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Apple's "Showtime" event
Apple's special "Showtime" special event on Tuesday will begin at 10 a.m. PT with the industry expecting Apple to launch its iTunes Movie Store with Disney as one of the few studios on board. On heels of new faster and larger iMacs and upgraded Mac minis, analysts believe that the event may be the beginning of Apple's new push into consumer electronics announcements, which will likely include the much-rumored iPhone, according to analysts and could include other ultra-portable mobile computing devices as noted by a recent multi-function device patent application. Update: The Apple store is offline ahead of the 10 am PT event.
Students get Mac notebooks
All students enrolled in Shoreline's public secondary schools are eligible to receive a Mac laptop for use at school and at home during the school year. More than 4,000 Shoreline's 7th-12th graders, located in Shoreline, Washington, will receive a laptop with bond funding approved by Shoreline School District voters in February 2006. The Seattle Times says students will be "using these computers to do research, write papers, develop presentations, submit homework and communicate with teachers, among other things. However, they're directed not to use them for social communication, games or other nonacademic activities. That includes no visiting MySpace.com or chatting online with friends, for example. Besides these directives, the students must accept responsibility for taking care of their computers, which means no food fingers near the keyboard and no leaving the laptop around to get stolen. Shoreline's program does provide parental control software so concerned parents can limit their kids' time on the Internet at home or monitor what sites their kids are visiting."
Versomatic 1.0 Mac Beta
Acertant Technologies has released Versomatic 1.0 Mac Beta Build 27 for Mac OS X, the first public beta of the software that monitors all changes made to documents on a system. The beta is a trial download featuring a standardized feature set as well as uniform overall software organization across platforms, with the exception of GUI-specific differences. The Mac version documentation is not yet finished, according to Acertant, and the Mac OS X version is not a port of the Windows edition. The full version of Versomatic is priced at $50, while the limited time beta is available for $40 (system requirements were unavailable).
Intensity HDMI card debuts
Blackmagic Design has announced Intensity, a low cost HDMI capture playback card that allows low cost consumer cameras with HDMI video connections to move beyond the quality limits of HDV compressed video. Intensity instantly switches between 1080HD, 720HD, NTSC and PAL video standards. The card enables users to playback to any HDMI big screen television or video projector for video editing, in SD or HD, and with real time effects. Users can capture to disk arrays for high speed uncompressed video, or choose from a range of professional compressed codecs that boast higher-than HDV quality when disk speed and space is low. Intensity is priced at $250, and is scheduled to ship on October 15th. [updated]
DeckLink HD Studio debuts
Blackmagic Design has unveiled its DeckLink HD Studio, the world's first capture and playback card to support both HDMI and analog component video, according to the company. DeckLink HD Studio allows capture from HDMI cameras or decks, as well as analog decks and set top boxes. HDMI playback and analog playback allows connection to a wide range of video monitors, big screen televisions and video projectors for high quality client monitoring. DeckLink HD Studio instantly switches between HD and SD, enabling users to work with nearly any deck, camera or monitor. DeckLink Studio is priced at $1,000, and is slated for shipment on October 15th.
Apple Showtime Event Remin
Apple will end weeks of speculation tomorrow when it holds its "Showtime" special press event at 10 AM Pacific on Tuesday at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. The company's introduction last week of the 24-inch iMac and updated Mac minis has shifted attention primarily towards potential movie-related iPod and iTunes announcements. Strong candidates include the introduction of full-length movies to iTunes, widescreen video iPods, and a video-capable Airport router that could stream purchased videos to a television. Electronista will provide coverage of any major announcements at the event and will obtain live updates when possible.
EyeTV Diversity announced
El Gato has announced its EyeTV Diversity, a USB 2.0 adapter that can play and record over-the-air digital television in the European Digital Video Broadcast - Terrestrial (DVB-T) format. The new 3-band tuner adds dual built-in antennas that improve reception indoors by as much as 50 percent via internal amplification of weak signals, according to El Gato. The EyeTV Diversity includes El Gato's EyeTV 2 software to record and manage incoming video, and further details about the new adapter are expected to follow its formal demonstration at Apple Expo, according to Electronista.
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Amazon The Kindle Reader
Amazon is best-known today for its electronics and its new video download store, the Internet retailer earned its early reputation as an online bookstore. This emphasis on literature is likely the inspiration behind the company's first branded portable device, known as the Kindle in its current prototype form. An eBook reader, the Kindle would compete directly with the Sony Portable Reader but gain an added level of independence, according to an FCC filing. It shares the same 6-inch, 800x600 screen as the Sony reader, but adds a full keyboard and 256MB of internal memory. An SD card slot provides extra storage. Interestingly, the Kindle also includes an EVDO modem for mobile broadband, raising the possibility that it will download new eBooks independently of a host computer. The presence of an FCC filing indicates a release within the next few months that will likely be priced above Sony's more modest device.
