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A new blog entry "Apple takes back the copycat title" looks at Apple's newly introduced CoverFlow technology in iTunes and its iTV media hub/center project due early next year, which it says have been around in Microsoft products for sometime. Referring to the forthcoming iTV media center, blogger Ed Bott writes: "So, let me get this straight. I can pay $300 for a device that allows me to play content from a computer located elsewhere in the house. Cool! It's about time someone invented a "media extender" like this. Oh. Wait. Microsoft already did. I have three Media Center extenders in this house, two first-generation models and an Xbox 360. On any of these extenders, I can play my entire music collection (browsing it by album cover) through my home theater system using a wired or wireless connection to my Media Center computer. But unlike Apple's device (which won't be available until January 2007) the Xbox 360 also streams live or recorded TV and downloaded high-definition content. It plays games and DVDs in full 5.1 surround sound."
Apple's new 80GB video iPod, introduced earlier this month, is TIME magazine's "Gadget of the Week." The review notes the improved earphones as well as the improved iTunes video resolution for both TV shows and movies, which reduces battery life and are twice the file size--adversely affecting storage and download times--but can be useful for playback on a television: "But the larger-size video is still welcome news. The 80GB iPod can play six and a half hours of it (or more); the 30GB iPod has three and a half hours, up from around two. I connected the 80GB iPod to a dock with an S-Video output, and connected that to a 42-in. high-definition Panasonic plasma. I didn't expect a miracle picture, but I was happy to see that it was as good or better than standard-definition broadcast TV, if not as good as DVDs or HD broadcasts. I would not mind watching iPod-based movies on my TV, provided they weren't movies whose visual effects and subtleties were crucial."
In brief: Wal-Mart stores in Canada will soon stock Apple's new iPod nano, according to an advertisement fond on the company's Canadian homepage entrance.... Microsoft has denied claims that its new Zune portable media player will be priced higher than Apple's video iPod when it debuts, despite its built-in Wi-Fi capability and larger screen.... Dell has begun a company-wide effort to repair its tainted reputation which it calls "Dell 2.0," pledging to offer customers more of what they want.... Pearson Technology Group today launched Short Cuts, concise PDF documents about a cutting edge technology that shows "great promise," or existing technologies that have reached a "tipping point" and are about to take off.... InDesignSecrets.com today announced that it is hosting Michael Murphy's "The InDesigner" videocasts, designed as a compliment to the InDesignSecrets audio podcasts.... MacSpeech has extended its free upgrade offer through September 30th, accommodating customers who purchased iListen on or after April 1st of 2006.
Kensington has introduced four new notebook mice, and announced that all of the company's iPod accessories are compatible with Apple's new revamped video iPod and iPod nano. The Si750m Wireless Notebook Laser Mouse is one of the smallest full-featured notebook mice available, according to Kensington, combining a sculpted micro size and rubber grips with high-resolution laser technology that works on most surfaces. The Si750m also includes interference-resistant 2.4Ghz wireless technology, a smart mini receiver that tucks inside the mouse and long battery life on a single AA battery. Accompanying the Si750m is the Si650m, featuring a mid-sized shape with sculpted grips that offers 2.4GHz wireless capability alongside a 4-way tilt-scroll wheel. Kensington's Si750m ($50), Si650m ($40), Ci65m ($30), and Ci25m ($20) mice are slated for shipment in October.
Delphi has announced a second handheld today in the form of a new GPS receiver that challenges TomTom's ONE and others in the entry-level field. The newly unveiled NAV200 is built as a simple car or handheld GPS unit that also offers some useful media functions. Its direction-finding abilities are basic with the exception of an optional accessory for real-time traffic, but its software is uncommonly flexible for its range: it can play MP3 or WAV files, display GIF, JPG, or PNG photos, and show AVI movies. A calculator, a clock, and a game round out its features. Delphi provides a suction-mount car kit with a 12-volt power adapter and says that the device will last for 3 hours on battery power. Shipping in October, the NAV200 is available for pre-order at a price of $349, which makes it considerably less expensive than most rivals.
