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News Archive for 07/04/10

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GooBall 1.0.2 comes to Intel-based Macs

04/10, 5:50pm

GooBall 1.0.2 released

Ambrosia Software today released GooBall 1.0.2, enabling the 3D game to run natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary. The update also changes the physics engine from ODE to Ageia PhysX for improved real-life physics simulation. "Roll, jump, and slime your GooBall through dozens of fanciful worlds of wonder as you control the cutest little alien around, the Goober. Being trapped in a gooey ball of protoplasm has never been this fun!... Welcome to GooBall! Roll, jump, and slime your GooBall through dozens of fanciful worlds of wonder as you control the cutest little alien around, the Goober. Being trapped in a gooey ball of protoplasm has never been this fun!" GooBall is priced at $25 and requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later.

Crucial ships 1,066MHz DDR2 RAM modules

04/10, 5:35pm

Crucial 1,066MHz DDR2 RAM

Crucial Technology is shipping a new RAM format in its Ballistix and Ballistix Tracer lines. PC2-8500 is a DDR2 module, and is clocked at 1,066MHz, which is more than 400MHz faster than the average user's system memory. The module is also built with Crucial's Enhanced Performance Profiles technology, which should simplify the overclocking process in compatible computers. Users can by the RAM in 1 and 2GB kits, at prices starting around $228; the main difference in the Tracer kits is the addition of cosmetic LED lights.

Apple officially posts Apple TV ad

04/10, 5:15pm

Apple TV ad posted

The advertisement for the Apple TV which quietly surfaced yesterday on CNBC has appeared on Apple's website in four different qualities. Visitors to Apple's site can select small, medium, large, or HD to display the advertisement that depicts Jack Black in the motion picture 'School of Rock.' The ad shows the film playing first on a computer, followed by an iPod, and finally on the TV in a modern living room. The ad narrator speaks a series of simple phrases to accent the visual images, as viewers are led from room to room in the home: "It's on your computer. It's your iPod. Now, it's on your TV."

Microsoft "dead," at a turning point?

04/10, 5:10pm

Microsoft Doubts

Microsoft may be at a turning point in its future, according to actions taken by key figures today and over the weekend. Goldman Sachs financial analyst Sarah Friar today removed Microsoft from its conviction list, noting that while the stock was still worth buying it no longer had the same allure as before. A fundamental shift in the market towards the web and the resulting independence from Microsoft's software were cited as the primary reasons, as users no longer needed Windows or desktop utilities for an increasing number of tasks.

"Vista may be the last big operating system developed by the company," Friar said. Microsoft still plans a revision to Vista codenamed "Vienna" for 2009.

Refurb MacBooks for $949, MBP for $1,299

04/10, 4:50pm

Refurb MacBook Pros $1,299

Apple is offering refurbished MacBook Pros from $1,299 and reconditioned MacBooks from $949. The company's current stock of refurbished MacBook Pro models includes its 15-inch 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo ($1,299) with 512MB of memory and an 80GB hard drive; its 15-inch 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo ($1,349) with 512MB of memory and an 80GB hard drive; its 17-inch 2.16GHz Intel Core Duo ($1,999) with 1GB of memory and a 120GB hard drive; and its 17-inch 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo ($2,299) with 2GB of memory and a 160GB hard drive. Apple's selection of consumer-oriented MacBooks includes the White 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo ($949) with 512MB of memory and a 60GB hard drive; the White 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo ($1,099) with 1GB of memory and an 80GB hard drive; and the Black 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo ($1,299) with 1GB of memory and a 120GB hard drive. As always, all refurbished Apple products come with free shipping and a one-year warranty.

Cabasse unveils $25,000 single-channel speaker

04/10, 4:50pm

$25,000 Cabasse speaker

The extremely wealthy have a new stereo component to consider, and that is the Artis Karissima speaker by Cabasse. At $25,000 the speaker costs more than many annual salaries, but in return offers nearly obsessive engineering, down to the use of dampening composites and the selection of only the most powerful rare-earth magnets.

