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Calisto Pro debuts
Plantronics has introduced the Calisto Pro, a new home phone that ships with a multi-function Bluetooth headset, which the company says aids in the management of landline, mobile and VoIP conversations. The unit consists of a compact landline handset and multi-function Bluetooth headset nested in a charging base. The headset allows users to switch between landline, mobile phone and VoIP calls by pressing a button. The handset uses encrypted, voice-dedicated DECT 6.0 technology to enhance audio clarity and mitigate interference with other signal generators, such as WiFi devices and microwaves. Plantronics claims a 300 feet of roaming range. The Bluetooth headset also offers a noise-canceling microphone as well as an extended boom, and can be connected to both the handset to answer both landline and mobile calls. You can also pair the headset with a Bluetooth-capable mobile phone while on the road, and it will automatically reconnect with the home phone upon return to charger range.
Blu-ray drive price cuts
In brief: We've posted a review of Adobe Contribute 3, a set of Aperture video tutorials has debuted, OWC has lowered its Blu-Ray drive prices, and Olive has introduced the OPUS 307S system, which offers 250GB of music storage, organization and playback ... We have published a review of Adobe Contribute CS3, a WYSIWYG Web creation tool that allows non-web designers to easily update and maintain Web sites. The software uses an easy to understand connection and set-up wizard that allows you to connect to almost any of your web sites. You simply plug in the required information and Contribute connects to the site and downloads the page you want to edit on your local computer. You can save the page as a draft and work offline, then publish to the web as needed.
FotoMagico 2.1 released
Boinx Software today released a major update to FotoMagico, its software designed for professional photographers. FotoMagico 2.1 allows photographers to non-destructively adjust the color of an image, adapt to changes to iPhoto '08, export to Apple's iPhone as well as Apple TV set top box, and export better looking movies altogether. The update supports the latest changes to the iPhoto libraries introduced by Apple with iLife '08, and users can export slideshows created with FotoMagico 2.1 specifically to ensure the presentation will play on an iPhone or an Apple TV. The latest release also uses some of the latest movie export techniques to squeeze the highest quality video into the smallest file size, according to Boinx. FotoMagico 2.1 Pro is available for $130, while an Express edition is priced at $50. The update is free for existing FotoMagico 2 license owners at their current license levels.
Snapz Pro X, Snard
Smart Scroll X 2.7 ($20) smooth and easy iPhone-like scrolling. Features include Universal Scroll Keys that let you scroll from the keyboard. The new release includes Super Wheel and Grab Scroll support for Eudora, Netscape 9, Papyrus, RagTime, and many other Carbon applications. There are also various fixes and improvements (for Camino, FileMaker Pro 8.5 and 9, Google Earth, Pages, etc.). [Download - 1.5MB]
TaskTime4 4.3.7 ($20) straightforward method of tracking time spent on jobs you do for your clients. It can generate invoices which can be emailed, printed, and saved to disk. The new release includes a feature to send a "Payment Received" email, has an updated user's guide, and fixes a bug that occurred when editing flat rate dates. Also if text is entered into the Balance Owing, Credit, or Discount fields on the Invoice tab a bullet is now added to the tab name. [Download - 6.3MB]
CrushFTP 4.3.5 ($30) a full-scale FTP server written in Java using the SWING user interface libraries. The new version adds support for more SMTP servers when setting up email notifications, and you can specify where log files are saved. Quotas can now be larger than 2GB, and the LDAP plugin has been expanded to support more servers and give better control on group membership. The WebInterface also has more options for customizing the look and feel on a per use basis. [Download - 7.8MB]
Snapz Pro X 2.1.1 ($70) screen and video capture tool. Includes "Live Preview" which shows you exactly how your screenshot will look before you save it to disk. The latest release has a new integrated registration interface, fixes a bug where some movies would end with blank frames and another bug where some compressors would save huge movie files. Also fixed is a problem with garbled video capture on older systems with nVidia cards. [Download - 11.6MB]
Snard 2.5.3 ($10) Swiss Army Knife of launcher programs. Can be used as a system menu or as a hot key activated popup menu. Can open applications as root, and offers flexible menu access. The new release has minor internal updates and adds a preference to turn off the Snard menu. Allows for use of just the preference menu or just the hotkey. [Download - 1.7MB]
J'Tote laptop bags ship
j'Tote today launched its Fall/Winter 2007 inaugural collection of j'Tote Designer Laptop Bags. Designed by multiple award winning young Irish designer Anna Vahey Casey and fashion-conscious Texan Jeri Barr, the combination handbag/laptop carrying cases are made to provide laptop owners with a unique and fashionable carrying solution. Various materials used to construct the handbags include bamboo, suede, floral fabric, leather, wooden beads, and more. The bags range in price from $175 for the Afric purple suede bag to $315 for the Maeve soft organic brown leather satchel bag. The bags fit any notebook up to 15-inches in size, including Apple's MacBook and smaller MacBook Pro models.
