Apple is still offering sub-$500 Intel-based Mac mini systems alongside a slew of various other more expensive models. Refurbished Mac minis currently include the 1.5GHz Intel Core Solo for $479 with 512MB of memory with a 60GB hard drive; the 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo for $649 with 512MB of memory and an 80GB hard drive; the 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo for $699 with 512MB of memory and an 80GB hard drive; and the 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo for $779 with 1GB of memory and a 100GB hard drive. The company is also offering refurbished iMacs for as low as $849, listing various G5 and Intel-based systems which include the 17-inch 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo for $849 with 512MB of memory and a 160GB hard drive; the 17-inch 1.9GHz G5 for $999 with 512MB of memory and a 160GB hard drive; the 17-inch 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo for $1,299 with 512MB of memory and a 160GB hard drive; and the 17-inch 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo for $1,049 with 1GB of memory and a 160GB hard drive.
In brief: Macgamestore.com today announced a Mac games holiday bundle that includes 10 popular Mac games for $25.... Tricky Software, the developing company behind the recently-released action game titled 'Armado,' has launched a contest to see who can get the highest score in the game by the new year.... Runtime Revolution today announced its sponsorship in the annual Renderosity Holiday Art Contest, which runs through the end of December 2006.... More than 100 Mac companies have joined together to provide 20 percent off on over 200 applications at MacSanta.com, which lasts for the next four days.... One user of the Italian AMUG Siena Mac user group has constructed a 'holy family manger' (site in Italian) from an older iMac, taking apart the Cathode Ray Tube to produce the scene and adding lighting around the outside of the screen.... GPS technology company GlobalSat Technologies and Mac development firm RouteBuddy are set to co-exhibit at Macworld in January, showcasing a wide range of GPS devices from USGLobalSat and the latest iteration of Mac mapping software from RouteBuddy.
The first exploit since the completion of Windows Vista has surfaced, according to a confirmation by Microsoft Security Response Center head Mike Reavey. The vulnerability corrupts Windows' MessageBox protocol to raise system privileges, which could result in much more control over a system than what Microsoft allows by default. Although the exploit is currently limited to a proof of concept released on a Russian forum and demands that the malicious user already have administrative access, it has already garnered attention for challenging Microsoft's claim that Vista is more secure than its predecessors, according to Electronista. The attack is known to work across multiple versions of Windows -- including Windows 2000, says Reavey. Microsoft does not believe the threat to be serious but promises to closely follow any attempts to use it in the wild.
The crew at Electronista would like to wish you a merry Christmas, a festive Yule, a happy Chanukah, or simply a good winter vacation. We'll be back by the middle of next week, but for those of you taking extended breaks, have a happy New Year as well. Remember to watch your alcohol consumption and to be careful driving those icy roads. Take a moment, too, to think of those too poor to afford the gadgets we write about here.
Microsoft's Xbox Live movie service may well be at the forefront of paid movie downloads, according to a new report. Variety reports that the recently launched Microsoft service is drastically outperforming Amazon's Unbox store, which in some cases sells as little as 100 titles as downloads per day. Although no figures are available to directly compare Xbox Live's success with that of Apple's iTunes, Variety's Ben Fritz notes that Microsoft's service is much better suited to TV use, as the console is already connected to a TV and has the ability to purchase as well as rent HD-quality content, while Amazon's service is limited to computers and at best matches the quality of DVDs. Apple also faces these restrictions and may depend heavily on its anticipated iTV media hub to match Microsoft's technology, according to Electronista.
Sun has released its Looking Glass 3D desktop, offering a more advanced parallel to the Quartz Extreme effects in Mac OS X or the Aero Glass interface of Microsoft's upcoming Windows Vista. The Sun interface allows users to treat program windows as 3D objects, flipping windows to see hidden programs or access special commands on the reverse side in a similar fashion to Apple's Dashboard widgets. The Looking Glass 3D desktop also features a dock-style launch bar, translucency, and the ability to move through 3D space to other virtual desktops, according to Electronista. The software developer notes that Looking Glass is platform-agnostic, running only as a Java layer on top of the main operating system. Sun says Linux, Solaris, and Windows versions are available as free downloads and apply regardless of whether the base operating system already supports the features.
