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Leipzig: Portal, TF2 vids
Valve is showing off footage of the mods attached to Half-Life 2: Episode Two, expected on the PC, 360 and PS3 later this year. Team Fortress 2 is the grossly delayed follow-up to the Quake and Half-Life 1 multiplayer mods. Players switch between several different classes as their team tries to breach another team's base defenses. In Portal, players solve a series of difficult single-player puzzles by warping various objects (and themselves) through space. UPDATE: There are five videos of Episode Two itself (1 2 3 4 5). UPDATE 2: Valve's Doug Lombardi says that Episode Two has been delayed until at least February of 2007. On the plus side, the gun from Portal may find its way into multiplayer mods, or Episode Three.
Free MacBooks to students
The Ringling School Of Art And Design in Florida is loaning MacBooks to all incoming freshmen who are enrolled in the first year of their Core Studio Program. The laptops are free of charge, but must be returned upon graduation (or dropping out); each MacBook includes a host of pre-installed software, including Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office. The MacBook was chosen for its ability to run both Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows and its portability, according to the school. The new MacBooks will help the school integrate technology with learning and ensure that its Student to Computer ratio of 2:1 continues. Meanwhile, the Australian education departments seems to have declared war on Macs, according to a new report. The report claims dwindling support for Macs and that some Macs are being replaced by lower cost desktop PCs.
Apple, 32GB flash iPods?
The absence of an iPod nano capacity update almost a year after its initial launch has cast doubt on Apple's ability to maintain interest in its music players, especially after competitor SanDisk recently unveiled the first 8GB flash player and announced a price of $249 to match the 4GB Nano. Such concerns might well be unfounded, however, according to commentator Sean Alexander. Observing that Apple previously entered into a large agreement with Intel and Micron that helped form IM Flash Technologies, a company that has already managed to test flash memory on a 50nm process -- ten times smaller than the latest technologies available today, according to Electronista. Limited production is set to begin late this year, says Alexander, which would make it feasible for Apple to release an updated iPod nano or the rumored Apple iPhone with storage capacities up to 32GB via onboard flash, which would effectively dwarf SanDisk or other flash player manufacturers' latest models.
Apple, Creative settle
Apple and Creative Technology today announced a broad settlement ending all legal disputes between the two companies. Apple will pay Creative $100 million for a paid-up license to use Creative's recently awarded patent in all Apple products. Apple can recoup a portion of its payment if Creative is successful in licensing this patent to others, however. Additionally, the Creative has joined Apple's "Made for iPod" program and will be announcing its own iPod accessory products later this year. "Creative is very fortunate to have been granted this early patent," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "This settlement resolves all of our differences with Creative, including the five lawsuits currently pending between the companies, and removes the uncertainty and distraction of prolonged litigation."
New D-Snap and D-dock
Including a card slot for extra storage on a digital audio player is increasingly common. What isn't common is relying solely on that slot without sacrificing features. Panasonic's D-snap players have largely taken this unusual route. Today, the company took the added step of releasing both two new players and two interesting new stereo units that complement them. The SV-SD800N and 400V both share a wafer-thin, narrow design reminiscent of the iPod nano but use SD cards alone for storage (a 128MB card is included). Much like the Sony A1200, the new D-snaps have a stealth OLED screen that merges with a mirror-finish shell. The new players are also notable for including a pair of noise-cancelling earbuds, a rare feature for any manufacturer. Click through for news and a photo of the equally surprising D-dock stereo.
Perimeter: ET demo
A demo is out for K-D Lab's stand-alone expansion to Perimeter. The 478.8 MB download includes one single-player map and one multiplayer map. The original Perimeter was a criminally ignored RTS game from 2004, whose gameplay mechanics revolved around unusual powers such as terraforming and the defense shield of title. Enabling the shield would make your base practically invulnerable, but it would also drain insane levels of power for the few moments it was on. Mirrors for Emperor's Testament can be found here, here and here.