Logitech VX Nano Review
Those looking for a mouse useful as a full-time trackpad substitute rarely have options that are powerful enough and also portable enough to be a better pick than a bulky desktop mouse. Most mice that use RF transmitters are fast but need a USB dongle (which can easily be lost) and could be too large to fit in a notebook bag. Bluetooth mice don't need these adapters but are often sluggish or simply designed as tiny replacements with few buttons and even fewer features. Logitech's VX Nano supposedly solves this by including an RF adapter so small that it can stay in a notebook and the same free-spinning wheel as the MX and VX Revolution. We believe they have the right idea.
360 racing wheel defects
Following complaints, Microsoft plans to send out replacement parts for the Wireless Racing Wheel it sells for its Xbox 360 console. The Associated Press notes that Microsoft has so far received at least 50 reports about the wheel, which if plugged in, may begin to overheat or even smoke after sufficient time. Although no damages or injuries have been hinted at to date, Microsoft has started a new "retrofit" program, through which users can mail in to receive the parts and instructions needed to fix their wheels. The controller is said to be safe when powered only by batteries.
Dine-O-Matic 2 released
The Iconfactory today released Dine-O-Matic 2, a sequel to its Dashboard widget designed to help users decide where to feast when multiple options are possible. "Does your family have a hard time deciding on where to head for dinner? Your co-workers want to go one place for lunch, but you want to go some place else? No problem, enter your selections into Dine-O-Matic and let the food fates decide!" The latest release includes custom cuisine categories that allow users to add a new style of restaurant, expanded restaurant info that includes addresses as well as phone numbers, and price filtering to narrow down selections based on how much hungry individuals want to spend. The software includes Google Maps integration, and is available for free. Dine-O-Matic 2 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
More Wiis than 360s
Nintendo's Wii console has reportedly passed Microsoft's Xbox 360 in lifetime sales, according to data from VG Chartz, a group that collects information directly from retailers. Figures produced on August 23rd put the Wii at 10.57 million units sold worldwide, compared to the 360's 10.51 million. This is in spite of the Wii only launching in November of last year, a fact that should have put the console at a disadvantage given the 360's 2005 launch. By comparison, Sony's PlayStation 3 launched at nearly the same time as the Wii, but has only sold 4.32 million units.
Paramount biased by money
Paramount's recent decision to pick HD DVD as its exclusive HD format was influenced by money, not quality, reports say. The New York Times writes that Paramount was paid $150 million by the format's backers, divided into cash and promotional guarantees. This is despite Paramount's insistence that HD DVD is simply "the affordable high quality choice for consumers." Still unclear is how long the exclusivity will last, as while Paramount told PC World the deal was "indefinite," the Times claims it may be limited to 18 months. Paramount has released Blu-Ray titles in the past.
Sony Sugar Battery
Sony today announced that it had developed a battery strong enough to power electronics solely through the chemical reactions of sugar, raising the possibility of truly ecologically friendly power sources. Based around the concept of a bio-cell, the device includes enzymes at nodes that break down glucose and separate the electrons to supply power while converting resulting hydrogen ions into water through exposure to air. Though still in the early stages, this allows the 50 milliwatts of energy per cell needed to power a flash-based Walkman music player, Sony says. The current example uses four attached cells.
