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Apple share grows by 30%
Sales of Macs largely kept pace with significant growth in overall PC shipments during the first quarter of 2007, two market research firms concur, yielding Apple the title of fastest growing manufacturer with regard to U.S. computer sales. Both Gartner and IDC issued statements today indicating that while the shipment of Microsoft's Windows Vista helped drive PC sales in the first quarter of 2007, Apple was able to match the market with stronger portable sales and an increase in units moved through retail channels, despite stagnant Mac growth predictions from Gartner earlier this year.
1m iPhone customers?
Confirming that Apple's iPhone is expected to available at the end of June, AT&T executives made some positive comments about Apple's first entry into the mobile phone market and said the company has over 1 million customers waiting to buy the device. Countering recent rumors of iPhone software snags, a senior executive with the largest US carrier said that testing has been going well and that it expects strong sales of Apple's iPhone. Apple's has diverted many of its internal resources to help build, test, and launch the iPhone, leading to the delay of its next-generation operating system, Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Ahead of the much-anticipated release, iPhone knockoffs are already appearing on Chinese websites.
PitStop Pro goes Universal
Enfocus recently released major upgrades to its PitStop Professional, PitStop Server, and Instant PDF applications that work with Adobe Acrobat 8 and run natively on Intel-based Macs as Universal Binaries. PitStop Professional is a PDF preflighting and editing tool that aims to provide Enfocus Certified PDF technology for reliable and accurate file exchange. PitStop Server analyzes, corrects, reports on, and routes files based on stringent industry standards including PDF/X-1a, PDF/X-3, and Ghent PDF Workgroup. Instant PDF is designed to create correct PDFs that comply with print or advertisement vendors' specifications.
HumanEyes has begun shipping Creative3D, a program for graphic designers, used to produce simulated 3D images, or 2D images with lenticular effects. Users can run images through a 2D to 3D conversion process, and create several different types of animations, including zoom, opacity, movement and rotation clips. Where there are blank holes in an image, Creative3D will attempt to automatically fill them in. The full version of the program costs $300; a 60-day trial is also available for free. Coinciding with the release is the debut of the Creative Marketplace, where designers can post job requests, receive quotes, and choose printers to sell to. It requires a PowerPC G4/G5 or Intel-based Core 2 Duo Mac running Mac OS X 10.4.7 and later.
iPlayer coming to Macs
The BBC today announced that it will re-engineer its iPlayer service to work with Mac systems, and said the service will eventually come to digital terrestrial TV (DTT) as well as set-top boxes. The BBC's Future Media chief Ashley Highfield made the announcement at an industry conference in Cannes, according to that firm. "Our audience increasingly want and expect to dictate how, when and where they get our services," Highfield told the conference. The director of Future Media and Technology also said the BBC is starting to deliver content in a "hybrid environment" where digital TV, radio, the Web, and set-top boxes as well as personal video recorders are combining to offer interactive services.
EyeTV adds Apple TV
Elgato has released EyeTV 2.4, an update to its DVR (digital video recording) application that introduces Apple TV support. The latest release of EyeTV allows users to send clips to the device in a single click, much like sending clips to an iPod. The software supports sending content such as TV shows to an Apple TV set top box automatically, and users can set the program to an export schedule. The EyeTV device itself comes in two versions to capture video and sound directly from a desired source -- such as a camcorder, VCR, digital cable box, or satellite receiver -- and encodes that content into the MPEG format in real time. The EyeTV 250 is priced at $200, while the EyeTV Hybrid US is available for $150.
Samsung A870 and Cricket
Cricket today announced that it had begun carrying the Siren, a special version of Samsung's A870 that should help lure subscribers to its unlimited cellphone service. The flip phone spins the basic design with a custom red shell and the ability to download the apps and games from Cricket's network. The phone otherwise targets the relative budget range with Bluetooth, a VGA camera, and the VibeTonz force-feedback technology that can synchronize vibrations to a ringtone's beat.
The Siren should be available now through Cricket's retail shops and should be coming soon to its online page. No prices were mentioned but should include a set cost above and beyond the $40 minimum plan.
Microsoft Pays in Iowa
An Iowa state judge today gave early approved to a settlement that would see Microsoft pay $180 million to Iowa residents, the software developer has revealed. The result of a class-action lawsuit, the deal will ask Microsoft to refund a set amount of money to private buyers who picked up a copy between 1994 and 2006, ranging from $10 for Word to $29 for the complete Office suite. MS-DOS and Windows 95-2000 buyers will receive $16. No proof of the sale will be needed for smaller claims.
