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News Archive for 07/01/23

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MS considered partnering with Apple on iPod

01/23, 8:00pm

Microsoft's 2003 iPod plan

Microsoft was once contemplating a counter-strategy for the iPod years before releasing the Zune, according to evidence from an on-going anti-trust trial in Iowa. PC World reports that Microsoft was disappointed with the Windows-based players available in 2003, prompting internal discussion over their interaction with Windows Media Player. "I have to tell you my experience with our software and this device Creative's Nomad Jukebox Zen Xtra is really terrible," wrote Windows Vista chief Jim Allchin, sending an e-mail to Media Player executive Amir Majidmehr. "Apple is just so far ahead. How can we get the [player makers] to create something that is competitive with the iPod? I looked at the Dell system and that is not close either."

Charismac ships Intel-native FibreShare v3.0

01/23, 7:05pm

Intel-native FibreShare v3

Charismac today released Version 3.0 of its Storage Area Networking (SAN) software: FibreShare v3.0 now works with Apple's Intel-based Macs, delivering FibreShare volume management software for multiple SAN users and the ability to share volumes between Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs. FibreShare v3.0. The company claims that it is the first to release Intel-native SAN Software for the Professional Audio, Professional Video and Motion Picture industries. The software enables users with video applications such as Apple's Final Cut Pro, Digidesigns' ProTools and Media 100 work with fibre channel storage volumes as if they were directly attached to the client's computer--without affecting host performance. FibreShare works with hardware from IBM, Vixel, HP, StorageTek, EMC, Brocade, Hitachi Data Systems, McData and many others.

Briefly: Apple EU carrier search; Sun, Intel

01/23, 6:10pm

Apple EU carrier search

In brief: Apple is reportedly searching for a single mobile operator in Europe with which to partner and offer its iPhone overseas.... Silicon valley giants Sun and Intel have announced an agreement, ensuring that Sun will purchase Intel chips for use in its server systems.... G-Technology has announced price drops on its G-SPEED line of RAID storage solutions.... The 2007 Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) is planning to feature the role of FileMaker Pro database solutions in maximizing student performance and managing creative educational programs at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.... The Volume Logic Group has released a beta version of its iTunes plug-in for Mac systems as a Universal Binary that runs natively on Intel-based Macs.... Toon Boom Animation has announced that the Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning has elected to install Toon Boom Storyboard and Toon Boom Solo in its animation labs.

Refurb MacBook Pros, Mac minis dwindle

01/23, 5:35pm

Refurb Mac minis dwindle

Apple's supply of refurbished MacBook Pro high-end notebooks and consumer-oriented Mac mini systems has dwindled to just a few models. Refurbished MacBook Pros include the 17-inch 2.16GHz Intel Core Duo model with 1GB of memory, a 120GB hard drive, and an ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics card with 256MB of video memory for $1,999; and the company's 17-inch 2.16GHz Intel Core Duo model with 1GB of memory, a 100GB hard drive, and an ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics card with 256MB of video memory with a standard or glossy display for $1,999. Reconditioned Mac mini systems currently include the 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo system with 512MB of memory, an 80GB hard drive, and a double-layer DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW SuperDrive for $649; and the 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo model with 512MB of memory, an 80GB hard drive, and a slot-loading double-layer DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW SuperDrive for $699.

Blu-Ray even easier to crack than HD DVD?

01/23, 5:05pm

Blu-Ray cracked

Just weeks after a crack for HD DVD discs was declared, the same fundamental principle has been applied to Blu-Ray's copy protection, says The Register. Also devised by the same hacker, "muslix64," the new crack is based on the same text attack method used for HD DVD, but did not even require a native drive to gain access to DRM information.

Both Blu-Ray and HD DVD use a scheme called the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) to prevent unauthorized copies; the cracks function by fetching a movie's unique DRM key, which is then used to fool AACS. Since a different key exists for every title, it's impossible to write a universal decryption tool, but muslix64 has written a key extractor to simplify the process. The software may ultimately prove of little value, however, as each of the current HD formats can have its protection upgraded in subsequent versions.

Forums: MBP LED backlighting; Mac Pro GPU?

