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Forums December 29
Forums roundup: Members are discussing the choice facing one forum member who received a Mac Pro for Christmas, now deciding whether to return it and buy a new one after the rumoured revision in January..... One member has sparked a debate after choosing an older PowerBook G4 over a new Mac Book of similar value because he does not think the Intel architecture is stable .... Another user is also disappointed with their MacBook which constantly failing to respond and is now seeking help from fellow members to solve the problem.... Other members are discussing the reports from one member of 'brownish' discoloration on their white MacBook several months into its life.... Meanwhile, one user has caused an uproar over his statement that Mac OS X is far less stable than Windows based on his experiences with the Mac platform.
MacLoggerDX 4.2.8 ($100) is a free update to registered users of the Ham radio logging software for Mac OS X. The latest release includes a fix as well as improvements for DirecWay proxy QRZ online QSL jpegs, an open port retry limit, and additional band decoder support for FT-2000 devices. The update also adds a Ten-Tec RX350 driver and 56,000 baud for Ten-Tec Orion II. [Download - 11.5MB]
Spinnn 1.1.1 ($20) is a game challenging players to move and spin falling pieces to create horizontal lines in any of more than 30 different games. Four sets of games include 'Classic,' 'Disposable Things,' 'Built To Last,' and 'Tricky.' The latest release runs natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. [Download - 2MB]
DiskLibrary 1.2 ($30) enhances the remote media cataloging application, offering drag-and-drop support for files outside of DiskLibrary. The latest release also supports drag-and-drop for thumbnails, and users can change thumbnails via drag-and-drop. Disklibrary 1.2 also adds a 'Locate in Finder' contextual menu for catalog items, and includes minor bug fixes. [Download - 1.6MB]
EasyWMA 2.7 ($10) converts WMA and WMV audio files as well as ASF and ogg vorbis files to aiff, MP3, m4a, or WAV format. The converted files are compatible with Apple's iTunes software as well as its portable iPod media players. The update adds support for ogg vorbis input files, and fixes conversion of Genre metadata. The latest release also improves German localization. [Download - 3MB]
AP Grapher 1.0 (donationware) searches for nearby wireless access points and graphs the signal strength as a function of time for the base station that the Mac is currently connected to. The software is designed to help users locate the best access point and optimally position a base station or computer to achieve the best possible signal strength. The software features adjustable speed and graphs up to six connection statistics simultaneously. [Download - 856KB]
LockOutApps (unknown) enables users to prohibit selected applications from launching. Users can optionally set specific days and times to enforce specified rules. When users attempt to launch a prohibited application, LockOutApps can beep and optionally raise a dialog window notifying the user that the attempted action is not allowed. Users can also opt to force quit the application when a launch attempt is made. [Download - 400KB]
CrossOver 6.0 RC2 released
CodeWeavers has released Release Candidate 2 of CrossOver 6.0 Windows compatibility tool for the Mac. With CrossOver installed, the company claims users can run virtually any Windows application without the need to first install a copy of Windows or load an emulator. Users need only install a program using CrossOver, after which the software will launch like any other Mac OS X application. The RC2 beta makes a series of upgrades to RC1, such as support for Quickbooks 2000-2004, and the addition of a rudimentary audio input service. The 29MB download requires an Intel-based Mac to run.
Yanko e-paper reader
Another new concept from Yanko Design is the ROEM, a reader that exploits the emerging technology of e-paper. The paper displays text and images in monochrome, using a minimum of power while still being bright enough to combat glare. And while chargable through conventional means, the ROEM also has a backup in the form of piezoelectric material, which can return power to the battery simply by "fanning" the device. Users scroll through their material with a one-handed interface similar to a mobile phone. Aside from books and images, the ROEM should further be able to run simple software such as a dictionary, a music player, and an image enhancer. No production timeline has been set out.
Oticon Delta Hearing Aid
Oticon said on Friday that its new Delta earpiece could potentially revolutionize hearing aids. Acknowledging the frequent complaints of bulky and ugly earpieces, the company has shaped the Delta to minimize its impact both inside and outside the ear. The triangle-shaped amplifier contains both dual microphones, for optimally capturing sound without interference, as well as the battery that powers the hearing aid. A thin, skin-colored wire is the only link between the amplifier and its earring-sized speaker. Oticon offers the Delta in up to 17 colors that can either match the wearer's hair or skin or contrast sharply as a fashion piece. The Delta is sold today through doctors and other health care agencies. [Via SlashGear]
Sample Manager 3.0 ships
Audiofile Engineering has released Sample Manager 3.0.0, a batch audio processor for Mac OS X designed in Cocoa from the ground up. The software takes advantage of CoreAudio, Quartz, and other built-in Mac OS X features. Users can sort files by any parameter, view detailed waveforms down to the sample, change file names, and modify gain/fade/trim. Additional Sample Manager features include unlimited undo, detailed loop editing, and support for Apple Loops. Sample Manager 3.0.0 is available for $90, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. Upgrades from Sample Manager 2 are priced at $20.
