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iPod hot this holiday
The iPod touch will be one of the most popular toys this holiday season according to predictions from retailer Toys R Us. The chain has released a list of 20 toys that it believes will be top sellers this year, knocking the iPod nano from its top spot. The UK Telegraph reports that "Optimus Prime and his fellow robots from the film Transformers, as well as last year's favourite Dr Who" are other predicted hits. The iPod touch is available in two configurations with 8GB and 16GB storage capacities for $300 and $400 in the US, respectively. The 16GB version is priced at £269 in the UK.
Refurb top-end Macs
Apple is offering refurbished versions of its professional Mac desktops and notebooks, with prices starting from $1,699. The company's reconditioned MacBook Pro is available in 15-inch and 17-inch models, both of which include a built-in iSight camera. Currently available 15-inch MacBook Pros come with 2.2GHz ($1,699), 2.33GHz ($1,899), and 2.4GHz ($2,199) Intel Core 2 Duo processors as well as 2GB of memory. Three separate Mac Pro desktop towers are also available: The refurbished Mac Pro Quad 2.66GHz Intel Xeon with 1GB of memory, a 250GB hard drive, and an NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT graphics card (256MB) for $2,199; Mac Pro Quad 3.0GHz Intel Xeon with 2GB of memory, a 250GB hard drive, and an ATI Radeon X1900 XT graphics card (512MB) for $3,299; and a custom-built Mac Pro Quad 3.0GHz Intel Xeon system similar to the prior model boasting an extra 16x SuperDrive for $3,349.
Microsoft hires Zune exec
Hot on the heels of its Zune refresh, Microsoft is changing leadership at its portable digital music player division. The company has appointed Rick Thompson to corporate vice president, who will replace most of the biz dev duties previously performed by J Allard, according to Microsoft spokesman Brian Eskridge. Allard is a corporate vice president with Microsoft's entertainment and devices unit, and will reportedly continue to oversee design aspects of the Zune. According to MarketWatch, Lee had been tasked with attracting music companies to provide content for the Zune, "a challenge, given that the Zune has so far garnered a relatively small number of users."
OS X vs Windows in schools
Despite Apple's lower overall market share in U.S. schools, many educational institutions are reporting steep increases in Mac usage that in some cases overshadow their total number of Windows users. DailyPrincetonian.com reports that just 10 percent of Princeton students had Macs in the 2003-2004 school year, but that Mac-toting students since then have rocketed up to a whopping 60 percent this year. Princeton isn't alone in its speedy rise of Mac usage, as numerous other well-known schools continue to report ballooning numbers of Macs each year. Approximately one quarter of St. Olaf students owned a Mac as of last year, and predictions from officials there point to a 5-10 percent increase this year alone. Mac sales also increased significantly at MIT, Columbia, Dartmouth, Penn, Duke, Stanford, Cornell, and Brown over the past few years, according to DailyPrincetonian.com.
Ocean Leader OL-18H
A relatively unknown Chinese company, Ocean Leader Development, has devised an unusual design approach to its OL-18H media player. Similarly to the external display on the Sony Ericsson z610i, the 1.8-inch screen on the 18H uses a "magic mirror" design, seemingly vanishing when not in use. The player is otherwise fairly unremarkable: it plays MP3 and WMA audio files, as well as MPV, MPEG-1/2 and AMV video -- the last being a format typically limited to China.
The player also has a built-in speaker and FM radio tuning, as well as voice recording. Red, blue, black and silver colors are mentioned, but oddly, storage capacity is not. No prices are publicly available. [via PMP Today]
JVC 180Hz HDTV Screen
JVC has used its time spent at Japan's CEATEC technology show to demonstrate what it says is the first LCD panel with a 180Hz refresh rate. The 32-inch sample display uses a custom algorithm that can successfully interpolate a typical HDTV feed, which runs at 60Hz, and insert two frames of its own. This improvement cancels out much of the blur in fast movement, even when compared to today's premium 120Hz sets. Images often appear sharper even if the TV runs at a lower resolution, according to JVC.
2X Blu-Ray drive
Fastmac has announced a 2X Blu-Ray optical drive upgrade that is compatible with the PowerBook, iBook and MacBook Pros. The new slimline, slot loading drive can fit up to 50GB of storage on one disc. The drive supports reading, writing and re-writing to single and dual layer Blu-ray media at up to 2x speeds. The drive is also compatible with standard DVD and CD media and can write to DVD-R and DVD+R media at 8x speed in single layer and up to 2.4x speed in dual/ double layer mode. It can rewrite to DVD-R and DVD+R media at 4x speeds. The drive also supports DVD-RAM reading and writing at up to 5x speeds and standard CD-R and CD-RW burning at 8x speeds.
