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Refurb MacBooks dwindle
Apple's selection of refurbished MacBook Pros has entirely disappeared from its U.S. online store, and its MacBook selection has dwindled to just one model. The Cupertino-based company's only reconditioned MacBook available is the White 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo model with 512MB of memory and a 60GB hard drive for $949. Interestingly, the company's supply of G4 PowerBooks has increased to five separate units. Apple's refurbished PowerBook G4 systems currently include its 12-inch 1.5GHz model with 512MB of memory, a 60GB hard drive, and a Combo drive for $1,099; 12-inch 1.5GHz with 512MB of memory, an 80GB hard drive, and a SuperDrive for $1,199; 15-inch 1.67GHz with 512MB of memory, an 80GB hard drive, and a SuperDrive for $1,299; 17-inch 1.67GHz with 512MB of memory, a 100GB hard drive, and a SuperDrive for $1,599; and its 17-inch 1.67GHz model with 512MB of memory, a 120GB hard drive, and a SuperDrive for $1,699.
BenQ-Siemens SF71 phone
The Chinese-language site PhoneDaily claims to have acquired information on what could be the last cellphone under the BenQ-Siemens brand. The SF71 is described as a clamshell phone, but also has a sliding LCD screen, which reveals a two-megapixel camera and twin electronic flashes. A camera facing the user will enable 3G video calls.
Other supposed features include dedicated music controls, Bluetooth with A2DP stereo, and a two-inch QVGA screen with 256,000 colors. The 71 is currently expected to launch in Taiwan; it is unlikely to come to North America, as no BenQ-Siemens phone has ever been adopted by one of the region's carriers. [via SlashPhone]
EasyShare 6.0.2 (free) is Kodak's official photo organizing program, which also allows users to edit video or share cards, books and standard prints. No new features are listed, but two cautions are given: the "One Touch to Better Pictures" option has been removed, and installing v6.0.2 may make a collection incompatible with earlier versions of EasyShare. The app requires Mac OS X 10.3 and 200MB of free hard drive space.
[Download - 51.3MB]
GimmeSomeTune 3.6 (donation) handles a number of functions missing from iTunes, such as automatic cover and lyrics downloads, and quick on-screen displays of both lyrics and a mini-controller. Version 3.6 shows covers and lyrics for all CDs and Internet streams, and can store art in an album's folder rather than its ID3 tag, saving space. A bug that crashed the app on launch has also been fixed. Mac OS X 10.3.9 is required. [Download - 997KB]
DV Monitor Pro 1.1 ($200) captures video directly to a hard drive, and lets users add names, labels and other information immediately after a clip has finished transferring. Users can also conduct shot-matching and continuity checking, as well as compose special effects shots. The program is a Universal Binary for Mac OS X 10.4, and is intended strictly for standard-definition DV video. [Download - 3.5MB]
DockStar 2.0 ($8) is a Mail add-on that inserts up to five new indicators into the Dock icon, indicating which account is receiving messages, and presenting optional information such flagged or total messages. The second edition introduces several enhancements such as sound effects, but is most notable for going beyond the Dock, adding a screensaver and a Dashboard widget. Mail 1.3 and Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later are mandatory; the widget requires 10.4. [Download - 4MB]
iPresent It 1.5 ($18) converts PDF and PowerPoint presentations into a format that can be played on an iPod or Apple TV. iPods must have a color screen, as well as video output, and using an Apple TV with a projector may necessitate a DVI adapter. The v1.5 upgrade supports 1280x720 widescreen presentations, and will automatically detect and adjust for the correct aspect ratio. The software runs on Mac OS X 10.3 or higher. [Download - 852KB]
Tempo, iVault iPod cases
Griffin Technology today announced unveiled three new additions to its case lineup for Apple's iPod: the Courier for fifth-generation iPods as well as iPod nanos, Tempo for the second-generation iPod shuffle, and iVault for iPod nano. The Courier is a carrying case for Apple's fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano that includes separate, detachable cases to fit either model. Users slip the iPod into its appropriate case and drop the the device into the Courier carrier. Courier is designed around an adjustable wrap that attaches to the carrying strap of a backpack or shoulder bag, and includes pockets for carrying cables as well as adapters. The Courier is made from Cordura as well as leather, and features a reflective trim to improve visibility of the iPod at night. Courier is available for $30, while Tempo and iVault are priced at $15 and $25, respectively.