Majesco turns around
There was a time not too long ago when Majesco was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. The publisher seems to have really pulled itself out of the abyss though, as today it's reporting gross profits of $4.4 million for the third quarter, this compared to losses of $16.2 million in 2005. More shocking yet is the drop in operating losses: whereas the company lost $332,000 in the recent quarter, third-quarter 2005 losses were $38.6 million. Jesse Sutton, Majesco's interim CEO, attributes the success to "a more conservative approach to game development, an improved cost structure and strong sales of JAWS Unleashed." Ironically, the Jaws game has almost universally been panned. Better Majesco titles have included Psychonauts and Guilty Gear Judgment.
iPod-ready audio systems
Mustek today began shipping its new Paragon iPod-dockable home audio systems (site not updated) which include a compact tabletop model and a sleek tower design. Paragon audio systems incorporate the Apple iPod universal docking cradle to support the video iPod, iPod nano, iPod photo, iPod mini, and earlier FireWire-capable iPods. Both systems simultaneously recharge the iPod while playing music, and feature a distortion-free amplifier alongside a three-way shielded speaker system with a built-in subwoofer. A wireless infrared remote enables users to operate the devices from across the room. Both the TW450 and DT260 ship with a power adapter, remote control with battery, docking insert for iPod mini/iPod nano, spacers to accommodate the larger iPods, an audio cable, and a docking cover. The TW450 is available for $250, while the DT260 tabletop model is priced at $130.
No font patch for D.Rising
If you've played Dead Rising, you've probably noticed that some of the text is quite small on the average HDTV set. The problem is amplified several times over on a "standard definition" set, where the smallest text can be completely illegible. It had been hoped that Capcom would provide a patch enlarging the game's fonts; it seems however that this might be technically impossible. 1UP reports a spokesperson as saying, "Due to the amount of text and the size of the patch necessary to change the text, a patch isn't possible for this issue. We had asked the team if it was even possible but...due to the scope of what a patch would need to cover, it wasn't possible." Hopefully, Capcom will at least learn from its mistakes in future HD games.
El Gato EyeTV Diversity
Tomorrow's opening of the 2006 Apple Expo in Paris is expected to see the introduction of numerous Mac- and iPod-related devices targeted at European customers. Announcing early is EyeTV Hybrid manufacturer El Gato, whose EyeTV Diversity (not pictured) is a USB 2.0 adapter that can play and record over-the-air digital television in the European Digital Video Broadcast - Terrestrial (DVB-T) format. The new 3-band tuner adds dual built-in antennas that improve reception indoors by as much as 50% by internal amplification of weak signals, El Gato says. The EyeTV Diversity includes El Gato's EyeTV 2 software to record and manage incoming video. Further details about the new adapter should follow after its formal demonstration at Apple Expo.
QuickCam Ultra Vision
Webcam manufacturers routinely measure the image quality of their video by referring to the megapixel count of the sensor. Logitech has responded to this by developing the QuickCam Ultra Vision camera, which the company says has twice the optical clarity of other webcams. This is achieved by expanding the typically small lens of most webcams to a large 11.1mm (0.44 inches), preventing chromatic aberration and other problems associated with small glass elements. Logitech's 1.3-megapixel design also includes automatic light and sound adjustment that keeps the subject properly lit and eliminates background audio interference. Though its release date has not been announced, the QuickCam Ultra vision will ship for $130 when it becomes available.
Acer 12-inch Ferrari
Acer frequently touts its Ferrari line as an alternative to the largely conservative laptop designs of other system builders, but its latest introduction may reflect a new advance in technology as well as style. The 12-inch Acer Ferrari 1000 relies on not just visual cues from the supercar manufacturer but also its emphasis on lightweight materials. Acer's new system uses a carbon fiber body that reduces the traveling weight to 3.6 pounds. Performance is also as quick for the size courtesy of a 2GHz Athlon 64 X2 TL-60, 2GB of RAM, and up to 160GB of storage. Bluetooth 2.0, a 1.3-megapixel camera, and a 5-in-1 card reader are also standard. The only concession made in the design is the optical drive: the included DVD rewritable drive is an external Firewire unit rather than built-in. Official pricing and availability have not yet been announced.
MusicJam Mixer unveiled
Cerventis today unveiled the MusicJam Mixer, a device enabling owners to use iPod-based music for karaoke or as part of a multi-instrument performance. The gadget features both standard electric guitar and microphone inputs, allowing musicians to sing and play over music from the iPod while relaying the resulting output through standard RCA connections. MusicJam owners also have access to KaraokeVideos, a program that can convert songs into karaoke music videos that complement the MusicJam Mixer itself, according to Electronista. The company will begin accepting orders in the near future for $230.
