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Digidesign Mbox 2 Pro
Digidesign has released Mbox 2 Pro, a new portable, high-definition audio/MIDI production system that provides high-speed FireWire-powered connectivity, up to 24-bit/96 kHz audio resolution, and a wide range of analog and digital I/O. It also offers several professional features, including MIDI Time Stamping support, Word Clock I/O, and dedicated studio monitor outputs. With Mbox 2 Pro, novices and professionals alike now have a portable, studio-grade Pro Tools solution available--one that they could take directly from home to a pro studio and then back again. Mbox 2 Pro features a plethora of analog and digital I/O options packed into its "sleekly compact frame," and supports up to six simultaneous inputs and eight outputs. It also includes industry-standard Pro Tools LE software and over 50 effects and instrument plug-ins, including DigiRack plug-ins, Bomb Factory plug-ins, the Xpand! sample-playback/synthesis workstation, and the Pro Tools Ignition Pack. It will ship on September 15th for $800 and $900 (Mbox 2 Factory).
OmniWeb 5.5 final ships
The Omni Group has announced the final release of OmniWeb 5.5, a much-anticipated update to the popular web browser. OmniWeb 5.5 is based on a customized version of WebKit, offering increased speed, website compatibility, and stability. OmniWeb 5.5 is a Universal Binary, offers user defined style sheets for websites on a global or site-specific basis, and provides many overall fixes and improvements. The Mac OS X-specific web browser features a number of unique features, including graphical tabs, site-specific preferences, workspaces that save your individual browsing sessions, customizable web shortcuts, and much more. OmniWeb 5.5 is a free download for licensed 5.x owners, and is available in English and Internationalized version for Mac OS X 10.4.6 or later. A full license is $30, while upgrades are $10. [Download - 10.1MB]
160GB Mac mini, Nova
In brief: Apple has added a new 160GB drive upgrade build-to-order option to the new updated Mac mini line; however, the ship times are 2-4 weeks for this option (vs 2-4 days for most other options).... Nova Media today released Nova Media Phone Plugin 3.2 with iSync compatibility for Sony Ericsson K510i and Z550i mobile phones.... Gindis has announced Army Commander and World Leaders, two free Web-based games allowing players to purchase packages with real money or with cash earned in-game.... SonicFire has released Strata Series Vol. 14: Jazz Synergy, a series of confident jazz tracks designed to give messages and presentations an uplifting spin.... Opera Software today announced that the Opera for Devices SDK now supports Adobe's Macromedia Flash Player 7 SDK.
UK college, free Nanos
South Kent College in Dover recently spent more than $25,000 to purchase iPod nanos for students. The effort aims to encourage students to listen to podcasts of missed lectures on their own time, but critics say the plan is a waste of taxpayer dollars. "Youngsters should want to take the courses for their own sake if they are worthwhile," said CRE chairman Nick Seaton. "Let the college keep two or three iPods to lend to the youngsters." Assistant principal Josh Coleman said the portable players will only be offered to those students who have completed all their assignments and demonstrated full attendance, according to BBC News. The pilot scheme was paid for with savings made on a building project, and Coleman said staff has been positive.
Mass Effect coming in 2007
Microsoft has confirmed that the game will not ship in "winter 2006," as BioWare had once hinted, but instead in the first quarter of 2007. This will undoubtedly disappoint the many fans of BioWare's RPG's, who might've been hoping for the 360 game as a holiday present. Some of the company's past hits have included Baldur's Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, and Jade Empire. Mass Effect is a sci-fi RPG that expands on the freeform gameplay of classics such as Starflight and Star Control 2.
HP Core 2 Duo Business
Attention to HP's laptop line usually centers around its revitalized home models. However, as many mobile workers can attest, its business line is every bit as important to those who depend on a company-assigned laptop away from the office. These users now have the significant advantage of a suite of new pro laptops from HP that center around Intel's mobile Core 2 Duo. While most of HP's business line has the option of the new chip through custom configurations, notable highlights include the $1299 nx9420 (pictured), a 17-inch mobile workstation with a 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo and more than double the battery life of previous 17-inch HP portables, as well as the $1479 tc4400, a 12.1-inch Tablet PC with the same processor. All of HP's new laptops are shipping today through the HP business website.
Circuit City to sell Macs
A small number of Circuit City retail stores in the eastern U.S. will begin selling a selection of Macs including iMacs, MacBooks, MacBook Pros, and Mac minis next week. The new pilot program is designed to test the waters of Mac sales in Circuit City outlets, which could expand to the retail giant's many other stores should it prove successful. Circuit City employees were sent to Apple's headquarters in Cupertino last week, according to AppleInsider, where they paired up with Apple Solution Consultants for a week of training to effectively market the Mac. "This is a pilot program that's just getting underway and we will evaluate how it is doing over the next several months," said Circuit City spokesman Jim Babb. The retailer will also stock specific Mac software titles and accessories, according to the report.
