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Refurb Xserves for $2,299
Apple is currently offering reconditioned Xserve Quad Xeon server systems with two 64-bit 2.0GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors -- each serviced by a 1.33GHz front-side bus and 4MB of shared L2 cache per processor. Apple's Xserve systems are designed to work in high-demand back-end environments, such as working in tandem with other Xserves to ensure near-constant, speedy database services to clients over a network. The reconditioned Xserve includes 1GB of 667MHz DDR2 ECC FB-DIMM memory, an 80GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA hard drive, a built-in ATI Radeon X1300 graphics card with 64MB of video memory, and Mac OS X Server 10.4 Unlimited-Client Edition. The Xserve Quad Xeon systems are priced at $2,299 each, and ship for free. AppleCare Premium Service and Support for Xserve is also separately available for $950.
EFI Firmware Update
Apple today issued an EFI Firmware Update for its 2.2GHz and 2.4GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro models laptops that fixes a display issue. Apple's MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.3 is used to create a Restoration CD by downloading the necessary file from the company's website, and when used restores the firmware of an Intel-based Mac if for a previous firmware update attempt was interrupted or somehow failed. Apple offers step-by-step instructions for restoring a computer's firmware, which include burning the restore CD and using it to replace any corrupted firmware that may reside on an Intel Mac. The firmware update requires MacBook Pro Software Update 1.0 or later, which is also available from Apple's website.
Zune to Zune Buying Patent
Microsoft has put in motion a patent that would let it enhance the Wi-Fi features of the Zune in a way that could please both music producers and Zune players, according to a newly published filing. The technique describes creating what would amount to an "off-line economy" where users would be able to buy tracks before they get within range of an Internet connection, the patent notes. Tracks could be sent from one player to another flagged with their purchase values; synchronizing the player with a PC would immediately transmit the information to an online store, which would approve the track for permanent use and charge the recipient for the value of the content in question.
Zimbra for iPhone
In brief: Zimbra has released an iPhone-specific messaging client, the first European meeting for iPod owners is scheduled for July 22nd, Gx5 has released new iPhone Wallpaper packs, MacProVideo.com has released new Photoshop CS3 tutorial videos, and MacTech has released a new CD with more than 2,900 articles from the publication's entire history with over 260 issues of the magazine. Zimbra has blogged about its new iPhone support, bringing what the company claims is the first messaging application that adopts an iPhone skin. The mobile client is designed specifically for Apple's iPhone.
Fujifilm IS Pro
Fujifilm has upgraded its FinePix line with the IS Pro, a special take on the S5 Pro cameras for those who need images outside of normally visible conditions. An enhanced CCD sensor and image processor combine with IR and UV filters to capture images outside of viewable light; to ensure that the intended image is the right one, the live LCD preview now includes a high contrast black-and-white mode while the sensor has a special protective glass filter to guard against dust and damage during cleaning.
PersonalBrain 4.0 for Mac
TheBrain has released PersonalBrain 4.0, the first version of the software for the Mac. The program is intended to help visualize apps, files and websites, linking them together in ways that might not have been immediately obvious. Items can dragged-and-dropped into the program at will, and as users click on various Thoughts, new mindmaps are revealed. Images in a map can be zoomed in without loading outside software. Zooming is one of the new features in v4.0, along with broader views, searchable document contents, and the ability to personalize Thoughts with custom backgrounds. The software requires Mac OS X 10.3, as well as a 1GHz processor and 1GB of RAM; a basic version is free, but the Core and Pro versions are $150 and $250.
