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HP Acquires Voodoo PC
Several months ago, Dell acquired gaming-oriented PC builder Alienware as a means of improving its standing among enthusiasts, who typically choose custom or locally-built PCs over mainstream OEMs. Late Thursday, HP announced that it was following suit: the large American firm is expected to finalize a deal that would see it buying the small, Canadian-operated Voodoo PC. The deal (PDF) would see much tighter integration than the Dell acquisition, which saw Alienware largely independent of its new parent. Voodoo PC will continue to exist as a company, but its current heads -- Rahul and Ravi Sood -- will take the lead at a new gaming computer division within HP that should revitalize the company's budget-minded image. The buyout is expected to complete by the end of October.
UK music royalty agreement
Apple's iTunes and mobile operators including Vodafone on Thursday agreed on royalty rates to pay song writers and music publishers for digital downloads in Britain to partly resolve a dispute, according to Reuters. Under terms of the deal, Apple and four mobile operators will pay 8 percent of gross revenue, excluding VAT, for all music sold digitally excluding ringtones--extending a reduced price agreement that has been in place for four years. Under a previous deal, the law stated that the song writers and publishers must receive 12 percent; however, the royalty had been temporarily reduced to 8 percent based on a mutual agreement. The new agreement also implements a 6.5 percent royalty rate for non-on-demand services such as streaming, according to the report. The deal was announced in a joint statement by the trade group representing record labels, BPI, and MCPS-PRS Alliance, which fixes and collects royalties on behalf of the composers, song writers and music publishers.
SNS Postmap public beta
Studio Network Solutions (SNS) today released the public beta of Postmap, its new search and management software for post-production workgroups. The application is designed to quickly locate folders as well as fires stored locally and remotely, online or offline. Postmap features include scan/search functionality allowing users to schedule and selectively scan the contents of SANs, file servers, FireWire/USB disks, CDs, and DVDs. The scanning process creates a searchable online database of file metadata available for query by all Postmap clients regardless of the data's current state. Postmap is available to the industry as a public beta and is scheduled for launch during the fourth quarter of 2006.
Perfect Pitch for Keynote
Divine Fiat today released its Perfect Pitch theme set for Apple's Keynote software. Perfect Pitch is designed as a combination of the company's Title Card themes and its Take Two theme. "While ideal for a wide variety of presentations, the Perfect Pitch themes were designed with film, TV and video professionals in mind," said Divine Fiat. "The 4-to-3 and 16-to-9 photo cutouts are perfect for introducing employers, clients or potential investors to your next project. Perfect Pitch is also ideal for students or professors at film school." Each theme in the set includes 55 text and photo layout masters, as well as an extras file providing a variety of text box layouts for each photo cutout master. The Perfect Pitch theme set is available for $45, and requires Keynote 3.0.
DLO, iTunes movie support
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) today announced that its HomeDock Deluxe enables iPod owners to play Apple's new iTunes movies on a big-screen TV with 640x480 DVD-quality resolution. The device features On-Screen Navigation, allowing users to view and select their iPod's music on a television screen using the included 18-button remote control that navigates through the iPod's music, videos, and photos. DLO's included remote allows users to control over 14 playback functions via an original, customizable interface. Song information is large and easy to read from anywhere in the room, according to DLO. The HomeDock Deluxe has two distinct modes: On-Screen Navigation Mode (for music interface on a TV) and iPod Mode (to play videos or photo slideshows on a TV directly from the iPod). The HomeDock Deluxe is priced at $150.