Samsung P2, T10 get dates
Samsung's P2 and T10 players, which were confirmed to be US-bound in late August, now have official prices and dates attached. The foremost of the players, the P2 (pictured), should ship later this month, costing $199 and $249 for 4GB and 8GB versions. It will be available in black, white and burgundy colors; its primary attraction though is the use of a three-inch touchscreen, putting it into competition with devices like the iPod touch. It is also capable of 30fps video and stereo Bluetooth, the latter being usable for taking calls.
HP Blu-Ray and HD DVD
HP on Friday quietly updated its Pavilion media center PCs with the option of mixed-format Blu-Ray and HD DVD drives that let the towers read either format without fear of their becoming obsolete. The d4995t, as well as the system builder's m9000z and m9000t Pavilion Elite models, all have the option of two HD-ready optical drives. A basic version of the drive is capable of full Blu-Ray burning but will only read its rival HD DVD format. A top-end drive will write both formats. Both drives also incorporate HP's LightScribe feature for burning a label graphic directly to each disc; each also records to legacy CD and DVDs.
Tidy Up! ($30) search for duplicate files and packages; by the owner application, content, type, creator, extension, date modified, date created, name, label, visibility and more. You can also search by the tag, duration and bit rate of MP3s and AACs audio files, search the content of the iTunes, iPod and iPhoto databases, search the messages of Mail and synchronize deletions with iTunes, iPhoto and Mail. The new release fixes a bug that sometimes caused a crash during a search. [Download - 8.3MB]
Dupin v1.0.2 ($15) assists with locating, sorting, filtering, and deleting duplicate tracks in iTunes. You can quickly find all sets of duplicate iTunes tracks based on your choice of criteria and select the "Keeper" tracks from among a number of duplicates automatically using a variety of versatile filtering options. The new release fixes delay and stall issues occurring during Purge that some users were experiencing. [Download - 1.8MB]
Sound Byte 3.4.3 ($40) turns your Mac into a" cart machine" for playing sound recordings, such as music and special effects. The latest version of Sound Byte includes these changes: the mouse scroller can be used to change the cart volume; the ability to pre-set playback starting position by clicking in the progress bar, and more. [Download - 4MB]
Applists 2.0 (free) allows iPhone and iPod Touch owners to add Web apps to multiple lists. The new release has a thumb-friendly interface, which allows for ease of typing with the "ultimate fat finger;" and t he ability to find the world's expanding list of available apps even faster.
24U SimpleHelp Plug-In 4.0 ($50) enables independent and in-house developers to use interactive help such as tool tips (help tags), coachmarks, or roll-over effects in their own FileMaker solutions. In this release, full HTML can be used to define content of the tooltip, tooltips can contain up to two buttons performing user-defined script. The cript parameter can be specified to all user-defined scripts called from SimpleHelp. [Download - 2.9MB]
Yamaha YSP-500 speakers
Yamaha has developed the YSP-500, one of an increasing number of speaker bars designed to simulate surround-sound without occupying the space of a 5.1 system. While the 500 does not come with a subwoofer, it has two 15W main channels, and a sizable 16 2W microchannels, these meant to bounce sound around a room for a proper dimensional effect. Supported codecs include Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS and DTS Neo:6. To produce ideal sound, owners must calibrate the bar using the automatic IntelliBeam feature; reports suggest however that this works best in an uncluttered room. The 500 should ship to Japan later this month for 75,000 yen ($642). [via Technabob]
Apple taking Penryn Xeons
Apple may be planning to consume the highest-end Penryn-based Xeon workstation CPUs when they launch in the fall, according to reported Japanese insiders. Although Intel has routinely demonstrated a 3.16GHz, quad-core Xeon model known as the X5482 since its spring Developer Forum in April, the company is said to be reserving this as well as some additional steppings of the 45-nanometer Xeon processors almost exclusively for Apple's Mac Pro systems. Dell, HP, and other top-tier workstation vendors will only get just enough processors at first to make their shipping claims honest, according to the sources.
Apple's stock breaks $160
Shares of Apple Inc. have closed above $160 for the first, gaining 3.33 percent or $5.21 by the close of trading Friday (final trading price: $161.45). The stock is up over $24, or 18 percent in the past month, and has more than doubled in the past year. The reasons for the surge are unclear, though rumors of opening iPhone development and inclusion of HD videos in iTunes could be catalysts. In late August, Apple surprassed Google's market capitalization after going on a rollercoaster ride. During one week, the shares went from about $124 on Wednesday to about $112 on Thursday, then back up to about $122 on Friday. The reason for the dip, and others in the past month, may have been pure profit taking by investors who have seen tremendous gains in the stock this year. [updated]
Xtreme XN1 Desktop
Breaking away from the portables that made its name, Xtreme Notebooks has released the 22-inch Xtreme XN1, a direct challenger to Sony's VAIO L. The all-in-one is billed as both a power-saving alternative to a full-sized desktop and as a media center PC: basic versions can ship with more miserly integrated graphics and a basic 1.86GHz desktop Core 2 Duo but ramp up to a GeForce Go 7600 mobile video chipset and a 2.93GHZ Core 2 Extreme when gaming and HD video viewing are more important. An HD DVD drive is an option in the new system as is dual digital TV tuners that can pick up one show while playing another.
