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Toshiba on Tuesday expanded its line of small-format, high-speed, high-capacity memory cards with the launch of a 4GB microSDHC card. The addition of the new card extends Toshiba’s range of microSDHC cards for mobile phone applications; it now includes capacities ranging from 256MB up to 4GB. Toshiba’s 4GB microSDHC card meets SD memory card standard Ver. 2.00, the SD card standard for high-density SD products with a capacity of over 2GB (but is not backward compatible with standard SD Memory). The card is designed for use in dedicated microSDHC slots, but can also be used in standard SDHC card slots via a standard adapter. The new card delivers a maximum write speed of 6MB per second and are rated as "Class 4" SD Speed Class for guaranteed sustained data writes of 4MB/sec or more. They will be available worldwide starting in July, according to the company.
David Pogue and Stephen Levy have now reviewed the iPhone, both saying it largely lives up to the massive hype generated since its announcement at the Macworld Expo in January. We previously noted a review from The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg, who said that the device "sets a new bar for the smart-phone industry." Levy notes that while many of the iPhone's functions can be replicated on other devices, they could not be accomplished with nearly the same ease-of-use. He says "I've had a Motorola handset for two years and am still baffled at its weird approach to Web browsing and messaging." Levy reports some frustration with the iPhone keyboard, however, sentiment echoed by David Pogue. Both columnists note that the text entry method is initially frustrating, requiring some concentration, with Pogue noting "The BlackBerry won't be going away anytime soon."
In his early review of the iPhone, technology guru Walt Mossberg said the device was "a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer," despite some flaws and feature omissions. The review says that the much-anticipated device, which goes on sale on Friday, "sets a new bar for the smart-phone industry," citing its clever finger-touch interface in place of commonly used stylus and button; however, interface sometimes adds steps to common functions, the review said. Mossberg also noted that AT&T's EDGE wireless network is somewhat unreliable and slow, but compliments Apple on the internet browsing experience, "robust" email software, the slim form factor, 'impressive" battery life ("better than its key competitors claim"), hi-res screen ("gorgeous screen makes other smart phones look primitive"), large memory capacity, and the ability to easily sync with both Macs and PCs via Apple's iTunes software. Interestingly, the reviewer achieved a battery life of 7 hrs 18 min, coming close to Apple's 8-hour battery life claim.
Adobe today released an update to its professional software application: Photoshop Lightroom 1.1 is a free upgrade for existing users that brings a new flexible image management system for multi-computer workflows and improved noise reduction and sharpening. The company also said the free update brings additional raw file support for 13 additional digital cameras, including Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and Phase One. Lightroom, which began shipping earlier this year, offers professional photographers the ability to import and manage their digital photograph collections. The new image management system allows flexible multi-computer workflows and features a new catalog-based system to move images and information between computers. The update is available now as a 22.5MB download.
iGiki.com, which announced earlier this month that it would release several games designed for Apple's iPhone around the same time that the device is scheduled for launch, has offered a detailed list of those titles. A total of seven Gikis comprising more than 30 games are each available for 99 days with a $1 donation to the software developer, while six GikiMinis are provided for free by iGiki developers to the iPhone user community. Five GikiPods offers users quick laughs while on-the-go, and are provided as a complimentary addition to the iPhone applications. Gikis currently include "Sink or Swim," "iTrek," "Outer Wars," "Arcade Gikis," "Brain Gikis," "EuroDarts," and the classic Hangman. None of the iGiki games require Flash technology to run, as some are written using AJAX technology while others are exported to QuickTime using FLash track, according to iGiki.
Two new small-form mice are officially on sale from Sony Europe. The first is the SMU-C3 (pictured right), a two-tone design that comes in four key colors -- pink, green, white and black. More practically, it samples at 800dpi, and has an adjustable cord that prevents tangling. The SMU-M10, meanwhile, comes in blue, black or white, and has a flat shape for better storage in laptop cases. It is painted with an anti-scratch coating, and has a groove in its shell to make wrapping the USB cable easier. Prices are not yet available online.