Nintendo preparing ambush?
There's talk on the Internet of an "ambush" launch for the Wii, this based on an eKibitz story that Nintendo is hiring an extra 150 people to pack and ship the console. The idea would be to defeat Sony by gaining a month or more in sales and marketing - the site speculates on a launch as soon as the Tokyo Game Show (September 22-24). It's the Scan's opinion, however, that this rumour is bunk. If Nintendo has only begun to recruit extra workers, it could easily take a month or so to fill all positions, by which point it would be too late to contribute to an early launch. More probable is a need to work faster in advance of the typically predicted November launch window.
Videator 2 iMaginator 3
Stone Design today began shipping both Videator 2.0 and iMaginator 3.0, its movie-making and image processing applications for Mac OS X. Videator 2.0 is designed to provide an intuitive and easy to use interface for Mac OS X's Core Image and Core Video technologies, offering users instant access to more than 108 effects, transitions, and filters. The update allows each overlayed item to have its own chain of sub effects, and enables users to VJ as well as change settings while fullscreen is playing on a second monitor. iMaginator also offers users access to Mac OS X's Core Image technology with over 108 effects, and supports layering images with paint as well as text. iMaginator 3.0 includes online tutorial movies, and supports copying/pasting of just the selected effect. Both applications are priced at $50, and both require Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Samsung PRAM Flash Memory
Complementing its earlier announcement of exponentially improved flash capacities, Samsung on Monday announced the development of a new memory type that promises to eliminate many of the problems associated with both flash memory and RAM. Named Phase-change RAM, the technology offers transfer rates comparable to standard computer memory without losing the non-volatile quality of flash. This makes it a "perfect" form of RAM that would be ideal for handhelds and any other flash-based device that can benefit from the additional speed, says Samsung. The company also notes that PRAM should last ten times longer than current flash memory. The new storage medium is currently being demonstrated in 512 megabit (64MB) capacities and should reach the marketplace sometime in 2008.
Mask Pro 4 unveiled
OnOne Software has announced Mask Pro 4 featuring Wacom tablet support and improved navigator windows. Mask Pro offers is designed as a complete collection of masking tools combining an intuitive toolset with advanced color matching and decontamination technology. The update offers built-in video tutorials and tips, as well as a keep/drop detail palette enabling users to see the exact colors being selected. Mask Pro 4 displays numerical values in tool palettes, features auto-scrolling when the edge of the image is hit, includes a hotkey to constrain the pen tool to 45-degree angles, and enforces highlighted zones. Mask Pro 4 is priced at $160, requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, and is due to ship in October.
SecuritySpy 1.3 (starts at $50) is an update to the multi-camera video surveillance software for the Macintosh, offering motion detection, real-time compression and network video streaming, and more. Version 1.3 is now a Universal Binary, offers access control settings for restricting access to the built-in web server, supports AppleScript commands for controlling PTZ, offers better organization of captured footage for a more efficient Browser, enables more efficient Broadcasting, and supports better video streaming in Safari. [Download - 2.2MB]
Physics 101 SE v6.0 ($10) is a major update to the academic tool for physics. Recompiled as a Universal Binary, Physics 101 SE allows students to focus on the concepts of Physics, instead of tedious mathematics, by logically laying out various subtopics in an easy-to-use tabbed interface. This interface allows student to quickly pinpoint the equation they need, enter their variables, and get the correct calculation. This update brings the total set of equations to over 150 with new sections on rotation and atomic physics. It also includes an interactive optics, superposition and abbreviation features. [Download - 14MB]
RapidoWrite 2.1 (free) is system utility that helps users save time by automatically typing frequently used text. The software allows users to define a list of abbreviations and then automatically display related texts as you type. Users can quickly insert in any application standard greetings and signatures (including formatted text) or any phrases: Once users define an abbreviation, it is available at all times, anywhere text can be typed. Version 2.1 offers an updated user interface, new German and Italian localizations, better performance, and more. It requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. [Download - 1.5MB]
Super GHOST v1 (free) is a computer solitaire version of the age-old game of GHOST with a twist. "Your goal is to add a letter before or after existing letters without making a valid word. If you make a valid word, you get a letter ('G'). If you get all five letters ("GHOST"), you lose. You can challenge the computer who bluffs at times. It is possible but quite difficult to beat the computer." Super GHOST has a word set of over 80,000 American English words. It runs on Mac OS 10.2 or later. [Download - 1.5MB]
Microsoft quashes Halo mod
Microsoft has issued a cease-and-desist request to the makers of Halogen, a free Halo mod based on Electronic Arts' Command & Conquer series. The mod had been in production for the past three years, but now, all Website resources will be pulled by the end of the week. It's become increasingly difficult in the past decade to produce a mod based on an existing intellectual property; companies like Fox have aggressively pursued free content that might compete with paid offerings. A common counter-argument is that mods are actually expressions of customer devotion.
