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News Archive for 07/03/16

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Disney finds backdating; clears Jobs, Pixar execs

03/16, 6:50pm

Disney finds backdating

Walt Disney on Friday announced that it found instances of stock-options backdating at Pixar before the animation studio was acquired, but concluded that no one currently associated with the Company engaged in any intentional or deliberate acts of misconduct. The company's Audit Committee and Board said that Disney will address the additional income tax liability issues facing Pixar employees who hold such options, including participating in programs established by the IRS and the State of California to facilitate the payment of such taxes on behalf of employees. The statement, released on the same day that Apple offered to amend options for employees similarly affected, appears to clear Disney Board member and Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who was cleared of any wrongdoing in a similar investigation by Apple, but was implicated in negotiations for "well-timed" option grant to a high-ranking Pixar executive.

Adobe XMP 4.1 supports CS3, adds libraries

03/16, 6:15pm

Adobe XMP 4.1 released

Adobe has posted a new update to its XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform) technology, which allows developers to easily manipulate metadata. The source code for the new Adobe XMP 4.1 has been released under the same open-source license as its previous versions. The company says that Adobe XMP 4.1, in addition to compatibility with CS3, significantly extends Adobe's past XMP offerings by providing new libraries for developers to read, write and update XMP in popular image, document and video file formats including: JPEG, PSD, TIFF, AVI, WAV, MPEG, MP3, MOV, INDD, PS, EPS and PNG. In addition, the rewritten XMP 4.1 libraries have been optimized into two major components, the XMP Core and the XMP Files.

Briefly: SanDisk, Sisvel settle; new memory

03/16, 6:05pm

SanDisk, Sisvel settle

In brief: SanDisk and Sisvel have settled a legal dispute, SanDisk has begun shipping new SD cards, Other World Computing is demonstrating external hard drives, and the creator of the iPhone "Hello" ad has accepted a position at Rockstar Games. SanDisk has resolved a legal conflict with Italian company Sisvel, which accused the memory maker of failing to license the MPEG codec for its Sansa MP3 players. Products were actually confiscated by German police at the 2006 IFA expo in Berlin, but SanDisk has now acquired an official license and all litigation has been suspended.

Headplay readies virtual 52-inch iPod cinema

03/16, 5:50pm

Headplay Personal Cinema

Headplay has announced its Personal Cinema System, which may be of particular use to iPod video owners. Composed of three parts, the unit creates the equivalent of a 52-inch screen six feet away through its goggles, serving as an alternative to television viewing or seatback plane screens. What makes the PCS different from other systems is a breakout box dubbed the Liberator, Headplay notes. Besides allowing both computers and TVs to attach to the visor, it has a video decoding engine that plays photos or videos directly from one of several inputs: a Dock Connector handles video directly from iPods, while full and mini USB ports as well as a CompactFlash slot handle input from cameras. RCA and S-Video jacks accept most analog video sources. Headplay anticipates delivering the PCS in June for $500.

Apple secures no. 34 in BusinessWeek 50

03/16, 5:45pm

Apple in BusinessWeek 50

BusinessWeek 50 - The Best Performers has recognized Apple as a dynamic company that is trying to revolutionize cellular phones the same way it did for music players. The BusinessWeek 50 represents the publication's "best in class" companies from each of the 10 sectors that make up the S&P 500, finding Google at the top of the "Outstanding Class" category. Apple trailed at the 34th spot, but is mentioned for its pioneering effort to "revolutionize the phone" as it stated at the device's debut in January. "Somewhere along the line, Apple went from being Microsoft's whipping boy to becoming, in some ways, the new Microsoft," BusinessWeek wrote.

Apple offers to fix option tax penalties

03/16, 5:45pm

AAPL option tax penalties

In wake of its option-backdating fiasco, Apple is offering affected employees the opportunity to amend their past options and to receive cash payments for such amended eligible options in an effort to avoid tax penalties. As noted previously, the Cupertino-based company recently announced that certain stock option grants made to employees between 1997 and 2002 were erroneously assigned grant dates that preceded the finalization of those grants and that as a result, the exercise prices of these stock option grants were lower than they would have been if the grants had been dated when they were actually finalized. Questions around Apple and Pixar CEO Steve Jobs role in negotiations of an employment contract with film director John Lasseter and Pixar via a large stock-options grant carrying a 'well-timed' date and federal officials are reportedly investigating Apple's stock grant to Jobs, including an outside lawyer who helped negotiate the offer.

