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Free widget, eCart update
In brief: PassAlong Networks today launched its OnTour website, offering a free Mac widget -- which is available on Apple's widget download page -- to connect fans and artists.... WebAssist today released eCart 3.7.0, its eCommerce extension for Adobe Dreamweaver with support for Website Payments Pro from PayPal.... Marware today announced that it is shipping its Sportsuit Convertible ($30, shown at right) for Apple's second-generation iPod nano.... MacSpeech has released a new ScriptPak bundle for iLife 06 ($30), allowing users to do virtually anything in the six iLife 06 applications that are normally possible using keyboard shortcuts or menus.
VPN Tracker, ClickPix
VPN Tracker 4.8 ($40) adds support for Netgear FVS124G as well as Fireware 8.x Watchguard firmware to the VPN client for Mac OS X. VPN Tracker features IPsec for encrypted traffic, and offers compatibility with more than 250 VPN firewall devices. The upgrade is free for all existing users.
[Download - [form]]
Barcode Producer 4.1 ($150) updates the barcode creation software suite, integrating with Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Distiller software packages. Version 4.1 includes a new "Send To" menu that sends barcodes directly to supported applications with no saving required, and incorporates custom font selection with light margin indicators and background colors. [Download - 6.7MB]
Remote Buddy 1.0 Preview 8 ($40) adds support for infrared receivers that comply with the eHome 2005 standard, allowing Macs without an IR receiver to benefit from various remote controls. Remote Buddy allows users to fully control any Mac using an Apple Remote, Keyspan RF Remote for Front Row, Griffin AirClick USB, numerous Bluetooth enabled mobile phones, or a keyboard. [Download - 2.1MB]
Boinx Mouseposé 2.5 ($15) dims the screen and puts a spotlight on the area around the mouse pointer, easily guiding the attention of an audience to an area of interest. The update allows audiences to view keys pressed during a presentation via an elegant overlay. Boinx Mouseposé 2.5 requires Mac OS X 10.4 and a graphics card with Quartz Extreme support. [Download - 2.7MB]
ClickPix 1.1 ($10) makes use of digital camera photos by creating a desktop background for Mac users. The latest version of ClickPix allows users to easily create desktop pictures consisting of as many of photos as desired, and supports the addition of various effects to photos. ClickPix 1.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. [Download - 1.1MB]
Bloxter 1.3.3 ($20) updates the 3D falling-blocks game, adding the option to clear the high scores rather than resetting them to default, as well as several other minor improvements. Bloxter is an arcade-like puzzle game challenging players to drop colored blocks in lines of three or more. Bloxter includes more than 30 game variations ranging from simple designs to arcade boards with alien monsters and bonuses. [Download - 2MB]
Three Slingboxes ship
Sling Media today began shipping three new Slingbox models which include the flagship Slingbox Pro, AV, and Tuner editions. The Slingbox Pro is designed for complex home theaters where users might wish to stream video from any one of multiple devices to a computer or smartphone; though the Pro can also output HDTV through component AV cables with a $50 attachment. The Slingbox AV is a smaller, simpler device meant to connect only to a set-top box from a cable or satellite provider, while the similarly-shaped Slingbox Tuner includes only a co-axial cable jack but features the unique ability to connect to a cable modem and serve as a second Slingbox that gives its own choice of video programming. All three are already available, with the Pro model shipping at the same $250 price as the original and the two other versions retailing for $180 each, according to Electronista.
Slingbox AV Tuner and Pro
Basic information about Sling Media's first major update to its Slingbox media streaming hub first appeared via the FCC, but today all doubt was removed as the company officially unveiled three new models. The Slingbox Pro (pictured in red) is the flagship version and is designed for complex home theaters where the user might want to stream video from any one of multiple devices to a computer or smartphone; though it requires a $50 attachment, the Pro can also output HDTV through component AV cables. The Slingbox AV (pictured in black) is a smaller, simpler device meant to connect only to a set-top box from a cable or satellite provider, while the similarly-shaped Slingbox Tuner includes only a co-axial cable jack but has the unique ability to connect to a cable modem and serve as a second Slingbox that gives its own choice of video programming. Sling Media says all three are available now, with the Pro model shipping at the same $250 price as the original and the two other versions retailing for $180 each. Click through for a photo of all three Slingboxes.