Staff fired, Leopard leak
Apple has fired at least five retail store employees following an incident involving the download of illegitimate copies of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. The pre-release edition of the operating system was released to developers at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco earlier this month, after which beta copies began leaking to the public. The employees were overheard discussing the beta software, which reached Apple's headquarters and ultimately resulted in termination of those staff members after they admitted to illegally acquiring the operating system, according to Macworld UK. "All of us know that we violated our NDA and ethics policy. Therefore, because we had the character to tell the truth and to face the consequences of our actions, we were terminated," said one of the dismissed employees.
iPod nano Leap Ahead
A conspicious absence of an iPod nano capacity update almost a year after its initial launch has cast doubt on the company's ability to maintain interest in its music players, especially after competitor SanDisk recently revealed that it would have the first 8GB flash player and price it competitively at $249. Such concerns might well be unfounded, reports commentator Sean Alexander. He observes that Apple has previously entered into a large agreement with Intel and Micron that helped form IM Flash Technologies, a company that has already managed to test flash memory on a 50nm process - a process ten times smaller than the 500nm technology available today. Limited production is set to begin late this year, says Alexander, which would make it feasible for Apple to release an updated iPod nano or the rumored Apple phone with tremendous capacity increases - to as much as 16-32GB of onboard flash. Such capacities may need to wait until early next year but would effectively dwarf SanDisk or other flash player manufacturers' latest models.
320GB eSATA drive ships
Iomega today began shipping its new Desktop Hard Drive eSATA/USB 2.0 320GB (site not updated) that boasts triple the transfer rate of USB 2.0. The new drive ships with an included eSATA PCI card, as well as a cable that upgrades most PC motherboards to eSATA functionality. The drive supports the addition of multiple eSATA drives, each of which exceeds the performance of a FireWire 800 drive. Drives are stackable, and users can mount multiple drives vertically with a built-in stand. Each 320GB Desktop Hard Drive ships with EMC Retrospect Express software for automated backups for Mac OS as well as Microsoft Windows systems, as well as a USB 2.0 cable and a quick start guide. The Iomega Desktop Hard Drive is available for $240.
BioWare on handhelds?
BioWare has purportedly sent out a community survey that asks about interest in a handheld title. There are just two questions:
Vooks assumes that BioWare would be producing a game for the Nintendo DS, but the questions certainly don't preclude the PSP. The DS' primary advantages would be twin screens and a touch stylus, both of which are better suited to the kind of micro-management needed in a PC-style RPG.
"Would you buy a handheld system specifically to play an RPG based on Baldur's Gate, Star Wars: KOTOR or Neverwinter Nights?"
"Would you buy a handheld RPG based on classic BioWare series such as Baldur's Gate, Star Wars: KOTOR or Neverwinter Nights?"
TiVo Series 3 News
The Series 2 PVR has been TiVo's sole unit for years. Though it gained a second tuner and increased storage, the current recorder has suffered as its most avid users began adopting HDTVs and watching HD programming that the Series 2 simply could not support. TiVo has already made it known that its upcoming Series 3 would support HD signals and CableCARD adapters. Photos released today show that the Series 3 is more than a simple update to the existing model, says HDBeat. Beta-testers of the new model report that it contains two CableCARD tuners for recording two HD streams at once and an HDMI connector to display recorded shows at full quality. Most intriguing is the external SATA connector: TiVo subscribers will be able to add their own external hard drives if the built-in storage runs low. This is an important consideration given the large size of HD video relative to standard programming. See a photo of the back (including explanations of the various ports) after the jump.
PSP to get GPS receiver
As reported by Gamer Scan, Sony announced today at the Leipzig Games Convention that the PSP will receive a GPS attachment in the near future. Though the company said little about availability, games in the Metal Gear and Hot Shots Golf series are confirmed as using the GPS features in an unspecified way. There are also more conventional programs coming, including general navigation tools and a planetarium offering from Sega. More information should be available at the Tokyo Game Show in late September.
