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Apple event at Photokina
In Brief: MacNN has reviewed BeLight Software's Disc Cover, allowing users to create personalized designs and add custom text while printing directly onto CD/DVD media as well as labels..... Apple for the first time will be attending Photokina, the Cologne-based photography show that takes place from September 26th to October 1st, and will hold a special Apple presentation on the eve of the event.... A new report suggests that Dell and its manufacturing partner Sony knew about a battery design flaw since last October, which ultimately lead to a massive recall of certain lithium-ion portable batteries that could ignite or cause an explosion.... Microsoft has announced that its Zune player as of now will not support Audible audio books, but may support such content in the future following discussions currently underway. [corrected]
2006 Apple Scholars
Apple has announced the 2006 Apple Scholars, selecting "ten winners out of an overwhelming number of applicants," according to the company's webpage. The program selected the 10 college-bound high school students based on each student's innovative use of technology in academics. The winners included Nick Biere, John Coburn, Michelle Crowther, Paul Ginart, Vicki Hsu, Mitchell Murphy Raj Ranade, Zoe Ross-Silverman, Lauren Williamson, and Muthanna Yacoub. Apple, however, did not provide any highlights or details on their use of technology. The company will give each winner a MacBook Pro, iPod nano, and $2000 cash as they head to campus this fall.
Will Wright in London
Electronic Arts has announced a public presentation by Will Wright, set to take place August 29th in London. The description is vague, saying only that it's being presented by EA and BAFTA (the British Academy of Film and Television Arts), and that the topic is "the future of gaming." Tickets will be issued by ballot from the applicants who e-mail email@example.com before August 24th at 6 PM. Yes, that's right - the presentation will be open to the public. In fact journalists are actually barred from attending, presumably to give the public better access. Drop us a line if you happen to go! The full flyer can be found below.
Iomega portable drives
Iomega today launched two high-capacity Portable Hard Drive (site not updated) in 80GB and 120GB capacities offering host-powered operation with "Drop Shock" technology. The Iomega Portable Hard Drive Hi-Speed USB 2.0/FireWire drives feature a sleek metallic industrial design with a thickness of 0.5-inches. The drives weigh less than six ounces, and each easily fit into a shirt pocket. Both drives come with EMC Retrospect Express backup and disaster recovery software -- which is Mac compatible -- to deliver automated backups. The Iomega dual interface Portable Hard Drive utilizes a 2.5-inch hard drive spinning at 5,400rpm, and each drive ships with USB 2.0 as well as FireWire 400 cables. The drives are priced at $170 and $220 for 80GB and 120GB capacities, respectively. Iomega Portable hard drives require Mac OS X 10.1 or later.
Nasdaq, Apple listing
Despite Nasdaq's warning of delisting as a result of late quarterly earnings reports, Apple and more than a dozen other companies won't likely see removal from the ticker tape. Delisted stocks trade on the OTC Bulletin Board or have their prices quoted on unregulated "Pink Sheets," are far less liquid, and frequently see higher asking prices with lower selling prices, according to the Associated Press. Experts say larger companies are unlikely to be delisted, however. "The perception is that if you're big enough, like so many things, you are more or less in the driver's seat," said Maureen O'Hara, a professor of management at Cornell University's business school. Fannie Mae, which finances one of every five home loans in the United States, has failed to comply with New York Stock Exchange listing standards since 2004, and has yet to be delisted.
Digital Deck Networked PVR
TiVo's most glaring limitation in its current hardware is the lack of widespread networking abilities. They can share shows between computers and other TiVo recorders but are limited in what they can play back beyond television shows. Digital Deck's self-titled television recorder has just shipped and shares many TiVo Series 2 abillites (it can in fact play shows from networked TiVo units), but adds the significant ability to play back iTunes music including playlists and podcasts. It can also display photos from Flickr accounts for those who upload image collections to the service. A main unit is initially available at CompUSA for $499 and includes a remote as well as access to Digital Deck's online program guide updates.