The cabinet itself is designed to eliminate standing waves, and uses cherry, Santos or Wenge wood finishes. The speaker's orb-shaped "lens" provides highly directional sound in frequencies ranging from 80 to 22,000Hz. The 12-inch woofer produces frequencies down to 27Hz with a power of 94dB, but is not intended to substitute for a dedicated subwoofer -- the Karissima merely covers one channel in a complete audio setup. [via SCI FI Tech]

Magic Bullet, Primatte Keyer updates at NAB

04/10, 4:15pm

Red Giant updates at NAB

Red Giant Software is announcing Magic Bullet 3, Primatte Keyer Pro 4, Instant HD Pro, and upgrades for Trapcode products at the NAB 2007 convention in Las Vegas from April 16-19th (site not updated). Magic Bullet now comes in three forms which include Magic Bullet Looks, Magic Bullet Frames, and Magic Bullet Colorista. Magic Bullet Looks lets users define the style of video or film with imaging tools in After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Motion, Premiere Pro, and Avid. Magic Bullet Frames offers fast and high-quality conversion of 60i materials to 24p or just de-interlacing of video in After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Motion, Premiere Pro, and Avid. Magic Bullet Colorista is the same color correction tool that Red Giant launched in 2006, with new support for After Effects CS3 Professional, Premiere Pro CS3, and the new Final Cut Studio.

Plasma TV prices tumble

04/10, 4:00pm

Plasma TV Prices Tumble

The prices of plasma TVs are becoming a boon to shoppers but are creating a minor crisis for their designers, a new collection of NPD data shows. While the number of sets sold in February jumped 30 percent compared to a year ago, the average price of the system itself dropped 35 percent to $1,688 -- actually representing a revenue drop for many of the companies involved, the research group says. While budget companies such as Vizio rely on low-cost plasmas, NPD's Ross Rubin suggests the decrease is prompting more expensive brands to add 1080p resolution, more HDMI connections, and networking.

Evidence has surfaced of plasma makers already responding to the issue, such as today's introduction of a 42-inch Panasonic model. [via Crave]

RIAA loses another file-sharing case

04/10, 3:55pm

RIAA loses another case

The Recording Industry Association of America has lost another file-sharing lawsuit, this time in the case of Elektra v. Santangelo. Patti Santangelo was accused of illegal music sharing in 2005, but being unable to prove that Patti was responsible (directly or indirectly), the RIAA sued her children, who were 15 and 11 at the time.

All three cases have been dismissed by federal judge Colleen McMahon, and moreover, with prejudice -- giving Patti the option of recovering legal fees from her accusers. The RIAA filed a motion in late March for the case to be dismissed without prejudice, but failed, as McMahon argued that Patti should either be able to defend herself in court or receive remuneration.

Alienware, Dell notebooks pack 500GB storage

04/10, 3:30pm

Dell 500GB Notebooks

Both Dell and its gaming brand Alienware today quietly added a new drive option to their flagship portables. The 20-inch desktop replacement XPS M2010 from the parent company as well as the 17-inch Aurora m9700 now have the option of a 250GB, 5400 RPM notebook hard drive from Hitachi that offers a mixture between speed and capacity. In both cases the drives can be doubled for up to 500GB of storage, a feature previously unavailable in a portable.

Choosing the 250GB drive adds $250 or $300 to the base prices of the Dell and Alienware systems, respectively, and maintains the same projected ship date. [via NotebookReview]

MasonIP brings heavy-duty video to home theater, pros

04/10, 3:05pm

Wired MasonIP Video Server

Hardware designer Wired this afternoon revealed the MasonIP (PDF). Although designed as a network video decoder for editing professionals, the rackmount device is also targeted at serious home theaters where movies can sit on a computer or a networked hard drive. Any computer with a modern web browser can setup the MasonIP to connect to specific media servers, Wired says. The hardware displays its menu through a TV interface and has the performance to play virtually any file at full 1080p HD, including standards rarely available outside of Blu-Ray and HD DVD players: HDV from HD camcorders, VC-1, and even raw VIDEO_TS files from DVDs can be played alongside DivX, H.264, and similar formats.

Garmin, TomTom dipping into GPS smartphones?

04/10, 2:30pm

Garmin and TomTom Phones

Garmin and TomTom both have GPS phones in the works, according to their Taiwanese supplier Compal. The latter says that its customers each want cellphones with true GPS, allowing either handset to plot routes without first tapping into the cellphone network and paying a monthly fee. Both are at an early stage but will likely have devices available within only a few months of each other.