Difusi has unveiled the Medius and Maxim, its new MacBook and MacBook Pro leather carrying cases featuring exteriors made from top-grain leather with Jacquard-nylon or full body top-grain leather. Both cases support optional add-ons such as an interior illumination device ($33), and include zone-based organization with exterior adjustable padding to offer a five-foot drop test rating, according to Difusi. Additional features include padded leather handles, carrying straps, and padded leather pulls attached to zippers. The cases boast Jacquard nylon interiors, and are built using nine panel construction with six main compartments. Medius cases are priced from $90, while Maxim cases are priced from $100. Each of the new cases comes with a limited lifetime warranty. The company also announced a redesign to its nanoValet iPod nano leather case ($25), and that it will include ClearGuard film as a free add-on in all nanoValet packages. [images]
Cellphones are rarely given the ability to display their visuals beyond the built-in screen; the assumption is that mobile content which needs a larger resolution will be transferred to a computer first. MicroVision, an American developer of small displays, contends that some users may want the higher resolution and visibility of a larger screen and has developed the PicoP, a laser-based projector that could be integrated with cellphones or other handhelds. It aims a laser at a minuscule vibrating silicon mirror that generates a much sharper image than the handheld's own screen is likely to display: the company says it can display an SVGA (800x600) picture at laptop brightness up to a half meter away, and larger in a dark environment. The technology could be used for presentations, complex games, and other software that might otherwise be impractical on normal handhelds. MicroVision claims that the PicoP is ready for finished products, but has not yet revealed any design partners.
For a while now, California company The Ant Commandos has been selling Guitar Mania, an unofficial series of controllers for RedOctane's Guitar Hero. Unlike the official controller, the Mania line offers different styles, skins, and the option to go wireless. But it's marketing that may prove to be the Ants' downfall. GameSpot UK notes that they've been sued by RedOctane, who accuse the Commandos of imitating Octane's Gothic-on-flames packaging. Furthermore, Octane objects to advertising Mania as fully compatible with Guitar Hero - they say that "star power" doesn't work properly.
Though Windows users are currently in the majority, a disproportionate number of external TV tuners are designed for Macs, often leaving owners of Media Center PCs searching for internal PCI cards or laptops with built-in tuners. Pinnacle has come to the aid of those seeking a more easily replaceable tuner in the form of the PCTV HD Pro Stick, a compact USB 2.0 tuner that can accept both ATSC over-the-air HDTV broadcasts as well as standard NTSC for analog signals. Cable, satellite, and DV camera users can also plug non-HD video sources directly into either co-ax or RCA ports on the HD Pro Stick. Timeshifting software is included that can play video and record it in several different formats, including iPod- and PSP-ready versions. Pinnacle claims direct support for Windows XP Media Center's TV features as well. The HD Pro Stick is available immediately for $130. External antennas and a Media Center-capable wireless remote are optional.
nova media today introduced GlobeSurfer ICON, a USB-based modem that is designed to establish mobile internet connections with any Mac running Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher. The ICON supports HSDPA and 3G UTMS speeds in Europe and Asia as well as EDGE and GPRS connections around the globe. "Using HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) you can use mobile Internet connections with up to 1.8 Mbit/s download speeds and up to 384 kbit/s upload speeds. Attention: HSDPA and 3G UMTS connections are not supported by this card in America. If no HSDPA or 3G UMTS is available you can still use worldwide EDGE or GPRS connections with download speeds up to 220 kbit/s and upload speeds up to 80 kbit/s." GlobeSurfer ICON includes the internet connect wizard launch2net which offers a one-click connection to the Internet without the need to enter cryptic connection details and includes more than 300 connection settings for mobile network operators around the world. GlobeSurfer ICON is available today for €340 (plus VAT).
Details of Delphi's first truly portable SkyFi system became available late last week, hinting at a portable XM satellite radio with an unusually large 2.8-inch display and microSD storage for the listener's own songs. The company ended speculation about features on Wednesday through officially announcing the SkyFi3, shedding new light on the device's intended role. Much of the previous information was accurate, including recording of up to 10 hours of satellite radio on the player's built-in flash; an important new detail is the addition of an optional $49 antenna-equipped headphones that let the user listen to live radio without a separate tuner or power supply. Delphi has designed the SkyFi3 primarily as a car or home radio, however, and says that its new receiver will only play 90 minutes of live satellite when using the battery. Alternative sources of audio on the SkyFi3 include MP3 and WMA tracks as well as FM radio. Delphi plans a December 1st launch for the new XM adapter at a $229 price.
Back in the warmer climes of July, EGM's Dan Hsu identified a Sony plan for something called "Entitlements." At the time it was assumed this would operate just like Microsoft's Achievements system - complete specific in-game tasks in an Xbox game, and you earn points used for bragging rights on Xbox Live. Some poking around by Video Game Jocks however has discovered this patent, which describes a system whereby a console would "offer an incentive to a user of a software product when this user shares the product with others, or when the user plays the product." Have a copy of Killzone 2 sitting in your closet? Sony's technology would offer points and/or "incentives" for handing the game to a friend. The patent describes this as a means of attracting buyers to future games. Is this Sony's Entitlement scheme? If so, it sounds like the company has figured out a way to make used games function as inexpensive marketing.
