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Japanese company Everex, which does have some North American presence, is preparing two potentially interesting StepNote laptops. The high-end model is the XT500J (pictured), a 17-inch system capable of resolutions up to 1440x900. It is powered by a 1.6GHz Turion 64 X2 processor, uses up to 4GB of RAM, and has a 256MB GeForce Go 7600 card for graphics. The computer is also equipped with Vista Home Premium, a DVD burner and a four-in-one card reader, but hard drive space is limited to 120GB. The cost should be 129,800 yen ($1,086).
Apple in an official statement today admitted that some batteries used in its MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks may have performance issues. The Cupertino-based company was quick to point out that these issues do not present any kind of safety risk, and immediately provided a software update to improve battery performance for all MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks purchased between February 2006 and April 2007. Apple recommends all customers who purchased MacBooks, MacBook Pros, or extra batteries between those dates run the update, and has promised to replace any battery sold between the above dates that still displays specific symptoms after the software update is properly installed.
Italians should now be able to buy a new, limited edition of Sony Ericsson's K800i phone. The device is now Ferrari-themed, and is clad in the car maker's familiar red-and-black scheme, with the iconic horse emblem stamped into the back. The phone is otherwise unchanged, sporting (in its Italian configuration) a dual-band GSM receiver with support for single-band UMTS. The central feature of the phone is its camera, which is a 3.2-megapixel autofocus unit with xenon flash. Other recent Ferrari-edition phones have included the Motorola RAZRmaxx V6 and the Vertu Ascent Ferrari 1947. This year marks the 60th anniversary of Ferrari. [via mobileblog.it]
In brief: Adobe CS3 is much more than a major update to Photoshop, according to PC Magazine, which goes over the new creative suite in detail. Aspyr Media today released a free open Beta patch for SimCity 4 Rush Hour that enables Intel-based Mac users to try out the game, another free iPhone contest has already begun, iCare has released Permissions Fixer to ease file sharing in Mac OS X, and Linotype has received recognition for two of its fonts. Adobe CS3 is much more than an outstanding update to Photoshop, according to PC Magazine. "In fact, in the end there will be six bundles of the popular software suite to choose from," the publication writes in its coverage of the new tools. Reviews, previews, and a slideshow of the creative suite software help users discover what comes in each package and which bundle is right for particular needs.
Phone carrier O2 Germany has begun selling the Xda terra, the first shipping phone to be loaded with Windows Mobile 6 Professional. The terra is based on HTC's Herald design, and is a quad-band GSM phone with WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0, and EDGE broadband. A two-megapixel camera is onboard, and like its Mini S predecessor it should have a slide-out keyboard. With a two-year contract from O2 the phone costs €80 ($109); in O2 retail stores, it can be bought without contract for €520 ($707). [via the unwired]
Invoices 1.1 ($25) creates, manages and prints business invoices. The software enables users to collapse an unlimited number of invoices into a single document, archiving transactions spanning a year or more. The latest release introduces a variety of options, such as putting paid/unpaid checkmarks in the the invoices table and labelling an invoice as a Duplicate. The update runs faster, and introduces several minor bug fixes. [Download - 1.5MB] pzizz 2.2 ($30) aims to help users "powernap" during the day and reduce bouts of insomnia at night. The update splits modules into .pzizzaudio and .pzizzplugin files, and allows delays before as well as after a track plays. Users can also configure system to enter Sleep mode after pzizz's Sleep Module is finished. The Energizer and Sleep Modules are $30 separately, or $50 together. Pzizz 2.2 requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later. [Download - [unknown]] Project X 1.1 ($200) is a project management application aimed at small- to medium-sized businesses. Users can view projects visually or through more traditional structures, and collaborate with others through a Web-based tool. Project X 1.1 adds a variety of unspecified features and enhancements, as well as support for media files in the Network view. The update also fixes some bugs, requiring Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later. [Download - 81MB] MBS REALbasic Plug-In 7.2 ($60) extends the REALbasic integrated development environment with more than 600 classes