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News Archive for 06/10/06

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Forums: iMac 24-inch "too big"?

10/06, 8:35pm

Forums October 6

Forums roundup: Members are discussing the size of the 24-inch iMac and whether or not it is simply "too big" for daily use..... Others users discuss the recently announced iPod Shuffle and just when it will begin shipping to the masses.... Another user looks to members to share experience with the quality of Apple Care and how far reaching the service is.... One member looks for advice on the how he should go about fixing damage to a PowerBook G4 mutilated from a short fall.... Meanwhile, another looks for the latest news on the upcoming revision to the MacBook Pro flagship laptop line.

Aspyr releases Quake 4 v1.3 patch

10/06, 6:00pm

Quake 4 v1.3 released

Aspyr Media today released Quake 4 1.3 for Mac, adding several multiplayer maps along with two new game modes and the new Napalm Gun. The company also issued a note to Mod users: "Due to the vast number of updates and new functionality in the 1.3 Point Release, mods will have to be updated to the 1.3 code by each respective mod author in order to run correctly on the 1.3 version of Quake 4." Additional information for modders is available via the iddevnet.com website. The sequel to Quake II, Quake 4 enlists gamers in the role of Matthew Kane -- a member of the legendary Rhino Squad -- to penetrate deep into the heart of the Strogg war machine and engage in a series of heroic missions to destroy the barbaric alien race. Quake 4 begins only moments after the events of Quake II, with the Earth's fleet launching a massive offensive to the planet Stroggos. As Matthew Kane, gamers invade the alien stronghold, fighting alone, along side other Marines, and in mechanized walkers and hover tanks as they encounter the Strogg and their disturbing amalgamations of man and machine. Quake 4 is available for $50, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. The free update is available as a digital download from MacGameFiles.com.

Apps: PTHPasteboard, Searchlight

10/06, 5:50pm

PTHPasteboard, Searchlight

    PTHPasteboard 4 (free) updates the multiple pasteboard software for Mac OS X, allowing users to control settings via a Preference Pane in System Preferences. Version 4 includes a search field on all Pasteboard windows, provides access to information on Pasteboard items by right/control clicking on any item, and vastly improves hotkey support. [Download - 1.2MB]
    CuteClips 2 ($15) is a major re-write of the clipboard manager for Mac OS X, bringing native compatibility to Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. The update includes a new simple interface, a more informative preview of everything copied, built-in search functionality, and a new status item icon. [Download - 1.9MB]
    Searchlight 1.2 ($30) is a free upgrade for registered users of the network search tool powered by Spotlight. The latest iteration of Searchlight extends Spotlight to the network prior to Mac OS X Leopard's release, working "flawlessly" with Mac OS X Server installed in Intel-based Macs. [Download - 2.1MB]
    Sound Byte 3.1.5 ($25) turns a Mac into a "cart machine," playing sound recordings -- such as music and special effects -- for Djs, radio stations, and audio productions. SoundByte supports all audio formats supported by Apple's QuickTime software, including MP3, AIFF, WAVE, AU, sfil, Sd2f, and uLaw formats. The update fixes a bug that could prevent playlist windows from saving. [Download - 1.5MB]
    OSS 3D 2.0 ($30) utilizes DSP technology to add bass spatialization, 3D surround, and various other real-time enhancements to sound played through a user's Mac. OSS 3D provides 3d sound expansions similar to QSound and Spatializer, with additional functionality such as Speaker Resonance Correction, Virtual Subwoofer, Brainwave inductance, High Frequency Restoration, Center channel control, and more. [Download - 6.1MB]
    iRemember 2.0 ($40) is digital scrapbooking software featuring more than 3,000 clip art images alongside 15,000 backgrounds, borders, corners, buttons, tags, and ribbons. The application runs natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, features drag-and-drop support, and includes more than 650 templates.

Battlefield 2142 demo is out!

10/06, 5:35pm

BF2142 demo is out!

Thankfully for us, if not for EA, the elaborate release schedule for the Battlefield 2142 demo has gone to the dogs. It's now available just about everywhere; check here, here, here, here, here and here. To recap the contents, the demo is 1.08 GB and features one map, Sidi Power Plant. Two game modes are available: Conquest or Titan. Have fun! UPDATE: You may need a new build of DirectX 9 to get the demo working. Try this link.

