Feb 28 2010

Apple Needs to get Serious about Video

Apple’s Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said last Tuesday that Apple considers the Apple TV to simply be a hobby. Judging by how competing companies are treating streaming video, this is completely the wrong attitude to have. Netflix offers streaming video (that, last time I tried, did not work out so well on Macs). Wal-Mart has announced its intention to distribute video over the Internet. And what does Apple do? Basically nothing, at least relating to streaming video.

Of course Apple sells a lot of laptops, which people do use to watch streaming video. But research has shown that people prefer to watch movies on a real TV screen.

Though Apple is now conspicuously absent from the streaming video market, this could easily change. Apple acquired Lala, a streaming music service, at the end of 2009. Apple is also building a massive data center in North Carolina. We also cannot forget about the iPad—it may prove to be a revolutionary device for streaming video.

Via CNET, image via Apple.

Feb 28 2010

Apple May Lower iPhone Prices

According to an analyst at Morgan Stanley, Apple could lower the price of its next iPhone. Though the iPhone has been and remains very popular, Apple faces a lot of competition from other companies like Google, Microsoft, and Research in Motion, and must price its products accordingly.

The analyst said she expects Apple to release a new, cheaper iPhone in June of this year. The iPhone 3G S currently sells for $199 and up, and the iPhone 3G for $99 and up.

Microsoft has announced its new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7, which is due to be released by the end of this year. If it proves successful and popular, this could pose a threat to Apple. Apple has seen huge success with its App Store, which is predicted to have 300,00 apps by the end of 2011. In a controversial move recently, Apple banned many apps from the App Store for being too explicit.

Via eWeek, image via Apple.

Feb 28 2010

AP to Charge for iPad Service

The Associated Press (AP) has said that it will charge iPad users for access to its stories with an app.

There has been a trend for news websites to offer subscription plans for their content. The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times both offer premium access to their news stories to paying subscribers, both on the Internet and through iPhone apps. Reuters and the New York Times are both planning to introduce paid access to their websites in the next year.

The chief executive of AP, Tom Curley, said that he wants his company to “seize this opportunity to reinvigorate our business models as well as our journalism.” Apparently, this new business model involves charging for access to its stories.

Will iPad users embrace paid subscriptions for news? The iPad itself is not cheap, but if enough news companies offer paid subscriptions, many people probably will.

Via AppleInsider.

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Feb 27 2010

Apple Suppliers Guilty of Violations

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According to Apple’s 2010 Progress Report, some of the company’s suppliers are guilty of workplace violations, including the use of underage workers, improper disposal of hazardous waste, falsified records, and excessive recruitment fees. Apple did not identify any of the suppliers by name or specify in which countries the violations occurred.

Three facilities hired fifteen-year-olds in countries where the minimum employment age is sixteen. Apple also found records of eleven workers who were hired before they reached the minimum age. Apple said it now requires the facilities to conduct more thorough ID checks.

Apple has required the facilities who improperly disposed waste to have an outside consultant review the systems for disposing of hazardous waste.

The falsified records involved attempts to hide the hiring of underage workers and violations concerning working hours and days of rest.

Despite some suppliers being guilty of violations, Apple said that overall its suppliers have shown performance improvements and better working conditions.

Via CNET, image via Telegraph.

Feb 27 2010

Windows Mobile 6.5.x Pulled Back From The Abyss, Now Windows Phone Starter

I posted an article a week ago stating how the Windows Phone 7 Series would be the end of WinMo 6.5, to the point that I was verbally dancing on its gravesite.  Well, looks like WinMo just got some major life support, and will continue on as Windows Phone Starter.

There were hints of this before WinPho 7’s launch, with rumors of a “Windows Phone Classic”.  Whether or not this is the same as Windows Phone Starter we still don’t know.

What we do know isn’t all that groundbreaking either.  At the new OS’s core is the WinMo 6.5 we love and hate, just stripped down a bit. It is designed to be a cheaper alternative to the WinPho 7 line, targeting emerging markets in developing countries. The name and concept naturally follows Microsoft’s idea for Windows 7 Starter Edition.

