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Asus M50 multimedia PC
ASUS recently unveiled the M50 notebook, a multimedia-styled computer that blends a Blu-Ray player with Altec Lansing speakers and Dolby Home Theatre. The embedded touchpad doubles as a multimedia control panel, giving users control over both music and video without moving the cursor. The M50 also features an HDMI port to connect to home theatre setups. ASUS has not given pricing or availability, but the M50 is expected to ship next week.
Amplitube 2 Duo launched
IK Multimedia today unveiled AmpliTube 2 Duo, a version of its AmpliTube 2 software that is bundled with Notion Music's Progression - an application for creating, learning, and distributing music. When combined, IK claims the pair allows users to create custom sounds using "ultra-accurate" sound models. IK Multimedia and Notion are offering AmpliTube 2 Duo from IK's website, but pricing is not readily available. Existing IK customers can crossgrade for $270.
HTC Shift X9000 UMPC leak
Information has leaked regarding a semi-full-featured hybrid tablet ultra-mobile PC from HTC, called the Shift X9000, a 1-inch thick, 2 pound device that features a 7-inch touchscreen and Windows Vista Business. Laptop Magazine recently had a chance to review the unit, noting that the built-in Sprint EVDO connectivity and push email make the device quite interesting. While not officially released, the HTC Shift X9000 is expected to sell for $1500, according to Amazon.
Airport Express, Time Cap
MacNN recently posted reviews for both the new Apple Airport Express and the 500GB Time Capsule. Through the course of testing, MacNN's own Wallace Wang found the Express to be a good value for home users, as it supports a wide range of wireless standards, provides printer and audio sharing, as well as compatibility with PCs. The addition of the Draft N standard to the device allows it to remain current with Airport cards in machines.
SanDisk Sansa Fuze Review
While many portable media players have been directly compared against one or more of Apple's iPods, few of the larger names in the industry have sought to take on Apple in a direct way. SanDisk has largely been one of these competitors until March, which has seen the company release one of its most direct challenges to the iPod to date and one of the first most obvious challengers to the third-generation iPod nano. Click ahead for the full Sansa Fuze review, which suggests that Apple may have some reason for worry, especially in regards to price.
Adobe Flash on iPhone
Despite Adobe's positive-sounding statement yesterday, CEO Shantanu Narayen clarified that he meant Flash on the iPhone would require more than just the iPhone SDK to pull off successfully. Since Flash requires a very close relationship with Safari - something Apple is normally very hesitant to allow - Narayen says it would need to work closely with Apple to develop a satisfactory implementation of Flash for the iPhone, according to CNET.
Apple updates Time Machine
Apple today released a combination update for Time Machine, bundling with it Airport driver fixes. What the update actually fixes is unclear, simply stating "This update is recommended for all users and includes compatibility improvements for using Time Machine with Time Capsule, as well as AirPort driver fixes." The update is available through Software Update under the Apple menu, but Apple has not released its typical accompanying web pages on its support site.
FCC ups 'broadband' bar
The Federal Communications Commission has voted to change how broadband access in the US is measured, say reports. The old system was been criticized by various parties as distorted, using outdated and overly generous criteria; "high speed" was considered to be 200Kbps or faster, and access was sometimes considered to be widespread in ZIP codes where only one connection was present. Because this produced bad data, the FCC argues that it hindered any serious federal broadband policies, as well as how much investment would be made into infrastructure, whether public or private.
JumpStart for FileMaker
FMWebschool recently announced JumpStart, a web-based application that allows users to access FileMaker databases from remote locations using a cell phone. JumpStart allows users to visualize their database, and configure which layouts are viewable with which permission sets. FMWebschool is offering JumpStart to FMGateway hosting clients for no charge, while non-client users can pay $10 per month to access the service.
Intel WiMAX, 802.11n plans
Intel has announced more details on its plans for wireless in Centrino 2 systems, a Taiwanese publication reports. The centerpiece option is its "Echo Peak" module, which combines 802.11n Wi-Fi with support for WiMAX, the company's cellular-like standard that has greater range. This will however come at a significant cost to end users, as Intel is charging OEMs themselves $43 to $54, depending on specifications.
EMI Talks for Nokia CWM
EMI is eager to join Nokia's controversial Comes With Music service, the music label said today in a press conference. The company has revealed that discussions are underway which would add EMI's catalog to the current offerings, which are limited to tracks from Universal. Without detailing the progress of talks, EMI's Finland head Wemppa Koivumaki said he hoped his firm's music would be in place for the official Comes With Music launch in the latter half of 2008.
