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Plustek OpticFilm scanners
Plustek today unveiled several new OpticFilm scanners, the 7300, 7500i SE, and 7500i AI, three consumer models that feature a scan resolution of 7200 by 7200 dots-per-inch. In addition to offering four-scan multisampling and a multi-exposure engine, the 7500i models feature SilverFast's Infrared Smart Removal of Defects technology, which removes defects on the surface of the film in the scanned image. The two 7500i models will sell for $400 and $600 respectively, while the 7300 is priced at $300.
Alternative iTunes models
Apple is reportedly discussing a new iTunes store business model with record companies which would grant iPod owners unlimited access to the library by paying a slight premium for the devices. According to The Financial Times, the plan resembles the Nokia "Comes with Music" deal, wherein Nokia pays record companies almost $80 per handset; Apple is reportedly limiting its offer to $20 per device.
Arthur C Clark passes on
British science fiction legend and visionary Sir Arthur C. Clarke today passed on in his home in Sri Lanka, after suffering a cardio-respiratory attack. The author, whose prophetic works inspired such films as Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, predicted such things as space shuttle, super computers, and rapid communications systems years before their time. He also inspired several other of science fiction's household names, such as Gene Roddenberry.
Adobe iPhone Flash Coming
Adobe is in the process of developing its own Flash client for the iPhone, company chief Shantanu Narayen told investment experts during a conference call (registration required). The executive revealed that Adobe has obtained the publicly available Software Development Kit and intends to release a version of the animation plugin through the App Store as soon as the software is completed. Narayen stated that analysis by the company suggested a form of Flash could be developed without requiring special access to Apple's mobile Safari browser and that it would be an important launch regardless of how it arrives.
700MHz bid ends
The 700MHz FCC-led wireless auction today ended with an estimated revenue of $20 billion, says Molly Peterson of Bloomberg.com. While the FCC hasn't disclosed the actual winner of the auction, this brings a close to a nearly two month long bidding war between 214 companies, including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Google. Analysts for the FCC expected the auction to raise between $10- to $15 billion.
In brief: We have a review of Madden NFL 08, one the best of the Electronic Arts Intel only Mac titles so far, the Fujitsu ScanSnap S300M is now available, MAXPower wireless hardware price drops are in effect, a quarter million users have downloaded bento, and MP3-based swim workouts have been released ... We have posted a review of Madden NFL 08, one the best of the Electronic Arts Intel only Mac titles so far. Madden requires a simple drag-and-drop install. Before you play, you must enter the authentication code, register it on the site, and we recommend you check for updates. Madden NFL 08 has a memorable soundtrack, offering a mix of rock, rap, and R&B tracks. The tracks were not jarring or obtrusive
VPN Tracker 5.1 ($90) IPsec based VPN client for Mac OS X. VPN Tracker 5.1 incorporates client provisioning for WatchGuard devices and lets administrators rollout VPN access for large numbers of users. VPN Tracker 5.1 now supports Watchguard's easy-to-configure Mobile User VPN. The client provisioning functionality in VPN Tracker 5.1 is completely compatible with the current Peak- and Core product lines of WatchGuard. [Download - form]
MacGPS Pro 7.6 ($50) software that connects GPS receivers and Macs. It works with Garmin and Magellan GPS receivers for transferring Waypoints, Routes, Tracklogs, and GPS satellite Almanacs. It works with many brands of GPS receivers for a realtime display of GPS information on a moving map on the desktop. Version 7.6 adds support for all the Garmin Colorado series of GPS receivers. This new version also stitches together maps that have differing datums and displays the track log name in the track point display window. MacGPS Pro requires Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later (for Garmin USB connection, Mac OS X 10.3.8 or later), works with Leopard.
