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Forums March 30
Forums roundup: Members are discussing whether or not it is worth it to fully load a Mac Pro, for uses of photo and video editing in addition to gaming.... Other users are discussing how to make a MacBook display more vivid colors, which several users find washed out and unbalanced... One user is wondering what a G3 iMac is good for besides basic tasks such as word processing.... Other members are discussing the reports of one user who had a fan in their MacBook Pro die, similar problems confirmed by other users has lead to discussion of how widespread the issue could be.... Meanwhile, other members are questioning the video quality of AppleTV compared to a DVD or other video sources.
Custom Apple TV upgrades
In brief: One company is offering custom Apple TV upgrades, organizers are planning pre-WWDC WebObjects sessions, and DJ mixers are receiving certification for Traktor Scratch. With some considering the 40GB in the stock Apple TV inadequate, the Santa Clara-based MacService is offering a custom upgrade program. By paying an extra service fee, clients can have the company replace their old hard drives with a new one, with sizes ranging from 60GB to 160GB -- the latter of which should be able to hold as much as 200 hours of standard-definition video. MacService pays to have a ground courier take the Apple TV in both directions, with a 24-hour turnaround after the device arrives at its office. A 60GB drive costs $200, while the 160GB drive is $300.
OLPC $200 in First World
Nicholas Negroponte, the project's lead, has confirmed suggestions that the original One Laptop Per Child computer will be sold in rich countries as well, including the United States. It will be manufactured by the Taiwanese company Quanta, and in its First World incarnation, sell at a profit for as little as $200.
Developed by mainly by Negroponte and others at the MIT Media Lab, the non-profit OLPC systems will sell to schools and governments in the Third World, which are frequently deprived of the money needed to buy more than basic educational supplies. These clients will be able to buy the computer for $150, which is still $50 more than the original target. The OLPC group hopes that distribution will be partly subsidized by wealthier nations. [via Financial Times]
$519 refurb Mac mini
Apple's refurbished 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo Mac mini has returned to its online store for $519, featuring 512MB of memory, a 60GB hard drive, and a slot-loading Combo drive. The company is also offering its 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo Mac mini with 512MB of memory, an 80GB hard drive, and a double-layer SuperDrive for $649; as well as its 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo Mac mini with 512MB of memory, an 80GB hard drive, and a double-layer SuperDrive for $699. Apple is also offering a range of reconditioned iPods which include the second-generation iPod shuffle ($49, 1GB - silver), numerous second-generation iPod nanos (2GB and 4GB capacities for $119 and $169 in varying colors), first-generation iPod nanos ($99 and $129 for 2GB and 4GB models in black or white, respectively), and an assortment of current-generation video iPods (30GB and 80GB capacities in black or white for $209 and $299, respectively).
Palm Treo 755p for Sprint
Palm is about to release a parallel to the Treo 750 that should please both those who prefer Palm's own OS and who use CDMA-based phone networks, a leak has shown today. The Treo 755p will keep all the advantages of the GSM version -- including the antenna-free, smaller body and 1.3-megapixel camera -- while switching to Sprint's phone network and gaining support for EVDO broadband in the process. The launch buttons have also been simplified compared to earlier versions, the source adds.
Launch info for the 755p has gone unrevealed, but the device's virtually complete state points to a release for Sprint's subscribers within the next several weeks at a price competitive with AT&T's $399 cost when bundled with a two-year contract. [via Engadget]
Boost Mobile Unlimited
Sprint's prepaid phone brand Boost Mobile today began trials a new, genuinely unlimited cellphone service. Dubbed simply Unlimited by Boost, the new plan sees Boost jump from iDEN networks (those used by Sprint's Nextel branch) to the more widespread CDMA used by Sprint itself. Testers in the current Dallas, San Francisco Bay, and Southern California test areas will be able to make local calls without a fixed number of minutes.