Asys MyPal A639
GPS is becoming an increasing fixture in cars and some smartphones; PDAs have generally had to go without built-in functions in favor of external adapters. In the Asus MyPal line, GPS is a built-in feature for some models. The latest addition is the A639; while it shares the 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 wireless of earlier models, it expands the storage appreciably with 1GB of flash memory and an SD card slot for more. Asus' PDA runs Windows Mobile 5 and has Microsoft-friendly software such as mobile versions of Outlook and Word. There is no confirmed availability or price.
iPod theater unveiled
Sonic Impact has unveiled the Video 55, a cradle designed for Apple's fifth-generation iPod that turns the device into an all-in-one media player. The Video 55 uses a Dock connector attachment mounted in the base of the unit, outputting video to a 7-inch liquid crystal display as well as stereo speakers, according to Electronista. Users can close the system with the iPod inside to securely transport the player, and supports up to three hours of video playback using its own lithium-ion battery. The device also plugs into 12-volt car cigarette lighters or home wall outlets for power. Sonic Impact's Video 55 cradle is slated for shipment in September for $300.
Apple, battery standard
Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Lenovo are scheduled to hold a summit meeting in San Jose, California to discuss manufacturing standards for lithium-ion batteries made for portable and handheld electronics. The decision follows reports of laptop batteries bursting into flame, ultimately resulting in a massive recall by Dell last week of 4.1 million notebook batteries. Both Dell and Sony on Monday admitted in a statement that a design flaw in certain lithium-ion batteries could potentially ignite or cause an explosion. The companies to hold the summit meeting are part of the OEM Critical Components Committee of the IPC-Association Connecting Electronics Industries. The organization boasts roughly 2,400 members involved in making, designing or using electronic components, according to the E-Commerce Times.
Leipzig: Sony, Part 1
Despite the absence of a playable PS3 at the show, there's still Sony news coming in from Leipzig. Notice the word "playable" - The Inquirer had a chance to touch a final prototype unit, but a Sony representative said it couldn't be plugged in, as that would reveal a feature the company is trying to keep quiet. If the feature actually exists, we'll probably see it by late September, when Sony expects to have 27 playable games at the Tokyo Game Show. Two of those games will be Ridge Racer 7 and Devil May Cry 4. Moving on to the PSP for a bit, there's a GPS navigation add-on coming that should also have support in a few games. The two titles announced at Leipzig so far are Hot Shots Golf and Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. Sega is working on GPS-enabled planetarium software called Homestar Portable. UPDATE: New footage of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is available. UPDATE 2: There's a more complete list of the playable PS3 games coming to TGS. Highlights are Gran Turismo, MotorStorm, Armored Core 4, Resistance: Fall of Man, and Mobile Suit Gundam: Target in Sight.
Typinator 1.4 ($20) allows users to create shorthand typing sets that dynamically change into longer words, phrases, or images. Version 1.4 includes maintenance fixes to several user-reported issues, minor refinements to the boilerplate utility, and fixes a problem when running on Mac OS X 10.3.9 that was introduced with Typinator 1.3. Typinator 1.4 requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or newer.
