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Apple's $720k for lobbying
Apple played heavily in the political arena in the first half of this year, spending $720,000 on lobbying the federal government. The Associated Press reports that the company lobbied Congress on legislation designed to update the U.S. patent system. "Trade groups for high-tech industries favor legislation that would help weed out bad patents by allowing companies to re-evaluate them after they are granted. The groups say this could help companies avoid financial burden of defending patents in lengthy court cases." Also advocated by Apple were bills that would increase funding for technology education and provide tax breaks for company spending on research and development. The lobbying expense was disclosed in a form filed Aug. 14 with the Senate's public records office. Apple filed several prominent patents in the past month, including one for a movable touchscreen interface, another for retractable notebook ports and yet another for ambient iPod/iPhone recording.
Flash-based Zune photos?
Photos of an alleged flash-based Microsoft Zune player surfaced today, rekindling rumors that the Redmond-based software giant will move to further its position in the digital media player market and gain ground on the market leader -- Apple. The photos depict colored players in pink, red, and black that look much like Apple's iPod nano player, featuring taller screens and a rounded rectangular area in place of the Cupertino-based company's click-wheel. Gizmodo reports that while the photo appears legitimate and was confirmed by two separate unrelated sources, Microsoft is not above seeding the market with mockup pictures to confuse the public about pending product releases.
Puremobile to sell iPhones
Canadian reseller Puremobile, a firm that specializes in selling iPhones not available for sale in Canada, has announced plans to peddle unlocked iPhones in that will work on the Rogers Wireless network, apparently with the full, welcome blessing of the latter. The company says it has partnered with George Hotz, the 17-year-old hacker who initially posted an unlock process for the device, so that it works natively on Rogers Wireless and Fido cellular networks. Puremobile seems to have already tested demonstration unlocked phones on the Canadian networks, claiming that all of the features work on Fido, with the exception of visual voice mail. In fact, the company already has two unlocked iPhones and will be giving one away in a lottery. [corrected]
Beauty Salon game ships
Midori today released Beauty Salon, a new freeware dress up game that allows children to experiment with changing various aspects of personal looks. The title lets players change hair styles, hair color, eye color, and skin color. Midori's new game takes inspiration from Japanese Manga and American cartoon styles to produce colorful and simple dress up activity. "Feel free to change your hair style or color to reflect your mood today, or change your eyes to blue or brown or something else to add some color to your life. You can even change your skin color to match your hair!" The game was created with the PTK game engine for Mac OS X, and is available for free (system requirements were unavailable).
Sharp BD-HP20S Player
Sharp at today's introduction to the IFA technology show revealed the BD-HP20S, its first dedicated Blu-Ray movie player outside of Japan. The system is one of the slimmest from any company, measuring just 2.7 inches tall, but should provide all the same features as current and upcoming high-end players. Sharp's unit is one of the first to explicitly add Blu-Ray Java support for more advanced commentary and interactive features on a given disc. It also sports HDMI 1.3 with support for Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, and deeper colors on certain TVs. An AQUOS Link feature lets the player trigger input from AQUOS TVs and other devices that meet the CEC control standard.
ConceptDraw Project 4
CS Odessa has released ConceptDraw Project 4, a major update to the project management software that is designed to plan and track a wide range of projects simultaneously. New to Project 4 is a "Resource Usage View", enhanced Microsoft Project compatibility, a redesigned tabular project interface and a number of requested usability improvements. "Resource Usage View" provides an overview of resource loading and task allocation for each available resource. Additionally, the user interface has undergone some important changes in version 4, providing quicker navigation between projects and different status views. ConceptDraw Project 4 has a suggested retail price of $200.
Sonnet RAID, iPhone maps
In brief: The Woz talks Segway, waiting in line for an iPhone and more in a new podcast, Sonnet qualifies a 1TB drive for use in its RAID array system, Pavilion themes now have HD and iPhone versions, a set of iPhone-optimized railway maps has debuted, and a widget for tracking ranking in the game Frenzic has been released ... Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, appears in a new SegwayToday.Net podcast, where he gives insight into how he integrates the Segway Personal Transporter into his everyday life. "Whether he's exploring an unfamiliar town, gliding into Los Gatos for a bite to eat, or enjoying a game of Segway Polo, 'Woz' explains in detail why he's always got his trusty Segway under his feet." Woz also discusses waiting in line at 4 a.m. for his iPhone and how he got his Segway to travel at speeds over 100 mph.
Philips exposes Aurea TV
After using the media for publicity through a teaser campaign, Philips has finally unveiled the Aurea, its latest Ambilight television. Launching as a 42-inch model, the key change is a new, LED-based lighting system, fit inside a new housing with hidden speakers.
