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Leopard on iPhone
In brief: Apple's iPhone is already running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, according to one columnist who spent roughly 45 minutes with the device and who cites official briefings as well as "you and I never spoke" discussions.... A YouTube video has surfaced of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer laughing at Apple's iPhone, who cites the high price and says the device won't appeal to business customers "because it doesn't have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good email machine".... FrSIRT has posted a Mac OS X vulnerability in the service location protocol daemon (slpd) that could allow attackers to cause denial of service or potentially execute arbitrary code.... Plaintiffs in the Comes v. Microsoft anti-trust trial taking place in Iowa recently filed a motion for permission to show the court that Microsoft may not be disclosing APIs (application programming interfaces) required by the 2002 U.S. v. Microsoft settlement.
New Garritan interface
Garritan today debuted a new user interface for sampled and synthesized musical instruments that allows users to select, load, manipulate, and mix software instruments in one single graphical environment. Users need only select a desired instrument icon from a palette, then drag-and-drop the instrument onto a a desired location on a virtual soundstage. The software supports any number of musical instruments on the virtual stage ranging from a soloist act to a grand symphony orchestra, according to Garritan, and users can save various instrument arrangements to recall later. Audio characteristics such as volume, panning, reverb reflections, and spatial cues are also controlled by positioning scalable musical instrument icons on the virtual soundstage.
MyBlu iPod/phone link
Brando has just released the MyBlu, a Bluetooth adapter for the iPod that links Apple's music player to most Bluetooth cellphones, Electronista writes. The device, shaped like an Apple Radio Remote, interfaces directly with any fourth-generation or later dockable iPod and displays call information directly on the iPod's own LCD, pausing music and giving the option of answering a call while using the iPod's headphones for incoming audio. The iPod can also be used to redial any of the nine most recent phone numbers. An FM radio with autoscan and 15 presets also taps into the iPod, using the click wheel to change frequencies. Brando exports the MyBlu for $88.
MS selling Vista direct
Apple rarely lets you download software you have to buy, but Microsoft today revealed the option to buy Windows Vista online from the company's recently launched Windows Marketplace, Electronista reports. In what may be a first for mainstream OS software, the Redmond-based developer will give access to both 32- and 64-bit upgrade copies of Vista's Home, Business, and Ultimate editions as direct downloads when the OS is officially available on January 30th. The download of a DVD-sized installation is possible through a digital locker, Microsoft says; the service remembers the license for any downloaded software and lets users download software again, even if a catastrophic failure forces a reinstall of the earlier version of Windows.
MovieLogger 1.5 released
Digital Heaven today released MovieLogger 1.5 and Final Print, updating its QuickTime logging software and Final Cut Pro companion applications. MovieLogger runs natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, and includes support for HDV as well as DVCPROHD movies. Final Print is designed to provide a useful workflow enhancement when handing off a project to other members of a post production team, and notes of shots that still need to be worked on are made directly in Final Cut Pro as markers and are exported to an XML file. MovieLogger 1.5 is available for $300, while Final Print is priced at $100. Both applications require Final Cut Pro 4.1 or later. Digital Heaven today also released BigTime 1.5 as a Universal Binary, bringing the resizable floating timecode display for Final Cut Pro 5 to Intel-based Macs. BigTime 1.5 ships for $50.
Vista Direct Download Sale
Microsoft today revealed the option to buy Windows Vista online from the company's recently launched Windows Marketplace. In what may be a first for mainstream OS software, the Redmond-based developer will give access to both 32- and 64-bit upgrade copies of Vista's Home, Business, and Ultimate editions as direct downloads when the OS is officially available on January 30th. The download of a DVD-sized installation is possible through a digital locker, Microsoft says; the service remembers the license for any downloaded software and lets users download software again, even if a catastrophic failure forces a reinstall of the earlier version of Windows.
