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News Archive for 07/01/24

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Apps: Sweetopia, Studiometry, Groupcal

01/24, 9:00pm

Studiometry, Groupcal

    Sweetopia ($20) is a new game for Mac OS X: "Enter Sweetopia to experience a sugar rush if you can avoid the sugar shock! Master ricochets, multiple launchers, and strange sweet treats as you go deeper into the mysterious factory floor. Something in the candy factory has gone dreadfully awry.... it's up to you and Kate to return the factory to the Sweetopia it once was." It requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. [Download - 14MB]
    Studiometry 4.1 ($190) updates the organizational tool for studios and freelancers. The solution is designed for companies to organize, plan, invoice, track and create with Client and Project data. Version 4.1, a Universal Binary, adds the use of abbreviations to easily add commonly used words and phrases with just a few keystrokes. It now also has idle timer management features for one or multiple simultaneous timers. Additional user licenses are $90. [Download - 22MB]
    MegaSeg 4.01 ($250) is a free update to the DJ and radio automation software, adding over 30 improvements and fixes including support for the DAC-3 and Hercules MK2 USB DJ controllers, a MIDI Learn function, and improvements in performance, ID3 tag reading, the mixer, edit and preference dialogs, and the artist separation rules feature, among others. Version 4.0 brought Universal Binary support, tighter iTunes and Spotlight search integration, syncing library data across local networks, and more. [Download - 14MB]
    Groupcal 3.78 ($55) is an application that allows users to use Microsoft Exchange calendar data from iCal. Users can sync events and tasks, book people or resources for meetings, view free/busy times, and more. The latest version adds significant performance improvements for large calendars, missing/new timezone mapping, and more. [Download - buy]
    Pocket Cache v1.0 is a utility that helps users protect important information from prying eyes. The key and the information are saved in a protected format and "although encryption is not used, it is believed that the protected format is sufficient to protect information from the casual snoop," the developer said. The application requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later and is a Universal Binary. [Download - 2.4MB]
    FastCut 2.5.1RT (20) offers video editing in realtime using uses the power of the GPU for accelerated graphical calculations. It brings 3D motion and effects animation, masking and keying, video transition and filter effects, an integrated ATSUI live title editor and so much more. Based on OpenGL, it offers hardware acceleration and uses the CoreImage technology for filter effects. It requires Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and is a Universal Binary application. [Download - 485KB]

Gartner: Mac growth to remain stagnant

01/24, 6:15pm

Gartner: No Mac growth

Apple is unlikely to capitalize on fluctuations in the 2007 operating system market, according to a forecast released by the research firm Gartner. Electronista notes that even as Windows Vista and Mac OS X Leopard make their arrivals, Macs are still expected to account for only 2.9 percent of the market, with Linux also failing to grow at 4.1 percent. This is despite a year of significant sales and media attention, as well as predictions by rival research firms. Gartner does not distinguish between the different Mac operating systems, but does separate Windows variants. The adoption of Windows Vista is expected to be relatively slow this year, with just 12.3 percent of computers making the switch. The dominant OS should continue to be the five-year-old Windows XP, reaching 77.1 percent. It's predicted that Vista will only overtake XP in 2009, reaching a figure of 55.4 percent.

Compro USB tuner handles up to five 1080i streams

01/24, 5:25pm

Compro U2700 tuner

New from Compro is the VideoMate U2700, a hybrid USB TV tuner that can capture free-to-air DVB-T channels as well as conventional analog signals. The U2700 is unique in that it can stream up to four DVB-T channels at once, and play a recorded file at the same time -- all in resolutions up to 1080i. Only one stream can be recorded in any one instance though, and a 3GHz CPU is required to manage this amount of content. Digital radio is also supported. Other features include Transport Streaming, which will automatically sort programs in the background, and an S3/S4 power mode to wake a PC for a scheduled recording. No cost has been published.

