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News Archive for 06/11/27

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Apple posts holiday Get a Mac Ads

11/27, 10:55pm

Holiday Get a Mac Ads

Apple has posted three new holiday Get A Mac TV ads, which began airing on Monday during US primetime: Gift Exchange, Sales Pitch, and Meant for Work. Gift Exchange, similar to previous ads, features a (humanized) Mac and PC exchanging gifts. The PC, hoping for a "C++ GUI Programming Guide", receives an iPhoto-made photobook with pictures of other Get a Mac Ads ("all the good times"), while the Mac receives a C++ GUI Programming Guide. Sales Pitch sarcastically pokes fun at the "hard sales pitch" by PC vendors ("pulling out all the stops") in the face of buying showing rising Mac sales due to Apple's iLife suite. Meant for Work pictures a disheveled PC littered with stickers from kids, who admits that it is hard work trying to figure out how to "play well" with kids interested in blogs, pictures, and music. The PC says that a Mac is better suited for such tasks with "wild imaginations" with its iLife software suite: the PC, on the hand, is "Meant for Work," including balancing checkbooks ("10-year old kids don't have checkbooks"), inboxes, employers etc. All three spots feature Justin Long, who recently refuted erroneous claims that he was dropped by Apple.

Fonts/text: Safari better than Firefox

11/27, 9:25pm

Safari better than Firefox

Although Firefox offers advanced support for the Document Object Model to MIME types, at least one designer says that Safari is better than Firefox in terms of font rendering. A new blog post at Zeldman.com touts Safari's font display engine, including handling of italics, hyphenation, antialiasing, and more: "Firefox's way with text leaves much to be desired, as the following screen shots show. Indeed, if reading is mostly what you do on the Web, and if accurate typography makes reading more of a pleasure and less of a strain, then Apple's Safari is superior to Firefox.... there are multiple, overlapping Firefox bugs happening here--too many to fit into a bug-report form. I suspect that the problems have to do with Mozilla's reliance on its cross-platform display environment. If you scuttle what an individual operating system does well in favor of what a cross-platform environment does poorly, you get what we're seeing here. It's not good enough."

Zune reinforces Microsoft's dorky image

11/27, 9:15pm

Microsoft's dorky image

Microsoft's Zune media player just reinforces the company's "dorky image," according to a blog-review by The San Francisco Chronicle. The review concludes that Microsoft made some big mistakes when marketing the Zune, offering neither a price break (compared to the iPod) nor a "killer" feature-- the unique ability to "share" songs directly between Zune players, the review says, is extremely limiting. Microsoft's own marketing and product simply reinforces Apple's own Get Mac TV Ads, the review concludes: "With a little help from Microsoft's wannabe music player.[...] Zune, just out in time for Christmas, is not only getting some lukewarm reviews, it is reinforcing Microsoft's worst image problems. Either the Micro-guys are clueless dorks -- Zune is as expensive as iPod, bulkier, and is neither as easy to work as iPod nor as cool.... Bill Gates must grind his teeth every time one of those TV commercials comes on depicting the cool and very chill Apple guy talking to the doofus 'PC,' with his baggy khaki pants and Gates-like horn-rim glasses. But Microsoft has managed to create its own version."

Memorysolution Lavod LFA-262B audio player

11/27, 5:40pm

Memorysolution Lavod

German outfit Memorysolution has announced the Lavod LFA-262B, an extremely compact MP3/WMA audio player that has a microSD slot in addition to its onboard flash memory. The device is just 3.3 inches long and 0.4 inches thick, and supports card sizes up to 1GB. A two-color OLED display shows either lyrics or ID3 tags. The player also supports voice recording, and has two headphone jacks as well as a rechargable lithium polymer battery that allows over six hours of playback. A 1GB model of the Lavod is selling for 35 ($46) at retail, while a 2GB model is on offer for 45 ($59).

Nike adds Amp+ to Nike+ iPod line

11/27, 5:20pm

Nike adds Amp+ remote

Nike is adding the Amp+ to its Nike+ iPod line, a Bluetooth remote bracelet that allows users to control playback without touching an iPod while displaying relevant information -- such as running statistics -- from the player in real-time. Data is projected through an LED readout tucked beneath the black matte surface of the bracelet, according to Men's Health. The Nike+ line features shoes designed to work with special hardware and software for the iPod Nano, keeping track of runs while providing audio feedback. The new remote bracelet is designed to keep the iPod nano away from sweat, which is a notable issue with many runners using the new system, according to Electronista. The Amp+ is slated for shipment some time in 2007 for $80.