However, don’t plan on ever actually getting to use a WinPho Starter phone if you live in the US or the developed world.  Microsoft posted a list of radio spectra that it is planning to support for Starter, and HSDPA 3G stands noticeably absent.  Looks like Microsoft is going to strong-arm carriers and manufacturers into using WinPho 7 in markets they can.

Another missing feature for some versions will be Office Mobile.  If you have a strong hankering for Sense UI WinMo phones, look to your favorite developing nation to buy a WinPho Starter phone.  The rest of us will just have to struggle living in a world where WinMo is being phased out.

Via Engadget.

Feb 27 2010

ASUS’ New Eee Netbook Line Delivers 14-Hour Battery Life

ASUS’ Eee netbooks may have been the first netbooks on the market, but they have maintained their position since this whole netbook thing started. Now their newest models have been revealed, and has a lot changed from the cute little plastic boxes that shocked us with their $200 price-tags back in 2008.

They new models include the 1015P, 1016P, and 1018P. Their old bodies have been chucked in favor of a new, more masculine, brushed metal chassis.  They come with styling tiled keyboards and nice wide touchpads, which are always very classy.

The leak source for this info, Blogee, doesn’t have much in terms of real specs. However, it does mention 10” screens, webcams, fingerprint scanners, and the highly awaited for USB 3.0 ports. There are currently no pics of the 1016P.

The most stunning piece of this however is the battery life of these little things. The 1018P is a mere 18 mm thick and will have 10-hour battery life; the 1016P, however, blows its sibling’s figures out of the water with an incredible 14-hour battery life.  The accuracy of battery lives aren’t known to be reliable pre-release, but to boast numbers like that means they have to be far above average.

Via Gizmodo, image via Blogee.

Feb 26 2010

The Time Has Come for the Atom N470 Netbook Processor

Netbook buyers and enthusiasts should be happy to know that this coming Monday Intel will be releasing the Atom N470 Processor, which will be Intel’s most powerful chip yet for netbooks. The processor will enhance both the performance speed of the machine and longevity of the battery.

The chip will run at a speed of 1.83GHz and integrate a graphics processor and memory controller. These features will give netbooks superior graphics and processing performance compared to their predecessors. The fact that the new chips are also more efficient could result in an increase for some netbooks’ battery life performance. The chip’s integration also results in a decrease of size, which could allow smaller and lighter netbooks to be made.

Though this new chip is a great step, there are still strides to be made in the effort to increase efficiency and utility. For example, Nvidia graphics processors and Atom CPU will be coupled together to bring better high-definition video to some netbooks in early March, and it’s this kind of innovation that will drive the industry forward.

Via PCWorld.

Feb 26 2010

JooJoo Tablets Get Pushed Back

Fusion Garage appears to have made a mistake when it earlier announced its plan for the JooJoo Tablet to be shipped by the end of February.  With only 2 days left in the month, they have pushed back shipments a whole month back to March 25. Here’s the full release:

“Earlier this month, Fusion Garage’s JooJoo Internet tablet went into full production with an anticipated on-time delivery to consumers at the end of February. Last week, the company became aware of a manufacturing issue involving JooJoo’s industry-first 12.1 inch capacitive touch screen which Fusion Garage was quickly able to diagnose and rectify. The company now forecasts the JooJoo will be sent to consumers on March 25.

The manufacturing issue centers on fine tuning the touch sensitivity of the capacitive screen. Fusion Garage will be providing all pre-order customers with a free JooJoo accessory to compensate for the delay in the delivery of their JooJoo.”

It must be highly awkward when your main (and possibly only selling point) is holding you back from delivering your product.  Given all the other problems surrounding the CrunchPad-turned-JooJoo, you can’t help but wonder if Michael Arrington is sitting at home smirking.

Via Gizmodo

Feb 26 2010

Viliv S10 Blade Netbook Available For Pre-Order at $699

Viliv has finally confirmed pricing and availability for the long-awaited S10 Blade netbook. The convertible tablet netbook is now available for pre-order in North America for $699, coming with Windows XP. This particular model won’t include three-point multitouch output as promised, but other models are on the way.

