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Internet radio reprieve
A record industry group that collects royalties from Internet and satellite radio, SoundExchange, has agreed to defer the royalty payments of smaller Internet stations. The US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) has ruled that as of May 1st 2007 and retroactive to January 1st 2006, Internet broadcasters are eligible for paying much higher fees per song; since many stations operate on little or no profit, however, the ruling would effectively kill networks such as SomaFM.
Reuters notes that unfortunately for those affected, the deferment may only be temporary. "Although the rates revised by the CRB are fair and based on the value of music in the marketplace," says SoundExchange director John Simson, "there's a sense in the music community and in Congress that small Webcasters need more time to develop their businesses."
Apple CEO on Al Gore
Apple chief Steve Jobs recently spoke with TIME Magazine to reveal his opinion on the former vice president of the United States, Al Gore, with regard to the upcoming presidential election. "If he ran, there's no question in my mind that he would be elected," said Jobs, referring to Gore. "But I think there's a question in his mind, perhaps because the pain of the last election runs a lot deeper than he lets most of us see." Al Gore joined Apple's board of directors in 2003 and likely played some part in the Cupertino-based company's recent decision to reveal its environmental policies and plans for the future. Gore also led the committee that investigated Apple's recent stock options scandal, clearing all current Apple management of any wrongdoing. To critics who say they were surprised that Gore took on the lead role of the investigation, Gore simply replied "That's silly."
Creative Optia AF ships
Creative has announced that retailers are beginning to sell the Optia AF, first revealed in March. The device improves on average webcams by having a two-megapixel sensor, as well as an autofocus lens, which can be rotated 270 degrees or tilted over 90 degrees while still retaining proper video orientation. Bundled software allows parents to ban children from using the camera, or any user to add visual and audio effects, such as different accents and genders. Stereo microphones and noise cancellation technology help to improve sound quality. The Optia AF is being sold for $130.
Unlimi-Tech is currently demonstrating FileCatalyst Web, the latest release of its file transfer software, at the Interop 2007 expo in Las Vegas. The company's other FileCatalyst programs are dedicated packages designed to ensure reliable multi-gigabyte downloads; Web eliminates the need for a special client, using only the recipient's e-mail address. A message is sent containing a link, which initiates a transfer that may be more than 50 times faster than normal TCP transfers. The technology is also said to be immune to problems such as lag and packet loss. Because Web is intended for businesses, customers must contact Unlimi-Tech regarding prices and demo versions.
FMStudio + Dreamweaver CS3
FMWebstudio has updated its flagship product, FMStudio, with support for Adobe Dreamweaver CS3. FMStudio 1.4 allows users to create FileMaker websites without writing PHP code; within Dreamweaver, users simply create a table and drag FileMaker fields into the work area, where a Site Builder wizard asks the appropriate questions. Scripts, portals, value lists and other types of information are applicable, according to FMWebstudio. The software also supports Dreamweaver 8 and MX, and is compatible with both FX.php and the FileMaker API for PHP. The software requires FileMaker 5 or later, with single-user licenses priced at $120.
US Anti-Spyware Bill
The US Congress today approved a new anti-spyware bill that it hopes will combat the most dangerous kinds of the web-based code. Sponsored by California Democrat Zoe Lofgren, the legislation would outlaw any program that installs itself without permission to commit fraud, such as stealing credit card information or otherwise misrepresenting users through the computer. Those found guilty under the new terms could be sent to prison for up to five years, according to the bill.
Moto ROKR Z6tv at FCC
Motorola is set to release only the third phone to date for Verizon's V CAST TV service, a new FCC filing shows. Called the ROKR Z6tv, the device will play on the original concept of the Linux-based ROKR Z6m music phone by adding a MediaFLO receiver for picking up Verizon's digital TV channels anywhere inside the provider's coverage area. Unlike the LG VX9400 or Samsung U620, however, the antenna will be hidden within the body rather than mounted externally to avoid disrupting the slider's appearance.
