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Aluminum 3G Nano case
RhinoSkin today began shipping a new aluminum hard case for the latest iPod nanos. The case is made from aluminum to guard against scratching, and fits both 4GB and 8GB Nanos while offering charge as well as playback capability without the need to remove the player. RhinoSkin's latest cover includes a clear, scratch-resistant, and shatterproof polycarbonate plastic front with a durable aluminum back.
eSATA, USB RAID storage
Fantom Drives today unveiled its new G-Force MegaDisk eSATA+USB external storage system with multiple RAID options. Fantom's external storage system includes NTI Shadow Backup for real-time continuous backup, and supports 300MB/sec transfers via eSATA or 60MB/sec via USB 2.0. user configurable RAID modes include RAID 0 (disk striping) for maximum speed, RAID 1 (disk mirroring) for maximum fault tolerance, JBOD (just a bunch of disks -- direct mapping) for maximum flexibility, or Spanning for simple large volume support at bus speeds as high as 300MB/sec. Boasting dual interface connectivity, the new system is avaiable in 1TB, 1.5TB, and 2TB capacities for $320, $460, and $650 respectively.
The UK National Consumer Council (NCC) has called for increased, regulated mitigation of what it calls practices by software companies that "mislead computer users into signing away legal rights," -- including Apple. The organization is asking the European Commission to extend the scope of the Consumer Sales and Sales Guarantees Directives to include digital contracts and license agreements. NCC says its research reveals that software rights-holders are shifting the legal burden onto consumers who buy computer software, leaving them with less protection, providing companies an "unfair advantage over consumers."
A new version of the DVD ripping tool, HandBrake v0.9.2, has been released. HandBrake is open-source utility that converts DVDs into the MPEG-4 format. The new release incorporates many major and exciting changes--including full support for the AppleTV Take 2 and the latest iPhone/iPod Touch firmware. This release is only compatible with Mac OS X Leopard 10.5. Also included is support for Dolby Digital 5.1 (AC3) sound in MP4 files, providing a better DVD experience on the AppleTV and in Perian. Other new features include multi-track audio support for Apple devices and iPhone-compatible anamorphic video at its full size.
ASUS HDTV Suite-HDMI
ASUS has revealed the HDTV Suite-HDMI, a unique media hub that allows PC users to turn their monitors into Full HDTVs. The stand-alone TV box offers HD video up to a 1,920x1,200 resolution -- even higher than full HD, the company notes -- and will up-convert any signals it receives to 1080p. Source input selection is relatively broad as the Suite-HDMI includes both its namesake HDMI as well as RF, DVI/VGA for PCs, S-Video, composite and component. The hub allows flexible peripherals support as well: via HDMI, DVI/VGA and line-out, the Suite-HDMI also permits using a monitor as part of a multimedia center without ever having to turn on the computer also attached to the device.
Games headed to Zune
Games will finally be added to the Zune in the near future, Microsoft has announced. Although games are not typically the focus of most media players, the Zune is conspicuous for lacking any sort of interactive entertainment, whereas a continuous flow of new titles is available for Apple's iPod. Development for the Zune must be accomplished using XNA Studio, which was originally conceived for the Xbox 360; significantly, Microsoft indicates that first-generation Zunes will not be supported.
Lotus Notes sync app
PocketMac has released PocketMac GoBetween for Lotus Notes, a tool that allows Mac users to sync Lotus Notes data to nearly 200 devices -- including iPhones, Palm handhelds, and Nokia devices. "Now Lotus Notes users can sync all their data to any of the almost 200 devices that Apple supports with sync services," said Information Appliance Associates CTO Terence Goggin. PocketMac GoBetween for Lotus Notes requires Lotus Notes 7 or later running on Mac OS X 10.4 or newer. The software is priced at $25.
