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Cringely on the iPhone
Noted PBS commentator Robert Cringely has chimed in with his opinion on the Apple iPhone, as well as the trademark dispute with Cisco Systems. Cringely asks why Apple failed to conclude talks with Cisco before moving forward, noting that the latter had no choice but to sue if it wanted to defend itself against future infringements. The situation is compounded by the fact that Apple did change the name of the iTV, enabling the company to avoid potential legal troubles with Elgato Systems, makers of the similar EyeTV.
Google releases MacFUSE
Google today released MacFUSE, an open-source port of the FUSE "Filesystem in Userspace" mechanism previously only available on Linux and FreeBSD systems. MacFUSE offers Mac OS X developers the ability to organize nearly any data into a file system, offering support for most existing Linux-based FUSE file systems on the Mac platform. Amit Singh, an engineering manager for the Mac Client team at Google and author of "Mac OS X Internals" announced the release today during his speech at Macworld titled "Taming Mac OS X Filesystems." MacFUSE is designed to be API-complaint with FUSE, making many existing file systems usable under Mac OS X. The software is available for download from Google's website.
Prie TuneWallet Micro case
Tunewear today debuted its Prie TuneWallet Micro nappa leather case for iPod nano. The new leather carrying case, which works with both first- and second-generation iPod nanos, is designed to keep the iPod together with cash and credit cards. A card pocket on the inside of the case accommodates roughly 15-20 business cards, according to Tunewear, and the case folds back for easy access to the pocket. The shape of the case enables users to wrap it in earphone cables for easy storage when not in use, and offers complete access to all controls and clickwheel functions. The Prie TuneWallet Micro also includes a Tunefilm screen and clickwheel transparent protective film. Users can connect a wallet chain via an eyelet hole on the side of the case, which ships in four various color combinations. The Prie TuneWallet Micro is due to ship some time this month for $30.
Cisco to take on Apple TV
Cisco -- which filed a lawsuit against Apple on Wednesday over the iPhone trademark -- is planning to introduce its own equivalent to the Apple TV, according to Light Reading. Although already in testing and development before the September preview of the Apple device, Cisco's media hub may enflame tensions following the recent lawsuit due to similar features. The Linksys-branded device, demonstrated behind closed doors at the CES trade show in Las Vegas this week, is expected to both access media across a network and store it on its own hard drive for quicker access. Cisco says the adapter will offer features absent from other devices, allowing owners to choose between buying videos directly from CinemaNow or streaming media over Wi-Fi from cellphones as well as other handhelds. Users will control Cisco's device via a ring-shaped remote that will function as a wireless pointer rather than a simple button-operated device similar to Nintendo's Wii game console. The company plans a release by the end of 2007, which could complicate its launch if the firm's suit against Apple remains unsettled by the end of the year, according to Electronista.
'iPhone' could cost $325m
Industry experts say Apple may be forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties to Cisco for its iPhone trademark after launching the new device on Tuesday morning without first coming to a steadfast agreement with the networking giant. Cisco filed suit against Apple on Wednesday over the iPhone name, which Linksys -- a unit of Cisco -- just recently used for its new line of phones. Financial analysts predict that the iPhone could bring as much as $6.5 billion in revenue to Apple by 2008, but licensing fees could cost the Cupertino-based company from $130 million to $325 million per year. Those royalties could amount to more than a billion dollars over a five-year period, according to the Red Herring, representing more than 15 percent of Apple's net income for the fiscal year of 2006. Amidst speculation from financial experts and industry analysts, however, one blogger suggests after some investigation that Cisco may not own the trademark as it claims, and that the iPhone name appears to have been abandoned in late 2005/early 2006 because Cisco failed to use it.
