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iTunes Festival: London
Apple on Wednesday announced its first ever iTunes Festival, a new event in London that brings together "world-class bands, intimate live performances and the best in digital technology." The event, which will be free, takes places from July 1 through July 21 -- over 31 consecutive nights -- and brings together more than 60 of the world's hottest acts at the capital's prestigious Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). The headline performance by MIKA will take place on Sunday, July 1, while others such as Travis, Groove Armada, Stereophonics, Amy Winehouse, Crowded House and Beverly Knight will also play throughout the month at the small-venue event: the audience will be limited to just 350 people, according to Apple.
Apple's iTunes for Bebo
Apple today announced a deal that will expand its popular iTunes music service into the realm of social networking. The company on Wednesday announced a deal to embed its iTunes music download service into the Bebo website, according to The Financial Times. Initially, the deal will be limited to UK and Ireland, but could eventually extend to its entire user base of 33 million users. The San Francisco-based Bebo network has nearly 9 million users and 500,000 musicians in UK and Ireland--all of whom will now be able to buy music directly from the profile of any musician who has a Bebo profile and whose music is available on iTunes, making it the first time Apple has linked iTunes to a social networking site, the report claimed.
Safari Windows falls short
While Safari for Windows is at least on par with Internet Explorer 7, it lags behind the Windows versions of Firefox and Opera according to a review from eWeek. Saying the browser is "too Mac-like" under Windows, the review criticizes Safari Windows for a lack of customization options, problems with SSL certificates and more while lauding it for simplicity in some areas and features like SnapBack. The review concludes "users should be careful in how they use this browser, especially as reports on security problems for the beta have already surfaced. In general, especially for a beta, performance was good, though in the current generation of browsers, performance is overall good and differences in speed tend to be very small."
Refurb G4 PowerBooks
Apple is still selling reconditioned PowerBook G4 notebooks for cost-conscious shoppers looking for time-tested laptops. The company lists its 15-inch 1.67GHz PowerBook G4 with a SuperDrive DVD/CD-RW, 512MB of memory, an 80GB hard drive, an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics card (128MB), AirPort Extreme connectivity, Bluetooth 2.0+enhanced data rates, a backlit keyboard, and dual link DVI support for $1,349. Apple is also selling its 17-inch 1.67GHz PowerBook G4 with a SuperDrive DVD/CD-RW, 512MB of memory, a 100GB hard drive, an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics card (128MB), AirPort Extreme connectivity, Bluetooth 2.0, a backlit keyboard, and dual link DVI support for $1,599. As usual, Apple offers free shipping alongside an optional extended 3-year warranty on every refurbished item.
$160 AAPL price target
Reacting to announcements made at WWDC, UBS Investment Research Analyst Ben Reitzes has set a $160-per-share price target for Apple Inc., predicting that the launch of Leopard will generate more than 50% growth in software segment growth year over year on profit margins of more than 80%. Reitzes also believes new iPods will be launched in the Fall, helping to drive revenue acceleration through the end of the year and into 2008, and notes the strategic importance of Safari's move to Windows.
Sibelius 5 debuts
Sibelius Software has unveiled Sibelius 5, the latest revision of its music notation software that boasts a userbase of 180,000 musicians and educators worldwide. Sibelius 5 features an "Ideas Hub" to ease the process of capturing snippets of music, enabling users to tag those snippets with keywords and locate them again within a simple search. New built-in sounds and playback capability offer users a 2GB collection of sounds selected from popular libraries by Garritan, SonicVox, and Tapspace. "SoundWorld" offers a new way of categorizing sounds that aims to help Sibelius choose the most suitable sound available on any device. Sibelius 5 professional is available for pre-order at $600, and students can pre-order an educational edition for $330.
Itiva Mac compatible
Itiva Networks has announced Mac OS X compatibility for its online video content delivery solution that allows broadcasting of media to mass audiences at various quality (including DVD and HD) levels. Among the services offered to media producers are QStream for streaming TV shows, movies, video events and music videos to large audiences and QLive for broadcasting live content over the Internet, such as sporting events, concerts and news to a large, silumtaenous online audience.
Telestream -- the producer of Flip4Mac -- has announced Episode 4.3.1, a new version of the tool for multiformat media encoding. This release sports tight integration with Compressor 3, the encoding tool included with Final Cut Studio 2. Final Cut users, with the aid of Episode, can access files encoded with Flash 8, Windows Media, VC-1 and mobile formats, as well as broadcast specific formats such as GXF, IMX, MPEG-2 4:2:2 and high profile H.264. Episode 4.3.1 also provides Dashboard Widgets, allowing users to drag and drop files onto the configurable widget to encode media at the desktop or on the server. Episode desktop media encoding applications are priced from $400. Episode Engine server applications are priced from $3,500. The software requires an Intel based Mac or Apple PowerPC G4 or G5, Mac OS X 10.4 or higher, QuickTime 7 or higher, 1 GB RAM, and 20 GB of hard drive space.