While Garmin has generally refrained from involving itself with cellphone technology, TomTom recently launched its GO 715 unit with a GSM cellphone radio, suggesting that the company wants to expand into mapping devices with two-way interaction in the future. [DigiTimes via NaviGadget]

Boinx to showcase iStopMotion 2 at NAB 2007

04/10, 2:30pm

iStopMotion 2 at NAB 2007

Boinx Software today announced that it will preview several new products -- including iStopMotion 2, QuartzChartz, FxChartz, QuartzCrawl, and FxCrawl -- at NAB 2007. iStopMotion 2 is a tool for recording stop motion animation and time lapse movies. The update promises a much more productive animator that allows instant previews of animations as well as various tools to improve the animation workflow. iStopMotion 2 also adds numerous tricks, such as blue or green screening and the ability to import a video to guide the animation. The latest release will also brings continuous recording of sequences, as well as support for HD cameras. QuartzChartz and FxChartz are extensions to Apple's Quartz Composer system that allow designers to draw with dynamic data -- such as stock market information -- from SQL databases, and visualize that data using a charting tool.

Cowon preparing do-it-all Q5 for the US

04/10, 2:10pm

Cowon Q5 coming to the US

Korean company Cowon is preparing to ship an especially powerful media player to the US. The Q5 not only has a five-inch touchscreen, it uses Windows CE 5.0 Professional, and has not one but three connection options: Bluetooth, WiFi and HSDPA, the latter two allowing high-speed web browsing from virtually anywhere. The player will also have an FM radio, and even be usable as a DVR tool, recording favorite TV shows. The processor is a 400MHz AMD chipset, and buyers can optionally subscribe with Tele Atlas for GPS navigation. 40 and 60GB players will ship to the US in the second quarter, costing $499 and $549 respectively. [via LAPTOP Magazine]

Briefly: Apple store opening; Apple TV PBX

04/10, 2:10pm

Apple store, Apple TV PBX

In brief: Apple is preparing to open its latest retail store in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday, April 14th with a preview of the new outlet. At least one Apple TV fan has managed to get the Asterisk PBX system running on an Apple TV, collecting the $500 reward offered by AppleTVHacks.net. Nokia has released an iSync plug-in page that offers support for its mobile handsets, and Palm has used its Investor Day event to announce that the next version of its PalmOS will be based on a new Linux kernel. Apple is set to open its latest Apple Store at 217 Summit Boulevard in Birmingham, Alabama. The grand opening will be held at 10:00 a.m. CDT.

LG debuts 14-inch notebook with Radeon X2300 video

04/10, 1:50pm

LG X Note R400 Notebook

LG ended speculation today with the X Note R400. A 14-inch mid-range notebook, its technical details are a perfect match to those from the Canadian leak and offer relatively advanced features for the price. A Mobility Radeon x2300 with 128MB of memory offers fast-enough graphics for Vista Home Premium's interface and light 3D gaming; 1GB of RAM and a 1.73GHz Core 2 Duo provide the same grunt for multitasking and CPU-heavy tasks such as video decoding. A 1.3-megapixel webcam is standard for every R400.

Japanese OEMs jump on Core 2 Extreme QX6800

04/10, 1:25pm

Core 2 Extreme QX6800 PCs

With Intel have only just announced its release, the Core 2 Extreme QX6800 has already found its way into a pair of Japanese computers. The first is by DosPara, and also comes equipped with high-spec items such as a 640MB GeForce 8800 GTS and a 750GB SATA II hard drive. More conventional components include 2GB of DDR 800 RAM and a DVD-DL burner.

The system produced by Faith is even speedier, sporting a 768MB GeForce 8800 GTX, as well as a 10,000rpm hard drive, albeit one limited to 300GB. The same general RAM and DVD options are present, but reflection the system's workstation audience, another difference is the choice of Vista Ultimate as the default operating system. The Faith system costs the equivalent of $5,212; the DosPara machine is a more reasonable $2,900. [via Akihabara News]

Sling to stream Apple TV to cellphones?

04/10, 1:20pm

Slingbox and Apple TV

Sling Media is developing support for its Slingbox streaming hubs that would let them support the Apple TV, the company said late on Monday. A future update should give cellphones with SlingPlayer Mobile the ability not only to view an Apple TV's content streamed over the Internet but to control it as well by sending IR codes.