Greenpeace keynote spoof
Briefly Aspyr today released a free demo of the upcoming first person shooter Prey for Mac, which will begin shipping to retail stores in North American next week and will be available for $50.... Following the "greening" of the Apple Store SF earlier this week (see photos), Greenpeace has posted video spoof of a keynote that it hoped Jobs would deliver at the Expo: "Steve Jobs announced the cool new phone, and it looks impressive, but he hasn’t committed Apple to more ecologically sound policies… So we went ahead and made a video of the keynote address we'd like to see.".... Apple CEO Steve Jobs lost a bid to demolish a Spanish Colonial Revival-style mansion he owns about 30 miles south of San Francisco, after a California appeals court ruled this week that Jobs and the city of Woodside, where the 17,250-square-foot mansion was built on six acres in about 1925, didn't consider alternatives to destroying the home.
iPhone spurs reactions
The introduction of Apple's iPhone has already spurred a flurry of comments and speculation from numerous firms and industry watchers. Interestingly, electronics manufacturer Samsung sees Apple's latest product release as both a competitive move and a potential market opportunity, according to the Associated Press. "Since it's new it could bring both sides, positive and negative," said Kim Jeong-han, Samsung's senior vice president for the company's telecommunications business. Nokia, however, spoke differently of the iPhone, describing the device as "quite an interesting product," after which the cell phone giant quickly played down suggestions that Apple's latest offering will upset its core business. Nokia's multimedia unit leader Anssi Vanjoki outlined Nokia's strong points, citing the large screens, storage capacity, and media playback functionality in the firm's high-end cellular handsets.
Motorola KRZR at Cingular
Cellphone provider Cingular (soon to become AT&T) today officially carried its version of the Motorola KRZR. The introduction marks the first time the phone has been available in GSM form, having shipped in the CDMA-oriented K1m edition for Alltel, Sprint, and Verizon late last year. The Cingular-branded version ships with support for the carrier's EDGE Internet access and comes preloaded with instant messaging software for chatting on AIM, MSN, and Yahoo networks. All the functionality of the Motorola original remains in place, including the 2-megapixel camera and Bluetooth with A2DP support for wireless headphones and speakers. Cingular sells the KRZR today for $450 as a stand-alone purchase but reduces the initial price to $200 when paired with a two-year contract and $50 rebate.
Jobs on iPhone platform
Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently spoke with Newsweek about the company's new iPhone, revealing that the software on the device is purposely closed to prevent potential issues from cropping up on Cingular's network. "You don’t want your phone to be an open platform," said Jobs, referring to the concept of any phone owner writing applications for it. "You need it to work when you need it to work. Cingular doesn’t want to see their West Coast network go down because some application messed up." Despite the closed platform, however, the iPhone still runs some form of Mac OS X that can functionally support numerous applications not currently present on the prototype phone displayed by Apple's chief during his keynote at Macworld. "There’s no reason we couldn’t have iChat on here," Jobs said when prompted to speak on the topic. When presented with the concept of allowing iPhone owners to take a song from their iTunes music library and turn it into a ring tone, however, Jobs said it could be done but implied through a simple hand gesture that the move would cost Apple a fairly large sum of money.
Samsung A717 for Cingular
Samsung is gearing up to launch a GSM version of the popular M610 clamshell phone for Cingular customers. While in many senses identical to the CDMA version already in use by Sprint, the new edition -- named the A717 -- will swap the EVDO broadband access of the M610 for a much faster HSDPA connection. Legacy EDGE support is expected as well. The directional pad will also undergo a change to the ring-like control used by the BlackJack. Cingular should carry the phone by mid-2007 under its impending return to the AT&T name. Pricing should compare closely with Sprint's $180 when combined with a two-year service plan. [via MobileBurn]
Capture NX for Intel Macs
Nikon this week showed off its updated Capture NX software with several new improvements, including full support for Intel-based Macs. Capture NX software is designed specifically for photographers, providing a unique and easy to understand interface with tools that photographers need, but without the level of complexity and clutter of other image editing applications, the company said. The software can be used with JPEG and TIFF format images from any source, and offers patented new U Point technology to simplify photo editing enabling users to enhance specific areas of a picture selectively--without the use of masks, selections, or layers. Capture NX also works with Nikon's RAW (NEF) format images, and inherits Nikon's RAW processing capabilities for the highest quality results from NEF files.
