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Intel Core 2 Duo ULV
Matching AMD's high-end releases, Intel has taken the opposite route and announced its Core 2 Duo ULV (ultra-low voltage) processors. The U7500 and 7600 are clocked at 1.06 and 1.2GHz, respectively, and are aimed at portable systems, namely tablets, notebooks and UMPCs. They do however retain a 2MB L2 cache, as well as a 533MHz front-side bus. They should gradually replace the Core Duo U2500 over the next few months; the first OEM computer to offer ULV processors will be Gateway's E-100M notebook, shipping in May. [via TG Daily]
Wii leads post-Xmas sales
Allaying speculation that early figures were just a spike, the Nintendo Wii has remained on top of next-generation console sales since Christmas, Newsfactor reports. Figures produced by the research firm NPD Group indicate that between November 2006 and February 2007, approximately 1.86 million Wiis were sold. The console's success is attributed mainly to three factors: greater availability, the lowest price ($250) and an original control scheme, which is reputed to be easy for even non-gamers to use.
In somewhat of a surprise however, Sony's Playstation 3 rose out of third place to sit at 1.1 million units. The console has generally been beleaguered by a number of problems, such as severe launch shortages, a high price ($500-600), and a lack of exclusive games. Though still dominant in total sales (having launched in 2005), Microsoft's Xbox 360 did not live up to expectations set by the holidays.
Apple, MS standards war?
Apple's move to embrace DRM-free tracks from EMI via its iTunes Store has begun a digital music standards war, according to BusinessWeek columnist Arik Hesseldahl. "If I were an employee of Microsoft and involved with its confusing digital-music efforts, built around its highly DRM-protected WMA format, I'd be sweating right now," Hesseldahl said. Apple boss Steve Jobs was likely purposely ambiguous about his preferred file format in is open letter titled 'Thoughts on Music.' "[Jobs] didn't mean selling unprotected MP3s, but unprotected AAC songs," the columnist noted. "The decision will have important long-term effects, especially as more labels follow EMI's lead." Microsoft, which initiated a 'PlaysForSure' branding program to ensure widespread compatibility of players and DRM-protected musical tracks, quickly abandoned its own program in favor of launching its own Zune player and Zune Marketplace. That move, coupled with Microsoft's WMA format -- which is expensive to license -- will make the open AAC format much more attractive to device makers, according to Hesseldahl.
Jajah VoIP on PSP
Jajah today extended its web-based voice over Internet calling to PSP owners. A mobile version of the company's dialing page has been certified for use with the console and will let any owner with Sony's microphone headset or a similar add-on place calls to real-world numbers by typing in a number with their gamepad. The recent PSP price cut makes the offer ideal for users who want gaming, media playback, and phone service in a single device, Jajah claims.
Accessing Jajah free and allows for free calls between fellow users; calls to traditional phone lines start at 2.8 cents per minute between Americans and vary from region to region.
Iconfactory updates iPulse
Iconfactory today released iPulse 2.1.8 and Twitterrific 2.0, enhancing the Mac OS X monitoring utility and the client for reading as well as posting to the Twitter network Twitterrific, respectively. iPulse is designed to let Mac users quickly get a feel for what Mac OS X is doing under the hood via a unified and customizable interface. The update fixes several bugs -- including reporting process information, properly displaying network statistics when disconnecting from a VPN, and localization -- and supports up to eight processor cores as well as the forthcoming Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard operating system. iPulse 2.1.8 is a free update for registered users, requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, and is available to new users for $13. The Twitterrific 2.0 update is available for free.
Apple Denies Spying on ATV
Apple on Thursday afternoon denied allegations that it was undoing hacks on the Apple TV. A company spokesperson asserted that Apple has a resolutely hands-off approach to the media hub, choosing not to monitor or control user habits through users who allow the device on to the Internet. Owners can modify both the hardware and software as much as they like as long as they understand the risk of voiding the warranty, Apple said.
AMD Opterons reach 3GHz
AMD has released two new chipsets in its Opteron line, the 2222 SE and 8222 SE, officially bringing performance to the 3GHz level. Though this matches the recently released Athlon 64 X2 6000+, the 2222 is designed to work in dual-processor systems, and the 8222 can function in four- or even eight-processor configurations. The target audience is of course businesses running workstations and servers.