Nokia's N800 Internet tablet will get easy roaming on Earthlink's municipal hotspots, the two companies announced today. Under a special agreement, an update to the wireless handheld will let any of its owners sign up for an account in US cities that offer public Internet access and connect at high speed; Earthlink estimates downstream speeds of 3Mbps and uploads as quick as 1Mbps. Access is unrestricted and includes the browsing, media streaming, and video calling possible with the Nokia device.
IBM has made public the existence of the Blue Gene/P, which the company says is the fastest supercomputer in the world. At its normal, continuous speed, the P is cable of speeds in excess of one petaflop, or a quadrillion operations per second. This is nearly three times faster than the previous Blue Gene/L, and approximately 100,000 times faster than a home PC. Critically for any company or agency considering a P, power consumption on the computer is said to be seven times more efficient.
The iPhone could well have explicit support for Microsoft's Exchange mail service after all, according to sources speaking with Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet. While the handheld is so far only guaranteed to support Exchange through the IMAP protocol, a choice seldom used by companies, the veteran journalist says that Apple intends to make the iPhone's e-mail client compatible with Exchange Server. This would come by licensing and then slipstreaming ActiveSync support into the iPhone, which in turn would enable secure corporate mail as well as constant updates for calendars and contact lists.
The San Francisco-based WaterField has released a new design of its Racer-X case, now fitted to Apple's 13-inch MacBook. Cases are also available for the 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pros, and earlier 12-inch PowerBooks and iBooks. All the cases are notable for having both a shoulder strap and handles, the latter of which can customized with either leather or a "mountain bike" grip. The inside is plush to help absorb impacts, and an exterior pocket should be able to hold essentials and more. Each case has an overall black color; to distinguish one, buyers can pick from trim in blue, brown, green, red or silver. The 13-inch Racer-X is on sale for $170.
In a late addition to its notebook introductions, Dell this afternoon formally rolled out the Precision M4300, a new mid-range moblie workstation designed to split the difference between ultraportables and 17-inch high-end models. Like the Inspiron updates, the 15.4-inch M4300 adds a full range of Santa Rosa-based Core 2 Duo CPUs that peak at 2.4GHz. Backing its core market, however, the Precision always features a 512MB Quadro FX 360M video chipset for better 3D and a module bay that stores anything from a DVD drive to a second battery.
As a part of the recently-premiered iPhone activation video, Apple explains that customers currently outside AT&T should be able to carry their old numbers over without undue hassle. To do this, users must plug in their iPhone, which will then launch the activation process in iTunes. At a certain stage, the software prompts users to choose whether they are already with AT&T or a new customer -- after picking the latter, users can enter their present number and account information, such a password and ZIP code. Individual and FamilyTalk plans should be available.
Apple's pricing for the iPhone may have pushed the limits of US tech buyers too far, says a new paper by Parks Associates. The research group claims that a representative study in May of US buyers pegs high interest in the iPhone at just 3 percent of American buyers for those aware of the iPhone's cost and contract requirements. This problem has been recognized before but may be more significant than thought, according to the new research. Parks uses its results to estimate that most would only accept a smartphone-class device at $199 with a two-year contract, and just $99 for regular phones; both are well above Apple's $499 asking price.
Mozilla executives have outlined some of the changes in progress on the forthcoming Firefox 3 browser, which include a completely redesigned graphics engine as well as providing access to online applications when users are offline. Firefox 3, which has so far seen two years of development, will be able to handle more intricate images while improving image scaling and letting users zoon in or out on the page, according to vnunet.com. The bookmarking system will also see an overhaul that integrates an embedded SQL Lite database of Web history as well as bookmarks themselves. Mozilla expects to release Firefox 3 by the end of 2007/early 2008.
Keep a Child Alive today announced that it is first in line to receive an iPhone from Apple's SoHo retail store in New York, and that the charity organization plans to auction the device on eBay to raise awareness as well as funds for its initiative to prevent the death of children infected with AIDS in Africa. "Supporters of Keep A Child Alive are taking advantage of this opportunity to raise awareness and money," the organization said in a press release. "For as little as $1 a day, we can keep a child alive by providing the much needed ARV drugs for those who would otherwise die from AIDS." Representatives for the organization are first in line at the SoHo store, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the organization itself. "The coveted device will be auctioned off on eBay by auctionwire and hand delivered to the highest bidder by a Keep A Child Alive ambassador."
