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Apple updates refurb items
Apple has updated its listing of refurbished Power Macs and Mac mini systems available at discounted prices, which ship for free with the customary one-year warranty. Refurbished Power Mac G5 systems include the Dual 2GHz model with 512MB of memory and a 160GB hard drive for $1,599; the Dual 2.3GHz model with 512MB of memory and a 250GB hard drive for $1,999; and the Quad 2.5GHz unit with 512MB of memory and a 250GB hard drive for $2,699. Refurbished Mac minis include the 1.5GHz Intel Core Solo with 512MB of memory and a 60GB hard drive for $479; the 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo with 512MB of memory and an 80GB hard drive for $649; and the 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo with 1GB of memory and a 100GB hard drive for $779. The Apple Canada store is also offering refurbished items, such as the 2.0GHz Black MacBook with 512MB of memory and an 80GB hard drive for $1,429; the 17-inch 1.67GHz G4 PowerBook with 512MB of memory and a 100GB hard drive for $2,219; and the 17-inch 1.67GHz G4 PowerBook with 512MB of memory and a 120GB hard drive for $2,299.
New retail store designs
Apple tody said it will introduce new design features at its retail stores later this month. Senior Apple Retail VP Ron Johnson also said that Apple is now the nation's fastest growing retailer, averaging one new store opening every nine days, according to the San Francisco Business Times. The company's retail executive made his comments at the ThinkEquity Partners' investment conference Wednesday in San Francisco. "It's an upgrade," Johnson, senior vice president of retail at Apple told those conference attendees. According to the report, the new design features will draw from Apple's new Fifth Avenue store, which is open 24-7 and earlier this week welcomed its one-millionth visitor -- in under four months since the grand-opening on May 19th. Pre-announcing the grand-opening of yet-announced stores, Johnson said that the new elements will be unveiled on September 23 at new retail stores in Providence, Rhode Island and Columbia, Maryland. In addition, the executive said that Apple expects to open 40 stores annually for the foreseeable future.
Radura Nano case debuts
Mophie today debuted Radura, a new case for Apple's revamped iPod nano announced yesterday during Apple's special event in San Francisco. The Radura is made from hard clear plastic, offering protection for the new iPod nano while revealing its colorful aluminum enclosure. The case is scheduled to ship on or before October 12th, and all pre-orders come with a $10 rebate when purchased with any of the company's other Relo accessories. Mophie is priced at $30.
Nano OpticoverĀ Protector
Pacific Rim Marketing today the OpticoverĀ Screen Protector new iPod nano. Made from aerospace polyurethane, the Opticover Screen Protector will protect the second-generation iPod nano from scratches with a tough barrier "so durable that it is used on the front of Ferraris and Porches to protect the paint from rocks and road rash. Opticover is so thin you will hardly know it's there. It is so clear you will think it came from the factory this way. Unlike some other products on the market there is no 'orange peel' effect, where the material looks like the texture of an orange skin when applied." The Opticover for the second generation iPod nano is simple to install: users can simply peel back the die cut material and carefully align it with the nano screen and then apply it slowly using a credit card or similar piece of plastic to eliminate any air bubbles that may get trapped between the surface of the iPod and the Opticover Screen Protector material. The Opticover Screen Protector for the second generation iPod nano is $9 (including shipping) and will ship on Monday, September 18, while the Opticover Protector for the iPod with video (front/back) (both 30GB and 80GB) are available immediately for $15 as well.
Battery 3, Absynth 4 debut
In addition to Komplete 2006 and FM8, Native Instruments (NI) today unveiled Battery 3 and Absynth 4. Battery 3 is a significant revision to the company's drum and percussion sampler that adds time-stretching as well as advanced loop capabilities. The update includes an integrated wave editor and a library of more than 100 drum kits of all styles and genres. Battery 3 is based on a new sampling engine that offers a "Beat Mode" for improved loop handling, and features "articulations" that support authentic real-time flams, drags, and rolls. The customizable cell matrix holds up to 128 sounds per kit, and color coded cells offers users an enhanced overview. An enhanced wave editor also offers direct "surgical" access to any individual sample on-the-fly. Both titles are slated for shipment in October for $220 (Battery 3) and $340 (Absynth 4).