X06: Sonic, Vegas trailers
The X06 trailers for Sonic the Hedgehog, John Woo's Stranglehold, and Rainbow Six: Vegas are all online. The Stranglehold trailer is up front; you can watch Sonic and Vegas after the jump.
Onkyo debuts iPod dock
Onkyo has debuted its DS-A2 dock, an update to the original DS-A1 dock that attempts to address the original model's shortcomings. Onkyo now bundles a more advanced remote that can repeat or shuffle whole albums and playlists as well as resume from the last track played before the iPod was last turned off, according to Electronista. An on-screen display works in tandem with the remote to show information about the current playback mode from a distance. Onkyo has given the DS-A2 a glossy black finish (in contrast to the white DS-A1), which is available for $110.
FileWave 2.6 released
FileWave today announced the latest version of its software management suite, FileWave 2.6. The software is designed to ease distribution, installation, and configuration of software in multi-platform environments. Version 2.6 significantly simplifies the automated installation and configuration of software on computers running Microsoft Windows, improves Tiger support, and also brings Universal Binary support for the Mac OS-based components of FileWave. Software installation and management on Microsoft Windows computers is now easily achieved with Fileset WinMagic Assistant, which gives system administrators a full overview of all changes made to a disk and Windows Registry by a software installer. Remote control of FileWave Clients has also been further expanded through integration of Apple Remote Desktop 3.0. FileWave Administrators have the possibility to control or observe remote computers screens via Apple Remote Desktop 3.0 or Timbuktu as well as command line remote control via Secure Shell (SSH).
Aspyr revamps website
Aspyr Media today re-launched its website to celebrate its 10th year in operation, offering visitors improved functionality, design, and style. The new site was designed and built by Aspyr's internal creative and information technology teams to provide expanded information about the company's current and upcoming titles, as well as its catalogue of previously released games. A new "Find a Game" search system enables users to easily locate particular Aspyr titles, and a calendar in the left column of the page informs visitors about recent as well as upcoming releases. Additionally, a "Game Advocate" section allows Aspyr employees to lend their personal voice to the company's game offerings. Another section specifically dedicated to videos will showcase all of Aspyr's trailers, and each title will feature a synopsis of the storyline coupled with system requirements.
LaCie previously released its Silverscreen media hard drive as a simple way of playing a computer's stored music and video without needing a second system or a transmitter. While useful, the Silverscreen is largely a static device whose controls and format support won't change. UniBrain believes its iZak is a more flexible option. In addition to shipping with storage options ranging from 40GB to 120GB, the iZak gives owners the option of customizing the on-screen interface for playing their media: they can edit the images and fonts to reflect their tastes. UniBrain has similarly expanded video support beyond LaCie's offering to allow DivX video-on-demand rentals to work on the new hard drive just by copying a registration file. The iZak can be loaded with music (including unprotected AAC), photos, and videos from either Macs or Windows PCs and starts at $229 for a 40GB version.
X06: Eidos' Crossfire
Eidos has announced Crossfire, a new FPS title by Pivotal Games. Players become operatives in the CIA's Special Activities Division - a paramilitary group used when American politicians want to keep their hands clean. Members of the Division carry no identification, and are completely disavowed if caught or killed. Like EA's Army of Two, Crossfire's gameplay focuses on a tag-team approach. Gamers might use one operative to distract an enemy or pin him down, and then switch to the other soldier to make the kill. Eidos also promises two-player co-op play, "true next-gen lighting techniques," and "fully destructible environments." The game should ship for the 360 sometime in 2007.
X06: Creed, K&L trailers
Let's not forget that there are more games in Barcelona than Halo Wars. Below you can watch the new trailer for Assassin's Creed, and after the jump, you'll find the trailer for Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. Both games look more and more exciting with each new piece of information.
Onkyo DS-A2 iPod Dock
Integrating an iPod with a home theater is difficult, since few iPod docks do more than relay their music or video to another device. Onkyo's DS-A1 dock was a helpful but only partial solution: it could communicate with other Onkyo AV equipment and gain advanced controls not present with other docks, but control of the iPod through the remote was limited to basic track navigation and the iPod's existing visual interface. An update to the dock, titled the DS-A2, was announced on Wednesday and does much to address the earlier shortcomings. Onkyo now bundles a more advanced remote that can repeat or shuffle whole albums and playlists as well as resume from the last track played before the iPod turned off. An on-screen display works in tandem with the remote to show information about the current playback mode from a distance. Onkyo has given the DS-A2 a glossy black finish (in contrast to the white DS-A1) and is shipping it today for $109.
