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Melbourne Apple Store plan
In brief: Plans for a glass-crowned Apple flagship store in Melbourne, Australia as part of a $200 million development project located in a one-time amusement center.... Apple is offering free hands-on workshops designed for children ages 6-13 and their families, educating participants about how to create songs as well as movies and photo albums; the workshops cover using GarageBand to make tunes, iMovie to create films, and iPhoto to create a photo album.... Apple's legal team has descended upon an Iowa downtown bar, ordering the establishment to change the name of its 'iPod Monday' weekly gathering where customers share music via their iPods.... IK Multimedia today announced that its "Crossgrade for All" policy is in effect, and that as of February 1st registered owners of at least one IK product are eligible to crossgrade to any other IK product at a discounted price.... Samsung has unveiled three new compact cameras with 7.1-, 8.1-, and 10.1-megapixel sensors to complement its existing line of cameras.
VX-323; Quickie Web Albums
VX-323 1.0b1 (free) is based on its real-world counterpart, serving as a MIDI-controlled voice synthesizer that is usable for both live and studio performances. The program supports any Apple Text-to-Speech voice, and lets users adjust pitch as well as phrase and expression. Files are saved in the AIFF format, and the program is a Universal Binary requiring Mac OS X 10.4.
[Download - 2.1MB]
Quickie Web Albums 4.3 ($23) creates custom photo and video albums for the Web. Version 4.3 is Universal Binary, and adds a button to apply changes to all of an album's content at once. The update also includes various unidentified fixes. [Download - 6.6MB]
MondoMouse 1.3 ($15) enables users to resize windows in Mac OS X at any time without clicking a title bar or resize handle. The software supports hiding windows behind other windows, requiring just a mouse over the target. The latest revision introduces several user-interface and configuration options. [Download - 788KB]
MultiMode OSX 5.9.0 ($90) sends and decodes non-vocal signals sent through ham or shortwave radios. MultiMode translates Morse code, FAX, RTTY, SSTV, ACARS and PSK31. The new version adds a DGPS mode, and improves MT63 as well as SSTV and LORAN-C support. MultiMode OSX requires Mac OS X 10.1 or later. [Download - 927KB]
CardBox 2.0.0 ($25) enables users to replace paper index card collections, and supports printing new collections. The software's various styles include contacts, recipes, study aids, and customer information. The second edition can import and export in the CSV format, enabling users to print as well as preview multiple cards at once. The application requires Mac OS X 10.4.3. [Download - 593KB]
Nokia E90 images surface
Preliminary photos and information have been leaked regarding the E90 Communicator, Nokia's successor to the E70. Click below for larger photos. Crucially, the smartphone's most notable features are on the inside, since it opens up to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard, and an 800x353 widescreen display. The exterior display runs at 240x320. The phone will come with other impressive features as well, such as HSDPA broadband, and a 3.2-megapixel camera. It should run the Symbian S60 OS, and deliver normal phone signals through a quad-band GSM transmitter. Some form of WiFi is said to be planned, though details are lacking in that regard. Nokia may reveal more at the 3GSM World Congress, which starts Monday. [via Engadget]
Three new Samsung cameras
Three new compact cameras have been announced by Samsung. First is the L77, a 7.1-megapixel model with an unusually long 7x optical zoom. The camera is also just 0.8 inches thick, and records VGA video clips at 30fps, which (along with photos) can be edited while they're still onboard. ISO senitivity peaks at 1600. The S830 upgrades the sensor to 8.1 megapixels, but interestingly, downgrades the zoom to 3x. It does however have 20MB of internal memory in addition to its SD/MMC slot, and offers manual control of shutter and aperture. At the top end is the S1030, which is nearly identical to the S830 but has 10.1 megapixels, 45MB of memory, and automatic exposure bracketing. The L77 is expected to ship first in April, with the S830 and S1030 coming sometime in the spring.
Wrappers notebook sleeves
Wrappers has launched a new sleeve design that holds laptops inside a protective textile cover (previous model pictured). The sleeves feature a new hidden pocket in the lining that works like a pillow case to tuck the laptop inside, adding protection without increasing the sleeve's external dimensions. The "microfibre-lined" padded sleeves come in a range of waterproof and fire retardant textiles, as well as various colors. Pricing starts from $15 for MacBook covers or $17 for MacBook Pro 15-inch sleeves. MacBook Pro 17-inch sleeves are priced from $20, and customers can personalize all sleeves with an ID tag for an additional $3 embroidered with initials.