Action M25 DLP
Specialty house Projectiondesign has unveiled a record-setting entry into its Action! home cinema projectors. The DLP-based M25 manages the full 1080p resolution needed for HD while measuring under 11 inches wide and 4 inches tall. It also makes few if any other sacrifices, the producer claims. Texas Instruments' most recent image processor helps boost secondary colors, a frequent problem for DLP projectors; the unit is also one of the few to include HDMI 1.3, guaranteeing deeper color for some Blu-Ray and HD DVD sources. The 1,000-lumen brightness is strong for living rooms and other home theaters.
Leopard uses HFS+, not ZFS
Following statements made by Apple officials that openly discounted the possibility of Sun's ZFS for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, the company today said Leopard will include limited support for the ZFS file system via limited, read-only functions from the command-line. The news clarifies Apple's previous position that Leopard would not include ZFS support, but emphasizes that HFS+ will still be used as the default file system for the new operating system showed off at Apple's developer conference this week.
Toshiba TW355U Projector
Continuing its series of announcements today, Toshiba has launched a new projector bringing Wi-Fi and other technologies to a relatively affordable level. The TW355U integrates 802.11g wireless to let nearby notebooks send presentations to a larger screen without carrying otherwise necessary (but supported) video or Ethernet cables. Those wanting to bypass a computer altogether can slot in PC Cards with built-in storage and have access to a USB port. DVI and VGA input for computers are braced by individual RCA and S-video input jacks.
Dream Chronicles for OS X
Casual game publisher PlayFirst has launched its newest game for Mac users: Dream Chronicles is designed to appeal to both novices and experienced casual game players alike: "In Dream Chronicles, players discover that the line between reality and fantasy no longer exists. The game begins as Faye awakes to find her husband missing and the entire kingdom of Wish under a mysterious sleeping spell. Players are called upon to help Faye embark on an adventure through a gorgeous dream world to find her husband and save the kingdom. To solve the mystery, players must complete challenging puzzles and search for subtle clues leading to the whereabouts of Faye's husband. But if not all of the clues are found, the spell may never be broken!" It features 32 articles and 18 environments and chapters and is available for $20 (30-minute trial is available). It requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or newer and G4/800MHz Mac (or later).
Poor Toshiba HDDVD Sales
Toshiba's shipping numbers for HD DVD will be scaled back, the company's digital consumer head Yoshihide Fujii has revealed. Having first planned to sell 1.8 million movie players to Canada and the US by the end of 2007, the company now says it has reduced the forecast to just 1 million -- a 44 percent drop, a second senior manager said. The cut has been attributed to low existing sales, which would make it difficult to recover in the second half of the year. No explanation has been given for the sub-par results, but the drop will likely be reflected in other regions as well, Fujii says.
Samsung M92 LCD Sets
Samsung on Tuesday launched a trio of new sets in its Blue Light line of LCD TVs, named after their signature lighting underneath their built-in speakers. The 40-, 46-, and 52-inch M92 series models all depend on an enhanced version of Samsung's dynamic image adjustment to deliver a 17,000:1 contrast ratio, an increase from the 15,000:1 displays already available in North America. Each of the 1080p sets also includes three HDMI 1.3 inputs for richer colors and ACAP support for basic data during sports matches. USB 2.0 provides a convenient hook for music and photo playback.
Analyst on WWDC keynote
Apple boss Steve Jobs yesterday kicked off the World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco with his keynote address, revealing several new features in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and detailing numerous previously announced features in more detail. The keynote address is described as "underwhelming" by industry analyst Shaw Wu of American Technology Research, however. "Overall, we found the announcements surrounding 'secret features' somewhat underwhelming, but at the same time believed he made key announcements in advancing Apple's platforms." The analyst notes that while investors expected Apple to reveal some sort of full virtual machine capability which would have allowed Leopard users to run Microsoft Windows as well as other operating systems right alongside Mac OS X without rebooting, but admits that the company has set the stage for further growth down the road.
