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Apple's 802.11n fee redux
Experts and officials are questioning Apple's stated reasons behind its proposed $1.99 fee to enable faster wireless technology in some already shipped Macs. The company on Thursday confirmed that it will charge users a small fee to enable the new, faster 802.11n wireless technology in its previously shipped Core 2 Duo-based Macs, saying that the charges were required to stay in compliance with generally accepted accounting principles (a.k.a, GAAP). "GAAP doesn't require you to charge squat," says Lynn Turner, managing director of research at Glass Lewis & Co. and a former chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission told The Wall Street Journal. "You charge whatever you want. GAAP doesn't even remotely address whether or not you charge for a significant functionality change. GAAP establishes what the proper accounting is, based on what you did or didn't charge for it."
Mock iPhone ad, AmpliTube
In brief: A mock ad for Apple's iPhone recently appeared on Conan Late Night, depicting the player as 'everything' from a treadmill to a hand grenade.... IK Multimedia has revealed AmpliTube 2 Jimi Hendrix Edition ($250), which it says is the first authentic software recreation of the complete guitar amp and effects rig of Jimi Hendrix.... MacProVideo.com has released a new six-hour video tutorial that lets viewers see and hear how Ableton Live 6 works.... The Darkwind: War on Wheels development team has offered a status update on its forthcoming 3D car game, noting that the wilderness features planned for December are running behind schedule but that the game is still under development with an impending alpha release.... Seapine Software has announced that its TestTrack Studio application was selected as a finalist for the 17th annual Jolt awards in the Bug and Defect Tracking category.... The international jury has awarded CodeMeter as one of the top five products in the category "Best Digital Rights Management" for the SIIA Codie Awards 2007.
StompIO floor controller
IK Multimedia has announced the StompIO, a USB floor controller meant to work with the company's AmpliTube 2 guitar and effects modeller. The unit functions with either a Mac or a PC to offer (using AmpliTube) 4,000 presets, 20,000 amp combinations and 32 effects on two rigs. The controller is further designed to behave like a traditional analog floor processor, making it more familiar for the average musician. IK's StompIO features two displays, seven knobs, and 10 switches that function with up to six external controller types that include MIDI, USB, direct-in, and balanced/unbalanced stereo. For protection the Stomp uses metal construction and a cable safety handle. Macs connected to the processor require Mac OS X 10.3.9. The company has yet to set a price, but is expected to ship the accessory in the second quarter of this year.
Taiwanese electronics maker LiteOn has developed the BSK-100, a Bluetooth speakerphone that also serves a headset, in both mono and stereo modes. The key is its six-level volume control, tuned to each of the speakerphone's particular functions. The 100 can also answer a call automatically if the phone it's paired with is set to do the same, which means that when clipped onto clothes, it can effectively become a hands-free walkie-talkie. The unit can of course be set to respond only to pushing the Talk button, as with most Bluetooth headsets. LiteOn has not published any pricing or release information. [Via SlashPhone]
Sub-$850 Intel iMac
Apple is offering various refurbished PowerPC and Intel-based iMac models, with one Intel-based iMac priced below $850. Reconditioned systems currently include the 17-inch 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac with 512MB of memory, a 160GB hard drive, and a 24x Combo Drive for $849; 17-inch 1.9GHz G5 iMac with 512MB of memory, a 160GB hard drive, and a SuperDrive for $999; 17-inch 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo iMac with 512MB of memory, a 160GB hard drive, and a slot-loading 8x double-layer SuperDrive for $949; 17-inch 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac with 1GB of memory, a 160GB hard drive, and a slot-loading 8x double-layer SuperDrive for $1,049; and the company's 24-inch 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac with 1GB of memory, a 250GB hard drive, and a slot-loading 8x double-layer SuperDrive for $1,699. Apple ships the systems for free with a one-year warranty, and offers an extended three-year AppleCare Protection Plan for all refurbished iMacs for another $169.
