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Game testers wanted, OWC
In brief: Virtual Programming has issued a call to experienced game players who wish to beta test two casino games which include Real Deal Casino High Roller and Real Deal Slots Mystic Forest; and several Paradox games which include Europa, Universalis 2, and Crusader Kings as well as Victoria and Hearts of Iron 2 in coming weeks.... Verbatim has said it will begin shipping single-sided dual-layer 30GB HD DVD-R media in the U.S. when HD DVD-R DL-compatible hardware becomes available in the first quarter of 2007.... Insanely Great Tees today announced that its two new shirts -- "I'm a Mac" and "Binary Tree" -- have begun shipping.... Sony announced its presence at the CES trade show with a slew of new VAIO PCs to join the company's Digital Living System line of media center PCs.... Other World Computing (OWC) today began shipping its Mercury Elite-AL Pro Mirror ($350, shown at right) FireWire 800/400+USB RAID solution using the latest Oxford 924-based custom bridge chipset and two 750GB mirrored SATA hard drives.... One in ten mobile subscribers have music-capable phones, but over-the-air music purchasing is still slow to catch on, according to recently published research from Telephia.
Billings 2 released
Marketcircle today released Billings 2, enabling users to create customized invoices, project estimates, and detailed reports "within five minutes." Billings 2 features include a built-in setup assistant, an intuitive user interface, fully-customizable templates, and a menu bar timer to control the software without interrupting current tasks. The update offers an entirely customizable sales tax/VAT system with more than 120 global presets, and boasts easy data export to share Billings 2 data with other accounting or bookkeeping software. Users can manage unpaid invoices as well as tax reports, and the application includes automatic invoice numbering alongside a retainer handling system. The latest revision also provides an idle timer, automatic deduction/display of down-payments on outgoing invoices, reports for projecting estimates versus actual time/cost, and additional envelope styles. Billings 2 is available for $60 and requires Mac OS X (specific system requirements were unavailable).
Legal experts on Apple
More legal experts have offered their views on whether Apple CEO Steve Jobs is actually free-and-clear of any wrongdoing in the company's stock options scandal, according to a report from Bloomberg, revealing that the executive isn't "out of the woods" yet. Apple conducted an internal investigation to discover details about some accounting "irregularities" in 2006, only to discover that 6,428 stock option grants were illegally backdated between 1997 and 2002 after spending 26,500 man-hours to search over 1 million electronic and paper documents. "The SEC and the Justice Department are not bound by the company's conclusions," said Jahan Raissi, a San Francisco-based attorney and former senior counsel in the SEC's enforcement division. "They have far more powerful tools to force people to talk to get information." Apple's independent investigation concluded that the company's chief knew about some of the grants and that he even chose some of the dates, but claimed that the executive did not understand the accounting implications of those actions.
Sonnet SATA enclosure
Sonnet today announced Fusion R400Q, the latest addition to its line of Serial ATA drive enclosures. The 13.5-inch deep 4-bay rack mount drive enclosure provides four interface choices which include FireWire 400, FireWire 800, USB 2.0, and SATA II. An integrated port multiplier supports up to four hard drives through any connection, and the Fusion R400Q's hot-swappable 3.5-inch drives trays enable quick addition as well as swapping of storage. Users can install a single drive to start, add drives as needed, and purchase additional trays as well as drives to build a backup archive. The enclosure is shallow enough for use in the shortest portable racks, and its 1U height takes up the minimum amount of rack space. The Fusion R400Q includes drive mounting hardware for each of its four included trays, as well as a cable for each interface. The trays are interchangeable with Sonnet's Fusion 400 and Fusion 500P desktop SATA drive enclosures. Sonnet will ship the new enclosure in March for $700. [corrected]
Greenpeace and Apple
The environmental activist group Greenpeace is planning to "green" the Apple Store San Francisco this evening at 6:00 p.m. local time. A similar "greening" was held at Apple's flagship retail store in New York City, but the group said that this would be more dramatic. In December, Greenpeace ranked Apple as the worst technology company with regard to environmental issues, following an update to its quarterly "Guide to Greener Electronics." In a release sent to media members, Greenpeace said that IDG Expo denied a booth at the 2007 Macworld Expo, despite the organization's willingness to pay more than $5,000.
Sonnet FireWire, USB cards
Sonnet today unveiled its Allegrotm Express FW400 and Allegro Express USB FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 cards, as well as its Tango Express combo FireWire 400/USB 2.0 adapter. The cards add full-bandwidth to powered USB and FireWire ports without the need for an external box or power adapter. Each card features a native PCI Express x1 host bus interface, offering easy plug-and-play installation with Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows compatibility. The Allegro Express FW400 features two external or one external plus one internal FireWire 400 ports, supporting all industry standard FireWire 400 peripherals. The Allegro Express FW400 supports hot-swappable device connection, and is designed to provide reliable bus power independently to each port. All three cards are due to ship in early February for $70 (Allegro Express FW400), $70 (Allegro Express USB), and $90 (Tango Express).