Apps: MovieChapterizer, TinyBooks, C4

11/27, 5:10pm

MovieChapterizer, TidyUp

    MovieChapterizer 1.1 ($15) enables users to add chapters to videos as well as sound files that are playable in QuickTime Player. Supported formats include mov, avi, mp3, H.264 (high-definition), AIFF, and more. MovieChapterizer provides an easy-to-use interface for adding chapter names to any chosen frame in a video or position in a sound file. [Download - 2.4MB]
    TinyBooks 4.0.2 ($50) updates the 'ultra simple' accounting and bookkeeping software designed for home users and small businesses. The latest revision vastly simplifies and enhances the creation of a set of books both for new and long-time users. [Download - 229KB]
    24U SimpleHelp Plug-In 3.2.1 and 24U SimpleFile Plug-In 1.0.2 ($50 each) 24U SimpleHelp Plug-In 3.2.1 enables developers to use interactive help tools such as help tags (tool tips), coachmarks, or roll-over effects for layout objects and controls. The update works with FileMaker Pro Runtime. 24U SimpleFile Plug-In 1.0.2 allows users to create, delete, copy, move, rename, read, and edit all files as well as folders directly from databases. The update removes file size limits for reading files and limit of returnable items in a directory listing. [Download - SimpleHelp 3MB, SimpleFile 2.3MB]
    C4 Game Engine build 130 ($200) updates the graphical engine for game developers, implementing an example of a polyboard particle system and adding a workaround to the Collada Importer that would handle erroneous bone weights of zero generated by the ColladaMax. The latest release also fixes a scale problem that affected Collada exports from 3D Studio Max, and repairs an issue that could prevent animations from importing correctly. [Download - 35.3MB]
    TidyUp 1.2.0 ($30) enhances the duplicate finder and disk tidiness utility, adding the ability to automatically check for updates. TidyUp enables users to search for duplicate files as well as packages by the owner of the application, content, type, creator, extension, date modified, date created, name, and more. The application also searches audio files by tag, duration, bit rate, and more. [Download - 4.2MB]
    MusicRenamer 2.0 ($10) renames MP3, AAC, M4P and M4A files in a consistent format to keep music libraries organized. The update supports a customizable naming scheme, allowing users to rename songs with combinations of the artists name, album name, track number, song title, composer, and genre in any order specified. [Download - 5.8MB]

Bushnell enters the GPS field with three models

11/27, 4:55pm

Bushnell GPS Trio

Bushnell this afternoon launched its first major efforts in the GPS receiver market by introducing three new units targeted at both drivers and frequent walkers. Leading the introductions is the NAV 500 (pictured), a full-function receiver with a 3.5-inch color touchscreen that displays both road directions and pedestrian routes. Maps of Canada and the US are preloaded while the device also adds music and photo playback. The NAV 500 is already shipping for a $599 official price.

Also revealed were the ONIX 200 and ONIX 200 CR, two more portable handhelds that introduce a rare layering feature, according to Bushnell. Either model can display satellite photography overlaid with map data, providing a real-world visual reference for buildings and other landmarks. These too share built-in North American maps but shed the extra media abilities of the range-topping NAV 500. The basic ONIX 200 is shipping this month for $200 and sports a 160x240 grayscale screen; the CR version adds a double-length 320x240 color screen for improved results and will ship in February. Pricing remains unknown.

Nike Amp+ remote bracelet for iPods

11/27, 4:45pm

Nike Amp+ remote bracelet

Nike is adding a new product to the Nike+ iPod line, according to Men's Health. The Amp+ is a Bluetooth remote bracelet that not only lets users control playback without touching their iPod, it displays relevant information from a player (such as running statistics) in real-time. The data is projected through an LED readout tucked under the black matte surface of the bracelet. The Amp+ should be released sometime in 2007 for the price of $80. The Nike+ line features shoes designed to work with special hardware and software for the iPod Nano, keeping track of runs while providing audio feedback at the same time. The lack of a remote to keep sweat off Nanos has been a noticeable issue.

VTS-384 vacuum tube iPod dock debuts

11/27, 4:30pm

Vacuum tube iPod dock

RockridgeSound has unveiled its VTS-384, marking another iPod dock that relies on vacuum tubes rather than transistors to produce what some audiophiles claim is richer sound. The 384 spans frequencies between 80Hz and 20KHz, and each of its three-inch internal speakers boasts 5W of power, according to Electronista. The dock connects to headphones or external speakers for greater output, and supports all iPods from the third generation onward. The company notes, however, that remote control functions for third-generation iPods are limited to play/pause and skipping options. The 384 debuts in February of 2007 in Japan for $700.

