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Foxconn backs down
Apple's iPod manufacturing partner Foxconn has drastically reduced the amount of damages it is seeking in a lawsuit against two journalists in connection with an allegedly false report on the working conditions in Foxconn's iPod factories. Following a report that said Apple was going to help mediate the dispute between the parties, Foxconn has slashed a libel claim from 30 million yuan ($3.77 million) to just 1 yuan, according to the Xinhua news agency. Foxconn, which manufactures iPods for Apple, said it would also apply to unfreeze the journalists' assets, which include their homes, bank accounts and a car, according to the report. The Chinese manufacturing giant, which is also reportedly vying for additional laptop production business from Apple, was seeking damages caused by a tarnished reputation from false charges of labor abuse. "This is a victory for Chinese media," Weng Bao, one of the two reporters working for the Shanghai-based China Business News, was quoted as saying.
Apple Sept 12 Press Event
Though few details are currently available, Apple is scheduled to hold a special press event on September 12th, according to an official e-mail sent to online radio show Your Mac Life. Importantly, the event is set to take place on the opening day of Apple Expo 2006 in Paris, an event which the company previously said it would not open with a keynote. It should be noted that hardware introductions are frequent at such Apple press conferences and that the recent launch of the mobile Core 2 Duo makes upgrades to numerous Mac models likely in the near future. Electronista will obtain further information about the event as it becomes available. UPDATE: BusinessWeek refers to sources who claim that an Apple movie download service will launch in mid-September. UPDATE 2: French site MacBidouille corroborates the story and indicates that iMac and MacBook Pro stocks are running low, a frequent sign of imminent updates.
Teling X-Sport Headset
Bluetooth headsets are often plagued by batteries with short talk times or else the substantial bulk needed to provide enough power. Though adopting a one-piece shape similar to many other compact sets, Teling's X-Sport BTH-11 can sustain a long 15 to 18 hours of conversation between charges of its lithium-ion battery while still weighing only a third of an ounce. Standby time is 450-500 hours. Charging the battery is straightforward: a cradle charger (pictured) prevents the headset from being lost, and owners of Nokia phones can power the headset through a standard Nokia charger. A BTH-11 will cost $90 in Australia but is FCC certified for the US, where its price translates to a more reasonable $69.
iRocker iPod Chair
In what the company describes as a first-of-its-kind announcement, Adonis Furniture today unveiled a reclining chair with an integrated iPod dock in the armrest of certain models. Named the iRocker, the seat incorporates Alltek Vision speakers as well as a 10-watt amplifier to supply sound directly behind the listener. Controls on the right-hand side of some models let users adjust the volume of the speakers themselves while an auxiliary input jack gives listeners the option of outside sources such as game consoles. The iRocker is available today in six microfiber cloth and three simulated leather colors; prices vary between $100 and $600 depending on the inclusion of the iPod dock, a Base Tube subwoofer, and the choice of cloth or leather surfaces. A standard model with the dock sells for $320. See a photo of the iPod dock and armrest after the jump.
Transcript: Will Wright
A Gamer Scan reader was at Will Wright's BAFTA talk in London last week, and has been kind enough to share rough transcripts of the speech and following Q&A session. Aside from Spore, Wright delved into issues such as social impact, emotional involvement, the links between games and science, and the philosophies behind his own game designs. Here's his response to a question about negative influence:
"Watching someone play is very different to actually playing. Someone watching a kid play an FPS sees explosions and blood. To a spectator it's violence. To the kid who's playing, it's sport. He's experiencing a lot of teamwork and community building.
"Games are a powerful medium, and I'm not denying that they can have bad effects, but when I see someone playing an FPS I don't think it's that different to kids playing cowboys and indians. They're building models of the world, and the game doesn't make them want to kill each other."