Tri-Edre updates two apps
Tri-Edre has released Tri-Catalog 6.0 and CD Folder Partitioner 2.0, enabling users to analyze as well as catalog unlimited volumes and make copies of files which are too large for CDs or DVDs, respectively. Tri-Catalog allows users to visualize the contents of analyzed volumes, browse in the folders, display pictures, show information for each file as well as each picture, and run searches despite the original volume's presence or lack thereof on the local system. CD Folder Partitioner 2.0.0 negates the need to worry about file sizes when backing up to CDs or DVDs, enabling users to "break up" large files into smaller pieces which fit onto desired media. Tri-Catalog 6.0 is available for $100 and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later, while CD Folder Partitioner 2.0 is priced at $40 and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Refurb iMacs, MacBooks
Apple is offering refurbished iMacs, eMacs, Mac minis, and MacBooks at discounted rates with a standard one-year Apple warranty and free shipping. Refurbished iMacs include the 17-inch 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo with 512MB of memory and a 160GB hard drive for $949, as well as the 20-inch 2GHz Intel Core Duo with 512MB of memory and a 250GB hard drive for $1,199. The company is selling its refurbished 17-inch 1.42GHz eMac with 512MB of memory and a 160GB hard drive for $799, as well as its 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo Mac mini with 512MB of memory and an 80GB hard drive for $649. The company's refurbished Black 2.0GHz MacBook Intel Core Duo notebook featuring 512MB of memory and an 80GB hard drive is available for $1,299.
femto3G Access Point
We frequently laud 3G mobile broadband for removing many of the limitations of land lines. Even so, there are still serious restrictions: most 3G connections can only be accessed by one user at a time without special effort, and these services are largely useless if indoor interference ruins the signal. HSDPA users (such as those in some Cingular areas) may gain some relief from both problems if British firm ip.access' new femto3G is chosen by carriers and stores. As suggested by the name, the femto3G connects to an existing HSDPA service and shares the connection over a large enough radius to reach everyone in a typical home, including areas which would normally be out of range of a 3G receiver. It can also tap into existing IP-based networks to let computers with more conventional network hardware take advantage of 3G Internet access. No launch partners were announced with the femto3G's introduction, but the rapid expansion of mobile broadband should see the new access point become an option in the coming months.
Denon bookshelf stereo
Denon has unveiled its new D-F103 bookshelf system that can accept music files from various sources inside and outside the main unit. The D-F103 can transfer as many as 10,000 songs to a built-in hard drive by ripping CDs; track information is automatically filled in by an incorporated CDDB database. An Ethernet connection enables the stereo to update its catalog of titles online as well as stream audio from a nearby PC or internet radio station. The new system also features connections for external devices such as Apple's iPod and USB mass storage. Track data from all supported digital sources (including iPods) is displayed on the stereo's main screen, according to Electronista. Denon is scheduled to ship the D-F103 to European customers by the end of September for $1,700.
Wii: Marionette, wheel
Shigeru Miyamoto (Mario, Zelda) has long talked about "Marionette," a project whose concept has shifted repeatedly without ever solidifying. At one point at least it did involve virtual marionettes. Now he seems to be saying it will be a kind of 3D sequel to Mario Paint, playable on the Wii. No more info is available. In the meantime, he's also working on a title where four players will be able share one Wiimote - the internal speaker will tell players to change turns. No possibility of conflict there! Finally, in non-Miyamoto news, the Wii racer GT Pro Series will ship with some sort of attachment, most likely a racing wheel that clips to the Wiimote.
Sony PSP Receiver Controls
More news from Sony arrives today in the form of an upcoming home theater receiver. Most receivers rely on relatively arcane interfaces through either the receiver itself or a television to manage the different A/V connections and their features. The cryptically-named STR-DA5200ES evades these pitfalls by implementing a much simpler, icon-based interface heavily influenced by the Cross Media Bar from the PSP and upcoming PS3. Users can assign, control, and rename inputs by delving into a hierarchical system which identifies inputs by their appearance and role in the home theater as well as by type. Moreover, the onscreen interface can overlay on top any source currently in use, including HDTV signals. The I/O features of the receiver are similarly capable and include multiple HDMI ports with video upconversion, audio-only HDMI with 7.1 surround, and support for external XM Satellite Radio receivers. The DA5200ES will retail for slightly under $2000 when it makes its North American debut next week, but may easily justify its price by making its strong feature set more accessible to inexperienced users. Additional details are available by visiting the receiver's product page for Australia, where it is already shipping. More photos of the interface are available after the jump.