French cellphone designer Sagem today became one of the few companies after Motorola to introduce an intelligent Wi-Fi phone, based on an announcement made today. The my419x includes Unlicensed Mobile Access technology that will let it automatically switch from calls on GSM cellphone networks to Wi-Fi hotspots when it comes in range, saving valuable call minutes and improving reception indoors. This won't be saddled to an expensive phone, however, as the phone keeps its extra features limited to a video-capable VGA camera and Bluetooth.
The my419x should soon be ready for use first through the European cell provider Orange. Other areas and carriers haven't been discussed. [via Mobil.cz]
GPS in all Nokia Phones
Nokia wants GPS navigation to be a standard feature across all its phones, its software supplier Route 66 said today. Although the Finnish cellphone maker already has multiple phones with mapping functionality, including the N95 and the 6110 Navigator, it hopes to make a GPS chipset a standard feature of even its cheapest models as a way of separating itself from rivals.
"Nokia's goal is to be at the top of navigation," Mike Goodenough of Route 66 said bluntly.
Skype SMC WiFi Phone
Skype today began offering a unique phone combo kit designed to get users on to its voice-over-Internet service as quickly as possible. A special bundle for the PC-independent SMC WSKP100 phone includes one of FON's La Fonera Wi-Fi Routers; the tie-in not only lets the owner get access to any FON hotspot available on Earth but even lefts them make money on the router by legally charging others to use wireless Internet access. Skype itself also chips in with 500 SkypeOut minutes to real-world numbers and a year of voice mail to get buyers started.
The bundle is currently available in the US for $160 from Skype's online shop. [via LAPTOP]
Sharp finished its week today with the CX300. One of its most luxuriant dictionaries ever, the foldable dictionary has a 20GB mobile hard disk that Sharp says gives ample headroom for both strict learning tools (including educational videos) as well as entertainment. The latter front is covered by a large 4.3-inch screen ideal for the CX300's MPEG-4 and Windows Media video playback support as well as for controlling MP3 music playback or the integral FM radio. Other extras packed into the unit are an eBook reader, Flash support for games and other animated programs, as well as a voice recorder.
The dictionary ships by the end of April primarily to Korea at a price of $499, coming in a red shell slightly thicker than the pictured CX200. [via Pocketables]
Storm Trojan E-mail Hits
Windows users are being hit by a surge of virus-infected spam e-mail, according to Internet security experts. A variant of a bug nicknamed the "Storm worm" has been appearing in several different versions on a wide scale since Thursday and only threatens to get larger in the near term -- over 5 million messages had been caught as of Thursday alone, the security firm Postini reported. The situation was extreme enough that the firm could see as many as 60 million messages today, making it the largest attack in a year and the single largest contributor to junk e-mail this week.
Apple spreading too thin?
Apple may be biting off more than it can chew as it moves to spread its grip on the digital entertainment industry into the living room while also making a bold move into the already-cluttered mobile handset market, according to the Mercury News. Apple shipped its Apple TV wireless media streaming device in mid-March rather than its original February target, which, coupled with the company's latest announcement that it would push back its release of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard from the spring to the fall, has some industry watchers questioning whether the Cupertino-based company has enough resources to deliver on all of its more recent undertakings. Gartner research analyst Van Baker said Apple is a relatively small company compared to tech firms such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard, with Apple employing around 18,000 full-time workers vs. HP's 156,000 as of last fall.
DRM-free Warner music
Albums by Warner artists such as Madonna and Prince are being sold DRM-free, but only for a short time, Ars Technica reports. The files can be found on AnywhereCD, a site recently launched by MP3.com founder Michael Robertson; the difficulty is that while Robertson does have the right to sell Warner music, the record label insists that DRM was a mandatory part of the agreement. AnywhereCD has as a result been sent a notice of termination, requiring the removal of all Warner music.