M-Audio touts Torq Xponent, more at NAMM

01/24, 5:20pm

M-Audio at NAMM

M-Audio has unveiled new offerings at the 2007 Winter NAMM show in Anaheim. New products on the show floor include Torq Xponent, Studiophile AV 40, Studiophile AV 20, GForce Virtual String Machine, Way Out Ware KikAxxe, KeyRig 49, and more. M-Audio's Torq Xponent is designed to bring professional control to computer-based DJing, while the Studiophile AV 40 and AV 20 speakers are designed for traveling musicians. The Virtual String Machine from GForce is designed to provide expert emulations of more than a dozen vintage string synthesizers, and the KikAxxe aims to emulate several devices which include an classic ARP Axxe synthesizer, analog-style 16-step sequencer, programmable drum machine, and a tape delay effect. [updated, photos]

SVN client builds on oXygen capabilities

01/24, 4:50pm

Syncro SVN Client released

Syncro Soft has launched Syncro SVN Client 2.0, a multiplatform application that offers an improved user interface for dealing with Subversion repositories. Syncro SVN Client 2.0 marks the first official release of the client, with the 2.0 designation referring to an embedded program previously found in oXygen XML Editor. SVN Client represents a new, independent incarnation designed to ease the process of document sharing. The application offers full SVN repository support alongside a front-end that allows users to browse repositories while confirming changes and updating working copies. The interface consists of multiple windows for viewing local as well as remote content, and includes revision history with the ability to heighten differences in an updated version of a file. Single-user licenses of SVN Client are priced at $60 with a one-year maintenance pack, and the company offers group discounts on five or more licenses.

Gartner: Vista to grow slowly as Linux and Mac idle

01/24, 4:50pm

Slow Vista Growth

Windows Vista will be slow to overtake its existing counterpart, the research firm Gartner said as part of a new forecast. Although Microsoft has been conducting a massive campaign to promote its first new home OS release in over five years, only a small portion of the computer market will actually adopt Vista as an operating system in 2007, with 12.3 percent of the year's worldwide marketshare, leaving 77.1 percent of the market to Windows XP. Almost all of these buyers will come about through systems preloaded with the OS, Gartner says, suggesting that few buyers will consciously choose to buy Vista separately from a new computer. Vista is not predicted to surpass its predecessor until 2009, when slightly over half of the market is likely to have switched at 55.4 percent share.

None of Microsoft's competitors are likely to claim any of the existing XP share, according to Gartner. In spite of XP's increasing age, Mac share is predicted to stay largely flat at 2.9 percent. Linux too would remain small at 4.1 percent. However, the analyst firm added that the seemingly idle Mac share would come through neutralizing at least some of Apple's advantages, rather than any perceived inferiority.

"[Vista's] consumer features are just catching up to Apple OS X and iLife," Gartner said.

Korea warns against Microsoft Vista

01/24, 4:35pm

Korea warns against Vista

The government of South Korea is advising its citizens to steer clear of Windows Vista, recommending that all Koreans avoid a quick upgrade to the new operating system due to its tightened controls on ActiveX. The country's Financial Supervisory Service, Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, and Ministry of Information and Communication are all actively part of the warning, falling in line with some speculation that the new limitations in the Microsoft-created Web plug-in creates problems with banking as well as government sites that historically depended on less restrictive earlier implementations of the feature.

Evoluent turns mousing on its side

01/24, 4:30pm

Evoluent Vertical Mouse 2

Repetitive stress injuries are worry for many computer users, and a possible solution is the Evoluent Vertical Mouse 2. The shape of the unit is closer to that of a mound, and the three buttons (plus scrollwheel) are situated on the side, rather than on top. This is said to relax the hand and eliminate unnecessary arm twisting, which contributes to RSI problems. The mouse is compatible with both Macs and PCs and has a resolution of 1,200dpi. FunShop is discounting the product for 59,000 won ($63). [Via SCI FI Tech]

Doubao ships phone with dual SIM cards

01/24, 3:50pm

Doubao Dual-SIM Phone

Chinese cellphone maker Doubao is currently selling the 728, a distinctive cellphone with slots for two SIM cards. The functionality gives it the option of sending and receiving calls from two different phone accounts without swapping phones, including from competing providers. The device is similarly intelligent enough to manage calls based on whichever card is in use: if one of the SIM cards is engaged in a conversation, the remaining card will direct its inbound calls to voice mail.