Google Balloon Wireless
Google is investigating the possibility of using balloons to support future wireless networks, say sources in touch with the Wall Street Journal. The search engine firm is reportedly investigating either a partnership or an acquisition of balloon wireless firm Space Data to use its technology for extending a long-range cellular or wide-area Internet network. While specific implementations are not discussed, the current system floats balloons with transceivers into the upper atmosphere to increase their range; Space Data (and therefore Google) could spread a signal across thousands of square miles, extending coverage without having to install up to 40 cellular towers or repeaters.
Gtwy., Alienware go Penryn
In the wake of Dell's addition of Penryn to Inspiron notebooks, systems from Gateway and Alienware have also been upgraded with the Intel processor technology. Alienware's Area-51 m15x has been given the option of a 2.5 or 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo, or else a 2.8GHz Core 2 Extreme; its display measures 15.4 inches, and costs start at $2,149. Gateway's contribution is the 17-inch P-171X FX, which uses a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo chip and is priced at $2,000. The company adds that an M-series notebook will also be equipped with Penryn "in a few weeks," but refuses to disclose further details. [via Crave]
Second Comcast P2P lawsuit
A new lawsuit has been filed against Comcast, once again accusing the cable company of improperly handling peer-to-peer file sharing. In contrast to a previous suit filed in November, the new one specifically accuses Comcast of false advertising, for claiming that it offers "unfettered access to all the content, services, and applications that the Internet has to offer." Plaintiff Sandford Sidner observes that if he attempts to run a P2P application, his connection will "slow to a crawl," rendering it useless.
New HP UMPC details
New information has surfaced on HP's planned UMPC system, a report out of Taiwan indicates. The Chinese-language publication Commercial Times notes that a UMPC order has been farmed out to a company called Inventec, which is expected to deliver hardware to HP for an April commercial release. The report further suggests that the system uses a 45nm Intel Penryn processor, and as previously hinted, an 8.9-inch screen.
Rogue Amoeba has announced Airfoil 3.1, a new release of its AirPort Express extender for Mac OS X. This version includes complete support for sending audio to the Apple TV and Airfoil Speakers for Windows. The Take 2 update from Apple enables the Apple TV to appear as an AirTunes device, just like an AirPort Express, meaning iTunes can send audio to it. Now Airfoil opens the device up to receiving any audio. It can stream media players like QuickTime Player or Realplayer to web-based content like Pandora, Last.fm, Sirius or XM,
Second look at MacBook Air
MacNN has taken Apple's MacBook Air for a longer test run to experience using the notebook on a day-to-day basis. After two weeks of steady usage, "the world's thinnest notebook" held true to Apple's claims. The device fits neatly into an airline seat pocket, runs applications quickly with no issues, and provides just enough external connectivity via its folding ports for most average users.
Sharper Image bankrupt
Gadget vendor Sharper Image has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, writes the Wall Street Journal. Most famous for selling products through unique retail stores and TV advertising, its assets are said to have dwindled to $251.5 million, while debts have reached $199 million. The California-based company is blaming a variety of factors, including increased competition, diminishing margins, and poor credit. It is also facing a lawsuit over its air purifiers, which have typically been a signature product with high margins.
Optimism 1.0 unveiled
Crackatonic Projects has released Optimism 1.0, a health-wellness planning application that takes a pro-active approach to dealing with mental health. Optimism works by helping users monitor patterns in their lifestyle such as a person's mood, exercise, sleep, and other potential triggers, symptoms or activities that may trigger depression. The program requires Mac OS X Version 10.2 or higher and runs as a Universal Binary for both Intel and PowerPC processors. Optimism 1.0 costs $19.95 and is available as a full-featured 7-day trial.
Creative ZEN Share Tip
Creative will finally join companies such as Apple and Microsoft in offering a wireless music player, say some reported insiders privy to the details. Purportedly named the ZEN Share, the device will use Wi-Fi for its network connection. Most details are unavailable, though the name directly points to a sharing ability likely based on that of the Zune. The Microsoft player allows users of similar players to share tracks over a peer-to-peer wireless network and wraps songs in a temporary copy protection system to prevent trading of copyrighted tracks.
