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ezEars SX50 earphones
ezGear today launched its new, improved ezEars SX50 earphones for Apple's iPod. The ezEars SX50 use in-ear technology with soft rubber earpieces to provide a comfortable fit, and include three different pairs of earpieces in various sizes to accommodate all ear sizes. The improved fit provides better sound channeling to the ear, according to ezGear, and increases sound quality. "iPod users who tried the SX50s loved the sound and especially loved how comfortable they are, said Charlie Bernstein, president of ezGear. "Some people, who were not sure about the fit, opted for other solutions. Now that the ezEars have 3 sizes of earpieces, it's the perfect fit for everyone." The new ezEars SX50 ship in black or white for $20.
Groupcal, Screen Sieve
Groupcal 3.75 ($60) updates the application designed to offers users access to a Microsoft Exchange calendar from within iCal. Users can synchronize events and tasks, book people or resources for meetings, view free/busy time, and more -- without installing additional software on the Exchange server. Version 3.75 fixes numerous bugs, and adds a missing/new timezone mapping alongside minor user interface improvements.
[Download - [form]]
Screen Sieve 1.0 (donationware) is a tool that searches the contents of the currently active window, highlighting all occurences of characters, words, and phrases as users type without requiring modifications to applications. The application features configurable hotkeys for invoking itself, as well as a customizable background color when Screen Sieve fades the display. [Download - 140KB]
MBS REALbasic plug-ins 6.5 ($110) improves the collection of plug-ins that add more than 11,000 new functions to the REALbasic Integrated Development Environment. Version 6.5 offers byte-level editing using memoryblocks of pictures, adds the ability to read RAW image files, and includes improvements to the CocoaStatusItemMBS class. [Download - 21MB]
miXscope 3.1 ($15) enables microscope users to take snapshots or create time-lapse/stop motion movies. The latest revision adds an 'Onion skin' effect option for stop motion movies, as well as line, oval, and rectangle functionality to the live drawing mode. Version 3.1 also includes reflect black and reflect white special effects, as well as a menu item to open the snapshot of the week website. [Download - 792KB]
1Passwd 2.2 ($30) adds support for Palm handheld devices for free to all existing 1Passwd customers, as well as all new customers who purchase the application before the end of the year. 1Passwd is the only Password Manager that leverages the built-in Mac OS X Keychain and provides extensions for all popular Mac OS X browsers, according to developer Agile Web Solutions. [Download - 2.9MB]
MacBreakZ 4.1 ($30) improves the personal ergonomic assistant designed to promote healthy and productive computer use. MacBreakZ 4.1 adds a stretch manager that allows users to choose which stretches to include in exercise routines, and features an alternative representation for the menu bar item alongside other minor improvements. [Download - [form]]
QuickPlay today unveiled its new QuickPlayer software for BlackBerry devices such as the Pearl. The downloadable app gives owners of the Canadian-made handheld the choice of streaming subscribed podcasts directly from a central server and can save the trouble of transferring and storing podcasts to space-limited memory cards. QuickPlay says it has over 100 high-profile content providers on tap, ranging from ABC News to the Wall Street Journal. The service is available immediately for $8 per month and requires an existing BlackBerry connected to a cellular provider's data plan. [Via Pinstack]
DVD players outnumber VCRs
Although the DVD player has become firmly entrenched in American life, only recently has it surpassed the VCR in terms of ownership, says Nielsen Media Research. According to a poll conducted by the group, 81.2 percent of households have a DVD player, while only 79.2 percent have a VCR. This contrasts with the beginning of Nielsen's DVD records, started back in 1999, when 88.6 percent had a VCR and a mere 6.7 percent had a DVD player. The new study also produced results for other electronic devices. As much as 73.4 percent of the US has a computer -- though of those, homes with an income of $60,000 or higher were 50 percent more likely to own one. Similarly disappointing may be statistics on Internet use, which show that while 95.4 percent (of those with Internet access) go online at least once a week, only 37.3 percent go online more than once a day, proving that online news and entertainment are not yet a major draw.
