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Online retailers have begun to drop prices on a variety of electronics with the holiday season upon us. Buy.com has cut prices on everything from MP3 players and digital photo frames to GPS units and notebook computers. Prices are slashed on everything from wireless routers and printers to wireless mice and Bluetooth stereo headphones at HP.com.
Clarifi, Belkin Surge
In brief: Several reviews have been posted recently, including our take on the Razer DeathAdder Gaming Mouse, the Griffin Clarifi and the Belkin Mini Surge Protector. Also, Ambrosia has announced that its entire catalog of iPhone/iPod touch games are available for $1 until the end of December. Razer is known for its mice in the world of Windows gaming, but has previously lacked Mac support. The DeathAdder Gaming Mouse now brings many of the gaming functions to Mac users. The mouse turned out to be fast and precise, but a few bugs still exist in the Mac Drivers.
Holiday Apple deals
With the holiday season upon us many online retailers have have reduced their prices on Apple products. MacMall.com has a variety of iMac and MacBook Pro models at reduced prices, plus for a limited time take advantage of mail in rebate offers that drop the prices down to as little as $1,099.99 on the 2.4GHz, 20-inch iMac and $1,299 for the 15-inch, MacBook Pro.
Apple Cyber Monday
Days after the popular Black Friday shopping promotions, Apple's website placed 5th in a ranking of retail site visitors on Cyber Monday. The traffic exceeded 3.6 million unique visitors, marking a 43 percent increase above the daily average for November, according to a ComScore report. The Cupertino-based company was the only computer manufacturer in the top five, exceeding Dell's 2.3 million visitors and HP's 1.9 million visitors. Apple has been known to hold its prices relatively steady, with the most significant discounts offered on Black Friday.
SIM Unlock Card for iPhone
USBfever has released a new SIM Unlock Card, which it says is compatible with the v2.2 iPhone firmware. The card should theoretically allow the use of different networks' SIM cards in an iPhone 3G, without having to resort to the risks posed by jailbreaking. The 10mm-thick Unlock Card is positioned parallel to a user's own SIM card, and can also be used in any other locked mobile phone.
Acer 22-inch USB monitor
Acer, in conjunction with DisplayLink, announced on Friday the availability of a new USB computer LCD monitor which, despite the dependence on the CPU rather than a graphics chipset, still supports Windows Vista's Aero Glass interface as well as other 3D functions. The 22-inch B223 display features a 1680x1050 resolution and DisplayLink's DL-160 network display chip that lest users connect up to six of the monitors to a single PC or notebook via their standard USB 2.0 ports.
Cygnett U-S-IXDV dock
Easyishop says it is now carrying the Cygnett U-S-IXDV, a new dock that works with all iPhones and iPods running back to the 5G and Nano. More critically, the accessory is capable outputting both audio and video, using an uncommon Apple chip and ports for RCA and S-Video connections. The IXDV also comes with a remote control, enabling volume adjustment and navigation through playlists, image galleries and movie titles.
Sprint CDMA, WiMAX phones
Wireless provider Sprint Nextel will offer handsets that can switch from the existing CDMA network to the WiMAX mobile broadband network currently being built up across the United States by Sprint's recent partner, Clearwire. Apart from the handsets, Sprint will carry other WiMAX products and services, including the first hybrid CDMA/mobile WiMAX modem. All will be branded as Sprint 4G, replacing the existing Xohm brand name for the existing high-speed mobile broadband gear.
Mitsubishi Blu-ray DVR
Mitsubishi has recently released the DVR-BF2000 digital video recorder in Japan that includes a 500GB hard disk drive and the ability to write to blank Blu-ray discs (BD-R/RE). Users can record two programs at the same time, or record one while watching another, thanks to a dual digital tuner that supports Japan's BS/110CS digital and analog broadcast systems. For smaller files, users will be able to burn DVD-R/RW discs, with AVC recording to DVD supported as well.