and over 12,000 additional functions. Version 7.2 adds more classes and functions, such as MacAddressStringMBS and HIViewMBS. RegExMBS is updated to use PCRE 7.0, and the Webkit classes are rewritten to work better with HTMLViewer. The plug-in requires 120MB of hard drive space and REALbasic 5.5 or later; different features are available depending on the version of Mac OS used. [Download - 52MB] Virtual TimeClock 5.5 ($200) is a punchclock program with the ability to print by worker, department, or task. The application features multiple levels of password protection to prevent tampering, and the update simplifies timecard editing while expanding worker information tracking. The latest release also includes fixes and various enhancements which should improve stability, according to the developer. [Download - 5.4MB] Graph Paper Maker 1.5.0 ($20) creates custom sheets of graph paper using different scales, colors, paper sizes, and more. Output files are saved as PDFs to preserve data and layout. Graph Paper Maker 1.5.0 adds an isometric graph paper option, as well as trigonometric scaling for axes. The Mac OS X edition requires 10.2 or later, but an update also exists for Mac OS 8.6. [Download - 1.4MB]
NVIDIA's upcoming GeForce 8800 Ultra has had final details leaked that show close competition with the Radeon HD 2900 XTX, say sources. Set to make a 'soft' launch on May 2nd, as with the AMD-made card, the Ultra is now known to be largely a minor update meant to claim the performance crown from the rival chipmaker. Clock speeds will dictate the changes, according to claims. Memory will see the largest gain, jumping from 1.8GHz effective speed to a less restrictive 2.16GHz; the core, however, will only increase slightly from 575 to 612MHz. This may ultimately limit the gains to higher resolutions for users uncomfortable with overclocked GTX models.
The Japanese branch of Clarion is near launching the MAX9700DT, an extremely high-end GPS unit. Particularly important is its support for two digital TV formats: the 1Seg mobile format, and DMB-T for higher quality, where accessible. Should that not be enough, it also has DVD and MiniDisc players, SD and Memory Stick slots, and a 40GB hard drive which can be loaded with MP3, WMA and ATRAC files. iPods can be connected and controlled through the seven-inch touchscreen. Actual navigation benefits from the rare feature of a first-person 3D view, complete with textured buildings in select regions. 2D windows provide overviews and guidance. The 9700DT will go on sale in June for 341,250 yen ($2,855). [via Tech.co.uk]
Fastmac today began shipping its new Blu-Ray burner drive for Mac Pro and Power Mac G5 systems for under $500 (slim model shown at right), adding the drive is the first as well as the only device of its kind designed for pro Mac desktops in its price range. The new 5.25-inch tray-loading drive is tested and certified compatible with Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 video production software, and enables users to store up to 50GB of data on a single disc. The drive also supports burning CD and DVD media for backward compatibility with older technology. Fastmac's new Blu-Ray drive is available for $500 for a limited time, and carries a 1-year warrant alongside a 30-day guarantee.
The iTunes Store may soon have multiple labels whose music goes without copy protection, according to an e-mail notice. A message reportedly sent to partners encourages interested music labels to speak with Apple about changing their offerings to a format without digital rights management, reflecting the changes prompted by the EMI deal early this month. "Many of you have reached out to iTunes to find out how you can make your songs available higher quality and DRM-free," the note said. "Starting next month, iTunes will begin offering higher-quality, DRM-free music and DRM-free music videos to all customers."
Lenovo today gave an early look at a special notebook designed to commemorate Beijing's hosting of the 2008 Olympics. Known as the Xiang based on the 110-meter hurdle gold medal winner of the same name from the 2004 Athens event, the portable reflects the "Cloud of Promise" philosophy behind the computer builder's design for the official Olympic torch: the outer shell is covered in China's signature red, while both the inside and outside are decorated with swirling clouds.
Microsoft has unveiled the release of another exclusive version of the Zune. Referred to as the Adult Swim edition, a customized version of the player was used as a replacement for a conventional introduction to the animated TV network's new programming: rather than hold a central presentation, attendees at a New York City event were given the player preloaded with a main video presentation as well as full episodes of several new TV shows. Music and photos were also bundled in, said Adult Swim.
