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Pentax 7.1MP Optio E30
Pentax today announced the new Optio E30, a new 7.1-megapixel model with 3x optical zoom -- roughly equivalent to a 36-108mm SLR lens. It can further magnify images with 4x digital zoom, according to Electronista: "Perhaps most unusual is the range of 15 different shooting modes, including conventional options such as Landscape, but also highly specific ones such as 'Pet' and 'Food. 'Another one of these is "Green," aimed at complete novices to digital photography. When selected the E30 takes control of all customization options, adjusting exposure, ISO, white balance and more at the push of a single button. Pentax suggests this is ideal for handing your camera over to a stranger on vacation."
SilverFast 6.5 released
LaserSoft Imaging has released SilverFast 6.5, offering a new function that utilizes various exposures of each scan to increase dynamic range and allow for recognition as well as enhancement of subtle nuances in both shadow and highlight areas. "The SilverFast Multi Exposure function is based on the principle of the distinguished Multisampling Feature (multiple scan) with auto-alignment," LaserSoft said. Multisampling scans pictures several times using the same settings to identify and minimize noise, while multi exposure ensures that the dynamic range of scanners is utilized by repeating the scan at different exposure intensities. The combined features create a dynamic range comparable to that of a drum scanner, according to the company, and patented auto-alignment secures the precision of the scan for optimal sharpness and clarity. SilverFast 6.5 requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later (pricing varies by scanner model).
PowerBook owners cry out
Numerous PowerBook owners are crying out to Apple amidst rampant display issues that are reportedly plaguing their recently-purchased 17-inch notebooks. Many of the affected models, which develop one pixel-wide vertical lines of various primary colors on the screen, begin displaying symptoms about 1-1.5 years after the owners made their purchases. Many customers decided not to purchase Apple's extended AppleCare warranty, expecting that the top-end notebooks would last longer than one and a half years before exhibiting serious issues. Disgruntled PowerBook owners are flocking to Apple's own support forums for answers, and a website has already launched to document each case in one centralized location. Currently-affected owners describe the notebooks as having shipped from the W8 factory based in Shanghai around April of 2005.
Pentax Optio E30
A new digital compact, the Optio E30, has just been announced by Pentax. The camera is a 7.1-megapixel model with 3x optical zoom -- roughly equivalent to a 36-108mm SLR lens -- and can further magnify images with 4x digital zoom. Perhaps most unusual is the range of 15 different shooting modes, including conventional options such as Landscape, but also highly specific ones such as "Pet" and "Food." Another one of these is "Green," aimed at complete novices to digital photography. When selected the E30 takes control of all customization options, adjusting exposure, ISO, white balance and more at the push of a single button. Pentax suggests this is ideal for handing your camera over to a stranger on vacation. The camera is slated for a February release at a price of $150.
ScopeBox suite released
Divergent Media has released ScopeBox, its Mac-based suite of video production and post production software based on image monitoring, capture, and analysis. ScopeBox is designed to replace a variety of video-related software including Preview Monitor, Waveform, Vectorscope, Audio Meters, Direct Disk Recorder, and more. The application adds a Luminance Histogram, RGB Histograms, and RGB Parade functionality. ScopeBox is usable with any QuickTime-supported capture device including analog, DV, SDI, HD-SDI, and others. The software can play back any QuickTime movie from the hard drive, and offers support for capturing video via a recorder palette that enables users to digitize video direct to disk. ScopeBox is available for introductory pricing at $300 (SD edition) and $600 (HD edition) until January 15th (system requirements were unavailable).
Transcend's tiny microSDs
What may be the world's smallest microSD cards have been announced by Transcend. The company's new 2GB model is just 0.6 inches long, 0.4 inches wide, and a miniscule 0.04 inches thick. Cards are also available in 128MB, 256MB, 512MB and 1GB versions. Though mainly intended for devices like cellphones and PDAs, the Transcend cards can be used in full-sized SD slots with the help of a provided adapter, which the microSD cards slide into. A lock prevents cards from falling out. No costs or release dates have been published any of the above products.