Warner has been notoriously resistant to efforts to remove DRM, making general statements against it, and attacking proposals by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. It is however not alone, since the only label to officially eliminate copy protection is EMI.
Stanton T90 USB Turntable
Music accessory designer Stanton has ramped up its line of vinyl decks in advance of the NAB broadcaster expo with the T.90 USB. The turntable is one of the first to connect to computers that can also withstand the impact of a professional DJ, the company claims. Its cornerstone high-torque, direct-drive motor and a strong S-shaped arm maintain smooth tracking during mixes and scratches. Controls are also in place for DJ setups: a key lock adjusts tempo for beat matching without affecting pitch, and dual start/stop switches fit the T.90 into a larger mix setup or a DJ battle.
ML: buy on AAPL weakness
Research analyst Richard Farmer of Merrill Lynch is urging investors to purchase Apple shares while the price remains low as a result of yesterday's announcement that the Cupertino-based company would delay its release of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard until October in order to devote more resources to its iPhone. "We recommend investors use the current stock weakness related to Apple's delay of the Leopard operating system as a buying opportunity as it represents a temporary setback and we believe our long-term thesis is intact," Farmer wrote in a research note obtained by MacNN. "Leopard will still be available in beta version for developers in June at [WWDC]." The analyst retained his price objective of $113 based on earnings scenario analysis.
Philips Snaps Up DLO
Philips today announced that it would acquire Digital Lifestyle Outfitters for an undisclosed sum. The move will fold the South Carolina-based accessory maker into the Dutch company's Peripherals & Accessories unit and is expected to accelerate the already fast growth of the Philips branch through DLO's sales success, which topped $100 million in 2006 alone. The deal should be finalized later this spring.
Nokia 8600 Luna confirmed?
Echoing earlier photos snuck onto a forum, Carphone Warehouse has posted details and an image of an unannounced Nokia phone. Cruciallly however, Stuff.tv reports that it does have a name: the 8600 Luna. Though not on par with the 8800, it will still be considered a high-end phone, not the least because of its glossy, curved design, and solid hardware specifications. Among these are a two megapixel camera and MP3 playback, but most important may be the 1GB of internal memory, which may likely be supplemented by external storage. Carphone Warehouse has not suggested when the phone will be officially unveiled.
Intel SFF Computer
Intel today made a surprise introduction of a complete new PC of its own. Instead of serving as a reference platform, the D201GLY is a full small form factor PC designed for everyone ranging from businesses to developing nations and schools. It achieves this without making many of the sacrifices in cost or expansion that often plague other SFF systems, says Intel's Chris Tobias. The case can still hold a full-length graphics card and uses a low-power Celeron instead of a mobile CPU to keep the price down while still keeping the inside relatively cool.
Other specifications weren't publicized, but Intel's pioneering desktop should see its worldwide launch on May 21st at a $299 price, matching the cost of bulkier towers. [via DigiTimes]
No iPods for MI students
The three Michigan lawmakers who travelled to California last month on Apple's dime have each agreed to reimburse the Cupertino-based company for $1,702 to cover trip-related costs. "The only reason we're paying for it is to end this public perception that something is misguided," said Rep. Tim Melton, D-Pontiac, who as chairman of the House Education Policy Committee said House Democrats mistakenly announced last week that they planned to pump $38 million into the budget to purchase iPods for Michigan students, according to the Detroit News. "We did the press a great disservice and we're deeply sorry for that," Melton admitted.
Pink Zune on sale
Defying expectations, Amazon.com is reporting that it now has the pink Zune in stock. Microsoft's Cesar Menendez had said that the media player would go on sale in May, but for reasons unknown, the date was allegedly moved up to the 13th just this week. A red Zune remains scheduled for later this summer. Notably, Amazon is selling the pink Zune for $250, $30 more than the black, brown or white Zunes. This suggests that all future colors may be considered "premium" players by either Amazon or Microsoft.
Audio specialists TEAC have joined the realm of bone-conducting headphones with its Filltune HP-F100s. Bone-conductors differ from ordinary headphones in that they do not pump sound into the ear canal; instead they sit just above the ear, stimulating auditory nerves more directly. Aside from preventing damage to eardrums, this also offers the advantage of keeping ambient noise audible, which is useful in situations such as dangerous urban traffic.
