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Apple to replace batteries
Apple is presenting MacBook and MacBook Pro owners who experience performance problems related to batteries after installing the company's battery update with three options. Notebook owners can make an appointment at the Genius Bar of a local Apple nearest Apple Store where a technician will arrange the battery's replacement, or can receive a replacement battery through an Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP). Alternatively, MacBook and MacBook Pro owners can get in touch with the Apple Support Contact Center (1-800-275-2273) to discuss the issue as well as potential solutions.
Reviews, iTunes U in Texas
In brief: MacNN has reviewed the Swivel Aluminum Case from Core Cases as well as the XtremeMac Tango portable iPod speaker system, and Apple has inked a deal with Texas Tech to launch an iTunes U website for students attending the University. Today marks the final day that Italian consumers can turn in winning codes from 500ml Coke+iTunes bottles before a second Coke+iTunes initiative launches in the European country, and a new book has surfaced on extending iPod capabilities beyond music from the Take Control series of eBooks. MacNN has reviewed the Swivel Aluminum Case ($30) from Core Cases -- a video iPod stand made from aircraft-grade aluminum -- as well as the Tango from XtremeMac ($200, shown at right) -- an iPod speaker system with a slick white-and-black style that comes with a remote control.
Red & pink SanDisk players
Joining similar products from Apple and Microsoft, SanDisk has released red and pink versions of the Sansa c250 MP3 player. There are 1GB and 2GB sizes, and all c250s have an FM tuner, a 1.4-inch color screen, and a microSD slot to expand storage. WAV and WMA files are supported as well, and owners can use the player to record both radio and their own voice. Best Buy is currently selling the new colors of the 2GB player for $100. [via Gizmodiva]
iScrapbook 1.0 released
Chronos today released iScrapbook 1.0, an application that aims to ease the process of designing and printing scrapbooks. iScrapbook features a suite of tools to draw shapes, add graphics, arrange as well as align objects, and add special effects. More than 30 shapes with smart controls help users create custom design elements, while built-in rulers and project grid lines with zoom functionality ease the process of positioning objects. The software provides tools to crop images and create photo effects such as Sepia or shadows. More advanced special effects include selective focusing, clipping an image to any shape, and filling text with any image. iScrapbook is priced at $50, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Blue Laser PS3 Drop
An improvement in parts may trigger a major price drop in the PlayStation 3's cost, according to Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter. Sony's semicondutor division has managed to ramp up the production of the blue-violet lasers needed for the PS3's drive much sooner than expected, making it less expensive to produce them and ultimately the game systems themselves. The difference could offer a major discount to Sony for each of the $125 Blu-Ray readers and affect the total system price.
Dell XPS IdeaStorm
Dell is looking for input on an update to its XPS 710 H2C desktop, a new entry on the company's Digg-like IdeaStorm website reveals. The jet-black, watercooled tower's next version will have one of Dell's first case windows to showcase the high-end components inside the system, and users have the choice of two designs. Either will have internal LEDs to match those on the outside, Dell says.
Performance details aren't part of the vote, which runs until May 11th; the limited choice of designs, however, suggest that production will follow shortly after the final vote and will probably include a focus on quad-core processors. [via GeekZone]
Samsung MV65 Desktop
Samsung today upgraded its MV series desktops with the addition of the MV65. The Korean firm puts a slight spin on media center PCs with an integrated, hybrid analog/HDTV tuner and the software support to back it up. An electronic program guide tracks upcoming shows and turns the slim mid-tower into a DVR with 320GB of storage. Complementing the role are a wireless keyboard/mouse combo and a remote.
Currently available in one model, the MV65 debuts first in Korea with enough performance for full HD viewing, including a 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB of RAM, and a 512MB GeForce 7650 GS video card. It can be found in Korea today for $1,505. [via I4U]
Brionvega Alpha TV
V12Design's Brionvega label has revealed the Alpha TV, a new concept it hopes will refresh typically stale TV design. The design recalls the look of 1960s and 1970s pseudo-futuristic TVs while taking advantage of newer technology. Chromed steel pipes recall the earlier look while also floating an LCD TV close to the viewer; rather than simply offer a weighted base, the Alpha has a DVD player with only the slot giving away its true purpose. The remote is also consciously reminiscent of larger controllers and matches the set's black, orange, or silver color in a way rarely seen with modern TVs.
Harm of patent law reduced
Two major new legal rulings may reduce the restrictions of patent law. In the biggest of the pair, the US Supreme Court has overturned a test used for decades in patent appeals; while a lower court supported the notion (in Teleflex v. KSR) that challengers must show a "teaching, suggestion or motivation" for combining previous inventions, the Supreme Court was persuaded by the likes of Intel, Cisco, Microsoft and General Motors that many such inventions are simply obvious, and do not constitute any substantial improvement on existing patents.