CBS interviews Apple
In brief: CBS News has interviewed Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller, taking a closer look at the iPhone and some of its patented functionality.... Apple's demonstration video, which the company posted on its website shortly after it launched the iPhone on Tuesday morning, has surfaced on YouTube.... MacNN has posted two more blog entries detailing activity at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco.... Miglia has posted some details on its recently announced TVMini HD+, a USB device designed to turn a Mac into a digital entertainment center.... Communications firm AT&T has merged with BellSouth, and has announced plans to consolidate Cingular and YellowPages.com ownership.... The DesignSoft Company is offering Creative Billing -- its time and billing software -- as an online application.
Optoma DLP Projectors
Optoma at CES launched a major enhancement to its DLP projector line by releasing three new models targeted alternately at its high- and low-end home theater audience as well as business-conscious users. Topping the releases is the HD81-LV, a refresh of the 1080p-capable flagship HD81 that almost doubles the brightness of its predecessor, jumping from 1,300 to 2,500 lumens of brightness. An optional replacement lens, the BX-AL133 Cinemascope ($3,999), has also been revealed which adds a true movie theater widescreen ratio to both the LV and its original version. The price of the upgraded HD81 has yet to be released, though it will ship soon.
Another updated model is the MovieTime DV11 ($999), a sequel to the DV10 projector and DVD player hybrid that displays at 800x600 with a much brighter 1,300-lumen design. Optoma lastly improved its business range with the TX773 ($2,499), a mid-range business DLP with a 1024x768 display, 3,500 lumens brightness, and input for DVI and VGA signals from computers. These more standardized projectors are also expected soon.
TOLIS debuts BRU PE
TOLIS has announced BRU Producer's Edition, a tool that backs up creative session data. "Music and film industry operators and engineers, regardless of their computer technical knowledge, can use BRU Producer's Edition easily and with confidence," the company said. Based on TOLIS' BRU LE solution, BRU Producer's Edition (PE) delivers three powerful capabilities specifically designed to protect creative industry assets: It offers drag-and-drop support for volumes, folders, or session files from major applications; allows users to create two tape copies of the same data simultaneously, eliminating the need to perform two discreet backup operations for local and archival or deliverable asset copies; flexible backup options for archiving multiple components to one or multiple tapes. BRU Producer's Edition, which is priced at $250, runs as a Universal Binary application.
Gallery VII - Show Floor 2
Apple's booth continues to attract crowds with demos of Apple TV and iPhone functionality and software; however, a number of secondary vendors have taken up near or around the Apple-focused Expo to share their wares with attendees. Here is a roundup of several booths, including XtremeMac, Harmon/Kardon, Belkin, and much more. Other Expo photo galleries include the MS Word 2008 for Mac, Keynote/iPhone, Apple Booth/Show Floor, Greenpeace greening of SF Apple Store, and Pre-show images.
Samsung on iPhone
Korean firm Samsung says the iPhone is a threat with a hidden blessing, according to analysts and Samsung executives speaking with the Associated Press. The company on Friday acknowledged that Apple's cellphone likely posed a direct threat to its own cellphone line, which includes high-end smartphones such as the BlackJack, but may by association draw interest to devices that were previously seen as too expensive.
"We have an opportunity [to create demand]," Samsung telecom VP Kim Jeong-han said of Apple's entry into the field.
Analysts also suggest that the iPhone may have an incidental benefit to Samsung in particular, as its ability to produce both CPUs and flash memory that could be used at the heart of the iPhone could profit the Korean corporation even as Apple potentially erodes its marketshare. Apple "will create lots of demand for NAND flash," says Dongbu Securities' Lee Min-hee. Samsung has not yet confirmed its exact amount of involvement with the handheld.