SOHO Notes 5.6 released
Chronos also updated SOHO Notes 5.6, its note manager for Mac OS X and the official successor to StickyBrain. This new version makes it easier than ever for users to get organized, by allowing users to manage clippings in DockNote's clipboard recorder. DockNote records all activity to the system-wide clipboard so users can go back and re-use information they previously copied to the clipboard. Users can now open, edit, and delete clippings in the clipboard to better manage them. Users can also now create notes from clippings in the clipboard recorder, and it now supports multiple blogging accounts (as well as adds support for different types of authentication). Chronos SOHO Notes is $40 a and is available directly from Chronos. Registered StickyBrain 1.x, 2.x, and 3.x customers can upgrade to SOHO Notes 5.6 for $25. It requires Mac OS X v10.4.7 or later.
SOHO Organizer 5.6 ships
Chronos today released SOHO Organizer 5.6, an update to its personal and business productivity suite. SOHO Organizer, designed for both individual and workgroup use, is a complete rewrite of the former Personal and Group Organizer products that it replaces. The free update adds new "Mini-Months in Day View," which contains a mini-month region where one or more mini-months can be displayed. A mini-month shows a complete month calendar at a glance so users can quickly view a specific date in the Day View. In addition, SOHO Organizer can now search for duplicate contacts and gives the user three options when duplicates are found and allows users to define custom field display order for each contact to offer more consistent entry of user information. SOHO Organizer 5.6 also includes the ability to duplicate events or tasks, a progress bar when importing vCards, and more. A 30-day trial of the $100 application is available online. It requires Mac OS X v10.4.7 or later and is a Universal application.
Buy cellphone, get PSP
Here's an unusual deal: if you're in the market for a cellphone, you can buy a T-Mobile from American chain Wolf Camera and they'll throw in a free PSP. You have to select the phone from a list, and sign up for a two-year contract - think before you leap - but that still means that you can have a PSP and a cellphone for as little as $30 up front. The deal expires on August 26th, so there's no need to rush. Plenty of us get by without a cellphone.
MGM adds Stargate to iTMS
MGM Studios today announced that it will add the Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis TV shows to Apple's iTunes Music Store. MGM's addition bolsters the already swelling collection of content driving the market-leading digital media storefront, providing consumers with audio and video content playable on Apple's iPod digital media players. The first five episodes of season 10 of Stargate SG1, as well as the first five episodes of season 3 of Stargate Atlantis are scheduled to be available for download via iTunes starting today, according to the Associated Press. Subsequent episodes for both series will be available for purchase within 24 hours of their airing on the Sci Fi Channel.
Sony FJ Graphic Edition
It was ten years ago that Sony began its current emphasis on computers as audio and video hubs through the VAIO (Video Audio Integrated Operation) line. The line hasn't met with uniformly positive success, but few would dispute that the VAIO name is inseparable from stylish media-oriented systems. To celebrate this achievement, the company recently began producing the Graphic Edition of its FJ-series laptops. One of five prints overlays the FJ's already colorful outer shell: examples include Blue Burst, Pink Feathers (pictured), and Orange Flowers. Specifications remain as they are for normal models, but in contrast to most special launches the Graphic Edition is shipping below standard pricing, at $1130 for a base unit. The new laptop is not yet available for order but is expected soon.
MS, Vista incentives
Microsoft said it will request that PC makers offer upgrade incentives to shoppers in an effort to avoid slow holiday sales. Retailers worry that sales of systems loaded with Windows XP will slip in the fourth quarter of 2006 prior to the launch of Windows Vista, which is slated for shipment for consumers in January of 2007, according to a report from Taipei. Customers will likely hold out for PCs bundled with the new operating system, rather than make a purchase prior to Vista's release with Windows XP pre-loaded on the computer. "We'll encourage our partners to provide incentives to promote the sales," said Alex Huang, regional director of Greater China for Microsoft. PC shoppers who buy a system in the fourth quarter of 2006 are to receive a coupon good for an upgrade to Windows Vista, once it is available.
