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|MacUpdate Weekend Sale||:This weekend MacUpdate has slashed prices on Painter 12 and Painter Lite. Painter 12 retails for $429, but has been reduced by 54% to $199. Painter Lite has seen a 58% price cut from $69 to $29. Hurry, because these deals are only available until May 19th 2013.|
Diet Sleuth, Downfall
Pedia suite update ($18 individually, $40 for bundle) upgrades all "Pedia" applications designed to inventory media on Mac OS X systems. The update brings DVDpedia to version 3.2.1, Bookpedia to version 3.2.1, CDpedia to version 3.2.1, and Gamepedia to version 2.2.1. Each update includes improvements to the iSight scanning feature -- which now supports built-in iSights --, IMDb searching, and help files.
[Download - [form]]
Diet Sleuth 4.6.0 ($35) adds a quick "Find Food" button to the nutritional database software, as well as improvements to the user interface. Diet Sleuth serves as a personal logbook for users to track what foods are eaten each day, along with their nutritional values. [Download - 2.7MB]
Downfall 2.6.2 ($20) enhances the falling-blocks game, fixing several minor bugs affecting high scores import/export. Downfall is an arcade puzzle challenging players to drop stacks of colored blocks to form lines that react and disappear. The game includes more than 30 different play boards, and features smooth 3D animations. [Download - 1.1MB]
Easy Barcode Creator 2.1 ($130) allows users to make ready-to-print barcode graphics without knowing anything about barcodes. The latest version adds an improved "QuickSave" feature, an enhanced ISBN Check Digit Calculator, updated icons, and transfer graphics for Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop integration. [Download - 1.6MB]
xTime Project 4.0.1 ($100) facilitates project management by allowing users to follow the step-by-step evolution of projects in real-time. XTime Project 4.0.1 offers human or material resources, the ability to sort reports by resources or tasks, and fixes several bugs affecting the New Group Button, task names, and the calendar. [Download - 11.8MB]
Disc Cover 1.2 ($35) updates the CD/DVD label design software, adding new Collage functionality along with 30 artistic collages. The update also features "auto-replacement" from iPhoto, and includes adjustments to Direct-on-CD printing. The update is free for all Disc Cover users. [Download - 27.2MB]
Vista incentives planned
A new report supports previous rumors that Microsoft will offer incentives to customers looking to purchase PCs moving into the holiday shopping season. Retailers recently voiced fears that sales of systems loaded with Windows XP would slip in the fourth quarter of this year, just ahead of Microsoft's planned 2007 launch of its new Windows Vista operating system. Starting in October, vendors of laptops are expected to partner with Microsoft to offer coupons for Vista upgrades until the official launch, which is slated for January of next year. The primary focus, according to Electronista, will be to spur sales of Media Center-equipped laptops by offering a free upgrade to Vista Home Premium to buyers of systems with XP Media Center Edition. Those who buy less expensive portables using Windows XP Home Edition will receive a 50 percent discount on the Home Premium update.
Podcast Ready, legal note
Apple has issued another 'cease and desist' order, claiming that the terms "Podcast Ready" and "myPodder" infringe upon its trademarks and confuse consumers. Apple is known for its strict trademark policy, as well as its no-tolerance approach to dealing with companies that use its trademarked terms to describe their own products -- especially those containing the term 'pod.' Podcast Ready chief Russel Holliman said he would consider dropping the name "myPodder" if he had to, but thinks differently with regard to "Podcast Ready." The request suggests Apple is claiming ownership of the word "podcast," which originated from "iPod" but is now defined as a general term used for digital audio shows that aren't necessarily affiliated with one brand more than another, according to one Wired blogger. The letter arrived the day before Podcast Ready released an updated version of its software that works with Apple's iPod players.
Bioshock gameplay video
Irrational has released the first video of Bioshock, their "spiritual successor" to the System Shock series of action-RPGs. The new game will appear on the PC, 360, and PS3. The video is 14 minutes long, and is narrated by creative director Ken Levine, who explains the game's AI, setting, and basic gameplay mechanics. You can watch the whole thing below.
