell 5 percent to 76 in its worst performance in five years. Google's score dropped 1 percent to 81, but the company continues to satisfy customers even as it expands its business beyond its core search functionality. [updated]
360 peripheral plans
At Gamefest yesterday, Microsoft's Rob Walker unveiled some previously unknown plans for 360 accessories. The one confirmed plan is a universal adapter for the PC, which will allow Windows gamers to use any wireless 360 controller; curiously, gamers will be unable to reprogram button arrangements. Microsoft's long-term plans are a bit more nebulous. Among other ideas, the company is toying with products like an expanded hard drive, an HDMI input adapter, and/or a motion-sensing controller. Walker was actively critical of motion technology however, saying that it's imprecise and causes user fatigue. Update: Shacknews claims that another prospect is a controller with a modified right analog stick, which would make the 360 better suited to first-person shooters. The controller would not replace the current gamepad.
New Belkin surge protector
Belkin has announced two new search protectors, the Concealed Surge Protector and the Compact Surge Protector. The Concealed Surge Protector organizes the users' cables and keeps them out of view with a closing cover. Designed with the goal of protecting electronics, computers, and appliances, the Concealed Surge Protector can sit on the floor either out of the way or in the open. The design also features 11 outlets for protection of equipment, telephone, internet and includes 10ft cord, eight surge protected electrical outlets, 1-in/2-out phone/fax/modem ports, and a $200,000 connected equipment warranty. The Compact Surge Protector is also designed to safeguard users' electronics, computers, and appliances while staying out of the way. Unused outlets are designed to stay clean and safe with sliding covers and is designed to be barely noticeable while keeps cords orderly with integrated cable management. The Compact Surge includes a 6ft cord, 11 surge protected electrical outlets, 1-in/2-out phone/fax/modem ports, coaxial in/out, ethernet in/out, and a $300,000 connected equipment warranty. The Concealed Surge Protector ($50) and the Compact Surge Protector ($40) will ship in North American this October. [images included]
HDMI Deep Color Hardware
Conventional CRT displays may still deliver the best subjective color accuracy for most viewers, but the gap between this and flat-panel technology is quickly narrowing. One technique for improving the color output is known as "deep color:" instead of the 16.7 million colors we see in current 24-bit output, deep color allows for billions of colors onscreen at anywhere from 30-bit to 48-bit quality. Silicon Image today announced new receivers and transmitters for HDMI 1.3, the first video cable format that explicitly supports deep color. The increased accuracy means that even LCDs, which have habitually poor black reproduction and occasional instances of color banding (where color changes are abrupt when they should be subtle), should display a more accurate picture if they and their source have deep color hardware. Sony's PlayStation 3, which includes HDMI 1.3, should take advantage of not just the extra color accuracy but also better frame rates, even at a full 1080p resolution. Other media players and HDTVs using Silicon Image's hardware are expected to ship by the end of the year.
Lasso 10th anniversary
In brief: In an interview with the LATimes, actor Justin Long (the "Mac" in Apple's recent campaign) stated that twenty more commercials have been filmed for the "Get a Mac" campaign.... A Mac enthusiast blogger has posted a video on his blog showing users how to set up their Mac as a video sever -- this is the first video in the series.... OmniPilot has announced a celebration for the 10th anniversary of Lasso, offering upgrades from any previous version of Lasso to the current version for $300 and new licenses for $500.... Java will expand support to more programming languages such as Microsoft's Visual Basic.... Apple has set a grand opening date for a new retail store, The Pier at Caesars--located Atlantic City, New Jersey--for Saturday, August 19th.
Apple cuts Taiwan workers
Apple has cut its workforce at its local Taiwan sales office by 30-40 percent, including many executives and managers. The Digitimes reports that the workforce reduction was due to weaker sales and market share achieved by Apple Taiwan, compared to the performance of Apple's Hong Kong branch. The cuts follow the June resignation of Kong Yuk-loong, the former managing director of Apple Taiwan, according to the report. "Since Kong's departure, a number of managers and executives at the branch have resigned as well, including the former head of Apple Taiwan's marketing division, Hsu Guang-qi (transliterated from Chinese), who now works at Dopod International," according the report. Meanwhile, Samsung is preparing to increase its workforce in the fourth quarter, as many expect the MP3 market to grow signficantly, according to Samsung.
Memorex Recordable HD DVD
A distinct advantage Blu-Ray initially claimed over HD DVD was the ability to write to disc: the initial specifications of the former included recording as a standard feature for computer-based drives. HD DVD was initially read-only; however, with the imminent release of HD DVD-R drives the competition will soon become fierce. Memorex is the first manufacturer to provide recordable media for those new drives. The company today announced that it has begun shipping the first HD DVD-R discs to stores. These write-once discs are single-layer media that can hold up to 15GB of data each. Memorex also said it would have HD DVD-RW discs ready for the fourth quarter. At $20 per disc, HD DVD-R is considerably more expensive than regular DVD but slightly less expensive than recordable Blu-Ray media.