FileMaker Dev Conference
FileMaker today announced the start of registration for the 2008 FileMaker Developer Conference, which takes placefrom July 13th to the 17th at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa in Phoenix, Arizona. FileMaker is offering a $200 discount to registrants who act before May 16th, while all attendees will be given a complimentary copy of FileMaker Pro 9 Advanced. Registration fees for the conference start at $1200 for the basic package, and $2000 for the Passport tier pass.
New BlackBerry outage
Users of Research in Motion's BlackBerry cellphones have been saddled with yet another service outage, according to widespread reports. Beginning before dawn today, RIM's e-mail system became unavailable for some 80 percent of subscribers in the continental US, affecting people with carriers including Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint. As of press time some subscribers had begun indicating resumed e-mail access; problems may still be ongoing however, and RIM has not said when full service will be restored.
Toshiba & Sony venture
Although the companies have just finished a battle over HD formats, Toshiba and Sony have announced the creation of a new joint venture to produce semiconductors. It will begin operating in April of this year, and will actually be 60 percent owned by Toshiba, with Sony controlling the remainder. For Toshiba, this will come at the cost of a 90 billion yen ($837 million) manufacturing equipment purchase from Sony.
Nvidia CUDA for Macs
Nvidia today announced the release of CUDA beta (12.9MB) for the Mac, a developer's kit that allows users to create derivative works for academic, commercial, or personal purposes. In addition to Nvidia's cards being used for gaming, some research firms use CUDA to do molecular modeling using parallel processing implementations, according to The Enquirer. The CUDA developers kit beta is available from Nvidia's website.
First Look: REALbasic
Due to a lack of visually-oriented programming tools, the Macintosh has a reputation for being a difficult platform for which to develop applications, especially when designing the user interface. Although Apple includes a free copy of XCode with every Macintosh, XCode is really designed for experienced programmers who are versed in several programming languages. Since C-based languages can be hard to learn and XCode can be confusing as well, most people can't write programs for the Macintosh. Fortunately, that's all changed with REALbasic 2008 Release 1, the latest version of the cross-platform development tool from REAL Software.
Sprint May Start Price War
Sprint is poised to fire the first shot in what may be a price war for unlimited cellphone calling, say analyst reports. UBS researcher John Hodulik believes that the provider is likely to offer an unlimited plan that would cost at most $80 per month but may be as low as $60 -- a 40 percent drop over just-announced $100 plans from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. The wide gap could force other carriers to drop their own prices, the analyst says, potentially leading to a succession of rate cuts or feature bundles from rivals concerned about losing customers to Sprint.
TypeIt4Me 4.0 ships
Ettore Software has released v4.0 of TypeIt4Me, a Mac utility meant to forestall extra typing effort. The software detects certain key abbreviations, and then automatically expands them into text such as names, sentences, or even whole documents' worth of text, complete with images. The fourth edition introduces spell-checking, using the native code built into Mac OS X. This can be enabled or disabled through a hotkey, and also lets users flip between three different languages for multilingual documents.
Crucial RAM for Mac Pro
Lexar Media today unveiled fully buffered Crucial 800MHz memory modules for the Mac Pro, available in 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB paired kits. The memory includes heat dissipation fins to balance the temperature, and feature a lifetime warranty. The new Mac Pro is capable of holding 32GB of memory, and Apple states that each increase to the system memory enhances the machine's performance due to the nature of the RAM pairings. Lexar did not unveil pricing, but said the modules are currently shipping.
MegaPhone 1.5 adds notes
Ecamm Network has released MegaPhone 1.5, the latest version of its iPhone utility. The program was formally known as iPhoneDrive, and lets users view and export iPhone content via their Mac. Some functions include the ability to export call history or SMS messages, and copy music, movies and other files on and off. Version 1.5 lets users finally insert their own items into the iPhone's native Notes application, so that files can be viewed and edited away from a computer.