Logitech launches ID Grip
Logitech on Friday announced the availability of its new ID Grip for the company's G9 Laser Mouse meant for gamers. The ID Grip can be customized by buyers via a custom printing process. Logitech offers a choice of artwork it created in-house, or designs from various video games. Buyers can also create and send in their own images or photos that Logitech will then transfer onto the palm grip for the G9 mouse. The printing process ensures the image is resistant to rubbing off, as the image is printed into the surface of the grip and not simply on top of it.
AMTek T10L Touch UMPC
Taiwan's AMTek has revealed specs on its new UMPC, the T10L Touch, which is equipped with a 10.2-inch, 1024x600 touchscreen fixed in an exposed position, like a non-convertible Internet tablet. The T10L Touch gets Intel's 1.6GHz Atom mobile CPU along with a 512MB of RAM and space for a maximum of 2GB. An 80GB hard drive is the sole storage option, with no indication of the type of operating system pre-loaded onto it.
Sharp LCDs with Blu-ray
Sharp will bring two world-first LCD HDTVs to the North American market in January, sporting built-in Blu-ray disc burners and another slot drive for DVDs and CDs, says Sharp Electronics Marketing Company of America president, Mike Troetti, according to a Thursday report. First introduced along with different-sized models in mid-October in Japan, the 32-inch set features 720p resolution and a 7,000:1 contrast ratio, while the 42-inch set has a 120Hz panel with 1080p resolution and 15,000:1 contrast ratio. The new AQUOS DX-series HDTVs are meant to appeal to people who want or need a clutter-free appearance, minimizing the amount of hardware, or want a clean-looking, wall-mount installation, Troetti says.
99 dollar iPhone
Amidst the rumors of a $99 4GB iPhone that might be sold after the holidays at Wal-Mart, analyst firm Kaufman Brothers has reported that a $99 device is inevitable. The exact timing of the discount remains unclear, although Apple could be developing a strategy to expand the range of iPhone products to include a low-end, mid-range, and high-end device. The new products are likely to offer feature differences beyond the current availability of several flash storage capacities.
Verizon Storm update
Verizon has officially released the 188.8.131.52 firmware update today for the BlackBerry Storm handset made by Research In Motion (RIM). The update addresses the newly released handset's numerous issues, including a large amount of lag, voice-dialing problems and need to perform reboots. While the update was leaked to a select few Storm users last week, this release will cover all Storm owners.
300M+ App Store downloads
Apple has served over 300 million downloads through the iTunes App Store, a new print ad from the company claims. Published in the New York Times, the ad also observes that there are now over 10,000 different apps, a twentyfold increase over the 500 that heralded the App Store's debut. The total downloads figure is believed to be the most important, however, as during its October conference call, Apple announced that it was on the verge of reaching 200 million downloads. This means that the company processed approximately 100 million more transfers in the space of six weeks.
Apple refurbs: iPod
Apple's online store is currently offering a variety of refurbished iPod models at reduced prices. Starting at $39 is the 1GB iPod shuffle that holds up to 240 songs and comes in in green, purple, green, blue and silver or for $59 is the 2GB Shuffle, that can hold up to 500 songs, in the same colors as the 1GB model. The iPod nano is $99 for the 8GB model that holds up to 2,000 songs and is available in silver, blue, green, or black. 80GB iPod Classic models hold up to 20,000 songs and are $169 while 160GB Classics are $249 and hold up to 40,000 songs, each comes in either black or silver. Lastly is the iPod touch in three capacities, 8GB (1,750 song) for $179, 16GB (3,500 songs) for $219 and 32GB (7,000 songs) for $319.
MS Yahoo Deal Sooner
Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer today rekindled talk of a possible deal between his company and Yahoo in an interview today with the Wall Street Journal (membership required). While Microsoft has repeatedly downplayed any possibility of deals since breaking off talks with Yahoo in the spring, Ballmer now says it would be beneficial for both companies if a deal for a search ad union was struck "sooner than later" and says the main requirement is receptiveness to such a deal from Yahoo, which has lately insisted on either a full takeover or no deal at all.