Canada allows portable phone numbers

03/16, 5:25pm

Can. gets portable numbers

Canada now officially allows wireless number portability (WNP) -- more simply, the ability to use the same phone number while switching between cellphone carriers. Though this has been commonplace in the United States for some time, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) only ruled on the matter in 2005, and set an implementation deadline for March 14th of this year. Furthermore, the decision applies strictly to the wireless realm unless local landline rules also enable portability.

Aside from increasing the convenience of cellphones, the main outcome of the switch is expected to be increased competition: since customers can avoid the hassle of a new number, they may well migrate to providers with lower fees or better service. However, as Ken Wong of the Queen's School of Business notes, many cellphone companies make it difficult to leave even with WNP. [via DailyTech]

PowerBooks from $1,199, iMacs from $849

03/16, 5:15pm

PowerBooks from $1,199

Apple is offering refurbished G4 PowerBooks for as low as $1,199, iMacs for as little as $849, and Apple Cinema Displays from $749. The company's PowerBook offerings currently include the 12-inch 1.5GHz PowerBook with 512MB of memory and an 80GB hard drive for $1,199; the 15-inch 1.5GHz PowerBook with 512MB of memory and an 80GB hard drive for $1,249; the 17-inch 1.67GHz PowerBook with 512MB of memory and a 100GB hard drive for $1,599; and the 17-inch 1.67GHz PowerBook with 512MB of memory and a 120GB hard drive for $1,699. The Apple Store Canada is offering refurbished 17-inch 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo iMacs for CAD $1,079 with 512MB of memory and a 160GB hard drive. [click here for Apple Store Canada]

Teclast launches Chocolate-like C280

03/16, 4:50pm

Chocolate-like C280 player

Chinese company Teclast has just released the C280 media player. Immediately noticeable is the control scheme, which uses the seamless red-under-black design initially made popular by the LG Chocolate phone. While the only audio files supported are MP3 and WAV, it can also play MPEG-4 video, as well as tune in and record FM radio. It holds 2GB of content and should last 12 hours per battery charge. The price of the player is not yet available online. [via Teclasters]

Future Shop drops iMac prices -- clearing stock?

03/16, 4:40pm

Future Shop iMac Prices

Canadian retailer Future Shop has taken the unusual step of discounting its iMac prices, according to an e-mail distributed to customers. While potentially tied to a larger desktop promotion, the discount is largest for Apple's most inexpensive model, dropping the price of the 17-inch 1.83GHz system instantly by $100 to $1,000 Canadian ($850 US).

The move is uncharacteristic for Apple, which seldom allows significant discounts of its computers at retail chains and usually matches the size of any price drop to the normal cost. Such promotions are historically used to clear stock in advance of new models and may herald an iMac update in the weeks following the campaign, which ends March 22nd. Apple has updated the all-in-one computer in a similar timeframe in recent years.

Apps: iPod Reset Utility, Daylite, Yojimbo

03/16, 4:35pm

iPod Reset Utility

    iPod shuffle Reset Utility (free) enables owners of Apple's first- and second-generation iPod shuffle players to reset the models back to their factory settings when iTunes is unable to do so. The process completely erases all music and data, reinstalling iPod Software 1.1.5 on first-generation Shuffles or iPod Software 1.0.2 on second-generation models. [Download - 3.4MB]
    Daylite 3.2.2 ($190 for one user) is a free update to the productivity suite that updates to OpenBase 10.0.5. Daylite 3.2.2 includes new menu items as well as keyboard shortcuts for the calendar, and includes several bug fixes. The latest release also adds the ability to expose additional attributes for contacts, organizations, projects, and opportunities in the Daylite report designer. [Download - 26MB]
    Yojimbo 1.4.2 ($40, or $70 for family-pack) improves the information organization utility, working around a reported issue introduced in QuickTime 7.1.5 that would cause a crash during playback of Yojimbo's "Quick Start" movie. The software enables Mac users to manage information encountered every day at work and home across multiple computers by storing different data types which include text notes, passwords, Web bookmarks, product serial numbers, PDFs, and Web archives. [Download - 17.2MB]
    CrushFTP 4.1 ($30) brings live sorting and advanced search functionality to the FTP, SFTP, FTPS, WWW, and WebDAV server. The application features a Web interface for managing files, and supports virtual servers as well as users and groups with ratios and quotas. The latest revision also offers a new plug-in titled "PreferencesController" that enables users to take snapshots of preferences to be used at specific times of the day. [Download - 5.3MB]
    Rondo 2.5 ($25) updates the MIDI player for Mac OS X, offering native compatibility to Intel-based Mac owners as a Universal Binary. Rondo offers a set of intuitive controls to play, pause, fast forward, and rewind music alongside individual track muting capability. The latest version of Rondo includes an updated look, more realistic pianos, note scrubbing, scroll wheel support, playlist folders, and drag-and-drop support in the music library. [Download - 7.9MB]
    Url Extractor X 1.1 ($45) is a Cocoa program to extract Web and email Addresses as well as URLs in general form files downloaded from the internet and saved on the local hard drive. The update adds drag-and-drop support, as well as expanded support for additional URL types. The latest version also enables users to extract 'generic' emails from within any content. [Download - 142KB]