Dell Inspiron with Penryn
Dell on Wednesday followed up on previous upgrades to its XPS line with speed boosts to its Inspiron line based on Intel's 45 nanometer Penryn processor architecture. The 14-inch Inspiron 1420 and the 17-inch Inspiron 1720 now have the option of Core 2 Duo processors that use Intel's new platform to run cooler as well as faster than older designs. As Dell's desktop replacement, the 1720 is the fastest and uses a 2.5GHz Core 2 Duo with 6MB of Level 2 cache; the 1420 scales back only slightly by using a 2.4GHz processor with 3MB of Level 2 cache.
Sony E020 Walkman in Japan
Sony today continued its succession of music player updates with the release of the E020 Walkman, the latest version of its budget music player. In addition to a new style, the new player is also unusually customizable through "Style-Up" panels: users can swap in faceplates that change the look of both the front and back of the device using anything from conservative solid colors to special patterns. The device is also built to offer better audio quality than its rivals with both accurate output and a pair of EX earbuds more advanced than the stock earbuds from Apple and other challengers.
Piper: Shuffle & iPod fig.
Tuesday's updates to the iPod shuffle may have been important to keeping up iPod sales, say analysts with the research firm Piper Jaffray. Even with no change in Shuffle unit estimates, utilizing the new iPod ASPs, segment revs should increase 12 percent year-over-year for the March quarter; Piper says it expects growth of up to 15 percent year-over-year, with a Shuffle ASP of $67 and a general iPod ASP of $172. This translates into iPod segment revenue of $1.94 billion.
Sonnet Presto for Mac Pro
Sonnet today unveiled the Presto Gigabit PCIe Basic, a PCI Express-based Gigabit Ethernet card for the Mac Pro and late model G5 towers. The adaptor provides users with one full- and half- duplex capable 1000/100/10BaseT port, featuring auto-negotiation. The card includes a low profile mounting bracket for installation in a low-profile PC, and requires Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard or later. The Presto Gigabit PCIe Basic is available for $40 from Sonnet.
Logitech Driving Force GT
Logitech this morning helped kick off a round of announcements at the Game Developers' Conference through a new Driving Force wheel. The Driving Force GT (pictured) is the latest wheel controller officially connected to Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo racing games and is the first Logitech wheel specifically tailored to the upcoming GT5 Prologue PlayStation 3 title and its eventual GT5 follow-up: a dial at the front of the wheel allows drivers to adjust real-time settings that are available in some actual cars, such as brake bias, dampers, and the level of active traction control.
iPlayer for iPhone/Touch
iPlayer software will eventually be available in a form for iPhones and iPod touches, the BBC has announced. Having just released TV shows to the UK iTunes Store, and confirmed the arrival of a Mac iPlayer client sometime this year, the network now says that it is developing a version for Apple's most advanced mobile devices. The software should in fact be available "within the next few weeks," according to the Guardian, meaning that it may beat the Mac-specific client to market.
Amazon Pushes Blu-ray
Amazon today said it would make Blu-ray its preferred digital format, promoting the standard over all other physical formats. The move follows Toshiba's decision to put an end to HD DVD but will see Blu-ray promoted above both regular DVD and the now discontinued HD DVD format. This will include both the movies themselves as well as hardware, including both dedicated movie players and the Sony PlayStation 3. The company has not said whether it will promote Blu-ray computers, which are relatively rare.
MySpace Music Rumor
MySpace is currently in talks to create a music service that would offer both free and paid service, according to alleged leaks from those familiar with the negotiations. The social networking site is reportedly securing rights from all four major music labels for a simply-titled MySpace Music service that would allow it both to provide free, streaming music from its pages as well as paid MP3 tracks; the cost of the former would be offset by the advertising that already forms a staple of the company's web pages.
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