No SED TVs at CES 2007
The hotly-anticipated SED television technology will miss an expected appearance at the CES expo in January, its backers Canon and Toshiba announced today. No explanation was given for the absence, though a Toshiba spokeswoman said that neither business reasons nor technical flaws were responsible for the last-minute decision. Technology news portal CNET has spoken to sources that claim the absence is spurred on by attempts to settle a lawsuit between Canon and parts supplier Nano-Proprietary.
SED TVs, or surface-conduction electron-emitter displays, have already seen multiple delays as Canon and Toshiba have struggled to lower the price of the technology to that of more established LCDs and plasmas. The panels combine most of the color accuracy advantages of CRT sets with the slim shape of flat-panel systems.
Core 2 Duo Toughbooks
Panasonic today updated its most hardened Toughbook notebooks to use the mobile version of Intel's Core 2 Duo processor. The convertible Toughbook-19 tablet and the more conventional Toughbook-30 both receive added performance, with the former model continuing its use of an ultra-low voltage model for battery life and heat while the larger 13-inch system uses a standard edition.
Brightness has also been vastly improved on either system: normally a limitation of touchscreen displays such as those used by Panasonic, the new Toughbooks gain a 1,000cd/m2 brightness level. The company's two military-grade computers can be had for $4,000 (Toughbook-19) and $4,500 (Toughbook-30).
Shuttle 1337 SDXi System
Shuttle today said it has overcome the seemingly insurmountable heat limits of small form factor PC cases with its 1337 SDXi enthusiast case. Liquid-cooling is built into the system and reduces the often intense heat within the SFF case to the extent that the highest-end components can be safely installed inside: a quad-core Core 2 Extreme processor is available while either a single GeForce 8800 GTX or dual X1950 Pro cards drive graphics. Crucial also supplies 2GB of low-latency RAM and a 150GB Raptor hard disk from Western Digital is said to improve loading times.
To reflect its unique style, the SDXi, its mouse, and its keyboard are given a hand-painted flame pattern with high-grade automotive paint. Shuttle begins pricing at $3,449 with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo.
Cingular, Apple deal?
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office today published a patent application from Cingular Wireless describing a two-prong marketing approach for providing music, TV, and movies to cellular phone customers. Apple was said to have struck a deal with Cingular earlier this month to purchase wholesale MVNO wireless service capacity from the carrier in an effort to enter the domestic wireless services market. Adding fuel to the fire, Digg founder Kevin Rose in early December revealed alleged details about Apple's iPhone in the Diggnation video blog, where he describes the unit as a very small device boasting flash-based storage of 4GB and 8GB capacities with the ability to work with all major providers -- including Cingular, T-Mobile, and Verizon. The new patent describes both a wireless streaming based subscription-type service as well as the ability to access content on internet services such as Apple's iTunes Store via digital licensed keys.
AvMap GeoSat 5 GPS
AvMap has just unveiled one of the few truly international GPS units, the GeoSat 5. Where most receivers ship are only available with one region's map data, Italy-based AvMap gives a choice of territories. The handheld can be bundled with a 2GB SD card that stores either European or North American map data with points of interest; more cost-conscious drivers can also specify a one-country edition with a 512MB card.
Map data is also generalized, AvMap emphasizes, and can be swapped freely between the GeoSat 5 and Windows Mobile PDAs with an SD card slot. The 5-inch touchscreen can also be repurposed through AV input jacks to display media from a DVD player or other sources. The entry-level model with a 512MB card ships now for $590, while the continent-wide models are sold for $710. [Via NaviGadget]
Logitec portable drive
Japan's Logitec has introduced a new line of portable hard drives called the Precious. Encased in steel, users can format each drive with a secret partition that is completely inaccessible without both a password and a specific piece of software, according to Electronista. The Precious also includes a button for quickly unmounting a drive from Windows or Mac OS X, as well as an idling mode that saves power when connected to a laptop. Shutters protect the USB 2.0 connection from damage, and three sizes of the Precious are due to launch beginning in mid-January with 80GB ($135), 120GB ($205), and 160GB ($270) storage capacities.