Sonnet SATA PCIe adapter
Sonnet today debuted its Tempo SATA E2P (site not updated), the latest addition to the company's Serial ATA host adapters designed for Apple's Mac Pro, Dual Core Power Mac G5, and Microsoft Windows systems. The card provides two external 300MB/sec Serial ATA ports as well as support for SATA drive enclosures with port multipliers, enabling users to connect up to 10 disk drives. The Tempo SATA E2P support swapping of drives to maximize storage capacity, as well as hot-swap functionality, and boasts an easy installation process, according to Sonnet. The card supports Mac OS X and Windows XP Pro RAID functionality, and offers Spread Spectrum Clocking (SSC) support for compatibility with all SATA hard drives. Sonnet's Tempo SATA E2P card requires a native PCI Express x1 slot, and is slated for shipment in early February at $80.
Griffin radio SHARK HD
Griffin Technology has announced plans to develop radio SHARK HD, a digital table top radio for Mac and PC with HD RadioTM technology. radio SHARK HD--like Griffin's radioSHARKTM and radio SHARK 2--will house a radio tuner in a sleek "shark fin" that connects to the USB port of a Mac or PC. With radio SHARK HD users will be able to listen to their favorite AM/FM stations in pure digital audio quality, conveniently from their personal computers. Featuring next-generation digital HD Radio technology from iBiquity, digital FM stations nearly approach CD-quality sound, and digital AM stations approach FM-quality sound, according to the company.
Airport Extreme w/802.11n?
Some news from Apple's Macworld San Francisco keynote may have slipped out inadvertently, the official expo site reveals. Mentioned on a presentation page for Volcano Wireless, Apple is allegedly preparing 802.11n versions of its Airport Extreme platform, dubbed "X2" and "X4." The page claims theoretical speeds of up to 600Mbps, and other features such as beam focusing, greater range, and MIMO (Multiple-In Multiple-Out) support for better signal stability. None of these technologies are in current incarnations of Extreme. Though one of the two Volcano presentation days is already over, interested parties can attend the next one January 9th at 11:15AM Pacific time, just 15 minutes after the Apple keynote ends.
802.11n coming to AirPort
Apple's may be prepping new versions of next generation wireless connectivity products, according a new Electronista report. According to the official Macworld Expo site, a presentation page for Volcano Wireless, Apple is allegedly preparing 802.11n versions of its AirPort Extreme platform, dubbed "X2" and "X4." The page claims theoretical speeds of up to 600Mbps, and other features such as beam focusing, greater range, and MIMO (Multiple-In Multiple-Out) support for better signal stability. None of these technologies are in current incarnations of Extreme, according to the report. Although one of the two Volcano presentation days is already over, interested parties can attend the next one January 9th at 11:15AM Pacific time, just 15 minutes after the Apple keynote ends.
Fetch, PDF Shrink
Fetch 5.2 ($25) introduces 'WebView' to the file transfer application for Mac OS X, offering users a convenient way to view files in a Web browser with support for copying Web addresses. The update adds FTPS support for file transfers over TLS/SSL, encrypting connections to protect sensitive file transfers. Fetch 5.2 also includes support for creating 'droplet' shortcuts for easy drag-and-drop uploading. The upgrade is free for registered users.
[Download - 15MB]
PDF Shrink 4.1 ($35) reduces PDF file sizes, making the documents easier to attach to email messages or post on the Web. The latest release improves job management, easing the process of adding, deleting, and reordering pending jobs. PDF Shrink 4.1 also enables users to clear job history, and provides an option to overwrite the input file that maintains existing file- and folder-naming conventions. [Download - [form]]
Sofa Control 2.0 ($10) controls applications such as VLC, Safari, PowerPoint, and more via Apple's remote control. The update enhances support for applications, includes more functionality to trigger, and allows users to issue system level commands such as using Exposé or activating the dashboard. Sofa Control 2.0 optionally changes system volume, and offers multi-click behavior as well as a virtual mouse that provide access to more functionality. [Download - 2.3MB]
TextSoap 5.5 ($16) performs complete text transitions with options to change or maintain the style. TextSoap 5.5 features a new look, and adds several new features to the Deluxe Edition. New custom cleaner actions include the ability to set the style of text, find text based on its style, change the style of text based on its content, and extract text using regular expressions. The update also includes a word count feature in a palette to provide updated statistics on text documents. [Download - 8.7MB]
Snapshot 2.0 ($30) -- previously known as 'PhotoBooth,' is a major revision to the printing utility for Mac OS X that includes a complete redesign of the user interface. Snapshot 2.0 allows users to add borders, speech bubbles, and thought bubbles to pictures. The update can print dates on pictures, and remembers print settings between sessions. [Download - 8.8MB]
Posterino 1.0 ($21 through MWSF, $25 thereafter) is the official public release of the 'Life Poster' composing application. Posterino enables users to create life posters, postcards, greeting cards, and contact sheets from digital photos. Posterino 1.0 offers a new life poster and postcard templates, as well as new layout grids. The software supports relocating images from iPhoto and Aperture used in a document, even if the image library has moved to a new user account. [Download - 6.6MB]
Samsung SGH-a727 phone
While the vast majority of the Samsung phones in Las Vegas have already been announced (such as the BlackJack), one new product is the SGH-a727. A CES Innovations Honoree, the phone is a quad-band GSM phone supporting EDGE and HSDPA broadband, which will allow for music downloads and instant messaging via AOL, MSN and Yahoo. Files are stored on microSD cards, and device connections can be made through Bluetooth and/or USB 2.0. A 1.3-megapixel camera is included as well, though it's unclear whether it can record video as well as stills. No service providers are currently attached to the phone.