Reviews, Numbers trademark
In brief: MacNN has reviewed Proporta 2G iPod shuffle cases ($9) as well as Altec Lansing's VS3251 Powered Audio System ($80, shown at right).... MacNN also recently discovered documentation indicating that Apple's one-time trademark application for 'Numbers' -- which was rumored to signal a forthcoming spreadsheet program to strengthen the company's iWork suite -- has been officially withdrawn.... Apple has added the first season of the original 'Star Trek' TV series to the iTunes Music Store for purchase and download online.... DailyTechTalk is inviting Macworld visitors to attend a party at 'Swig' on January 10th from 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. to celebrate its opening and thank supporters.... The notMac challenge -- which launched less than three weeks ago -- now boasts a prize pool of more than $5,000 for the first member of the developer community who can create a free replacement to Apple's dotMac client-based services.... Bombia Design has released its latest freeware icon set titled 'Blend Apple Hardware,' depicting all recently-manufactured Apple computers.
Mobiado Luminoso Phone
Mobiado, a relative newcomer to the cellphone industry, today provided an early glimpse of its flagship luxury handset. Named simply the Luminoso, the bar-shaped phone presents one of the first major challenges to Nokia's exotic Vertu through its construction. The shell is made of a specially-treated aluminum, Mobiado says: an advanced hard anodizing process results in a shell twice as thick and thus much tougher than most any metal frame. In turn, the translucent keypad buttons are made of more durable sapphire crystals and are lit from above and below to produce a characteristic effect during nighttime use. A diamond-like coating on the main screen is said to prevent cracks and scratches.
Technical details match the phone's appearance, according to Mobiado. The tri-band GSM and WCDMA phone shares many features of higher-end phones in its form factor and can snap 2-megapixel photos, play back AAC and MP3 music stored on microSD up to 2GB in size, and connect to mobile broadband services through EDGE. Mobiado asks buyers to contact the company individually for pricing details, but says that the phone will be ready for a January 15th debut. Click through for a photo of the Luminoso's lighting effect. [Via SlashPhone]
NPD: iPod ruled holidays
Apple's share of holiday sales has seen impressive growth compared to a year ago, according to one report. Analysis firm NPD notes that Apple's control of the market increased sharply from 42 to 57.3 percent within all non-Apple retail stores in the U.S., defying initial worries that the iPod maker's substantial lead would erode in light of waning novelty and the introduction of Microsoft's Zune player. NPD's findings also reveal that the increase has hurt rivals, according to Electronista. Storage firm SanDisk, which surprised industry watchers by usurping all of Apple's longtime challengers to reach second place, fell from 22.1 percent of the holiday 2005 sales to 19.2 this past year. Other competitors are struggling to even approach this smaller number, NPD suggests. Confirming earlier estimates, the Zune captured only 2.8 percent of sales at these same stores in spite of its developer's marketing efforts, and was in fact eclipsed by Creative's largely stagnant 3.4 percent share.
Numark x2 Hybrid Turntable
Numark recently introduced its x2 Hybrid Turntable for DJs making the transition from vinyl records to digital formats. As a conventional deck it can still spin 33RPM and 45RPM records on a full 12-inch aluminum platter, but also uses the same mechanism to control CDs or MP3 discs slipped into an available drive in the base. Looping, pitch control, and scratching is virtually identical between all three formats, Numark boasts. The deck also ships preloaded with the company's signature Beatkeeper software to help automatically calculate the beat rate and smooth transitions between tracks in a live DJ set. Numark currently sells the x2 Hybrid through Sam Ash and other music stores for $1,000. [Via Uncrate]
37TB drives by 2010?
Seagate may achieve an exponential increase in hard disk storage limits in as little as three years' time, according to Electronista. The storage device maker has revealed that a technology called heat-assisted magnetic recording, which uses a laser to temporarily heat the platter and store more information in a given area, could increase the density of hard drives to just over 6TB per square inch. The new technology would allow full, 3.5-inch wide desktop hard drives to store 37.5TB of data. The increased space would hold the entire Library of Congress catalog in raw form, according to Seagate, and the company revealed that it is working on a small magnetic form of storage codenamed "Probe" that would compete directly with flash memory. Seagate failed to reveal details about capacity or performance with regard to the new technology, but suggested availability within the next few years.