Simultaneously, the company has revealed its first family licensing plan for Windows. The simply-titled Vista Family Discount will give purchasers of Vista Ultimate in full or upgrade editions the option to buy as many as two copies of Vista Home Premium at $50 each. The upgrade path marks a stark change in the company's approach to home licensing, where the company has previously insisted on individual licenses. Apple has offered five-system licenses of Mac OS X since the introduction of Jaguar in 2002, but has to date only provided physical media for its updates.
GearBox Plug-In 3.1
Line 6 today launched its GearBox Plug-In 3.1, offering studio-standard tone from POD xt and classic vintage effects. The GearBox Plug-In is usable with RTAS, Mac AU and PC VST recording software with a collection of professionally programmed presets. Presets created during the recording process are easily moved into other Line 6 products such as POD xt Live for portability to the stage. The Silver bundle provides a hand-selected model collection, according to the company, while the Gold bundle provides a comprehensive array for an enhanced tone palette. GearBox Plug-In Silver ($420) comes with 18 guitar amp and 24 cab models from POD xt; five bass amp models from Bass POD xt; six vintage and modern mic preamps; and 30 studio and stompbox effects. The Gold bundle ($700) offers 78 guitar amp and 24 cab models from POD xt/Vetta II; 28 bass amp and 22 bass cab models from Bass POD xt; six vintage and modern mic preamps; and more than 80 studio and stompbox effects.
Vinyl record iPod cases
Contexture Design has unveiled its '45' iPod cases made from reclaimed vinyl records. Named after the typical playing speed of 7-inch vinyl records, the cases are designed to accommodate owners of iPods ranging from 20GB to 80GB. Each case includes felt padding made from 40 percent recycled fibers, cork, and plexiglass window materials. The center hole of each case's record is positioned to fit exactly around the iPod's clickwheel, while secondary openings provide access to charging and headphone jacks. Users can choose a favorite vinyl record for use with the case, which Contexture Design custom builds to fit a desired iPod model. '45' iPod cases are available online for $45, and the company is offering a $5 rebte in exchange for participation in a street-level marketing campaign where participants hang concert-style posters of the cases around their neighborhood.
CallWave Visual Voicemail
Joining the Visual Voicemail trend triggered by the iPhone, CallWave on Thursday announced a free Visual Voicemail service for checking cellphone voicemail. When at a computer, subscribers can receive voice mail messages through e-mail that separate the user's individual voice messages into individual sound samples, letting the phone owner check messages in any order, saving them or responding through calls and text messages that are relayed through the phone. The notifications are also sent to the directly to the cellphone itself through SMS text messages; while the phone must use a traditional voicemail system to check messages, it provides advance information about callers to save time, CallWave says.
The company's Visual Voicemail is independent of any individual phone and works with most major carriers as well as any Mac or Windows PC. Basic use of the service is free, according to the company. A premium service with call screening and transfers is also available $10 per month.
SR groove titles debut
Sonic Reality and Joytown Productions have announced the imminent release of two Studio ProFile multitrack groove titles (site not updated) dubbed "Rhythm & Soul Drum Sessions" and "British Rock Drum Sessions." The collection also maintains consistency between the three formats for increased flexibility and compatibility with any DAW or sampler. Each title comes with sampled hits from the drum kits used in the session with the same multi-channel mixing control in samplers like Kontakt 2. Rhythm & Soul Drum Sessions concentrates on classic Soul grooves from the 60ís & 70ís from labels like Motown, Stax and Atlantic with artists such as Marvin Gaye, Tempations, James Brown, Supremes and more. British Rock Drum Sessions concentrates on classic rock grooves from British bands in the 60ís & 70ís like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. Rhythm & Soul Drum Sessions is priced at $300, while British Rock Drum Sessions will sell for $350.
Tangerine! 1.1 released
Potion Factory has released Tangerine! 1.1 for Mac OS X, enabling users to create playlists of upbeat songs or relaxing beats by analyzing the tempo and beat intensity of music. The latest release features presets based on criteria rules to ease playlist generation with better iTunes integration and numerous bug fixes. "Since its launch, many iPod+Nike users have started using Tangerine! to create the perfect playlist for their runs," said Potion Factory. "The iTunes Store already has a selection of songs suitable for workouts, however, runners can now enjoy their own favorite songs during their run by having Tangerine!" Tangerine! 1.1 is priced at $25, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Google touch phone?