An investment group is planning to use Apple's forthcoming shareholder's meeting to make a move toward greener products, according to one report from AppleInsider. Trillium Asset Management is calling on Apple shareholders to support a motion that would require the company to produce a solid schedule for doing away with toxic materials in its hardware products. "Consumers have grown to expect more from Apple, a leader in product design and innovation," said Trillium vice president Shelley Alpern. "Are we falling behind in the arena of greening our products?" The shareholder coalition answered a definite 'yes' to the question of whether Apple is moving slowly to a greener future, as well as producing an example for rival companies. The firm also expressed its desire to see Apple meet or beat arch-rival Dell's current environmental friendliness, which has promised to do away with BFRs and PVC plastic from its computers by 2009.
Microsoft is dealing with mixed blessings in its lineup, the company's latest quarterly financial results have shown. The three-month period ending in March was largely positive for the software developer, which saw its revenue jump 32 percent to $14.4 billion despite the typical seasonal slump. The change was in part expected due to the near-simultaneous launches of Windows Vista and Office 2007, which triggered a flurry of software and PC upgrades in January. However, the company added that even these new releases fared better than predicted -- suggesting that hints of poor sales were ill-founded.
Produced by Doa Korea, the Slim G4 may be one of the smallest mice ever devised. It is only 0.2 inches thick, and when extended, 3.7 inches long -- but it is able to collapse to half that length for travel, and stores inside a laptop's PC Card slot. Moreover, a spool underneath the mouse allows users to store the USB cable without taking up more space. Inside the mouse is an optical sensor; controls include two buttons and a touchpad in place of a scrollwheel. Four colors to choose from include blue, pink, ivory and silver. No pricing is immediately available. [via Akihabara News]
Apple has confirmed plans to bring full-length feature films to its iTunes Store in Europe during an interview with a French newspaper this week. Apple vice president Pascal Cagni, who oversees the company's European endeavors, confirmed that the company will launch its iPhone in Europe in the fourth quarter of 2007 alongside plans to open a new Apple retail store in Paris, France in the future, according to Macworld UK. The executive also said Apple plans to have roughly 70 sales outlets inside larger retail stores open across Europe by the end of this year.
AT&T stepped further into the world of video calls today with the launch of the LG CU500v. Similar at first glance to the original phone with HSDPA for 3G wireless, the upgrade brings support for the American carrier's first attempt at live video calls, dubbed Video Share. The feature allows the 1.3-megapixel camera to deliver one-way live video that can alternate from user to user during a call. As before, the camera can also swivel for photography or recording video of the outside world.
In brief: Insanely Great Tees is hosting its first big contest to give away an iPhone for the best 30-second video ad for Apple's forthcoming iPhone, Speck Products is offering a 20 percent discount on orders of two or more MacBook SeeThru cases for Apple's 13-inch MacBook or 15-inch MacBook Pro, Peachpit is releasing several new books related to Apple's Final Cut Studio 2 software, and Telestream has launched a trade-in program for its Episode Series desktop media encoding applications for Mac users. Insanely Great Tees is offering a free iPhone to the person who creates the best 30-second video ad for the device. Ads must include the text "I'm an iPhone," and the last day to submit an ad is May 7th. All contest finalists will receive tee-shirts, and all contestants will receive a coupon good for at least $5 off the purchase of any shirt from the company.