[Download - 800KB]
Groupcal 3.5.4 ($60) supports viewing and sharing calendar schedules from Microsoft Entourage and Outlook using Apple's iCal software without the need for an Exchange server. The update includes fixes to the calendar invite system, corrects authentication problems with some calendars, enhances syncing stability as well as performance, lowers the connection timeout time to 15 seconds, fixes a problem with settings for advanced URLs, and corrects time zone mapping to include more areas. Groupcal 3.5.4 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or newer. [Download - 3.7MB]
netTunes 2.3 ($20) controls iTunes running on one Mac from another with iTunes' native interface -- the same window, the same playlists, the same capabilities. Version 2.3 adds support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, improves overall performance, offers enhanced iTunes support, and improves eSellerate built-in store. netTunes client and server require OS X 10.3 or later. [Download - 1.3MB]
Sudoku 1.1 ($10) is a challenging number-puzzle game with logical solutions and analytical answers based on the popular Japanese number game. The game includes "classic" number-puzzles, a "random" mode for amorphic puzzles, and "Chaos" mode for completely "wild" challenges. Version 1.1 includes minor bug fixes, newer system requirements and slight graphic changes. Dracosoft's Sudoku requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [Download - 2.1MB]
launchTunes 1.1 ($10) addresses the problem which surfaced since Bonjour-based music library sharing arrived in iTunes; offering up shared music even when iTunes isn't running. LaunchTunes uses a client and server solution that allows client computers to connect to the server computer and start iTunes, enabling users to access music despite locked rooms or other obstacles. Version 1.1 is a Universal Binary and features several minor bug fixes, as well as performance improvements. LaunchTunes requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later and iTunes 4.0 or later. [Download - 822KB]
MacBook supply exceeded
Apple is struggling to fulfill orders for its 13-inch widescreen MacBook laptop systems in the heat of the back-to-school shopping rush. The MacBook is in high demand this year, according to a report from AppleInsider, but the company or one of its suppliers has underestimated demand for the notebook. Customers hoping to receive their newly-ordered MacBook this week instead opened an apology letter from the Cupertino-based company, informing them that it would be unable to fill orders within its promised timeframe. "I ordered a MacBook over the weekend," said one Apple customer. "The order was to be processed in 5-8 days. I just got an apology letter from Apple saying they would not be able to meet that order fulfillment deadline."
Sony buys Grouper.com
Sony has agreed to pay $65 million for Grouper.com, a Web video site similar to user-generated video giant YouTube that allows visitors to download and play content on iPods or other portable media devices. A top Sony executive said the acquisition is designed to infuse the studios with new ideas and talent for movies, TV shows, and games, according to Reuters. "I think user-generated content and the sites around [them] are businesses or platforms unto themselves in the same way that television networks [are]," said Michael Lynton, Sony Pictures chairman and CEO. "There is a big piece of the entertainment/media business this touches."
Nine new Olympus cameras
In advance of the Photokina expo taking place September 25th, Olympus has announced a full nine camera models across three different lineups. The new FE line is Olympus' entry-level camera, which shares a common platform of a 6 megapixel sensor, a 2.5-inch LCD, and a simplified one-button/one-function interface; the FE-200 adds 5X optical zoom. More advanced is the Stylus series (known as µ [mju:] in Europe) that emphasizes a compact shape and weatherproofing. All five new Stylus models feature a 3-inch LCD and Bright Capture technology, which allows for high ISO settings not normally found in point-and-shoot cameras. Source: Electronista. [images included]
Sonic Impact Video 55
The iPod may be adequate as a video viewer during a bus or subway commute, but as a viewer for the home or in the car its small size may not be enough. Placing that iPod into a Sonic Impact Video 55 cradle turns an iPod with video into an all-in-one media player. Using a Dock Connector attachment mounted in the base of the unit, the Video 55 outputs video to a 7-inch LCD and stereo speakers. The system can be closed with the iPod inside to double as a sturdy carrying case when not in use. It can play up to 3 hours of video using its own lithium-ion battery and will also plug into a 12-volt car accessory socket or a home wall outlet. Sonic Impact's cradle is expected to ship in September for $299.
Advanced Link Manager 3.0
Caphyon today released Advanced Link Manager 3.0, a tool to help manage and monitor incoming website links. The software keeps users informed as to where incoming links come from and what their content is, tracking link evolution in time. Advanced Link Manager 3.0 adds the ability to gather as well as manage contact information providing link exchange assistance, and enables users to gather reciprocal link information. The application creates updateable reports and graphical charts to help track as well as maintain important, high-traffic links from other domains. Advanced Link Manager 3.0 is priced at $150, while a standard edition without printable reports is available for $60. The software requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later.
