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News Archive for 06/12/06

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Briefly: James Kim found, Mac charity drive

12/06, 7:00pm

James Kim found

In brief: The body of 35-year-old James Kim, a senior editor at CNET, was discovered today at 12:03 p.m. PT by rescuers searching for him in a remote part of the Oregon wilderness.... A group of independent Mac Developers representing 12 companies and 17 products are teaming up to donate all of the proceeds from sales of their various software titles on Thursday, December 7th to the Child's Play charity to provide toys and games for sick kids staying in children's hospitals.... Aspyr Media today released a Universal update to its Command & Conquer: Generals game as well as the Zero Hour expansion.... Wallop today announced rapid growth in its Modder Network, which is not dependent on advertisers but instead offers a unique marketplace where 'Mods' can be bought and sold to personalize user pages.... Take Control Books has released "Take Control of Your Domain Names" by Glenn Fleishman, an eBook designed to demystify the process of domain registries and the competitive registrar landscape.

DxO Optics Pro 4.1 comes to Intel Macs

12/06, 6:40pm

DxO Optics Pro 4.1

DxO Labs has released DxO Optics Pro 4.1, the Universal Binary Mac edition of its automatic image enhancement software. DxO Optics Pro is based on extensive analysis of cameras and lenses and is designed for amateur as well as professional photographers. The update offers increased speed with 2-4 times faster RAW image previews, feedback when adjusting sliders in Preview is more than twice as fast, according to DxO Labs. Viewing 'before/after' images is more than three times faster than the previous release, and viewing multiple images in the 'organize' tab is at least twice as fast. DxO Optics Pro 4.1 is available in Starter ($80), Standard ($150), and Elite ($300) editions, requiring Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.

Microsoft projects one million Zunes sold by June

12/06, 5:50pm

MS: 1M Zunes sold by June

Microsoft expects to sell one million of its Zune players by June, says the Associated Press. The statement was made by entertainment group VP Bryan Lee, who also claims that Microsoft will one day "be the leader" in high-end digital audio players. The company has considerable work to do: one million units is high for the average consumer electronics product, but Apple is boasting sales of 39 million iPods within the year ending September 30th. It was also announced recently that sales of the Zune fell from second to fifth place in the product's second week. Microsoft itself admits that the current Zune is merely a stepping-stone in its long-term plans.

Microsoft: 1m Zune sales by mid-2007

12/06, 5:35pm

1m Zune sales in 1H07?

Microsoft today said it expects to sell 1 million Zune players through the first half of 2007, and claims that such a figure would be a good start for the company. "We think that's actually pretty awesome," said Bryan Lee, corporate vice president for Microsoft's entertainment group. Microsoft unveiled the Zune in mid-November amidst clouds of speculation and doubt from industry watchers, according to the Associated Press. The 30GB Zune player -- which is priced equally to Apple's 30GB video iPod -- offers several features the iPod does not, such as wireless Zune-to-Zune music transfers which expire after three days. Despite this, however, 80 percent of consumers still pointed to Apple's iPod as their first choice for an MP3 player in a recent poll. The Redmond-based company's share in the digital audio player market decreased as reported yesterday after the company's initial entry into the business.

FlightCheck Online supports QXP Server 7

12/06, 5:20pm

FlightCheck Online

Markzware today launched its on-demand Web-based pre-flighting solution based on QuarkXPress Server 7. FlightCheck Online is a cost-effective, file-delivery solution that offers a convenient workflow for customers to ensure digital files conform to print-ready specifications. QuarkXPress Server 7 combines the design and collaboration functionality of QuarkXPress with server-based performance. Integrated with FlightCheck Online, the company is offering a online preflighting solution that allows customers to "pre-qualify" QuarkXPress files before delivering them for printing. FlightCheck Online checks the files against customized preflight rule sets defined by the output provider. It works with Mac OS 9/X browsers: Netscape 4.7, Safari (Tiger-only), IE 5.x (Mac OS 9), but not Mozilla Firefox. The server runs on Mac OS X 10.4 (running Apache, PostgresSQL, Developer tools, PHP, Sendmail, and ftp services). Pricing starts at $400/month.