The new Opterons are equipped with 2MB L2 caches, and fit into Socket F motherboards, which use DDR2 memory. Themal data power should be around 120W. AMD is still using the standard 90nm fabrication process for these chips, but the future should see quad-core Opterons using a smaller manufacture. [via eWeek]
Nighthawk to ship in 2007
Now Software is expected to release its 'Nighthawk' cross-platform group calendar and contact management software later this year, and announced the addition of three new employees to its development and operations departments to help realize that goal. "With NightHawk, we're not only building a completely new software platform, we're also improving the way we develop software, and how we function as a company," said Now Software president John Wallace. The Nighthawk calendar & contact module will be available for $150 per license, and owners of Now Up-to-Date & Contact 5.0 and later will be able to upgrade for $70 per license when Nighthawk ships.
HD DVD and X360 Movie Snag
The HD DVD format has been encountering numerous problems with movie playback, according to many users. Speaking to forum goers, a Microsoft employee confirmed that the Xbox 360's HD DVD add-on is unable to play TrueHD uncompressed audio, forcing owners to deal with lower-quality Dolby Digital 5.1 as well as audio glitches in titles such as Nine Inch Nails' Beside You in Time. The problem is already being addressed, the Microsoft contact says, and should add both the missing TrueHD as well as DTS support for those who prefer the standard.
iPod 'enlarger'/DVD player
Hammacher Schlemmer has begun selling an unusual media player known as the Portable Video iPod Enlarger and DVD Player. Shaped somewhat like Samsung's Q1 Ultra, the Enlarger can of course play DVD movies on-the-go, but is mainly intended as a grander stage for video iPods. Users dock a 30, 60 or 80GB model into the back, and the output is displayed on a seven-inch LCD at 480x234 resolution.
An AV jack can direct the feed into a TV, and users can also keep the player quiet by using one of two headphone jacks. Built-in menu controls allow the quick selection of both music and video. Battery life is said to be 2.5 hours, though it is not known if this factors in simultaneous charging of an iPod. Hammacher Schlemmer is selling the Enlarger for $250. [via PocketSynch]
Epoq Media Players
Normally known for its TVs, Epoq today launched a pair of small, basic media players. Smallest of all is the unnamed 2.4-inch model (pictured at right). Resembling an iPod-inspired version of the iRiver Clix, the first Epoq device shifts all its controls to the side to reduce the footprint of the media player to little more than that of a matchbox. Its more conventional 2.2-inch equivalent shrinks the screen in favor of front touch-sensitive controls without adding much more to the overall size.
Details and photos of both devices can be found after the jump.
Google My Maps
Google today announced the creation of My Maps, a new personalization feature for Google Maps. The feature takes its influence from Web 2.0 apps by letting visitors create their own version of a map with simple editing tools: landmarks, routes, and shapes can be drawn on the chart either for public maps, such as a guided tour, or private, for helping friends with driving and walking directions. It's also possible to attach HTML, photos, and either Google or YouTube videos to give landmarks extra meaning, the search company says.
The service is live today and works with any computer that can already view Google Maps. Those running Google Earth can also import any public or private map into Google Earth for viewing outside of a web browser.
PeaceMaker for Mac
Macgamestore.com today announced the release of PeaceMaker, ImpactGames' unique strategy game for the Mac. "PeaceMaker challenges you to succeed as a leader where others have failed. Experience the joy of winning the Nobel Prize or the agony of plunging the Middle East into disaster. PeaceMaker will test your skills, assumptions and prior knowledge. Play it and you will never read the news the same way again." The game is inspired by real events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to ImpactGames. PeaceMaker serves as two games in one, enabling players to take the role of the Israeli Prime Minister or the Palestinian president. Three difficulty levels of 'calm,' 'tense,' and 'violent' are determined by what players bring to the table. The game is available for $20 via Macgamestore.com, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
iPods Given Away to Dutch
The iPod nano has been turned into an unusual form of stress reliever, according to a news report from the Netherlands. The southeast city of Maastricht handed out iPod nanos to its 280 sanitation workers two weeks ago, hoping to improve their moods by letting them tune into music during their shifts. The giveaway had been prompted by numerous complaints sent to city council that accused the workers of becoming increasingly unruly, harassing the local populace for seemingly trivial reasons.