Leipzig: Microsoft, Part 1
Check back here throughout the day for any updates on Microsoft news from the Leipzig Games Convention. There haven't been any revolutionary announcements so far, but MS is promoting two new gaming mice. September will see a reincarnation of the Intellimouse Explorer 3, this mouse featuring a 9,000 frames-per-second optical sensor with selectable normal and enhanced precision modes. In October we'll have the Habu, a laser mouse produced in collaboration with gaming specialist Razer. The Habu will have sensitivity scalable between 400 and 2,000 DPI, as well as customizable side-panels for gamers with different hand shapes. UPDATE: EA is showcasing the graphics and physics technology behind FIFA 07 for the 360, which they claim will be unlike that of any other sports game. Each player will have an independent "football brain" AI, and abilities and animations will be dictated by biomechanical simulation, rather than a combination of pure stats and pre-recorded movements. UPDATE 2: Prices and dates have come out for various 360 accessories, such as the Xbox Live Vision camera and the Wireless Racing Wheel. The Wheel may be of special interest, because it's supposed to ship in November with a limited, force feedback-enabled version of Project Gotham Racing 3.
Bose Companion 5 Speakers
Surround sound is a frequently touted feature for computer speakers. Nevertheless, the likelihood of its use in most regular computer setups is slim: there is rarely any room for the rear satellites in a home office or college dorm, which turns most surround systems into overpowered two-channel speakers. Bose is offering a solution in the form of its new Companion 5 speakers. In combination with a processor that automatically converts multi-channel audio, two uniquely-shaped satellites bounce the audio in multiple directions to create a convincing surround sound effect. A subwoofer provides low-end bass response. The Companion 5 connects through USB, works with both Macs and Windows PCs, and ships September 7th for $399.
New Star Wars game is big
LucasArts is banking big on its next Star Wars game, writes Stephanie Kang of the Wall Street Journal. Without any new films to generate profit, LucasArts is preparing a massive marketing and merchandising campaign for the title, the release of which is being timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the first film. Hasbro will produce an accompanying line of toy vehicles and action figures. The game's setting will be the considerable gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, during which the Rebellion was born and the Empire established. UPDATE: Could this be who's working on it? LucasArts has signed Timesplitters creator Free Radical Design for an unknown next-gen console title. The one flaw in this theory is Haze, an FPS which Free Radical is already hammering on for 2007.
Olympus 9 New Cameras
In advance of the Photokina expo taking place September 25th, Olympus has announced a full nine camera models across three different lineups. The new FE line is Olympus' entry-level camera, which shares a common platform of a 6 megapixel sensor, a 2.5-inch LCD, and a simplified one-button/one-function interface; the FE-200 adds 5X optical zoom. More advanced is the Stylus series (known as µ [mju:] in Europe) that emphasizes a compact shape and weatherproofing. All five new Stylus models feature a 3-inch LCD and Bright Capture technology, which allows for high ISO settings not normally found in point-and-shoot cameras. Of particular note are the Stylus 725 SW, which is waterproof to 5m and can survive a 1.5m drop, as well as the Stylus 1000, which holds a 10 megapixel sensor and can use Bright Capture to achieve an unheard-of ISO 6400 by lowering the effective image quality to 3 megapixels. Lastly, the SP-510 UltraZoom is a semi-professional camera with a 7 megapixel sensor, 10X optical zoom, and up to ISO 4000 using Bright Capture. Most of these new models are shipping in September, with select models shipping in October. Photos of key cameras in the lineup are after the jump.
Virtua Tennis: PC and PSP
Sega has announced that Virtua Tennis 3, already acknowledged for the 360 and PS3, will also be shipping for the PC and PSP in the same time frame as the previously mentioned platforms: spring 2007. The Virtua Tennis series is held in extremely high regard. Effectively, its only competition in the realm of "serious" tennis games is Top Spin 2, with games like Mario Power Tennis and Rockstar's Table Tennis not even falling into the same category.
