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iPhone price drop redux
Many users are fuming over Apple's substantial 33 percent price drop (of $200) on the 8GB iPhone just a little over 60 days after the product was introduced; it has left hundreds of thousands of users, enthusiasts, and other customers wondering whether Apple was just gouging its faithful customers when it priced the popular device at $599 and $499 at its launch at the end of June. Early adopters of the device helped make the iPhone the most popular smartphone in July. At least one reader claims to have been able to obtain a refund of $161--the difference in price minus a 10 percent restocking fee--even though it was outside Apple's standard policies. The refund policy offers price protection for any product purchased within the last 10 days and requires users contact the company within 10-days. Dozens of other unconfirmed reports of refunds have also surfaced (and here) on Apple's own support forums.
iPod HiFi gone from store
Apple has quietly stopped selling the iPod Hi-Fi speaker system through its online store, prompting concern that the company has discontinued the product. Introduced a year and a half ago with claims from CEO Steve Jobs that it delivered "audiophile-quality" sound, the Hi-Fi carried a price of $350. Despite its absence from the online store, the iPod Hi-Fi's section of Apple's site is still up and running, describing the device as follows "Just slide your iPod into the built-in Universal Dock to turn on and tune in to digital music as you've never heard it before. From pumping bass to bright treble, iPod Hi-Fi delivers natural, room-filling sound." Clicking the "Buy Now" link leads to a page that says "Sorry... The item you have selected is currently not available from the Apple Store. Please note that Apple cannot guarantee availability of any product."
Final Cut Pro training
In brief: The iPhone 4GB available for $299 on clearance, a new Final Cut Pro training series has been released, Little Snitch is available for 40% off, mophie has been acquired by mStation, and there is a new guide for using goDaddy domains and iWeb '08 ... The 4GB iPhone, while no longer being manufactured, is available at a clearance price of $299 through the online Apple Store. As previously reported, the 8GB model that was previously on sale for $599 will now sell for $399.
Bullet-proof MacBook cases
Techshell has introduced a new line of protective covers for MacBooks and MacBook Pros that are constructed from Dura-Flex, the same material used to manufacture bullet-proof glass. The cases are snap on with no adhesives and provide protection from scratches, stains and other damage. They provide access to all connections and are available in clear and assorted transparent colors. The new cases are priced at $50 and available for the 12-inch PowerBook, the 13-inch MacBook and 15 and 17-inch Mac Book Pros (Core 2 Duo Revision 2 or higher).
Digital photo frame
Digital Foci will introduce a new version of its Image Moments 8 digital photo album frame at the Decor Expo, held September 7-9, 2007 in Atlanta, Georgia. The device lets users display photos on a number of interchangeable picture frames by inserting any digital camera memory card into the Image Moments frame or copying photos to the device's internal memory. It sports an 8-inch digital LCD screen with an 800 x 600 resolution and a 500:1 contrast ratio. Included is a proprietary Adapter Ring design that allows switching of frames and the use of custom frames. There is 256MB of internal memory, allowing storage of up to 1500 photos, and all popular memory cards - CompactFlash, MicroDrive, SD/HC card, MMC, Memory Stick, MS PRO, xD-Picture Card, and MS Duo/MS PRO Duo -- are supported. Image Moments 8 also has a USB slot to support computer connection.
Touch iPod in-depth
Apple today introduced a new iPod to accompany its tiny iPod shuffle, mid-sized iPod nano, and full featured video-capable iPod now known as iPod classic. The iPod touch looks remarkably similar to the company's iPhone, and features a multi-touch display of the exact same size as its feature-packed older sibling. With built-in WiFi capability and the addition of Apple's new iTunes WiFi Music Store, iPod touch owners can preview and purchase tracks wirelessly from any hot-spot -- including any WiFi-capable Starbucks location, thanks to Apple's newfound partnership with the coffee drink company. The iPod touch allows users to surf the web with Safari, browse YouTube videos, and play music as well as videos.