Its Chinese origin is reflected in its features. The 2.2-inch LCD is touch-sensitive and responds to a stylus for hand-writing Cantonese or Mandarin characters for text messages; it also replaces the number pad for dialing. A VGA camera and a microSD card slot handle media-related tasks. Doubao sells the dual-band GSM phone in continental China as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan for $170. [via MobileWhack]

Dell ships mainstream desktops Windows-free

01/24, 3:10pm

Windows-free Dell Desktops

Dell today began selling the Dimension n Series, its first mainstream desktops to ship without a copy of Windows. Each variant -- including the Intel-based E520N as well as the AMD-based C521N and E521N -- ships only with a copy of the open-source FreeDOS. This gives owners just enough software to more easily install Linux or other operating systems and also reduces the ultimate price, Dell says.

Accordingly, the systems are priced towards the budget level. Both AMD models begin with an Athlon 64 X2 3800+ processor, 512MB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and either a Radeon X1300 (C521N) or GeForce 7300LE (E521N) video card at a price of $624. The E520N opts instead for a 2.8GHz dual-core Pentium 4 and doubles the stock memory to 1GB, using a GeForce 7300LE for video. Dell estimates that all three n series Dimension models will ship next week.

SoftCare releases K4 v5.7 publishing system

01/24, 2:45pm

SoftCare releases K4 5.7

German outfit SoftCare has released K4 5.7, the latest revision of its proprietary editorial production system. K4 5.7 enhances the use of Adobe InDesign and InCopy, adding a new scripting interface for customer-specific processes. Users can automate virtually any function via AppleScript, JavaScript, or Visual Basic, according to the company, and K4 Web Editor 2.0 enables users to create articles specially formatted to fit in a Web browser. Documents are saved in the InCopy format but are produced using a Web interface, after which they are stored in the K4 database to be vetted. A new "easy query" mode allows users to browse a database to find files based on name, issue, section, or status. K4 5.7 is available from SoftCare's worldwide network of System Integrators, and a free upgrade is available to owners of K4 5.0 or later. SoftCare notes, however, that the K4 Web Editor is an optional purchase and will only work with K4 5.6 or 5.7. The Mac OS X version is usable in tandem with clients for other platforms including Windows, Linux, and Sun Solaris (pricing was unavailable).

Fujitsu launches P7230 ultraportable MacBook rival

01/24, 2:40pm

Fujitsu LifeBook P7230

Fujitsu ended speculation today by formally announcing its new LifeBook P7230. The 10.6-inch widescreen was custom-designed by the company's product head for a clean look and closely resembles the MacBook, shipping in either solid black or white colors. Befitting its size, however, the Japan-made ultraportable is designed for longevity and travel. A 1.2GHz ultra-low voltage Core Solo gives it an average 6 hours of battery life when using a standard battery; using a lower-capacity but lighter battery, the new LifeBook weighs as little as 2.6 pounds despite carrying a DVD rewriter and 80GB hard drive. Bluetooth and a webcam are equally built in.

The P7230 is already in Taiwan stores at a price of $2,030 with 1GB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, and Windows Vista Business. A release in North America and other regions, including its home of Japan, are likely in the near future. [via DigiTimes]

Komodo IDE 4 adds JavaScript debugging

01/24, 2:35pm

Komodo IDE 4.0 released

ActiveState Software has released Komodo IDE 4.0, updating its Web development environment with new features and support. Komodo IDE 4.0 signals a major upgrade designed to help developers create entire Web applications -- server, browser, and the HTTP conversation that connects them -- within a single unified workspace. Komodo IDE enables developers to write, debug, share, and organize code in a customizable programming environment while offering support for dynamic languages such as Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, Tcl, and now JavaScript, CSS, HTML, and XML. New features in Komodo IDE 4.0 include JavaScript debugging, a DOM viewer, an HTTP Inspector, and 'code intelligence' to provide support for Ajax techniques. The latest revision also extends support to framework stacks such as Ruby on Rails and CakePHP, as well as client libraries such as the Yahoo! UI Library and Dojo.