Norco 5-bay SATA storage system ships

12/06, 5:10pm

Norco 5-bay SATA storage

Norco Technologies has begun shipping its DS-500 external SATA 5-bay storage subsystem with a PCI-X/PCI SATA host adapter. The system supports High Definition video stream (RAID 0 mode) with sustained data transfer throughput up to 230 Mbps/sec. The bundled adapter offers four external SATA II ports at up to 3Gbps each, enabling users to setup individual drives, RAID 0/1/5/0+1 or JBOD RAID arrays for high performance storage systems. The system is fully compatible with Mac as well as PC systems, and the latest firmware/driver included with the card allow Mac users to connect up to four eSATA subsystems simultaneously. Mac users can add up to 20 SATA hard drives with a maximum of 15TB combined disk capacity. The DS-500 storage subsystem is available online for $440.

Apple senior legal VP gets $18m in stock

12/06, 5:00pm

Apple legal VP gets $18m

Apple appears to have lured its recently hired senior-level legal executive with a stock grant worth about $18 million. Last month, the company hired former IBM legal exec Donald J. Rosenberg as its senior vice president and general counsel, replacing Nancy Heinen, who left the company in May of 2006. According to SEC documents filed this week, Rosenberg received a stock grant of 200,000 shares of Apple, which are worth just under $18 million at Wednesday's closing stock price of $89.83. The stock grant vests in four years, according to the regulatory documents filed. Apple has previously said that the 30-year IBM executive's focus on securities, intellectual property and competition issues has involved extensive interaction with the SEC, the US Department of Justice and the European Economic Commission.

Apple places last in Greenpeace report

12/06, 4:55pm

Greenpeace on Apple

Greenpeace today updated its 'Guide to Greener Electronics,' ranking Apple as the worst technology company with regard to environmental issues. The quarterly update is designed to measure the technology industry's performance on environmental issues, ranking the top 14 manufacturers of personal computers and cellular phones. The update reveals that most companies are committing to 'greener' manufacturing processes by following recommendations to eliminate hazardous chemicals from products, according to Greenpeace, and are adopting recycling policies for end-of-life products. Apple has again placed last on the report, displaying a "bad green policy" due to its policies and practices of manufacturing hardware.

Buffalo intros mouse with iPod-like scroll wheel

12/06, 4:35pm

Buffalo iPod-style Mouse

Buffalo declared on Wednesday that it had developed the RHW-01, a USB travel mouse which uses the iPod's distinctive circular scroll wheel to aid in navigating websites or other long documents. The design saves repetitive strain on the user's finger by allowing for a continuous scrolling motion and also conserves space, Buffalo writes. Its shallow, aluminum shell is only 8mm tall and weighs a single ounce.

The company claims to provide further convenience through the cable mechanism. A single button press automatically retracts the USB cable, storing the plug closely to the mouse body for easy storage in a travel bag. The RHW-01 uses an 800 DPI optical sensor for added precision. Black, silver, and white editions of Buffalo's mouse will go on sale in mid-December for $58.

Eavesdrop beta monitors FileMaker servers

12/06, 4:30pm

Eavesdrop beta for FSA

Crooked Arm on Wednesday opened its Eavesdrop beta testing program exclusively to FileMaker Solutions Alliance (FSA) members. Eavesdrop is the company's upcoming utility for FileMaker Server administrators that automatically monitors FileMaker servers and generates custom notifications. Eavesdrop is a customizable server administrator's tool that monitors the overall system availability, specific file availability and specific account status. It can be configured to provide information notifications to administrators directly on screen, via email or text message and can also trigger AppleScripts for additional flexibility. In addition, Eavesdrop supports password protected FileMaker Servers. FSA members can sign-up today.

16GB flash-based video iPods en route?

12/06, 4:15pm

16GB flash video iPods?

Apple may be preparing to launch a 16GB flash-based iPod that retains the video capabilities of its larger siblings, according to one analyst's notes. Electronista notes that Daniel Amir of the research firm W. R. Hambrecht believes the new iPod will ship in the first quarter of 2007, which is roughly the same period as Apple's anticipated iPhone launch. The analyst points to the combination of both products potentially increasing the demand for NAND flash memory next year. The analyst made no mention of what price a 16GB iPod would ship for, or whether the device would resemble the current iPod nano or video iPod.

James Kim found dead

12/06, 4:10pm

James Kim Found Dead

It is with regret that we must announce that James Kim, a senior editor at CNET, was found dead today at 12:03 PM Pacific by rescuers searching for him in a remote part of the Oregon wilderness, according to a CNN report. The editor, 35, had left the safety of his family's car in an attempt to find help and had left clothing strewn along his path as clues to his location. The cause of death has not been revealed at this time.