Universal MOTU drivers
MOTU is now shipping Universal Binary drivers for its high-speed PCIe (PCI Express) audio interface products, including 2408mk3, HD192 and 24io core systems. This driver update allows users to install their PCIe-424 core system in Apple's new Intel-based Xeon Quad Core Mac Pro systems. "Users who own a legacy MOTU PCI-324 or -424 system can upgrade their PCI card directly from the MOTU store to take full advantage of Apple's latest-generation Intel Mac towers. Other recent Universal Binary updates from MOTU include: MX4 Version 2.1 (MAS, AU and RTAS), Ethno Instrument Version 1.0.1 (MAS, AU, RTAS and VST), and Symphonic Instrument 1.1.3 (MAS, AU, RTAS and VST). These releases allow users to run all three of these MOTU virtual instruments natively on an Intel Mac with Digital Performer 5.1, Pro Tools LE 7.1.x, Logic 7.2.x, Live 5.2.x and other compatible software hosts. All MOTU Universal Binary updates are now available to registered users.
Wal-Mart threatens studios
A dark tide appears to be looming over digital movie downloads, as word came today that retailer colossus Wal-Mart has issued warnings of retaliation to some of Hollywood's key players, should they elect to sell movies through Apple's iTunes service. Wal-Mart last year sent back "cases and cases" of DVDs to Disney after the animation company announced it would offer episodes of its hit shows "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" on iTunes, according to a report from the New York Post. Hollywood studio executives say Wal-Mart has threatened to strike back if they go into business with Apple, and though the Cupertino-based company is currently offering movies exclusively from Disney studios, other players in the movie industry want to follow in Disney's footsteps. "We all want to be in the Apple business," a high-level executive at a major movie studio said.
iTV for easy video chat?
Apple's recently announced iTV wireless media device leaves unanswered questions as to its touted features and their uses, such as the mysterious inclusion of a USB port mentioned only briefly in CEO Steve Jobs' keynote address on September 12th. Robert Cringely of PBS believes practical reasoning would dictate that the port is for simplified video chat through a USB camera. Noting that the iTV does not need extra hard drive space because of its dependence on networked computers, Cringely observes that Apple's new media hub is ideally suited as a simple, low-cost alternative to using a full-fledged computer for video conferencing. "It's iChat for Grandma," Cringely wrote. Apple could also replicate the enhanced iChat features of Mac OS X Leopard by allowing iTV owners to display photos and videos when speaking with others, according to Electronista. Cringely further speculates that video chat functions could be used to extend and sell more of Apple's peripherals, including .Mac memberships and future iSight cameras.
The finite life of standard alkaline batteries is often assumed to be absolute depletion - the end of the constant chemical reactions that deliver power to the devices they run. British firm Souvenir Cranwell argues differently. Referring to a 1922 patent by Thomas Edison, the company claims that many 'dead' batteries actually have contaminated positive electrodes that prevents the still-vital battery from reacting properly. Accordingly, Souvenir Cranwell has developed a battery regenerator that is purported to restore as much as 95% of an alkaline battery's original charge simply by cleaning the affected contact inside and out to reach its factory condition. Moreover, the company claims its cleaner can regenerate a battery as many as 100 times before the chemicals inside are completely inert. This could potentially extend the weeks-long active lifetime of batteries in portable devices to months or even years. As Souvenir Cranwell is an engineering firm and not a direct manufacturer, a final product has yet to ship.
PCmover supports Mactels
Laplink Software has released PCmover, a new application designed to painlessly migrate existing applications and settings over to a new computer -- be it an Intel-based Mac running Windows XP via Parallels software or a true Windows system. Users install PCmover on both the old and new computers, after which the software determines what files and settings must be moved to personalize the new system. Applications supported for relocation by PCmover include Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, PC games, Messenger programs, and more. The application can relocate documents, spreadsheets, photos, videos, and music files as well as numerous settings such as desktop backgrounds, Internet Explorer settings, and bookmarks. PCmover is available via download for $50, and requires Microsoft Windows 95 or later.
