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First Look: You Control
The more programs you install and the more files you create, the harder it can be to find anything easily. To provide quick access to the programs, files, and operating system features you need most, You Software offers a utility program called You Control. You Control creates custom menus that can appear in any corner of the screen or a pop-up window, which is called up by a pre-defined hotkey combination. Through these custom menus, you can access various features of your Macintosh.
Apple/Polk, NWU, Tessera
In brief: Apple stores are now selling Polk Audio products, students at Northwestern University are using Facebook and the iPhone to perform a statistical analysis, and Tessera Technologies is in the process of acquiring FotoNation. Starting in March 2008, Apple's US retail outlets will sell the I-Sonic ES2 sound system, which features iTunes tagging for HD radio, allowing users to bookmark songs. Once songs are tagged, users can attach the iPod to their computer, and preview, buy, and download the tagged tracks.
iPod tube amp, speakers
Grace Digital recently unveiled a new line of iPod accessories, starting with the Hybrid PA-40Ti, a tube-based amplifier that combines retro technology with a modern industrial design. The amplifier features a four-channel input selector, allowing users to hook up phono, CD, or auxiliary audio connections, in addition to iPod connectivity. High quality speaker wire connectors, as well as a subwoofer and stereo headphone port handle output. Grace is selling the PA-40Ti for $450 through its website.
iPhone roundup: Jailbreaks
In brief: Hack that Phone has released a technical note describing the process of jailbreaking as well as maintaining unlocked status on Apple's iPhone with firmware version 1.1.3, iPhone Helper has released the official Dev Team 1.1.3 jailbreak, and MobileScrobbler has released Milestone 1.2.0. Hack that Phone has described how to update to iPhone firmware v1.1.3 and jailbreak it while retaining any pre-existing unlock.
Office '08 VL to ship
The Mac Business Unit (Mac BU) today announced that Office 2008 for Mac will be available for Volume License (VL) customers on February 1st. Office 2008 for Mac is currently available in English, French, and Japanese for VL customers. Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, and Nordic languages are slated for VL availability on March 1st, according to the Mac BU.
Nvidia to acquire Ageia
Nvidia today announced an official acquisition of Ageia Technologies, the company behind the PhysX software and hardware components. The acquisition will give Nvidia a physics element for its Cuda parallel processing systems. The PhysX technology is currently in use in many Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii games, as well as many gaming PCs worldwide. Nvidia will be hosting a quarterly conference call on February 13th to provide more information about the acquisition in its final stages.
Launch2net for 3G networks
Nova Media today unveiled Launch2net, an application designed to provide wireless data settings for over 400 networks in 157 countries. The software can use many Bluetooth, USB, PCMCIA, or ExpressCard connection methods to give mobile users internet access wherever they travel. Nova Media highlights the application for use with the MacBook Air, saying that it compliments the mobility of the device and the user's lifestyle. Launch2Net requires Mac OS X 10.4.3 Tiger or higher, while Leopard users are required to update to 10.5.1. The software is available for 75 euros, with an applicable VAT charge of approximately $110 US.
Kinemac 1.6 released
Kinemac today released Kinemac 1.6, an update to the 3D real-time animation and presentation software for Mac OS X. Kinemac plays animations in real-time at full screen, and exports those animations to QuickTime movie files or to a series of single still images. Users simply drag images, text, movies, and songs onto the Kinemac stage. The software supports creating 2D and 3D objects via a menu option, and is priced at $250.
CheckUp 1.0 released
App4mac today unveiled CheckUp 1.0, a new utility designed to check and monitor the health and behavior of a Mac, even from a remote location. CheckUp monitors processor, memory, disk, and network activity, and allows users to terminate any process that is currently being worked on by the computer. The software functions with PowerPC G4 or G5 processors, and any Intel based Mac. App4mac currently costs $50, and comes with a license that entitles users to install the application on two computers.