Suitcase Fusion for CS3
Extensis has posted a free, downloadable plug-in for Suitcase Fusion that provides compatibility with Adobe Creative Suite 3 (CS3) documents, allowing automatic and purportedly accurate font activation (Illustrator plug-in only) and deactivation when opening Illustrator CS3 documents. The plug-in uses cross-platform technolgy to ensure fonts are carried properly from Windows systems to Macs and back again. [corrected]
Sony VAIO TZ at Dynamism
Although still officially limited to Japan, Sony's new TZ-series ultraportable has already become available through Dynamism, the well-known cross-Pacific reseller. The single TZ90 on offer represents Sony's fastest model with a 1.2GHz ultra-low voltage Core 2 Duo, 1GB of RAM, and the choice of either a 32GB solid-state hard drive, a 160GB magnetic drive, or a mixture of the two that replaces the system's internal DVD rewriter. An English version of Windows Vista Home Premium is already installed along with the relevant manual, according to Dynamism.
VP's X3: Reunion ships
With the help of TransGamings' Cider portability engine, Virtual Programming has brought X3: Reunion, the 3D space strategy/adventure game to Intel-based Macs. The sequel to X2: The Threat, X3: The Reunion introduces new 3D engine as well as a new story, and revised gameplay. The new release makes use of DirectX 9 technology, which is possible on Intel-based Macs because the use of Cider, wich works by directly loading a Windows program into memory on an Intel-Mac and linking it to an optimized version of the Win32 APIs.
Sony VAIO BX41
Complementing an early release in France, Sony has just launched its VAIO BX41 notebook. Despite its professional audience, the system is built both for stronger 3D and other media-friendly roles than typical for its class: a 128MB Mobility Radeon HD 2300 and a 1.3-megapixel webcam are standard. A Santa Rosa-based 2GHz Core 2 Duo on an 800MHz bus is teamed up with 2GB of RAM for better overall speed. Storage is offered through a 120GB hard drive and a DVD rewriter.
Refurb Mac minis from $649
Apple is selling reconditioned Mac mini systems which include the 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo with 512MB of memory, an 80GB hard drive, and a double-layer SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW) for $649; as well as the 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo with 512MB of memory, an 80GB hard drive, and a slot-loading SuperDrive with double-layer support for $699. The Cupertino-based company is also offering reconditioned 17-inch, 20-inch, and 24-inch iMacs in varying configurations which range from $949 to $1,699. The Apple Store Canada is also offering refurbished Apple TVs as noted on MacNN earlier today for CA $279 each.
Dell Confirms Ubuntu PCs
The specific PC models that will have Ubuntu Linux as an option have been revealed, says a company e-mail published online. Only a single notebook, the 15.4-inch Inspiron E1505, will have the option of pre-installing the open-source software in place of Windows XP or Vista; two desktops, the standard mid-tower Dimension E520 and the more performance-oriented XPS 410, will also receive the choice. Precise hardware configurations weren't part of the leak, but the choice of models indicates that only Intel-based systems will be on offer, excluding AMD entirely.
SoundTech LightSnake iChat
SoundTech has released the LightSnake iChat, a USB headset. The product separates itself in that like other LightSnake products, the cables illuminate when connected, and flash as audio is being transmitted. The iChat also relies on an in-line dongle, which allows users to replace the included earbuds with their own headphones. The earbuds have a response range of 20Hz to 20KHz; the microphone records input between 100Hz to 16KHz. Dynamic range is measured at approximately 82dB. Despite the product's name, it is compatible with any Windows system between 98 SE and XP, as well as Mac OS 9 and OS X. Amazon is selling the iChat for $20.
Inteset Media Center PC
Branching out from familiar territor, Inteset this afternoon listed the Vana VA6420-Sx. Though made with the same case as the company's Vana Media Extender, the Sx is a full-fledged Media Center PC that doesn't depend on a host computer to serve up content: up to 500GB of hard drive storage holds media locally, and a more advanced DVD manager offers movies. The system's independence also gives it support for an additional audio zone to play music in another room. Owners of larger setups can also use the Vana as a substitute extender or integrate it with home automation through an RS-232 serial port, Inteset adds.