MacGizmo, Font Tools
MacGizmo 1.0.5 ($20) displays file information directly in the Mac OS X Finder, in some cases enabling users to directly view files such as photos and videos in a Web-style window. The update fixes several bugs, including inaccurate tag reading for AAC as well as MP3 files, and improper display of strings in two-byte lanaguages. The application runs natively on Intel Macs as a Universal Binary, and requires Mac OS X 10.4.
[Download - 2.5MB]
Screen Mimic 2.0 ($65) produces screencasts by recording your desktop actions as a Flash, Flash Video or QuickTime file that is attached to a medium of choice. The latest revision allows users to record audio simultaneously, or attach any QuickTime-readable sound file afterwards. The application also enables users to save unfinished screencasts as a Screen Mimic Bundle. Screen Mimic 2.0 requires Mac OS X 10.4. [Download - 1MB]
Speed Download 4.18 ($25) is a download manager with browser integration, its own FTP client, and auto-resuming transfers. Version 4.1.8 is generally a performance and maintenance update with a Universal installer that links to a BitTorrent client called Transmission. Speed Download 4.18 requires Mac OS X 10.4.6 and a popular Web browser such as Safari or Firefox. [Download - 6.2MB]
Font Tools 6.8 ($60) is a collection of programs for dealing with fonts, such as Visual Font Database, Type Book Creator, and Character Set Viewer. The update focuses on Type Book Creator, implementing a resizable window as well as a high-resolution preview and new printing layouts. Additional changes in the latest release include the Character Inspector window, and a refresh alert if other managers are accessing the same fonts. [Download - 1.26MB]
Number Press 2.0 ($50) sequentially numbers a variety of different documents such as forms, slips, and raffle tickets. Number Press 2.0 is a Universal Binary that runs natively on Intel-based Macs, and includes new quick as well as interactive previews. The software also supports stamping multi-page PDF files with up to 32 numbers per any type of document. [Download - 6.7MB]
Composer Standard Edition
JAMF Software today released Composer Standard Edition 4.1, an update to its package creation utility for Mac. The latest revision of Composer Standard Edition allows point-and-click creation of .pkg and .dmg packages in an easy four-step process for use with the Casper Suite or other package distribution tools. The software -- which was previously only offered as a component of the Casper Suite -- is available as a standalone Universal application that runs natively on Intel-based Macs. The update also offers a permissions inspector, and allows conversion of packages back and fourth between .pkg and .dmg formats. JAMF is offering Composer Standard Edition 4.1 for 50 percent off ($50) to Apple Remote Desktop users and $100 to other customers.
Scotty Pro Gadget Charger
Online retailer I Want One of Those today listed the Scotty Pro, a portable solar charger that its creator says can not only revitalize USB devices low on power but dramatically extend their use. When fully charged, the Pro can drive some PDAs as long as 15 hours by itself; even a thirsty device such as a cellphone will last for an additional hour of continuous talk time, the online store claims. Charging the device itself takes 7 hours from either the sun or the power outlet of a car or home, but can be given a quick burst from a pair of AA batteries. The Scotty Pro has been tested with iPods, cameras, most USB-equipped cellphones, and other key devices and ships in the UK for $99. [via Ubergizmo]
JBL On Air Control 2.4G
The latest major manufacturer to attempt wireless speakers is JBL, who have announced the On Air Control 2.4G, Electronista reports. The units have 30W of power each, and connect to their primary source through a 2.4GHz receiver module up to 70 feet away. Crtically, a mini-jack port allows secondary sources such as iPods, while another input allows the addition of a dedicated subwoofer. It's suggested that the wireless aspect makes the speakers ideal as a replacement for a second audio system -- alternately, the speakers could be integrated into an existing setup as surround channels, or dedicated to a media player. JBL plans to debut the 2.4Gs in February for $350.