The trial service costs $45 per month in Texas and $50 in its California areas, and currently works only with the Motorola C290, which sells for $100 through Boost. The carrier's plans to launch the service after the trial are currently unavailable. [via RCR News]
Keomo PND GPS Unit
Accessory maker Keomo is planning to make its first tentative steps into producing its own GPS units with the Personal Navigation Device (PND). This standard 3.5-inch touchscreen GPS unit overcomes some of the barriers frequently associated with GPS units, especially those in the budget arena. Its secondary media player is much broader than other basic players, handling videos and eBooks as well as the more typical music and photo support. Its design is also thin at under 0.8 inches.
June 11 iPhone Uncertain
The alleged June 11th iPhone release date is likely the result of confusion, research has revealed. Telephone calls placed to 25 of the company's stores spread across the country presented contradictory information, with many asserting only that the Apple device would be ready sometime in June. Some pointed to delays to July or September triggered by popular demand, while one store pointed to a release as soon as "next month" and another pointed to late May.
Mac mini beats Xserve G5
Apple's latest Mac mini system with an Intel Core Duo processor and gigabit Ethernet outperformed an older Xserve G5 server system, according to one user who offers colocation services. "We picked up an Intel Mac mini 1.66GHz Core Duo, had it upgraded to 2GB of RAM (the G4's could only handle 1GB) and started to really put it through it's paces." Citing lower power consumption and resilient performance, the Mac mini stood up to vigorous testing. "No matter how hard I tried I could not make that Mini use more than 0.37A of power. I blasted that thing with multiple concurrent CPU and disk bound processes, getting really heavy loads and disk read/writes." Following the introduction of the Mac minis, an Xserve G5 was migrated in as a Web server in a load balanced group. The forum poster had to periodically adjust the weighting rules, however, to give more and more priority to the Mac minis.
Seagate 1TB hard drive
Earlier this year, Seagate announced its intentions to release an unprecendented 1TB hard drive by the second half of 2007; even the company's largest hard drives tend to be limited to 500 or 750GB. With only three months left before the deadline however, Seagate representatives insist that the drive is still on track, and the Spanish-language site Chilehardware claims to have acquired specifications: it is said to be a 7,200rpm model with a 3Gbps SATA interface, and use four platters, eight heads and a 16MB buffer. Should the information prove to be true, the drive will also be on sale by the end of April. The only 1TB product currently on the market is Hitachi's Deskstar 7K1000. [via DailyTech]
Jabra BT8010 at Verizon
Following the CTIA show, Verizon has said that it would be the first to ship the Jabra BT8010. The Bluetooth headsed was first announced in November and is one of the few for cellphones to control audio as well as play it: when paired with an AVRCP-equipped phone, a jogwheel and OLED display help play and skip through songs without reaching into a pocket for the phone itself. Its battery is good for 10 hours of single-channel conversation or 6 hours of music, according to Jabra's estimates.
Verizon is shipping the main earpiece today for $100, and offers a stereo add-on earpiece for music purposes at a price of $30.
Acer Vista Notebooks
Acer ended its week on Friday by releasing three new Aspire notebooks bolstered for Windows Vista. All new models have at least 120GB of hard disk space, ATI Radeon Xpress 1100 video for handling the Aero Glass interface, and a DVD rewriter to help author home movies. The 15.4-inch systems begin with the Aspire 3140 that uses a 1.8GHz Mobile Sempron processor, 512MB of RAM, and Vista Home Basic; the 5102a steps up to a 2.2GHz single-core Turion 64, 1GB of RAM, and Vista Home Premium. Topping the range is the Aspire 5103 which opts for a 1.6GHz dual-core Turion 64 X2 in addition to the memory and OS of the mid-range version.