Designed in Russia by Voxtel, the W740 is a Windows Mobile pocket PC phone with the unusual trait of a four-megapixel CCD camera, putting it on par with some dedicated compacts. The screen is a 2.4-inch TFT with 65,000 colors. It uses a tri-band GSM/GPRS connection, and is also USB- and Bluetooth-enabled. Internal storage is restricted to 64MB of RAM and 128MB of ROM, but this can be expanded with a TransFlash or microSD card. Notably, there is no support for broadband or WiFi of any sort. Cost and distribution outside of Russia has not been disclosed.
The first exploit released since Windows Vista was completed has been released, according to a confirmation by Microsoft Security Response Center head Mike Reavey. The vulnerability corrupts Windows' MessageBox protocol to raise system privileges, potentially allowing far greater control over a system than allowed by default. Although the exploit is currently limited to a proof of concept released on a Russian forum and demands that the hacker already have administrative access, it has already garnered attention for challenging Microsoft's claim that Vista is more secure than its predecessors. The attack is known to work across multiple versions of Windows -- including Windows 2000, Reavey says. Microsoft does not believe the threat to be serious but promises to closely follow any attempts to use it in the wild.
Neosonik this afternoon declared that it would have a complete wireless home theater ready early next year. The 7.2-channel system will rely on a central wireless control hub that will stream all audiovisual content -- including HD video from HDMI sources -- to a separate video receiver as well as the accompanying wireless speakers. The wireless system transmits a 60Mbps digital signal that is much more powerful than most such theaters and will reach as far as 200 feet from the controller, Neosonik claims. Exact details of the system have yet to be revealed, but should be available when the system makes its public debut at CES in early January. Prices will start at $8,000 for a complete home theater. [Via Engadget]
MSB Technology today unveiled a new iPod dock which will officially debut at the CES trade show in Las Vegas next month. The MSB iLink is the first docking station for iPod to offer true digital output, according to the company, by slightly altering the internals of the iPod to bypass the 24-bit DAC when attached to the docking station. All other aspects of normal iPod usage remain unchanged, charging the portable player while docked. The device also includes an RF transmitter that attaches to the iPod, allowing it to be carried around the room while maintaining a link with the dock. The MSB iLink will ship for $2,000, offering compatibility with 30GB and 80GB iPods.
Microsoft's Xbox Live movie service may well be at the forefront of paid movie downloads, according to a story by Variety. The online edition of the magazine reports that the recently launched Microsoft service is dramatically outperforming Amazon's Unbox store, which in some cases sells as little as 100 downloads per day on its titles. Although no figures are available to directly compare Xbox Live's success with that of iTunes, Variety's Ben Fritz adds that the former's service is much better suited to TV use, as the console is already connected to a TV and has the ability to purchase as well as rent HD-quality content, while Amazon's service is limited to computers and at best matches the quality of DVDs. Apple too faces these restrictions and may depend heavily on its anticipated iTV media hub to match Microsoft's technology.
Real estate developer Omniyat Properties is preparing to launch projects next year worth more than $355 million, including an iPod-inspired tower. The 23-story "innovative iPod residential tower in Business Bay" will open in February of 2007, according to EmiratesMac, and will feature more than 200 units to be available in 2009. The building's base will resemble a docking station angled 6-degrees to produce the desired effect. The building was designed by Hong Kong-based architects James Law Cybertecture International, according to gulfnews.com.
Adding to computers like the Intel Classmate and the Encore Mobilis, Lite Appliance has announced a new entry into the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) genre called the LiteComputer. The machine will cost $150 and eschew name-brand hardware and operating systems, instead using custom software and a Blackfin processor from Analog Devices. Applications from the company will be limited to a media player, a web browser, a VoIP phone, and an instant messenger; users needing a word processor or a spreadsheet program will have to turn to sites like ThinkFree or Google Docs. Storage on the computer will be limited to flash memory. Lite hopes to begin selling their laptop in the third quarter of 2007. [Via CRN]
In brief: One Mac developer has assembled a Holiday Cocoa Duel, with a website featuring prominent Mac developers for a programming competition to help raise money for various charities.... Aquafadas has released a Christmas Theme for PulpMotion, which is available for free to PulpMotion users.... Basasoft has launched a time limited promotion for its BasaOne Web application development environment, lowering the price from $130 to $70.... Belkin, Freeverse, Macally, RadTech, Shinywhitebox, and TypeIt4Me are teaming up with TeachMac for the 'Everyone Wins with TeachMac Giveaway and Contest,' providing all who enter at the Macworld Expo $100 in prizes.... Actor Justin Long who stars as the 'Mac guy' in Apple's 'Get a Mac' TV ads was reportedly spotted in an Apple store by a Los Angeles Apple Store employee purchasing Mac products.... OTEE is offering all customers a 20 percent off rebate on any Unity Indie and Unity Pro license purchase or upgrade this holiday season.