Denon D-F103 Stereo
Most home stereos aware of digital audio files are limited to reading those files from a single source, be it an iPod dock or an MP3 CD. Introduced at the IFA expo in Berlin, Denon's new D-F103 bookshelf system can accept music files from various sources inside and outside the main unit. Similar in behavior to the Panasonic D-dock, the D-F103 can transfer as many as 10,000 songs to a built-in hard drive by ripping CDs; track information is automatically filled in by a CDDB database also incorporated into the system. An Ethernet connection lets the stereo update its catalog of titles via the Internet as well as stream audio from a nearby PC or Internet radio station. Lastly, Denon's system has connections for external devices such the iPod and USB mass storage. Track data from all supported digital sources (including the iPod) can be displayed on the stereo's main screen. Denon is scheduled to ship the D-F103 to European customers by the end of September for the equivalent of $1695 US; no North American release details have yet been announced.
iMovie trademark upgrade
In brief: Apple has filed for an upgraded trademark for iMovie ahead of the company's special event expected to produce a widescreen video iPod and an iTunes movie service.... Apple's new 24-inch iMac features a screen resolution large enough to display 1080p or 1080i HDTV without downsampling, according to The HDTV Tuner.... My Dream App -- an online competition in which contestants compete for the chance to have their ideas realized as a Macintosh shareware application -- announced its first batch of finalists today.... Thought Out has unveiled MagStay, a small extender that plugs into an Apple notebook USB port as well as the MagSafe connector to secure the connection to Apple's AC adapter.... Heunox and OmniPilot Software today announced Lasso Summit 2007 scheduled for March 2-4th, 2007 at the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.... Pileated Pictures today announced that it recently wrapped production of a dozen animated episodes to support the launch of Trivial Pursuit DVD for Kids.
1080p on PS3 w/o HDMI
Contrary to the panic of last week, Sony says that both the $499 and $599 PS3's will be able to do 1080p out of the box, regardless of whether or not the user has his own HDMI cable. The confusion has stemmed from the company's own PS3 Website, which lists this problem in the system specs. Sony's Jonathan Fargher corrects the site by saying this is an atavism from the now defunct Image Constraint Token, an anti-piracy control. Gamers should be able to get full 1080p quality out of component cables. Of course, this may mean little if, as news sites have indicated, there will be few games that support 1080p in the first place. Blu-Ray movies will probably make the best use of the resolution.
Wx 4.0 weather app ships
Hunter Associates has released Wx v4.0, a specialized internet weather app for Mac OS X that downloads and processes weather information and forecasts from the US National Weather Service. Wx can be configured to track weather conditions, watches/warnings/advisories, live RADAR, and forecast information for five locations, and it can download twelve weather maps or images. Optional add-ons allow each user to customize Wx for their lifestyle, hobbies, and activities. Wx downloads data on-demand, and can be configured to download data automatically on a periodic basis. Current weather conditions are summarized in the app's dock icon and dock menu, a floating "MiniWx" panel, and a Quartz screensaver. Version 4.0 includes a dock icon "slideshow" of current weather conditions, a new dynamic toolbar, an on-demand lookup feature, performance enhancements, and a Quartz/RSS screensaver. Wx is $10 and runs on Mac OS X 10.3.9/10.4.x, and as a Universal Binary application. A free 30-day trial is available.
Bluetooth EC remote ships
Interlink Electronics today introduced its Bluetooth Media Remote Control, the world's first remote using the notebook Express Card (EC) slot and Bluetooth wireless technology. The Express Card Media Remote for Bluetooth drives Apple's iTunes, Microsoft Media Center, Windows Media Player, and more out of the box. Notebook users can control entertainment software wirelessly from anywhere in the home, and the remote uses the Express Card slot featured in Apple's new portable notebooks. The remote uses standard media keys to enable channel and volume control, menu navigation, item selection as well as transport control for DVD/CD, audio, and video with most entertainment software. Express Card Media Remote for Bluetooth is available online and will ship later this year through resellers for $50.
Wireless HDMI Standard
HDMI by itself streamlines much of the elaborate cabling required for high-definition video and sound, combining both into a single cable. That simplifcation needs to be taken one step further, says chip manufacturer TZero. The company has been working on a wireless version of HDMI that would eliminate the need for anything but a power cable. Using ultra-wide bandwidth (UWB) signals, the 500Mbps chipset can distribute three full HDTV streams with sound even when interference from microwaves and WiFi networks is present. The technology uses lossless image compression to maintain a constant stream regardless of bandwidth. TZero additionally promises that a single HDMI transmitter can broadcast to three receivers at once, making it possible to send content to three different devices at once - even if that content varies. Adapters should be available for electronics that already have physical HDMI in place. A television with built-in wireless HDMI is set to debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in January; other hardware announcements are pending.