Insignia Pilot & Sport
Best Buy's Insignia brand is gaining two new media players, the first from Best Buy with proper names. The Pilot is a 4 to 8GB player, which like the NS-DVxG, features a Bluetooth transmitter for links with various devices. It can play WMV and MPEG-4 video at 30fps, and supports a variety of audio formats, spread between Audible, MP3, OGG, WMA and WAV. Owners can also tune into FM radio, and expand their storage through an SD slot. Battery life is said to reach 25 hours for music playback.
Toshiba 160GB 1.8-inch
Toshiba today announced two new models in its 1.8-inch HDD line destined for portable media players and ultraportable PCs. The 160GB MK1626GCB matches the Samsung SpinPoint N2 for the highest density in a microdrive and stores its information across just two platters 0.3 inches thick. It also becomes Toshiba's first to run on the new Consumer Electronics ATA (CE-ATA) interface and should be optimized for the disk performance and battery use of handhelds. In practice, the 160GB disk consumes a third less power than the 100GB disk it replaces, the company touts. Data outputs as quickly as 52MB per second.
Gateway to sell Pro group
Following through on threats from late August, Gateway -- which was recently acquired by Acer -- has agreed to sell off its Professional division to MPC Corporation. The deal is hoped to be officially sealed by the end of 2007, and is estimated to be worth $90 million, based on a closing price from September 4th. The Professional division was used to target schools, businesses and government agencies, arranging for special deals and hardware options, such as workstations.
LG VX10000 and VX8800 Shot
LG's upcoming VX8800 and VX10000 phones may be Verizon's direct answers to the iPhone, according to leaked photos that confirm many more details of the devices. Although not all details are available, the VX8800 (pictured) will be considered a sequel to the new Chocolate slider with a complete touchscreen interface replacing the wheel and touch-sensitive buttons of the earlier model. In many cases, users would be able to place calls, take messages, and play music without ever using the physical numberpad.
HP iPAQ details, photos
A Swedish site has obtained photos and information on five new HP iPAQ handhelds. The focus of the group is the 914 smartphone (right), which has 7.2Mbps HSDPA, along with other highlights such as 802.11b/g, a three-megapixel camera and preloaded copies of Windows Mobile and Google Maps. A 2.5-inch touchscreen is complemented by a QWERTY keyboard. The phone should be released in November for approximately $798 (without a carrier).
The 614 drops the QWERTY layout, but retains essentially everything else, and in fact introduces a built-in GPS receiver. It should be ready in October for the same price as the 914.
Apple, Starbucks buddy up
Apple today announced a new partnership with coffee drink company Starbucks to allow users of the iPhone and newly introduced iPod touch to access the iTunes Store and purchase the currently-playing Starbucks musical track with the touch of a button. Starbucks founder and chairman Howard Schultz took the stage at Apple's special event in San Francisco, informing onlookers that the coffee shop chain opens seven stores every day. Starbucks serves 50 million customers per week in more than 14,000 stores, according to Schultz, and sees 18 visits per month per customer. The coffee giant is also planning to roll out more stores in the near future for a total of 5,800 WiFi-enabled stores nationwide.
iPhone Price Drop to $399
Apple today surprised the audience at its "The Beat Goes On" event with a dramatic reduction in price for the iPhone. Effective today, the 8GB model that was previously on sale for $599 will now sell for $399; no word has yet been received about the 4GB model, which is now expected to be phased out in favor of the 8GB version alone. The company did not explain how the company could justify the drop but noted that the cut was intended to be a companion to the iPod touch, which includes most of the same features at $399.