Samsung unveils 64GB flash
Samsung today introduced a new storage technology it calls Charge Trap Flash (CTP) that holds data in a layer of the chip until it is ready for use. The new technology is designed to replace older methods of storage that utilize floating gates, which consume a significant portion of the chip and become unreliable as storage increases. Charge Trap Flash allows for much more dense chip designs; in its current form, 40 nanometer processes are possible and drastically outperform the 65 nanometer process seen today, according to Electronista. The extra space and reliability allows the CTP flash chips to store dramatically larger amounts of data, as Samsung has demonstrated CompactFlash cards capable of storing 64GB, which rivals the 1.8-inch hard drives in many digital audio players (pricing and availability were unavailable).
MusicJam Mixer for iPod
iPods have been used in the creation of music as well as its playback: Numark's iDJ garnered attention for replacing vinyl records with the small music players. Those who would prefer to use iPod-based music for karaoke or as part of a multi-instrument performance now have the option of the MusicJam Mixer, announced today by Virginian company Cerventis. The device features both standard electric guitar and microphone inputs, allowing musicians to sing and play over music from the iPod, relaying the resulting output through standard RCA connections. MusicJam owners will also have access to KaraokeVideos, a program that can convert songs into karaoke music videos that complement the MusicJam Mixer tiself. Cerventis expects to take orders soon for $229.
Fortune looks at 24" iMac
Apple's new Macs may not be cheaper than the competition, but the new iMac line represents a extremely competitve offering in terms of price and and performance, according to a new column. Fortune's senior editor concludes that Apple's 24-inch iMac is a better value than a similarly configured PC from Dell, although it does cost about $70 more: "Apple is making applesauce out of the old canard that Macs are a lot more expensive than Windows computers. Now that Macintoshes use the same Intel processors found in higher-end Windows machines, and can even run Windows XP and Windows applications.... One can quibble with the fairness of the comparison, but no matter how you sliced it, the Dell machine was hundreds of bucks more expensive than the Mac Pro.... Will the same hold true for Dell's consumer computers? It certainly looks that way, with a new $999 price point for a 17-inch iMac. Sure, you can get a PC and monitor for less money, but not with anything close to the power and multimedia features and software and ease of use of the iMac."
FMP 8.5 at FlashForward
iSolutions today announced that it will introduce attendees of the FlashForward Conference to FileMaker Pro (FMP) 8.5, the cross-platform database software featuring new Web Viewer control allowing Web technologies -- including Flash -- to play inside FileMaker layouts. Cris Ippolite, president and founder of iSolutions, will demonstrate how to integrate databases with Flash applications to create Web-based or network-based dynamic graphic applications. Ippolite will show how Flash is usable to create client-server applications leveraging databases on the back-end, and the ease with which Flash developers with no database development experience can build dynamic graphical applications. The FlashForward Conference will be held from September 11-14th at the Hilton Austin in Austin, Texas.
One millionth visitor
Apple's Fifth Avenue New York City retail store honored its one millionth visitor with gifts as the surprised customer entered the underground location. The announcement comes just under four months after the store's grand opening. Elizabeth Rodriguez descended the glass staircase at 2:00 p.m. on September 9th and was met by store employees. Rodriguez received a MacBook, an iPod Hi-Fi, and an Apple ProCare membership. The company's Fifth Avenue store hosted an average of 8,772 visitors per day in its first 114 days, as opposed to other stores in the chain which averaged 8,956 visitors per week during the last quarter, according to ifoAppleStore.
Sony Cyber-Shot cameras
Sony today announced two new Cyber-Shot cameras that focus equally on capturing and sharing photos. The DSC-N2 includes a unique photo capture method that takes both a full-resolution image as well as a small, VGA-sized version of the same image that is transferred to a special pocket album which can keep separate from regular photos on the camera, turning the N2 into a portable photo album. The N2 also features a high-density 10-megapixel sensor, 25MB of internal memory, and a high ISO 1600 sensitivity for photography in lower lighting. Sony's DSC-T50 and DSC-N2 gain Sony's new Clear Photo Plus LCD technology that increases the display resolution to 230,000 pixels with a higher contrast ratio and better viewing angles, according to Electronista. Both models will begin pre-orders on September 12th at the SonyStyle website, and are expected to ship in October at prices of $450 (DSC-N2) and $500 (DSC-T50).