Despite reports to the contrary, both Wal-Mart and Chinese manufacturer Fuh Yuan are now saying that no deal has been struck to flood the US with low-cost HD-DVD players. Although Wal-Mart's denials have been terse, a statement issued by Fuh Yuan suggests a misunderstanding; Wal-Mart merely wants to know if such a deal could could be struck, and at what cost and quantity. Thus Wal-Mart may still be planning to sell low-cost players in its stores, but possibly from a different manufacturer, and/or at more or less than $299. [via Ars Technica]
One of the other recent visitors to the US Patent Office is Intel, who have patented a technique for making flexible mobile displays. Two screens are used, with each pixel being represented by ring connecting the two sides. Particles inside the rings adjust the reflectivity (brightness) of the pixels through controlled magnets. Intel's exact plans for technology are unknown -- while the company does make processors for cellphones and other mobile devices, it has never ventured into displays before, which suggests a desire for deeper involvement in the mobile realm. Flexible screens should allow for more rugged and/or stylized devices, less susceptible to breaking when dropped. [via Unwired View]
The One Laptop Per Child notebook (known as the XO) is seeing its price increase and its software support grow, the project's leader Nicholas Negroponte said today. The small portable, which was famously targeted at a $100 price per unit for developing countries, saw its price swell from an already higher $150 to $175 on Friday after component prices were factored in. The OLPC head hasn't explained the price increase but implied that component pricing was the culprit, suggesting that the price will ultimately reach the $100 goal in the next few years as components become cheaper over time.
SubRosaSoft.com today released MacLockPick, a new live forensics tool for extracting passwords, internet history, and system settings from Mac OS X systems. The utility is designed for law enforcement professionals to perform live forensics and is based on a USB Flash drive that users insert into a suspects Mac OS X system -- running or sleeping -- to extract data from the Apple Keychain as well as system settings, providing examiners with fast access to critical information with as little interaction or trace as possible. MacLockPick is priced at $500 for licensed investigators, or $450 for State and local law enforcement professionals. Licenses for Federal law enforcement officers as well as purchases of five or more copies are available for $400 each.
"It's About Time" has released "It's About Time" to learn the Switch to Mac, which the company says is the first and only tool that interactively guides users through a typical day in Windows and then teaches the equivalent on a Mac system. The learning tool then allows Windows users to try each Mac equivalent, and offers notifications as to whether users completed the tasks correctly. The interactive guide teaches users how to configure and check email; schedule events with alarms in iCal; add contacts to Address Book; and change the desktop background. The learning tool also covers organizing files in the home directory, locating applications as well as using the Dock to open favorites, browsing the Web in Safari, using Dashboard as well as widgets, and making use of Expose alongside Spotlight search functionality. "It's About Time" to learn the Switch to Mac is available for $30.
The first Nokia 3G cellphone to arrive in North America is the N75, now at AT&T. Real-time video calls do not appear to be supported however, only video messages, plus the recording of locally-saved clips. The two-megapixel camera can of course do still images as well, and has 10x zoom in that regard, but only 8x for video. The 3G capabilities are only somewhat put into play when using Cingular Music and Video, since the phone can stream content instead of merely downloading. At full price the N75 costs $400; with a two-year contract and a mail-in rebate however, that price can be brought down to $200. [via Boy Genius Report]
Sony on Friday launched a surprise upgrade to its Cyber-shot S-series in the form of the S800. Despite its role as a point-and-shoot compact, the new camera's lens is capable of a genuine 6X optical zoom. This is the strongest ever for any compact Cyber-shot, Sony says. The lens is suitable for long-range shots as well as macro photography as close as 0.8 inches from the glass. Image resoluton is also a priority with an 8.1-megapixel sensor and a special ISO 1250 mode that can be forced for low-light shooting.
Apple is pushing one of its instrumental flash memory suppliers to the breaking point, according to contacts within the memory industry. Those said to be close to talks between the iPod maker and electronics giant Samsung claim that Apple has ordered an exceptionally large number of NAND flash memory chips from the South Korean firm that the sources claim should cover all iPod and iPhone models for the second half of the year.
BenQ has just announced the US release of the W500, its latest venture into home theater projectors. The three-LCD system can display a true 720p picture and has an HDMI input for accepting virtually any HD signal, including 1080p. The firm's trademark Hollywood Quality Video processing engine is also in place for removing per-pixel motion artifacts and improving the overall picture. BenQ claims a home theater-sized 1,100 lumens of brightness and a 5,000:1 contrast ratio at picture sizes up to 100 inches across. Analog video is covered with dual component, VGA, RCA, and S-video ports.
