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Luxpro to countersue Apple
Luxpro says it will countersue Apple for $100 million in damages after the Taiwan-based electronics company won lawsuit filed against it by Apple over the "Super Shuffle", an iPod shuffle knockoff that debuted in March of 2005. According to The Financial Times, the company will file a countersuit for monetary damages related to lost revenues, after the company was successful in pressuring Luxpro to remove the device from CeBIT on the first day. "We plan to sue Apple in a Taiwanese court before the end of the month and demand $100m in compensation for the revenues we have lost due to their abuse of their global power," Wu Fu-chin, Luxpro chairman, told the publication.
Legal experts on Apple CEO
Apple CEO Steve Jobs was cleared of any wrongdoing with regard to illegally backdated stock options grants by the company's independent investigation, but some legal experts and industry figures believe Jobs is by no means in the clear. "He knew what he was doing. It wasn't 'the dog ate it'," said Alan Johnson of Johnson Associates, a compensation consulting firm in New York. "He backdated the options on purpose and the committee said it will give him a free pass." Nevertheless, research analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray is joined by at least two other analysts in the belief that Apple's chief is almost assuredly safe.
MacGPS Pro 7.1 released
James Associates today released MacGPS Pro 7.1, the latest version of its software that connects GPS receivers and Macs. It works with Garmin and Magellan GPS receivers for transferring Waypoints, Routes, Tracklogs, and GPS satellite Almanacs. It works with many brands of GPS receivers for a real time display of GPS information on a moving map. Version 7.1 provides connecting capability between Magellan eXplorist GPS receivers and the Mac. The software, which requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later, is available for $50 ($10 more on CDROM).
Media-heavy Asus laptop
Writing in an unofficial forum, an Asus reseller claims that the company will soon be releasing a media-focused 17-inch laptop. The Z84Jp will run on an Intel Core 2 Duo processor and an Nvidia Go 7600 graphics card, but most importantly, it will come with a number of niceties such as Bluetooth, a two-megapixel webcam, S-video and HDMI outputs, plus a full four speakers and a subwoofer. The only weaknesses in the system may be the DVD-RW drive (no HD), and the weight of the machine, which is a substantial 8.8 pounds. The Z84Jp should launch later in January with Windows XP onboard, but will come loaded with Vista by February. No price has been disclosed.
EVGA Superclocked GF 8800
Video card maker EVGA today unveiled custom-tuned versions of NVIDIA's GeForce 8800-series boards. The KO ACS3 Edition cards, shipping in high-end GTX and slightly reduced GTS models, each sport a custom cooling system that gives enough headroom for the company to "superclock" every card beyond NVIDIA's official speeds: the GTX sees a major increase from 575 to 626MHz at its core and a boost to an effective 2GHz memory speed, while the ostensibly more modest GTS card sees a still greater leap from 500 to 580MHz core speed and a memory boost from 1.6 to 1.7GHz.
The increase is dramatic enough to set records, according to the company's tests: a pair of 8800 GTX KO ACS3 cards operating in concert has contributed to a 3DMark06 score of over 24,000 points, marking one of the highest-ever rankings in the history of the highly competitive benchmark. Both cards are now available and ship at slight premiums of $480 for the GTS model and $650 for the GTX. [Via I4U]
GizMac at Macworld
GizMac Accessories has announced that it will unveil new iPod and Xserve products at booth #S2410 during Macworld Expo in San Francisco next week. The accessory-maker has secured a larger booth to exhibit an expanded line of iPod products as well as its current Titan family of iPod cases and accessories. GizMac's XRackPro2 noise reducing server rack will also see a new companion at the beginning of the Expo, according to the company. "MacWorld will be extra exciting for us this year." said Ken Vitto of GizMac Accessories. "Our iPod cases and accessories, as well as our noise reduction server rack product lines, will have great new products to show off throughout the expo." GizMac will begin showcasing its current and forthcoming products on January 9th.
Four New BenQ Projectors
Electronics firm BenQ late today started shipping four multi-role projectors it says are equally made for formal presenttions and home theaters. All four share multiple additions that should help in the former presentation setting, the company says. Users now have added control over every step of the startup and shutdown: in addition to a subtle tone that indicates when a presenter can safely display the picture or shut down the system, the new line also sports a MyScreen function that replaces BenQ's logo with a custom image. An on-screen timer can help prevent miscues, and a special blackboard mode adjusts the image to properly display a picture on a dark background.