Hazel, Speed Download
Hazel 1.0 ($16) is described as housekeeper for your folders and files. Users can have Hazel monitor any folder and, through a Mail-like rule interface, tell Hazel what files it should put where. Hazel can also set the label color as well as Spotlight comments and keywords. It also features cleaning options to clear out incomplete and duplicate downloads and can also manage your trash. [Download - 684KB]
Amigos Spanish Puzzles ($20) is a software program for learning Spanish vocabulary. The program includes a variety of games and puzzles, including crossword puzzles, word search puzzles, various word games and a fun dice and board game. There are over 2500 words and expressions, grouped into categories for easy learning. It is also available as a combined purchase with its companion verb program, Amigos Spanish, for $35. [Download - 1.9MB]
RAGE Google Sitemap Automator 1.3 ($30) is a free update to the software package allowing web-masters to automate the process of generating Google Sitemaps. RAGE Google Sitemap Automator helps search engines which utilize Google Sitemaps to locate and index important documents on a web site. Version 1.3 adds the ability to edit and apply filters after scanning is complete instead of restricting you to create them before scanning a web site. It works with Mac OS X 10.2.9 or later. [Download - 5.1MB]
Speed Download 4.1 ($25) is an important update to the internet download utility. It now offers optimized performance for Mac OS X 10.4.7, added full support for WEBDAV/WEBDAV-SSL servers, improves the ability to upload and replace files and folder on FTP servers, adds Metalink support, adds .TORRENT file extension to the SD Plugin default set, offers "big" improvements to the file sharing feature set, and features better integration with Growl. It requires Mac OS X 10.4.6 or later. [Download - 5.3MB]
24U SimpleDialog Bridge 1.1http://www.24usoftware.com/SimpleBridge (free) adds ability to redirect 24U SimpleDialog 2.7.2 functions to 24U SimpleDialog 2.8. This version runs natively in FileMaker Pro 8.5 on both PowerPC and Intel based Macs. It allows developers to upgrade their old-style 24U SimpleDialog Plug-In 2.7 or Troi Dialog 3.6 to the FileMaker 7-8 native 24U SimpleDialog Plug-In 2.8 easily, without having to rewrite your calculations. Upgrade your plug-in now, and rewrite your calcs later. [Download - 1.6MB]
Sony not junking PS3 ads
The PS3 news continues to fly fast and furious. Despite the opposite being posted by UK publication Media Guardian, Sony insists it will retain its European advertising campaign, valued at 40 million British pounds. "We don't know where the Media Guardian got it from, but we are not shelving the PS3 marketing campaign," a spokesperson says. Yesterday's launch of the European Website may therefore seem badly timed, but the spokesperson raises a sword to defend it. "Now more than ever is it necessary to promote the key USPs of PlayStation 3, and we believe the 'Stories' campaign is an excellent way of doing this."
2GB, 4GB Smart Drives ship
Verbatim today began shipping 2GB and 4GB versions of its Store 'n' Go U3 Smart Drive, and is offering eight pre-loaded applications on the portable storage devices. Pre-loaded U3 applications include ACDsee -- photo management software; Migo -- a data synchronization utility; the Mozilla Thunderbird email client; PASS2GO -- a portable automated password manager; PowerBackup -- data archiving software; Zinio -- a digital Magazine Reader; U Safe -- a security utility; and U3 Welcome -- a guided tour of the U3 smart features (system requirements were unavailable). Each Verbatim Store 'n' Go U3 Smart Drive includes a safety lanyard, personal identification labels, and a quick start guide for $90 (1GB), $180 (2GB), or $350 (4GB).
Creative Live Cam Voice
Audio quality often suffers with web cameras due to their open nature: they can pick up any nearby sounds regardless of their immediate relevance to the conversation. Creative's recently released Live! Cam Voice is the first to solve this problem by incorporating two microphones, according to the company. Using an intelligent sampling system, the new Creative device compares audio from two microphone arrays to reduce background noise that might interfere with voice chat. The camera itself has an ultra-wide-angle lens with a 1.3-megapixel sensor and automatic exposure correction; unique features include interpolation to 5 megapixels and automatic tracking to follow head movements. A Live! Cam Voice requires Windows 2000 or XP and is currently shipping for $100.
