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Sony tonight has already dropped the fee for its Fresh Start program less than a day after it was introduced. While the VAIO TZ offered with Fresh Start does not come with the option enabled by default, the company now allows the option to remove trial software to be enabled for free versus the $50 cost from before. Sony has not officially stated its reasons for the decision but is known to be reacting to criticisms for charging extra to remove unwanted software.
CommuniGate Systems recently announced that it is ready to supply iPhone users with push mail, calendar, and contact syncing using over-the-air Airsync, without requiring a Microsoft Exchange server. The software, called CommuniGate Pro also works with both Linux and Windows systems, as well as the Mac. While pricing and availability for the service was not available, CommuniGate showed Communigate Pro at its booth at the VON.x Expo.
Hamburg-based Xnet Communications recently unveiled iSoftphone 2.1, an update to its internet telephony software, which features vastly revamped code and several new features. Xnet has reprogrammed several of the key features, giving the application enhanced performance and functionality, and also laying the groundwork for future implementations. The update is free for all users with Upgrade Protection, while new users can pay $50 for a license.
Leather product manufacturer Vaja today unveiled three new cases for the iPhone, MacBook Air, and iPod nano. The Retro Slim Bag for iPhone is a sleeve-style case that features an open top, but completely covers the rest of the device. It is available in blue with a beige vertical stripe, but as with any Vaja product, can be configured with any color, starting at $40. A similar sleeve for the MacBook Air is also available, except with a closing flap, for $180.
Echoing the earlier advertisement shown on various websites, Apple has revealed another "Get a Mac" banner ad which is currently showing on both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times homepages. The ad begins with Mac and PC standing in a banner on the side, with PC expressing dissatisfaction with an inflammatory remark made by CNET regarding how Vista is "one of the biggest blunders in technology."
The Mac mini is supposedly getting an internal overhaul, rather than fading into nonexistence, as popular belief would indicate. According to AppleInsider, the miniature computer is to see the 45-nanometer Core 2 Duo chip, starting at 2.1GHz, with an 800MHz frontside buss and the Intel GMA X3100 graphics processor. This alleged update comes after almost a year of shipping the same model, without any major changes.
Motorola's MING 2 touchscreen phone may already be on sale in its intended Chinese marketplace without Motorola's permission, says at least one witness in the country. The flip phone has purportedly been offered at a market in Shenzhen, where many companies manufacture electronic devices, and closely resembles concept images of the device reported in February. The handset on display is localized and appears to have an interface that reflects the phone's touch-driven nature.
A new media player by Asia's Teclast is directly targeting the iPhone and the iPod touch. Like the Apple devices, the M26 is almost entirely touchscreen controlled, but Teclast is specifically marketing the player as using the same type of capacitive technology as the iPhone, permitting light finger gestures. The M26 differs mainly by way of having a 2.6-inch, 400x200 screen, and playing AVI, RealVideo and even Flash video files. Neither the iPhone nor the Touch support Flash.
Sprint's BlackBerry 8330 variant has already had its launch date and price exposed, a tip from BGR shows. The smartphone is set to appear on April 16th and will sell for about $600 without a contract, putting it at the higher end of Sprint's smartphone line. No clues have appeared for the phone's standard two-year contract price, though the phone will appear first in a titanium color and should be followed in two months by a red model like that from AT&T.
Apple is offering several refurbished iMacs, both new and old generation, starting from $999. The white plastic iMac models offered are the 20-inch 2.16GHz and 24-inch 2.16GHz versions, both of which come with 1GB of memory, and a 250GB hard drive. While the 20-inch model features an ATI Radeon X1600 graphics processor with 128MB of texture memory, the 24-inch comes with an nVidia GeForce 7300GT, also with 128MB of memory. Apple is selling the 20-inch for $1099, and the 24-inch for $1399.
The interface for Meizu's iPhone clone, the M8 -- also known as the MiniOne -- is undergoing subtle changes, according to various reports. Meizu itself is now claiming to have added more touch software to the phone, though it is not disclosing specifics. The company should eventually release a framework describing the entire interface of the phone, a potentially risky move given the device's association with the iPhone and Apple's plans for a Chinese release.
Myka is offering a self-titled media hub it says is a viable alternative for those who want most of the features of the Apple TV but a less restricted environment. Rather than depend on a closed download system such as iTunes, the Myka depends chiefly on BitTorrent downloads to accomplish its download goals. The peer sharing format not only reduces dependence on any one server for content but also theoretically allows downloads of content beyond the typical music and videos, according to the company. The system is designed to simplify the experience and also includes web access so the owner can queue up content away from home.