The four models are primarily separated by digital video support, BenQ says. The higher-end MP721 and MP721C (pictured) share a 1024x768 resolution, and introduce DVI-I ports alongside component, RCA, S-video, and VGA; the more mainstream MP621 and MP621C models use 800x600 projectors and forego pure digital output. The company has not clarified the meaning of the C designation. Every model should be widely available in mid-January for prices of $749 (MP621C), $899 (MP621), $999 (MP721C), and $1499 (MP721).
GPS unit with SIRIUS radio
Coming in February from Directed Electronics is the Clifford Scout420, a combination GPS unit/media player that can be used with an optional $99 cradle to receive SIRIUS satellite radio. Directed asserts that theirs is the only such GPS unit headed to market. The 420 also has a 100-channel FM transmitter, and has AV and mini-USB ports for recording from TV, DVDs or camcorders. Files are stored on 20GB of internal memory. Various North American maps come pre-loaded, but new maps (and other files) can be loaded through the bundled memory card or full-size USB cable. The display is a relatively large 4.3-inch touchscreen. The Scout420 should sell at retail for about $699.
Micro-USB for Handhelds
The official USB Forum this afternoon revealed a new standard for USB connections dubbed Micro-USB. The new connector is said to accommodate the gradual shrinking of cellphones, media players, and other pocketable devices by reducing the size of the connector itself; smaller even than the mini-USB connectors of today (shown), the plug will still support both data and power on the same cable and can speak to any USB device with the right cabling. Support for the Forum's On-the-Go technology will let devices equipped with the new ports transfer information between each other, bypassing the need for a full-fledged computer on one end.
Specific devices that will use Micro-USB have not been revealed. However, the cellphone producer Nokia has said it will soon use for its new designs. "Micro-USB offers innovative design and a flexible platform that our technical teams can easily take on board," says the company's technology platform director Jouko Junkkari. The technology may be especially relevant to Apple and other developers of extra-small devices, as the iPod shuffle and similar compact devices often resort to using the headphone plug as a substitute for a true USB connection.
Sonic Qflix DVD Burning
Sonic today finalized its long-anticipated legal download-to-DVD recording system. Titled Qflix, the technology lets those buying videos from strictly digital outlets, including online download stores, burn the movies directly to discs that work properly in standard DVD players but still prevent easy copying. Customers could theoretically produce as many copies of a movie or TV show as their license allows while the discs themselves cannot be mass-duplicated, Sonic claims. Newly revealed is the necessity for an end-to-end protection system: the software, computer drives, and discs need to be Qflix-certified to prevent simpler workarounds. Hardware and software that supports the technology will be announced soon.
Expanded iPod integration
Mopar has expanded the availability of its factory-engineered iPod Integration Kits for most Chrysler vehicles, enabling more Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge vehicle owners to experience built-in iPod functionality. The audio integration system was launched in early 2006, providing direct connectivity between an iPod and a vehicle's audio sound system. Drivers can browse iPod playlists using the audio system or built-in steering wheel controls. Specifically engineered to interface with select model year 2006 and newer Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge vehicle electronics, the iPod Integration Kits are available for purchase and installation at Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge dealerships across the U.S.
Two free widgets released
Taco Widgets has released CharacterPal 4.0, a free dashboard widget designed to find the key combinations for special characters such as accents and symbols. CharacterPal includes keyboard and HTML combinations for Greek, Mathematic, Latin extension/accent, and keyboard symbol characters as well as URL escape codes. The widget includes 10 different keyboard layouts with various fonts, and is designed as a transparent palette with built-in desktop use accessible from the back side. CharacterPal requires Mac OS X 10.4.3 or later. Taco Widgets also unveiled Uncle Sam 4.0, another free dashboard widget that presents cynical, random quotes. The widget includes 800 random quotes with 12 different skins, offers clipboard compatibility, and stores the quote list in plain text format. Uncle Sam requires Mac OS X 10.4.3 or later.