Other World Computing has announced a 200GB 7200RPM portable, bus-powered drive, dubbed the the Mercury On-The-Go 200GB. The drive is equipped with FireWire 800/400, USB2, and eSATA interfaces and built around the Hitachi 7K200 mechanism with OWC's custom Oxford924 bridge interface. The Mercury On-The-Go 200GB is priced at $360. OWC is also now shipping a 250GB 5400RPM model with otherwise similar specifications priced at $320. The drives have two FireWire 800/400 and one USB 2 ports and ship with a carrying case, FireWire 400/800 cables, USB cable, Prosoft DataRescue III for OS X. Dimensions for all models are 3.5"(W) x 5.5"(D) x 1" (H). The drives are covered by a one-year warranty.
Shure readied itself for the iPhone today by introducing the Music Phone Adapter, an attachment that lets Apple's phone and most others serve up stereo music while providing a quick switch to incoming phone calls. Similar to Apple's stock iPhone earbuds, the MPA includes a single control. Tapping the button will automatically pick up an inbound call or end the call when finished; for certain phones, the button will also trigger extended features such as call waiting or muting the microphone. A built-in, noise-cancelling microphone also saves the trouble of bringing the phone close in a loud environment.
Apple has announced that it will open two new retail stores just in time for the iPhone's launch on June 29th. The new stores will be located in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Glendale, Wisconsin. The Tulsa store will be located in the Woodland Hills area at 7021 S. Memorial Drive Tulsa, OK 74133. The Glendale store will be in the Bayshore area at 5800 N. Bayshore Drive Glendale, WI 53217. Both stores will hold public grand openings at 6 PM (as the iPhone is launching). Like all other Apple retail locations, the new stores will feature Apple's full product line, a Genius Bar, plus workshops and special programs for kids.
THQ has announced the release of a new video game based on the upcoming Disney/Pixar film Ratatouille. The game will be available for Mac OS X and several other platforms, including wireless devices. The game will feature a Paris setting, where players will assume the role of Remy, a young rat whose love for great food puts him at odds with the needs of his family. The game includes highlights from the film, as well as the memorable characters and key locations, and five worlds with more than 20 missions and mini-games. There is also a multiplayer mode. In addition, the Ratatouille video game includes an exclusive sneak peak of Disney/Pixar's next film, WALL-E, the story of a little robot's comic adventure as he chases his dream across the galaxy. That film is scheduled to hit theaters in Summer 2008.
The first details of the upgraded hard drive Zune have escaped, according to an inside contact at Microsoft. Nicknamed "Scorpio" in keeping with the Greek-themed "Draco" codename for the flash-based Zune, the full Zune will jump from 30GB to 80GB of storage to help cope with videos. The revamped player is also near-complete, the source says. Production will reportedly begin in late July, indicating a launch towards the end of summer that promises healthy stock in time for the holiday season.
Upgrading its top-end notebooks, Alienware today at last released the Area-51 m9750 first previewed in January. The 17-inch desktop replacement is the first to combine dual 512MB graphics chips with mobile Core 2 Duo chips, the company claims: a top-spec version offers two GeForce Go 7950 GTX chipsets paired together in SLI and Intel's CPUs up to 2.33GHz, guaranteeing gaming-class performance better even than some of the newest notebooks. Avid media viewers can also load up on storage with dual 250GB hard disks or a Blu-Ray burner for HD movies.
Accessory maker Belkin has launched three new holders for laptops. Leading them is the Sling Bag, which stores laptops up to 15.4 inches in size, and is worn on a padded strap with a quick-release clip. A dedicated pouch holds cables and a power adapter, while another compartment can be used to hold a cellphone. Two color combinations are available: "jet/cabernet" and "chocolate/tourmaline." Either version is shipping for $50 from the Belkin website.