Sea and Sea Rebel XTi Case
Underwater housing experts Sea & Sea today expanded their range of protective cases with the DX-400D, a hard shell that surrounds the entirety of Canon's Digital Rebel XTi (also known as the EOS-400D). Purposefully built for divers and other professionals who need perfect waterproofing, the DX-400D gives full access to the camera's controls but has a powered leak sensor that will warn a diver should water seep into the enclosure. The durability exceeds that of normal plastic cases and is rated for depths as great as 200 feet. Sea & Sea notes that the housing will be ready for American and Japanese buyers shortly at a price of $2,000. [Via Sci-Fi]
Podcasts on Zune?
Microsoft's Zune, which competes directly with Apple's video iPod for dominance in the digital audio player market, may have some undisclosed features waiting to be unlocked. A contributor to the Zune Scene forums has explored the zune.exe file, discovering that the file contains references to sychronized lyrics as well as podcasts -- neither of which are currently supported by the player, the Zune Windows browser, or the Zune Marketplace. Microsoft may be planning a future revision to the Zune which will enable the above options, though podcasts in particular might require significant revisions to the browser and Marketplace, according to Electronista.
Thanko USB Bottle Cooler
Gadget retailer Thanko today listed its dual-mode USB Bottle Cooler and Warmer. While such devices have existed in the past, most have preserved only one temperature: Thanko says its new device uses a Peltier system to both cool and heat drinks, either transferring heat to the holder or drawing it outside through a vent. The machinery can maintain temperatures as low as 45F for soda or other chilled drinks or as high as 122F for coffee. Any computer that can supply five volts of power through its USB port will work, the company says. A metal cup is presupplied with Thanko's cooler, which exports to the US for $42.
Hammacher Schlemmer has launched its iRecord media converter, a device designed to eliminate the need for a computer to send audio and video to an iPod. Electronista notes that the device connects to any RCA or S-video source, converting a stream into an MP3 or MP4 file which is transferred directly to an iPod's storage space. Users can send content to any USB storage device, although Hammacher claims that the iRecord can distinguish between an iPod and miscellaneous products. Video is captured at 320x240 and comes in at 1GB for a three-hour file. Hammacher is selling the iRecord from its website for $160.
Apple leads tech stocks up
Apple led technology stocks today as share prices rose to set the stage for three major indexes to end 2006 in the double-digit gains, according to a report from Reuters. Apple shares fell early yesterday based on fears that an investigation could implicate CEO Steve Jobs, but rebounded after Apple's 10-Q filing this morning concluded no wrongdoing on the part of current Apple management. Investor moods were likely further lifted on news that Apple's iTunes Music Store received 413 percent more visitors on Christmas day this year than last year, and that the Apple Store shoed an increase of 110 percent over the same period. Another report on Tuesday revealed that Apple held three of the top Amazon.com consumer electronics sellers this year among more than 4 million orders placed in just one day.
Home Recording Studio
Herrington on Friday highlighted its Home Recording Studio music player and recorder. Vintage styling is meant to evoke images of classic stereos and reflects the player's nature as conversion tool: cassettes as well as 33, 45, and 78 RPM vinyl records can have their music converted into digital format on either CD-R or rewritable CD-RW discs. All formats, including AM or FM radio through an integrated tuner, can be played directly and controlled from a wireless remote. The company is shipping the Studio now at a price of $400.