Olympus voice recorders
Olympus is releasing three new digital voice recorders that defy their categorization. Beyond voice, the DS-30, DS-40 and DS-50 not only play MP3 and WMA music files, but also audiobooks from Audible.com, and podcasts that can be downloaded automatically when hooked up to a PC. Users simply drag RSS feeds into a recorder's podcast folder. In regards to actual recording, each model has a detachable stereo microphone, as well as an internal mono mic for backup. Sensitivity can be adjusted to lecture, conference and dictation settings, while noise cancellation can be set to low-cut, voice, or noise. An "extra-quality" SXQ mode will record audio at 44.1KHz and 128Kbps. Two AAA batteries supply up to 32 hours of use. The DS-30 holds 256MB and costs $150; the 512MB DS-40 costs $200, and the 1GB DS-50 is priced at $250. All of the recorders should be available this month.
Samsung Ultra at CES
Continuing its series of releases in advance of CES, Samsung today revealed that it would show its Ultra Music and Ultra Video phones at CES, providing additional details as well as opening the door to a possible North American release. The Ultra Music (known also as the F300) has gained a Bang & Olufsen amplifier, using the Danish audio company's expertise to improve the final sound quality. Both it and the larger Ultra Video (F500) will have 2-megapixel cameras and next-generation HSDPA Internet access, the company adds. Exact launch details remain vague, including the possibility of support for North American cellular networks, but should become clearer with the advent of next week's show.
SanDisk SSD flash drive
SanDisk today announced that its new solid state drive which it calls the SanDisk SSD is the first flash storage device to bridge the gap between capacious hard drives and fast -- but typically expensive -- flash memory. The new drive holds 32GB of data in a 1.8-inch wide enclosure, and serves as a drop-in replacement for most notebook hard drives. The SanDisk SSD connects to any standard Ultra ATA port, contains no moving parts that are prone to mechanical failure, and operates more quickly than a hard drive due to its lack of spool-up time. The device reads data at up to 62MB/sec -- nearly 100 times faster than hard drives typically found in notebooks -- and is scheduled for debut at the CES trade show in Las Vegas next week.The flash storage will be ready immediately for large system builders, according to Electronista, and should add $600 to the cost of any system that utilizes it.
Toshiba portable drive
Toshiba unveiled its Portable External Hard Drive, a pocket drive with a 2.5-inch hard disk for storage that features easy, automated backup. The drive comes bundled with NTI's Shadow software for both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs as well as Microsoft Windows systems; once settings are chosen, plugging the drive into a USB 2.0 port will automatically power up the device and transfer data in the background without intervention, according to Electronista. The enclosure is constructed from stylized black aluminum to showcase its unique, shock-resistant design that safely vents trapped heat. Toshiba is planning a Spring launch for 100GB, 120GB, and 160GB versions priced from $140.
Thinner rear-projector LCD
Samsung continues its CES announcements with word of a new line of rear-projection LCDs (not shown), supposedly thinner and lighter than similar models, which are often comparable in size to conventional CRTs. The new LCDs will come with screens ranging from 50 to 60 inches, and will be no more than 10 inches deep, making them light enough to hang on a wall and not much thicker than a flat-panel display. The new sets will also be approximately 30 percent cheaper than the equivalent flat-panel models.
The company isn't devoting itself exclusively to this technology, however. Digital Media President G.S. Choi says Samsung will be doubling production of plasma TVs in 2007, with a particular emphasis on larger sizes, as demonstrated by a forthcoming 80-inch model. Frames are also being redesigned on the sets to make them as much as 30 percent thinner. On show at CES will be a wireless plasma TV, which will receive input from set-top, Blu-Ray and HD DVD sources. Matching this will be Samsung's second-generation Blu-Ray player, expected to cost 20 percent less than the first-generation. Choi says the company has no plans at this time to release a hybrid player like LG's. [Via CNET]
izenMobile KRMA and KSMT
Junior cellphone startup izenMobile on Thursday said that its first two phones will make a public debut at the CES expo next week. The previously announced KRMA (pictured) keeps its uncommon blend of Windows Mobile smartphone software with only a number pad for button control; more advanced functions are handled through a 2.2-inch touchscreen that works with both finger presses and a bundled stylus. The KRMA is now known to be a quad-band GSM world phone with EDGE broadband, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
A completely new aspect of the announcement is mention of the KSMT (pronounced "Kismet"), a more advanced device with a slide-out, 39-button keyboard for those who frequently send e-mail or SMS messages. Its features are virtually identical to the KRMA, the company says. Either model comes with a free service dubbed izenUniverse that synchronizes up to 25GB of files between one or more phone owners and an onilne backup server; the feature also gives businesses a Microsoft Exchange server for group e-mail hosting. Pricing is still unknown, though the KRMA, KSMT, and their services are launching soon after their CES showings.
