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SEC: no case against Apple
Despite finger pointing by Apple's CFO Fred Anderson, the SEC today said that it would not file an enforcement action against Apple in connection with the agency's stock-options dating investigation. Following public claims that Apple's chief executive knew about backdated stock options, the SEC said that Apple's "extraordinary" cooperation has won it points with the US regulatory agency and that the SEC will not seek formal action the Cupertino-based company, after the SEC filed two civil lawsuits against former Apple executives and agreed to a $3.5 million settlement with Anderson. Earlier this week, reports indicated that Jobs would likely avoid criminal charges in connection with the option scandal.
Posterino 1.1 ($25) is a free update to the life poster, postcard, and photo frame composing application. The latest release supports sending real postcards that include printing, postage, and shipping from within the application for $4 to any destination. Each license of Posterino includes a coupon to create three free postcards.
[Download - 7.6MB]
SubEthaEdit 2.6.3 ($35) fixes issues regarding collaboration and stability while bringing several minor improvements to the collaborative text editor for developers. SubEthaEdit features a tabbed interface that users can optionally disable, allowing several networked participants to simultaneously edit one document while viewing changes made by others live in the editor. [Download - 4MB]
Daydreamer 2.1 ($20) signals the latest edition of the Web camera capture utility that enables users to take pictures of current conditions at specific locations and post them to the Web at regular intervals. The update expands the picture-saving feature introduced in Daydreamer 2.0 by allowing users to save all downloaded pictures, not just those pictures taken most recently. [Download - 2.5MB]
Ovolab Geophoto 1.1 ($20) enhances the geotagging application that displays photos on a three-dimensional representation of the Earth. The latest release introduces the 'Loupe,' which uses Google Maps to provide a close-up view of the area below the mouse, as well as the 'Tag cloud' to serve as a display of the terms used to tag every picture. [Download - 42.3MB]
logSheet 2.0.3 (unknown) introduces a fix for a printing bug present in QuarkXPress 7.0.1 which caused some systems monitored by logSheet to either stop the print queue or print without tracking. The software is designed to serve as a cross-platform accounting system that helps analyze printing costs by tracking and storing all required print job information. [Download - 733KB]
Lenovo Santa Rosa laptop
Lenovo will be among the first manufacturers to produce a computer using Intel's new Santa Rosa platform, which combines new motherboard, wireless and CPU chipsets. Buyers of the ThinkPad R61 will get GM or PM965 motherboards, and the processor will be one of several new Core 2 Duos, those being the T7100, T7300, T7500 and T7700. Bluetooth and 802.11n wireless will be another option, while the CPUs will top out at 2.4GHz, with an 800MHz front-side bus. Current laptops tend to have 667MHz buses.
iQuiz Maker released
Aspyr Media today released iQuiz Maker as a complement for Apple's newly-released iQuiz game for fifth-generation iPod owners. iQuiz Maker is designed to offer users an easy way to write, create, and package custom quizzes. A Quiz installer easily loads quizzes onto an iPod, and is also included with iQuiz Maker. The software supports varying themes to add to iQuiz Maker, and the utility's homepage offers several downloadable quizzes. iQuiz Maker is available for free, and requires a fifth-generation video-capable iPod to play or install quizzes.
New Lexmark MFP printers
Printing giant Lexmark has introduced five new five new color laser printers aimed at businesses of varying sizes. The most powerful is the X945e, which is aimed at workgroups, and is capable of a dramatic 40 pages per minute (ppm) in color mode and 45 in monochrome. The X940e is a step down at 30ppm color and 40ppm monochrome, while the X782e (pictured) is slightly faster at 35 and 40ppm, but does not offer things such as the A3 ledger size, or finishing options such as folding. Lowest to highest, prices for the above three printers are $4,500, $16,000 and $19,000.
VR Worlds Rule by 2011
Most computer users will have some kind of presence in a computer-based virtual world in four years, analysts at Gartner said at the company's 2007 Symposium ITxpo. The research group claims that 80 percent of the online community, including businesses, will actively participate in realms such as Linden Labs' Second Life by 2011. This could change the way businesses work by forcing them to deal with the social aspects if they hope to do business, according to research.
"The collaborative and community-related aspects of these environments will dominate in the future," said Gartner VP Steve Prentice.
Onkyo surround speakers
Audio specialists Onkyo have launched three new all-in-one surround sound kits for the home. At the forefront is the HT-SR800, which is a 7.1 system compatible with standards such as DTS-ES and Dolby Pro Logic IIx. It is also the first system to use Audyssey 2EQ/HTiB, which automatically calibrates audio for the particular room it is playing in.