DLO ships Jam Jackets
Digital Lifestyle Outfitters has begun shipping its new Jam Jacket cases for Apple's video iPod and iPod nano. The new protective cases feature DLO's "Headphone Management System" which wraps up extra cord length via an attachment on the back, holding stray earbuds in place. The new cases are similar to previous cases with regard to protection, covering the clickwheel while still allowing control. A rubber lining on the outside aims to ensure a good grip on the portable player, and openings permit access to the hold switch as well as the headphone jack and dock connector. Each Jacket is available for $20, with the Nano case shipping in black or translucent white colors while the video edition comes only in black.
Enterprise looks to Macs
The CIO of Tacoma Washington-based Auto Warehousing is fed up with Windows systems, and has decided to begin testing Mac systems for a potential enterprise-wide switch to Apple technology. The company receives, accessorizes, and ships 5.5 million cars to dealers each year, making it the largest automobile processing company in North America, according to SearchCIO. "We use a proprietary application to run our business," said Auto Warehousing CIO Dale N. Frantz. The executive said he is tired of the rising price of Windows licenses and hardware costs associated with OS upgrades, but the company relies heavily on Microsoft's SQL server technology for its proprietary ERP system. "The application was built in-house. It's extremely dependent on Microsoft. The question is can we re-code the front end on neutral technology that can run on Linux or Mac."
Smooth Creations Diablo PC
Smooth Creations has aimed at rivals in the exotic PC realm with its Diablo performance tower. Like similar offerings from Voodoo PC and similar custom shops, the PC can be had with an individualized paint scheme that extends to obvious peripherals such as the display, keyboard, and speakers. An added touch, however, is the option of buying a 30GB or 80GB iPod that will also receive the treatment; the dock will also be color-matched if it's bought at the same time, Smooth notes.
Segway Energy Credits
Segway on Wednesday made an early start to its Earth Day initiatives by launching its own energy credit program. Referring to a self-published study which showed its Segway PT to be one of the most environmentally-friendly transportation options available, the company is promising to offset the 200 kilowatt-hours used to charge any PT bought in 2007 by investing money into renewable energy stations, such as solar cells or wind generators.
Sling Talks iPhone Streams
Sling Media has actively discussed the possibility of streaming media to its upcoming iPhone, the former company's CEO Blake Krikorian revealed this week during a speech at the NAB expo in Las Vegas. The executive declared that he would "love to support" streaming iTunes music and video to the cellphone, which would likely involve routing a computer's iTunes library through a Slingbox media streamer, which could then send live content directly to the iPhone through a customized version of SlingPlayer Mobile. The option would effectively overcome the memory limitations of the Apple handset by exposing the user's entire media catalog.
BenQ upgrades to the X725
The newest BenQ camera is the DC X725, an upgrade to the existing X720. The camera is identical in virtually all regards, having the same body, 3x zoom lens, and seven-megapixel sensor; one difference is that ISO sensitivity for photos has been raised to a more standard 1600, where previously it was limited to 1200 -- video sensitivity remains capped at 4000. Most important is the rearrangement of memory, which shrinks internally from 18 to 12MB, but which now supports both SD and SDHC cards. The latter permits anywhere between 4 and 32GB of extra storage. No price or release date has been published.
EZQuest storage solutions
EZQuest has introduced its Thunder Pro A/V Studio Rack Quad/8 interface drive, Thunder Pro A/V Studio RAID Triple interface external drive, and new Pro Studio RAID SATA/SAS drive at the NAB convention in Las Vegas. The Thunder Pro A/V Quad interfaces drive is usable as a stand-alone drive or in conjunction with the Studio Rack 8, and features a smart on/off power switch in front that automatically turns the drive on or off when plugged in. The Thunder Pro Audio/Video RAID Triple interface external drive offers high speed and capacity with two FireWire 800 ports, one USB 2.0 port, and one EZport FireWire 400 front-access port. EZQuest's new Pro Studio Raid SATA/SAS storage solutions are designed for content creation professionals who have outgrown their current array of external drives. The arrays come in single-channel up to 3TB, and dual-channel up to 6TB.
Music Man; Amnesty Gen.
Music Man 2.1 ($20) is a general audio conversion program, designed to rip, convert and burn in a variety of formats. Supported output is broad, ranging from standard formats such as Redbook and MP3, through to M4A, M4B, MIDI and Ogg Vorbis. The v2.1 update adds a clip-making feature, and should solve some users' problems with burning MP3 CDs and DVDs. Mac OS X 10.4 and QuickTime 6 are required to use all of the program's components.
