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News Archive for 07/02/02

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Forums: Redesign, iPhone, Core 2 Duo

02/02, 11:05pm

Forums February 2

Forums roundup: Members are discussing the launch of the much anticipated and much delayed forum redesign, including the mixed emotions of some users parting ways with their old user ranks.... Other users are discussing the recent rumour that Apple is planning an entirely different iPhone launch line-up with greater capacity and more modest prices.... One user who is looking for an external hard drive setup for video editing has turned to fellow users for advice.... Other members are also giving advice to a prospective laptop buyer debating between a Core Duo or Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro.... Meanwhile, members are continuing to discuss the missing Mac Mini Core 2 Duo upgrade and the lack of a mid-range Mac tower.

Apple's new Airport Utility: screenshots

02/02, 11:05pm

Apple's new Airport Utilit

Apple earlier this week began shipping its new 802.11n-enabled AirPort Extreme, which provides not only faster networking connectivity using the latest 802.11n WiFi standard, but also offers shared network storage via USB connection, a built-in three-port Ethernet router, a built-in firewall for security protection, and timed access controls for parents. The new software can control the new 802.11n-enabled base stations as well as older Apple-branded base stations and features a new software wizard to easy setup, improved UI, better responsiveness, and more features for new devices. Apple also posted new troubleshooting documents related to the new devices as well as offered a new AirPort Disk Utility (CD-only) for locating shared storage volumes. The AirPort CD software also includes the 802.11n software enabler for Core 2 Duo-based Macs--for which Apple is charging $1.99 to download; the patch enables other users to use the faster wireless connectivity standard without purchasing Apple's base station.

Apple: PC iTunes users should wait on Vista

02/02, 8:05pm

iTunes & Vista problems

Apple is warning that PC users who upgrade to Windows Vista, released this week, may experience compatibility issues with its iTunes software and recommends users wait to upgrade. In a support document updated Thursday, the company warned that its digital music software has some issues with Vista, noting that songs purchased from the iTunes music store may not play. In addition, it said that contacts and calendar entries will not sync to customers' iPods and that customers could corrupt their iPod unless they eject it from Windows using iTunes. The company has already posted an iTunes Repair Tool for Vista that allows users to play songs purchased from iTunes, but said that it plans to release an updated version of iTunes "in the next few weeks" to address some of the compatibility issues.

Briefly: OpenXML Translator; Magpie cases

02/02, 6:20pm

OpenXML Translator; Magpie

In brief: Microsoft has announced OpenXML Translator 1.0, an open-source application that converts documents back and forth between the OpenDocument (ODF) and Open XML formats; the only Microsoft application supported at the moment is Office Word in the 2003, XP, and 2007 editions.... Magpie Outfits has put out a new line of cases for the first-generation iPod shuffle, sold for $20 each in 10 exotic patterns. The cases are made from vinyl with a clear plastic cover for the clickwheel.... Big Fish Games has released the Mac version of its puzzle game, Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst. The full game costs $20, but a free demo is also available.... Emails show that Microsoft felt threatened by Dell's new Linux systems in 2002, and considered cutting off the company's cash flow.... NEC has released the NP60, a projector it calls the brightest under four pounds that also benefits from a rapid start-up and configuration sequence.

Refurb PowerBooks priced from $1,299

02/02, 6:10pm

Refurbished PowerBooks

Apple is offering a restocked supply of refurbished PowerBooks with 12-inch, 15-inch, and 17-inch models selling at discounted rates. The company is offering a reconditioned 12-inch 1.5GHz PowerBook with 512MB of memory, an 80GB hard drive, and Bluetooth 2.0 + Enhanced Data Rates for $1,199. Apple's refurbished 15-inch PowerBooks include the 1.5GHz model with 512MB of memory and an 80GB hard drive for $1,249; the 1.67GHz edition with 512MB of memory, an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics card (64MB), and an 80GB hard drive for $1,299; and the 1.67GHz model with 512MB of memory, an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics card (128MB), and an 80GB hard drive for $1,349. Reconditioned 17-inch PowerBooks currently include the 1.67GHz model with 512MB of memory and a 100GB hard drive for $1,599; and the 1.67GHz edition with 512MB of memory and a 120GB hard drive for $1,699. As always, every refurbished Apple product comes with a standard one-year warranty and free shipping.