Bloomberg reports that other corporations, such as DuPont and Procter & Gamble, fell on the side of Teleflex. Representatives from the drug and biotech industries stood in for an even larger number of companies.
Corsair Flash Survivor
Corsair this afternoon released what it claims is the world's toughest USB flash drive. The Flash Survivor range is built out of heavy-duty aluminum with a rubber collar that makes the drive near-shockproof. Special sealing also guards the flash stick against potentially fatal drops into the water; in-house testing shows the drive surviving depths of up to 650 feet without leaks.
Its integrity is also strong when attached to a computer, Corsair boasts. 256-bit AES encryption is built-in to password-protect information should the drive be lost or stolen.
Schools ban iPods
Schools have begun banning iPods to prevent students from cheating, according to one report. Mountain View High School in Idaho recently forbid students from bringing digital media players to school after officials discovered some students downloading formulas as well as other material on to the portable players, according to the Associated Press. "It doesn't take long to get out of the loop with teenagers," Mountain View High School principal Aaron Maybon said. "They come up with new and creative ways to cheat pretty fast."
Philips SA3100 Jukebox
Philips today pushed the cost of pocket video lower with the release of its SA3100 series. A bridge between simple flash players and more elaborate video models, it measures just 3.1 inches tall but finds room for a 1.8-inch screen and a processor that can play basic video converted to the SMV format. An FM radio and voice recording fill in when MP3, WAV, and WMA songs run out. Audio playback is rated at 10 hours on a single battery charge.
The new models of the player launched today ship worldwide with either a black (SA31x5 series) or white (SA31x4) backing shell. The 1GB SA3114 and SA3115 is priced in Europe at the equivalent of $96, while the 2GB SA3124/3125 is retailing for $137. Both should be available in the US with comparable prices. [via GenerationMP3]
X360 65nm CPU in Fall
The Xbox 360 should get its long-awaited upgrade to a 65 nanometer process in the fall, according to China's Commercial Times. A test version of the game systems's Xenon graphics chipset, which is seeing a shrink from 90 nm, has reportedly been sampled and should start production this coming month through the well-known firm Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, or TSMC.
Xbox Live Arcade on Elite
Now that Microsoft's upgraded Xbox 360 Elite is officially in stores, some owners are reporting that they cannot play Live Arcade games bought for earlier versions of the console. Users can in fact move their Live accounts to a new system, but any downloaded Arcade games will revert to their trial modes if no online authentication is available. The current Microsoft recommendation is to use a free data transfer cable, but the same problem takes effect regardless; this is apparently a scheme to prevent piracy. [via Ars Technica]
Ballmer on iPhone
The iPhone has no hope of gaining a true foothold in the cellphone marketplace, according to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The company head told an interviewer at the USA Today that, as with computers, future control of the mobile handset business would primarily depend on software influence rather than hardware. Apple's insistence on attaching its code to a premium device could prevent it from getting any more than a small percentage of the world's cellphone user base, Ballmer predicted.
The Sims 2 Family Fun
Aspyr Media today began shipping The Sims 2 Family Fun Stuff for Mac. The expansion pack to The Sims 2 adds a new collection of furniture, clothing, and decor that enables players to decorate the home with an assortment of new furnishings such as upscale living room items and adventurous bedroom sets. "Dress your Sims in matching attire for an amusing day out with the family. With 60 new items from castle beds to cruise ship replicas, your Sims will have more stuff for more family fun!" The Sims 2 Family Fun is available for $20, and requires The Sims 2 for Mac OS X.
Gen Y: Apple no. 1
A new survey of respondents mostly between the ages of 21-27 suggests that Apple is the most trusted brand among first wave Generation Y consumers. The survey, designed to compile a "Trust Index" of brands that produce "deeply positive feelings" among trendsetters, asked participants which companies they most respected, and why. Results were clear, as Apple was ranked no. 1 above Trader Joes as the most trusted company. Most companies mentioned by respondents focus on simplicity, according to Outlaw strategic analyst Holly Brickley. The analyst notes that favorite companies are known for keeping products as stripped-down as possible, according to MarketingDaily. That simplicity applies not just to physical appearance but also to the way companies organize their offerings, according to Brickley. "Apple's computers and iPods are so clean and simple and easy to use," said one respondent. "No excess."