VoodooPC HW 201 Notebook
HP's gaming-oriented division VoodooPC today introduced its ENVY HW:201 gaming notebook at CES. The largest ever portable from the company, the 20-inch model is purposefully built for those gamers who value performance but still need occasional portability for game parties or other events. Video is instrumental to this speed, as up to two 512MB GeForce Go 7950 GTX graphics chips can be ordered with the system and provide performance rivaling even faster desktops, VoodooPC boasts. Professionals seeking 3D modeling performance can opt instead for a Quadro FX 2500M.
Also grouped in pairs are the CPU and storage, as a dual-core Turion 64 X2 rests at the system's core and is accompanied by two 160GB hard drives in a RAID 0 stripe, forming a continuous 320GB of storage. The gaming system builder says its giant notebook is shipping today in any one of several colors, though pricing remains unavailable. A photo of the new ENVY can be found after the jump.
New Sharp Aquos LCDs
Like other TV manufacturers at CES, Sharp is aggressively promoting its new LCDs. These will be coming mainly through two Aquos lines, the D62Us and the D92Us. The former is playing host to revisions of the 46-inch LC-46D62U and the 52-inch LC-52D62U. Each will support 1080p and use Sharp's Advanced Super View/Black TFT technology, enabling a dynamic contrast ratio of 10,000:1 (2,000:1 native). Tuners for ATSC, QAM and NTSC signals will be built in. Response times should go as low as 4ms in "Fine Motion" mode. The updated D62Us will arrive in October for $3,500 and $4,800.
The D92Us are completely new, representing the luxury end of Sharp's production. Three LCDs will be availble: the LC-42D92U, the LC-46D92U and the LC-52D92U, sized at 42, 46 and 52 inches. Improvements over the D62Us will include a third HDMI port, 15,000:1 dynamic contrast, and 120Hz frame rate conversion, which should aid eyes irritated by the 60Hz standard on most LCDs. An RS-232C terminal will allow blending into home automation systems. The 46D92U and 52D92U will be out this month for $4,200 and $5,300, with the 42D92U following in April for $3,500. Another, 65-inch TV called the LC-65D93U will ship in April for $11,000, but despite the name, will have the same features as the D92Us.
IntelliTouch unveils Eos
IntelliTouch today announced "Eos," the world's first digital wireless "whole home" audio speaker system for iPod. Using WiFi-friendly technology, the Eos system links up to four stereo remote wireless speakers, establishing interference-free CD sound quality (48Khz). According to IntelliTouch, the GigaWave technology employs error correction and a unique frequency hopping scheme for a range of up to 150 feet (50 meters) through walls and ceilings in both indoor and outdoor environments. The Eos system features an iPod docking base station/transmitter that features two high performance stereo drivers and a ported sub-woofer. It also features SRS WOW sound enhancement technology to improve the dynamic audio performance of compressed and uncompressed audio by expanding the size of the audio image and creating a deep, rich bass response. It will ship in March--in black or white--for $300.
LG VX9400 Mobile TV in US
LG and Samsung today said they would be the first cellphone makers to bring mobile digital broadcast TV to the US. As part of a deal with Verizon, the Korean companies plan to release phones with support for the MediaFLO live TV format developed last year. Subscribers to Verizon's V CAST Mobile TV service will have the choice of watching eight live mobile TV channels from CNN, ESPN, and NBC without the need for an Internet plan. While TV-like services have been available in North America in recent months, these plans have frequently involved pre-recorded, downloadable clips.
The handsets accompanying the launch are LG's VX9400 (pictured), a swivel phone whose display rotates horizontally to better for TV broadcasts, and Samsung's u620, a more conventional slider. Both phones will have 1.3-megapixel cameras, Bluetooth, and EVDO broadband access and will launch at the same time as Verizon's TV service in the first quarter of this year. Photos of both the LG and Samsung offerings can be found after the jump.
Tune Belt 'Open View'
Tune Belt today rolled out three new accessories designed for Apple's video iPod, iPod nano, and second-generation iPod shuffle. The company has expanded its 'Open View' carrier belts to include a lightweight neoprene edition that comes in two sizes. One smaller sized belt is designed for Apple's iPod nano, while a larger version accommodates the company's video iPod. The video iPod belt also offers an extra pocket on the back to hold personal items such as credit cards, keys, and change. The smaller belt for iPod nano provides a space to stow the Nike+iPod Sport Kit receiver. Both belts allow users to read and control the iPod through a clear protective Mylar window, and both support the insertion of devices in either direction to accommodate left as well as right-handed users. The new 'Open View' Tune Belts are available for $20.
Perceptive Indigo 2.0
Perceptive Automation tomorrow will announce Indigo 2.0, a major update to the company's intelligent home control and automation server for Mac OS X. With Indigo, users can easily control lights, appliances, lawn sprinklers, hot tubs and dozens of other items found in the home. Indigo, available as a Universal Binary, now includes a client/server architecture allowing remote control and configuration from any local or remote location. The server supports local network access through a native Universal Binary Mac OS client as well as web browser access provided by the Indigo server's built-in web server. The Indigo server can be installed on any Mac OS X-based computer.