The Adium team releases Adium X 1.0

02/02, 5:55pm

Adium X 1.0 released

[digg it] The Adium team has released Adium X 1.0, bringing major AIM, ICQ, and .Mac improvements to the free open-source instant messaging application for Mac OS X. Adium enables users to connect to any number of messaging accounts on any combination of supported messaging services to chat with others. Adium X 1.0 includes working file transfers, faster sign-ons, and a global user profile as well as buddy icon settings. The latest revision allows users to disable accounts when not in use, and friends can sign on from another user's Adium client without saving their information. The update adds an Xtras manager to better handle browsing as well as removing Xtras, and boasts significant improvements to privacy settings. iTunes integration is "much faster," according to the Adium team, updating as soon as the song changes. The latest revision also includes a redesigned chat transcript (log) viewer, and runs natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. Adium X 1.0 requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.

Apps: Interarchy; iTunes in Vista; iTheater

02/02, 5:20pm

Interarchy; iTunes & Vista

    Interarchy 8.5 ($60) is a suite of tools for website management with support for FTP/SFTP, WebDAV, and Amazon S3. New to Interarchy is the "Open in Terminal" command, which creates a remote ssh session for any remote folder. Additional interface enhancements include a new Script menu, as well as a redesigned Get Info window. The software requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later. [Download - 7.8MB]
    iTunes Repair Tool for Vista 1.0 (free) is a patch specifically for Vista owners who have purchased music through the iTunes Store. In the current version of iTunes, tracks bought at the Store may not play in Vista if the user was previously running Windows 2000 or XP. Apple is promising an upgraded version of iTunes that will have this fix built-in. [Download - 88KB]
    iTheater (free) is an open-source program designed to unify most of Mac OS X's media applications into a single realm. The latest iteration adds a variety of customization options, plays iTunes playlists with video support. Users can also control the program with the Wii remote made by Nintendo. [Download - 3.4MB]
    Lux Delux 5.6 ($25) is a game of global conquest modeled after the classic boardgame Risk. Version 5.6 lets players use mod keys to divide armies into equal groups, and introduces a shape tool for the map editor enabling users to draw circles as well as ovals and hexes. Players can also edit shapes and use a new "Undo" command. [Download - 10MB]
    Graph Paper Maker 1.4.0 ($20) produces sheets of custom graph paper according to custom preferences. The latest release allows users to label the X and Y axes, and supports custom fonts. The update also includes several bug fixes, and the software requires Mac OS 8.6 or later. [Download - 1.4MB]
    iTunes Dupes Barrier 1.1.8 ($10) hunts down duplicate songs within iPod and iTunes databases. Version 1.1.8 improves search engine speed, and fixes a bug that arose when handling some AAC files causing crashes. iTunes Dupes Barrier 1.1.8 requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 and iTunes 4.0. [Download - 1.7MB]

Fraunhofer develops micro HDTV camera

02/02, 4:55pm

Fraunhofer MicroHDTV

MP3 format creator Fraunhofer today unveiled the MicroHDTV, what it claims is the world's smallest-ever true HD video camera. The body is only 3 inches long and 1.5 inches wide but can still capture footage at a native 1920x1080, 60 frames per second resolution courtesy of low-power parts that avoid bulky heatsinks. This opens the possibility of HD video in places where the equipment would be too ungainly, the institute says, such as racing cars or the helmets of athletes in high-impact sports.

The camera is equally programmable and can be connected to a PC to adjust its settings through a web browser. Fraunhofer will show the camera at next month's CeBIT Expo and should reveal real-world production devices soon. [via Crave]

Intel slips out low-voltage Core 2 Duos

02/02, 4:40pm

Intel low-voltage Core 2

Intel this week quietly introduced its low voltage Core 2 Duo. The chip is the first of its kind from the company meant for ultraportables and other systems that need lower power and heat but still desktop level performance. Even at peak power, the new Core chip consumes only 17 watts, Intel says -- nearly half that of its fully-powered desktop chips. The two chips retain all the features of their larger counterparts and store 4MB of L2 cache shared between their dual 64-bit cores.

