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SMART Utility 1.2 released
Volitans software on Monday released SMART Utility 1.2, a significant update to the hard drive diagnostic scanning application. The new features include more readable attribute names, displaying the model family, sending additional information to the smartctl engine, and French localization. The SMART Utility scans the internal hardware diagnostics system of hard drives SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology), a system built into hard drives by their manufacturers to report on various measurements. The information detail can be used to detect when a hard drive is having mechanical or electrical problems, and can indicate when the hard drive is failing. The software can read and display these attributes in an effort to avoid device failure.
Yahoo open to offers
With Microsoft retracting its bid Saturday, Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang today announced it would listen to any interested bidding parties, including Microsoft, despite explicitly saying the company is for sale.Bloomberg reports that Yahoo is currently evaluating revenue-generating relationships with companies such as Google and AOL to raise the company's value, but is leaving the door open "should somebody else come back someday and want to buy the company", said Yang.
Boylston Street opens May
Apple will unveil the Boylston Street retail store on Friday, May 16th at 6pm in the Boston Area. According to ifoAppleStore, the store will feature three stories of product, will feature mostly glass construction on the surrounding sides of the building, which is currently hidden behind green construction masking, giving it the appearance of the Green Monster at Fenway Park. When the store was first constructed, Boylston Street was closed at 5AM on August 19th for work crews to deliver construction materials.
Apple tops tech support
Apple recently topped Consumer Reports' list of hardware manufacturers technical support services in a recent study. Consumer Reports says that while the industry standard solve-rate for technical issues sits at around 60-percent, while Apple's phone support yielded an 80-percent solve-rate, and the company's Genius bars accounted for a 90-percent solve-rate. The statistics were discovered through a survey of over 10,000 desktop and laptop computers.
Toast Titanium 9
Every Mac with a Superdrive can burn your iTunes music files to a CD, your iMovie video files to a DVD, and your digital photographs (or any files and folders) to both a CD/DVD. However, if you want to do more than ordinary CD/DVD burning, you may want to look at Roxio's latest version of Toast Titanium 9, a multi-purpose optical media authoring application that can burn CDs/DVDs and do a whole lot more.
RingtoneFeeder for iPhone
Composer Geoff Smith today unveiled RingtoneFeeder, a new subscription service that allows users to form a collection of original iPhone-optimized ringtones. The subscription grants users the five most recently finished ringtones, and as long as the subscription is maintained, a new ringtone every week. After signing up, users get ringtones delivered right to their phones. Monthly subscriptions are available for $2 a month, while a yearly subscription costs $20.
Sprint Curve coming May 7
While it is not yet official, Sprint will launch the BlackBerry 8330 this Wednesday, says a discovery made by forum users. The provider's print ad featuring the Curve has been found over the weekend, and while it does not reveal an actual ship date, the text does hint the Curve would make an ideal gift for Mother's Day, on May 11. What the ad does definitely reveal, however, is that the Sprint Curve will be available not only in titanium, but red as well.
Crative Vado leaked
While there has been no official word from Creative Labs itself, a product page on JR.com lists a Vado video camcorder from the company. In terms of specifications, the ultra-affordable video camera is nearly identical to the Pure Digital Technologies Flip range of video cameras. The Creative Labs VF0570-P Vado pocket camcorder will feature a 2GB storage capacity capable of holding approximately 2 hours of VGA (640x480) video, and up to 2 hours of life from its rechargeable AA batteries.
MS Denies X360 Blu-ray 2
Microsoft today repeated its past denials that the company is developing a Blu-ray drive for the Xbox 360. Following a report on Friday which said Microsoft had contacted ASUS for drives to be used as add-ons for the game system by the fall, Microsoft has echoed its past approach and says that it has "no plans" to launch a Blu-ray reader add-on in the near future. The company prefers to focus on the core gaming of the Xbox, according to a statement.
RBC on Apple iPhone plans
Sales of the iPhone in 2008 will exceed Apple's projected goal of 10 million and reach 14 million, in part due to some radical changes to the device's distribution schemes, argues RBC analyst Mark Abramsky. He first agrees with suggestions that AT&T may subsidize the iPhone by up to $200, reducing the price of an 8GB model to $199; this could increase sales by between 50 and 100 percent. In exchange, however, Apple would likely have to agree to drop revenue sharing, which has been extremely lucrative but an obstacle to adoption in countries like China.
Sony Skype budle for PSP
Sony Computer Entertainment Japan (SCEJ) announced a PSP Headset with Remote Control on Friday. The kit is meant to be used with the PSP's Skype functionality, which was enabled late in January with firmware update 3.90. To use the devices to make VoIP calles using Skype on the PSP, the gaming system's firmware must be upgraded to version 3.93, according to SCEJ.