Google and Samsung may be working on a phone that utilizes the search giant's extensive online services, according one report. Nicknamed the "Switch," the handset would be virtually dominated by a touch-screen like Apple's iPhone and would include no built-in flash memory of its own to store software; instead, the phone would connect to the internet to merge the user's Gmail, Gtalk, and SMS text messaging into a single interface. The phone will also feature a GPS receiver as part of the design to locate its exact position in Google Maps, according to Engadget. The new phone may also offer support for Google Spreadsheets or Writely, although no detailed technical info was provided with the alleged leak.
Google Switch Phone
Search engine developer Google may be working with Samsung on a phone that takes advantage of the former's extensive online services, according to photos submitted anonymously to Engadget. Nicknamed the "Switch," the handset would be virtually dominated by a touchscreen and would have no built-in flash memory of its own to store software; instead, the phone would connect to the Internet to merge the user's GMail, GTalk, and SMS text messaging into a single interface. A GPS receiver will also be part of the design to locate its exact position in Google Maps, the source claims. Productivity through Google Spreadsheets or Writely may also be possible. No detailed technical info was provided with the alleged leak.
Click through for the complete photo. [via Engadget]
Canon PowerShot cameras
Canon today launched three new additions to its PowerShot line of entry level cameras. The company's A450 and A460 are 5-megapixel models designed for beginners with a wide grip and intuitive buttons. Each is similarly capable of five-point autofocusing and recording 640x480 video at 10 FPS (frames per second). Available only in grey, the A450 features a 3.2X optical zoom lens; the A460 adds blue, red, and silver options as well as a 4X lens for better image framing. A dedicated playback button on the A550 finds its way to the back for quickly replaying footage. All three cameras use Canon's newer DIGIC II processor for better image quality, display images on a 2-inch LCD, and support higher-capacity SDHC cards. The AA battery-powered cameras have yet to receive pricing; the A460 and A550 will be available next month, while availability for the A450 has not been determined.
Myst Online for Macs
GameTap today announced that a Mac compatible version of Myst Online is in active development by TransGaming, bringing the world of Uru to Mac users for the first time. "The release of Myst Online for Mac represents the beginning of exciting new possibilities for Mac gamers," stated Vikas Gupta, CEO and President of TransGaming, Inc. "We look forward to bringing many more great games to the Mac in coming months." The company also announced that a new area of the city and an all-new, never-before-seen Age are being released on Friday as part of the beta program; however, it will not be compatible with Macs until the Mac version ships later this year. Players interested in participating in the Mac beta program can visit the company's webiste (no information on the Mac beta had been posted ast of 3 pm EST).
IOPS Neo N7 GPS System
Device maker IOPS has previewed the Neo N7, its first step into the GPS field. The Korean firm hopes to appeal to frequent long-distance drivers through a system which is both quick and powerful: in an unusual move, the N7 is based on a dual-core processor that will prevent the system from bogging down in its advanced 3D mode with on-map buildings or while decoding videos. The 7-inch touchscreen is further used for advanced control of MP3 music, photos, and as an optional viewer for Office documents and rear-view parking cameras. An SD card reader is used to load maps and media. IOPS does not list a price but plans to ship the Neo N7 in February. [via NaviGadget]
MyBlu iPod Phone Remote
Brando has just released the MyBlu, a Bluetooth adapter for the iPod that links Apple's music player to most Bluetooth cellphones. The device, shaped like an Apple Radio Remote, interfaces directly with any fourth-generation or later dockable iPod and displays call information directly on the iPod's own LCD, pausing music and giving the option of answering a call while using the iPod's headphones for incoming audio. The iPod can also be used to redial any of the nine most recent phone numbers. An FM radio with autoscan and 15 presets also taps into the iPod, using the click wheel to change frequencies. Brando exports the MyBlu for $88.