Dec quarter to see upside?
Strong momentum in iPod sales during the holiday shopping season combined with the possibility of new product announcements could create an upside to Apple's fourth quarter results, according to analyst Richard Farmer of Merrill Lynch. "Near term catalysts include Macworld on January 9th and December Quarter results on January 17th," the analyst added. "Our new 12 month price objective implies 29X our fiscal 2008 NOPAT/share plus an anticipated net cash position of $14 at the end of fiscal 2007." NPD data for the first three weeks of December suggests strong demand, spurring the firm to raise its December quarter iPod estimate from 15.5 million to 17 million units. Mac demand also appeared solid, according to Farmer, prompting the analyst to raise his earnings-per-share estimates from $6.3 billion at $0.77 cents to $6.5 billion at $0.81 cents, higher than Wall Street's consensus of $6.4 billion at $0.78 cents.
Tornado USB transfer drive
Data Drive Thru's Tornado attempts to make frequent file transfer a bit simpler (and less expensive) than using flash drives. The device uses two, four-foot retractable USB cables, each of which must connect to a PC running Windows 98SE or later. The reason for this is the Tornado's custom software, which loads automatically from firmware, and allows you to drag files from one computer to the other with no intermediary steps. An LED light indicates readiness and transfer. Speeds are limited, however, to 25Mb/sec. Data Drive Thru is selling the Tornado for $60. [Via CrunchGear]
Chrysler In-Car HD Video
Automaker DaimlerChrysler today previewed a new technology that would let car passengers bring almost any music or photos with them for in-car entertainment. Based on Intel's ultra-wideband (UWB), the system links a car's rear-seat entertainment system to handhelds also equipped with the wireless format, allowing owners of portable media players to view even HDTV-quality movies on the much larger screens found in cars without having to plug in a cable or wire the full length of the cabin.
The car designer says it will show the technology at CES using a custom-configured Mercedes-Benz R500, which will play video from any of the headrest-mounted LCDs in the middle or rear passenger sections. The technology currently exists in prototype form but should become reality within the next few years as UWB filters into the mainstream.
XM Route-Based Weather
XM Satellite Radio this afternoon revealed that it has developed an innovative approach to weather tracking that it hopes will improve long-distance driving for its subscribers. Although based on live mapping data for weather as with many GPS receivers, the XM system uses both the driver's current position and their plotted destination to provide a weather forecast for the entire route. Such a system will give drivers advance warning of blizzards, rainstorms, and other potential hazards along the path before they ever become a threat, XM says. The technology could also help set expectations for vacations before drivers set out. XM will demonstrate the new service through a concept car at next week's CES and expects a final implementation by summer.
NPD on 2006 iPod Holidays
Apple's share of holiday sales has seen impressive growth compared to a year ago, according to an NPD report obtained today by Mercury News. The stats firm notes that Apple's control of the market increased sharply from 42 to 57.3 percent of all non-Apple retail stores in the US, defying initial worries the iPod maker's substantial lead would erode in light of waning novelty and the introduction of Microsoft's Zune.
NPD's findings additionally reveal that the increase has hurt rivals. Storage firm SanDisk, which surprised many by usurping all of Apple's longtime challengers to reach second place, fell from 22.1 percent of the holiday 2005 sales to 19.2 this past year. Other competitors are struggling to even approach this smaller number, the Mercury News story indicates. Confirming earlier estimates, the Zune captured only 2.8 percent of sales at these same stores in spite of its developer's marketing efforts, and was in fact eclipsed by Creative's largely stagnant 3.4 percent share.
HyperNext Studio 3.1 ($90) is a development suite aimed at beginners, allowing users to build stacks and applications for Mac and Windows systems. The suite requires no programming knowledge to use, provides a simple interface with one toolbar alongside a main window, and is expandable using HyperNext Developer plug-ins.