The combination of an Apple TV and Sling's device would allow not only the option of streaming media cached on the Apple hub's 40GB drive but media stored in iTunes on the host Mac or Windows PC, providing a rare opportunity to share a user's entire home media library with their cellphone. Specific release dates were unavailable but are expected soon while the Apple TV is in testing, Sling's Brian Jaquet said.

Palm turns to developing Linux OS

04/10, 12:45pm

Palm turns to Linux OS

Palm has used its Investor Day event to announce that the next version of the PalmOS will be based on a new Linux kernel. In the past the company has used either proprietary software or Windows Mobile, as in the case of the Treo 750. PalmOS 5 devices will still be released later in 2007, but the company will thereafter switch PalmOS entirely to the new architecture, with the only alternative platform being Windows Mobile.

Surprising however is the revelation that Palm is not using the Access Linux Platform, which was developed by the buyer of Palm's former software subsidiary, PalmSource. The new OS is being developed entirely within Palm, and should even substitute components formerly supplied by Access, such the web browser. Instead Palm will be using Opera for browsing, and most likely ChatterEmail for messages. New features will include multitasking and simulataneous voice and data. The first devices with the new PalmOS will arrive by the end of 2007. [via treocentral]

iTunes adds HD news podcasts for Apple TV

04/10, 12:35pm

HD podcasts, Apple TV

Washingtonpost.com today began offering high-definition (HD) podcasts designed for viewing on HD TVs and the Apple TV via the iTunes Store. Washingtonpost.com is the first news organization to conform to the highest specifications for the new Apple TV by offering its documentary videos online in a format that is optimally viewable on Apple's set top box specifically designed for living rooms. "Keeping true to its dedication to evolving multimedia platforms, all washingtonpost.com videos are shot with high-definition cameras, and the series available on iTunes is coded to play in 720p. The HD videos will also be available for download from washingtonpost.com."

iPodmods offers 100GB iPod modification

04/10, 12:15pm

100GB iPod mod

The team at iPodmods is offering a new modification enabling users with 30GB or 80GB iPods to upgrade the portable player's hard drive to 100GB of storage capacity. The 100GB hard drive replaces the current drive in the iPod, and requires a simple back panel replacement. iPodmods' upgrade uses an iPod-compatible Toshiba hard drive that consumes roughly the same amount of power as current fifth-generation iPod drives. The modification comes with a 90-day warranty, and is priced at $300. iPodmods is also offering a free extended-life battery to customers who purchase the 100GB hard drive for Apple's video iPod or Microsoft's Zune player.

NI Vokator, NI-Spektral Delay go Universal

04/10, 11:55am

Vokator, NI-Spektral Delay

Native Instruments (NI) today released Vokator 1.2 and NI-Spektral Delay 1.6, adding Universal Binary support to the vocoding synthesizer and FFT-based effect processor applications. Vokator boasts a sophisticated synthesizer and a granular sampler, as well as advanced features and multiple modes of operation. NI-Spektral Delay uses real-time FFT (Fast Fourier Transformation) to split each channel of a stereo signal into as many as 160 separately modifiable frequency bands. The software allows users to set the levle, delay time, and feedback amount for each band while applying various modulation effects to the signal in the frequency domain. Vokator and NI-Spektral Delay are each priced at $200, with upgrades available for $30. Customers who registered after September 12th, 2006 can upgrade for free.

Sony's all-in-one VAIO L gains speed, style

04/10, 11:45am

Sony VAIO L Spring 2007

As a complement to today's notebook updates, Sony has also seen fit to boost its all-in-one, folding VAIO L with a series of new cosmetic and performance changes. The most significant changes are to the smaller 15.4-inch LB, according to the company: the system gains a stand-out aqua color scheme (shown) and a speed-up with a 1.86GHz Celeron M in every model. The 19-inch VAIO LA gets improved storage: owners of the premium Blu-Ray version can now author movies straight to the HD format and can record as well as convert video in H.264. Hard disk capacity has been bumped to 320GB on the same PC.

Click through for launch details and a full product shot.