The chip designer is currently shipping two variants, the 1.33GHz L7200 and 1.5GHz L7400. Both are expected soon in pre-assembled notebooks; an even lower-power, ultra-low voltage version currently known only as the U7500 is expected in the Spring and should find its way into the smallest notebooks, such as the 11-inch VAIO TX. [via The Register]

Mac OS X internet usage rises to 6.22%

02/02, 4:30pm

OS X internet share rises

Apple's Mac OS X operating system has seized 6.22 percent of internet usage share for January 2007. The company's Mac OS share climbed to 6.22 percent, up from 5.67 percent in December of 2006 and 4.21 percent in January of last year. Apple's Intel-based Mac OS X internet share rose one-tenth of a percent to 1.88 percent from 1.77 percent in December of last year, while its PowerPC-based Mac share rose .19-percent to 4.35 percent from 4.15 percent in December. Apple's expanding internet share is credited to several factors, including the disputed iPod 'halo' effect -- where customers purchase iPods, exposing them to Mac systems as an alternative to Windows PCs -- as well as the company's Boot Camp software enabling Intel Mac users to reboot into a Microsoft Windows installation on a separate portion of the hard drive. Windows XP holds just over 85 percent of the operating system market, followed by Windows 2000 at 4.93 percent. Windows Vista, which just recently began shipping, gathered 0.18 percent share.

Map-Star enters GPS field

02/02, 4:10pm

Map-Star GPS Receiver

A new firm known as Map-Star has just revealed its first GPS mapping unit, the HDN-400. While in many cases a standard device with a 4.3-inch touchscreen, the 400 ships with a large database: over 1.65 million points of interests in Canada and the US are stored on a bundled 2GB SD card. Map-Star's device also has room for voice guidance in six languages, including Korean and Spanish. The system also works as a media player for a car with the ability to play music, photos, and videos.

The newcomer to the fiercely competitive GPS arena expects the HDN-400 to arrive in US stores later this month for $500. [via Ubergizmo]

E-mails show Microsoft wanted to "whack" Dell

02/02, 3:40pm

MS E-mail Fears over Dell

Microsoft has been actively worried about Dell's choice to ship some of its systems with Linux instead of Windows, leaked e-mail messages revealed (PDF). Stemming from 2002, the e-mail indicates that Microsoft singled out Dell as a potential threat to Windows' command of the business computer world and vowed to threaten Dell's cash flow, worrying that the lower cost of Linux would give the computer maker either larger profits or an edge in price.

"We will continue to invest big, big [money] in Dell," wrote corporate VP Bill Veghte. "I do not want to invest [money] to fund their Red Hat [Linux] efforts."

Finale SongWriter 2007 now Universal

02/02, 3:00pm

Finale SongWriter 2007

MakeMusic today released Finale SongWriter 2007, a new version of its entry-level music notation software. SongWriter allows users to compose and arrange music, hear their work, and print premium-quality sheet music. This latest version runs natively on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs (as well as Windows computers). Created for songwriters of all levels, Finale SongWriter offers several powerful and easy-to-use features. Notes can be entered via a computer keyboard, a MIDI keyboard or by importing MIDI files. Users can effortlessly add key and time signatures, lyrics, chords, guitar fingerboards, markings and musical instructions. Finale SongWriter can also automatically generate two- and three-voice harmonies and drum grooves. Earlier this week, the company also released a Universal version of Finale Allegro 2007, its more sophisticated music notation software.

Boston Acoustics ships tabletop HD radio

02/02, 2:50pm

Boston Acoustics Receptor

Boston Acoustics on Friday started shipping its new Receptor Radio HD. The company touts that its new stereo is the first high-performance tabletop radio to support the newer HD Radio standard, which boosts audio quality and adds digital information such as playlists and weather forecasts. The technology elevates FM radio to CD accuracy and AM to FM's level, Boston Acoustics and other HD Radio proponents say. The Receptor is unique for its sound quality at its size and has an included, distinct satellite unit that can be placed at a distance from the main receiver to increase the stereo effect.

Additional jacks are built in for other devices, including an aux-in port for iPods and other portable music sources as well as a headphone jack. Dual alarms are built in for waking its owner later on weekends. Sharper Image carries the Receptor now for $300. [via I4U]

Fastmac iPod repair program adds iPod mini

02/02, 2:40pm

Fastmac repairs iPod minis

Fastmac today expanded its "Just Say No To Crack" iPod rehab program to include Apple's antiquated iPod mini portable player. The program offers same-day LCD replacements for video iPods, iPod nanos, fourth-generation iPods, and iPod mini models. iPod owners can opt for repair or replacement of scratched or cracked LCD screens either as a Do It Yourself (DIY) kit with tools as well as instructional videos or via Fastmac's same-day mail order service. The company uses only original Apple parts, and each screen carries a one-year warranty alongside a 30-day money back guarantee. Pricing starts from $30, with 24-hour installation services available for an additional $40.