Universal Drive Genius
Prosoft today announced that the latest version of Drive Genius now supports Intel-based Macs. Drive Genius, a Mac OS X utility designed to provide hard drive management, offers an easy-to-use interface for a variety of disk utilities, including a drive optimizer, volume/drive/media analysis, volume repair/rebuild, and performance benchmarking and data integrity checking. It can be used to initialize drives, create and delete partitions, and securely erase the data. In addition, Drive Genius features advanced tools for resizing and moving of volumes without reformatting, and sports a sector-editing tool to modify the data on any sector of the drive. "We're excited to provide this new version of Drive Genius that is now Universal Binary that will maintain, manage, and optimize your PowerPC-based Macs and the most recently released Intel-based Macs," says Greg Brewer, president and CEO of Prosoft Engineering. Drive Genius is available as a Universal Binary for $100 and runs on Mac OS X 10.3 or later.
Apple iLife, iApp updates
Apple today released updates for its iLife suite and other "iApp" applications to add support for Aperture 1.5: iMovie HD 6.0.3 addresses compatibility for accessing Aperture 1.5 content in iMovie HD and also improves overall stability and addresses a number of other minor issues. iPhoto 6.0.5, an update to the company bundled all-one photo organizing/editing application, adds new calendar, greeting card, and postcard themes for use with Apple print services, including a variety of holiday card designs. As with the other updates, it also addresses compatibility for accessing Aperture 1.5 content in iPhoto. In addition, the company released Keynote 3.0.2, Pages 2.0.2, iWeb 1.1.2, iDVD 6.0.3, and GarageBand 3.04--all of which addresses compatibility for accessing Aperture 1.5 content in their respective applications.
SoftCare to debut K4 5.7
SoftCare today announced plans to introduce SoftCare K4 5.7 at this year's IfraExpo in Amsterdam, an update to its editorial system based on Adobe InDesign due to ship in the fourth quarter of 2006. The latest revision of K4 connects to the DC5 asset management system by Digital Collections and MegaGrove by Poundhill Software, while K4 Web Editor 2.0 -- in connection with SoftCare K4 -- enable users to write directly into a Web browser with a preview by Adobe InDesign Server. Softcare is also introducing its new K2 publishing solution to the public, which is an editorial system designed for small workgroups based on the same basic technical principals as SoftCare K4 (pricing and system requirements were unavailable).
EUBIQ Power Track
Many computer and home theater users know the trouble associated with locating a power strip close enough to a given device without tangling cables. The EUBIQ Power Track is a clever alternative that may simplify the power connections for several nearby pieces of electronics. Using special plugs, power adapters can be attached and moved anywhere along a special conductive track, regardless of how long the track may be. Up to 16 devices can be powered from a one-meter strip, and tracks can also accept Ethernet, telephone, or TV cabling. Accidental shock is also virtually impossible thanks to a grounding system that prevents anything but one of the company's own sockets from making an electrical connection. This fact makes it ideal for placing a Power Track underneath a computer desk or in other areas where it might be easy to touch the track. Prices vary, but Dionics is carrying EUBIQ's power system in the US now.
Unbox dubbed "horror show"
In brief: Fortune Magazine has reviewed Amazon's Unbox movie service, dubbing it a "horror show" and giving the online movie store two thumbs down.... One blogger has posted photos of the new Slingbox packaging in Best Buy with two Mac logos on the side, and was apparently told by a company spokesperson that it is planning to target Mac software within 30 days.... A new report suggests that Apple is preparing to launch refreshed iSight cameras and AirPort Extreme base stations to comply with an environmental directive that has barred sales of those devices overseas for over the last three months.... DeCarta today announced an extended invitation to register for its second annual developer's conference on October 4-5th at the Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF in San Francisco.... Take Control Books has unveiled its latest ebook entitled "Take Control of Getting Started with Dreamweaver" ($10) which is written to help readers create a modern professional website.
Silver, pink PSPs in Japan
Our trustworthy friends at Famitsu write that silver and pink PSPs should be coming to Japan in the near future. While there's no firm date set for them, IGN observes that Sony has traditionally released coloured PS2s in time for the holidays. There may also be some more exotic colour schemes in the works; at the Tokyo Game Show, Sony displayed red, yellow, blue and "army" coloured systems that Famitsu seems to have no information on. It's equally unclear which (if any) colours will migrate to North America and the rest of the world. It may be useful to Sony to bring a couple over, if just for the sake of competing with Nintendo's pink and onyx DS Lites.
