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In brief: Age of Empires III has been reviewed, Extensis is offering iTunes gift certificates free with software purchases, Freeverse has a 30 percent promotional discount running, Jimmy Kimmel has switched to the Mac and Tunewear has launched a new Web site ... We've posted a review of Age of Empires III, the sequel to MacSoft's second best-selling title, and the latest release in the Age of Empires series. We found the experience to be immensely entertaining, and confirm the danger of getting sucked into an engrossing game that consumes huge quantities of free time. We used a Dual 2.7 GHz PowerPC G5, a 1.5 GHz PowerBook G4, and a 2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo MacBook. All three ran the game with ease, with the graphic display speed being the obvious major difference between them. Even on the MacBook, the well-defined and detailed graphics were actually quite satisfactory
LaCie has announced a new line of products with industrial design by Sam Hecht. The new Portable DVD±RW Drive with LightScribe has no feet, switches, or breaks and is less than one inch tall, and one pound in weight. It can use FireWire or USB 2.0, and is fully bus-powered. The USB 2.0 version comes bundled with Easy Media Creator Suite 9 for Windows, while the FireWire version comes with Toast 8 Titanium for Mac OS X. The drive is equipped with LightScribe, which allows users to burn silkscreen-quality labels directly onto CDs and DVDs with a laser instead of a printer. The device is priced at $100 in USB 2.0 and $150 in FireWire flavor.
Apple is still offering its reconditioned 4GB iPhone as a clearance item for $299 after discontinuing the model in favor of the larger 8GB edition. The company is also offering refurbished 30-inch Apple Cinema Displays for $1,499, and still touts the liquid crystal screen as the largest high-resolution display ever created. Apple's 4GB iPhone features its popular multi-touch display with a full QWERTY soft keyboard and its own Safari Web browser. The smartphone features email access, and offers built-in WiFi as well as Bluetooth functionality. Owners of 4GB iPhones can store up to 1,000 songs on the handset, and the battery accommodates up to eight hours of talk time as well as 250 hours of standby time. A 2.0-megapixel camera is built into the back of the 4.8-ounce phone, which ships with Apple earphones and includes a built-in microphone. The company's refurbished 30-inch Apple Cinema Display is also available, featuring a flat panel screen with 2560x1600 pixel resolution.
ATTO Technology has announced version 3.0 of its Xtend SAN iSCSI Initiator for Mac OS X. This tool allows users to access the Internet SCSI (iSCSI) storage networking protocol, using iSCSI applications such as collaborative digital video/audio workflows, laptop connectivity to SANs, and remote backups. ATTO says the new release has been tested against products from leading iSCSI manufacturers. New features include Challenge-Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP) Support, which enhances security of iSCSI SANs by validating the identity of remote clients.
Bombich Software today unveiled a new version of its Carbon Copy Cloner, a Mac OS X utility designed to make Mac to Mac cloning and backup extremely simple. Bombich's Carbon Copy Cloner 3.0 features a new interface designed to make the cloning and backup procedure more intuitive and more responsive. Users have better control over what gets backed up with the update, and are provided with detailed information about the progress of their backup. The latest release also provides support for block-level clones, a cloning method that is unsurpassed in providing data fidelity, according to Bombich. By leveraging rsync for incremental backups and synchronization, users can perform network backups. The software is available as donationware, and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later.
The SCO Group may disappear altogether in the wake of the company's bankruptcy, according to the company's latest Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The company reported that there was "substantial doubt" it would survive after losing its patent dispute with Novell over Linux and facing a similar, impending challenge with IBM, both of which will deprive the company of the money it was hoping to collect. The Linux licensing program SCO had hoped to use to pressure Linux-using organizations into paying royalties was completely unsuccessful, according to the filing.
NEC has released details on the NP4001, its latest pro-level projector. Appropriately, it has a brightness rating of 4500 ANSI lumens, and can be used at distances anywhere between 2.8 and 283 feet. Its maximum contrast ratio is 2,300:1, but this is adjusted dynamically to fit each frame; similarly, BrilliantColor processing is used to tweak for the best colors and blacks. The projector has a native resolution of 1280x768, scalable to 1600x1200, and users can control the device remotely via an Ethernet connection. Shipment is expected in October at a cost of $6,000.