Global Warning game
Independent software developer Midori has released Global Warning, a new environmental game designed to spread awareness of global warming and the ill effects of man-made pollution on planet Earth. "Global warming and environmental issues have never been so covered in the media. It needs to be talked about," says Midori. "People are beginning to realize that something must be done to help stop the ill effects of pollution and environmental irresponsibility." The game features everyday advice and tips about how players can act in real life to live a more sustainable and green existence. Players aim to stop a dump company from setting up an immense landfill by choosing strategic, earth-friendly behavior "cards." Results of player choices direct the impact on finances, morale, and health which ultimately affect whether players survive. Global Warning is priced at $10, with educational licenses available for $100. The game requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
Gyration Ultra R4000
Not to outdone by yesterday's launch of the MX Air, Gyration has unveiled its Ultra R4000 remote. While immediately useful as hybrid IR/RF universal remote for stereos, TVs, and Windows Media Center PCs, the large remote doubles as a mouse and direct music browser for Windows as a whole. Moving the remote itself steers the onscreen pointer and responds to traditional left- and right-clicks, while an LCD and dedicated navigation buttons will let PC users select from and play tracks from a PC even when the TV is switched off.
Griffin has debuted a website called SmartScan StationFinder, meant to apply to the company's FM transmitters, but which is suited to anyone with a transmitter and portable media player. The site is a guide to some of the clearest FM frequencies in the United States, and is formatted with an iPhone-style interface that sorts through states and cities with minimal hassle. Despite the focus on the iPhone, the site is also designed to work well on browsers for desktop systems, and rival mobile devices.
60GB PS3 Death in Doubt
Whether or not Sony will end production of the PS3 is now uncertain, say conflicting reports from Sony itself. While the PlayStation division's European spokesman David Reeves had previously claimed that the now $499 console would cease sales by the end of July, an unnamed spokesman for the American branch now says this report has been misinterpreted and that there are no short-term plans to cancel the system, which is now selling far more quickly than in recent months.
ASUS P5K3 Premium
ASUS has broken the traditional approach to gamer-friendly mainboards and revealed a new version of the P5K3 Premium. The Intel-based board overcomes some of the more common bottlenecks to overclocking by embedding memory directly into the board itself; 2GB of 1,333MHz, DDR3 RAM avoids the serial nature of RAM slots and talks to each chip individually, cutting the timing in half and allowing those with the right knowledge to boost RAM clock rates above 1,500MHz. Using Intel's P35 Express chipset also future-proofs the system with support for both today's Core 2 Duo/Quad processors and upcoming 45-nanometer Penryn chips.
Team Unpfhorgiven has released Marathon:Resurrection 2.0, an unofficial recreation of Bungie's classic Mac shooter, Marathon. Released in 1994, it was considered by many as a direct rival to Doom, and in some ways superior. Resurrection is an Unreal Tournament modification that features enhanced single- and multiplayer components, with improved graphics and elaborate Internet play. It is said to run on any computer that can also handle Tournament, which includes Windows systems as well as Mac OS 9 and X machines. The mod can be downloaded as either a ZIP or uMod file.
Ricoh Caplio RR750
Ricoh has joined in the series of camera launches this week with the introduction of the Caplio RR750, a straightforward 7.1-megapixel camera for beginners and travelers. The point-and-shoot model receives six scene presets placed directly on the mode dial as well as improved ISO sensitivity for darker or faster-paced shots. It also carries 32MB of built-in flash memory that provides free space for owners who misplace an SD memory card.
Netropa IntelliNav 3
Netropa has escalated its efforts to win the GPS business by launching the IntelliNav 3, part of a new line of mapping devices from the company for 2007. The 3.5-inch touchscreen unit represents much of the line and focuses around an exceptionally large map database: where most GPS units ship with 1GB or less of information, the 3-series ships with a 2GB SD card loaded with 6 million points of interest in over 100 categories. The space also touches on regions rarely covered by most GPS units, expanding outside of the continental US and Canada to cover Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Free room on the card allows MP3 music and photos for longer trips.
Freecom today expanded the concept of Internet-connected stereos with the MusicPal. Capable of playing MP3 and WAV tracks either stored on a nearby PC or streaming through an Internet radio station, the device also incorporates RSS feed support: owners can catch up on news, personal blogs, or other sites that push out live updates through the subscription model. RSS can run along the bottom of the screen while track data for music remains up top, Freecom says. Internet access is provided wirelessly through 802.11g or through Ethernet for those with free ports. An alarm clock function lets owners wake up to their choice of music.
