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Pentax on Wednesday announced two digital compact cameras including the 8-megapixel Optio Z10 with a 7X optical zoom lens and the small, stylish 10.0 megapixels Optio S10 (pictured at right). The Pentax Optio Z10 offers a 7X optical zoom lens, the highest magnification among current Pentax compact digital camera models. The camera is designed with a refraction lens system so the lens never protrudes from the camera while zooming; it covers a broad range, from wide-angle to telephoto zoom, and offers an ultra high-magnification of up to approximately 35.7X when combined with digital zoom. Delivering 8.0 megapixel resolution, the Optio Z10 also features high speed detection time Face Recognition for improved portraits and digital Shake Reduction that allows ISO to 3200 to capture sharper images in low light settings. The sleek, stylish Pentax Optio Z10 body design also features a sliding lens cover for extra protection that also operates the on/off camera setting.
DTP Tools has announced the release of History plug-in 2.2 for InDesign and InCopy CS-CS3, allowing reversion to prior document states. The tool's undo capabilities are not limited to current work session and changes can be undone years after they were made. The tool can also be used for version management, keeping all document versions within one file, saving storage space and bandwidth. In addition, selected versions can be saved as separate files, or exported in batch, and documents with multiple versions can be safely edited without the plug-in. New features include a keyboard command that opens the various versions in a new document and integration into the new DTP Tools system for easier activations and update management. The tool is priced at $40, and a 14-day trial is available.
Seiko Instruments has released a high capacity label tray for its flagship line of Smart Label Printers (SLPs). The new label tray allows suppliers, distributors and other business users to quickly print shipping and address labels, inventory tags, business and appointment cards and other kinds of high volume label printing. The tray is available with any of three label types - address, multi-purpose and shipping. Each label type ships in 900 - 1,700 label quantities. The new Smart Label Printer High Capacity Tray is compatible with all current 400 series printers from Seiko Instruments, including the 420, 440 and 450 models. It's priced at $25.
AT&T today is sending out text messages to all of its customers, announcing that the company is reducing its paper usage by doing away with itemized data transfers. The move comes after a video surfaced on the Web of a young woman who received a 300 page phone bill from the cellular carrier in a box via the U.S. Postal Service. The video, which quickly became popular among internet viewers, soon found its way into the hands of major news networks like CNN and Fox News. Apple still holds a massive lead over its competition in the digital music player market, spurring environmental groups like Green Peace to pressure the Cupertino-based company to set an example for other companies that may follow in its footsteps. While Apple itself is not responsible for AT&T's prior paper usage policies, environmental concerns about the cellular carrier could reflect badly on the iPhone and its maker as a result of the now popular video that shows an iPhone as well as the accompanying bill.
Human software has released AutoSmooth 1.8, a new release of the filter plug-in for use with Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3 and Elements 2/3/4 or 5 that gives users a method of smoothing skin and other surfaces, purportedly without blurring or affecting other details or minute characteristics. Company officials said "AutoSmooth enables users to automatically achieve meticulous airbrush and retouching effects without tedious, time-consuming masking and manual softening." Version 1.8 offers more control for more sophisticated effects and speed improvement. It is also now a Universal Binary with Intel-based Mac optimization. AutoSmooth is available for download immediately, and priced at $80.
MetaCommunications today began shipping Production Pack 5.0, a major update to its plug-in automation module for the company's recently released Workgroups 2007 software suite. Production Pack 5.0 runs natively on Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, and includes automation tools for Adobe's Creative Suite CS3. The plug-in allows Adobe CS3 users to automate page layout and illustration tasks by accessing digital assets, electronic job tickets, and schedules directly from native applications. Production Pack 5.0 features a plug-in interface that integrates directly with the Workgroups 2007 suite, enabling users to quickly access information about the current job or project.
Apple has released a maintenance update to its controversial video editing application iMovie '08, introduced August 7th alongside in major revamp of all the iLife applications, bringing the program to version 7.0.1. The new release addresses issues associated with publishing to the .Mac Web Gallery. It also improves overall stability and addresses a number of other minor issues, on which Apple has yet to elaborate. An updater is available through Software Update or as a 9MB Web download.
Panasonic on Wednesday announced that it had begun shipping its LIFI HDTV sets, becoming one of the few direct competitors to Sony's SXRD line. The LIFI system at the heart of the new rear projectors' names is meant to overcome the longevity and performance problems of past sets, the company says: by switching to an electrode-free lamp, the screens avoid premature lamp replacements and supplies a wider range of warmer colors, including reds and greens. Startup time is also cut dramatically from a full minute to just 15 seconds.