Jobs debuts iPod touch
Apple boss Steve Jobs today introduced the widely rumored and highly anticipated touch-sensitive iPod, codenamed iPod touch. The iPod looks nearly identical to the iPhone in appearance, with a large screen and a customary 'home' button at the bottom. "It features our revolutionary multi-touch interface that you've come to know and love on the iPhone," said Jobs. "If you've used an iPhone you'll feel at home, it's exactly the same." The company also unveiled a new application specific to iPod touch and the iPhone, the iTunes WiFi music store. The new store allows users to preview and download songs via WiFi in the same fashion as the original iTunes software. Apple will offer the iPod touch in two configurations with 8GB and 16GB storage capacities for $300 and $400, respectively. Both models are slated for shipment "in just a few weeks" but before the end of the month.
iPod nano 3G
At its special event in San Francisco, Apple today launched its third generation in as many years of the iPod nano. True to an early photo leak, the new model features a larger, 2-inch screen with a 320x240 resolution that supports video playback as well as the high-quality games that first shipped with the fifth-generation iPod; Sudoku, Vortex, and one other game are included out of the box, according to Apple. The design completely eliminates the use of plastic end caps while becoming even thinner than before at 0.25 inches.
Apple's custom ringtones
Apple chief Steve Jobs today introduced custom ringtones for iPhone owners during the company's special event in San Francisco. "We're going to ship a new version of iTunes tonight to support some new products," Jobs said. "The biggest new feature: ringtones." Apple's boss unveiled ringtones Apple-style, allowing iPhone users to create their own ringtones from any one of half a million songs available on iTunes. "Our ringtones are going to cost just $0.99 in addition to the song," Jobs told onlookers seated in the Moscone Center. "Here's how it works: When you plug in your iPhone a new column will pop up with bells that show how many songs you can make ringtones out of." Users can choose any segment up to 30 seconds long, and can fade in/out for smoother rings. "When you're ready to buy, push the buy button and for $0.99 you have a ringtone."
Adding to the new iPod Shuffles and iPod Nanos announced at today's special event in San Francisco, Apple has introduced the "iPod Classic," a new version of the full-size iPod. The new model will sport capacities of 80GB and 160GB. The 80GB model will be thinner than the old 30GB version, and the 160GB model will be thinner than the old 80GB version. The 80GB model will be priced at $250, the 160GB model at $350. Battery life is stated at 40 hours of audio playback and 7 hours of video playback. The new models feature the same user interface enhancements as the new iPod Nano, and are available immediately and will soon be available for purchase from the Apple Store.
iPod Shuffle refresh
Apple today unveiled a new line of iPod Shuffles priced at $79 and carrying a 1GB. While the models don't differ significantly from the previous iteration, they are available in a variety of new colors, including a charitable RED rendition, and have received a price cut. The new models will soon be available for purchase through the online Apple Store.
Sony A700 Slip
Sony today may have unintentionally provided the majority of details about a new high-end model in its Alpha digital SLR series. The A700 would produce 12.24-megapixel shots aided by normal ISO sensitivity up to 3200; a special "expanded" mode will boost ISO up to 6400 in especially dark scenes. Previews on the LCD are also better than most any camera in the class with a 3-inch, 921,000-pixel display that gets closer to the actual image, Sony says. A further unique touch will involve separate CompactFlash and Memory Stick slots, allowing users to either use the industry standard or Sony's own format without blocking either slot.
Apple Event at the Moscone
Apple CEO Steve Jobs this morning took the stage to talk about music, emphasizing that Apple's iTunes digital music service was the third largest music reseller with over 6 million songs in each store, 125,000 different podcasts, and 25,000 video podcasts. Jobs said that the had sold 95,000,000 television shows and that only 32 percent of music releases in the US were digital-only releases. Jobs introduced a new ringtone maker built into iTunes that allows users to create ringtones from over 500,000 songs (entire catalog is 6 million). The new version of iTunes, due later today, will allow you choose 30 seconds of of the song, create fade in/outs, and preview the song before confirming purchase. It will cost $0.99 for the song and $0.99 to make the ringtone. The service will be available starting next week via a new Ringtones tab that pops up when the iPhone is docked.
Showing at the CEDIA 2007 expo, Soundcast Systems has unveiled two new wireless audio products (not pictured), both aimed at custom audio setups. The Universal AudioCast Transmitter is primarily meant to connect to Windows PCs via USB, turning a computer into a music server; in tandem with the appropriate 2.4GHz receiver, users can stream music up to 350 feet away, and control basic functions such as play, pause and track skip. Compatible software includes iTunes, Windows Media Player and more. For non-computer use, the UAT also has an RCA input and an external power supply. A latency switch can direct audio to rear-channel speakers.