Parallels Desktop beta 2
Parallels today released Parallels Desktop for Mac beta 2, enhancing the virtualization software by offering support for USB 2.0 devices such as external hard drives, printers, and scanners at full native speeds. The company notes, however, that 'isynchronous' devices such as Bluetooth accessories, webcams, and other items do not yet work with USB 2.0. The new beta includes a full-featured virtual CD/DVD drive to burn CDs and DVDs directly in virtual machines, allowing users to play any copy-protected CD or DVD. An improved 'Coherence' mode also enables users to place Windows applications on the Mac desktop or in the application dock. Parallels Desktop for Mac beta 2 supports the command+tab keystroke combination to cycle through Windows and Mac applications simultaneously, with the ability to 'hide and show' Windows applications transparently alongside Mac software.
Philips Vista Remotes
Electronics giant Philips today posted early details of multiple Vista Media Center remotes built around Microsoft's future OS. The company plans both infrared remotes, for Vista Home Premium systems with built-in ports, as well as RF versions that will come bundled with USB adapters to add remote control to ordinary computers. Most significant of the remotes is the TINO (pictured at right), according to Philips: using a two-way RF transmitter, the TINO will echo the Ricavision remote by giving control over music playback on its built-in LCD even when the main computer screen or TV is shut off.
Also planned are an ExpressCard/54 remote for laptops and a USB infrarer receiver for using some of the firm's IR remotes with unequipped PCs. An official release date has not been set, though all of the remotes are anticipated for a launch close to Vista's January 30th release.
Griffin Elevator stand
Accessory maker Griffin has announced the Elevator, a desktop stand for laptops. The Elevator raises a laptop 5.5 inches, bringing it closer to eye level while simultaneously making it easier to type. The accessory also offers users more space to place desktop items such as mice, keyboards or cups. The stand is constructed from aluminum and transparent polycarbonate, but is deliberately designed to expose the bottom of any notebook in use to permit better cooling. All laptops greater than 10 inches in length -- which includes Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro -- are supported. The Elevator is available for $40 online.
Logitec Precious Drive
Logitec has just revealed its Precious line of portable hard disks for security-conscious travelers. Each model of the steel-enclosed storage can be specially formatted with a second, hidden partition: without the relevant software and the right password, office documents and other sensitive files stored in the partition are effectively made invisible.
Logitec has also implemented a rare hardware eject button that lets the drive user unmount the drive from Mac OS X or Windows without having to do so in software. An idling mode saves power when connected to a laptop and port shutters protect the USB 2.0 port from damage and dirt. Available in mid-January, the Precious will ship in 80GB ($133), 120GB ($205), and 160GB ($268) versions.
Korean outfit MobiBLU has introduced a new media player, the Cubisto. Though borrowing the shape of the earlier Cube 2, the Cubisto jettisons the color screen, and also has a shorter battery life at eight hours instead of 10. It will however come in 1GB and 2GB sizes, and play MP3 and WMA files including WMA-DRM. The date of the player's arrival in the US is unspecified; what is known is that a 1GB model will cost $90, and a 2GB Cubisto will run $110.
Sony GT600 In-Car Stereos
Sony today unveiled a successor to its GT500 in-car CD receivers. Dubbed the GT610, the head unit is the first in the GT line to include a USB port. The extension allows drivers to play AAC, MP3, or WMA tracks directly from an external flash or hard disk drive instead of recordable CDs. Audio quality for these heavily compressed music formats has also seen a boost, Sony says. Much as with the Crystalizer hardware in Creative's Xmod and other X-Fi devices, Sony's BBE-MP processing can automatically find and restore the higher-frequency sounds that are typically lost when an MP3 is created. The company has also expanded the central LCD screen. The GT610 is initially set to appear in Europe in January for an unspecified price and should also see an official launch in North America soon afterwards.
MWSF events, iPhone photo?
In brief: The Hess Memorial Macworld Events List has been updated with events planned for the Macworld Expo, set to take place in San Francisco beginning January 8th.... An Apple enthusiast site has produced what it says is a new leaked photo of Apple's cellular phone which resembles recently published patents that appeared to describe the portable device.... MacSanta is offering 20 percent off applications from 80 different independent software developers which include Rogue Amoeba, Flying Meat, Advenio, Bare Bones, Ambrosia, and more until December 25th.... Synium Software and OnlyMac Software have announced that credit card purchases on all products will ship with a 50 percent rebate via the 'XMAS' coupon code on Sunday, December 24th.... Men.Style.com editors declared Apple's MacBook as one of the 20 most stylish gadgets of 2006.... CodeWeavers has announced a partnership with The Douglas Stewart Company aimed at bringing CodeWeavers' upcoming CrossOver Mac to colleges and universities across North America.