Cingular HTC 3125 Phone
The windows Mobile field in North America is dominated by wide, typing-focused models such as the Motorola Q and the new Nokia E62. A new phone from Taiwanese manufacturer HTC provides a slimmer, more portable option. The handset, branded as the Cingular 3125 to reflect its exclusive carrier in the US, is the first Windows Mobile flip-phone available in the country according to the companies involved in the partnership. HTC's smartphone supports common Windows Mobile features such as "push" e-mail and Mobile Office for viewing documents, but is also prepared for more mainstream users through the inclusion of a 1.3-megapixel camera, dedicated music controls alongside the external LCD, and a microSD slot for storing up to 2GB of songs. Bluetooth for peripherals and EDGE mobile broadband support are also standard. Cingular is shipping the 3125 today for $300 with a two-year contract.
Komplete 2006, FM8 synth
Native Instruments today announced Komplete 4, a new version of its powerful software for professional musicians and producers around the world and also debuted FM8 (pictured at right), an update to its software sythesizer. In addition to FM8, Komplete 4 incorporates the latest Absynth 4 and Battery 3, which add significant creative capabilities over their predecessors and offer increased integration with Native Instruments' host system KORE and its KoreSound format. The new Komplete package also includes Akoustik Piano, its grand-piano emulation that gives musicians and producers access to a comprehensive range of world-class, performance-ready piano sounds. Komplete 4 will be available in October 2006 for $1500/Ä1300. An update for owners of Komplete 3 will be available for $340/Ä300. Owners of KORE or two qualifying products will be able to purchase an upgrade to Komplete 4 for $1150/Ä1000.
NBC Streams Primetime
Following in the steps of CBS' Innertube portal, NBC has announced that it will begin streaming several of its major primetime shows, including The Office and Studio 60 on Sunset Strip, for free in their entirety through its website beginning October 1st. The on-demand playback will be ad-supported and will also be accompanied by a higher-resolution version of the web-based NBC Universal player currently used for highlights and previews at the network's video site. The announcement continues the gradual shift by television networks towards Internet streaming and video downloads as conventional television ratings drop.
360 bundled w/Ghost Recon
At this rate, no one will pay for the unaltered Premium 360 ever again. Club Skill writes that Microsoft is assembling a new bundle for September 30th, one that will revolve around Ubisoft's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter. The tactical shooter is frequently considered one of the best games for the console. The bundle should also throw in a one-month trial of Xbox Live Gold, plus a copy of Microsoft's Arcade Unplugged Volume 1. Gamer Scan will try to confirm this bundle if possible.
PDFClerk 2.0 released
SintraWorks today released SPDFClerk 2.0.1, billed as a personal assistant for PDF documents. It allows users to join multiple PDF documents together, rearrange the page order, delete individual pages, impose multiple pages onto a sheet of paper and rotate pages on imposed sheets, allowing users to easily create books, booklets and magazines as well as easily print manuals, reports, essays, articles, etc., in a convenient and economic way. It also support languages that read from right to left like Arabic, Chinese and Hebrew. Version 2.0.1 adds extended page and imposition control, addition of blank pages, the ability to change and print page labels, import graphics, overlay text boxes, multiple objects on a page, layers, scaling and rotation of page objects, faster saving, new preference and document settings, and more. PDFClerk 2.0.1 is a Universal Binary and costs Ä25 or $32. A 14-day demo is available and it requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. [Download - 578KB] [updated]
Microsoft BT Laser Desktop
Microsoft today announced a series of new desktop combinations and stand-alone mice, all of which take advantage of Bluetooth wireless connections and laser tracking for mouse input. The pictured Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000 has the world's first rechargeable backlit keyboard, according to Microsoft. The design of the 8000 automatically adjusts keyboard brightness to ambient light levels and can recharge both the keyboard and mouse through a single docking station. It as well as the also announced 7000 and 6000 models also have a buttons designed for Windows that launch the Start menu, Media Center, and Gadgets (in Vista). The 6000 ships this month for $100 while the 7000 ($150) and 8000 ($250) ship in January and February respectively. Click through for details and photos of the new Microsoft wireless mice.
Wii Sports bundled w/Wii?
Wii speculation abounds, despite the impending Nintendo press event tomorrow morning. One of the big moments at the company's E3 press conference was when Satoru Iwata, Reggie Fils-Aime, and Shigeru Miyamoto all played Wii Sports together. Rumours have circulated that Sports will come bundled with every Wii, but nothing concrete has emerged so far. Wiifanboy has stumbled into some intriguing pieces of information, however. The game can still be found at the GameStop and EBGames Websites, but the listings are missing cover art, and at least two retail stores have stopped taking pre-orders. The game would be a perfect bundle title - it's family-friendly and an intuitive demonstration of the Wiimote's values. Moreover, one would expect publicity on par with Rayman or Super Mario Galaxy if it were intended to sell on its own.