AOpen Mini PC With Vista
Taiwanese computer maker AOpen today launched the MP945-VDR, a new version of its mini PC upgraded explicitly to help it cope with the increased demands of Windows Vista Home Premium. The improved version adds HDMI video output to connect to an HDTV and serve as a Windows Media Center; it also triples the number of USB ports to six, including two at the front for music players and cameras. A second RAM slot has been added that enables quicker dual-channel memory access and a much larger 4GB memory ceiling. The power supply has seen a jump from 65W to 90W to handle the extra demand of all the extra parts.
Performance remains close to the previous VXR edition and depends on the choice of Core or Core 2 Duo CPU. A DVD rewriter is standard while a TV tuner is optional. The VDR is on sale now in Japan and should be available in North America soon. [via Far East Gizmos]
iPod-like mini player
Korean firm Tomato has unveiled the Tomato mini, an ultra-compact music player bearing an uncanny resemblance both to Apple's iPod and the Chinese-made Meizu M6. Despite measuring less than 1.9 inches long and a weighing half an ounce, the player uses its familiar control scheme for many of the same functions as competing models. Beyond MP3 playback, the mini is capable of maintaining a contact list, eBook reading, and voice recording. The device includes a relatively efficient OLED screen, supporting up to 10 hours of continuous music playback according to Tomato's estimates.
D-Wade Sidekick confirmed
T-Mobile has confirmed the existence of the D-Wade Edition Sidekick 3, named after NBA player Dwayne Wade, who had a hand in the phone's design. Wade is already involved with shoe and atheltic clothing design. Contrary to earlier reports, the D-Wade -- whose gold-and-white theme is inspired by Miami and Bugatti cars -- will actually come at a substantial premium: $399, or $299 with a two-year contract. This is a full $100 more than any other Sidekick 3. The scheduled release date for the phone is February 21st.
Bar Hit By Apple Legal
An Iowa entrepreneur has been asked by Apple to rename an event at his bar, the Des Moines Register reported today. Clint Curtis, who owns the Lift bar located in the state capital, was recently sent a cease-and-desist letter by Apple claiming that a site and podcasts associated with the bar owner's "iPod Monday" gathering violated the company's music player trademark. "Please choose a name for your product that is consistent with Apple's guidelines," a letter from the iPod creator read.
Moto RAZR maxx Ve Teaser
Motorola today posted a teaser site for the RAZR maxx Ve, confirming the imminent launch of the clamshell at Verizon. Discovered as early as October, the cuztomized handset is finally being prepared for service at the carrier. Verizon's edition is almost identical to the model originally revealed by Motorla last year, including a 2-megapixel camera and a large 1.7-inch secondary display to help control music, but swaps out the GSM support of the original for the provider's CDMA network.
The teaser doesn't yet reveal detailed aspects of the phone, including launch details as well as the possibility of support Verizon's faster EVDO Rev. A Internet access. The FCC recently approved an update of the GSM version with similarly quick HSDPA, likely intended for Verizon's rival Cingular.
Vista PC Sales Surge
The launch of Windows Vista in late January triggered a major jump in sales, a new report by Current Analysis said on Friday. Though the sales were predictably higher than previous weeks as some buyers deliberately held off on buying new systems until the OS was available, Vista created a spike in sales of 67 percent over the same period last year. Moreover, a full 70 percent of all systems sold included the more expensive Vista Home Premium, indicating an early success for Microsoft's attempts to raise overall prices for Windows with the new version.
HP was the system builder that gained the most from Vista, Current Analysis said: the producer of the Vista-oriented TouchSmart and tx1000 PCs took an overwhelming 54 percent of all Windows PC sales in the launch week, completely eclipsing its longtime opponent Dell.
Refurb 2G Nanos from $119
Apple has updated is refurbished iPod offerings with second-generation iPod nanos, as well as further discounts on first-generation iPod nanos and iPod shuffles. Apple's refurbished second-generation iPod nanos are available in 2GB ($119), 4GB ($169), and 8GB ($209) capacities. The company is shipping its 2GB silver second-generation iPod nano for $119, as well as its 4GB second-generation iPod nano in Silver, Blue, and Pink for $169. Apple's 8GB second-generation black iPod nano is available for $209, and its original 1GB iPod shuffle is shipping for $49. The Cupertino-based company also reduced pricing on its reconditioned original iPod nanos in 1GB ($79), 2GB ($99), and 4GB ($149) capacities. Refurbished first-generation iPod nanos are available in black as well as white for 1GB and 4GB capacities, but the company's refurbished 2GB models are currently only available in white.