The Japanese division of Toshiba late yesterday revealed the W46T designer phone. Nicknamed the Drape for the satin effect of its metallic finish, the phone is meant to evoke a classic look and ships with an analog clock program that produces the effect of an older timepiece on the 2.6-inch LCD display. The clock's background will even match the black, bronze, or white color of the handset itself, Toshiba says. The company also boasts of including a 3-megapixel camera inside the relatively slim clamshell handset and has built in EVDO broadband plus a microSD card slot for music. KDDI's au cellphone network carries the phone today for $185. A full-sized image is available after the jump.
Skyguard has started an emergency rescue service centered around its SkyMinder 500 handheld. The dual-mode device works with both a GSM-based cellular network and a GPS receiver to provide help regardless of where its carrier may be. The former is used to speak directly to Skyguard's dispatchers and has a special, automatic SMS text system that sends an alarm if the signal is too weak to reliably place a call; in turn, the mapping technology transmits the handheld's location and will even record the heading and speed for instances where the owner is driving or has been kidnapped. Other safeguards include a speakerphone for when the SkyMinder falls out of reach and presets for dialing friends and family. Skyguard provides its rescue tool in Britain for $393. Full access to the rescue service depends on a $40 per month subscription fee. [Via Tech Digest]
Generally unknown in the United States, Chinese company Hacha has announced the R280, a media player with an abnormally long battery life of 30 hours (while playing audio). Life drops to five hours while playing video. The 280 can additionally handle Flash and Java applications, the latter of which are accelerated by an onboard chipset. The screen measures 2.83 inches and handles resolutions up to QVGA (320x240). Storage comes in the form of 8GB of internal flash and a miniSD slot for expansion. Pricing and release information for the 280 is known, other than the ship date most likely being after Christmas. [Via The MP3 Players]
The VMware Fusion Team today announced that the Fusion beta program is now live, providing Intel Mac users with another way to run Windows or Linux without the need to reboot. Fusion is the codename for a new VMware desktop software for Mac that enables Intel-based Macs to run x86 operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows, Solaris, or Linux, in virtual machines at the same time as Mac OS X. The application is built on VMware's desktop virtualization platform and runs a wide variety of 32- and 64-bit x86 operating systems while simultaneously running PC applications. The software leverages Virtual SMP capabilities to gain additional performance, and Mac owners with dual-core processors can assign multiple CPUs to the virtual machine for CPU-intensive workloads. Users can download VMware Fusion for Mac and obtain a beta-use serial number from the project website (system requirements were unavailable).
Sun has just released its Looking Glass 3D desktop. A more advanced parallel to the Quartz Extreme effects in Mac OS X or the Aero Glass interface of Microsoft's upcoming Windows Vista, the Sun interface allows users to treat program windows as 3D objects: windows can be flipped to see hidden programs or access special commands on the reverse side, much as with Apple's Dashboard widgets. A Dock-style launch bar, translucency, and the ability to move through 3D space to other virtual desktops are also present. The software developer notes that Looking Glass is platform-agnostic, running only as a Java layer on top of the main operating system. Linux, Solaris, and Windows versions are available immediately as a free download and apply regardless of whether or not the base OS already supports the feature, the company says.
Apple today released iPod shuffle Reset Utility 1.0.1 for Mac to restore first-generation iPod shuffles. The restore process entirely erases all music and data on the iPod shuffle, reinstalling the software to version 1.1.5. The utility fixes several issues which include flashing amber and green LEDs after pressing the play button when the iPod is switched on, as well as a Mac's inability to recognize the iPod in Apple System Profiler with no way to mount the device in the Finder. The Reset Utility also fixes an issue where the first-generation iPod shuffle would not be recognized at all when attempting to restore, or when it fails to restore with an error dialog that reads 'Firmware update failure. Disk write error.' The iPod shuffle Reset Utility 1.0.1 is available for free from Apple, and requires Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later.
PLAYAWAY on Friday said it would streamline the usefulness of audiobooks with its digital line of players. Each is made to resemble its paper equivalent and comes with a skin reflecting the audiobook preloaded on the device, such as novels by John Grisham. Controls on the reverse face provide the essential navigation for books and can also create as many as 50 virtual bookmarks for revisiting favorite chapters or passages. Storage is provided for anywhere between 6 and 20 hours of audio, as is a lanyard to hang the digital comfortably around the neck. Prices start at $30 for most books.