Impostrip goes Universal
Ultimate Technographics today announced the upcoming release of Impostrip 8.3, its imposition software rewritten to run natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. Tests show that the Universal application is 2 to 3 times faster, according to the company, and the updated version is scheduled for release next month at Graph Expo in Chicago. Impostrip includes both a client and a server application, supporting unlimited clients which are designed to minimize network activity. The software allows inexperienced employees to output imposed jobs for proofing or final output without using the client application, and incorporates a basic template for "hot folder automation." Impostrip 8.3 is a free upgrade for Impostrip 8.x users on the Ultimate Support Plan (system requirements were unavailable).
FEAR Extraction Point demo
Vivendi has released the demo for Extraction Point, the expansion to Monolith's horror-themed FPS from late 2005. The download is 552.4 MB and includes one section from the single-player storyline. Mirrors can be located here, here, here, here, and here. The complete game will pick up threads from the apocalyptic ending to the original, and introduce new weapons, enemies, and environments.
Fire retardant sleeves
Wrappers today launched a fire retardant corduroy sleeve for MacBooks, as well as a new ID tag designed for its MacBook and MacBook Pro laptop sleeves. Wrapper's corduroy sleeves use fire retardant, and come with a cord available in five autumn colors which include "Tobacco," "Taupe," "Ivory," Terracotta," and "Raven." A chestnut-colored microfiber lining also helps remove fingerprints, according to Wrappers. The new ID tags are embroidered with up to three custom initials to create a unique sleeve, and are color coordinated to match Wrappers' sleeves. ID tags are available for £3, while matching sleeves are priced at £15 each. Fire retardant corduroy sleeves are priced from £16 for Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro 15 and 17-inch models.
Laptops capable of surviving military-grade conditions are often expensive and small. General Dynamics' GoBook XR-1, for example, is limited to a 12-inch screen by its extra padding and is priced out of reach of many soldiers. A better alternative may be one of the two new models in Twinhead's Durabook line. The D13RI (pictured) has a magnesium alloy case and spill-proof keyboard that help it pass US military standards for shock and spill resistance, but yet has a 13.3-inch widescreen and weighs just under 6 pounds. The 14-inch D14RI also exists for those who would prefer a standard-ratio screen. Both models use older Celeron M or Pentium M processors and ship with 256MB of RAM, but they put rugged laptops within reach of many people through prices of $999 (D14RI) and $1099 (D13RI) and are available today.
Meteos goes online
Tetsuya Mizuguchi and Q Entertainment are preparing Meteos Online, which (judging from the Japanese Website) appears to be a PC version of Meteos, the popular Tetris-like puzzler for the DS. Players try to align strings of meteorites together and rocket them out of the atmosphere. Kotaku reports that multiplayer will allow up to six players, and the game as a whole will feature extra content that Meteos DS did not. There's no indication of whether or not we'll see an English translation.
Sony, iRiver take on Apple
iRiver's S10 portable player measures 1.65 x 1.18 x 0.43-inches, nearly rivaling Apple's new iPod shuffle in size even as Sony challenges Apple's MacBook with its own budget notebook. Apple's undeniable success and high margins have long caught the attention of its competitors, with numerous products surfacing which present a striking resemblance to Apple's own products. Sony's VAIO N series laptop -- available in black, white, and brown -- is a "chic" notebook designed to work well with interior home design. Other large electronics manufacturers appeared to follow Apple's lead in late July by establishing their own chains of branded retail stores and kiosks, the success of which remains questionable due to existing distributors and retailers.
Divided Over Apple Movies
While the repercussions of Apple's just-announced full-length movies have yet to be felt, the move is likely to cause contention and possible fallouts in the movie industry, according to the BBC. The online video download market has already seen a large number of new entries, including Amazon and AOL, all of which are either competitive or interdependent. It would be impossible for all of these companies to survive, says analyst Aleksandra Bosnjak. Though Apple was a relative latecomer to music and succeeded with the iPod, the company is now faced with the difficulty of competing against the movie studios' own DVD releases and television networks' pay-per-view movie features. The BBC notes that the early Apple iTV announcement was likely announced to prove Apple's commitment to providers and generate support.