Faronics Device Filter Mac
Faronics today released Faronics Device Filter Mac, a utility that allows administrators to manage the access rights for all devices across an entire enterprise. With Faronics' Device Filter Mac, anything from an iPod to portable applications, or a modem connected via Bluetooth can now be effectively controlled to make sure that no unauthorized data transfers or connections take place. The protection can be applied on per user or per workstation basis to establish a secure environment perimeter where all connectivity aspects are properly regulated and logged, including USB/FireWire, infrared, wireless, Bluetooth, or Ethernet-based devices.
Belkin debuts Dock Adapter
Belkin today unveiled numerous Apple-related accessories (site not updated) ranging from a battery backup flashlight to a cooling stand for notebooks. Belkin's Bluetooth Dock Adapter for iPod is designed to function like a wireless remote, enabling users to play songs through an iPod stereo dock. The device offers full control over the music as it plays from the iPod wirelessly to a stereo, and boasts a 30-foot operating range with no software installation required and no batteries needed. The accessory offers five hours of play time, is compatible with other Bluetooth stereo devices, and includes a Bluetooth stereo dock adapter as well as a Bluetooth iPod adapter. Belkin's Bluetooth Dock Adapter for iPod is priced at $130, and is expected to launch in March.
SanDisk Express and View
Storage device maker SanDisk is today announcing three new media jukeboxes that target rivals Apple, Creative, and Microsoft. The View (shown) is the company's first foray into video-specific players and adds a much larger, 4-inch widescreen LCD for viewing still photos and videos. The design stays slim (0.66 inches) and can play video for as long as 4 hours by using flash storage instead of a hard disk, according to the company. 8GB of memory is built in but can be expanded by as much as 32GB thanks to an SDHC card slot. The View will also be uniquely HD-capable and can send video as sharp as 1080i to an HDTV. Exact format support is currently unavailable but includes MP3 as well as Windows Media audio and video. The View will be released early this year for $300.
To be released soon is the Express, a basic 1GB music player that plugs directly into the USB 2.0 port of a computer rather than a separate cable. An FM tuner adds both radio listening and direct radio recording while a microSD card slot can potentially triple its capacity with an additional 2GB of storage. Battery life for music is rated at 15 hours, due in part to an energy-efficient four-line OLED screen. The Express is currently expected to ship in March for $60.
Read through for details of the Connect player with Wi-Fi and photos of all three new players.
Motorola RIZR Z6 and MING
Motorola this afternoon unveiled two new music-oriented, Linux-based phones. The MOTORIZR Z6 (pictured, left) revamps the earlier RIZR Z3 and is the first Motorola phone to bundle support for the latest protected WMA songs, supporting individual tracks as well as unlimited-access subscriptions from stores such as Napster and URGE; support for AAC and MP3 songs as well as FM radio broadens its appeal, according to Motorola. Dedicated music keys replace some of the general-use buttons from the Z3 model. A 2-megapixel camera and 3G wireless support carry over from the earlier edition. Motorola plans a release in Spring.
Completely new is the MOTOMING (right). Its design emphasizes simplicity and contains only the display, basic navigation buttons, and a clear cover; control is handled through a touchscreen that handles both dialing and handwriting recognition for text messages. Though lacking support for Windows Media subscriptions, the phone can play AAC and MP3 songs in addition to FM radio. Internet access is provided through EDGE. The MING will ship in advance of its more complex RIZR sibling and is due this quarter. Read through for larger photos.
Casio Exilim Hi-Zoom EX-V7
Casio today announced the release of the 7.2-megapixel EXILIM Hi-ZOOM EX-V7, a compact zoom camera in the stylish EXILIM series. Billed as the "world's slimmest digital camera with a 7X optical zoom lens," it easily fits in a shirt pocket or small purse, according to the company. Casio's new SD-compatible offering also introduces an innovative function for reducing photo blur, using Casio's mechanical CCD shift technology and combining Casio's Anti-Shake DSP, which reduces blur due to shaky hands or a moving subject by using higher ISO sensitivity and faster shutter speeds, with new motion analysis technology that uses the most appropriate ISO sensitivity and shutter speed to capture a moving photo subject. The company says that even at high zoom settings, the EX-V7 reduces most occurrences of image blur. [images available]
New ViewSonic displays
ViewSonic is showcasing several new products at CES, including TVs, monitors, and a unique projector. The PJ258D is DLP projector with a docking station, allowing video iPods to output directly to the system without cables. iPods can be charged simultaneously while playing. The projectors are further promoted as being light at less than four pounds, and supporting resolutions up to 1024x768, at a brightness of 2,000 lumens with 2,000:1 contrast. Other external inputs include VGA and S-video. The PJ258D will go on sale this quarter for the cost of $999.
The company's first 1080p LCD TVs are the N4261w and N4661w, measuring in at 42 and 46 inches. Both sets will have 8ms reponsse times and ATSC/NTSC tuners, though the 4261 will have 1,500 contrast and 450 nits of brightness, compared to the 4661's 800:1 contrast and 500 nits. A lower-end option is the 26-inch N2652w, which will however have similar performance to the 4661. Another set debuting at CES is a 37-inch model with an iPod video dock, but this is merely a prototype. The 2652 will ship in February for $699, while the 4261 will come in March for $1,799. Plans for the 4661 will only be announced in the second quarter.