01/23, 5:05pm

January 23 forums

Forums roundup: Members are discussing the recent rumors that Apple may use LED backlighting in future MacBook Pros, which would allow higher contrast and increased brightness.... Several other users are discussing the best graphics card option for a Mac Pro buyer aiming to play games and run multiple displays with good performance.... One user is asking other forum members whether it is okay to run an iMac 24-hours a day without downtime.... Other members are taking part in a long-running thread discussing the 'lackluster' Month of Apple bugs, an independent project dedicated to finding bugs in Mac OS X.... Meanwhile, one member is questioning whether the MacBook Pro design needs change after remaining virtually untouched since its 2003 aluminum refit.

Ever 360 promises motion-sensitive screen, controls

01/23, 4:55pm

Ever 360 Motion Phone

Korean cellphone maker Ever on Tuesday revealed its unique Ever 360 slider phone. The phone earns its namesake through its complete sensitivity to movement, according to the company. A built-in accelerometer recognizes any angle the phone might use, automatically rotating the picture for photos and videos to match their often wider aspect ratios. This helps for watching DMB mobile digital broadcasts, Ever says. The handset also uses this motion control for music playback and will skip tracks during MP3 playback simply through brief shaking. 2.1-channel stereo sound and a 1.3-megapixel camera complement the phone's existing media features. The phone debuts today with service provider KTF.

Apple security update fixes QuickTime flaw

01/23, 4:40pm

Apple Security Update

Apple today released Security Update 2007-001, fixing a vulnerability in QuickTime 7.1.3 in various Mac OS X versions that could lead to arbitrary code execution. The buffer overflow exists in QuickTime's handling of RTSP URLs, according to Apple, and is triggered when an unsuspecting user accesses one of these maliciously-crafted addresses. The update addresses the bug -- which was demonstrated in a QTL file that triggers the issue, published earlier this month -- by performing additional validation of RTSP URLs. The vulnerability affects Mac OS X 10.3.9, Mac OS X Server 10.3.9, Mac OS X 10.4.8, Mac OS X Server 10.4.8, and Windows 2000/XP. The update is available for free from Apple's website, and is recommended for all users.

3G-capable KRZR, RIZR leaked

01/23, 4:20pm

Moto KRZR and RIZR 3G Leak

Updated versions of Motorola's distinctive KRZR clamshell and RIZR slider phones with faster wireless are due to be announced soon, according to telltale product images leaked in an investor document (PDF). Both the KRZR K3 (left) and RIZR Z8 (right) share the addition of a front-facing video camera, a frequent prerequisite for cameras using the faster Internet access provided by 3G wireless standards. The discovery did not point to a specific technology in use but is almost certainly set to involve HSDPA given the phones' existence on GSM networks.

The two 3G additions have not been given a release date but should see a public unveiling at next month's 3GSM expo in Barcelona. Availability in the US will depend on the addition of a quad-band GSM radio, which has not been confirmed. Click through for larger photos.

Airis iPod nano rival offers FM, video playback

01/23, 3:55pm

Airis N0042 Media Player

French electronics designer Airis today unveiled a slimmer but more feature-rich addition to its MP3 players. The N004x series uses a relatively thin, 0.53-inch shape and weighs the same 1.4 ounces as its primary challenger at Apple. While using a similar 1.5-inch LCD, the flash player adds SMV video playback in addition to an FM tuner with radio recording. Photos are viewable in JPEG and BMP formats and music can be read in either MP3 or WMA. Continuous playback of audio lasts for 10 hours on a full battery, Airis claims. The firm ships models soon with either 1GB (N0041) or 2GB (N0042) of flash memory at prices beginning at $90. A three-watt speaker dock is available for an additional $52. [via GenerationMP3]

Official HTC Vox photos and new details leaked

01/23, 3:15pm

HTC Vox Photo Leak

Official press images for the upcoming HTC Vox have been leaked that reveal substantial changes to the design, according to the Boy Genius Report. Previously thought to have been running the current-generation Windows Mobile 5 operating system, the Vox is now set to ship with the Vista-influenced version 6, nicknamed "Crossbow," The future OS is said to greatly improve the appearance of the longstanding handheld OS and bring its features more closely in check with its desktop equivalent.

The official photography also confirms a new, more ergonomic design to the smartphone, placing the spacebar in a more natural location while also leaving room for a set of arrow keys to help with text navigation. A previously hinted-at 2-megapixel camera is also known to be part of the design. A final launch timeframe for the Vox was not provided with the photos, though a spring 2007 release in North America and Europe remains likely. Full-sized photos are available after the jump courtesy of BGR.

