News for Monday, 22 December 2008

The first hybrid media DVD/Blu-ray on the same layer

By crispin. Original by Lionel - 22/12/2008 23:44:59 CET - Category: CD Drives
At the time of the battle around the blue laser, one saw manufacturers proposing hybrid media with one face to be used as a DVD and the other for Blu-ray or HD-DVD. There were even prototype Blu-ray and HD-DVD. But these media were in fact made up of the two others stuck back to back. A Japanese company has just announced the first really hybrid media. The same side of the disk will be able to store two layers: DVD and Blu-ray.

To arrive at this result, they succeeded in developing a layer of Blu-ray that is transparent to the red laser, but reflects blue. It was enough then to use the different properties between the DVD and Blu-ray, the latter is required to have its reflective layer much more close to surface. Thus, inserted in a reader DVD, this disk will be seen as a DVD; and then it will be recognised as Blu-ray media once inserted in the suitable reader.
If the price of this product remains acceptable, one should quickly see it arriving in the videos clubs which no longer will have to manage two references for the same product. There is also a possible interest by the general public, however in this case interest in universal media is less obvious since the Majors producers like to add a large surtax to the Blu-ray films.

Apple updates server-side MobileMe, again

By Moose - 22/12/2008 22:23:13 CET - Category: Mac OS X
Yet again, Apple has quietly updated their server-side MobileMe service, bringing in numerous fixes and improvements:
  • Searching for contacts in a large address book (more than 1000 contacts) is faster and no longer results in a "slow script" browser alert message

  • Exported vCards with multi-line addresses or notes can now be imported into the Mac OS X Address Book

  • Adds keyboard shortcut to create a new contact

  • Additional formatting options for European phone numbers are now supported

  • Adds sorting of To Do items by calendar or title

  • Long event titles now appear properly in Month view

  • Updated "Tell a friend" email message

  • Resolves an issue related to setting a new album's key photo

  • Files and folder names that contain Japanese language characters now display properly on the web

  • Hosting of iWeb pages can be configured for personal domains ending in ".eu", ".ax", ".tl", ".gw", ".kp", ".rs" or ".su"

  • Family Member accounts now display the accurate renewal/expiration date

  • Resolves an issue that prevented some members from using an activation key (MobileMe box) to renew a subscription

  • "Keep me logged in for two weeks" checkbox now works reliably

Nice to see that Apple keeps updating its online service, and especially that they are now explaining what they do...

Mini DisplayPort to Dual Link DVI Adapters: Arriving but buggy!

By linathael - 22/12/2008 17:24:31 CET - Category: Peripheral
Earlier today, we were reporting that Apple Mini DisplayPort to Dual Link DVI adaptor was further delayed by Apple. According to one of our readers, Ron, some samples made it to users, but were quickly identified as not being really functional:
The Apple Mini DisplayPort to Dual Link DVI adapters finally started arriving--over two months since their introduction. These allow you to run a 30" monitor with the new MacBook Pros.
After waiting this long, however, they cause the mouse cursor to jump while tracking. This has been confirmed with wired and wireless mice, and with two different adapters.
Not only did Apple charge us 100 USD to use our Cinema Displays and make us wait over two months, but they don't even work. Ridiculous.
Here's a link to the small (but growing) thread on Apple's Discussion Forum:
Apple is really loosing ground for some of its quality control procedures, it is time to wake up and stop out-sourcing to non-reliable companies! first, it is rather outrageous to charge so much money for just an adaptor, second it makes no sense to ship units not fully tested. One can now further understand why Apple decided to open the market for adaptor to third-parties (see previous news). Overall, this problem could explain our first news today on this topic, Apple might have postponed pending shipments till the product is fully functional, to avoid having to exchange too many units.

Yellowsn0w: iPhone 3G SIM Unlocking by the DevTeam

By linathael. Original by Arthur - 22/12/2008 09:16:24 CET - Category: iOS
Couple of days after loosing its exclusive partnership with Apple, it is now the DevTeam that might give the last hit to such exclusive partnership for Orange, as well as O2 and AT&T:

Yellowsn0w would be the software based solution to quickly and safely SIM-unlock the iPhone 3G according to a video released by the DevTeam: SIM-unlock in 5 minutes without rebooting!
Yellowsn0w should be integrated into QuickPwn or made available directly for jailbreak iPhones via Cydia in 2009. However, it is unclear if the procedure will work for iPhone updated to Firmware 2.2: "This unlock method is available to iPhone 3Gs that have 2.11.07 baseband or earlier, we did warn you."
So we will know more in about 10 days.

Price of RAM Is Now Increasing

By linathael. Original by Lionel - 22/12/2008 09:06:42 CET - Category: Peripheral - Source: Digitimes
After reaching an historical low point at the beginning of December, price for DDR2 RAM chips started again to increase, as much as 20 % within the last 2 weeks. This increase is not linked to larger request from integrators or OEM, but simply to the lack of chips as manufacturers simply stopped their production lines to reduce their stocks and avoid producing products they will not be able to sell. According to analysts, such increase will most likely be only a temporary state. Indeed, manufacturers can not stop production lines forever, and they might have to wait couple of quarters before seeing demands rising up again.