Caldera updates standard
French firm Caldera Graphics has upgraded its large-format printing standard to version 7.20, bringing with it a slew of software and hardware changes. Caldera programs are now Universal Binaries, and GrandWhite Workflow is in its final version. The software allows users to print with white ink from a spot color, a contour filling, or from an alpha/extra channel, displaying the results before printing. New printers from manufacturers such as HP and Mutoh and Roland are supported, as are Multicam and Summa PostNet cutters. Caldera's EasyMedia software is compatible with the Barbieri Spectro LFP, an automatic spectrophotometer. Registered users can patch their software at the Caldera download site.
S-E Stylized BT Headset
Sony-Ericsson at CES marked the introduction of the PV705 Style Edition Bluetooth headset. Hoping to avoid the overly technical appearance of most earpieces, the cellphone designer has added three removable faceplates in black, purple, and white as well as jewelry that fastens to the necklace strap or carrying pouch. This helps the communicator blend in during social gatherings, especially when worn around the neck for speakerphone use, the company says. Talk time is a long 12 hours, or 300 hours when on standby. The Style Edition will be ready this month with prices to be set shortly.
In tandem with the new Bluetooth headset, the cellphone partnership released the MBR-100 Bluetooth music receiver, a simple attachment that can stream the music from a cellphone or other Bluetooth audio device to any set of speakers with either aux-in or RCA input jacks. As with the PV705, the MBR-100 can play audio for up to 12 hours and will idle safely for 300 hours. It will ship alongside the headset, with a similarly undetermined price.
DeckLink HD Studio ships
Blackmagic Design has begun shipping DeckLink HD Studio, which the company claims is the first playback card to support both HDMI and analog component video. DeckLink HD Studio allows users to capture from HDMI cameras or decks, as well as analog decks and set top boxes. HDMI playback and analog playback supports connectivity to a wide range of video monitors, big screen televisions, and video projectors. DeckLink HD Studio instantly switches between HD and SD, enabling users to work with almost any deck, camera or monitor, according to Blackmagic. The device offers 10-bit capture and playback, 4-lane PCI Express connectivity, and 14-bit digital-to-analog conversion. DeckLink HD Studio also features the same uncompressed and compressed file formats used by all DeckLink cards, allowing large storage area network-based systems to use shared video files. The card is compatible with Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple's Final Cut Pro, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop, and any DirectShow- or QuickTime-based software. DeckLink HD Studio is available for $1,000.
PQI 64GB Flash Drive
Storage producer PQI at CES demonstrated one of the largest solid state drives yet available for everyday computers. Shown in early form last year, the 64GB Solid State Disk would double the capacity of the 32GB SanDisk SSD revealed earlier this month while also shipping as a 2.5-inch Serial ATA hard drive, making it a more direct replacement for magnetic disks in notebook PCs. The reliability that comes with a lack of moving parts is accompanied by speed. PQI claims a 100MB/sec peak transfer rate, exceeding even the speed of desktop hard drives in RAID stripes. No pricing or ship dates have been given, though pricing will likely be substantially higher than the $600 price of the 32GB SanDisk model. [via DailyTech]
SEC investigates Jobs
Federal officials are actively investigating a backdated stock option grant that carried a false October 2001 date which was awarded to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, according to the Wall Street Journal. Investigators are focusing on the grant to Jobs for 7.5 million options which finalized in December of 2001, which resulted in a retroactive $20 million charge to Apple's earnings due to false dating that increased the value of the options. The false documentation was created by former Apple attorney Wendy Howell, who the company quietly dismissed last month, according to the report. Howell claims that Apple's former general counsel and head legal official Nancy Heinen, who left the company in early May of 2006 and later sought legal counsel, instructed her to create the false documentation. Howell's attorney, Thomas Carlucci, said that "Ms. Howell acted as instructed by Apple management and with the company's best interest being paramount" while working for the Cupertino-based company.
Cisco Apple TV Rival
Cisco may unintentionally create more controversy later this year by introducing its own equivalent to Apple's recently announced Apple TV, according to Light Reading. Although already in testing and in development before the September preview of the Apple device, Cisco's as yet unnamed media hub may enflame tensions in light of the recent iPhone lawsuit due to similar features. The Linksys-branded device, demonstrated behind closed doors at CES this week, is expected to both access media across a network as well as store it on its own hard drive for quicker access.