Hacha PA20 media player
Although Chinese media players tend to have rudimentary interfaces, Hacha seems set to change that with the PA20, now due for an imminent release in its home country. The main interface is a 3.2-inch touchscreen, which like the iPhone, is operated not with a stylus but simple finger gestures, such as moving up and down a scrollbar to pick music. Exact features are unknown; it can however play video and FM radio, the former most likely in the MP4 format, and the latter using an easy on-screen tuning interface. As with most Hacha products, the PA20 is not expected to be released outside of east Asia. [via The MP3 Players]
Creative Zen Wav Official
Creative today removed the covers from the Zen Wav, a new media jukebox for those who would prefer listening to or watching their content without headphones. Confirmed in a store leak, the metallic player resembles the iPod nano but places two speakers on the front without adding significantly to the bulk of the player. The Wav also ships with a custom-tailored Acoustic Stand that Creative claims will not only cradle the player but also passively enhances the speakers' sound compared to open-air use. The dock is perfect for barbecues and using the player as an alarm clock on vacations, Creative says.
Creative Manager Australia
In brief: Creative Manager Pro has expanded its Mac and Windows Web-based software to Australia as well as New Zealand, Bombia Design has produced three new add-ons at Iconkits.com, and Take Control Books is holding a 50 percent off sale through May 29th. Creative Manager Pro has announced local support for Australian and New Zealand-based ad agencies directly in Austrlia. The company's hosted servers are available locally to clients in Australia and New Zealand, while consultant support is relocated to provide better local support.
Casio Exilim W53CA phone
Japanese carrier KDDI has launched a new and particularly powerful Casio phone, the Exilim W53CA. The camera in the product not only has a 5.1-megapixel sensor, but also a variety features associated with full-size cameras, such as color-correction, anti-shake mechanisms and nine-point autofocus. The display is also an extremely large 2.8 inches, and is capable of resolutions up to 480x800. MP3 files can be played from a microSD card, and minor features include e-mail, a dictionary and an IR Simple port. Exact prices are unknown. [via Newlaunches]
iPhone Prepaid Leak
The iPhone may be offered as a prepaid device, according to a leaked list of AT&T product codes. Entered into the cell provider's system on April 19th, the tracking numbers would have the Apple handset available through each of AT&T's main service methods, including familiar subscription-only service as well as the Go Phone Pick Your Plan (hybrid) and Pay As You Go (prepaid-only) methods. The costs for the individual services are unknown, though AT&T hasn't announced any changes to its payment methods for the iPhone versus other devices.
Sprint formalizes WiMAX
Sprint announced in August that it had chosen WiMAX as the technology it would use for its future 4G network; the company now says it has formalized some of these plans. Late 2007 will see the beginning of trials in Chicago, Baltimore and Washington D.C., with actual commercial services starting sometime in the second quarter of 2008. Sprint says it eventually hopes to cover more than 100 million people with WiMAX, but it has not suggested what other cities will have access. WiMAX allows download speeds of up to 10Mbps at a distance of six miles from a transmitter.
Norco ships PCIe SATA card
Norco Technologies has launched its Norco-4629 PCIe SATA host adapter. The new controller card offers four external SATA II ports at up to 3Gbps each to support RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1, and JBOD configurations. The card works with Apple's Power Mac G5 systems as well as the company's new Mac Pro workstations. When attached to 20 hard drives using four SATA port multiplier enclosures, the Norco-4629 can reach a sequential read speed of more than 800MB/sec to support up to four uncompressed HD streams simultaneously. The controller is available for $190.
Sony-Ericsson this morning launched an early attack against the iPhone with the W52S, a Walkman-themed slider for Sony's home of Japan. The design pushes music and video playback without requiring add-ons: in addition to 2GB of built-in memory, the phone acceps up to 2GB more through a microSD slot. The difficult balance of battery life for music and phone use is also taken care of through the design, according to the creator. An extra-high capacity battery will play music for up to 100 hours, leaving enough room even in heavy use for important calls. A very large 2.7-inch screen provides a widescreen display for movies and a tall display for choosing contacts or music. A 2-megapixel camera at the back plus a front camera provide photos and videos.