Note: the MyBlu is functionally similar to Gear4's previously introduced BluEye, which is only available in the UK.
Mustek 1.3MP webcam
A new webcam from Mustek promises smooth, high-resolution images in an attractive package. The SI302A has an aluminum barrel casing, and is small enough to clip to the top of an LCD monitor. It can also rest flat on a desk by twisting the clip into the appropriate position. The camera itself uses a 1.3-megapixel CMOS sensor, which connects through a USB 2.0 cable to provide 30fps video at 1280x1024, substantially better than the many VGA/QVGA products on the market. A built-in microphone allows both audio and video chatting. The 302A should ship in March of this year, but no cost has been set for it. [Via SlashGear]
US700W Vista UMPC
An anonymous Taiwanese system builder has developed the US700W, a thin ultra-mobile PC that stands in contrast to the characteristically bulky designs introduced in 2006. The company promises a design only 0.8 inches thick while still maintaining a 7-inch touchscreen and at least a 1.3-megapixel camera for video chats. Choices will also exist for more performance-driven owners: while the basic 700 model starts only with an 800x480 screen and the essentials standard with every UMPC in the range, the uprated 701 adds a sharper 1024x600 display, a GPS receiver, and a 2-megapixel camera. A mid-range 702 will swap the receiver and improved camera for a dedicated keyboard.
All models will have a 1.06GHz Celeron M, 1GB of RAM, and connections through Bluetooth 2.0 as well as Wi-Fi; storage is flexible and varies between 20GB and 60GB. No information has surfaced indicating an official launch, though the US700W design should be available through third-party system builders in the near future.
LG takes on iPhone
LG today introduced its KE850 "Prada phone," a cellular handset that is controlled almost entirely via a touch-screen. The device was designed in tandem with the Italian fashion designer and is said to not only bring the design to the exterior but also the Flash-based interface, which is consciously drawn in high contrast black and white and selectively fades out icons when not in use. Basic call buttons adorn the bottom of the phone where Apple's iPhone features a single 'Home' button, and LG says that every menu is controlled through the touch-screen. The Korean cellular phone manufacturer plans to launch the phone as soon as late February, according to Electronista, which would beat Apple's iPhone to market by several months.
Alienware m5790 laptop
Not to be confused with the m9750, Alienware's new m5790 Special Edition still sports a number of high-end options, most notably an overclocked 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo processor. The actual speed is unspecified. Graphics can be powered by a Mobility Radeon X1900, and HD content can be viewed using a Blu-Ray drive and a 17-inch 1080p LCD. A choice of two hard drives provides up to 400GB of storage, with a media card reader providing access to SD/MMC cards and Memory Sticks. The m5790 SE is shipping today for prices starting at $1,299.
Fujitsu 1Tbit Drive Tech
Fujitsu's storage division said today that it had developed a new recording technology for hard drives that could potentially balloon maximum storage to unprecedented levesl. The company has refined patterened media recording, a nanotechnology-based approach introduced in 2005, to create hard drives with recording pits that are only 25 nanometers apart. The result when combined with an improved perpendiular magnetic recording technique is a full terabit of data -- or 125GB -- per square inch. Such extra storage could be vital for frequently cramped notebooks and handhelds, Fujitsu says.
While the company has not said when buyers can expect drives at the new density to reach the market, it notes that patterned media recording is already in use today, pointing to a sharp spike in hard drive space within the next one to two years. The rival firm Hitachi has already introduced the first 1TB hard drive.
Microsoft hiding APIs?
In the Comes v. Microsoft anti-trust trial taking place in Iowa, Microsoft may not be disclosing APIs (application programming interfaces) required by the 2002 United States v. Microsoft settlement, writes Groklaw. The plaintiffs recently filed a motion for permission to show this to the court, and the judge has agreed, though it is now up to the Department of Justice to make a request if the information is to become public.