The computer designer is shipping the systems now at prices of $721, $891, and $1,018 respectively in their initial Japanese release. A North American equivalent is uncertain. [via PC Launches]
Philips phone w/AAA backup
An upcoming cellphone from Philips may solve problems with drained batteries. Called the Xenium NRG, the phone will have a regular fixed battery, but will also be able to run off of a single AAA battery for three hours should the main one stop. Philips has also said that any brand of battery will be compatible, and can be either disposable or rechargeable. In the case of the latter, the backup battery will charge at same time as the main battery.
Remaining features of NRG are generally unknown, but it will be a flip-phone, and have an external display as well as a still camera. It is expected to launch sometime later this year, but pricing and the countries that will receive it have not been mentioned. [via BusinessWeek]
T-Mobile Sidekick ID Shots
T-Mobile has again suffered an unintentional leak of its upcoming Sidekick ID handheld. Subscribers using the company's Rebate Center have discovered both the presence of the phone in the product listings as well as photos that solidify the device's existence, revealing new launch details. While regular pricing for the ID will reach the predicted $150, T-Mobile hopes to offer a $50 rebate -- pricing the system at roughly a third the cost of the Sidekick 3.
The compact messenger will also be available in three bright, solid colors versus the designer editions of its premium sibling. Information revealed through the discovery suggests that T-Mobile will be ready for an April 18th launch. A full image can be found after the break. [via Engadget]
5G iPod LCD upgrades
Fastmac today began shipping LCD upgrades for fifth-generation video iPods, and highlighted the recent expansion of its "Just Say No To Crack" iPod LCD rehab program to the second-generation iPod nano. The program offers repair and replacement of scratched or cracked iPod LCD screens either as a Do It Yourself kit with tools and instructional videos or via a same day mail order service provided by Fastmac directly. Fastmac's LCD upgrade replaces the iPod's original display with a new LCD screen that is 60 percent brighter than the original Apple LCD, according to the company, and is more energy efficient than Apple's stock screen to reduce power consumption and improve battery life. The company's LCD upgrade for the video iPod is available with introductory pricing that starts at $60, and each screen comes with a 1-year warranty.
Kitty Spangles Solitaire
Swoop Software today released Kitty Spangles Solitaire 3.1. The update includes 38 games with favorites such as Klondike, Canfield, Freecell, Penguin, and Spider. "Widely admired for its clear and focused design, Kitty takes solitaire to another level with beautifully styled cards and luxuriously animated themes to suit any mood." Kitty Spangles Solitaire 3.1 includes Pyramid, Gold, Montana, Gaps, and Beleaguered Castle alongside clearer high-resolution card designs. The update also remembers recent games, and provides a high score table for players to compare stores or times of every game played. Kitty Spangles Solitaire 3.1 is priced at $20, and the update is free for registered users. The game requires Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later.
BenQ FP93GW Displays
BenQ has just released two new LCDs in its Wide Series specially tailored for multi-display setups. The FP93GW and FP93GWa are suitably widescreen versions of its earlier FP93 line with an extremely thin bezel: the edge is less than half an inch thick and creates a relatively small gap between multiple screens.
The shift to the 1440x900 wide ratio still offers high-quality output, according to BenQ, producing a 5ms pixel response time fast enough for games and using the company's Senseye processing to boost the color alongside the 700:1 contrast ratio. The FP93GW should be available first in April beginning today, offering both DVI and VGA input; the FP93GWa will sport only VGA and ships slightly later in April.
Wireless USB hub in Japan
A still rare example of a wireless USB hub can be found in Japan, where shoppers can buy the Y-E Data YD-300. The hub accepts up to four USB devices, and broadcasts via ultra-wideband radio (UWB) to a USB 2.0 dongle plugged into a computer. Since it can be located as much as 33 feet away, this may make it ideal for tasks such as remotely broadcasting music or recording security video on a webcam. The 300 is already on sale for approximately 39,800 yen ($338). [via Impress Watch]
Nucleo Pro 2 unveiled
GridIron Software has unveiled an upgrade to Nucleo Pro that will allow users to render 3D applications in the Background Render Queue. The software serves to increase productivity while optimizing workflow for visual effects artists using Adobe After Effects. Nucleo Pro 2 will provide a central place to manage renders for After Effects as well as 3D Studio Max, Maya, Shake, Cinema 4D, XSI, Houdini, Metal Ray, and Brazil. The update also expands the workflow possibilities with a new type of proxy designed to optimize rendering for nested compositions. Nucleo Pro 2 is due to ship this summer for $400, though customers can pre-order Nucleo Pro 2 starting April 16th for $300 until the first day Nucleo Pro 2 begins shipping. Nucleo Pro 1 owners can upgrade for $100, and original Nucleo upgrades are priced at $350.