Vine Viewer VNC software released

11/27, 4:20pm

Vine Viewer released

Redstone Software today launched Vine Viewer, a Virtual Networking Computing (VNC) viewer for Mac OS X. The software enables users to connect to any VNC server on any operating system, providing access to as well as control over remote computers. Vine Viewer features remote screen capture, QuickTime movie recording, viewer window scaling, and 8-bit VNC server support that enables remote control of PDA devices. Combined with Vine Server -- formerly known as OSXvnc -- the application offers rich clipboard support including copy as well as paste file exchange, as well as secure shell (SSH) security. Vine Viewer is available for $25 for a limited time, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.

TEAC intros Multifunction Drive

11/27, 4:15pm

TEAC Multi Portable Drive

TEAC on Monday started shipping its Multifunction Portable Drive for the American market. The drive combines a 40GB hard drive with a multi-slot card reader that lets its owner press a single button to transfer photos or other files directly from CompactFlash, Memory Stick, and SD cards to the hard drive for temporary storage before the reader is connected to its host Mac OS X or Windows PC. The reader can additionally erase files from the cards itself and operates without an external power source courtesy of a lithium-ion battery, according to Electronista. TEAC says that the drive will ship on December 1st but has not listed an official price. Larger 80GB and 120GB models have been announced for other regions and are expected for a future American release.

TEAC debuts Multifunction Portable Storage Drive

11/27, 4:00pm

TEAC Multifunction Drive

TEAC on Monday started shipping its Multifunction Portable Drive to the US. The drive merges a 40GB notebook-class hard drive with a multi-format card reader, allowing its owner to transfer photos or other files directly from CompactFlash, Memory Stick, and SD flash cards to a hard drive for temporary storage until returning to a Mac OS X or Windows PC to transfer information through USB 2. The reader can automatically copy files with a single button press, erase files from cards itself, and operate independently of any external power source courtesy of a lithium-ion battery, TEAC says. No price information has been given, but TEAC indicates that the drive will ship on December 1st. Larger-capacity 80GB and 120GB models have been announced for other regions and are anticipated for a later North American release.

Iqua miniUFO hands-free Bluetooth set

11/27, 3:55pm

Iqua miniUFO Bluetooth set

The Iqua miniUFO is a hands-free Bluetooth set meant for cellphones and PDAs. Due to its light, disc-shaped design, the UFO can be easily attached to surfaces like dashboards or sun visors, and taken with when leaving a vehicle. Four buttons and voice dialing make the unit safer to operate while driving. Iqua also touts the set's usefulness with a PC, saying it can be used to make VoIP calls with (unspecified) compatible software packages. The battery can handle as much as 10 hours of talk time or up to 450 hours of standby. The company is presently selling the miniUFO for $89.

Age of Empires III for Mac ships

11/27, 3:50pm

Age of Empires III ships

Destineer's MacSoft unit today began shipping the Mac version of Age of Empires III, its real-time strategy game that picks up where Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings left off. Players become one of eight European powers exploring, colonizing, and conquering the new world. "Featuring amazing 3D graphics, remarkable Ageia PhysX technology, and an innovative Home City feature that lets players 'level-up' their evolving home city to strengthen their economy, technology, and military, 'Age of Empires III' for Macintosh sets many new standards for real-time strategy games." Players command rifled infantry to scatter soldiers and blast buildings with cannon fire, directing cavalry through plains while navigating naval fleets to hold strategic waterways. The game is priced at $50 from Amazon.com, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later with a 64MB or better video card.

Raymarine displays get Sirius weather updates

11/27, 3:25pm

Raymarine Sirius Weather

Sirius has announced that it will produce the SR100, a satellite radio adapter for sea navigation maker Raymarine's E-series boat mapping displays (pictured). Sirius has adapted the mapping service it normally provides for drivers to water-based travel, exchanging the former's road condition monitoring for naval weather updates. The SR100 provides boat pilots with real-time weather radar that also warns of storms and potentially deadly lightning hotspots; the unit also keeps track of more complex data like sea temperature and wave height to help smaller ships navigate, Raymarine says. Sirius plans to formally debut the SR100 at CES in January for $1,000 while the E-series is already available starting at $3,200.

Briefly: 2G Shuffle review; Jobs no. 5

11/27, 3:20pm

2G iPod shuffle review

In brief: MacNN has reviewed Apple's second-generation iPod shuffle ($80, shown at right), Apple's recently released miniature MP3 player that features a built-in belt clip with 1GB of storage.... Apple CEO Steve Jobs has placed no. 5 in the Atlantic online's 'Top Living Influentuals'.... Two new Apple Authorized Resellers have opened in Beijing, China, with another store expected to open late next month.... Bombia Design has released two new freeware icon sets called 'Eye Candy Vol. 2' and 'Ghost System'.... A new store selling only iPods and accessories (Italian) has opened its doors from 5:00 p.m. to midnight in the Warner Village Cinemas Parco de' Medici, Italy.... FreshBooks has released FreshBooks 3.6, an update to the Mac-compliant online invoicing and time tracking service (from $40/mo.) that features account credits capabilities.