The 2002 case revolved around APIs, since it was argued that one of the ways Internet Explorer had an unfair advantage over other web browsers was the favoring of IE by Windows. It was also suggested however that simply by bundling IE with Windows, this discouraged the use of other products. The company has since been allowed to keep bundling its browser, which is now shipping with Windows Vista. Microsoft may face serious repercussions if the DOJ finds that it violated the terms of the past settlement.
InPreflight for InDesign
Zevrix Solutions has released version 1.5 of InPreflight, a comprehensive quality control solution for Adobe InDesign that lets users quickly and easily locate potential problems and produce error-free documents. InPreflight provides a robust preflight solution for service providers, printers, ad agencies, designers and publishing houses. InPreflight offers extensive information about a document's fonts, colors and links and allows to quickly spot potential problems according to user defined preflight settings. Version 1.5 lets users group preflight settings into presets based on preflight requirements for specific types of projects. Users can select various attributes to be flagged as problems, such as color mode, font type, image effective resolution, link status and other.
RiffWorks Standard ships
IK Multimedia today announced the worldwide distribution of Sonoma Fire Works' RiffWorks Standard. IK Multimedia says the guitar recording application enables users to efficiently record, produce high-quality songs, and jam online while podcasting tunes without ever putting down the guitar. RiffWorks Standard enables to experiment with song structure using a Riff-based workflow that records small pieces, and because tracks are created automatically as playing progresses users can record multiple tracks or layer parts without stopping creative flow. The user interface is designed to look like real audio equipment, focusing on playing rather than complex engineering. The software includes seven studio quality effects, as well as the ability to load amp modeling plug-ins. RiffWorks comes with AmpliTube LE as well as access to RiffCaster, a free service for all RiffWorks users that supports sharing songs with and gathering feedback from other RiffWorks users around the world. RiffWorks Standard requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later, and is available for $170.
Apple TV on top, ModBook
In brief: Apple's new Apple TV media streaming device has already seized the top spot on the company's best-seller list, despite the fact that the device doesn't begin shipping until February.... ModBook inventor Andreas Haas has talked about the ModBook in a 13-minute video, taking several jabs at Bill Gates and co. as he suggests the ModBook's digitizer will work with Vista's tablet editions.... FileMaker has announced the FileMaker DIY Depot, a website offering practical information for small businesses aiming to be more productive and profitable.... Registrations are open for AppleScript Pro Sessions from June 11-15th in Denver, Colorado; organizers have announced that for the first time they will drop coverage of QuarkXPress to devote more time to Adobe InDesign.... Dover Studios has released a new Maya Training DVD titled "Maya: Hypershade Workflow" designed to take users through a series of in-depth lessons that focus on creating shading networks in Maya.... MacSpeech today announced that it has certified the Airline 77 wireless microphone from Samson Technologies for use with iListen.
JVC Alneo Music Players
JVC this morning released a series of new music players under its Victor label in Japan. The updated Alneo C series of flash players adds features still relatively unseen in music players: every model is now capable of gapless playback for AAC, MP3, and WMA songs, ensuring that continuous mixes remain intact. Also added is the ability to stream music directly through a USB connection, providing a clearer digital signal for JVC's line of USB-equipped stereos.
The company says its new Alneos retain all their existing abilities, including line-in recording, an FM tuner, and 20 hours of playback achieved in part through an energy-efficient 1.3-inch OLED. Capacity has been doubled, however, with the leading C210 carrying 2GB of music alongside the 1GB and 512MB storage levels of the C110 and C51 respectively. All three will make an appearance in black, gray, and silver metal shells during early February for prices ranging between $166 for the base C51 and $248 for the 2GB C210. [via Akihabara]
MacJournal v4.1 ($35) is a journaling application that also enables sending content straight to a blog. The v4.1 upgrade adds integration with and syncing through Apple's .Mac service, Atom and Blogger support, and a retooled audio entry feature. The base application is a Universal Binary for Mac OS X 10.3.5, but audio entry requires 10.4.