Hammacher Schlemmer is also carrying the LP to CD Recorder today, offering similarly diverse features with more modern styling. It too ships immediately for $400. [Via Chip Chick and OhGizmo]
Axxen PLEIO Music Player
The music-focused company Axxen says it has prototyped a new music player named the PLEIO. The firm hopes to recreate the visual feedback of CD players on a media jukebox by placing a circular display on top that displays album art as though it were a disc, with navigation controls placed conspicuously at the center. Axxen has not divulged detailed technical information but has said the player is flash-based and will ship with a minimum 128MB of storage. The PLEIO should be ready sometime in 2007 for a currently undetermined price; Axxen says the cost should be low enough that record labels could release albums on PLEIOs instead of CDs and save listeners the trouble of first copying songs to a computer. [Via SlashGear]
Garmin Center for Tiger
Garmin International today announced its Garmin Center software for Mac OS X 10.4, which will enable owners of modern Macs to use Garmin's Forerunner and Edge series fitness products. "This is a great day for Garmin and Mac customers because it is the first time a major GPS manufacturer has offered direct Mac support," said Dan Bartel, Garmin's vice president of global sales. "With this new Mac compatible software, Mac owners will have our popular training tools at their fingertips." Garmin Center enables users to download information directly from their Forerunner or Edge device, allowing users to create as well as analyze and store data from fitness activities directly on a Mac. The software offers tools to record pace, speed, heart rate, and elevation based on time and distance. The application also enables users to categorize information based on the type of activity, such as walking or running. Garmin has also announced that it will hand out free copies of Garmin Training Center software at Macworld in San Francisco. The software will also be available for free in late January, according to Garmin. Update:: A free Training Center software CD will be available at Macworld Expo in a few weeks and the software will be available for free download in late January. [updated]
European navigation company InVion is shifting its attention to North America with the introduction of its GPS-7v1. Built for frequent drivers, the 7-inch touchscreen mapping unit has its own Bluetooth transceiver for hands-free calling and is also ready for live traffic data with RDS and TMC reception. The company further touts its robust maps: an unusually large 2GB SD card is part of the package and comes preloaded with maps of Canada and the US. Although meant for cars, the system will also operate on battery power for three hours. Walgreens is the sole carrier of the the GPS-7v1 in the US and retails the device for $550. [Via NaviGadget]
Ambient Forecast Umbrella
Ambient Devices says it will soon sell its Forecaster Umbrella (PDF) for commuters and other pedestrians who quickly need to gauge the day's weather before a walk. A simplified version of the company's own WeatherWizard (recently launched as the Wireless Weather Forecaster), the umbrella relies on a receiver built into the handle to download today's forecast from AccuWeather. An LED warns of inclement weather through light pulses: as the likelihood of rain or snow increases, the pulse rate of the LED increases to match and will beat as quickly as 100 times per minute if bad weather is all but certain. Ambient says the umbrella is not yet ready for a public debut but should be ready in 2007. [Via Gearlog]
Zune to support podcasts?
Confirming the suspicions of some, the Zune may already have software support for features unused by the player, notes an enterprising owner. Opened with a program called Resource Hacker, it appears that the zune.exe file contains references to options like sychronized lyrics, and most importantly, podcasting. Unlike Apple's iTunes, there is currently no provision for podcasts in the Zune Windows browser, or in the Zune Marketplace. The information suggests that the next Zune revision may involve significant changes on Microsoft's part. Other uncovered software elements include plug-in support and adjustable aspect ratios.
Daylite 3.2.1 released
Marketcircle today released Daylite 3.2.1 Productivity Suite. The update features shared calendars, projects, and speed enhancements alongside an updated version of the Openbase database engine. Daylite 3.2.1 improves import and export to Billings 2, and incorporates numerous bug fixes. The software allows users to see everything in one centralized location, share schedules as well as stay on top of tasks, and manage projects while streamlining workflow, according to Marketcircle. Daylite 3.2.1 Productivity Suite is a free update to all users of Daylite 3, with new 1-user licenses priced at $190.
TCL Stylish Mini PC
Chinese electronics monolith TCL on Friday announced a rare combination of home electronics and computers in its new S-series PCs. The corporation hopes to tap into China's increasing desire for luxury PCs and has constructed the S-series around a slim, desktop-sized black and white chassis that doubles as an air purifier, saving the need for a separate purifier in sometimes small Chinese homes. Entertainment is just as important, according to TCL, and the system will be bundled with a 22-inch widescreen LCD as well as custom speakers. Few other details have been revealed, though the S-series is due to ship in the first half of 2007 and is one of the first PCs announced that will ship preloaded with Windows Vista. Pricing is unknown and will depend on available hardware at the time of its release. [Via AVING]
Direct to iPod Video Tool
The retailer Hammacher Schlemmer today started shipping the iRecord media converter for iPods. Claiming to eliminate the need for a computer, the device will convert audio and video from any RCA or S-video source, uploading it directly to the iPod in MP3 or MP4 format and making it immediately accessible. Hammacher also notes that any USB storage can be attached and that the device can recognize the difference between generic devices and Apple's player. Three hours of video at the recorder's native 320x240 resolution should consume 1GB of disk space, the company says. The iRecord is available for $160 from Hammacher's online store and works with all dockable iPods, though video capture requires fifth-generation models.