Samsung 52-inch LCD
Sony had much reason to celebrate earlier today when it announced its new 52-inch Bravia LCD. North American television buyers, however, will likely prefer the announcement by Samsung of a 52-inch LCD set of its own. The LN-S5296D shares the same 1080p panel as the new Sony unit and has an impressive claimed contrast ratio of 6000:1 as well as an 8ms response time. A 10-bit processor should deliver 12.8 billion colors while a Game Mode optimizes the panel for response time over absolute color accuracy. One VGA and two HDMI inputs exist to support digital video signals. The 52-inch Samsung is expected to sell for under $5000 when it ships to North America in September; the price places it above plasma models, but it may be better suited to computer and video game duties.
Rayman not Wii exclusive
Correcting earlier reports, an Ubisoft spokesperson has clarified that "Rayman Raving Rabbids will not be exclusive to the Wii until May next year." It had been said that the Wii alone would have the game until then. Eurogamer has been further told that Raving Rabbids "will be released on old and new formats before the end of 2006, with dates to be announced soon." Other platforms include the DS, PS2, GBA, PC, and Xbox 360. The (non-)blow is a minor one for Nintendo, since Rayman has rarely been a blockbuster franchise.
Zune is "underwhelming"
American Technology Research analyst Shawn Wu believes the upcoming Zune digital media player may be "more bark than bite." After recent leaks on both the look and specifications of the Zune player, Wu said the firm was "underwhelmed by the much-hyped Zune device." The new player will be developed by Toshiba, and, for the majority of the technology, is simply a repackaged Gigabeat player, according to Wu note's to clients: "At this point, we believe this could end up being another classic case of overpromising and underdelivering," Wu wrote. The player's focal point is the clickwheel-like apparatus for controlling the playe; however, further leaks on the player's controls system revealed that the click-wheel look-alike is nothing more than a four-way direction pad. "We find it interesting that [Microsoft] also opted to replicate an 'iPod'-look like most others, but failed in replicating one key piece of the unique iPod experience with its scrolling click-wheel and powerful database engine." The analyst goes on to say that the overall "bulky" appearance of Zune does not match the iPod's aesthetics.
Sharper Image Phone Center
Multifunction stereos with iPod-friendly connections are increasingly familiar, though their functionality rarely extends beyond entertainment. A new unit from Sharper Image fulfills considerably more demanding tasks: the NW402 includes the expected iPod dock that both charges and plays iPods through the integrated stereo speakers, but also provides a 2.4GHz cordless phone unit that uses the stereo as its base. Moreover, an AM/FM radio and alarm clock are part of the design and let users program the alarm to trigger either the iPod or the radio at a preset time. It ships today for $250 through the Sharper Image website.
Blue laser shortage & PS3
Recently, Sony discovered that it has a critical problem: too few lasers for its Blu-Ray products. Faced with sacrificing movie players, the PS3, or both, Sony has decided to suspend all shipments of lasers for products that aren't the PS3. Sony hopes this will allow them to hit the quota of four million consoles by year's end, but the effects of this may be severe for the non-gaming market. Many (though not all) third-party manufacturers are dependent on Sony's lasers, and without planned Christmas offerings, their profits may take a major hit. A shortage of movie players may also discourage the adoption of Blu-Ray as a format.
Big Nintendo mag news
Word from a moderator of the Official Nintendo Magazine forums is that subscribers will receive the September issue at the same time as newsstands - September 1st. The reason? Info on the cover game is being "embargoed" until that date, when the moderator promises "a BIG exclusive." Nintendo hasn't offered any inklings of what this could be, but one wonders if it's a previously announced game (say, Super Mario Galaxy) or a new title that might also be showcased at the upcoming press event on the 14th. Announcing a big game prematurely would run the risk of deflating hype.