"Some days they would yell at me for the way I placed my trash container," said shopkeeper Christian Van Rijn.
Limited Apple TV at IFF
Tech Superpowers has teamed up with the Independent Film Festival of Boston to provide "The Titanium Package," a festival package that includes a new Apple TV combined with the all-access Chrome Pass that allows access to all film screenings and parties. The Apple TV set top box device streams content wirelessly from a home computer into the living room, displaying photos or playing music and video on a modern TV. The device is priced at $299 from Apple, and ships with a 40GB hard drive that stores up to 50 hours of video. The IFF Boston 5th Anniversary Limited Edition Apple TV comes pre-loaded with 17 full-length films and shorts from the past five years of the festival, and will be available for individual purchase at the festival for $350.
Low-cost Samsung C170
The newest Samsung phone is the C170, which will be shipping to Europe later this month. While positioned as a budget model, the phone still has an attractive candybar design, which is augmented by staggered buttons with plenty of surface area for increased comfort. Thickness is just 0.08 inches greater than the company's Ultra Edition phones. The 170 supports dual-band GSM (900/1800MHz), and has WAP 1.2.1 web browsing, enabled through GPRS. A phonebook, speakerphone, FM radio tuner and voice recording are counted among the phone's other features, but crucially, there is only 600KB of onboard memory. A larger photo can be found below. [via Unwired View]
Lightbox XMP released
Lightbox Software today released Lightbox XMP (site not updated), an export plugin for Apple's Aperture post production photography software that provides full XMP export support. The plug-in supports everything from creating sidecar XMP files for referenced master images containing IPTC and EXIF metadata to embedding XMP data -- including ratings and keywords -- into exported images. XMP allows third-party programs such as Adobe Bridge to view metadata from Aperture in a standards-compliant format. Lightbox XMP is available as a free download, though the author encourages donations to further future plug-in development. Lightbox XMP requires Apple's Aperture software.
Mac Pro memory upgrades
Other World Computing (OWC) today began offering Apple-qualified memory upgrade modules for the new 8-core Mac Pro system that Apple launched yesterday. OWC also announced lower pricing for memory on the existing Mac Pro quad Xeon models, with FB-DIMM 667MHz DDR2 72-bit ECC fully-buffered memory upgrade modules available in matched sets of 512MB, 1GB, and 2GB for up to 16GB of total memory. OWC Memory Upgrade Kits provide fully-tested memory modules that meet or exceed all Apple specifications, and utilize true Apple-qualified heat spreaders. Each kit is backed by OWC's lifetime advance replacement warranty, and the company offers a cash-back rebate of up to $145 per set of Apple factory memory. OWC's memory upgrades for the 8-core Mac Pro come in 1GB ($159.75 per GB), 2GB ($118.75 per GB), and 4GB ($128.06 per GB) capacities.
Panasonic D-Snap SD850N
Panasonic on Thursday claimed to have solved the problem of tight space on small players through its new D-Snap SD850N. Much as with the recently introduced Samsung UpStage, the SD850N has controls on its reverse face: users scroll and select using a touchpad on the back but control the songs themselves with touch buttons on the front. The front is also home to an active noise cancellation button that filters out 83 percent of outside sound with the included in-canal earbuds. FM radio is available for listening when AAC, MP3, and WMA playback runs dry.
Yasu; World Clock Deluxe
Yasu 2.0.6 (donation) simplifies a variety of system maintenance tasks which would normally require using the Terminal, such as clearing logs, or scheduling cron scripts. Version 2.0.6 is a minor update, mainly enabling a time-out for version checking if a user is offline. The program is also better at validating registration info, and will disable the Donate menu once the software is registered. Yasu requires Mac OS X 10.4.