Digidesign unveils Velvet for Pro Tools

10/06, 4:55pm

Velvet for Pro Tools

Digidesign today showcased numerous products at the Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention in San Francisco, and unveiled its new "Velvet" vintage electric pianos instrument plug-in for Pro Tools. Following demonstrations of the company's Mbox 2 Pro, Pro Tools HD 7.2, and VENUE D-Show Profile, Digidesign today launched its new RTAS instrument plug-in that delivers realistic emulations of electric pianos -- from classic to modern -- to a Pro Tools system. "Velvet accurately emulates the nuances of the original instruments, both in sound quality and playing feel, and is based on four legendary electric pianos--the Fender Rhodes Suitcase, Fender Rhodes MK I and MK II Stage Pianos, and Wurlitzer A200," said Peter Gorges, director of Digidesign's A.I.R. group. "Dialing up the perfect piano sound is easy--just select one of over 100 presets--or tweak the sound to your heart's content with unrivaled sound control." Velvet is due to ship in the near future for $250.

Monster Cable builds Einstein home theater system

10/06, 4:50pm

Monster Cable Einstein

Monster Cable has always existed at the periphery of home theaters in the literal sense of the term: most know it only for its cables and other accessories that play only a minor part. Not content with this role, Monster intends to get attention with its first proper home theater equipment by targeting luxury buyers, says CRN's Jeff O'Heir. The company is planning a home theater ecosystem codenamed Einstein that would ease the process of sending high-definition audio and video throughout a large home. At its heart will be the Nucleus, a $4,000 device that would serve as a media hub and home automation box; this would in turn connect through gigabit Ethernet or WiFi to local Electron devices ($2500) that would serve as the owner's direct controls over everything from home lighting to videos. Click through for more, including launch details and the extravagant DVD and satellite players that form part of the Einstein system.

iSkin ships SiLo for original Nano

10/06, 4:25pm

iSkin ships SiLo for Nano

iSkin today began shipping its SiLo protector for iPod nano, a protective skin designed for fashion conscious Nano owners. The SiLo features a silicone interior with a two-tone leather exterior, offering clickwheel protection with a rear belt loop, a removable mini vanity mirror, and a removable hand strap for carrying the portable player. Users can further enhance the look of the Nano with iSkin slims, creating custom color combinations to create unique expressions. The player is removable in SiLo's silicone layer to integrate with other compatible iSkin cases such as the DuoBand armband and Duo for Nano. iSkin SiLo is available for Apple's first-generation iPod nano ($50), and a new version for the second-generation Nano is due to ship in the near future. iSkin slims are available in 5-packs for $30 each.

iPod levy may tax Dutch citizens

10/06, 4:15pm

Dutch iPod levy looms

Electronics manufacturers rallied against a European tax on recordable media, even as a proposed Dutch tax threatens to raise the cost of portable music players -- such as Apple's iPod -- to compensate artists for private copying. Executives from Nokia and Philips Electronics said that the tax is out of date and that consumers are already paying for digital content twice, once as they purchase tracks legally via the internet and once for recordable media to store those tracks, according to Reuters. Those electronics manufacturers also said they are still at odds with the entertainment industry, and that the chairman of their joint industry group SONT is prepared to set levies for new devices. The new levy would raise the price of Apple's iPod by about $32, according to the report.

Fable 2 details emerge from GDC London

10/06, 4:10pm

Fable 2 details from GDC

Addressing the Game Developers Conference in London, Lionhead designer Peter Molyneux has shed a bit of light on Fable 2. Thanks 1UP. By Molyneux's account, one of the key concepts in the game will be ownership. You'll be able to buy several forms of property, ranging from houses and streets to dungeons and castles. Some properties will generate quests - Molyneux gives the example of thieves stealing wine from your cellar. In another form of "ownership," players will have a family. These relatives will love you unconditionally, moving to new homes as you see fit and adapting to your moral characteristics. You can be kind or cruel to them regardless; eating pie in front your starving child will at least anger your spouse. This system should also apply to strangers. Finally, some of your actions will have a temporal effect. If you save a gypsy camp from a band of enemies called Hobbs, the camp will eventually grow into a village, and later a town. Slaughtering the gypsies will leave the camp barren. Fable 2 is set to release for the Xbox 360 sometime in 2007.

Apple finally readies Core 2-based MacBook Pros?

10/06, 4:05pm

Apple C2D MacBook Pros?