Iomega has targeted the world of external storage today with two new products, now on sale. The first is the eGo Portable Hard Drive, designed for laptops. It stores up to 160GB, and connects to computers through a USB 2.0 port, from which it also draws its power. Special traits include a curved, "cherry-red" chassis, DropGuard disk protection, and a bundled copy of EMC Retrospect HD for manual or automatic backups. The eGo is priced at $160.
Apple has posted details on the rate plans available to iPhone customers, including family plans and the ability to add the iPhone data plan to existing service as well as an option to tack on extra minutes. The Cupertino-based company is set to launch the cellular handset this Friday at 6:00 p.m. Existing AT&T customers who want to add unlimited data (email/Web) and visual voicemail service can do so for $20 (200 SMS text messages allowed), while $30 and $40 packages exist that offer 1,500 and unlimited SMS text messages, respectively. A minimum new 2-year wireless service plan and activation fee are required to activate the iPhone's features, however, including the iPod functionality.
Sprint today hoped to bolster its music phone lineup with the LG-created Muziq, a media-oriented clamshell that adds multiple firsts to the company's phone lineup. The handset is the first from the provider to include a high-capacity microSD slot; owners can slip a 4GB card in the phone, doubling the peak 2GB of most earlier phones and providing ample room for songs bought from the Sprint Music Store or for photos and movies captured with the 1.3-megapixel camera. An FM transmitter is also onboard for beaming audio directly to a car stereo or any nearby radio. Other music touches involve dedicated, iPod-like external controls, stereo Bluetooth and Pandora Mobile support for customized Internet radio streams through EVDO.
Unidentified sources point to a variety of small but important features being included in the next version of the Mac OS. According to contacts, Leopard will introduce a fullscreen mode for QuickTime that does not require QuickTime Pro; this is an extension of earlier changes made to iTunes. Media emphasis is said to be further enhanced in the form of DVD Player, which should have an HD options pane designed around Blu-Ray and HD DVD drives. The ability to quickly change cover art and region support is mentioned as well.
Dell today supported the launch of its Inspiron desktops with the US release of two new widescreen LCDs. The 2407WFP-HC takes the core design of the original 24-inch, 1920x1200 screen and adds improved cold-cathode backlighting plus a PVA panel to reach 92 percent coverage of the NTSC color gamut. This helps visual editors and graphics-focused gamers see a far more accurate picture, Dell says. Its expansion features are intact with a four-port USB hub and split 9-format card reader. The display ships in July for $679.
The AJAX developer Backbase has announced that it has added support for the Apple iPhone to its Enterprise suite. Included as a part of this is support for the phone's web browser, Safari 3, and the as-yet unreleased Mac OS X Leopard. Apple declared AJAX the basis for the iPhone SDK at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference; the code is used to develop Rich Internet Applications (RIAs), as well as enhanced general interfaces. Programming with AJAX allows the iPhone to take advantage of SOA, Java, .NET and PHP/Ruby. Backbase has further announced that it will develop its own widgets and components for the iPhone, which will see release in the coming months.
Sony on Tuesday unveiled Backstage, a new addition to the company's Sony Style retail shops that adds in-store support for the first time. Unofficially taking its cue from the Genius Bars at Apple stores, the service supports both technical help and consultations: owners of VAIO desktops or notebooks can take them in for diagnosis or part replacements, but can also help customers transition to a new PC both before and after money has changed hands. Customers can get help choosing the right system, Sony says, and also have the choice of transfering data from an old PC (up to 100GB), installing RAM upgrades, or performing general system maintenance.
USBFever.com has begun shipping four new protective cases for Apple's video iPod that feature a butterfly, a heart, and two separate flower designs. Each case is made to fully protect the iPod from bumps as well as scratches, and offers easy access to all of the portable players' vital controls. The cases are constructed from high-grade textured leather, offer a magnetic closure, and fit the 30GB as well as 60GB and 80GB video iPod models. All of the four new cases are individually priced at $20, and come with a carrying strap.