MediaCentral 2.3 released
Equinux Software today released MediaCentral 2.3, adding custom Flickr streams and .Mac Photocasts to the media solution for Mac OS X. MediaCentral is designed to turn a Mac into a home theater system with support for numerous audio, video, IP TV, TV, IP radio, games, and multimedia formats. The update adds support for three additional DVB-T TV tuner devices -- namely Miglia TVMini, Freecom DVB-T USB Stick, and Digitus DVB-T Digital USB 2.0 Receiver Stick. MediaCentral 2.3 ($30) also adds a "DV port" that allows users to connect FireWire devices, or Apple's iSight camera. The update is free to all existing MediaCentral 2.x users, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Vista Coupons for Laptops
With Windows Vista delays causing anxiety amongst computer manufacturers, there have already been indications that Microsoft and partners would use incentive coupons promising an inexpensive copy of the future OS to drive PC sales during the critical holiday period. New information appears to not only confirm the program but reveals many specifics, according to a DigiTimes report. Starting in October, vendors of laptops are expected to partner with Microsoft and offer coupons for Vista upgrades to computer buyers from then until the official launch of the new software in January 2007. The primary focus, say sources, will be to spur sales of Media Center-equipped laptops by offering a free upgrade to Vista Home Premium to buyers of systems with XP Media Center Edition. Those who buy less expensive portables using Windows XP Home Edition will receive a 50% discount on the Home Premium update. Digitimes' information appears to confirm earlier news that Microsoft is attempting to raise overall Windows prices by discouraging sales of XP Home and Vista Home Basic.
TGS: Friday Sony round-up
The TGS news is slowing to a trickle, but there are still things to report. In interviews with Phil Harrison, Kaz Hirai and Ken Kutaragi, Wired has learned a few interesting facts about the PS3. Harrison says that the new price for Japan's 20 GB PS3 is merely an adjustment to the "magic price point" Sony is aiming for in other countries. Harrison also clears up the console's "region-free" status - games will be region-free, movies won't. Meanwhile, Hirai and Kutaragi hint that the PS3 might not come with component cables. This is unconfirmed, but if true, expect some serious scorn heaped on Sony in the next few weeks.
TGS: PS3 videos
A smattering of the big names at TGS. First up is an expanded gameplay clip from Metal Gear Solid 4. It still doesn't appear to be the full trailer, but it is at least twice as long as the last one. Then we have over six minutes of footage from Capcom's system-seller, Devil May Cry 4. We finish with the trailer for Ninja Gaiden Sigma, Tecmo's PS3 port of the Xbox Ninja Gaiden.
Palm Developing Treo 680
Palm has always regarded its Treo line of smartphones as a component of its larger PDA line and priced the individual models, including the newer Treo 750, as high-end devices. The rapid shift towards smartphones in the market has left Palm reeling: challengers like HTC can offer simpler, less expensive smartphones that appeal to more users. Palm recognizes this and will soon introduce a budget Treo model, according to company CEO Ed Colligan. Dubbed the Treo 680, the new model would resemble the newer Treo 750 (pictured) but would strip the less essential features such as Bluetooth and WiFi, and would reduce the camera quality from its original 1.3-megapixel quality to a basic VGA resolution. EDGE support would remain, however, potentially creating one of the least-expensive smartphones capable of mobile broadband. Sources speaking to Palm news site Brighthand indicate that the 680 should be available in the US as soon as October via Cingular at prices of $200 or less without a contract.
New Media Lab uses Macs
The Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Calgary today is opening its new, state-of-the-art multimedia laboratory using some of Apple's fastest Intel-based Macs. The new Multimedia Lab -- which is located on the sixth floor of the Art Building -- is equipped with 11 Mac Pro Quad Core systems connected to 23-inch displays, 88-key music keyboards, high resolution scanners, a large format color printer, a portable 8-channel audio system, and numerous software tools that allow artists to create digital media. Serving as a research lab for undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and a secondary teaching space, the new lab also features a full-spectrum lighting environment allowing for round-the-clock use.