As fellow members of the technology news community, our sincere sympathies go out to James' wife Kati, daughters Penelope and Sabine, as well as all his coworkers at CNET. James died caring for his family and deserves a hero's commendation for his efforts.

Safe 'N Sound earphones ship

12/06, 4:05pm

Safe 'N Sound earphones

Yellowdays has released its Safe 'N Sound earphones, which the company claims deliver impressive sound as they protect the eardrdums. The Safe 'N Sound earphones feature a unique design with acoustic chambers that direct sound away from the inner ear to reduce potential damage to the eardrum, and are designed for comfort with non-intrusive ear hooks to keep the earphones in place. The Safe 'N Sound earphones are priced at $30, and work with Apple's iPod as well as most other portable audio players.

Pantech debuts camera-like PG-6100 phone

12/06, 4:00pm

Pantech PG-6100

In an unusual step for a historically conservative cellphone maker, Pantech on Wednesday introduced its distinctive PG-6100 handset. Its form, while still a clamshell phone in practice, is deliberately built to resemble a digital camera, complete with an external OLED display positioned to help take 2-megapixel photos with a more camera-like hold. Other features include MP3 playback, an FM radio, and support for both video playback and recording. The PG-6100 makes its official debut with the Argentinian GSM-based cellphone carrier CTI Movil this month; details of a North American equivalent were not mentioned with the announcement.

Samsung intros E890 touchscreen phone

12/06, 3:30pm

Samsung E890

Samsung has just made its initial release of the E890 in Singapore. The Korean cellphone maker says it borrows the touchscreen concept of many PDAs to save size and weight as well as simplify the user's experience: instead of a slide-out number pad, owners can dial numbers as well as control the phone as a whole by tapping the 2.3-inch screen itself. A pop-out stylus is included to preserve the screen, but the built-in sensors can also read less precise finger presses if necessary, Samsung notes. The phone is also multi-talented and caters to its mid-range audience with a 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.0, and EDGE support. Music is also playable in AAC or MP3 formats. The E890 can be had from cellphone carriers for $360 by itself or $298 when paired with a two-year service plan.

HANNSpree launches widescreen portable TV, DVD player

12/06, 3:00pm

HANNSpree Widescreen TV

Mobile TV maker HANNSpree has just released its HANNSmobi portable DVD and TV combination. Meant to be used equally at home and in the car, the set has a 7-inch widescreen ideally suited to DVDs but also incorporates a TV tuner for watching over-the-air broadcasts. This works regardless of whether the viewer is at home or on the road, the company boasts. A magnet-mounted external TV antenna ships with the HANNSmobi to boost reception while in a car or an interference-laden room.

Beyond DVD and TV support, the company adds that the player handles recordable DVDs and will play VCDs, JPEG photo discs, and CDs with either standard CD audio or MP3s. An integral lithium-ion battery is viable for up to 3.5 hours of continuous viewing, and a stand is built-in to rest the set safely on a desk or table. HANNSpree stocks its new TV today for $300.

Brightonnet unveils Tube Speaker dock

12/06, 2:45pm

Brightonnet Tube Speaker

Japanese manufacturer Brightonnet has announced the Tube Speaker for iPod, a dock that ships in black, blue, green and silver colors designed to match the aesthetics of the second-generation iPod nano. The dock works with any iPod featuring a clickwheel, weighing just 6.3 ounces and producing 4.4W of power from each satellite speaker. Power is supplied by four AAA batteries, or via a USB cable that enables synchronization functions, according to Electronista. The Tube Speaker is expected to ship on December 11th for $26.

Alsoft releases DiskWarrior 4 for Intel Macs

12/06, 2:40pm

DiskWarrior 4 ships

Alsoft today released DiskWarrior 4, enhancing the software designed to maintain, repair, and recover Mac disks on both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs. DiskWarrior 4 runs natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary and repairs invalid file permissions. The update includes an additional suite of file and folder tests to discover problems early, and identifies corrupted Preference (.plist) files. Users cam recover more data from drives with hardware malfunctions using the latest revision of DiskWarrior, according to Alsoft, and the application can repair as well as rebuild FileVaults. DiskWarrior 4 provides full support for case-sensitive file names, repairs and rebuilds Attribute B-trees, and repairs Access Control Lists (ACLs). DiskWarrior 4 is available for $100 to new users and $50 for upgrading license holders. The software requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.

