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First Look at Stox
Stock trading is becoming increasingly popular as a way for individuals to make money for large expenditures, while some individual investors even make a living from the practice either professionally or privately. As Mac systems become more popular, the need for Apple's platform to fit in with all aspects spurred ProSoft Engineering to unveil a new stock monitoring application called Stox. The software, which is published under its consumer brand, JoeSoft, is designed to allow users to track stock portfolios as well as trading transactions. Stox also supplies users with pertinent information about the past, present, and potential future of chosen investments. [corrected, updated]
Aluminum iMacs from $1,049
Apple's online store is offering refurbished current-generation aluminum iMacs for as little as $1,049 with a standard one-year warranty and free shipping. The Cupertino-based company has listed its reconditioned aluminum iMac 20-inch 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 1GB of memory, a 250GB hard drive, an 8X SuperDrive CD/DVD burner, and an ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT graphics card for $1,049. Two other aluminum iMacs -- the 20-inch 2.4GHz model and the 24-inch 2.4GHz model priced at $1,299 and $1,549, respectively -- are also available with 1GB of memory, a 20GB hard drive, an 8x SuperDrive CD/DVD burner, and an ATI Radeon HD2600 PRO graphics card. Apple's online offerings also list a Mac mini 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo system with 1GB of memory, a 120GB hard drive, and a SuperDrive CD/DVD burner for $679.
Apple patents, trademarks
Apple has filed a new patent detailing a means of easily modifying desktop backgrounds as well as several patents related to podcasts and the company's popular iPod player. Apple's background patent, titled 'Manipulating Desktop Backgrounds,' describes a graphical user interface to help users change and transform a desktop pattern. Users can select a desktop image and immediately crop, rotate, or perform numerous other modifications directly in the background selection area.
Intel Skulltrail Exposed
Intel's upcoming platform for Skulltrail has been partly uncovered ahead of its official debut, HotHardware says in a new preview. Having received a set of photos, the site reaffirms that the mainboard will include dual 771-pin sockets of the same kind that fit 45-nanometer Xeon 5200/5400 chips and four PCI Express X16 slots to support as many as four video cards at full speed. The hardware will not only need two NVIDIA nForce controllers to process graphics in a four-way SLI mode but will need an active fan system just to remain cool, the photos demonstrate.
Marantz six-input HDMI
Home theater outfit Marantz is preparing the release of an unusually elaborate HDMI switch. The VS3002, expected to launch first in Japan, will allow users to connect a full six HDMI inputs, where most allow a maximum of two or four. It has two outputs moreover, enabling owners to connect to both a TV and another device, such as a computer monitor.
The 3002 will support HDMI 1.3's Deep Color standard, as well as RS-232C connections for more elaborate home theater setups. Although the system will ship with a remote, it auto-detect inputs as a rule, and also indicates whether or not a connected device is powered. Pricing is expected to be 35,000 yen ($310). [via Impress Watch]
iBiquity Fights Sirius-XM
The FCC should not allow the proposed Sirius/XM satellite radio merger to go ahead unless it includes special exceptions to give HD Radio a boost in the market, the latter standard's creator iBiquity Digital has argued in a newly discovered complaint. The electronics firm claims that a union of the two satellite providers would harm its ability to launch HD Radio, which relies on traditional ground-based broadcasts. A merger should include a clause that forces devices using the combined network to include an HD Radio receiver at the same time, iBiquity writes in its FCC letter.
Becker TA 7827 GPS Unit
Becker has revealed that it will expand its GPS offerings in the US to include a new widescreen model with an above-average feature set: the Traffic Assist 7827 will come from Europe with the same 4.3-inch touch LCD but will be specifically tailored to North American conditions: a relatively large 2GB SD card will hold maps and points of interest not just for Canada and the continental US but also Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The mapping is detailed enough to include highway details and will recommend not just the overall route but the right lane.
Luggage lithium ban
Within days, air travellers will no longer be able hold loose lithium batteries in their luggage, the US Department of Transportation says. As of January 1st, batteries will either have to be inserted into a phone, notebook or other electronic device, or else dropped into a plastic bag, and bundled along with carry-on baggage in a limit of two batteries per passenger.
The issue, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, is that if a lithium battery catches fire while in a cargo hold, current extinguishing systems are unable to stop the blaze. The National Transportation Safety Board insists that it cannot rule out lithium as the source of a plane fire at the Philadelphia International Airport in 2006.
