Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Apple Rumor: Macbook Nano/Apple Netbook

New York Times 'bits' contributor, John Markoff, has done some hard-nosed reporting about an unusual occurrence within Apple Computer: Steve Jobs on a conference calls with analysts. I know that doesn't sound too groundbreaking, but considering he hasn't taken part in one in eight years, it's news worthy. What's more news worthy is what was discussed.

First off, the economic tailspin isn't worrying the hipster computing giant. One analyst noted during the call...
Apple currently has "enough money in the bank to hire all of the engineers in Silicon Valley for a lifetime."

with $25 billion in the bank, no debt, and a growing army of loyal clientele, Apple is positioned, like no other company in the industry, to develop a netbook computer that will provide the full computing experience for under $500.

And Markoff has some interesting news about this possibility as well; "A" search engine company [contacted Markoff, stating they] "spotted Web visits from an unannounced Apple product with a display somewhere between an iPhone and a MacBook."

Furthering this storm of speculation is Snow Leopard, Apple's latest incarnation of their lauded OSX, said to be optimized for a touchscreen interface; just the kind of interface a 'Macbook Nano' or Apple Netbook machine would be sporting.

I think that battery capacity and lifespan will be a deciding factor in how quickly, if at all, this will come to market. That screen looks like a battery killer to me.

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Amazon slashes Dash Express by $100 for the day

The once $600 Dash Express has hit a very nice price point today, and most likely today only. Amazon's Gold Box deal of the dayhas these formidable networked navigators for a mere $200. The units dipped to the $300 mark in June, but this once in a blue moon, $100 off makes this a unheard of deal, definitely worth looking into. And hey, that’s pretty darn good for a 4.3-inch GPS device of any sort, even if those maps are still ugly.
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Netflix finally brings 'Watch Instantly' to Macs via Silverlight

In a move that is likely to cut into iTunes rentals, today Netflix announces they will finally offer streaming content to their Mac using subscribers.

Though, I wouldn’t boot up the old PowerPC just yet, in order to access Netflix streaming content you must be running an Intel-based Mac loaded up with Microsoft's Flash-type browser plug-in, Silverlight. On top of giving us "breakthrough navigation for fast-forward and rewind," Silverlight, will also maintain the content’s DRM via PlayReady, Microsoft’s content access and protection technology.

By now you may be thinking, “who wants all that evil Microsoft code on their Mac,” especially when you consider this feature is in limited release and is only being offered to newer subscribers, for now. Which, for those of us that have been waiting ages for this feature to be worked out for Mac, is mad disappointing.

I just subscribed to Netflix about two month ago and it definitely doesn’t work for me yet. On the other hand, I can hold off on that Netflix compatible Blu-ray deck, at least until my stock portfolio rebounds.

Press release in expanded article.


Based on Microsoft Silverlight, New Player Features Enhanced Dynamic Streaming, First-Time Use for Macs and

Breakthrough Navigation for Fast-Forward and Rewind

LOS GATOS, Calif., October 27, 2008 – Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX), the world's largest online movie rental service, today announced it has begun the deployment of Microsoft Silverlight to enhance the instant watching component of the Netflix service and to allow subscribers for the first time to watch movies and TV episodes instantly on their Intel-based Apple Macintosh computers. The deployment, which will initially touch a small percentage of new Netflix subscribers, is the first step in an anticipated roll-out of the new platform to all Netflix subscribers by the end of the year.

Silverlight is designed for delivery of cross-platform, cross-browser media experiences inside a Web browser. It is expected that Netflix members who watch movies and TV episodes instantly on their computers will enjoy a faster, easier connection and a more robust viewing experience with Silverlight, due to the quality built directly into the player. Among the viewing enhancements with the new player is a breakthrough in timeline navigation that vastly improves the use of fast-forwarding and rewinding. The new Netflix player takes advantage of Play Ready DRM, which is built into Silverlight, for the playback of protected content on both Windows-based PCs and on Macs. That had not been possible with previous generation technologies.

"Silverlight with Play Ready offers a powerful and secure toolkit for delivery of dynamic streaming, which offers faster start-up, and higher quality video, adapted in real time to users' connection speeds," said Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt. "Members who enjoy watching movies and TV episodes from the growing library of choices that can be instantly streamed at Netflix will be thrilled with this next generation improvement of access and quality, on a broader range of platforms, including Intel Macs and Firefox."

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Moment of ZEN: Touch Sensing Art Mirror

Vanity, taken to a whole new level...

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Yamaha's Audiogram Series Brings Powerful yet Affordable Audio Recording to any Computer

Yamaha’s AUDIOGRAM 6and AUDIOGRAM 3turns any computer into a recording studio. These intuitive tools record audio from virtually any microphone, instrument, or audio device. The included USB cable supplies the unit’s power as well as providing an interface with the computer.

Truly a complete recording solution, the AUDIOGRAM Series bundles revolutionary hardware interface with professional grade software. CUBASE AI, the included music production software, turns any computer into an easy-to-use, 48-track, music production system - capable of producing professional quality demos.

“The AUDIOGRAM 6 features 2 XLR combo inputs with preamp, two stereo inputs, and one-knob compression for dialing in the desired sound from microphones and instruments, and a USB jack for connecting to a computer.