[Download - 12.8MB]
even-t 2 (Free) is a calendar program currently in public beta that is available for free until February 1st. The time tracking software offers multiple color-coded calendars, integrates Google Maps and Google Calendar functionality, and enables users to attach links or multimedia files to entries. [Download - 15.3MB]
Task Timer Version 3 ($25) is designed primarily for contractors who need to keep track of work progress for billing purposes. Version 3 adds support for five simultaneously timers, as well as the ability to use secondary data sources (ODBC, PostgreSQL, REAL SQL Server) for workgroups. A new billing module allows users to produce quick invoices to hand to clients. [Download - 5.7MB]
NoteMind 1.1.6 ($20) is an information management tool designed to archive and display data in a way that makes clear connections between folders. NoteMind 1.1.6 enables users to export data from the contextual menu, and fixes bugs which included a database corruption problem. License holders can also select a folder to collect inserted notes by pressing a key. [Download - 4.4MB]
RWThemeMiner v1.2 ($15) is an assistant editing application for RapidWeaver themes, bridging them with various image- and text-editing programs. Version 1.2 inserts a RapidWeaver launch button, a Find-and-Replace command, and more options for replacing original images in a theme. RWThemeMiner 1.2 requires Mac OS X 10.1 or later. [Download - 3.42MB]
16-gigabit NAND flash chip
Samsung today announced that it has sampled the world's first 16-gigabit (2GB) NAND flash memory chip, which may well end up in a future revision of Apple's flash-based iPod nano or iPod shuffle players. The new technology is one of the first chips to be manufactured using an ultra-dense 50-nanometer process, which is a new technology designed to boost devices that traditionally rely on sheer capacity, such as solid-state drives. Samsung claims that the new chips offer more capacity without sacrificing speed, but admits to a manufacturing process using multi-level cells (MLC) rather than the faster single-level designs. The new chip boasts double the page memory of older MLC devices, which effectively doubles read speed when compared to older chips while increasing the write speed by as much as 150 percent, according to Electronista.
Seagate 37TB Drives
Seagate may achieve an exponential increase in hard disk storage limits in as little as three years' time, according to Seagate researchers speaking with Wired. The storage device maker has revealed that a technology called heat-assisted magnetic recording, which uses a laser to temporarily heat the platter and store more information in a given area, could increase the density of hard drives to just over 6TB per square inch -- allowing full, 3.5-inch wide desktop hard drives to store 37.5TB of data. The increased space would hold the entire Library of Congress catalog in raw form, according to Seagate.
The magazine also reports that Seagate is working on a small, magnetic form of storage codenamed "Probe" that would compete directly against flash memory. No details of its capacity or performance have been revealed, though it too should become available in the next few years.
HP Dropping DLP Sets
HP is poised to eliminate rear projection sets altogether from its TV lineup, according to an early preview the company gave of the range to be introduced at CES. While the company has in recent years maintained a range of DLP-based rear projection sets (pictured at left), the CES 2007 announcement carries no mention of any such sets, opting instead for LCD and plasma screens. HP has already excised any mention of DLP from its site. No comments were made by the firm regarding the change, but the move reflects a recent shift towards direct-view sets, whose increasing size and reduced cost have largely obviated the need for bulkier projectors.
Few details of the new lineup have been revealed, but include 42- and 47-inch sets (shown, right) capable of a full 1080p resolution, each coming with or without HP's MediaSmart sharing technology built in. Plasmas at 42- and 50-inch sizes will also be available, as should a line of inexpensive 720p sets ranging from 32 to 42 inches in size. Full details should become available with the opening of CES next week. [Via Crave]
WriteRoom 2.0 released
Hog Bay Software has released WriteRoom 2.0, an application designed to offer the simplicity of a typewriter with a full-screen distraction-free environment. The update adds a live word count, rich text, multiple documents, and allows users to fine-tune the writing environment. Document based auto-save stores text files in standard formats while automatically saving in the background to help protect work in the event of a power outage or crash, and the application hides user-interface features such as the menu bar until the mouse moves to the edge of the screen. WriteRoom also offers various combinations of cursors, and brings full screen editing to Mori notes or to any other digital notebook. WriteRoom 2.0 is available for $25 and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Samsung 16Gb Flash Memory
Electronics giant Samsung continues to remain at the forefront of news today with its announcement that it has sampled the world's first 16-gigabit (2GB) NAND flash memory chip. Also one of the first chips to be made using an ultra-dense 50-nanometer process, the new technology is meant to boost devices that typically depend on sheer capacity, such as solid-state drives. The increased space does not come at the expense of speed, Samsung says. Although made using multi-level cells (MLC) instead of the faster single-level designs, the new chip has double the page memory compared to old MLC devices. This doubles the read speed compared to its ancestors and increases the write speed by as much as 150 percent.