Retailers Suggest New IPod
As Apple's September 12 "Showtime" event looms, actions by retailers are suggesting updates to the California company's iPod line. Reports surfaced on the weekend that retailers such as Best Buy, Circuit City, and Target did not advertise iPods in their flyers for the coming week - a highly unusual act for companies that regularly sell the digital audio players. Preliminary investigations in these same reports indicate that iPod supplies at one or more retailers are low or non-existent, and that the American online Apple Store is selling refurbished 30GB iPods for the same $199 price as 20GB fourth-generation models. Additionally, online movie store 4Flix.net briefly published a press release claiming that its unrestricted Free*Pass subscription service would be available for a 6th-generation, 16:9 widescreen iPod. This release was later edited to remove mention of the product. Such changes in Apple product distribution and marketing have historically foreshadowed new releases.
New PSP bundle planned
No timing or pricing is ready, but Sony has also told analysts it intends to release a new PSP bundle, one that will improve on the previous Giga and Value Packs. The new pack will include a game, a UMD movie, and a 1 GB memory stick. The game is confirmed as ATV Offroad Fury. Sony has been under pressure to improve the value of the PSP, which faces stiff competition from the $129 Nintendo DS Lite. A basic PSP system costs $199 US. Rumour had been that a price cut was in order before Christmas, but that has since been dismissed. UPDATE: According to FiringSquad, the bundle should be available September 13th for $250, and the movie will be Lords of Dogtown.
iPhone sales, 8-12m?
Apple's anticipated mobile phone won't likely debut tomorrow, according to Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster, but the rumored device could sell between 8 and 12 million sales if it debuts at the Macworld Expo in 2007 and could raise the company's earnings-per-share in its calendar year 2007 by 6-10 percent. "While we do not expect Apple to announce a phone tomorrow, we continue to expect Apple will ship the 'iPhone' within the next 4-6 months," Munster wrote in a research note obtained by MacNN. "Assuming Apple ships the iPhone at Macworld 2007, our sensitivity analysis points to between 6-10 percent upside to Street calendar year earnings-per-share." The analyst admits to a lack of concrete evidence that the handset is near completion or launch, but cites several indications -- such as the registration of the domain name iPhone.org and the trademark name "Mobile Me" -- that Apple is planning to introduce the product.
Motorola E690 Appears
American cellphone maker Motorola has recently expanded its successful, RAZR-inspired phone line to different formats, including the upcomping RIZR slider phone and the MOTOFONE F3 for the developing world. The company is set to introduce yet another format soon with the E690, details and photos of which have surfaced from a Chinese source. The E690 trades a built-in keypad for a large touchscreen that replaces most controls. All that remains are basic navigation buttons on the front and dedicated music controls on the side. The Linux-based phone is appropriately friendly to media playback and can play AAC, MP3, and WMA audio as well as 3GP and MP4 videos. A 2-megapixel camera is also standard. In China, the E690 connects to GSM-based networks and can transmit data through GPRS. Motorola will debut the phone in the Asian country during October; information about a North American version and release is still unknown. Click through for additional photos.
Reviews, Norfolk photos
In brief: MacNN has reviewed huey ($90) from Pantone, its monitor color calibration software.... MacNN has also reviewed iWoofer ($120) from Rain Design, a compact integrated speaker system designed to work with Apple's iPod.... One Apple advocate has posted photos of the Norfolk Apple Store grand opening, where the first 1,000 visitors received a free MacArthur T-shirt as well as the chance to enter the grand opening sweepstakes.... DssW today launched Sleep Centre, an archive boasting the largest collection of energy saving and power-related Mac discussions on the internet according to the company.... SendStation Systems is giving away 1,000 free PocketDocks FW, the thumb-sized iPod FireWire adapter while supplies last or until September 13th.... Script Software today began offering educational pricing ($300) on its KnowledgeMiner data mining software for a limited time.
Post-launch PS3 numbers
Sony has told analysts that in addition to initial launch stocks, it will produce another 800,000 PS3 units for the United States by the end of the year, with 80 percent of them being the high-end $599 version. Thanks Next-Gen. By extension, the remaining 20 percent will be the $499 system. The total number of PS3's in the States by January should be 1.2 million. Sony attributes this to expected improvements in its blue laser supplies; as the Scan has reported, Sony has been having severe problems producing enough Blu-Ray lasers, to the point that many third-party manufacturers will lose out so that Sony can keep up its own quantities.
Samsung CTP Flash Memory
Flash storage currently lags significantly behind hard disk drives in capacity. This is in large part due to the relatively old foundations of the format. Even today, flash memory uses floating gates first developed in 1989 to control data. This consumes a significant portion of the chip and is unreliable as storage increases. Samsung revealed today that it had introduced a successor technology called Charge Trap Flash (CTP) that literally holds data in a layer of the chip until ready to be used. It allows for much more dense chip designs; in its current form, 40 nanometer processes are possible and drastically outperform the 65 nanometer process we know today. The extra space and reliability allows these CTP flash chips to store dramatically larger amounts of data: Samsung has demonstrated CompactFlash cards capable of storing 64GB, rivaling the 1.8-inch hard drives in many digital audio players. The company has not formally announced products or a timeframe for availability.