Samsung preps super-narrow Ultra F200 music phone

03/16, 4:15pm

Samsung Ultra F200

Among its other products hidden at CeBIT, Samsung has revealed the Ultra Music F200. The handset is a spiritual successor to the company's narrow, pocket-friendly X830 swivel phone but shifts its attention to music with a digital amp and enhanced 3D audio. In contrast to the US-bound F300, however, the F200 won't rely on internal storage for its media library; Samsung drops the internal storage from 1GB to 5MB and reliea instead on an easily accessible microSD card slot to keep the bulk of owner's collection of MP3, OGG, or WMA tracks.

Mustek reveals media jukebox with 2-megapixel camera

03/16, 3:45pm

Mustek PMP 638 Jukebox

Mustek at CeBIT introduced the PMP 638. Similar in style to the Meizu M6, the media player is one of the only devices of its type with a camera, snapping 2-megapixel photos that it can store on its internal 1GB of flash storage or on removable SD cards. Format support is unknown but should include music, photos, and videos; an AV output will give the 638 support for TVs without requiring an intermediary cable.

Its introduction is currently slated for April at a price of 200 Euros ($266). Mustek hasn't pointed to a North American release but does sell existing portable media players in the continent. [via T3]

Apple releases iTunes 7.1.1 for Mac, Windows

03/16, 3:35pm

iTunes 7.1.1 released

Apple today released iTunes 7.1.1, updating its multimedia software for both Mac and Windows systems. The latest revision addresses a stability issue, as well as minor compatibility problems in iTunes 7.1. The Cupertino-based company describes iTunes as "the world's best way to organize and enjoy your personal digital music and video collection with your Mac. iTunes is also the easiest way to sync music, videos, and more with your iPod." iTunes enables users to create a digital music and video collection by importing personal music CDs or downloading favborite songs and videos from the iTunes Store. The software also supports creating custom playlists and burning playlists to CDs or playing them on a home stereo. Apple's iTunes 7.1.1 update is available for free, and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.

Headplay to launch virtual 52-inch visor screen

03/16, 3:20pm

Headplay Personal Cinema

Headplay has announced its Personal Cinema System. Composed of three parts, the unit creates the equivalent of a 52-inch screen six feet away through its goggles, serving as an alternative to seatback screens on passenger planes or for viewing at home.

What makes this different from other systems that have tried the approach before is a breakout box dubbed the Liberator, Headplay notes. Besides allowing both PCs and TVs to attach to the visor, it has a video decoding engine that plays photos or videos directly from one of several inputs: a Dock Connector handles video directly from iPods, while full and mini USB ports as well as a CompactFlash card slot handle input from cameras. RCA and S-video jacks accept most analog video sources.

Rock launches LCD TV with built-in PC

03/16, 2:45pm

Rock Meivo PC TV Hybrid

System builder Rock on Friday launched the Meivo, a new-concept LCD set that it hopes will satisfy both present-day TV viewers and Internet-based viewing in the future. The 22-inch screen contains a full Core 2 Duo system in back, as well as a TV tuner that turns the computer into a full-fledged PVR for capturing shows. Onboard Wi-Fi also turns the set into an IPTV hub, Rock says. The slim profile still allows for two hard drive bays that can be used to either expand available storage or mirror it as a backup.