GT4 PSP survives woes
Speaking of Famitsu, the magazine recently suggested that the PSP port of Gran Turismo 4 was on indefinite hold. Polyphony Digital would beg to differ. "We can categorically deny all speculation which suggests that PDI is not developing a GT franchise game for the PSP," the company says. "In fact, we've reached the stage where a GT4 equivalent runs on the PSP hardware. However, our main focus at present, is the development and release of a GT title for the PS3 platform. Once this has been completed, we can return to, and jump-start, development for the PSP version. In regards to release dates and details, we'll be making further announcement, at a later date."
GizMac ships Titan case
GizMac Accessories today began shipping its Titan anodized aluminum cases for iPod nano. Titan cases include a carabineer clip, arm band, belt clip with 360-degree rotation, and lanyard accessories offering users a variety of ways to wear the iPod. Built from anodized aircraft aluminum, the Titan case includes a screen and scrollwheel protector to shield those components from potential damage. GizMac's Titan iPod nano case is available for $40 in 10 colors which include: black, aluminum/silver, pink, purple, cranberry, light green, light blue, dark orange and gold.
High-speed printer ships
Ricoh today launched the Aficio SP 8100DN (site not updated), a high-speed black and white network printer for high-demand printing environments. The Aficio SP 8100DN is designed to streamline document workflow with advanced document management utilities, enhanced connectivity and security features, as well as flexible printing options. Ricoh's latest black and white printer can produce 45 pages per minute (ppm) with a first time print speed of six seconds or less. The monochrome printer features multiple paper trays that can store various sizes of paper, boasting an overall capacity of 3,550 sheets. Extended connectivity and PDF Direct Print capabilities work alongside Ricoh's Refined Print Command Stream (RPCS) driver, enabling users to store regularly applied print settings to the system under individual user icons and initiate the print jobs at any time from the desktop. The Ricoh Aficio SP 8100DN is available for $2,800.
Apple financials, phishing
In brief: Apple financials are now available as a podcast via the company's iTunes Music Store.... Microsoft has signed an agreement with whitelist specialist Digital Resolve to help its Internet Explorer 7 Web Browser and Windows Live Toolbar protect users against phishing scams.... Sony has said it will cut the price of its PlayStation 2 game console by roughly 19 percent to $138 in Japan as it prepares for the anticipated November launch of its PlayStation 3.... FotoNation has announced that its Face Tracker technology is available in the latest 7 megapixel and 10 megapixel PENTAX Optio digital cameras.... Telestream has integrated Philips forensic watermarking technology into its latest FlipFactory 5.0 transcoding automation applications.... "First Day in Sweden," the pilot episode of the new interactive sitcom The Exchange Student, is available for viewing on PCs, with Mac and Pocket PC versions soon to follow.
Key MS exec resigns
Microsoft executive Brian Valentine, senior vice president of the Windows Core Operating System Division has resigned as the software giant's Windows Vista operating system heads toward completion, and will take up a position at Amazon.com. Valentine was known for his ability to galvanize Windows-related software development in the critical final stages, and his resignation casts further doubt upon the viability of Microsoft's planned October release to manufacturing partners of Windows Vista, according to Electronista. Although Windows Vista Release Candidate 1 is a major improvement over Beta 2, according to Windows advocate Paul Thurrott, serious issues remain in the current Vista beta with interface consistency, unnecessarily strict security controls, and other software inadequacies that threaten the success of the operating system's January 2007 launch.
SanDisk players, CE show
SanDisk was forced to remove its MP3 players from its stand at the IFA CE show in Berlin, Germany due to patent infringement claims. Sisvel -- an Italian-based patent management company -- filed a complaint with the German public prosecutor in Berlin because SanDisk did not pay Sisvel a licensing fee to use its "essential" MP3 patent, according to Digital-Lifestyles. The German public prosecutor was convinced, and issued an injunction against SanDisk to remove all MP3 players from the SanDisk stand at the show. As a result, visitors will only be able to view photos of the company's MP3 players.
Sony PlayStation Phone
Increasing convergence in cellphones has pressured even long-term opponents such as Apple to
Enchanted Arms for PS3
The RPG won't be an exclusive to the 360 for very long, if reports from Japanese magazine Famitsu prove to be right. From Software supposedly told the publication that a PS3 port is planned for sometime in the near future. The game was a big deal for From and Microsoft when it was released last week, since it is currently the only Japanese-style RPG for the 360. Japan has been notoriously resistant to the console. In many cases, gamers have shunned it for last-gen systems available at a discount.
