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Apple, Fox iTunes rentals
Apple has reportedly signed 20th Century Fox to a new rental service that it is starting, allowing users to rent new releases by the studio, providing a download that expires after a given amount of time. According to The Financial Times, Fox studios will be the first of many to provide media for this rental service, and will also be the first to use Apple's own FairPlay protection service outside of its own products, such as iTunes and the iPod. In addition to offering the rentals, Fox will be including a FairPlay-encoded version of the film with each of its physical DVD products, effectively allowing users to rip an iPod-quality version of the film that can not be distributed on the internet.
ConceptDraw MindMap Pro
As Apple's appeal grows – thanks to the easy-to-use Mac OS X, and the versatility of the Intel processors – the large business and enterprise sectors are starting to adopt the Macintosh platform as a new office standard. Apple has a long history of support from business-minded developers such as Microsoft, Marketcircle, The Omni Group, and CS Odessa, and with them, the company has garnered a variety of productivity software. CS Odessa's ConceptDraw MindMap Professional 5 looks to provide a solid and powerful, but simple way for business professionals to capture brainstorming sessions and put them into a readable flowchart-style plan.
Reviews, MacBook tops list
In brief: MacNN has reviewed Need for Speed Carbon as well as AKVIS Chameleon 5, Apple's MacBook took one of the top three sales spots during Amazon.com's holiday season, and 'Toon Santa' is offering free 3D models of Apple's iPhone, iPod, and iMac. MacNN has reviewed Need for Speed Carbon ($40, shown at right), an arcade-style street and canyon racing game that features music from popular artists like electro-clash Ladytron and Australia-based Wolfmother.
Ethernet Disk mini Review
Network-attached storage has often been the reserve of businesses, and is only now catching on with home users wanting to share a common pool of files between their computers or with others online. But what about as the hub for a media center? With some help from Axentra's HipServ software, LaCie is hoping that its Ethernet Disk mini Home Edition is simple enough that it can stand as storage for iTunes or even a game console. We put the 500GB drive through its paces in our review to see whether it can stand in both for work and play.
iPhone lures customers
Apple's iPhone is helping its UK wireless carrier partner to lure customers from competitors, according to FT.com. O2 CEO Matthew Key says about 60 percent of UK iPhone customers are new to his company, and expressed confidence in the prospect of landing an exclusive deal for Apple's second-generation iPhone with faster 3G wireless service when it ships in late 2008. Key also said he expects 200,000 iPhones to sell in the UK by early January, a number that some analysts are calling conservative.
ROKR E8 details out of FCC
The FCC has published data from a recent Motorola submission, revealing information on the upcoming ROKR E8 phone. The device does appear to have haptic feedback for the keypad, and boasts features such as a microSD slot, stereo Bluetooth and a micro-USB port.
Notably, the screen can rotate images into a landscape display, and the transmitter has been tested for American EDGE and GSM frequencies. The highlight remains the keypad's unique illumination, which changes labels as a user shifts from function to function. No word is available on a final release date. [via Phone Scoop]
Airline Internet filtering
As airlines begin resuming in-flight Internet services, some have already decided to filter what passengers can do, writes the Associated Press. American Airlines -- confirming plans -- will be joined by Alaska Airlines in soon blocking access to VoIP services such as Skype, while companies such as Virgin America are currently contemplating a ban. The problem is that VoIP not only consumes large amounts of bandwidth, but may generate tremendous noise in a cabin from numerous ongoing conversations. Wi-Fi-enabled handsets could help circumvent the bandwidth concern.
Apple 50nm Flash Overstock
A combination of Apple's seasonal sales and new manufacturing process are instigating a crisis in NAND flash memory, claim memory makers. As Apple typically ramps down its requests for the memory to reflect cooling demand after the holidays, the company has left the associated chipmakers with excess stock that will force them to drop prices to clear warehouses: immediate prices for 8-gigabit (2GB) and 16-gigabit (4GB) multi-level flash chips have dropped by as much as 25 percent in the second half of this month, the report says. Additionally, more densely-packed 50-nanometer flash memory has begun mass production at the same time, increasing the amount of overall memory on the market.
LED life extension tech
The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) in Taiwan has demonstrated a new invention, one which may potentially extend the useful life of LCD monitors and TVs. An increasing number of displays are using LED backlighting to provide greater brightness and contrast, but the ITRI notes that after 1,000 hours of use, current backlights almost invariably begin dimming. To counter this, the new system monitors the backlight, and makes adjustments as necessary with the goal of preserving color richness.