Apps: Postino; RSS DreamFeeder; GroBoto

01/23, 3:10pm

Postino; RSS DreamFeeder

    Postino 1.6 ($18) is an RSS news reader, which not only has its own browser, but also the ability to play audio and video podcasts. Coladia's PostinoLive service provides a guide to which users can submit their own podcast listings. The Postino 1.6 update enhances the user interface and fixes a few minor bugs. [Download - 10MB]
    RSS DreamFeeder 2.0.1 ($49) helps create and publish RSS feeds directly from within Dreamweaver, without duplicating work or knowing any new XML code. The second major version of the app lets you create your own XML extensions, directly edit the content of a feed, or use pinging caching servers. DreamFeeder functions with Dreamweaver 8, MX, and MX2004. [Download - 3.1MB]
    Moneydance 2007 ($30) is a personal finance program that handles everything from online bill payments to expense tracking and investments. The 2007 adds new budget report and management options, new budget and net worth graphs, and a simpler user interface. Users of Moneydance 2005 or 2006 can upgrade for free. [Download - 4.4MB]
    Relationship 1.0 ($39) is a customer relationship manager, keeping track of contacts, titles, campaigns and resources. People can be organized into Smart Groups, and contact information can be synchronized with Apple's Address Book. The app is a Universal Binary that requires Mac OS X 10.4.3. [Download - 3MB]
    GroBoto 2.0.4 ($79) is a 3D art and animation program which uses automatic processes to quickly generate a variety of different patterns. The v2.0.4 update renders faster, and introduces a variety of new options, such as shadow opacity and temperature control. The program requires Mac OS X 10.4, but a 2GHz Mac with 1GB of RAM is recommended. [Download - 79.7MB]
    Elmer 6.5.0 ($25) is a study aid for ham radio examinations. The software creates sample tests for each of the three FCC exams, after which it will grade a user and keep track of the questions that are causing problems, producing future tests designed around them. Version 6.5.0 has been converted into a Universal Binary. [Download - 4MB]

EastWest debuts six virtual instruments

01/23, 2:50pm

Virtual instruments debut

EastWest has introduced six new virtual instrument collections alongside PLAY, its new 64-bit networked sample engine. The instrument collections include its Fab Four Virtual Instruments, Quantum Leap Gypsy, Quantum Leap Ministry of Rock, Quantum Leap Pianos, Quantum Leap SD2 - The Next Generation, and Quantum Leap Voices of Passion. PLAY enables owners of 64-bit computers to load as many instruments and voices as system memory allows, and the sample storage with lossless compression alongside streaming technology in PLAY's resampling engine saves memory while speeding up load times. The resampling engine also saves on hard drive space without reducing sample quality, allowing users to play back samples at 24- or 16-bit. All instruments are listed in one browser that allows users to audition other collections prior to purchasing them. All recordings for the six new virtual instrument collections are priced at $500 each, and were made in EastWest's Hollywood studios.

Vista SP1 accelerated for 2007 to fix key flaws?

01/23, 2:45pm

Vista SP1 in 2007

Microsoft is speeding up the release of its first major service pack for its as yet unreleased Vista operating system, according to an e-mail leaked to the press. The message indicates that the Redmond software developer is aiming for a "second half of CY07" launch for Service Pack 1, placing its initial launch as soon as July, only six months after Vista's official release. If completed on schedule, the patch would represent an exceptionally quick refresh to the OS, as the company normally provides such updates roughly a year or more later as convenient bundles of earlier, minor software fixes. Windows XP Service Pack 1 was released in September 2002, 11 months after the core OS was completed.

The increased pace is likely due to the increased number of serious flaws in Vista's initial launch, information within the e-mail reveals. Detailing a list of crucial fixes, the company points to "regressions" and other "high impact issues" in the software, directly referencing instances in which Vista offers reduced features compared to its XP predecessor. The leak appears to confirm earlier criticism that Microsoft is releasing Vista too soon and suggests that the company was willing to release Vista prematurely in order to meet its self-imposed January 30th launch window. [via Bink]

SoundTech ships LightSnake mic-to-USB cable

01/23, 2:10pm

SoundTech ships LightSnake

SoundTech Professional Audio today began shipping its LightSnake intelligent microphone-to-PC cable with an embedded analog to digital converter and signal booster. The device effectively turns any microphone into a USB microphone, and includes a standard XLR connection on one end with USB connectivity on the other. When connected the LightSnake lights up and flickers while recording, requiring no driver software. SoundTech's LightSnake USB Intelligent Microphone works with Mac OS X and Windows XP, offering digital quality sound input without the need for a sound card, according to the company. LightSnake features include embedded A/D chip technology with an audio signal boost to eliminate the need for additional signal conversion devices; a Sony Media Software demo DVD that includes Acid, Sound Forge, Vegas, and other applications; and full USB 2.0 compatibility for full-speed operation. The device ships with a 10-foot shielded cable for $70.