The adapter will have features absent from other devices, Cisco says. Owners will have the choice of buying videos directly from CinemaNow and could also stream media over Wi-Fi from cellphones and other handhelds. Control will be handled through a ring-shaped remote that will function as a wireless pointer rather than a simple button-operated device. The company plans a release by the end of 2007, which could complicate its launch if the firm's suit against Apple remains unsettled by the end of the year.
JVC 1080i camcorder
The upcoming HD Everio GZ-HD7 by JVC will be the company's first camcorder to record natively in 1080i, while being substantially cheaper than the 720p-limited GR-HD1US, priced at $3,500. The HD7 uses a 3CCD progressive-scan sensor, and can hold up to five hours of video on its 60GB hard drive, which is substantially larger than most consumer models. JVC is likewise promoting the camera's Fujinon lens, the first of its type to appear in a camera for the general market. Most Fujinon lenses are used for commercial and industrial purposes, such as medicine and TV broadcast. The HD7 should retail in April for $1,800.
Sundance on iTunes
Apple continues to expand the collection of films available on iTunes with the addition of Sundance shorts. On Friday the Sundance Institute and Sundance Channel announced they will offer narrative, documentary and animation shorts from the 2007 Sundance Film Festival for download via iTunes. Nearly half of short films from the 2007 Sundance Film Festival will be available for purchase and download for $1.99 beginning Monday, January 22, 2007. The films available on iTunes are drawn from the 71 Sundance Film Festival short films, representing 19 countries and 4445 submissions from American and international filmmakers. Also available on the iTunes Store will be free podcasts that take users behind the scenes of the Sundance Film Festival including engaging panels with filmmakers, journalists and industry representatives direct from Prospector Square and live performances straight from the Music Café in Park City.
Samsung CES cameras
Samsung may not be known for its digital cameras in North America, but three new ones should be available in the spring, AVING reports. First up is the six-megapixel S630 (pictured), which has Samsung's ASR image stabilization technology to reduce photo blur. ASR is also applied to the camera's movie recording, which can be captured in either 320x240 or 640x480 at 30fps. Ten-second voice memos can be attached to stills. The next step up is the seven-megapixel L73, which also has improved exposure performance, with ISO sensitivity up to 1600 and shutter speeds as fast as 1/2000. Zoom is 3x optical. The S850 ups the zoom to 5x optical, but should otherwise be functionally similar to the L73, the main change being eight megapixels. It should be priced at $250. The S630 will cost $180; curiously, the L73 will be $300, though this may be due to its compactness.
Union 2.1 goes Universal
Livid Instruments has released Union 2.1, a major update to its real-time VJ software that brings native compatibility to Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary while improving performance as well as stability. The latest revision includes new effects, interface enhancements, MIDI capabilities, and recording flexibility, according to Livid Instruments. The software is designed to offer an all-in-one solution for live video performance and creation, integrating real-time mixing with effects. "Union has given artists and designers the opportunity to perform in a new and exciting ways," said Jay Smith, President of Livid Instruments. "We have spent a considerable amount of time making sure our software is stable and fast for the new Intel Macs, with added features and performance boosts for new and current users." Union 2.1 is available as a free upgrade to all current Union users, and is priced at $300 for new users.
New Speck cases at MWSF
Speck has unveiled a new lineup of cases at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. The new cases are designed for Apple's second-generation iPod nano and iPod shuffle, as well as the MacBook and MacBook Pro. Speck has said it will also launch a limited edition Macworld 2007 blue version of its SeeThru hard shell for both the MacBook and MacBook Pro, which will remain on sale at the booth for $40. Speck's newest additions include the Active Sport Armband Lite for iPod nano, a custom neoprene armband designed for physically active iPod owners; TouchSkin 2 Touch for iPod nano to provide enhanced protection that includes 'DropGuard' shock absorbing technology; and SeeThru Lucid for iPod nano serving as a clear hard shell armor for the iPod nano that shows off the device in its original form. All MacBook and MacBook Pro products are available now, according to Speck, while the new second-generation iPod nano and iPod shuffle cases will ship in the first quarter of 2007.