Vertu Signature Cobra
Catering to the world's richest capitalists and aristocracy, the Signature Cobra by Vertu may be the world's most expensive cellphone. The shell's snake motif is covered in extremely expensive gems cut by French jeweler Boucheron, including a round diamond, a pear-cut diamond, two emeralds for the eyes, and 439 rubies. A "cheaper" version called the Signature Python does away with the rubies. Buying one of the world's eight production Cobras will cost you $310,000; the Python is a compartively thrifty $115,000. No information is available on the practical features of the phones, such as whether or not they have Internet access. [Via CNN]
Brando Warmer Mouse II
Brando on Thursday launched its USB Warmer Mouse II, what it says is the second iteration of its unusual hybrid controller. A more compact and stylish design than the original, the second Warmer Mouse comes in a glossy black, red, white, or yellow color with a simple teardrop shape. It retains the same ability to heat the back of the mouse and warm the user's palm in particularly cold weather and has a toggle button on the USB cable to turn the heating off when conditions improve. Brando exports its latest three-button scroll wheel mouse as of today for $23.
Sumvision Platinum Pro
Sumvision today brought its essntialist Platinum Pro digital player to stores. The jukebox focuses on its thin, metallic shape and relatively broad features for its size. The Platinum Pro can display MPEG-4, WMA, and the less common AMV video formats on its 1.8-inch LCD; MP3, WAV, and WMA audio playback are integral along with photo and text viewing. Voice recording is also possible. Sumvision has launched its player in a single model with 2GB of flash storage which can be found online today for $105. [Via Tech Digest]
US labels sue AllofMP3.com
Online music retailer AllofMP3.com is being sued by a group of key US music labels, according to the BBC. The labels have filed a collective suit which includes Arista Records, Capitol, UMG, and Warner in New York, alleging that the Russian site has been selling artists' songs without permission. "The defendant's entire business... amounts to nothing more than a massive infringement of plaintiffs' exclusive rights under the Copyright Act and New York law," the labels claim. The online store has already flatly refused the allegations, saying that it operates fully within Russian law by paying royalties to the local licensing agency Roms. While Roms itself says it operates within the law, it freely admits that much of its music was obtained without first speaking to the artists or their labels. Russia recently agreed with US demands to close down several websites -- including AllofMP3.com -- in the hopes of one day joining the US in international trade.
Sapphire dual-GPU X1950
Third-party vendor Sapphire has been testing a new, custom version of the Radeon X1950 Pro. Codenamed "The Godfather," the new card melds two 1950 Pros onto the same board, producing results similar to separate units in a CrossFire SLI setup. This is despite the Godfather using a single x16 PCIe connection. This may actually prove extremely attractive to power users however, since Sapphire memos indicate that two Godfathers can be linked via CrossFire, creating the equivalent of a quad-1950 setup. The first public demonstration of the card should be at the Consumer Electronics Show, scheduled for January 8th to the 11th in Las Vegas. [Via DailyTech]
Popalive iPod remote
Alive-Style today announced that it will debut its Popalive bi-directional remote/dock for iPod with support for multilingual menus and song names at the CES trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Popalive remote allows users to control an iPod and view its contents via a built-in 1.5-inch color LCD, drawing power from a built-in 350mAh lithium polymer rechargeable battery to offer omni directional RF signal transmission alongside bi-directional remote control capability. The device operates at 908.42MHz in the U.S. or 878.2MHz in Europe, and features an iPod charging dock with no extra battery required. The Popalive supports fourth- and fifth-generation iPods with audio out, S-video out, and a 30-pin iPod dock connector (pricing was unavailable).
Jawbone at Cingular
Cingular today began shipping Aliph's Jawbone designer Bluetooth headset as an option for its phones. Besides its characteristic curved design, the Jawbone is touted for its Noise Shield technology. The advanced noise cancellation was developed for the US military and adapts to both the caller's voice and the outside environment: as it can quickly recognize speech and dynamically compare this with other sounds, Cingular says, Noise Shield produces a much clearer sound than headsets that only try to block external sound. Cingular bundles the 14-gram silver earpiece with four earloops to fit different sizes and retails the package today for $120.