Intel, IEEE upgrade 802.11n; cause of Apple delay?

01/23, 1:55pm

Intel 802.11n and Apple

Intel on Tuesday revealed an upgrade to the Wi-Fi on its most recent laptop chipsets. Titled Next-Gen Wireless-N, the adapter is said to improve on earlier draft 802.11n chips by offering the same 5X speed of earlier hardware that supports the new standard while drastically cutting down on their battery use. Intel estimates an additional hour of battery life, according to its own tests. The semiconductor maker expects notebooks from Asus, Toshiba, and other manufacturers to use the chipset upgrade by the time Windows Vista reaches the market next week.

The move comes at the same time as the IEEE standards group is on the verge of approving the second draft of 802.11n, a report by Ars Technica says. Having recently voted in favor of approving the second standard, the organization already expects to approve the new version by late March, paving the way for future second-draft products. The update, known as Draft 2.0, is said to offer the same reduced power consumption as Intel's newer chipsets as well as backwards compatibility with initial draft hardware -- an important component for the earliest hardware that supports only half of the official 200Mbps speed, Ars Technica says.

Read through for the effect both technologies are likely to have had on Apple.

Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 9 speakers

01/23, 1:35pm

Bang &Olufsen BeoLab 9

If you don't have any need of water-resistant loudspeakers, Bang & Olufsen has also debuted the BeoLab 9, a luxury indoor speaker that eschews current flat and columnar aesthetics for a shorter, wider design almost reminiscent of a fountain. The metaphor is appropriate, since while the bass and mid-range units are buried down below, the top section projects treble across a 180-degree arc, using B&O's Acoustic Lens technology. This helps the BeoLab 9 fit into existing surround-sound setups in either a front or rear capacity. It can also be used as a standard stereo speaker. Models are available with red, blue or gray fabric for $9,900.

Bluetooth-enabled jackets, helmets unveiled

01/23, 1:30pm

Bluetooth-enabled jackets

Quiksilver and Plantronics today launched a set of jackets and helmets that pair wirelessly with most audio-capable Bluetooth devices. Using either a built-in Bluetooth transmitter or an adapter for players such as Apple's iPod, the clothing enables owners to control and listen to calls or music in stereo without having to first plug the source into a specific pocket. The snowwear range is split equally along styles for men and women, according to Plantronics: the Double Daffy jacket and Pulse helmet (both shown) use subdued, camouflage tones for men, while the Roxy Teen Angel top and Roxy Shiver helmet will offer more feminine colors for women, according to Electronista. All four pieces of outerwear are slated for availability as part of the 2007-2008 Quiksilver line later this year.

Quiksilver, Plantronics snowwear for iPods and phones

01/23, 1:05pm

Quiksilver Bluetooth Wear

Snow sports clothier Quiksilver and Plantronics today launched a set of jackets and helmets that pair wirelessly with most audio-capable Bluetooth devices. Using either a built-in Bluetooth transmitter or an adapter for players such as the iPod, the clothing lets owners control and listen to calls or music in stereo without having to first plug the source into a specific pocket.

The snowwear range is split equally along styles for men and women, according to Plantronics: the Double Daffy jacket and Pulse helmet (both shown) use subdued, camouflage tones for men, while the Roxy Teen Angel top and Roxy Shiver helmet will have more feminine colors for women. All four pieces of outerwear are set to reach stores as part of the 2007-2008 Quiksilver line later this year.