R.A.W audio loops now available worldwide

12/06, 2:30pm

R.A.W available worldwide

IK Multimedia today announced the worldwide distribution of Sonic Reality's professional loop collection, R.A.W. The R.A.W (Rex, Apple Loops, and Wave) Universal Groove Kit is a universally compatible loop collection boasting more than 15,000 loops with 5,000 loops in each Rex, Apple Loop, and Acidized Wave format. The 13GB 24-bit loop collection on 4 DVDs comes with a wide variety of loops to make music in almost any style, according to IK. Sonic Reality is also offering its R.A.W Gold Edition featuring the full R.A.W Universal Groove Kit as well as 15 individual R.A.W Style Paks for a total of over 38GB of sounds with more than 42,000 loops. The Gold edition includes loops in the styles of Hip Hop Dirty South, Electronic Drum 'n' Bass, Vintage Rock, Vintage Soul, Sixties Motown, Nashville Pop, Country Folk, Jazz, Blues, World, Latin, Trip Hop, Urban, and more. The R.A.W Universal Groove Kit is available for $250, while the R.A.W Gold Edition is priced at $750. R.A.W Style Paks are available for $100 each.

Brando ships Robo-Pup webcam

12/06, 2:20pm

Brando USB Robo-Pup Cam

Brando today listed the USB Robo-Pup Cam. Shaped much like a smaller version of Sony's well-known Aibo pet robot, the camera does not move automatically but can be adjusted at its head and legs. As such, it can assume different poses that not only appeal to children but also position the nose-mounted lens at a comfortable angle. Its camera is limited to VGA resolution but offers the user a significant level of control, according to Brando. Brightness, focus, and white balance can be manually adjusted to fine-tune the resulting image or left in an automatic mode. The online retailer exports its Robo-Pup for $23.

Apps: Mactracker, JigSaw, RAGE, eSanta

12/06, 2:00pm

Mactracker, JigSaw, eSanta

    Mactracker 4.1 (free) provides detailed information on every Mac computer ever with details about processor speed, memory, optical drives, graphics cards, supported Mac OS versions, and expansion options. The latest revision includes the latest Apple hardware updates, as well as an addition to the 'Notes' tab called 'My Mac models.' Other changes include the addition of model icon previews in the main window and the ability to link to info windows using the 'mactracker://' URI scheme. [Download - 18.5MB]
    JigSaw 2.5 ($25) includes support for plug-ins, as well as improvements to RAR and PAR support. Jigsaw is a binary segmenter and joiner allowing users to create PAR2 sets and create checksum files as well as batch files for Windows users. The bundle includes a development kit, templates for Xcode, and a manual for plug-in development. [Download - 5.2MB]
    RAGE Google Sitemap Automator 1.5 ($35) is a free update to the software that automates the process of generating Google Sitemaps. The update runs natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, enabling webmasters to communicate directly with search engines to keep them informed about which pages to index and how often the pages are modified. [Download - 8.2MB]
    Mobile Manager 1.3 (unknown) extends existing support for Windows Mobile and Pocket PC devices to include support for Series 60, 80 and 90 Symbian Smartphones. The latest version of the software also offers a richer set of management functions to support new device features such as the latest Windows Mobile 5.0 AKU updates, with advanced security, device querying and reporting capability.
    Kids GoGoGo 11.5 ($30) enhances the Web filtering software for Mac OS X designed for children. The update improves movie log settings, Caster settings, restriction for video sharing, and user switching functionality. The latest release also enhances relations to KFS and improves the accuracy of site judgment, according to Maki Enterprises. [Download - 8.4MB]
    eSanta 2006 (donationware) makes it easy for children to send a safe and quick email to Santa. The software simulates an internet connection to the North Pole, negating the need for a real internet connection. Users can print out a letter or have it read to aloud with Mac OS X speech capabilities. A new "Thank Santa" function allows children to send a note of thanks to Santa after the holidays. [Download - 240KB]

Cyber Snipa Dog Tag toolkit/USB drive

12/06, 1:40pm

Toolkit/USB drive combo

Cyber Snipa's Dog Tag combines several convenient tools with USB storage. The sides of the Tag hide pliers, a screwdriver and a can-opener, while an LED light provides extra illumination. The real feature of the device though is its USB flash drive, which comes in increments of 512MB to 4GB, and can be removed from the Tag for safety's sake or simply to transfer to a computer. A light on the end of the drive indicates whether it's full, and the unit as a whole can be worn with a chain necklace. Snipa is selling the 512MB version for $36; at the high end, the 4GB model costs $149.

16GB flash-based video iPods in the works?