Korea's Tomato has unveiled the Tomato mini, an ultra-compact music player that bears an uncanny resemblance both to Apple's iPod and the Chinese-made Meizu M6. Despite measuring less than 1.9 inches long and a weighing half an ounze, the player uses its familiar control scheme for many of the same functions as its inspirations. Beyond MP3 playback, the mini is capable of maintaining a contact list, eBook reading, and voice recording. Its relatively efficient OLED screen helps the device run for 10 hours of continuous music, according to Tomato's estimates.
Tomato's smallest player is already shipping in iPod-matching black and white colors. Prices vary depending on storage: a base 512MB model costs $42 in its home country, while 1GB and 2GB editions sell for $63 and $85 respectively. More detailed photos can be seen after the jump. [via AVING]
Kitty Spangles Solitaire 3
Swoop Software has released Kitty Spangles Solitaire 3, a solitaire game for Mac that features 32 popular games including Klondike, Canfield, Freecell, Spider, and Penguin. The latest release is designed to develop healthy competition by supporting the creation of up to eight players at a time, and the game remembers statistics as well as games for all players. Each player retains win rates, the number of games played as well as won, and the amount of time taken to win. Kitty Spangles Solitaire 3 includes a range of themes to change the look of gameplay, and new card designs accompany improved game selection. The upgrade is free for registered players of previous Kitty Spangles Solitaire versions, and the game is priced at $20 for new users. Kitty Spangles Solitaire 3 requires Mac OS X (specific system requirements were unavailable).
Fastmac MacBook battery
Fastmac today announced an extended replacement battery for the 13-inch MacBook. The new TruePower model is a 60W/hr. lithium-polymer battery, and is said to extend battery life by 10 percent more than any other MacBook battery product. It is also available in black or white, and has special sensors that will shut it off in extreme circumstances, such as swelling, power surges, or a short circuit. The battery is covered by a one-year warranty and a 30-day return policy. The battery will go on sale in the next few weeks and the company is accepting pre-orders now for $100.
Prada Phone Windows Mobile
LG's recently released Prada phone is set to use Windows Mobile, according to a claim made by BusinessWeek. While the touchscreen device officially runs a lightweight version of Adobe's Flash for its interface, the weekly publication said that LG will officially announce at 3GSM that at least two new smartphones will become its first devices to use the Microsoft OS, most likely involving the newly uncovered Windows Mobile 6. The team-up will "enhance LG's stance in the growing smartphone market," according to company VP Woo-young Kwak.
Choosing the phone edition of Windows gives Microsoft a slight edge over rivals in the phone business, as three out of the top five cellphone makers (Motorola, Samsung, and now LG) use the OS for some of their devices instead of RIM's BlackBerry or the open-source Symbian. It also creates a unique opposition in the near future, with the two most distinctive touchscreen devices -- LG's Prada and Apple's iPhone -- continuing the rivalry between Mac OS X and Windows in the mobile realm.
Tunewear red leather cases
Tunewear has unveiled new red versions of its iPod nano cases, the PRIE Ambassador and the PRIE Tunewallet. The new cases are designed to match Apple's (Product) Red nano. The cases are made of real nappa leather, and fit both first- and second-generation iPod nanos while still providing complete player control. Transparent "Tunefilm" helps to prevent damage to the exposed parts of the portable players, according to Tunewear. The Ambassador features removable lanyard and carabiner clips, while the Tunewallet fits in a pocket to hold cash, business cards, and other thin items. Users can threat chains through the wallet's small eyelet, and both cases are expected to go on sale in March. The Tunewallet is priced at $35, and the Ambassador sells for $40.
PhotoWorks today launched PhotoStreamer2, a free application that allows Mac users to rapidly upload large amounts of digital images as well as view, organize, and order prints directly from the desktop. The software works in conjunction with Mac, iPhoto, Photoshop, and other Mac photo applications while providing quicker and easier access to PhotoWorks' line of design-driven photo products. PhotoStreamer2 features fullscreen viewing, captioning, rotation, and shuffling alongside a zoom tool that lets users control the number of images in the workspace. A new "Print Express" feature allows members to quickly place orders for hundreds of prints, uploading the works after order information is entered. PhotoStreamer2 is available for free, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Ogo 2 Coming
IXI Mobile said today that it would introduce a new version of its Ogo handheld at the 3GSM expo beginning next week in Barcelona. Although the company has not revealed specific details of the upgrade, the refresh is said to include both new devices and services, suggesting more than just hardware. The platform will get its formal introduction on February 14th.
The Ogo is a direct competitor to the Sidekick and other hybrid phone communicators that focuses heavily on instant messaging through AOL, MSN, or Yahoo, as well as e-mail and RSS news feeds. Its current incarnation also reads PDF files and most Office formats. AT&T offers an Ogo device for $80.