Alltel picks up Palm Treo 700p

01/24, 2:05pm

Palm Treo 700p at Alltel

Alltel on Wednesday began carrying its own version of the PalmOS-based Treo 700p smartphone. While functionally very similar to Palm's reference design with a 1.3-megapixel camera and Bluetooth, the carrier-branded Treo has the latest software installed and can immediately connect to AOL, Gmail, or Yahoo e-mail accounts. Every technical feature of the 700p is enabled, the provider notes. Unlike some networks, Alltel allows the phone to pair with a nearby computer and use its EVDO access to provide an Internet connection to the PC when Wi-Fi or a physical connection is unrealistic.

The Treo 700p ships immediately from Alltel for $350 when bought as part of a two-year contract, but is also available by itself for $670. The company began carrying its Windows Mobile-equipped 700wx equivalent last month.

MCE ships Blu-ray drive for Mac Pro, PM G5

01/24, 2:05pm

Blu-ray drive for Mac Pro

MCE Technologies today announced that it is shipping a user-insertable internal Blu-ray recordable drive capable of recording up to 50GB of data onto a dual-layer Blu-ray disc for Apple's Mac Pro and Power Mac G5 systems. The MCE Internal Blu-ray Recordable Drive is pre-configured for the Mac Pro and Power Mac G5, and includes Roxio Toast 8 Titanium software. Utilizing a blue-violet laser for reading and writing Blu-ray write-once and re-writable 25GB and 50GB single and dual-layer discs, the MCE Internal Blu-ray drive also records to all other standard DVD and CD recordable media. The drive for Mac Pro and Power Mac G5 with Toast 8 Titanium is already shipping for $700.

BitTorrent to open online movie store with TV support

01/24, 1:45pm

BitTorrent Movie Store

Peer-to-peer software developer BitTorrent has revealed that it will open an online movie store dubbed simply the Online Marketplace. Working in collaboration with NetGear, the company said it would let owners buy from a catalog of over 10,000 movies, including those from three major studios as well as 25 international studios. BitTorrent's technology will download movies without requiring monolithic and frequently expensive servers, distributing the load of traffic amongst subscribers while potentially lowering the ultimate prices for each title.

NetGear's involvement will come through its recently introduced Digital Entertainer HD, BitTorrent said: the new wireless streaming hub will be ready to automatically share downloaded movies to the TV, eliminating the guesswork of converting or finding movies on an attached computer. BitTorrent has not discussed the quality or format of the videos and has not given an exact schedule for its store launch, but does say that it intends to streamline buying and viewing movies for other hubs soon. [via Crave]

Apple's 802.11n pricing for Italy, Australia

01/24, 1:35pm

Apple Italy Wi-Fi upgrade

Apple Italy has reportedly confirmed to Italian publication setteB.IT that it will charge 1.95 Euro to activate its 802.11n-capable wireless cards on recently-sold Intel Macs in Italy. Apple introduced the wireless adapters along with an accompanying Base Station on January 9th during the Macworld Conference & Expo, and company CEO Steve Jobs the following day revealed during his keynote speech that most of the firm's recently shipping Core 2 Duo-based Macs already included the new 802.11n standard. The company failed to reveal until later, however, that it would charge a nominal fee for those Intel Mac users hoping to upgrade to the new standard. The Cupertino-based company confirmed the suspected fee on January 19th, saying that it intends to charge U.S. Intel Mac owners $1.99 to download the software that will enable the built-in 802.11n functionality in its Wi-Fi cards. [updated]

PS3 update adds e-pay cards, new legacy support

01/24, 1:10pm

PS3 Update Adds E-Pay

Sony today updated the PlayStation 3's system software to 1.5, bringing with it a slew of key changes. Foremost of these is an addition for that adds Edy wireless payments; intended primarily for Japanese users, the Edy system (pictured) revolves around a USB adapter that scans prepaid cards, allowing its owner to buy games and media from the online PlayStation Store without entering sensitive credit card information.