Sources within the Apple reseller network have indicated that a long-awaited update to the MacBook Pro line is imminent, according to AppleInsider. Stores that have tried to request custom configurations of the laptop are being told that they will not receive their systems for another two to three weeks, according to the report. In the past, these shipping delays have frequently been signs of updates: the denial of bulk Mac mini orders in late August previewed the eventual release of the new dual-core models in early September. AppleInsider in turn claims that the new models are likely to remain similar to current models with the exception of the faster processor.

Despite its aggressive performance updates to the professional laptops in the first half of 2006, Apple has taken a more cautious approach to the Core 2 Duo processor, allowing system builders such as Dell and Lenovo to capture early attention with updated portables instead of launching simultaneously with the new chip.

Google in talks to purchase YouTube?

10/06, 3:20pm

Google to buy YouTube?

Google is in talks with video host YouTube to purchase the popular service, according to an anonymous Wall Street Journal source, which would give the search giant an effective monopoly over Web-based video. YouTube is reportedly valued at $1.6 billion, serving over 100 million videos per day. YouTube has been considered a problematic prospective takeover because its popularity stems from both legitimate amateur and official videos, as well as illegal clips from movies and TV shows that are often uploaded without its knowledge or consent. A move by Google to purchase YouTube could have serious consequences for Apple, as the absorption of YouTube into Google would give Google CEO Eric Schmidt -- who sits on Apple's board of directors -- a strong influence over Apple's recent movie initiative, and could result in the merging of Web-based video with Apple's largely closed system, according to Electronista.

Windows Vista RC2 released to testers

10/06, 3:05pm

Windows Vista RC2 Released

Analysts in recent days have been conflicted over the possibility of further delays to Windows Vista, with both Gartner and Goldman-Sachs providing contradictory reports on the readiness of Microsoft's future OS. The software developer addressed these worries Friday afternoon by officially distributing Vista Release Candidate to testers. This latest build is the final prerelease version to ship before the officially scheduled release to manufacturing on October 25th. Testers must currently be part of Microsoft's official beta testing group or developer program to download the new version. The number of known flaws is said to be falling rapidly and is expected to pass Microsoft's quality requirements for a final release, according to journalist Paul Thurrott.

GameStop pre-orders starting October 10th?

10/06, 3:05pm

G-Stop pre-orders on 10th?

A poster on 1UP's messageboards claims that pre-orders for the Wii and PS3 will start by October 10th. Supposedly a manager in Greensburg, PA, the poster says that while some stores won't offer pre-orders at all, those that will may require $50 down without the chance of using a trade-in. His account seems to vascillate a bit - he starts off by insisting on the 10th but then goes on to mention the 9th as a possibility. A contact for Wii-Volution also brings up the 10th however, so we may be in luck. Just remember that past rumours have sometimes been wrong.

WSJ: Google in talks to buy YouTube

10/06, 2:25pm

Google May Buy YouTube

Google is in sensitive discussions to buy the video host YouTube, an anonymous source has told the Wall Street Journal. The deal [note: link expires after Friday] is reported to be valued at $1.6 billion and would give Google an effective monopoly over web-based video, according to journalist Kevin Delaney. YouTube, which serves over 100 million videos per day, has been considered a problematic takeover prospect by many as its popularity stems from both legitimate amateur and official videos as well as the illegal clips from movies and TV shows that are often uploaded without YouTube's knowledge or consent. Google Video by contrast retains a significant but considerably smaller share of Internet video streaming.

If accurate, the move may also have substantial consequences for Apple, whose Board of Directors includes Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The absorption of YouTube into Google would give Schmidt a strong influence over Apple's own recent movie initiative and could result in the merging of web-based video with Apple's largely closed system.

PopCap comes to Europe

10/06, 2:20pm

PopCap comes to Europe

Having already conquered North America, Japan and the Steam network, PopCap is now working to gain a toehold in Europe. MCV writes that the company has established a regional headquarters in Ireland, and a beta version of a UK Website is in testing. From there the company will gradually deploy other versions in different European languages. PopCap is one of world's biggest developers of casual games, having developed titles like Bejeweled, Zuma and Insaniquarium.