FireWire Depot today began shipping its SATA 1-in/5-out hub, a portable USB-powered device allowing users to add more SATA I and SATA II devices to a system without an external AC adapter. The hub automatically connects and transfers with either 3.0GB (SATA II) or 1.5GB (SATA I) bandwidth, providing simultaneous data transfer rates of 3.0Gbps. FireWire Depot's new hub uses the Silicon Image 3726 chipset, supporting five SATA I or SATA II devices with auto-negotiation features over a single eSATA connector. The device is designed to take full advantage of the 3Gbps host link bandwidth and FIS-based switching host controllers by combining and sending data from all devices over the 3Gbps host link, effectively overcoming the sequential data transfer technique that can easily degrade performance when multiple devices are operating simultaneously. The SATA hub requires an available USB port to provide power, and is priced at $100.
An all too familiar experience for computer users is trying to keep track of e-mail or instant message conversations while the main focus onscreen is a work program or a game. The expense and size of a full second display is not always an option. ForeSight Systems is counting on this latter fact with the release of its updated Pertelian X2040 PC Assistant. Using a simple 20x4 monochrome display, the X2040 is capable of not only displaying important information from its host PC but of responding to some of that information as well. A user can see instant messages from common IM clients such as AIM or MSN and also respond to them without having to leave an existing program. The device can also keep track of eBay auctions, IRC channels, TeamSpeak communications, RSS feeds, and media jukeboxes including iTunes. ForeSight says its new Pertelian display should become available in October for $49.
Microsoft clarifies that its Classics lineup is actually local to the United Kingdom. In North America the budget series will be called Platinum Hits, and the featured games will be slightly different. Instead of King Kong and Condemned, North Americans will get Need for Speed Most Wanted and Project Gotham Racing 3. Each game should cost about $30 US when the series ships on October 15th. A "second wave" of Platinum titles should break next spring.
Microsoft has announced that its Xbox 360 will support 1080p via an update, which will allow users to play games and view movies at a higher resolution. The update is scheduled for the fall of this year and should not require an HDMI cable, according to gamer scan. Shane Kim of Microsoft said the company will upscale current 720p applications, while native 1080 products should work without problems. Microsoft may consider a hardware solution over a software update, if movie studios insist on HDMI input for copy protection. Kim noted, however, that most third-party and all Microsoft Game Studios products will continue to use 720p.
Gamers without a PS2 can rest easy if they want to play Guitar Hero II. GamesIndustry managed to attend Robert Kotick's presentation at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, and the Activision CEO said that GH2 would appear "on every significant new format." Presumably, this means the hands-free systems: Wii, 360, and PS3. Employees with Gamestation have reportedly said that a 360 port is solid for the first half of 2007. DS and PSP versions of the game are not inconceivable, but the game would likely lose its appeal without the unique guitar controller.
The revelation that Apple was lowering its higher-end iPod pricing likely caught Microsoft off-guard, according to analysts; a recent Wal-Mart price leak discovered online indicated a $284 price tag for the Zune, pointing to a considerably higher official price than Apple's new $249 player. Late yesterday, however, Zune project worker David Caulson emphatically denied that the Zune would be priced higher than the iPod despite its built-in WiFi and larger screen. Writing in his blog Zunester, Caulson said bluntly that his company's new player "won't be undercut on price by iPod." Microsoft has as of yet declined to set a price and has received criticism for refusing to provide full details about the Zune or its copy protection support in the wake of its official debut.
iSuppli has taken apart Apple's new 4GB iPod nano, revealing an estimated materials cost of $72.24. The teardown revealed that Samsung Electronics now provides the main microprocessor (SOC), replacing the previous processor from PortalPlayer. Apple has done away with the "flash disk controller" chip manufactured by Silicon Storage Technologies, building the functionality of that chip into Samsung's SOC. Other 4GB iPod nano components include an audio chip from Wolfson Microelectronics, chips from Cypress Semiconductor to drive the clickwheel, and a power-management chip from Philips Electronics, according to BusinessWeek. Despite those changes, only the outer enclosure proved more expensive than the previous generation, costing Apple about $2 over the older $1 enclosure.
Voice over IP handsets are the current focus for many electronics firms, but alternatives will soon arrive for those who simply consider Internet calling a secondary feature at the PC. Kensington has just entered the Internet telephony business by announcing its new Vo300 USB Speakerphone as a complement to an existing PC. Plugged into a computer, the Vo300 can interface with Skype on the host system to not only dial and receive calls but also browse the call history and contact list on a built-in LCD screen. Headset jacks are also present for private conversations. Kensington is shipping the speakerphone on September 24th for $90.