Amazon, TiVo in talks
Online retailer giant Amazon is in talks with TiVo about allowing consumers to automatically transfer online movie purchases to their TiVo boxes, which would place the companies in direct competition with Apple's recently announced iTV digital relay device, according to a report from the New York Post. The deal would help to bridge the gap between the home computer and the TV, and would complement Amazon's recently-launched Unbox service -- which offers TV shows, other videos, and full-length movies from all the major studios except Disney. Disney recently announced that it had sold 125,000 movie downloads worth $1 million in revenue through Apple's iTunes Music Store, and said it expects to generate $50 million in added revenue during its first year of selling movies online.
KRZR K1m Verizon Debut
The KRZR line of of cellphones has already been introduced in Hong Kong, but the deliberate absence of information about other regions has left Americans without definite information about the options available in their own country. A new discovery indicates that the first US carrier to receive a version of the eagerly anticipated phone will be Verizon Wireless, which has inadvertently posted an instructional guide for the unreleased model on its website. The posting reveals that Verizon will be using the less common KRZR K1m, which reduces the quality of the 2-megapixel camera to 1.3 megapixels in exchange for dedicated music playback controls on the outer shell. Verizon's choice of phone also reveals a largely unknown difference between the K1 and K1m models: unlike the GSM-based K1, the K1m connects to CDMA cellular networks and supports EVDO for high-speed mobile Internet access. Exact launch information is still unavailable, but the presence of the finalized online guide points towards a release within the next few weeks.
Steam, Burning Crusade
Valve's marketing director, Doug Lombardi, tells CVG that the company is toying with the idea of putting the Steam distribution service on consoles. Now that Sony and Microsoft both have consoles with hard drives, Lombardi says that the major problem is controlling ownership. "Console owners hold the key to a full-sized game on their system, which would be something totally new. It's unclear if it would be an open key, or how Microsoft or Sony would manage it. It's really up to them." On the PC, games bought through Steam can be played on any compatible system so long as the player remembers his Steam login. Sony and Microsoft might object to that when it comes to consoles. In related news, Blizzard's Frank Pearce says that the first paid World of Warcraft expansion, The Burning Crusade, may be sold through digital distribution as well as retail. It's "something we're talking about," Pearce comments. The base WoW client is already available for download.
Cringely iTV Commentary
Questions persist about the features of the iTV and their uses. Particularly mysterious amongst these is the USB port mentioned only briefly in Steve Jobs' presentation on September 12th. Practical reasoning would dictate that the port is for simplified video chat through a USB camera, writes PBS' Robert Cringely. Noting that the iTV does not need extra hard drive space because of its dependence on networked computers, Cringely observes that Apple's new media hub is ideally suited as a simple, low-cost alternative to using a full-fledged computer for video conferencing. "It's iChat for Grandma," he says. Apple would also be able to replicate the enhanced iChat features of MacOS X Leopard by letting iTV owners display photos and videos when speaking with others. Cringely further speculates that video chat functions could be used to extend and sell more of Apple's peripherals, including .Mac and future iSight cameras. Click through for the Electronista perspective on the story.
Apple on Music Week claims
Apple has responded to claims by online publication Music Week, which reported that the Cupertino-based company has entered a partnership to help with live-event streaming to bands over the internet. An Apple representative told Macworld UK that "there is no partnership." Music Week claimed that Apple had joined forces with See Tickets and Creative Tank -- a UK marketing firm -- to offer the service, which would allegedly make live shows available to fans on a pay-per-view basis.
TGS: PS3 dashboard
Screen captures are verboten, but according to 1UP, Sony's Phil Harrison has done a demonstration of the new PS3 menu system. Perhaps "new" should be put in quotations; accounts say it's strongly reminiscent of the PSP's interface, only with a bit more polish and a set of expanded features. Case in point is the PS3's photo system, which allows you to display images in slideshows and manipulate them with options like filters. That's similar to the Photo Channel on the Wii. More impressive is the Web browser - unlike the Wii, the PS3's browser will be included out of the box, and will even support tabbed browsing a la Firefox. Harrison adds that the PS3 dashboard will never be finalized, since Sony plans a series of upgrades throughout the console's lifespan.