Samsung i760 at Verizon
Although approved by the FCC back in April, the SCH-i760 by Samsung has only just made an appearance at Verizon Wireless. Its presence is somewhat premature, as there is no actual product site, only a view window. The phone is known to run Windows Mobile 6, and claims features such as Wi-Fi, a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, and a 1.3-megapixel still/video camera. Business users can access Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, while for entertainment, only MP3 playback is confirmed. [via SlashPhone]
Yamaha BODiBEAT player
The upcoming BODiBEAT by Yamaha is poised to challenge the current popularity of the Nike+iPod kit with runners and walkers. While the BODiBEAT holds only 512MB of music, because it comes on a wristband, it eliminates the need for a separate holder; likewise, there is no need for special shoes or sensors, since the player has its own accelerometer. This and a pulse monitor connected to the headphones provide another function: as a runner's speed increases, so does the speed of the music. Beat loops help segue one track into another. The battery life of the player is 12 hours; Yamaha expects the BODiBEAT to ship this summer. [via Anything But iPod]
iPhone typing speed
Consulting firm User Centric has published a summary of the initial results of its iPhone customer study, revealing that iPhone users were generally more productive with the iPhone's keyboard when composing text messages after one week than they were using previously owned phones. One portion of the study designed to identify overall ease-of-use factors and general usability issues among motivated early iPhone adopters who had experience with the device during the first week of ownership revealed that, overall, participants were initially satisfied with visual voicemail, selecting and playing music, saving contacts, and making as well as receiving calls while using other options. Frustrations arose however with regard to text entry SMS, the Google map feature, and the Web browsing experience. Six days after the iPhone launched, 60-minute usability sessions with actual iPhone customers showed vast improvement with device's the touch-screen keyboard.
Europe's iPhone war
Analysts with American Technology Research say they believe that the fight for European iPhone contracts may boost Apple's stock substantially. Having witnessed AT&T's success with a contract in the United States, the European divisions of O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone are all said to be bidding aggressively, with the last of four being tipped as a prime candidate. Although the companies may end up with separate contracts based on nationality, AmTech argues that the strength of Apple's position will allow it to dictate terms, much as it did with AT&T.
Intel Joins OLPC Project
Intel today announced that it will join the One Laptop Per Child project, ending a recent but increasingly difficult feud with its MIT-born rival. The chipmaker has joined the board of directors for OLPC efforts and said it will collaborate to help create future versions of the sub-$200 student PC, which could include Intel hardware as well as educational content for the machines. Current versions of the OLPC use AMD's 433MHz Geode processor and have frequently come into conflict with Intel's Classmate PC when trying to win contracts to ship hundreds of thousands of systems to countries such as Pakistan, which chose Intel's design.
NTT DoCoMo Super 3G
NTTDoCoMo is testing a form of Long Term Evolution (LTE) Internet access that could easily outrace any cellular broadband available on Earth, the company revealed today. Officially titled Super 3G, the format would use the same multiple-in, multiple-out antenna technique of 802.11n Wi-Fi to send and catch far more data than normal. By assembling the data from the antennas just in time, the format would let a cellphone download information as quickly as 300Mbps -- far faster than the HSDPA technology on which LTE is based, NTT says. The extra speed would make live video streaming simple to achieve and would allow previously impractical options such as multiplayer cellphone games.
Reviews, LCD cleaner
In brief: MacNN has reviewed the Mi Jam Stage Mic sing-a-long toy designed to offer children a chance to hear their voice over the top of any song playing through an iPod or other portable music player, and has reviewed the Everki Plunge Waterproof Case and Earphones. USBFever.com has begun shipping its own LCD cleaning product designed for Apple's iPhone and iPod players that removes fingerprints, dust, lint, and dirt that is not Petroleum-based. MacNN has reviewed the Mi Jam Stage Mic ($22, shown at right), a sing-a-long to that enables children to hear their voice on top of any song playing via an iPod or other music player.