MacScan 2.3 released
SecureMac today released MacScan 2.3, the latest revision of its anti-spyware package for Mac users. The update adds a blacklisted cookie scanner that maintains a list of known tracking cookies, and includes file cleaning support for additional browsers. When run, the software removes blacklisted cookies from Web browsers. SecureMac said it has begun localizing the software for languages other than English, with U.S. English and Korean localizations included in the 2.3 update. Upgrades from previous versions of MacScan 2 are available for free, and the software is priced at $25 for new users. MacScan 2.3 requires Mac OS X 10.2.4 or later.
Windows Problems on Rise
What Windows users may have gained in security over the past year may have been lost in stability, a study by the computer help firm RESCUECOM says. While requests for help with virus and spyware infections dropped substantially from 16.4 to 13.7 percent, problems with Windows itself largely filled the gap and became the dominant reasons for getting in touch with the company, jumping from an already high 19.5 percent to 22.3. No exact reason was given for the spike, though the company noted that hardware-related problems had also surged from 15.2 to 18.1 percent as more people shift towards fragile laptops.
The help desk also observed that the likelihood of security problems remained high for Windows desktop users: this is usually because the systems are more likely to be connected to the Internet, RESCUECOM writes. The trend suggests that while security problems have dropped overall as more systems patch to the latest Microsoft security updates, the Windows operating system itself remains a primary source for problems with most computers.
Intel: iPhone not ours
The CPU at the heart of Apple's iPhone is only tangentially an Intel processor, according to an Intel executive, speaking with the Italian business publication Il Sole 24 Ore. Electronista writes that despite earlier reports that Intel was directly involved with the iPhone's hardware, Intel Italy executive manager Dario Bucci says the iPhone is driven by an Xscale processor, which found its inception at Intel but whose design was sold to the Marvell Technology Group in June of last year. Only the basic architecture relates to Intel, Bucci says.
Komodo IDE 4.0 on Jan. 23
EVGA 8800 GTX Black Pearl
Video card maker EVGA said today that it will soon release a special, watercooled edition of the GeForce 8800 GTX for the most dedicated of gamers. Nicknamed the Black Pearl, the board replaces the potentially noisy active cooling fan of most cards with a quiet and more efficient watercooling system. The modified design is factory overclocked to the same dramatic 626MHz core and 2GHz memory speeds of the ACS3 Edition card but has the headroom for even higher speeds than its aircooled predecessor, EVGA claims.
Although it uses a double-width mounting plate, the Black Pearl's design reduces the size of the board itself to a single slot and potentially improves airflow. EVGA anticipates shipping the premium card soon for a European price of €800 ($1,037). American pricing has not been announced but should be significantly less. [via The Inquirer]
Xscale in iPhone
The CPU at the heart of Apple's iPhone is only tangentially an Intel processor, according to an Intel executive speaking with the Italian business publication Il Sole 24 Ore. Clarifying earlier reports that Intel was directly involved with the iPhone's hardware, Intel Italy executive manager Dario Bucci said that the iPhone is driven by an Xscale processor, which found its inception at Intel but whose design was sold to the Marvell Technology Group in June of last year. Only the basic architecture relates to Intel, Bucci said.
Intel is nevertheless directly involved in the iPhone's developent, according to the interview. Seemingly ending earlier speculation, the Intel executive claims that his company provides the NAND flash memory used for storage in the Apple cellphone. Apple is in fact one of Intel's main customers for flash, he went on to say. The revelation could have serious ramifications for Samsung and other chipset manufacturers, as Samsung and other chipset makers hoped to benefit from the iPhone by supplying essential components.
iPod, global currency
The Commonwealth Bank in Australia has used Apple's second-generation iPod nano to compare global currencies and purchasing power in 26 different countries, according to one report. A CommSec iPod Index based on January 2007 prices compared Apple's 2GB second-generation iPod nano in U.S. dollars to the cost in other countries, revealing that Brazilians pay the most for the 2GB player ($327.71) while Canadians pay the least ($144.20). The U.S. is the fourth cheapest country in which to purchase a 2GB 2G Nano ($149), but even China -- the country where the iPods are manufactured -- charges a hefty $179.84 for the aluminum players, according to eWeek. Hong Kong and Japan lead the U.S. with $147.35 and $147.63 for each iPod, respectively.