X06: Halo Wars details
The official Halo Wars site has gone live, carrying the trailer, wallpapers, gameplay info, and a forum. The game will apparently take place before the events of Halo 1, with the player assuming control of UNSC forces in their initial encounters with the Covenant. As the story progresses, missions will escalate from skirmishes to full-scale war. Ensemble Studios refuses to say if players will have a chance to control the Convenant; if the game will have any kind of multiplayer mode though, one can practically bet on it. UPDATE: You can view the trailer below.
Hawkeye, Kids Server
hawkeye 1.0.9v6 ($30) simplifies creating custom DVD mixes with minimal knowledge, allowing users to import various titles/chapters from a DVD while shrinking file size and yielding minimal quality loss. The update adds support for the 640x480 H.264 Baseline Low Complexity format, which is utilized by Apple's new iTunes Music Store downloads.
[Download - 17.4MB]
Kids Server 1.7 ($180/5 years for 5 users) updates the proxy server software with advanced Web filtering capabilities, offering native support to Intel-based Mac users as a Universal Binary. KidServer restricts browsers on any operating system, and features a new Web interface coupled with Universal Binary CGI scripts. The update also restricts blog sites, supports forced safe searches, and improves movie as well as words restriction. [Download - 3.1MB]
WebcamTweaker 1.2.0 ($30) is an iSight companion featuring Timelapse Picture and Movie recording. Users can record video messages or shoot photos with special effects which include bump, glass, pinch, black & white, bloom, crystallize, dots, halftone, pixel, pointilize, thermal, TV, warhol, xray, balls, Christmas, crazy heart, cube, love, moving glass, spacewrap, teapot, and custom effects developed with Quartz Composer. [Download - 2.4MB]
Phantasm CS trial (free trial, $40 for full version) provides Adobe Illustrator CS and CS2 users with full Brightness/Contrast control for all artwork including vector objects, text, images, and other effects as a filter or live effect. The trial version does not expire and any effects saved with a file remain entirely editable in both the trial as well as the full versions. [Download - form]
CoverScout 2.1.1 ($20) ensures compatibility with iTunes 7, and enhances the software's ability to locate hard-to-find album covers to complement the latest revision of iTunes. iTunes 7 only discovers around 30-40 percent of missing music covers, according to Equinux, and CoverScout is designed to discover the leftover missing album artwork. [Download - [form]]
Ten Thumbs 4.3 ($26) updates the typing tutor application, adding Danish keyboard and language support with improvements to Spanish translation. Version 4.3 also fixes problems with text importing, symbols on Linux, issues with Extra practice, and more. [Download - [form]]
Cobra NAV ONE 2500
When vacationing, most travelers are encouraged to visit new destinations. At the same time, these same people are often looking for familiar services such as a favorite coffee bar or a store to buy replacement clothes. The NAV ONE 2500 from Cobra stands out among the many other basic GPS units by appealing to the need for recognizable locations. Its My Favorite Brands option lets drivers program the GPS system to indicate when restaurants or stores from as many as 600 American brands come with range. Cobra has similarly managed to include a number of GPS features that are sometimes missing from receivers in this class, such as automatic traffic re-routing and a speed warning to keep drivers within local limits. The official price for the 2500 is a reasonable $499, and Cobra is shipping them today.
Messenger 6.0 released
Microsoft's Mac Business Unit has released Messenger for Mac 6.0, the first Universal application from Microsoft to run natively on both Intel-based Macs as well as PowerPC systems. Messenger 6.0 offers users more choice and customization options, as well as "worry-free" instant messaging via a new option to spell check messages. The Universal application allows Mac users to chat with Yahoo! buddies, and features "Personality Plus" that supports creation of custom emoticons as well as a personal display message, including "What I'm Listening To" -- a feature that displays what a user is listening to on iTunes. Business users can benefit from the choice to deploy Live Communications Server only, enabling easier IT management. Messenger for Mac 6.0 is available for free, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
X06: Guitar Hero II on 360
This should be no surprise given past statements by Activision, but RedOctane has announced that Guitar Hero II will be ported to the Xbox 360. Players will be able to strum rhythm, lead or bass guitar tracks, download new content via microtransactions, and use a new 360 controller called the X-Plorer. There's no release date as of yet. More info about gameplay is expected when RedOctane gets around to presenting the game on the X06 showfloor.