An experienced astronomer can usually identify planets and stars by sight alone; novice stargazers in the field may need to gain experience through hardware that can automatically label certain objects as they fall into view. For those in the field and thus without access to a large telescope that can automatically point to space objects, the SkyScout uses GPS tracking to identify galaxies, man-made objects, planets, and stars depending on the user's Earth coordinates and viewing angle. Additionally, the device can provide a historical background to the object in sight through audio and text. An SD card slot and USB port help keep the SkyScout updated with new audio tours and object data. The unit is available today for $400 at many astronomy and science stores.
Leipzig: the list
A list of all the games confirmed for show at Leipzig this week has been prepared by GamesIndustry. There are some important gaps - Activision, Vivendi, Rockstar, Sony, Nintendo and others have yet to declare what they'll be showing. Conversely there may be some pleasant surprises for gamers, including games like Crysis, BioShock, The Darkness, S.T.A.L.K.E.R, and Command & Conquer 3. The full GI list can be found below.
Dell Aware Since October
Dell's problems with its laptops have not ended since the massive battery recall issued last week. Technical support phone service relating to the recall has been consistently busy and prone to disconnections; this damaged Dell's reputation at a time when the company saw its profits halved compared to a year ago. Such timing was not intentional, however. Dell and its manufacturing partner Sony knew about the issue since October, a company spokesman said today. The formal announcement of the recall was made only when both Dell and Sony confirmed that a design flaw in certain lithium-ion batteries could potentially ignite them or cause an explosion.
iMat Jaq Challenges Moto Q
Motorola earned newfound respect with its Q smartphone. Its use of CDMA for phone calls and EVDO for mobile broadband were the main drawbacks: customers using GSM for phone calls and EDGE for data have been locked out of choosing the Q's design. There is no indication that Motorola will broaden support for the Q in the near future, but this may matter little if iMate's Jaq is chosen by US carriers. Revealed by the Hungarian site PDAMania, the Jaq is similarly focused on a stylish design and sports a number of similar specifications including a 320x240 screen, 64MB of RAM with a miniSD slot for expansion, Bluetooth, and a 1.3 megapixel camera. It also gains the previously mentioned GSM/EDGE support and a 128MB ROM to keep Windows Mobile 5 running smoothly. At this early stage, release information remains unknown.
UK's PS2 price drop
Following the Leipzig Games Convention this week, the price of the PS2 in the United Kingdom will drop from about £105 to £94.99. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe is timing the cut to coincide with Buzz, SingStar and EyeToy releases, which they hope will lure in the market of casual gamers. It also paves the way for post-PS3 sales during the holiday season. Could the North American price fall to $100 before November?
iSale 3.2 released
Equinux today released iSale 3.2, updating the Apple Design Award-winning eBay auction software allowing users to create custom templates for auctions. Custom background images, text boxes, picture zones, and more are configurable with step-by-step instructions added to the user manual. iSale 3.2 also offers additional built-in templates of themed layouts for listings focused on automotive, sports, DVD, and numerous other categories. The update also includes adjustments to the eBay Style Preview to correctly display auctions, as well as an improved CSV Import function allowing Mac OS X 10.3.9 users to accurately import data. iSale 3.2 is priced at $40, with upgrades for iSale 3 users available for free. The software requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Shuttle Core 2 Duo XPC
The first small form factor PC to use Intel's Core technology was Intel-based Apple's Mac mini. Soon, though, the long-time SFF manufacturer Shuttle will be introducing its own Core-based systems with a focus on performance over Apple's miniturization. At roughly the size of a breadbox, the SD37P2 barebones case is meant for Core 2 Duo desktop processors and up to two ATI video cards in a CrossFire high-performance link (one card from any manufacturer is of course an option). It also supports up to an ample 8GB of RAM and allows for external expansion through two Firewire and eight USB 2 ports. As a basic case with power supply and mainboard, the SN37P2 will sell in Europe for the equivalent of $537 US by the end of September. North American pricing is still unannounced but should follow very shortly.