The FCC has just approved a new NEC phone, the N6207. Initially arresting is the glossy black exterior trimmed in red, similar to the Chocolate series by LG; the 6207 does separate itself with unique features however, namely a large touchscreen display. Other anticipated features include a WAP browser, a 1.3-megapixel camera, music and video playback, and more. The 6207 will be assigned to GSM phone networks and connect to local devices via Bluetooth and USB. Cost has yet to be projected, but it is confirmed to be heading to the United States.
Marketcircle today released Billings 2 beta 4, a free update to the test version of the company's software designed for Mac-based business and creative professionals. The application tracks time and expenses while creating customized invoices, project estimates, and reports. The latest revision enables users to sort the client list by company name or client name, adds the ability to move a report element forward or backward, and lets users pre-populate the payment amount to the balance of the selected invoices. The update also supports viewing the details of a slip after invoicing in a slip card window. Billings 2 beta 4 is available for $60 (system requirements were unavailable).
Tivoli has unveiled its iYiYi bookshelf speaker set for iPods. The system recalls classic one-piece stereos with a blend of knobs as well as large buttons to control sound, playing music and offering basic controls for all dockable iPods through a universal adapter. Tivoli's new speakers incorporate an AM/FM tuner with RDS support for radio stations that display text information, and offers five radio presets with auto-scan channel tuning and a 20-minute sleep timer that controls either the iPod or the radio. An aux-in jack also supports connecting to outside audio devices, according to Electronista. The iYiYi is shipping in a glossy black or white for $300.
As part of a Singapore exhibition, Fujitsu recently provided show attendees a preview of its upcoming LifeBook P7230 notebook. The 10-inch widescreen ultraportable resembles a smaller MacBook but has been personally designed by Kenichi Kimura, the head of Fujitsu's personal solutions department, to achieve its minimal look. Few specific details of the notebook are known, but the company has readily claimed that the system will be capable of as much as 11 hours of battery life and should use Intel's ultra-low voltage Core 2 Duo processor. A formal launch is expected early next year and should include both Japanese and North American models.
Japan's Arisawa has produced the Teleglass, a video display that mounts via suction to a single lens on any pair of glasses. It weighs just 0.3 ounces and has a 0.24-inch LCD, which simulates a 21-inch image as viewed from 3.3 feet away. A remote unit (not pictured) supplies battery power, as well as a headphone jack, and necessary video inputs including an iPod video connector. Arisawa should begin selling the Teleglass by the end of the month for 50,400 yen ($426); the iPod connector is sold separately for 2,730 yen ($23). A version with a built-in TV tuner should be ready sometime in 2007.
Dell today posted an update to its XPS 710 website referencing a technology only known as Black Ice. The company makes an allusion to a "cold front" but does not reveal more than a teaser image. Sources, however, suggest that Black Ice may be a phase change cooling system similar to that of asetek's Vapochill cases, which dramatically reduce the temperature of the system beyond even liquid cooling. The improvement would let Dell overclock even the hot-running Core 2 Extreme four-core processor without affecting other components. The system builder has not committed to an unveiling date but may reveal Black Ice in time for the CES expo in early January. Earlier this year, Dell released a special edition XPS system known as the Renegade which featured an overclocked, factory-warrantied Pentium 4 as well as a then special quad-SLI video card offering.
New registered Apple designs have surfaced in Europe for media devices, a stand, and a camera adapter. The new documents provide little detail of the individual items themselves, but most appear as well established Apple designs which were filed by Urquhart-Dykes & Lord LLP in the U.K. on December 13th. The devices include a new Apple media dock/stand that appears to serve as a new iPod docking station, while various iPod shuffles and media devices depict the new tiny player without an accompanying built-in belt clip. Apple lists the identical inventors for all six of their new designs as being Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Steven Jobs, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Douglas B. Satzger, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Anthony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.
While only a reference design, Kleer's Stereo Wireless Earphones manage to do what Creative's recent alternatives can't: eliminate all wires, even the link between the left and right ears. Instead the phones use a 2.4GHz radio link to connect with any Kleer-based audio system, which can include speakers, media players, and car audio decks. It's unclear when the design might make into production devices, but the phones should be capable of 10 hours of battery life, with an external unit providing recharges.