12/06, 1:40pm

16GB Flash Video iPods

Apple is likely to produce a video-capable iPod using 16GB of flash memory, according to a research note from W. R. Hambrecht analyst Daniel Amir. While most experts studying the computer company in advance of MacWorld San Francisco are focusing primarily on the heavily anticipated iPhone, Amir believes that Apple will introduce a player that merges the video capabilities of full-size iPods with the smaller and skip-proof flash memory of the iPod nano. The media player should be released in the first quarter of 2007, according to the analyst, which places its launch in the same timeframe as the Apple phone. Pricing and other details were not mentioned in the note.

Brightonnet reveals portable Tube Speaker for iPod

12/06, 1:10pm

Brightonnet Tube Speaker

Brightonnet today unveiled its simple, portable Tube Speaker for iPod. The 4.4-watt stereo set comes in metallic black, blue, green, and silver to match the aesthetics of the second-generation iPod nano but is compatible with any click wheel iPod courtesy of a universal dock adapter. The system is light and small enough for traveling at 6.3 ounces and 7 inches long, and can be powered by four AAA batteries. Brightonnet does not list battery life but does note that the Tube Speaker can be powered and synchronize its attached iPod through USB. The company officially delivers its speakers on December 11th for $26.

Voice-Activated R2D2 simulates the "real" thing

12/06, 12:40pm

Voice-Activated R2D2

Star Wars fans will probably enjoy the Voice-Activated R2D2 from Hammacher Schlemmer. The robot understands more than 40 voice commands, such as "turn around" or "behave yourself," and makes all of the character's trademark sounds, such as happy and sad whistles. An infrared sensor allows the robot to follow people around, navigate rooms, or operate as a security alarm when you're away. It can also play tag, answer simple yes-or-no questions, and trigger dialog and sound effects from the movies. Power is supplied by four AA- and four D-size batteries. Direct sales of the toy only begin in January, but SkyMall has it today for $120.

Briefly: Acrobat Reader 8; AMD chips

12/06, 12:20pm

Acrobat Reader 8, AMD

In brief: NotePage has released a free online tool that automates the creation of the auto-discovery code for RSS feeds, enabling users to enter the title and URL of the RSS feed to generate code based on the information entered.... Apple is apparently delaying shipments of its 15-inch MacBook Pro models following reports of grainy matte screens as discussed by members of the MacNN forums.... Adobe this morning released Acrobat Reader 8 for Mac, but the latest revision of the PDF viewing software is not a Universal Binary (Italian).... Extensis today launched a new corporate blog to enhance the company's commitment to serving its online community.... Neato has launched the MediaFACEonline Plus edition of MediaFACEonline, its Web-based design software that creates CD and DVD labels as well as jewel case inserts.... AMD has announced its entry into the 65-nm manufacturing generation with a new line of 65-watt "energy-efficient" chips which the company claims consume nearly half the power of Intel's Core 2 Duo chips.

Microsoft warns of Word vulnerability

12/06, 11:50am

MS Word vulnerability

Microsoft has issued a security advisory for a new vulnerability in Microsoft Word that could allow remote code execution by an attacker. The Redmond-based company is investigating a new report of limited 'zero-day' attacks using a vulnerability in Microsoft Word 2000, Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Office Word 2003, Microsoft Word Viewer 2003, Microsoft Word 2004 for Mac, and Microsoft Word 2004 v. X for Mac, as well as Microsoft Works 2004, 2005, and 2006. Users must first open a malicious Word file attached to an email or provided by an attacker by some other means before the attack can be carried out, and Microsoft suggests exercising extreme caution when opening unsolicited email attachments from both known as well as unknown sources.

O2 releases new, long-lived Bluetooth headset

12/06, 11:35am

O2's long-lived headset

British carrier O2 is continuing a spate of new product releases with the O2 blue, a Bluetooth headset with an extremely long battery life. Active talk time is 15.5 hours, and standby time can extend to as much as 22 days. For comparison, Sony's high-performance HBV-100 can only manage 12 hours of talking and 12.5 days of standby. The blue also has three quick-dial buttons and comes with a USB charger. O2 is selling the headset in its British retail stores for 50 ($99); for a limited time, the standard black version is being complemented by a white one, which comes with a stuffed polar bear.