Wii retail price is $170?
There were rumours of this earlier, but now it's coming from Electronic Arts' VP and COO of worldwide studios, David Gardner. As he tells GamesIndustry, "I've heard in Japan that the price is about $170, but I don't know if the price has been set in Europe yet." Even though the price will probably vary from region to region, it seems unlikely that the cost will rise any more than the equivalent of $20-50 - meaning that the Wii will stay the cheapest next-gen console on the market. Gardner speculates that this is part of a Nintendo strategy, aimed at selling the Wii as a second console alongside a 360 or a PS3. Update: 1UP thinks that Gardner's quote is based on research by Japan's Nikko Citigroup, and that a more likely price is $199. They won't say why.
"Woz" to judge app contest
A software developer today announced "My Dream App," a competition inviting participants to submit their ideas for a "killer" application. Forty popular Mac developers, well-known bloggers, established members of the tech media, user-interface designers, and Apple alumni have joined the My Dream App contest as guest judges to provide critique on finalist entries. Judges include Digg.com founder Kevin Rose, New York Times columnist David Pogue, former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki, and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Contestants are to compete for a chance to have their idea realized as a Macintosh shareware application while earning royalties on software sales. The contest is also offering numerous Mac and iPod prizes to finalists. "It's always fun when someone innovates in the computer world. My Dream App is doing that by turning software design and development on its head. It's going to be interesting to see how this all turns out," Wozniak said.
Panasonic 4GB Flash DV Cam
Multiple alternatives to the conventional tape now exist for storing video on DV cameras: each of them has its drawbacks, however. DVD isn't quick to write and isn't easy to store; hard drives solve these problems but add bulk and the risk of skipping. Flash storage is a relatively new option courtesy of rapidly falling prices. It isn't the fastest or the most capacious, but it can be rewritten many times and resists skipping. Panasonic's new SDR-S150 takes advantage of these benefits and may be a good choice for amateur videographers. It has an SD card slot that lets users store up to 4GB (or 200 minutes) of footage, with a 2GB card included in the box. The camera also uses 3 CCDs to help generate a quality picture. It ships in September for under $1000.
Two El Matador demos
Two demos for Plastic Reality's third-person, Max Payne-style action game have been released to the Web. They both share the same tutorial level, but each has a different story mission: the first includes "Chapter 6: Fire on Water," while the second has "Chapter 3: The City of Eternal Spring." Please note that the demos cannot be installed simultaneously, as they share the same InstallShield configuration. Either demo is roughly 950+ MB, and can currently be found here or here.