Griffin FireWave Shipping
While Windows listeners have had surround sound decoding in sound cards for some time, such hardware is rare for Mac users. This situation changes now that the long-awaited FireWave decoder has begun shipping, Griffin Technology announced today. Announced in 2005, the FireWave can natively process Dolby Digital or Pro Logic II signals from supporting programs in OS X, such as DVD Player or games that support the OpenAL sound format (including Unreal Tournament 2004 and World of Warcraft). Other audio that requires four to six separate channels can be routed as well. The device connects through a 6-pin FireWire cable (with a pass-through port for other FireWire devices) and does not require any power of its own, though speakers require their own power supply. FireWave ships for $100 and requires MacOS X Panther or later.
New Microsoft gaming mice
Microsoft hosted a press conference today at the Leipzig Gaming Convention where the software giant announced two new Mice. The first to be demonstrated is the Habu; a collaborated effort by Razer and Microsoft. The new mouse has sensitivity between 400 and 2000 DPI with on-board sensitivity controls, reports Electronista. The mouse also features adjustable side panels to best fit the user's hand alongside seven programmable buttons. The second mouse is not new, but the reintroduction of the Micrsoft Intellimouse Explorer 3 -- according to Microsoft, it's a gamer favorite. The new version maintains optical technology of it's predecessor but adds up to 9000 frames-per-second tracking and enhanced precision modes. The new mice will support both Windows and Macs. The Habu ($70) will ship in October, while the Intellimouse Explorer 3 ($40) will ship in September. [images included]
Leipzig: Nintendo, Part 1
As the Leipzig Games Convention continues, keep checking back here for developments on the Nintendo front. The first story of the day is that Nintendo has already held their "Wii Prove Our Promise" press conference. Nothing terribly new was announced other than a pink DS Lite, coming to Europe October 27th, and two Wii titles: Mario Strikers Charged, a sequel to the arcade soccer series; and Battalion Wars 2, a sequel to the turn-based strategy title. It seems odd that they would avoid sharing the final price or release date for the Wii when they're so close to completion. UPDATE: Nintendo's head of German operations says that in Europe the Wii will cost less than 250 Euros, or $321.50 US. UPDATE 2: Anyone hoping for real dirt on the Wii will probably have to wait for September 14th, when Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime will be hosting a press event in New York City. There will be an additional six hours of gameplay time.
Shinza ships Nano case
Shinza has launched a new protective case for iPod nano made with two form fitting pieces constructed from polycarbonate. The clear casing design allows for obstruction-free viewing of the iPod while providing full protection against scratches and bumps. The two piece construction is designed to ease the process of removing the case by sliding the front piece free of the back. The case is also easy to wash and maintain, according to Shinza, providing a seamless and light-weight cover for the Nano. The iPod Nano Polycarbonate case is available for $20. [images included]
Apple tops PC Mag survey
Apple today topped PC Magazine's 19th Annual Reader Satisfaction Survey with the most reliable PCs, offering the best support when things go wrong. "Look no further than Apple, the leader of the pack, whose overall score holds steady at 9.1." Apple also managed to cut repair rates this year, scoring 8 percent on units needing repair down from 11 percent last year. "Among first-year systems, it's only 5 percent. That's nothing less than astonishing." Apple also took first place with regard to notebooks, scoring 9.1 out of 10. "This year, yet again, the Mac is a Readers' Choice for notebooks as well as desktops."
Nokia E62 Details
The design of the Motorola Q set a precedent for smartphone design which has quickly become the target for multiple manufacturers. Perhaps its greatest challenger will be Nokia's upcoming E62, new details of which were made available today through PC Magazine. Unlike other such phones, the E62 will run a version of the Symbian OS instead of Windows Mobile 5. It will also have a large 2.8-inch screen, Bluetooth, and 90MB of internal memory with a microSD slot for more. The release timeframe and price have not yet been finalized.
Leipzig: Molyneux combat
At the developers-only prologue to the Leipzig Games Convention (which is open to the public as of today), Lionhead designer Peter Molyneux gave a demonstration on the subject of next-generation combat mechanics. Using the movie Kill Bill as an example, he argued that a fight's surroundings should play a greater role in action games, and that this is entirely manageable using only one attack button. The key is having the program recognize context - if the player is near an object that can used, the program should be able to determine the best offensive use. A video of Molyneux demoing his concept can be found here. Don't let the title fool you - this is merely proof-of-concept software.