Alienware 4X Blu-Ray
Alienware today announced that it was adding faster Blu-Ray drives to its desktop line, letting computers equipped with the option both read and write HD media twice as quickly as the 2X drives used in previous Alienware systems and any current system from its parent company Dell. This should also be the first large-scale builder to carry this speed drive in its systems, Alienware says. The disc drives are capable of writing dual-layer, 50GB Blu-Ray discs as well as legacy CD and DVD formats.
Unpatched Java flaw
Mac users are still waiting for a fix to a critical Java runtime exploit discovered by Google's security team in October of 2006. The hole, which could allow malicious users to execute code remotely on a victim's Mac, lies within Sun's Java ICC profile parsing code. Sun issued an update in May of this year to plug the hole on Solaris, Linux, and Windows systems but offered no sign of an update for Mac owners. The unfixed security concern leaves millions of Mac OS X users with Java enabled in their Web browsers vulnerable to would-be crackers, who need only coax unsuspecting users into downloading a specially-crafted JPEG or BMP image file to execute code on the target system or cause a JVM crash, according to ZDNet.
Nokia 6500 slide at FCC
Nokia's 6500 slide could be available in the US, courtesy of a new FCC approval. Following closely behind its candybar equivalent the 6500 classic, the slider should bring equal support for 3G broadband access over AT&T's HSDPA network but replaces the 1GB of internal flash with a microSD card slot for removable storage. The front camera is also intact but may only find one-way use through AT&T's Video Share service.
iPhone update surprises
Apple's latest iPhone software update appears to repair camera issues and improve wireless performance, according to various owners of the cellular handset. Apple said the update included unspecified bug fixes, but those fixes are making some iPhone owners extremely happy. "My Wi-Fi reception is definitely better," said one forum poster cited by Computerworld. "While in my office, I have never been able to connect to the wifi hub in the conference room down the hall [but after the update] I was surprised that the Edge connection seemed faster, until I realized I was connected to the wifi hub with two bars."
Palm Foleo Delay
Palm's Foleo smartphone companion notebook has been delayed, says a new investor research note from Deutsche Bank. Analyst Jonathan Goldberg claims that the device, which had originally been scheduled to launch this week, has been delayed to late September or early October to combat serious bugs with the miniature Linux computer. In many cases the Foleo would not even synchronize properly with most of Palm's own Treo models -- especially the Treo 680, Goldberg says. Sources speaking to the researcher claim that the software glitches have pushed back a ship date a month to late September or early October.
DivX's AppleTV competitor
The owners of the DivX video codec have produced a prototype media streamer, one which appears to challenge the likes of the AppleTV. As opposed to the latter, which costs $300, the unnamed DivX system could be produced by a third party to meet a $100 retail price, according to DivX's co-founder, Jérôme Rota. It achieves this by omitting local storage, instead streaming media from a nearby PC, which is then simply processed locally in 720p. Similarly, the device's user interface is rendered on the PC to reduce dependence on extra processors.
Palm Treo 755p at Telus
Telus today launched its version of Palm's Treo 755p for its network. Similar in many ways to the reference version at Sprint, the Telus version is the first Palm phone in the country to support Google Maps and lets subscribers plot driving routes or find nearby locations without having to add a separate GPS subscription. It also adds still-rare support for EVDO Revision A access that gives even faster mobile Internet transfers, including upstream. Unlike some providers, Telus also allows using the Treo as a modem over USB or Bluetooth.