Column: Zune has no chance
With Microsoft's recent announcement of a second-generation Zune, some are wondering if the new Microsoft PMP has any chance of standing up against the iPod juggernaut. Unfortunately for Redmond, the writing is already on the wall: the Zune is totally incapable of competing with the iPod. Perhaps the most touted feature during the Zune 2.0's unveiling was Microsoft's decision to include a scroll pad that works in a way that's similar to a scroll pad on a laptop. And while this could actually be a viable alternative to the iPod with Video or the Nano, it makes Microsoft's products look outdated when compared to the iPod Touch.
LG HT972TR theater sound
Targeting its home Korean market, LG has announced a new home theater kit, the HT972TR. Like the J10HD, the 972 package takes its design from the Chocolate cellphone line, similarly featuring red-on-black touch-sensitive controls. The five speaker satellites in the system produce 155W each, while its subwoofer is even more powerful, rated at 255W; LG claims that with its Virtual Sound Matrix technology, it can emulate a 10.1-channel setup.
I-O Data twin-HDMI LCD
Japan's I-O Data has begun selling the LCD-MF241X, a 24-inch widescreen LCD. While the monitor is notable for supporting resolutions up to 1920x1200 (beyond 1080p), its most unusual feature is the inclusion two HDMI inputs, where many screen are limited to one or none. Owners can also display HD content from their computer via DVI-D, and input more conventional video signals through composite, S-Video and D5 ports. Rounding out highlights are three USB ports, picture-in-picture and a remote control. Prices for black and white versions of the monitor have been set at 138,000 yen ($1,183). [via Akihabara News]
Apple may open iPhone
Apple may open up its iPhone to third-party developers who receive the blessing of Steve Jobs when the company ships Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard later this month, according to 9to5Mac. Rumors are circulating that the Cupertino-based company is speaking with partners who develop games as well as applications for the iPhone/iPod, and that it will use the development model created by T-Mobile for its Sidekick device to bring trusted developers on board. Those developers who create seemingly desirable software and who can refrain from interfering with software already available for the iPhone could develop their applications natively and potentially distribute their works with Apple's help.
Sony Confirms 40GB PS3
Sony Europe today revealed the long-expected 40GB PlayStation 3, promising a much lower-cost version of the Blu-Ray game console than before. The new starter edition doubles the 20GB storage of the basic launch model from Japan and the US and also keeps the Wi-Fi access found in the costlier 60GB and 80GB editions. To achieve its new price, the 40GB version drops hardware PlayStation 2 compatibility like the 80GB model and also sheds both the card reader and two of the four USB ports, which are less needed given the console's reliance on wireless controllers.
Bungie, Microsoft split
Confirming long-standing rumors in the gaming industry, Microsoft has announced that Bungie Studios, developers of the popular "Halo" game series, will officially be returning to independent status. Under the terms of the break-up Microsoft will retain ownership of the Halo intellectual property, but it will only be guaranteed as the publisher of the series, along with any upcoming Bungie titles in the forseeable future. Microsoft says it intends to continue working on a new "interactive series" in the Halo universe, along with existing projects such as the upcoming "Halo Wars" strategy game and the movie produced by Peter Jackson.
iPod touch in Japan
Roughly 100 eager customers lined up in front of a Japanese Apple Store today to get their hands on the company's new iPod touch, signaling high demand for the portable player in that region. AV Watch reports that the iPod touch went on sale today and that the first man in line to purchase the device arrived as early as 1:30 a.m. local time. The 10:00 a.m. opening saw around 100 people waiting for their units, suggesting a high possibility of iPod touch selling out in Japan as well as China. Apple introduced the iPhone-like portable player in two versions on September 5th during a special event in San Francisco, pricing an 8GB model at $300 and another 16GB model at $400. The Apple Store in Ginza, Japan is charging customers around $315 for the 8GB version and $420 for the 16GB device.
TopSkin for 3G Nano
PDO today unveiled its TopSkin for third-generation iPod nano, a silicone case featuring a play-through click-wheel design with an open bottom to accommodate the dock connector as well as the hold switch and earphone jack. The sides of the TopSkin feature a textured pattern for an improved grip and ship with a film screen protector, a leather wrist strap, and a slim ratcheting belt clip. The TopSKin for iPod nano is priced at $15 and comes in black, blue, pink, or "ghost" white. The company also offers TopSkins for iPod touch ($20) alongside Flipp Premium Leather cases for iPod classic ($30) and PDO Screen Protectors for all three models ($9).