FastMac SuperDrive upgrade
FastMac today began shipping a new internal slot-loading slimline 8x Dual Layer SuperDrive upgrade for numerous PowerPC and Intel-based Mac models. The drive adds Dual Layer DVD-R (4x) support, faster DVD-RW (6x) as well as DVD+RW (8x), and Dual Layer DVD+R (4x) write speeds. FastMac claims the new drive is up to two times faster than Apple's top-of-the-line slimline SuperDrives, and offers previously unavailable support for Dual Layer DVD-R functionality. The upgrade ($120) works with PowerBook G4, Intel and G5 iMacs, Intel Mac Mini, iBook G4, Power Mac G4 Cube, PowerBook G3, and iMac G3 slot-loading models.
ASUS AiGuru S1
Skype phones are often single-purpose, streaming only phone calls over the local network. ASUS believes that at least some users would also like to take advantage of the necessary WiFi connection to stream more than just voice. The company's AiGuru S1 phone both controls basic music navigation on a PC using Windows Media Player and optionally plays the audio through speakers built into the phone itself. A stereo minijack connects the S1 to an outside speaker set or pair of earphones. Lastly, ASUS has also given its new VoIP phone a certain level of independence from the host PC: though it must still be in range of the computer running Skype in order to make calls, the S1 can browse the call history and contact list on its own. Pricing and shipping are not ready yet, though the region-independent nature of the phone likely means an approaching North American launch.
TGS: Armored Core 4 in US
Sega of America says it will publish Armored Core 4 in the United States, and that the game is being developed by From for both the 360 and the PS3. Previously, the game was confirmed only for the PS3 in Japan, and there was speculation that the 360 port wouldn't happen at all. The Armored Core games have a rabid Japanese fanbase. In the West, ironically, From has had a better response from its spinoff mech game, Chromehounds. Its success on the 360 may explain why AC4 is headed to that platform.
Mac mini-style theater PC
Envive today unveiled the E-Center Micro X, a compact theater system styled after Apple's Mac mini desktop computer. Designed for relatively basic home theater needs, the Micro X features a 1.66GHz mobile Core 2 Duo chip, DVD-RW drive, 80GB hard disk, DVI as well as S-Video connectivity, and a built-in IR receiver that interfaces with an included Media Center remote. The company also unveiled its E-Center Pro for more advanced users, which adopts the shame of a home audio receiver and offers an impressive range of features, according to Electronista. The Pro model will ship with two ATSC as well as two NTSC tuners, allowing owners to record at least two shows simultaneously regardless of whether they are over-the-air HDTV or analog signals. The system includes a standard 500GB hard drive, offering support for a total of six drives. Options include Blu-Ray or HD DVD drives, as well as HDMI output. The Micro X is available for $1,000, while the Pro is expected to ship in late 2006 for an estimated $2,500. [images]
Firewave adapter debuts
Focal Japan has begun distributing Griffin's Firewave 5.1-channel sound adapter for Mac systems featuring FireWire connectivity. The device supports Dolby Pro Logic II movie as well as music modes without the need for an external power adapter, measuring just 77 x 132 x 25mm and weighing 210 grams. The adapter includes three mini stereo outputs for connecting 5.1-channel speakers, as well as two FireWire ports and volume control, according to Newlaunches.com. The Firewave requires Mac OS X 10.4.6 or later, and is slated for shipment in Japan in October for $130. [images]
G. Hero: Updates, MTV
Here's a story that should be terrifying to gamers and music fans alike. MCV and the New York Times report that MTV is looking to buy Harmonix, the team behind the Guitar Hero games. MTV, of course, would likely brand future Harmonix games and tailor them to the music MTV's networks advertise (rap, pop-punk, etc.). Might this spell the death of the Guitar Hero series? Not for a while, anyway. ArsTechnica notes that Activision is hoping to produce yearly updates to Guitar Hero, some of which may or may not be downloadable. Hopefully that will stave off any competion MTV and Harmonix might provide. UPDATE: MTV confirms that they've bought Harmonix for the sum of $175 million US, plus incremental earn-out payments to shareholders. It's a dark day indeed.