802.11n Draft 2 Complete
The second prototype form of the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard has been completed by the IEEE, according to a report by a member of the standards group. The organization decided unanimously to send the spec to the companies involved in developing the 200Mbps-plus wireless format. If approved, the second iteration -- named Draft 2.0 -- will become the official working model, leading ultimately to the final version due in early 2008.
Controversy has surrounded 802.11n since its inception, as competing chipset makers threatened to make routers and network adapters that were incompatible with each other and disagreed over differences in features; many existing 802.11n devices, the most recent of which include Apple's Airport Extreme and Apple TV, currently use the early Draft 1.0 interpretation. However, most if not all existing hardware running the initial 802.11n draft should be eligible for a seamless upgrade, according to their manufacturers. [via Ars Technica]
Native Audio 8 DJ
Native Instruments opened its appearance at the NAMM expo by unveiling the Audio 8 DJ interface for serious live artists. Made to connect to virtually every device a DJ might need during a performance, the device has four pairs of RCA inputs and outputs as well as MIDI input and output connectors; microphone input and quarter-inch headphone jacks are also present for announcements and sound monitoring. Dual sets of phono pre-amps and 96KHz Cirrus Logic analog-to-digital converters preserve audio quality, Native boasts.
The Audio 8 DJ is designed to work with Native's Traktor 3 live software and connects through USB to computers using Mac OS X 10.4 or Windows XP PCs, but will work with most DJ suites, the company says. It requires a 1.4GHz G4 or Athlon and should be ready to ship by April for $450. [via Tech Digest]
OPTi sues Apple
Chip supplier OPTi is suing Apple over 'predictive snooping,' which the company claims infringes upon three of its patents. The suit, which was filed January 16th in a federal court located in Marshall, Texas, follows a similar suit filed against Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) over the same patents and in the same court, according to Bloomberg. The patents cited in the suits describe methods of efficiently transferring information between a computer's CPU (central processing unit), memory, and other devices, according to another court ruling in another suit OPTi filed which was later settled. The Cupertino-based company is already defending itself against another newly-filed lawsuit from Cisco over the 'iPhone' trademark, following CEO Steve Jobs' keynote speech at Macworld earlier this month.
Mouse Vista Gaming PCs
Continuing the slew of pre-announcements for systems using Microsoft's latest operating system, Mouse today released a set of new pre-built gaming systems, each shipping in a dark black and sporting aming-friendly options such as thin-profile speakers or Shuttle's carryable 17-inch LCD. The NEXTGEAR line (pictured) represents the system builder's mainstream system with a Coolermaster designer case, running Vista Home Premium. An entry-level model begins with a 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo, 1GB of RAM, 250GB hard drive, and GeForce 7600 GS video; a higher-end counterpart with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, double the memory, and a GeForce 7900 GS is also ready for more demanding gamers, Mouse says.
At the summit is the company's MASTERPIECE, which upgrades to a case with more aggressive case cooling and Microsoft's flagship Windows Vista Ultimate. It adds to the NEXTGEAR's performance with a GeForce 7950 GT and a larger 320GB hard drive. All three systems are planned for a simultaneous launch with Vista on January 30th. The NEXTGEAR versions will sell for $947 and $1,484 in Japan; the MASTERPIECE will be available for $1,813. Click through for photos of both PCs. [via Impress]
Lifepod speaker "gym" bag
Lifepod on Friday opened sales of the Rock Steady speaker bag, according to Electronista. Said to recall classic gym bags, the Rock Steady holds a special compartment for an iPod or any other digital audio player that connects to the bag's built-in, three-satellite speakers, while still leaving ample room in the bag itself. A set of external controls on the outside give basic adjustment of the sound without having to reach for the player inside. The stereo delivers three watts of sustained power and will run for "hours" on four AA batteries, the company says. The Rock Steady is available in several different two-tone colors ranging from black and white to an overt gold and platinum scheme and sells today for $130.