Nolan Nokia 5300 speaker
A new Nolan Bluetooth speaker has made an appearance at the FCC, and appears to be very different from most of its peers. The Wireless Music Speaker System is targeted specifically at the Nokia 5300, and aside from streaming music, will also be able to conduct phone calls. The speaker will moreover have its own playback controls, enabling it to control the phone, and possibly secondary Bluetooth devices. A2DP and AVRCP profiles are being supported. [via Mobile Whack]
Major League on iTunes
Apple today announced that it will offer Major League baseball video highlights for the 2007 season on its iTunes Store, and is kicking off the 2007 Major League Baseball season with an "MLB.com 2007 Season Preview Show" as a free download for iTunes customers. MLB video on iTunes will include a daily 25 minute "MLB.com Daily Rewind" highlight show and two weekly "Games of the Week," featuring full versions of the best games from the National and American Leagues. iTunes customers will be able to download individual episodes of "MLB.com Daily Rewind" and each "Game of the Week" for $1.99, or purchase a Multi-Pass for a month of Daily Rewind shows for $7.99 or a Season Pass for every "Game of the Week" for $19.99.
iPod power adapters ship
Griffin Technology has unveiled two power & charge travel solutions for iPod. The PowerBlock Travel is a kit that includes Griffin's PowerBlock AC power adapter with numerous types of AC wall plugs, and features "twist and lock" adapters along with a new sleek black look. The PowerBlock converts AC voltage from 100-volts to 240-volts without spikes or surges, according to the company, while a built-in Type A USB socket enables the PowerBlock to work with any USB-rechargeable device. iPod owners can use a detachable dock connector to charge the portable player, while first-generation iPod shuffles are chargeable via the USB port. Griffin's PowerBlock Travel is shipping for $35, and the PowerDuo Travel is available for $40.
Apple Quad-Core Slip
Apple has again revealed in advance that it will soon introduce quad-core systems, accordting to AppleInsider. The computer company's special Adobe Creative Suite 3 page was the source of the leak, stating that all Macs "feature powerful dual-core or quad-core Intel processors" despite a lack of the latter in its current product lineup. The Mac Pro currently relies on two dual-core Xeon chips for its performance, although Intel has made its quad-core Xeon 5300 processors available since November.
Nokia visual search engine
Through a recent application to the US Patent Office, Nokia has revealed plans for an unusual search engine on its phones. Much as a number of phones can recognize songs being played, Nokia's "visual search engine" should be able to pick apart photos, using data such as shape, color and texture strength to detect objects such as cars, faces and trees. These then generate keywords, allowing people to quickly sort through large groups of images. Users should even be able to submit sample photos, which the engine will try to match. In any case the technology is unlikely to be utilized soon, as it is some time away from being approved. [via Unwired View]
Edgetech PC Edge Handheld
Edgetech has used one of the last days of the CTIA phone expo to introduce the PC Edge. Billed as the first handheld computer with "DSL speed," the device will depend on a built-in modem for an unknown wireless protocol (suspected to be a cellular technology like EVDO or HSDPA) and use the Internet for most of its functions: the company points to web-based desktop programs and storage and notes that its small comptuer will have the support for full web code that many other devices lack at its size.