The company hopes to start full-scale production of the 16Gb flash chips in the first quarter of this year. No mention was made of specific partners likely to use the technology beyond Samsung itself, but the introduction should pave the way for higher-capacity iPod nanos as Apple has historically relied on Samsung's memory as the cornerstone of its mid-range jukebox.
Small Tree PCIe GbE cards
Small Tree Communications has introduced three new PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet cards for Apple's Power Mac G5 and Intel Xeon-based Mac Pro workstations, as well as the new Intel-based Apple Xserve systems. The four-port copper PEG4 card, six-port copper PEG6 card, and six-port copper or optical PEG6SFP card (shown at right) offer the highest port density and extract the maximum network throughput from modern high-end server motherboards, according to Small Tree. The cards are designed for file servers that require a high bandwidth connection to a Gigabit Ethernet switch using features such as Jumbo frames and 802.3ad link aggregation. The company's multi-port PCIe GbE solutions enable near wire-speed performance with low CPU utilization, and all three cards come with native driver support for all popular operating systems including Mac OS X. The new cards are available for $670 (PEG4), $810 (PEG6), and $1,000 (4PEG6SFP).
Bluetooth patent lawsuit
Even as Samsung and other manufacturers continue to develop new Bluetooth products, a group from the United States is suing over patent infringement, Reuters reports. The Washington Research Foundation, a commercial outlet of the University of Washington, has filed for damages from Samsung, Nokia, and Panasonic, claiming that Bluetooth violates a patent registered by scientist Edwin Suominen in 1999. Suominen's technology is described as a "simplified high frequency broadband tuner and tuning method." Should the WRF lawsuit prove successful it could cripple the US mobile market, imposing royalties on a component which was previously an open specification. It would also affect British chip maker CSR, which does not sell directly to the States, but does supply over 50 percent of the world's Bluetooth chipsets.
iPod community site opens
Mogopop today unveiled the beta launch of Mogopop.com, its website for creating as well as sharing and downloading rich media iPod content. The site offers iPod owners a hub for creating multimedia content -- such as miniature websites for iPods -- with audio, video, and images. Users can download functional iPod content created by other Mogopop users, , and the all site download content is available for free. "Until today, it's required a lot of technical savvy for a person to share media with other iPod owners - a video he's created, a song her band recorded, or a photo he took. Mogopop removes that barrier," said Jordan Allen-Dutton, Mogopop CEO and co-founder. Sample Mogopop.com content includes a multimedia guide to the Milford Sound Trek in Australia, comedy videos, music from indie artists, and sports TV shows with pop music trivia quizzes. Mogopop is a free Web-based service, requiring only a modern Web browser such as Apple's Safari.
SMC ships 802.11n router
SMC today began shipping its Barricade N, its first hardware device that makes use of the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard in its current first-draft form. The wireless router uses multi-antenna MIMO support, connecting at rates up to 300Mbps to other devices that support the new wireless format. The router comes with a 4-port Ethernet switch, and is capable of prioritizing video streams as well as protecting against intrusion with an SPI firewall, according to Electronista. The SMC Barricade N is shipping for $120. SMC also announced that following the Barricade are new N-labeled editions of the company's EZ Connect CardBus and PCI adapters for notebooks and desktops. The cards match the 300Mbps speed of the new router, and offer full compatibility with the new features. SMC's EZ Connect N models are also available for $80 (CardBus) and $90 (PCI).