ASUS Second Laptop Screen
The Intel Developer Forum is used not just as a showcase for new processors but also as a demonstration of future design concepts. A recent example of this has been ASUS' external laptop display, which has been previewed at earler IDF events but is now on display at the conference show floor in a prototype (pictured). Much as with the external display on a flip-phone, the external laptop display lets the owner check essential information without having to open the system itself. The current example gives access to e-mail, music, and other content on the system's internal hard drive that doesn't depend on using the full capability of the computer inside. Windows Vista is expected to eventually support this feature in all laptops.
uPlus Digital Pen
Artists and animators used to traditional drawings often have difficulty adjusting to tablets, even direct-to-screen models such as Wacom's Cintiq. The smooth surfaces of these input devices rarely have the same tactile feel as paper, leading to mistakes as users adjust. The Korean company Easy Systems has developed its uPlus Pen as a way of easing these artists into digital creation or even replacing a conventional computer tablet entirely. The pen translates the pressure applied to a special paper format into art for a program such as Photoshop, allowing artists to see the immediate results of their work while producing an exact digital copy. The uPlus can also adapt the on-screen output to different art styles: it can mimic ballpoint pens, pencils, writing brushes, and even highlighters. Pricing and shipping information aren't yet available.
Gears of War too easy?
If you've been lucky enough to attend X06, you may have had a chance to play the floor demo of Gears of War. But is the game too easy? A writer for Joystiq came to the conclusion that frequent checkpoints and regenerating health levels make the demo a breeze. In short order however, Epic's Mark Rein has leapt to the defense of the game in the official forums. "Cliff [Bleszinski] was playing on the 'casual' mode designed for casual gamers (i.e. easy). Always best to do that (or GOD mode) for a demo. Regardless it won't be that easy for a first-time player to take down the Locusts. I saw one of the world's top game designers play a portion of a level, that Cliff can get through in 2 minutes, and it took him about 15 minutes. Cliff makes it look easy." If you want to see the demo in action, don't forget to check out the video provided earlier. UPDATE: Speaking with Bleszinski, Rewiredmind has confirmed that co-op play will be possible throughout the entire single-player game.
Lenovo recalls batteries
Lenovo today recalled 526,000 notebook batteries following an incident at Los Angeles International Airport several days ago, where a Lenovo ThinkPad burst into flames. The recalled batteries were manufactured by Sony between February 2005 and September 2006, covering most R-, T-, and X-series ThinkPads. The more mainstream 3000 series, however, is unaffected by the recall, according to Electronista. Apple recalled 1.8 million similarly defective notebook batteries made by Sony in late August, just after Dell recalled 4.1 million bad batteries -- also made by Sony -- used in its Inspiron, Latitude, Precision, and XPS portable systems. Sony today said it will issue an even larger global battery recall of its own, working with system builders to exchange batteries for any company that might have used the fire-prone units in its portable systems. While the company didn't announce any specific plans, it did say it will work with laptop producers on a case-by-case basis to ensure they receive enough new batteries in time.
MOTOVIEW Mobile TV Phone
In spite of Motorola's reputation for cutting-edge cellphone design, the company has been slow to embrace mobile TV, which is already popular in Japan and Korea and has seen an explosion of TV-ready handsets in those two countries. This makes US-based Motorola's recently announced MOTOVIEW phone a relative latecomer to the field. The company hopes the sleekness of its new design, launching initially in Korea, will draw users away from more established phones made by LG and Samsung. The MOTOVIEW supports the ubiquitous DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) TV format and has a swiveling screen to let owners watch TV in its native wide aspect ratio. Motorola has also given its cellphone a reasonably strong feature set that includes a 1.3-megapixel camera, 1GB of built-in memory, and external controls that let users change songs or TV programs when the phone is closed with the screen facing outwards. Those interested in experiencing Motorola's first attempt at a DMB-capable phone will find the MOTOVIEW available today in Korea through SK Telecom. Photos of the phone are available after the jump.