German-English dictionary (free) plugin for Mac OS X 10.5 Dictionary.App that provides the complete german-english dictionary of the well-known dict.cc-Site for offline use. Works in Dictionary.App and other core OS X services like Spotlight or Dictionary-Widget. [Download - 125MB]
ChordMate 1.2 ($15-$40) digital chord book. Organize chords by their musical quality, ease of play, or fret. This release has the ability to Copy/Paste Chord Diagrams: you can create chord charts, mail interesting chord voicings to your friends, and annotate your favorite songs; Capo: You can tell ChordMate to place a capo on any fret and Alternate Tunings: Players who do not use the standard EADGBE tuning can tune ChordMate to match their guitar. [Download - 476KB]
Entrance 1.2 ($40) a MySQL browser with charts. This version includes a "crosstabs" tool that makes it possible for MySQL users to do pivot table analysis from the desktop. The Entrance Tools menu also includes tools for transposing tables, consolidating table columns, line and curve fitting, and interpolation. The new features will be demonstrated in the Entrance booth at the upcoming MySQL Conference, April 14th-17th, in Santa Clara. [Download - 1.7MB]
StrapWrap device case
DLO today unveiled the StrapWrap, a universal neoprene case designed to attach to almost any bag strap so that users can keep iPods, cellphones or other digital devices close by. The sleeve features an extra-wide Velcro fastener that keeps devices securely fastened to a strap, with padded neoprene covering most of the inserted device. DLO is shipping the StrapWrap currently for $20; it is available from most nationwide retailers.
Apple clarifies SDK beta
Apple today released a note to developers who were earlier temporarily rejected from the iPhone SDK beta. According to iLounge News, the note claims that Apple is currently at full capacity for the current beta stage, saying that it would expand the beta program shortly, after it has control over the current round of developers. The email thanks users for their patience in the matter, and says that Apple will contact a second round of developers once the first is properly sated.
Security Update 2008-002
Apple today unveiled Security Update 2008-002, which provides a number of fixes for several system vulnerabilities found in AFP, CUPS, AppKit, and several other system-level resources. Most of the vulnerabilities revolve around maliciously crafted URLs granting access to system-level privileges, while others allow users to bypass system security. The majority of fixes are for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and Tiger Server users, while some apply to the 10.5 Leopard equivalents.
Intel NetBook leak?
A secret in spite of the sibling NetTop platform's unveiling, photos and specifications have allegedly leaked for Intel's forthcoming NetBook. An employee with a US OEM claims to have obtained a sample system, intended for educational purposes; the computer runs Windows XP Pro, and operates on a 900MHz Celeron processor with 512MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive and an Ethernet connection. The screen measures nine inches, and a conspicuous handle allows quick transport.
iPhone users access media
M:Metrics, a mobile metrics research group, has found the iPhone to be the great game-changer for the wireless industry, saying that it effectively lives up to the hype surrounding the device. Mark Donovan, senior analyst for M:Metrics, said that the iPhone is "compelling consumers to interact with the mobile web," citing "off-the-charts" usage for tasks including text messaging and mobile video. The firm's figures show that 85-percent of all iPhone users access news and other remote information during January.
Rogers 7.2Mbps ExpressCard
Canada's Rogers Wireless will be the first carrier in carrier in the world with a new ExpressCard modem, Novatel has announced. The Merlin X950D is a quad-band GSM/EDGE and tri-band HSPA modem, able to fit into both 34 and 54 ExpressCard slots. Notable however is that the modem supports not only 2.1Mbps HSUPA, but 7.2Mbps HSDPA, twice as fast as most 3G networks worldwide. Rogers has yet to launch 7.2Mbps speeds, but is rumored to be testing the technology in limited fashion.
Intel, MS Team on Research
Intel and Microsoft Research today said they would work together to research parallel computing for both home and work PCs. As part of a $20 million joint investment, the two companies will help fund Universal Parallel Computing Research Centers at both the University of Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The institutions will help develop more advanced ways of programming for and using processors with multiple cores, including operating systems.
Directors leave Sprint
Two more directors are leaving Sprint, writes the Wall Street Journal. Keith Bane and Linda Koch Lorimer have announced that they will not pursue re-election at May's shareholder meeting; the company now has a sizable four vacancies to fill, Frank Drendel and William Swanson having announced similar news last month. This may benefit Sprint, however, according to analyst Walter Piecyk of Pail Research. "The departure of four board members should provide a much needed fresh perspective to the board," he says.
iPod Touch price
yooph.nl reports on a banner appearing on the Dutch Apple Store showing the iPod Touch priced at 199 euros, a steep drop from the previous 279 euro price. Official store prices are still listed at 279 euros for 8GB, 369 euros for 16GB and 459 euros for 32GB. The apparently leaked banner has led to speculation that price drops for the iPod Touch may be on the way worldwide. Apple COO Timothy Cook recently said that Apple's focus in its iPod division over the past few months was the introduction and rollout the iPod Touch. He sees getting the "first mainstream WiFi portable platform" out as a big strategic move.