Each satellite is rated at 110W, and the subwoofer is listed at 230W, using a 10-inch cone to produce frequencies as low as 25Hz. HDTV owners will be glad to know that the 800 has not one but two HDMI passthroughs, if only one output. Numerous other inputs are available as well, including three component- and two optical-ins. The package costs $599.
LG Force-Feedback TV Phone
LG on Tuesday revealed that it has been working on a phone which provides a tactile response in videos and TV shows, adding a new layer to the primarily visual experience. Without venturing into specifics, the company noted that its new technology would vibrate the phone based on cues embedded into digital videos, such as explosions, to give a more visceral experience. The experience could apply even to live digital TV broadcasts over a DMB tuner, such as goals in a soccer game, LG representative Song Keun-Young said.
Former CFO points to Jobs
Apple's former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Fred Anderson, who has agreed to pay approximately $3.5 million to make up for his personal gains in Apple's illegal stock options scandal, has pointed a finger at company CEO Steve Jobs. The ex-executive told his attorney that he warned Jobs in late January of 2001 that the options grant in question would need to be priced based on the date of the actual agreement from the board of directors, according to Marketwatch. Anderson's attorney, Jerome Roth, said Apple's chief assured Anderson that the board had already approved the options grant. Anderson says that he now believes the Apple board may not have given the necessary prior approval to the grants issued in February of 2001, according to the report. SEC officials wouldn't say whether Jobs has been implicated throughout their lengthy investigation, but industry experts agree that Apple will suffer greatly if its chief is forced to step down as CEO of the company. [updated]
Vonage Appeal Succeeds
Vonage today earned a reprieve that will let it remain in business, a US federal judge has ruled. The Washington, D.C.-based Court of Appeals has made permanent a temporary stay against an earlier injunction that would have all but stifled the company by preventing it from signing up new customers as long as an earlier patent ruling against the company remained in place.
"In layman's terms, it means business as usual," said spokeswoman Brooke Schulz.
HiPe Driv-N Car PCs
HiPe this afternoon tracked down serious car enthusiasts with its new Driv-N in-dash PCs. In contrast to most car computers, the Driv-N is quick enough to run Windows Vista Home Premium and its accompanying Media Center but is also extremely flexible depending on needs: the checklist for every model includes options such as Bluetooth, GPS for navigation, and a rear-view camera for larger cars and SUVs. Optional GSM and Wi-Fi transmitters connect the Driv-N to the Internet even in mid-traffic, HiPe says. Displays are just as varied with anything from motorized 6.5-inch touchscreen (which also hides a DVD drive and AM/FM radio) to a 15-inch, roof-mountable LCD with RCA and VGA input for the computer and a separate AV source.
Apple releases iQuiz
Apple has released iQuiz via its iTunes Store, the company's latest game designed for iPod to challenge players while allowing users to create custom trivia packs. "Get your trivia fix with iQuiz, the fast-paced entertainment trivia game designed in a portable format," said Apple. "Put your pop culture knowledge to the test with questions about music, movies, and TV shows." Players can alternatively choose Music Quiz 2 to test their knowledge of songs, albums, and artists on a particular iPod. "You can keep the challenges coming by creating your own custom trivia packs to share, or add trivia packs created by other players." iQuiz also features four built-in games and tracks personal statistics as well as those of other players. iQuiz is available for $4.99, and works with Apple's fifth-generation video-capable iPod running iPod software 1.2 or later.
Meizu miniOne Update
Meizu's now-infamous miniOne is gradually veering away from the iPhone in terms of style, accoring to freshly updated concept images the company has released to the web. While still heavily influenced by the Apple design, the China-made phone removes obvious parallels to the iPhone's speaker and home button while also changing more of the apps and icons to reflect Meizu's own graphics and programs.
HP splits up ink offerings
Starting later this year, Hewlett Packard will be releasing printers based on an entirely new inkjet cartridge system. Most such cartridges are fairly expensive, for the simple reason that they are one-size-fits-all products matched to a particular printer; the new ones may still be associated with specific hardware, but buyers will at last be able to choose a size, cutting down costs.