Soundwave intros unusual MP3 Ball

11/27, 2:40pm

Soundwave MP3 Ball

Soundwave, a frequent producer of flash-based music players, has today debuted the MP3 Ball. Its spherical shape is attention-seeking in appearance but avoids the hard edges that can cause problems with most music players. However, the company notes, the MP3 Ball has also been given a soft-touch rubber finish that ensures a safe grip. The player stores up to 1GB of MP3 songs and has six EQ presets for customizing its sound. Support for text lyrics is equally built-in. Online retailer Grattan delivers the MP3 Ball for a price of 40 ($77).

DataPlot 2D plotting tool released

11/27, 2:35pm

DataPlot released

An avid Mac developer has developed and released DataPlot, a new "simple and powerful" 2D plotting tool. Developer David Adalsteinsson, who created the scientific visualization tool DataTank, designed the new software as a result of a discussion at the recent World Wide Developers Conference 2006 about the need for a simple 2D plotting tool, according to MacResearch. The application includes an area for the data set to explore, display options, and a graph display. A "Parameters" button opens a side panel with access to sliders as well as other interactive controls, and visual graph commands line the top of the window. DataPlot ($30) runs natively on PowerPC and Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary (system requirements were unavailable).

Apps: ReelBean, JABMenu, CoverScout

11/27, 2:30pm

ReelBean, JABMenu, ...

    ReelBean 2.4 ($15) is a movie converter and player application for Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger). It support conversion to many formats, including iPod, QuickTime, MPEG4, H.264, AVI, etc and can play over 50 formats of video and audio. Uses can also extract individual video and audio tracks into new files. It also offers an adjustable video transparency controller, add audio tracks to videos, save video frames as images, record audio, change playback speed, auto start movies from last point played when re-opening, and add annotations to videos. It is a Universal Binary. [Download - 4.7MB]
    JABMenu 1.2 ($10) offers OS X Address Book data through a system-wide menu. The application provides quick access to contacts' phone numbers, email, and postal addresses. It can display the content in large type, copy it to the clipboard, creating a new email, dial the phon, or showing an address on a map using the Google Maps service. Version 1.2 adds international map options, multiple contact selection, the ability to insert contact data into a text window, and geographical sorting. It requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. [Download - 844KB]
    CoverScout 2.3 ($20) updates the artwork solution for Apple's iTunes, providing an intuitive interface to search artwork in archives such as Amazon, Google Images or the Web. Version 2.3 adds full support for the iSight or any other QuickTime compatible webcam, allowing users to capture their own covers; it also features a built-in cover editor with crop, scale and rotate functions. In addition, a new "maintenance" status adds a listing of albums with unknown status, missing or incomplete covers. [Download - purchase]
    iPiece 1.1 ($10) will show a magnifier window right next to the system cursor. "Whenever you want to see things closer, double-click the eyeglasses icon in the menu bar and iPiece's magnifier will appear. When you're done with the magnifier, double-click the icon again and it will disappear until you want it back." Version 1.1 adds customizable hot keys for toggling magnification, zooming in and out, and growing/shrinking the sample area. It is a Universal Binary. [Download - 488KB]
    FotoMagico 1.8 ($80) now integrates libraries from Apple's Aperture software, allowing photos to be accessed directly from within the application. It also adds a "New with Template" command for users to create slide shows with the correct settings for the final presentation environment. The software produces advanced slideshows with titles, music, and more. It runs on Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. [Download - 15MB]
    iBank 2.1.8 ($40) is an update to the personal and small business financial application that offers smart import rules, balance forecasting, and smart accounts. Version 2.1.8 improves QIF importing and reliability when deleting transactions and profit/loss statements as well as fixes a few gus. iBank 2.1.8 is a free upgrade for all registered users. Upgrades from v1.x are $10. [Download - 6.6MB]

XCM tests PlayStation, PS2, USB adapter for Xbox 360

11/27, 2:15pm

XCM Adapter for Xbox 360

Hardware developer XCM said today that it hopes to aid first-person shooter gamers with its XFPS 360 adapter. While it plugs into an available USB port on the Xbox 360 console, the adapter serves not only as a two-port USB hub for connecting additional controllers but also provides support for legacy devices. Users can plug in any PS2 keyboard or mouse to replicate the more responsive controls of many first-person games for computers; a port also exists to plug in PlayStation 1 and 2 wired gamepads, XCM adds. The adapter further mimics some third-party gamepads with switches to control the turbo function for specific buttons. No definitive launch information has been provided by the company, though XCM is expected to finalize the hardware shortly.