Corsair 8GB Flash Voyager
Flash-based music players such as the Sansa e280 and new iPod nano have set their storage threshhold at 8GB, but until recently most USB flash drives have had far less capacity. Memory vendor Corsair is reversing this trend with its 8GB Flash Voyager drive, which the company promises is both much faster and more secure than earlier versions. The new flash stick uses a dual-channel interface that almost doubles the practical transfer rate: while the previous 4GB model could read and write at 19MB and 9MB per second respectively, the 8GB version manages 31MB and 16MB per second speeds. Writing the entire block of data should take approximately 8.5 minutes. That data can also be encrypted using a 256-bit AES algorithm using special software. Corsair expects to ship the 8GB Flash Voyager soon for $155.
Brando ships new Nano case
Brando Workshop has released its iPod nano 2nd Silicone Case, a slim and colorful protective cover for Apple's new second-generation iPod nano. The 2nd Silicone Case is made from an innovative silicone material with high durability, according to Brando, featuring organic anti-dust technology. An embossed button provides menu, previous, next, and play functionality while the player remains inside the case. Brando is offering its iPod nano 2nd Silicone Case in five colors which include "Ice," grey, pink, blue, and green for $15 each.
Bibble 4.9 released
Bibble Labs has released Version 4.9 of Bibble Pro/Lite. This upgrade to the Bibble 4 product line includes the frequently requested Clone / Spot Healing tool, sensor defect correction, image rating and support for the latest cameras. "Digital photographers have been asking for a single tool to perform all their image adjustments - not several tools for specific jobs. Adding Noise Ninja technology and one-touch image optimization with Perfectly Clear in releases 4.6 and 4.7 went a long way to building a single tool for all digital darkroom needs; and with the Cloning & Healing tool in 4.9, Bibble Pro and Bibble Lite now offer the most complete and self contained workflow." Bibble is available in both “Pro” ($130) and “Lite” ($70) versions for PPC- and Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary for native performance on each platform. It requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Kingmax SLC microSD Card
The SD card format was considered slow until the recent high-speed cards from Toshiba. However, users of microSD - the extra-small format designed for cellphones and other handhelds - have so far been limited to slower read and write speeds that exclude the devices from write-intensive uses such as GPS mapping. Taiwanese flash manufacturer Kingmax says its new 1GB microSD card removes that barrier by using a storage technique called single-level cell (SLC) storage. Where most flash memory adds capacity by allowing more than two power levels on a storage cell (thus allowing each cell to store more than one bit of data), the new Kingmax design only needs those two power levels to read and write to each cell. This change reduces the effort needed to access data across the entire card, improving the transfer rate substantially when combined with the extra-high 1GB capacity. Kingmax hopes the new card will encourage new features in cellphones when it ships internationally before the end of September. No price has been set.
Intel invites Apple to IDF
Intel has placed two Apple sessions at the head of its "Featured Sessions" list for the upcoming Intel Developer Forum. Columnist Tom Yager of InfoWorld believes that at least a little endorsement is overdue. "After all, among first tier OEMs in the U.S., Apple is the only one remaining that buys CPUs exclusively from Intel. That deserves more than a cupcake. Intel should greet Steve Jobs' visits to the Intel campus by scattering rose petals before him." Apple CEO Steve Jobs and the company's marketing team have repeatedly compared PowerPC systems to the new Intel-based Macs, showing obvious speed differences even between six-month-old G5 systems. Jobs also "brought Apple to the brink of meltdown" to ship its Intel Macs ahead of schedule, incorporated the Core Duo CPU into new Macs following its debut, and created a broad market with Intel notebook OEMs for the Core Duo chip. Apple's Featured Sessions at the Intel Developer Forum are Intel's way of saying "thanks," according to Yager.