Amidst the high-profile announcements of the Motorola KRZR and Nokia's music phones, other companies are quietly releasing new models that offer a similar exotic appeal without the high price that often accompanies designer handsets. Kyocera exemplified this today by releasing its K352 candybar phone. While its stylish design sets it apart from the often plain looks of other basic phones, it also has enough features to be genuinely appreciated without becoming excessive. Dedicated music controls on the front and 256MB of internal memory make it a capable music phone, and a VGA camera is present as well. Kyocera has taken the uncommon approach of releasing the phone first in Venezuela, which is where its surprisingly low price has been revealed: local carrier Movistar is selling the phone for the equivalent of $167 US with a plan. A US release date hasn't been set, but is likely with the phone's support for CDMA networks like Verizon's. Click through for a complete photo.
Apple updates iTunes
Apple today released an update to its iTunes multimedia software, addressing stability as well as performance issues with Cover Flow, CD importing, iPod syncing, and more. iTunes 7.0, which Apple released during its special event in San Francisco on September 12th, recently came under fire as numerous users complained of problems ranging from video download issues to an inability to access the online store. The update requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, or Windows 2000/XP.
X06: Blogging the Webcast
Keep checking here for news from Microsoft's press conference in Barcelona. We'll be bringing you up-to-the-minute announcements.
- 1:06 PM: Screens are playing video of a new Banjo Kazooie game.
1:10 PM: Regional VP Chris Lewis says the conference will later be made available for download.
1:12 PM: Sensible World of Soccer is coming to the Xbox Live Aracde.
1:13 PM: Doom will be on the Arcade tonight! Future titles: Contra, Ultimate Mortal Kombat, Small Arms, Gyruss, TotemBall, Defender, Assault Heroes, Heavy Weapon, Settlers of Catan.
1:14 PM: 160 HD games by the holidays.
1:17 PM: New gameplay footage of Gears of War.
1:18 PM: The show crowd will be able to play GoW today. The final version will have single, versus, and co-op play modes. Co-op will allow gamers to drop in or out at will.
1:30 PM: Blue Dragon coming to Europe and the US in 2007. Trailer.
1:33 PM: A trailer for Project Gotham Racing 4. All cinematics.
1:35 PM: Two episodes for Grand Theft Auto IV released within two months of the game's October release date. Available on Xbox Live.
1:37 PM: Demoing the 360 version of Assassin's Creed.
1:38 PM: AC game features - Horseback riding, shoving bystanders, freeform "parkour-like" levels.
1:40 PM: More AC - Stealth emphasizes blending in with the crowd, not shadows; combat attempts to be realistic. Demo character just died.
1:43 PM: New Bioshock trailer. The game will supposedly be exclusive to the 360 and PC. No PS3 version any longer?
1:47 PM: Lost Odyssey coming to Europe and North America. Gameplay demonstration.
1:50 PM: So far, it's just a cinematic.
1:51 PM: Ah, the cinematic has segued into a Final Fantasy-like combat sequence.
1:55 PM: On to Lost Planet. Single- and multiplayer available to try at X06.
1:57 PM: Splinter Cell Double Agent trailer.
1:58 PM: Double Agent exclusive to the 360 and PC? Someone had better tell Nintendo.
2:00 PM: "Early build" of Forza 2 playable on the showfloor tomorrow. Talking about the HD-DVD drive: 199.99 Euros, 129.99 pounds, $199.00 US. Coming in November with the universal remote and King Kong.
2:02 PM: Games for Windows montage - Unreal Tournament 2007, Crysis, Alan Wake, Flight Simulator X, more.
2:05 PM: Live Anywhere debuting with Shadowrun. New game: Marvel Universe Online! Being developed by Cryptic, Marvel, and Microsoft Game Studios.
2:09 PM: Partnership announced with director Peter Jackson. New project is a "filmic" game with "a new way to tell stories." Based on Bungie's Halo universe. Not quite a game, not quite a movie.
2:11 PM: Wingnut Interactive division announced.
2:12 PM: The company will also work with Bungie on an original series.
2:13 PM: "One more thing..." Trailer for new Ensemble game. Looks like the Covenant...Halo Wars! Looks like you'll have a lot more than one Spartan to control. An RTS game?