Analyst on MWSF keynote
Apple's iPhone will almost certainly enter a production phase of 12 million units within the next 2-6 months, and the company will likely launch its iTV wireless media streaming device at Macworld with some improvements over the September debut, according to Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster. "Despite all of the talk regarding new product announcements, or lack thereof, at Macworld, we continue to believe that the announcement of an iPhone would be positive for Apple shares and no sign of this product would be a negative," Munster said. Investor expectations over Apple's product pipeline have bolstered the company's stock in recent weeks, resulting in significant gains backed by NPD data suggesting a very busy holiday shopping season for the Cupertino-based company. Apple said it was "very excited" about its upcoming products, and industry watchers have watched the iPod-maker move toward consumer living rooms with the debut of its Front Row software that ships with new iSight-enabled Mac systems. "With the release of the iTV, a wireless media streaming device, Apple will continue its slow-but-steady push into the living room." Piper Jaffray maintains its 'outperform' rating on Apple shares with a price target of $99.
AAPL target raised to $93
JMP Securities today raised its price target on Apple by $9, saying the computer maker's stock is trading below its two-year average multiple of slightly more than 40 times earnings. The Street says that "the firm lifted its target to $93 from $84 and is expecting revenue of $6.8 billion for the December quarter. JMP is also looking for earnings, after all unusual items are accounted for, of 80 cents a share. Both are above the guidance Apple has provided. Apple's regulatory filings are positive in that the options backdating flap appears to be essentially behind the company, JMP believes. Still, the firm said there was some risk that legal action could be taken against the company or its management."
Quad-core Intel Core chips
Quad-core based Macs may be on the horizon as Intel plans to introduce its new Core 2 Quad processor for commercial PCs at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week. The Las Vegas-based CES show kicks off on January 8 and coincides with the the annual Macworld Expo, which takes place in San Francisco. Expected to be officially unveiled next week, it leaves open the possibility that Apple CEO Steve Jobs may demo new quad-core based Macs at his keynote on Tuesday. As anticipated late last year, eWEEK reports that the latest quad-core offering will join five other quad-core chips that Intel has already released for servers as well as its Core 2 Extreme quad-core QX6700 for high-end PC systems. The new Core 2 Quad will be marketed toward mainstream desktop users, according to the report, while two other quad-core Xeons, also due in the first quarter, will be released for ultra-dense employments and a single-socket workstation/servers.
HANNspree Style LCDs
Image-conscious TV designer HANNspree this afternoon debuted its Style line of LCD TVs in the UK. Each model is built to break away from the all too orthodox shapes of most other companies' sets, HANNspree says. The most conspicuous model is the HANNSvibe (pictured), a 32-inch set with a dual-color design meant to recall pop art. The shape is more than cosmetic, according to the company: the two speakers in the display stand can detach and sit as far as 6.5 feet away from the TV for added stereo separation.
Extra models announced by the company include the HANNSlounge, a model ranging between 26 and 37 inches that recalls the wood-paneled looks of classic TVs; the HANNSnara, a more conventional 37-inch widescreen with side-mounted flat speakers; and the HANNSwing, a compact 32-inch set with large speaker nets and a distinctive curved shape. Every edition is capable of 720p, HDMI input for digital video, and at least an 8ms pixel response time. Prices begin at £679 ($1,320) after tax for the 26-inch HANNSlounge and scale up to £889 ($1,730) for the HANNSnara. The sets are also available in the US, though prices are currently unavailable.
'Modbook' tablet Mac
Solution hardware manufacturer Axiotron and Other World Computing (OWC) today announced that they will be unveiling on January 9 the new ModBook, the "first ever" Mac tablet computer solution at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco (booth no. S2218). The ModBook is a high-end slate-style notebook computer solution that features an optional, integrated GPS system and an integrated pen-tablet system. It was designed in California by Axiotron's team of German and American engineers and will be available in the U.S. through an exclusive joint-venture arrangement between Axiotron and OWC. Consumers will be able to experience hands-on trials at OWC's booth at the Expo, according to the company. The Axiotron ModBook features Wacom Pen-eabled hardware for true pen input and is fully compatible with Apple's Inkwell, a Mac OS X Tiger feature that provides system level handwriting and gesture recognition to all Mac applications.