Data Evolution tablet UMPC
A general unknown in North America, Data Evolution is releasing its first UMPC for the continent, the Cathena CX. The intent is a "fully-featured" machine that nevertheless comes in a small package. The seven-inch screen for instance supports resolutions up to 1024x768 (800x600 natively), and twists 180 degrees to turn the computer into a tablet. It uses a 500MHz AMD processor with 512MB of RAM (expandable to 1GB), and at 100GB, comes with an unusually large hard drive.
Some other amenities include Bluetooth, 802.11b/g WiFi, and a touchpad as well as a five-way joystick. Battery life is estimated to be five hours, and buyers can choose to load one of three different versions of Windows XP. Linux may be a future option. A Cathena CX costs $799. [via LinuxDevices]
Vudu Video Hub
Vudu Labs has recently provided early details of the self-titled Vudu, a networked media hub co-developed by former Apple, AT&T, and TiVo employees. The device both downloads videos directly from the Internet to the hub and eliminates the need to buffer or completely transfer videos before playing -- both limitations commonly associated with the Apple TV and similar hardware. The Vudu uses peer-to-peer technology to do this, according to the company. Similar to BitTorrent, the new box collects movie data from other systems on the Internet. This eliminates the bottleneck of centralized servers that frequently cripples cable providers or smaller services with higher costs for direct downloads.
Apple ProCare revamp
Apple is set to restructure its ProCare service on Wednesday which will effectively double the cost of today's service. AppleInsider reports that the Cupertino-based company will split its existing $99 yearly retail service into two separate packages, with one for on-on-one Mac training and the other for repair-related services, leaving consumers just two days to receipt the current full service for $99. Teachers will receive a $20 discount on the new service, but discounts appear to be absent for customers looking to purchase both ProCare and "One-to-One" service.
Bell Canada EVDO Rev. A
Canada's largest phone provider, Bell, has today enhanced its EVDO broadband network with EVDO Revision A service to several regions in Ontario. Like other Rev. A networks, this should (in theory) allow download speeds as fast as 3.1Mbps, with an almost equally impressive 1.8Mbps for uploads. Customers should thus be able to make much better use of Bell's data services, such as real-time music and video streaming, and sending high-resolution photos.
Accompanying the network expansion is availability of three Rev. A modems, all based on Novatel's 720 design. The Merlin P720 fits in a PC Card slot, and uses a dual-band external antenna; the Ovation U720 is a USB modem, and the Merlin X720 is an ExpressCard version, with accessories for connecting to both PC Card and USB ports.
Further Mac share gains?
Apple's Mac market share rose during the company's March quarter despite a predicted slump following Microsoft's launch of Windows Vista, and Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster suspects the company will see further gains year-over-year. "Strong Mac sales in Apple's March quarter enabled the company to gain share despite stronger than normal PC sales," the analyst wrote. "With Apple heading into three quarters of significant product releases (iPhone, Leopard, new iPod) and the education buying season, we expect year-over-year market share gains to continue." Piper Jaffray maintains its 'Outperform' rating on Apple shares with a $140 price target.
VDO Dayton ships GPS radio
In contrast to the increasing number of dedicated GPS units with large color displays, the MS 4400 by VDO Dayton is much more practical: the unit is combined with a radio deck, and displays only essential navigation information on a 260x100 monochrome screen. Compensating are voice directions in nine languages and 20 different voices, with the added ability to bookmark up to 200 locations for quick access. Users can also receive real-time traffic information, and play audio CDs and MP3 files. Volume can be linked to speed. Unfortunately, American pricing and distribution information seems to be unavailable. [via NaviGadget]
Samsung 16Gb Flash Ships
Samsung on Monday began shipping the world's first ever 16 gigabit flash memory. Originally sampled in March, the new memory is built on a 51 nanometer process that shrinks the storage enough to allow 16 gigabytes on a typical memory card. The shortened traces combined with processing data in larger chunks also greatly speeds up transfers compared to earlier large-capacity flash, according to Samsung's estimates. Where today's flash reads at 17MB per second and writes at 4.4MB, the new technology nearly doubles that claim to 30MB/sec reads and 8MB/sec writes.
Entrance MySQL browser
An avid Mac developer has released Entrance, a new MySQL browser that generates Access-like charts based on data in MySQL databases with a "match box" search facility that works like Apple's Spotlight technology for database tables. Charts are interactive with pan and zoom capability, allowing users to select data or answer important questions by dragging selection boxes over particular charts. Entrance also adds a new "data painting" feature that enables users to paint the points in a Scatter or Correlation Chart with color, which shows up on the chart and is recorded in the underlying database table. Entrance is available for free under the GPL license, and requires Java JRE 1.6.