Pantech/Sky 7.2Mbps phone
Sky, the high-end brand of Pantech, is joining other Korean companies such as Samsung in producing phones with 7.2Mbps HSDPA broadband. The Sky entry is the IM-U210, a companion to the brand's flagship U200. Aside from increased speeds, the 210 makes several other changes: whereas the 200 is an unusual twisting clamshell, the 210 is a straight slider. Its camera has been upgraded to two megapixels, and Pantech is putting emphasis on features such as DMB broadcasts and MBank services. Bluetooth and a microSD slot are other confirmed elements. The U210 should be available now in Korea for 500,000 won ($530). [via Akihabara News]
Dell Notebook Delay
Dell's now confirmed Inspiron notebook delays may extend as late as November, according to companies within Taiwan retail channels. Although Dell has admitted having problems with the quality of the multi-colored paint schemes on the lids of its XPS M1330 and Inspiron portables, the Texas-based PC maker is said to be encountering enough trouble that shortages could last until October or November -- significantly damaging the company's sales in the all-important holiday season.
Leather iPhone case ships
PDO has launched the Reviso Premium Leather Case for Apple's iPhone. The Reviso is a black leather protective cover for the cellular handset that features twin racing stripes down its back side, while Velcro secures the iPhone inside. The case provides unobstructed access to the iPhone's screen, dock connector, camera, headphone jack, and all buttons. Each case ships with a separate full frontal screen projector, and the interior is lined with soft material to prevent scratching on-the-go. A metal belt clip is built into the case, and the accessory comes with a clear screen protector to guard the iPhone's multi-touch display. The case is available in black with red, white, or blue racing stripes for $30.
British voices for iVox
AssistiveWare has released an updated British voice pack for iVox, a program that attempts to supply natural voices for any Mac OS X software compatible with Speech Manager. The key change is the addition of "Peter," a new male voice as an alternative to the existing Lucy and Graham options. These latter voices are said to have been improved for the new pack, though no details have been provided. Assistive is promoting the collection by offering discounts until October 31st: the solo add-on is available for $50, while iVox with British default voices is $100. A bundle with the company's GhostReader software is $110.
Verizon RAZR2 Next Week
Although officially set to launch in September, Verizon's RAZR2 will actually be available online as early as next week, leaked documentation shows. A product sheet for the device has the Motorola 2-megapixel cameraphone shipping from the provider's online store on August 29th. The September release date (now penned for the 4th) is only for wide availability in stores and other channels, according to the source. Verizon has also reportedly bowed to pressure from Sprint's $249 RAZR2 and has dropped the official $299 two-year contract price down to the same $249 figure after factoring in a larger $100 rebate.
DEVONthink 1.3.2 ships
DEVONtechnologies today released DEVONthink Professional Office 1.3.2, the latest release of the company's information management application. DEVONthink Professional Office 1.3.2 adds support for MailTags 2.0 notes, allows users to set the resolution as well as the compression of PDF documents generated by the built-in IRIS OCR (Optical Character Recognition) engine, and supports ExactCODE's ExactScan software driving Avision document scanners. Users can set a default encoding for email import that is used when the to-be-imported email message does not provide encoding information itself. DEVONthink Professional ($80) and Professional Office ($150) require Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.
TomTom RIDER 2nd Ed in US
TomTom on Thursday announced that it had released the RIDER 2nd Edition for North America, bringing the enhanced features for the map unit previously only available for Europe. Riders now have an improved RAM mount that fits on to almost any motorcycle with extra resistance to loosening in bumpy road conditions. The new Cardo Bluetooth headset also carries over for improved calling and GPS directions inside a helmet. This upgrade is also waterproof and includes a dynamic direction system which switches from voice to beeps when speed makes it difficult to understand explicit instructions, the company says.
Cancer auction; Typinator
In brief: Mac software goes to help cancer treatment and research, Typinator gains expanded auto-correction, real estate agents get iPhone leads, and timezone software is bundled for businesses. A charity software auction is being held for the benefit of the Pan-Mass Challenge, which raises funds towards cancer treatment and research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Approximately $30,000 worth of Mac software is being sold through eBay, in categories such as games, business and creativity; the current fundraising goal, though, is just $6,600. A minimum 25 auctions are planned, which will conclude as of October 1st. All proceeds past expenses will go directly to the PMC.