More universally relevant is better video support for older PlayStation 1 and 2 games, according to Sony: where earlier games that ran in interlaced mode would frequently display visual glitches on HDTV sets, the 1.5 update forces these games into a fixed display mode, ensuring that they display as they would on the previous consoles. Other fixes are said to include support for an image associated with a user ID, better wireless support, and an option to use Korean keyboards. The update should be available immediately.

Transformers iPod dock

01/24, 1:00pm

Transformers iPod dock

Japanese toy maker Takara is producing a pair of new, unofficial Transformers-themed audio products, Electronista notes. 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.

DMGI to offer audio, video content on iTunes

01/24, 12:50pm

DMGI content on iTunes

Digital Music Group today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Apple, and has appointed Apple as a reseller of its audio-visual files owned and/or controlled by DMGI. Apple now serves as a reseller of TV programs, feature length movies, shorts, and specialty content, according to DMGI. Apple, meanwhile, has agreed to pay DMGI fixed wholesale prices for each video download during the term of the agreement, under which DMGI is generally responsible for all royalties and third party payments due with respect to the exploitation of its video content. Apple is to provide monthly sales reports to DMGI and make payments based on those reports. The agreement took effect on January 19th of this year, and stands to span for 36 months from the launch of DMGI's video content on iTunes alongside any renewals or extensions of that content. The deal will add hundreds of thousands of musical tracks as well as thousands of hours of TV, film, and video content to iTunes.

DAOkorea tower with fan, temperature LCD monitor

01/24, 12:45pm

ATX tower with fan LCD

PC users who need to know how well their cooling is doing will appreciate the Slim Tower S19 from DAOkorea. At the top of the case is a color LCD display, which indicates fan use, internal temperature, and even hard drive activity. A timer can record how long the system has been in operation. Two fans come built in: an 80mm fan in the rear, and a 120mm fan on the side. The form factor supports ATX, Micro ATX and Flex ATX configurations, with two 5.25-inch bays and three 3.5-inch bays. Unusual attention has also been paid to the power button, which is extremely large and made of polished aluminum. Pricing and availability (outside of Korea) were unknown as of press time.

ASUS launches Vista mainboards with SideShow, more

01/24, 12:30pm

ASUS Vista Mainboards

ASUS has just launched four new mainboards with specific support for new features in Windows Vista. Both the AMD-based M2N32-SLI Premium and its Intel-focused equivalent the P5B Premium now ship in Vista Editions with support for an attachment named the ScreenDUO (pictured); as with the external display on the Taiwanese company's W5Fe notebook, the ScreenDUO uses Vista's SideShow feature to display e-mail, RSS feeds , and other information even while the host PC is turned off.

Both these mainboards as well as the more mainstream M2N Plus and P5B-Plus also support the AI Remote, a wireless control that can remotely power the computer or launch specific programs, as well as ASAP technology that improves the responsiveness of the system during start-up or while launching apps. The four boards should all be ready at or near Vista's launch next week. [photo via Mobile Whack]

Apple on track to lure Windows users

01/24, 12:15pm

Needham: Apple on track

Apple is on the right track to lure curious Windows users into its Mac camp, according to Needham & Co. analyst Charles Wolf. "The Apple Stores were originally conceived to provide Macintosh users with a shopping experience that was superior to what they found in computer and consumer electronics chains," Wolf said. "As store traffic swelled, Apple discovered it had an opportunity to attract Windows users to the Mac platform as well." The analyst points to iLife, Apple's suite of digital content applications for managing music, photos, and more as the initial lure for non-Mac users. "The iPod and iPod accessories subsequently became a potent combination in the seduction," Wolf added. Apple reported a lower than expected figure for visitors per retail store, down 18 percent from the previous period. Wolf believes the 18 percent drop is a result of the Cupertino-based company's higher store count, as the company reported a record 28 million store visitors in spite of declines in its per-store figures.