A new study released Monday suggests that very few consumers use mobile phones to play musical tracks, and that Apple's iPhone is unlikely to fuel a resurgence in mobile music. The highly anticipated mobile handset from Apple recently saw more than a million customers inquire about purchasing the device on AT&T's website, and is the source of a line that began forming yesterday evening outside the Cupertino-based company's flagship Fifth Avenue Manhattan store a full four days prior to iPhone's shipment -- slated for 6:00 p.m. this coming Friday. The survey found that only five percent of consumers sideload songs from their computers onto their phones, and that just two percent of consumers download music from over-the-air services from carriers like AT&T, according to PC Magazine.
AT&T and Apple today have finally revealed the official service plans for the iPhone, all of which are unique to the carrier's normal offerings and reflect the special attention given to the device. Unlike traditional plans, all include a mixture of calling, data, and 200 SMS text messages to ensure that every phone has the same basic feature set. Crucially, all three plans to be made available for the device include unlimited Internet access through EDGE -- allowing every user to take advantage of the entire feature set without metering issues or worrying about the benefit of a specific plan, according to Apple.
Attempting to seize public attention, Toshiba has made several laptop announcements at once. The first is the immediate launch of the Qosmio F45-AV412, a media-centric system. Sized at 15.4 inches, it features an HD DVD/Super Multi drive with HDMI output for TVs, as well as stereo speakers and a built-in subwoofer. It further supports a variety of Dolby sound codecs, including Digital and Pro Logic II. It runs a 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo processor with 2GB of RAM (upgradable to 4), and uses a 250GB hard drive; the disk spins at 4200rpm, however, and the computer is further limited by integrated graphics. Wireless support extends to 802.11a/g/n. At Toshiba's website, the AV412 costs $1,600.
Apple and AT&T today announced that iPhone users will be able to activate their new iPhones using Apple’s iTunes software running on a PC or Mac computer -- without having to wait in a store while their phone is activated. The company said that the iPhone takes only minutes "as iTunes guides the user through simple steps to choose their service plan, authorize their credit and activate their iPhone. Once iPhone is activated, users can then easily sync all of their phone numbers and other contact information, calendars, email accounts, web browser bookmarks, music, photos, podcasts, TV shows and movies just like they do when they sync their iPods with iTunes."
In addition to revamping its notebooks, Dell on Tuesday launched an even greater change to its desktop line. Bringing over the Inspiron name from its portables, the company's new mid-tower Inspiron 530 and slim-line Inspiron 530s represent both a radical change to the company's look and a functional upgrade: the design helps cooling and expansion, with the 530s in particular sporting dual USB and audio jacks on the front.
In brief: A site catalogs Desi music available from the iTunes Music Store, a gas pricing widget debuts just in time for summer travel, an Apple TV pocket guide offers "missing manual"-type instruction for the home entertainment device, and the notMac challenge to create an alternative to .Mac has raised more than $7500 in prize money.... An independent Web site, Desi Hits, lists various Desi tracks available for purchase from the iTunes Store. The site catalogs Bhangra and Urban Desi styles of music from artists like Raghav, Jay Sean, The Bilz, Bally Sagoo, 50 Cent and the Mims. The site also allows search by artist or track title. [corrected]
fmDataGuard 1.0 is a new product for FileMaker Pro solutions that allows adherence to regulatory standards, logs all data changes and allows for instant data rollback or quick recovery from a crash or corruption. The tool works with FileMaker Pro 8.5 and FileMaker Server 8.0v4, providing a complete audit trail capture. It captures all Add, Change and Delete actions to a separate table, keeping a field-level change history. fmDataGuard uses the logged changes to empower administrators to roll back data in a single button click. Similarly, administrators can roll forward using log data to reconcile the last known good backup with the current state of the database since that backup, hence updating the backup, all in one button click." fmDataGuard is available immediately directly and is priced at US$1250 for a site license.