Briefly: Apple mobile manager, IRIS

10/06, 2:05pm

Apple mobile manager, IRIS

In brief: Apple is recruiting a Mobile Marketing Manager for iTunes via its website, specifying a full time position in Cupertino, CA to oversee worldwide mobile marketing programs for iTunes content and feature campaigns.... I.R.I.S. Group -- a manufacturer of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) products -- today lowered pricing on its IRISCan and IRISCard Mini.... DigitalLife.com today announced that DigitalLife 2006 -- a consumer technology, gaming, and entertainment event -- will take place from October 12-15th, 2006 at the Javits Center in New York.... The Iconfactory today released Harmony Multimedia ($180), a set of 52 add-ons that extends the original icon collection into the audio and visual realm.... Braun -- a company known for its kitchen and shaving products -- is entering the digital camera market with two entry-level 6.2-megapixel cameras.... Spiderweb Software is holding its Force of Habit sale for the entire month of October, offering 10 percent off every game, hint book, and bundle.

Sony-Ericsson W810i now at Cingular

10/06, 1:45pm

W810i Phone at Cingular

Those who prefer Sony-Ericsson's interpretation of music phone functionality in the US have generally either turned to the expensive market for unlocked phones or settled for the middling phones that are sold through service providers. Help has come on Friday with word that Cingular is now offering the W810i to subscribers. The Walkman variant has been in shops for several months but still has features that are considered high-end today, such as a 2-megapixel camera, FM radio, and EDGE broadband. Like most phones in the Sony-Ericsson music line, it has a dedicated button to switch to music controls and comes with a Memory Stick (128MB) so that it can be used for listening right away. Cingular is offering the normally costly phone for $150 with a two-year contract.

FIFA 07 demo on Xbox Live

10/06, 1:45pm

FIFA 07 demo on Xbox Live

A demo of FIFA 07 for the 360 has been uploaded to all regions of Xbox Live. The file is about 800 MB, and allows one accelerated half of play (about eight minutes) at Wembley Stadium. The teams are Barcelona and Manchester United. New features pushed in this edition of FIFA include enhanced AI, better controls, and physics-driven player behaviours and animations. The 360 port focuses on improved graphics and extra online content, such as podcasts and a news ticker.

Virtual Programming debuts two games

10/06, 1:30pm

Virtual Programming games

Virtual Programming today announced the development of Championship Manager -- a game designed to bring players as close as possible to the highs and lows of real football management -- as well as Kult: Heretic Kingdoms -- an isometric computer role-playing game combining 3D technologies with an intuitive environment. Championship Manager features updated player and competition data, and is the only Mac game to contain signings from the January transfer window, according to Virtual Programming. The football management game also offers players the choice of camera angles and 3D TV aspects, as well as a simulated world where all non-selected leagues still play out through the game engine, enabling players to keep track of potential new signings and top points scorers from around the globe (pricing, availability, and system requirements were unavailable). Kult: Heretic Kingdoms is priced at $30, while Championship Manager will ship for $40 (system requirements were unavailable).

RE:Map 1.1 adds Inverse UV plug-in

10/06, 12:25pm

REMap 1.1 released

RE:Vision Effects today released RE:Map 1.1, an update to its kit of mapping and distortion tools introduced earlier this year. The latest revision offers floating point image support within Adobe After Effects 7.0, and adds an additional plug-in -- RE:Map Inverse UV -- that takes a UV Map and a color image that matches the UV Map to inversely project the color image to a rectangular image. Re:Map offers four other plug-ins which include UV -- which renders an image using a UV mapping; Distort -- which automatically distorts a color image based on the features for a caricature-like effect; Displace -- which wraps an image with a user-supplied displacement map; and Planar -- which maps or inverse maps a perspective plane defined by four points. RE:Map is available for Autodesk Combustion, Eyeon Software's Fusion, Adobe After Effects as well as Premiere, Apple's Final Cut Pro, Motion, GenerationQ, and other applications that support After Effects-compatible plug-ins. The upgrade is free for RE:Map 1.0 owners, and is available to new users for $150. Render-only licenses are also available for $30.

T-Mobile rolls out UMTS mobile broadband in the US

10/06, 12:15pm

T-Mobile UMTS in US

Next-generation mobile broadband in the US -- that is, 3G and beyond -- has so far been scarce, dominated largely by Cingular's 3.5G HSDPA network and only now seeing competition from Sprint's EVDO Revision A. Today, the American division of T-Mobile announced that it would offer a third option for 3G access through a major deployment of a Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) network. The carrier says it will spend $2.66B rolling out the option to all its users over the course of the next two to three years. UMTS is similar in many ways to HSDPA (though it uses W-CDMA instead of GSM towers) and can offer a theoretical maximum speed of 2Mbps downstream; numerous European smartphones already work with either standard, opening the possibility of phone launches in the US that would previously have been impossible. No devices were launched with the rollout, though T-Mobile states that the early network and accompanying devices should be ready by mid-2007.