Peugeot leaks PGR4 news
French car maker Peugeot has accidentally leaked the existence of Project Gotham Racing 4, a sequel to the bestselling PGR3 that launched with the Xbox 360. The information comes from the rules of a design contest, in which the best car will not only have a full-scale model built, but will also "be included by MICROSOFT in the Project Gotham Racing® 4 game, exclusively on Xbox 360 that will be released towards the end of 2007 or first half of 2008." That would be a much faster turnaround than for PGR3, which took two years to complete. Microsoft has yet to confirm Peugeot's statements.
RollerCoaster Tycoon 1.2
Aspyr Media today released a free Universal patch for RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, enabling the game to run natively on Intel-based Macs and fixing several minor issues. The patch (1.2 Rev A) fixes a crash when communicating with iTunes to retrieve the "RCT3" playlist, and enables users to press command-tab as well as command-H in fullscreen mode to switch in and out of the game. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 allows users to build, operate and experience the amusement park of their dreams. The game features "stunning" 3D graphics and a "CoasterCam," which allows players to see their park from the eyes of a guest by riding all the rides. Using the Fireworks MixMaster feature, players can also create pyrotechnic shows and synchronize them to music. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 also enables users to assign music to rides in the park, features realistic day and night cycles as well as a park lighting system, and includes various weather effects. RollerCoaster Tycoon is available for $50, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Toshiba Hybrid HD DVD Disc
Adoption of next-generation video disc formats has been sluggish. One prominent barrier to this has been the fear of buying movies prematurely: customers may be hesitant to buy a new DVD release knowing that it will soon be outdated by a Blu-Ray or HD DVD version. Toshiba has potentially given HD DVD an edge today with news that the company has developed a hybrid DVD and HD DVD disc that can play in either format. Up to three layers are sandwiched together in a way that lets DVD players view content without any updates, while HD DVD players only require a firmware upgrade to support the new feature. Discs can be a blend of either format: for example, a dual-layer 8.5GB DVD can be combined with a single-layer 15GB HD DVD. The technology requires minimal changes to the manufacturing process and should be available in shipping discs very soon, according to Toshiba.
Haunted Mines of Vox
Winter Wolves today released a new expansion pack for Magic Stones -- a game based on Celtic mythology -- titled Haunted Mines of Vox. "The kingdom is alarmed. There have been several mysterious disappearances around the Mines of Vox lately!" Players are sent to investigate the mines to find out what's happening inside and put an end to whomever or whatever is lurking there in the darkness. The expansion enables players to collect two new avatars, the Fairies for the Life School of magic, and the Green Lizard for the Spirit School. The expansion also features new opponents such as mudmen, giant stag beetles, and more. The update includes several enhancements to the Magic Stones game itself, and is free to registered users. Magic Stones is priced at $25, and requires Mac OS X (specific system requirements were unavailable).
Apple eyes Japanese market
Apple is aiming to seize more of Japan's download music market, according to one report, as the company recently offered free iTunes Music Store downloads to fans at a popular music festival in Tokyo. Fans who attended the concert to see the Arctic Monkeys and Metallica received three free iTunes downloads, signaling Apple's attempt to lure Japanese customers away from mobile music transfers, according to Reuters. "iTunes faces a dramatically different situation in Japan compared to other markets," Gerhard Fasol said, president of Eurotechnology K.K. in Tokyo. "iTunes is a very strong player in the market for downloads to PCs, Macs and iPods, but that makes up a small portion of the online music downloads [in Japan]." Apple is offering prepaid iTunes cards in convenience stores for Japanese customers who remain reluctant to purchase songs over the internet, and for individuals who don't own a credit card.
SC: Double Agent on Wii
A port of the stealth action game will be ready for Nintendo's launch, IGN says. This version will be based on the GameCube and PS2 games, with enhancements made where possible. While it will be missing levels and multiplayer modes found in the 360 game, it should feature controls devised specifically for the Wii, such as jiggling the Wiimote to pick a lock. Extra content may or may not be distributed through WiiConnect24. Double Agent will be shipping for many platforms within the space of a month, starting on October 17th with the 360 version and progressing to include PC, GC, Xbox, PS2 and PS3.