Adesso debuts BlueIce
Adesso today debuted its SlimMedia Mini keyboard and BlueIce USB optical mouse for use with Mac systems. The Mac SlimMedia Mini keyboard boasts membrane key switches to deliver a crisp, responsive touch for faster typing. The keyboard's integrated multimedia hotkeys offer intuitive, one-button control of audio playback and Web browsing. SlimMedia Mini keyboard features include a slim compact design, multimedia controls, bus powered USB with two downstream ports, and compatibility with Mac OS 9 as well as Mac OS X. The BlueIce mouse features 800dpi resolution, a blue LED on the scrolling wheel, and a three-button design that is fully programmable. The SlimMedia Mini keyboard is priced at $30, while the BlueIce USB optical mouse is available for $18. [images included]
iPods on the front lines
The increase in compact consumer electronics has spurred a growing presence of media players on the front lines of modern warfare. Ars Technica offers commentary from soldiers on the front lines of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan about technology they brought with them to the front lines. "The soldiers that we talked to all agreed that iPods, DVD players, and digital cameras were omnipresent." wrote Ars Technica. Many soldiers bring along their iPods, Web cams, computers, and portable DVD players for their time on the battlefront. The U.S. troops also share stories about hooking up MP3 Players to radio towers on bases, according to the report. [iPod image from Iraq included]
Sony DSC-N2 Revealed
The reference point for sensor quality in point-and-shoot cameras was just recently set at 7 megapixels, but imminent camera releases promise to push this much further to 10 megapixels. Sony's upcoming DSC-N2 is a prime example of this, as discovered by forum members of the Chinese website PCOnline. Despite a small frame, the N2 improves over its N1 predecessor's already-sharp 8 megapixel sensor while boosting its ISO sensitivity from 800 to 1000. Alternate colors (such as the metallic pink shown here) are also due to appear. Features are otherwise unchanged but still quite capable: a 3-inch touchscreen and 26MB of internal memory suit this camera to the impromptu photography point-and-shoot models are designed for. There is no word on pricing or availability yet; a recent $50 discount on the N1 suggests that its replacement will ship soon for $450.
Malik on Apple, YouTube
Apple should purchase YouTube -- a video hosting service, according to one columnist, because the purchase would allow the company to tap into user-created content as well as online ad revenue streams. Apple is one of the leading sellers of direct video downloads, but its current model depends primarily on commercial programming that limits the accessibility and desirability of playing videos on an iPod. A large collection of videos would be prohibitively expensive, according to Electronista, but Steve Jobs purchasing YouTube would change that situation dramatically.
GC games remade for Wii?
Mario designer Shigeru Miyamoto says that he would like to remake some of his GameCube games for the Wii, altering them to be controlled with the Wiimote. "Of course," he says, "you can wander into a second hand shop and buy a lot of these games still, so I don't think we can release these games at full price. Since a lot of the development cost has already been accounted for, we'll be able to release these at a much more affordable price." No particular titles are mentioned. As an aside, Miyamoto notes that the controls for Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess have been modified, allowing the sword to be swung with the same motion on the Wiimote, while arrows are shot with the B button. The original setup was a complaint with the E3 demo in May.
Apple YouTube Possibility
Apple is one of the leading sellers of direct video downloads, but its current model depends primarily on commercial programming that limits the accessibility and desirability of playing videos on an iPod. A large collection of videos would be prohibitively expensive. Steve Jobs buying the video hosting service YouTube would change that situation dramatically, writes technologist Om Malik. It would let Apple tap into the user-created content increasingly commonplace amongst younger users and might also help the company take advantage of online ad revenue streams, which the company has largely ignored so far. Click through for more details and the Electronista perspective.
SplashID for Enterprise
SplashData today released the Enterprise and Government Edition of SplashID to securely organize and manage sensitive records. SplashID allows users to keep passwords, logins, and other sensitive information in a secure location that is accessible from work, home, and while traveling. The software enables users to easily create strong passwords, prevents users from printing lists of passwords, and allows companies to add their own branding to application screens. The latest edition features 256-bit Blowfish encryption, a masking feature, and a random password generator to securely store data on mobile devices. SplashID Enterprise and Government Edition is available on a site license or per-seat basis, with five- and 10-license packages priced at $130 and $220, respectively. The software requires Mac OS X 10.1 or later.
iRiver N20 Surfaces
iRiver's current direction in audio players has been towards essentialism. The Clix released earlier this year is one of the smallest video-capable players you can buy today. iRiver is not finished, the Japanese website iRiverFans discovered today. Photos of the upcoming N20 model (pictured, left) show a player barely larger than its earbuds; as with the Clix, the controls are hidden around the borders to keep the size small and navigation relatively easy. The new player is generally a mystery beyond this obvious design influence, but as a step below the Clix the N20 will likely focus on audio only. Click through for a photo of the box and the on-screen interface.