First Core 2 Extreme CPU
Through the test of an upcoming, prototype Asus G2S laptop, an Italian website has confirmed the existence of the first mobile Core 2 Extreme processor. Codenamed the Merom XE, and more consistently labelled as the X7800, its two cores are clocked at 2.6GHz, with a Santa Rosa-level (800MHz) front-side bus and 4MB of Level 2 cache.
Most significantly, the CPU is said to be very friendly to overclocking; it can be pushed to 2.8 or even 3.0 GHz with an appropriate software utility. Alternately, users can reduce power consumption to as low as 27W, or return it to a normal 44W. Previous leaks have suggested that the 7800 will be out by the end of July at a price of $851. [via notebook italia]
Lenovo Xiang Details
Lenovo's Xiang notebook has been demonstrated at a southeast Asian expo, revealing features that have previously been available about the Olympic-themed device. Originally created to recall the "sacred fire" theme of China's 2008 sports event with red and white on the outside as well as a swirl imprint on the inside shell, the Xiang will be a 12-inch widescreen ultraportable with a 1.66GHz low-voltage Core Duo that strikes a balance between performance and the efficiency needed for the thin frame; the system goes without an optical drive but includes a multi-format card reader, ExpressCard slot, and three USB ports.
Apple traffic jumps 5%
Traffic to Apple's website grew more than any of the top 10 Web properties with a whopping 5 percent hike in traffic in just 30 days, according to research firm comScore. Google once again topped the list by reaching nearly 70 percent of the internet's 772 million 15-and-older users, serving 536 million visitors globally in May for an increase of 1.7 percent from April, reports InformationWeek. Comparatively, Apple ranked the 10th most popular Web property worldwide with 121 million unique visitors in May for an increase of 5 percent from the 115 million documented the month prior. "This increase precedes the recent U.S. release of the Apple iPhone," comScore said. Web searches for the term 'iphone' in the U.S. skyrocketed up 583 percent between the weeks ending May 26th and June 23rd, and Apple was reportedly the primary recipient of redirected traffic to accumulate 54.4 percent of those hits, according to a second research firm.
Sony Dropping 60GB PS3
The recently announced price cut for the 60GB PlayStation 3 in North America is just a move to clear stock before the 80GB model becomes the only offering, according to Sony Computer Entertainment's European president David Reeves. The chief claims the intent is to eliminate stock of the 60GB model in the country over the course of the next few weeks, ultimately removing the smaller-capacity version entirely from stores by August 1st.
Radio Royalties Passed Up
Licensing firm SoundExchange won't necessarily enforce the royalty rates for Internet radio that take effect Sunday, company director Jon Simson revealed late Thursday. While the organization had successfully blocked an appeal in court to delay the schedule for the royalties, Simson promised at a US Congressional hearing that online stations will have at least a grace period while SoundExchange determines more affordable rates. One guaranteed change will drop the minimum fees that would have been applied even to broadcasters who needed a slight amount of licensed music, according to one source familiar with the hearings.
B and O Beosound 6
Luxury home theater producer Bang & Olufsen today committed itself further to portable music with the Beosound 6. Instead of the Danish firm's past practice of relying on SD cards for storage on earlier Beosound models, the 6 includes 4GB of built-in flash and a more conventional sync process through USB. Less conventional is the inclusion of the company's A8 premium earbuds that promise good over-the-ear sound without the bulk of headphones. Battery life is rated at a complete 24 hours.
The American branch of JVC has announced a new pair of high-end headphones, the HA-NC250s. A noise-cancelling set, the 250s continuously monitor cancellation for feedback, and are thus able to kill 85 percent of outside sound. To improve this further, the earpieces have padding and a doubled housing structure to create isolation. For extra comfort the padding is made of a memory foam that conforms itself to the wearer's shape.