Iomega ships StorCenter network storage

01/23, 1:00pm

Iomega ships StorCenter

Iomega today began shipping its Iomega StorCenter Pro NAS 150d Server, a network storage device designed for small businesses and advanced home users. The company is offering two Iomega StorCenter Pro NAS 150d Server models to offer 1TB of storage based on four hot-swappable SATA II 250GB hard drives and 2TB of storage with four hot-swappable SATA II 500GB hard drives. Both StorCenter Pro NAS 150d Server models are configurable for RAID 0 (striping), RAID 1 (mirroring), or RAID 5 (striping plus parity) operation. RAID 0 provides maximum performance and operating capacity, while RAID 5 offers maximum data security by protecting all data in the event of a drive failure. Iomega also includes a five-client license for EMC Retrospect Express software for backing up files to prepare for disaster recovery. The StorCenter Pro NAS 150d 1TB Server is priced at $800, while the StorCenter Pro NAS 150d 2TB Server is available for $1,500.

LG to launch FM37 touchscreen media player

01/23, 12:50pm

LG touchscreen player

In Korea, LG will soon launch the FM37, one of the few dedicated media players with a touchscreen. The 37 uses a 2.4-inch display, and thanks to the touch technology, has no need for any front-mounted controls that could mar the aluminum surface. Inside is up to 4GB of flash memory, which can be used to play e-books, pre-recorded music or video, or live DMB broadcasts. Available battery power is substantial, lasting approximately 20 hours with audio or five with video. Exact pricing and release information is unknown -- but the preceding 2GB FM35 debuted last summer, and LG has yet to unveil a product page. [Via AVING]

Feds question Jobs about options scandal

01/23, 12:45pm

Feds question Jobs

The U.S. government's ongoing probe into Apple's stock options scandal has led investigators to question company CEO Steve Jobs. Officials from the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange met with Jobs in San Francisco last week, according to a report from Bloomberg, but details about which questions were asked or whether officials seek further meetings with Jobs were unavailable. Apple launched its own internal investigation in late June of 2006 after it discovered 'irregularities' in stock option grants. The company's investigation looked at the better part of a million documents, and declared that no current management was guilty of any wrongdoing. Despite the results of Apple's internal investigation, federal officials are still asking questions to draw their own conclusions about Apple's involvement in the illegal accounting practices.

Creative, Playskool team up for baby MP3 players

01/23, 12:35pm

Creative Baby MP3 Players

Zen manufacturer Creative and Hasbro's Playskool division have announced a series of new toys designed to take advantage of digital music for the very youngest of listeners. Dubbed "Made for Me," the line will revolve around a removable music player that can fit in any one of several speaker and toy combinations friendly to babies and toddlers: a stand-up animal with an oversized play button (pictured) will be available in one of several colors, while a 2-in-1 Infant Gym will have both music and conventional playthings. A portable projector named the Day to Dream Soother will beam images to the ceiling while it plays, according to Playskool.

The core music player is expected to ship in the fall for $80 along with the rest of the initial Made for Me line. Playskool anticipates selling the Soother for $35 and the Infant Gym for $40, though pricing for the animal toy remains unavailable. [via TG Daily]

LithiumCorp releases Console 2.0 beta

01/23, 12:25pm

Console 2.0 beta released

Australian firm LithiumCorp has released Console 2.0 beta, the first public test version of its revised monitoring application. The company also announced plans to release monitoring plug-ins for Mac OS X Server and Xserve as well as Xserve RAID devices. Lithium Console is a client application designed to monitor and manage all aspects of a network. The latest release introduces a slick new user interface that aims to deliver at-a-glance telemetry, using visual trigger indicators to show threshold regions on level indicators. Level indicators display a graph of recent history within the indicator itself, and various other interface features provide critical information at a glance without clutter and without limiting the depth of information accessible to users, according to LithiumCorp. Console 2.0 beta is available for download to Lithium NMP Professional Monitor and Lithium NMP Enterprise license holders.

XpertMart for Mac comes to Intel Macs

01/23, 12:05pm

XpertMart goes Universal

XpertMart has released an updated version of XpertMart for Mac, its point-of-sale and inventory control software that runs on Java 5 and is optimized for Intel-based Macs. The latest release runs on the Firebird database manager -- an SQL relational database -- which also runs natively on Intel-based Macs. XpertMart POS software comes with its own set of drivers to handle peripherals such as receipt printers, cash drawers, barcode printers, and portable data terminals. The company notes that legacy Mac users can seamlessly move data to an Intel Mac, as both the PowerPC and Intel-native versions run on the Firebird database. The software is priced at $1,500 for the single-store edition or $2,100 for the multi-store version, and the company is offering a free demonstration version as a digital download from its website (system requirements were unavailable).