XtremeMac's Tango to ship Nov 1

10/06, 12:05pm

Tango pre-orders begin

XtremeMac today began accepting pre-orders for Tango, its digital audio system for iPod. Customers who pre-order Tango via the XtremeMac website will also receive a free MicroShield two-piece hard plastic iPod case that will ship with the speaker system on November 1st. The Tango features two mid-range speakers, two tweeters and an independent subwoofer. The system is compatible with all dock connector iPod models, offering a line-in port for playing audio content from sources other than the iPod alongside an S-video jack and an A/V line out port for playing video content from the iPod on a TV. Tango ships with a wireless remote that offers bass, treble, and volume control as well as track selection capability. The system also includes a power supply with several international wall adapters, and universal dock well inserts to accommodate various iPod models. Tango is slated for shipment on November 1st for $200. [image]

Cryptic to remedy missing Fortresses of Solitude

10/06, 11:55am

Cryptic to fix baseblunder

Oops. A week ago, it seems, the bases of over a hundred Supergroups (guilds) went missing from the Victory server for City of Heroes and City of Villains. Left in their place were barren red grids - meaning that all the items Supergroups had accumulated were gone, not to mention the Prestige points earned by group members. Cryptic and NCSoft blamed the data loss on "hardware malfunction." Today, thankfully, GayGamer reports that the data has not been lost forever. "We're going through with a fix as of this morning," Cryptic has told affected Supergroups. "Here is what is going to happen when Victory is back up: Affected bases will be restored to the time of 2006-09-29 at 03:00:00 EDT. SG information such as rosters and rent were not affected. Restored bases will find that their prestige will go back to the time above. To help with this each affected SG will receive 1,000 prestige per SG member. We are very sorry for the trouble this has caused. Our folks at Cryptic and NCsoft have been working very hard on this. All options were explored and the action taken here was deemed to be the best solution possible."

Intel accused of "open-source fraud"

10/06, 11:30am

Intel, "open-souce fraud"

Key OpenBSD developers have accused Intel of being an "open-source fraud" due to firmware "blobs" in open-source projects which are not distributed freely and without restriction. "By withholding, Intel is being an open-source fraud," said leading OpenBSD project creator Theo de Raadt, who went on to suggest that Intel should follow the example of other companies in the market, according to Slashdot and KernelTrap. "Intel must do this firmware grant in the same way that Adaptec, Atmel, Broadcom, Cirrus Logic, Cyclades, QLogic, Ralink, and LSI and lots of other companies have granted distribution firmware to be used by others." Apple receives its CPUs exclusively from Intel, but the Cupertino-based company also maintains its proprietary AppleACPIPlatform driver -- which is necessary to boot the current Darwin OS -- and was said to be stonewalling open-source developers by the administrator of the GNU-Darwin Distribution back in early August.

EQO Mobile gives cellphones multi-IM support

10/06, 11:25am

EQO Mobile

Instant messaging is now an expected feature of many cellphones, but the availability of IM networks is often tied directly to a particular carrier or handset. This can frequently cause grief for travelers who regularly use multi-IM clients such as Adium or Trillian at home. Choosing the EQO Mobile service provides that same level of multi-IM support on the road, according to its creator EQO Communications. Signing up for a free beta account and installing the Java-based software keeps a particular phone updated on several different networks at once and in real time, including the VoIP-oriented Skype. The service works on over 300 phones, EQO says, and lets users add new contacts without a computer. The company is investigating pricing for the software once it completes beta testing and notes that outbound Skype calls to physical phones carries its normal fees.

Shuffle owners protest "1418 hell"

10/06, 11:05am

Shuffle owners protest

Hundreds of first-generation iPod shuffle owners are crying out to Apple for resolution after upgrading to iTunes 7 and trying to update their iPods. Many of these users report that updating the iPod renders it unusable with an "Unknown Error (1418)," effectively corrupting the iPods with no way to restore them. Some posts on Apple's own support forum suggest that owners of newly-replaced iPod shuffles are also experiencing the issue, and Apple has yet to respond. Users have already posted at least three Web pages to protest the problem, petitioning Apple to remedy the situation and demanding a fix. Such sites already include "shuf2006 Petition online," "Error 1418 - Fix Our iPods!," and "Shufflers Unite."