Disney sells 1.3 million films on iTunes

02/02, 2:30pm

Disney sells 1.3m films

Sales of films from Disney on Apple's iTunes Music Store jumped to more than 1.3 million just three months after debuting on the digital storefront, applying pressure to other Hollywood studios, according to FT.com. Big-name studios have proven reluctant to join iTunes for fear of angering brick-and-mortar retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target, both of which derive a sizable portion of their profits from DVD sales. Target late last year expressed serious concerns about the effect of digital music sales on DVD shipments and pricing, and Wal-Mart in September was reported to have threatened Hollywood studios with retribution if they joined Apple's movement. Disney CEO Bob Iger said digital distribution is "creating more consumption of media," adding that "The message that we deliver to our traditional [retail] partners is that the pie is getting bigger," according to FT.com.

Mead develops binder with built-in speakers

02/02, 2:15pm

Mead Binder With Speakers

Mead has just unveiled a new binder under its Five Star label that comes equipped with speakers. The vinyl-covered book includes its own headphone input jack and stereo satellites, allowing the iPod or most any portable device to play music without intruding into studying space or requiring headphones. Battery life and the strength of the speakers isn't yet revealed.

A line of school backpacks also containing speakers is also planned, the company says. Pricing is unavailable, but the two audio-equipped devices will launch in time for the return to school this September. [via My: Tech News Blog]

Sony surprises with iPod stereo dock

02/02, 2:05pm

Sony iPod stereo dock

In a somewhat unexpected move, Sony has begun shipping an iPod stereo dock, the CPF-IP001, Electronista writes. Sony is infamous for favoring its own music products to the exclusion of others, such as the Walkman player, or the ATRAC file format. The IP001 would appear to mark a change in policy. The dock is officially licensed by Apple, and is compatible with all nanos and minis, plus full-size iPods from the fourth generation onwards. The satellites are rated at 5W of power each, but are bolstered by a 15W external subwoofer. Secondary input is supported through a stereo mini-jack, while all audio streams are controlled by an onboard DSP chipset. The dock is on sale today for $250, or $10 per month.

Dell faces lawsuit over questionable Intel incentives

02/02, 1:50pm

Dell Sued For Intel Payout

Dell has been served with a lawsuit from investors over potentially illegal Intel payouts, according to news today from Reuters. The suit -- filed jointly by Austin-based LongView Funds and the UK's West Midlands Pension Fund -- claims that the system builder secretly received "kickbacks" from its CPU supplier, accumulating roughly $1 billion over the space of four quarters in exchange for purchasing only Intel processors for its PCs. Attorneys said Dell was involved in a "widespread, long-running scheme" to fool investors by artificially inflating its income and its stock price. The computer firm declined comment, adding that it hadn't yet seen the allegations made in the suit. Intel had not responded as of Friday afternoon.

Intel has often considered Dell one of its closest allies, the latter having used only Core, Pentium, and Xeon CPUs in its systems until September's introduction of AMD-based Dimensions. The semiconductor firm has also regularly provides official incentives to companies that include the Intel logo on their computers and in advertising.

D-Link router taps into cellphone broadband

02/02, 1:30pm

D-Link 3G Mobile Router

Users who want to exploit the broadband offered by phone providers can now turn to the 3G Mobile Router, made by D-Link. Owners can insert a 3G laptop adapter into the CardBus slot, and from there access EVDO or UMTS/HSDPA networks, depending on whether they buy the DIR-450 or the 451 variant (due next month). The router can also be used as a conventional 802.11b/g WiFi device by plugging in an Ethernet cable, or even as a non-WiFi router by using the four 10/100 ports. Connections are encrypted with WEP, WPA or WPA2. The EVDO-based DIR-450 is on sale for $230.

Shuttle intros Vista-based XPCs

02/02, 1:20pm

Shuttle Vista XPCs

Case designer Shuttle today added three new XPC systems to keep in step with this week's introduction of Windows Vista. The P2 3700GC and G5 3200HC are each pre-configured versions of the company's normally custom-ordered 3700G and 3200H models built with gaming and home theater roles in mind. The two are similarly configured with a 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo, 1GB of RAM, a GeForce 7600 GT video card, and 250GB of storage in addition to their newly pre-installed copies of Vista Home Premium. Differences between the P2 and G5 versions rest in their focus, with the P2 focused mostly on games while the G5 adds a hidden front LCD and media remote for use attached to a TV.