The compact AUDIOGRAM 3 features one phantom powered combo input switchable for microphones or instrument recording, a stereo input, a stereo and headphone output and a USB jack.

The AUDIOGRAM Series are now available for $149.99 retail (AUDIOGRAM 3) and $199.99 retail (AUDIOGRAM 6)."

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Samsung Teams up with Netflix on the BD-P2500 and BD-P2550

Today, Samsung announced a firmware update for two of their existing Blu-ray decks that enables streaming media playback.

The web’s most popular streaming content providers, Netflix and Pandora, have teamed up with Korean’s colossal consumer electronics manufacturer to bring streaming net-based media to those among us who desire a full cinematic experience, but loathe digital cable’s price gouging.

The Samsung BD-P2500and BD-P2550both get to take a break from their usual disc spinning duties by connecting via Ethernet to Netflix’s vast library of movies that are available as “watch instantly” titles. These titles can only be watch on a computer if the system is running Windows. So, in addition to giving you access to a richer experience through your home entertainment system, if you own a Mac you can access Netflix streaming movies without installing Windows.

Pandora, an easy way to discover new music and stay up-to-date with our favorite artists, is supported only on the BD-P2550.

If you own one of these decks now, you can update today, free of charge. More info can be found at: www.samsung.com/bluraysupport

Press Release
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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Review of Sony ZSS4iP, Take the Party with You

Sony’s latest iPod boombox, the ZSS4IP,has been unleashed on our shores, and here’s the hands on review.

The first thing you have to contend with, if you're an iPhone or iPod Touch user, is swapping out the dock ‘window’ frame. The boomer ships with the Plexiglas dock frame installed, swapping this frame for the frame without the glass allows for direct touch control.A retractable latch holds the frame in place; simply depress the small panel release buttons (these are really tiny) and the dock frame releases. Next is getting your iPod docked. To be honest, this took me a few tries. The way you have to load the iPod makes it difficult to see the actual connector and lining it up with the super thin end of a Touch is tricky.A cutout in the frame gives you access to the ‘home’ button, this is slightly awkward and it was at this point I started thinking the gimmick of the tape deck-like dock, outweighed its usefulness. On the other hand, it is still a very desirable feature if you plan on going mobile with the blaster. With the iPod securely held in place, music lovers can hit the streets with the reassurance that their iPod won’t fall from its perch.The LCD is mounted facing front, just above the dock, a configuration that makes it ideal for a bookshelf or nightstand. And, because the touch controls will likely be used most frequently, this placement only makes sense. Of course, all music can be controlled by the remote, too.

Power output is four watts. The up side to limited power consumption is extended battery life. And, while this might not seem like a lot of power, in the hands of Sony engineers it’s plenty of power to provide punchy sound. I listened to several songs from different genres while testing the ZS-S4ip and found the Megabass gave you that kick in the back that only hard-hitting bass can delivery. Technologies such as reflex cambers and bass boost have all but been perfected by Sony, and the latest iPod blaster dips into a Sony’s large well of sound engineer knowledge.This type of stereo would be perfect for college student returning for the grueling 2nd semester, small apartment dwellers, or for those that just need a bit of portable sound in their lives. I’m thinking about strapping one onto my handlebars, and hooking the power up to a Hymini wind generator. Party on.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Asus Newest Navigator has your Safety in Mind

Asus’ newly announced R710 portable navigation device features an optional Heads-Up Display, or HUD, that helps you keep all eyes where they should be... on the road. The directions, speed and all other pertinent information is projected on the windshield. The device has the tradition touchscreen like most other navigation devices out there, as well as an enhanced Bluetooth 2.0; cementing this device as the it machine for the safety conscious.

A light-sensing chip optimizes the HUD’s visibility; making it easier on the eyes. While the microSD card slot supplies media playback that makes everything seem easier.

Asus has not announced release or pricing information, and no specific maps are available for North America, only worldwide. Russia, China and Taiwan navigation support have been mentioned so far.
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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Nikon intros web browser, video player, headset combo

Nikon is breaking its self-imposed mold as a producer of professional grade imaging products and venturing into PMP (personal media player) territory. This is definitely not the pocketable gear we’re use to carrying. In fact, this new gear is a totally departure from the conventional forms that PMPs take on.

The ‘Media Port’ UP300x media player is a self-contained headset unit - with a slight twist. Nikon has turned what could have been a run-of-the-mill headset into one-of-a-kind wearable computer.

They’ve achieved this status by... including Wi-Fi connectivity and mounting a retractable display on the headset. This minuscule monitor drops down in front of one eye and supplies the viewer with 640x480 video goodness. The display tucks away for music playback, or for when you’re not into looking like a robot.

The dropdown display allows owners to watch videos while on foot or on public transportation, without being entirely oblivious to their surrounding. Though, maintaining a brisk stroll with the viewer engaged seems like it would take some practice.

Embedded Wi-Fi supports web browsing with Flash and JavaScript, as well as media purchasing directly from an online store.