Appropriately, a wireless keyboard and mouse will ship with the system when it goes on sale in April, as will side-mounted USB ports to attach peripherals while the TV is flush against a well. Prices start at the equivalent of $1,943 in the UK with prices going up for added performance or storage. [via Tech Digest]

Italy bans cellphones in classes

03/16, 2:20pm

Italy Bans Cells in Class

Children can no longer use cellphones in class, the Italian government announced today. The ban is meant to stop abuse of cameraphones and disruptive rings in classes, officials said. Although seemingly harsh, the clampdown comes after a string of violence in Italy filmed using cameras, including the bullying of a student and the sexual harassment of a teacher.

The first such ban in Europe will also have severe consequences for those caught in the act, the government says. Punishment will range from anything as relatively mild as confiscating the phone to barring students from taking their final exams. Schools in Europe and North America have been known to issue their own limited bans in the past but have rarely if ever seen government-wide limits.

Samsung previews M60 gaming notebook

03/16, 1:50pm

Samsung M60 Game Notebook

Samsung's booth at CeBIT has quietly provided an early look at the latest addition to its 17-inch M series notebooks. Though still unofficial, the M60 was visible at the convention and was known to use equally unannounced technology. The demonstration system uses Intel's Santa Rosa chipset, sporting a 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo with an 800MHz bus. Graphics in turn are handled by a 256MB NVIDIA GeForce Go 8000-series mobile chips, similar to those used by the Aura notebooks revealed at the start of the show.

Also confirmed by the leak are 1GB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, and a 1440x900 screen resolution. The M60 should make its first official appearance in May or June, shortly after Intel's new platform is made public. The system is likely to remain on sale only in Asia and Europe. [via NotebookReview]

Rana ships limited-edition Mickey Mouse nano

03/16, 1:30pm

Rana Mickey Mouse nano

Japanese outfit Rana has released a 2GB iPod nano themed around Mickey Mouse, says Electronista. Though it's unknown if it was actually approved by Disney, etchings of Mickey are everywhere in the product, from the special packaging though to the engraving on the back of the player. Also included in the box are special decals to place around the clickwheel, and a leather case, which comes with a removable strap and carabiner. Officially-sanctioned or not, the Mickey Mouse nano will not be around for much longer; only 500 have been produced, selling for 33,600 yen ($287) apiece.

TecnoVISION showcases 205-inch HDTV

03/16, 1:25pm

TecnoVISION 205-inch HDTV

TecnoVISION set records at CeBIT by exhibiting the Luxio. Beating even the Sharp 108-inch LCD, the Italian-made set is the world's true largest HDTV at 205 inches diagonal, boasts the company. This size is reached by using LED backlighting instead of cold cathodes, guaranteeing a more uniform brightness even across such a large screen.

Neither the precise capabilities of the screen nor its price have been revealed, but TecnoVISION says the panel is HD-ready and should ship internationally to those who can justify its premium price. [via Tech Digest]

Rana ships Mickey Mouse-themed iPod nano

03/16, 1:10pm

Mickey Mouse iPod nano

Japanese outfit Rana has released a 2GB iPod nano themed around Mickey Mouse. Though it's unknown if it was actually approved by Disney, etchings of Mickey are everywhere in the product, from the special packaging though to the engraving on the back of the player. Also included in the box are special decals to place around the clickwheel, and a leather case, which comes with a removable strap and carabiner. Officially-sanctioned or not, the Mickey Mouse nano will not be around for much longer; only 500 have been produced, selling for 33,600 yen ($287) apiece. [via Akiharabara News]

Radeon X2600 cards to have HDMI audio out?

03/16, 1:00pm

Radeon X2600 HDMI Audio

AMD's recently acquired ATI will be the first video card maker to use its HDMI output for audio, a presentation by the company at CeBIT has revealed. The RV600, likely to become the Radeon X2600 on its release, will include its own HD audio controller. The addition will let AMD cards used in home theaters connect both video and audio to an HDTV through a single HDMI cable, rather than require a separate cable for the audio feed. Such an addition also means that the audio stream will also be guaranteed to work with protect movies such as some Blu-Ray and HD DVD clips, AMD says.