Three sizes are planned: the blue "Standard" cartridges will actually be the cheapest at approximately $15, and made possible by reducing the amount of ink. The target market is people who seldom need their printer, printing only a few handfuls of paper each month. The green "Value" cartridges, conversely, should be able to produce three times the number of pages, but at the cost of reduced ink quality. Professionals will need to turn to the red Specialty cartridges, which should be HP's best pairing of both volume and quality. Pricing for the latter two options has not been suggested, nor have any printers been mentioned.
Maxwell plug-in update
In brief: Next Limit Technologies has released an updated version of its Maxwell Render plug-in for SketchUp, and an online tutorial has surfaced on replacing the hard drive in a MacBook Pro. M-Audio has begun shipping the X-Session Pro MIDI controller with its Torq LE software, and PeachPit Press has introduced several new books related to Adobe's recently-released CS3 software. The updated version of Maxwell Render plug-in for SketchUp makes the camera, environment, and HDRI parameters easier to set for each scene. The update also assigns Maxwell material parameters to SketchUp materials, and users can specify basic Maxwell material parameters directly inside SketchUp dialogs without the need to use MXM files. The latest release of the plug-in also adds HTML-based panels for Maxwell Render parameters.
Dell Latitude SSD
Dell on Tuesday became the latest company to join the movement away from hard disks by releasing a new solid-state drive option for its 12.1-inch Latitude D420 and 14-inch, ruggedized Latitude D620 ATG. Either portable now has the option of a 32GB SanDisk SSD that replaces the stock hard disk with flash. The swap speeds boot times by a third and overall responsiveness by 23 percent, according to Dell, helping those who value responsiveness over sheer storage.
Quickly following its UJ10 media player, Atree has unveiled a new dictionary the company hopes will shake up the normally stiff world of electronic dictionaries. The new device has a slim, stylized shape reminiscent of a media player and has the features to back the claim. DMB and FM receivers pick up digital TV and analog radio; video is playable in either MPEG-4 or WMV on the 4.3-inch screen, with audio supported in MP3, OGG, and WMA forms. External media is loaded in through an SD card slot but is untouched by main memory, whcich stores 50 dictionaries (including English-language offerings from Collins) within 2GB of flash.
New LG GPS unit hits shops
Quietly announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, a new GPS unit from LG is now on sale from the likes of Amazon. The LN735 uses a SiRFstar III receiver and a 3.5-inch touchscreen, and has an impressive pre-loaded database, covering the US, Canada and Puerto Rico with over seven million points of interest.
Onboard memory is 2GB, which can be used to store photos and music files (MP3/WMA) as well as maps; this capacity can also be expanded with through an SD slot. LG claims up to four hours of battery life, and the device offers a number of other standard features such as voice guidance and flipping between 2D and 3D views. Amazon is selling the 735 for a reduced price of $350. [via NaviGadget]
Analyst on SEC probe
Recent reports suggest that the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) is unlikely to press charges against Apple boss Steve Jobs for his alleged role in backdating stock option grants. Senior analyst Gene Munster of research firm Piper Jaffray today in a research note obtained by MacNN expressed little surprise as a result of the new development. "We are not surprised with these developments as it has been our position throughout this investigation that Steve Jobs isn't liable as the compensation committee at Apple is run by an independent board that is not comprised of Apple employees," Munster wrote. The analyst also expressed a positive view regarding the decision of former Apple CFO Fred Anderson to settle with the SEC. "We are glad to see Fred Anderson, former CFO, settle with the SEC with no admission of wrongdoing and hope that former chief legal counsel Nancy Heinen does the same." Piper Jaffray maintains its 'Buy' rating on Apple shares with a $145 price target.
Epson's low-cost laptop
Though performance tends to receive most of the attention in the electronics industry, the foremost concern for most shoppers is saving money; Epson is obliging with the Endeavor NJ2050, which can be priced as low as 69,930 yen ($590), less than some individual parts in modern desktops. The tradeoff comes in the form of severely reduced specifications, such as 1.73GHz Celeron processor, a 40GB hard drive, and 256MB of RAM.
It also uses a CD-ROM reader instead of a DVD burner, and Windows XP Home instead of a more robust OS. Users can however opt to upgrade to Vista for 79,380 yen ($670), and pay still more for features such as a Core 2 Duo processor. As with other Epson laptops, the NJ2050 is not expected to come to North America. [via Akihabara News]
Capsule 2G Nano case ships
SwitchEasy today launched its Capsule protective case for Apple's second-generation iPod nano. The polycarbonate case is constructed from GE Lexan Plastics, and features an Ultrasonic Welded touchwheel protection membrane made from 1.2mm Lexan that offers wheel interaction while maintaining a simple two-piece case construction. The case comes in two styles: Jet Black Peek-A-Boo (Black Amber) and AnyDot Membrane (Crystal). A color matching 3.5mm jack is included, as well as a matched color lanyard. The SwitchEasy Capsule is priced at $20.