Transformers MP3 player, iPod dock

01/23, 11:35am

Transformers DAP/dock

Japanese toy maker Takara is producing a pair of new, unofficial Transformers-themed audio products. Click through for pictures. Of these, the most significant is likely the Optimus Prime-like Convoy iPod dock, which features a transforming cab, and a detachable trailer which opens up to reveal speakers and the dock itself. The design should fit all "standard size" iPods, with the iPod Shuffle being specifically excluded. The other Takara product is the Soundwave MP3 player, modelled after the namesake cassette toy. The Takara version is decidedly more modern however, opening up to reveal a miniSD slot. The player runs on batteries, but will play music in both its cassette and robot forms. The Convoy is priced at $145 and comes in white, while Soundwave is $80 in white or $110 in blue, though pre-orders of the latter are already sold out. Both items should ship in July.

HandStands launches iSnug Accessory Kit

01/23, 11:25am

iSnug Accessory Kit ships

HandStands has launched the iSnug Accessory Kit. The five-piece set includes an FM transmitter, headphone splitter, audio video cable, 12v car charger, and an accessory case designed to house all of the included accessories. The case measures 4 x 5.5 x 1.75-inches, and features separate compartments for each accessory stored within. The FM transmitter enables users to wirelessly broadcast music from an iPod to a car stereo by setting the transmitter to an empty station and setting the car's radio to the same frequency. An AV adapter enables users to watch videos or view photos stored on an iPod on a TV, and the headphone splitter supports sharing music with friends by plugging in two sets of headphones to the splitter, which in turn plugs into the iPod's headphone jack. HandStands is offering its iSnug Accessory Kit -- which is priced at $60 -- at an introductory price of $46 through its website.

Brando carries low-cost, iPod-influenced Soap player

01/23, 11:05am

Soap MP4 Player

Brando today listed the Soap MP4 Player, a straightforward MP4 player inspired in no small part by the iPod. With a directional pad shaped like the signature click wheel, the black or white Soap also comes with earbuds recalling Apple's initial models. However, the Hong Kong-based exporter touts features seldom seen on Apple players in the class. The 2GB flash jukebox plays MPEG-4 video on its 1.8-inch OLED screen. An FM tuner and a voice recorder microphone are also integrated, Brando adds. Expectedly, music is supported in MP3, wAV, or WMA formats. Battery life is only rated in terms of recording, with up to 8 hours of continuous audio. Brando is already shipping the Soap abroad in both colors for $100.

Torian InFusion emerges from the vapor

01/23, 10:45am

Torian InFusion MP3 player

Originally shown off at CES 2005, Australian outfit Torian has finally launched the InFusion, an MP3 player focused on its radio abilities. Aside from having an FM tuner, the InFusion is also ready to play thousands of Internet streams, so long as it has access to a local 802.11b hotspot. Up to 16 presets can be configured for easier browsing. If live listening isn't an option, the player can also be set to a time-shifted recording mode. Files are stored on SD/MMC cards sized up to 4GB. Supported playback formats include AAC, MP3, OGG, and RealAudio. It should be noted, however, that the InFusion has a relatively low battery life, playing eight hours of MP3s, or just five hours of Internet radio. The product is on sale now for $229. [Via Chip Chick]

KeynotePro releases PitchBoards Series 3

01/23, 10:30am

PitchBoards 3 released

KeynotePro today released its PitchBoards Series 3 Themes, updating the original storyboarding theme for Apple's Keynote software for complete Keynote 3 optimization. PitchBoards Series 3 Themes build on the traditions of the previous releases by offering extensive framework refinements, a slew of new slide variations, expanded supplemental extras, and new HD themes for true cinematic pitches. PitchBoards 3 includes up to 58 slide masters in Pro and Producer editions for the most popular aspect ratios used in film and video production, as well as reflection-optimized slides that allow for a more free-form look. The new theme also adds new 2/3 column slides in the HD themes to provide a structured, shot-specific alternate to the Scene Slides. PitchBoards 3 is available in three editions which include PitchBoards 3 Classic Edition ($20), PitchBoards 3 Pro edition ($30), and PitchBoards 3 Producer edition ($50).