Jobs: iTunes is no. 1
Apple's chief executive officer Steve Jobs today told eager attendees of the company's special event in San Francisco that the iTunes Store has sold more than 3 billion songs to date, and that iTunes is the number one music store in all 21 countries served by the Cupertino-based company. Apple has distributed 600 million copies of its iTunes software so far, according to Jobs. "We're pretty amazed at this," Jobs said. "We started with just 200,000 songs, but we have over 6 million songs in every single one of those stores. Millions ahead of anyone else. We've become the number three music retailer in the U.S. -- behind Wal-Mart and Best Buy, ahead of Amazon and Target." The iTunes Store has served up more than 95 million TV shows and 125,000 podcasts. "This is amazing material, it's free, and over 25k are video podcasts," Jobs added.
Apple store down
Apple's online store is down for maintenance in the moments leading up to its special event scheduled to begin today at 10:00 a.m. PT in San Francisco. The Cupertino-based company is expected to unveil new iPod nanos and revised full-sized video-capable iPods with touch-screen controls before kicking off a small concert by an unknown musical talent. Rumors are also circulating that the company could announce the addition of The Beatles music library in digital format for the first time via its iTunes Store after issuing an invite with the tagline "The beat goes on" which matches a press release issued just after the iconic rock band broke up in 1970.
Sanyo WXU10 and WXU30
Continuing a string of announcements headlining the start of the CEDIA home theater show, Sanyo today released two new portable additions to its LCD projector range. The WXU10 and WXU30 both output at a 1280x800 resolution good for both notebooks and 720p widescreen HD footage, but are light enough at 8 pounds or less to be carried from home to the office. The WXU30 is also one of the first mainstream projectors from Sanyo to make networking an everyday feature with an 802.11g wireless adapter that gives PCs the option of remotely controlling the projector or checking its status, even with WEP wireless encryption in place.
Digital coffee table
Savant Systems today unveiled a coffee table that will use Apple technology to support photos, music, and video via a touch-screen interface. The ROSIE Coffee Table Touchpanel Controller (site not updated) is the first Apple-based coffee table surface product that supports all the capabilities of the Savant suite of ROSIE In-wall touch panels as well as new interactive multimedia capabilities. The table integrates with iTunes multimedia content, digital cameras, IP network cameras, business card readers, and other devices to download photos from digital cameras, play music, and display movies as well as TV shows while offering complete home control from within one forth-inch surface, according to the company. Savant plans to offer the ROSIE Coffee Table in various furniture styles ranging from contemporary to traditional (launch date and pricing were unavailable).
ASUS 2G Eee for 2008
Jerry Shen, the president of ASUS' AOOP Business Group, has revealed some of its plans for the company's Eee ultra-mobile PCs. The first models are scheduled to ship to unidentified markets in the latter half of September, but will initially come with just a 4GB solid-state drive, in contrast to suggestions of storage up to 16GB. System RAM should be capped at 512MB. Any memory upgrades may have to wait until April of next year, when ASUS intends to release a second-generation Eee with several enhancements.
Intel Xeon 7300
Intel today began shipping its Xeon 7300 series processors, a new class of workstation and server processor designed to cut down on memory lag and improve performance for large tasks, especially with systems that use four or more discrete CPUs. The core design bundles as much as 8MB of L2 cache as the Xeon 5300 series but includes four separate 1,066MHz connections four every complete processor; the change helps each processor communicate quickly between each other and to the main system RAM. Changing this feature dramatically improves performance in the right conditions: managing a database runs 92 percent faster than on a similar Xeon 5300, Intel says.