Bluetooth bridge for iPod docks

01/24, 11:55am

Bluetooth dock bridge

German Bluetooth specialists ANYCOM have announced the FIPO, an upcoming bridge device for iPod docks, writes Electronista. Instead of enabling iPod content to be played elsewhere, as one might expect, the FIPO actually permits any Bluetooth-enabled music player -- including a cellphone -- to stream audio through the dock. Once paired, the player and the FIPO can then exchange control commands, such as play, pause, and track skip. This works both ways, such that buttons on a car stereo, for instance, can change tracks on a phone. The FIPO will begin production for Europe and the US on February 15th and cost about $99.

LiteOn's 20x SATA DVD drive

01/24, 11:45am

20x SATA DVD drive

The "world's first" 20x DVD writer with a SATA connection is being claimed by the Taiwanese maker LiteOn, who note an increasing number of motherboards shipping without parallel ATA ports. The LH-20A1S can play and write to all major CD and DVD formats, including double-layer discs, and the rarer R9 standard (single-sided 8.5GB). Throughput on the 20A1S is only rated at 1.5Gbps, but should be compatible with motherboards that use 3Gbps SATA II connections. The first 20A1S drives will go to the European market in mid-February, selling for 49 ($64).

FIPO bridges iPod docks, other audio sources

01/24, 11:00am

ANYCOM Bluetooth bridge

German Bluetooth specialists ANYCOM have announced the FIPO, an upcoming bridge device for iPod docks. Instead of enabling iPod content to be played elsewhere, as one might expect, the FIPO actually permits any Bluetooth-enabled music player -- including a cellphone -- to stream audio through the dock. Once paired, the player and the FIPO can then exchange control commands, such as play, pause and track skip. This works both ways, such that buttons on a car stereo, for instance, can change tracks on a phone. The FIPO will begin production for Europe and the US on February 15th and cost about $99. [Via BlueTomorrow]

Microsoft extends Windows XP support through 2009

01/24, 11:00am

Win XP Supported to 2009

Microsoft today revealed that it would extend full support for the Home and Media Center editions of Windows XP until April 2009, as well as add a special extended support option for five years afterwards. The change gives home-oriented Windows owners virtually identical support as for Windows XP Professional, Microsoft says, providing regular paid technical support as well as security updates and other crucial fixes until 2014.

The Windows creator has already needed changes to its support plan, which would have ended updates to Home Edition as soon as the end of 2006 -- exactly five years after its widespread availability in December 2001. Delays in Windows Vista's release, however, prompted an initial extension of support until two years after the new OS was launched. Today's second extension is a response to criticism that Microsoft will end support for an OS still being sold today as new in only two years, according to Microsoft Japan's Darren Huston.

Analyst: Photoshop CS3 to drive Mac sales

01/24, 11:00am

Photoshop CS3, Mac sales

Adobe's forthcoming Photoshop CS3 release will have a sizable impact on Apple's professional Mac sales, according to Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster, amounting to roughly 15 percent of the Cupertino-based company's sales. "We believe that the CS3 contribution from current Adobe creative pro customers points to 9 percent upside to our fiscal year 2007 earnings-per-share estimate of $1.45," Munster said. "This analysis is conservative given it excludes any customers outside Adobe's current user base." Adobe Photoshop CS3 -- which is expected to launch in late April -- has garnered positive feedback from numerous beta testers, 71 percent of whom said they were 'very satisfied' with the software and 17 percent of whom said they were 'satisfied.' "The beta is solid," the analyst said. "We believe that the success of the Intel-optimized CS3 will drive sales of Apple's pro-level computers, as Adobe creative pros (15 percent of the Mac user base) are waiting to buy Intel machines until CS3 is released." Piper Jaffray maintains its 'outperform' rating on Apple shares with a $124 price target.