Microsoft Exec Resigns
Operating system development can take years even in ideal circumstances, yet most releases only truly coalesce in the last several months leading to the final launch as features are integrated together and fixes are made in response to test feedback. This makes the sudden departure of Microsoft's Brian Valentine to Amazon.com a minor but significant blow to the company. The senior vice president of the Windows Core Operating System Division, Valentine was known for his ability to galvanize Windows-related software development in the critical final stages, says the Seattle Post Intelligencer. His resignation adds to further doubts about the viability of Microsoft's planned October release to manufacturing for Windows Vista that were recently expressed by respected magazine author Paul Thurrott recently. Although Release Candidate 1 is a major improvement over Beta 2, says Thurrott, serious issues remain in the current Vista beta with interface consistency, unnecessarily strict security controls, and other software inadequacies that threaten the success of the operating system's January 2007 launch.
Sony Halves PS3 Shipments
Game enthusiasts and investors alike were concerned when Sony maintained its claimed goal of shipping 4 million PlayStation 3 systems by the end of 2006 despite idle production lines as late as last month. Such anxieties were justifed today when Sony announced it would drastically scale back the number of PS3 consoles available this year, according to Gamer Scan. Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi said that only 2 million PS3 systems would be produced by the end of 2006, with 500,000 of those systems available by the official mid-November launch window. The smaller production figures have forced Sony to delay the launch of the console for all regions outside of North America and Japan until March 2007, when the company expects manufacturing can properly supply all regions. The company attributes the altered launch estimates to manufacturing problems with the blue laser diode at the core of the Blu-Ray drive used in the system.
GX-1 gains Mac support
Microboards Technology has released GX-1 Disc Publisher with Mac support for disc printing and recording. "Strong support for Mac users has been a longtime shortcoming in our industry", said John Westrum, Microboards' CTO. "The few solutions available in the market fell far short of user expectations, so we worked hard to produce a more user-friendly solution." The udpate offers the ability to design labels in standard applications, enabling users to link virtually any file type to use as the label from the included recording software. Microboards has co-developed the Mac solution with Hewlett Packard, which also provides the print engine for the GX-1 publisher. That inkjet engine is partially responsible for gains in print time and quality, according to Microboards, with improved handling of the disc under the print head. GX-1 is available for $2,300, and supports DVD as well as CD recording at high speeds (system requirements were unavailable)
Sony Ericsson's senior VP of Product and Application Planning, Rikko Sakaguchi, says that the company is "working on something" involving a Playstation phone. They can't share any specifics at the moment, but they will say that rather than a pure gaming machine, the idea is to create a device that integrates gaming and communication functions. It sounds as if Sony is headed down the same route as Nokia and its N-Gage - let's hope that Sony is smarter about it than Nokia was. Sidetalkin', anyone?
Movies from Apple, Amazon
Both Amazon and Apple are expected to unveil new movie-downloading services in the coming weeks with online movie offerings from both services expected for sale at the same time as DVD versions of movies are released. According to The WSJ, Amazon has all the major Hollywood studios except Walt Disney Co. lined up to offer movies on its service, while Apple's iTunes has just one major studio, Disney, due to wrangling over pricing for movies. Called "Amazon Unbox," the internet retailer is expected to sell the bulk of its movies between $10 and $15; however, there could be a larger range along with the option to "rent" movies. Apple, however, has struggled to sign up studios: "Apple, meanwhile, plans to sell movies for just a handful of different prices, starting at $9.99 for catalog titles and going up to $14.99 for new releases.... Apple has been unable to sign up all of the studios in large part because they can't agree on price. Many studios want more than the $14.50 or so Apple is offering to studios as a wholesale price per movie so they can create similar or bigger margins than they get with physical DVDs."
Nvidia Mid-Range Sept 2006
ATI's recent update to its Radeon graphics cards primarily targeted the extremes of budget and high-performance video, but left the mid-range largely untouched as it remained an area where ATI was secure. That stability is being challenged today by Nvidia's introduction of two new video cards targeted at dominance of the highly coveted $200-300 price range. Leading the announcements is the pictured GeForce 7950 GT, which doubles the onboard memory of the 7900 GT to 512MB and increases the core speed dramatically to 550MHz. It offers claimed performance similar to the 7900 GTX at a much lower $299 price. Also released is the 256MB GeForce 7900 GS, which offers speeds slightly lower than the outgoing 7900 GT but at a still-lower $199 price. Both new cards feature quieter cooling systems and are immediately available through major computer hardware resellers from manufacturers such as Asus and eVGA.
MS Zune takes on Apple
Microsoft this week said that it sees plenty of room for growth in the digital music player market as the company tries to dethrone Apple's own iPod music player, which has more than 75 percent marketshare in the US and 50 percent worldwide. The company said that it would promote its forthcoming Zune player using the expected wireless capabilities to differentiate the music player from other offerings, including Apple's iPod. "Microsoft plans to heavily promote the wireless capabilities on its new digital music player, Zune, in order to position the device as an alternative to the iPod, which currently lacks wireless functionality, a Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK. In addition, Microsoft said that the digital music player market will eventually mushroom to hundreds of millions of units a year--up from a current rate of 30 to 40 million units per year: "We want it to be the best music experience you can have," he said at a Citigroup investment conference that was broadcast over the Web. "You'll see a lot of emphasis on community, a shared type of experience."