50 Pc. of US Owns Digi TVs
Just over half of all American households have at least one digital TV in their home, says the Consumer Electronics Association. The group, which hosts the CES expo each January, notes that at least 50 percent have one or more sets that can accept a digital signal without a set-top box or other adapter. An increasing number of these are HDTV sets and should account for 79 percent of all TVs sold in the country over the course of 2008. the Association says. TV makers themselves are expected to sell as many as 18 percent more sets over the same timeframe than they have in 2007.
Netflix Instant Viewing
Video rental service Netflix has begun testing a feature that would combine the strengths of physical movie rentals and online streaming, claim early users receiving access to the feature. The company has given some of its users access to an unlimited version of its Watch Instantly feature that allows these customers to watch movies and TV shows they have placed in their DVD rental queue. Once unlocked, titles can be seen as often as the customer likes, Netflix says. This gives subscribers access to each movie without paying extra or worrying about whether the physical disc has been returned.
Netscape death in Feb.
All support for Netscape web browsers will stop as of February 1st, the AOL-owned company has announced. Security updates will continue to be developed until that date, but afterwards, users will only be able to download archived versions of browsers such as Navigator. The company is instead pushing users towards Mozilla's Firefox, as the group was a creation of Netscape reaching back to 1999, to which AOL soon decided to provide backing. Firefox and Navigator have often shared close connections, to the extent that Navigator 9 became little more than a re-skinned version of its cousin.
Nikon D60 Rumor
Nikon may be phasing out at least one of its starter digital SLR cameras in the near future, hints from the company and from tipsters reveal. The company has recently pulled a D40x listing from its Japanese online store, indicating that local production of the 10-megapixel camera has stopped; versions in other markets as well as the original D40 will continue to sell, the company says. However, the firm has not offered a replacement model, leaving a gap between the D40 and the mid-range D80.
Optimus Tactus Concept
Art Lebedev Studio today prototyped a keyboard design that could stand in as a completely flexible display. The Optimus Tactus would improve on the yet to be shipped Maximus keyboard with touch input; instead of an OLED screen built into a bank of traditional keys, the Tactus would use one giant touchscreen: the design would not only permit keys to change in size and function but would also allow features that have previously been impossible on keyboards, such as a video playback overlay.
Innovation Rankings 2007
Despite its features, the iPhone is not the most innovative development of 2007, according to PC World's top 25 list for 2007. The magazine instead presents the top award to Google Gears, the search engine giant's platform that allows Mac and Windows users to run web apps such as Google Reader and Zoho Writer without an active Internet connection. Though still in beta, Gears is more innovative for eliminating one of the last obstacles to abandoning at least some desktop-based software in favor of downloads.
iTunes rentals beyond Fox?
Apple's unconfirmed video rental service will debut with several companies onboard, not just one, according to the New York Times. The Financial Times recently uncovered a deal with 20th Century Fox, which should see new releases come straight to iTunes, and iPod-sized, FairPlay-encoded files carried on DVD titles. The New York Times now cites "several people familiar with the negotiations" as saying that when Fox appears on stage at Macworld January 14th, it will be joined by several other companies whose names are not being leaked.
Laser, more TV tech at CES
Next month's Consumer Electronics Show, scheduled for January 7th to the 10th, may see the arrival of some long-awaited TV technologies, according to reports. Laser sets -- which are said to be lighter, less power-intensive and cover 90 percent of the visible color spectrum -- should finally make their public debut, as Mitsubishi has announced a formal unveiling. Models from Samsung and Mitsubishi were originally supposed to premiere by the end of 2007, but unspecified delays pushed the date forward.
Apple and Zune Site Surge
Traffic to the websites for Apple's iTunes and Microsoft's Zune has made major strides on Christmas day, according to new information published by stats tracker Hitwise. The Zune in particular saw major gains, with traffic nearly tripling at 299 percent compared to the Christmas before; the increase was also a 392 percent spike versus the 24th. Most of the visits are connected to downloading the necessary Zune software and to sign up for the Zune Social service that lets users share their music tastes online, Hitwise says.
Apps: 3ivx; Speed Download
3ivx MPEG-4 5.0.2 ($7) is a video codec usable in any application QuickTime supports, such as Final Cut Pro; it is said to maintain the same quality as Apple's MPEG-4 files, but with smaller file sizes and faster encoding. The v5.0.2 release fixes an exploit in the Filter suite, and adds compatibility with both Mac OS X 10.5 and QuickTime 7.3. Mac OS X 10.3.9 and QuickTime 7 or later is required.