TLA ships PCalc 3.2
TLA Systems today released PCalc 3.2, an update to its calculator application. PCalc is a fully featured scientific calculator for Mac OS X with support for hexadecimal, octal and binary calculations, as well as an RPN mode, parentheses, programmable functions, and an extensive set of unit conversions. This release adds full speech support to the application, allowing it to read your actions and results back to you, as well as speak the current number being displayed. It also creates two new extra large calculator styles with big buttons and displays and improves the support for VoiceOver and other accessibility software. Version 3.2 also improves support for international users, especially those who use a comma as decimal separator rather than a dot and adds support for an unlimited number of constants: it ships with around 30 new scientific constants built-in and more can be added by via its plug-in system. It is available for $20 (requires Mac OS X 10.4) or for $24 in a bundle with DragThing.
TGS: New games
There's a stream of new game announcements coming out of Tokyo, so we'll try to the compress the smaller ones. 1UP mentions that SNK Playmore is bringing Metal Slug 1 to the Xbox Live Arcade. No date is set, so it's unlikely to be ready before December. On the Nintendo front, Harvest Moon creators Marvelous Interactive have announced five new games: three for the DS, two for the Wii. Rune Factory: Shin Bokujou Monogatari (DS) is an RPG based on Harvest Moon; Luminous Arc (DS) is a real-time tactical RPG with competitive WiFi play; Bokujou Monogatari: Kimi To Sodatsu Shima should be the DS' first 3D Harvest Moon game, and will allow players to build their own islands. Marvelous' big Wii title at TGS is (surprise) Harvest Moon Heroes, which will make use of the Wiimote for actions like sowing seeds or plowing dirt. The second Wii title, on the other hand, is a mystery. Simply dubbed Heroes, all we can say is that it's in shop at Grasshopper Manufacture, the same team that produced Killer 7 (pictured).
Apple's new store design
Apple is expected to open three new retail stores this weekend, a few of which will feature a new store design. Announced earlier this month, Apple said the new store designs would be modeled after its flagship 24-7 Fifth Avenue retail store in New Yor City. Bloomberg says the new retail store design will add more show room for iPod music players and Macs and stations where shoppers can get technical help for their products. In addition, the new stores will have an "iPod Bar" and Studio where artists and musicians will offer advice on creative projects, Apple retail VP Ron Johnson said. Apple stores already have "Genius Bars" for repairs and questions on Macs. The new design puts twice as many Macs and iPods on display and should speed customer service, Johnson said. In addition, it allows Apple to display 50 percent more products from other companies that sell Mac software and iPod accessories.
Apple "scraped the surface
More than half of Europe's loyal Apple customers are biding their time before purchasing new Intel-based Macs, according to a recent survey conducted by analyst firm Piper Jaffray. The firm attended Apple's Paris Expo last week, speaking with 50 European Apple customers about Intel Mac buying intentions, iPod purchase habits, and price sensitivity for Apple's anticipated 'iPhone.' More than half of those customers -- 56 percent -- said they have yet to upgrade to an Intel-based Mac, but half of those users said they expect to upgrade within the next six months. Several respondents mentioned waiting for Adobe's Intel-native Creative Suite before upgrading to the Intel architecture. "We had expected that a higher percentage of these loyal customers would have already made the move to an Intel Mac and we see this as a sign that Apple has so far just scraped the surface of the Mac transition opportunity," wrote Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster. The firm maintains its 'outperform' rating on Apple shares with a price target of $99.