Dynaudio MC 15 PC Speakers
Normally the creator of high-end home stereos, Dynaudio at CES made its beginning forays into the multimedia envirnoment by announcing the MC 15, its first speakers meant for computers, music players, and video game consoles. The copmany hopes to bring the audio quality normally reserved for home theaters to the desktop and has supplied the 2-channel satellites with dual 50W amplifiers, providing more power by themselves than most subwoofer-equiped PC speakers. Tighter bass response is also provided through an extremely rigid cabinet, Dynaudio says. Accurate treble is maintained by fabric dome tweeters and a three-band adjustable EQ.
The system can be expanded even further, the company adds. Extra satellites can be added for more overall power; a new subwoofer, the Sub 250MC, can also be installed to lower the bass frequency from 55 to 29Hz and supply an extra 200W of power to the overal system. Dynaudio sets the price for its premium MC 15s at $1,299; the subwoofer is available separately for $1,000. Both pieces will ship in March.
Music Now to close
AOL today revealed that it is forsaking its Music Now online music store, sending the company's existing 350,000 subscribers to Napster. Napster -- one of Apple's primary competitors in the digital music industry -- has agreed to maintain pricing and other aspects of the AOL users' service until the changeover is complete in the next two months. While AOL gave no exact reason for the change, the company in late summer of last year said it was exiting the paid content business, switching instead to a free ad-sponsored model after bleeding large numbers of subscribers to its core internet access. AOL only launched Music Now in mid-2006, but the adoption of AOL customers may have a dramatic impact on Napster's influence in online music downloads, according to Electronista. The company recently reveled in unusual success among non-iTunes stores, jumping by nearly 50,000 subscribers at the end of 2006 to reach a total of 566,000. The AOL deal will see Napster's total user base jump by over 60 percent.
Older consoles trump new
While the Xbox 360 may have won in terms of new console sales, it turns out that the overall victors of the holiday season were generally older game systems, launched years earlier, says the research firm NPD Group. Counting December US sales, the Nintendo DS -- first launched in 2004 -- took the top spot, selling 1.6 million units. Embarassing to Sony may be the 1.4 million sales of the Playstation 2, a console that is almost seven years old, and was supposed to have been replaced by the Playstation 3. In keeping with the earlier NPD report, only 490,700 PS3s were sold. Even the Nintendo Wii was beaten by the 2005 PSP (953,200), and its own Game Boy Advance (850,700), launched in 2001. No explanation for the results is given, but it may be that the cost of the new consoles is too prohibitive for the general public.
Gefen home theater devices
Gefen has released a trio of Mac mini-shaped home theater devices at the CES trade show in Las Vegas. The company's simply-titled Personal Video Recorder captures video directly from digital sources -- including FireWire ports from digital cable or satellite boxes and camcorders -- and transfers it directly to removable USB storage such as external flash drives. Video is recorded in MPEG-4 format, and users can manually switch inputs to keep more than one device attached, according to Electronista. Two versions are expected in late February: a basic, standard-definition version will ship for conventional footage, while an HD version will ship with native 1080p support and HDMI output. Pricing is undetermined for either model. Also released at the expo is the HD Mate Scaler and its Home Theater Scaler counterpart. Each is built to convert and upscale video from common television-oriented sources into digital signals.
HipServ supports iPhone
Axentra has announced that its HipServ personal media software platform supports Apple's recently-released Apple TV, as well as the company's forthcoming iPhone which is due to ship in June. Axentra HipServ enables users to manage digital devices while centrally storing, backing up, accessing, publishing, and sharing digital content via a Web-based interface. The HipServ integrates with Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, TV, and mobile platforms to enable intelligent management of all digital devices, enabling users to aggregate, find, manage and distribute content from any connected device. The Web interface automatically adapts to multiple platforms while allowing users to securely access digital content or remotely add content from any internet connection with a single ID and password. The HipServ Assistant is configurable to automatically notify invited friends and family to access new content as soon as it is distributed into appropriate folders based on content, indexed with keywords and tags. HipServ is already available to original equipment manufacturers and service providers (pricing was unavailable).