XBL: Bring it Home Day 9
Before you go home and turn on your Xbox, you might like to know what's available in the way of X06 content. The demo for the day is WWE Smackdown vs. RAW 2007. Other points of interest are videos for Crossfire, Tony Hawk's Project 8, and Frontlines: Fuel of War. As usual, the complete rundown:
Tony Hawk's Project 8 trailer
Frontlines: Fuel of War trailer
X06 game montage
WWE Smackdown vs. RAW 2007 demo
Fable 2 theme
Four Oblivion packs (150 points each, available in France, Italy, Germany and Spain; previously available in other regions)
Contactizer 3 Pro released
Objective Decision today released Contactizer 3 Pro, an update to the company's collaborative personal information management software and official successor of OD4Contact. Contactizer Pro is designed as an all-in-one solution for managing, sharing, and organizing personal as well as business information. The application enables users to access contact information, organize as well as prioritize activities, and track all contact-related communications. Creations and modifications are instantly seen by all users on the network due to real-time sharing support. Contactizer Pro is available for $120 (system requirements were unavailable).
Lenovo Battery Recall
Sony has come under intense scrutiny after a critical flaw in its batteries was found to be the root cause of fires in Dell and later Apple laptops. The latest worry for the Japanese company comes in the wake of a ThinkPad fire several days ago at Los Angeles International Airport. Lenovo, maker of the ThinkPad line, announced on Thursday a new battery recall covering 526,000 batteries made by Sony between February 2005 and September 2006. The recall covers most R-, T-, and X-series ThinkPads but doesn't affect the more mainstream 3000 series. Lenovo is being as cautious as Dell and has warned users to immediately stop using the dangerous batteries until replacements arrive.
In turn, Sony issued a press release today saying that it would issue an even larger global battery recall of its own, working with system builders to exchange batteries for any company that might have used the fire-prone units in its portable systems. No specific plans were announced, but Sony says it will work with laptop producers on a case-by-case basis to ensure that they receive enough new batteries in time.
Burning Crusade beta info
Unbeknownst to most World of Warcraft players, some guild leaders have been receiving invitations to join the Burning Crusade beta with a couple of guildmates. There may have been some concern that this was a scam; but quite to the contrary, a Blizzard moderator assures us that the company is indeed handpicking players to join in a multi-phase beta test. Don't bother e-mailing them however, because the selection criteria has already been decided. Targeted groups include "PTR contest winners, BlizzCon attendees, some raiding groups, and other guilds and individuals as well." People who don't make it into the first phase may still be eligible for later ones. Blizzard cautions against spoof e-mails, which may ask players for password and account information that the real Blizzard would already have.
iSkin unveils Claro case
iSkin today unveiled its clear polycarbonate iSkin Claro case for Apple's 60GB and 80GB video iPods. The Claro features anti-scratch "ClaroCoat" technology combined with iSkin's "silicone inside" design philosophy to provide increased protection. The inner layers, dubbed "Claro slims," are available in multi-color theme packs which include "Chill" and "Cruise" to suit personal taste. The Claro ships with a belt clip, an integrated kick-stand that allows users to watch videos hands-free, and Cerulean XLR earphones to ensure colors match (online purchases only). The iSkin Claro is available for $40, while the Claro Slim Packs are priced separately at $25 each.
IDF Special Report: Part 2
(continued from IDF Part 1) Another segment of the keynote was devoted to Intel's adherence and advancement of Moore's law which was supported by a video tribute. Next, Otellini announced that 65 nm shipments had crossed over the 40 million mark which now out- ships 90nm. No one else in the industry has yet to ship a 65nm system, touted Otellini.