2:15 PM: That's all she wrote.
POST-EVENT UPDATE: Kotaku clarifies that Halo Wars is indeed a real-time strategy game, and for the moment it's a 360 exclusive. The Splinter Cell exclusive, however, is not Double Agent. It's the recently exposed Conviction. Finally, 2K Games says that Bioshock is off the PS3 for the time being.
Apple preps OS X 10.4.8
Apple is gearing up to release its eighth maintenance update for Mac OS X Tiger, which will increase performance as well as stability. Mac OS X 10.4.8 is currently free of any known issues, according to a report from AppleInsider, and Apple posted a 30.8MB PowerPC update (build 8L2125) on its developer website alongside a 206MB Intel Mac update (build 8L2125). Apple is also said to have put out a call to developers, requesting that they extensively test scientific applications with the new Rosetta PowerPC emulation environment, which is rumored to feature performance improvements. The update will also include enhancements to AFP, DVD Player, Graphics as well as Graphics applications, iCal, iPhoto, Mail, Microsoft Word along with OpenType fonts, Modem usage, Networking, Printing, Safari, and USB support. Mac OS X 10.4.8 is also likely to provide support for new Core 2 Duo-based Mac laptops due for shipment near the beginning of the holiday shopping season.
FIOS Delivering All Video
The sheer bandwidth available through Verizon's FIOS fiber optic network has already let the Internet provider serve both 30-megabit Internet access and HDTV through a single cable. In speaking to DSL Prime analyst Dave Burstein, however, sources have learned that Verizon's future plans are considerably more ambitious. It intends to give access not just to movies and TV signals through its set-top IPTV boxes, but to every freely available video on the Internet, according to ZDNet. While details of how the system itself will work are largely a mystery, Burstein says that it will in part rely on a greatly improved connection speed. Using BPON (Broadband Passive Optical Networks), FIOS will be capable of 100Mbps downloads and 30Mbps uploads per user - enough to stream any Internet-based video as long as the provider can deliver it quickly enough. Verizon is approximately 12 to 18 months away from making the service a reality, writes Burstein, and even anticipates 250Mbps speeds in the next few years.
Acquicor acquires Jazz
Acquicor Technology -- an equity firm headed by three former Apple executives, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak -- today announced that it has acquired foundry provider Jazz Semiconductor for $260 million in cash. The three former Apple execs leading Acquicor include Gilbert Amelio, Ellen Hancock, and Steve "Woz" Wozniak. Acquicor -- also known as the "blank check" equity firm -- intends to focus on acquisitions in the technology sector, rather than manufacturing or selling products. Jazz Semiconductor is to become a subsidiary of Acquicor once the merger completes, and because Acquicor is a publicly traded company, Jazz Semiconductor will cease pursuit of its initial public offering, withdrawing its registration statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, according to eeTimes online.
Most compact keyboards save space by reducing the overall size of the keys or eliminating some of those keys altogether. Users of the TypeMatrix EZ-Reach 2030 can avoid either problem. Rather than forego the number pad or other specialized keys, the EZ-Reach keyboard simply aligns and repositions them vertically. The resulting design is slightly more than 12 inches long and 5 inches high without stripping keys typically used on desktop-sized keyboards; TypeMatrix notes that the 2030 is small enough to sit over most laptop keyboards without obscuring their trackpads. Different modules can also be used to change the role of the keyboard, such as expanding the number pad. It connects to the PS/2 port on most computers and ships in either QWERTY or DVORAK layouts starting at $110.
X06: Sonic demo and more
The Xbox Live Marketplace has been updated with a demo of Sonic the Hedgehog. There's no information on what the demo contains, but the file measures in at 314 MB. Also on the Marketplace is a new trailer for Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, a co-op action game from the makers of Hitman. The 360 version of Sonic is due on November 14th - be sure not to confuse it with Sonic and the Secret Rings, due March 6th for the Wii. Microsoft promises more Live content to come throughout today and the rest of X06.
Few would immediately recognize the MediaREADY name, but many will recall the company's GLIDER and the clear influence of the original iPod nano on its layout. Not content with these comparisons, MediaREADY has announced that it will capitalize on its earlier success with its new AERO flash player. Its capabilities are good, albeit common: MP3, WMA, and WAV files are supported, as are FM radio and recording. The most unique feature of the AERO is the choice of batteries. While a lithium-ion battery is built-in, the player can also use an AAA battery if necessary. The AERO is shipping now in several capacity levels, ranging from a $29 128MB basic model to a $125 2GB version.