[Download - Size Unknown]
ChordMate ($40) helps guitarists locate the right voicing for a chord by displaying the possible options, sorting by criteria such as quality or ease of play. Users can opt to hear samples of a whole chord, an arpeggio version, or both together. The software is a Universal Binary for Mac OS X 10.4. [Download - 409K]
Tasks Pro v1.7 ($125) is a Web-based group management program that makes use of e-mail, iCalendars and RSS feeds. Tasks can be created directly from e-mails to save time. Version 1.7 sees the addition of tagging, which lets users organize tasks by categories such as "today" or Getting Things Done labels. A personal, less expensive version of the program is also available. [Download - Size Unknown]
Elastic Window v1.2 ($195) is a set of classes for REALbasic that provides controls for adjusting window size so that it resized proportionately. The latest update includes three new modes for managing performance. REALbasic 2006 Release 3 is required. [Download - 228K]
SimpleHASP Plug-In v1.0 ($48) links with FileMaker Pro 7.0, 8.0 or 8.5, and is used to secure data with Aladdin HASP HL keys. Owners can read, write and encrypt or decrypt data to HASP hardware. Developers can pay $500 for 20 copies. [Download - 2.4MB]
iPhone Widget v3.0.2 (free) counts down the days to the June release of the iPhone, and in the meantime feeds Apple headlines such as developer news, iTunes releaes, and new QuickTime trailers. The countdown can be hidden by clicking the green LED at the bottom of the widget. [Download - 145KB]
Alltel Celltop Phone UI
US cell provider Alltel today broke from traditional approaches to cellphone interfaces by revealing Celltop, a quick data access tool that brings the widgets of the Mac OS X Dashboard or Windows Vista's Gadget Sidebar to handhelds. Rather than ask the phone owner to delve into individual menus for new information, Alltel added a top-level program which shows the user two side-by-side widgets, dubbed cells, that provide a quick glance at useful information ranging from call history to weather. As with the Apple and Microsoft technologies, cells can be added, removed, or reordered; knowledgeable developers and hobbyists can even program their own, Alltel says.
The interface is available immediately at no extra charge for new subscribers who buy the carrier's Samsung U520, and is also available now as a free download for existing owners. Alltel plans to spread Celltop to other phone models over time. [via Crave]
BenQ Joybooks for Vista
BenQ on Thursday reworked its Joybook line in anticipation of Windows Vista's launch at the end of the month. Beginning the updates is the pictured S31V, the company's smallest and most media-friendly system. The 13.3-inch widescreen centers around video and is one of the few notebooks to have the option of an internal DVB-T tuner, letting it tune Europe's digital over-the-air broadcasts without the trouble of an external card. A 1.3-megapixel webcam is built into the lid, and a special QShot button will take still photos of video chats or the PC's desktop -- including TV broadcasts, BenQ adds. The S31V ships in either black or white with a minimum 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo, 512MB of RAM, and a 60GB hard drive.
Further updates include the S73V, a performance model that fits a 256MB Mobility Radeon X1600 with true DVI output into a 14-inch widescreen design, and the R55V, which the company claims has the world's fastest notebook LCD with 16ms response time. The latter is built around a 15.4-inch widescreen and is driven by GeForce Go 7400 graphics. No release dates or prices were given for the new Joybooks, though they should be available near the Vista launch.
US market share surges
Apple in the December quarter saw its share of the US PC market increase by more than 30 percent, according to preliminary IDC numbers. Apple was the No. 4 PC vendor in the US during the December/holiday quarter, achieving a 4.7 percent share of the PC market with 808,000 units shipped. During the same quarter in 2005, the company 614,000 Macs for a 3.6 percent market share. Earlier today, PiperJaffray noted that Apple's worldwide marketshare declined sequentially 2.8 percent to 2.4 percent based on preliminary IDC numbers (worldwide numbers provided to MacNN were limited to the top 5 PC vendors, which did not include Apple). In the US, Dell was the market leader with nearly 28 percent market share (4.8 million units), while HP and Gateway took the number 2 and 3 positions with 24 percent (4.1 million) and 6.6 percent (1.1 million) market share, respectively. Apple, however, was not among the top 5 worldwide PC vendors which included Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, and Toshiba.