JBL enters wireless fray
The latest major manufacturer to attempt wireless speakers is JBL, who have announced the On Air Control 2.4G. The units have 30W of power each, and connect to their primary source through a 2.4GHz receiver module up to 70 feet away. A mini-jack port allows secondary sources such as an iPod, and another input allows the addition of a dedicated subwoofer. It's suggested that the wireless aspect makes the speakers ideal as a replacement for a second audio system -- alternately, the speakers could be integrated into an existing setup as surround channels. JBL plans to debut the 2.4Gs in February for $350. [Via Crave]
802.11n update: $1.99
Apple has confirmed that it intends to charge customers a fee to download the software that will enable the built-in 802.11n functionality in its Wi-Fi cards which shipped in some MacBook and MacBook Pro systems. Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that all Core 2 Duo and Intel Xeon-based Macs -- with the exception of the 17-inch 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo iMac -- already has the 802.11n chip during his keynote speech at Macworld. The fee, which Apple says amounts to $1.99, will appear on the company's website once its new AirPort Base Station begins shipping next month. Customers who purchase the new Base Station will receive the software update for free, but Apple has said it is required to charge customers for the software upgrade due to generally accepted accounting principals, according to News.com.
Lifepod Rock Steady
Lifepod on Friday opened sales of the Rock Steady. Said to recall classic gym bags, the bag holds a special compartment for an iPod or any other digital audio player that connects to the bag's built-in, three-satellite speakers while leaving ample room in the bag itself. A set of external controls on the outside give basic adjustment of the sound without having to reach for the player inside. The stereo delivers three watts of sustained power and will run for "hours" on four AA batteries, according to the company. The Rock Steady is available in several different two-tone colors ranging from black and white to an overt gold and platinum scheme and sells today for $130. [via Brandish]
Shoreline laptop jackets
Shoreline has released two new laptop jackets which include its Denim and All Around models. Both jackets are meant to stay on a laptop permanently, offering extra protection against shock and moisture while still allowing access to necessary ports. Pockets give owners a place to store cables or a power supply, and the Denim jacket is made of its namesake material but remains waterproof with a plush inside liner to prevent scraping. The All Around is effectively a case replacement with a shoulder strap and a pair of handles, the latter of which can tuck into their own pockets. Another extra pocket holds business cards or cash. The two cases are available from online retailers such as Kaehler from $30-$40 depending on style and laptop size.
New Genius speaker sets
Taiwanese company Genius has launched three new speaker sets, most notably the Look 313 (pictured). An all-in-one USB speaker with merged satellites, its most noteworthy feature is audio and video recording, handled by a camera with a 330K resolution. The camera can also be used for still photos and surveillance, and the USB 2.0 setup allows the 313 to be used as a hub. The suggested price is $70, but Amazon is currently offering it for less than $47.
The remaining two sets are more conventional. The SW-Flat2.1 850s are a 20W desktop unit with a subwoofer, the separate satellites having a tall, thin bookend design. The SP-i202Us forego the subwoofer, but are portable enough that they come with a travel bag, and can run on batteries or USB power. The Flat2.1 850s should ship for $50 while the i202Us are $60.
Roland production tools
Music hardware creator Roland today revealed three new production tools at the NAMM music expo. The company highlighted its MV-8000, an all-in-one production unit that handles virtually every stage of song creation. The MV-8000 supports beat and other loop creation by drawing in samples either through the three MIDI ports or digital tracks copied directly to an internal hard drive. The device can also apply effects in real-time for DJs, and handles multi-track recording with the ability to author final creations to CD. Users can attach a mouse and VG display for additional control, and the device is due to ship in the near future for an unspecified price.