Hong Kong's luxury KRZR
The spate of special editions for the Motorola KRZR has expanded yet again, now with a product being sold in Hong Kong. Meant exclusively for that city, the phone is a "champagne gold" version of the KRZR K1 clamshell, and yet is being aimed exclusively at women: the phone comes with a coupon for a free gold nail-polish pack at Sa Sa Cosmetics. Whether the gold KRZR costs more than the standard one is unknown, as are a few other factors, such how many units Motorola is producing and when the flow might stop.
Other unique KRZRs to come in the past few months include the KRZR Fire, T-Mobile's Silver Quartz, a pink version, and a Product (RED) model headed to Canada. This reflects a growing trend towards "personalized" cellphones, going beyond ringtones to include colors, wallpapers and decorative etchings. [via The Register]
Creative MovieFX released
Extend Studio today released Creative MovieFX, a flash component designed to help users create professional MovieClip effects and transitions from Adobe Flash. The software includes more than 70 unique effects that are fully customizable, and enables users to create tailored effects visually. Users can apply effects -- such as animate in, animate out, passing by effects, mask & advanced mask effects, overlay, and in place -- on any kind of movie clip. Creative MovieFX requires almost no flash knowledge to use, providing a user interface that eases the process of combining any two effects to create professional transitions. The software is priced at $50 (system requirements were unavailable).
Radeon HD 2900 XT May 14
Virtually all details of the Radeon HD 2900 XT have been revealed, say sources with access to information from AMD's Tunisia press preview. The introductory card will be targeted at the space in between NVIDIA's top-end GeForce 8800 GTX and its more modest GTS: the 2900 XT will have a much more powerful 320 unified shader processors as well as an ultra high-quality 24X anti-aliasing mode known as Custom Filter Anti-Aliasing. 2D video playback will be given a boost by an improved universal decoder with companion hardware for HDMI output with a 5.1 surround sound pass-through.
More Core 2 Duos
Intel has once again expanded its processor range, this time with three new Core 2 Duo chips. The E4400 is being clocked at 2GHz, but only has 2MB of L2 cache memory, and an 800MHz front-side bus; many home users may be more interested in the E6320 and E6420, which are an improvement in several respects. While only rated at 1.86 and 2.13GHz, each has a faster 1,066MHz front-side bus, and a 4MB L2 cache. Unlike the E4400 they also support Intel Virtualization Technology, which allows a computer to run secondary operating systems within the primary at a reasonable speed. [via The Register]
LG KS10 Google Phone
LG Mobile this morning shifted attention to software with the unveiling of the KS10 phone, the first fruit of a new deal with Google. In a rare move, the phone is one of the few outside of Nokia to run the Symbian series 60 OS and is much more Internet-friendly than most: Google search helps find information more quickly, while a full web browser is backed by an ultra-quick HSDPA mobile Internet connection. A 2.4-inch LCD gives an easy view of web pages but takes advantage of a slider design to reduce its overall size.
Shiira 2.0 released
The Shiira Project has released Shiira 2.0, the latest revision of the alternative Web browser written in Cocoa. Shiira uses the KHTML rendering engine provided with Apple's Web Kit, rendering HTML in the same fashion as Apple's own Safari browser. The Shiira Project is an attempt to develop a Web browser using Web Kit, with all source code made publicly available under the BSD license. Details of the latest release are not yet available, but the previous release -- Shiira 2.0b2 -- offered numerous bug fixes and introduced several new features. Shiira 2.0 is available for free via the Shiira Project website, requiring Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Moto RAZR maxx Ve Launches
Verizon today officially launched the RAZR maxx Ve, the CDMA version of the 3G wireless flip-phone available for GSM networks. As suggested by its test appearance and numerous earlier leaks, the 2-megapixel camera phone arrives with stereo Bluetooth intact as well as EVDO for fast broadband and a large 1.7-inch external LCD with music controls for changing tracks without opening the shell.
Pricing is in line with predictions, as the maxx Ve is available through the American cell service for $200 when paired with a two-year contract. A GSM version with HSDPA broadband has been FCC approved but remains to be seen with AT&T.