Intel plans to release a full 11 new Penryn processors in 2008, according to reports. Five of them will ship in the first quarter, with core speeds between 2.1 and 2.8GHz; chips rated at 2.5GHz and up will get a 6MB L2 cache, while the remainder will have 3MB caches. The second quarter should see three more processors, coinciding with the new Montevina platform. These units will also have 6MB L2s, but with speeds between 2.53 and 3.06GHz, and a faster bus rated at 1.066GHz. Power consumption should be a relatively moderate 35W.
HTC's angled-keyboard TyTN II handset may arrive in Canada at the same time as its American counterpart the AT&T Tilt, Rogers Wireless has inadvertently revealed. The northern carrier has inadvertently posted a reference to the smartphone's original HTC Kaiser codename in its mobile games section, confirming the provider's intent to carry the phone on its network without a custom codename. Rogers currently offers the original TyTN without any special changes.
Images and specifications have filtered out for Dell's next-generation XPS system, representing the peak performance of the builder's lineup. Key to the XPS 420 is the unusual addition of the Xcelerator, a dedicated transcoding processor that converts to MPEG-4. It is claimed that when encoding a two-hour HD movie, the Xcelerator halves the amount of time required, and also utilizes less CPU power. Options for the processor include Core 2 Duo, Extreme and Quad chipsets, with an L2 cache as large as 8MB. The motherboard is an X38 Express with up to 8GB of DDR2 800 RAM, and ports available include eSATA, front and rear FireWire connections, and 10 USB ports split between front, rear and inside. SATA II architecture supports RAID 0 and 1 configurations.
Nokia's just-announced 6555 clamshell has been planned for an AT&T launch from the outset, according to a pair of FCC filings. One recent entry shows the device with clear AT&T branding on the shell, indicating plans to bring the 2-megapixel phone to the rebranded carrier. An update to a April filing has also revealed official product shots with the previous Cingular logo, however, revealing that the American carrier has intended to carry the phone for months in advance. Both filings appear to confirm beliefs that the 6555's HSDPA Internet access would be useful in the US, a rarity for most Nokia phones in the country.
In brief: Another Apple reseller location opens in Italy, Digieffects plug-ins get CS3 compatibility, Avid is offering back-to-school pricing specials and a student contest, MacTech's MacForge database now has over 45,000 open-source projects, and Griffin is holding a back-to-school sale. The third Apple reseller opened in Italy on Monday. The new store, which resides on the second floor of Fnac store on via Torino in downtown Milan, will include new Apple products announced two weeks ago -- including the Mid-2007 iMacs. The shop is due to receive the new products today, and Apple Italy is reportedly planning to open three or four more locations before 2008.
Sony Europe today revealed two additions to its PlayStation consoles that transform them into general-purpose devices. The PlayTV (pictured) is the first official TV tuner for the PS3 and incorporates dual DVB-T tuners that can either record digital Freeview broadcasts of two shows or play one and record the other; the system supports the full performance of the PS3 and will record and output in 1080p if the show and the TV support them, Sony says. A software update for PlayTV brings a 7-day programming guide to streamline the process, and owners who also have a PSP can play or queue shows from the Internet and transfer downscaled versions of shows to a Memory Stick over USB.
As promised, Intel has raised the ceiling for its mobile Core 2 Extreme processors, announcing widespread availability of the X7900 (not pictured). The processor was actually first sold several weeks ago to Apple, which has since been installing the CPU in high-end versions of its new iMac. The 7900 has a 4MB L2 cache, and uses an 800MHz front-side bus, an upgrade originally seen in Intel's Santa Rosa platform. Like the X7800 though, the thermal design power of the new chipset is rated at 44W, which may require special cooling. Intel is now selling trays to builders at a cost of $851 per chip. [via TG Daily]
Google on Wednesday launched Google Earth 4.2 with Sky, allowing users to explore the universe by zooming in to distant galaxies hundreds of millions of light years away. Sky enables users to explore the constellations, see the planets in motion, and even witness a supernova explosion, according to Google. "It's like having a giant, virtual telescope at your command -- your own personal planetarium!" Google Earth 4.2 adds a new Sky button on the toolbar at the top of the screen providing access to more than 100 million individual stars and 200 million galaxies, as well as various natural phenomena -- such as the Orion Nebula -- and asteroids. Users can animate the solar system in motion, view some of the best photos taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, and overlay the sky with a microwave view to see temperature variations. Google Earth 4.2 is already available as a free digital download, with Plus and Pro editions priced at $20 and $400, respectively.