Apple today released new versions of its Ms. Pac-Man, Sudoku, and Tetris games that work with the company's newest iPod models. Apple unveiled the new devices during a special event in San Francisco, offering consumers a revamped and renamed iPod classic -- formerly known as iPod with video -- and debuted a brand new player dubbed iPod touch which are both capable of playing games purchased from the iTunes Store. The newly released games work with both of Apple's latest game-compatible iPods as well as the older iPod with video, and are priced at $4.99 each as expected within the iPod Games section of the online store. However, users who purchased the old versions of these games will need to re-purchase them if they plan to play them on the iPod Classic and iPod nano -- the old versions are not playable on the new iPods.
Ambient Devices today released its Market Maven device for home investors who want a quick glance at the stock market without the trouble of most computer-based options. Similar to the Forecast Umbrella, the Maven takes its data over traditional radio airwaves rather than resorting to short-range Wi-Fi or a costly cellular link. This evades the need for specialized software, a subscription, or any setup at all, according to Ambient. The system provides average figures and graphs for the three major US markets as well as individual stocks; it can automatically sync its clock and knows when to switch from its normal 15-minute periodic coverage to a summary after the markets close.
AOL has launched a new website called BlueString, its attempt at a file-sharing service similiar to the likes of Flickr. BlueString goes considerably farther however, allowing people to upload music and videos as well as photos, which can fill up to 5GB of free storage. 50GB is $99 per year. The site's namesake feature meanwhile is called "String It," and allows users to link and combine media in presentations that can be shared with others. This includes being able to embed media on other websites.
In brief: We've posted a review of VMWare Fusion, CBS says it is happy with the current iTunes arrangement unlike NBC, Apple has trademarked the iPod Classic and touch, a new Apple retail store will soon open at the Mall of Georgia, and unlocked iPhones are on sale in Thailand ... We have posted a review of VMWare Fusion, the virtualization software that allows Windows and other operating systems to be run on top of Mac OS X. VMware did their best to make things convenient for the user who has not installed Windows in Boot Camp. The software Windows Easy Install assistant that asks a few simple questions, such as where you would like the virtual hard drive stored, how large should it be, and the license key of your Windows CD. It then proceeds to install without requiring any further interaction. This is simply the easiest Windows installation ever, easier than installing Windows on a PC.
Bose on Tuesday grew its Multimedia line of speakers with the MusicMonitor. An American adaptation of the Micro Music Monitor from Japan, the speaker set is designed to be portable when necessary, but offer the same power as desktop systems. The pair is light enough to be toted in a carrying bag and includes a rare dynamic power level system. When plugged into a wall outlet, the system outputs at 20 watts across both channels; a pair of AA batteries will let it run at two watts attached to a notebook or any other portable source.
Just hinted at last week in an alleged O2 teaser, Motorola has confirmed the existence of the RIZR Z10, an improvement on the existing Z8. While it marks a cosmetic shift from green accents to silver, the biggest change is internal, a move from a two-megapixel camera to one with 3.2 megapixels plus autofocus and flash. An HSDPA receiver should allow broadband up to speeds of 3.6Mbps, with GPRS and EDGE serving as fallbacks.
Lenovo today followed up the launch of its L220x 22-inch screen with its compact M57 desktop. Although it comes in small and ultra-small form factor cases, the system uses full desktop Core 2 processors to manage high-demand tasks: up to a 3GHz Core 2 Duo can fit into the M57p while the normal M57 scales up to Core 2 Quad models. The M57p also gains an edge on office networks through Intel's vPro technology that lets IT managers remotely troubleshoot the PC even when initially turned off, saving the hassle of a visit to reboot a system or reinstall software.
A new page has been posted to the Microsoft Mac Business Unit's site demonstrating many of the new features in Office 2008 for the Mac, which is due to be delivered sometime in the first half of 2008. The site previews Elements Gallery, a user interface that gives users quick access to tools and formatting options within applications. There's also Document Elements which automates document tasks, such as adding a table of contents, bibliographies and headers and footers.
SubRosaSoft.com today released MacForensicsLab 2.5, an update to its forensic software suite for Mac OS X. The update includes a beta version for Linux as well as a Windows beta subversion, all of which use the same user interface design which allows investigators to adapt to another operating system in short order. MacForensicsLab 2.5 features many user interface enhancements, laying out windows in a more logical fashion as a result of input from many forensics investigators. The software offers email alerts to contact users or signal cellular phones when a time-intensive operation has completed, and boasts imnproved performance with updated engines in most operations. Operations like searching and analyzing suspects' drives are much faster, according to SubRosaSoft.com, and are further enhanced with additional keywords as well as more flexibility. MacForensicsLab 2.5 requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later and is priced at $1,200 for new uesrs in the private industry or $1,000 for law enforcement agencies. Licenses users of all previous versions are eligible for free upgrades.