An enigmatic new Ninja Gaiden game has appeared in the pages of Japanese magazine Famitsu. Subtitled Sigma, the only things known about it are that Tecmo is developing it for the PS3, and that players will at some point have control of series character Rachel. SPOnG reasons that this is not a genuine sequel to the Xbox game but rather a PS3 equivalent to Ninja Gaiden Black, which simply added content to the Xbox title. Tecmo has gone on record as saying that for the forseeable future, the 360 is Team Ninja's priority platform. UPDATE: 1UP seems to confirm the info about Sigma.
Nike today announced that runners have logged more than 1 million miles -- which is equivalent to circling the globe more than 40 times -- with Nike+iPod since its debut just 10 weeks ago. Nike+iPod is a running system incorporating the Nike+iPod Sport Kit, a wireless system that allows Nike+ enabled footwear to communicate with an iPod nano. Data on time, distance, calories burned, and pace is stored on the Nano, which is easily accessible through iTunes to nikeplus.com. Nikeplus.com is a personal service site allowing runners to track their own progress and challenge other runners. Nike currently offers 12 styles of Nike+ enabled footwear, and promises to debut more in the future. The company is also planning new functionality for nikeplus.com, such as a route finder that will enable runners to easily map and share favorite running routes. The good news from Nike comes on the heels of Apple CEO Steve Jobs recent announcement during Apple's special event in San Francisco, when the executive revealed that the Cupertino-based company sold more than 450,000 Nike+iPod Sport Kits in less than 90 days.
Posterino 1.0b4 ($20) updates the "life poster" composing application. Posterino allows users to easily create postcards, greeting cards, and contact sheets from pictures in iPhoto. The software supports auto-placement of photos, export of posters or postcards, custom template creation, and various image manipulation routines such as cropping and rotation. [Download - 3.3MB] Media Indexer 1.1 ($12) indexes numerous types of media such as CDs, DVDs, and hard drives. The application features a search engine, ID3 support, and Spotlight integration. The update brings an enhanced index corruption detection system, as well as Traditional Chinese localization. [Download - 724KB] Lux Delux 5.5 ($25) adds a map preview area in the "new game" window of the "Risk" style challenge of world domination. Lux Delux 5.5 also includes improvements for network hosting, playing games with large numbers of armies, and more. The update is free for registered users. [Download - 9.3MB] Graph Paper Maker 1.2.1 ($20) enables users to create custom sheets of printable graph paper. Users can set independent X and Y axis for linear or log scale, as well as scaling. Version 1.2.1 adds a graphing wizard to easily create graphs, as well as an option to automatically open a generated graph paper file. [Download - 1.4MB] PhotoProto 1.0 ($500) is a user interface design tool created specifically for designers who build interactive devices and custom GUIs. Artists can arrange and name the layers in their Adobe Photoshop artwork in a way that allows PhotoProto to determine their intent. PhotoProto automatically turns that artwork into a working, interactive prototype that users can package, email, and run on a Mac or Windows system. [Download - [form]] iDefrag 1.5.0 ($30) is a free update for existing owners of the disk defragmentation software, offering native support for Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. iDefrag offers full support for the HFS filesystem, including Hot Zone. Owners of iDefrag also have access to a free utility that can create a bootable CD containing the application. [Download - 4.9MB]
Smartphones have been designed in the past for style, but few to the same extent as an upcoming model by Jared Goh, who recently designed the luxury Black Diamond phone for Sony-Ericsson. The Opus Operis from fledgling manufacturer Zenum promises to compete with the current wave of Windows Mobile 5 smartphones while adding a relatively unique set of features. Its design is by far its best advantage: in addition to a minimalist QWERTY keyboard and navigation buttons, the design opts for a 2.5-inch screen that is smaller than the more common 3-inch displays found on the Motorola Q and iMate Jaq. Also relatively unique is a sliding cover on the back that hides the 2-megapixel camera and the inclusion of a 1GB microSD card. Zenum is likely to ship the Opus Operis in November, according to sources, though its intended price and markets are unknown.
As promised, Microsoft has begun uploading its special tradeshow content to Xbox Live. Aside from the Vision update, there's now a TGS picture pack, a couple of map packs for Battle for Middle-Earth II, and a pair of trailers for Tenchu Senran and Half-Life 2: Episode Two. Microsoft has said that unannounced products and full-on game demos will be a part of the company's Live publicity in the following week. Here's hoping that the Battlestar Galactica game is a reality!