NI unveils Audio Kontrol 1
Native Instruments today unveiled the Audio Kontrol 1, a compact high-performance USB 2.0 audio interface designed to address the typical needs of many musicians, producers, and DJs. Audio Kontrol features 24-bit/192 kHz Cirrus Logic converters, while Native Instruments' third-generation USB 2.0 audio driver technology ensures low-latency operation down to 4ms on both Mac and Windows systems. The audio interface includes a 2-in/4-out configuration with a microphone preamp, as well as a "Hi-Z" instrument input and headphone amp. Audio Kontrol 1 is slated for shipment in October of 2006 for $300, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
MultiMode 5.8 ($90) allows users to decode messages or transmit their own Morse code, RTTY, FAX, SSTV, SITOR-B, NAVTEX, PACKET, ACARS, PSK31, ALE, and other codes on their Mac without any extra hardware. Version 5.8 adds tuning indicators previously missing from several modes, improved macros support for text transmission, enhanced SSTV mode, and several bug fixes and performance enhancements. Multimode OS X requires Mac OS X 10.1 or later, while an older version for Mac OS 9 is still available.
[Download - 899KB]
Guest PC 1.9.6 ($70) is a Mac OS X application that enables users to create and manage a virtual x86 system on a PPC Mac including support for many version of Microsoft Windows. This update adds fixes to crashes released to drag and drop and exiting Guest PC while improving networking, enhancing video native resolution modes, adding more USB device support, and adding better overall stability and performance. This update is free to Guest PC customers and 50% off to Blue Label PowerEmulator. Mac OS X 10.3 or later running on a G3, G4, or G5 Mac is required. [Download - Store]
SlimBatteryMonitor 1.4 (free) is a compact battery and UPS monitor which is up to 70% smaller than Apple's monitor. Offering features such as a dynamically adjusting appearance based on current battery use, charging status, and the ability to disappear when running off AC with a full charged battery. The new version adds a slimmer shape that incorporates information about percentage charge or time remaining with text into the graphic, while adding supports text-only display, and support for Intel-based Mac as a Universal Binary. Version 1.4 requires a compatible computer (iBook, PowerBook, MacBook and MacBook Pro) running Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [Download - 512KB]
FileUtilsCM 1.7 (free) allows users to access the look setting, copy the link to, lock, or set write/read-only access to Finder items (folders, files, etc.) from with a contextual menu. Version 1.7 adds support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, allows Unix level setting of read and write access, removal of resource fork, clear "execute" Unix command, and support for Unix attributes within the info window. Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later is requires. [Download - 218KB]
LinkAssistant 2.3.2 ($100) allows users to build link making environments which combine all the necessary tools for a successful link building campaign to improve search engine ranking and statistics. LinkAssistant 2.3.2 gives users several of easy-to-use, yet powerful SEO tools to seamlessly manage their link building campaigns by improving Google rankings and driving more targeted traffic to their site. Mac OS X 10.3 or later is required with Java Runtime Enviroment 1.4 or later. [Download - 4.2MB]
Westinghouse Laptop LCD TV
Most college-bound students are virtually ready to move out and take residence in their dorms, which ensures that many of them are searching for a new laptop or a TV for those idle moments on campus. Westinghouse believes that at least some of these students are looking for an inexpensive way to get both devices at the same time. Its new laptop and LCD TV bundle does just that. The 14-inch laptop's features are modest: a 1.46 GHz Celeron M, DVD writer, integrated graphics, and 60GB hard drive are just enough for class work and little else. A 19-inch TV included with the bundle, however, makes the package more interesting: it features one VGA and two component inputs, which will let that student plug the TV in as either an HDTV or computer display. The bundle's true selling point is the price: $989 purchases both units at once, which gives students an easy way to furnish their dorm room without consuming too much space. You can find the bundle now at Wal-Mart stores in the US.