Six LaCie storage options
LaCie today launched six new storage solutions to accommodate Mac users, and announced its planned presence at Macworld Expo in San Francisco (Booth #S2226) beginning next week. The new products include LaCie's d2 Blu-ray Drive, Quadra Hard Drive, d2 SAFE Hard Drive, Ethernet Disk mini & Ethernet Big Disk, Ethernet Disk RAID, and FireWire Speakers. Four of the new solutions features LaCie's rack-mountable d2 case design made from an aluminum alloy, and each has a different functionality from biometrics to networking. LaCie's d2 Blu-ray Drive is available for pre-order at $1,150. The company's Quadra Hard Drive ($300), d2 SAFE Hard Drive ($300), Ethernet Disk mini & Ethernet Big Disk ($200-500), and FireWire Speakers ($80) are already shipping (pricing for the Ethernet Disk RAID solution was unavailable).
Mac version of Prey
Aspyr Media today announced the Mac version of Prey has been declared 'Gold Master' and is scheduled to begin shipping by January 16, 2007. Prey is a first-person shooter that turns the genre upside-down with new gameplay features and next generation graphics, according to the company. Breaking the traditional first-person shooter format, Prey introduces innovative gameplay elements including wall-walking, portals, spirit-walking and gravity flipping, which allows for eight player deathmatches. "Prey tells the story of Tommy, a Cherokee garage mechanic stuck on a reservation and going nowhere. His life changes when an otherworldly crisis forces him to awaken spiritual powers from his long-forgotten birthright. Abducted along with his people to a menacing mothership orbiting Earth, he sets out to save himself and his girlfriend and ultimately his planet." Prey is rated "M" for "Mature" and will ship this month for $50.
iLuv two-way wireless dock
Two new iPod docks from iLuv promise to allow two-way audio broadcast via Bluetooth. The i277 and i199 come with a transmitter called the BluePin, which enables virtually any device with audio ports (phones, MP3 players, etc.) to pipe music through the docks' speakers, or to reverse the flow, and hear the docks' content from the comfort of somewhere else. The i277 features dual alarms, an AM/FM radio, and a video output jack; the i199 (pictured) adds a CD/MP3 CD player and a USB port. Both units have a remote control and support all iPods (including minis and nanos) from the third generation onwards, charging as they play. iLuv is selling the i277 for $150 and the i199 for $230.
Vizio 47-inch 1080p Set
Vizio ended speculation about its plans for CES today by formally launching its GV47L LCD television. As the company previously established, the new 47-inch system is the first to break the $2,000 price barrier at its size while still maintaining the 1080p resolution needed for full HDTV. This price does not come at the cost of features, the company promises. The display is capable of a 1,600:! dynamic contrast ratio (800:1 fixed), 500cd/m2, and an 8ms response time suitable for games or fast-action movies. Pairs of component, HDMI, and RCA inputs are built in, as are single connectors for S-video and VGA. A hybrid ATSC/NTSC tuner is integrated for receiving both HD and standard broadcasts. Vizio's new range-topping LCD is already reaching stores for a price of $1,900.
iRiver to show Clix 2, W10
Two new MP3 players are set to be revealed by iRiver at CES. The Clix 2 is a follow-up to the current Clix model, and will support video, voice recording, and radio recording off the built-in FM tuner. It will come in 2, 4 and 6GB sizes, and use an AMOLED (active-matrix OLED) display, which should consume less power than even conventional OLEDs. The other iRiver player is the W10 (pictured), whose primary feature will be a WiFi receiver, which will also enable VoIP calls. Mapping services will be provided through a Navteq application called Discover Cities. Like the Clix, the W10 will also be able to play video, flash games, and FM radio, as well as record voice samples. [Via MobileKorea.tv]
SanDisk 32GB Flash Drive
SanDisk on Thursday said that its new solid state drive, the SanDisk SSD, is the first flash storage device to bridge the gap between capacious hard disks and fast but typically expensive flash memory. Holding 32GB of data, the 1.8-inch wide SSD is a drop-in replacement for the hard drive of most any notebook. In current form, the drive connects to any standard Ultra ATA port, a rarity for the often proprietary nature of solid state disks. The use of flash brings with it more than just an absence of failure-prone moving parts, SanDisk says: the lack of spool-up time allows the SSD to operate much more quickly than a hard drive, reading data as quickly as 62MB/sec. This is nearly 100 times faster than the hard drives typically found in notebooks, the company boasts.