Alienware Area-51 9800 GX2
Alienware this afternoon upgraded its Area-51 gaming tower to take advantage of NVIDIA's latest speed boosts. The new system uses NVIDIA's just-introduced nForce 790i Ultra SLI mainboard and now has the option of the GeForce 9800 GX2 for video. The combination not only provides the fastest gaming performance from a single card, according to Alienware, but also adds more breathing room for expanded performance: the new nForce platform freely allows more CPU overclocking in its BIOS than earlier Area-51 models and also provides extra bandwidth for peripherals through PCI Express 2.0 as well as DDR3 memory.
Panasonic Lumix FX500
Panasonic is expanding the top end of its Lumix point-and-shoot camera line with the FX500. The compact focuses on optics rather than just its 10-megapixel sensor; the 25-125mm lens is capable both of wide-angle shots and zooming to 5X, allowing the camera to catch both unusually large subjects as well as long-distance shots. Panasonic also claims a unique interface that combines both a touchscreen and a directional pad for users who want either the relative ease of the former with the option of falling back to physical controls.
Intel Nehalem More Details
The upcoming Nehalem processor design will not just be an upgrade to existing processors but a complete replacement for the Core architecture, Intel has explained as part of a press briefing. It will be built on the same 45 nanometer manufacturing process as today's Penryn architecture but is designed to be extremely scalable: in addition to scaling from as few as two cores per chip to as many as 8, Nehalem can be optimized to run efficiently in notebooks or at full speed for servers and workstations.
60-mile Intel Wi-Fi
Intel says it has devised a new Wi-Fi technology, meant to increase the availability of Internet access worldwide. The Rural Connectivity Platform (RCP) consists mainly of a processor, radios, software and an antenna, and operates on a point-to-point scheme said to deliver up to 6.5Mbps at distances exceeding 60 miles. The hardware has already been installed in places such as India, Panama and Vietnam, and is expected to go on sale in India this year for less than $500 per node.
Aspyr Media has begun shipping id Software's Enemy Territory: Quake Wars for Mac OS X throughout North America. The game was built using id Software's MegaTexture rendering technology and features strategic team play, persistent character promotions, and an arsenal of weapons and vehicles in objective-based battles. "Battles rage on stunning battlefields inspired by tropical, arctic, temperate, urban and desert locations both online and offline against lethal A.I. combatants." Players choose to battle as one of five unique classes in either the human Global Defense Force (GDF) or the Strogg armies, each augmented with specialist weapons and combat hardware. Troops can use more than 40 vehicles, deployable structures, and defense systems like quad-bikes, tanks, and alien walkers.
Greenpeace CE rankings
Japan's Toshiba and Korea's Samsung are the most environmentally friendly of the major electronics manufacturers, claims Greenpeace. The activist group has published a new edition of its Guide to Greener Electronics, ranking producers of consumer electronics against each other in terms of factors like pollution and recycling. Toshiba has leaped ahead six positions to tie the previous leader, Samsung, due to continued improvement in areas of both recycling and electronic waste; Samsung's static ranking, meanwhile, is attributed to an "incomplete" product takeback policy.
Nokia Black N82 N95 8GB
Nokia on Tuesday shipped out revisions to a pair of its most successful phones. The N82 now ships in black and provides a subtler look than the silver version that has until today been the only choice for the smartphone. The 5-megapixel camera with Xenon flash, GPS, Europe-focused 3G, and Wi-Fi all come through from the original model. The Finnish cellphone producer sees the updated N82 arriving in stores within three to four weeks at a price of 400 Euros ($631) in its home continent, but also sells the device in the US as an unlocked device for use with AT&T or T-Mobile.
PDFpen 3.4 speeds up
Smile On My Mac has released the v3.4 update to PDFpen, its tool to assist with managing PDF files. Users can edit and resize blocks of content, overlay new material such as digital signatures, and perform tasks such as as creating a new document out of the pages from several others. The patched program is said to improve the performance of adding imprints to large files, as well as speed the opening of documents within Mac OS X 10.4.11 and 10.5.x.
Genius GHP-05 headphones
Genius released a premium headphone set Tuesday which reportedly offers a more 'live' listening experience thanks to a new 3D surround technology. The GHP-05 Live features an integrated DRD True 3D surround sound system said to enhance bass and dynamic range. According to Genius, the technology allows for pronounced low bass while delivering high treble levels along with well-defined vocals.