Another unusual aspect to the F100s is the remote control, which not only adjusts volume, but has its own amplifier to produce better output. Each channel receives 0.76W, and frequencies range from 25Hz to 25KHz. Three AAA batteries provide up to 10 hours of listening. The headphones go on sale in Japan mid-April. [via Akihabara News]
Free U3D content exporter
DAZ 3D has released a free U3D content exporter included as part of DAZ|Studio 1.5, allowing Photoshop users of all experience levels to quickly combine 3D models into existing projects. Users can manipulate 3D models inside Photoshop CS3 Extended, and can work with virtual objects to create images of any genre ranging from medieval to contemporary. The free U3D exporter is designed to ease the process of completing scrapbooks with 3D art and backgrounds; designing books with vivid cover images; and creating compelling storyboards. The company also links to a free video tutorial that walks users through the steps of loading the DAZ 3D Sea Dragon model into Photoshop CS3 Extended, and provides its DAZ 3D weekly free product archive with a slew of 3D models and accessories available for free download. DAZ|Studio 1.5 requires mac OS X 10.3 or later.
Antec P182 PC Tower
Revising one of its most popular cases ever, Antec has released the new P182 mid-tower case. The P182 trades black for gunmetal gray in its standard version, and is also available in a distinctive Special Edition (pictured) with a chrome mirrored finish and a unique USB-powered spotlight for inspecting the case when the system is turned on. Other elements of the near-silent case are continued from the original P180 such as a power supply at the bottom to help cool the hotter-running CPU and video cards through a top-mounted fan.
Prices for the case vary by the reseller, but the standard gunmetal P182 should ship now for $170 from online stores while the Special Edition commands a premium at an average price of $230. [via AnandTech]
LG launches candybar Shine
LG has, finally, officially announced the KE770, its candybar version of the popular Shine slider. And unlike its initial appearance, some few specifications have been published: it will have a two-megapixel camera, and an expansion slot, most likely for microSD cards; it will also be less than 0.4 inches thick, making it thinner than a vast majority of its competitors. It is also known to be a GSM model, but LG has not mentioned whether it will be dual-, tri- or quad-band, or what kind of broadband might be supported. The release schedule remains a mystery as well. Click through for a larger photo. [via Le Journal du Geek]
Xdock and Xmod Wireless
Creative has just announced the final details of two key new wireless audio products. Freshly introduced is the Xmod Wireless, a version of the original Xmod. As before, it uses the company's X-Fi Crystalizer processing to restore lost quality from any computer or portable media player but adds a wireless function that can broadcast its music to any of the optional X-Fi Wireless Receivers up to 100 feet away. The transmitter can further generate virtual surround sound through CMSS spatialization. It ships in May for $244 in Creative's home of Singapore and should be available soon in the US.
Analysts on Leopard delay
Several research analysts have offered their thoughts on Apple's decision to delay its Mac OS X Leopard launch from the spring to the fall in order to ship its forthcoming iPhone on time. Analyst Ben Reitzes of research firm UBS lowered his fiscal year 2007 earnings estimates but increased his expectations for fiscal year 2008 to account for Leopard sales shifting ahead several months. "For fiscal year 2007 our earnings-per-share estimate is $3.20 (was $3.26), with revenue growth of 24 percent to $23.9 billion (was $24.1 billion)," Reitzes said. "For fiscal year 2008, we increase our earnings-per-share estimate to $3.90 (was $3.85) with revenue growth of 33 percent to $31.7 billion (was $31.6 billion)." UBS, like other industry experts, views the news as a net positive because the iPhone could contribute more to Apple's bottom line. "We would view any weakness on the news as a buying opportunity," the analyst added. The research firm maintained its $124 price target with a 'Buy 2' rating on Apple shares.
Samsung hybrid HD player
Following in the wake of LG's BH100, the first hybrid Blu-Ray/HD DVD player, Samsung has announced its own, the Duo HD (not pictured). The principle difference will be the Duo HD's support of interactive features for both Blu-Ray and HD DVD -- the BH100 is only fully compatible with Blu-Ray software. Samsung's player should be on the market before this year's Christmas shopping season, though exact prices and dates remain up in the air. Hybrid technology is meant to address one of the central concerns of buyers, which is the potential obsolescence of their format within a few years.
