Forums roundup: Members are discussing reports of continuing MacBook battery capacity problems despite the recent update by Apple.... Similarly, another MacBook owner is reporting their battery not being recognized at all, reports indicate the only solution is replacement.... Other users are discussing Apples announcement that LED backlighting is coming to Macs, posing the question whether or not it is worth waiting for.... Other members are discussing the plea for help by one user who says they lost all their user settings randomly, now wondering how to get them back.... Meanwhile, other members are responding to the question asking what applications they want to see for iPhone that were not included in the initially announced launch line-up.
In response to Apple CEO Steve Jobs' letter on the topic of the company's environmental plans, the activist organization Greenpeace -- one of Apple's most outspoken critics -- has responded with a statement of its own, generally favorable in tone, but with some reservations. The group praises two of Apple's decisions, specifically its plans to phase out polyvinyl chloride and brominated fire retardants by 2008; these chemicals are said to be polluting dump sites in the Asian continent.
App4Mac has released wKiosk Browser 5.0, a Web browser based on Apple's Safari engine that presents online and offline content (such as HTML, Flash, videos, etc.) in a full-screen interface suitable for public access terminals. Users can send email directly from within the browser, and administrators can lock down wKiosk to restrict access to the operating system or unwanted websites. Version 5.0 overhauls many aspects of the software including Favorites, the HTML engine, and the preferences interface. The update also optimizes code for systems running Mac OS X 10.3.9 or 10.4.9. The full application is priced at $70 and requires Mac OS X 10.3; a trial download limits users to one hour of browsing and prevents password protection for preferences.
SanDisk has released the Sansa Connect, a rival to Apple's iPod nano. The Connect features a WiFi receiver an, unlike Microsoft's Zune, is able to do far more than share limited-play files with other owners. The Connect can stream internet radio as well as download new songs and photos. The Wall Street Journal, however, writes that this functionality is still limited: users can only download through a WiFi hotspot, not other Connect owners, and new songs must come from Yahoo's music store, which has three million fewer tracks than the iTunes Store. Likewise, no videos are available to Sansa Connect owners, and direct service for the device is subscription-only.
Product designer Matthias Lange has revealed a new design that he hopes will solve some of the more common problems with carring digital jukeboxes. The Pocket Player gently curves the entire shell to make sure the device fits comfortably around the leg while on the move, and to prevent cracks or other stress while the wearer sits. Controls and the LCD are also placed on the top to make them both accessible and visible without having to fish the player out of its hiding place. Currently just a concept, the Pocket Player is being pitched by Lange as the latest entry in his portfolio and may see a release in the next few years from interested companies. [via Gizmodo]
Samsung today updated one of its most unique computer LCDs. The dynamic contrast ratio of the CX971P now jumps from 1,500:1 to a much stronger 4,000:1, making it a better choice for artists as well as movie watchers and others who depend on truer colors. The change doesn't affect the rest of the design, Samsung says. The display still uses the company's trademark MagicRotation feature to adjust not just elevation and tilt but also the diagonal angle. The S-shaped stand also helps eliminate the clutter of a separate power supply.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs today in an open letter to the public revealed that the Cupertino-based company is aiming to unveil its first Macs with LED backlight technology some time this year, confirming reports from earlier this year. LCD displays with LED backlighting consume less power, provide better color uniformity, make for a thinner design, and negate the need to include Mercury in the manufacturing process. "We plan to introduce our first Macs with LED backlight technology in 2007," Jobs wrote. "Our ability to completely eliminate fluorescent lamps in all of our displays depends on how fast the LCD industry can transition to LED backlighting for larger displays." The announcement foretells of liquid crystal displays with lower power consumption, improved color uniformity, and thinner LCD designs that should fit nicely into Apple's goals as an innovative company that produces some of the most competitive devices on the market. [corrected]
Toshiba is also contemplating installing Linux on its systems, Toshiba Italy computer division manager Luigi Cattaneo has revealed. The executive told the business paper Il Sole 24 Ore that the only way to compete against Acer and HP, which together own more than half the Italian market, was to sell notebooks below 500 Euros ($680) -- necessitating Linux, which is nearly free to use compared to Windows. "The corporation is seriously discussing this, and we're carefully evaluating the option," a translation of Cattaneo's comments reads. "We don't want the door to close in our face if a business upgrades [to Linux] and we can't do it."
One of the first truly portable options for 4G mobile Internet was approved by the FCC this week, Internet provider Clearwire has announced. The company revealed that a new Motorola-made WiMAX card in the latter's wi4 Expedience line has been certified for use in the US, letting owners of notebooks with PC Card slots connect at up to 1.5Mbps in real-world speeds anywhere Clearwire operates. The design doesn't require a direct line of sight to the wireless tower and means subscribers can genuinely roam rather than stay tied to a bulky external modem, the company says.