OCZ SD/USB/microSD flash
Memory maker OCZ has announced a new line called Trifecta, which melds three different memory types into the same package. The core memory is a microSD card with a 66x read rate, but it can be inserted sideways into a full-sized SD adapter for use in devices such as cameras. Once the contents need to be transferred to a hard drive, the bottom of the adapter pulls off, revealing a USB connector. Trifecta cards will come in 1 and 2GB capacities, but OCZ has yet to disclose pricing or release dates.
Italy Apple Store photos
Photos have surfaced of the first Apple Store in Italy, depicting the forthcoming retail outlet in the ROMAEST mall. While the roads are still under construction, the Apple Store itself appears nearly finished. Photos reveal 12 meters of display window that offer a large viewing area into the new store. Colored metal and wood adorn the new space, which is set along a curved corridor in the new mall. Displays show off the new second-generation iPod shuffles, as well as the recently shipped Apple TV. An iPod listening area shows several listening posts as seen in other Apple Stores, offering visitors an iPod and a pair of headphones with demo music to try out the portable media players.
SonyBMG Online Artist Demo
Music label SonyBMG won't be accepting demo CDs from artists in the future, the company said today. Instead of submitting a physical disc, hopefuls will need to sign up at the websites of the firm's sub-labels, such as Columbia and RCA, and create a blog for the band which includes their associated songs, band photos, and music videos. The dramatic change is meant to help artists relate more closely to studios, said SonyBMG's UK and Ireland label chief Ged Doherty. The traditional demo CD or tape has often made it difficult for musicians to sign deals by emphasizing an existing reputation over fresh talent.
The new system should take effect as of Monday in both Britain and Ireland; the company hasn't clarified whether online demos will be necessary in every country or limited only to the most Internet-friendly territories.
Media Composer, Xpress Pro
Avid Technology today released Media Composer 2.7 and Avid Xpress Pro 5.7, offering support for Intel-based Macs as well as new workflow capabilities and an updated bundle of third-party content creation software. Both Avid products also offer expanded format support, including write-back capabilities for the popular Sony XDCAM and Panasonic P2 file-based media formats, as well as support for the emerging 720p50 HD broadcast standard in Europe. Media Composer 2.7 brings Avid ScriptSync -- a next-generation script-based editing tool that uses phonetic speech recognition technology to automatically sync text with media -- and Avid DNxHD 36, an efficient HD codec for offline editorial that runs at a data rate of 36Mbps. Avid will showcase the new Media Composer and Avid Xpress Pro systems as well as other technology at the NAB convention next month in Las Vegas. Media Composer 2.7 is priced at $5,000, while Avid Xpress Pro 5.7 is available for $1,700.
Apple TV USB Port Hacked
Hobbyists have successfully reverse-engineered the Apple TV's USB port. Although the port is officially reserved for diagnostics and service, those curious about the device have documented steps that change the media hub's Mac OS X code to allow more than just the handful of approved USB devices. Devices such as keyboards and mice are already known to work, the testers have written. The technique has already been demonstrated running third-party media center interfaces (pictured) and could be used to run general programs. (More details and video in the full story)
Dell Bookkeeping Trouble
Dell late yesterday admitted that there had been mismanagement of its finances in recent years, according to a statement by the company. An internal investigation had found "accounting errors, evidence of misconduct, and deficiencies in the financial control environment," the terse message said.
Though the company doesn't expect criminal charges to follow, Dell management has labeled the problem as "serious" and could be forced to restate its earnings, potentially revealing a considerably weaker company. The Texas system builder has struggled with poor sales that prompted a major management reshuffling, including the return of Michael Dell to the CEO spot.
iPhone May Ship June 11
Apple's first cellphone should ship on June 11, according to a customer service manager at AT&T. The senior staffer at the company confirmed the date when reporter Declan McCullagh contacted them late Thursday. No other information about the release was available at this point, AT&T said. Apple has so far resisted committing to a precise launch date, so far only pointing to the whole month of June as its official release window.
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