HSPA Plus Chipset
Texas Instruments today said it had reached a major milestone by introducing a new platform for HSPA+, a new form of "3.5G" high-speed cellular Internet access that builds on today's normal HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) connections. The technology, currently based on a new signal processing chip, would effectively turn a cell tower's base station into a standard IP (Internet protocol) router that uses standard Ethernet to make its connection. This plus other optimizations should permit downloads as quick as 42 megabits per second and uploads at 11 megabits per second; the uplink speed would be roughly double that of already advanced 5.8Mbps HSPA uploads, while downstream access would be as much as six times faster.
Announcing in its home country of Korea, Samsung has launched a new high-end phone, the SCH-W350. Also known as the SPH-W3500, the phone operates as a conventional clamshell device in most circumstances, but when viewing video, the screen can be twisted horizontally to maintain a normal aspect ratio and control scheme. This is increasingly common in Korean phones, but more unusual is the presence of 7.2Mbps HSDPA, faster than the typical 3.6Mbps standard.
Eizo ColorEdge CG301W
Eizo is hoping to set a new benchmark for artists, video editors and other color-conscious computer users with the launch of the ColorEdge CG301W. Quietly introduced at the PMA photo expo but made public today, the 30-inch LCD is designed to be as faithful as possible to the color ranges that appear in most video: courtesy of 12-bit color lookup and 16-bit color processing, the display captures 100 percent of the NTSC gamut and 97 percent of Adobe's RGB color space, ensuring that few if any colors will be mishandled even in photo editing. Color calibration is also handled in hardware that guarantees the final palette will not have been affected by a computer's video card output, Eizo notes.
Apple pulls Air docs
A host of informative documentation regarding the MacBook Air has been pulled from Apple's support site, including those that relate to wireless performance tips for the ultra-portable. Formerly, Apple posted documents that outlined several recommendations for an optimal computing experience, such as a reduction in wireless reliability when using the laptop in closed-lid mode. Macworld UK has collected a list of these recommendations, in lieu of their presence on Apple's support page.
Adobe halts Stock Photos
Adobe will halt all operations for its royalty-free Stock Photos image repository as of April 1st, the company has announced. Some aspects will terminate earlier however, specifically the search and comp download features in Adobe Bridge, which will cease to function as of March 3rd. Remaining components, such as order histories, image purchase and re-downloading, will only stop on March 31st.
Macintosh Production Up
Bank of America's Asian sources claim that Apple has increased production of both desktops and notebooks by 20 percent in January, partly fueled by the introduction of the MacBook Air. Despite rising Macintosh production, iPod production fell 10-20 percent in January, down 30 percent from December, according to AppleInsider. Bank of America believes future iPod production levels will drop 5-10 percent through the first quarter of the year, implying overstocked inventory and slowing sales.
Moto Z12 Teaser
Motorola is set to launch a new media phone at next week's Mobile World Congress, the company has hinted through a teaser video (posted below). Showing users trying to carry TVs and other devices as substitutes for the mystery phone, the teaser says only that "it doesn't have to be this hard" and hints that its future device will combine all of the features implied by the teaser, which includes mobile video viewing and Internet access.
Mozilla locks Firefox 3 B3
The third beta of Mozilla's upcoming Firefox 3.0 has entered code freeze, says Mike Beltzner, the Mozilla interface designer. Testing should begin Monday, with a public release expected on or near February 13th, according to a schedule outlined in meeting notes. The company further states that at least 41 percent of its extensions have been modified for compatibility with Beta 3, although updates have yet to appear for the likes of IE Tab, Fasterfox or Firebug.
MS Surface Home Fast-Track
Microsoft is accelerating the development of its Surface touchscreen technology for the home after customer requests, company chief Steve Ballmer said today at an analyst conference. The Redmond, Washington-based company had initially warned that a consumer-friendly version of the interactive table would not be available until four or five years after its early 2007 introduction but has since received a large amount of demand for a release sooner than the 2011 timeframe suggested by the schedule.
Keynote X theme released
Divine Fiat has released Keynote X, the company's latest theme for Apple's Keynote presentation software. Inspired by Apple's release of Mac OS X Leopard, Keynote X focuses on the arrival of the future. The new theme features seven slides of extras, resizable media placeholders, and a fading overlay. Keynote X is priced at $26, and requires Keynote 4.0 or later with the Helvetica Neue font.