APLX 3.5 comes to Intel Macs

11/27, 2:10pm

APLX 3.5 goes Univeral

MicroAPL has released APLX 3.5 for Mac OS X, an advanced cross-platform APL interpreter and development environment that runs natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. APLX is an advanced implementation of the APL Array-Programming Language, closely modeled on IBM's APL2 language specification, according to MicroAPL. The update boasts speed improvements of up to five times greater than previous PowerPC-based systems, and performance is notably higher in computation-intensive modeling as well as scientific applications. The time-limited fully functional beta is available for free, requiring Mac OS X 9.x or later.

Pileus "Flickr" umbrella

11/27, 2:05pm

Pileus "Flickr" umbrella

Designed by the Okude laboratory at Keio University, Tokyo, the Pileus is a concept umbrella that can transmit photos and video directly to Flickr and YouTube respectively. Images are captured by a digital camera, and sent to the websites via a WiFi transmitter in the handle. The umbrella also has a built-in projector, allowing users to visually browse their accounts by twisting the handle left or right. There is currently no indication that the Pileus will become a commercial product -- it has become increasingly miniaturized however, having gone from a wired, man-length design to the size and shape of an ordinary umbrella.

Nokia produces Lamborghini edition 8800 Sirocco phone

11/27, 1:50pm

Nokia 8800 Lamborghini

Nokia said today that it will produce a limited edition of its 8800 Sirocco phone for Lamborghini enthusiasts. Its conspicuous laser-etched engravings are visual reminders of the Italian supercar builder's influence, the companies say, but the device also benefits from subtle improvements in engineering. The ball bearings at the heart of the sliding mechanism are custom-made by Lamborghini for a better feel; a sapphire screen coating similar to that of the Vertu Constellation not only adds to its exoticism, but resists scratches as well. The Lamborghini phone is appropriately preloaded with related wallpapers, themes, and ringtones as well as a video documentary.

Technical features remain similar to those of the already premium existing version, according to Nokia. A 2-megapixel camera, EDGE broadband support, and 128MB of internal storage are said to complement the cars that will likely be paired with the handsets. Lamborghini is offering only 500 of the special phones at its dealerships worldwide, according to Sybarites. Pricing has not been revealed.

Apple may re-introduce 17-inch display

11/27, 1:30pm

Apple 17" display

Apple is preparing to launch a new 17-inch standalone LCD display -- the first since the company discontinued its 17-inch Studio Display in 2004 -- according to one report. Apple will launch its new 17-inch widescreen LCD monitors by the first quarter of 2007, according to DigiTimes, which will replace entry-level and mid-range 15- and 17-inch LCDs moving forward. Additionally, more efficient panel cutting by LCD makers will reduce the cost of new units, ensuring the new screens will not ship fetch a premium price upon their forthcoming debut.

Shuttle XPC X100 ultra-compact PC

11/27, 1:20pm

Shuttle XPC X100 PC

Shaped in a manner similar to the Nintendo Wii, Shuttle's XPC X100 is a PC with an ultra-compact form factor, measuring only two inches thick and 12 inches long. An optional stand holds the computer on its side. Up to 2GB of RAM and 750GB of hard drive space is supported, and video is supplied by an ATI Mobility Radeon X1400. For the processor, customers have the option of Intel Celeron M (1.6GHz), Core Duo (1.6-2.0GHz) or Core 2 Duo (2.0GHz) chipsets. Other built-in components include 7.1 SPDIF surround sound, an 8x DVD+RW drive, and a four-in-one (SD/MMC/Memory Stick/MS Pro) card reader. Shuttle is selling two base configurations of the X100 for $799 and $999.

SMSLib 1.0 improves calibration values

11/27, 12:45pm

SMSLib 1.0 released

Suitable Systems has released SMSLib 1.0, the Sudden Motion Sensor (SMS) access toolkit behind the company's popular SeisMac and SeisMaCalibrate applications. SMSLib is designed to ease the process of writing software that reads the SMS accelerometers included on all recent Apple laptops. Once a user has calibrated the SMS of a laptop with SeisMaCalibrate, every SMSLib-based application can utilize the stored calibration values, according to Suitable Systems. The latest revision of SMSLib includes smsutil -- a command-line tool that reads and outputs three-axis accelerations -- and features calibration values based on hundreds of submitted calibration records covering ten different Mac laptop models. Suitable Systems has also released new versions of its SeisMac and SeisMaCalibrate applications built on the updated library. SMSLib 1.0 requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, and is available for free as open-source.