Selznick Scientific Software has released PasswordWallet 4.0 and its Palm OS conduit, signaling a complete rewrite from the ground up with Cocoa. Both the application and the conduit run natively on Intel-based Macs as Universal Binaries, and add various new features while retaining their unobtrusive appearance. The Palm conduit fixes issues with Palm models such as the T|X, T5 and Treo, while Web-enabled Palms add 'Go To URL' functionality that copies usernames and passwords to the clipboard. The company also added configurable field names, and some five-way navigation features. PasswordWallet 4.0 for Mac is available for $18, while PasswordWallet for PalmOS is priced at $15. Upgrades are available for registered users of PasswordWallet for Mac 3.x and PasswordWallet for Palm 3.x at $15 and $10, respectively. The upgrade is available for free to users who purchased PasswordWallet 3 after September 15th, 2006.
Two Apple patents surface
Apple today filed for one new patent and one continuation patent, with the new application describing peer-to-peer N-way synchronization between devices that include a PDA and a cellular phone. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office today published apple's patent application titled 'Apparatus and method for peer-to-peer N-way synchronization in a decentralized environment,' which relates to an apparatus and method for synchronizing data between a plurality of peer-to-peer devices in a decentralized environment where no one device stores the most 'recent' or 'true' version of the data. Apple states that most of the illustrations discussed in the patent "relate to PIM data and the synchronization of same, whether or not associated with specific applications." the new patent, which was originally filed in 2005, offers photos which include a laptop, PDA, cellular handset, home computer, and work computer all communicating with peer-to-peer technology.
Ricavision Vista Remote
Media hub designer Ricavision today said that it will uses its presence at CES to introduce the Microsoft-branded Windows Vista SideShow Media Center Remote Control. The remote is likely to be the first that explicity uses the upcoming operating system's unique features and will take advantage of Vista's SideShow technology to view and control information from a Vista Home Premium PC without having to switch the main display.
Owners will not only have direct access to music, photos, and videos from the remote, but will also have the choice of linking the remote to Vista's Gadget mini programs for e-mail, RSS, weather and other live data to view it when away from the TV screen. Ricavision says it will demonstrate the new remote at the CES expo next month and hopes to ship the completed hardware in April. Click through for a full image. [Via Engadget]
Samsung Digimax D103
Samsung is rolling out a new compact camera, the Digimax D103. Located at the higher end of the market, the camera has a 10.1-megapixel CCD, and boasts 3x optical zoom with 10x digital magnification. The LCD is 2.5 inches and the ISO range extends from 80 to 1,000. Video can be recorded at 640x480 at a full 30fps. One of the unique features of the 103 is its special effect options, which let you add highlights, color tints, photo frames, and composite effects. The camera should be available now in Russia and the United Kingdom, but prices were not being shared at press time.
Apple rejects hybrid drive
Apple may be set to use Intel's Robsen technology in the next generations of its Mac systems, as Samsung has revealed that the Cupertino-based company decided against using its forthcoming hybrid flash drives in new Mac models. Intel's new on-board module -- codenamed Robsen -- uses NAND flash memory as a high-speed buffer between system memory and the hard drive, storing system boot files and the most often-used data. Robsen reads and writes information several times faster than a mechanical hard disk, and uses less power which promises to increase the battery life of portable notebooks. Samsung's 'FlashON' hard drives, conversely, integrate flash memory into the hard disk itself. Microsoft has said it will ship Windows Vista with 'ReadyDrive' capability, offering built-in operating system support for disk caching to NAND flash devices.