1stWorks on Tuesday announced the launch of Files2Phones, a Web-based application that instantly displays the contents of files on a remote PC to an iPhone or iPod touch -- using SSL technology to protect the data. The company claims that any application or file type, documents, presentations, spreadsheets, audio, video, even CAD drawings -- virtually any file that can be opened on your PC -- can now be viewed remotely on your iPhone or iPod touch. The application requires users install server software on their PC (Windows-only) and drop the local directories or individual files for remote access into public, private or guest folders. The files are immediately added to the personal F2P directory at a personalized .myf2p.com page on Web -- where they can be viewed using the Safari browser. Security is managed by user/password and time-frame (in addition to detailed logging of all transfers/requests).
Chipmaker Intel today launched its Intel Developer Forum of the fall by demonstrating its smallest-ever processor technology. Company chief Paul Otellini revealed that the company had successfully developed the world's first working CPUs built on a 32 nanometer manufacturing process, eclipsing even the 45nm "Penryn" chips that will only launch by the end of this year. The newer chips rely on a combination of an improved version of "Penryn's" high-k metal gate transistors with enhanced logic and static RAM to pack a record number of transistors on to a single chip: a full processor uses 1.9 billion transistors while 4 million will fit into the space of a single period character on a computer screen, Intel boasted.
Having announced plans to join the OpenOffice project just last week, IBM has now launched its own free office suite, Lotus Symphony. The software currently supports Windows XP, Vista and Linux machines, with a Mac OS version forthcoming; included are three programs, Presentations, Spreadsheets and the Documents word processor. All of these promote the OpenDocument Format (ODF), a standard first championed in OpenOffice. To maintain compatiblity however, Symphony supports Microsoft's Office formats, and can export to Adobe PDF files.
WaterField Designs has unveiled three new case styles which include the iPod Smart Case, iPod Travel Case, and iPod Suede Jacket. Each style is designed to appear sleek, and all are lightweight for easy carrying. The cases come in custom-fitting sizes for the new iPod touch, iPod classic, and iPod nano. The iPod Smart Case is less than an inch thick with multi-layered padding that combines a high-impact rigid insert with a soft scratch-free "Ultra-suede" liner. The new case comes in six colors and features rubberized textile flanks on each side to improve grip. The iPod Smart Case is priced at $30-40 depending on size, and allows users to attach the case to a strap or clip it on a belt. The iPod Travel Case and iPod Suede Jacket are priced between $35-$40 and $5-10, respectively. All three case styles are already shipping from sfbags.com.
Lenovo, not normally known for its monitors, has announced the ThinkVision L220x, a high-end LCD model. The 220x is a 22-inch display with a 16:10 widescreen ratio, but most crucially, it supports resolutions up to WUXGA (1920x1200) -- allowing it to handle 1080p, a rarity in the monitor's size class. Most 22-inch models can only scale up to 1680x1050. Suitably, the 220x has both VGA and DVI inputs, the latter allowing protected HD content through HDCP. The monitor also has one USB input and four USB outputs, allowing a variety of connection schemes. Lenovo plans to sell the screen for $550 when it ships this November. [via CrunchGear]
Apple is trying to widen its profit margins on iPods with cheaper components, a new teardown of the third-generation Nano suggests. Conducting by the research firm iSuppli, the teardown notes that the parts of the 4GB Nano -- selling for $150 -- cost less than $60, while the parts of the 8GB model ($200) are under $83. In each case this is a reduction of more than $13 over the second-generation Nanos, and $31 over the 2GB Nano from 2005. It should be noted however that these amounts do not reflect other costs, such as assembly, packaging, distribution and marketing.
Premium camera maker Hasselblad today introduced its most advanced medium-format digital SLR back yet. The H3D-II improves image quality further with improved noise and vignetting reduction, even at the maximum 39-megapixel resolution of the line. Previews are also easier with a much larger 3-inch display replacing the outgoing 2.2-inch version. Professionals can also geo-tag images by using a new GPS system: the II adds a Global Image Locator that combines with new image editing tools from the company to record the position of shots when taken. Coordinates can be sent directly to Google Earth to be seen by anyone, Hasselblad says, and not just the photographers themselves.
EDGE Tech on Tuesday morning hoped to jolt the often conservative world of external hard drives with a series of larger-capacity and more colorful DiskGO models. Both the company's 3.5" Portable and its smaller 2.5" Ultra Portable ship in the traditional black or silver of computer hardware but also white (Glacier) and a bright red (Ruby) that fit into stylized environments. Storage has also been given a boost with up to 1TB in a single slot for the Quad Interface model and 750GB in the new multi-color desktop drives. The mobile 2.5-inch models continue to top out at 160GB but can be powered solely by a notebook's own power supply.