Eltima Software has released Flash Optimizer for Mac 1.8, adding full support for Flash 8. Flash Optimizer for Mac is an advanced SWF (Shockwave File) compression utility that significantly reduces the size of most SWF files, saving load time and internet traffic. Flash Optimizer is based on algorithms of shapes, morphing, vectors, fonts, Z-buffer and other optimizations to reduce the size of flash files with curves, zero-objects, ZLib, and more. The update improves overall stability, and includes several minor bug fixes. Additionally, users can optimize all movies created without the help of Flash MX. Flash Optimizer for Mac 1.8 is available for $100 (system requirements were unavailable).
Many cellphone manufactuers are devoting the brunt of their attention to musicphones; Nokia today has taken a cue from Apple's recent emphasis and designed its new 6288 phone with video as the primary focus. Though no larger than most other phones, the slider design has a 320x240 resolution screen that Nokia says is well-suited to video playback. Also notable are the dual cameras: a 2-megapixel lens on the back provides sharper video and still image capture, while a VGA camera at the front is intended for video calls and self-portraits. Recorded clips can even be edited before sent to friends or to a PC. A 512MB memory card is also included for storage. Nokia describes the 6288 as a 3G-capable cellphone, but does not specify which networks are supported. The phone is expected to ship before the end of September in Europe for 325 Euros ($412 US); North American details were not announced but may follow soon. Click through for a photo of the open phone in an optional black.
Although people will put up with slightly buggy games, the unforgivable crime is what LucasArts and Amaze seem to have done with Lego Star Wars II on the DS: leave the game unfinished. Sources for Kotaku say that LucasArts was insistent the game be pushed out the door, this despite known problems with the wireless co-op mode and gameplay sections like Endor. The publisher wanted the game to coincide with the release of "original-original" Star Wars trilogy on DVD. A second production run should clean up a number of bugs, but the game will remain unpolished.
Jabra today unveiled the BT320s Bluetooth-enabled mobile headset, and began shipping Bluetooth stereo adapters for portable music players such as Apple's iPod. The new Bluetooth mobile headset enables users to connect wirelessly to a music-enabled mobile phone, and ships with exchangeable stereo headphones. Users can take calls while listening to music, which automatically pauses when a call comes in. Users can pair the headset with the Jabra A125s for iPod connectivity alongside a mobile phone, linking the Jabra BT320s, mobile phone, and iPod. The Jabra BT320s comes in black featuring a water-resistant design, and offers up to six hours of listening/talk time and 160 hours of standby time. Jabra is already shipping the A125s ($60), which works with Apple's iPod mini, iPod photo, and iPod nano models. The Jabra BT320s is scheduled to ship in the fourth quarter of 2006 for $90.
As reported by Gamer Scan, Microsoft used a press conference in advance of the 2006 Tokyo Game Show to reveal that it would soon extend the HD video capabilities of its Xbox 360 game system. Users in all regions will be able to download a software update that adds the maximum 1080p resolution as an option for users who connect their consoles to their TV through either component or VGA cables. Games and videos can use the new format on any supporting display. Most games will still be programmed for the lower 720p resolution, says Microsoft's Shane Kim, but will be upsampled to 1080p to improve the visual quality on those displays that support the sharper format. Accordingly, Microsoft also announced that it would at last release its anticipated HD DVD add-on movie player first to Japanese Xbox 360 owners. While Microsoft does not expect any developers to release games for the drive, the HD DVD drive will give console owners a relatively inexpensive way to watch the next-generation movie format and will include the Xbox 360 Universal Remote to aid with the Xbox 360's new role. The attachment will retail for the equivalent of $170 US when it ships to Japan on November 17th; this places the total cost of an Xbox 360 and HD DVD combination at $520, below the $533 US price of the PlayStation 3 in Japan.
Moixa Energy has launched the USBCELL, a rechargeable battery that can charge from any USB port without the need for recharging devices, cradles, or cables. Users can open the lid to reveal a build-in USB connector, which charges the battery when plugged into any USB port. The USBCELL functions like a normal AA battery, and is recyclable to reduce wasteful consumption. A full charge requires five hours, and the device can charge on most USB hubs that make use an external power supply. Moixa's USBCELL is available for £13 in a package containing two AA batteries.
Microsoft has answered claims that its Zune player may violate the international Creative Commons license, which states that copy protection cannot be applied to files where it does not already exist. If true, this would make Microsoft liable for any changes that might be made to relevant songs during wireless transfers between Zune players, since the handheld gadget imposes DRM on some of the music sent from one Zune to another, according to Electronista. "We don't actually 'wrap all songs up in DRM:' Zune to Zune Sharing doesn't change the DRM on a song, and it doesn't impose DRM restrictions on any files that are unprotected," wrote Cesar Menendez, a Microsoft employee who left the Xbox marketing team to help with the Zune player. "If you have a song - say that you got 'free and clear' - Zune to Zune Sharing won't apply any DRM to that song."