Hauppauge supports EyeTV
Hauppauge Digital today announced that its USB TV tuners are compatible with Elgato's EyeTV software, bringing TV and PVR functionality to both Mac and Windows users. EyeTV allows Hauppauge TV stick owners to watch as well as record TV on a Mac, browse the program guide, export video to iPods, drag-and-drop recording to playlists, and record one program while watching another recording with picture-in-picture. EyeTV is a Universal Binary that runs natively on Intel-based Macs, is available for $80, and is compatible with Hauppauge's WinTV Nova-t Stick, WinTV HVR900 Hybrid Stick, and WinTV NovaTD Stick with Antenna Diversity.
ASUS J502 phone
Having only released the J501 three months ago, ASUS has already announced an improved version, the J502. The new phone enlarges screen size from 2.2 to 2.4 inches, and also upgrades the camera, which is now a three-megapixel model with flash. Other planned features include video recording, MP3 and AAC/AAC+ playback, and up to 3.5 hours of talk time; built-in memory is limited to 24MB, but the phone does have a microSD slot. There are no dates and prices attached to the 502, but since it is just a tri-band GSM model without broadband, it is essentially guaranteed to remain outside North America. [via Unwired View]
Pangea releases Runic
Pangea Software today released "Runic," a brickout-style game developed by CodeTurbine that was originally available for Windows systems. Runic features numerous powerups, magic spells, and bosses with 100 levels. Custom graphics accompany an RPG-style map that players traverse while progressing through Runic. The game is suitable for all ages, according to Pangea, and is priced at $15. Runic requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
AirCard 597E for Sprint
Sprint today announced that it would pick up the Sierra Wireless AirCard 597E, a new mobile broadband adapter for the carrier's faster EVDO Revision A network. Built as an ExpressCard 34 device for the MacBook Pro and other modern notebooks, the adapter can reach the theoretical peaks of 3.1Mbps downloads and 1.8Mbps uploads without using an external antenna. It also represents an improvement over earlier 3G wireless modems through assistive GPS support: subscribers to GPS navigation through Sprint can rely on the cellular network to find their position in software that supports GPS information.
Alltel enhanced caller ID
Phone carrier Alltel Wireless has launched a new feature that should help identify long-distance callers before picking up the phone. Called "City ID," it displays both the city and state of most numbers in North America, giving customers the ability to spot a relative calling from a business trip, or harassment from the same telemarketer. At the moment the option is only available on the LG AX275; it will, however, eventually come to every phone on the Alltel network. The service also costs $2 monthly, but there is currently a seven-day trial, and future phones will come with a 15-day trial.
Dell Ubuntu Details
Those interested in buying Dell's forthcoming Ubuntu Linux PCs for the mainstream will have a very specific level of hardware and software support, according to new updates from the company. An entry in the company's feedback blog reveals that hardware will be a portion of the company's normal Windows offerings to ensure that Linux runs smoothly, the company says. Controversially, however, some of the drivers will be proprietary closed-source drivers when open-source drivers aren't available, limiting the choices available to those who insist on complete access to their software's code. Developers from Dell will work with part makers to improve the quality of Linux drivers to put the options for Dell Linux systems on a closer level to their Windows equivalents, the PC builder adds.
Lost game for iPod
Apple has released Lost, the latest game designed for the company's fifth-generation iPod that immerses players in the world of Lost. The game features a storyline created by the writers responsible for the hit TV series, with players taking the role of Jack to interact with other main characters such as Kate, Locke, and Sayid. "Join your favorite castaways in their quest to seek the truth and survive in the official iPod game of the hit television series Lost. Help Jack search for dynamite, tend to the wounded, and avoid the black smoke. Relive the crash scene, open the hatch, and ultimately try your best to escape from the others." Lost the game requires iPod Software 1.2 or later, and is available for $4.99 from Apple's iTunes Store.
Dell XPS 720 H2C
Dell today ended speculation with the launch of the XPS 720 H2C. The water-cooling that forms the cornerstone of the H2C line gives Dell the ability to tune Intel's quad-core, 2.66GHz Core 2 Extreme to a factory-overclocked 3.73GHz in top models. Video performance has also seen an upgrade with two GeForce 8800 Ultra video cards providing their own clock speed boost beyond the still available GTX versions. A new nForce 680i SLI mainboard streamlines data traffic through the whole system and is bolstered by overclocked 1.06GHz DDR2 memory from Corsair.