Samsung SCH-i760 visits the FCC

04/10, 11:35am

Samsung SCH-i760 phone

A new Samsung phone has been submitted for approval by the FCC. Designated the SCH-i760, the phone is a Pocket PC phone with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, in addition to an unusual number- and direction-pad arrangement on the front. It will run Windows Mobile 6, and come with mobile versions of Microsoft Office programs including Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Other highlights include WiFi, MP3 playback and a 1.3-megapixel still/video camera. The touchscreen is operated with a stylus. A larger photo can be seen below. [via SlashPhone]

OWC, Seagate ship fast 160GB portable drives

04/10, 11:35am

OWC, Seagate hard drives

Other World Computing (OWC) today unveiled its highest capacity high-speed portable storage drive -- the OWC 160GB Mercury On-The-Go portable hard drive. Trans International today also began shipping the 2.5-inch 160GB Seagate Momentus 7200 RPM SATA hard drive (shown at right) for Apple's MacBook, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini. Other World Computing's 160GB Mercury On-The-Go portable drive offers FireWire 800/400 and USB 2 connectivity in a palm-sized bus powered unit. The Seagate Momentus drive features a 3Gbps SATA interface with Native Command Queuing (NCQ), which Trans International says is the fastest option available with perpendicular recording technology to enhance data reliability. The company is offering the Seagate Momentus 160GB drive for $200, while OWC's Mercury On-The-Go drive is priced at $280.

AVerMedia merges analog, HD into breakout USB tuner

04/10, 11:05am

AverTV Hybrid Ultra Tuner

Hoping to create a complete drop-in media center, AVerMedia late Tuesday morning introduced the AverTV Hybrid Ultra USB TV tuner. Its breakout box shape holds both worldwide analog and North American ATSC tuners to grab both standard and 1080i HD broadcasts over the air (plus cable for analog viewing). A remote and an IR receiver are packaged in to give control over any Windows Media Center PC in a living room setting. FM radio is also an option along with hooks for RCA and S-video inputs to capture footage from other devices.

Already available, AVerMedia's USB tuner arrives straight from the company for $130 bundled with an FM antenna and the IR remote/receiver combo.

Red Zune to coincide with sports content?

04/10, 11:05am

Red Zune and sports?

Microsoft may be inaugurating more than just a new color when the red Zune launches this summer. According to one of CrunchGear's "spies" in the company, the Zune Marketplace will see the addition of a section dedicated to sports. Beyond this the source could only conjecture, but it is believed that users may be able to download game videos to watch on-the-go. These clips could even be podcasted, but it is unlikely that Microsoft would keep such a highly-requested feature under wraps, especially since it has yet to begin audio podcasts first.

Dell to step into 19-inch widescreen LCD arena

04/10, 10:40am

Dell 19-inch Widescreen

Dell is about to produce its first 19-inch widescreen UltraSharp display, its Taiwanese suppliers say. While specifications weren't part of the revelation, Dell's history and recent displays suggest a 1440x900 screen that would likely take the place of Dell's current 4:3 19-inch model that would accommodate budgets below the 20-inch E207WFP.

None of Dell's partners in the region have suggested a particular release date, but note that production begins in April. A release in late April or May is likely with the price set to dip well below the $259 of its 20-inch cousin. [via DigiTimes]

OCZ deploys its first SDHC cards

04/10, 10:30am

OCZ deploys SDHC cards

Memory specialists OCZ have released their first SDHC cards. While not backwards compatible with standard SD slots, SDHC does enable greater capacities, running from 4 to 32GB. OCZ's two cards are measured at 4 and 8GB, but unlike first-generation offerings from other competitors, they are rated at the slightly faster Class 4 speed, or 4MB/s. Each card is also provided an unusually long three-year warranty. The cards should soon be on sale from both online stores and retail outlets.

Finetune Desktop preview released

04/10, 10:25am

Finetune Desktop preview

The Finetune digital music service is bringing its catalog of two million tracks from major and indie labels to Mac and Windows desktops, ramping up competition with Apple's iTunes software via customizable playlists. Finetune today released a preview version of Finetune Desktop, one of the first applications built on the alpha release of Adobe's Apollo application runtime. Users can launch Web applications directly from the desktop, without the need to open a Web browser. Finetune allows users to create custom playlists, and can tap into iTunes libraries to automatically generate playlists based on library content. Finetune is available for free, and integrates several aspects of a social network to help users discover new music (system requirements were unavailable).