ATI New X1K Graphics
Though early details about the new cards had already appeared in advance, ATI today formally announced its upgraded line of Radeon X1000-series graphics cards. For performance users, the X1950 XTX and CrossFire cards (pictured) both improve on the earlier design with a higher 650MHz core speed and 1GHz GDDR4 memory (2GHz effective) and will retail for $449. The CrossFire version includes a connector to join it with a second card for a dramatic improvement in performance. Occupying the mid- and low-range are the X1650 Pro and X1300 XT, which claim the performance of the X1600 XT and Pro but with lower price points of $99 and $89 respectively. All three models feature quieter cooling technology, HDCP support for copy-protected Blu-Ray and HD DVD movies, and are expected to ship on September 14th.
Mic, speaker combo ships
Shinza has launched a USB microphone and speaker combo designed for multi-tasking users who need to simultaneous speak and talk without audio 'chopping.' The device measures 2.5 x 2.5 x 1.77-inches and weighs 2.5 grams, supporting easy travel with slim storage requirements. The product is well suited for use with VoIP such as Skype and Gimzo, according to Shinza, as well as conference Web applications -- including AIM, MSN, or iChat. The USB Audio Conference also targets gamers who wish to converse in a hands free environment unhindered by "cumbersome" headsets. The USB Audio Conference Speaker/Microphone ships for $50. [image included]
FireWave 5.1 audio ships
Griffin Technology announced that it is shipping FireWave, its affordable 5.1 Surround Sound solution for Mac. FireWave extends to Mac users the ability to affordably and effectively upgrade their sound systems using their FireWire ports. The compact FireWave is easy to incorporate into most computer setups, and portable enough for use with laptops. The bus-powered FireWave receives power from the FireWire port (and thus requires no extra connections.) There are 3 minijack (3.5mm) outputs 6 channels for Left and Right, Center and Subwoofer, and Surround Left and Right speakers. FireWave supports Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, and additional audio configurations through Mac OS X's Audio MIDI Setup utility. Available immediately, the Griffin FireWave costs $100 from the Griffin online store or retail partners. [images included]
Battery-free iPod speakers
Shinza has launched the BoomBall, a new speaker system that connects to multiple devices such as Apple's iPod through a minijack connector. The speakers are spherical when stored and fold open to play, connecting only to the minijack output of the device using a single cable. The BoomBall doesn't require batteries or AC adapter, drawing all needed power through the sound input. Boasting a weight of 5.75 ounces and a closed size of 3.29 x 3.03 x 3.03-inches, the BoomBall speakers are available for $25 in black and white, with a similarly priced pink version to follow. [images included]
Battery exchange, Leopard
Forums roundup: Members are discussing Apple's new battery exchange program for the MacBook Pro which addresses 'swelling' batteries found in some early models.... Other users discuss reports from one poster on an experience using the Leopard beta released to developers at WWDC.... One user discusses trouble with a MacBook's screen hinge which caused creaking and misalignment.... Others confer on the practical applications of the NVIDIA Quadro 4500FX graphics card and its performance in gaming against the X1900XT.... Meanwhile, another user looks for help with a MacBook Pro that refuses to go to sleep by closing the lid or usual methods.
Shinza sleeve line expands
Shinza has launched a new carrying case for Apple's MacBook Pro 17-inch model. The new sleeves, dubbed ZeroShock, are now available for generic 15-inch widescreen notebooks and the 17-inch MacBook Pro in addition to the the 15-inch MacBook Pro version released in May. ZeroShock sleeves feature high-resistance polyurethane which does not give in to external pressure as easily as conventional sleeve materials. The sleeves add further protection by providing impact absorption on all sides and 'high-quality' zippers to seal out damaging dust and grit. The sleeve is available in grey and black for $35. As previiously mentioned, a 15-inch MacBook Pro model will available by the end of August for $30. [image included]
Microsoft Gaming Mice
The Leipzig Gaming Convention saw a Microsoft press conference in which the company announced two new high-precision mice aimed at the the gaming market. The Habu (pictured, right) is a collaboration between Microsoft and the gaming-focused company Razer on a customizeable design. Users can adjust the sensitivity of the laser tracking between 400 and 2000 DPI, alter the side panels to fit different hand sizes, or store up to five input profiles through onboard memory. All seven buttons are programmable as well. Shipping in October, the Habu should retail for $70 when it arrives in North American stores. Read about the reintroduction of the Intellimouse Explorer 3 after the jump.