AmTech on Apple story
Apple delivered six surprises to Wall Street expectations during its December quarter, according to American Technology Research senior analyst Shaw Wu, who believes the Cupertino-based company is still developing strength. "In typical Apple fashion, the company provided conservative guidance below consensus for the fifth quarter in a row to keep expectations in check," the analyst said. Apple wowed investors with $7.1 billion in revenue and $1.14 in earnings per share with all-time record highs well above raised views of $6.4 billion and $0.78. The company sold 21.1 million iPods, beating out expectations of 15-16 million units. Gross margin for Apple during its holiday quarter saw an upside of 31.2 percent over expectations of 28.5 percent, but Mac shipments of 1.61 million fell below Wall Street expectations of 1.75-1.8 million. "We believe the Street got ahead of itself in estimating Mac demand, which remains strong at 28 percent year over year growth," said Wu. American Technology Research reiterated its 'buy' rating and raised its price target to $115. "We believe Apple's competitive advantages and growth prospects remain among the strongest in large-cap technology," Wu said.
Sony 7.2MP Cyber-shots
Sony on Wednesday upgraded its Cyber-shot point-and-shoot cameras with four new models, all of which revolve around 7.2-megapixel sensors that capture sharper images than the 6-megapixel models of the company's current line. The W35 (pictured) and W55 are powered by lithium-ion batteries that deliver roughly 380 shots per charge, which help keep the cameras running and also produces a slimmer shape. The new models also have Clear RAW, a noise reduction filter that cleans the image at higher ISO settings. The two W-series models are separated primarily by screen and style, Sony says: the W35 uses a 2-inch LCD and ships only in silver, while the uprated W55 will be available with a 2.5-inch LCD as well as optional black, blue, and pink metal shells. Both Cyber-shot W cameras are due for release in February at prices of $180 (W35) and $200 (W55).
Logic3 portable speakers
Logic3 today announced the i-Station Traveller, its most portable speaker system yet for digital audio players. The four-watt stereo accepts input from the headphone jack of most jukeboxes, including Apple's iPod and numerous music phones. The company says the Traveller is powered completely by four AAA batteries and weighs just 5.5 ounces, although battery life is currently unrated. Intended to match virtually any device, the Logic3 speakers ship in six colors ranging from conservative black and silver to bright green and orange. All versions are planned for a late January release in the U.K. at a price of £20 ($40). A U.S. release is likely but has not been announced.
Without fanfare, ViewSonic today released a new entry LCD named the VA1703wb. The 17-inch model follows the more heavily publicized large-screen introductions at CES and is intended to bring widescreen visuals to every user. Average pixel response time is rated at 8ms, which the company says is quick enough for games. Brightness, in turn, is measured at 250cd/m2 and is complemented by a 500:! contrast ratio. An integrated power supply eliminates the need for a separate AC adapter. Although only a single VGA connector is included, the design reduces the display's sale price to $205. ViewSonic expects to ship the VA1703wb soon but has not specified a release date.
iPhone garners 50% margin
Each Apple iPhone sold when the device ships in June will generate nearly a 50 percent gross margin for the Cupertino-based company and partner Cingular Wireless, offering both companies a generous profit while allowing plenty of room for price cuts, according to a preliminary functional Bill of Materials (BoM) estimate created by iSuppli. "iSuppli estimates the 4GB version of the Apple iPhone will carry a $229.85 hardware BoM and manufacturing cost and a $245.83 total expense, yielding a 49.3 percent margin on each unit sold at the $499 retail price," said Andrew Rassweiler, teardown services manager and senior analyst for iSuppli. "Meanwhile, the 8GB Apple iPhone will sport a $264.85 hardware cost and a $280.83 total expense, amounting to a 46.9 percent margin at the $599 retail price." iSuppli notes that while it has a high degree of confidence in its conclusions, the figures are considered preliminary until the firm performs an actual physical teardown and analysis of the iPhone.