SteelSound Gaming Headsets
SteelSeries dramatically expanded its gaming headset line today with two new models aimed at mainstream gamers looking to make their first serious uses of positional sound and voice chat. The entry-level Steelsound 3H (shown) is built for general use and is optimized for gamers who enjoy background music while they play, providing just enough directional cues without affecting the more neutral sound balance necessary for other sounds. The 3H is also the most portable of SteelSeries' headsets and folds in for travel. It ships now for $40.
The more committed gamers will prefer the SteelSound 4H, according to the company. While less compact than the 3H, the uprated headset has larger cushions for comfort during longer play sessions. Its sound is also tuned more explicitly for gaming and helps identify events in first-person shooters as well as real-time strategy games. The retractable boom microphone is also more sensitive than on the 3H version. SteelSeries is offering the 4H at the same time as its basic counterpart for $50.
Shuttle takes on Mac mini
PC maker Shuttle today debuted its X200 mini-PC, a media-centered system that competes more directly with the Front Row features of Apple's Mac mini. The X200 foregoes dedicated graphics, FireWire, and S-video support in the old X100 model, and offers built-in 802.11a/b/g wireless capability as well as a hybrid digital and analog tuner with an FM radio tuner included. The company promises that added media hardware does not detract from the processor performance or size, according to Electronista, and adds that the system will still support the 2GHz Core 2 Duo option of the X100 but will share the same 2-inch-high casing. Shuttle anticipates shipping the X200 this month (pricing was unavailable).
Bluetooth Navigator GPS
New to Korea is the Samsung STT-D370, also known as the Bluetooth Navigator. Using the 370's Bluetooth, microphone and speakerphone functions, owners can make calls and send text messages from the GPS unit, without ever having to pick up their cellphone. In terms of its primary purpose, the 370 uses a 3.7-inch touchscreen and can display real-time 3D images of its regional database, complete with textured roads and buildings. New maps can be downloaded through Anycall Land. An SD slot also lets the 370 view photos and play MP3s, which supplements the unit's built-in DMB tuner, which in turn doubles as a means of receiving traffic data used in route calculations. The Navigator is on sale now for the equivalent of $600 US.
iPod, iTunes lawsuit
Apple is facing yet another lawsuit over its protected iTunes tracks, this time in the U.S. User Melanie Tucker in July filed a lawsuit and is seeking class-action status, alleging that Apple violates antitrust laws by disallowing music purchased from its iTunes Music Store from playing on any other digital player aside from its own iPod. The suit also charges that Apple failed to clarify to customers that music purchased from its itunes store is incompatible with music and devices offered by other companies, according to IDG News. The plaintiff is requesting that Apple be forbidden to continue support for its exclusive bond between iTunes and the iPod, and that the company pay damages to anyone who has purchased an iPod or music from the iTunes store after April 28th, 2003. Apple reportedly filed a motion with the court in November to dismiss the suit, but the motion was denied on December 20th.
SMC 802.11n Devices Ship
Networking specialist SMC today shipped its first hardware that can match the high speeds of Wi-Fi's 802.11n standard in its current first-draft form. Integral to the launch is the Barricade N, a wireless router that uses multi-antenna MIMO support to connect at rates as high as 300Mbps to other devices that support the new wireless format. The router comes with a 4-port Ethernet switch and is intelligent enough to both prioritize video streams as well as protect against intrusion with an SPI firewall. SMC sells the router for $120.
Following the Barricade are new N-labeled versions of the company's EZ Connect CardBus and PCI adapters for notebooks and desktops. The two cards match the 300Mbps speed of the new router and work with all its new features. Also ready immediately, the EZ Connect N models ship for $80 (CardBus) and $90 (PCI).