EA acquires Phenomic
Electronic Arts has confirmed a story from German newspaper Die Welt, which says that they've acquired Ingelheim developer Phenomic, creators of the action-RTS series SpellForce. The purchase should have no immediate effect on the developer other than a name change (to EA Phenomic), as they'll get to keep their studio management and remain in Ingelheim. In the long term the company will be working on online RTS games for PC's and consoles. EA won't say how much they paid for Phenomic, except that it should have no material effect on earnings.
SubRosaSoft has released a new version of MacForensicsLab, its software developed for law enforcement and forensic professionals. The software is designed to work with Windows, Macintosh, and Linux storage devices -- the first all-in-one forensics software suite for Mac OS X (as well as Windows and Linux platforms). New in this version is an Auto Report Generation function, giving the investigator the ability to export a report in HTML format. Also new in this version is a new file browser, file preview, bookmarking, salvage pause and resume controls, and several minor bug fixes. This new release is distributed as a dual-bootable DVD allowing for booting on both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs. MacForensicsLab costs $1000 and requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later.
UB GrassPro ships
OpenOSX has began shipping a major update to its GRASS geographic information system, OpenOSX GrassPro. The new update features new native support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. The GRASS (Geographic Resources Analysis Support System) geographic information system is an open-source project combines powerful raster, vector, and geospatial processing engines into a single integrated software suite. Open OSX GrassPro 6.1 also features the ability to create GRASS "Locations" automatically from existing geo-spatial datasets -- previously considered a major obstacle for many would-be GRASS adopters. Grass Pro costs $60 (CD) or $50 (Download) with this update price at $30 (CD) and $20 (Download) to previous customers. Also now available is a bundle including free updates for 6 months and a detailed manual for $220. Detailed system requirements were not available.
Carved animal iPod stands
SafariPod has released new hand carved jungle animals iPod stands designed for fit all iPods (with the exception of the 60GB iPod photo). These products are carved to meet the Kenyan "Good Wood" guidelines for conserving natural hardwoods. These new stands are part of a growing line of technology art -- all of which are hand carved from native woods by craftsmen in Kenya, Africa. Animals featured in this series include lions, giraffes, cheetahs, elephants, and others. Each stand will retail for $100 and be available through the SafariPod website for USA customers only -- international customers need to contact local distributors. The stands all begin shipping on September 8th. (All stands are hand carved and may not appear precisely as pictures.) [image included]
Universal pop-up LAN IM
Kanex Group software has released QuickPopup 4.5, an update to its utility which allow users to securely exchange pop-up messages over corporate, school and home networks without needing to connect to the Internet. This update features the completion of QuickPopup's transition to native Intel-based Mac support. Now released as a Universal Binary, the messenger expanded its compatibility to Mac OS X 10.x (PowerPC and Intel), Mac OS 7.x-9.x (68k and PowerPC), Windows 95/98/ME/2000/2003/XP and Linux. Also added in version 4.5 is LAN messaging only, cross-platform management, pure business IM, no server is required any longer, improved peer-to-peer messaging, message encryption, guaranteed message delivery, enhanced workgroup support, more options with incoming messages, and clickable URLs in messages. The Mac OS X system requirements need a G3/G4/G5 or Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.0 or later on a TCP/IP LAN with AppleTalk enabled. QuickPopup 4.5 is available now for free to current licensees, while new users must page $25. [Download Trial - 2.01MB]
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