Griffin demos iPod add-ons
Griffin Technology is demonstrating three products for iPod which include the iTalkPro, iKaraoke, and TuneCenter at Apple Expo in Paris, France. Griffin's iTalk Pro is a recording device for iPod featuring a dock connector, offering two built-in microphones that sample stereo soound at 44.1KHz in 16-bit stereo or 8-bit mono, according to Macworld UK. A stereo 3.5mm input jack allows users to connect yet another microphone to the device. iKaraoke is designed to transform an iPod into a portable karaoke machine with a microphone for singers and a switch to fade a track's existing vocals into the background without adjusting instruments and backing vocals. The iKaraoke also features a built-in FM tuner to broadcast output to any radio receiver.
DV Monitor released
Red Lightning has released DV Monitor, a production softwarwe tool for professional and amateur videographers to view live video on your Macs. The Universal Binary application replaces the need for a high end field monitor, offering more capability at a fraction of the cost, according to the company. DV Monitor displays your live video at full resolution, 1:1 pixel accuracy to allow quick, exact focusing. It provides both High and Low level zebras in camera--accurate YUV color space, separately or in combination, with user adjustable thresholds. Like a camera's zebra system, DV Monitor can indicate potential overexposures as well as underexposures on the viewing screen. It is available now $130 (through Nov. 1 and $150 thereafter) and requires Mac OS X 10.4 and a FireWire-based DV camera.
CoD 2, GimmeSomeTune
Call of Duty 2 v1.3 (free update) will fully update any previous version of Call of Duty 2 to version 1.3. The recommended patch fixes some multiplayer game and level issues, raises the gamestate from 16k to 128k and addresses the PunkBuster GUID issue where players were not being assigned PunkBuster GUID's of exactly 32 characters. Aspyr recommends that any user modifications that have been installed to the Call of Duty 2 directory be removed before installing this patch and says that these modifications are not supported by Activision and may not be compatible with some of the new features that are included. [Download - 43MB]
GimmeSomeTune v2.5 (donationware) is an extension to iTunes consisting of six main features, including atranslucent floating window with info about the currently playing tune, configurable hotkeys, cover art fetching from the internet, customization, automatic start/stop when iTunes is running, iChat support (can specify the Current iTunes Track status message), and a lyrics window. Version 2.5 adds iTunes 7 compatibility, improves album coverart-fetching, and adds a new uninstaller. [Download - 486KB]
Dot Comments 1.0b1 (beta) allows all .Mac users to the comment system in Apple's .Mac servce--not just iWeb users. "For the very first time ever, all .mac subscribers -- not just those that use iWeb -- can make use of Apple's weblog commenting service." Dot Comments uses a .Mac username and password, and the URL to the weblog entry for which you want to activate comments. Dot Comments also includes a general tutorial for setting up .Mac commenting with the weblog editor of your choice. It requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later. [Download - 104KB]
CDRevolution 1.0 ($20) is an easy-to-use CD copying tool for both audio and data CDs. The software features a clean and intuitive drag-and-drop interface to make copying CDs very simple. Audio CDs are copied using lossless audio with the same between-track gap lengths as the original. Data CDs are copied byte-by-byte for 1:1 accuracy. In addition, CDRevoluton can save to a CD image for burning at a later date. It requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later and is a Universal Binary. [Download - 345KB]
Remote Buddy Preview 7 ($13) is a beta system utility that allows users to fully control their Mac using their Apple Remote, keyboard, a number of Bluetooth enabled mobile phones and other remote controls supported by Remote Buddy. Preview 7 supports a configurable menu structure and a new virtual "Hotkey Remote that offers control via a keyboard or a Bluetooth enabled mobile capable of emulating a keyboard. It also adds support for Airfoil and virtual desktop software. The price will be raised to $25 after the beta period. It requires Mac OS X 10.4.6 or later. [Download - 2.1MB]
Altec unveils new speakers
Altec Lansing today unveiled its FX4021 and FX5051 (site not updated) computer speaker systems. Both systems feature an isobaric subwoofer design for bass, while two FX satellites -- each featuring two active drivers -- handle the mids and highs. Both speaker systems come with a wireless remote, and are wall-mountable. The FX5051 is the first 5.1 speaker system to provide USB plug-and-play connectivity, according to Altec Lansing, with 5.1 channels of audio for Windows systems only and two-way satellites each boasting a 40mm midrange driver and an 18mm tweeter. The company notes that true 5.1 USB surround sound is unavailable on Mac systems, and that Mac OS X users should set the subwoofer to the 2/4 channel mode for 6-speaker stereo sound. Both systems are slated for shipment in the fall of 2006.