[Download - 12MB]
Amnesty Generator 1.1 (free) converts games, videos and web widgets into Dashboard widgets, ensuring that a minimum amount of information has to be downloaded to view them. The app's Autofill feature accomodates a variety of more popular websites, including Revver, YouTube, Photobucket and Google Gadgets. The new version supports Google Talk, as well as widgets from box.net, imeem, twango, YourMinis and WidgetBox. Amnesty is a Universal Binary for Mac OS X 10.3.9. [Download - 283KB]
Caboodle 1.1 ($15) stores and structures otherwise disparate pieces of information, such as recipes, photos, directions and file attachments. Items are organized in outline form, with sub-entries inheriting the custom fields of their parents. Private listings can be encrypted. Version 1.1 saves entries automatically when leaving the Subject or icon fields, and fixes a pair of bugs, most notably crashes triggered by exporting to a PDF file. [Download - 3.1MB]
Minim 1.1 ($27) organizes a musicians compositions, combining lyrics, metadata and associated files. The program is also integrated with iChat, and will point out when collaborating musicians are online. The update makes several enhancements, such as a new interface, and the ability to add the same song to multiple albums. The software also has an improved file management system, and increased metadata options. [Download - 1.1MB]
OnTheAir Video 2.3.8 ($1,757) is an automated video playback program intended for television stations, with features such as multicore code, seamless transitions and real-time graphics compositing. Supported formats include MPEG-4, DVCPro, M-JPEG and more. The v2.3.8 upgrade merges the SD and HD versions, and allows audio output to be selected by picking the language track within QuickTime. A professional, dedicated PCI video card is required. [Download - 3.4MB]
CAN DV 2.3.2 ($3,000) was previously known as Vidi DV, and like OnTheAir is a commercial video "playout" program. This is the first public release under its new name. It relies exclusively on DV streams and DV QuickTime clips, and can be set to play on a schedule, or run unique clips during a live broadcast. Clips can be trimmed within the software, and commericals can be lumped together and inserted in blocks. A Mac with a FireWire port and a corresponding media converter (such as those by Canopus and Miranda) is required. [Download - 5.7MB]
244 Copies of Vista China
Microsoft has failed to make inroads in China with its new operating system, according to newly published figures. During its first two weeks on the market, only 244 official copies of Windows Vista sold in the southeast Asian country -- one of the smallest fractions of the 20 million sold worldwide during the first month.
Reviews, Apple TV CPU
In brief: MacNN has reviewed ProTouch keyboard covers from iSkin as well as SyncTogether from Mark/Space, the recently-shipped Apple TV may use a new Intel media-centered chip instead of the expected Pentium M processor, PC Magazine has posted a how-to guide for copying music from an iPod onto a computer without downloading or purchasing any software, and Creative Manager Pro has released version 8.4.2 of its self-titled ad agency software and project management groupware. Reviewers have put the iSkin ProTouch keyboard covers ($25, shown at right) and SyncTogether 1.01 software ($50) through their paces to test the usefulness of the portable covers as well as the Mac-to-Mac synchronization software. iSkin's ProTouch comes in different colors and the company offers covers for Mac portables all the way back to the Pismo PowerBook. SyncTogether 1.01 works without a .Mac account via Bonjour to discover clients on a local network, synchronizing files belonging to different users on a single machine.
iQuiz iPod Game Surfaces
Apple is bringing at least one new game to the iPod in the near future, say visitors to France's iTunes Store. Titled iQuiz, the internally developed Apple game briefly appeared but then disappeared from the French site and will expand on the basic Music Quiz program included with the fifth-generation iPod and the iPod nano. Its interface will be enhanced and the game itself will be the first to let players actively share information between each other through custom question lists, according to the description.
Apple details ProRes 422
Apple has posted a white paper on its new Apple ProRes 422 video format, which the company says is designed to reproduce as much of an artist's original vision on the screen as possible. "With ProRes 422 inside Final Cut Studio 2, there is now a better choice for ensuring that all creative work maintains its original, pristine color and detail -- from capture all the way to final viewing," Apple writes. The document describes some history of video editing on the Mac platform, and highlights features of the new format. Apple ProRes 422 features uncompressed HD quality at data and storage rates lower than uncompressed SD, and boasts performance comparable to or better than the existing HD codecs in Final Cut Pro.
Zune Features in May
The Zune may be set for its first true feature update in less than two weeks, according to the schedule for the presenters at the music-oriented Digital NARM expo. Microsoft's music marketing director Christina Calio is set to deliver a presentation at 5PM May 1st that will feature "exciting updates on developments in Microsoft's new innovative device," according to the show notes. Though the listing expectedly avoids details, the speech is the first to openly suggest new features for the Zune, which has remained largely static since its November introduction.