ML raises AAPL estimates
Analyst firm Merrill Lynch today raised its earnings estimates for Apple, following the record $1.1 billion quarter. Despite Apple's lower-than-expected Mac shipments, the company's Mac shipments were "healthy," growing more than three times the industry average, analyst Richard Farmer told clients. Farmer, like other analysts, is looking to the first native Intel release of Adobe Photoshop CS3 to help Mac shipments in the coming quarters and said that new Mac models could create an even greater upside to Merrill's estimates. The firm also agreed that continued strong shipments of iPods and better-than-expected operating margins of 42 percent also helped Apple achieve record revenues of more than $7 billion.
Canon A450 A460 A550
Canon today launched three new additions to its PowerShot line aimed expressly at the entry level. The A450 and A460 (pictured) are 5-megapixel models designed for true beginners, with a wide grip and intuitive buttons. Each is similarly capable of five-point autofocusing and recording 640x480 video at 10 FPS. Available only in grey, the A450 is the starting point and is equipped with a 3.2X optical zoom lens; the A460 adds blue, red, and silver options as well as a 4X lens for better image framing.
The third model launched today, the A550, helps novices who are more interested in mid-range features. Sensor density increases to 7.1 megapixels while features are made even easier, the company says. Commonly used auto scene modes, including Night Snapshot, are placed directly on the mode dial instead of remaining in the menu. The more compact A550 also raises the number of autofocus points to nine while boosting the maximum frame rate on 640x480 videos to 30 FPS. A dedicated playback button also finds its way to the back for quickly replaying footage.
All three cameras use Canon's newer DIGIC II processor for better image quality, display images on a 2-inch LCD, and support higher-capacity SDHC cards. The AA battery-powered cameras have yet to receive pricing; the A460 and A550 will be available next month, while availability for the A450 has not been determined. A gallery of the cameras is available after the jump.
Mac market share declines
Apple's Macintosh share of the (worldwide) PC market fell to 2.4 percent during the December quarter based on preliminary data from IDC, but analysts believe that the release of Adobe Photoshop CS3 in April will help market share bounce back in the coming quarters. Analyst firm Piper Jaffray told clients that while Mac share increased year-over-year (i.e., from the same period in the previous year), the company's market share declined sequentially by 0.4 percent from the traditionally strong September quarter (2.8 percent). "Mac market share is generally higher in September quarters, due to strong education-related sales," Gene Munster told investors. "We expect Apple's market share to bounce back following the shipment of CS3 from Adobe (expected in April)." [headline updated]
LG Prada Phone Unveiled
LG on Thursday morning introduced its eagerly anticipated Prada phone. Also known as the KE850, the handset was designed in tandem with the Italian fashion designer and is said not only to bring the design to the exterior but also the Flash-based interface, which is consciously drawn in high contrast black and white and selectively fades out icons when not in use. The Prada model is the first to ship with a completely touchscreen-based control system, LG says: aside from basic call buttons, every menu is controlled through the touchscreen.
While the LG device bears striking similarities to Apple's iPhone, the Korean cellphone maker takes a different approach by downplaying built-in storage and size: media is stored primarly on microSD cards, while the 3-inch, 400x240 screen reduces the overall size compared to the Apple model. Nevertheless, media support is broad with the option of playing videos in MPEG-4, H.263, and H.264 formats as well as music in AAC, MP3, WMA, and even RealAudio standards. A 2-megapixel camera is built in for capturing both photos and video clips.
Read through for more details and images.
Selected call excerpts
Following reports of a record $1 billion in profit, the company held its quarterly financial conference call with media and investors. In addition to our reports on Apple retail, Macs, and iTunes/iPod, we have published selective excerpts of the conference that offer insights into a very weak quarter in Japan, the Cisco/iPhone lawsuit, the forthcoming "January refresh" of Apple's iLife suite, continuing Bootcamp downloads, Apple TV, iPhone's network, a growing cash reserve, and a possible stock split.
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