Samsung 4G Wireless
Cellphone carriers in North America are still struggling to adopt 3G wireless technology, yet in Korea development of 4G is already well underway. The gap between the two regions will be made clear when Samsung demonstrates a prototype 4G wireless network at its annual 4G Forum, which begins today. A bus will drive guests around the roads near the Forum to prove that Samsung's latest 4G technology can stream data at 100Mbps in a fast-moving vehicle, allowing for multiple streaming videos even as the connection switches between cell towers. More impressive still is the 1Gbps speed Samsung claims during regular use. Attendees can watch HDTV, browse the Web, and place video calls at the same time. Adoption of 4G by carriers is not expected until 2010 at the earliest, but when the technology arrives it may well match fiber optic lines for sheer performance.
iRocker 250 released
Adonis Furniture manufacturer and wholesale distributor of sofa-bed futon frames and platform beds, has just released the first video game rocker chair combo with an integrated docking station for Apple's iPod. According to the company, this is the first gaming chair ever to use the patented Apple iPod technology. The new chair, known as the iRocker 250, integrates surround sound into the chair featuring heavy magnet speakers, base tube, audio inputs, additional line input, and a master volume dial with LED indicator lights. The chairs will be sold through Cost Co, Target, Amazon.com and other retail outlets locally for $320 (iRocker 250) and is shipping now. [Images included]
Disgaea PSP in the US?
Disgaea for the PS2 is frequently labelled the penultimate strategy RPG, loaded with bizarre characters and gameplay that doesn't stop with the story. While Disgaea 2 will be out in the States this week, Japan will be getting a PSP port of Disgaea 1 in November, and NIS America wants to know if there are enough US gamers interested in an English-language conversion. The Japanese version will have new dungeons, scenarios, characters and voice work. Further extras may be added if and when the game ships to North America.
Workstation for Keynote
Divine Fiat has released Workstation, its latest theme for Apple's Keynote presentation software. Inspired by the industrial look and feel of the Mac Pro, Workstation will "give an elegant power to your next presentation. From the 'cheese-grater' ventalation to the aluminum encasment, Workstation is as sleek and strong as the computer that inspired it. One of the more practical features included in Workstation are the scaleable countdown timers in the form of progress bars. These QuickTime movies sport transparent backgrounds for a seamless look when used with Workstation or any Keynote theme." The timers are available in 5-, 10-, 15-, 20-, 25- and 30-minute lengths; Workstation also features creative photo cutouts with many seamless transitions, buttons for kiosk-style presentations and custom-fill textures for shapes, charts and tables. It is available now for $20.
Six new Apple patents
Apple has been recently granted six new patents, including one for a cup holder-based electronic device accessory as well as an electronic device holder and protective case for the iPod shuffle. According to MacNN's patent blog, the cup holder invention can secure an electronic device, such as an iPod digital music player, and be inserted into a conventional cup holder. One embodiment of the invention includes a spool about which connecting cable can be wound, according to the filing. Users would be able to use the cup-holder in a variety of sizes using adaptive sleeves that fit around the base to adjust to holders of different shapes and sizes. Apple was also granted patents for managing file extensions, triggering system actions based on insertion of CD or other media into a computer, and for for spreading and concentrating information to constant-weight encode data words on a parallel data line bus while allowing communication of information across sub-word paths.
Google + Apple speculation
As MacNN reported yesterday evening, Google's CEO and Chairman Eric Schmidt was elected to Apple's board of directors at their meeting yesterday. This appointment reportedly sent ripples through the tech industry according to a report by Electronista: "Though the alliance is strictly informal, both companies have technology and services the other could use to great advantage, challenging Microsoft's own efforts at media consolidation through its upcoming Zune player and store." These reports surface as several technology industry analysts see the appointment as a huge step for Apple, including industry pundit Om Malik who opinies about the possibilities of iTunes becoming part of Google's software pack or Toolbar.
Malik on Apple and Google
Yesterday's appointment of Google CEO Eric Schmidt to Apple's board of directors has created a ripple effect in the technology industry. Microsoft and other companies investing heavily in digital media should be especially worried, says technologist Om Malik. Though the alliance is strictly informal, both companies have technology and services the other could use to great advantage, challenging Microsoft's own efforts at media consolidation through its upcoming Zune player and store. Malik suggests the possibility that paid videos hosted on Google's website could be purchased through iTunes, increasing the focus on direct video sales instead of Google's existing advertising model. Apple's rival Microsoft has already established deals with video providers in advance of the Zune launch.