Keian this morning introduced its latest DVD player, the KDVD850HDMI. The player is relatively rare for its inclusion of dual microphone inputs intended for karaoke: as many as two viewers can sing along to music or videos at the same time. Equally uncommon is the inclusion of a multi-format card reader on the front for smaller formats such as Memory Stick or SD. A USB port is nearby for flash drives or external hard disks. Video remains a high priority in the player as it can upscale DivX, DVDs, and MPEG-2/4 videos to as much as 1080i resolution on HDTV sets. Input support is broad with component, HDMI, RCA, and S-video for output. A release is planned for December 26th, when the KDVD850HDMI will retail for $91.
Microsoft today said that it has extended the warranty on its Xbox 360 game system to one full year. Previously limited to 90 days, the warranty now covers any hardware failure up to a year after the purchase. The protection is also retroactive, Microsoft says, and extends to anyone who has bought a system less than a year ago. Those who have had to pay for repairs over the past year can claim a refund for the costs. Microsoft has previously agreed to repair for free any Xbox 360s made in 2005 due to chronic overheating and power supply problems. No specific reason was given for the current extension, though reports have circulated of consoles being blocked from Xbox Live or malfunctioning after firmware upgrades.
Mobile computing and iPod accessory maker RadTech today unveiled an improved fabric composition for its 'ScreenSavrz for Notebooks' cleaning cloth and protective keyboard slip. ScreenSavrz are available in six new colors, protecting notebook LCD screens from contacting the keyboard and top of the case when the laptop is closed. RadTech's new Optex Super60 fabric formulation boasts a 30 percent increase in core density and fiber count, according to the company, cleaning delicate surfaces without scratching and without the use of liquids or cleaners. "RadTech's Optex fabrics go far beyond conventional micro-fibers, and were expressly designed for maintaining and restoring LCD panels using advanced optical polishing technologies," the company said. RadTech adds that dampening the fabric with water provides a polishing effect for scratched or marked LCDs, restoring "even seriously scarred LCD display surfaces" in less than five minutes. ScreenSavrz are available for $10 in aluminum gray, fuchsia, indigo, green, grape, and jet black.
Independent game development company Winterwolves today released its new sports simulation came titled 'Universal Soccer Manager 2.' The sequel to Universal Soccer Manager is entirely rebuilt with new graphics and a database engine that allows complete customization of game data. The new title features easy game play with an in-game help system as well as tool tips, and boasts speed optimization to run quickly on older Macs. Full customization allows users to edit player names, skills, team names, jerseys, leagues, and nations. While initially only available in English, game translations are planned for French, German, Spanish, and Italian languages, according to Winterwolves. Universal Soccer Manager 2 requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later, runs natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, and is available for $25. Additionally, future updates will be made available free of charge to license holders.
Tivoli has recently announced its iYiYi bookshelf speaker set for iPods. The system recalls classic one-piece stereos and uses a blend of knobs and large buttons to control its sound. In addition to playing and offering basic controls for all dockable iPods through a universal adapter, Tivoli's new speakers incorporate an AM/FM tuner with RDS support for radio stations that display text information. Also present are five radio presets, auto-scan channel tuning, and a 20-minute sleep timer that can control either the iPod or the radio. An aux-in jack is present for connecting to outside audio devices. Tivoli says the iYiYi ships now in a glossy black or white for $300.
Hoping to create a controller ideally suited to long presentations, Kokuyo today released its laser pointer mouse. The input device connects to a Mac or Windows PC through the USB port, but still includes a switchable laser pointer at the front; this actually provides an advantage over wireless presentation mice as neither the laser nor the mouse itself are in danger of running out of battery power during a meeting, Kokuyo claims. The mouse tracks using an 800DPI optical sensor and requires no drivers. Shipments begin on December 27th, when the mouse will sell for $20.
Electronics maker Sunconnection this morning launched its MP512MWP flash player. Specifically designed for the beach, the player is heavily guarded against splashes and brief immersion in water; a clear waterproof case is bundled with it to add an additional layer of protection. The buttons are also deliberately oversized to simplify control during exercise. Up to 512MB of MP3 and WMA songs are supported. The device runs on a sole AAA battery, although battery life is unavailable. It ships today for $25 including the battery and case in black, red, and white colors.
Nintendo's special edition of the Opera web browser for its Wii console is now available, according to early reports. Owners who have connected the console to the Internet can now download what Nintendo describes as a trial edition of the browser. While currently in testing and still scheduled for completion in March, the current version of Opera is known to work with Flash, Java, and other common Web plugins. The software will remain free until June, when future downloads will cost 500 Wii points ($5), Nintendo says.