DVB-H Mobile Television
Mobile television is a common sight on the streets of Japanese and Korean cities, but in North America video has been limited to pre-recorded clips. A suite of announcements Monday indicate that the technology will soon spread much further. The DVB-H format, or Digital Video Broadcast - Handheld, is capable of streaming video at a full frame rate despite the relatively limited bandwidth of celullar networks thanks to extremely efficient compression: mobile video chipsets such as NVIDIA's GoForce series can decode the video signal in a way which is virtually impossible for the actual cellphone processor itself. The technology saw its debut in mid-summer during the Italian release of the Samsung P910 (pictured); today, NVIDIA announced that US customers would get their first DVB-H mobile television through the HTC Forseer smartphone set to launch by the end of 2006 through the Modeo service. A parallel announcement was made by Motorola and Nokia today, which are partnering together to ensure that handsets from both companies can play DVB-H videos from each other's devices and services. The two cellphone makers expect services using their own phones to either deploy or begin testing in North America before the end of the year.
Infogrames shares on hold
The BBC reports that trades of shares in Infogrames, the French company that owns Atari, have been suspended on the Parisian market. The company is expected to declare a restructuring plan in the near future. Though it's had some successes, the company has been on shaky ground for some time; sales dropped 20 percent in the first quarter alone, and Atari CEO Bruno Bonnell was replaced with David Pierce on September 5th. It isn't clear whether Pierce volunteered the suspension of trading or if his hiring merely prefigured it. Atari recently shipped Test Drive Unlimited for the Xbox 360, and will publish Neverwinter Nights 2 for the PC on October 17th.
Mini Bluetooth Keyboard
Compact keyboards are favored by many who use handhelds for extensive typing in business meetings or classes. The devices that can use these keyboards are often limited, however, as the attachments regularly depend on special connectors or else are too large to be carried with the user. A new option exists in the form of the Mini Bluetooth Keyboard from Hong Kong vendor Brando. The keyboard connects wirelessly to almost any device with a Bluetooth receiver; Brando says the keyboard can interface with Palm, PocketPC, and Symbian devices as well as computers. It folds up for travel into a small unit that is less than half an inch thick. The Brando online store is selling the Mini Bluetooth Keyboard to US customers for $56.
IntelliScanner Pro 300
IntelliScanner today introduced the IntelliScanner Pro 300, a smart, easy-to-use barcode scanner for instant barcode scanning capabilities with bundled and third-party software. It features scanning into any application with USB 2.0 plug-and-play keyboard emulation; support for all industry standard barcode types, including UPC, EAN, Code 128, Code 39, ITF, and Codabar; included examples and documentation for FileMaker Pro and Microsoft Excel integration; automatic configuration of advanced functionality by scanning smart configuration barcodes; output adjustment for advanced deployments; triggerless scanning modes for kiosks and self-service deployments; and automatic organization/recognition of office media, including books, DVDs, CDs, and games. The IntelliScanner Pro 300 package ($300) includes an IntelliScanner USB barcode reader, 7-foot self-securing cable, Collection 2.0 media management software, Business Integration Kit software, 100 pre-printed asset tags, and documentation.
Final Cut Pro 5.1.2 coming
Apple this week at the IBC tradeshow announced an update to its professional video editing application. According to Digit Magazine, the company announced details on an forthcoming update update: Final Cut Pro 5.1.2 will bring support for Motion's FxPlug plug-ins and more capture formats, enabling Motion's real-time plug-ins -- including those bundled with the application - to be used within Final Cut Pro. The report also said the update will include support for Sony's XDCAM, Panasonic's P2 and HDV: previous releases of Final Cut Pro supported the 25Mbps CBR version of XDCAM, while the version will add support for both 18Mbps and 35Mbps video and the XDCAM IMX 30. In addition, it will bring improved integration between Final Cut Pro and the freely-downloadable XDCAM Transfer import and asset control tool as well an expanded P2 import tool to offer more information about clips. Version 5.12 will also bring support for 24P and 25P versions of HDV, the report said. Apple is expected to release the free update via the Mac OS X Software Update function within 30 days.
Vista runs on MacBook Pro
Apple's high-end laptop runs Vista better than a high-end Sony Vaio: a new report found a "Windows Experience Index" of 3.6 on the (older) Sony Vaio VGN-A790 laptop--compared with a "WEI" of 4.7 on the newer dual-core MacBook Pro, which it noted was in part due to the newer Intel processor and better ATI video card. The "hardware" report, the first in Computerworld's series about the use of Windows Vista on a MacBook Pro, notes a few shortcomings of running Vista on the Mac laptop using Apple's Bootcamp technology, including the lack of Windows' right-click (solved by instaling a separate third-party application called Apple Mouse), the inability to eject disks from the SuperDrive using the eject key on the keyboard (users can still use the menu in Vista), and the lack of elegant solution to boot back into Mac OS X, and some heat and battery consumption issues--due to the lack of power management functions.