The system builder's third model, the G2 3200BB, is designed primarily for workplaces that want small computers. Built from low-cost parts, it runs on a 3.2GHz Celeron D, 1GB of RAM, and an 80GB drive preloaded with Vista Business. A read-only DVD drive also trims the price. All three models ship with a 22-in-1 card reader and should be available today in Europe with prices varying by country. [via The Register]

Speck unveils 2G iPod nano cases

02/02, 12:50pm

Speck ships 2G Nano cases

Speck has unveiled a new series of cases that work with Apple's second-generation iPod nano and other portable media players. New cases that work with Apple's latest iPod nano include the Active Sport Armband Lite, ToughSkin 2 Tough, and the SeeThru Lucid. Speck's Active Sport Armband Lite is a custom neoprene armband designed for active iPod owners with an adjustable armband that detaches from the case. The ToughSkin 2 Tough features the "DropGuard" shock absorbing system to protect the Nano within a one-piece design with a snap fit closure. Second-generation iPod nano owners can also opt for the SeeThru Lucid case to protect the player in a clear hard shell armor. The fully-functional one-piece design features a rubberized seal and comes with a removable belt clip in clear as well as smoke editions. All three cases are available for $30. [images, updated]

Keynote Theme Park releases Spotlight

02/02, 12:35pm

Spotlight for Keynote 3

Keynote Theme Park has released Spotlight for Keynote 3, completing the company's Set 8 in its growing three-theme collections designed for Apple's presentation software. Spotlight enables users to 'plaster' images on the wall that are lit as if by a spotlight, and includes three background textures tiled horizontally. The textures combine with 45 'hot spot' cutout Master Slides that join each other to enable seamless Push transitions that present a light panning across the stage. Users can animate a beam of light directly on important material, and can use builds to turn any of the five styles of spotlights on and off while timing an included 'breaker thud' sound file that echoes across the stage. The theme set includes 3D rendered curtain movies with adjustable curtain opacity. Spotlight is available for $20, as part of the three-theme Set 8 for $40, or as part of the 12-theme CD SuperSet 2 for $140.

Sony begins shipping iPod dock

02/02, 12:35pm

Sony ships iPod dock

In a somewhat unexpected move, Sony has begun shipping an iPod stereo dock, the CPF-IP001. Sony is infamous for favoring its own music products to the exclusion of others, such as the Walkman player, or the ATRAC file format. The IP001 would appear to mark a change in policy. The dock is officially licensed by Apple, and is compatible with all nanos and minis, plus full-size iPods from the fourth generation onwards. The satellites are rated at 5W of power each, but are bolstered by a 15W external subwoofer. Secondary input is supported through a stereo mini-jack, while all audio streams are controlled through an onboard DSP chipset. The dock is on sale today for $250, or $10 per month.

Apple edges Dell, but MS tops rep survey

02/02, 12:10pm

Apple reputation jumps 6%

Apple's brand reputation jumped 6 percent in 2006 over the previous year to place the company as the 22nd most reputable firm, according the Annual RQ study by Harris Interactive. The study, which aims to provide industry watchers with an established approach for measuring corporate reputation, placed Dell just below Apple at no. 23 on the list of most reputable companies despite promises from the PC-maker's CEO to best Apple and run the company out of business. Microsoft jumped seven places in 2006 to seize the no. 1 spot, trailed by Google in fourth place. Apple beat out IBM and Hewlett-Packard which took the no. 26 and no. 28 spots, respectively, and Sony placed no. 8 ahead of Disney at no. 13.

Gates slams Mac ads, questions Mac security

02/02, 11:55am

Gates slams Mac ads

Microsoft co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates has openly criticized Apple's 'Get a Mac' ads, called the company a liar, and questioned the security of Apple's Mac OS X operating system. In a recent interview with Newsweek, Gates compared Microsoft's recently released security-oriented Windows Vista to Apple's Mac OS X: "We made it way harder for guys to do exploits," Gates said, referring to Windows Vista. "The number [of violations] will be way less because we've done some dramatic things [to improve security] in the code base. Apple hasn't done any of those things." The executive also referenced the frequent discovery of flaws in Mac OS X. "Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." Gates was likely referring to the 'Month of Apple Bugs' project -- which came under intense criticism this week for exploiting Safari users attempting to view a freshly-discovered bug.