Street Mouse TVR Tuscan

11/27, 12:30pm

Street Mouse TVR Tuscan

Produced by the Novelty Gift Company, the Street Mouse TVR Tuscan is nevertheless officially licensed by TVR, mimicking the curves of the automaker's famous supercar. It has working headlights and taillights, with the former being lit by blue LEDs. In practical terms the mouse uses an 800dpi sensor, and has three buttons plus a center-mounted scrollwheel. It comes with USB and PS2 connectors and is both PC and Mac compatible, though PC users will need Windows 98 or later. The mouse is generally selling for about 15 ($29), but Gadgeter has the product for a pound less ($27).

eREAD unveils ultra-thin eBook reader

11/27, 12:20pm

eREAD STAReBOOK

The Chinese firm eREAD has today released the STAReBOOK. The digital reader is one of the world's thinnest eBook readers at only 8mm (0.3 inches) thick and is meant to achieve an iPod-like aesthetic in the normally pragmatic world of eBooks. As with Sony's already-shipping Portable Reader System, the eREAD device relies on electronic paper to display text using a minimum of power. Because the paper only consumes power when refreshing text, a single charge of the lithium-ion battery is useful for thousands of pages, the company says. Books and optional MP3 music files are stored on up to 1GB of internal flash memory that can be upgraded through an SD card slot. Pricing is unknown, though the company says that the STAReBOOK is now available internationally.

Brando ships Car to USB FM Transmitter

11/27, 12:15pm

USB FM Transmitter ships

Brando today began shipping its Car to USB FM Transmitter, an adapter that plays music from any stereo minijack source -- such as Apple's iPod -- as well as MP3 music directly from SD cards and most USB drives. The adapter offers a dual-role LCD and button set to control FM tuning as well as track navigation. The design also adjusts in six directions to fit into tight spaces while plugged into the 12-volt power socket found in most vehicles. Brando is shipping its Car to USB FM Transmitter for $55, allowing owners to select from up to 15 pre-defined FM channels to obtain a clear signal.

Califone ships My First Keyboard for kids

11/27, 11:50am

Califone My First Keyboard

Califone today unveiled its My First Keyboard input device. The child-oriented keyboard is color-coded to develop better typing. With red marking both numbers and vowels, young typists can spend less time searching for keys as they write, the company says. The casing is built for durability over style and is made of ABS plastic that Califone claims is resistant to typical levels of abuse. A row of quick-access buttons at the top also contrast the keyboard with adult models: instead of media buttons, the device has a row of buttons for common text functions such as copying and pasting, easing the learning process for menus and key commands. Plugging in through USB or PS2 ports, the My First Keyboard ships now for $29.

Motorola ROKR E6 premiering in China

11/27, 11:40am

ROKR E6 premieres in China

Motorola's long-awaited upgrade to the ROKR line, the E6, is now being distributed in China. The primary feature of the phone is a 2.4-inch QVGA touchscreen, which is unusual for devices below the smartphone level. The E6 also has a full-sized SD card slot, allowing it to store up to 2GB of music. Motorola has jettisoned iTunes for the phone, however, and so is using RealPlayer to handle MP3, MPEG4, AAC+, WAV, and RealAudio files. A2DP Bluetooth stereo is supported and there are dedicated playback buttons on the side. Other notable features of the E6 include a 2-megapixel cameraphone, handwriting recognition, a document viewer, and barcode and business card scanners.

While the phone is only being sold in China the the moment, American users may be able to take advantage of it through the T-Mobile network, since its been upgraded after the FCC filing to support the GSM 900 and 1800 bands. The phone is selling for 4,280 yuan ($545) at retail.

Rivet ships Nano Combo Pack

11/27, 11:30am

Nano Combo Pack ships

Rivet International has unveiled its Nano Combo Pack (site not updated), an earphone lanyard and protective case combination accessory that works with both first- and second-generation iPod nanos. The company has redesigned it Grab case and merged it with its Rhythm earphone Lanyard, providing an adjustable integrated case and earphone combo featuring extended bass with sound isolation and tangle-free fabric cords. The device ships with three sizes of earbud gel tips to ensure a comfortable fit, as well as an extension cable for increased reach (pricing was unavailable).

Another hole surfaces in Mac OS X

11/27, 11:15am

Mac OS X hole surfaces

The French Security Incident Response Team has published another vulnerability in Mac OS X that could allow local attackers to cause denial of service. The new vulnerability is caused by an error in the 'kevent()' function when registering certain kernel events, and could be exploited my a local unprivileged user to panic a vulnerable system, resulting in a denial of service condition. The new vulnerability affects Mac OS X 10.4.8 and prior systems, and follows another hole that surfaced earlier this month relating to a memory corruption error. That exploit potentially allowed malicious users to crash the Web browser or gain control of the system entirely.