IK Multimedia today unveiled Miroslav Philharmonik Classik Edition (site not updated), an introductory version to the company's virtual instrument orchestral plug-in. Based on the classic Miroslav Orchestra sample collection masterpiece, Miroslav Philharmonik CE is a complete orchestral instrument that covers solo instruments and ensembles. The plug-in includes 250 orchestral sounds spanning the entire orchestra in 1.5GB of samples based on the original Miroslav Vitous Symphonic Orchestra sample collections. The plug-in requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later, and is due to ship in February for $250.
ASUS GPS Handheld and PDA
Taiwan's ASUS today added two GPS units to its navigation range. The S102 (pictured) reinterprets the company's original dedicated mapping system and is made to be used both in-hand as well as in cars: the 3.5-inch touchscreen device is small enough to be carried outside of a car and will run for up to four hours on a lithium-ion battery. It also doubles as a basic media jukebox capable of playing MP3 songs and JPEG photos, either of which is stored along with maps on removable SD cards.
More advanced users now also have the option of the company's new A6x6 PDA. Resisting the trend towards smartphones, ASUS' handheld focuses exclusively on data: while equally ready for GPS, it uses a taller 3.5-inch touchscreen than the S102 and is equipped with both Bluetooth 2.0 and Wi-Fi for links to peripherals as well as Internet access. A custom program dubbed Remote Presenter also lets the PDA steer presentations and slideshows through a Bluetooth PC. Music playback is suitably expanded to Windows Media files and is bolstered by support for virtually any Windows Mobile 5 software. Two variations on the device are being revealed today, ASUS says: the A686 is built around a 312MHz Intel Xscale chip and a 128MB flash ROM, while the higher-end A696 boosts its speed to 416MHz and doubles the internal storage.
Pricing for neither the S102 nor the A6x6 has yet to be released. Photos can be found after the jump.
Cinergy T Express unveiled
Terratec has announced the Cinergy T Express, a new ExpressCard digital TV tuner designed specifically with Apple's MacBook Pro in mind. The adapter plugs directly into the notebook and receives digital over-the-air broadcasts in Europe's DVB-T standard for both audio and video shows. Teletext is supported for channels that supplement their media with information, and each adapter comes bundled with El Gato's EyeTV for timeshifting. Terratec's adapter is designed to work explicitly with iTunes to create iPod-ready versions of recorded programming; owners with CD and DVD writers can also burn copies of recorded content, the company notes. A wireless remote comes as part of the package for changing stations at a distance, and the adapter requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later running on a G4 500MHz or faster system. Terratec anticipates shipping its more portable Cinergy T card throughout Europe by the end of this month for $170, according to Electronista.
Labels crippling Zune?
A new report suggests that key major music labels exercise explicit control over the songs they allow to be shared through Microsoft's Zune Wi-Fi sharing feature. Investigating the results of a test by fellow enthusiasts Zunerama, Cliczune claims to have revealed that many songs by major Universal and Sony-BMG artists, including Jay-Z and Beyonce, will not transfer between Zunes despite the three-day/three-play DRM protection added to every shared track. The limitation is not absolute and allows some artists' content to copy, suggesting that the restrictions are controlled individually based on popularity or artist demands. Such restrictions have fostered particularly harsh criticism from Zune owners, as the limits compound already arbitrary licensing agreements Microsoft made to guarantee access to key labels' catalogs. Both Microsoft and Universal were previously shown to have signed a royalty deal which saw the latter receive an automatic $1 royalty per Zune regardless of the origin of a user's music. The label CEO previously hinted that he believed all digital music players to be homes for stolen music, including Apple's iPods.