Sony Ericsson uncovers the W51S

02/02, 11:50am

Sony Ericsson W51S

Japanese carrier KDDI will be the first to the feature the W51S phone by Sony Ericsson. The most arresting feature about the phone is probably its exterior, which like the Z310 has glowing white icons, but in this case hides them behind a less reflective surface. The screen meanwhile is 2.7 inches, and its 2.01-megapixel camera plays and records QVGA video. Internal storage is a sizable 120MB but can be further supplemented by Memory Sticks. And while no wireless connections are mentioned other than IrDA, the phone will have Internet access, through which users can lock a phone and delete its contents should it be stolen. Talk time is 3.5 hours with 270 hours of standby. No exact release information has been shared, but it is a part of KDDI's Spring Collection. Colors will include black, gold and pink.

T-Mobile readying Dwayne Wade edition Sidekick 3

02/02, 11:25am

Sidekick 3 D-Wade Edition

US cell provider T-Mobile will soon release the D-Wade Limited Edition Sidekick 3, a leaked presentation revealed today. Similar to the fashion label models released last year, the hybrid phone and text communicator's look reflects its inspiration. Commemorating the basketball player's MVP achievement and years-long use of sidekicks, the phone is covered in a two-tone gold and white scheme meant to evoke Miami. It further highlights the number 3 on the keypad, drawing a link between Wade's playing number and the phone. The back also features a unique basketball-like texture that actually improves grip, the document says.

The leak hasn't divulged a release date or a price, but the latter is widely expected to match that of the original. Click through for a gallery, including the back. [via Hiptop3]

Outside lawyer probed in Jobs' stock grant

02/02, 11:00am

Outside lawyer probed

Federal investigators are focusing on the large 2001 share grant to Apple CEO Steve Jobs and are probing an outside lawyer, who acted as a consultant for the compensation package. Larry Sonsini, the lead partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and an expert on corporate governance, was consulted by Apple's board and legal department on a 7.5 million-share grant that's become the core of the criminal probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission and San Francisco U.S. attorney's office, according to The Recorder. The report says that the grant stands out because the company falsified meeting minutes to show that grant was approved an earlier date--one that was more favorable to Jobs because of the stock price on that date. Although Sonsini's role is unclear, his firm's knowledge about perils of mis-dating stock options and his extensive relationships with Board members' companies and CEO were cited in the report.

Pantech PN-820 launches with Verizon

02/02, 10:55am

Pantech PN-820 at Verizon

Verizon has quietly released the Pantech PN-820 in its lineup. Originally scheduled to launch as soon as December, the device represents the first flip-phone from the US carrier to be driven by Windows Mobile and uses this to its advantage. Pocket editions of Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player are preloaded and bring the phone closer to desktop-class programs than other clamshells, Verizon claims.

The mid-range phone has the hardware needed to support its OS and comes with a 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, EVDO mobile broadband, and a miniSD card slot for loading music or other files. It sells today for $150 after a rebate and signing up for a two-year contract.

Gap closes between Blu-Ray and HD DVD

02/02, 10:55am

Blu-Ray/HD DVD gap closes

The sales of Blu-Ray discs are finally beginning to approach their HD DVD counterparts, says Nielsen VideoScan, an division of the famous TV ratings company. By the end of the first week of January, HD DVD sales were 47.14 percent of Blu-Ray's; by the end of the second week, that ratio was 38.36 percent. The gap had narrowed to a mere 7.6 percent as of January 14th. If this growth continues, Blu-Ray should soon overtake HD DVD, despite the latter's headstart -- the first HD DVD player having launched in April of last year, and the first Blu-Ray player in the fall.

RIZR to launch at Oscars with special promo case

02/02, 10:25am

Moto RIZR at Oscars

Motorola today revealed that it would introduce its RIZR Z3 at the Oscars next month in the form of a special gift. The top 25 nominees in the highest-profile categories will receive the handset in a unique box meant to recall the traditional actor's dressing room door, complete with a personalized nametag; each phone will also come with Motorola's H800 Bluetooth headset as well as its S9 sports headphones.

No wider availability of the RIZR was revealed during the announcement. An imminent launch is likely given the phone's FCC approval in October. The RIZR is largely considered a slider equivalent to the KRZR and has the same 2-megapixel camera and EDGE broadband support of the GSM-based clamshell.

Briefly: OWC price drop; screencast bundle?