Apple's iPod Hi-Fi speaker system has earned 7.8 percent market share since its debut, which puts the portable system in fourth place behind Bose, Logitech, and i-Fusion. Despite this, however, the iPod Hi-Fi and Bose together seize half of the revenue spent on iPod speakers, according to blogger Jon Fortt. Apple sells its iPod Hi-Fi for $349, while Bose offers its portable speakers for $299. i-Fusion and Logitech both offer speakers for $149. "Apple took a gamble that it could differentiate itself and make money by selling the priciest set of iPod speakers out there. So far, it's working," Fortt wrote. "Of course, it might work even better at $299, but I wouldn't hold my breath for Apple to lower the price on this one."
The games are nothing significant, but it may be indicative of a trend - Microsoft says that Bankshot Billiards 2, Hardwood Hearts, Hardwood Spades, and Hardwood Backgammon will be updated today with support for the just-released Xbox Live Vision camera. The absurdly popular Uno already has support. The Vision allows players to watch each other in real-time, but to date, there hasn't been much promised for it outside of chat and messaging. Even the motion-sensing Totemball game has yet to be put up for download.
Sonic today unveiled the EyeTV 250, a TV tuner for Mac systems that resembles Apple's Mac mini. The device features a built-in analog tuner, connecting to its host via USB 2.0 to support TV viewing as well as recording on a Mac. The EyeTV 250 features Internet Electronic Program Guide capability, allowing users to program recording sessions with additional support for hardware encoding to record content real-time in MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 format without additional load on the Mac, according to Newlaunches.com. Users can also convert recorded programs to MPEG-4 in one click for playback on Apple's video iPod, and the device ships with Toast 7 Titanium CD/DVD burning software. The EyeTV 250 is slated for shipment in Japan on October 6th for $260.
Disney's CEO Robert Iger yesterday revealed more details about Apple's forthcoming iTV media hub, which is expected to ship in early 2007 for $299. At the Goldman Sachs conference, Iger not only discussed movie sales during the first week, but also said that the set-top device has a small hard drive so "it can download what you put on the device [from] your computer," which alleviated worries that the iTV would retain its price without having the option of a local cache to reduce load times. Electronista also notes that iTV users choose a particular computer to "feed" their hub, rather than aggregating the content from every connected system automatically. The Disney CEO was impressed with the simplicity and functionality, calling Apple's project a "game changer" that could make Disney and similar media outlets rethink their existing strategies.
Jabra, the experienced manufacturer of wireless headsets, released a new set of earphones on Wednesday that can link themselves to almost any cellphone or music player that matches the A2DP audio profile for Bluetooth. The BT320s (pictured) automatically pauses music playback whenever an incoming call is detected and doubles as a wireless remote for basic cellphone and music controls. Jabra claims the BT320s are rainproof and can last for up to 6 hours of continuous music or conversation. Owners are not limited to a single audio source; Jabra has also just begun shipping two new adapters that give the option of listening to music players and similar devices. First is the A120s, a basic Bluetooth transmitter that plugs into any standard 3.5mm minijack, offering audio (but not remote control) for devices such as computers or more generic music players. The more advanced A125s is designed specifically for the iPod and plugs into the Dock Connector so that listeners can pause music on an iPod when they receive phone calls on a nearby Bluetooth phone. Both A-series adapters will play audio for up to 10 hours and are available for $50 (A120s) and $60 (A125s). Jabra expects the BT320s to ship by the end of 2006 for $89.
Belkin today introduced a new line of cases for the new iPod nano and the iPod with video. Designed to fit a variety of lifestyles, the cases reflect a more contemporary feel with colors, designs, and materials that complement current fashions, according to the company. The cases will begin shipping in September in North America, with launches in Asia, Europe, and Australia to follow shortly. The Acrylic Case for iPod nano (F8Z116, $30) and iPod video (F8Z115, $30) offers touch-sensitivity on the click wheel with access to all ports. Featuring a brushed metal front cover, the case’s form-fitting design brings added "style and panache" to any iPod. The Flip-Top Hard Case for iPod nano (F8Z124, $15) and iPod video (F8Z123, $20) offers touch-sensitivity on the protected click wheel, includes a lanyard and carabiner, and flips open easily for convenient access to the iPod.