SteelSeries 7G keyboard
SteelSeries on Monday introduced its latest gaming product to the US market, the 7G keyboard. The company claims the mechanical 7G is 90 percent more responsive and 10 times more durable that regular keyboards, and eliminates anti-ghosting by supporting a key press command for every key. For low latency communication, the 7G features 18K gold-plated connectors. The 7G utilizes iron-infused plastic and gold-plated no-click switches, among other features, to endow it with a guarantee for 50 million keystrokes by its maker.
Sprint Mulls Nextel Sale
Sprint is strongly considering selling off its Nextel division after just three years folded into the company, the Wall Street Journal says while crediting anonymous sources. One of Nextel's founders, Morgan O'Brien, is purportedly creating a group of investors that would buy out the push-to-talk group and restore its place as a separate company. Other private companies are also an option, as is a spin-off similar to the landline Internet provider Embarq.
Google Accuses Verizon
Google has filed an FCC petition asking that the FCC drop Verizon's $4.7 billion winning bid in the recent 700MHz wireless auction. Filed late last week, the motion accuses Verizon of planning to use its Any App, Any Device plan to shelter customers buying its own devices from having to follow FCC open access guidelines set out before the auction, which would require that any 700MHz service on the relevant spectrum support any legal device or software regardless of which company has sold either component. Verizon's plan forces users of truly open devices to follow a different set of rules while those who buy from Verizon itself are trapped, Google claims.
After an extended beta period, MachineCodex has released v1.0 of AudioCodex, an unusual music and video application. The program unifies iTunes libraries with Quartz Composer, and CoreAudio Audio Units (AU) effects; while the software can be used strictly for playback, it also allows time- and pitch-shifting, along with real-time AU chains. Users can moreover create their own loops and Quartz visualizations, enabling the creation of original art and music.
Kensignton powers up iPods
Kensington on Monday unveiled a Battery Pack and Charger for iPhone and iPod, along with a Mini version. The portable battery packs plug into the Apple devices' dock connectors and power and recharge them, and are themselves rechargeable. The lithium-ion polymer battery packs feature a USB connector that allows them to be charged via either the AC adapter or a PC, whether or not they are also plugged into an Apple device, charging it as well.
Austria Talks 3G iPhone
A 3G-capable iPhone is coming soon and may bring pricing changes along with it in at least one area, says a report by Austrian paper Der Standard. T-Mobile Austria has allegedly confirmed the existence of a phone that would support faster data over the local UMTS-based 3G data network and says it will be a "testing ground" for the device as one of the first to carry the hardware. However, the company declines to say when it will unveil the iPhone for customers and has not provided any technical details beyond the faster wireless speeds.
EVGA UV Plus+ adapters
Peripheral maker EVGA says it has begun shipping a new line of graphics adapters, the UV Plus+ series. The two current units connect various displays to a computer through USB; both DVI and VGA monitor inputs are supported, thanks in part to a bundled DVI-to-VGA adapter. Through DisplayLink technology, people can use up to four monitors simultaneously, in primary, mirrored or extended modes. This does, however, require a separate adapter for each screen.
Merlin Pushes Online Music
Smaller music labels may soon get better deals and rights for their content at iTunes and other online stores through moves being made in recent weeks by indie music collective group Merlin. The organization has recently opened signups and says it has already received the support of more than 12,000 labels that will unite to press for better conditions for their artists.
iPhone 2.0 CN, JPN support
The latest developer version of the iPhone 2.0 firmware adds dramatically different non-Phoenician language support, accounts say. Most notable in v5A258f may be new support for simplified Chinese, and in particular handwriting support, a feature that may prove crucial if and when the iPhone is adopted in China. Chinese is a more complex language than English, making it difficult to type out quickly; as a result, companies such as Motorola have developed phones whose primary focus is on easing Chinese writing.
American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu has reversed a prior downgrade on share's of Apple Inc, changing his rating on the stock to from Neutral to Buy. Wu's downgrade came right before Apple's blowout March quarter, in which the company announced record revenues on surging Mac sales. Barrons quotes Wu: "We overestimated the potential negative reaction on the quarter and in hindsight should have moderated our near-term posture rather than downgrading. While AAPL shares will likely remain volatile and may offer a better entry point, we need to align our rating with our longer term view on fundamentals." Wu has set a $210 price target on Apple's stock. Barrons also notes that RBC Capital's Mike Abramsky has raised his target price on Apple to $220 from $200, predicting that Apple will sell 14 million iPhones this year.
Samsung i770 at FCC
An unusual new Samsung phone has been approved by the FCC, filings show. The SCH-i770 uses the new Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system, but its main feature is a hybrid receiver, allowing users to switch between GSM and CDMA networks at will. Such receivers are common in countries like Russia, but not in the United States, where large national networks, unique frequencies and a lack of unlocked sales can deter importing. Crucially, the i770 supports the common 850 and 1900MHz bands used by American carriers.