Olympus this morning bolstered its consumer camera launches with the high-zoom SP-560UZ. The camera complements its 18X lens with a new 8-megapixel sensor and a shift towards wider-angle shots with a 27-486mm focal range. Using the same TruePix III imaging chip as some of the newer mainstream cameras, the 560UZ also boosts sensitivity up to ISO 6400 and allows for burst shooting up to 15 frames per second for short periods. Although geared to serious home photographers with a RAW mode, the camera also caters to novices with the Smile Shot mode that detects grins as well as faces.
Razer on Thursday introduced what it believes is the most precise gaming mouse to date: the Lachesis is the first to use the company's third-generation laser tracker and produces an unheard of 4000DPI resolution. This lets the mouse interpret as many as 100 inputs per second and respond to fast movement with up to 25 Gs of acceleration. And unlike some gaming mice, the ability to drop DPI is accomplished through hardware and prevents the sometimes inaccurate scaling from software-based tweaks, Razer claims. Two switches step sensitivity up or down in fixed increments.
Sony on Thursday aimed to please new professionals or even dedicated amateurs investigating its B2B camera line with its new HVR-HD1000U camera. The shoulder-carried unit shoots in both HDV and traditional DV, netting up to an hour of full HD footage on a standard tape. It can also shoot 6.1-megapixel photos in still mode or 4.6 megapixels while capturing video; a special slow-motion mode automatically quadruples the frame rate in exchange for a lower resolution. To help in capturing any scene, Sony says it has repositioned the preview LCD to allow a quick glance without moving away from the electronic viewfinder.
Sonnet FireWire/USB card
Sonnet has released the FireWire/USB ExpressCard/34, a new add-on adapter. When plugged into a computer's ExpressCard slot, the adapter adds two FireWire 400 ports, as well as a single USB 2.0 connection. This allows users to attach a number of devices, such as cameras, iPods or even other computers, all of which are configured automatically as if connected to a dedicated port. The card fits into both ExpressCard/34 and 54 slots, but is currently only compatible with PCs running Windows Vista or XP SP2; MacBook Pros will be compatible with the release of Mac OS X 10.5 in October. Sonnet is selling the card for $70.
Olympus FE and Stylus 790
Olympus this morning joined in the camera introductions, beginning with updates to its FE and Stylus weather-hardened cameras. The Stylus 790SW is a complement to the 770SW with a 7.1-megapixel sensor and complete waterproofing up to near 10 feet as well as drop survival up to 5 feet. The design is slimmer than the 770 and comes in several brighter colors suited to the beach, Olympus says. A full-speed VGA video recording mode is onboard alongside ISO 1600 as a regular (rather than boost-only) option. It ships in September for $300.
Nikon D300 SLR, lenses
Calling it the most advanced DX-format digital SLR camera to date, Nikon has unveiled the 12.3 effective megapixel D300, which shares features with the newly introduced D3 digital SLR. Nikon claims a 0.13 second power-up time and a 45 millisecond shutter release lag time for the new camera. Using an image processing system that Nikon calls "EXPEED," the camera offers 51-point auto focus and two new LiveView shooting modes that aid in framing photographs using the 3-inch LCD monitor. The camera can shoot as many as eight frames per second when using the optional MB-D10 Multi-Power Battery Pack, and deliver continuous bursts of up to 100 consecutive shots the at full 12.3 megapixel resolution.
Nikon's pro-level D3 dSLR
Nikon on Thursday morning introduced the D3, a new digital SLR camera that features 12.1 effective megapixel resolution and Nikon's new FX-format CMOS sensor, measuring 23.9 x 36mm -- nearly identical to the size of 35mm film. Nikon claims that the new camera is "the fastest startup time, shortest viewfinder blackout time, and shortest shutter lag of any digital SLR camera" and also features the ability to shoot up to nine frames per second at full FX-format resolution. In addition, the D3 incorporates Nikon's new EXPEED Image Processing System, a normal ISO range of 200 to 6400 as well as an expanded equivalent ISO range of the camera of ISO 100 or ISO 25,600 using special modes. The D3 will be available in November 2007 for $5,000.
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