A formal release timeframe for cards using the X2600 chip and the previously leaked X2800 hasn't been announced, but is expected by April or May. [via Beyond3D]

FastMac ships TruePower laptop AC adapter

03/16, 12:55pm

FastMac TruePower adapter

FastMac today began shipping its TruePower 65-watt AC adapter designed specifically for Apple's PowerBook G4 and iBook laptops. The TruePower adapter provides constant wattage output that meets or exceeds Apple-Branded adapters, and features a built-in LED alongside a rugged compact design. The accessory is compatible with all PowerBook G4 Titanium and Aluminum (12-, 15- and 17-inch) models as well as iBook G3 and G4s. "Our new TruePower AC adapter is not only smaller than most third party replacements, it's [also] more durable," said Michael Lowdermilk, Business Development Manager for FastMac Performance Upgrades. "It can be dropped, kicked, and even run over by a truck and still work." The company has provided a video displaying the features of its TruePower adapter, which is available for an introductory price of $36 and comes with a 1-year warranty as well as a 30-day money back guarantee.

Virtual Villagers - The Lost Children ships

03/16, 12:40pm

Virtual Villagers sequel

Last Day At Work and Big Fish Games have released Virtual Villagers - The Lost Children. The sequel to Virtual Villagers: A New Home continues the epic story of the castaways of Isola. Players guide a tribe as they rescue a group of lost children and help them survive new adventures. "Lead your villagers as they solve all new puzzles and hidden mysteries of the western shores of the island. Will your tribe survive?" Players can explore new parts of Isola, find dozens of unique items, experience new surprises each time the game is played, and raise children who resemble their parents. Virtual Villagers - The Lost Children is available for $20 via Macgamestore.com, and requires Mac OS X (specific system requirements were unavailable).

Creative intros auto-focus Optia cam, gaming headset

03/16, 12:35pm

Creative Optia and Headset

Creative conributed its share to CeBIT today with a duo of PC add-ons. Foremost is the Live! Cam Optia AF, the company's new premium webcam. The company claims that the device is the world's first with auto-focus as well as a 2-megapixel sensor to properly center on a subject without affecting image quality; as with the Logitech QuickCams introduced earlier this week, the Optia AF also has glass lens elements to avoid the dull look found in plastic. Images can be captured at up to 1600x1200 resolution with automatic face recognition, and a dual microphone array cuts down on unwanted background noise.

Briefly: MacNN review; Kanguru clones HDs

03/16, 12:25pm

MacNN review, Kanguru

In brief: MacNN has reviewed the Smart Alec Backpack from Tom Bihn, Kanguru Solutions has unveiled its Kanguru Clone high speed stand alone hard drive duplicator, and an announcement made at the SXSW claims that indie music labels will soon have a simple way to bypass major music labels. NewTek has released a behind-the-scenes video featuring the creation of visual effects sequences or Warner Bros. movie "300," and Panasonic has begun offering its Wi-Fi phone for use with Skype. MacNN's review of Tom Bihn's Smart Alec Backpack computer bag reveals its flexibility as well as how much the tote can actually carry. The bag features a splash-proof zipper and comes in a variety of colors which include crimson, steel, sage, black, and kiwi.

SanDisk intros 8GB SDHC, high-speed microSD cards

03/16, 12:15pm

SanDisk 8GB SDHC card

Not long after Kingston's launch of one, SanDisk has followed suit with its own 8GB SDHC card, which should be capable holding roughly 2,000 songs, 4,000 photos, or 15 hours of MPEG-4 video. While it will come with its own MicroMate USB 2.0 reader, the card will not be especially fast, as it is rated at only Class 2 speeds -- approximately 2MB/s. It should ship in April for $190.

Mobile phone users may, however, appreciate SanDisk's forthcoming Mobile Premier microSD cards. Designed as high-performance models, the cards will come in 1 and 2GB capacities, and have a read speed of 10MB/s. Writing is done at 9MB/s. The Mobile Premier line will also bundle an adapter, enabling use with full-sized SD slots. The cards should launch in the spring for $45 and $70, respectively.