Eleksen demos smart fabric case, keyboard for UMPCs

12/06, 11:35am

Fabric UMPC Keyboard Case

Smart fabric manufacturer Eleksen says it has developed a keyboard that alleviates the common complaints of UMPC owners. As yet unnamed, the device weaves Eleksen's own smart fabric into a QWERTY keyboard on the outside of a carrying case large enough for UMPCs. This gives the handheld computers, which often use on-screen keyboards as their sole typing options, a much quicker way to enter data without adding to their travel weight. The keyboard can virtually double typing speed, according to a test performed by Carrypad.

The case and keyboard combination is currently in the prototype stage while Eleksen seeks a large-volume buyer, but is likely to go into production sometime next year. Pricing will be determined by the number of orders, Eleksen says.

Apple reveals iPod game cheat codes

12/06, 11:30am

iPod game cheat codes

Apple's senior director of iPod marketing Stan Ng has revealed cheat codes for some of the company's new iPod games, saying that "there's a little bit more hidden depth to the games that people haven't discovered yet." Ng disclosed the cheats to iLounge editors for Vortex and Texas Hold 'Em, one of which generates a back picture of an Apple conference room while another portrays an image of Stonehenge. Ng confirmed that an Apple team exists which focuses on games for the iPod, admitting that game developers have approached the company with desire to create more titles for the player, according to Macworld UK.

Sun releases NetBeans Visual Web Pack

12/06, 11:20am

NetBeans Visual Web Pack

Sun Microsystems today released NetBeans Visual Web Pack and NetBeans C/C++ Development Pack (Windows only), offering developers tools designed to fuel the build out of next generation Web applications. The NetBeans Visual Web Pack is available with a visual design-time environment and support for Ajax-enabled Javaserver Faces components. The software allows developers to visually develop standards-based Web applications and includes drag-and-drop bindings to several data services with a data Provider API that supports binding to any data source. The NetBeans Visual Web Pack is supported across numerous platforms including Mac OS X, Solaris 10, GNU/Linux, and Microsoft Windows. Sun says the NetBeans C/C++ Development Pack has been tested with both GNU and sun Studio-based compilers, providing support for a variety of C/C++ project types with a makefile wizard to ease the adoption process. The pack also includes sophisticated language model features including dynamic syntax highlighting, code completion, code folding, and a class browser. The C/C++ Development Pack is supported on Solaris 10, GNU/Linux and Microsoft Windows operating systems.

Futiro releases freestanding Luna VoIP phone

12/06, 11:10am

Futiro Luna VoIP Phone

Futiro today launched its unique take on phone design through its Luna VoIP handset. In contrast to the utiliarian looks of most of these designs, the Luna is designed as a stylish centerpiece and has a flat base that lets it stand upright on a desk. This has its own advantages, Futiro says: although the handset plugs into a host computer's USB port, the upright position transforms the handset into a speakerphone, freeing the user's hands during less secretive calls. Echo reduction helps prevent these calls from becoming unmanageable. The phone is Skype-certified but should also work with most VoIP software. Futiro is already selling the Luna today for $75.

Treo 680 comes to Canada via Rogers Wireless

12/06, 10:40am

Treo 680 comes to Canada

Rogers Wireless has adopted the Treo 680, finally giving Canadians a chance to try out the phone. The issue has lain with the 680's use of GSM, since while there are two other national phone providers in Canada (Bell and Telus), Rogers is the only one with a GSM network. The 680 has been one of the most popular "mainstream" smartphones since its release in October, having features such as EDGE broadband, Internet radio streaming, and a low cost compared to its business brethren. Its main competition is the Motorola Q. Rogers' price range for the 680 begins at $300 CDN with a three-year plan, and scales to $500 without a contract.

Samsung intros extra-thin V9500 phone

12/06, 10:35am

Samsung V9500 Introduced

Furthering its reputation for slim cellphones, Samsung today revealed the V9500, one of the company's thinnest clamshell designs to date. It measures only 11.9mm (0.46 inches) when closed thanks to its use of special materials: a shell made of aircraft-grade fiberglass keeps the phone thin without compromising its strength, Samsung says. Its 2.2-inch QVGA screen is also large for its class. A 2-megapixel camera is promised, as is Bluetooth and a microSD card slot to store music and videos. With support for CDMA and EVDO broadband, the Korean handset is likely to appear in North America in the near future in addition to its recent release in Korea. A larger photo is available after the jump.

iPod dubbed legal in Australia

12/06, 10:35am

iPod legal in Australia

Australia's Attorney-General Philip Ruddock today issued a frequently-asked questions (FAQ) document to clarify the practical implications of his controversial copyright reforms. Calling the reforms "groundbreaking," Ruddock said Canada, England, and New Zealand are looking to follow Australia's lead on copyright reform, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The bill passed through both houses of Australia's parliament yesterday after significant revisions were enacted due to criticism from numerous parties. The bill, which before its revisions would have outlawed iPod ownership as well as singing 'Happy Birthday' in public, will become law by January 1st of 2007. The FAQ clarifies that it will be legal to record TV and radio programs for playback at a later date, and that consumers can copy legitimate music to an iPod or other audio device. The document also states that singing 'Happy Birthday' in a public place is perfectly legal, according to the report.