Akimbo takes on Apple's iTV

10/06, 10:45am

Akimbo takes on iTV

Akimbo today unveiled a new RCA Akimbo Player with 100 hours of standard-definition video storage, offering consumers the ability to view movies purchased online on their TV months ahead of Apple's planned iTV debut. The iTV, which Apple debuted at its Special Event in San Francisco on September 12th, aims to serve a similar purpose by receiving wireless content from a home computer, displaying that online content on the TV. The new Akimbo Player allows users to purchase content from online store MovieLink, charging subscribers $10 per month to buy classics as well as new releases and view them directly on a TV through the company's new RCA-made equipment, according to Electronista. The improved hardware also features component video out as well as an optional WiFi adapter, and existing subscribers can upgrade for a $30 shipping fee when the device launches the week of October 23rd. New subscribers can purchase the Akimbo player for $180. Apple's iTV is expected to launch in early 2007.

Phantom Lapboard gets official launch information

10/06, 10:45am

Phantom Lapboard Launch

Phantom Entertainment (originally known as Infinium Labs) has been vilified for years for promises of unreleased hardware. In what may be a surprise to many, the company on late Thursday committed to a near-term launch for its new Phantom Lapboard. The device was originally intended as the central controller for the now cancelled Phantom Game Console but has since been reworked as a keyboard/mouse hybrid for Macs and Windows used in the living room as a home theater PC. The keyboard tilts upwards and rotates to reveal a mousing surface underneath; Phantom says that the USB-based device rotates a full 360 degrees so that left-handed mouse users and others can get a comfortable fit.

In the announcement, Phantom revealed that the Lapboard will ship in November for $129, but is available for $99 through pre-orders from the company website.

Intel looking to acquire Nvidia?

10/06, 10:35am

Intel after Nvidia?

With CPU maker AMD having bought graphics specialists ATI, rumours have been circulating that Intel will buy Nvidia in a similar move. GameDaily reports that Nvidia shares rose eight percent on Wednesday as a result of speculation. But no announcement has been made yet, and a number of analysts think an acquisition is unlikely. Nvidia's stock market capitalization may be as much as $10 billion US - a very expensive purchase. Intel also has its own graphics technology, unlike AMD prior to the ATI buyout. Both GameDaily and Next-Gen spoke to analysts who believe the Nvidia management has a personal attachment to the company. In any case, with ATI being off-limits, Intel doesn't have much choice but to turn to Nvidia for high-end graphics.

Road Trip Effect comes to Intel Macs

10/06, 10:30am

Road Trip Effect 2.5

Sol Robots today released Road Trip Effect 2.5, a video effect generator that plots paths over maps and other images that lets users create video travel logs. The update runs natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, improving the quality of final generated QuickTime output. The application also offers additional airplane and automobile icons with customizable size and color. Road Trip Effect Standard features unlimited trip points alongside custom maps, icons, labels, and colors. The Pro version inherits all the functionality of the Standard edition, adding unlimited layers. Road Trip Effect Pro 2.5 is priced at $25, while the standard edition is available for $10. Road Trip Effect 2.5 requires Mac OS X 10.1 or later, and the upgrade is free for existing users.

Akimbo RCA upgrade adds MovieLink, challenges iTV

10/06, 10:20am

Akimbo MovieLink Upgrade

While the Slingbox line of media hubs are meant to stream TV signals to the Internet, the sometimes overlooked Akimbo service works in reverse, delivering Internet content to a TV. Most of its content has been specially offered through subscriptions; today, however, Akimbo revealed that it is releasing a new RCA Akimbo Player which now includes 100 hours of standard-definition video storage and, most importantly, support for purchases from online store MovieLink. Subscribers to the $10 per month Akimbo service can buy classics as well as new releases and view them directly on a TV through the new RCA-made equipment. Akimbo notes that the improved hardware also has component video out and an optional WiFi adapter.

Existing subscribers can upgrade to the new device for a $30 shipping fee when it ships the week of October 23rd, Akimbo says. New subscribers can purchase the Akimbo Player for $180.