Norway: Apple's FairPlay DRM is illegal

01/24, 10:45am

Norway rules against DRM

Norway today ruled that Apple's digital rights management technology on its iPod and iTunes store is illegal, following a report earlier this week that both France and Germany have also decided to go after Apple's closed iPod/iTunes ecosystem. According to Out-Law.com, the Consumer Ombudsman in Norway has ruled that the closed system is illegal because the songs, encoded with Apple's FairPlay DRM cannot be played on any music device other than an iPod, breaking Norway's laws. "It doesn't get any clearer than this. Fairplay is an illegal lock-in technology whose main purpose is to lock the consumers to the total package provided by Apple by blocking interoperability," Torgeir Waterhouse, senior adviser at the Consumer Council, told the publication. Apple, for its part, told publications that it hopes to resolve the issues, but was vague about its future actions.

New NEC professional plasmas

01/24, 10:25am

NEC professional plasmas

Though better known for their PC monitors in North America, NEC has announced two new plasma displays intended for professional use, in realms such as the corporate boardroom. The PX-50XM6J is a 50-inch set, and by extension, the PX-60XM5J (pictured) measures 60 inches. Few other facts are in the public domain, but they do use NEC's Clear Crystal Panel technology, which should add 75 percent more brightness and 360 percent more contrast over previous models from the company. The sets are described as "HD Ready," supporting DVI-I and HDCP, but despite their sizes, are limited to 1365x760 resolution -- below 1080p.

HTC Athena debuts as T-Mobile Ameo in Europe

01/24, 10:10am

T-Mobile Ameo Smartphone

HTC's once mysterious Athena smartphone has been released on T-Mobile in the Netherlands. Now called the Ameo, the smartphone is substantially upgraded from early specifications and features a 5-inch, 640x480 touchscreen as well as an 8GB hard drive to complement its miniSD card slot. Also new is a 3-megapixel camera and an unusually quick 624MHz XScale processor. Bluetooth 2.0, GPS mapping, and Wi-Fi are equal components.

Battery life is long in spite of these features, with 5 hours of talk time and 300 hours when in standby. Exact availability outside of Europe remains unknown, but the presence of quad-band GSM support with both HSDPA and UMTS Internet access points to an eventual North American release, likely with T-Mobile's American division. Click through for photos. [via Pocketinfo]

Glasgow Scotland Apple Store nears approval

01/24, 10:05am

Glasgow store approval

Scotland's Glasgow city Planning Applications Committee has approved what will become Apple's first retail store in the country. The new store, proposed at 147 Buchanan Street, should receive the go-ahead by the city planning department at a meeting early this week, according to ifoAppleStore. Located in the middle of what some say is one of the busiest and most exclusive shopping streets in the UK, Apple will open its doors in a remodeled building that currently houses a home furnishings shop. The planning application depicts the replacement of the existing mezzanine floor, as well as the installation of a new elevator.

Korean government warns against Vista upgrades

01/24, 9:30am

Korea Warns Against Vista

South Korea's government is advising its citizens to stay away from Windows Vista, according to a report by the national newspaper Chosun. The Financial Supervisory Service, Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, and Ministry of Information and Communication have all recommended that Koreans avoid a hasty upgrade to the new Microsoft OS due to its tightened controls on ActiveX. The new limits to the Microsoft-created web plugin are said to create problems with banking and government sites that have depended on less restrictive earlier implementations of ActiveX for important forms, ironically blocking those most eager to embrace Microsoft technology.

While the Redmond-based developer said it has been cooperating with site providers to develop fixes for their pages, the fixes for seven of Korea's largest banks as well as many online stores are not expected until sometime in February, potentially leaving new Vista users without online access to some institutions for days or weeks after the Korean edition of the OS ships to stores on January 31st. Microsoft attributed the unfortunate timing to complications.

"We've been testing Vista with banks and other service providers since September, but we encountered more delays than we expected," a spokesman said.

Open Door updates Mac security products

01/24, 9:25am

Open Door offers updates

Open Door Networks today announced major upgrades to its line of Internet security products as well as special pricing through February 14th. DoorStop X Firewall v2.0, an advanced firewall system for Mac OS X, adds "Location sets," which specify different protection for different network environments, automated log archiving, service-specific logging options, direct integration with Open Door's isfym.com security blog and other new features and fixes. The company also updated its software that helps users understand and react to access attempts detected by DoorStop X Firewall: Who's There? Firewall Advisor v2.1 includes new filtering and searching features, enhanced real-time scrolling, direct integration with Open Door's security blog, new service definitions and bug fixes.