NTT DoCoMo designer phone
Japanese phone carrier NTT DoCoMo is joining the increasing ranks of companies with designer phones. Its entry is the N904i, designed by Stefano Giovannoni, who in the past has been commissioned by the likes of Alessi, Fiat and Siemens. NEC and NTT itself have contributed to the more technical elements of the product.
It is set to be introduced during Milan's Design Week, starting tomorrow, and will come in four different color combinations: Orange Cut, Pink Soda, Urban Blue and Day and Night. Little else is known, but the phone will support FOMA, NTT's 3G-compatible WCDMA service. The product is unlikely to ship outside of Japan unless it is rebranded.
SplashShopper for Mac
SplashData has released its SplashShopper list manager for Mac, enabling Mac users without a palm OS or Windows Mobile handheld to access the software's organizational and list-making features. SplashShopper is designed to ease the process of managing shopping of all sorts, from groceries to holiday gift lists and DVD rentals. The software also supports sharing lists of any kind with family as well as friends, and boasts support for an unlimited number of customizable lists alongside track aisle locations and prices. Further SplashShopper features include pre-populated lists of common groceries, gifts, wines, music, movies, and to-dos; the ability to tailor lists with store names, categories, fields, and icons; and a customizable List View with colored rows as well as resizable columns and one-click sorting. SplashShopper for Mac is priced at $20 and requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later.
Sony Ericsson P700 details
A poster to the Esato forums claims to have acquired an image of the upcoming P700 phone from Sony Ericsson, one which can also be seen by clicking below. Also frequently identified as the P700i, no official announcement of the phone has yet been made, but some specifications have been rumored: it should for instance have a 3.2-megapixel still camera with twin LED flashes, and to go with it a VGA video camera, which can be used in full 3G functionality. It is also expected to use the Symbian OS and Opera web browser, each being displayed on a 2.6-inch QVGA screen. Memory will come in the form of Memory Stick Duos or 160MB of internal storage.
Potentially disappointing may be the lack of news on supported broadband formats (other than WiFi), and the "semi-QWERTY" keyboard, which doubles up the characters on some keys. As usual for most phones today, Bluetooth should be standard. Electronista will share more details as they become available. [via Unwired View]
Directed In Car DVD
Directed this morning hoped to ready drivers for vacation with a pair of new in-car entertainment systems. The 8.5-inch OHD800B and 10.2-inch OHD1020B mount on a car's ceiling and have both a slot-load DVD player for movies in the widescreen LCDs' native ratio as well as input for raw data; a USB port loads music and other media directly from a flash or hard drive, while an SD card slot picks up on more easily removable storage. Dual RCA inputs pipe video from consoles or other players into the device while a solo RCA output and an FM transmitter can echo the audio or video out to other screens in the car and to built-in speakers.
The different sizes should be available now at $449 and $549 respectively; digital format support hasn't been explained but should include MP3s at a minimum.
Clevo laptop w/HSDPA
A pair of unusual laptops have been announced by the Taiwanese company Clevo. The M720S and M721S use a non-standard motherboard for instance, and support CPUs seldom found in modern laptops, the Pentium 4 and Pentium D. Core 2 Duo chips are likely to be more commonly used. Perhaps most interesting is built-in support for UMTS/HSDPA networks -- while USB, PC Card and ExpressCard modems are becoming increasingly prevalent, the M72x series may signal a trend towards making cellular broadband as standard as WiFi.
Other specifications include 12.1-inch screens, and up to 4GB of DDR2 RAM, clocked at 667MHz on the M721S and 533MHz on the M720S. Graphical power is limited to an embedded SiS chipset. Clevo laptops are generally not released in North America; however, they will sometimes appear branded for another company. [via DigiTimes]
Quite HOT Imposing 1.0
Quite Software has announced Quite HOT Imposing 1.0 (site not updated), its forthcoming standalone application designed to support customized workflows using Quite Hot Imposing hot folders or command-line tools. Built on the foundations of the company's Quite Imposing Plus plug-in and the Adobe Acrobat PDF Library, the software saves all setups and can repeat all functions when needed. Current Quite Imposing Plus users will be able to export their current setups (XML) into the new standalone software, which ensures users can integrate Quite Hot Imposing with their SWITCH range of workflow automation products. The software is available for both Mac and Windows systems, and is slated for release on May 1st (pricing and system requirements were unavailable).