In terms of actual performance, the Aurea is 1080p-capable, and hosts three HDMI inputs. It can purportedly display four trillion colors, and motion response should be enhanced by a 3ms response time and a 100Hz refresh rate. The set will first go on sale in Europe starting next month. No prices have been mentioned.
HP AMD dvX500 and Compaq
HP on Thursday quietly launched a new set of notebooks based on its dvX500 platform that switch from Intel's Core 2 processors to AMD's Turion 64 platform. The 15.4-inch dv6500z and 17-inch dv9500z both run dual-core Turion 64 X2 chips and use NVIDIA's GeForce 7150M for integrated graphics in place of Intel's GMA X3100. HP largely keeps options on an equal footing with the Intel systems by offering GeForce 8400M GS video with HDMI output, HD DVD combo drives, and mobile broadband with Verizon through a V740 ExpressCard. The dv9500z continues to hold up to 500GB of storage spread across two drives.
iFuntastic 3.0.3 released
BitSplit Enterprises has released iFuntastic 3.0.3, a graphical utility that allows any user with no technical knowledge to "unshackle" an iPhone and change various aspects of the cellular handset. iFuntastic 3.0.3 features large, simple buttons along the left side of a window that guide users through the process of unshackling the phone, changing the home screen, modifying or replacing the carrier logo, updating ringtones, and managing files. The author warns that eager iPhone owners hoping to modify their phones must do so at their own risk, but adds that many successful customizations were already performed during the development process. The software is available for free, and features a donation button for users inclined to support the creator.
HK Cinespecial 29
The European divison of Harmon Kardon has announced a new AV bundle, known as the Cinespecial 29. At the heart is the AVR 350 receiver, which has twin HDMI 1.2a inputs, and uses a Faroudja DVDi deinterlacer to to upscale composite and S-Video signals to 720p. The 350 also boasts features such as automatic calibration and AV sync delay, and includes an iPod dock that can be controlled via the main remote. Features such as A-BUS support allow audio from one receiver to be distributed to other rooms.
Sony Kills Connect Store
Sony's Connect music store will officially shut down by spring next year, the company revealed today as part of its announcements of the A810 and S610 Walkman players. The electronics giant argued in its phase out FAQ that its was moving to an open platform where protected Windows Media would be the format of choice for copyrighted content, eliminating the need for the Sony-only ATRAC format which has been used for both the Connect store and many of Sony's older Walkman players. Sales of eBooks would not be affected, Sony said, confirming earlier reports and reassuring owners of the company's Reader handheld.
LG DivX Time Machines
Electronics maker LG has launched its Time Machine TVs, a series of LCD and plasma sets which put an emphasis on digital recording and playback. The TVs are the first from the company to be DivX certified, allowing high-quality video with compressed file sizes; to take advantage of this, each model has an 80GB hard drive, which can be used as a DVR with timeshifting and simultaneous watch/record abilities.
Samsung VoIP displays
Samsung Electronics introduced two new 22" monitor models with VoIP functions, designed for videoconferencing applications, during this years IFA 2007 exhibition. The new SyncMaster 220TN monitor includes simple networking modules, an embedded copy of Windows XP, and an Ethernet card that allow it to operate as a conferencing device, when tethered to a local LAN, without a connected PC. The monitor has a built-in camera, microphone and speaker. The other new display, SyncMaster 225UW is optimized for the Microsoft UC (Unified Communication) solution and allows for calls through traditional messenger systems such as MS Live Messenger and Skype. Both monitors sport 1680x1050 resolutions and have USB hubs. Pricing details were not disclosed.
Microsoft RIM Buyout Rumor
Microsoft may be interested in buying out Canada's Research in Motion, according to speculation by analysts and market observers. The action would reportedly be a preemptive move to shore up defenses against a rumored Google mobile OS that could pose a direct threat to Windows Mobile on cellphones. The claims have spurred a run on stocks of the Waterloo, Canada-based BlackBerry maker, which said it would never comment on "rumors and speculation" out of company policy, according to an official spokeswoman.
MacPractice, Inc has announced MacPractice DR (Digital Radiography), a new integrated ability for MacPractice DDS users. Among the first Mac OS X solutions MacPractice DR will work with are Visiodent's RSV Mac, Kodak's TrophyMac, and aMac. The company says is also working with several other developers to create new Mac OS X drivers for their dental x-ray solutions. With the new capability, intraoral and smile photos can be captured and stored. MacPractice DR is developed with Xcode. It utilizes Apple's Core Image technology and some of Apple's newest interface advancements, such as 'skimming' which allows a dentist to store several images in a stack. Running a mouse over the stack displays the images. MacPractice DR is priced at $1500 plus an annual fee for support and updates of $200.