Audio is produced by two 1.6-inch drivers, and the set can be used with or without noise cancelling switched on; a single AAA battery will power cancellation for approximately 50 hours. JVC plans to ship the 250s in early August at a cost of $200.
Screen Sieve 1.1 update
Yellow Lemon Software released an upgrade to Screen Sieve, its Mac OS X utility. The software exploits the Accessibility feature to improve searching, highlighting any and all instances of the characters a user types in. It also goes beyond programs that normally have text search to include virtually any based on Cocoa or Carbon. Version 1.1 introduces the ability to scroll windows while searching, with a hit counter indicating how many results are above or below the area visible on-screen. Multiple monitors are now supported, as are localizations in French and Japanese. Screen Sieve requires Mac OS X 10.4 or higher.
InPreflight 2.1 update
Zevrix has released the v2.1 update to InPreflight, its companion to Adobe InDesign. The program maintains quality control of InDesign documents, flagging problems with fonts, colors and links that need to be addressed before going to publishing. Multiple documents can be preflighted at once, saving time. The patch now recognizes Photoshop EPS DCS files saved in the CMYK+Spot color mode, and will list each spot channel. Similarly, both the fonts and spot colors in Illustrator CS3 files are listed. InPreflight is a Universal Binary for Mac OS X 10.4.2, and works with any of the Creative Suite editions of InDesign.
Commodore Cg in US
Signaling the company's first real return to the US PC market, Commodore today brought its Cg series gaming PCs in the country. The introduction is also timed with the 25th anniversary of the Commodore 64 and brings the high-end gaming systems that are reportedly popular in Europe to a wider audience with the latest specifications. The top-end CgXX includes the most recent parts, including Intel's quad-core, 2.66GHz Core 2 Extreme chip as well as dual GeForce 8800 Ultra video cards, dual 500GB hard drives, and 2GB of RAM; it also includes the reborn Commodore's luxuries, such as an 850W power supply and one of many individualized case skins.
HP 35s Calculator
HP's week ended with a commemoration on Friday, celebrating the 35th year of the company's scientific calculators with the HP 35s. Built to closely resemble the original model, it also represents one of the most advanced small-screen calculators in 2007, HP says. 30KB of memory gives it enough memory for larger macro programming and 800 storage slots. It can also perform as many as 100 different math operations and input of values in either HP's custom format or Reverse Polish Notation as well as through conventional algebra.
German iPhone inquiries
The largest Apple retail in Germany says that it is getting more than 1000 requests per day regarding the iPhone, which will likely begin shipping in the country later this year. "Fifty-seven thousand interested people have already registered with us," the head of retailer Gravis, Archibald Horlitz, told Germany's Tagesspiegel "Every day, we get about 1,000 more." Reuters reports that the retailer's tracking shows 58 percent of those interested in buying the the iPhone said they would consider switching operators if necessary. It is currently not known which European provider will carry the iPhone; T-Mobile, Vodafone and O2 are all in the running according to speculation.
Flat-panel iPod dock
iLive has introduced a new flat panel speaker set and docking system for the iPod. Numbered IHT3817DT, the device offers a 2.1 CH sound system with True 3D Sound and SRS TruBass sound enhancement. It features two stereo speakers and two subwoofers. In addition to accepting audio input from the iPod, the dock includes a digital tuning AM/FM Stereo Radio with Station Memory Presets. There is also a backlit LCD Segment Display w with a clock, timer and sleep timer. Outputs include a headphone jack, and there is an aux-in jack for other audio sources. There are also 4 AV Inputs, 2 RCA connections and 2 S-Video + RCA Audio Input connections. Composite and and S-Video jacks provide video and audio output. The unit is capable of charging the iPod mini/nano/shuffle/video/photo, and has certified Apple iPod Connectors, There is a motorized iPod Docking Drawer and iPod controls on the remote. Finally, there's a mini-USB Jack for PC Communication, USB Cord, included. The new dock is priced at $350.
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