Pharos preparing GPS phone
Normally dedicated to stand-alone GPS navigators, Pharos has now turned its attentions to cellphones, beginning development on an as yet unnamed product. The phone will feature GPS functions prominently however, using a SiRFstar III receiver, and running Pharos' Ostia software on Windows Mobile 5.0. Owners will also get Microsoft's Streets & Trips for use on a PC, and a three-month subscription to Pharos' Smart Navigator web service. The phone will not be a slouch in the communications department either, boasting qualities such as quad-band GSM, Bluetooth 2.0, and a 1.9-megapixel camera. Though it will not have any 3G technology, it will support EDGE broadband and 802.11b/g wireless. No release information has been confirmed except that it will ship to the United States.
Cineon Plasma HDTV Line
Microtek on Wednesday established its first line of HDTVs under the Cineon name. Both the 42-inch CP42HA (pictured) and the 50-inch CP50HA are designed with very exacting home theater installations in mind, Microtek claims. Either model's image can be fine-tuned beyond the normal range allowed by most sets and can have their color balance, saturation, and other factors in picture quality adjusted to match the viewing environment. The two plasmas are said to be vibrant out of the box, with the 1024x768 display of the 42-inch model sporting a 10,000:1 contrast ratio and 1,300cd/m2 brightness and finer 1366x768 display of the 50-inch system achieving its own figures of 8,000:1 and 1,000cd/m2 respectively.
Input is broad and includes component, HDMI, and VGA inputs for high-definition signals as well as ATSC and NTSC tuners for receiving both analog and HD broadcasts. Legacy inputs for RCA and S-video connections exist as well. Microtek has already begun shipping the CP42HA ($1,599) and CP50HA ($2,199) to custom home theater installers and stores.
AmTech on Apple consensus
Apple may surprise investors in 2007 as the published consensus estimates for 2007 look reasonable but are likely conservative, according to American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu. "This is a very different scenario than in 2006," Wu wrote in a research note obtained by MacNN. "We argue that estimates have finally been reset, leaving Apple room to surprise on the upside." Wu believes Apple will experience strong product momentum in 2007, with Mac OS X Leopard offering tighter Windows integration to accelerate Mac sales alongside iTV ushering in a new product category. The Cupertino-based company will also likely introduce new iPods with widescreens and Bluetooth technology amongst rumors of its 'iPhone' cellular handset.
Hauppauge this morning revealed its first hybrid analog and HD external tuner for the US. Dubbed the HVR-950, the USB 2.0-based stick has a co-axial input that works both as a connection for analog cable TV and as a connection for a portable antenna that can receive over-the-air ATSC broadcasts in HD quality. The device can switch between analog and digital signals automatically if both are available, the company says. Bundled software turns the host Windows PC into a PVR that can schedule recording for either analog or digital TV, and can also help the owner search for exact showtimes through TitanTV's online scheduling software. The company has not released a price for the HVR-950 but says it should be available soon.
Cheetah3D 3.6 released
Cheetah3d.com has released Cheetah3D 3.6, offering an entirely rewritten timeline with numerous additional features such as auto-keying and a timeline 'scroller.' The latest revision includes more advanced keying masks that allow users to key single parameters, and features a new design with refreshed icons for the timeline. The software provides rewritten auto highlighting with easier selection of unconnected points, edges on mesh borders, and points on mesh borders. Cheetah 3D 3.6 improves auto highlighting accuracy, features 40 percent faster OpenGL previews of complex meshes, and enhances the transform gadget capability alongside FBX animation export. The application priced at $100 for a single user license or $1,000 for a school site license, with upgrades available at $50 for Cheetah3D 1.x or 2.x users. Cheetah3D 3.6 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Shuttle X200 Mini-PC
Small form factor PC maker Shuttle today revealed the X200. A more media-centric design than the earlier X100 model, the new version drops the dedicated graphics, FireWire, and S-video support of the old model in exchange for features that compete more directly with the Front Row features of Apple's Mac mini, which Shuttle has previously denounced in side-by-side comparisons. The X200 gains built-in 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi as well as a hybrid digital and analog TV tuner; an FM radio tuner is also part of the package, Shuttle says.
