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Buyer's guide available
Just in time for Black Friday shoppers, Consumer Reports has released its guide to recommended electronics gifts, with Apple receiving several nods from the list. The independent non-profit organization tests and rates products, and has set up a web page grouping ratings for HDTVs, digital cameras, blu-ray disk players and more. Each section highlights best values and highest rated performers and links to full reviews of the products.
Picasa beta for Mac
Google is allegedly beginning internally beta-testing a Mac version of its Picasa photo-management utility, according to AppleInsider. The tools have thus far been limited to only the Windows or Linux platforms. The service is currently partially cross-platform, but only in the sense that users can upload photos directly from iPhoto to Picasa. A separate uploader is available for Mac programs other than iPhoto.
Pixelmator 1.3.1 released
Pixelmator has launched Pixelmator 1.3.1, updating its image editor with a color-management sheet and Refine Selection tool. The Color-Management sheet manages color profiles in images and retains the functionality the Assign to Profile and Match to Profile tools. The Refine Selection tool allows users to make precise selections, controlling smooth, feather and size parameters and displaying real-time results. The new version also improves the Type tool, adds user interface and compatibility improvements, and bug fixes.
TV-out API in iPhone SDK
Apple has reportedly included an API in the iPhone 2.2 SDK that allows video output for connection with TVs, according to Ars Technica. The function, "MPTVOutWindow" can be used divert the video feed to other devices instead of the phone screen. Although the iPhone is already capable of playing iTunes content through a TV, the undocumented API could extend the functionality into the hands of developers. Application possibilities include games or presentation utilities, such as slide-shows.
Nikon D3x Slip
Nikon on Wednesday night inadvertently confirmed the existence of a flagship D3x camera through the posting of a product entry (note: now pulled) on its own site as well as matching photos. Little is revealed about the camera, though the x label is typically used to indicate special high-resolution models of Nikon's cameras and has been used both for the D40 and D2 in recent memory. The D3x appears to be externally identical and includes the same back controls and optical viewfinder as the stock, 12-megapixel D3.
DisplayPort DRM conflict
Apple is under fire once again for its use of copyright protection, with the implementation of High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) into the Mini DisplayPort video connection found on the latest MacBook, MacBook Pro, and Air notebooks, according to Macworld.com. The enforcement of HDCP protection had caused problems for a number of iTunes customers, preventing them from playing videos on external displays that were not compatible with the protection standard.
Geneforge 5 Overthrow
Spiderweb software on Wednesday released the final sequel to the Genefore fantasy RPG series, Geneforge 5: Overthrow. The game takes place in a land ruled by beings, known as Shapers, that are able to create life. When the creations decide to rebel against their rulers, a war breaks out between the factions, destroying the land and leading to a conflict that remains stuck in a stalemate. As the main character, the player must find a way to bring an end to the war.
MacBook graphics errors
Apple is investigating two different graphics issues relating to MacBooks, posters in the company's support forums say. The first is limited to unibody MacBook Pros, but involves a hard lockup during various games, in which the screen goes black, audio loops and no cursor control is possible. The problem affects both Mac and Windows games, and appears to be unrelated to a specific title, since crashes have occurred in games like Call of Duty 4, World of Warcraft and Company of Heroes.
BlackWing One HD projector
Cineversum on Tuesday announced the launch of its BlackWing One digital video projector for the North American market. The high-end digital projector supports 1080p24 output and has three 0.6-inch LCoS panels to generate its complete picture. Its dynamic contrast is rated at 15,000:1, and it has two HDMI 1.3 connections.
Black Friday GPS deals
A variety of GPS models from different manufacturers are being drastically reduced for Black Friday. Starting at $99.95 is the TomTom ONE clamshell portable navigation system, regularly priced at $179.95 at 6ave.com. Next up for $189.99 is the Garmin nuvi 260w GPS, regularly priced at $299.99 at BestBuy.com. The TomTom ONE 130S GPS is available at RadioShack.com for $199.99 after $50 in instant savings. Lastly is the Garmin nuvi 265WT GPS navigator priced at $249.99, a price cut of $100 off the original price of $349.99 at CircuitCity.com.