A sneak peek at what is believed to be Sonyís top-end digital SLR was offered at Japanís Photo Imaging Expo on Friday. The camera, dubbed A900 until an official name is released, is likely to use Sonyís first full-size 24.8 megapixel sensor which would also be the biggest in the DSLR game. The new pro camera offers almost twice the image resolution of Sonyís current best-resolution Alpha, the 14.2MP A350, and slightly outperforms Canonís 21.1MP EOS-1Ds Mark III.
No new Treo smartphones are expected to appear until the summer, Palm chief Ed Colligan said late yesterday during the conference call for the company's latest quarterly results. The company founder warned that quarterly losses were likely to continue during the spring quarter as the Sunnyvale, California-based company would not have an updated model during the period, which runs until the end of May. Palm will primarily focus on expanding the reach of the Centro to Europe and other carriers until it can release a new Treo before the end of the summer, Colligan said.
Research in Motion president Mike Lazaridis has effectively confirmed the upcoming release of a BlackBerry capable of 3.5G Internet access, the Financial Times revealed in an interview (registration required). The company founder noted that he has a prototype phone that can connect to an HSDPA network, providing a "very fast" connection to the Internet when in the right coverage areas. His statements echoed earlier comments by fellow executive Jim Balsilie that a device would be available soon, but now confirms that such devices are close enough to completion to be used in the field.
The One Laptop Per Child project is undergoing serious internal problems, InfoWorld reports. The non-profit group is said to be in the middle of a massive restructuring effort, prompted by an organization described by chairman Nicholas Negroponte as "almost like a terrorist group, doing almost impossible things." OLPC is now hunting for a new CEO, and its director of Security Architecture, Ivan Krstić, has announced his resignation.
The FCC is indeed moving closer to a decision on the merger of Sirius and XM Radio, according to the group's chairman. Kevin Murphy is cited by Reuters as saying that draft documents are being put together, which will outline the choices the FCC can make on particular details of the merger. "I have asked the staff, after we've gotten all the final information that we needed, to be doing drafts, and when there were issues outstanding to do a range of options for us," he states.
Dell's Latitude E4000 series will more explicitly target the same very thin, advanced technology field covered by Apple's MacBook Air and Lenovo's ThinkPad X300, according to leaks continued today by Engadget. While both the E4200 and E4300 will offer thinner LED-backlit, 12-inch displays, the E4200 will be far thinner than earlier Latitudes and will measure between 0.6 and 0.8 inches thick and will optimally weigh just 2.2 versus the 3 of its challengers. This will in part come from its storage: the E4200 will require either a 32GB or 64GB solid-state drive instead of a conventional hard disk.
Ovolab has begun shipping Geophoto 2, the next major edition of its geotagging application for photos. The software helps users sort images by where they were shot, assigning them to locations on a 3D globe with a free-roaming camera. Tagging is said to be much simpler in v2, thanks to a map view which allows positioning at street level. Additionally, photos can be tied to track points from a GPS receiver.
RE:Vision Effects has announced that the OpenFX version of its ReelSmart Motion Blur plug-ins, previously only available for Windows, are now out for Mac OS X as well as 32- and 64-bit Linux systems. Motion Blur applies or removes its titular effect to various video formats; it attempts to make the results more natural by tracking each pixel, and calculating expected movement. The software works with a variety apps, such as Assimilate Scratch.
AT&T's gains for wireless space in the FCC 700MHz auction will cost it enough to require a major downpayment, according to a filing by the cellular carrier. The company explains that its new space will demand a $1.3 billion down payment within the next ten days and that it will need to take on a debt load of $5.3 billion to pay for the remaining amount. The figures make up a significant portion of the overall auction, which resulted in a reportedly record-setting $18.9 billion in net bids spread across a mix of large telecoms companies as well as regional businesses.
RIM is prepping an upgrade to the BlackBerry Curve tailored for at least two CDMA networks, according to separate discussions at Pinstack. The previously GSM-only Curve will reportedly switch to the networks of Sprint and Telus and will follow the same upgrade pattern set out by the Pearl 8130, which added native GPS to the original design. However, the new version may also receive a storage upgrade along with its network change, boosting the phone to 80MB and improving its ability to store third-party apps without resorting to a microSD card.
Equinux has updated two of its key programs, MediaCentral and VPN Tracker. MediaCentral operates as a kind of Mac equivalent to Windows Media Center, combining the playback of several types of media within one program; users can not only load music, photos and videos, but DVD movies and TV, the latter offering the option of IPTV or digital broadcast. Version 2.7 retools the TV engine for better video quality and faster channel switching, as well automatic timeshifting when hitting pause. The software costs $30.
Apple is now facing its first lawsuit involving Time Machine, court filings show. The Texan company Mirror Worlds has accused Apple of infringing on four patents: three of these relate directly to a "document stream operating system," while the fourth covers an attached information management system. The document streams depicted group many different file types together, arranged chronologically and in piles; this most closely resembles the Time Machine backup software in Mac OS X Leopard, but may also cover the sorting system on iPods and iPhones, for chronological items like podcasts.