FileBrowse 1.0 released
R Green Blue today released FileBrowse 1.0, its unique file and media browser for Mac OS X. FileBrowse picks up where the Finder leaves off with thumbnails for most common file types, 3D icons as well as thumbnails rendered in real-time using OpenGL, folder icons that show miniature icons or thumbnails of the items inside, and large previews for most common file types shown in-context. The application also features enhanced grouping and sorting routines by kind, date, color label, artist, album, camera, and more. FileBrowse 1.0 is priced at $25, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
MLB pulls iTunes podcasts
Major League Baseball's internet arm has withdrawn podcast clips of baseball games from Apple's iTunes Music Store to increase its control over how games are displayed online. Apple will likely see little to no effect financially as a result of the games removal, but the move shows the unease that some digital content providers have with Apple's growing digital media presence, according to the Wall Street Journal. The league last week asked that Apple remove all promotions for its podcasts from iTunes, according to chief executive of Major League Baseball Advance Media's internet arm Bob Bowman. The executive said the decision was influenced by the league's lack of control in promoting its podcasts on iTunes, and that Apple declined a request to grant Major League Baseball podcasts better visibility on its iTunes service.
T719 for T-Mobile
Word had been received in advance that Samsung would produce a BlackBerry phone for the US division of T-Mobile, but today both the phone and its service have been made official. The T719 is one of the few phones made outside of Research In Motion to give access to BlackBerry networks' "push" e-mail, and is the only one which uses a compact flip-phone shape. Samsung has also used RIM's narrow SureType keypad to avoid the extra girth characteristic of higher-end BlackBerry models. As might be expected from a BlackBerry device with a more phone-like style, the T719 is less business-like and includes a 1.3-megapixel camera for photos and videos. T-Mobile says that the T719 is now available from its website for $200 after discounts.
Jaffe halts "crying" game
Writing in his blog, the director of God of War says that he's temporarily abandoned his project for a PSP game meant to wring sadness out of gamers. "The core reason is that it was very ambitious and so was/is WarHawk," he says. "The same developer is making both games (with some key members shared between both games) so Scott (head of Incog) and I said: f--- it. We'll do HL later...maybe." Instead, Jaffe and his team have spent the last six to seven months working on a PS3 game which should ship sometime between November and January. "It has stuff in common with TWISTED METAL, BOMBERMAN, and...well, a few other things that I ain't gonna talk about yet!" He will say that the game is supposed to be "shorter" and "less expensive," which is likely why he'll be able to finish it in less than a year.
In brief: The International VR Photography Association (IVRPA) is offering live panoramic coverage of Photokina 2006 in Cologne, Germany.... Extensis has launched new user forums for sharing advice, tips, and best practices with other users regarding Extensis software.... Sony has unveiled its Personal Reader System, the first mainstream eBook reader in North America using electronic paper to display still text and images with minimal battery power.... Sony has also introduced its new VAIO C Series, an offering of slim notebooks available in five colors.... Dover Studios today released its latest training DVD entitled "Maya: Surface Materials" offering tips and techniques designed to help users create realistic surface materials.... Speck is offering its Specktone Retro tabletop stereo speaker system for half off ($75) until October 3rd (coupon code: specktone).
Sony VAIO C Series
Sony was one of the first companies to release a 13.3-inch widescreen laptop, but the company's VAIO S has always been targeted at professionals - not the home users and students that Apple targets with its similarly-sized MacBook. Today, Sony announced a new series of laptops that compete more directly with the features and style of Apple's systems. The VAIO C series, much like the MacBook and Sony's larger VAIO N, emphasizes individualism: models will be available in solid black and white as well as green, pink, and a hybrid orange/gray. Exact features weren't made public in the announcement, but Sony says that a Core 2 Duo processor, a DVD rewriter, and slots for both ExpressCard and Memory Stick formats will be standard. More importantly, the price of the new systems will be within range of the MacBook and similar computers: Sony will sell base models for $1350 when the C series begins shipping in late October. A photo of the new system in pink is available after the jump.