JVC readies dual-mode, noise-cancelling headphones

11/27, 11:15am

JVC HA-NC80 Headphones

Expanding its line of noise-cancelling headphones, JVC today launched the HA-NC80, its first dual-mode earpieces. Instead of applying a single, broad noise-cancelling routine that may ignore external sounds that fall outside certain frequencies, the NC80 can be switched between two distinct modes: a broader mode that blocks the higher-pitched sounds common in passenger jets or on the street, and a narrow setting that focuses primarly on the low-end rumbles created by buses and trains. The result is a system that eliminates 75% of unwanted noise, JVC says.

Equally designed for travel are the headband, which folds flat for storage, and the audio cable, which incorporates a second plug for airline audio and video sources. The headphones can either be powered by a single AAA battery or have their noise-cancelling switched off to conserve energy. JVC plans to ship the NC80 in December for $60.

Quattro stereo with iPod support ships

11/27, 10:55am

Quattro stereo ships

Sharper Image has introduced its Quattro 4-CD Stereo system. The new stereo is designed to save space by mounting both the satellites as well as the central four-CD player vertically, resting them close against a shelf or wall. The Quattro features a Universal Dock on top of the right speaker tower to both charge and play all dockable iPod models without getting in the way of the optical drives. Sharper Image promises quality audio with four true-dome tweeters per tower and the option of a powered subwoofer ($100) for extra low-range sound, according to Electronista. The Quattro is shipping for $500 via the Sharper Image online store.

Brando car FM transmitter with card slot, USB

11/27, 10:45am

Brando Car FM Transmitter

Brando this morning began selling its Car to USB FM Transmitter. The adapter plays music from any stereo minijack source, including digital music players, but is rare in its support for removable storage. The transmitter can play MP3 music directly from SD cards or most USB drives, according to Brando; a dual-role LCD and button set control both FM tuning and track navigation. Its design is also flexible, and can adjust in six directions to fit into small areas while plugged into the 12-volt power socket found on many cars. Owners can select from up to 15 pre-defined FM channels to obtain a clear signal. Brando ships its transmitter for $55.

Beatles coming to iTunes, Apple TV ad?

11/27, 10:40am

Beatles coming to iTunes?

Apple Computer is close to inking a deal that would bring the Beatles music catalog online as an exclusive offer via the iTunes Music Store, according to Fortune Magazine. Talks between the two companies continue over the possibility of a new iPod commercial featuring Beatles music, as well as a potential Beatles-branded iPod similar to the special edition U2 model. EMI Group in mid-November announced that recordings of the Beatles would soon appear online, fueling speculation despite a recent legal battle between Apple Computer and Apple Corps that left the record label owing the Cupertino-based company roughly 2 million in legal fees.

RockridgeSound VTS-384 vacuum-tube iPod dock

11/27, 10:35am

VTS-384 vacuum-tube dock

Japanese manufacturer RockridgeSound has announced the VTS-384, another new iPod dock that relies on vacuum tubes instead of transistors. Many audiophiles believe that vacuum tubes produce a richer sound. The 384 can span frequencies between 80Hz and 20KHz, and each of the three-inch internal speakers has 5W of power. The dock can also be connected to headphones or external speakers for greater output. All iPods are supported from the third generation onwards, but remote control functions for third-gens are limited to play/pause and skipping options. The 384 debuts February 2007 in Japan for 80,000 yen ($690).

Samsung releases rival to LG Chocolate with mobile TV

11/27, 10:20am

Samsung B5800 Slider Phone

Electronics maker Samsung today introduced its distinctive B5800 slider phone to Korea. The design shows a strong resemblance to LG's popular Chocolate handset and shares the concept of a central, circular navigation pad as well as contrasting number keys. Unlike the simpler LG design, however, the new Samsung device uses a scroll wheel with embedded buttons underneath that provide quick access to key functions: services such as e-mail and high-speed Internet access can be selected through a tap in a particular direction, similar to the iPod's click wheel.

The B5800 similarly adds support for Korea's ubiquitous DMB mobile TV format and can snap 2-megapixel photos, an upgrade from the 1.3 megapixels of LG's design. Bluetooth, MP3 music support, and a microSD card slot form the rest of its core features. Samsung is currently shipping the B5800 to Korea through cellular provider KTF; a North American release will likely depend upon either changing or removing the phone's TV support. Profile photos are available after the jump courtesy of Akihabara News.

Survey: 70% of retailers recommend iPod

11/27, 10:10am

iPod recommendation survey

Apple's iPod is still the dominant MP3 player and is recommended by 70 percent of retailers, according to early results of a new survey. The Channel Checkers asked numerous international retailers which MP3 player they recommend, whether they sell Microsoft's Zune, and how the Zune is selling. Preliminary survey results reveal that the Zune was recommended by some who cited its Wi-Fi capability as an attractive feature, and that price does not seem to offer an advantage to either Apple or Microsoft with regard to the company's 30GB players. Many retailers did, however, cite price as a negative factor for iPods while pointing to less expensive players that offer increased functionality, such as Creatives' Zen and the Sandisk Sansa.