Scheduled to debut at CES next week, SanDisk's flash storage will be ready immediately for larger system builders and should add $600 to the cost of a given system. While expensive compared to hard disks, the price is said to compare very favorably to earlier attempts at using solid state disks in mainstream notebooks by Fujitsu and Samsung, whose prices soared by as much as $1,400 compared to conventional models.
Samsung's double-sided LCD
A new technology allows two different images to be displayed on the opposing sides of the same LCD, Samsung claims. The secret is a change to the standard TFT (thin-film transistor) architecture, which normally has a single gate to convert voltage at the pixel level; by creating a double-gated design, power can be sent to two crystals at the same time. This forms a part of Samsung's Amorphous Silicon Gate (ASG) technology, which supports the increased number of gates without requiring larger driver integrated circuits. Moreover, ASG screens need just one backlight, relying on trapped light from one side to aid in reflection on the other.
Samsung expects the new technology to be used primarily in mobile devices, since the current prototype is 2.2 inches wide and only supports resolutions up to 240x320. The main screen is also technically superior to rear one, having 250 nits of brightness versus 100, and 60 percent color saturation instead of 10 percent. The company will be demonstrating the LCD at CES.
Annotation 1.0 released
SaySoSoft has released Annotation, an application designed primarily for human and animal behavioral labs at major research institutions. The software allows users to code events in terms of type, onset, and duration. Annotation can generate organized audio/video clips, and extracts complex event structures for analysis using chosen statistics software. The application is designed to help users graphically visualize data to make patterns immediately discernible. Annotation runs natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later, and is priced at $300 for a single-user license or $700 to accommodate five users.
Five new Apple patents
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office today published five patent applications filed by Apple Computer in Cupertino. The new patent filings include 'Run-time code injection to perform checks' relating to digital rights management; 'Methods and systems for managing data' related to methods and systems for processing data -- including metadata and an index database; a 'Method and apparatus for increasing data transfer rates through a communication channel' relating to techniques for communicating data through a communication channel; a 'Hybrid voltage/current-mode transmission line driver' relating to a method and apparatus for compensating for frequency dependent losses when transmitting signals through a lossy communication channel; and 'single-channel convolution in a vector processing computer system' relating to convolution operations in a vector processing computer system.
Toshiba Portable HDDs
Toshiba this morning took its first steps into external hard drives by revealing the simply-named Portable External Hard Drive. A pocket drive with a 2.5-inch hard disk for storage, Toshiba's initial entry is notable for its easy, automated backup. The drive comes bundled with NTI's Shadow software for both Intel- and PPC-based Macs ans well as Windows PCs; once settings are chosen, Toshiba says, plugging the drive into the USB 2.0 port will automatically power it up and transfer data in the background without intervention. The enclosure is also made of a stylized black aluminum and showcases a unique, shock-resistant design by Toshiba that also safely vents trapped heat. The company plans a Spring launch for 100GB, 120GB, and 160GB versions that will start at prices of $140.
Iqua mono/stereo headset
Another product to be launched at CES next week is the Iqua Chameleon, a Bluetooth headset that serves in both mono and stereo modes. The base unit fits onto a single ear for standard phone use, but by plugging it into a provided adapter, it suddenly becomes a receiver for proprietary stereo earpieces. A second adapter lets you use the headset with generic earpieces. Other features of the Chameleon are a DSP chip, noise-cancellation, and a Fractus Bluetooth antenna. Phone controls on the unit include dial, redial, answer/end/reject, and a switch between phone and hands-free modes. The headset will cost $99.
Motorola Q at Sprint
Cellular provider Sprint today added Motorola's Q to its range of smartphones. Available in the US chiefly through Verizon beforehand, the Q in Sprint guise includes access to the company's new Powerdeck portal, a Web link built into the phone's web browser that gives quick access to special mobile-formatted content as well as an online help guide. The handset also taps into the carrier's EVDO-based PowerVision broadband access, NFL Mobile news and score updates, and customized on-demand content from a myriad of sources.
Technical features of the Q remain largely unchanged; however, Sprint says its incarnation of the phone maintains the full Bluetooth functionality that Verizon has partially disabled in its version, including the ability to use the phone as a broadband modem for a nearby computer. Motorola's device will be available through Sprint in mid-February. Pricing remains unknown but should compete closely with the $200 Verizon price when combined with a two-year contract.