SOHO Business Cards 2.0
Chronos today released SOHO Business Cards 2.0, an update to its business card software that includes a completely revamped interface and more than 15 new features for creating business cards. The new interface includes a new context-sensitive Smart Inspector that appears only when needed, a new Business Card Wizard, a new 'Favorites' ad 'Text' Bin to store and re-use designer graphics and commonly used text, and a new Single Window Interface. Version 2.0 also includes includes new design tools for object grouping, unlimited layer support, more than 100 "Super Masks", 30 special effects, photo tuning (brightness, contrast, sharpness, exposure, etc.) and cropping, grid overlay/underlay, the ability to lock objects, arrows, and a perspective tool. The business card kit includes tools to design and print business cards as well as 13,000+ designer-quality photographs, photos of objects and vector clip art images, 50 Bitstream commercial-grade fonts, and 3,000 ready-made designs. It requires Mac OS X 10.4 and is priced at $40. Upgrades are $20.
V7 GPS and 22-inch LCD
Display maker V7 late yesterday introduced both a GPS receiver and a computer display aimed at its relatively untapped US audience of budget users. The Navigator 1000 (pictured) distinguishes itself primarily through international support, V7 says. A full 23 languages can be used for both on-screen navigation and voice commands. The 1000 otherwise shares many common features of GPS units in its class including a 3.5-inch touchscreen, a lithium-ion battery for use away from the car, and a media player that supports MP3 music, photos, and AVI/MPEG-4 videos. V7 plans to ship the Navigator 1000 through Ingram Micro in early 2007 for $340.
Details and a photo of the company's new computer screen can be found after the jump.
Apple dominates paid video
A new research study suggests that Apple currently serves up 90 percent of paid video downloads. NPD Group announced that roughly 1.2 million U.S. households purchased at least one video from an online store in the third quarter of 2006. The study showed that 62 percent of customers opted for TV shows, while 24 percent elected to purchase music videos online. Apple's sales are still dwarfed by illegal downloads via peer-to-peer services, however, with adult movies making up almost 60 percent of that traffic. "The amount of intellectual property stolen from mainstream movie studios, networks and record labels will continue to rise, unless strong and sustained action is taken to prevent piracy," said NPD analyst Russ Crupnick, who also believes that the number of paid downloads will double or triple in the next year. Around 5 percent of paid downloads came from Vongo, while another 3 percent stemmed from Movielink, according to Forbes.com. CinemaNow was responsible for less than 1 percent of paid downloads.
Controversial online music store AllofMP3.com has been sued by a group of key US music labels, according to the BBC. A collective suit has been filed by Arista Records, Capitol, UMG, and Warner in New York, alleging that the Russian site has been selling artists' songs without permission.
"The defendant's entire business... amounts to nothing more than a massive infringement of plaintiffs' exclusive rights under the Copyright Act and New York law," the labels claim.
The online store has already flatly refused the claim, saying that it operates fully within Russian law, paying royalties to the local licensing agency Roms. However, while Roms itself says it operates within the law, it freely admits that much of its music has been obtained without first speaking to the artists or their labels. AllofMP3 has already been placed under indirect pressure to shut down after both MasterCard and Visa began denying payments to the site, which charges as little as $1 for an entire album.
Samsung 3MP Camera Phones
In a second announcement today, Samsung today said it has successfully produced a 3-megapixel camera sensor destined for ultra-slim cellphones such as the eventual successor to the Trace. By refining its manufacturing process with 90-nanometer copper chips, the company has managed a sensor using the new resolution with a quarter-inch lens aperture in the same space as the 2-megapixel sensors that currently dominate higher-end slim phones. This comes without a drop in quality, Samsung claims: its new sensor produces images at the same quality as a larger, 0.33-inch sensor with the same image. The company expects volume production of the sensor in early 2007 and should have phones using the technology soon afterwards.
Samsung B5800 With Mapping
Samsung early today revised its previously revealed B5800 slider phone. Having already established mobile TV as a core feature, the company has revealed that the new phone can use its DMB broadcast reception for navigation as well. The B5800 is the first phone to support the Transport Protocol Experts Group's (TPEG) live mapping service, which provides updates to routing and traffic conditions through a digital TV channel.
The terrestrial nature of the broadcast gives TPEG advantages over the satellite-based GPS, Samsung says: since there is no need for a preloaded map or a central server, both the map and traffic conditions can be updated every five minutes. This opens up the possibilty of quickly comparing different routes as well as having a dynamic route that changes with road congestion. Samsung reiterates that the B5800 is ready this month in Korea for $600 through KTF.
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