Analyst forsees pullback
Senior analyst Shaw Wu of American Technology Research today removed Apple from the firm's Focus List due to increased hype over Apple's expected cellular handset. "While we remain long-term positive, we believe Apple shares may reflect too much near-term cell phone optimism," wrote Wu in a research note obtained by MacNN. Apple shares have appreciated 15 percent vs. 3 percent in the NASDAQ since the firm added the Cupertino-based company to its Focus List roughly three weeks ago. "We would not be surprised to see a near-term pullback and would be aggressive buyers at lower levels (low-$70s, high-$60s)." The analyst also commented on Microsoft's new Zune media player, pointing to the company's possibly forsaken PlaysForSure Digital Rights Management (DRM), as well as its "partners" in the digital music industry. "We believe the unexpected side effect will be further fragmentation in the Windows Media market, creating more confusion to consumers," said Wu. The firm maintains its "Buy" rating on Apple shares with a $91 price target.
X06: Doom on XBL Arcade
Our X06 coverage begins with word on the pricing of several new games coming to the Xbox Live Arcade. The highlight of these is probably Doom, which Aeropause says will cost 800 Microsoft points, but should come with features like four-player co-op, enhanced audio and visuals, and online and offline deathmatch. The full price list is as follows:
Lumines Live! – 1200 points
Contra – 400 points
Doom – 800 points
Street Race NYC – 800 points
Gyruss – 400 points
Billable 1.0 for invoicing
Clickable Bliss has released Billable 1.0, an application for Mac OS X that helps users track the billable services they perform for a client and then lets them create and manage invoices based on those services. Users can keep track of clients with a simple Client Editor, store per-client specific hourly rate defaults, and import clients from your Address Book. In addition, it can create time-based Services with a time span and hourly rate, calculate the total cost, and use a built-in timer to start and stop a service. Users can view time progress of an active service via the badged dock icon, create flat fee services and specify a manual total cost, easily select services for invoicing, and export their data to XML. Billable features customization options to edit invoice layout and attributes, including: Due Date, Partial Payments, Optional Messages, etc. Billable 1.0 is available for an introductory price of $20 ($10 off regular pricing) through the end of October.
Martian SlingShot 2.03
Martian Technology has released SlingShot 2.0.3, an update to its file and music synchronization application for Mac OS X. SlingShot 2.0.3 fixes several bugs related to synchronizing music in iTunes 7 between computers connected over a network. SlingShot allows users to easily back up all of your important (and costly) music and to share it among all the computers they own: unlike the "iPod reverse sync" now supported by Apple, SlingShot allows you to synchronize all of your music--not just songs purchased from the iTunes Music Store. Users can Publish an iTunes Playlist of music onto the network and then Subscribe to the Playlist from other computers. SlingShot 2.0.3 is available as a Universal Binary, supporting both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs and requires Mac OS X 10.4. Version 2.0.3 is a free upgrade for existing customers; new licenses are $30.
Pictage Aperture plugin
Pictage has announced a new Aperture plug-in that allows the Pictage subscriber community to open and edit their RAW/JPG images for post-production from within the recently released Aperture 1.5, Apple's all-in-one post production tool for photographers. It allows photographers to upload to the Pictage event site by simply selecting a menu from within Aperture that allows automatic connection to Pictage's Digital Express Client tool, file conversion (RAW to JPG, if needed), event submission, and automatic upload. "Pictage is committed to helping our photographers spend less time on administration and more time building their client base and shooting events," said Jeff Jochum, Vice President of Marketing for Pictage. "The pairing of Pictage subscribers with Aperture's superb photo management tools allows our community to better organize their business and substantially decrease their workflow." The Pictage Aperture plug-in is currently being previewed at PhotoKina 2006 and will be available to Pictage subscribers in the "near future."
Nokia XpressMusic Phones
Following yesterday's news of updated N-series phones, Nokia today announced three new cellphones that carry the company's newfound emphasis on music into more affordable territory. The 5300 XpressMusic (pictured) is a minimalist slider design with basic music controls along the display edge; because main action buttons are also on the same surface, an owner can pause or skip music even while browsing the web or sending text messages. The 5300 also adds support for up to a 2GB microSD card to store songs and has a 1.3 megapixel camera to round out its media functions. Nokia plans to release the 5300 for 250 Euros ($317) without a contract during its initial launch, with other areas to follow later. An American release is likely thanks to quad-band GSM network support.