EA joins retro repackaging
Although companies like Atari and Activision have long been bundling old games together for quick cash, EA has remained relatively quiet in that area until now. The Web is abuzz over this GameStop listing, which promotes a PSP title called EA Replay. Scheduled for October 3rd, it seems to collect a number of classic games from the early to mid-nineties, such as Budokan, Road Rash, Syndicate, Wing Commander, and Ultima VII: The Black Gate. Don't get your hopes up for the PC versions though; since this compilation would (if it's real) be limited to PSP controls, chances are that EA would rely on the SNES/Genesis ports. The Scan will try to confirm more details as they come in.
Forensic 2.5 DriveDock v4
WiebeTech has announced new enhancements to its proprietary write-block technology which allows investigators to image any 2.5-inch IDE notebook drive using FireWire 800 (400 compatible) or USB connectivity. The new Forensic Notebook DriveDock v4 maintains its rugged case and includes more LED indicators to monitor data transfer--one of which confirms to users that write-block technology is active and protecting the data. "We're offering forensic examiners more versatility by offering write-blocked access through USB as well as FireWire; and because the new Forensic Notebook DriveDock v4 is based on the Oxford 922 chip, FireWire transfer rates are really fast," according to the company. The DriveDock v4 includes a new on/off power switch with safegaurd to accompany the new power system which allows the unit to be attached to any 2.5-inch IDE notebook drive and powered with a +12V adapter (included with product) or also with a standard disk drive 4-pin molex power source. It is available now for $400.
Dell August Battery Recall
Though Dell previously issued a battery recall at the end of 2005, the company has been under increasing scrutiny for numerous reports of its laptops' batteries overheating and catching fire with little warning. Regardless of whether or not the reports were evidence of a systemic flaw in the manufacturing process, Dell is taking preventative measures and has issued an unprecedented recall of 4.1 million batteries used in its laptops of recent years. The models affected include many Inspiron, Latitude, Precision, and XPS systems. Some batteries sold apart from laptops are also affected. Dell is asking anyone whose hardware is affected to visit the official battery recall website or call the company, and to immediately stop using defective batteries once replacements are shipping.
Network cards for Mac Pro
Small Tree Communications has announced new high-performance networking and storage solutions for Apple's Mac Pro. Both multi-port copper Gigabit Ethernet and optical Gigabit Ethernet cards are ready to ship with support for Apple's new Mac Pro systems. "We are already shipping our 2-port PCIe cards to customers who want to use the new Mac Pro and its internal RAIDed disks as a file server, but realize that a performance bottleneck will occur without our multi-port cards," said Corky Seeber, president of Small Tree. The RoHS-compliant PCI-Express Gigabit Ethernet cards for the new Mac Pro are available with one or two ports and either copper (two port version is $300) or optical (two port version is $1000) connections -- four port cards are in development, according to the company.
3TB network storage device
MicroNet Technology has announced the PlatinumNAS 3.0, its new storage solution for small and medium businesses. The PlatinumNAS 3.0 is a compact, high-performance network storage solution that uses new SATA drive technology and high-availability hardware architecture with plug-and-play simplicity. The company claims it provides 50 percent more storage capacity than competitors, but uses 30 percent less energy. The PlatinumNAS 3.0 offers a three-terabyte (3TB) capacity powered by four 750GB hot-swappable hard drives. It offers dual-channel gigabit Ethernet connectivity, an Intel XScale 64-bit network storage processor, four discrete SATA 2+NCQ disk channels, 256MB of write-back/write-through error correcting cache memory, multiple simultaneous network services, and cross-platform compatibility between Windows, UNIX, and Mac OS X. MicroNet's PlatinumNAS 3.0 is available immediately for $3800.
'Pod' mark ownership
Apple is again aggressively trying to control its iPod trademark and branding; however, a new report suggests that the company may have gone too far with its current efforts. Having already registered 'pod' in Europe (and with a pending US application), Apple's legal team has sent a 'cease & desist' to companies using 'pod' in their own product names and materials--even "if the product you make doesn't look, smell, feel, or do anything remotely close to what an iPod does, and even if consumers can't buy it on the shelves in a store, that apparently doesn't mean Apple won't release its legal dogs on you if the name of your product includes the letters P-O-D," according to ZDNet. New reports note that the company has sent cease and desist letters to at least two companies that use 'pod', including a company that manufacturers a device that can be used to wirelessly track sales from an arcade game using a PC.
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