Apple has today been granted five new patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The majority cover mundane designs: one documents a method of displaying text based on reference points such as intervals, while three others cover existing iPod accessories, namely sleeves, caps for the first-generation iPod shuffle, and the various dock inserts used to accomodate different player sizes. The iPod patents are credited to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, as well has a host of engineers.
Apple on Tuesday said that battery life was the main reason for the delay behind a faster 3G version of the iPhone and that it is not expected to be released in near future. Following the announcement of the UK iPhone deal with O2, Apple chief Steve Jobs and a representative of UK cellular carrier O2 agreed to a Q&A session during Apple's special event at the Regent Street store in London. Jobs said the faster third-generation ("3G") wireless technology will come to iPhone once the company can maintain at least five or more hours of battery life, countering recent claims by analysts, The industry has been waiting for faster mobile connectivity, as many have lamented the speeds of the woefully slow AT&T EDGE network.
Belkin today updated its iPod peripherals with a major revamp of its TuneBase FM transmitter. The new version now sports the company's ClearScan technology and will automatically find the clearest station to use for beaming its music to a car stereo. This change also replaces the button-only front face with a large LCD that identifies the current station and indicates whether the new Pro mode is turned on to boost audio quality and volume. The new model is also the first transmitter from Belkin to specifically support the iPod touch as well as the latest generations of the iPod classic and iPod nano, and charges all models over a car's 12-volt port.
Toshiba on Tuesday shipped out the TDP-PX10U, one of its lightest projectors yet but also a model capable of driving a home theater as well as a presentation. Weighing in at 2.9 pounds and about 2.6 inches thick, the DLP-based unit is light and slim enough to fit in a briefcase but still outputs a native 1024x768 resolution with scaling support for HD signals up to 1080i. Image quality also withstands the rigors of less than ideal conditions with a relatively bright 2,200-lumen light source and a 2,000:1 contrast ratio. Small size is no obstacle and images up to 300 inches are possible with the right distance. A small 35-inch image is possible from as close as 5.3 feet
Apple today announced the opening of its fourth retail store in Georgia. Set to open in Buford, Georgia on September 22nd at 10am, the store will be the second outside of Atlanta and will offer a hands-on-experience with the new iPod touch and other recently released iPods as well the new aluminum iMacs. Earlier in the summer, Apple opened the Apple Store Perimeter, located in the Perimeter Mall in Atlanta to complement its other Lenox Square store (also in Atlanta). The company also has a store in Alpharetta, GA: Apple Store North Point.
Contexture Design, best known for its custom cases made out of vinyl records, has taken a different approach in building for the first- and second-generation iPod nano. The company's 45 Nano cases are altered cassette tapes, hollowed out to allow just enough space for the player; foam padding helps protect against impacts. Added on the front is a clear plastic window, with special cuts to allow access to controls, the headphone jack, and the dock. The product further comes shipped within the tape's original case, for extra protection. 45 Nanos are being sold online for $45.
Creative today launched what it says is its most advanced headphone set to date. The Aurvana X-Fi is the first wearable audio gear from Creative to include the X-Fi Crystalizer hardware from the company's sound cards and will actively restore many of the missing details found in compressed AAC and MP3 tracks. The headphones will also cancel up to 20dB of noise or add a 3D spatialization effect. Listeners can even mix and match different effects depending on the environment, Creative says. These effects are provided for up to nine hours on two AAA batteries, though the headphones will operate like any other earphone set without power.
Nokia this morning upgraded its Eseries smartphones with the E51. The new stainless steel design is one of the simplest devices coming from Nokia to include both cellular Internet access and Wi-Fi and is designed to be used both as a business phone and as a personal phone. For professionals, the E51 supports VoIP and can easily run Gizmo or other free apps for Internet calling; it also includes dedicated calendar and e-mail keys as well as a status light that indicates mail from Microsoft Exchange or most any other source. Software also promises a simplified setup for e-mail and a home icon tailored to the most frequently used apps.
At the special press event in London, Apple CEO Steve Jobs early Tuesday announced that mobile carrier O2 would begin selling the immensely popular iPhone in the UK starting November 9th, confirming circulating reports about signed Europe deals. The device will be available for £269 without any rebates or subsidy and will be offered with three separate plans: £35, £45 and £55 per month. Each of the three plans will offer free data traffic along with access to a network of 7,500 WiFi hotspots, while users will billed for their calls and messages. "We are coming to the UK and wanted to pick the best carrier and that is O2," Apple's Jobs said at the news conference. Other reports indicate that T-mobile will sell the device in Germany and Orange will sell the device in France.