Update: 1UP botches scoop
Mike Cassidy, Xfire's CEO, has told IGN that 1UP got it wrong when they declared Xfire the basis for Sony's Playstation Network Platform. "We do have future announcements," he says. "For now I can only tell you Xfire is not part of PS3's PNP." A Sony representative further clarifies that the reason Untold Legends appears in Xfire's .INI file is because that game in particular will use the software, not every single PS3 title. Both PNP and Dark Kingdom should be properly exposed at the Tokyo Game Show on September 22nd.
3ware Sidecar SATA II RAID
Applied Micro Circuits Corporation (AMCC) has announced the availability of the 3ware Sidecar SATA II desktop storage solution, providing robust hardware RAID data protection for the Power Mac G5. The 3ware Sidecar offers up to three terabytes (TB) in capacity and RAID 5 write speeds of up to 150MB per second. AMCC's 3ware StorSwitch architecture integrates custom-designed firmware, hardware and management software optimized for high bandwidth applications. The company says the solution offers up to six times the speed of FireWire and USB 2.0: the sleek 4-bay, external SATA desktop enclosure includes a two-meter external SATA Multi-lane cable and a 3ware PCI Express to SATA II RAID controller and RAID management software. The 3ware Sidecar RAID controller provides onboard processors to deliver true hardware RAID. The AMCC 3ware Sidecar will begin shipping later this month for $1,300 (no drives).
Seapine developer apps
Seapine Software has unveiled TestTrack TCM and Surround SCM5 to assist companies with application lifecycle management efforts. TestTrack TCM is a scalable cross-platform client/server allowing quality assurance teams to plan, execute, and manage any testing process. Surround SCM5 is a software configuration management solution that combines user-definable workflows, custom metadata, and in-application programmable triggers. TestTrack TCM is slated for shipment this fall, and Surround SCM5 is due to ship in mid-October (pricing and system requirements were unavailable).
FFXII, K. Hearts spinoffs
Hot on the heels of reports that Square wants to flood the DS with games, the news from NeoGAF is that the Final Fantasy XII spinoff not only exists, it has a subtitle: Revenant Wings. The information was pulled from a recent issue of the Japanese magazine Famitsu. Little else is known about the game except that the characters appear be younger versions of those in the main story. Also in the magazine is mention of a title called It's a Wonderful World, a "touch action" RPG being developed by the same team that worked on the Kingdom Hearts games. This title is equally mysterious, but it should have a modern setting and at least one dance sequence. UPDATE: Joystiq says a PS2 version of Revenant Wings is due this Hallowe'en.
Samsung V920 World Phone
Moving or traveling abroad regularly causes significant problems for cellphone users. Cellphone service at a new destination may use a different network or give poor reception using the existing network. This problem is especially tangible for Koreans: as they regularly travel to Japan for business and vacations, many of their phones cease to function on the island nation's unique JCDMA networks. Samsung's new V920 phone address this exact problem as well as any other user who may need to change networks as they change areas. The thin slider design includes CDMA, GSM, and JCDMA radios, opening the possibility of connecting not just to Japanese or Korean networks but also those in Europe and the Americas. Samsung is offering the V920 first to Korean buyers for the equivalent of $522 US.
Lexmark ships P350 printer
Lexmark has introduced the Lexmark P350 4 x 6-inch photo printer designed to produce borderless photos that print in as little as 75 seconds with up to 4,800 x 1,200 dpi resolution. The new model is the first to feature Lexmark's new Evercolor II pigmented ink system designed for use with the company's new PerfectFinish Photo Paper -- a micro-porous photo paper that quickly absorbs the inks. Lexmark's Evercolor II inks and PerfectFinish Photo Paper provide photos that last up to 100 years in a frame and up to 200 years in an album, according to Lexmark. The printer can operate as a standalone unit to view, edit, print, save, organize, and share digital photos without a connection to a computer. The Lexmark P350 is available for $100.