Prey 1.1 PC patch released
A patch for the PC version of the Human Head first-person shooter has been sent out to the Web. The download is primarily geared toward improving network performance, but also addresses crashes, widescreen resolutions, and unresponsive server browser functions. Be warned than people using 1.1 cannot play against people still using 1.0, and that if you downloaded Prey through Triton, you should use that service to update rather than a direct download. Linux server files can be found here.
New Vision:M & W
Creative has released an update to the Creative Zen Vision:M and announced the anticipated Zen Vision:W. The new Zen Vision:M introduces does not add any new features, but now includes a 60GB model. The new Zen Vision:W is similar in appearance to the original Zen Vision; however the Vision:W is a video centric media player with a 4.3-inch widescreen display and is compatible with MPEG-1/2/4 and XviD videos-- allowing up to 4.5 hours of playback on its rechargeable/removable battery pack. In addition to improved compatibility and a larger screen, it offers a CompactFlash card slot that allows users of certain cameras to transfer photos to the player without first uploading to a computer. The Vision:W will ship within Singapore in 30GB ($412 US) and 60GB ($475 US) models during September -- a US release will follow. The 60GB Vision:M is scheduled to ship at the end of September for the equivalent price of $380 US. [images included]
Verbatim Secure USB Drive
Reports of lost or stolen data from businesses and government agencies have underscored the importance of guarding secret information whenever it leaves the office. The Corporate Secure USB drive from Verbatim not only bolsters this protection, but makes it mandatory: users are required to login to the drive to access any of the data, which is secured using 128-bit AES encryption. Owners and their employers can also rest easy knowing that brute-force attacks are much more difficult, as ten consecutive failed login attempts will lock the drive altogether. Its only limitation is the Windows 2000/XP operating system requirement. Capacities range from 1GB to 4GB, all of which will be shippin in the very near future.
iBook distribution delayed
The recent Apple battery recall along with reports (and confirmations) of battery fires have lead to at least one school to delay the distribution of over 600 iBooks to its students. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Quaker Valley High School students will return to class without the laptop computers to which they've become accustomed because the batteries that power them could be dangerous. The delay will allow school officials to check the laptops to determine if they are affected by a battery recall issued by Apple, according to the report: "Quaker Valley provides laptop computers to its students as a continuation of the Pennsylvania Digital School District, which began in the 2002-03 school year, with computers given to 1,800 students from third grade through high school. After the first year, the program was scaled back to just high school students -- who use the computers for much of their course work and turn in many assignments electronically."
iTunes DRM circumvented
A new software solution circumvents Apple's FairPlay DRM restrictions to create DRM-free music from purchased iTunes music. Users on Hymn message boards, who have cracked the iTunes (FairPlay) DRM yet again, are committed to cracking the iTunes DRM to allow free use of purchased music. The project has been dead in the water since Apple released iTunes 6 and changed the way the iTunes DRM worked (although previous versions work with older iTunes versions); however, the new solution adapts original code from previous attempts (QTFairUse) and users have managed to get it work with iTunes 6. The somewhat-clunky QTFairUse6 requires Python 2.4 and several other tools and uses the information that is buffered (i.e., stored in memory) after iTunes/QuickTime decodes the file.
Fight Night Round 3 on PS3
Presently one of the big-draw titles for the 360, EA's Fight Night Round 3 will be coming to the PS3 "this holiday season." The port will have a mysterious new "Get in the Ring" mode as well as a heavy ESPN tie-in, incorporating news, radio podcasts, and ESPN Motion. A curious aspect to the story is that EA Chicago is already working on Fight Night Round 4, a title which may ship mere months after the PS3 Round 3, which has been assigned to EA Canada. Can we expect a perpetual lag of older PS3 games following 360 leaders?