UO graphics overhaul
Ultima Online was the first massively-multiplayer RPG. It keeps a dedicated fanbase to this day, but for years the game has faced stiff competition from other MMORPG's, many of which have vastly superior graphics engines. EA has decided to counter this with the creation of Ultima Online: Kingdom Reborn, a complete rebuild of UO's graphics and user interface systems. The upgrade will slide on top of existing gameplay mechanics, which should allow gamers to hold on to their current characters and possessions. Hardware specs should remain relatively low. Kingdom Reborn is expected to arrive sometime in 2007, with "many, many more surprises" waiting for the public.
FuzzMeasure, PS world expo
In brief: Amazon may soon enter the digital movie download market, following a number of references to a new brand "Unbox Video" appearing on the e-tailer's website.... Photoshop world conference, a trade show for Photoshop-related products, announced that it is sold out of tickets, but said it will open its doors for free to the public on September 8th from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.... FuzzMeasure Pro, an audio and acoustical measurement tool designed for Mac OS X which received the Apple Design Award for best scientific computer solution has announced a price drop to $125.... DropShots has announced audio and video commenting between friends and family members on shared media.
Zune, more bundled media
A new report suggests that Microsoft's Zune digital media player -- announced earlier this month -- will offer a wider variety of pre-bundled media than previously anticipated, according to Electronista. Cesar Menendez, a Microsoft employee who works on the Zune project, stated in a new blog entry that there will be far reaching content included with Zune from multiple Music labels including both audio and video content. Previously, analysts saw this move as a way for new Zune users to test out the power of their new players, but now believe that Microsoft is attempting to one-up Apple with value added features. Zune is expected to launch before the end of this calendar year to boost holiday sales.
ATI TV Wonder 650
Those building home theater PCs often need personal video recording as a central feature. It's easy to achieve this with analog television signals, but until recently HDTV recording was difficult, if not impossible. ATI hopes to make this easier with the TV Wonder 650, a new-generation HD video recording card the company is releasing today. It can capture both analog and HD signals and record them to formats such as DivX, H.264, MPEG-2/4, or Windows Media 9. HD video recording is limited to over-the-air broadcasts due to the copy-protection prevalent on cable and satellite networks, but it's also possible to use a second card to record one show while watching another. The 650 is on sale immediately for $129 and requires either Windows XP or Vista (Media Center 2005 is currently recommended).
8GB flash player debuts
SanDisk today unveiled the Sansa e280, the world's first 8GB flash player which will compete with Apple's iPod nano. The new device is functionally equivalent to its smaller e200 sibling, which helped the company claim second place in the digital audio player market behind Apple, according to Electronista. The player features FM tuning as well as recording, a microSD slot for extra storage, video playback capability, and voice recording support. The e280 is priced at $250, offering double the capacity of Apple's largest iPod nano -- the 4GB model -- with the same price tag. SanDisk has a distinct advantage in the digital audio player market because it is itself a flash manufacturer, allowing the company to dictate its own prices and increase capacity sooner than most other companies.
Samsung 70-inch LCD
Even if their practicality is often limited, large flat-panel televisions are often seen as a source of pride by electronics companies. Such massive panels are meant to demonstrate technical leadership regardless of whether or not they actually become real products. Samsung has just declared its own leadership; its new 70-inch LCD will be the world's largest LCD television, according to the company's announcement today. While other manufacturers and Samsung itself have demonstrated working prototypes larger than 70 inches (including a 103-inch Panasonic model), Samsung may be the first to release such hardware to the market when it ships this new screen in the first half of 2007. The as yet unnamed model will have very high-end capabilities; 1080p native resolution is to be expected, but it will also have a 120 Hz refresh rate (making it ideally suited for 60 frames per second input) and a 180-degree viewing angle in both horizontal and vertical directions. Its early state rules out any pricing information.
Reason for pre-order ban?