Smack Mahjong combines Mahjong, Solitaire

01/24, 9:10am

Smack Mahjong game ships

Independent game and software developer Midori has announced the release of a new Mahjong game called "Smack Mahjong." Developed for Mac OS X, the new downloadable game is part of the company's Smack series, taking "the beautiful game tiles from the ancient game of Mahjong and puts them into the popular solitaire matching tile game that everyone is familiar with." Smack version includes three different tile designs to choose from: the classic white tiles, a black tile set for expert players, and an alphabet set designed for children. Smack Mahjong features relaxing music to accompany game play, more than 50 layouts to play and an in-game editor that allows gamers to create/design their own tile layouts. Smack Mahjong is available for $20.

Toshiba, SanDisk ready 16Gb flash memory

01/24, 8:35am

Toshiba 16Gb Flash Memory

Toshiba said today that, together with SanDisk, it would be one of the first to mass-produce truly high-density, 16 gigabit NAND flash memory. The technique was achieved by shrinking the factory process from 70 to 56 nanometers, the company says, and will mark the first time 2GB of information can fit on a single chip without sacrificng speed. Although a slower multi-level cell chip, the smaller size along with optimization work means that the 16 gigabit chip is twice as fast as any of the company's earlier chips of the kind. Even historically slow write performance reaches 10MB per second, Toshiba claims.

The introduction could have a significant impact on digital audio players and other devices that depend on a large amount of flash storage but also need reliable speed. The company expects to ramp up full production by the spring. Samsung has also recently announced 16Gb chips and hopes to release them slightly ahead of its Japanese competitor, though the opening of the field to a second producer should quickly reduce the prices of the technology by the time it reaches final products.

SmileOnMyMac offers productivity bundle

01/24, 4:45am

SOMM Productivity Suite

SmileOnMyMac has announced its new SmileOnMyMac Productivity Suite, which bundles all six SmileOnMyMac Mac OS X software products for $130. The suite includes PDFpen, a PDF editing tool for adding text, images, and signatures; merging and splitting PDF documents as well as filling out PDF forms; DiscLabel, the company's CD/DVD labelling and packaging design software that works with labels, direct-to-CD printers, and LightScribe; TextExpander, a typing utility that allows users to assign short abbreviations to frequently used text snippets; PageSender, a full-featured software for managing fax sending and receiving; BrowseBack, a visual web history tool that provides thumbnails, full text search, and PDFs of web pages visited; and PhotoPrinto, a tool for designing and printing photo albums and scrapbooks. The suite totals just over $200 if sold separately. Demo versions of the applications are available online; they require Mac OS X 10.4.

Briefly: 10.5TB Xserve RAID, Nisus price cut

01/24, 4:30am

Xserve RAID now at 10.5TB

Briefly: Apple has updated the capacity of its enterprise storage solution, the Xserve RAID, from 7.5TB to 10.5TB using 14 750GB disks.... Nisus Software has lowered the price on its Mac OS X-only word processor: Nisus Writer Express is now $45 (previously $70), while the Express Family Pack (three licenses) is now $80 and the Academic version is now $40 (CD versions also available for $10 more and a printed manual is available for $20).... Only weeks after a crack for HD DVD discs was published, the same fundamental principle has been applied to Blu-Ray's copy protection, using the same text attack method--without a native drive to gain access to DRM information.... GetGoingTraining.com announced the release of affordable training DVDs for beginners to intermediate users of Apple's Final Cut Pro 5 HD: The "Get Going with Final Cut Pro 5 HD" Training & Tutorial DVD is available for $20 (and comes with a free QuickTime video version of the training).... Koingo Software is offering a time-limited special promotional bundle that includes licenses for every Koingo software application for $30--50 percent off the regular retail price.

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