The company has yet to confirm every detail of its new PC, but promises that the added media hardware does not detract from the processor performance or size: the system will still support the 2GHz Core 2 Duo option of the X100 and will share the same 2-inch-high casing. Pricing has not been revealed, but Shuttle anticipates shipping the X200 this month.
Digital patent lawsuit
Apple, Google, and Napster are being sued by online movie distributor Intertainer, according to Bloomberg News. Papers filed last Friday in a federal court in Texas indicate that the three companies are accused of infringing a patent on a way to distribute digital entertainment over the internet, which has caused "irreparable harm" to Intertainer; it has asked the court for cash compensation and an order to prevent the companies from using its technology, according to the report. Intertainer alleges that the companies' infringement was "willful and deliberate," which could allow the judge to triple any damages, if the claims can be proved. The patent in question, for a "digital entertainment service platform," was issued in August 2005. Both Microsoft and Intel are investors in Intertainer.
I-O Data AveL LinkPlayer2
Japan's I-O Data today said that its new AveL LinkPlayer2 is now reaching US shores. While a DVD player at heart, the LinkPlayer2 is one of the few certified to work with Intel's Viiv media initiative and doubles as an extension of a Windows Media Center-based PC: high-definition 720p or 1080i videos in DivX, MPEG-2, or Windows Media formats can be played directly through the network, allowing the host computer to remain in the den while still sharing its content with the living room. Music and photos can also be streamed across the connection, and a front-mounted USB port similarly gives access to flash drives and other external storage. The new AveL LinkPlayer model is available today through PC Mall and many retail shops for $279.
LED backlighting for Macs?
Apple and HP may be planning to introduce LED backlighting to the displays of their notebook computers, according to a DigiTimes report. Both PC manufacturers are preparing to launch in the second quarter new portables with the backlights that would dramatically improve the image quality of the built-in LCD screens, according to Electronista. The new backlights would provide a more even distribution of lighting as well as an improved color range, according to the report. Although specific details of which models will use the technology were not revealed, the report claims that the part manufacturers Cree and Nichia will be the main suppliers. LED technology has is used in some Samsung HDTVs and has also appeared in color-accurate desktop LCDs, but has not yet found its way into portables because of high power consumption.
Final Cut Express HD promo
Apple has launched a new promotion for Final Cut Express HD, its movie editing application for prosumers. The software is based on the company's award-winning Final Cut Pro software for professional film and movie editing, offering virtually all of the same features. Users who purchase any Mac computer and Final Cut Express HD from January 1 through March 27, 2007 can receive an instant savings of up to $200 (or a $200 rebate by mail). The promotion is good at Apple's online store, Apple's retail stores and through authorized Apple resellers (and is available in the UK as well).
Apple LED-Backlit Notebook
Apple and key rival HP are planning to introduce LED backlighting to the displays of their notebook computers, according to sources speaking with DigiTimes. Both system builders are expected to bring portables with the new backlights to market in the second quarter of 2007 that would dramatically improve the image quality of the LCD screens attached to the computers, providing a more even distribution of lighting as well as an improved color range. The source refuses to detail the exact models that will receive the upgrade but notes that the part manufacturers Cree and Nichia should be the main suppliers, DigiTimes says.
LED technology has already found its way into certain Samsung HDTVs and has also appeared in color-accurate desktop LCDs, but has rarely if ever been seen in notebooks due to initial fears of high power consumption. The move reinforces the attempts by both Apple and HP to compete based on their strengths in media-friendly PCs rather than cost alone.
SpamSweep 1.5 released
Bains Software today released SpamSweep v1.5, an update to its powerful spam filter for Mac OS X. SpamSweep is an advanced bayesian spam filter with a simple, easy-to-understand interface. SpamSweep seamlessly combines many filtering technologies, including domain and relay blacklists, sender whitelisting, and a bayesian filter to automatically delete spam messages before they're downloaded by your email client. SpamSweep can notify users of new good mail by playing a sound, displaying an alert, or triggering an email client. This version is a Universal Binary and features improved accuracy and tighter integration with email clients. SpamSweep is $25 shareware; it will only filter one account in trial mode.
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