IDF Special Report: Part I
Every Intel Developer Forum delivers some rather interesting developments and this was no exception. Intel's CEO Paul Otellini kicked off this year's Forum with some rather great insights and roadmap slides to help us all plan our own individual technology roadmaps for the near future. This report covers most of the highlights of the Otellini keynote that would appeal to most Mac users including topics such as Intel's shift to quad-processors, new Microarchitectures, NAND flash memory and other advances on the mobility front. Most of this report covers Otellini's actual quotes and keynote slides.
Sony-Ericsson W830i K320i
Sony-Ericsson rarely devotes its attention to business users, preferring instead to make music-friendly media phones. As part of its phone announcements today, the cellphone designer made a concession to international businesspeople by introducing a new phone that caters to their needs while still carrying some signature media features for moments outside the office. Owners of the K320i will have access to a number of features rarely seen from Sony-Ericsson. Automatic Bluetooth pairing is a completely new feature from the company: synchronizing a headset for a conference call now happens without any intervention on the user's part. The new phone also supports "push" e-mail from networks that offer it and can read RSS feeds for live news. A VGA camera and AAC/MP3 music playback are also available for less serious moments. The K320i should be available in October for certain markets; a North American version has yet to be announced. Click through for a larger photo.
X06: Creed, Bioshock vids
Because you can never get enough videos, we've gone and found the new X06 trailer for Bioshock. After the jump you can also watch the teaser for Banjo-Kazooie, some new Gears of War footage, and the Assassin's Creed gameplay demonstration from the Microsoft press conference.
Intel unveils Multiply ad
Intel has unveiled a new TV ad called "Multiply," and has posted a video showing behind-the-scenes footage of the ad's creation process showcasing Macs. The ad itself focuses primarily on multitasking using through a metaphor, with individuals dancing to hip technical beats as they express their own personal style. The ad's creators used Apple hardware and software to bring the project to life, combining drawings with live video and still photos. Intel recently added Apple to two of its "Featured Sessions" at the company's Developer Forum, which some industry watchers believe is Intel's way of thanking Apple for remaining the only exclusive Intel CPU customer.
Verizon KRZR Official
Cellphone carrier Verizon had tipped its hand early on its use of the Motorola KRZR K1m by posting an instructional guide in advance, but left the actual release open to speculation. In practice, the delay has been short. Verizon today began taking orders for the KRZR K1m through its website. The music-oriented successor to the RAZR is narrower, has an enhanced 1.3-megapixel camera, and music controls on the outer shell to simplify pausing or skipping tracks. Verizon in particular is tying the phone closely to its VCast music and video download services. KRZR orders are being limited to online visitors only until October 5th; retail stores will start carrying the phone soon afterwards. Prices start at $250 with a one-year contract.
Three Acer C2D Laptops
Acer is frequently seen as a close competitor with Apple: although the designs are clearly different, the two system builders have shared some similar laptop specifications ever since Apple began using Intel processors. Acer has continued this tradition to a degree with multiple new TravelMate systems that share the Core 2 Duo processor. Perhaps the closest match is the TravelMate 8210. A 15.4-inch screen, 256MB Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics, 1.3-megapixel webcam and Bluetooth compare closely to the MacBook Pro. The 8210 also has a carbon fiber reinforced lid and a SmartCard security system that can prevent others from using the computer without permission.
More varied are the 15.4-inch TravelMate 6410 and 6460. Both of these are treated as media hubs for those who may not need the performance or carbon lid of the 8210. The primary difference between the two is their graphics prowess. The 6460 has a Mobility Radeon X1300 that should improve performance in Windows Vista, while the 6410 uses only Intel integrated graphics. Both retain the Bluetooth and webcam of the higher-end model. Acer has not formally announced official prices for these or the TravelMate 8210, as prices can vary depending on what configurations resellers are willing to carry.