Sony Cyber-Shot N2 and T50
Hinted at in August, Sony today formally announced two new Cyber-Shot cameras that focus equally on capturing and sharing photos. The DSC-N2 (pictured) has a unique photo capture method that takes both a full-resolution image as well as a small, VGA-sized version of the same image that is transferred to a special pocket album that can be kept separate from regular photos on the camera, turning the N2 into a portable photo album. The N2 also features a high-density 10-megapixel sensor, 25MB of internal memory, and a high ISO 1600 sensitivity for photography in lower lighting. Further announced today was the DSC-T50, an update to the existing T30 ultra-compact model. It specifications are largely similar to the 7.2-megapixel earlier model with blur reduction, 56MB of internal memory, and ISO 1000 sensitivity. It and the DSC-N2 gain Sony's new Clear Photo Plus LCD technnology that adds a more intuitive touchscreen interface while also increasing the display resolution to 230,000 pixels. Both models will begin pre-orders on September 12th at the SonyStyle website and are expected to ship in October at prices of $450 (DSC-N2) and $500 (DSC-T50). UPDATED Click through for photos of both new models.
Final Fantasy influx on DS
With the Final Fantasy III remake doing so well in Japan, it should be no surprise that Square-Enix would think of bringing as many Final Fantasies to the DS as it can. That's what "trusted sources in Japan" are indicating to SPOnG. The most prominent suggestion is of a Final Fantasy XII side-story, a la X-2, being available on the DS within the next 12 months. Games V and VI may come to the DS onto a single cartridge. Beyond that, virtually every Square or Enix RPG may be remade, if it's from before the 32-bit era. If any of this is true we're supposed to learn at the Tokyo Game Show on September 22nd.
Lineform drawing tool
Freeverse today announced that it has published Lineform, a feature-rich vector drawing application for Mac OS X. Offering a powerful toolset and an intuitive user interface, Lineform can be used for creating everything from simple logos to complex designs and can be used for production level work. The software features Bezier editing, support for free-flowing text and gradients, CMYK preview, boolean operations, expert typesetting, SVG support for full document import/export, and a host of other options The software is available as a special free preview: from now until October 7th, images created during the trial period will be watermark-free. Lineform, a recipient of a 2006 Apple Design Award for technical excellence and outstanding achievement, is priced at $80 and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later; it is a Universal Binary for native operation on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs. A retail version will be available in stores later this Fall.
Miglia debuts TVBook Pro
Miglia today announced TVBook Pro, its digital TV card specifically designed for Apple's MacBook Pro. TVBook Pro ships with Elgato's EyeTV 2 software and allows users to pause, rewind and skip forward live TV. The new ExpressCard/34 offers the ability to edit your favorite shows (via the included software) and delivers an amplified antenna (with optional USB power) for optimum reception. It offers an integrated TV Tuner - DVB-T for free-to-air digital TV broadcasts, an Antenna Connection that is compatible with passive, active and roof-mounted antennas, and more. TVBook Pro supports Digital Terrestrial Television (Freeview in the UK, TNT in France, DVB-T elsewhere): it requires Mac OS X 10.4.x and higher. Elgato's EyeTV software allow users to view, search or remotely schedule recordings using the integrated online TV guide (EPG) from tvtv (Europe). It is expected to ship in October for $150/€100 with a two-year warranty.
FUNDimensions 6.0 released
FUNDimensions v6.0 is a major upgrade to database application for small non-profits and schools. The software manages the entire fundraising process, helping people to identify the best fundraising opportunities, maintain personal relationships with their donors, and raise more money. Version 6.0 adds a new Notes module, Automatic Backup Module, support for XML imports and exports, fuzzy-logic searches, and expanded Membership Statistics reporting to better identify trends and problems. It also can easily compare records side-by-side with expanded multiple-window capability, features automatic transfer of security settings across upgrades, and delivers automatic data file recovery when corruption occurs. The Single-User edition is $2150, while the Client-Server editions start at $4545--including unlimited free email support for the software, and optional fee-based phone support.
RadTech Westone UM Series
RadTech has announced the Westone UM Series in-ear monitors with True Fit technology: "Experience the best sonic reproduction possible, with noise isolation far surpassing that of cumbersome and complicated active noise-canceling phones. External isolation is a noise-silencing 30dB, allowing listeners to hear the full dynamic range of recordings without having to play them at unnaturally high volume levels." The company says that the True Fit tips are constructed from a softer and denser material that blocks outside sound and noise much more efficiently. Two tip sizes are included to fit all users, and UM Series monitors can be fitted with custom ear molds at any time. Two models are currently available; the single driver UM-1 with a frequency response which matches or exceeds that of most high-end phones; 40-16,000Hz as well as the premium dual-driver UM-2 that offers a response of 20-18,000Hz. The UM Series Monitors start at $101 include four pair of True Fit eartips, a zippered storage/carry pouch and a sound conduit cleaning tool.
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