Sony has begun offering Fresh Start, a controversial practice to clean its systems of unnecessary software. Initially available only with the VAIO TZ ultraportable, the option removes both VAIO-specific programs as well as games and other trial software. The practice is meant to "free up valuable hard drive space and conserve memory and processing power" before the system ever leaves the factory, according to Sony.
A patent infringement claim may lead to blocks against importing both Blu-ray technology as well as cellphones and other storage, the US International Trade Commission said today. The potential impasse has its roots in a complaint by patent holder and Columbia University emeritus professor Gertrude Rothschild, who claims that bringing numerous foreign-made devices with short-wave lasers and LEDs violates her own claims to the technology in the US. Most companies affected by the dispute are those producing Blu-ray optical storage drives and involve chief backer Sony as well as LG, Pioneer, Samsung, and Sharp.
Averatec has chosen the start of a holiday weekend to launch the 2575, its latest 12-inch ultraportable. The notebook adopts a more serious all-black design than some earlier models but is ultimately focused on offering as complete a system as possible: the stock system ships with 2GB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, and a DVD burner. The company refrains from mentioning clock speeds but incorporates an AMD Turion 64 X2 to provide dual cores without the higher costs of some Intel processors.
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HBO Now has 800,000 subscribers
The CEO of HBO, Richard Plepler has confirmed that the online streaming HBO service, HBO Now, has 800,000 subscribers. When criticized for the seemingly low number, Plepler noted that the still nascent service was bound to Apple exclusivity during the fifth season of Game of Thrones. Plepler declared during the Time Warner quarterly earnings conference call marketing for the online-only offering would be enhanced in 2016. While HBO Now's critics are slamming the low numbers, the service must also compete against itself on cable, in addition to Netflix and other streaming services. http://on.recode.net/1QWoLHe
Unsafe IoT called threat to humanity
US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told two different Senate committees yesterday that the Internet of Things posed a clear and present danger, and could be weaponized by governments. Before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Clapper declared that insecure IoT "will bring new security vulnerabilities" and "will connect tens of billions of new physical devices that could be exploited" by those wishing to perpetrate violence or eavesdrop on the populace of the world. http://bit.ly/23Xvcky
Apple public betas for iOS 9.3, OS X 10.11.4
Following Monday's release of betas for the iOS and OS X, Apple has unveiled public betas for both operating systems. The iOS 9.3 beta includes all of the previously reported enhancements for education customers, along with Wi-Fi calling for Verizon iPhone owners, and a carrier update for T-Mobile users. The OS X 10.11.4 third beta includes enhancements to Twitter URL opening, Live Photo viewing and sharing, and Evernote note importation into Notes.
Google given NHTSA SDS waivers
In contrast to the California Department of Motor Vehicle's approach, the US National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has confirmed that it is declaring the software in autonomous cars is the legal driver of a so-equipped vehicle. In a letter to Google, the NHTSA says that it "will interpret 'driver' in the context of Google's described motor vehicle design as referring to the SDS [self-driving system], and not to any of the vehicle occupants." Other matters, such as legally-required rear-view mirrors for occupied vehicles has yet to be determined. However, regulations specifying the "driver" need no longer be interpreted as meaning a person behind the wheel, as the agency writes that self-driving cars "will not have a 'driver' in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers during the last more than one hundred years" http://1.usa.gov/1QrAGtR
Dropshare 4 for Mac now available
Dropshare 4 for Mac has shipped, introducing support for uploading files and screenshots to Amazon S3 API-compliant services, like DreamObjects and OpenStack. The update also introduces a new popup design, an in-app editor for custom landing pages, an improved upload history window, and security improvements when using SSH connections. The paid upgrade costs $25, though it is free for customers who bought the previous version this year and half-price for those who acquired version 3 of the app last year. http://bit.ly/1XixV3q
Google starting phase-out of Flash ads
Search engine and advertising giant Google will shortly no longer accept Adobe Flash-created ads for its AdWords network. Starting June 30, ads in the once-ubiquitous format will no longer be accepted. Additionally, after January 2, 2017, the network will no longer serve Flash-based advertisements, and the network will be completely HTML 5 based. http://bit.ly/1PNx1uc
Sonos now works with Apple Music
Wireless music system manufacturer Sonos has announced that its systems worldwide will gain compatibility for streaming the paid Apple Music subscription service starting today, February 10. "Music fans worldwide will have access to Apple Music features like For You, New, Radio, and My Music, and will also be able to stream the entire Apple Music catalog through Sonos smart speakers tuned for great sound in every room of their homes," the company said in an email to journalists. Apple Music's streaming service costs $10 per month, with a free three-month trial. http://bit.ly/1Wdi2Ko