Play Phnx. Wright 2 early
Here's a nifty offer: if you just can't wait to play Phoenix Wright 2, the sequel to Capcom's DS legal puzzler, the Japanese version is selling for $29.90 US at Play-Asia (plus applicable taxes and shipping). Orders go out October 26th. The key is that the Japanese game turns out to be region-free, and also has dual language support. The native North American port of the game is scheduled for the first quarter of 2007. The series originates in Japan under the name Gyakuten Saiban.
New MacBook battery ships
Battery Geek today began shipping its 140 watt/hour Portable Power Station, an external battery featuring an optional connector that supports both MacBooks and MacBook Pros to extend their portable running time significantly. The company claims that Apple's power-hungry MacBook Pro can last up to six additional hours on the lithium-ion based adapter. The device can also charge iBooks and PowerBooks, most Windows laptops, and USB-powered devices including the iPod, according to Electronista. Battery Geek's Portable Power Station is available for $400. [corrected]
The Sims 2 Pets announced
Aspyr Media today announced that it will publish The Sims 2 Pets, the fourth expansion pack in The Sims 2 series which is expected to reach stores in November of this year. Licensed by Electronic Arts and developed by Aspyr, The Sims 2 Pets users can create the "perfect pet" for their Sims to train, play with, and love as their own. "The addition of a new friend is guaranteed to enrich the daily lives of your Sims!" Players can choose from a variety of existing breeds as well as designer mixes, and can personally design their new friend with the Create-a-Pet feature. Players choose the Sims' pet's body shape, unique markings, and even the pet's personality. Aspyr said it will begin accepting pre-orders in the near future (pricing, availability, and system requirements were unavailable).
Unity 1.5.1 released
OverTheEdge today released Unity 1.5.1, offering support for a wide range of old hardware and software configurations. "Some of these drivers are awfully broken, and functionality that is documented to work, doesn't", said CTO Joachim Ante. "We spent three months working through all these issues. Working around all driver bugs we found and making them behave right without any end-user intervention." Unity 1.5.1 also supports new shaders for terrain and foliage rendering, as well as Unicode fonts and Unicode scripting. Unity 1.5.1 is available for $250 for the "Indie" edition or $1,500 for the Pro version, each requiring Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
MacBook External Battery
Extended batteries are a regular option from some laptop manufacturers, but MacBook and MacBook Pro owners have largely resorted to second batteries to get more than the stock amount of battery life. On Thursday, these Apple laptop owners were given a second option by power accessory maker Battery Geek. The 140 Watt/hour Portable Power Station is an external battery that now has an optional connector that supports both MacBook models and extends their portable runtime significantly: the company claims that even the power-hungry MacBook Pro can last up to 6 additional hours on the lithium-ion based adapter. The device can also charge iBooks and PowerBooks, most Windows laptops, and USB-powered devices, including the iPod. The Portable Power Station is currently shipping at an official price of $399.
Zune Price Official
Microsoft has previously said that it would not let the iPod undercut Zune pricing, even though it has similarly denied that the new iPod's $249 price had caught the Redmond-based company by surprise. The truthfulness of Microsoft's claims was tested today by the company's official announcement of pricing and launch details. The Zune is now slated to ship on November 14th for a price of $249.99, rising only slightly above the price of Apple's 30GB music player despite the addition of an FM radio and WiFi music sharing. Microsoft explained that the price cut meant it would now take a loss on every Zune unit sold in order to gain market adoption. "We had to look at what was in the market and offer a competitive price," says Scott Erickson, the senior director of marketing for the Zune project.
Additionally, pricing in the Zune Marketplace will be similar to the iTunes Store but adopts a points system similar to the Xbox Live Marketplace. Zune owners will buy Microsoft Points rather than pay directly for songs or albums; 80 points will cost $1, while individual songs will be available for 79 points each. Listeners will also have the option of subscribing to a $15 monthly Zune Pass that gives unlimited access to the over 2 million songs expected to be ready for the combined player and store launch.