Sony's European division today provided a glimpse of new range-topping Blu-Ray player destined for the US. The BDP-S500 improves on the foundation of the S300 by adding Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD support for enhanced 7.1-channel surround with supporting movies and audio systems; it also brings HDMI 1.3 to output these compressed signals to external receivers and support the full color range of the newest HDTV sets.
Panorama2Flash for Mac
Easypano today released the Mac version of Panorama2Flash, an application designed to help batch convert spherical and cylindrical panoramic images to Flash panoramas. The latest revision allows users to customize the viewer size, supports showing as well as hiding the loading bar, and enables users to tailor various items like pa/tilt and rotating speed. Panorama2Flash supports right-click publishing, full screen display of Flash panorama, and adding ceiling as well as floor images to panoramas. The software is aimed at users who already have panorama stitching software but who want to convert those panoramic images to Flash output in large batch quantities. Panorama2Flash is priced at $50 and requires mac OS X 10.4 or later.
Klipsch IMAGE Earphones
Klipsch has just entered the in-ear sound arena by announcing the IMAGE earphones. Billed as the most compact earbuds yet, each earpiece is only slightly larger than the wire and is built out of relatively light aluminum and copper. The combined effect significantly reduces weight and improves comfort in the ear. But the new design is nevertheless very tough, the company claims: cable endpoints are bulked up to avoid fraying, and the ear tips are held on through locking rings that prevent accidentally losing the tips in one's ear. The silicone tips themselves are an improvement over traditional designs with better flexibility inside the ear and come in five different sizes to fit most any wearer.
New Garmin nuvi GPS units
Garmin has pulled the wraps off three new handheld GPS units, the nuvi 750, 760 and 770. Beginning the company's new 700 series, common features include voice guidance, posted highway speeds, a 4.3-inch widescreen touch display, and an FM transmitter to send audio to car speakers. Also notable is a connection with the car mount, which will automatically mark a car's position when the nuvi is removed.
The 760 and 770 are equipped for Bluetooth dialing, hands-free or via the touchscreen, and have an FM traffic receiver to avoid jams. The 750 and 760 include maps of Canada, the US and Puerto Rico, while the 770 adds Europe to the mix. All three nuvis should ship in September for $600, $800 and $1,000.
Panasonic debuts new SLR
Panasonic today introduced the newest member of its digital single-lens reflex (SLR) camera line with face detection, the LUMIX DMC-L10. The LUMIX DMC-L10 features a 2.5-inch live view LCD that rotates 270-degrees for versatile shooting options, while a 10.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor allows users take large photos at high resolutions. The camera features a supersonic wave filter system that prevents dust from collecting on the sensor, and can automatically detect up to 15 human faces simultaneously to capture subjects clearly. The LCD screen lets users check the image on the camera after making exposure compensation adjustments but before taking a shot, and includes automatic brightness control to make the screen visible in dark or sunlit environments. Panasonic's LUMIX DMC-L10 is slated for shipment in October for $1,300
New Magellan Maestros
Magellan has announced seven new Maestro GPS units, divided into the 4200 series and the 3200s (neither pictured). All of the units rely on SiRFstar III receivers, and have features such as multi-point trip-planning and searchable points-of-interest databases; the 4250 and 3250 have a built-in TMC traffic receiver, as well as Bluetooth call support, voice commands, and AAA TourBook listings.
In addition to the above, the 4250 has a 4.3-inch widescreen touch display, and should be out in October for $499. The 4220 ($449, October) of course drops the 4250/3250 features, but is the first Maestro with preloaded maps of Mexico, and has six million points of interest. The 4200's details are unknown except that it should cost $349.
TomTom GO 920 and ONE 3rd
GPS maker TomTom on Thursday brought two of its latest GPS systems at the high and low ends of its navigator ranges. The 4.3-inch GO 920 has the most built-in map data of any of TomTom's receivers and uses 4GB of flash memory to store not just Canadian and US maps but also 41 countries in Europe, in addition to an SD card slot for extra data. Drivers are also more likely to have a more reliable position lock, TomTom says, with a new gravity and motion system that can automatically estimate the actual position when the GPS signal drops out. A similarly new, optional traffic receiver gives the GO 920 the choice of either the usual TomTom Traffic feature or the new addition of more universal Traffic Message Channel (TMC) support, either of which feeds road congestion into map data to avoid delays.