Though somewhat doubtable, there's suggestion on the part of GamePolitics that rather than coercion by Jack Thompson, it could be that June 14th's US House subcommittee on videogaming was responsible for the Wal-Mart decision to stop pre-orders on Bully. At one point during the committee's hearings, chair Cliff Stearns spoke directly to Wal-Mart executive Gary Severson. "I went, Mr. Severson, I went to the Wal-Mart website, where you sell Grand Theft Auto and it's rated 'M' there on the the website...(the website said) by ordering this item you are certifying that you are 17 years of age. If you agree to the above terms click 'I agree.' If you click, 'I agree,' you can get this pretty easily." He later drew a connection between online ordering and the Hot Coffee sex mod for GTA: San Andreas: "...you might stop selling the game, but just today I can go onto your website and get this (San Andreas) and I can have anybody agree (that they are of age). And bingo, they got the game and then they go to the other to get this (Hot Coffee mod)." The problem with the GamePolitics theory is that although you can no longer pre-order Bully, you can still order other unrated games from the Website. Clearly, Wal-Mart is in no hurry to pull all unrated games from the Website as promised.
SanDisk 8GB Flash Player
Since the introduction of the iPod nano, one of the greatest challenges for digital audio player manufacturers has been to secure special deals for flash memory. The iPod nano would not have been possible without large discounts from Samsung. Of rivals to Apple, SanDisk has a distinct advantage as a flash memory manufacturer itself: it can dictate its own prices and thus increase capacity sooner than most others. This benefit has been validated by SanDisk's latest audio player. The Sansa e280 is the world's first 8GB flash player, the company said in its announcement today. Functionally, the 8GB version is identical to the smaller-capacity e200-series models that helped the company claim second place in the digital audio player market. It includes FM tuning and recording, a microSD slot for extra storage, video playback, and voice recording. At an official price of $249, the e280 is priced equally to Apple's current 4GB iPod nano model and is expected to ship in mid-September, potentially in advance of a widely expected iPod nano update.
PS3 not manufacturing
With less than three months before launch and demand expected to be phenomenal, Sony has yet to start producing PS3's, admits SCEA president Kaz Hirai. "We haven't started manufacturing yet," he says. "Some of our ops guys were actually just in China, and also in Japan just reviewing the [production] lines and everything else. But they are, again, preparing as we speak to get the manufacturing going. We've not announced and we haven't set really a specific date to say, 'As of this day we're going to start manufacturing.'" On a related note, Hirai has also told the press that the promised service for downloading PS1 games to the PSP should be out by the end of the year. Not all titles will be available, in part because the PSP is missing some of the PS1's controls.
Marathon total conversion
An open-source project to bring Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge to the Aleph One engine has announced that the final beta has been completed and is available for testing. Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge is a total conversion of the legendary game Marathon and adds new maps and physics to the Marathon engine. Also included in this game are hi-res wall textures, 16-bit sounds, high-quality original music, and several new special features using Aleph One's MML and Lua scripting languages. This release follows where the previous release, Devil in a Blue Dress, left off continuing the story by reacquainting the player with Al Merlin. The Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge story is spread across 41 solo levels and also delivers 26 multiplayer levels. As an open-source project, the game will be free during beta and as a final release. It requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later. [Download - 190MB]
5.5dBi antenna for MBP
QuickerTek has announced a version of its popular 5.5dBi antenna line for Apple's 15-inch MacBook Pro. This antenna, which more than doubles the wireless signal strength and range, features 5.5dbi gain signal strength. According to the company, users can expect both a gain in the wireless range and in the signal-to-noise ratio, giving a stronger (faster) wierless signal. "Our new 5.5dBi MacBook Pro Antenna is just what Apple's faster laptops need to stay ahead of lesser Intel hardware. Double signal strength and range means that our customers can sit much further away from the Base Station or other wireless access point hardware, you're 'more mobile,'" according to the company. The 5.5dBi Antenna for the 15-inch MacBook Pro is backed with a one-year warranty on parts and labor and is availalble now for $100.
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