T-Mboile G1 now in white
T-Mobile has announced on Wednesday that the T-Mobile G1 handset will now be available in a new color, white, adding to the currently available G1 in black or bronze. It will be priced at the same $179 with a two year contract as the other two handsets. Like the other handsets, the white G1 will support T-Mobile's HSDPA- or UMTS-based 3G service a full HTML web browser to take advantage of the fast data network or its built-in Wi-Fi connection.
VIZIO holiday HDTV sales
VIZIO on Wednesday announced it is lowering prices on five of its HDTVs in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. The 42-inch VS420 LCD offers 1080p resolution will cost just $698 at Sam's Club stores throughout the US starting on Friday. Some prices are in effect for the holiday weekend only, while others are extended until December, with the VS420 expected to sell out quickly as it has no end-of-sale date specified. A 37-inch LCD model with 720p HD resolution, the VW37, will be priced at $500 at Costco for the duration of the weekend.
Nuvifone on track for 2009
The Nuvifone from Garmin is still due for an early 2009 release despite being delayed earlier this year. It will be a carrier-exclusive offering, though the company is not revealing its choice of partner network to the public. As Garmin is traditionally a portable navigation device manufacturer, the Nuvifone will bring many of the company's technologies to its GPS mapping functionality, as well as access to high-speed 3G data networks.
MTA sends texts, emails
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has announced on Tuesday it will begin sending text or e-mail messages to riders that will inform them of any delays or problems on the subway or bus lines, according to a New York Times report. To get the updates, riders must first sign up on the authority's website and provide their phone number or e-mail address. They can then sign up for updates on a specific subway line, bus route or commuter rail line and at what time of day to get them.
N-trig applications expand
The N-trig multi-touch technology will remain confined to mobile PCs, as per N-trig's VP of Business Development, Lenny Engelhardt, according to a Tuesday CNET report. Currently, the N-trig interface is available in Dell's Latitude XT tablet PC and, more recently, the HP TouchSmart tx2 tablet, with the interfaces sporting some minor manufacturer-specific differences. N-trig uses a thin and transparent capacitive touch sensor with its circuitry located on either side of it.
Google vs. App Store rules
Google has admitted to using undocumented APIs in the creation of its latest iPhone search app, according to a spokesman. The company is specifically said to be relying on an API connected to the motion sensor, which tells the app to engage voice detection whenever an iPhone is raised to a person's mouth. Users can thus speak a search term, instead of typing it in.
IdeaPad S10e six-cell
The Lenovo IdeaPad S10e netbook is reportedly shipping in Germany with a new, higher-capacity six-cell battery, according to a Wednesday report. In comparison, US versions make do with a three-cell battery. Furthermore, with a price of 329 Euros (about $425) for the Linux model, the netbook is the least costly 10.2-inch model of any brand with an Intel Atom chip and six-cell battery.
Orange HD Voice tech
Orange, a wireless provider and brand of France Telecom on Tuesday announced its future technologies at the La Collection show in Paris. Key among them is the planned introduction of High Definition Voice technology that aims to improve voice clarity during calls. The software will find its way into certain Orange handsets starting in December, and promises to reduce background noise by doubling the handset's ability to pick up the human voice.
Atlantic Digital Trumps CD
Warner Music sub-label Atlantic Records today said it became the first major music company whose digital sales outpaced its conventional CDs. The group's sales of full songs, ringtones, and other content online now accounts for 51 percent of Atlantic's revenue. The label, which represents artists like Kid Rock and T.I., credits the change to spreading out where and how users can get music rather than depending heavily on a single source.
Sync 'Em 1.15 patch
Derman Enterprises has posted an update to its Sync 'Em, its Mac-based synchronization application. The program attempts to keep contact and calendar data consistent between multiple apps and user accounts; it does this by linking information from Exchange and Google with Mail, iCal and Address Book. The exact data shared varies however, as Sync 'Em does not yet, for example, support Google Calendar.