Vonage fought back against Verizon late yesterday, arguing that a US appeals court should "vacate and remand" an earlier ruling in favor of the latter provider that would have shut out Vonage's Internet phone service from using any of Verizon's networks. The sudden change was triggered by a critical patent decision on Monday, Vonage said. A US Supreme Court ruling over a car's gas pedal has set what could become a crucial legal precedent by blocking patents for "obvious" evolutions of an existing design, forcing inventors to focus on truly original leaps in technology.
Apple chief Steve Jobs today published an open letter discussing the company's current and future environmental concerns in response to rising pressures from environmental groups as well as shareholders. "Apple has been criticized by some environmental organizations for not being a leader in removing toxic chemicals from its new products, and for not aggressively or properly recycling its old products," Jobs wrote. "Upon investigating Appleís current practices and progress towards these goals, I was surprised to learn that in many cases Apple is ahead of, or will soon be ahead of, most of its competitors in these areas." The executive covers the removal of numerous toxic chemicals in Apple products, as well as a revamped recycling program for iPods moving forward. Jobs goes on to outline the company's recycling plan for its Mac systems, and projects recycling rates by weight in years to come. [updated]
Memory specialist Lexar has released its new ExpressCard SSD (solid-state) drives made for convenient backup and memory expansion on laptops with ExpressCard 34 slots, such as the MacBook Pro. Unlike most flash drives, each of the storage cards ships with automatic backup software, allowing specific files and folders to be copied on a daily, weekly or monthly timetable. The software can also recognize multiple computers and will only copy based on the settings unique to a computer's particular ID. Compatible with Mac OS X, Windows Vista users will also be able to treat the drives as removable ReadyBoost caches for increased system performance in place of normal storage. Models with 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB of space are said to be available today with the former two being priced at $130 and $200; no price has yet been listed for the 16GB product. [via DailyTech]
More concrete details about Dell's upcoming Latitude D630 have surfaced, European resellers say. The 14-inch notebook will be based on Intel's upcoming Santa Rosa with the attendant faster system bus and integrated graphics, claim sources, but should also function as a showcase for the latest in other technology. In addition to the solid-state drive option released in April, the portable should also have the option of hybrid hard drives with a flash-based cache for cutting down boot times and overall responsiveness. Faster 802.11n Wi-Fi will be an option along with expansion up to 4GB of RAM.
Attempting to wedge its way into the home computer market, Pioneer is preparing the BDC-2202 (not pictured), a new Blu-Ray computer drive. Due for release in June, the primary draw will be its price: $299, substantially less than many other Blu-Ray drives, which are often sold for $500-700. This also slips it under the psychologically important $300 barrier. Sacrifices have been made however, as while it can burn CDs and DVDs, it is unable to burn any sort of Blu-Ray media. Blu-Ray reading speeds are listed at 5x for regular BD-ROM/R/RE discs, and 2x for double-layer formats.
Lightcrafts has released LightZone 2.4, the latest revision of the company's easy to understand photo editor. Created by photographers, the software is designed to ease the process of bringing out true tone, color, and contrast frequently "hidden" in digital images with a single slider. Changes in the latest release include a revamped ToneMapper, a new vibrance control to create more vivid color, and a black & white tool to convert images as desired. A new RAW adjustments tool aims to improve image quality, and a noise reduction tool with a new user interface is faster as well as easier to use. LightZone 2.4 full is priced at $250 while the basic version sells for $150. LightZone 2.4 requires Mac OS X 10.4.3 or later.
Wholesaler ComputersPlus has secured four new ASUS laptops (not pictured) to sell to vendors; the interesting point is that they are based on Intel's "Santa Rosa" platform, which has only just begun to be adopted by third parties. The two most attractive systems are likely to be the S62E and the S96S, which are 14.1- and 15.4-inch systems, using new Core 2 Duo processors rated at 2.0, 2.2 or 2.4GHz. More importantly, front-side bus speeds have been raised for Santa Rosa from 667MHz to 800MHz.
Digital Future has released TextSpeech Pro, its text-to-speech software for Mac OS X powered by Cepstral technology. The software converts text in U.S. English, U.K. English, Spanish, Canadian French, and German to speech on PowerPC as well as Intel-based Macs. TextSpeech Pro reads books, documents, emails, and PDF as well as Microsoft Word documents aloud in various voices with special effects. TextSpeech Pro Deluxe is priced at $60 through today, after which the price will rise to $120. TextSpeech Pro Basic is available for $30 though today, or $100 starting May 3rd (specific system requirements were unavailable).