Another nicety on the highest-end model, which makes for a truly hands free experience, are motion sensors that activate the player’s basic controls and browsing capabilities.

Nikon is keeping this one on the island of origin, for now, launch is set for mid-December and prices are $685 for the 8GB, and $490 for the 4GB.

Supported media formats include: MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and WMV for videos, and AAC, MP3, and WMA for audio tracks.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Seafaring Just Got Easier - Thanks to Garmin

Mariners rejoice, today Garmin announced a newly enhanced GPS receiver to aid in decking out your dinghy this upcoming season. Serving both practical and frivolous purposes, you can pick up this newly announced unit without the guilt associated with buying a device that only serves to entertain… if that kind of guilt affects you.

Garmin is towing the line, with the GPSMAP 640 touchscreen portable. It comes preloaded with comprehensive street and marine charts, but with a major change in the form factor. Garmin was looking to merge the look and usability of their popular NĂ¼vi series with this highly specialized, albeit dated looking, GPSMAP portable.

For this refresh, Gamin has slimmed down the case, ditched the antenna, and beefed up the screen. The end product looks striking similar to every other PND out there, but boasts an intuitive, waterproof, 5.2” touchscreen display, with an 800 x 480 resolution, surrounded by a much thinner beveled case, and tons of tidbits for the sailor.

The docking cradles, that compliment the system, are specific to the application. Dock the unit in the marine cradle and the GPS starts up in marine mode, and vise versa for the car. This certainly beats scouring the menus to change modes.

Data presented on this meticulous monitor could save you some major headaches. Garmin’s BlueCharts has been upgraded to include shaded depth contours, port plans, wrecks, and restricted areas. Upgrade again, to BlueCharts g2 Vision, and get automatic chart plotting.

Seafarers will find endless uses for this detailed navigational information presented on the GPSMAP 640, but add the optional XM radio/weather satellite receiver, and you’ll be good to sail the seven seas endlessly - without incident or running out of tunes.

Press Release

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Spotted in the Wild: The New Kindle

New Kindle
    The hopes of Kindle users will seemingly be fulfilled. Etronics Blog's piece on the Kindle 2
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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Google Turns Ten

In honor of their 10th birthday, they've brought back their oldest available index. Take a look back at Google in January 2001.

They've even setup a timeline for you internet historians out there.
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Nintendo DSi announced, US Gamers Set Reminders for One Year from Now

As excepted Nintendo has announced their refresh of the DS. The Nintendo DSi.

"The displays are slightly larger, at 3.25 inches apiece, and there's an external three megapixel camera as well as a front-facing camera located on the inside hinge. The DSi has an SD slot and internal storage, photos taken on the card can be transferred directly to the Wii Photo Channel."

"Nintendo is also launching... an online "DSi Shop," which will sell content directly over WiFi, including a free browser app and "DS Ware" games. The company will offer free wireless connectivity at "Nintendo Zone" hotspots located in select Japanese McDonalds locations. As currency, the shop will use the newly-renamed Nintendo Points (formerly Wii Points). A 1000 will come free with the handheld until March 2010, and content will be priced in 200 / 500 / 800 point brackets."

"The DSi will be offered in white or black finishes, and will cost ¥18,900 ($178) when it launches in Japan on November 1st -- the rest of us will have to wait until next year." Which should be plenty of time to save up that money you make selling candy on the train.

From Engadget

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Pioneer Introduces New GPS Models

Pioneer announced four new in-dash navigation head units; two double-din receivers, the AVIC-HRZ099/88, and two single-din the AVIC-HRV022/11. All of them feature a 40GB HDD, and text-to-speech. The $2495 HRZ099, flaunts an 800x480 pixel count on its 7-inch widescreen, while the others proudly display 480x234 on the same size monitor. To optimize and tailor to each person, the new product line, dubbed carrozzeria for the Japanese market, features “My Set-up” or customizable user preferences. These are stored for quick recall.

Revolutionary networking capabilities have been integrated into Pioneer’s latest latitude and longitude pin pointers. They use... a social network-like “Smart Loop” system; where traffic information can be shared with other device users in a "smart traffic information loop". The high-end model is set-up to provide you with additional information through this network by giving you a “Smart Loop Drive Report”. Information in this report may include which route will be the most fuel efficient, or how safely other drivers are driving.

If that “smart loop” traffic info isn’t cutting it, you can flip on the TV tuner and get a traditional traffic report. TV tuners are present in all but the lowest price model of the line. While on the subject of tuners, every new model uses a signal amplifying radio tuner, for improved reception in those dark, foreboding urban canyons.

The 50W x 4-channel amp provides the top two units with punchy power, while the disc player supports CD, DVD-ROM, DVD-VIDEO, DVD-R/RW, CD-ROM, CD-DA, and CD-R/RW formatted discs. Additional media can be loaded onto the HDD through USB drives (additional equipment maybe required). Supported media file formats are: DVD, WMA, MP3, DivX, WAV, and MPEG-4, units are also iPod ready with video playback.

These are set to drop on the pacific island of their origin by Halloween night. Prices will range for $1795 to $2495. No word on when these beauties will be making landfall in Cali, and consequently blessing the rest of us with possible ownership.

Press Release

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