[Download - 960KB]
Speed Download 4.1.19 ($25) is a download manager that features an FTP client, auto-resuming transfers, and integration with web browsers. The latest patch includes an updated SD plug-in, which can now open partial SD files, and better handle multiple web links. Leopard support now includes Bonjour compatibility, and performance tweaks for the v10.5.1 OS update. [Download - 7MB]
MBS REALbasic plug-ins 7.8 ($286) extend REALbasic with over 900 classes and 18,000 functions. Among the changes in v7.8 are an upgrade to Mac KRM 1.0.7, NSControlMBS and NSButtonMBS classes, a QTSoundOutputMBS.Finished event and a WebViewMBS.dashboard behavior. The plug-in runs with REALbasic 5.5 or later, and needs at least 300MB of hard drive space. [Download - 79MB]
BurnAgain DVD 1.2.2 ($24) is a multi-session burning app that can copy without creating a unique volume for each session; is is purportedly the only Mac software that can do this with CD-R, CD-RW and DVD-RW discs. The latest edition solves CD and DVD-RW burning problems with specific drives, and makes some minor interface adjustments for Leopard. Users must have Mac OS X 10.3 or greater for CD burning, or v10.4 or higher for DVD-RWs. [Download - 1MB]
iWisdom 1.60 (free) organizes quotes and other insights, allowing users to search them by categories such as year and author. Files can also be exported to the web and/or RSS feeds. Version 1.60 improves the Import function, allowing it to spot duplicates and merge them together instead of creating a second entry. The software requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, as well as Java 1.4.2. [Download - 3.3MB]
xSort 1.5.4 ($30) models card-sorting exercises, and presents the results using statistics and clustering algorithms. This lets web developers, for instance, gauge how to organize a site so that users can most easily find what they are searching for. The v1.5.4 patch enables exports to HTML files, and quashes a bug which prevented reports from displaying in their entirety. xSort runs on Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher. [Download - 6MB]
Apple HD Radio Plans
Efforts by Apple will have a slew of iPod speaker docks with HD Radio debuting at next month's Macworld show, according to one report. The device maker is allegedly very supportive of the iTunes Tagging feature that launched along with the Polk iSonic ES2 in the fall and wants to see it widespread in the accessory market, with many AM/FM radio docks gaining both HD Radio support and the ability to embed tags in the digital stream. The reason behind the maneuver is not explicitly mentioned but is likely an effort to drive iTunes sales through the accessory business, encouraging listeners to tag songs heard on the radio for a future download once an iPod in a radio dock syncs back with its host computer.
Inspiron 1525 Shows Early
In an unexpected move, Dell's Australian branch has begun taking early orders for the Inspiron 1525, the upgrade to the 1520 model from the spring. This new version chiefly represents a boost using faster, more recent components: the stock system now jumps from 1.66GHz to 2GHz for its Core 2 Duo and makes 2GB standard where before it was only a special discount. The Dell system also marks a return to custom lid patterns with black, purple, and white designs that can replace the normal solid colors from the 1520.
Garmin GMR 18 and 24 HD
Garmin is finishing 2007 on Friday by turning its attention to boating radar used for navigating around sea surface and underwater terrain or while hunting for diving spots. The GMR 18 HD and its larger GMR 24 HD cousin have been upgraded to provide much better accuracy: each supplies as much as eight times more information than earlier models, Garmin estimates. Both still pair up with a Garmin multi-role display to plot routes either with or without charts as a visual guide.
Apple in Amazon Best of 07
Apple has placed multiple times in Amazon's Best of 2007 rankings, the latter company has announced. While no Apple product was a bestseller, the MacBook Pro has been named the "Most Loved" -- highest-rated -- computer, while Mac OS X Leopard has been picked as the favorite piece of software. The 4GB, third-generation iPod nano, meanwhile, was the "Most Wished-For" product under Electronics, and was joined under the "Most Popular Gift" categories by the basic MacBook.
18-inch LCD Panels
LCD maker Chunghwa Picture Tubes today revealed that a new panel is in the works that could affect the designs of both desktop and notebook displays. Measuring 18.4 inches, the display will sit between 17- and 19-inch LCDs in cost but will adopt a wider, HDTV-like 1366x768 resolution versus the taller pictures of its smaller and larger models. The screen will be designed for distance viewing and will boast a relatively high 1,000:1 contrast ratio and 5ms pixel response time, Chunghwa claims.
Sony VW40 Preorders
Sony this morning has offered up the VW40, the lowest-cost projector yet to draw on the company's SXRD (liquid crystal on silicon) technology. The home theater unit bridges the gap between less expensive 3LCD projectors and more expensive SXRD models by supplying most of the features of the latter while withholding a few features. The VW40 can generate a full 1080p image with a 15,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio; in exchange, it sheds pixel alignment and constant vertical height features that save movie viewers from having to adjust the image for different sources or movie titles.
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