Later iterations of the S10 Blade netbook will share the same basic features – a 10.1-inch 1366 x 768 resolution resistive, multitouch touchscreen, 1 GB RAM, Bluetooth 2.0 and a webcam. It packs either a 1.6 GHz or 2.0 GHz Intel Atom CPU and a variety of storage options: a 60 GB HDD or SSDs in 32 and 64 GB versions.

A number of the models will get HSPA 3G modules. Expect battery life to run as long as 10 hours.

We’re still in the dark about shipping dates, so keep your eyes peeled.

Via Electronista.

Feb 26 2010

Apple Files for Ownership of New Trademark

The Magic Trackpad?

This week, Apple filed for ownership of a new trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The new trademark is “Magic Trackpad.” Analysts have suggested that it will be a name for a new product or the rebranding of existing trackpads.

The application from Apple seeks control of the trademark in relation to computers and devices in hardware and software. The naming of this new trademark corresponds with the multi-touch Magic Mouse, introduced last fall. The entire surface of the Magic Mouse can track independent finger movements.

There was a rumor last October that Apple was going to introduce a multi-touch trackpad for desktop Macs, but nothing has come of this. A product like this was never released and nothing has been said since. The first multi-touch trackpad was introduced on the MacBook Air and has since added to MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops.

Via AppleInsider, image via Apple.

Feb 26 2010

Italy Convicts Google Execs Over Video

Italy’s courts have rendered a highly controversial decision against internet search giant Google.  The case was over a video posted on Google Video of an autistic teenager being bullied.  Under Italian law, this is highly illegal, and the executives in question –  Peter Fleischer, David Drummond, George De Los Reyes, and Arvind Desikan – were originally charged with defamation against the teen.

The presiding judge over the case, Oscar Magi, dropped the charges regarding defamation.  However, all but Desikan recieved six-month sentences for privacy violations.  Drummond is the chief legal officer at Google and has stated he was “outraged” by the verdict.  And he makes a valid point with his full statement:

“I intend to vigorously appeal this dangerous ruling. It sets a chilling precedent… If individuals like myself and my Google colleagues who had nothing to do with the harassing incident, its filming or its uploading onto Google Video can be held criminally liable solely by virtue of our position at Google, every employee of any internet hosting service faces similar liability.”

This blogger wholeheartedly agrees.  Google did the right thing; it provides a relatively open hosting space, but the second the video was brought to its attention, the video was removed.  The very openness of the internet is under attack by this verdict and it creates an impossible standard for content providers to live by.

Via BBC News, image via Google.

Feb 26 2010

MSI Classic Series Notebooks Released

MSI has come a long way.  From a little known Taiwanese brand, it has gained a foothold in the netbook market with its famed Wind line.  Now, 4 of its latest notebook models are ready for shipping.  They are dubbed the “Classic Series” and we mentioned them during our CES coverage last month. Here are the final specs on some of their siblings:

CR620-030US CR620-033US CR620-31US CR600-234US
CPU Core i3-330M Core i3-330M Core i5-430M Pentium Dual-Core T4500
RAM 4 GB 4 GB 4 GB 3 GB
HDD 320 GB 320 GB 500 GB 320 GB
LCD Size 15.6” 15.6” 15.6” 16”
LCD Resolution 1366×768 1366×768 1366×768 1366×768
GPU Arrandale IGP Arrandale IGP Arrandale IGP NVIDIA GeForce 8200M
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
Optical Drive DVD-RW Blu-ray combo DVD-RW DVD-RW
Battery Life 3 Hours 3 Hours 3 Hours 3 Hours
Price $630 $700 $730 $530

Other standard features include 1.3 megapixel webcam, multicard reader, VGA/HDMI out, 3 USB 2.0 Ports, Ethernet, and 802.11b/g/n. Unfortunately, the 32-bit OS is a let down, seeing as the 64-bit transition is now a fact of life for all companies and most of the laptops use 4 GB of RAM.

If you are still interested, go check your favorite tech supplier to purchase.