FIFA 07 PC demo
A demo for EA's extremely popular soccer title is now available on the Web. The 562 MB file includes one stadium (Arsenal Emirates), a DirectX installer, and six teams: Manchester United, Barcelona, Lyon, Weder Bremen, Guadalajara, and AC Milan. Play is limited to four minutes a match. Gamers can grab the demo through EA's Downloader application, or else through one of several mirrors: here, here, here, here or here. Apparently, the 3D Gamers version has been shrunk by 33 MB by omitting DirectX.
iRiver S10 Player
It remains to be seen whether or not the iRiver N20 will arrive in North America, but in its place the new 2GB iRiver S10 is more than capable as an ultra-compact music player. Measuring 1.65 by 1.18 inches on the surface and 0.43 inches thick, the Korean-designed player approaches the new iPod shuffle in size despite the extra volume added by a 1.15-inch OLED display. iRiver accomplishes this by using its trademark directional click controls (first used with the larger Clix) inside the display border to eliminate all but the most essential buttons. MP3, OGG, and WMA audio support are standard as well as BMP image viewing. The existence of a screen shortens battery life to 8 hours from the iPod shuffle's 12. iRiver has not yet announced a release date or price for the S10.
5G iPod firmware update
In brief: Apple has released a new firmware update for its fifth-generation iPods that adds support for gapless playback, faster scrolling with an alphabetical indication of the current selection, adjustable screen brightness, and games downloaded from the iTunes Music Store.... The hymn project has updated QTFairUse6 for iTunes 7, enabling the software to strip away Digital Rights Management (DRM) from songs.... One MacNN reader notes that Apple has removed short Pixar films from its UK iTunes Music Store, leaving only music videos for UK iTunes customers.... iFixit today posted a complete series of iPod disassembly guides for free online, and announced an iPod parts store with more than 100 parts and upgrades.... Ars Technica has posted an in-depth look at six various DJ applications with a wide range of prices.... Sony is challenging Apple's budget laptop offering with its new Sony VAIO N-series, a "chic" notebook meant to work well with interior home design.
New first-games at X06?
Although Microsoft owns several game development studios - Bungie, Ensemble, Lionhead, et al. - we haven't seen much news from them that involves the Xbox 360. Even Halo 3 info has been dormant. Video Game Jocks, however, believes that we'll hear about two new first-party games at X06, Microsoft's Xbox event scheduled for September 27th in Barcelona. One is from Viva Pinata developer Rare, while the other is from Halo creators Bungie. The interesting bit is Bungie's game will, supposedly, not be a Halo title. It may be a sequel to earlier games such as Marathon or Myth, but it may also be a completely new intellectual property. It would be about time, since Bungie has been stuck in the Halo/Marathon universe since 1997.
"Showtime" was good enough
Apple's special event yesterday fell mostly in-line with investor expectations, solidifying rumors of movie offerings via its iTunes Music Store and new iPod nanos. The company's move into the living room with its unexpected iTV set-top box device caught the attention of four industry analysts, all of whom see the move as positive for Apple in its strategy to enter the home entertainment market. American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu believes the Cupertino-based company made less apparent material progress in key areas of battery life with regard to its video iPod and iPod nano, as well as higher resolution video and user interface elements to strengthen its iPod + iTunes position.
Epson PowerLite Pro 810
Yesterday we reported the unveiling of Panasonic's new projector targeted at more demanding home theaters. Fellow Japanese manufacturer has issued a response in the form of its new PowerLite Pro Cinema 810. The three-LCD design advances on the earlier Cinema 800 model by greatly increasing the flexibility and image quality so crucial to movie viewing. The optical zoom has been expanded from 1.5X to 2.1X; this gives more options for placing the projector without shrinking the size of the picture. Contrast for the 720p image has been doubled to a very strong 10,000:1, and Epson has added an HDMI input to ensure that copy-protected video displays at full resolution. The truly dedicated also have the option of the new 810 HQV model similar to the standard version but with a new Hollywood Quality Video processor that Epson claims is much better at adjusting to ambient lighting or fast-motion scenes. Both models will be available through home theater installers in October at prices of $2,999 and $5,999 respectively.
Dual-quad-core Mac Pro
Apple's Mac Pro desktop workstations are compatible with the forthcoming quad-core Clovertown Xeon processors from Intel, according to a new report from Anandtech. The publication used engineering samples of the next-genration quad-core Xeon chip to see if they could build a 8-core Mac Pro (currently the Mac Pro uses two dual-core Woodcrest Xeons for a total of four cores): "Without a doubt Apple will release a quad-core version of the Mac Pro, either by the end of this year or early next year, but are users who buy the Mac Pro today missing out? While we're still a couple of months away from being able to test a retail Clovertown CPU in the Mac Pro, we wanted to see if the current engineering samples of the chip would work.... We ran a handful of stability tests on the Mac Pro equipped with two Clovertowns and didn't encounter any crashes with the processors, so it would seem that Clovertown will work in the Mac Pro's motherboard. We can't say with 100% certainty that you will be able to upgrade to Clovertown when it comes out, but so far the results are looking good."