Creative stirred interest ing its flagging Zen music players late yesterday by hinting at a major update to its Zen music player line. The company's US president Craig McHugh garnered attention during a financial conference call by maintaing an unusual level of secrecy around the company's future players, breaking the company's typically very open policy. "We do have something very exciting coming in the MP3 area," he said. "[But] we wanted to wait for the press release and the global launch."
The sizable European carrier O2 has secured an exclusive on an HTC phone design, which under O2's purvue will be known as the XDA Argon. Its main highlight, aside from smooth aesthetics, is an unusually large QVGA screen, measuring 3.5 inches. The phone is otherwise fairly standard, having features such as Bluetooth, WiFi, 64MB of RAM and a two-megapixel camera. It is in fact sub-standard in some respects, since it is a tri-band GSM phone with no broadband, and it comes loaded with Windows Mobile 5 rather than 6. The screen is likewise limited to 65,536 colors. These tradeoffs do save some money however, as the price tops out at £100 ($200) without a contract. The design exclusive expires in July. [via The Register]
Digg.com has been at the center of a backlash, according to the company's co-founder Kevin Rose. The voting-based news site started a controversy when posts were made linking to Boing Boing's posting hexadecimal code for the AACS decryption key used by HD DVDs, which effectively allows programs to play the normally protected movie format. The company initially tried to suppress the submissions by deleting posts and associated comments, citing requests by intellectual property holders to take the information down or else risk legal action.
Mindjet has unveiled MindManager 7 Mac (site not updated), the first upgrade of its visualization software designed to accelerate the work process and save time. The latest release for Mac systems offers a new way to select topics by rules, which users can save and apply as filters. MindManager 7 Mac brings printing enhancements that allow users to print large maps across multiple pages and add headers as well as footers or borders to printed maps. The software features enhanced import and export capabilities for OPML, HTML, Text Outline, and more. English and German versions of MindManager 7 Mac are due to ship May 30th for $130, with upgrades priced at $70 (system requirements were unavailable).
Haier, better known in the United States for its refrigerators, has announced two new laptops for South Korea. Both are intended to fairly compact budget systems, but they are not without some performance. The 13.3-inch T31G, for instance, uses a 1.73GHz Core 2 Duo processor, and a 128MB GeForce Go 7400 for video. It also has a 1.3-megapixel webcam and 802.11a/b/g wireless. There are three main limitations to the system: it only has an 80GB hard drive, plus 512MB of RAM, and an optical drive which can read DVDs, but not burn them. It does however burn CDs. The company's other laptop is the W18 (pictured), which has virtually identical specifications, but differs in a couple of key respects. Its screen is measured at 12.1 inches -- and despite its smaller size, it ironically has a larger hard drive, holding 120GB. Prices and release dates were not available at press time.
Apple in conjunction with Full Sail media college is set to announce "Project LaunchBox" this Friday. The new project is designed to put Apple hardware and professional software directly into the hands of more than 4,000 students across six different disciplines of study. Students will receive a MacBook Pro laptop loaded with software specifically geared toward their degree, and will receive instruction that combines 50 percent lecture and 50 percent hands-on activities that enable students to learn as well as practice immediately as they are trained for the industry. Apple's vice president of worldwide Education will kick off the event with 100 Full Sail students in a starting class, celebrating with political officials as well as business leaders and Full Sail president Garry Jones.
Quickly following last month's news of the GeForce 8600, NVIDIA today unveiled the GeForce 8800 Ultra as the new flagship in its video card line. The official release confirms earlier specs with higher clock speeds across the board compared to the earlier 8800 GTX. Memory speed jumps the most from 1.8 to 2.16GHz for extra bandwidth; the internal shader processors also step up from 1350MHz to 1500MHz while the core increases from 575MHz to 612MHz. The increases mean a performance boost of about 10 to 15 percent compared to the earlier top-end card, NVIDIA says.
Memorex this morning launched its TravelDrive 2007 of flash drives. The new edition takes its cue from jack-knives with a swiveling design that keeps the storage safe; when closed, the memory sits in a soft-feel outer shell that provides an extra layer of protection. The memory portion is also given a metallic color to help sort multiple flash drives visually rather than by text labels, as well as a wrap-around LED to prevent removing the drive while it sends data.