Dell Charging XP Premium
Dell has returned a Windows XP option to some of its home systems but is now charging as much as $150 for the privilege. The company's Inspiron 1525 notebooks and Inspiron 530 regular and slimline desktops now all have an option to configure a system with Windows XP that uses a surcharge to take advantage of Microsoft's "downgrade" loophole intended for business PCs. Dell gives users a pre-installed copy of Windows XP Professional in exchange for paying to upgrade to Vista Ultimate.
An Argentinian company is the latest computer maker to defy Apple and release Mac clones. Customers can choose from two models, OpeniMac and OpeniMacPRO. The standard version features a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of DDR2 RAM, and a 320GB 7200RPM hard drive. The Pro clone integrates a 3.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of DDR2 RAM, 500GB 7200RPM hard drive, NVIDIA GeForce GS 1GB GPU, and a 20-inch LG widescreen monitor.
Acer Smartphone in 2009
Acer is on track to release its first smartphones in the early part of next year, the company says. Following up on its buyout of cellphone company E-TEN in the spring, the PC builder now says it hopes to have the first phones under its own name to ship before the end of March and hopes to launch them first within Western Europe and Russia, with other areas following later.
Belkin pulls out of MW09
Yet more companies are planning to withdraw or scale back their efforts for Macworld 2009, reports say. Accessory maker Belkin has already confirmed plans to pull out of the expo, joining Adobe, the creator of Mac-centric programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Belkin explains its move as unrelated to financial worries or the economy, and instead a decision to shift presentation money towards private product announcements.
Nokia Direct UI handset
Nokia reportedly unveiled this advertisement for an unnamed, next-generation handset at a Capital Markets Day presentation in Brooklyn on Thursday. Little is known about the cellphone other than what the photo reveals, which is a touchscreen that covers nearly the entire face of the handset with no hard buttons visible. The cellphone breaks from Nokia tradition as it forgoes the use of any form of a conventional keypad or keyboard and instead relies nearly entirely on what the phone maker calls a Direct UI interface.
MS hires ex-Yahoo exec
Microsoft has hired an ex-Yahoo executive to run its Online Services Group, the company has announced. Qi Lu -- who until recently was the executive VP of engineering for the Search and Advertising Technology Group at Yahoo -- will assume his new role on January 5th, where he will report directly to CEO Steve Ballmer. His responsibilities should involve directing Microsoft's efforts in online search and advertising, which are centered around Windows Live.
YouTube HD Videos
YouTube has quietly started regularly putting up content in HD. Searching for videos marked "HD" turns up content that plays natively at 720p, well above the sub-SD resolution clips that make up most YouTube clips. Many of these are also available in the basic resolution but can be upgraded at the YouTube website with a "watch in HD" link that enables the sharper footage, though embedded clips continue to play at the original resolution.
Free Craft 3D Tools
Craft Animations has released simplified versions of its Craft Director Tools 3D animation plug-ins. The scaled-down products include Craft 4-Wheeler Free, ObserverCam Free, and Airplane Free. The free series is intended to allow users of Autodesk 3DS Max or Maya to familiarize themselves with the suite of Craft tools, without needing to purchase the professional versions.
First Look: Memeo Share
Nearly everyone has a separate digital camera, or one built into a mobile phone or computer. While taking a basic picture is easy, sharing pictures may not be. You can show them in person of course, but if someone lives far away, your choices are more limited. You can print and mail your pictures, which costs money and takes time; the alternative is e-mailing them or posting them to a website, but many pictures can be several megabytes in size, limiting the amount that can be sent. Posting on a website also risks exposing images to strangers. Fortunately, there's a third alternative and that's to use something like Memeo Share.
Pandora 2.4 ($30) is a tool for finding and grabbing images, movies and other media from the web. Users can perform keyword searches that can use the Google Image Search, Flickr Search or users can set up other search engines they wish to use. The latest release has been fine tuned and is now capable of performing searches faster with improved logging and pause/resume capabilities. The update has also added support for finding and fetching any file type. [Download - 2.1MB]
Ofcom UK Internet Rules
British telecom regulator Ofcom today put into effect a new set of guidelines meant to improve the state of Internet access in the UK. The voluntary system requires Internet providers who agree to the terms to give users a better idea of the real-world maximum speeds of the Internet connections and also guarantees that customers can step down their service plans without suffering a penalty fee.