Google's sub-brand YouTube today revealed that it has begun testing ads accompanying its videos, marking the first time since YouTube's founding that the company has relied on video advertising rather than static images or content deals to pay for its costs. Rather than embed the ads themselves into users' clips, the new technique overlays a small Flash ad at the bottom of the segment. Users can either click and momentarily interrupt the intended video to view the ad or let the overlay disappear completely within 10 seconds.
As competitors mount new offenses, seeking to dethrone or at least chip away at iTunes' dominance in the digital download space, their efforts may only prove to buoy Apple's iPhone sales and the prominence of its iTunes store according to a series of analysts. "iTunes was developed to promote iPod hardware sales," said Susan Kevorkian, an analyst at research firm IDC told the LA Times. "The introduction of services that offer digital music to the installed base of iPod users will help drive more iPod sales." Aiding Apple is the fact that most competitors need to ensure iPod compatibility for their tracks in order to be viable. Wal-Mart's online store, for instance, offers unrestricted MP3 format files that "play on almost all portable media devices, including Apple iPod and Microsoft Zune."
Kensington has unveiled a new FM transmitter (site not updated) designed to make driving while listening to music a little safer. The company's Auto Kit holds an iPod in a mount that attaches to a window or the dashboard, allowing drivers to select tracks without taking their eyes off the road. The accessory allows iPod owners to play their favorite tracks directly from the portable media player in the car through the existing stereo by broadcasting the audio a short distance to the vehicle's antenna. Music is transmitted over any available FM frequency as the Auto Kit charges an iPod via the vehicle's cigarette lighter. Kensington's Auto Kit is available for $120, and works with any dockable iPod model.
A "world record" Wi-Fi link has been established off the coast of Italy, two groups claim. Ubiquity Networks, a wireless electronics company, and the Italian Center for Radio Activities (CISAR) say they have established a 5GHz link between Sardinia Island and central Italy, for a total distance of 188.89 miles. Achieving the connection required a combination of Ubiquity radio modules and 35dBi parabolic dish antennas, producing a maximum bandwidth of 5Mbps.
Samsung today launched its highest-contrast LCD TVs to date through its new F81 series sets. While based on the same wineglass-shaped Bordeaux design as most of the firm's 2007 sets, the new 40- and 46-inch LCDs boost the dynamic contrast ratio to as high as 25,000:1 and can display truly dark scenes without significantly dulling the brighter portions or generating noise. Both of the TVs bring with them native 1080p24 playback to reduce judder in movies and a System Link option that connects to the Internet for online information.
Toshiba has announced the development of three new SDHC cards, due in the next several months. Most prominent is what the company calls the world's first 32GB card, finally achieving the maximum capacity of the format. SDHC sizes have typically been limited to 4 or 8GB. A lesser, 16GB card is also in the works, and users of mobile phones will be able to get an 8GB microSDHC card. Crucially, Toshiba has chosen to make the cards Class 4 (4MB/s) models, unlike many first-wave cards which have defaulted to Class 2. The 16GB Toshiba card should ship worldwide in October, with the 32GB and 8GB cards arriving in January 2008.
Movavi's video conversion service, Movavi Online, has introduced two new features. The first is the ability to convert directly from a website, primarily sharing sites such as YouTube, MetaCafe and MySpace. This coincides with the ability to download and watch Flash videos, which like uploaded clips, can be converted to AVI, MPG, MP4 and 3GP formats. Movavi also allows users to specify size and quality for particular handheld devices, such as iPods, iPhones and PSPs. Completed conversions trigger an e-mail, letting users know when and where they can download the resulting media.
Sharp today sought to prove that LCD TV technology could still rival future OLED displays by revealing a prototype AQUOS set that would overcome many of the setbacks of today's screens. Despite a 52-inch panel, the TV's advanced backlighting and panel chipset would slim the display to just 1.1 inches at its thickest point at a weight of 55 pounds -- letting buyers set the TV flush against a wall or counter where it would be impossible today. Color accuracy in the future screen will also increase, Sharp says: the screen would cover 150% of NTSC television's color gamut and would provide a 100,000:1 contrast ratio far better than any existing TV set. Even so, power consumption would actually decrease to 140 kilowatt-hours, Sharp claims.
Bexy has unveiled its iMirror wireless remote control docking station that displays, controls, and plays iPod music as well as video while connected to entertainment systems. The iMirror is designed to serve as the center for a music and video home entertainment system, allowing users to remotely navigate and control all iPod music/video via the iMirror's wireless remote control and LCD display. The device automatically loads all iPod title information into the wireless remote upon initial docking in a few seconds, and provides real-time status from up to 150-feet from the base, according to Bexy. iMirror's docking station charges most dockable iPod models, and comes with a set of cable connections for playing an iPod through a big screen TV as well as a stereo. The device features S-Video, RCA stereo audio/video, and line audio mini-stereo connectivity as well as earphone output. A mini USB port also allows users to sync with iTunes on a PC. The iMirror BR100 is available for $150, and will hit store shelves across the U.S. in September.