ICQ 6 Launched
ICQ today released ICQ 6, a complete overhaul of its instant messaging tool. While supporting some increasingly widespread features such as tabbed chat windows, the IM app brings some new twists not seen in earlier apps, ICQ says. Foremost is Quick IM: users can now send off shorter messages to their friends directly from the contact list, saving the clutter of an open window; ICQ is also one of the first to support two-way SMS texting for communicating with friends outside of phone calls or the Internet. The app is also unique in having its own soundtrack for message events, composed by the psychedelic trance group Infected Mushroom.
Version 6 also boasts improved history and search tools, and is available to download immediately for free; it currently requires Windows XP and Vista as well as 256MB of RAM.
Wacom releases new driver
Wacom Technology on Monday posted a new driver for Mac OS X that supports the USB versions of its Intuos3, Intuos2, Intuos, CintiqPartner, Graphire2 (ET-0405A) and Graphire pen tablets as well as its Cintiq 21UX, 18SX, 15x, and PL-500 pen displays. In addition to expanded support, Wacom also implemented a new Pan/Scroll option for the pen buttons that enables users to drag the pen tip across the tablet to pan or scroll the current document in any direction. The driver resolves several miscellaneous issues, and the company is welcoming bug reports. The new Wacom driver requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, and Intel-based Mac owners require driver 4.96 or later.
Prada Phone with Mobile TV
LG and Prada together updated their jointly developed Prada phone by LG with the SB310, also known as the LB3100. Launched just a few months after the original, the updated version adds DMB support to the handset: owners can now watch digital terrestrial broadcasts on the touchscreen phone, taking advantage of the tall 3-inch display to watch TV either in standard ratio or widescreen. An antenna keeps reception strong but folds neatly into the phone to preserve its clean lines, LG says.
Intel Ultra Mobile 2007
Continuing its unveilings at its Developer Forum, Intel today revealed its new A100 CPU platform. Based on the x86 architecture of today's Core processors, the technology previously known as "McCaslin" shares its roots in the ultra-low voltage CPUs used in ultraportable notebooks but is designed explitictly for handheld Mobile Internet Devices (or MIDs) and more advanced ultra-mobile PCs. A new chip packaging method and tuned architecture cuts power consumption down to as little as 3W while still shrinking the size of currently bulky handhelds and keeping the performance needed for Linux (the preferred OS for MID) and other desktop-class software.
Cheetah3D 4.1 released
Cheetah3D 4.1 is the latest version of the powerful 3D modeling, rendering, and animation solution for Mac OS X. Version 4.1 fixes many user-reported issues as well as adds some very powerful new features, including a 2D IK solver (or rotational plane solver) and more constraints tags (point/orient) for animations. It also adds IK baking command to the take manager, support for pole vectors to IK solver, preferred angles properties to IK solver, and improved object drag & drop in object browser. Version 4 added advanced functions, including character animation tools, UI enhancements, modeling tools, a multi-processor aware renderer, and more. Cheetah3D 4.1 is priced at $130 for a single user license and $60 for an update from an older version. The update is free for all registered Cheetah3D 4.0 users.
Mouse Jiggler available
WiebeTech on Wednesday introduced its Mouse Jiggler, a new thumbdrive-sized USB hardware solution to prevent a computer from entering sleep or screen saver mode while users work, or while they are away from their desks. Mouse Jiggler is portable and automatic and does not require any software to install or run: it simply plugs into any empty USB port. Mouse Jiggler is available in two versions -- each priced at $30: MJ-1 employs constant, nearly imperceptible motions to allow normal use of the computer while it works. Mouse Jiggler continues working to keep the computer awake while users are away from their desks. MJ-2 uses larger, jerkier motions to show at a glance that Mouse Jiggler is working. "Users who have a large file download or software installation can plug in Mouse Jiggler and walk away confident that no idle events will affect their work," the company said. Both versions are available now.
BlackBerry owners in North America had a major scare late Tuesday with a wide-scale service outage, say reports. The "push" e-mail service that forms the backbone of the smartphone's service was taken offline in North America, preventing phones from sending or receiving messages. The outage was likely due to one of Research in Motion's two datacenters going offline, according to reports: unlike some messaging services, all BlackBerry service in North America is filtered through RIM's Canadian headquarters. Users in Asia, Europe, and elsewhere weren't affected, the company says.
HTC May Make Google Phone
Taiwan component makers claim to have confirmed that Google is working on its own cellphone, despite previous denials. Although the device may have little connection to the heavily rumored Switch touchscreen device, the sources report that the well-known smartphone producer HTC will build the phone and should incorporate both a Texas Instruments-made 3G wireless chip (most likely HSDPA) for Internet access as well as EDGE. Despite Google's heavy investment in its Maps tool, however, the phone isn't expected to include GPS and will instead turn to Gmail and its keystone web search.
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