Intel Silverthorne Details
Intel today supplied additional information about its expected Silverthorne ultra-mobile processors. Speaking at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference, the company has revealed that the 45 nanometer processor will not only be more power-efficient -- consuming between 0.5 and 2 watts at peak use -- but will also be fundamentally compatible with both newer and older technologies. Although far smaller, Silverthorne will share the same architecture as Core 2 chips. Programmers can write code for the common platform and know that it will scale down, Intel says.
Kodak 5MP Ultra-Small Cam
Kodak today said it had developed a new camera sensor that could allow all phones, not just large models, to include a quality camera. The photography firm says it has successfully reduced the individual pixel sizes for a 5-megapixel camera from more than 1.7 microns to just 1.4. By using an enhanced CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) sensor, the advance allows smaller sensors to fit into extremely tight spaces without sacrificing actual image quality, according to Kodak. The camera maker also claims that more of the sensors will fit on a given production wafer, potentially driving down the costs of normally expensive cameras that are limited to devices such as the Nokia N95 or the LG Viewty.
Samsung G810 at 3GSM?
A new, high-end Samsung smartphone will be announced at this month's 3GSM conference in Barcelona, a Czech website claims. The phone would be the G810, a successor to the G800, which is currently available in Europe but is not yet in North America. Like the 800, the 810 is a slider with a full-featured five-megapixel camera -- it not only features 3x optical zoom and autofocus, but a macro mode, face recognition and anti-shake technology. It will continue to have HSDPA broadband, as well as a microSD slot and Bluetooth, specifically Bluetooth 2.0.
Windows Vista SP1 rollout
The first Service Pack for Windows Vista has been released to manufacturing, Microsoft has announced. English, French, Spanish, German and Japanese versions are said to be heading to assembly lines, mainly for enterprise customers, but also for OEMs who will be installing the updated version on new computers. SP1 will also be released via Windows Update, but this is not scheduled until mid-March as a manual download, and mid-April as an automatic one.
Zune 8 Price Cut to 179
Microsoft has quietly dropped the price of its Zune 8 flash music player to $180 in a bid to gain marketshare, according to reports as well as checks with several major online retailers. Though unannounced by the company, the $20 drop makes the device one of the least expensive of the class at its regular price and undercuts the same-capacity iPod nano's $200 price. No features appear to have been cut from the 8GB Zune, which shares the same Wi-Fi sharing and sync features of the rest of the line and whose 240x320 screen is as sharp as for the larger-screened Zune 80.
MacBook Air: impressions
Following our MacBook Air teardown, delivery/unboxing, accessory photos and benchmarks, we have our first impressions of the MacBook Air: Having had the pleasure of using the new MacBook Air (MBA) for the past two days, I can say that Apple has accomplished an amazing feat of engineering and delivered a truly impressive subnotebook computer, although not completely without compromise. The MacBook Air is shockingly thin and light - qualities that were readily apparent in Apple's promotional material, but are even more so in person.
Wal-Mart exec joins Apple
A prominent Wal-Mart executive will soon be directing important initiatives at Apple, reports suggest. Kevin Swint, the head of Wal-Mart's digital media section, is said to be leaving his current company to join Apple this week. In working for his new host, Swint will be in charge of international movie and TV content, a position that is becoming increasingly important as Apple expands its video efforts to countries outside the US. Currently, Canada and the United Kingdom are the only foreign iTunes Stores with TV shows, and neither rents or sells movies.
E-Ten V900 M810 Official
E-Ten on Monday rolled out two of its promised updates to its Glofiish smartphones in advance of the Mobile World Congress show next week. The now formally launched V900 is the company's first-ever mobile TV phone and is one of the few from any manufacturer to support more than one standard: it handles both DVB-H (handheld) and DVB-T (terrestrial) signals in Europe as well as T-DMB in Korea; it can also handle DAB digital radio. This makes the large-screened phone an ideal fit for international football (soccer) fans who may want to catch the game away from a fixed TV, E-Ten says.