Apple today updated its retail services, changing its ProCare membership by removing training, but adding a separate One to One training program and new free Personal Shopping service, which offers a dedicated Mac Specialist to "explore and test-drive products to find out which ones are best for you." Apple new $99 per year ProCare service offers the ability to schedule appointments for technical support at the Genius Bar up to 14 days in advance, setup and transfer of old files with every new Mac purchase, a yearly tune-up and keyboard/monitor cleaning, same-day service at the Genius Bar (and QuickDrop repair without any appointment), and backup consultation.
Speaker creator Altec-Lansing on Wednesday released the inMotion iMV712, a new speaker dock for the iPod that transforms into a small-scale home theater. Owners of the fifth-generation Apple music player can play videos on a large, 8.5-inch LCD embedded in the front of the system. Any Dock Connector iPod can take advantage of an enhanced sound stage, says the company. A four-inch subwoofer enhances the bass reponse compared to most speaker docks; the three-inch satellites also use Altec-Lansing's Sound Field Expander technology to widen the typically narrow stereo effect of all-in-one units.
Early information about HP notebooks based on Intel's Santa Rosa architecture has been leaked, courtesy of the company's own product pages. All three of the company's main entertainment PCs, including the 17-inch dv9000 as well as the dv6000 and dv2000 (PDF), will have the choice of either the 1.8GHz or 2GHZ new-generation Core 2 Duo, complete with an 800MHz system bus and faster Intel X3100 graphics for those models that don't use dedicated video chipsets; the dv2000 will also have the option of a legacy 1.67GHz Core 2 Duo for the sake of the 14-inch system's price.
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Remote S for Tesla Apple Watch app drives car out
Developer Allen Wong has created the Remote S for Tesla app, which can be used to remotely activate the Model S electric car via an Apple Watch, and drive it a short distance. Aside from providing data about the car and some basic function controls, the unofficial app uses the manufacturer's Summon command to allow the car to turn on, exit the garage, and park near to the user's location. The app is available to purchase from the App Store for $10. http://apple.co/1PprF4t
Seagate 3TB unreliability suit expands
The Seagate 3TB class-action hard drive lawsuit has been expanded to more devices. The expanded suit, filed today, now includes Seagate's Barracuda 3TB Hard Disk Drive,¬†Desktop HDD 3TB, Backup Plus 3TB External Hard Disk¬†Drive,¬†GoFlex 3TB External Hard Disk Drive, or any other Seagate hard drive with model number ST3000DM001. The law firm, Hagens Berman, is seeking information from consumers such as time in service, purchase price, and the nature of any drive received in return from Seagate as a replacement for a failed unit. http://bit.ly/1Pc34Cq
BlackBerry Canada, Florida hit with layoffs
The BlackBerry campus has reportedly been wracked with layoffs. Sources familiar with the company's Waterloo office staffing claim that close to 35 percent of the local workforce has been laid off, with the deepest cuts being made in the BlackBerry 10 OS and hardware teams. Additionally, the state of Florida has been officially notified that the company's Sunrise facility will see 75 people fired. Enthusiast site Mobilesyrup puts the layoffs at around 1000 total. http://bit.ly/1Pc1Rep
Instagram tests multiple account support for iOS
Instagram is trialling support for multiple accounts in its iPhone app with a small number of users. The Facebook-owned photo sharing service confirmed the reports of the tests to TechCrunch, which will allow a single user to manage more than a single account within the app, transferring between two or three accounts with a few taps. It is unclear when the feature will roll out to the public, but it has previously tested it with the Android version of the app since November. http://tcrn.ch/1SPKEKh
Foxconn CEO declares Sharp deal near done
The Foxconn bid for Sharp is allegedly only waiting on specific details of the deal. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou has declared that his company has privileged negotiation rights for the Apple iPhone screen supplier, saying that "we have a consensus, the rest is a process ... I don't see a problem completing this process." Gou hopes the deal, worth up to $5.6 billion, will be formalized by the end of February. http://reut.rs/1SPEQjN
MIT demoes 'Eyeriss' AI chip for mobile
At the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco this week, MIT researchers presented a new chip designed specifically to implement neural networks. The researchers claim that "Eyeriss" is 10 times as efficient as a mobile GPU, so it could enable mobile devices to run artificial-intelligence algorithms such as Siri or Cortana, rather than uploading all data to a remote server for processing. http://bit.ly/1TISJBe
Pocket for iOS adds readability settings
Offline reader iOS app Pocket has updated, with reader-friendly changes. With the new revision, premium subscribers can adjust character spacing, and choose from eight new fonts including one that makes it easier for sufferers of dyslexia to read saved content. The app itself is free, with a premium subscription available for $5 a month, or $45 a year. http://apple.co/1KuILBl