Matrox Graphics today announced the DualHead2Go Digital Edition, the next version to the DualHead2Go that now features digital outputs. This external multi-display upgrade device connects to the VGA output of compatible notebook or desktop computers and through patent-pending technology uniquely expands the desktop across two digital displays. DualHead2Go Digital Edition also enables support for high-resolution panels, offering a stretched desktop of up to 3840x1200 (or dual 1920x1200)1 across two displays. The Digital Edition of DualHead2Go enables the connection of two digital or analog displays to compatible notebook and desktop systems. In addition through the Matrox PowerDesk SE2 interface users benefit from the flexibility to select a wider range of resolutions, including support for both widescreen and standard aspect ratios. It will ship in the first quarter of 2007 for $230.
Belkin launches TuneStudio
Belkin today launched its TuneStudio (site not updated) for Apple's fifth-generation video iPod, which it claims is the first four-channel audio mixer enabling users to create digital recordings directly on the portable player. The supports up to four different instruments or audio sources, recording the audio onto a connected iPod for instant playback. The TuneStudio is designed as a compact, portable mixer with a rugged enclosure to withstand life in a rehearsal room or garage. Belkin's TuneStudio also acts as an external USB sound card, handling input as well as output audio from a computer via the mixer's inputs. Belkin plans to launch the TuneStudio in the U.S. in the summer of 2007, with scheduled launches to follow in Asia, Europe, and Australia (pricing was unavailable).
Maxell iPod clock radios
Maxell Corporation has expanded its iPod accessories line with newly designed clock radio docks that offer consumers an all-in-one solution, including AM/FM functionality, dual alarms, sleep modes, snooze capabilities, battery back-up and remote controls. The entire iPod Clock Radio product line not only plays flash media devices, but also features a USB port and 3.5 mm audio input jack, enabling users to listen to their MP3s players and other portable music devices. Maxell's Desktop is an AM/FM clock radio that serves as a speaker system, iPod charging station and picture frame that allows users to replace the standard iPod screen with their personal photographs. The new Desktop also offers high-quality sound features.
DLO launches iBoom Travel
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters (DLO) at the CES trade show in Las Vegas today launched iBoom Travel, its portable iPod speaker system and alarm clock combination offering iPod users sound portability with clock radio functionality. Users place any dockable iPod into the iBoom Travel to sleep or awaken to iPod playlists, an FM radio station, or a standard alarm buzzer. The device features a blue backlight and programmable sleep settings that enable users to fall asleep to 15, 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes of music. iBoom Travel charges any connected iPod while it is docked, and is powered by four AA batteries or via an AC adapter that comes in a travel pouch. DLO's iBoom Travel is available for $80.
New FileMaker downloads
FileMaker today announced a downloadable kit to help small businesses and corporate workgroups increase their productivity by integrating FileMaker Pro 8.5 with Microsoft Office applications as well as a new download that demonstrates how FileMaker Pro 8.5 users can view information from their databases as dynamic Flash-based HTML charts. The new Optimizer Kit for Microsoft Office includes a 30-day trial of FileMaker Pro 8.5 for Windows or Mac OS and the FileMaker Business Productivity Kit, a set of ready-to-use FileMaker applications to help businesses manage contacts, organize products and inventory, process sales orders, track projects, and more.
Sony W880 and W200 Phones
Cellphone partnership Sony-Ericsson today added two new phones to its Walkman music player line. At the highest end of the spectrum is the now official W880, nicknamed the "Ai." Although the company provided few official details beyond a teaser image for the handset (pictured), previous leaks confirm that the phone will be one of the most advanced Walkman phones and will have HSDPA as well as a front-facing video chat camera. Sony-Ericsson promises a release by mid-2007.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the W200, a simpler model the company hopes will serve as an ideal starter for music phones. The W200 shares the same quick access button for the Walkman music player but foregoes some of the technologies that regularly price other phones out of reach. The phone is equipped with a VGA camera and supports GPRS for Internet access, and comes pre-supplied with a 128MB Memory Stick Micro that holds enough AAC or MP3 songs for a playlist. Versions of the phone will be ready for the US, Europe, and other regions by the spring of this year. Click through for a profile photo.
TouchSmart takes on iMac
HP today formally introduced its TouchSmart PC, previously known as 'Crossfire,' at the CES trade show in Las Vegas. The PC is an iMac-like all-in-one system that will showcase Microsoft's Windows Vista, and is designed as a central computer to handle virtually every need of a typical home. The new media center is based around a 19-inch touchscreen used for quick access to news, programs, and weather with a tactile interface that is usable as a custom version of HP's Photosmart software, effectively allowing photo retouching through finger and stylus presses. The TouchSmart is also TV-friendly, according to Electronista. Analog NTSC and digital ATSC tuners are built in, allowing users to both play and record video to the computer's 320GB hard drive. The system is powered by a dual-core 1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 processor and ships with 2GB of memory. Further system specifications include a GeForce Go 7600 video card, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity. The TouchSmart PC is expected to ship in time for Vista's launch at the end of this month, although pricing was still unavailable.
SlingCatcher Media Hub
Contrasting sharply against its existing line, Sling Media today announced the SlingCatcher. While similar to the Slingbox line in style, the SlingCatcher is meant instead to challenge Apple's forthcoming iTV by streaming content from networked PCs to a TV. Importantly, the hub can access media even from remote PCs: the SlingCatcher is not limited to local networks, the company stresses. Output for component, HDMI, RCA, and S-video signals will come standard, as should Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections for linking the device to a network. Sling's hub will also bring two new programs, dubbed SlingPlayer for TV and SlingProjector, which will help send content from a computer to the TV; some content may not even need that software, the company says. The SlingCatcher will arrive in mid-2007 for a price under $200.