The significance of the announcement is magnified by its similarity to Apple's as yet unreleased iTV hub. As viewing movies purchased online forms a cornerstone of Apple's upcoming TV strategy, the Akimbo update represents a threat by delivering this feature months ahead of the iTV's anticipated early 2007 release.

NotePods prep students for exams

10/06, 10:00am

NotePods prep students

InterLingua Educational Publishing today launched NotePods, its collection of audio downloads for iPods and other MP3 players designed to help students with exams as well as term papers. NotePods are audio summaries of books and plays by Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, and other required authors that are playable on student iPods, MP3 players, or computers. The NotePods, which are written by University instructors and recorded by professional actors, will eventually span nearly 500 titles commonly assigned in high schools as well as colleges. Students can download text versions of the summaries, which are readable on iPods as well as computers. The NotePods.com website also plans to add a "Test Questions Blog" with typical exam questions on various book titles. NotePods -- which currently include titles such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Animal Farm, and Catcher in the Rye -- are available for $1.99 each.

NI debuts Guitar Rig Software Edition

10/06, 9:50am

Guitar Rig Software debuts

Native Instruments (NI) today unveiled Guitar Rig 2 Software Edition, a software-only version o fits digital guitar studio. Geared toward producers looking for a professional, affordable guitar and bass recording solution, the Software Edition offers the full functionality of the software without any limitations, with only the Rig Kontrol pedal remaining exclusive to the standard GUITAR RIG 2 package. Guitar Rig 2 Software Edition is based on the upcoming 2.2 version of the Guitar Rig software, which will include three additional components as well as support for Intel-based Macs. Guitar Rig 2.2 will be available later this month, and the Guitar Rig 2 Software Edition is slated for shipment in November for $340.

Braun pursues the digital camera market

10/06, 9:40am

Braun Digital Cameras

Braun is known for its kitchen and shaving products, not entertainment products -- but a recent announcement by the German photography branch of the company will see the company more aggressively pursue digital cameras. Rather than compete directly against the high-end models of established companies, Braun has opted to target newcomers. The lead models are the 6.2-megapixel D600 and D800 cameras. Both have 32MB of internal memory and feature a unique interpolation feature that claims to increase the effective resolution of an image to 8 megapixels without losing image quality. They are primarily separated by LCD size: the higher-end D800 has a 2.4-inch LCD while the D600 uses a smaller 2-inch screen.

Also part of the launch were three ultra-compact, budget cameras with 16MB of flash memory: the 3.1-megapixel D312 without optical zoom, 4-megapixel D410 with 3X optical zoom, and the 5.3-megapixel D504. Pricing and launch details are unavailable. Click through for photos courtesy of Let's Go Digital.

Star Wars Empire at War: Forces of Corruption demo

10/06, 9:35am

SW: F. of Corruption demo

LucasArts and Petroglyph have released a demo for Forces of Corruption, their expansion to the PC RTS Empire at War. The file is 605.45 MB and includes one mission, asking the player to corrupt the planet of Mandalore and start up a black market on Nal Hutta. Demo mirrors are up here, here, here, here and here. Empire at War has players alternate between a turn-based strategic game and real-time battles set in space and on planetary surfaces. The full version of Forces of Corruption should be shipped on October 24th.

L.A. Noire trailer

10/06, 9:15am

L.A. Noire trailer

As promised, Rockstar has released the first full-length trailer for L.A. Noire, an action-adventure game by Team Bondi. The new clip shows an extended cinematic chase through the streets of Los Angeles. You can watch it below.

Onkyo Wavio media hard drive for cars

10/06, 8:50am

Onkyo Wavio media drive

The portability of media hard drives such as the Unibrain iZak is somewhat muted by their need to attach to a home stereo or video system. The situation is different with the Onkyo Wavio MP-1000J, which is surprisingly flexible for those who simply want access to a large amount of content wherever they may be. Onkyo's drive enclosure is likely the first to include a 12-volt car adapter that can power the unit while it feeds audio or video to an in-car entertainment system. Likewise, the MP-1000J doesn't limit the user to a factory-installed hard drive. It ships with an empty 2.5-inch hard drive bay that gives the choice of as much storage as needed or even using different drives for different purposes. Support for 720p, optical audio, and rarer audio formats such as OGG round out its features. Onkyo is releasing the enclosure next week in Japan for the equivalent of $125; as the J label indicates, this initial version is Japan-only but should be followed in the future by a North American equivalent.

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