AssistiveWare today introduced two new products for Mac OS X: VisioVoice and Infovox iVox. VisioVoice is a product for blind and vision-impaired Mac users providing a number of speech and vision related features to enhance access to Mac OS X, including (1) the conversion of Text, Word, HTML, PDF and RTF files to audio files or iPod-ready iTunes tracks; (2) a document and selection reader with fast forward and rewind functions; (3) large cross-hair and target cursors; (4) Text and Image zoom windows; (5) spoken interface elements as the user navigates across the screen; and (6) multilingual support to Apple's excellent VoiceOver technology (initially French and Dutch). In addition, VisioVoice is bundled with InfoVox iVox, a new product from Acapela Group created in collaboration with AssistiveWare. Infovox iVox is available at an introductory price of $150 (US English), $270 (Scandinavian languages), or $165 (other European languages), while a bundle of Infovox iVox and VisioVoice is $185 (US English), $290 (Scandinavian), or $185 (other European).
Nickelodeon, N, iTunes
The MTVN Kids and Family Group has announced that it will launch a lineup of new entertainment programming on Apple's iTunes Music Store, including six shows from Nickelodeon and the N nighttime network for teens. The N's Degrassi: The Next Generation has already launched on iTunes to offer a fictional, dramatic series aimed at tackling tough issues in a realistic way. Nickelodeon will add the TEENick series Drake & Josh, Unfabulous and Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, as well as Nick Jr. series The Wonder Pets! and new seasons from TEENick's Zoey 101. The network is also rolling out a free sneak peek of its new series, Mr. Meaty, prior to its on-air network debut.
Interarchy 8.2 released
Stairways today released Interarchy 8.2, a new Universal Binary version of its powerful, flexible, award-winning Internet application for Mac OS X. Version 8.2 of the internet application adds support for Growl notifications, transparent file converters (including a Backup meta data preserving converter), Leopard compatibility, and more. Interarchy can download and upload files via FTP (the Internet standard File Transfer Protocol), SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol), WebDAV (including iDisks), and Amazon S3 as well as FTP over SSH (FTP/SSH) and SSL-TLS. In addition, it can download files or whole web sites using HTTP, provide a wealth of information about any internet connection, and help users work with remote servers across the Internet. It also features much improved integration between network tools and fixes dozens of issues. It is a free upgrade for 8.x customers or anyone who purchased v7 this year. A new license is $60.
Bravo SE Disc Publisher
Primera today announced its Bravo SE Disc Publisher, an advanced workflow system that automates the entire burning and printing process using an advanced, sixth-generation robotic mechanism and a built-in Pioneer DVR-111 DVD±R/CD-R recorder. After recording, each CD or DVD is individually inkjet printed direct-to-disc in full-color at up to 4800 dpi resolution. Up to 20 discs per job can be produced automatically and hands-free, according to the company. Bravo SE also attaches to any Mac running Mac OS X and includes CharisMac Engineering's Discribe V5.0 duplication software along with design templates for both Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. The Bravo SE DVD/CD Publisher is priced at $1500, while the Bravo SE AutoPrinter, a no-drive, automated printing solution is priced at $1000. Both are available immediately through Primera's resellers and distributors.
New Apple Mac Minis
As expected following reports of delays to bulk orders is today's announcement of an upgraded Mac mini line. The new systems eliminate single-core computers from Apple's Mac lineup altogether, replacing the earlier 1.5GHz Core Solo base model with a 1.66GHz Core Duo. The higher-end Superdrive model also sees an upgrade to a 1.83 GHz Core Duo. Memory, hard drive space, and pricing are largely unchanged: new to the line is the option of a 160GB hard drive. All new Mac minis are slated to ship within 1-2 business days.
No DVD playback on Wii?
Speculation maybe, but of an informed variety. A blogger with IGN has been poking around to determine if the Wii will still have DVD playback capability. He first proposed this as a question for the Nintendo Minute, but whereas Nintendo would normally entertain his questions, the company told him straight out that they wouldn't reply to this one. He decided then to check out Nintendo.com and the official press site; sure enough, you can no longer find any references to DVD playback except in old press releases. Has Nintendo decided to quietly drop the DVD adapter? In any case, we'll probably find out by September 14th.