A third high-profile T-Mobile cellphone announcement was made today following earlier news of the BlackBerry Pearl and upcoming Dash. The cellphone carrier partnerned with Korean cellphone maker Samsung to release the latter's T519 model in the US under the more memorable name of the Trace. At exactly one third of an inch thick, the bar-shaped Trace is thinner still than the previous benchmark of the Motorola SLVR but still boasts the same features as more recent phones. A 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, and EDGE broadband support are standard. The new phone also plays AAC, MP3, and WMA music stored on microSD cards. In contrast to many other designer phone releases, however, T-Mobile is pricing the Trace well within reach of many subscribers: the cellphone ships now for $200 without a contract and is available for less through special deals.
WiebeTech has added a new pocket drive to its lineup of portable enclosures. The ToughTech mini, which accepts any SATA drive, utilizes the Oxford 924 chipset for dual FireWire 800, single FireWire 400 and USB2 connectivity. "Not much bigger than a pack of playing cards, ToughTech mini fits easily in a shirt pocket, purse or briefcase," according to the company. "We're pleased to add this small, portable drive to our product lineup," said James Wiebe, president/CEO of WiebeTech LLC. "It gives users the fast SATA speed, multiple connections and a small portable size." WiebeTech includes three different cables (FireWire 800, FireWire 400 and USB 2) and an AC adapter. ToughTech mini is bootable in FireWire mode on any Mac or PC and also provides protection for the drive with ToughMount strips which are mounted between the drive and the enclosure to protect the drive from shock and reduce enclosure noise. It is available for $120 (case-only), $230 (80GB), $343 (100GB), and $310 (120GB).
In a press event ahead of Friday's Tokyo Game Show, Microsoft has made several announcements, among them the surprise of a global software update that will allow games and movies to run in 1080p on the 360. The update is tentatively set for "fall," and should not require an HDMI cable. Microsoft's Shane Kim tells Kotaku that current 720p apps will be up-sampled, while native 1080 products should work without problems. If some movie studios insist on HDMI input for the sake of copy protection, Microsoft may consider a hardware solution. Kim notes that most third-party and all Microsoft Game Studios products will continue to use 720p.
One of the frequently-cited concerns about Apple's future iTV device was its $299 price: the cost would be high if it only included networking and television output. As part of the Goldman Sachs conference that revealed over 125,000 iTunes movie sales in the first week, Disney CEO Bob Iger helped justify iTV pricing and further explained the functionality of the media hub for those in attendance, according to The iPod Observer. "It has a small hard drive so [the TV] can download what you put on the device [from] your computer," Iger said, alleviating worries that the iTV would retain its price without having the option of a local cache to reduce load times. He added that iTV users choose a particular computer to "feed" their hub, rather than aggregating the content from every connected system automatically. Impressed with the simplicity and functionality, Iger called the iTV a "game changer" that could make Disney and similar media outlets rethink their existing strategies.
TechRestore has begun offering an overnight Glossy Screen Upgrade for PowerBook G4 Systems. PowerBook G4 owners can schedule an overnight screen replacement with an option of selecting from the standard matte finish LCD screen or upgrading to a glossy display. According to the company, TechRestore's Overnight LCD Screen Replacement service provides a fast and hassle-free repair method for Mac laptop owners that experience a screen failure due to mechanical issues or accidental damage. The LCD screen repair program has a 24-hour turnaround time and flat-rate pricing that includes parts and installation at prices starting at $450 for PowerBooks and $350 for iBooks.
Twisted Melon has released an update to its software that enables every USB-enabled Mac running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger to use the Apple Remote. mira 1.2 now includes support for Apple's built-in IR receiver and other third-party IR receivers. mira, designed exclusively for the Apple Remote, offers functions for more applications than Apple's bundled Front Row software. The software now supports external USB IR Receivers, offers default profiles/settings for over 40 applications, and offers import/export profiles to share with others on the internet. Version 1.2 also supports the company's new Manta TR1 Transceiver (available from the Twisted Melon online shop) as well as all eHome 2005 (Media Center Edition) receivers and transceivers, which are found with many Windows MCE systems and available online as well as in local computer shops. The software is available for $16 (along with optional USB-based IR hardware receivers).
Meshbox Music has released its first themed music loops for use with Apple Garageband: Haunted Loops Volume 1. Each loop consists of a high quality 2 channel 16-bit stereo AIFF file and is between 4-5 seconds long and distributed in AIFF format, tagged for use with Garageband and Apple Soundtrack Pro. The loops work with a broad range of loop music creation software, including Sony Acid. Meshbox Music, the sole provider of royalty free audio content to Content Paradise, has previously released five royalty-free soundtrack collections for use in podcasts, games, animation, music creation and film. Indie Versions of soundtracks can be licensed for as little as $5. The soundtracks can also be licensed together with 3D model content from sister division Meshbox Design. The 205MB download is available for $20.