Dell AMD Desktops
A long-time ally of Intel, Dell surprised many with its announcement that it would use AMD processors across both its desktop and portable lines. The first fruits of the new partnership were realized by Wednesday's release of two new Dell desktop systems that target basic users. At the entry level is the Dimension E521, a counterpart to the Intel-based E520 that was also introduced today. Dell configures the $329 base model with a Sempron 3400+ 32-bit processor, 512MB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive and a DVD/CD-RW combo drive. Dell also released the small form factor Dimension C521 (pictured) with similar features for $359. The system builder is continuing its signature practice of complete customization with these models and will let users upgrade to as much as an Athlon 64 X2 5000+ processor in addition to graphics, memory, and other internal upgrades. Both models can be ordered today and are expected to ship in early October.
Sonnet's Volta iPodbattery
Sonnet today introduced Volta for the video iPod, which extends video playback time up to 16 hours or music or music playback to up to 80 hours. Sonnet's Volta contains a rechargeable 2100 mAh Lithium-polymer battery, which the company says is "good for hundred of uses." Featuring a slim and sleek design, Volta's case is made from rugged aluminum with a glossy black finish. The iPod simply docks to Volta, which clips to the back of the iPod (a spacer pad is included for the slimmer iPod model). The combined unit stands for easy viewing and features four LEDs on the front to indicate charging status and remaining charge level. As a complete booster battery solution, Volta includes a charging cable that can be used with any computer, AC adapter, or car charger with USB port. Additionally, it comes with a detachable belt clip for easy portability.
PhoneHerald price drop
Parliant is now shipping its Mac-based PhoneHerald Broadcast Dialer with Interactive Voice Response (IVR) at a lower price. PhoneHerald shares the reliable telephony architecture of Parliant's flagship PhoneValet Message Center: it offers the productivity edge and convenience of automatic dialing, personalized message delivery and response collection for businesses and institutions of any size. PhoneHerald autodialer is a combination of a USB phone adapter hardware and software which runs on Apple's Mac OS X. PhoneHerald can be used for automated messaging applications, such as medical appointment reminders and confirmation or medication reminders; uniform, automated school attendance notification system; etc. PhoneHerald offers broadcast dialing to groups of people from a PhoneHerald-enabled Mac, delivery of automated and personalized messages, and use of the world-class text-to-speech engine with male and female voices. It is now priced at $500 USD for the first phone line -- including unlimited calls. Additional lines cost $400.
Wii update disc in box?
People described as "long-standing online Nintendo leak sources" tell SPOnG that we may be getting update discs for our Wiis before we've even turned them on. An item Nintendo is referring to internally as the "Wii Start-Up Disc" may have a firmware update, which would be required for the shipping version of the console. It's suggested that Nintendo jumped the gun when it started production back in July. On a related note, SPOnG's sources say that beta testing has yet to begin on the Virtual Console or WiiConnect24. That will supposedly take place between September 18th and October 23rd. If accurate it would explain why no third-party Wii games will have online play until 2007.
Sony VAIO N-series
Few companies make direct attempts to sell budget laptops using style; aside from the exception of Apple's MacBook, most manufacturers focus on cost as the deciding factor. The new Sony VAIO N-series (PDF) is notable as an open challenge to Apple's current budget system. Available with either black, white, or wenge brown, the N-series is a "chic" laptop meant to work well with interior home design, according to Sony. The 15.4-inch portable uses a relatively modest 1.86GHz Core Solo processor but gains a standard 8X DVD rewriter as well as an 80GB hard drive. An ExpressCard/34 slot and Memory Stick Pro slot are also standard features. Sony has priced the VAIO N competitively against the MacBook and will sell the N for $1000 when it becomes available in early October. The company is slated to accept pre-orders today at the SonyStyle website. Click through for additional photos.