Apple Core 2 Duo iMacs
As a prelude to its special event next week, Apple today introduced a significant update to its iMac line that caters to a wider range of users At the forefront is a larger-screened 24-inch model which had previously been anticipated in a slightly smaller form. All four new models use mobile Core 2 Duo processors which Apple claims can improve performance by as much as 50 percent over the original 2GHz Core Duo launched earlier this year. Most models are shipping tomorrow with the new 24-inch iMac available in 2-4 business days from the Apple Store. Click through for detailed information on the new models.
Waterfall's Wallet 2.6
Waterfall Software today released a new update to Wallet, its Mac application for securing and organizing personal data. It features a new Wallet Dashboard widget, letting users quickly search and retrieve information from their databases in Apple's Dashboard environment in Mac OS X. Wallet is a secure, elegant, and easy to use solution for organizing and securing personal data, such as passwords, serial numbers, credit cards, and other important pieces of information using Blowfish encryption: "Using the AutoFill feature, website logins can be automatically entered into Safari or another compatible browser. Users can also optionally put their data on an Apple iPod, for when they need it on-the-go." Version 2.6 also features many other improvements, such as the ability to pick custom icons for groups, generate pronounceable passwords in Wallet's Password Generator, and many bug fixes. It is a free upgrade to the Universal application that runs on Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. The $15 application is available now.
Intel to cut 10,500 jobs
Intel has said it will cut 10,500 positions over the next year responding to its arch rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), which showed competitive gains in recent months. The layoffs constitute roughly 10 percent of the chip maker's workforce, and will save the tech giant approximately $5 billion despite severance costs amounting to roughly $200 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. Intel announced the major restructuring effort in late April promising to resize the company in a sweeping overhaul affecting every part of the business. "No stone will remain unturned or unlooked at," said CEO Paul Otellini. "You will see a leaner, more agile and more efficient Intel Corp."
Faster Mac minis
As expected following reports of delays to bulk orders, Apple today also increased processor speeds on both models of the Mac mini, delivering dual-core performance across the line at no additional cost. Both models now feature the dual-core Core Duo processor. The $799 model now includes a 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo processor, up from 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo processor, and the $599 model now includes a 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo processor, up from a 1.5 GHz Intel Core Solo processor. The Apple Store offers a 1-2 day ship times on the new Mac minis.
Sprint Movie Downloads
Viewing movies on a cellphone is difficult, but not unique: in December of last year Sprint began offering its mSpot Movies service that gave flat-rate access to a collection of full-length movies as well as concerts and television shows. The concept of paying to view specific movies, however, remained untested in North America until today. While Sprint maintains its earlier subscription service, the newly announced Sprint Movies will let users of compatible Sprint phones rent a given movie at their leisure. While movies will only remain viewable for anywhere between one to seven days depending on the title, users can play movies as often as they like during that period. Sprint is also aware that long periods of movie watching are often rare, and has enabled DVD-style chapter markers and a resume function that starts playing where the user last finished. Movies will vary in price from $4 to $6 and, in the case of single-day rentals, can be extended for an extra day by 99 cents.
PS3 delayed around world
Sony has officially announced that the PS3 will not ship in PAL regions - Europe, Russia, Africa, Australasia, and the Middle East - until March of 2007. And the reason? Surprise, surprise: "...the delay in the mass production schedule of the blue laser diode within the Sony Group, thus affecting the timely procurement of key components to be utilised in PlayStation 3." The implication, of course, is that even the decision to suspend laser shipments to third-party manufacturers was not enough to meet Sony's production demands. The company says it still intends to ship six million PS3's by 2007, and release of the console is scheduled for November 11th in Japan and November 17th in North America. UPDATE: Ken Kutaragi says there will be 100,000 units in Japan and 400,000 in North America. Combined, that's less than half of what Microsoft offered in its global launch of the 360. UPDATE 2: Sony has halved its expected shipment of consoles to the US and Japan in 2006 from four million to two million.
Apple revamps iMacs
Apple today announced that its entire iMac line now features the new Intel Core 2 Duo processor in every model, delivering up to 50 percent faster performance than the previous iMac. The company also launched a new 24-inch iMac with a 24-inch widescreen display--in addition to its 17- and 20-inch models. iMacs are now available starting at $1000. Apple's iMacs include a built-in iSight video camera for video conferencing out-of-the-box; Apple's Front Row media experience; and iLife '06, the next generation of Apple's award-winning suite of digital lifestyle applications. "Every iMac-from the $999 model up through the new dazzling 24-inch widescreen model now features blazing Core 2 Duo performance," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "And the new 24-inch widescreen iMac is the fastest, biggest and brightest iMac we've ever made." The 24-inch iMac also includes FireWire 800 port.
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