Google Delays Android SDK
Google today said it would upgrade the developer kit for its Android mobile OS, providing a significant upgrade to the Linux-based software based on feedback from programmers. The company does not say exactly what its enhancements will include but notes that both the user interface and the programming interface itself will receive upgrades. The delay is enough to justify pushing back the deadline for the Developers Challenge until April 14th, Google says, though the change will not force any software developers to migrate to the new code in the same timeframe.
PicLens 1.6 for Firefox
CoolIris has released v1.6 of PicLens, its plug-in for various web browsers. The add-on enables more advanced, full-screen viewing of images on the web, operating similarly to the filmstrip viewer in Aperture; to activate it, users simply click on an icon that appears over images on select websites. Some compatible sites include Google Image Search, Flickr, Picasa, Hi5, Facebook and Photobucket.
NEC AccuSync xx4 Series
NEC is growing its AccuSync display line today with three widescreen models, all built with full features but also stealth in mind. The 17-inch LCD174WXM, 19-inch LCD194WXM, and 22-inch LCD224WXM all share stereo speakers but use a refreshed design that tucks them underneath the bezel, preventing the large "chin" that often plagues mixed-media displays. NEC also makes concessions to environmental friendliness with a special ECO mode that drops brigtness to reduce the display's power use by about 30 percent.
LG Mobile began its week with the release of the KF-510. The slider phone is one of LG's first non-smartphones to ship with a 3-megapixel camera and virtually eliminates physical buttons on the outer shell, replacing them with a touch-sensitive directional pad and action controls. The approach is part of what allows LG package the entire phone in a shell that measures roughly 0.43 inches while improving features over earlier phones such as most Chocolate models.
Beijing Apple Store site
The exact location of Apple's first Chinese store has been uncovered, according to reports. Although it had been known for some time that the store would be built in Beijing, and would open prior to the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in August, it is only now that some of the final details have emerged. The store will be located on Qianmen Street, a road on the south side of Tiananmen Square that is undergoing a $40 million renovation in advance of the Olympics.
Xbox 360 Arcade in Japan
Microsoft on Monday morning said it would release the Xbox 360 Arcade in Japan, marking the first appearance of the budget console in the country versus the more expensive but hard drive-equipped Xbox 360 Pro. Like the American version, the Arcade trims costs both by switching to a 256MB memory card from a 20GB hard drive as well as shipping with less expensive components, such as a wired gamepad without an Xbox Live headset. In exchange, the Arcade's removable card comes with five Xbox Live Arcade games preloaded to get casual users started.
Yahoo Switches to Rhapsody
Yahoo today tilted the balance of digital music by announcing that Yahoo Music would switch to RealNetworks' Rhapsody for its on-demand music, replacing the Yahoo Music Unlimited service for subscription services. The move will see existing Yahoo subscribers transition over to Rhapsody accounts over the next several months, beginning mid-year, and will make Yahoo's music services accessible from devices which were previously limited to the Real service; devices such as Logitech's Squeezebox media streaming hub and TiVo recorders will now have access to Yahoo's services. Both companies also plan to collaborate on a la carte downloads in the future.
Skype for Apple TV beta
Developer Brandon Holland recently unveiled a downloadable beta version of his Apple TV Skype plugin that uses a standard USB VoIP handset to make calls through the Apple TV. The plugin is a front-end, and requires the Skype framework to be installed prior to use. Holland offers a fairly in-depth video tour of the as-of-then working features, giving users a technical demonstration of the software's capabilities.
MacBook Air benchmark
The MacBook Air has caused quite a stir with its slender packaging and minimalist features, but many have wondered what they are giving up in terms of performance by trading in their MacBooks and MacBook Pros for the ultraportable. Primate Labs recently benchmarked the miniature laptop, and found that performance was around 80- to 85-percent of that of a 2GHz MacBook. While the Air pulled ahead slightly in memory and stream performance, it was lacking in other areas.
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