Dual-bay SilverSATA drives
WiebeTech today announced two new dual-bay versions of its SilverSATA product line. SilverSATA II FH features dual-FireWire 800 ports, a single FireWire 400 port and a USB port. Using the Oxford 924 chipset, the company said it offers the fastest FireWire transfer speeds available. SilverSATA II FH can be configured as either a hardware RAID 0 or JBOD. The SilverSATA II SJ features two independent eSATA connections for adding two fast mountable drive volumes to the user's computer. Each unit holds two 3.5-inch SATA drives for up to 1.5TB of storage using two 750GB drives. The trays are removable and interchangeable with other SilverSATA models. The SilverSATA Series also includes single-bay, 2-bay and 5-bay units with single eSATA connections. In addition, a 4-bay unit is available with four dedicated connections to a SATA host controller. The SilverSATA II SJ with eSATA connections is $250 (case-only), $515 (2x250GB), $922 (2x500GB), and $1580 (2x750GB), while the SilverSATA II FH with FireWire interface is $300 (case-only), $565 (2x250GB), $970 (2x500GB), and $1630 (2x750GB).
Visio file conversion
CS Odessa today announced the launch of ConceptDraw Visio File Converter Web service, which is designed to simplify document exchange between Visio and other diagramming software packages. The free service converts files from Visio binary file format VSD into Visio XML files which then have a VDX extension. Users can send drawings as an email attachment to a designated service address at CS Odessa and automatically received the converted file via email (attachment) in either ZIP or SIT format. The company said that the conversion process takes less than 15 minutes. Since Visio documents often are of a large size it is possible to send them for conversion in a ZIP or SIT archive format. The service also allows users to send several documents in one attachment.
Skype for Mac 2.0 in beta
Skype has released the beta version of its popular communications software, Skype for Mac 2.0 beta, which gives any Mac user with an Internet connection the ability to make free video calls to anyone else on Skype regardless of whether they use the Windows or Mac platform, delivering cross platform support to its international community of more than 113 million users. Mac users can now enjoy one-on-one video calls, viewed within the Skype window or on the full computer screen. Skype video for Mac also includes a small window for users to view how they appear to the person they are calling. In order to make video calls Skype for Mac OS X 2.0 requires a Mac with Mac OS X v10.3.9 Panther or newer and a G4/G5/Intel-based Mac running at a minimum of 800MHz. In addition to the release of Skype for Mac OS X 2.0, Skype announced today the release of Skype for Mac OS X 1.5 Gold, a final version of its audio calling solution for Mac users.
TechTool Protege updated
Micromat today announced the release of updates for both TechTool Protege, its bootable FireWire flash drive that contains both TechTool Pro 4 and DiskStudio as well as DiskStudio, its disk partitioning utility). These updates provide Universal Binary support for both products for native operation on both Intel or PowerPC-based Macs. According to the company, all of the features that were previously available for PowerPC-based Macs will now be available for Intel-based Macs as well. "Unlike most application software, utilities require more than a simple re-compile of the program to support the Intel-based Macs. Because utilities work with the computer hardware at the lowest levels, it was necessary for Micromat to completely re-engineer the software from the ground up," the company said. Users must be running Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) to run the Universal Binary version.
Internal HD-DVD for 360?
Sources in Taiwan's optical disc drive industry have told DigiTimes that Microsoft is, already, designing a 360 with an internal HD-DVD drive. The external drive will be available in Europe and North America by Christmas. Microsoft may be worried that a 360/HD combo will seem inferior if it can only play movies, whereas Sony's PS3 will have launch games that make use of HD storage. If Microsoft can sail through selecting partners and gaining certification however, we may see 360's with internal HD-DVD drives as soon as the first half of 2007.
ASUS A8J with GeForce 7700
As mobile graphics chipsets are inherently tied to the laptops that use them, their introductions are almost always shared by another computer manufacturer. Such is the case with NVIDIA's new GeForce Go 7700, which today accompanies the launch of ASUS' new A8Js portable. While the computer as a whole is advanced for a 14-inch laptop and includes a minimum 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo, 60GB hard drive, and Bluetooth 2.0, what distinguishes the new ASUS system its the new NVIDIA graphics. The GeForce Go 7700 is capable of many more parallel instructions than the outgoing 7600 model, containing 12 processing pipelines instead of the earlier model's 8. It also doubles the amount of standard video memory: in the ASUS design, the GeForce Go 7700 carries 512MB of onboard RAM that gives the A8Js a tremendous advantage in texture-rich games or in accelerating 3D across the multiple displays made possible by the system's included DVI port. The new laptop should initially ship to Europe and select Asian countries in September; North American details and pricing have not yet been announced.
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