Zen Vision W Official
Creative had inadvertently revealed the existence of its updates to the Zen Vision line in advance through print magazines, but today the Singapore-based electronics firm made those updates official by announcing both the anticipated Zen Vision:W and a 60GB version of the Zen Vision:M. Similar in appearance to the original Zen Vision (pictured), the Vision:W is a video-focused media player with a 4.3-inch widescreen display. It can play MPEG-1/2/4 and XviD videos for up to 4.5 hours on its removable battery. It also features a CompactFlash card slot that lets owners of some cameras transfer photos to the player without first uploading to a computer. The Vision:W will ship to Singapore in 30GB ($412 US) and 60GB ($475 US) models during September, with an American release to follow. Creative expects the 60GB Vision:M, functionally identical to the existing 30GB model, to ship at the end of September for the equivalent price of $380 US.
Civilization III Universal
Aspyr Media has released a free Universal patch and several updates for Civilization III: Complete. This patch not only adds native support for Intel-based Macs as Universal binary, it also fixes errors related to missing files, problems with the Civilopedia, corrected an crash related to music files, and improved custom scenario performance. In addition, it improves overall music playback consistency, support for leaving the game to another application while in full screen mode, and improved modification support. Sid Meier's Civilization III: Complete includes the original game, Civilization III, plus both expansion packs, Conquests and Play the World. Originally shipping in early January, this patch was noted for release earlier this week in the August Aspyr newsletter. The game requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later running on a G4-/G5-/Intel-based Mac 500MHz or faster. [Download - via MGF]
FileMaker, 2.5-inch HDD
In brief: Recent rumors of a new Apple Store location in Zurich, Switzerland have been confirmed by job listings in the city.... According to AppleInsider, Apple has released the first builds of Mac OS X 10.4.8 boasting stability and performance enhancements to the operating system.... FileMaker Pro 8.5 has now been released in Simplied and Traditional Chinese offering full support for Unicode and more.... Fijitsu has announced plans to expand its line of 2.5-inch hard-disks with up to 160GB storage space -- the drives are expected in October according to MacWorld UK.... MacSpeech has announced a transcription bundle allowing users of the voice recognition software to transcribe speech using audio input for various devices and sound files.
SimCity on the Nintendo DS
EA has announced that SimCity will be coming to the Nintendo DS in "Winter 2006/2007," which could (conceivably) be in time for the holidays. The new version of Will Wright's city-building game will be based on the format of SimCity 3000 for the PC. As CVG observes, the stylus and twin displays of the DS are ideally suited to the precise control and many info screens of a SimCity title, especially if it's not the simpler original game.
Ricoh Caplio 500SE
Building a digital camera to protect it against the elements usually involves closing the sealing gaps in a conventional design or offering a waterproof housing. Japanese electronics firm Ricoh has taken a much larger step by developing its new 8.1-megapixel Caplio 500SE model. In addition to a dustproof and waterproof shell, the 500SE's body is built to absorb significant drops without damaging its electronics. The design also reduces the need to remove and potentially lose the SD cards used inside: variants of the camera ship with either Bluetooth 2.0 or WiFi to transfer photos wirelessly, and all models include 26MB of internal memory for when cards fail. Ricoh is shipping the 500SE to Japan on September 1st for the equivalent of $990 US with Bluetooth included and $1100 US with WiFi. No details of a North American launch are available.
Quad-core desktop chips
Intel will release its first quad-core desktop chips in November, according to a new report. The company had initially planned their rollout for early next year; however, Santa Clara, Calif., company will now release "Kentsfield" quad-core desktop chip as part of its Core Extreme family in early November, according to eWEEK: "However, it's now expected to introduce the quad-core processor as part of its Core Extreme family in early November, sources familiar with its plans said. The Core Extreme, which is targeted mainly at PC enthusiasts who are into gaming as well as certain corporate users whose jobs involve creating online content or editing videos, represents the pinnacle of Intel's desktops processor line. Right now, the chip maker offers a dual-core Core 2 Extreme chip, based on its Core 2 Duo for desktops."