15,000rpm 300GB hard drive
Continuing its streak of hard drive announcements for 2007, begun with the world's first 1TB desktop model, Hitachi has revealed a new 300GB, Ultra-320 SCSI product called the Ultrastar 15K300. What the drive is really notable for, however, is being perhaps the only one at its capacity rated at 15,000rpm. It has a maximum transfer rate of 1.441Gbps, a seek speed of 3.6ms, and an average latency of 2ms; a 16MB cache smooths out performance. The main use of the 15K300 is expected to be in enterprise storage, but it should by no means be limited to that arena. The drive will begin shipping in June. [via Impress Watch]
PDFClerk 2.6, pdfCorrect
Sintraworks has released PDFClerk 2.6, an update to its PDF manipulation tool that enables users to export pages as graphic files and apply automatic trim and bleed mark extraction from PDF display boxes. The update also supports automated application updates using Sparkle, and includes numerous bug fixes. The software allows users to join multiple PDF documents together, rearrange page order, delete individual pages, impose multiple pages onto a sheet of paper, and rotate pages on imposed sheets. PDFClerk 2.6 is priced at $41 and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later. Callas Software also announced that its pdfCorrect ($205) plug-in and command-line tool for Adobe Acrobat 6, 7, and 8 now embeds fonts into existing PDF files.
ATT iPhone Business Pitch
AT&T (formerly Cingular) hopes to expand the appeal of the iPhone to businesses, sources near the cell provider claim. Although the iPhone has been typically promoted as an entertainment device, the carrier has reportedly changed its billing and support systems for business to handle the Apple device for companies that want to deploy it on a wider scale. An AT&T representative declined to provide additional details, but the news has nevertheless prompted a backlash from analysts, many of whom point to the phone's non-expandability as a red flag for businesses.
Yahoo Music Lyrics
Online shop and search tool Yahoo Music today announced that it was the first mainstream music site to get legal access to song lyrics provided by Gracenote. The new catalog lets visitors search the company's online store and general search pages by lyrics, rather than solely by song titles or artists -- including for artists whose songs aren't typically available to buy online, such as Radiohead. The decision by labels to license music was made in part based on the popularity (but frequently poor quality) of lyrics searches in general, according to the two companies.
NEC AccuSync April 2007
(Updated with new photos) Display maker NEC today upgraded its AccuSync series with its first widescreen models. The new 19-inch LCD193WXM, 20-inch LCD203WXM, and 22-inch LCD223WXM are all tailored to home users as well as the traditional business and school crowds of the AccuSync line: each has chin-mounted speakers and features a brighter-than-average picture with a 1,000:1 contrast ratio for every model versus the 800:1 more common to rival LCDs.
Each has both analog (VGA) and digital (DVI) video input and fits to VESA wall mount kits for particularly tight spaces. The 19-inch model is available now from NEC for $230; its larger 20- and 22-inch counterparts will ship in May at respective prices of $290 and $360.
Faber Acoustical on Tuesday released Electroacoustics Toolbox 1.2, its modularized, multi-channel dynamic signal analyzer and data acquisition platform for the Mac. With version 1.2, the software now includes support for AppleScript, enabling users to automate their measurements. In addition, the Dual FFT Analyzer now includes a built-in excitation signal generator, which simplifies measurement configuration and allows for pre-sending the excitation signal through the device or system under test. Other new features include MAT-file data export, controls for starting, stopping, capturing and exporting all tools in the project toolbox, and an enhanced user interface.
SUGV Early robot coming
iRobot and Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems unit on Tuesday announced an agreement to develop and deliver a new, next-generation Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) to military, civil and commercial users. Weighing less than 30 pounds, the SUGV Early robot will enable users to remotely conduct reconnaissance and secure realtime intelligence. The companies said that they will use Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) technology to the greatest extent possible to rapidly produce and deploy the new robot, which is expected to be in production and ready for delivery in 2008.
Content for Archos players
Media player manufacturer Archos and online media content provider CinemaNow have signed an agreement to deliver online video content and services directly to consumers. The move is yet another mobile content partnership attempt to compete with Apple's popular iPod player and industry-leading iTunes Store. While details are expected to be announced later this summer, CinemaNow will be first online video service to offer downloads to consumers in 1500K single-file format, which can be played on desktop and laptop PCs, Media Center Edition PCs, and Archos portable media players. The companies will unveil additional details of the content partnership during the launch of the Generation 5 line of Archos devices this summer. Archos in early March announced its miniscule 20GB music jukebox and its 704 Wi-Fi-enabled flagship player.
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