Fido UNO Leak
Canadian cell provider Fido is set to follow in the steps of T-Mobile USA and launch a Wi-Fi calling service that can potentially be less expensive than traditional service, a leak on HowardForums says. Fido UNO will use the same Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology as T-Mobile's HotSpot@Home to immediately switch from GSM cellular to Internet calling when connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot. In Fido's version, any calls made to the customer's home area from Wi-Fi would be free on a base $15 monthly plan; a $20 monthly plan would extend this to include all of Canada.
Moto to Cut Design in Half
Motorola may cut as much as half of its UK design team, the companysaid today in a statement. All of the 121 staffers at the cellphone maker's Birmingham location have been told they may lose their positions, with roughly half of that amount likely to be laid off in the near future. The location itself may be shut down and see the remaining workers moved to a more central location or else working in a different capacity for the company. Most of the changes will take place sometime after a 90 day period to be used to determine final plans.
Gefen has introduced a new USB to DVI Graphics Adapter that allows users to connect additional displays Mac OS X systems. This tiny adapter allows a plug and play connection of a DVI or VGA display to any USB 2.0 port so you can add digital video displays or projectors to your laptop and personal computer for simultaneous video delivery without needing a DVI port. Output video is delivered in the DVI-I format, allowing for either VGA or DVI display compatibility.
Verizon Open Dev. specs
As promised in February, Verizon Wireless has begun its Open Development Device Conference, explaining how third-party companies will be able to bring their own phones and services onto the network without having them directly integrated. In theory this may render Verizon into something more closely resembling an Internet service provider, as opposed to its current scheme, in which phones must be strictly customized and can only operate on first-party pathways.
Digieffects has begun shipping Damage, a new set of plugins for video and film post production professionals. Damage is a collection of four effects designed for post production professionals who want to create an extensive variety of digital and/or analog defects, errors and artifacts in their footage. It supports Adobe After Effects, Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, Autodesk Combustion and Boris RED.
Dell Latitude XT 2 Leak
The Latitude XT's first major revision should see a faster device and potentially the inclusion of an optical drive, says information reportedly leaked to Engadget. The convertible tablet will reportedly switch completely to Intel's Centrino 2 platform and use its newer, faster low and ultra-low voltage Core 2 Duo processors along with the faster GMA X4500 integrated video that comes with the new chipset. Refinements to technology should also allow Dell to fit an extremely thin DVD drive into the system rather than rely on a dock.
Google: Mobile Internet up
Mobile Internet use has not only increased in recent months, it has accelerated, according to a Google Mobile product manager. "We have very much hit a watershed moment in terms of mobile Internet usage," says Matt Waddell. He notes that the evidence stems from Google's own penetration into phones such as the iPhone and the BlackBerry, and more generally with devices by Finnish maker Nokia. Google is also introducing a new download for Windows Mobile, which places a search window on the home screen.
Red Zune 80 Returns
Microsoft today quietly restored a red version of the Zune 80 to its lineup, adding it to the company's Zune Originals customization service. The hard drive-based media player was previously available only in the color as a limited-run Valentine's Day promotion but can now be purchased alongside the normal black model. The Originals service lets prospective buyers choose from any one of multiple art patterns to be engraved to the aluminum back in addition to (or in place of) custom text.
Music vs. iPhone SDK
Any functionality related to music playback is inaccessible by the iPhone SDK, a new report claims. While the SDK allows access to many other functions of iPhone and the iPod touch, such as dialing, the camera and Internet access, The Inquirer writes that any components connected to iTunes are off-limits, preventing developers from accessing one of the most popular features of the phone, next to web browsing and Google Maps.
Best Buy HD DVD Coupons
Best Buy hopes to satisfy disaffected buyers of HD DVD players by offering them a $50 coupon, the retailer announced today. Worth $10 million, the deal will hand out the in-store discount to anyone who bought either a dedicated HD DVD reader or add-ons such as Microsoft's Xbox 360 HD DVD drive on or before February 23rd, the Saturday that followed Toshiba's discontinuation of the format. The decision was made to head off concerns from customers who unknowingly bought into the now-obsolete format and will help them make their own decisions, whether to switch to Blu-ray or something else altogether, Best Buy claims.
X-GEAR 1.1 ships
IK Multimedia has announced that its X-GEAR software, currently in version 1.1, is now available for free to owners of any "Powered by AmpliTube" package, in addition to registered owners of the StompIO floor controller. X-GEAR acts as a unifying host interface for guitar players, compatible with the StompIO and generic MIDI controllers; users mix and match combinations of amp and effects modelers, added via AmpliTude software such as Metal, Jimi Hendrix and Ampeg SVX.
WD Caviar 640GB Ships
Western Digital on Wednesday said it had started shipping its 640GB Caviar SE16. The 3.5-inch desktop drive stores less than the 750GB and 1TB drives that have reached shelves but achieves its 640GB capacity using only two platters. With such sheer density, the drive is both faster than some other drives and also runs at cooler (and thus quieter) levels than disks which would need three or even four platters to push past the 500GB mark, according to the company.