CS Odessa today released ConceptDraw 7.3, the latest revision of the company's vector drawing and diagramming software. ConceptDraw 7.3 includes Presentation Mode along with Microsoft PowerPoint export capability and faster importing of Microsoft Visio-generated XML drawing files. The latest release supports Mac OS X as well as Windows, enabling users to create organization charts as well as flowcharts and business graphics. The new Presentation Mode allows users to create slides as separate pages using the versatile drawing tools built into ConceptDraw 7, and also makes use of more than 10,000 pre-made shapes suitable for creating any type of business or technical diagram, according to CS Odessa. The update also adds Dynamic Help alongside greatly improved HTML export functionality. The upgrade is free for ConceptDraw 7.x users, and is priced at $300 for new licenses (system requirements were unavailable).
Now AAPL Stock: 94.27 ( -0.72 )
HBO Now has 800,000 subscribers
The CEO of HBO, Richard Plepler has confirmed that the online streaming HBO service, HBO Now, has 800,000 subscribers. When criticized for the seemingly low number, Plepler noted that the still nascent service was bound to Apple exclusivity during the fifth season of Game of Thrones. Plepler declared during the Time Warner quarterly earnings conference call marketing for the online-only offering would be enhanced in 2016. While HBO Now's critics are slamming the low numbers, the service must also compete against itself on cable, in addition to Netflix and other streaming services. http://on.recode.net/1QWoLHe
Unsafe IoT called threat to humanity
US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told two different Senate committees yesterday that the Internet of Things posed a clear and present danger, and could be weaponized by governments. Before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Clapper declared that insecure IoT "will bring new security vulnerabilities" and "will connect tens of billions of new physical devices that could be exploited" by those wishing to perpetrate violence or eavesdrop on the populace of the world. http://bit.ly/23Xvcky
Apple public betas for iOS 9.3, OS X 10.11.4
Following Monday's release of betas for the iOS and OS X, Apple has unveiled public betas for both operating systems. The iOS 9.3 beta includes all of the previously reported enhancements for education customers, along with Wi-Fi calling for Verizon iPhone owners, and a carrier update for T-Mobile users. The OS X 10.11.4 third beta includes enhancements to Twitter URL opening, Live Photo viewing and sharing, and Evernote note importation into Notes.
Google given NHTSA SDS waivers
In contrast to the California Department of Motor Vehicle's approach, the US National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has confirmed that it is declaring the software in autonomous cars is the legal driver of a so-equipped vehicle. In a letter to Google, the NHTSA says that it "will interpret 'driver' in the context of Google's described motor vehicle design as referring to the SDS [self-driving system], and not to any of the vehicle occupants." Other matters, such as legally-required rear-view mirrors for occupied vehicles has yet to be determined. However, regulations specifying the "driver" need no longer be interpreted as meaning a person behind the wheel, as the agency writes that self-driving cars "will not have a 'driver' in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers during the last more than one hundred years" http://1.usa.gov/1QrAGtR
Dropshare 4 for Mac now available
Dropshare 4 for Mac has shipped, introducing support for uploading files and screenshots to Amazon S3 API-compliant services, like DreamObjects and OpenStack. The update also introduces a new popup design, an in-app editor for custom landing pages, an improved upload history window, and security improvements when using SSH connections. The paid upgrade costs $25, though it is free for customers who bought the previous version this year and half-price for those who acquired version 3 of the app last year. http://bit.ly/1XixV3q
Google starting phase-out of Flash ads
Search engine and advertising giant Google will shortly no longer accept Adobe Flash-created ads for its AdWords network. Starting June 30, ads in the once-ubiquitous format will no longer be accepted. Additionally, after January 2, 2017, the network will no longer serve Flash-based advertisements, and the network will be completely HTML 5 based. http://bit.ly/1PNx1uc
Sonos now works with Apple Music
Wireless music system manufacturer Sonos has announced that its systems worldwide will gain compatibility for streaming the paid Apple Music subscription service starting today, February 10. "Music fans worldwide will have access to Apple Music features like For You, New, Radio, and My Music, and will also be able to stream the entire Apple Music catalog through Sonos smart speakers tuned for great sound in every room of their homes," the company said in an email to journalists. Apple Music's streaming service costs $10 per month, with a free three-month trial. http://bit.ly/1Wdi2Ko