Sony 52-inch LCD TV
LCD television sales are surging beyond those of plasma through smaller (and thus less expensive) display sizes, but reaching the larger and more profitable sizes common to those plasma sets has typically required rear projection, introducing viewing angle problems even for Sony's much-lauded SXRD line. That difficulty was reduced with the introduction of the largest Sony Bravia LCD to date at an event in Japan today. The new 52-inch screen, part of the X2500 line in Japan, is large enough to replace many plasma and projection units but yet has the brightness of a direct view LCD. Importantly, the set not only features native 1080p output but will also upconvert lower-resolution signals, eliminating many of the visual artifacts that appear with non-native resolutions. The X2500 arrives in Japan before the end of the year. No American details were announced, though the close ties between the two markets should see the 52-inch LCD available here in early 2007.
Tecmo on Virtual Console
In a financial report distributed on Monday, Tecmo mentioned that it will be "aggressively" supporting the Wii's Virtual Console. The exact meaning of that statement is unknown, but since the VC is primarily dedicated to hosting classic titles, it seems probable that Tecmo will be repackaging old entries in the Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive, and possibly even Tecmo Bowl series. Great news for fans of the NES. The next 3D Ninja Gaiden, however, will most likely appear on the Xbox 360 as an exclusive.
Wacom Intuos3 4x6 Tablet
Most tablet input devices are designed to parallel as much of the existing screen area as possible. Those who would rather free up desk space or focus on retouching work will likely appreciate the new Wacom Intuos3 4x6 tablet. While much smaller than earlier Intuos3 models, it shares the same resolution of 5080 lines per inch and includes their important features. The included pen is battery-free and registers up to 1024 levels of pressure. There are also 4 programmable ExpressKeys and a touch-sensitive scroll strip for panning or zooming in images. Wacom's new model also includes a collection of software to help new artists get started, including Photoshop Elements 4 and Corel Painter Essentials 3. Available today, the 4x6 model works with either MacOS X Jaguar or Windows 2000/XP and ships for $229.
Appeal for MN buyer fine
On July 31st, US District Judge James Rosenbaum quashed a Minnesota law that would've issued a $25 fine to youth buying or renting Mature/Adults Only games while under the age of 17. Rosenbaum cited the First Amendment in his ruling, as well as an absence of evidence for the harm of videogames. That isn't stopping Attorney General Mike Hatch however, who intends to appeal the decision with the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals. He believes there are over 1,000 studies that do support the idea of harm, and that a law would involve parents in what their children play. "If the parents aren't troubled by their kids playing these games, they can buy them for their children," Hatch said in a statement.
MacBook random shutdowns
A disgruntled MacBook owner recently launched a webpage focused on the MacBook random shutdown problem plaguing some users. Since Apple launched the consumer laptop earlier this year, some users have described problems with their MacBooks randomly turning off. Despite the widespread problems, there has been no official acknowledgement by Apple. The newly created website, trying rally MacBook owners experiencing problems, features a banner proclaiming "Think MacBooks don't crash?" The newest posts detail one bloggers recent attempts of getting Apple to repair the crashing MacBook--only to eventually convince them to replace the computer. Other bloggers link the problem to an overheating CPU due to poorly placed thermal paste.
iPod story lawsuit
Apple is working to resolve a dispute between its iPod manufacturing partner Foxconn and two local Chinese journalists who have been sued for running a story on alleged labor abuses. Foxconn earlier this week successfully petitioned a Court to freeze the personal assets of a reporter and editor at China Business News as part of its lawsuit against the reporters for damages caused by the allegedly false report. The Taiwanese-owned Foxconn filed a defamation lawsuit against two journalists working for the state-run newspaper CBN who ran stories alleging that workers on iPod assembly lines worked under harsh conditions for low pay, although a similar report was published by a UK-based publication several days earlier. The move prompted a journalists' advocacy group to post an open letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, asking for his help to mediate the dispute.