HTC 2007 Smartphones
Cellphone designer HTC plans a mixture of new smartphones and updates to existing models in the coming year, according to Russian site HPC. In addition to the Athena, HTC is known to be working on two new phones that bring some of the company's technology to the mainstream: the Elf (pictured) will go without 3G wireless Internet or Wi-Fi but should still support Bluetooth and will have a 2.8-inch touchscreen in place of a number pad; the Panda, whose visuals have yet to be revealed, will also go without 3G wireless but will have a large 3.5-inch screen and Wi-Fi.
Changes will also be made to the phones that have been released or are just about to ship, HPC says. The still unreleased Vox and T-Mobile's Dash will see faster processors as well as support for HSDPA wireless and GPS. A variant of the Hermes, named the Kaiser, should also see a GPS upgrade. Release dates have not been leaked at the same time as the phone details, however. Click through for a complete photo of the Elf.
Dacos iHolic media player
Korean manufacturer Dacos Technology has launched the iHolic, a new media player meant to be used as you sit back and relax. Key to this ability is the bundled remote and cradle, the latter of which can be placed on a desk, or mounted in a car. The iHolic plays various audio, image and video files, which can be loaded in up to 2GB of internal memory, or an expanded amount through the available SD slot. A T-DMB receiver picks up digital TV signals; the screen is a 2.4-inch TFT. Costs for the player have not been published in English, but it's selling to a South Korean market in 512MB, 1GB and 2GB sizes. [Via AVING]
RSS on a TV remote
Made by TV Compass and recently approved by the FCC, the Windows Smart Remote runs Windows Embedded and is WiFi-enabled, allowing it to pull RSS feeds from a hotspot and display them on the remote's color screen. The same technology should allow the remote to control TVs, amplifiers, cable boxes, DVD players and more. The screen also displays a personalized TV program guide. RSS services will primarily be supplied by click365, which will offer updates to news, weather and sports. As of press time, no launch window had been set for the remote.
Amaryllo Purity GPS
Amaryllo on Friday heralded its new Purity GPS receiver for Bluetooth-equipped cellphones and other handhelds. The seemingly nondescript adapter is the first to launch with the low-power edition of the popular SiRFstar III GPS chip: although still capable of communicating with as many as 20 different satellites to find its position, the chip shrinks power consumption dramatically. One charge of the lithium-ion battery should provide 15 hours of use and a full month when on standby, Amaryllo says. The Purity ships next month in Europe for $118; no American resellers have been announced, though the device is FCC-certified for the US. [Via NaviGadget]
Microsoft at CES
Microsoft is planning to use its aggressive showing at January's CES trade show in Las Vegas to introduce a home server that would function as a media hub for a home network. Sources speaking to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley allege that the Windows Home Server is expected to serve as a combination of a network-friendly PC with a customized version of Windows Vista that would ease the process of sharing media with computers, Microsoft's Xbox 360, and similar devices that can tap into the Redmond-based company's Media Center software. The hardware may also include media extenders or a special network router, according to Electronista. The source leaked no specifications, the announcement -- if valid -- is likely timed to compete directly with a formal announcement of Apple's iTV or other media-related products that could be released at the MacWorld Expo due to begin alongside CES.
Apple 10-K findings
Apple's 10-K filing reiterates that current management was not involved with stock options wrongdoing, according to Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster. The investigation found that Apple CEO Steve Jobs was aware of some favorable options grant dates, but that he did not benefit from them personally and was not aware of the accounting implications. The filing also states that Apple admitted to a falsified special board meeting to approve 7.5 million options for Jobs, but adds that no member of the current management team was aware of the irregularity. "The financial impact of Apple's restatement is immaterial (around 2 percent impact) to net income over the last nine years," said Munster. Additionally, the special committee concluded that procedures for granting, accounting for, and reporting stock option grants failed to include sufficient safeguards.
Casio Super Slim Projector
Casio has just demonstrated its new Super Slim projector technology. Divided into the standard XJ-S30 and USB-sporting XJ-S35, the projector is only a fraction the size of most rivals and measures 1.25 inches thick. This is accomplished by using a heat pipe system that avoids the use of more than a thin scirocco fan to cool the inside components. The ease of setting up the projector is just as important to the design, Casio says: either Super Slim model can use an optional wireless LAN adapter to view presentations from any PC equipped with Wi-Fi, while the S35 variant can display images or slideshows directly from a USB drive and eliminate the need to bring a computer to a meeting.
Every projector in the range can display a 1024x768 image as large as 300 inches thanks to a new 2X zoom lens that uses an inverse meniscus condenser to produce a large image despite a small lens size. Brightness is rated at 2000 lumens. Casio says its projector line is available today at $1,299 for the S30 model and $1,599 for the S35.