02/02, 10:15am

OWC, OpenGL Bootcamp

In brief: Other World Computing (OWC) has lowered pricing on its Mercury Elite-AL Pro "Quad Interface" FireWire 800/400 + USB 2.0 + eSATA line of external storage solutions; each drive is usable in a vertical or horizontal configuration, measures 9 x 2.1 x 5.8-inches, and offers 250GB ($180) to 750GB ($480) of storage space.... One blogger has proposed that Apple bundle screencasting software with every Mac it sells, enhancing exposure to the video documents that bundle a 'movie' of screen activity alongside the voice of the user.... The Big Nerd Ranch has announced the return of Rocco Bowling's OpenGL Bootcamp, a five-day course focusing on advanced level visualization techniques and elevating the materials beyond simple video game development instruction; the course -- held in a retreat setting outside Atlanta, GA. and priced at $3,500 -- is scheduled from April 30th to May 4th with included lodging, meals, original instruction materials, 24-hour lab access, and ground transportation to and from the Atlanta airport.

Chi Mei dips toes into US waters with 42-inch HDTV

02/02, 9:55am

Chi Mei 42-inch LCD TV

Taiwan's Chi Mei said today that it will launch its own TVs in the US. While the company long ago began making the LCD panels used by other TV makers, it now intends to sell its own complete sets in the country. The introduction will begin with a 42-inch LCD TV known as the DTL-742E500 (pictured), Chi Mei says. A full 1080p set, the system is equipped with a pair of HDMI inputs as well as VGA for PC-based signals. A 30-watt speaker set is mounted underneath.

Chi Mei is already delivering the screen today to Europe and its home territory for a price of $1,665. The US should see the screen during the Spring for roughly the same price. [via DigiTimes]

Government requests documents from Apple

02/02, 9:25am

Government requests docs

Apple has received an informal request from the U.S. government for more information and documents on its past stock-options practices, the company said in a regulatory filing on Friday. Apple received the request after it gave the results of an internal review to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California. The company has previously said it will take an $84 million charge for misdating more than 6,400 stock options: "Resolution of these matters will be time-consuming, expensive, and will distract management from the conduct of the company's business," Apple said in an SEC filing. Last month, officials from the U.S. Justice Department and the SEC met with CEO Steve Jobs in San Francisco, but details were scarce. Apple's own internal investigation, which launched in late June of 2006, looked at the better part of a million documents and found that no current management was guilty of any wrongdoing, but took an $84 million charge related to the backdating.

Vista family discounts failing

02/02, 9:20am

Vista Family Bundles Fail

Microsoft's days-old Windows Vista has already encountered its first licensing barrier, according to reports. Buyers who tried the software firm's Family Discount plan, which is the first from the company to drop prices on multiple home purchases of the OS, have discovered that the product keys for their secondary copies are failing. The flaw effectively blocks all but the master copy of Vista Ultimate from installing, owners say. Microsoft is aware of the issue and notes that while the issued keys are technically valid, many of them aren't properly associated with Vista installs. No immediate fix is available; the company is offering to call individual users when the problem is resolved, and is also offering refunds.

The error, which affects large numbers of Family Discount buyers, is an ill-timed embarassment for Microsoft, which has struggled with a lukewarm reaction to Tuesday's Vista launch.

Nike offers cap with built-in iPod nano controls

02/02, 8:40am

Nike+ Hatphones

Nike has just released its new Hatphones, a collection of skull caps for cold-weather runners using the iPod nano for music. A mesh at the back of the cap (shown) provides access to click wheel controls for Apple's flash-based player without removing it from a strategically located pouch. Accordingly, a set of headphones is built into the hat for listening without extra equipment.

The Hatphones are available today through Nike's online store in solid black, gray, obsidian (dark blue), and red for $60. Black and two-tone Graphic Hatphone models with the copmany's logo in front are also shipping with the same features for $55. [via CrunchGear]

KRZR Fire lands at Verizon

02/02, 8:00am

KRZR Fire lands at Verizon

Verizon early this morning began carrying Motorola's special edition KRZR K1m Fire in time for Valentine's Day. The bright red version of the phone joins the black and two-tone silver models and is functionally identical to the earlier version, including the 1.3-megapixel camera and dedicated music playback controls on the display lid. The Fire is also selling for the same $100 price as its predecessors when paired with a two-year plan and rebate.

The previously indicated LG Strawberry Chocolate, also expected for a Valentine's promotion, remains unavailable.

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