Sling today further announced new extensions of its SlingPlayer software, adding support for Palm OS handhelds and Windows Vista to the program that lets owners watch their home TV through the Internet. New HP notebooks will also see a version of SlingPlayer that ties into the computer maker's QuickPlay function, letting Slingbox owners watch their home TV without first booting Windows. All three updates should be available this quarter.
Nokia CES announcements
Three new Nokia products are being shown at CES this year, including a phone, a camcorder and the company's next-generation "Internet tablet." Click through for photos. The N800 is an upgrade to the previous 770, having a a new ergonomic design, faster processors, a full-screen QWERTY keyboard, and better connections using either WiFi or a Bluetooth phone. A webcam has been integrated as well. While users will be able to send text messages and VoIP calls through a number of services, new to the 800 is specific support for Skype, which allows calls to landlines. The N800 is selling in the United States and parts of Europe for $399.
The N93i is a digital camcorder, recording MPEG-4 video at up to 3.2 megapixels and 30 frames per second. The camera also features a macro mode and 3x optical zoom, but is more notable for being able to upload directly to Vox, a new photo/video sharing service run by Six Apart. WLAN wireless is built in, as is GSM, EDGE, and WCDMA. Editing can be done in basic form on-camera, or more elaborately using the bundled Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0. Beyond recorded video, the N93i can play MP3 files, FM radio, and streaming mobile TV. It should ship in Q1 2007 for €600 ($780).
Piano Wizard for Mac
Allegro Rainbow has released Piano Wizard for Mac, a new video game that teaches anyone to play the piano within minutes. Piano Wizard (Easy Mode and Premier) will now be offered with a dual-boot installation CD that will run on both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs. Piano Wizard teaches how to play songs through a simple video game method. "First, players follow vertically moving game objects as a guide for hitting the right notes. It then progresses by rotating the video screen, making game objects travel horizontally, thus mimicking the lines of the staff and providing insight into musical theory. Next, game objects transform into colored notes on the grand staff, then finally into traditional black & white notation." Pricing for the "Easy" software and USB/MIDI cable is $70, while Premier version is $140. Other combinations are available with various types of keyboards, including a package for small children (no PC required) for $80.
Now previews NightHawk
Now Software today announced the next generation of its cross-platform group calendar and contact management software; the software will be previewed at Macworld Expo and is expected ship in the Spring of this year. Codenamed "NightHawk", the new software solution is an integrated application that builds upon the calendar and contact management functionality provided by Now Software's acclaimed Now Up-to-Date & Contact software. The company said that NightHawk's official name will be announced at a later date. NightHawk merges the functionality of calendar and contact management into one integrated, cross-platform application, with server access for groups and administration.
PhoneValet Message Center
Parliant Corp. is now shipping PhoneValet Message Center 5.0 for the small office, home, and home office. PhoneValet's software and hardware platform turns a Mac into a virtual call center with unlimited voice mail boxes, call blocking, recording, logging and screening, automated dialing and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) capabilities - on single or multiple lines. Offering an attractive new interface designed to simplify access to its many telephony features, PhoneValet 5.0 includes Parliant's new patent pending Call Completion Technology (CCT). CCT directs an incoming caller to a person or department, plays music or audio information as the caller is being transferred, then directs the caller to voice mail or other audio information options if the call can't be answered in person.
MS caters to living room
Microsoft at its CES keynote unveiled two new technologies to bolster the company's offerings in the living room, effectively ramping up its competition with Apple's forthcoming iTV wireless media streaming device -- which could debut as soon as tomorrow at Macworld 2007. Leading the effort is Windows Home Server, a new software platform designed to share content from multiple computers in one location, even when those computers are shut off. The software automatically backs up and stores files from systems on a local network, according to Electronista, and can perform a remote backup through a special Windows Live address. Microsoft says users will share music, photos, and videos to any attached Windows Media Center device.
Griffin plans for 2007
Griffin Technology has unveiled its planned offerings for 2007 which is set to debut at Macworld in San Francisco. The accessory maker is highlighting its Amplifi 2.1-channel sound system boasting a contemporary style with a tabletop footprint. Amplifi's all-wood, acoustically tuned enclosure is designed to produce warm, rich tones alongside a bass reflex port and special Resonance Drive construction that enhance frequency response. Two front-firing 2-3/4-inch neodymium drivers and a 5-inch downward-firing woofer, boosted by 'Power Drive Technology' create a clean and powerful sound, according to Griffin. The speaker system is iPod-ready with a docking port as well as six iPod adapters, and features a 3.5mm stereo input jack for alternative audio devices. The system will ship with a slim full-function IR remote (pricing and a launch date were unavailable).
HP TouchSmart and tx1000
HP on Monday formally introduced its TouchSmart PC (PDF) at the CES show in Las Vegas. Previously known under its Crossfire codename, the iMac-like all-in-one is another of Microsoft's Windows Vista showcases and is designed as a central computer that can handle virtually every need of a typical home. In addition to running the new OS, the new media center is based around a 19-inch touchscreen used for quick access to news, programs, and weather; the tactile interface is also useful for a custom version of HP's Photosmart software that allows photo retouching through finger and stylus presses.