TRENDnet sends out USB phone adapter for Skype

01/23, 10:25am

TRENDnet Skype Adapter

TRENDnet this morning released its ClearLink VoIP USB Phone Adapter as a simple bridge for owners who want to use their analog phones with Skype. Attaching through USB, the adapter transforms any existing phone into a VoIP phone while leaving open the option of reverting back to traditional phone line service; a second RJ-11 jack and a switch quickly convert the phone between analog and VoIP modes when a local call is necessary. The device is completely powered through the USB bus, TRENDnet says. Pricing and availability have not been announced, though the company says its VoIP adapter should retail for less than a dedicated handset.

EarthDesk 4.0: realtime, dynamic desktop

01/23, 10:15am

EarthDesk 4.0 ships

Xeric Design this week released EarthDesk 4.0, its award-winning, real-time dynamic desktop map, for Mac OS X. EarthDesk 4.0, now rebuilt as a modern Cocoa application, is now available as a Preference Pane in the System Preferences; it also now adds an optional menu item for easy access to common settings and offers a "completely reworked" interface. EarthDesk replaces the static desktop with a photo-realistic image of the Earth showing current sun, moon and city illumination as well as real-time global cloud coverage (hurricanes, storms, and worldwide weather systems). The software operates in the background, updating the desktop while you work. "Unlike a screen saver, which only appears when your system is idle, EarthDesk's dynamic desktop is continuously displayed as your desktop background (and optionally as a screen saver)." EarthDesk supports accurate moonlight, multiple monitors, eleven different map projections, as well as political and satellite views. It requires Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or newer. Single user copies may be purchased online for $20, while ugrades are available for $10 or $13.

Pentax unveils point-and-shoot cameras

01/23, 10:10am

Pentax unveils cameras

Pentax today unveiled a pair of new compact point-and-shoot cameras designed alternately for entry and mid-range users that both include 7.1-megapixel sensors, 3X optical zoom lenses, and SDHC support for cards larger than 2GB. At the top of the line is the Optio T30 as one of the thinnest cameras with a 3-inch touch-sensitive LCD that serves as the chief control of the camera's settings, which is also usable to edit or add notes to photos. Face recognition auto-focus and auto-exposure help generate better portraits, according to Electronista, and the T30 stores 20MB of internal memory. Pentax plans to sell its T30 for $350 when it arrives in March. The company's Optio M30 uses a smaller 2.5-inch LCD without touchscreen functions, but boasts a slimmer profile at 0.7-inches thick while retaining virtually all the control and image quality of its more expensive sibling. Pentax also plans to deliver the M30 in March for $200.

Strata 3D CX v5.1 goes Universal

01/23, 10:05am

Strata 3D CX v5.1

Strata has released a Universal Binary version of Strata 3D CX v5.1, a free update to the 3D design application. Version 5.1 offers significant speed increases on Intel-based Macs, many enhancements, and bug fixes. The company says that the interface and tools have been improved to be more familiar to current Adobe customers. In addition, users can now render a 3D layered Photoshop file and use PSD file layer compression. Strata 3D CX v.5.1 also adds the ability to Render to Strata Live 3D, another product in the Strata CX Suite that enables "interactive" objects on web pages, in Flash content, and in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files. Other improvements in v5.1 include an improved SDS Modeler, a completely revamped geometry deforming Skeleton System, new scripting power through the popular Lua Scripting language, a new History palette, support for fully "Quad" based polygon objects, and new stacking, docking and other palette management options. Stata 3D CX is available now for $700 (or $1000 for entire Strata 3D Suite).

Artlandia releases SymmetryWorks 4

01/23, 9:55am

Artlandia SymmetryWorks 4

Artlandia released SymmetryWorks 4, a major new version of the popular plug-in for Adobe Illustrator. SymmetryWorks 4 builds around new capabilities for working with replicas (live copies) that automate the creation of new classes of pattern designs. It is for professional pattern design in many industries, including surface, textile, carpet, apparel, fashion, book, greeting card, web, print, etc. Version 4 allows designers to make live copies of selected objects to produce patterns that look more symmetric or less symmetric as well as provides the ability to spawn multiple replica copies (multi-replicas) and automatically arrange them in spirals, mosaics, pinwheels, gradations, and other object arrangements within a pattern. It also provides support for applying live effects to replica art and optionally accumulating effects to emphasize (or de-emphasize) objects and effects. SymmetryWorks 4 is available for Adobe Illustrator starting from v8.0/CS2. The electronic version is $230 and upgrades are $75.