In Brief: Following news of over 125,000 Disney movie downloads--worth about $1 million--within the first week of its launch, Disney CEO Robert Iger said that Apple CEO and Disney Board member Steve Jobs has become a "sounding board" for Disney's rapidly expanding digital content delivery options and said that Disney stands to benefit from further content sales through its Apple partnership when the company releases its iTV project in the first quarter of 2007.... Sony has announced the HVR-V1U video camera, an entry-level pro model that records 1080p video at 24fps as well as offers audio controls, a shotgun microphone, and an optional 60GB hard drive for longer video shoots.... The developer of Fetch Art is seeking feedback on continued development of the application, following similar (but limited) functionality in the recently released iTunes 7 software; in addition, he is seeking donations to help fund the purchase of an Intel-based Mac for developing a Universal version of his software.
Now AAPL Stock: 94.27 ( -0.72 )
HBO Now has 800,000 subscribers
The CEO of HBO, Richard Plepler has confirmed that the online streaming HBO service, HBO Now, has 800,000 subscribers. When criticized for the seemingly low number, Plepler noted that the still nascent service was bound to Apple exclusivity during the fifth season of Game of Thrones. Plepler declared during the Time Warner quarterly earnings conference call marketing for the online-only offering would be enhanced in 2016. While HBO Now's critics are slamming the low numbers, the service must also compete against itself on cable, in addition to Netflix and other streaming services. http://on.recode.net/1QWoLHe
Unsafe IoT called threat to humanity
US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told two different Senate committees yesterday that the Internet of Things posed a clear and present danger, and could be weaponized by governments. Before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Clapper declared that insecure IoT "will bring new security vulnerabilities" and "will connect tens of billions of new physical devices that could be exploited" by those wishing to perpetrate violence or eavesdrop on the populace of the world. http://bit.ly/23Xvcky
Apple public betas for iOS 9.3, OS X 10.11.4
Following Monday's release of betas for the iOS and OS X, Apple has unveiled public betas for both operating systems. The iOS 9.3 beta includes all of the previously reported enhancements for education customers, along with Wi-Fi calling for Verizon iPhone owners, and a carrier update for T-Mobile users. The OS X 10.11.4 third beta includes enhancements to Twitter URL opening, Live Photo viewing and sharing, and Evernote note importation into Notes.
Google given NHTSA SDS waivers
In contrast to the California Department of Motor Vehicle's approach, the US National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has confirmed that it is declaring the software in autonomous cars is the legal driver of a so-equipped vehicle. In a letter to Google, the NHTSA says that it "will interpret 'driver' in the context of Google's described motor vehicle design as referring to the SDS [self-driving system], and not to any of the vehicle occupants." Other matters, such as legally-required rear-view mirrors for occupied vehicles has yet to be determined. However, regulations specifying the "driver" need no longer be interpreted as meaning a person behind the wheel, as the agency writes that self-driving cars "will not have a 'driver' in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers during the last more than one hundred years" http://1.usa.gov/1QrAGtR
Dropshare 4 for Mac now available
Dropshare 4 for Mac has shipped, introducing support for uploading files and screenshots to Amazon S3 API-compliant services, like DreamObjects and OpenStack. The update also introduces a new popup design, an in-app editor for custom landing pages, an improved upload history window, and security improvements when using SSH connections. The paid upgrade costs $25, though it is free for customers who bought the previous version this year and half-price for those who acquired version 3 of the app last year. http://bit.ly/1XixV3q
Google starting phase-out of Flash ads
Search engine and advertising giant Google will shortly no longer accept Adobe Flash-created ads for its AdWords network. Starting June 30, ads in the once-ubiquitous format will no longer be accepted. Additionally, after January 2, 2017, the network will no longer serve Flash-based advertisements, and the network will be completely HTML 5 based. http://bit.ly/1PNx1uc
Sonos now works with Apple Music
Wireless music system manufacturer Sonos has announced that its systems worldwide will gain compatibility for streaming the paid Apple Music subscription service starting today, February 10. "Music fans worldwide will have access to Apple Music features like For You, New, Radio, and My Music, and will also be able to stream the entire Apple Music catalog through Sonos smart speakers tuned for great sound in every room of their homes," the company said in an email to journalists. Apple Music's streaming service costs $10 per month, with a free three-month trial. http://bit.ly/1Wdi2Ko