Via AnandTech

Feb 26 2010

Apple May Offer Explicit Section in App Store

A few days after its controversial decision to ban certain apps from the App Store, Apple may be reconsidering its position and eventually offer an “Explicit” category for apps.

Earlier this week, Apple pulled a lot of apps from the App Store, saying that they were overtly sexual. One analyst said this was to preserve its public image. But on Wednesday, developers uploading new apps noticed a new category for apps called “Explicit.” The category later disappeared. The iPhone 3G does have parental controls that would allow such a category to be blocked.

A developer reportedly called Apple and was told that it is considering the option, but not anytime soon.

Though Apple of course does have a public image to maintain, offering an “Explicit” category probably would not be such a bad thing, provided that users were asked to opt-in to it and parents could fully bar their children from seeing this category.

Via The Escapist, image via Apple.

Feb 26 2010

Steve Jobs: It’s Time to “Think Big”

Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, met with the company’s shareholders this Thursday. He told the shareholders that the $40 billion Apple has will not be returned to them as dividends because of the flexibility and security it provides to the company.

According to a news article, Jobs reportedly said that Apple has gotten so big that it is now time for the company to “think big.” He added, “When you take risks, it’s like jumping in the air. When they don’t work out, it’s nice to know the ground is always there.” Some analysts are interpreting this as a reference to the upcoming Apple product, the iPad, which is a huge gamble for Apple.

Even though Apple has a lot of money, it really does not buy very much: six companies in the past five years. Its most recent acquisition, Lala, has been seen by analysts as a possible way for Apple to go into the streaming music business. Also, Apple is planning to open more stores in China—twenty-five of them, to be exact.

Via Wired.

Feb 25 2010

Will Apple Get a “Checkmate” for Video With the iPad?

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The competition for buyers in the consumer electronics market is like a game of chess, and Apple is strategically waiting to make its move.  Over the past several years online video has become more of a computer-oriented  experience, rather than seeming like a displaced television.  On the other hand, companies such as Netflix were able to begin with the PC and make an excellent transition back to television. So why hasn’t the multimedia juggernaut Apple made the same profitable leap?

Even Wal-Mart, with its fierce small-business crushing fists, attempted to dominate the video-download market –  an endeavour that met with failure. But even Wal-Mart wasn’t kept back for long – Wal-Mart will be acquiring the video-download service Vudu to give video downloads another try.

With the onset of the new iPad, Apple could at last make its big move. Even though there are already portable DVD-players and netbooks with graphics accelerators for watching HD video, the iPad’s features are sure to catch at least some people’s interest. With an  9.7-inch LCD touch-screen interface with excellent image quality, it will be a useful tool for watching videos wherever one wishes.  Online video and movies are a logical next step.

There is also rumor that Apple may be launching a streaming video service, which could really get competitors shaking in their boots.

Via CNET , image via HowStuffWorks.

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Feb 25 2010

Broadcom Crystal HD Netbook Video Accelerator Tested With Flash 10.1

Our eyes have been peeled for hands-on info concerning the Broadcom Crystal HD video accelerator we posted about back in. When rumors arose that HP had thrown the HD video accelerator into a new edition of one of its netbooks, we just couldn’t wait to see if it works.

So, does it?

CNet tested the new accelerator with Flash 10.1 on a netbook, and delivered some solid video footage of it as well. Since the Nvidia Ion isn’t currently available for netbooks built on the Atom N450 CPU, Broadcom’s Crystal HD chip seems to be the best way to get Flash 10.1 on a netbook. Flash 10.1 is the first version of Flash to be supported on the Broadcom Crystal HD CPU.

Unfortunately, CNet’s tests haven’t led to the astounding revolution Broadcom Crystal HD was supposed to be – the netbook achieved some amount of success after a few adjustments, but didn’t get up to the standard of what we think a HD video accelerator should be.

Their advice? Wait for software updates from Adobe and/or Broadcom before dropping cash on a netbook, if you want to be able to watch HD video instead of a HD slideshow.

Be sure to check out CNet’s video here.