SplashID for desktops
SplashData today announced that its popular SplashID smartphone application for securely organizing and managing passwords is now available for desktop users. SplashID Desktop Edition enables Windows PC and Mac users to store, sort and organize confidential information easily on their desktop. SplashID can store an unlimited number of customizable records (such as passwords, credit card numbers, registration codes, membership numbers, insurance information and even birthdays) securely on a Mac desktop or notebook using 256-bit Blowfish encryption and a built-in password generator that creates new, unique passwords based on criteria selected by the user. SplashID Desktop Edition features a number of customizable options, such as icons that enable users to quickly sort and locate information. It is available for Mac OS X 10.2 and costs $20. Smartphone synchronization costs an additional $10.
Apps update August 30
A Better Finder Rename 7.4 ($20) is software designed to ease the time-consuming process of renaming multiple files. Version 7.4 features several incremental improvements included new date and time formatting, better support for Apple's FileVault, enhanced performance while attempting actions in large files, improved error message explanation, etc. The Universal Binary requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later.
[Download - 1.8MB]
Merlin 2.0b6 (free) is a project management application that offers contained functions along with complete risk and file management. This sixth public beta release features a new Budget/Cost balance method as well as a new cost distribution report. Also included in this release is support for Gantt chart export along improved NetPlan and histograms -- all of which can be exported as PDF, JPEG, PNG, or GIF. The first draft of an English tutorial is included to explain many new features. Though currently free, it will cost around $185, when released. Merlin 2 requires Mac OS X 10.4.5 or later. [price updated] [Download - 21.1MB]
PDFpen 2.4.2 ($50, $100) gives users the ability to show PDFs in single, facing-page, multi-page and multiple facing-page views as well as the ability to fill out and save PDF forms, and create cross-platform fillable PDF forms. The new version adds improved selection behavior to PDF images, offers enhanced text location and selection, corrects a Unicode character map error, and includes other minor bug fixes and performance fixes. PDFpen requires Mac OS X 10.2.5 or later. [Download - PDFpen, PDFpenPro]
BetterZip 1.2 ($20) allows users to inspect archives without extracting them. Users have options to extract/delete from or add what to the archives as well. The new release adds a flat list view mode in which all files and folders are displayed--allowing users to sort all included files regardless of their position within the folder hierarchy (such as by date modified). BetterZip is a Universal Binary and requires Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or later. [Download - 2.4MB]
iValet 1.0b ($20) is an all-in-one application solution to eliminate the need for multiple applications including calendars, clip collectors, calculators, notebooks, and several other small tools. Instead of using dock space when users wish to keep iValet running, the application allows users to "iconize" it; essentially making a floating icon for one-click instant. This is a beta release, but requires a license key (which will work with version 1.0). iValet requires a Mac with a PowerPC or Intel processor running Mac OS X 10.2 or later. [Download - 4.4MB]
Core 2 Duo in a Mini PC
The Mac Mini may have some stiff competition in the mini PC market as the current Mac mini offering continues to show its age. Electronista reports that, "Though Apple is widely rumored to use the Core 2 Duo in its Mac mini systems after Labor Day, it will not be the first system builder to announce an ultra-compact PC using the new processors." The new miniature computer is the Evesham Mini PC; an existing line which retails for about $1300 (USD) with the same specs as a $850 BTO Mac mini. The advantage this ultra-compact boasts is a built-in TV tuner (HD capable) and media center functionality -- including Windows XP Media Center edition out of the box. The latest version of Mini PC--announced this week--will reportedly cost $1500 (USD including tax) and pack a 2GHz Core 2 Duo processor adding a DVD±RW drive, FireWire, and an S-Video output. The new system is expected to ship mid-September as Core 2 Duo supply steadies. [image included]
BookCase Pro case ships
Macessity has launched a new notebook case designed for Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro lines. The new case, dubbed the BookCase Pro, is made with a highly shock-resistant foam created with Polyurethane. This foam compresses upon an impact, then will return to its previous shape. The BookCase Pro is designed to give users access to the laptop without removing the device from the case. The new case is available immediately in four sizes to match users' notebook; one for the 13-inch MacBook, another for the 15-inch MacBook Pro, a third for the 17-inch MacBook Pro, and a final size for the PowerBook G4 15.4-inch model. All cases costs $25, with the exception of the 17-inch model, which retails for $30. [image included]
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