Averatec's parent company TriGem today released the Averatec 8300, its first portable based on the latest Core 2 Duo architecture. Although some details are still unreleased, the company promises CPUs based on the faster 800MHz bus of the Intel Santa Rosa platform as well as "the latest graphic card," suggesting dedicated graphics either through AMD's Mobility Radeon HD line or the NVIDIA GeForce 8M. Confirmed in the launch are a 15.4-inch display, 160GB of hard disk storage, a 1.3-megapixel webcam in the lid, and a DVD rewriter.
Montage 1.3 previewed
Mariner Software has announced Montage 1.3, an update to its screen-writing software developed exclusively for Mac OS X. Billed as the most comprehensive update to the application, version 1.3 introduces the ability to write scripts in Montage, then export them to Final Draft (in addition to already-included import features). Montage 1.3 will also include localizations for French, German, Spanish and Italian languages, along with support for Movie Magic Screenwriter .sex file formats. The company will be demonstrating a pre-release version at the Moviesoft (booth 23-01) during the Cannes Film Festival at the Market Place Palais des Festivals.
Amnesty Singles 1.2 update
Mesa Dynamics today released Amnesty Singles 1.2, an update to the drag-and-drop utility that allows any Dashboard widget to be converted into a standalone application for Mac OS X. Widget applications built with Amnesty Singles include features enable users to adjust the window level (desktop, standard or floating) and set an "auto refresh" timer (for those that are designed to refresh only when Dashboard is shown). Version 1.2 of Amnesty Singles introduces support for widgets authored with Apple’s Dashcode widget development software –- in beta since January –-- and other widgets that utilize OS X’s native AppleClasses. The new version of Amnesty Singles also addresses various known issues with certain widgets and includes a number of minor bug fixes. Amnesty Singles 1.2 ($10) is a “Universal” application built natively for Intel and PowerPC Macs and requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Refurb Apple TV for $250
Apple is offering refurbished versions of its Apple TV at the online Apple Store for $250, a 17 percent discount from its regular $300 retail price. The device, which brings iTunes and other video content to HD-enabled televisions, includes a full one-year warranty and free shipping. Meanwhile, AwkwardTV has been reporting on (as well as adding) many of unofficial Apple TV plugins to its collection, including ones for viewing YouTube videos from the internet (not yet releaesed, video below), streaming content from Apple TV to iTunes clients (Streamer) and playing video on your Apple TV (nitoTV plugin, not yet released; video below) -- both based on the open-source mplayer for Mac OS X. In addition, a new plugin allows uses to download and install any number of unofficial plugins listed at the AwkwardTV Plugins Directory along with the ability to enable and disable AFP and SSH access to the AppleTV (AwkwardTV Loader plugin).
Sanyo Xacti E1
Sanyo on Tuesday rolled out the Xacti E1, one of the company's first truly waterproof camcorders. The watertight shell lets swimmers capture footage one-handed at depths of up to five feet for an hour at a time -- without using an underwater shell, Sanyo says. The use of SD or SDHC cards, in tandem with the use of higher-quality H.264 (AVC) recording formats, also helps the camera record for a long time even while snowboarding or other shock-prone circumstances: up to 10 hours of footage at 640x480 can be captured on an 8GB SDHC card. A new processing engine also improves image quality and is said to capture images as dark as 7 lux at full speed or 2 lux with a reduced frame rate. The E1 further doubles as a still camera, taking 6-megapixel photos with a 5X optical zoom lens.
T-Mobile Wing Official
T-Mobile this morning officially launched the Wing, its custom version of the HTC Herald for the US. The smartphone is the first new device in the US to ship with Windows Mobile 6 and combines a 2.8-inch touchscreen with a slide-out keyboard to provide full control for browsing, Office Mobile, or other heavy-duty apps. The body itself is also upgraded from the HTC reference design with a soft-touch blue shell and a slip-resistant keypad, T-Mobile says. The phone can also connect virtually anywhere with Wi-Fi filling in for Internet access when EDGE coverage runs out; the GSM radio is quad-band for call roaming in Europe and other areas. A 2-megapixel camera, Bluetooth, and a microSD slot handle media capture and playback duties.
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