Hitachi's high-res phone
Hitachi has revealed one of the first phones to use its recently developed high-resolution LCD. The W51H is being released in Japan, and does in fact have a 2.9-inch screen capable of 800x480 -- by contrast, the iPhone has a 3.5-inch screen, but only renders at 320x480. Notably however, the W51H does not have a touchscreen. What it will have is a fingerprint scanner, and a two-megapixel camera with LED flash. The onboard memory is a just 30MB, but it can play music and video thanks to Lismo and a microSD slot. The phone should be launched in red, silver and white on January 26th.
Terratec Cinergy T Tuner
Terratec has announced the Cinergy T Express, a new ExpressCard digital TV tuner made specifically with the MacBook Pro in mind. The adapter plugs directly into Apple's aluminum portable and receives digital over-the-air broadcasts in Europe's DVB-T standard for both audio and video shows. Teletext is supported for channels that supplement their media with information. Each adapter comes bundled with El Gato's EyeTV for timeshifting and designed to work explicitly with iTunes, creating iPod-ready versions of recorded programming; owners with CD and DVD writers can also burn copies of recorded content, the company notes. A wireless remote is also part of the package for changing stations at a distance. The adapter requires a Mac using OS X 10.4 or later and a G4 500MHz or faster. Terratec anticipates shipping its more portable Cinergy T card throughout Europe by the end of this month for €129 ($167).
Audio DJ, Traktor Scratch
Native Instruments has announced the NI Education Program, AUDIO 8 DJ -- a performance-optimized USB 2.0 audio interface specifically designed for TRAKTOR 3 and other professional DJ software -- and TRAKTOR SCRATCH -- a new professional DJ system designed as a computer-based DJing solution for digital music files with turntable and CD control. The company's education program is a new initiative designed to enable music education institutions as well as students to incorporate its audio production and sound design tools into curriculum at reduced costs and effort. The NI Education Program offers both discounted single licenses for individual students and teachers as well as multi-license models for institutions. Lab Pack and Site License versions of the Education Program are due to arrive in February from authorized dealers and in the NI online store. AUDIO 8 DJ is slated for shipment in April or May of 2007 for $450. TRAKTOR SCRATCH is due in April or May of 2007 for $670, and TRAKTOR SCRATCH users will be able to purchase TRAKTOR 3 software at a discounted price.
Venzero Tube media player
Though Venzero posted a teaser image on its website in the fall, the company has only now revealed a bit more about the Tube, its upcoming media player. The main attraction is intended to be a DVB-T TV tuner, but the feature will be mostly irrelevant to American owners, since these broadcasts are rarely used outside of Europe and east Asia. The player will however be able to play AAC, MP3 and WMA audio files, as well MPEG-4 video, and BMP, GIF and JPEG images. There is no onboard flash storage, but it does come with a 1GB SD card and can support greater capacities. The lithium-polymer battery provides up to 12 hours of music or six to 10 hours of video. The cost and final release date have yet to be announced.
Music Labels Cripple Zune
Key major music labels have explicit control over the songs they allow to be shared through the Zune's signature Wi-Fi sharing, Cliczune has discovered. Investigating the results of a test by fellow enthusiasts Zunerama, the site revealed that many songs by major Universal and Sony-BMG artists, including Jay-Z and Beyonce, will not transfer between Zunes despite the three-day/three-play DRM protection added to every shared track. The limitation is not absolute and allows some artists' content to copy, Cliczune notes, suggesting that the restrictions are controlled individually based on popularity or artist demands.
Such restrictions have fostered particularly harsh criticism from Zune owners, as the limits compound already arbitrary licensing agreements Microsoft has made to guarantee access to key labels' catalogs. Both Microsoft and Universal were previously shown to have signed a royalty deal which saw the latter receive an automatic $1 royalty per Zune regardless of the origin of a user's music. The label CEO previously hinted that he believed all digital music players to be homes for stolen music.