T-Mobile 3G Official
T-Mobile today officially introduced its anticipated third-generation (3G) cellular service. Coming after company hints and unofficial tests, the network is now live in New York City and significantly improves both call quality and data access versus the current 2G network. Like other 3G services, T-Mobile's is seamless and allows supporting phones to automatically switch to 3G when they come within range.
AP launches iPhone site
The Associated Press has launched a new iPhone version of its online portal, according to an announcement. The newswire service notes that the site should now be visible by visiting apnews.com, and that it contains not just AP news but material from over 100 media outlets, covering topics such as breaking events, business and entertainment. Publications involved include the likes of the San Francisco Chronicle and the Miami Herald.
HTC Shift and BBerry 8820
Rogers Wireless is likely to soon pick up two very high-end handhelds for its network, according to observers spotting the additions at HowardForums. The Canadian provider's Hardware Upgrade Program list now shows an entry for the HTC Shift that suggests the company will be the first to offer the device as a carrier-locked option. The Shift is treated as a mobile computer by HTC and uses Windows Vista on a 7-inch touchscreen rather than a mobile operating system, using its 3G access for data rather than calls; a 40GB hard drive, Wi-Fi, and a front video camera are also standard.
Apple cash vs. MS cash
Apple and Microsoft are on opposite trajectories in terms of their cash reserves, a new report remarks. Over three years ago, the former had a balance of $5.5 billion, while the latter had $64 billion. While Microsoft's reserves have fallen by more than half to reach $26.3 billion, Apple's have climbed to $19.4 billion. Microsoft was in fact arranging to borrow finances until its planned takeover of Yahoo collapsed over the weekend, in the short term saving approximately $44.6 billion.
LG Vu on Sale at ATT
Following the debut of the necessary mobile TV service on the weekend, AT&T's LG Vu today became available online and in shops. The handset is AT&T's first primarily touchscreen-driven phone since the iPhone and makes video its focus, with a built-in MediaFLO tuner providing live, over-the-air broadcasts of digital TV similar to Verizon's V CAST TV service. AT&T also stresses media playback support with support for Internet radio streams from XM as well as direct downloads from the company's own music store as well as eMusic and Napster.
Li-ion battery shortage
The lithium-ion battery shortage caused by a fire at South Korea's LG Chem plant back in March should be over in the third quarter of the year, an executive at a notebook battery maker said on Friday. While the shortage is hurting sales of all notebooks, including the ASUS Eee PC, smaller, lower-volume companies are hurt most, as they get least priority when supplies do become available.
Cox 700MHz Network
Wins by Cox Communications during the recent 700MHz auction will let the company set up its own wireless data network, Cable Digital News says. The cable provider successfully obtained licenses in the frequency range that essentially overlap its existing markets, allowing it to switch on a wide-area broadband service that can handle all of its customers. The service is most likely to be based on 700MHz WiMAX and operate on platform-agnostic level that doesn't require locked devices.
McAfee for iPhone beta?
A beta version of a McAfee virus scanner for the iPhone and iPod touch has appeared online, according to reports. The application is named iVirusScan (iPhone link), and has allegedly been installed and uninstalled by a number of users. Users can analyze the contents of their handheld for malware, update their definitions, and adjust a variety of settings. The version number is listed as 1.0a07.
Sidekick Gekko Spotted
T-Mobile's rumored Sidekick Gekko has already been spotted and had some of its details revealed courtesy of a leak from Hiptop3. Confirmed as a replacement for the Sidekick iD, the Gekko will have colored and likely replaceable faceplates but should represent a significant technical upgrade. It should include the same 400x240 wide display as the Sidekick LX and may match a number of the other features of the higher-end model, which include a 1.3-megapixel camera.
iPhone SDK international
The iPhone SDK is now open to developers from outside the United States, language on Apple's official website indicates. Whereas the site previously stated that "the iPhone Developer Program will initially be available to a limited number of developers in the U.S. and will expand to other countries in the coming months," a message now says that it "will initially be available to a limited number of developers during the beta period."
Nokia Seeks US Share
Nokia intends to recapture some of its influence in the US market this year with a slew of new phones, the company's primary designer Alastair Curtis said in an interview published today with Finland's Helsingin Sanomat. The creator promises many new models within the "next few months" that are tailored to the needs of US carriers, ending a relative drought of devices in recent years.
BlackBerry Niagra Leak
Research in Motion is reportedly developing a close variant of the BlackBerry 9000 that will be scaled down for legacy networks, says BGR. The device codenamed "Niagra" will drop its HSDPA-based 3G Internet access in favor of the EDGE on most current BlackBerries; the design will also be slightly less exotic with a thicker, non-chrome trim and a different back.
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