LG XCanvas Quidam TV
In an unusual move, the latest LCD in LG's luxury XCanvas series is being named after a performance by the Canadian troupe Cirque de Soleil. The Quidam will be sold in six different versions, but only two different sizes, 32 and 42 inches. Part of the inspiration for the name is its stand, which has an unusual half-ring shape. Other features include inline speakers and a sensor that adjusts screen brightness based on ambient light. A 32-inch set should average 1.5 million won ($1,614), while a 42-inch set will be 3.1 million ($3,335). [via Digital Chosunilbo]
Sling Media today launched the finished 1.0 version of SlingPlayer for Mac, a new version which adds controls unique to any version of the software. Designed to play content on a computer streamed from a Slingbox attached to a TV, the finished Mac version includes not only support for controlling cable boxes, DVRs, and other general media receivers but also Apple-specific devices. For the first time, SlingPlayer can control the Apple TV and play its content from any broadband Internet connection, accessing virtually the entire home iTunes library while away. The inaugural edition of the software also allows users to commandeer other devices that use the Apple Remote, including the Front Row interface on recent Macs and music from an iPod connected through an iPod Hi-Fi or Universal Dock.
PulpMotion 1.1 released
Aquafadas today released PulpMotion 1.1, adding roughly 20 new features to the slideshow and presentation tool. The update improves control over timing, allowing users to choose whether the embedded videos play in full length. The latest release also optionally exports movies with the video soundtracks mixed into the background music. PulpMotion 1.1 introduces automatic speed and timing adjustments to the length of the soundtrack, alongside a new navigation toolbar enabling users to skip to next or previous media. Additional new features include a "Zoom-On-Media" function that brings the current media in full view with more detailed information and an optional apparition effect. PulpMotion is available for $30, requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later with QuickTime 7, and comes with a new theme titled "Silly News."
Sony VAIO Santa Rosa Leak
Much of Sony's future planning for its upcoming notebooks has been leaked, according to several sources. A Sony Europe product listing has detailed multiple changes that will follow shortly after Intel's Santa Rosa architecture appears, taking advantage of the improvements in processors and graphics. The most complete leak is that of the mainstream FZ-series (pictured): the new 15.4-inch model replaces the FE with a new design that includes more advanced media controls and a subtly integrated webcam.
Genius Game MP3 Speakers
Genius this morning launched a pair of speaker sets targeted at the budget crowd. The SP-i200 (pictured) caters to iPods and other portable music players with a headphone output jack, including those on the road: a relatively unique adjustable stand can either lay flat for travel and tight spaces, or else sit the speakers at a more natural angle for listening. The 6-watt stereo is also built for vacations with 10 hours of full-volume music through four AAA batteries. It ships in black or white for $30.
Media 100 v11.6 ships
Media 100 this month announced the release of Media 100 v11.6 for Intel-based Macs. The Universal Binary release of Media 100's 10-bit uncompressed HD/SD editing systems for Mac OS X includes Media 100 HD Suite, Media 100 HDe, Media 100 SDe, Media 100 Producer Suite, and Media 100 Producer. The Media 100 product line offers 10-bit uncompressed HD and SD editing capabilities, support for broadcast-quality format conversions, and increased system performance on Intel-based systems and AJA Video OEM solutions. The update represents the first step towards native integration with the Boris FX product line, bringing the advanced compositing and effects technology to the Media 100 interface. The new Media 100 Producer and Producer Suite v11.6 software-only editing solutions provide a complete mobile editing environment integrated with the Boris compositing and effects creation tools: users can record via FireWire or Panasonic P2, assemble projects in the field, and then offload to their projects to Media 100 HD Suite for HD up-conversion or faster processing of projects.
Xerox Natural Voice Color
The Innovation Group at Xerox today revealed that it had developed a technique which could help virtually any user edit photos. Currently named Natural Language Color Editing, the system uses voice activation to translate common spoken descriptions of colors into the actual numerical values the computer uses for its color range. Editors could ask to make the sky a deeper blue, for example, or ask the computer to boost the intensity of the purple in the entire scene.
Third NYC Apple store
Following last week's announcement of a third New York City retail store, more details have begun to emerge. The company will open its newest Big Apple retail store in the Meatpacking District at 401 W. 14th St., according to the New York Post. Apple is reportedly leasing more than 32,000 feet on the cellar, ground and second floor of the 60,000-square-foot, low-rise structure on the northwest corner of 14th Street and Ninth Avenue, the report noted. Last year, reports indicated that the third Apple retail store may emerge on West 34th street, where the company had secured a lease, but the fate of that location remains unknown (plans for other locations in Manhattan have also faltered).
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