Also announced were two sibling phones that share the same music-oriented philosophy. The 5200 is similar to the 5300 but uses only a VGA camera and a tri-band GSM radio, while the 3250 XpressMusic is an enhanced version of an earlier Nokia model with a unique rotating control section that swaps between music and phone controls. The new version doubles the memory support to 2GB and matches the style of the new 5000-series handsets. The 5200 and 3250 XpressMusic are set to debut in Europe for 200 and 400 Euros ($254 and $507) respectively. click through for full-size photos of the 5300 and 3250.
MathWorks' control design
The MathWorks today announced major upgrades to three of its control design software products: Control System Toolbox 7, Simulink Control Design 2, and Simulink Response Optimization 3. The new versions provide a stronger integration with Simulink to create a streamlined platform for control design and optimization using Model-Based Design as well as a new graphical user interface (GUI) that unifies the three products. The trio of products facilitates the control design process: Control System Toolbox gives engineers the ability to systematically analyze, design, and tune control systems; Simulink Control Design enables the design and analysis of sophisticated multi-loop control systems directly in Simulink; and Simulink Response Optimization, enables engineers to use numerical optimization to tune the response of systems modeled in Simulink, satisfying performance requirements. Prices start at $1000 for each product.
Pencils Down 3.0 released
Elgebar Studios today released Pencils Down 3.0, the third major release of their Pencils Down test-creation software. Pencils Down allows teachers to create tests and quizzes for students quickly and painlessly. Version 3.0, the largest upgrade to Pencils Down since its release, allow users to add up to 26 choices on multiple choice questions, instead of the previous mandate of 4. It also supports "header text," which allows teachers to place needed info or fields before the main test. Pencils Down 3 also adds an "Informative Text" question type that allows teachers to place new instructions in the middle of their tests. The software also supports multiple question types, including the new "Informative Text" type, enables more than one correct answer for Multiple Choice, and a simpler user interface. It is available for $20.
Sega nabs Dark Materials
Sega will publish a series of games based on New Line movie adaptations of His Dark Materials, a trilogy of fantasy novels by Philip Pullman. MCV reports that the first film, The Golden Compass, is budgeted at $150 million US and will star Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig when it premieres in November of 2007. The novels follow Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry as they travel a multiverse inhabited by dćmons, witches, and armoured bears. New Line seems to hope the movies will take the place of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which hasn't been in theatres since 2003.
FastScripts 2.3 ($15) is a free upgrade for registered users of the script management software that offers support for unmodified keys as script shortcuts. FastScripts 2.3 also refines the grayscale menu bar icon, adds a new preference for toggling "Launch at Login," and includes improved AppleScript access to FastScripts script hierarchies.
[Download - 1.4MB]
Paid! 3.9 ($80) is a free update to registered customers adding a Quotes Header title option. The latest revision fixes a bug in the Return Address display, modifies the "Include Contact" button on printed invoices, and improves the software's "Monthly Summary Report," "Batch Invoice Printing," and "Client and Crew" address book printouts. [Download - 10.5MB]
24U SimpleCode Plug-In 2.1 ($40) addresses two main text encoding issues for solutions migrated from FileMaker 6 to FileMaker 7 and 8. The plug-in fixes text that was previously incorrectly converted to Unicode, and enables users to use old-style FileMaker 6 compatible plug-ins with non-English languages. The update runs natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary and works with FileMaker 7.0 through 8.5. [Download - 1.6MB]
GrowlCode 0.7 (free) provides notifications when an application needs attention. The plug-in for Apple's Xcode development environment provides notifications for when a build succeeds or fails, preprocessing is complete, compilation succeeds or fails, disassembly completes, and when cleaning is complete. GrowlCode works in Xcode 2.4 on Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [Download - 683KB]
Relaunch 1.2 ($5) saves a snapshot of all running applications and launches them automatically after the next login or reboot. Relaunch 1.2 adds the ability to monitor individual documents in 20 common Mac applications including Office, iWork, Omni Outliner, SubEthaEdit, XCode, and VoodooPad. [Download - 1MB]
iVisualize 1.6 ($price) brings iTunes 7 compatibility to the iTunes visualization software, and fixes all known bugs. Users can also change all composition settings on-the-fly with iVisualize 1.6. The application allows iTunes to access Quartz Composer, reacting to music while displaying song information. [Download - 9MB]
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