Padlocked iPod case debuts
Elecom has introduced a padlocked iPod case designed to guard Apple's portable media player against theft. The case is made from ABS resin and sealed with a dial lock that users can only open with the proper four-digit combination. The lock includes a loop to hook an iPod to a more secure object, such as a desk or carabineer, and iPods are fully functional within the case. Elecom also provides non-adhesive skins to protect the iPod screen and clickwheel, with black and white cases available for all fifth-generation iPods as well as first- and second-generation iPod nanos. The cases are slated for shipment later this month for $42.
Quantum computer for sale?
A Canadian company, D-Wave, claims it will demonstrate the world's first commercial quantum computer next week, at an event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Quantum computing is considered a "holy grail" of technology, as it allows previously difficult or impossible calculations -- notably, codebreaking -- to be peformed in moments. The promised D-Wave machine will not be powerful enough for cryptography, but should have 16 qubits, which is considerably faster than a machine with 16 standard bits. Test applications will include assigning seats under constraints, and matching molecules by pattern. D-Wave hopes to have a 1,000 qubit computer by the end of 2008. [Via The Register]
Jobs, Pixar options
Apple CEO Steve Jobs helped negotiate an employment contract with film director John Lasseter and Pixar via a large stock-options grant carrying a 'well-timed' date, according to MarketWatch and the Wall Street Journal. The options grant held the lowest share price of the previoius year on a date more than three months prior to the signing of Lasseter's employment contract, and Jobs signed the agreement on behalf of Pixar acting as chairman and CEO. The report notes, however, that it is unclear whether Jobs played a role in selecting the date. Pixar's current owner is examining the acquired company's option-grant practices.
Coral Consortium to Jobs
The Coral Consortium today announced that it has posted a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs in response to his open letter dated February 6th, which detailed Apple's 'wholehearted' support for DRM-free music. The Coral Consortium's letter points out DRM interoperability as a fourth alternative to the three listed by Jobs, and suggests that the best way to achieve a truly consumer-friendly interoperable digital distribution marketplace is for Apple and other key players to join with the existing members of the Coral Consortium to deploy a DRM interoperability solution. The consortium seeks to ensure that digital music and video is easily accessible from any service provider and on any device via a new technology that allows existing DRM solutions to co-exist, promoting content as well as devices that work together. The result, if realized, would enable any portable media player to play any track purchased from any online music store. [updated]
SiRF GPS for Cellphones
SiRF, the company behind the SiRFstar III chip used in more recent GPS units, said today that it had developed a brand-new GPS receiver chip that could bring mapping to small devices where the technology was previously too impractical. Known officially as the GSD3t, the chip has a surface area of only 1cm (0.4 inches) squared while also consuming less power than the company's earlier chipset. The improvement should let even normal cellphones include live GPS, the firm said, and will reduce the price enough to make its use more feasible. The chip is expected to demo at next week's 3GSM phone conference.
In addition to paving the way for more widespread use of GPS in cellphones -- which must normally be large to accommodate live positioning -- the GSD3t may also lend support to a claim made by Prudential analyst Jesse Tortora, who recently alleged that the next generation of Apple's iPod might use GPS for navigation. Apple's upcoming iPhone is slated to ship with Google Maps but currently has no GPS receiver, preventing it from locating the owner's actual position.
Anti-theft iPod cases
iPods are a lucrative target for thieves, and as a result Elecom has come up with an unusual deterrent: a padlocked iPod case. Once a player is in the case, made of ABS resin, it's sealed with a dial lock that can only be opened with the proper four-digit code. The lock also has a loop that can hook an iPod to a more secure object, such as a desk, or a carabiner. iPods are still fully usable in the case, although Elecom provides non-adhesive skins to protect the screen and clickwheel, if desired. Black and white cases are available for all fifth-generation iPods, as well as first- and second-generation nanos. The products should go on sale in late February for 5,040 yen ($42) apiece.
Coke + iTunes in Italy
In brief: Coca Cola Italy has launched a new advertising campaign by offering free iTunes tracks with selected Coke products. The new ads will broadcast on TV, radio, and the internet to offer visibility to young Italian musicians.... RhinoSkin has begun offering Accents for Apple's second-generation iPod shuffle customized with laser-engraved logos. The Accents were unveiled at the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) show in Las Vegas in January.... Apple's developer website has detailed Kerberos, a secure network authentication protocol used in Mac OS X which is discussed from a system administrator and developer perspective. The open-source single sign-on authentication protocol offers users a decrypted 'ticket' to use throughout a pre-defined period -- typically one day -- to access secured networks.... Fark TV has produced a video depicting its two lead actresses kissing each other in the first show with corporate sponsorship, but displays a "blue screen of death" instead of the kiss.