Stimulus goes Universal
Electric Butterfly has released Stimulus 4.1 for Mac OS X, its media browser designed to manage digital music, photos, and video clips. The update is completely redesigned with a new interface that integrates the thumbnail viewer with the file browser, running natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. The software supports 28 popular file formats while offering rename, move, and delete functionality. Users can play slideshows, add favorites to custom lists, adjust audio pass as well as treble settings, zoom, rotate, print, search, and more. Image and video thumbnails are displayed faster via a new thumbnail caching system, and the latest release adds support for additional media formats such as Windows Media, Digital Video, and JPEG 2000. Stimulus 4.1 is priced at $20, and requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later. The upgrade is free for all registered Stimulus customers.
X-240 speakers for iPod
Logitech today previewed its X-240 speaker set, a unique approach to the problem of tethering handhelds to their host computers, according to Electronista. "The central control unit of the system, while providing quick access to volume controls, also incorporates a universal cradle that charges and synchronizes most handhelds through a USB connection to the host Mac or Windows PC." The report says that special adapters are included for third, fourth, and fifth-generation iPods as well as the iPod nano and Microsoft's Zune; the X-240's dock also works with cellphones, PDAs, and other portable hardware. The 2.1-channel system delivers 25W of sustained power and will ship in April for $50.
BR and HD Hybrids
Two announcements today in advance of CES are poised to change how home theater enthusiasts approach Blu-Ray and HD DVD, according to news from LG and Warner Brothers. The former has confirmed that it will uses its presence at the Las Vegas show to demonstrate a hybrid player that can read both of the opposing next-generation disc formats, eliminating the fear of obsolescence that the company says has driven many potential early adopters away from the new technology. No details of the player beyond this key feature have been revealed, but the company plans to release the mystery device early this year.
Additionally, a report by the New York Times notes that Warner Brothers will complement LG's design by releasing hybrid movie discs. Confirming early news, Warner Brothers said it has developed a multi-layer format known as Total HD that can store a movie in Blu-Ray format on one layer of a disc while offering the same content on a deeper layer inside. The disc standard could be more popular than a multi-format player as it would cost only a few dollars more per movie and would ensure that shoppers could always find a copy in the store, Warner claims. The availability of Total HD will remain unknown until the CES introduction but may eventually include discs with DVD video on the reverse side.
TransGaming next week is expected to announce an agreement with Macrovision designed to help protect high profile game titles as they are released for Intel-based Macs using the company's Cider game development engine. The engine allows publishers to extend their products to Mac users without having to recode or recompile Windows-based software. "With the expected increase in the number of top tier video game titles that are released for the Mac through TransGaming's Cider engine, publishers are looking for copy protection for their content. Through this agreement, TransGaming will be working with Macrovision's SafeDisc technology to make it easier for game publishers to protect their PC games on the Mac....By bringing Macrovision's SafeDisc to Mac, TransGaming's Cider product can not only deploy top titles on the Mac more quickly and cost-effectively than anyone else but we are also now able to offer protection from piracy of content, providing a strong incentive and confidence for publishers to target the Mac platform."
CRYPTOCard today launched CRYPTO-MAS, its Managed Authentication Service that offers full support for Mac OS X. The software is designed to eliminate unauthorized network access by protecting against shoulder surfing, social engineering, and other forms of password theft. CRYPTOCard's tokens display a randomly-generated password for every log-on attempt to make stolen credentials useless to malicious users while eliminating the need for users to memorize complicated passwords, which significantly reduces the help-desk costs associated with forgotten passwords as well as the security risk resulting from users writing them down. Users also require specific PIN numbers alongside their token to access the network, making a lost or stolen token useless to a malicious user. CRYPTOCard will demonstrate the CRYPTO-MAS managed service administration portal at Macworld 2007 (Booth #1544).
Comic Collector at Expo
IntelliScanner today announced the upcoming release of Comic Collector, its personal barcode scanner and companion software package for automatic comic collection management. Built for both PCs and Macs, Comic Collector automatically pulls up detailed information and artwork for each series and issue (from an internet database), then makes it easy to sort, organize, inventory, categorize, and share comic details with friends. Users can print IntelliScanner Comic Tags with any inkjet or laser printer--which offer scanning integration with the included, portable IntelliScanner barcode reader. The software also allows users to share their collections with friends using IntelliScanner.net, its free Web 2.0 enhanced service for exploring and sharing comics online. Comic Collector will make its first public appearance next week at Macworld Expo and is expected to ship as a Universal Binary for Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later in April. (Pricing has not been announced.)