Samsung, Acer roll out new LCDs

03/16, 11:20am

Samsung, Acer LCDs

Samsung and Acer have both unveiled new LCD screens, with Samsung offering a pair of SyncMaster monitors alongside a photo frame and Acer producing five new models of its xSeries screens focused on gaming. Samsung's 961BG and 961GW screens are touted as high-performance displays with a 3,000:1 contrast ratio and a 2ms response time. Both screens feature high-gloss material on the outer covers, and include dual-hinged stands. Acer's new line of xSeries lCDs focus on gaming and video with quick response times. The top-end X241Wsd ($600) is a 24-inch 1920x1200 screen with a quick 5ms average pixel response time and a 1,000:1 contrast ratio. Other models in the new line include the 22-inch X221Wsd ($280), 19-inch x191Wsd ($190), and two standard-ratio displays consisting of the 19-inch x191sd ($200) and 17-inch x171s ($180). Samsung's photo frame includes a 7-inch screen and is said to be Vista compatible with Wi-Fi capability to ease image transfers.

ASUS reveals UMPC with swivel screen

03/16, 11:20am

ASUS reveals T83 UMPC

One of the ASUS entries at CeBIT is the T83, a rare example of an ultra-mobile PC from the company. Its primary feature is a seven-inch touchscreen, which rotates 180 degrees to close over the keyboard and become a tablet. Inside is a 1GHz Via C7-M processor with 512MB of RAM (expandable to 2GB), running Windows XP Tablet at resolutions up to 800x480. A 30GB hard drive is included, and the machine also packs in a Bluetooth, WiFi, a webcam and a GPS receiver. Battery life is said to be six hours. A standard T83 will ship in the third quarter for $899 to $999, but ASUS is also working on a ruggedized version for industrial use. [via Engadget]

ASUS demos notebooks with HD DVD burners

03/16, 11:05am

ASUS HD DVD-R Notebooks

ASUS has used its presence at CeBIT to showcase updates to two of its notebook lines. The 15-inch W1 and 17-inch W2 are now some of the very first notebooks to ship with HD DVD-R drives, the Taiwanese company says: the top models in either line can now create the extra-large discs as well as CDs and DVDs. Both systems continue to hold on to other media-savvy features, including a digital TV tuner and HDMI output for linking the notebooks with HDTVs.

Analyst on Apple TV in digital living room

03/16, 10:45am

Piper on Apple TV

Many investors are questioning Apple's ability to carry its formidable digital music lead into the living room alongside the market size of the digital living room, but Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster believes the Cupertino-based company is entering that market with a 10x lead over the next closest competitor -- Microsoft's Media Center. The analyst points to iTunes becoming the de facto "media center" application of choice, and estimates that there are 110 million active iTunes users compared to just 12 million active Media Center users. "We estimate the digital living room market in calendar year 2008 will be $4.7 billion, and we believe the Street is looking for $1.2 billion in Apple TV revenue in calendar year 2008," Munster said. "We are currently modeling for Apple to sell 2 million Apple TV units in calendar year 2007. For every 500,000 additional units Apple sells, it adds $0.02 to our calendar year 2007 earnings-per-share estimate." Piper Jaffray maintains its 'outperform' rating on Apple shares with a $124 price target.

Europe gets third Toshiba HD DVD player

03/16, 10:35am

Toshiba HD-EP10 player

Unmentioned for North America so far, Toshiba has unveiled its third HD DVD player for Europe. The HD-EP10 follows the HD-E1 and HD-XE1, and like the latter, supports output resolutions up to 1080p. Standard DVDs can also be upscaled to match. CD, DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-ROM discs can be read as well, and several forms of audio decoding are built-in, including Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD, and DTS HD. Though the launch date of the EP10 is unspecified, it is expected to retail for €699 ($926).

Acer preps next-gen Aspire living room PCs

03/16, 10:30am

Acer L320 Home Theater PC

Acer today announced the Aspire L320. The Xbox-shaped PC is ten times smaller than a standard mid-tower, Acer says, and works just as well as a home theater as on the desktop. To help with this, the computer is one of the first to support Intel's newer GMA 3000 integrated graphics to bolster its Core 2 Duo processor; the chipset ensures that Vista Home Premium and the company's own eMode media center both play videos at full speed. Every model comes with an hybrid analog and digital tuner for recording TV shows and Wi-Fi for linking to a home network.