The TouchSmart is also TV-friendly, the company says. Analog NTSC and digital ATSC tuners are part of the design and can be used to both play and record video to the computer's 320GB hard drive. The system is powered by a dual-core 1.6GHz Turion 64 X2 and ships with 2GB of memory, GeForce Go 7600 video, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. The TouchSmart PC should be ready in time for Vista's launch at the end of this month, though pricing is still unavailable.
A full-sized photo of the TouchSmart, as well as official details of the tx1000 tablet, are available after the jump.
New computers from Acer
As a part of its CES offerings, Acer has announced new upgrades to its notebooks and small form-factor PCs. On the desktop are the AcerPower 1000 and 2000, which are reputedly one-tenth the size of a conventional PC at less than eight inches tall and 2.5 inches wide. The systems are also said to be extremely quiet, producing less than 26 decibels of noise. The new 1000 runs an Athlon 64 CPU, up to 2GB of RAM, and a GeForce 6150 videocard; storage consists of a Dual-DVD optical drive and an 80GB hard disk, but the machine does have built-in Ethernet and 802.11b/g wireless. The 2000 improves on these specifications with a Core 2 Duo, a 160GB hard disk, and a Super-Multi (DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD-RAM) optical drive. The 2000 will come preloaded with Windows Vista Business as well, compared to the default of XP Pro on the 1000. Both models have a substantial eight USB ports to facilitate expansion. The computers should be on sale for $579 and $649.
Apple trademarks, Tesco
In brief: The European Patent & Trademark Office over the weekend published Apple's latest trademarks titled 'The Studio' and 'Sportslounge,' dated December 18th, 2006 and December 22nd, 2006.... iStockphoto today announced that its user-generated stock video collection has already garnered more than 12,000 clips from over 350 contributors worldwide.... Tesco has announced that it will sell more than 75 Apple products and related accessories for Macs, iTunes, speakers, and iPods of all types.... Bare Bones Software is offering a free T-shirt upgrade at the Macworld Expo during exhibit hours, providing anyone who comes to the Bare Bones Software booth (#N4034) wearing any Bare Bones Software T-shirt a new, modernized "It doesn't suck" T-shirt for free.... RadTech has announced the continuation of the company's annual notebook repair and restoration clinic at Macworld Expo, coupled with new product introductions.... Extensis is hosting the Extensis Font University at the Macworld Expo in booth #826, presenting expert typographers including Stephen Coles from FontShop to discuss the joys and pitfalls of type design.
Toshiba CES 2007 Notebooks
Toshiba today introduced the Portégé R400, an ultraportable tablet PC the company holds as a showcase for Windows Vista and its own design. The R400 is built to keep current with a user's information at all times and can update its calendar and e-mail information on a edge-mounted LCD through Vista's ActiveNotifications technology -- even while the system is in suspend mode, Toshiba says. To help, the company has integrated EVDO broadband alongside Wi-Fi to keep the system connected in remote locations.
The new tablet is also the first notebook anywhere to support a completely wireless port replicator, the company claims. Using the high speed of Ultra Wide Band, the replicator can stay attached to all of the user's peripherals without needing a physical connection to the portable itself. A fingerprint reader is also part of the system. Toshiba's newest Portégé will ship along with Windows Vista on January 30th; a base model with a 1.2GHz Core Duo, 1GB of memory, 80GB of storage and Vista Business will retail for $2,599.
A full photo, as well as news of Toshiba's first notebook capable of writing HD DVDs, can be found after the jump.
EPA ranks Apple products
The Environmental Protection Agency has ranked Apple notebooks as the most environmentally-friendly portable computers in its EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool), according to a recent New York Times article. Computers ranked in the list must meet 23 mandatory criteria, and can optionally meet up to 28 additional criteria for to receive one of a bronze, silver, or gold medal. While no PC manufacturers scored a gold medal, Apple's MacBook Pro led the way for portables with all models meeting 17 optional criteria and receiving silver medals, according to Ars Technica. The company's Mac Pro met 16 optional criteria above the required 23, and its 20-, 23-, and 30-inch Cinema Displays met 15 optional criteria above the minimum required. The Greenpeace organization in late October of 2006 protested Apple's manufacturing processes at the Apple Expo in London, but was shown the door after Expo organizers reportedly received several complaints from unnamed sources.
Sony VAIO Media Hub PCs
Sony opened its presence at CES with a plethora of new VAIO PCs that join the company's Digital Living System line of media center PCs. Standing out among the launches is the TP1 Living Room PC (pictured), a premium challenger to Apple's Mac mini. Its cylindrical white design signals its role as a centerpiece for a home theater, Sony says, a fact reflected in the system's features: the TP! sports both analog and HDTV broadcast tuners as well as HDMI output, allowing it to serve even HD-quality audio and video through a single cable to a TV. The system achieves its small size by using a mobile Core 2 Duo processor but still integrates a 300GB hard drive, a dual-layer DVD rewriter, built-in Wi-Fi, and a dual-format CompactFlash/Memory Stick card reader. Sony plans a launch in March for $1,600.