Apple hit with lawsuit
Two women bound to wheelchairs are suing Apple for failing to abide by accessibility laws in its retail stores. The women last Friday filed a 17-page lawsuit claiming that Apple violated the federal Americans With Disabilities Act and the California Health and Safety Code because it fails to offer "full and equal" access to disabled persons at its San Francisco flagship store, according to AppleInsider. The plaintiffs cite separate store visits where both experienced frustration and humiliation as a result of their conditions. The plaintiffs said they were unable to reach products or service desks at the retail shop, and one of the women recounted how she was unable to watch a Genius Bar technician service a software issue which, she claims, was deemed repaired but still remaimed when she returned home.
Nikon L14, L15 cameras
Continuing a flood of announcements, Nikon has upgraded its lesser-known COOLPIX L-series with two new cameras. Both the L14 and L15 use the new EXPEED image processor, found in the D300, and have a variety of assistive functions, such as red-eye correction, D-Lighting exposure correction, and face recognition up to five individuals. Each also has 3x optical zoom, and a maximum ISO sensitivity of 1000. Power comes from AA batteries.
Sanyo Xacti HD1000
Sanyo today claimed to set records with the Xacti HD1000, its newest and most powerful compact camera. By producing a new processor that consolidates the work of two chips into one, the company has produced what it says is the world's smallest camera that can encode widescreen 1080i video; the main body is barely larger than its 10X lens and includes a swiveling, 2.7-inch LCD that tucks into the handle to save space. This resoltution comes without sacrifices, Sanyo boasts: the camera records at 60 frames per second and can take 4-megapixel still shots in the middle of video capture.
ezGear leather iPhone case
Utah's ezGear has begun selling the ezView Leather Case for iPhone, which attempts to differ itself from other iPhone cases in several respects. The key is the flip cover, which not only protects the screen, but doubles as a stand when the phone is horizontal -- the velcro band becomes a prop, and rubber feet prevent the case from sliding. Other features include a magnetic seal, a holster with an optional belt clip, and slots for credit cards and business cards. The ezView is available online for $40.
Nikon P5100 and P50
At the higher end of its camera upgrades, Nikon today upgraded its P-series models that straddle the line between point-and-shoot and digital SLRs. The P5100 takes the previous P5000 from 10 to 12 megapixels and draws on the new EXPEED imaging chip to reach ISO 3200 (auto-adjustable up to 5 megapixels) and improved, 12-point face detection. A new mode dial gives quick access to 15 scene presets. The camera continues to offer a 3.5X zoom lens with optical stabilization, a flash hotshoe, and support for telephoto and wide-angle adapter lenses. The P5100 is due in September for $400.
QuickerTek wireless gear
The Kansas-based QuickerTek has released five new wireless adapters for Apple systems. First in the group are two USB dongles, the Nano ($50) and the nNano ($60). The former provides 802.11b/g, and is meant for PowerBooks, iMacs and iBooks. The nNano supplies 802.11n, and should work with any Mac desktop or laptop that has USB. The nQuicky PCI ($100) functions exclusively with PowerMacs, and adds 802.11b/g/n; G3, G4 and G5 systems are supported, though not G5s with DDR2 memory.
Nikon S-series Fall 2007
Nikon used the launch of the IFA expo in Berlin to launch several new camera models, beginning with its high-profile COOLPIX S models. The pictured S51c is a major overhaul of the S50c that expands both the camera and its wireless ability. A connected S51c using Wi-Fi can now press a single button to e-mail a photo; the camera also links with Nikon's new my Picturetown service that serves as both as 2GB of online backup and a way of sending photos directly to Flickr or to friends. The S51c steps up resolution from 7.2 to 8.1 megapixels and also borrows the new EXPEED image processor from the D300 for improved quality. Nikon claims ISO 1600 sensitivity and balances this with true optical image stabilization. The 3X zoom camera should be available in September for $330.
Sony S610 and B100
Following yesterday's release of the A810, Sony today announced its second video-capable Walkman player. The S610 series mirrors many of the features of the A810 but is targeted at a younger audience and a lower cost, according to the company. The design includes a larger, tougher body and a smaller 1.8-inch LCD but shares support for full-speed H.264 and MPEG-4 video; these proportions help the S610 actually exceed its premium counterpart with up to 9.5 hours of video playback and the same 33 hours of music, Sony claims. The S610 also packs an FM tuner with 30 presets.
Ceramic white PS2
Sony has launched a limited edition Ceramic White PlayStation 2 bundled with SingStar Pop, along with two high-quality USB microphones. The new white PS2 features the same form factor and functionality as the current black and silver models. SingStar Pop is an American Idol-like game that lets users sing real songs from current and past stars including Alicia Keys, U2, Rihanna, Ashlee Simpson, The All-American Rejects and The Clash. There's also a "Pass-the-Mic" mode that allows up to 8 players to participate. The new PlayStation 2 bundle will be available in North America in November for a suggested retail price of $150.
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