IK software, StompIO date
IK Multimedia today announced several new pieces of hardware and software at the AES trade expo. At the top of the list is ARC, standing for Advanced Room Correction. The program is said to offer the first acoustic room correction system in DAW plug-in form, working in tandem with standalone software and a calibrated microphone. The combined ARC package is used to measure the acoustic flaws of a room, compensating for time and frequency response problems through automatic EQ adjustment. The program is a Universal Binary for Mac OS 10.4 or later, and costs $700; it is expected to ship by the end of this quarter.
ASUS Xonar U1
ASUS has just updated its sound adapter range with a unique hub that steps up the audio quality for notebooks and other PCs with basic integrated sound. The Xonar U1 becomes a USB alternative to the PCI-based Xonar D2 and offers both the traditional features of a sound card as well as help for travelers. Hardware acceleration for DirectSound, EAX, and Dolby surround helps game and home theater enthusiasts; notebook users are helped by a headphone amp that increases the volume on less easily-driven headphones as well as an array microphone that eliminates the feedback and other noise that often plague built-in notebook and webcam audio.
Turning its design skills to those who can go without digital music, Sony today quietly launched its ICF-M55 radio. The AM/FM device is just smaller than most user's hands and is designed to be fully totable thanks to a speaker that covers nearly all the front face, an internal battery for listening away from an outlet, and a headphone jack for private listening. A collapsible antenna tucks directly behind the radio to boost reception without easily falling off.
Nike Amp+ watch, remote
Nike on Friday unveiled the Nike Amp+ Sport Remote Control, a wristwatch and remote control for Nike+iPod Sport Kit users. The watch provides instant voice feedback of a runner's time, distance, calories, and pace when added to the Nike+iPod Sport Kit and Nike+ Ready shoes. Nike also touts the watch as a stylish, unique timepiece when worn without the Sport Kit. Nike is offering its Nike Amp+ in a series of four color combinations that include a black band with a red time display, a red and black band with a red time display, a blue band with an orange time display, and a black and orange band with an orange time display. The Nike Amp+ is priced at $80.
French law impedes iPhone
A law meant to protect public choice may delay the arrival of the iPhone in France, one newspaper reports. French publication Les Echos writes that under the terms of the law, the iPhone will have to be sold with and without contracts, thereby preventing Apple from forming an exclusive deal with French carrier Orange. The paper writes that Apple would like as much as 30 percent of voice and data revenues from the iPhone; the two companies have been heavily disputing revenue sharing however, and Orange has yet to set a date for the product's release, despite having announced that it would ship before Christmas as an exclusive deal.
iRiver Siren DP350
iRiver's recently acquired brand Siren today launched the DP350, a new entry player that brings relatively advanced features. The 1.8-inch LCD is home to MPEG-4 video as well as photos. Listeners also have an expanded range of audio format support; besides MP3 and WMA, the new player supports AAC songs (including those from iTunes Plus) as well as the more open OGG format. Users looking for more music can also listen to FM radio or capture their own using direct line-in recording.
Samsung Gleam at Verizon
Verizon on Friday released the Gleam, its own variation of Samsung's Ultra U700. The flip phone is the first from Verizon to come with what the carrier dubs a "living wallpaper" interface. Like Sony-Ericsson's T650, the Gleam's background changes over time: a desktop image of the city or the countryside changes in brightness depending on the time of day, Verizon says. Samsung's device also offers a media emphasis with a 2-megapixel camera, Bluetooth audio with stereo output, and media playback from microSD cards up to 4GB in size.
PED3 stand for iPhone
Thought Out is shipping a new iPhone stand, the PED3. As opposed to the company's earlier PED2, which could only hold an iPhone horizontally with an optional attachment, the new stand is capable of both positions out of the box, and can rotate within a full 360-degree range. It is built entirely out of solid steel, and its black surface coating has been baked on. Metallic "fingers" grasp an iPhone from all sides; to keep items like sync and headphone cables out of the way, users can thread them through the stand's back. Thought Out is selling the PED3 for $40.
BlackBerry Sales Unfazed
Research in Motion's profits from its BlackBerry smartphones have doubled in the first financial quarter of competition with the iPhone, the company revealed late yesterday. Although Apple said it had sold more than one million iPhones weeks before the end of the September quarter, the California firm's Canadian rival said it had shipped about 3 million BlackBerry units worldwide and established nearly 1.5 million new BlackBerry "push" e-mail accounts. This translated to earnings of $287.7 million during the same period, more than twice the $140.2 million from the same period a year ago.
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