TIMES FOR FUN has launched FastCut 3.0 RT, the latest edition of its real-time video editing program. FastCut handles tasks such as 3D motion and effects keyframe animation, and is based on OpenGL, enabling hardware acceleration on compatible video cards. Should a video stream still be too much for a system to handle, quality can be scaled dynamically. Version 3.0 introduces animated title effects, and animation presets, which simplify creating or reusing animations.
Yet another Apple Store has been burglarized, this time at University Village in Seattle, Washington. The thieves apparently entered the store through the ceiling in an area sectioned off for technicians, making off with all the laptops that had workers had completed servicing. A store employee told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that at least one of the notebooks contained personal information, and that the theft could pose a risk to other customers. Additionally, an "unknown stock" of refurbished iPhones are missing alongside a high-end laptop used by the store's technical staff. A store employee reportedly showed police a cut cable lock that was attached to the technician's laptop, and police reported that the entire office appeared in disarray. Seattle police were called to the University Village store at 4:44 a.m. Monday morning after an alarm signaled rear entry or motion, but the police report stated that all the doors were secure and nothing appeared to be out of place on the inside.
In advance of next week's IFA expo in Berlin, Samsung today provided a glimpse of the VP-HMX10. The camcorder is the first compact HD model from Samsung and is only slightly larger than the barrel that holds the 10X optical zoom lens. The company also seeks to break away from the trend towards interlaced 1080 shooting by offering 720p recording in its place, eliminating visual artifacts and the need for de-interlacing in a video editor. The camera records in the efficient AVCHD (H.264) format that provides ample recording time on 4GB of internal flash memory rather than requiring a larger hard drive; an SDHC slot provides room for at least an extra 8GB of storage.
A single photo today surfaced of what is rumored to be the third-generation iPod nano. The allgeded image appears to show a major revision of the flash-based player that widens but also shortens the device, allowing for a larger screen better suited to movies without boosting the overall size. The rumored unit would share the same miniature click wheel as the current iPod nano but would have tapered sides similar to the fifth-generation iPod. Aluminum would likely make up at least the front face of each device, with Apple switching to more muted colors such as pale green and wine red.
Analysts with the firm American Technology Research are continuing to recommend buys on Apple stock, in light of the performance of two key hardware lines. Mac sales, which account for 47 percent of Apple's revenue, are currently being bolstered not only by students headed back to school, but by a constant flow of switchers from the Windows platform. The MacBook Pro is said to be selling particularly well, as is the new aluminum iMac, in both its low- and high-end models. As a result, AmTech expects its "already bullish" forecast of 1.95 million Macs to be surpassed.
Sprint today became the first carrier in North America to ship the RAZR2 V9m, carrying the phone through its online store. As revealed in the provider's initial announcement, the uniquely blue-tinted phone shares the 2-megapixel camera, external touch display, and EVDO broadband of the reference model but taps into Sprint's music store Internet streaming radio and TV, and the ability to serve as a modem over Bluetooth or USB. Sprint offers its RAZR2 with a 256MB microSD card for $250 with a two-year contract or $400 without any obligation.
Epson has introduced a new intermediate step to its photo scanners, the V500. The major difference is the addition of the company's new ReadyScan LED technology, which is said to completely eliminate warm-up delays both when turning the unit on, and when switching between film and reflective modes. The LED also switches between white and blue colors for positive and negative film, and turns off completely when the scanner enters standby mode.
Microsoft this morning resurrected its SideWinder line of gaming peripherals with the advent of the simply-titled SideWinder Mouse. Hoping to take back share from its rival Logitech, the Redmond-based company's mouse inculdes similar sensitivity switching between 400 and 2000 DPI, adjustable weights, and five customizable button macros. The SideWinder, however, adds the first ever LCD on a mouse and provides both the exact DPI setting and macro recording images to reduce on-screen clutter. A Quick Launch button at the back of the mouse also triggers the Games Explorer pane for Windows Vista users, letting them start playing sooner.
iRobot on Wednesday revealed the Roomba 500 series, a major overhaul of the company's core line of vacuuming robots. Upgrades to the vacuum system itself have effectively doubled its performance and reduce the likelihood that the Roomba will need to cover a surface a second time. The chassis is also sturdier and can more easily handle thick carpets and tangled cords. Every model can get started earlier courtesy of a one-button start, holds more waste, and has the option of several faceplates that help the Roomba fit into the decor of a given room.