BenQ this morning released a new HDTV set as part of a larger move towards HD. The SH3741 is the company's second 37-inch set with a full HD, 1080p resolution but with a faster 6ms pixel response for action scenes. It also manages a static 1,500:1 contrast ratio but has dynamic gamma adjustment to highlight details without sacrificing blacks and more obvious high-contrast scenes. Dual HDMI and component input jacks handle HD up to the full 1080p resolution; VGA connects the display with PCs. The Taiwan arm of BenQ is shipping the SH3741 today for the equivalent of $1,500 US, and should be available in other areas soon. A US release is less likely.
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HBO Now has 800,000 subscribers
The CEO of HBO, Richard Plepler has confirmed that the online streaming HBO service, HBO Now, has 800,000 subscribers. When criticized for the seemingly low number, Plepler noted that the still nascent service was bound to Apple exclusivity during the fifth season of Game of Thrones. Plepler declared during the Time Warner quarterly earnings conference call marketing for the online-only offering would be enhanced in 2016. While HBO Now's critics are slamming the low numbers, the service must also compete against itself on cable, in addition to Netflix and other streaming services. http://on.recode.net/1QWoLHe
Unsafe IoT called threat to humanity
US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told two different Senate committees yesterday that the Internet of Things posed a clear and present danger, and could be weaponized by governments. Before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Clapper declared that insecure IoT "will bring new security vulnerabilities" and "will connect tens of billions of new physical devices that could be exploited" by those wishing to perpetrate violence or eavesdrop on the populace of the world. http://bit.ly/23Xvcky
Apple public betas for iOS 9.3, OS X 10.11.4
Following Monday's release of betas for the iOS and OS X, Apple has unveiled public betas for both operating systems. The iOS 9.3 beta includes all of the previously reported enhancements for education customers, along with Wi-Fi calling for Verizon iPhone owners, and a carrier update for T-Mobile users. The OS X 10.11.4 third beta includes enhancements to Twitter URL opening, Live Photo viewing and sharing, and Evernote note importation into Notes.
Google given NHTSA SDS waivers
In contrast to the California Department of Motor Vehicle's approach, the US National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has confirmed that it is declaring the software in autonomous cars is the legal driver of a so-equipped vehicle. In a letter to Google, the NHTSA says that it "will interpret 'driver' in the context of Google's described motor vehicle design as referring to the SDS [self-driving system], and not to any of the vehicle occupants." Other matters, such as legally-required rear-view mirrors for occupied vehicles has yet to be determined. However, regulations specifying the "driver" need no longer be interpreted as meaning a person behind the wheel, as the agency writes that self-driving cars "will not have a 'driver' in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers during the last more than one hundred years" http://1.usa.gov/1QrAGtR
Dropshare 4 for Mac now available
Dropshare 4 for Mac has shipped, introducing support for uploading files and screenshots to Amazon S3 API-compliant services, like DreamObjects and OpenStack. The update also introduces a new popup design, an in-app editor for custom landing pages, an improved upload history window, and security improvements when using SSH connections. The paid upgrade costs $25, though it is free for customers who bought the previous version this year and half-price for those who acquired version 3 of the app last year. http://bit.ly/1XixV3q
Google starting phase-out of Flash ads
Search engine and advertising giant Google will shortly no longer accept Adobe Flash-created ads for its AdWords network. Starting June 30, ads in the once-ubiquitous format will no longer be accepted. Additionally, after January 2, 2017, the network will no longer serve Flash-based advertisements, and the network will be completely HTML 5 based. http://bit.ly/1PNx1uc
Sonos now works with Apple Music
Wireless music system manufacturer Sonos has announced that its systems worldwide will gain compatibility for streaming the paid Apple Music subscription service starting today, February 10. "Music fans worldwide will have access to Apple Music features like For You, New, Radio, and My Music, and will also be able to stream the entire Apple Music catalog through Sonos smart speakers tuned for great sound in every room of their homes," the company said in an email to journalists. Apple Music's streaming service costs $10 per month, with a free three-month trial. http://bit.ly/1Wdi2Ko