Refurb $849 MacBooks
Apple's online store is offering reconditioned Macs of nearly every type, from its consumer-oriented MacBooks and iMacs to top-end professional Mac Pro workstations. The company's top deals currently include its White 1.83GHz MacBook with 512MB of memory and a 60GB hard drive for $849; a 17-inch 1.83GHz iMac Core 2 Duo with 512MB of memory and a 160GB hard drive for $699; and the company's professional Mac Pro Quad 3.0GHz Intel Xeon workstation with 1GB of memory and a 250GB hard drive for $2,799. Apple is still offering its silver 2GB iPod nano for a limited time price of $99, as well as 1GB current-generation iPod shuffles for $49 each in a variety of colors. As always, all refurbished Apple products come with a one-year warranty and free shipping.
ID2Q v3 adds CS3 support
Markzware has released a new version of InDesign to QuarkXPress (ID2Q), its Quark XTension for converting publishing documents. When active, users select "Convert InDesign Document" from inside QuarkXPress, which allows them to carry over elements such as fonts, layers, images, color models and page positioning. The software is also active cross-platform, enabling the likes of Windows InDesign files to be converted for the Mac version of QuarkXPress. The latest version (ID2Q v3) supports InDesign documents up to v5, a part of Adobe's CS3 suite. File support also extends back to InDesign 1.5. The application is a Universal Binary, and costs $200 new or $100 as an upgrade from previous versions of ID2Q.
Mitsubishi today stepped up the quality of its HC projectors through the HC6000, the replacement for its top-end HC5000. The new 3LCD model improves contrast even further to achieve a 13,000:1 ratio -- the same as many better direct-view sets and enough for classic films and space scenes, according to Mitsubishi's claims. Dual HDMI inputs are equally rare and let the projector hook up to more than one 1080p source. The HC6000 uses the latest version of the Hollywood Quality Video chipset to help de-interlace video and upscale lower-resolution content up to a full HD resolution.
Apple video, iPhone suits
Apple is facing two fresh lawsuits connected to its technology, according to reports. The first was filed by California's MedioStream, accusing Apple of violating a 2006 patent for a "method and system for direct recording of video information onto a disk medium." The patent specifically addresses applying compression and resizing preferences to video, formatting a stream for various TV standards. Because of the broad nature of the claim, all Apple computers are considered in violation of the patent; MedioStream is further suing other system builders, including Acer, Dell and Gateway.
ThinkPad Reserve Official
Following its initial announcement earlier in the year, Lenovo today provided final details of its ThinkPad Reserve notebook for globetrotting professionals. The ultraportable notebook still comes in a French leather protective shell but is now set to include three years of Executive Support service; a dedicated agent not only guides the customer through the initial setup but is responsible for the notebook's well-being for the life of the system. On-site support is also promised within four hours when the user travels to 20 countries. Systems can be replaced for free overnight in the event of a complete failure, Lenovo says. Distance support is provided 24x7 over the phone, and online through tapping a dedicated button on the notebook.
Odysseus to succeed Eudora
Infinity Data Systems today announced its development of an email application designed to succeed Eudora -- a popular email application that virtually dominated the Mac platform before its discontinuation in 2006. "We have always felt that Eudora is a best-of-breed email application for both Mac OS X and Windows," said Matt Milano, Infinity Project Manager. "Easily one of the oldest email applications, it still offers features either not found in competing applications or, if found, not implemented as elegantly." The company says it has already begun work on the application code-named "Odysseus" and that it will release an initial beta by the end of the year. Infinity Data Systems plans to issue the final release late in the first quarter of 2008, offering full backward compatibility with Eudora while utilizing existing Eudora mailboxes and settings.
InFocus Work Big IN38
InFocus today gave word of its new Work Big IN38 projector built with notebook-based presentations in mind. The DLP-based unit is portable enough to be carried in its own case but casts a much brighter image than most projectors, producing 3,500 lumens versus the 2,000 of most models, and reaching a high 2,000:1 contrast ratio. Presenters also have the choice of several high-resolution inputs: adapters for the specialized M1 port can attach a DVI-based computer or an extra component link, while native component and VGA inputs handle most other sources. The display tops out at 1024x768 but accepts up to 1280x1024 from computers and 1080i from TV feeds with adjustments for widescreen pictures.