Towards an Exclusive Partnership between Apple and NVidia?

By linathael. Original by Lionel - 22/12/2008 09:05:58 CET - Category: Video
So far, Apple always tried to have discrete GPU solutions in its hardware coming from both GPU giants: NVidia and ATI/AMD. In previous generation of MacBook Pro, all mobile GPU were from NVidia, while current iMac sports ATI GPUs. But such balancing evolved with time.
With the recent adoption of the NVidia GF9400M chipset, powering the current MacBook models, and the forthcoming new iMac and Mac mini, Apple might shift its entire hardware to NVidia GPU solutions, leaving to ATI/AMD the opportunity to release Mac edition of their flagship GPU for the Mac Pro. On a technical point of view, such decision might make sense especially if one considers the forthcoming Snow Leopard and its Open CL. Indeed, having more uniformed hardware architecture will help Apple to ensure a smooth transition.
Of a pure marketing point of view, NVidia is currently in a bad phase, with the manufacturing defect of the GF8x00 GPU, and with the very successful current ATI/AMD GPU solutions built around the HD 48xx.
According to our sources, such exclusive partnership would imply that NVidia will closely work with Apple to really improve its GPU drivers for Mac OS X, something that we expect will turn into facts soon and not float around as a promise..

iPhone in France: SFR and Bouygues ruined Orange's Christmas Time

By linathael. Original by Lionel - 22/12/2008 09:05:27 CET - Category: iPhone
Following the decision taken by the anti-trust Council in France, Apple will soon offer iPhone to the other two carriers, Bouygues and SFR. If Apple does not plan to refuse such legal injunction, in practice, both carriers will not be able to get iPhones before January. Indeed, contracts have to be negotiated, validated and signed, shipment sent to both carriers, then iPhone distributed to all carriers' shops or resellers. In addition, both carriers will have to update their network infrastructure in order to offer the expected services associated with the iPhone.
However, both carriers already announced their future plans, and Bouygues even published the price of its iPhone-bundled offers. As expected, it will be 2 to 6 euro cheaper than equivalent subscription plan from Orange. This strategy of announcement is most likely made to prevent customers tempted by the iPhone to leave those carriers to Orange. Hundreds of SIM-unlocked iPhone are being used on the networks from both alternative French carriers, and there is no real technical problem. They will have to implement visual voice mail in a fully supported format. But beside this technical point, both carriers already responded to the increasing number of SIM-unlocked iPhone on their networks by offering unlimited data plan. I personally use an iPhone of SFR network and I do not feel missing any iPhone-associated services.
If the rumor of new forthcoming iPhone 3G models is true, than SFR and Bouygues might get them too. Definitely a bad year's end for Orange, however the exclusive carrier knows such situations in other countries where several carriers offer iPhone-bundled offers (such as Switzerland).

Apple Further Delays the DVI Dual Link Adaptor

By linathael. Original by Lionel - 22/12/2008 09:04:11 CET - Category: Laptop
According to one of our readers, Apple further postponed the shipment of its ordered DVI Dual Link adaptor, originally planned for November, then December, the shipment is now expected on January 06th. Such delay prevents owner of the unibody MacBook models to use their Apple Cinema display 30"... Let's hope that Apple will offer compensation to unfortunate users for such long delay.

There will be a new Mac mini and iMac (Details)

By crispin. Original by Lionel - 22/12/2008 08:52:14 CET - Category: Apple - Source: MacRumors
While digging in the Mac OS X configuration files, some people found proof that Apple prepares to launch a new mini Mac and a new iMac

As if there could be any doubt, the two machines will use GeForce 9400M on their mother boards; this news brings more question than answers.
- For mini Mac, this is excellent news. For the first time since the abandonment of the processors Power PC, it will be fitted with a video part worthy of its name and will be able to manage 30" screens, but also to decode videos HD with the GPU and thus consume much less CPU resources. However we can ask the question about Firewire on this machine. If Apple remains coherent, the Mac mini, just like MacBook, should lose these ports.
- For the iMac, the situation will be more complicated. One can be certain that the basic model will have that GeForce 9400 as the video card. There too, one can question the presence of Firewire. For the higher models, Apple will certainly follow MacBook Pro route and will integrate a faster second chip. Even though having two chips on an office machine is not so important on the level of power consumption, there is another very important gain.
NVidia have revealed that in the future, it will be possible to use the GeForce 9400M to manage the display while the second chip could be devoted to CUDA/Open CL to accelerate various calculations. In this context, the iMac equipped with two chips will bring an important gain in performances once Snow Leopard is released. To finish, one can suppose that Apple will also propose Firewire connections on the 24".
According to some sources, Apple might emphasis the capabilities of the new iMac and Mac mini for games. Some information let us think that the reason for the Mac mini to sport a discrete GPU would be to offer much better abilities for games. This could demonstrate that Apple finally understood that a computer at home is a digital hub for life and entertainment, not only restricted to video and photo but also games. With the forthcoming Open CL included in Snow Leopard we could finally uncover the true graphic potential of those new Macs.
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