AOL Gives Up Music Store
AOL on Friday morning revealed that it was abandoning its Music Now online music store. The deal will send the company's existing 350,000 subscribers to Napster, which will keep the pricing and other aspects of the AOL users' service intact until the changeover is complete in the next two months. While no exact reason for the change has been given, AOL in late summer of last year said it was exiting the paid content business, switching to a free ad-sponsored model after bleeding large numbers of subscribers to its core Internet access. AOL had only started Music Now in mid-2006.
The adoption of AOL customers may have a dramatic impact in Napster's influence in online music downloads. The copmany recently enjoyed unusual success among non-iTunes stores, jumping by nearly 50,000 subscribers at the end of 2006 to reach a total of 566,000. The AOL deal will see Napster's total user base jump by over 60 percent.
iBiz 3 released
IGG Software has released iBiz 3, the latest revision of its time-billing and invoicing application for Mac OS X. iBiz 3 improves reporting as well as invoicing, and adds iCal synchronization capability alongside AppleScript support. The software provides automatic document tracking, quick timers, and a new billing section. iBiz 3 is a Universal Binary that runs natively on Intel-based Macs. The Document MOnitor feature automatically tracks time spent working on specific files associated with iBiz, allowing users to open desired files that automatically track time spent. iCal synchronization uses Sync Services to automatically sync entire iBiz projects with iCal calendars, while a 'Quick Timer' enables users to manage timers easily without interrupting workflow. The new Billing section also features a more powerful overview of invoices, estimates, and payments for clients, according to IGG. iBiz 3 is available for $50 with upgrades for iBiz 2 users priced at $20, requiring Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Meccano's WiFi robot
Wireless progresses further into the toy world with the Spyke WiFi Spy Robot, created by Meccano, and set to be released under the legendary Erector brand. The robot moves on treads and is controlled from a PC, where users can watch what it does through a webcam. This should permit control from remote Internet-connected systems, which may also make it useful for home surveillance, especially as the robot can be set to dock with a power outlet automatically. Functions don't stop there either, with the Spyke having support for VoIP and digital music playback. No shipping dates have been confirmed, but Meccano says the price should be about $270. [Via I4U News]
Thermaltake CES 2007 Cases
Thermaltake during the CES expo released two PC cases for performance-minded gamers: both the Bach Vx and Soprano Dx (shown) include external SATA (eSATA) ports for attaching external hard drives to the computer without the speed penalty often suffered through USB 2 or FireWire. Cooling is just as important, says the case designer. The Bach and Soprano share an unusually large 140mm front fan, drawing in cool air that can be quickly expelled by a rear 120mm unit. The cases also have room for two of NVIDIA's larger GeForce 8800 GTX cards and have tool-free slots for drives and expansion cards.
The two mid-towers are primarily separated by priorities, according to the company. The Soprano is designed primarily for aesthetics and features a curving aluminum front panel, while the more utilitarian Bach deliberately introduces gaps in its flat aluminum surface for quicker air intake. Thermaltake is selling both cases today in versions with or without side windows and 400W power supplies, though pricing is unavailable.
MS Word 2008 for Mac
At the Expo, Microsoft offered a public sneak peak at its forthcoming Office 2008 software, this time focusing strictly on Microsoft Word 2008 for Mac, which it says is the closest to completion. The images depict the product introduction, Microsoft's default editing screen, the new "ribbon"-like UI at the top of each document featuring various templates and the new 'MyDay' standalone application that interfaces with MS Entourage to display action items/to-dos and other daily info. The company released screenshots of Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 earlier this week, promising to ship the product in the second half of 2007. Microsoft office includes 30 million lines of code, and the Redmond-based company says that of the entire suite Microsoft Word is the closest to completion. The new revision of Office runs natively on Intel-based Macs as as Universal Binary, and Microsoft claims that its Word software is the most used application within its Office suite.