GizMac ships Titan Gear
GizMac Accessories today began shipping its Titan Gear case for Apple's new second-generation iPod nano. Titan Gear includes a carabineer clip, armband, belt clip with 360-degree rotation, and lanyard accessories to provide a wide range of ways to wear and show the new anodized aluminum Nano. Titan Gear is designed to go one step further, enabling iPod owners to easily change whether the top or bottom of the aluminum media player faces up or down, and attachments provide further flexibility for carrying the small gadget. The case attachments are modular, making upgrades and customization easy for a more personalized look, according to GizMac. Titan Gear is available for $25, and additional accessories are slated for shipment in the near future. [image]
Progress report: PS3 games
With so many PS3 titles seemingly in a media blackout, you might be wondering if any of them are near completion. Japanese magazine Famitsu has responded with a list compiled from unknown sources; presumably, they asked developers to peg a game's progress in the form of a percentage. The complete list follows after the jump. Notably absent from it is Ridge Racer 7, but IGN says that pamphlets from the Tokyo Game Show indicate the game is finished. PS3 launch titles for Japan should include RR7, Resistance, Sega Golf Club, Genji and Gundam: Target in Sight. In other release news, EA says that Madden NFL 07 and Need for Speed Carbon will both be Wii launch titles. Madden will have Wii-specific features, such as multiplayer minigames and a new play-calling system.
PDF2Office Personal v3.0
Recosoft is shipping PDF2Office Personal v3.0 for Mac OS X, a major upgrade to its PDF-to-Word conversion plug-in for the Mac. PDF2Office Personal v3.0 utilizes a client-server computing model delivering optimal PDF-to-Word conversion performance for the Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs. It is a Universal Binary that includes over 250+ new features and enhancements including the abilityt to convert static PDF forms into editable Word documents and convert PDF files into high-resolution images embeddable in Word files. PDF2Office automatically recreates the original construction and layout of the document, including forming paragraphs; applying styles; regrouping independent graphic elements; extracting images; creating tables; and processing headers/footers, endnotes/footnotes and columns/sections. Version 3 also includes PostScript font matching, substitution and scaling mechanisms as well as a dramatically improved PDF layout reconstruction v3.1 engine. It is available for $60 (upgrades are $30 or free to all purchases after August 1st).
Reviews, Apple patents
In brief: MacNN has reviewed the Griffin iTrip Auto ($70), Whickey and Cox Backpack ($200, shown at right) from Crumpler Bags, and the Pro Click V1.6 High Precision Mouse ($60) from Razer Pro Solutions.... The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has published two new Apple patent applications entitled "Methods and systems for managing data" and "Copy and paste with citation attributes".... Apple is set to open its newest UK retail store this Saturday at U23 New Cannon Street Mall in Manchester Arndale, and is giving away free T-shirts alongside a 20-inch iMac with a 30GB iPod.... The second round of My Dream App voting begins today with free licenses for the popular notebook application Mori offered to participants; six finalists will depart with a silver second-generation iPod nano as elimination continues.
Sony-Ericsson Z550a Z558i
Sony-Ericsson has released several new cellphones today, two of which are designed with international callers in mind and which bring some extra style to the relatively plain mid-range. The Z550a shown here is a quad-band GSM world phone built for North Americans with Bluetooth, a 1.3-megapixel camera, and support for up to 1GB of Memory Stick Micro storage for songs in an AAC or MP3 format (25MB of internal memory is also present). The Z558i is a more advanced version that drops the built-in memory to 18MB but also adds a touchscreen, which is a rarity in a mainstream flip-phone. Sony-Ericsson says the feature is helpful for handwriting recognition when composing messages or editing the address book - an important consideration for the Chinese who will be the first to adopt it in October. The cellphone developer has not announced a definite launch for the Z550a other than the near future. Photos of both phones are available after the jump.