Celestron shows IS70 scope with 3.1-megapixel camera

11/27, 9:35am

Celestron VistaPix IS70

Telescope experts Celestron today previewed the VistaPix IS70, a unique spotting scope for nature watchers and other outdoors viewers. The IS70 combines a 70mm, 14X zoom telescoping lens with a 3.1-megapixel digital camera that captures either still images or video of the viewer's subject. This helps preserve rare events or sightings and can even be used as a substitute for some macro photography, Celestron says. Photos and videos are stored in both the 32MB of built-in flash memory, which provides room for either 38 full-quality images or 30 seconds of VGA-resolution video, as well as the user's own SD cards for transferring files directly to a computer. The scope can also output its video directly to an NTSC or PAL TV. Originally planned for an October release, the IS70 is now set to officially launch in January at a price of $479.

Epson intros company-first 1080p projector

11/27, 9:00am

Epson PowerLite Pro 1080

Adding a new range-topping model to its front projector line, Epson this morning revealed the PowerLite Pro Cinema 1080 (not pictured), the company's first 1080p home entertainment projector. Though the company is new to providing the full HD resolution, it says the new system is designed from the outset to beat rivals in terms of image quality. A new three-chip LCD system named C2 Fine provides both faithful color reproduction and exceptional contrast levels, Epson claims: in combination with Absolute Black processing technology and the company's own E-TORL lamp, the new PowerLite Pro is capable of a high 12,000:1 contrast ratio. An updated AccuCinema lens also promises an evenly projected image. The projector is expected to ship to dealers in January for $4,999.

Verizon officially launches LG VX9900 enV phone

11/27, 8:20am

Verizon VX9900 Official

Verizon today officially released LG's enV, also known as the VX9900. In addition to the device's signature, lengthwise clamshell design that reveals a full-length keyboard, the Verizon edition adds support for the carrier's own software features. Users can buy and play music or video from the V CAST service, the company says, or use the bundled VZNavigator GPS software for location tracking. The announcement partially confirms earlier pricing details, establishing a minimum price of $150 with a two-year service contract. Information regarding one-year and retail pricing was not provided as part of the announcement. The enV is shipping today.

MaxConnect for Mac Pro debuts

11/27, 7:30am

MaxConnect for Mac Pro

MaxUpgrades today announced MaxConnect for Apple's Mac Pro systems. MaxConnect is an internal hard disk drive mounting solution that allows four additional SATA hard disk drives to be installed in the Optical bay of the Mac Pro system. MaxConnect for Apple's Mac Pro Optical bay internal hard disk expanion solutioun allows Mac Pro's to utilize two extra SATA DATA channels (available on the logic board) along with existing Optical Drive; its flexible design allows Apple's professional Mac systems to internally house up to eight (8) hard drives (using an internal 2-port SATA controller). The assembly is precision machined from aluminum, offers a "slip in design" in the optical drive bay (with no modification needed).

Fastforward releases FinanceToGo

11/27, 7:15am

FinanceToGo released

Fastforward has released FinanceToGo, a new finance manager for Mac OS X which seamlessly integrates dozens of financial management features into a single software package. Based on the standard double-entry accounting system, FinanceToGo allows users to track multiple accounts and thousands of transactions simultaneously. Transactions can be categorized, and graphs are automatically generated displaying where your money is being spent and on what. Reports and budgets can also be produced from the financial data you enter. It supports international currencies and banking systems as well as the ability to import Quicken Interchangeable Format (QIF) format files for existing Quicken for Mac users. It can automatically generate graphs of financial data, manage fixed and liquid assets, track stock investments, generate multiple reports (balance sheets, profit & loss accounts, expense overviews), and more. FinanceToGo, a Universal Binary application, requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later and is available for $35 ($10 off) through December 18th in a special introductory offer.

Victoria: Revolutions now available

11/27, 7:10am

VP ships expansion pack

Virtual Programming has released Victoria: Revolutions, an expansion pack to the original game 'Victoria - An Empire Under the Sun.' The new expansion is in a similar while offering several new and exciting features to guide the nation further throught history--from 1836 until 1936. Victoria focuses on six different aspects: Diplomacy, Warfare, Economy and Industrialization, Colonization, Technological Development, and Political Simulation. It offers 15 extra years of game play; an expanded tech tree to cover the interwar period, including aircrafts and carriers; a revamped election and politics system for a new level of realism; an overhauled military system, which will be linked with the player's policy decisions; and a new economic system that brings more realism through various economic models. It runs on Mac OS X and requires a 500MHz G3-based Mac. The expansion pack, available as a digital download, costs $15 and requires the original game.

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