[Download - Size Unknown]
World Clock Deluxe 4.4.6 ($16) displays several times from around the world in a vertical or horizontal palette, or in the Dock or menu bar. Users can also fetch weather reports from anywhere they are available. The v4.4.6 update addresses changes to Daylight Savings Time as observed in Cuba, Haiti, Honduras, Jordan, Mongolia and Syria. The app is a Universal Binary and can run in English, Dutch, French, German or Italian. [Download - 1.7MB]
xTime Planning & Inventory 1.1 ($100/100) are, respectively, programs for managing employee schedules and keeping track of company equipment and supplies. Both programs have received the same general updates, including Spotlight support, the ability to copy and paste tasks, and improved performance on Intel Macs. Translations for French and Italian have been released as well. [Download - 5.5/5.3MB]
EZConstrain 1.0 (free) is a plug-in for Adobe Illustrator, and creates a floating palette which makes it possible to view, change and reset the Constrain angle without going into the General Preferences dialog. Some other features include a graphical display, customizable preset angles, and the ability to instantly zero or reset the plug-in. Only Illustrator CS2 is supported at the moment. [Download - 877KB]
Japanese-English Dictionary 1.0 ($25) is based on the EDICT Dictionary File, which has approximately 110,000 entries. Users can copy and paste words out of the dictionary, and search for specific Japanese grammatical abbreviations, such as quasi-adjectives or adjectival nouns. For extra convenience the program has an Iconize feature, which shrinks it into a small window that remains on top of others. The app is a Universal Binary for Mac OS X 10.2. [Download - 41.9MB]
TanManager 2.3 (free) stores the transaction numbers (TANs) used by many online banking services, saving the need to look them up each time an account is accessed. Each transaction is dated in a log, and the next TAN is automatically copied to the clipboard. Among a variety of smaller enhancements, v2.3 allows the selective deletion of used, unused or any and all TAN data. The Mac OS X version requires 10.1 or later; an older program for Mac OS 8.1 is also available. [Download - 3MB]
BlackBerry 8830 images
The first pictures have been leaked of a new BlackBerry phone, the 8830. Presumably a companion or successor to the 8800, the new phone is headed to Verizon Wireless, and while having a very similar button and display layout, is now burnished in metallic grey instead of black. It is also marked with a distinct "World Edition" label, which suggests that the phone may be RIM's first hybrid GSM/CDMA model. Click through to see larger images. [via The Boy Genius Report]
Ascent 1.3 released
Montebello Software has released Ascent 1.3, an application for Mac users designed to help cyclists, runners, and hikers train better by organizing activity data to present it in useful ways. Ascent enables users to download activity data directly from GPS into the software and immediately begin analyzing the data as it is presented in various graphical or textual formats. An "animation" feature lets users replay the activity to review performance in detail during any segment. The update supports opening any Ascent activity in Google Earth to use the "fly-by" mode, and can export activities to kml files. The software exports activity latitude/longitude values to text files, automatically checks for updates, includes a simplified drag-and-drop installer, and enhances the "summary" view. Ascent 1.3 is priced at $35 (system requirements were unavailable).
Two new Pioneer plasmas
Pioneer is releasing two new plasma HDTV sets in Japan: the first is the PDP-A507HX, a 50-inch model that is nevertheless limited to a native resolution of 1365x768, displaying video in 720p. The PDP-A427HX is also capable of 720p, but has its native resolution restricted even further, stopped at 1024x768. Each set does have HDMI, DVI and USB ports however, and benefits from Pioneer's PURE Black Panel and PURE Drive II technologies, which are said to improve contrast and color. The 427 is 450,000 yen ($3,786), while the 507 is 560,000 yen ($4,712). [via Akihabara News]
tvTray Apple TV mount
H-Squared, creator of the popular Mini mount clear mounting bracket for Apple's Mac mini, has unveiled the tvTray Apple TV mounting system. The tvTray takes design cues from other H-Squared mounting products, and offers multi-directional mounting that rotates to aim the Apple TV in almost any direction. The shelf mount enables users to mount the Apple TV on nearly any horizontal surface, or secure the device to the underside of a shelf to place the set top box in an entertainment center. Power cables are inserted through the keyhole, and the standard 75mm and 100mm mount hole configuration allows users to secure the tvTray to any device that supports the VESA mounting standard. The tvTray is made from acrylic with a channel for cables in the wall-mount style, and is priced at $35.