CECT IP1000 PDA phone
As a sign of the growing affluence of some of China's population, CECT has debuted the IP1000, a PDA phone that's superior in some respects to its Japanese and European competitors. The display is a 2.2-inch QVGA touchscreen, sporting 260,000 colors; the camera is a four-megapixel autofocus model. Perhaps most remarkable is the phone's battery life, which amounts to 1,000 hours of standby, 24 hours of MP3 playback, and up to 12 hours when showing MP4 video. The phone also has dictionary and notepad functions. No information is available on the unit's pricing, but it should already be on sale in China.
Windows Home Server at CES
Microsoft will use its aggressive showing at January's CES show to introduce a home server that would function as a media hub for a home network, according to sources speaking to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley. Allegedly named Windows Home Server, the platform is expected to be a combination of a network-friendly PC with a customized version of Windows Vista that would ease the process of sharing media with computers, the Xbox 360, and similar devices that can tap into Microsoft's Media Center software. The hardware may include media extenders or a special network router.
No specifications were leaked by the source, but if valid the announcement is likely timed to compete directly with a formal announcement of Apple's iTV or other media-related products that could be released at the MacWorld Expo due to begin alongside CES, Foley says.
Polaroid Photo Drive
Seeking to streamline the preservation of photos for even the most inexperienced users, Polaroid is today known to be working on an automated portable hard drive. Called the Media Backup Photo Edition, the drive will search an attached Windows PC for image files and copy them to its 40GB hard disk without asking for input or questioning the file type -- over 60 formats are supported. The searches even apply to compressed volumes, according to CrunchGear. No software will be needed to run the drive, and uploading the photo collection to an attached PC should require only a button press. Polaroid's drive ships in early 2007 for $129.
NEC Waterproof Notebook
NEC today said it had boosted the quality of rugged notebooks with an update to its ShieldPro range. The FC-N21S (pictured) is not only shock-resistant for drops up to three feet but can also survive heavy blasts of water and runs properly even in -4 Fahrenheit temperatures. No specifications were revealed in the announcement, though the system should use a Core 2 Duo processor and will officially make its appearance in January for the equivalent of $2,540. An American launch is possible but remains unofficial. [Via Shiny Shiny]
Apple takes $84m charge
Apple will restate financial data going back to 2002 and take an $84 million ($105 million pre-tax) charge after a board committee found the company had improperly backdated thousands of stock options grants to employees and executives. The company took a a charge of almost $20 million to adjust for Apple CEO Steve Jobs' options, but exonerated current management and Jobs, saying it has "complete confidence" in its chief executive. The additional details of the Apple options backdating scandal were revealed in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday. Confirming earlier, Apple said that Jobs was aware of the favorable grant dates and that there was no misconduct by Apple's current management; however, the review added that Jobs recommended some of the favorable grant dates, though he didn't profit from them. Earlier this week, Apple's stock fell as reports surfaced that the Mac and iPod manufacturer falsified authorization of 7.1 million stock options to Jobs and that Jobs hired legal counsel ahead of a pending investigation by the SEC.
LG Debuts SB190 Slider
LG's Korean division Cyon this morning revealed the SB190, a slider phone made initially for the country's well-known cellular provider SK Telecom. The new phone brings digital mobile TV to the middle of the range, an area most manufacturers neglect in favor of high-end models. Other aspects of the phone are just as capable, LG says. Owners have direct access to GPS mapping, a 1.3-megapixel camera, and EVDO broadband.
The phone should be available today in Korea, but may find its way to the US through the virtual carrier Helio, which was co-founded by SK Telecom and can already support GPS mapping features. A complete photo of the phone is available after the jump.
802.11n ExpressCard at FCC
The FCC today approved the D-Link DWA-643, one of the first 802.11n Wi-Fi adapters for PCs with ExpressCard/34 slots. The new addition to the company's Xtreme N line is said to require the extra speed of a 64-bit ExpressCard slot to deliver its full potential: the new card can reach a maximum 300Mbps connection rate when connecting using its draft version of 802.11n, far outstrpping the 54Mbps of 802.11g. Connecting to an Xtreme N router is also simplified, according to the company; the ExpressCard module is intelligent enough to recognize the company's other devices and can connect automatically. Security is promised through optional WEP and WPA, and backwards compatibility exists for 802.11b and 802.11g networks. No official release date was revealed in the FCC filing, but the approval should herald a launch early next year. [Via MobileWhack]
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