AMD Radeon HD 2900 Leak
More details of AMD's next-generation graphics chipsets have surfaced, according to leaks in the run-up leading to the official launch. Once known as the X2000 series, the line will be dubbed Radeon HD to reflect both its video prowess and its role in home theater PCs. Most faster cards will have HDMI support including channeling 5.1 surround audio through the HDMI connection on equipped systems. Physics processing will be an option thanks to the chipset's generalized nature.
Exact details of the top card also put it well above the GeForce 8800 GTX, reports say. 320 stream processors more than doubles the 128 of the NVIDIA card for better 3D and is bolstered by a record 24X antialiasing for cleaner images.
Reel Tape Suite ships
Digidesign has begun shipping its Reel Tape Suite (site not updated), a set of analog tape emulation plug-ins designed to re-create the warmth of analog tape recordings and tape effects in digital recordings or live audio. The software operates as an AudioSuite, TDM, and RTAS plug-in to bring the vintage sound of analog gear to digital audio. Reel Tape Suite features three plug-ins which include Reel Tape Saturation, Reel Tape Delay, and Reel Tape Flanger. Reel Tape Saturation simulates analog tape saturation effects by modeling analog tape machine and tape formulation characteristics. Reel Tape Delay simulates classic tape echo effects while providing precise control over regenerating echoes, and Reel Tape Flanger simulates tape machine flanging effects. The Digidesign Reel Tape Suite is priced at $500 for all three plug-ins, while a standalone version of the Reel Tape Saturation plug-in is priced at $300.
HP today made its strongest gesture yet towards green computing through the dx2020. The system builder boasts that the mini-tower is genuinely carbon-neutral thanks to its processor. Rather than depend on a typical AMD or Intel chip, the PC uses a 1.5GHz Via C7-D that draws 20W of power even at peak consumption. This is especially useful in the developing Chinese market where the PC is currently headed, HP says.
Prices are unknown but should also be relatively low, as the base system starts with 256MB of RAM, FreeDOS, an 80GB hard drive, and a 52X CD reader. Options also exist for 1GB of RAM, Windows XP, a 160GB hard disk, and a DVD drive.
Radiosophy HD100 Radio
Radiosophy on Friday pushed out one of the first truly lower-priced HD radios available. The HD100 promises the boosted quality of the digital radio standard without the excess of other radios, and includes all the core features such as song and traffic information alongside the music. Simplicity is also important, the company says, with auto-scan for stations optionally keeping just to HD stations. An alarm clock and an aux input for MP3 players round out the main features.
The radio specialist plans to release the HD100 in May for $120. The price drops to $100 to reward early adopters who buy the new receiver by the end of June.
T-Mobile Sidekick iD
T-Mobile this morning ended a tense wait by unveiling the Sidekick iD, Danger's first budget messenger. The release confirms virtually all of the carrier's earlier leaks and drops the Bluetooth, camera, and removable storage for the sake of price. In return, the iD gains its namesake personalization: owners can quickly swap out colored panels to give the device its own feel. It also keeps all of the messaging features that helped earlier versions, including chat through AIM, Windows Live, or Yahoo with as many as ten simultaneous conversations. A full HTML browser and the trackball control first seen with the Sidekick 3 are also part of the design.
Shipping only through T-Mobile in the US, the Sidekick iD will ship for the anticipated $100 with a two-year contract and will have myFaves support for unlimited calling to friends with the relevant plan. It should be available online and in shops on April 25th. Click through for a complete photo.
Foxconn Buildng WiFi iPod
Apple is planning to release a Wi-Fi iPod in the second half of the year, according to component makers in Taiwan. The sources allege that local business Universal Scientific Industrial will be responsible for supplying the Wi-Fi chipsets needed for the design, while long-time Apple partner Foxconn will be responsible for building finished units. Parts from USI wold begin delivery as soon as this month while Foxconn could be ready to ship during the summer, the report said.
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