TASCAM Guitar MP3 Player
TEAC's creative audio branch, TASCAM, has just launched the MP-GT1. The company has billed its new device as the first digital audio player designed for guitarists and says it has added a number of unique features designed to help guitar players refine their skills as well as enjoy them. A guitar input jack is built in can be used to play along with MP3 tracks; the GT1 can even selectively cancel out the guitar elements from the original recording. The speed of the song is also adjustable without affecting the original pitch, while pitch itself can also be tuned to match the existing levels of the guitar. A special looping mode further helps for practice by repeating only a particular song passage; any track can have a metronome or guitar distortion effects overlay as well, TASCAM said.
Available in a single model, the MP-GT1 holds roughly 240 MP3 songs on 1GB of built-in flash. Straight playback of songs without effects is rated at 9 hours. The music player should be shipping now in the US and is available from several music stores for $200.
Stereo with built-in store
The upcoming BR-NX10 by Onkyo is meant to solve a continuing problem of digital music: the need for a computer. Once the NX10 has an Ethernet Internet connection, users can simply hit the AnyMusic button to be taken to Sony's digital music store of the same name, which is browsed on a large LCD display. Tracks bought at the store are downloaded to the NX10's 80GB hard drive. Should already have other music to listen to, CDs can be ripped directly, and a USB port allows the transfer of MP3 and WMA files. Onkyo expects the product to go on sale in Japan in mid-March, for a cost of 94,500 yen ($780).
Mattel Digital Toys 2007
Mattel has launched its presence at New York's International Toy Fair by introducing a series of new digital toys linked to either computers or music players. A highlight of the announcements was the Digital Arts and Crafts Studio (pictured). Made to at once resemble an adult's tablet input and an easel, the Studio is intended as a simple painting tool that uses real-world painting analogies to encourage children to draw. Touching the pen on symbolic points changes the brush type, color, and modes. Bundled software will also help in creating real-world projects such as coloring pages and stationery, Mattel adds.
More toys and a gallery after the jump.
iPod bike speaker
iHome has announced that its new iH85 iHome2Go speaker system for iPod was approved by the FCC. A clamp mounts the speaker to a bicycle, enabling users to control the device by a puck-like remote with play, pause, volume and track skip commands. The remote fastens to a bicycle's handlebar, and three different inserts make the speaker compatible with fourth- and fifth-generation iPods, as well as iPod minis and iPod nanos. Pricing and release information has yet to be announced, according to Mobile Whack.
'Woz,' iPod Film Fest
The Flux today revealed the judging panel for the 2007 Flux iPod Film Fest, featuring Apple co-founder Steve 'Woz' Wozniak. The festival is sponsored by Small Dog Electronics and will award Apple-related prizes in three categories. The panel is to include Wozniak, film director Joe Swanberg, Emmy-nominated writer/actor Kent Osborne, Flux founder Ryan Ritchey, actress Callie Snow, former "Mystery Science Theater 3000" host/writer Mike Nelson, and "Wired" writer & film producer Joshua Davis. The deadline for entries is March 18th, according to The Flux, and entry into the festival is free. The three categories include "independent film" for any short narrative film produced outside of an educational environment, "student film" for projects produced for school credit, and "the kitchen sink" for everything else such as podcasts and music videos.
Zune Phone Preemption
The heavily-rumored Zune phone is likely to show up far earlier than expected, a source speaking to CrunchGear said on Friday. Citing the same contact that first presented news of the Zune phone to the site, editor Matt Hickey claimed that Microsoft was not only in development of the hybrid device for a release in 2007, but that it should reach stores by May -- a month before Apple's official June launch of the iPhone. An official announcement could be made before mid-March.
Such an early release would be possible based on the device's existing development history, the tip said. Although news of the device has only just surfaced, the device has allegedly been in development for some time and was converted into a Zune device as a direct response to the iPhone announcement in January.
EMI Close to DRM-Free
EMI Group is on the verge of licensing its catalog without any copy protection, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. Multiple anonymous sources have told the paper that EMI is currently asking for proposals from multiple online stores that would see the label receive an advance in exchange for the right to sell songs without DRM. A final decision is likely to depend on how enticing the offers themselves will be and could be made as soon as Friday, the sources said. EMI spokeswoman Jeanne Meyer declined to comment on speculation.
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