20.1" notebook w/SLI video
Possibly more powerful than the Orca Extreme 9191, the Malibal Veda is a formidable gaming laptop. The top configuration uses a 20.1-inch screen, capable of resolutions up to 1680x1050, and has its video supplied by not one but two Quadro FX Go 2500M cards -- each with 512MB of memory. Users can choose up to 4GB of RAM and 320GB of hard drive space, and the processor is a Turion 64 X2. Accessories include WiFi, a TV tuner, a DVD burner and a 7-in-1 card reader. Base prices start at $2,799, but with high-end hardware, the system can easily cost in excess of $7,000. [via I4U News]
The heavy publicity surrounding Windows Vista has had little effect on computer buyers, according to a recent Harris survey. While an ad blitz nearly doubled recognition of the new Microsoft OS from 47 to 87 percent between December and March, the number of existing users who intended to upgrade had actually dropped over the four-month period, only 12 percent had said they would upgrade to the OS within the next year.
"Vista promised better performance, reliability, security, and a revolutionary user interface - but it appears consumers looking to upgrade are not ready to buy into the promise," said Harris VP Milton Ellis.
Apple patent filings
In brief: Apple has filed for four patents ranging from audio status information to network printing systems, e frontier is offering a free exporter for Adobe Poser 7, and Teacup Software began the sale of its Table Styles and CellStyles plug-ins to enhance support for Adobe InDesign CS3. MacService has introduced a new storage upgrade service for the Apple TV starting from $200, and Agiggle.com has launched the first daily series of high resolution comedy video podcasts designed for Apple TV. A new patent filing from Apple surfaced today describing "Audio status information for a portable electronic device." The new patent will likely enable an iPod or iPhone to communicate to users when the battery is running low.
Hop-On MP3 Phone Patent
Cellphone designer Hop-On may create trouble for the music phone industry, according to a patent the company has received today. The company said it had been granted a patent that covered MP3 phones with speakers on the sides as well as control buttons -- effectively applying the patent to virtually every flip-phone with music abilities released in the US over recent years. The company was aware of this and hoped to profit at the expense of other cellphone makers by collecting royalties from the "millions" of past and future designs touched by the patent, the announcement said.
BlackBerrying Text Patent
BlackBerry's creator Research in Motion has patented a potentially revolutionary approach to text entry on its handhelds, a new filing published today shows. The Canadian firm has developed methods that it hopes will cut down on the number of keystrokes needed for smartphone text messages, which are frequently slower than their PC equivalents. One of these is a technique dubbed "phrase substitution," according to RIM: the user could put in smaller text strings that would automatically be replaced with larger strings, such as "FYI" creating "for your information."
Best Buy Apple boutiques
Apple's new, expanded distribution deal with Best Buy may increase the effective number of distribution points for Macs by 10 percent and bring new boutique layouts to showcase Apple products. Analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray said that while the growing presence of Macs and other Apple products at Best Buy will not affect the firm's outlook for Mac sales in the June or September quarters, the strengthening relationship will bring higher visibility, including boutique-like Apple stores in some locations. Best Buy, which sold Apple TV one week ahead of other retailers, announced it would increase the number of retail locations stocking Macs from 57 today to about 200 by this fall.
Ubercaster 1.0 released
E.R.S "Pleasant software for the people" has released ▄bercaster 1.0 after a lengthy period of private beta testing. ▄bercaster is designed as a complete production suite for podcasting on Mac systems that allows podcasters to prepare, record, cut, and release shows without overloaded and bulky recording environments. The software supports live audio recording, auto ducking, effects, chapters for enhanced podcasts, ID3 tags, album cover art, and MP3/AAC/AIFF encoding. ▄bercaster 1.0 is available for $80, and requires Mac OS X 10.4.4 or later.