VAIO G gets flash drive as Sony revamps line

04/10, 10:15am

Sony VAIO G Solid State

Sony today launched an aggressive overhaul of its notebooks in Japan, and started its campaign with the addition of a 32GB solid-state flash drive option for the VAIO G. In addition to speeding up load times and improving shock resistance, the changeover makes the 12-inch ultraportable lighter still at 1.89 pounds without its optical drive. Owners also get an extra half-hour of battery life (up to 12.5 hours on an extended battery).

The flash storage is a swap-in option for the G which brings the price to $1,926 with a 1.5GHz Core Solo and Vista Business. It ships now in Japan and should make its way to other countries soon along with Sony's other notebook updates today, which are detailed after the break.

iSlayer releases iStat nano 2.0

04/10, 9:50am

iStat nano 2.0 released

iSlayer has released iStat nano 2.0, a major update to the system monitor widget with animated menus and transitions. The widget enables users to view statistics about bandwidth, battery CPU, and memory usage as well as hard drive space and temperatures. The software also monitors fan speeds, uptime, and the top five processes. iStat nano displays a system's public IP address, with the latest version featuring a new interface as well as new skin colors. The update replaces the old method of selecting views with a 'fly-over' animated view selector, and the overview view displays uptime alongside a user-selected fan sensor. The widget also adds support for eight CPU cores to work with Apple's new Mac Pro systems. iStat nano is available for free, but donations are encouraged. The widget requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.

Hog Bay updates Mori 1.6 digital notebook

04/10, 9:30am

Mori 1.6 digital notebook

Hog Bay Software today released Mori 1.6, a digital notebook that makes it easy to record and organize notes. Mori provides a place to remember notes and organize ideas, allowing users to search through an entire notebook with its built-in search engine, or via Mac OS X's Spotlight search. Leveraging the familiar Mail-style interface, users can sort, tag, link, and alias notes as well as use Smart Folders and Tag Folders to collect and organize matching notes. Version 1.6 adds support for a del.icio.us-style tagging system for structuring notes outside of the traditional file / folder hierarchical structure. It also adds new interface elements to view and edit these tags as well as new "Tag Folder" entry types, which not only find matching entries based on a search criteria, but also allow users to drag and drop entries onto tag folders to match the tag folder's search criteria. Mori requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later and is available for $40.

Panasonic rolls out smallest-ever 1080p plasma

04/10, 9:25am

Panasonic 42-inch Plasma

Panasonic kicked off its Tuesday with what it says is one of its most important TV updates yet. Its Viera PZ700 line includes a 42-inch model that breaks the seemingly impenetrable barrier of producing a full HD, 1080p plasma set under 50 inches. Panasonic's PEAKS processing engine keeps the contrast strong at 4,000:1. The rest of the line, which includes a 50-inch model, also packs ample connections with three HDMI inputs, dual D4 (component equivalent) inputs, and an SDHC card reader that can play H.264 or MPEG-2 video directly from flash storage.

iRiver packs flash player with 4GB, line-in recording

04/10, 8:40am

iRiver F700 Recording

iRiver on Tuesday respun one of its long-time players into a new version for those who like to capture audio as well as listen to it. The F700 Recording Edition now has a line-in jack for directly encoding audio from a CD player, a microphone, or another outside source; it can also record FM radio directly from its built-in tuner. Equally important, however, is said to be its storage. The F700 is unusual in its size for carrying 4GB of flash that gives it either 72 hours of full stereo music recording or 288 hours of voice. Playback of MP3, OGG, or WMA tracks lasts for 40 hours on a disposable battery.

The Japanese branch of iRiver is selling the Recording Edition of the player today in black or silver for $191. A North American release is a possibility given company history but hasn't been discussed. [via MobileWhack]

New iRobots scrub your pool clean

04/10, 8:10am

iRobot Verro

iRobot this morning unveiled a pair of robots that take its philosophy to backyard pools. The Verro 300 (pictured) and Verro 600 each crawl below the waterline, automatically vacuuming up dirt and even bacteria that might accumulate in the pool. Either is also capable of cleaning the walls and stairs that most automatic systems miss, iRobot says. An average run will complete an entire cleaning in 60 to 90 minutes with almost no human interaction involved.

The choice of model depends on the nature of the pool: the Verro 300 ($800) is best for harder surfaces like concrete and uses a hydro-jet to blast the pool clean, while the Verro 600 ($1,200) has brushes better-suited to scrubbing tile or vinyl. The two iRobot models should be available today.

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