MediaREADY launches dedicated media center

12/06, 10:00am

MediaREADY MC Media Center

MediaREADY today said it had introduced the fourth generation of media center computers with its new MediaREADY MC system. Instead of relying on Windows XP's Media Center interface, the MC uses its own software to provide a custom, TV-friendly interface. Owners can not only watch and record TV shows on the system's 200GB hard drive but additionally play media normally inaccessible through other media centers. In addition to most standard formats, the MC provides simple access to FLAC and OGG music is provided alongside DivX, VCD, and SVCD movies.

Online access is also a staple of the device's features, MediaREADY says. A web browser, e-mail, and AIM messaging can connect to the Internet through either Ethernet or WiFi; the company bundles a trackball-equipped wireless keyboard and remote for full control from across the room. Any content can be displayed through component, DVI, S-video, and VGA outputs. MediaREADY plans to sell its new digital hub for $899 when it becomes available early next year.

Advanced Web Ranking 5.01 ships

12/06, 9:55am

Advanced Web Ranking 5.01

Caphyon has released Advanced Web Ranking 5.01, a tool that helps users check their website position on all major search engines. The software is able to query over 800 search engines and quickly reveal trends about rankings and can track the progress of rankings over time, displaying the information in an easy-to-read and understand graphical and tabular reports. In addition, the software can generate and email reports upon completion, schedule report generation, create various types of reports (Current Rank, Top Sites, Web Site, etc.), and supports many file formats (PDF, HTML, Excel, XML or Text). Version 5 features a Enterprise license that comes with user profiles, customizable filters, triggers, rank data export and a new project manager. Advanced Web Ranking costs $150 for the Professional edition and $60 for the Standard edition.

Digidesign launches Pro Tools 7.3

12/06, 9:25am

Digidesign Pro Tools 7.3

Digidesign today launched Pro Tools 7.3, a new version of the company's industry standard software for audio professionals that brings new features and speed enhancements for Pro Tools|HD, Pro Tools LE, and Pro Tools M-Powered systems. The update brings new music composition tools, customizable user enhancements, and improved post production workflows. Pro Tools 7.3 software includes new features for music creation such as Dynamic Transport mode, which allows playback to operate independently of the current selection, and the Loop Trim tool, which allows users to easily turn audio or MIDI regions into loops. New key signature features, loop preview options, and click track features also streamline music composition, according to the company. Upgrades are $200 for Pro Tools HD 7.3 ($80 for v7.2 users), $75 for Pro Tools LE 7.3 ($50 for v7.x users), and $50 for Pro Tools M-Powered 7.3.

Telestream releases Episode Series 4.2

12/06, 9:10am

Episode Series 4.2

Telestream today released Episode Series 4.2, an update to its scalable suite of desktop and workgroup media encoding applications for the Mac. The software enables users to deliver a wide variety of new media, such as Web, mobile, podcast, DVD and IPTV. Episode v4.2 adds VC-1, HDV and surround sound support and also brings Compression Engine into the Episode product family, completing Telestream's transition of Popwire products to Telestream. When configured into a cluster of Apple's Intel-based Xserves, the Episode Engine enables real-time HD encoding. Episode Series version 4.2 adds VC-1 encoding (the SMPTE-standard video codec) and WMA Pro audio, plus HDV and IMX encoding for professional users. In addition, a new ATSC A/52 compliant audio codec adds support for 5.1 audio encoding. Episode Series desktop encoding applications start at $400 (with the Flash 8 and "Pro" versions for $500 and $900, respectively); it is a free upgrade to existing users.

Apple acknowledges grainy MacBook Pro displays?