Toshiba 3D Flash
Toshiba today announced a new type of flash memory that it claims will deliver a dramatic increase in capacity without requiring a major change in today's technology. Where current techniques simply stack multiple layers on top of each other, the new process inserts silicon columns through the layers that themselves can hold extra memory at the joints. The process is much easier than before and has the important benefit of increasing the amount of storage in a given flash chip without significantly adding to its physical size, allowing companies to add storage with little effort.
iPhone iTunes Store E-mail
The iPhone requires an iTunes Store account, according to a new e-mail circulating to those who signed up for notifications from Apple. The message, which admonishes its recipients to "get ready for iPhone," asks users to specifically launch iTunes and register for a new account if one doesn't already exist. No mention is made of why the registration is required or why users demands more than a standard Apple ID used for the company's web-based shop, with the bulk of the e-mail summarizing the phone's well-known features.
Pure Mobile Unlocks iPhone
Online phone shop Pure Mobile plans to offer an unlocked iPhone, according to PodTech VP Robert Scoble. The store claims it will de-restrict both 4GB and 8GB versions to allow their use on GSM phone networks beyond its official AT&T home, including the carrier's rival T-Mobile as well as Canadian providers such as Fido and Rogers. No mention has been made of pricing or availability, but demand for the unlocked Apple device is already said to be extremely high -- more so than any phone sold through the store in the past, says Pure Mobile. The company accordingly expects supplies to be very tight during the initial launch.
"TrayFree" RTX storage
WiebeTech today unveiled RTX storage utilizing TrayFree technology, enabling users to insert bare 3.5-inch SATA hard drives at capacities up to 1TB each without trays or screws. The company promises to offer enclosures as well as interface options in multiple RAID or JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks) configurations, while single-bay internal SATA enclosures ($40-$230 empty) are already shipping alongside 4- and 6-bay iSCSI RAID ($2,560 and $2,700 empty, respectively) and SCSI Ultra320 RAID ($2,600 and $2,700 empty, respectively) configurations. WiebeTech is also shipping 4-bay InfiniBand JBOD ($850 empty) and 4-bay SteelVine eSATA JBOD ($930 empty) setups.
GD GoBook MR-1
General Dynamics has quickly followed up on its earlier VR-2 with a new ultra-mobile PC, the GoBook MR-1. Labeled as one of the most compact fully rugged PCs to date, the 5.6-inch widescreen is small but still meets military-grade standards for extreme temperatures, shocks, and vibrations; it also meets separate tests for dust and water resistance. Its size still allows for the company's DynaVue touchscreen technology that cuts out on unwanted glare in broad daylight without consuming extra power or dulling the touch input.
MFC-9000 series debuts
Brother today introduced its new MFC-9000 series color laser multi-function centers, a collection of printers that utilize the same internally developed single-pass laser printing technology found in the company's HL-4000 color laser printer series. Brother's MFC-9000 series includes the network-ready MFC-9440CN and the MFC-9840CDW, both of which feature up to 21 pages per minute print speed for both color and monochrome printing. Both models produce 2400x600-dpi output, and each MFC offers built-in Ethernet connectivity alongside a USB 2.0 interface. The MFC-9440CN and MFC-9840CDW also includes PCL6 and BR-Script3 (PostScript 3) emulations, as well as USB Direct interface that enables compatibility with PictBridge-capable cameras and USB flash storage. The MFC-9440CN is priced at $700 and is slated for shipment this month, while the MFC-9840CDW is priced at $850 and is expected to ship this September.
Mossberg receives iPhone
Technology columnist Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal yesterday received an iPhone from Apple to review during the days leading up to the phone's launch on June 29th. Mossberg offered his first impressions of the handset to college leaders durin ga speech at The Chronicle of Higher Education's Presidents Forum. "I don't know whether I'll give it a good review or not," Mossberg said, adding that he will use the device over the next couple of weeks before writing a review. "I can already see some things I don't like about it. I see some other things that I do like a lot about it." A vital point to distinguish, according to the columnist, is whether the iPhone's touch-screen keyboard at least matches the performance of keyboards on other smartphones.
Wibree Joins Bluetooth
The recently developed Wibree wireless standard will now be considered an extension of Bluetooth, its creator Nokia announced today. Initially designed as an alternative, the low-power format will now be merged into the Bluetooth Special Interest Group and become an option for anyone developing Bluetooth devices, letting them use the technology more readily than before. The deal was struck in part because many that already use Bluetooth were looking for a more efficient alternative, Nokia says: Wibree has the same fundamentals but uses only a small fraction of the energy, making it viable for watches and other devices where Bluetooth 1.0 or 2.0 would use too much power.