Android Phones in February
Phones using Google's Android platform could make their first public appearance as early as February, according to the exhibitor listing for the Mobile World Congress show beginning that month. The search engine developer has booked two separate spaces at the event, giving the company an unusually large amount of space that is not believed to be connected strictly to promoting the software side of its platform.
Briefly: Google widgets
Nokia opens door to Apple
Nokia has offered Apple a chance to join its Ovi Web portal, which would integrate the iTunes Store with the company's own collection of services -- including the Nokia music store, photo sharing, and access to services like Flickr. "In Finnish, Ovi means door. And our door is open. Of course, Apple can get into our portal. We even invite (Apple Inc chief executive) Steve Jobs to do so," said board member Anssi Vanjoki. Vanjoki also said that Apple's iTunes Store would be an enrichment for Nokia's customers, according to Thomson Financial.
JVC Wooden In-Canal Buds
JVC today introduced an unusual take on the largely settled world of earphones. Its HP-FX500 buds drop the metal and plastic of most in-canal earbuds in favor of birch wood. Aside from the unique appearance, the design also includes tangible improvements, according to JVC: hybrid drivers ensure the earbud is at least as clear and stable as traditional earbuds, while damping gel inside the buds both reduces jittering in the buds themselves and improves the passive noise canceling effect. JVC claims the ability to produce sounds as low as 8Hz and as high as 25kHz.
ASUS M930W Leak
ASUS is branching out into unfamiliar territory and will roll out a smartphone targeted at the very high end of its market, leaks from GPSandCo reveal. The M930W will borrow its cue from Nokia's E90 Communicator and LG's enV: despite resembling a standard candybar phone on the outside, the handset will open up to reveal a lengthwise QWERTY keyboard and a larger internal screen. It will even mimic a notebook PC and open at a 90 degree angle suitable for a desk as well as a full 180 degrees for handheld use, says the French site.
Panasonic 150-inch TV Soon
Panasonic is developing a plasma set it will claim as the world's largest TV barring a surprise from rivals, says a claim in Japan's Daily Yomiuri. The paper points to anonymous sources which say the set will measure 150 inches diagonally, beating out screens such as JVC's 110-inch rear projector for the title of the largest home TV regardless of class. The size of the screen alone will be large enough to stand taller than an adult, the newspaper claims.
Flip4Mac WMV 2.2 ships
IDC Notebook Ranks 2007
Notebook computer marketshare has seen a major shakeup in the third calendar quarter of this year, says a recent report from the marketing research group IDC. While HP retains a comfortable lead, Acer and ASUS have both moved up one rank to assume second and eighth places respectively. Acer's tactic of splitting its portables into clearly split home-oriented Aspire notebooks and business TravelMate lines has lead the company to sell 4.15 million notebooks and achieve a marketshare of 14.2 percent, keeping Dell at third place with 4.01 million and continuing the Texas firm's sales slump versus its rivals, according to the report.
Airport Ext. off UK store
The Airport Extreme base station has been temporarily removed from sale at Apple UK's online storefront, checks show. While still listed under wireless accessories, the Extreme's status has been changed to "not available," and accordingly no price is mentioned either. The disappearance is also apparently unique to the UK, as the American, Canadian and French online stores still have the wireless router in stock. No official explanation has been issued.
BlackBerry Angle KB Patent
Research in Motion could soon introduce a BlackBerry smartphone with a uniquely ergonomic keyboard design, if information from a new patent filing proves accurate. Filed in June of last year, the application would tilt the keys on the left and right sides of the keyboard at 45-degree angles. The technique allows both for larger, more easily struck keys than the traditionally right-angled keyboards on most larger smartphones while also easing strain on the hands and thumbs for extended typing sessions, RIM says.
Optimus Keyboard in Feb
Art Lebedev Studios today revealed that its Optimus Maximus keyboard has been delayed until late February. Although the company has nearly filled its capacity for preorders, which began earlier this month, the firmware that controls its unique features needs to be improved before the device can begin shipping in earnest, according to the Russian design house. The firmware flash method to update the keyboard's software also needs improvement before the final release.
Hitachi LCD Maker Deal
Hitachi has confirmed previous reports that it will sell stakes in its LCD business to Canon and Matsushita, giving each firm just short of a 25 percent shareholder stake in the company. The move is spurred on by "intensifying competition" in the LCD field that needs investment and a stable supply, according to Hitachi. In exchange, the electronics giant will be able to refine its In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology for LCDs and improve its resulting Wooo HDTV line.
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