Reel Tape Suite unveiled
Digidesign has announced Reel Tape Suite, a set of analog tape emulation plug-ins that re-create the sounds of analog tape recordings and tape effects in digital recordings or live audio. The software -- which operates as an AudioSuite, TDM, and RTAS plug-in -- includes three plug-ins titled Reel Tape Saturation, Reel Tape Delay, and Reel Tape Flanger. Reel Tape Saturation, which the company will also offer apart from the suite, simulates analog tape saturation effects by modeling analog tape machine and tape formulation characteristics. Reel Tape Delay simulates classic tape echo effects while providing precise control over regenerating echoes, and Reel Tape Flanger simulates tape machine flanging effects. Each Reel Tape Suite plug-in offers a full range of controls to fine-tune the character of the effects, according to Digidesign, and users can select from response characteristics of three various tape recorders as well as two different tape formulations. The company plans to release Digidesign Reel Tape Suite in the near future for $500, with Reel Tape Saturation priced at $300 as a standalone product.
Digidesign Structure debut
Digidesign has unveiled Digidesign Structure, its latest RTAS virtual instrument plug-in developed by Advanced INstrument Research (A.I.R) group. The plug-in serves as a professional sampler workstation designed and optimized specifically for Pro Tools, and includes a sample library from EastWest with support for importing SampleCell, EXS24, and Kontakt 2 sample libraries. Structure features a 128-level multitimbral universal sound engine with support for an unlimited number of nestable patches and up to 8-channel interleaved samples. The software directly integrates with the Pro Tools audio engine to support all standard bit depths, sample rates, and surround formats up to 24-bit, 192 kHz, and 7.1 surround sound. Structure also features an integrated multi-effects processing engine with convolution reverb, as well as samples tat users can play back via disk streaming or entirely from memory. Digidesign plans to launch a Structure public beta to a limited number of participants in the near future (pricing was unavailable).
Wireless Speaker Mousepad
Online retailer Comfort House is this morning selling the aptly-named Wireless Speaker Mousepad, an input surface with a combination FM transmitter and speaker set, allowing a computer user to plug in iPods or any other device with a headphone plug for listening without having the source near the computer itself. The wireless signal broadcasts up to 50 feet away, the company says. FM radio is also an option when the external FM adapter is shut down. A solar-powered calculator is built in opposite the volume controls. Comfort House says its speakers are powered solely by three AAA batteries and ships the distinctive mousepad today for $30. [via OhGizmo]
Roland Music Gear at NAMM
Famed digital music hardware creator Roland today marked its presence at the NAMM music expo by revealing three new production tools. Highlighted in the announcements is the pictured MV-8000, an all-in-one production unit. The device handles virtually every stage of song creation, Roland says. Beat and other loop creation is possible by drawing in samples, either through the three MIDI ports or digital tracks copied directly to an internal hard drive; the MV-8000 can also apply effects in real-time for DJs, handle multi-track recording, and author final creations to CD. A mouse and VGA display can be attached for expanded control.
More devices and photos follow after the jump.
ZVUE 260 Media Player
HandHeld has just launched a major overhaul of its jukeboxes with the ZVUE 260. Adopting a slimmer profile than the outgoing 250 and adopting a more iPod-like shape, the 260 is nearly an ounce lighter than its Apple counterpart at 3.98 ounces. The player also gains greatly improved video playback, quadrupling the maximum resolution of its MPEG-4 and WMV clips to 320x240 at full speed. An external speaker has also been added to the ZVUE and makes it one of the rare players that can play content without requiring headphones. Audio playback now includes the latest protected Windows Media clips as well as MP3, OGG, and WAV tracks.
As with its earlier devices, HandHeld's new player depends solely on SD cards for storage; this keeps the initial price down while creating room for more storage over time, the company says. The ZVUE 260 is expected to ship by mid 2007, though the company has not specified whether or not this will include any memory cards.
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Despite being very familiar with Blue Microphones' lower-end products -- we've long recommended the company's Snowball line of mics ...ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector
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