Telus BBerry Storm Pricing
Telus may charge a high enough premium for its version of the BlackBerry Storm that it no longer directly competes with its intended rival from Apple, a controversial leak from BGR claims. The touchscreen phone is now said by an alleged source to be priced at $300 CAD ($243 US) on a three-year plan -- as much as Rogers' high-end iPhone 3G with 15GB more storage and $43 US more than Verizon's pricing in the US for a shorter two-year term.
LED Cinema Display Ships
Apple today has started shipping early orders for its 24-inch LED Cinema Display, according to reader reports. The word comes two days ahead of previous official estimates and potentially sees some orders arrive by the weekend depending on timing alongside the US Thanksgiving holiday. Availability at Apple's own retail stores should also follow soon.
Commodore MLB Systems
Commodore today seized on the holidays to launch a new set of MLB custom skins for its gaming PCs. The initial lineup lets buyers of any of the company's existing systems choose a theme based on the Boston Red Sox, New York's Mets and Yankees, or the Philadelphia Phillies that covers nearly the entire outer surface of the mid-tower case. The company's assembly process applies the artwork directly to the case and so is more scratch-resistant and permanent than a sticker or vinyl cover.
VirusBarrier X5 10.5.5 out
Intego says it has posted a v10.5.5 update for VirusBarrier X5, its signature anti-virus software. The app is claimed to be the only one capable scanning iPhone and iPod touch volumes, as well as those on Macs. The v10.5.5 patch improves the performance of manual as well as automatic real-time scans; in the latter case, special attention has been paid to Samba sharing volumes.
Data Robotics discounts
In time for Thanksgiving, Data Robotics today started offering a $50 holiday discount in the form of an instant $50 coupon for the driveless model of its of its Drobo storage robot as well as the preloaded 2TB and 4TB versions. This comes in addition to recent, permanent price cuts to the 2TB and 4TB Drobo. As before, all offer a hot-swappable drive functionality that lets users keep a perpetually upgradable redundant backup by adding or replacing SATA drives of any capacity that automatically merge their storage existing content.
Samsung BD & Netflix HD
Streaming of high-definition Netflix movies should soon be added to a pair of Samsung Blu-ray players, the latter company has announced. The feature will be delivered in the form of a firmware update for the two Blu-ray drives, the BD-P2500 and BD-P2550, as of the first week of December. The players were enabled for streaming standard-definition Netflix content in late October.
Task2Gather ($1) allows users to keep all of their personal, family and business tasks in a web cloud so they are always accessible from an internet device. Tasks can be shared among family members, friends or colleagues and can be used as a to-do or shopping list or a collaborative tool for task management at work.
First-gen Touches get VoIP
The v2.2 firmware for the iPod touch should enable the use of VoIP accessories on first-generation players, claims Macity. While the update primarily enables the use of voice headsets by Apple for recording, it is also possible to use third-party recording gear attached to the dock connector; this, in turn, is said to allow the VoIP functionality. Where hooking up accessories meant for Nanos and regular iPods would normally display error messages, the warnings are said to have disappeared.
Vado HD coming soon to US
Creative will launch a version of its Vado pocketable camera with a flash drive that is capable of recording high-definition video on December 7th in the US as per an Amazon product page. The small camcorder will record video using H.264 compression at up to 1280x720 resolution (720p), with its 8GB of integrated capacity good for two hours of HD video or double that at VGA resolution. It will be priced aggressively at $199 and should have more storage and small feature improvements over the well-received Flip Mino HD.
PS3 Wireless Keypad Dated
Sony today set out an official launch date for the PS3 Wireless Keypad as well as a relatively newer, multi-device AC Adaptor. The former is now due in the first week of December for $50 and supplies a full QWERTY keyboard for chat and messaging in supporting games. It also has a unique surface that doubles a touchpad for the PS3's web browser and is based on Bluetooth, allowing it to pair with both the console and devices like cellphones.