TGS: XBL content, day 3
At last, Western gamers get something meaty. Featured in today's batch from Microsoft is a demo for Fuzion Frenzy 2, the 360 sequel to Blitz's Xbox party game. The full game is due on November 7th. A complete rundown of the new Live content follows:
Fuzion Frenzy 2 demo
TGS Showfloor video 1
TGS Showfloor video: Day 1 (Japan only)
GM Sensui interview (Japan only)
Xbox Live: The Party #1 (video, Japan only)
Xbox Live: The Party #2 (video, Japan only)
Xbox Live: The Party #3 (video, Japan only)
Xbox Live: The Party #4 (video, Japan only)
HDMI on Base PS3
The announcement of official PlayStation 3 hardware and pricing at E3 this past May drew massive amounts of criticism to Sony: as announced, only the high-end $599 model was to include an HDMI connector, which is virtually necessary to display Blu-Ray movies protected with the Image Constraint Token (ICT) at their full 1080p resolution. Sony has made a concession to its critics at the 2006 Tokyo Game Show, reports Gamer Scan. The company has revealed that all shipping PS3s will include an HDMI connector, including the $499, 20GB version that was originally planned to use only DVI. Both versions will support the deep color of the HDMI 1.3 format that should improve visual quality and response times on supporting televisions. In addition to the improved HDTV support, Sony also reduced the Japanese price of the entry-level PS3 to the equivalent of $430 US, already negating the advantage Microsoft claimed yesterday with the introduction of its Xbox 360 HD DVD player.
JVC 1BOX Prototype
Living in an apartment frequently relegates audiophiles and home theater enthusiasts to headphones; most higher-end speakers transmit too much sound into nearby floors and walls, forcing lower volume levels. JVC has unveiled a stereo speaker technology that solves this problem by effectively targeting the sound at a specific area. The 1BOX (translated Japanese) prototype uses the same principle as active noise-cancelling headphones to prevent audio from escaping beyond a certain range - 3 feet with the current design. When finished products arrive in coming months, listeners will be able to sample a new CD or watch a movie at high volume without disturbing neighbors or even those in the next room.
TGS: More Sony news
Another highlight of Kutaragi's speech was the revelation that the PS3 will emulate games from several older platforms, including the Mega Drive (Sega Genesis) and PC Engine (TurboGrafx 16). Sony will have a download service similar to the Xbox Live Arcade, from which gamers may also be able to download PS1 and PS2 titles. On to the bad news: 1UP says that Incognito's Warhawk has been pushed to the summer of 2007. This comes as somewhat of a surprise, since the game was in development on the PS2 for two years, and Sony was proudly displaying the game at E3 as a use of the PS3's motion-sensing controller.
The special designs of home theater PCs virtually dictates that they receive processor upgrades such as the Core 2 Duo later than more conventional desktops. In the case of computer builder Envive, however, the delay has resulted in two particularly well-equipped HTPC systems. First to be released is the E-Center Micro X (pictured), a compact system much in the same style as the Mac mini. Designed for relatively basic home theater needs, the Micro X is still capable with a 1.66GHz mobile Core 2 Duo chip, DVD-RW drive, 80GB hard disk, and a built-in IR receiver that interfaces with an included Media Center remote. DVI and S-Video out are also included. For more advanced users, the E-Center Pro adopts the shape of a home audio receiver and offers an impressive range of features. In what may be a first for home theater PCs, the Pro model will ship with two ATSC and two NTSC tuners, letting owners record at least two shows at once regardless of whether they are over-the-air HDTV or analog signals. A 500GB hard drive is standard and the system will support up to six drives total. Options for high-end users are Blu-Ray or HD DVD drives as well as HDMI output. The Micro X is available immediately for $993; Envive is taking pre-orders for the Pro at $2499 and will ship in late 2006, but warns users that the price is a deposit and depends on final specifications. A photo of the latter model is available after the jump.
TGS: PS3 price cut, HDMI
Call it bending without breaking: to kick off TGS, Sony's Ken Kutaragi has announced that the Japanese price of the 20 GB PS3 will drop to 49,980 yen, taxes included. That's a 20 percent cut to the previously announced cost. CVG cites Sony spokeswoman Nanako Kato as saying there are no plans for matching the cut in Europe and North America, but for Sony, that may be irrelevant; it's probably more than a coincidence that this puts the 20 GB PS3 in the same price range as the country's forthcoming 360/HD-DVD combo. In other news, the company has also declared that HDMI inputs will be standard on all PS3s, rather than just the 60 GB model. While Sony links this with an increase in HDMI-ready displays, it seems odd that Sony was just recently trying to reassure buyers that component input will more than sufficient.
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