Dell Rebuffs SSD Fail Rate
Dell today denied claims that its solid-state drives were experiencing unusually high failure rates. Although it had not been directly linked to the problem by the Avian Securities analysis and instead had been the implied subject only in follow-up journalist reports, the company has effectively admitted that it was the subject of Avian's research but now claims that the analysis was fundamentally flawed, taking no input from Dell itself.
Sony-Ericsson Profit Drop
Sony-Ericsson will see lower profits than expected in its next quarter due to a drop in sales of mid- and high-end phones, the company has revealed today. The cellphone partnership now expects to sell a comparatively modest 22 million phones between January and March and should see reduced income as well as a lower average phone price of €120 ($188), showing an emphasis on low-cost phones. The dip is largely attributed to struggling sales in Europe, where Sony-Ericsson has often had its best market success but where it also faces its stiffest competition. Moves are underway to escape dependence on the region but are not far along enough to have affected near-term results.
Sonica plug-in for Maya
EI Technology has released the public beta version of Sonica, a plug-in for the Maya rendering suite. The software is used to synchronize animation in Maya to sound; it does this by extracting spectrum and waveform animation from a track, and generating dependency nodes that can be connected to others for different effects. Multi-tracking is supported, and pre-made scripts are included for common representations of sound such as vertical bars.
Electronics spending crash
American spending on electronics is about to take a sharp slide, suggests a study by ChangeWave Research. In a survey of over 4,400 Americans conducted between February 18th and the 25th, a full 33 percent said they would be spending less on electronics in the next 90 days, versus only 19 percent who said they would spend more. Although "spending less" responses tend to dominate in most months of the year except for the run-up to Christmas, the gap is now the largest it has been since 2002, a factor which may both reflect and harm an already damaged US economy.
Helio Ocean Opera Mini
Helio today revealed that the Ocean would be the first cellphone to have free access to Opera Mini. The update gives the dual-mode slider phone browsing that more closely resembles desktops rather than the basic WAP browsing it had used before; as with Apple's mobile Safari, users can see a zoomed-out version of the full, accurately rendered page and then zoom in to focus on specific articles. Opera's unique remote caching approach also helps make the most of the Ocean's 3G connection by cutting down on load times.
Dell Reviving Handhelds
Dell is resurrecting its handheld business in the wake of Acer's buyout of E-TEN, market contacts have claimed. Although Dell has repeatedly denied smartphone rumors that have surfaced over the past few months, new information suggests the Texas PC maker wants to return to the Windows Mobile device market it abandoned when it cancelled the Axim last year in a bid to prevent Acer from gaining marketshare in that space. Rather than offer strict PDA-only functions, however, the new Dell handhelds would offer both GPS mapping and smartphone features.
ECS G10IL Netbook
ECS today took away the mystery of its CEBit expo presence with the formal launch of the G10IL, its first entry in the new netbook class and a direct rival to ASUS' Eee PC. The system is now known to be based on an Intel Atom processor and is one of the few very small portables to ship with 3G support. An HSPA modem allows the system to reach the Internet through cell networks with up to 7.2Mbps downloads and 2Mbps uploads; the modem is tri-band and supports US frequencies as well as Asia and Europe, ECS says.
Scribbles 1.2 update
atebits has released v1.2 of Scribbles, its Mac drawing tool. The software is deliberately simplified, so that users do not have to wade through a sea of menus to produce a quick sketch or illustration; drawing tablets are supported, and users do not have to pre-define the size of their canvas. The update makes several important changes, notably the ability to independently translate, rotate and scale layers, which were previously static.
Sanyo Xacti CG9
Sanyo this morning boosted the Xacti camcorder line with the CG9. The pocket camcorder records video at standard definition but includes one of Sanyo's sharpest-ever CMOS sensors, allowing it to record native still shots at 9.1 megapixels. Enhanced processing also lets it capture short bursts at five frames per second. For its primary movie mode, the CG9 records using AVC (H.264) and can fit about an hour of high-quality footage for every 1GB of memory on an SD card; SDHC support allows this newest Xacti to hold at least 32GB of storage with the right cards.
Code crashes iPhone 1.1.4
A new exploit has surfaced for the iPhone's Safari browser that, while drawing parallels to an earlier issue, requires no user input to function. According to iPhone World, the vulnerability is triggered by previously conceived code that has been refined in the above manner. The issue affects firmware version 1.1.4 iPhones, and presumably previous versions. Safari on the Mac and PC were also affected by this vulnerability, but it was recently fixed in Safari 3.1, released today.
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.
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