Money 3.2 ($39) is a tool for helping people manage their personal finances. The software also includes enough features that a small-business could use the software for their own accounting needs. The update has added a new grid view which provides a list of icons representing categories. The update has also introduced new interfaces for both the Portfolio and Sheets features looking to make their usage more manageable. Other changes include improved csv import, improved search, improved French and German localizations, fixed problem with reports date ranges, fixed problem with taxes, new Uncategorized icon, other minor improvements and bug fixes. [Download - 15.6MB]
Sling Media today officially kicked off the public beta of Sling.com, its new video portal. The website is aimed at competing with sites hosting commercially produced content like Hulu or Joost and primarily syndicates content from about 90 major TV and online producers, including channels Hulu omits such as CBS as well as the very same Fox and NBC content. It also offers a similar range of full-length movies.
'Aggressive' Black Friday
Apple is likely to cut its prices more heavily than usual during this year's Black Friday event, says Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu. Wu observes that while Apple typically puts goods on sale at a 5 to 10 percent discount on Black Friday, this year may see cuts as high as 15 percent on everything, including Macs, iPods and miscellaneous accessories. The information is said to be based on checks with both suppliers and distributors.
Micron 1GB Sec SSD
Micron has developed an extremely fast solid-state drive that could set new records for internal storage and shown the drive in an early test. The claimed new breakthrough in storage uses two SSDs with 16 data channels for the flash memory to generate a total transfer speed of 1GB per second. The performance tops 200,000 IOPS (input/output operations per second) and is quick enough that Micron has to drop Serial ATA II's 300MB per second bandwidth cap in favor of PCI Express.
UK iPhone ad no. 2 banned
A second TV ad for the iPhone has been banned from British TV, the region's Advertising Standards Authority has announced. The ASA says it received 17 complaints about the ad, which depicts a person switching from the Times Online website to Google Maps, and finally the phone's Mail client. The problem with the ad is said to be the speed depicted for the phone's 3G connection, which the ad claims is "really fast," but which the ASA says is shown as completing actions in "a fraction of a second."
Rogers Fido BBerry Leaks
Rogers' plans for its BlackBerry lineup will include both an aggressive launch of the Curve 8900 and an expansion of the smartphones to its budget brand Fido, tips from BGR suggest. The Canadian provider should get the 2G-only but GPS and Wi-Fi equipped device in January and will reportedly price it substantially under the Bold, offering it at $150 on a three-year plan with both voice and data.
Zune Codename Pink Rumor
Microsoft is planning a major update to the Zune that may presage the rumored Microsoft-built phone, according to an alleged tip given to CNBC's Jim Goldman. A claimed "good" source tells the reporter that a new Zune device, codenamed "Pink," is due to surface as early as the CES show in January and would represent a cross between existing Zune design and elements picked up from Microsoft's acquisition of Danger, which is believed to have been absorbed into the Entertainment division at the company that handles both the Xbox and Zune lines.
Toshiba 16GB microSDHC
Toshiba started its Wednesday with news of a much higher-capacity 16GB microSDHC card as well as faster full-size SDHC cards. The former doubles Toshiba's previous best and gives cellphones and some newer still cameras a large amount of storage for music and photos. The card is relatively slow with a minimum Class 2 (2MB per second) transfer speed in exchange for the capacity. Toshiba starts mass-producing the cards in January and should deliver them shortly afterwards.
Bluwiki Apple continued
A recent move on Apple's part to quash discussion on the iTunesDB file - a database that governs playable media on an iPod - has been found to conflict with free speech rights. Slashdot reports that since the bluwiki site merely featured discussion on the subject of whether the iTunesDB file could be reverse engineered, after a recent hashing mechanism update foiled previous efforts for the new iPod touch and iPhone.
SD playback fixed
Apple on Tuesday has unveiled QuickTime 7.5.7, an update to its multimedia player system that reportedly removes HDCP protection from standard definition movies bought or rented from iTunes when played across the DisplayPort on some of the more modern Macs. MacRumors reports that the update resolves issues on the new MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air, all of which feature the miniature DisplayPort connector.
Greenpeace rates Apple
Apple has again lost ground against several competitors in the Greenpeace Greener Electronics ratings, despite a slight increase on the scale to 4.3 points. The environmental group cited positive changes in the computer manufacturer's processes and materials, including the removal of PVC and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from some products, but noted that the company would have to completely phase-out such chemicals to score higher on the list. Greenpeace also noted that Apple needs to commit to timelines detailing the elimination of other hazardous materials from its products.
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