New Fuji FinePix cameras
Fujifilm today released three new FinePix cameras with better image quality and improved storage with a hybrid card slot that accepts both Fujifilm's own xD-PictureCard format and the SD media. The 8.3-megapixel F40fd is the company's latest point-and-shoot camera to feature face detection, boasting the ability to identify and focus on as many as 10 faces at once, according to Electronista. The sixth-generation CCD and processor combination produces up to ISO 2000 sensitivty, while image stabilization and intelligent flash ensure sharp, properly lit pictures, according to the report. The company also updated its entry-level A-series of digital cameras. The A800 uses the same sensor as the F40fd but relies on a simpler, less expensive design, while the A610 uses a more modest 6.3-megapixel sensor. All three models will be available in March for prices of $130 (A610), $180 (A800), and $300 (F40fd). [report offers photos]
Power Manager 3.5 ships
DssW today launched Power Manager 3.5 for Mac OS X, a new version its power management utility for Macs. Power Manager helps users save energy by automating their Macs to o start up or wake, shut down, restart, log out, switch to the login window, and sleep. Version 3.5 introduces a Schedule Assistant to help users start saving immediately; a status menu that provides quick access to upcoming events; and AppleScript, Automator, and UNIX scripting to give advanced users greater control over their schedule. In addition, the Power Manager System Preference features an improved interface, allowing users to name events in their schedule; it also offers Undo support, giving users the freedom to experiment. Other new features include launchd support, improved notification dialogs, and software update checks. It is available for €20 and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. It is a free update for registered users.
Logitech X-240 Speakers
Logitech this morning previewed its X-240 speaker set, a unique approach to the problem of tethering handhelds to their host computers. The central control unit of the system, while providing quick access to volume controls, also incorporates a universal cradle that charges and synchronizes most handhelds through a USB connection to the host Mac or Windows PC. Special adapters are included for third, fourth, and fifth-generation iPods as well as the iPod nano and Microsoft's Zune; the X-240's dock is also said to work with cellphones, PDAs, and other portable hardware. The 2.1-channel system delivers 25W of sustained power and will ship in April for $50.
A second announcement also revealed the Cordless MediaBoard for Sony's PlayStation 3. Opting for RF wireless instead of the built-in Bluetooth of the game console, the keyboard links to the PS3 with a USB dongle and provides a full-size keyboard in addition to an integrated trackpad for computer-like control when browsing the Web or navigating the PS3's crossbar menus. The MediaBoard will be ready by February for $80.
Production Studio for Mac
Adobe today announced that the next version of Adobe Production Studio, its integrated video and audio post-production tool set that is part of the Creative Suite family, will be available for both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. The company said that video and web professionals currently using Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator on the Mac will soon be able to harness the power of completely new Macintosh releases of Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Encore DVD and Adobe Soundbooth in the upcoming milestone revision to Adobe Production Studio. The software will have its first public demonstration during Macworld next week and is expected to ship in mid-2007.
FinePix With xD-SD Cards
Fujifilm today released a trio of new cameras in its FinePix range that advance image quality while also recognizing changes in storage. Leading the announcements is the F40fd, the company's latest point-and-shoot to feature face detection. The F40fd boosts the sensor to 8.3 megapixels while still retaining the ability to identify and focus on as many as 10 faces at once. A sixth-generation CCD and processor combination produces up to ISO 2000 sensitivty, while image stabilization and intelligent flash ensure sharp, properly lit pictures. Also bolstered is the company's entry-level A-series. The A800 uses the same sensor as the F40fd but relies on a simpler, less expensive design, while the A610 uses a more modest 6.3-megapixel sensor. All three models will go on sale in March for prices of $129 (A610), $179 (A800), and $299 (F40fd).
Crucially, all three cameras now feature a hybrid card slot that accepts both Fujifilm's own xD-PictureCard format, co-developed with Olympus, as well as the more widespread SD format used by other camera makers. The change is a recognition that many camera buyers today already have an investment in memory cards they would like to keep, the company says. The company plans to continue supporting xD. A gallery of the A800 and F40fd cameras is available after the jump.
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