Logitech on Wednesday launched its G51 surround sound audio system for computers. The 155-watt system is inspired by the needs of gamers and fills all 5 satellites plus the 5-inch subwoofer with sound regardless of the source. Special matrix modes for games and music turn any stereo signal into 5.1-channel audio; Logitech's custom FDD technology also produces an even sound stage that avoids the bias of some systems. Appearances are just as distinctive through a custom skinning method that lets users wrap the satellites with their own artwork.
Microsoft has released a new beta plug-in for Photoshop CS2 and CS3 that adds support for the HD Photo (formerly known as Windows Media Photo) format, which the company touts as a superior alternative to and possible replacement for the well-entrenched JPEG format. Microsoft says "The HD Photo plug-in supports a wide range of pixel formats (including high dynamic range, wide gamut formats) and numerous advanced HD Photo features." The plug-in requires Mac OS X 10.4. The Mac version is functionally identical to the Windows version and supports all the same pixel formats, encoder options and file format features as the Windows version. The encoder options dialog is functionally identical to the Windows versions, with all the same options and controls.
Now AAPL Stock: 95.01 ( + 0.99 )
Swift benchmarking suite goes open-source
Following the release of new betas for all its platforms, Apple on Monday also made a suite of 75 tools for benchmarking Swift-developed coding projects, including libraries for benchmarking functions, a utility for comparing the resulting metrics, and a driver for running them. The company says it is asking the community for help in developing additional benchmarks, as well as further "helper" libraries and overall code review for better stability and performance. Apple plans to include benchmark pull requests in Swift's new continuous integration system as well. http://bit.ly/1W8u0EU
Instagram now supporting multiple accounts
As reported earlier, Instagram is now rolling out support for multiple accounts (up to five) in version 7.1.5 of its iOS app. The feature has been one of the main attractions of third-party Instagram clients, but it is unclear if users must seek out an "add account" preference in the app; additionally, some users are reporting that the ability to add accounts has not yet been added. The company says notifications "depend on when you last logged in, and the number of devices that are logged into that account," suggesting not all notifications across accounts will appear when logged into a given one. http://bit.ly/1moh95p
Pictures of Galaxy S7, Edge leaked
New images have been leaked of Samsung's new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. The images of the Galaxy S7 are very similar to a draft leaked earlier this year, with a curved back reminiscent of the iPhone 3G with the normal Samsung camera hump in the upper center of the phone. The picture of the Galaxy S7 Edge as leaked is running a benchmark application showing modest improvements over the S6 line, if accurate. Both models are expected to be formally announced in a February 21 press event hosted by Samsung. http://bit.ly/20Gf07X
Bambooti wooden skins for MacBooks
Bambooti has introduced premium wooden skins for Apple laptops that allow users to customize any design or logo directly on the case. Each Bambooti skin is handcrafted from sustainably managed forests, and are hand sanded and spray-finished to create an ultra smooth exterior. Bambooti's wooden skins start at $65 on the fully-funded Kickstarter which includes a custom design or logo of the user's choice that will be engraved on the product. http://kck.st/1PhE6Sb
Apple Music in Taiwan, now up to 113 countries
Apple Music has now added its 113th country, Taiwan, to its expanding list of areas where it offers its paid subscription service. The price in the country will start at NT$150 (about $4.50 US) for an individual subscription, and that now includes (as it does in the rest of the world) the formerly free-but-ad-supported iTunes Radio feature, which as in other countries will be customized somewhat to offer channels of locally-popular music styles. Apple Music is now available in 16 countries and regions -- including China, India, Russia, and Japan -- where Spotify has not yet arrived.
Invisible wall mount for iPad Pro, mini
Computing hardware mounting company Wall-Smart has announced the availability the new "invisible" wall mount, with models for the iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4 -- all with no bezel. The invisible mount includes Power Over Ethernet to USB, which allows charging while in-wall, and is available for both drywall and solid surfaces such as solid wood panels or partition walls. Prices vary widely by iPad model, and required mounting hardware. http://bit.ly/1SE5jCO
Kingston buys IronKey secure USB tech
Kingston Digital today announced it has acquired the USB technology and assets of IronKey from Imation. In addition to Kingston's acquisition, encryption services leader DataLocker has purchased the IronKey Enterprise Management Services platform which provides centralized management to encrypted USB drives. Kingston and DataLocker claim that there will be no interruption in service provided, or available products as a result of the consolidations. http://bit.ly/1QQk9SZ