Dell today officially unveiled its home notebooks based on Intel's faster Santa Rosa tech, headlined by the gaming-oriented XPS M1330 (pictured). Following not too long after the company's own confirmation, the 13.3-inch widescreen system is both one of Dell's fastest-ever small notebooks and one of the most portable in the entire class: the body's thickest point is no larger than 1.33 inches, and a complete system weighs just under four pounds. The new XPS also takes the design upscale, Dell says. Aside from a new, one-hinge shape, the shell is painted either in a glossy pearl white or a micro-satin black or red.
RealNetworks on Tuesday released a beta of its new RealPlayer v11 media software for PCs. Announced in late May, the company's new media player software can record and download videos from tens-of-thousands of Web sites with a single click. The new software displays a "Download this Video" button in a Web browser whenever playing a video and allows users to to view other videos, switch to another site or even close their browser -- while the video downloads in the background. The software also enables users to share their videos via a new "Share Video Link" feature that will email friends a link to the original location of the video. It supports multiple, simultaneous video downloads as well as most popular formats including Flash, Windows Media, QuickTime and RealPlayer. It is available now for Windows XP/Vista.
Now AAPL Stock: 93.7 ( -0.57 )
TestFlight updated for iOS, watchOS
Apple on Thursday updated its developer-oriented TestFlight software to version 1.3.2 for compatibility with apps being developed for iOS 9.3 watchOS 2.2, along with the usual "stability and performance improvements." Some developers, however, are still reporting some issues loading beta apps onto the watchOS 2.2 beta. The latest beta for developers was released on Monday, and is available through the App Store or Apple's developer portal. [3.60MB] http://apple.co/1PQ64pF
CBS: No recent streaming conversations with Apple
CBS CEO Les Moonves has made remarks, casting doubt on a launch of Apple's live streaming television service. In interviews this week, the executive said regarding negotiations with Apple that "we had conversations awhile back, and we haven't had recent conversations with them," adding that "the phone is always ringing" regarding similar services, but not with Apple on the line. http://cnnmon.ie/1PptJM6
Complex date setting bug crashes 64-bit iOS device
A serious bug has been spotted with iOS devices running iOS 8 or newer, with a 64-bit processor. If a user disables auto-check time, and manually sets the date of a device back to as far as it will go, then again to January 1, 1970, and finally rebooting, the iPhone is crashed, perhaps terminally. The bug affects the iPhone 5s and newer devices, running a processor from the A7 and up. Theories abound as to the cause of the crash, but the most credible seems to be a clock set to less than an arbitrary "zero" date, causing all manners of routines relying on the time setting to fail during startup. http://bit.ly/1TV6psS
Weber buys iDevices' iGrill, Kitchen Thermometer
Cooking gear manufacturer Weber is purchasing iOS accessory manufacturer iDevices iGrill and Kitchen Thermometer lines. As part of the purchase, Weber is working in parallel with iDevices to roll out a new version of the products, and associated apps, this spring. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. CEO of iDevices Chris Allen said that the transition will allow the company to "focus even more heavily on becoming a leader in the home automation market." http://bit.ly/1PFk3uZ
Vevo music video app launched for Apple TV
Vevo today announced its new native tvOS app for the fourth generation Apple TV. The new app allows users Siri Remote navigation for discovery of top videos by genre, or to search for individual artists and videos. Playlists generated on another device sync between all the iterations of the app. http://apple.co/1PFhxEU
HydraDock team unveils USB 3.1 Type C Roadie
KickShark, the team that brought the HydraDock desktop USB-C dock to market, has launched a Kickstarter project for The Roadie -- a USB 3.1 Type C standard-compliant pocket hub for the 12 inch Apple MacBook and other compatible devices. The Roadie occupies the same footprint on a desk as a credit card, with a short USB-C male cable on one end for connecting to a 12 inch MacBook, and a female USB-C port on the other end for plugging in a MacBook power adapter. One side has an RJ45 jack for gigabit Ethernet, and an HDCP-compliant HDMI jack that handles up to 4K displays. KickShark promises shipment of all products within four weeks of campaign completion. The "early bird" offer for the hub is a $69 commitment, with a $79 commitment for a Roadie after 500 backers have pledged. http://kck.st/1o6knw5
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