Danish iBook ruling upheld
Denmark's Consumer Complaints Board has upheld an earlier ruling that Apple is at fault for a series of complaints with the G4 iBook. A number of buyers reported that their iBooks would lose power after just one year, forcing repairs at personal expense, since Apple claimed that warranties had expired. The Complaints Board has argued since May that it has evidence of an original design defect with the iBook, and that customers should be able to return their laptops at no extra cost. Apple has strenuously objected, producing its own reports as counter-evidence.
LG Super Multi Blu BH200
LG on Wednesday kicked off the advent of the CEDIA entertainment show with the BH200, the second generation of its Super Blu Player that plays both Blu-Ray and HD DVD movies from the same device. The overhaul gives the player a much-needed upgrade to feature support for either disc standard: HD DVD now picks up the missing HDi interactive features, while the Blu-Ray half of the player adds the support for just-introduced interactive features that use Java, such as live storyboards. The Ethernet connection onboard the BH200 is also usable by HD DVD right away for Internet features and will be used by Blu-Ray once BD-Live titles reach shops, LG says.
MS ships Silverlight 1.0
Microsoft has Tuesday released Silverlight 1.0, its cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for delivering rich user experiences on the Web. Designed to compete with the nearly ubiquitous Adobe Flash, the platform leverages Windows Media Technologies to provide rich Web audio and video streaming and playback. In addition, Microsoft also promised to work with Novell Inc. to deliver Silverlight support for Linux and rolled out a host of partner initiatives -- ranging from content delivery networks to design agencies to complete solution providers -- to help grow the adoption of the fledgling technology. Microsoft said that the Silverlight Partner Initiative has already signed up more than 35 companies to support Silverlight and take advantage of marketing and technical benefits offered by the software-giant.
NEC PlasmaSync Residential
NEC on Wednesday revamped its PlasmaSync Residential line of TVs for those building specialized home theater setups. The 42XC10, 50XC10, and 60XC10 bring 42-, 50-, and 60-inch screens with higher (though unlisted) contrast ratios that generate deeper blacks as well as a new, brushed-metal bezel which is thin enough to fit in many in-wall installations and can swap to black panels to match certain rooms. Pro TV calibrators can both tune the normal daytime picture and set up a separate image setting for the night.
Adobe Font Folio 11 ships
Adobe today announced Font Folio 11, its type solution for print, the Web, digital video and electronic documents. Offering more than 2,300 fonts from the Adobe Type Library in OpenType format, Font Folio 11 provides enhanced linguistic support, advanced typographic features, and cross-platform compatibility. The solution adds more than 170 new fonts and support for Unicode. Natively supported across Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows Vista, and Windows XP, the software is based on the most recent revision and update of the Adobe Type Library, Font Folio 11, which includes 176 new fonts from leading foundries and designers. The package also includes Adobe Originals typefaces, including exclusive designs and classic revivals created by expert type designers at Adobe.
Sony LocationFree Home HD
Sony today launched a major update to its LocationFree TV sharing hubs: the Home HD (also known as the LF-W1HD) compresses video into the much more efficient H.264 video format to fit HD video signals as large as 1080i on local 802.11a or 802.11g wireless networks; it also includes a tuner that decodes video from Blu-Ray recorders and DVRs without requiring the hardware built into the TV itself. The Home HD model is the first to provide HDMI output from the receiver for a single linkup of both audio and video to most HDTV sets.
Zune price dropped to $200
One day before Apple is expected to introduce new iPods at a special event in San Francisco ("The Beat Goes On"), Microsoft has announced that it is dropping the price of the 30GB Zune music player to $200. A posting to Microsoft's Zune Insider blog reads "Some of you may have already heard, but tomorrow we're dropping the suggested retail price for Zune to $199. It's part of the normal product lifecycle, something we've had on the books for months. We just got some research back and customer satisfaction with the 30GB device is really high (around 94%) and we expect even more consumers will now want to discover the Zune experience at the new lower price."
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