Toshiba Vardia A600
Toshiba started its Tuesday by introducing the Vardia A600. This upgrade to the company's digital video recorders is the first to include an HD DVD burner to accompany its storage; the set-top box can record video to the larger capacity discs, including HD footage from unprotected sources such as the dual digital TV tuners that can record one show while playing another. A total of 600GB of hard drive space holds enough room for 78 hours of HD video, by Toshiba's estimates. Standard-definition TV can be captured through an analog tuner and burnt to the more ubiquitous DVD format.
Kensington Ci Lifestyle
Hoping to offer controllers that work both on the desktop and for notebooks, Kensington on Tuesday rolled out its Ci Lifestyle set of mice, including a desktop combo pack. Each set includes new mouse designs that are between 25 and 35 percent thinner than comparable mice to help them fit in a travel bag while still providing a comfortable fit for those who use them daily. The titanium-colored Ci70 and stylized red Ci70LE three-button scroll mouses connect wirelessly through an RF adapter and are designed primarily for desktops, including an automatic sleep mode to prevent the battery running down while the wireless adapter is plugged in. A special combo, the Ci70 Wireless Desktop Set, includes a keyboard 40 percent smaller than everyday keyboards and with a dock to stow the included mouse outside of normal use.
TG Enhanced Chromium
Tungsten Graphics today announced that TG Enhanced Chromium, a system for interactive rendering on clusters of workstations, will be available for Apple's Intel-based Macs later this summer. Chromium is an open-source project that features an extensible architecture for parallel rendering and improved computer graphics performance: it has the capability to run many standard OpenGL programs without modification. TG Enhanced Chromium includes the open-source Chromium project with additional components created and maintained by Tungsten Graphics. Tungsten Graphics also announced Equalizer for Mac OS X, an open-source rendering framework and resource management system for parallel OpenGL-based applications. Equalizer eases the development and deployment of parallel, scalable visualization applications by providing a minimally invasive" API, run-time configuration and run-time scalability. TG Enhanced Chromium on Mac OS X will be shipping by the end of August 2007.
Conoa AE plugins updated
Conoa has released new versions of its product line for video effects and motion graphics. The updated Conoa plug-ins for video editing and compositing systems are now Universal Binaries that run natively on both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs. The plug-ins support both Adobe After Effects 7 and the new After Effects CS3 and are free upgrades for existing Conoa customers. In addition to native Intel-Mac support, Conoa Alphafy now offers the ability to convert any media into an animated gradient. It allows users to perform complex animated wipes and add custom looks to transitions easily. Conoa products work as plug-ins within Adobe After Effects 4.1 and higher, Final Cut Pro 3/4/5, and Avid systems (via Elastic Gasket). Conoa 3D has a list price of $300 and Conoa EasyShapes and Conoa EasyFX both list for $110. Conoa SuperPak, combining all three plug-in sets, costs $350.
REALbasic 2007r3 available
REAL Software today released REALbasic 2007 Release 3, an update to the full-featured software development environment. Continuing on the company's commitment to provide updates to customers on a 90-day rapid release cycle, the release includes over 100 improvements and five new features, including namespace support, which allows developers to place classes, interfaces and modules inside modules. This enables the design of more modular, reusable code. REALbasic Standard Edition for Windows or Mac is priced at $200, with an introductory price of $100. REALbasic for Linux Standard Edition is offered for free and REALbasic Professional Edition, required for cross-platform deployment, is $500.
VMware pre-orders for $40
VMware today announced that users can now pre-order VMware Fusion, which enables Mac users to simultaneously run Mac, Windows, Linux, NetWare and Solaris-based applications without rebooting. The company said that customers can pre-order VMware Fusion for $40 until the product is generally available--sometime by the end of August. It said that the full retail price will be $80. VMware Fusion Beta 4, which is available today, delivers seamless Windows Integration with Unity, which enables users to run Windows XP applications directly on their Mac desktops, providing full integration with Mac keyboard shortcuts and Mac OS X's Expose. In addition, the VMware Fusion Launch Palette provides access to all Windows applications, which can be saved to the Mac OS X Dock.
Kodak EasyShare M-series
Kodak today released a sweeping change to its EasyShare digital cameras, including a completely new line. The EasyShare M-Series is designed to bring an element of style to photographers with tighter budgets and ships in a mix of colors such as copper (pictured) or espresso. Each of the four models being introduced today also claims a 3X optical zoom lens. The M753 and M853 are 7- and 8-megapixel cameras respectively with the most essential features and a 2.5-inch LCD; the 8-megapixel M873 and M883 models gain a full metal design as well as a larger 3-inch LCD. The M883 also includes face detection for simpler portrait shots.
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