12/06, 9:05am

MacBook Pro Grainy Display

Apple's production of MacBook Pros may be experiencing delays due to excessively grainy screens, according to a report from MacBidouille. The French news site has received reports of Apple and its resellers delaying or even temporarily refusing new orders, the system builder claiming that there has been a quality issue identified with the matte displays on 15-inch models. No further details have been given by the company, MacBidouille says. A check of the US Apple Store by Electronista appears to confirm the story, with all 15-inch models experiencing at least a 1-2 business day shipping gap. Glossy 15-inch displays and all 17-inch MacBook Pros remain unaffected. Members of the MacNN forums have been discussing the issue since shortly after the computer's launch.

Cineon/DPX PRO QT Components updated

12/06, 9:00am

Cineon/DPX PRO QT

Glue Tools has released version 2.0.5 of its Cineon/DPX PRO QuickTime Components for Mac OS X, which add infrared dirt and scratch channel support for film restoration. The Cineon/DPX components now deliver film restoration capabilities to QuickTime-enabled applications. In addition to its standard feature set, artists can now get dirt and scratch information on their video footage. It provides the ability to insert data, embedded in DPX files, showing each of the scratch or dust hits into the image's alpha channel. Applications can then use this alpha channel to help the artist identify which parts of the frame needs work. Although the infrared channel is not automatically provided in the DPX file, the data can be added by most modern film scanners at the time the celluloid is scanned. It supports 8- and 16-bit linear image data, as well as 10-bit logarithmic and raw RGB image data. In addition, timeCode support is provided for all QuickTime enabled applications. Cineon DPX QuickTime Components are available for $90 (a free upgrade).

Rainbow Mystery ships for Mac OS X

12/06, 8:50am

Rainbow Mystery for OS X

Sugar Games today released Rainbow Mystery for Mac OS X, following the success of the Windows release in November. "The goal of the game is to break the curse plaguing the Rainbow lands. You do this by solving puzzles as your travel through this country. To solve a puzzle, you should swap and match flowers to make a line of more than three flowers that explode, adding to your score. The more flowers explode at one click, the greater your score grows. Additional challenge comes with colored cells that some flowers sit on. Explode such flowers in the first place to clear up those cells. Once you manage to do this, you'll be able to make an elixir, break the curse, and continue your adventure on the next level." The title features 70 levels with new challenges and offers both Quest (timed and un-timed) and Duel modes. Rainbow Mystery for Mac runs under Mac OS X 10.3 or later and costs $20.

Adobe releases free Acrobat 8 Reader

12/06, 8:40am

Free Acrobat 8 Reader

Adobe today released Adobe Reader 8 software as a free download from its website. The software, the final component in the Acrobat 8 suite released in November, allows users to search, view, and collaborate with PDF files. Adobe Reader 8 features a new "Start Meeting" button that launches Adobe Acrobat Connect, an Adobe-hosted software service that provides real-time online collaboration through Adobe Flash Player. Version 8 features a new, streamlined interface with user customizable toolbars, allows Adobe Reader users to fill and submit forms, save data, and digitally sign documents. Adobe Reader 8 also features graphics processing unit (GPU) acceleration, which boosts performance when viewing graphics-intense PDF files, such as 3D content. Standard, Trusted Documents and Forms. Adobe Reader 8 is available on Windows, Mac, Linux, HP/UX, AIX, Solaris and SPARC platforms.

Meizu readies nano-like MusicCard player

12/06, 8:30am

Meizu M3 MusicCard

Meizu this morning unveiled early details of its MusicCard player, also known as the M3. As with the earlier Meizu M6, the M3 draws heavily from the aesthetics of the iPod line, particularly the iPod nano: at 6.9mm (0.27 inches) thick with a 1.5-inch LCD, the new device compares closely to the first generation of Apple's flash-based music player.

Meizu, however, promises different eatures such as playback of FLAC and OGG music in addition to the more conventional MP3 and WMA standards. A touchstrip and buttons will also replace Apple's signature click wheel while battery life is rated at 20 hours. The player is still in development, the company says, but is expected to see production in 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB models next year.

Office 2007 XML support coming to Macs

12/06, 1:05am

Office 2007 XML support

Microsoft today confirmed that it will provide file-format converters for the Office for Mac, but said that there would be a delay in providing these to users. In response to some alarmist stories, published early Tuesday, the company confirmed that it would offer free, downloadable file format converters that allow users to read the new Microsoft Office Open XML Format. However, the company says that users will be able to obtain free beta converters in Spring of 2007--about 3-4 months after the initial shipments of the new Office 2007; the Mac BU blog says that final versions will ship about 6-8 weeks after the next version of Office for the Mac (expected until Fall of 2007).

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