Toshiba Exits SED TVs
Japanese electronics giant Toshiba on Friday said it was exiting the development of SED TV technology. The company revealed that it would let Canon, its longtime partner in developing the technology, buy out its share of the jointly-owned SED, Inc. company formed to deliver the new flat-panels to market. The decision was made only to help SED reach the market, Toshiba says; as Canon faces extended lawsuits in the US over the technology, the involvement of a second company in proceedings would only slow development down.
SED has already experienced numerous delays due in part to the high cost of the technology, which is said to combine the color accuracy and immediate response of conventional tube televisions with the much thinner and more accurate flat panels of LCDs and plasmas. Canon still expects to launch SED sets in Japan by the end of this year and plans a North American release in early 2008.
iPod, notebook accessories
iSkin has launched several new products to kick off the new year which include the tokidoki iPod Vibes for iPod nano, the Duo for second-generation iPod nano (shown at right), SoHo LapTop Sleeves, and four new CERULEAN accessories. The new line of tokidoki iSkin Vibes are designed specifically for Apple's first- and second-generation iPod nanos, featuring various designs while protecting the portable players inside a scratch- and shock-resistant capsule. iSkin's Duo protects Apple's second-generation iPod nano with a dual-layer design that combines colored anodized impact-resistant VISOR with a shock absorbing silicone layer alongside a clear screen protector. iSkin's Vibes as well as its Duo cases are due to ship later this month for $25 and $30, respectively. The CERULEAN products are due to ship in the first quarter of 2007, with pricing to be announced.
Delphi Premium Sound
Electronics supplier Delphi took time at CES to unveil the Premium Sound system, its first universal speaker dock for subscribers to XM Satellite Radio. The stereo attaches directly to many typical XM receivers, including the company's own SkyFi3, MyFi, and Roady XT as well as third-party hardware from Audiovox and others. An integral XM antenna boosts the signal and helps the Premium Sound System work properly indoors. A headphone jack and an auxiliary input are included for different speakers and audio sources; the speakers can also operate solely on battery power, although the company has yet to reveal an estimated battery life. Delphi's speaker dock will be ready in Spring for $179.
Gefen PVR and HD Mate
Accessory maker Gefen at CES released a trio of Mac mini-shaped home theater devices. The company's simply-titled Personal Video Recorder (top) captures video directly from digital sources, including FireWire ports from digital cable or satellite boxes and camcorders, and transfers it directly to removable USB storage such as external flash and hard drives. Video is recorded in MPEG-4, and the user can manually switch inputs -- allowing owners to keep more than one device attached, Gefen says. Two versions are expected in late February: a basic, standard-definition version will be released for conventional footage, while an HD version will ship with native 1080p support and HDMI output. Pricing is undetermined for either model.
Read more for details of the company's new Mac-friendly and home theater scalers.
TextParrot at BETT
Acapela Group has announced that it is exhibiting TextParrot 1.0, a new application from AssistiveWare designed for Mac users that converts any written text into speech, at the BETT educational information and communications technologies (ICT) event. The software transforms any type of information in real-time just as the human voice can, according to the company, and the files are supported by Apple's iTunes software as well as its iPod portable players. The company says it will add other languages in the coming months. TextParrot requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later, with single-user licenses available for $40.
Unpatched Safari flaw
LMH has reported an unpatched vulnerability in Safari that could result in remote code execution. Malicious users could exploit the flaw, which stems from an integer overflow error in the "ffs_mountfs()" function when handling UFS filesystem disc images, to cause a heap-based buffer overflow from a specially crafted UFS DMG image. Secunia notes that successful exploitation of the vulnerability could allow attackers to execute arbitrary code. The firm adds that the flaw is only remotely exploitable via Apple's Safari Web browser, and only when the "Open safe files after downloading" option is enabled. The vulnerability is known to affect Mac OS X 10.4.8, but may afflict other versions of Mac OS X as well. Users can prevent exploitation by disabling the "Open safe files after downloading" option, and by granting system access only to trusted users.
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