Accompanying the TP1 is the more advanced XL3, an update to the XL series that brings the company's home theater PC further into high-definition. The new version adds not only Blu-Ray but also a one-way CableCARD reader, adding two new sources of HD video to the previous generation's ATSC digital broadcast tuner. Performance has been upgraded to handle the extra demands, according to the company. A desktop Core 2 Duo processor, a GeForce 7600 GTL video card, and 2GB of RAM promise glitch-free playback even when other tasks run in the background. Storage has also been increased to 500GB for extra recording space. The XL3 will launch at the same time as the TP1 for a price of $3,300.
Click through for a photo of the XL3 as well as details of the range-topping VAIO RM.
Maxtor OneTouch III Mini
Seagate today announced that its Maxtor OneTouch III Mini Edition is now compatible with Mac OS X. The USB 2.0-based sleek storage and backup solution can quickly and easily transport and backup/synchronize their video files, photos, music tracks and any other digital content. The Maxtor OneTouch III Mini Edition is a mobile storage solution that ships with a complete set of software to protect digital content, including automated backup, data protection and file synchronization. Using the automated backup software, Mac users can now ensure that all their files are automatically backed up on a set schedule or with the touch of a button.
3ware Sidecar RAID storage
Applied Micro Circuits Corporation (AMCC) today announced that it is showcasing its 3ware Sidecar external RAID storage solution for Apple's Mac Pro Power Mac G5 workstations at Macworld in San Francisco. The external desktop SATA II RAID system offers storage capacities of up to 3TB and RAID 5 write/read speeds of up to 200MB/sec via PCI Express connectivity. Integrating with Apple's high-end workstations to offer an intuitive management software suite, the storage solution is designed to simplify storage configuration, management, and monitoring. The Sidecar's two meter Multi-lane SATA cable provides four lanes of 3Gbps SATA connectivity. AMCC's 3ware Sidecar is available for $1,000 through the duration of Macworld, after which the price will jump to its original $1,300.
Nisus Writer Pro announced
Nisus Software today announced Nisus Writer Pro, an advanced word processor based on Nisus Writer Express. The new Pro version brings new features such as Table of Contents, Cross References, Bookmarks, Text Wrap Around Images, Widow and Orphan Control, and Line Numbering as well as classic Nisus Writer features as attribute sensitive Find & Replace, Glossaries, etc. Nisus Writer Pro will be available in late Winter/early Spring 2007 and a pubic beta is expected soon, according to the company. It will require Mac OS X 10.3 or later (pricing not yet announced).
Toast 8 Titanium released
Roxio today launched Toast 8 Titanium, enabling Mac users to burn TV programs from TiVo as well as EyeTV to disc alongside support for converting TV shows for viewing on Apple's video iPod or Sony's PSP. The updated software supports creating audio CD mixes as well as music DVDs, and introduces Blu-ray disc burning. Further enhancements include automatic disc cataloging, cross-platform data spanning, and disc restoration. Toast 8 Titanium also offers streamlined visual feedback via a media browser, easing drag-and-drop disc burning capability. Roxio's burning software supports personalized labels and covers to accommodate cover art as well as inserts, featuring full drawing and text editing tools with more than 600 clip-art images. Toast also supports LightScribe drives and media while incorporating Google image search functionality. Toast 8 Titanium is available for $100, and requires Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later. Roxio adds that special pricing and unique discount bundles are available at the company's Macworld expo booth #314 as well as its 'virtual' Macworld store through January 14th.
Softraid 3.6 released
Softraid today released SoftRAID 3.6, an Intel-based upgrade to its RAID backup and performance software for the Mac. SoftRAID 3.6 offers complete support for all Intel processors and also now offers the ability to boot Intel Macs from SoftRAID Mirror and Stripe Volumes. SoftRAID 3.6 now supports Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4.x) exclusively. Panther and Jaguar support will be maintained with SoftRAID 3.5.x, but no new features will be added for those Mac OS X versions in future releases, according to the company. In addition, 3.6 fully supports 64-bit memory in the new Intel EFI booting architecture on the Mac Pro and Intel Xserve as well as fixes numerous bugs including one which affected the speed of some Mirror volumes. It also improves support for burning startup DVDs and Utility program startup CDs, such as Disk Warrior 4. SoftRAID 3.6, a free electronic upgrade to all 3.x owners, is $130 ($20 more on CD).
Home Server and Xbox IPTV
Software giant Microsoft at its CES keynote unveiled two new technologies bolstering the company's inroads into the living room. Leading the efforts is Windows Home Server, a new software platform designed to share content from multiple computers in one location, even when those computers are shut off. The software automatically backs up and stores files from systems on a local network and can also perform a remote backup through a special Windows Live address. Music, photos, and videos can be shared to any attached Windows Media Center device, Microsoft says.
The technology is expected to make its debut in HP's new MediaSmart Server (PDF), a dedicated hub that will serve as many as ten separate users at once. The server is driven by a 1.8GHz AMD Sempron processor and has both four internal SATA drive bays and four USB 2.0 ports for storage, providing potential room for up to 6TB of storage when using 750GB drives. In addition to supporting the inherent file and media sharing of Windows Home Server, HP's device also allows Mac and Linux file sharing as well as remote program and system control through any Internet-connected PC. HP expects to ship the completed MediaSmart Server in the fall for an unspecified price.
Details of the Xbox 360 IPTV initiative can be found after the jump.
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