LG SV280 Slider Phone
LG this morning took a fresher approach to cellphone design and launched the SV280. Not unlike the kick slider of Motorola's RIZR Z8, the Korean-made phone takes its cue from a banana's shape to gently curve the handset when it slides open. This puts both the speaker and the microphone closer to your face, LG says. A rounded body with edge grips also makes for a more comfortable fit.
Media playback is still a focus in the design with a significant 142MB of built-in flash (plus a microSD slot), a 1.3-megapixel camera, and MP3 playback. The SV280 goes live with SKTelecom in Korea today; the likelihood of a North American version is currently slight. Click through for a larger photo.
Pre-upgraded Apple TVs
TechRestore today announced that it has begun offering pre-upgraded Apple TV systems that are pre-configured with storage upgrades of up to 160GB. The 160GB units allow for up to 200 hours of video storage, 36,000 songs, or 100,000 photos, according to the company. Apple began shipping its Apple TV set top box in late March for $299 with a 40GB hard drive that stores up to 50 hours of video. The device wirelessly streams media from a computer in the home to the living room, where it connects to newer TV sets. Users control the Apple TV via a tiny remote control that ships with the unit, and can access all iTunes content on a full-sized TV with on-screen menus. TechRestore upgrades are priced from $400 (80GB) to $500 (160GB), and the company includes a 1-year warranty on upgraded Apple TV systems.
QuarkXPress 7.2 released
Quark on Thursday released QuarkXPress 7.2, the latest update to its popular software for graphic design and multi-channel page layout. Available as a free download to all existing QuarkXPress 7 customers, the QuarkXPress 7.2 updater provides performance improvements and addresses customer input as well as bring support for Windows Vista and Quark XPert Tools Pro (the popular suite of QuarkXPress XTensions), and new language support, including user interfaces in five additional languages -- Czech, Greek, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), and Turkish. Also included in the update are usability enhancements to Job Jackets, a unique workflow feature that provides quality control and facilitates collaboration for anyone involved in a creative job. In addition, version 7.2 enables users to specify resolutions for different types of objects, specifically vector graphics, drop shadows, and blends and also supports Kodak's new CMM that adds Black Point Compensation. A free 30-day demo of the "Universal" $750 application is available online (upgrades are $250).
ASUS C90S Notebook
ASUS revealed today that it has a desktop replacement notebook in the works which should be equally flexible and quick. Codenamed the C90S, the 15.4-inch widescreen system can be custom-ordered by either buyers or retailers to offer as much or as little performance as they need. Performance will be driven chiefly by a desktop-class Core 2 Duo running as quickly as 2.66GHz; an MXM module will also let shoppers custom-order the system with different levels of NVIDIA graphics, including the future GeForce Go 8-series when it becomes available. Multimedia will be just as much a speciality with an optional Blu-Ray drive, an HDMI output, an internal TV tuner, and an unusually sharp 2-megapixel webcam.
Mac Pro Special Xeon
Apple's updated Mac Pro uses a special version of Intel's Xeon workstation-class processor, the semiconductor company said in an e-mail note. The 3GHz quad-core CPU at the heart of the fastest system is currently an unannounced model that sits at the top of the company's performance range and is presently used only by Apple.
"We are indeed shipping a 3.0GHz Xeon version [and] expect to see faster gigahertz speeds for our high-end [Core 2] Extreme PCs very soon, too," said Intel's Bill Kircos. "For now, the product is in limited production and Apple has chosen to adopt it. We will introduce another 3.0GHz Xeon SKU later on as well."
HP Gaming Summit 2007
Computer maker HP late yesterday held its 2007 Gaming Summit and said it would more aggressively chase after gamers with a future line of PCs. Using car analogies, HP's gaming CTO Rahul Sood said that the company needed to develop a "Mercedes" PC which had much of the performance of the flagship Voodoo PC line, but which didn't have the exotic cases and cooling that add to the cost of Voodoo's Omen and similar luxury systems.
Without going into specifics, Sood indicated that desktops, notebooks, and even handhelds would produce the added speed by the end of the year. The move will put HP in direct competition with Dell's XPS series, which sits in between its mainstream systems and its deluxe Alienware label.
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