Feb 25 2010

LG Delivers T280 Notebook, X140 & X200 Netbooks In Time For CeBIT

LG has just announced a pair of new netbooks and a new notebook, ripe and ready for eager eyes at next week’s CeBIT conference in Germany.

The first is the LG T280 notebook – a sleek looking machine priced around $1000 with variations based on configuration. The specs for the LG T280 notebook are as follows:

  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • 11.6-inch display
  • 1366 x 768 resolution
  • Options of Intel 1.3GHz Pentium dual-core or Core 2 Duo processor
  • Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics
  • 320GB or 500GB hard drive options
  • 2GB of RAM
  • Wi-Fi
  • Six-cell battery

Next in line are LG’s new netbooks. They look pretty standard, packing Intel Atom N450 CPUs, but the LG X140 and X200 netbooks have some visible differences when you look beneath the veneer.

The specs of the X140 and X200 netbooks are as follows:

The X140

  • Windows 7 Starter
  • 10.1 inch LCD display
  • 1024 x 600 pixels
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 160 GB hard drive
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • 1.3-megapixel webcam
  • Six-cell battery
  • SIM card access

The X200

  • Intel GMA 3150 graphics
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 250GB hard drive
  • Chiclet-style keyboard
  • 802.11n Wi-Fi
  • USB ports
  • Weighs 2.7-pounds

LG’s past netbooks have included the LG X20 and LG X30. LG netbook offerings have historically been capable but bland, though LG did make headlines by delivering its X120 and X130 netbooks in Iraq and Jordan last August.

Via ZDNet.

Feb 25 2010

Apple Sells 10 Billionth iTunes Song

On Wednesday, Apple sold its 10 billionth iTunes song at 9:43 pm GMT, about 6 years and 10 months after the iTunes Store’s opening. The store has come a long way since then: it used to be called the iTunes Music Store and sold just music, but now it sells video, TV shows, and podcasts in addition to music. Apple said that the lucky customer who bought the 10 billionth song received a $10,000 gift card to the iTunes Store, as promised.

$10,000 is roughly enough money to fill an entire iPod Touch with music. It’s quite a generous gift, but pales in comparison to what Apple did in 2006 when it sold the billionth song. Back then, the winner received a gift card, a 20-inch iMac, 10 60 GB iPods, and music scholarship in his or her name.

The most downloaded song of all time is The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling,” according to rankings on Apple’s website. The rankings do not show the number of downloads per song.

Via PC World, image via Apple.

Feb 25 2010

Apple May Update MacBook Pro

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The supplies of MacBook Pro laptops are more limited than usual and, according to an analyst, this could mean that Apple is going to update the MacBook Pro line of computers. An updated MacBook Pro would probably include a new processor from Intel that would boost battery life and overall performance. The new MacBook Pro could ship by June, if not sooner.

The analyst says that Macs in general do not need to be refreshed because they are doing so well, but a refresh of the MacBook Pro would keep Apple products new and exciting.

Apple last updated the MacBook Pro in June 2009. Currently, the cheapest MacBook Pro has a lot in common with the MacBook, which was updated in October 2009. To preserve the MacBook Pro’s higher pricing, Apple needs to differentiate between the two models by giving more advanced features to the MacBook Pro.

Via The Washington Post, image via Apple.

Feb 25 2010

Apple Updates MobileMe on Mobile Devices

Apple has enhanced the website for MobileMe when users visit it with an iPhone or iPod Touch. The new site now offers a direct link to instructions about configuring various MobileMe functions like Mail, Contacts, and Calendar, a link to Find My iPhone, and direct links to the two apps associated with MobileMe.

The link to Find My iPhone is particularly interesting. This extraordinarily useful feature allows users to find lost iPhones on a map, send messages to lost phones, remotely wipe data on the phones, and force the phones to play sounds.

The rest of MobileMe is not available on mobile devices with the exception of Gallery and iWeb.

The new mobile version of the site seems like a good start, but it is a bit lacking. Apple probably could have done a better job if it had released a special MobileMe app.

Via CNET, image via Apple.

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