Gamestop Wii/PS3 pre-order
The hour may be nigh if you're going to pre-order a Wii or PS3 through Gamestop. Bits Bytes Pixels Sprites says that a national meeting of owners and managers will be taking place in Texas this Friday, and it's then that the company will learn how many units it has to spread around. A poster in the comments claims this meeting won't be over until Monday - but if you want to be one of the first to know when console pre-orders start, just put a pre-order down on a game. Gamestop will reportedly call everyone who has a Wii or PS3 title waiting. As North America's largest gaming-dedicated retailer, the company may be the best bet for most people trying to secure a next-gen system.
Microsoft matches pricing
Microsoft on Thursday said its forthcoming Zune music player will sell for $249.99 and that songs from its own music service will sell for $0.99, matching the price of Apple's 30GB iPod and iTunes' songs. Because of the aggressive pricing by Apple, the company says it will lose money on its Zune player this holiday season. Microsoft said it needed to put a comparable price on Zune--which launches November 14--even if it meant that the company will suffer a loss from the device's sales this holiday season, according to Reuters: "We had to look at what was in the market and offer a competitive price," said Scott Erickson, Microsoft's senior director of product marketing for Zune. "We're not going to be profitable this holiday but the Zune project is a multiyear strategy." Microsoft has said it plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to develop and market the Zune--which bundles a few more features than Apple's iPod, including FM radio and wireless connectivity between players to beam photos and music. In addition, the company acknowledged the investment "may take years to bear fruit."
Logic Express/Pro updates
Apple has released software updates for both its Logic Pro and Logic Express music creation and audio production applications. Logic Express Update 7.2.3, available as a 14MB download, addresses performance issues when Logic Express 7 is used on Mac Pro and G5 Quad computers and is recommended for all Mac Pro and G5 Quad users. An existing Logic Express 7.2.1 or Logic Express 7.2.2 installation is required before applying the update. Logic Pro 7.2.3, 25MB update, addresses performance issues when Logic Pro 7 is used on Mac Pro and G5 Quad computers. It is recommended for all Mac Pro and G5 Quad users. Apple says that an existing Logic Pro 7.2.1 or Logic Pro 7.2.2 installation is required for this update. In addition, Logic Pro 7.2.3 is optimized for PowerPC G4/G5- and Intel-based Macs with up to two dual-core processors.
Oblivion on PS3, PSP
An upcoming article in Official Playstation Magazine brings news that The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, currently on the PC and 360, will be coming to the PS3. Though no release date is available, we do know that the port will get its own faction, the Knights of the Nine. The developers describe them as "the good Dark Brotherhood." Your goal with the faction is to become a warrior-priest known as the Divine Crusader, and along the way you'll encounter new locations, armour, weapons, and characters. PSP owners will also be getting a fix in the form of The Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion, a title with similar gameplay but a different setting. GameSpot dates this game for April 16th. UPDATE: Bethesda says the PSP version is aimed at "spring," whereas the PS3 game will be a launch title.
Fossil Sony-Ericsson Watch
Attempts to make 'smart' watches usually result in devices that are very expensive, but have only a limited appeal; weather updates from a watch are not as essential as getting the time. Sony-Ericsson and watchmaker Fossil have chosen what might be a wiser alternative. The two companies announced today that they are releasing four new Bluetooth watches that act as companion pieces rather than computers. The most advanced example of these is the pictured Sony-Ericsson MBW-100. Instead of replacing the wearer's cellphone, the MBW-100 wristwatch acts as a remote for several current Sony-Ericsson handsets: the user can accept or reject calls, display caller ID, and receive notifications about new text messages or when the phone slips out of range. The music functions of those phones are similarly controllable from the watch. This particular model will launch first in Europe for 300 Euros ($380 US); however, three new Fossil watches will be released in North America with similar features and a lower price. Two will receive the Abacus smart watch brand and should be available for $200 each in mid-October with either a metal or rubber strap; the all-black Fossil version will be available for $250 in late October. Click through for a photo of the three Fossil-made watches.
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