Apple patents: NYC staircase, Mighty Mouse

01/23, 9:55am

Apple granted nine patents

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office today published nine of Apple's newly granted patents, briefly covering all nine documents which range from a telephone conferencing application to the company's famous glass staircase located in its Fifth Avenue Store in Manhattan. The patents include Apple's "glass support member," "accessories providing a telephone conference application one or more capabilities independent of the teleconference application," "Apple Mighty Mouse Patent: Mouse having a button-less panning and scrolling switch," a "method and apparatus for simulating a mechanical keyboard action in an electronic keyboard," "deferred shading graphics pipeline processor having advanced features," "centralized queue in network printing systems," a "method and apparatus for a calibrated variable phase offset timing between synchronous clock subdomains," and an "Apple iPod Patent: Graphical user interface and methods of use thereof in a multimedia player."

Monsoon ships Hava Gold HD media streaming hub

01/23, 9:45am

Monsoon Hava Gold HD

Monsoon built out its range of networked media hubs on Tuesday by announcing the Hava Gold HD. The newer HD-capable version that can automatically convert the output of most any video source, including 1080i and 720p widescreen signals from HD sources, to a portable format for a home network or the Internet. Any connected PCs serve as PVRs for streaming video with timeshifting and scheduled recording; Windows Media Center will even recognize the Hava Gold HD as a TV tuner card, Monsoon says. Though Internet viewers must watch through MPEG-4, any computers on the network can watch content at DVD-quality MPEG-2. Pass-through jacks also ensure that the Hava doesn't obstruct the remaining outputs on a cable box, TiVo, or other source. Monsoon ships the Gold HD edition now for $130, and says it has dropped the price to $100 until the end of January.

Pentax debuts 7.1-megapixel Optio T30, M30

01/23, 9:15am

Pentax Optio T30 M30

Pentax early today launched a pair of new compact point-and-shoots, targeted alternately at entry and mid-range users, both containing 7.1-megapixel sensors, 3X optical zoom lenses, and SDHC support for cards larger than 2GB. At the top of the line is the Optio T30. One of the thinnest cameras with a 3-inch LCD, its screen is also touch-sensitive and serves as the chief control of the camera's settings; it can also be used to edit or add notes to photos. Face recognition auto-focus and auto-exposure help generate better portraits, the company says. The T30 stores 20MB of internal memory and should sell for $350 when it arrives in March.

While using a smaller 2.5-inch LCD without touchscreen functions, the Optio M30 (shown) is slimmer still at 0.7 inches thick and retains virtually all the control and image quality of its more elaborate sibling. Pentax also plans to deliver the M30 in March, when it should retail for $200.

Photos of both models are available after the jump.

Toshiba ships dual-drive notebook, Vista-ready models

01/23, 8:35am

Toshiba Satellite A135

Toshiba this morning prepared its Satellite line for next week's release of Windows Vista, including a new model that the system builder claims is one of most inexpensive dual-drive notebooks available. The pictured Satellite A135 ships with up to two hard disks despite its smaller and lower-cost 15.4-inch widescreen display -- creating a total of 240GB of storage in the flagship S4499 model, Toshiba says. Every model also ships with a 5-in-1 card reader and a dual-layer DVD rewriter. Prices for models shipped directly from Toshiba start at $900, which nets an S4427 model with a 1.73GHz Core Duo, 1GB of RAM, and 120GB of storage; the dual-disk S4499 raises the features to a 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB of memory, and Vista Ultimate for $1,500. The A135 line as a whole will ship February 20th.

The computer designer also released a pair of new models each for two of its existing lines. The 17-inch, desktop replacement-sized P105 can use its USB TV tuner with Vista Home Premium; both its new S6207 and S6217 variants ship with a 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo and 2GB RAM, with the base S6207 sporting a 160GB drive and the S6217 using a larger but slower 200GB disk. In contrast, the 12-inch U205 is split into two models based on memory, with the lower-end S5057 running a 160GB hard drive and 1GB of RAM and its S5067 counterpart doubling the RAM to 2GB. Toshiba says it will have the updated P105 models ready in time for Vista's launch on January 30 at prices of $1,600 and $1,650 respectively; the U205 is due to ship a week later at $1,300 for the S5057 and $1,600 for the premium S5067 edition.

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