SSD Notebook Failure Rates
At least one major computer manufacturer is encountering an unusually high rate of failure among notebooks equipped with solid-state drives (SSDs), according to a report by analyst group Avian Securities. Declining to name the company in question, manager Avi Cohen of the research firm claims that a major PC manufacturer is seeing returns of at least 20 percent and as much as 30 percent of the SSD systems it sells. Most of these, or up to 20 percent, are from drives which failed outright, though Cohen doesn't say whether this stems from the storage itself or the controller chip, which manages data transfers between the SSD and its host computer.
iPhone browsing stats
The number of Americans browsing the web via the iPhone and iPod touch rose dramatically between December and March, according to StatCounter. The web tracking company reports that figures rose 64 percent in the period, from 0.14 to 0.23 percent of surfers; while the amount is dramatically smaller than that using desktop browsers such as Firefox or Internet Explorer, it is far in excess of some other cellular technologies, such as Nokia's. People browsing from Nokia devices represent just 0.01 percent of the US market.
NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2
NVIDIA today unveiled what it now calls its fastest single-slot video card. The GeForce 9800 GX2 is the company's second card to combine dual chipsets and merges two 9800-series chipsets into a single design that is said to be faster than two GeForce 9600 GT cards. While clocked lower at 600MHz versus the 650MHz of the less expensive card, the much larger 512-bit memory interface and 2GHz effective video memory help edge out most two-card solutions.
Adobe pulls updates
Adobe has taken the unusual step of withdrawing updates for two key pieces of photography software: Lightroom, its editing and management tool, and Camera Raw, its plug-in for support of RAW files. The principal issue is in the time stamping in EXIF information, as both Lightroom 1.4 and Camera Raw 4.4 may decide that files are out of sync with its own information, and impose their own (incorrect) stamp on the original file. Images are otherwise unaffected, and the XMP sidecar files and metadata should remain accurate.
Apple launches Safari 3.1
Continuing its spate of updates on Tuesdays, Apple has released Safari 3.1, the latest version of its proprietary web browser. The update supports the new audio and video tags of the HTML 5 standard, and is claimed to be the first browser with support for CSS animations, as opposed to static sheets. The software also introduces support for CSS web fonts, which gives designers the ability to pick custom styles without worrying about the ones a visitor already has.
TiVo Desktop 2.6
TiVo this morning pushed out an update to TiVo Desktop that helps turn its DVRs into networked media hubs. The new version stresses the ability to pull podcasts and can either recognize them directly from iTunes on a networked PC or else pulls them directly through RSS subscriptions; on Series 3 units, this also includes 720p HD podcasts. Customers can also use the Season Pass feature normally used for recorded TV shows to monitor web video sources and add new videos from folders on a local PC without adding them to the list by hand.
iTunes Store & WGA strike
Apple is offering a gesture of appeasement to customers affected by the recent Writers Guild of America strike, according to an official bulletin. The company notes that those who bought a Season Pass at the iTunes Store -- granting them access to a season of a TV show at a discount -- may still be waiting for some episodes of a show to appear, and in some cases may not receive the full value of what they paid for. This is unavoidable, as the networks themselves may not be producing the remaining episodes.
Samsung Ultra Thin 8MP Cam
Samsung this morning revealed what it says is one of the world's smallest high-resolution cameras yet. Although capable of 8-megapixel shots, the new camera is roughly as wide as a coin and a third of an inch thick, allowing it to fit into far thinner and more compact phones than even many 5-megapixel cameras. The sensor is also more powerful than most at its size with up to ISO 1600 light sensitivity, anti-blur and noise correction, and both face and smile detection for portraits.
Panasonic D-Snap Mar 2008
Panasonic today expanded its D-Snap line with a new player and stereos to match. The SD870N is billed as one of the longest-lived digital audio players and boosts the run time from an already long 80 hours in the SD850 to 100 hours. With the line's signature active noise cancelation turned on to block 83 percent of outside sound, the player still runs for 60 hours, Panasonic estimates. The updated player also comes with a larger 2GB SD card to store more music out of the box and headroom for up to a 16GB SDHC card.
Apple outpaces PC market
Apple's computer sales in the US have grown considerably from last year - at 60-percent unit growth and 67-percent revenue growth - granting it 14-percent of all computers sold for February. According to AppleInsider, Apple's laptop systems saw the largest growth, representing a 64-percent increase in units sold, and 67-percent increased revenue, suggesting strong acceptance of the company's new ultra-portable, the MacBook Air.
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