Prices and availability for the L320 will depend on the specific region, according to Acer, but an AMD-based Aspire L100 will be available with Athlon 64 X2 processors and GeForce 6150 graphics for more budget-conscious home theater enthusiasts. [via The Register]

TomTom intros GO 715 with mobile Internet access

03/16, 9:55am

TomTom GO 715 Announced

GPS producer TomTom has revealed the GO 715 at the CeBIT expo in Germany. The new device is the first from the company to integrate its own GPRS modem, complete with a SIM card slot: it can not only receive data through the Internet but send it as well, allowing a vehicle to geo-locate itself relative to others and engage in two-way text chats. Bluetooth is also onboard for hands-free calling.

The 715 will be ready by April for Western Europe; prices are unknown and will generally be reserved for the work market that TomTom says is the primary focus of the new GO model. A US launch is very likely after an FCC filing revealed that the device was already in testing for the country.

Griffin ships Tuneflex AUX cradle for iPod

03/16, 9:30am

Tuneflex AUX for iPod

Griffin Technology today announced its TuneFlex AUX is now shipping. TuneFlex AUX is a flexible charging cradle with line-out audio and provides a custom-look, in-car mount that charges the iPod as it plays over the car's stereo. The updated product line now includes an auxiliary-in cable to accommodate the growing segment of auxiliary input-enabled cars. Griffin says TuneFlex AUX creates the high quality of direct, line-in sound on a flexible charging cradle for iPod. The elegant and versatile accessory for iPod is designed with newer automobiles in mind: it plugs into the car's 12 Volt accessory outlet to power and charge an iPod while holding it at a convenient position in front of the dashboard or console. A light at the base of TuneFlex's infinitely adjustable neck shows power status at a glance, while its charging circuitry is equipped with a replaceable auto fuse to keep the iPod safe from power spikes.

Office Depot clearing out Zunes?

03/16, 9:25am

Office Depot Dumping Zunes

Retailers may be resorting to major incentives to sell the Zune, an Office Depot flyer has revealed. An insert in Thursday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution has listed the 30GB Microsoft player as selling for $200 after a mail-in rebate, dropping the price by 20 percent versus its normal $250 price tag. The discount comes only five months into the Zune's short history and points to frustration with sales for the relatively new device.

While discounts are common for music players sold at these stores as they are replaced or fall out of favor, few are as large or come as early in the player's life cycle. The cut is also unexpected given the apparent success for the Zune in January and a lack of definite plans for new Zune models until late this year. Apple is an exception in frequently refusing to discount its iPods before they are replaced with new editions.

Miglia debuts TVMAX+ for PVR, video capture

03/16, 9:15am

Miglia debuts TVMAX+

Miglia Technology today announced TVMax+, content collection hub, for use with iPod, AppleTV and Apple that allows users to view their favorite shows on every screen in your home, from your living room to your iPod to your Mac. TVMax+ also doubles as a digital TV tuner, allowing users to watch, pause and record TV shows. Touted as the missing link between TV or video content and Apple TV or iPod, the digital hub offers a range of connectivity options, including coaxial and composite S-video inputs to transform any Mac into a personal video recorder; it also offers the ability to capture VHS, camcorder tapes or DVDs at 640x480 resolution.

Indie music to make end-run around iTunes, others

03/16, 8:40am

Indie Music End-Run

Indie music labels will soon have a simple way to bypass major music labels, according to an announcement made today at the SXSW music festival. A service developed by the Independent Online Distribution Alliance and DownloadCentric will let labels and individual artists easily plug albums into their own websites without having to recreate any of the information they've already submitted to the group -- a first for online music, the IODA says.

The system, which has already gone live for labels such as Six Degrees and System, could potentially threaten larger stores such as eMusic and iTunes by letting independents set the terms of how they sell their music without having to build a store from scratch. This includes choosing to sell DRM-free MP3 tracks, the record group says. The service should begin beta testing for the rest of the IODA's members in May with a formal launch to follow later.

Dr. Bott, Case-mate offer iPod shuffle case

03/16, 12:50am

Signature shuffle case

Dr. Bott and Case-mate this week announced their new iPod shuffle case as well as a new deal to absorb all current QuickerTek Carry Handles for Apple laptops. The new Signature shuffle is a functional and stylish case for the second-generation iPod shuffle. Available in seven colors, the Italian Pebblestone leather case seamlessly wraps around the shuffle, combining protection, control and fashion. The protective pass-through click wheel provides access to all controls and all features are accessible, including the clip. It also features a keychain attachment enables users to easily take their tunes anywhere they go. The Signature shuffle retails for $12.

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