NetSketch ($6) is a drawing tool for the iPhone and iPod touch that features a wide selection of colors and brush sizes as well as infinite pan, zoom and undo. NetSketch also lets users connect to others through WiFi allowing groups to draw on the same canvas from different devices.
Gray lines on MacBook Air
Owners of some MacBook Airs have been reporting ongoing trouble with their displays, accounts say. The problems began to manifest in early November, and are said to consist of subtle gray or white lines spread across a screen, either horizontally or at a slight angle; the effect is said to give an Air screen the resemblance of paper. The lines also appear on first boot, eliminating the possibility of some later corruption.
Nokia 2605 at Verizon
Verizon today prepped a last-minute addition to its phone lineup before the holidays with the advent of the Nokia 2605 Mirage. Pitched as a phone for younger and often more fashion-conscious users, the phone comes with snap-on faceplates that let owners change from the stock blue to different colors or patterns. It also draws on the same "seamless" clamshell design as the 3555 and 6555 to make for a smoother grip when open than on other phones.
Verizon FIOS 100Mbps
The speeds of Verizon's FIOS fiber-optic Internet access should double in less than a year, the company's technology head Vincent O'Byrne has said at a media event on Thursday. Although the telco has already boosted its service to 50Mbps US-wide just this past June, its plans now have a trial 100Mbps service expanding to an official service sometime in 2009. The increase will be necessary as many services beyond ordinary computer-borne Internet access, such as HDTVs with direct video downloads and network-attached storage drives, will demand a large amount of bandwidth on their own.
Telstra HSPA Plus Now Live
Telstra today said it has switched on the world's first HSPA+ network. Also known as HSPA Evolution, the early 3.5G network promises to be about three times faster in downloads than the best regular HSPA networks, which top out at 7.2Mbps in peak conditions. The Australian carrier's service should theoretically allow downloads as quick as 21Mbps and should also help with uploads; the speed is enough to rival many landline Internet connections, the company and its launch partner Ericsson boast.
Apple recieves 3G lawsuit
Apple faces yet another lawsuit challenging its claims of 3G network performance. Through the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, James Pittman has filed a lawsuit against Apple in regards to the poor speeds of the iPhone 3G when compared to advertisements. Pittman claims that the phone was rushed to market in a defective state, and does not perform as represented.
ATT on Symbian Use
AT&T may focus almost exclusively on Symbian for its smartphones in the future, company director of next generation services Roger Smith said in a presentation later on Thursday. The executive says AT&T has grown frustrated with the splintering of most of the smartphone market and that the carrier is likely to settle on a single, very flexible operating system like the soon to be open-sourced Symbian platform rather than attempt to code for multiple platforms.
OCZ Throttle eSATA Drive
OCZ has opted for a unique alternative to traditional USB jump drives and launched the Throttle eSATA Drive. Although it includes a mini USB fallback option, the flash stick can use the extra bandwidth of eSATA through either a native port or add-in card to transfer at speeds more closely resembling hard drives: it can read at 90MB per second and write at 30MB per second. Users can store HD videos or other very speed-dependent content and play it back directly from the drive, OCZ says.
Aero Quartet has released v3.8 of SimpleMovieX, its MP4/AVI editing and repair application. Updates to the software include the ability to select multiple movies from the Finder, drop them into SimpleMovieX, and merge them into a single movie with chapter marks that can be edited. Another feature allows sequences to be selected directly from the movie contact sheet, and then cut or trimmed.
Samsung HD CMOS sensor
Electronics company Samsung has announced the latest addition to its line of CMOS image sensors, the S5K4AW, a 1/4-inch 1.2-Megapixel HD system-on-chip (SoC) unit. The embedded component is designed for notebook or desktop computers, with a focus on video capture for conferencing, web-based video sharing, or biometrics and security functions. The company claims that the sensor supports 720P HD video at 30 frames per second, and captures VGA-resolution streams at 60 frames per second.
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