News for Thursday, 8 January 2009

MacWorld Expo 09: in the hell of North Hall

By Moose - 08/01/2009 21:59:53 CET - Category: Apple
North Hall is a strange beast. There is no connection between South Hall, where the main action is, and North Hall (which is physically located accros the street), so you have to walk (gasp!) through a long tunnel like hallway to reach it. And then, you're into WeirdLand.
North Hall wasteland

North Hall is where they hide dirty and shameful secrets, companies offering wacky products, like a mechanical speaker/megaphone for iPod, a church-oriented "worship presentation software"(does it run on the Jesus Phone?) or hand-made fine felt fabric MacBook and iPod sleeves, straight from the 60s...
The iPod megaphone
Fine felt fabric sleeves

But then North Hall has also some pretty big players, some with giant booths, like Acura (apart from the fact that they compare themselves to Apple on posters, what's the link with MacWorld?) and some with tiny floorspace, like IBM and Netgear.
Acura lounge

An interesting thing in North Hall is the pretty large number of iPhone apps developpers, like Polar Bear Farm, Mobile Warrior or Appigo.
Mobile Warrior
Polar Bear Farm

North Hall also hosts Aperture training sessions, live music and empty spaces. And the Electronic Fronteer Foundation.
Aperture training session

So, be careful, if you're not nice, you might end up exiled to North Hall Hell.

New HDMI Format by End of H1 2009

By linathael. Original by Lionel - 08/01/2009 15:37:09 CET - Category: Video
The HDMI Licensing corporation, which is defining the HDMI format, announced that it will deeply revised the current specifications by the end of H1 2009. Among the new features, the 5 most important ones are:
- The HDMI cable will support Ethernet signal
- The support for audio data is back: one will be able to send TV audio information to an A/V recorder only via a HDMI cable.
- Bandwidth will be increase to support forthcoming video format (4kx2k and 3D).
- A new specification of the HDMI port will be defined and designed to be used in cards
- A new compact connector featuring 19 contacts will be developed.
Theses changes are the most important ones announced since the release of the HDMI 1.0 version. However, it will most likely upset customers who invested in HDMI devices expecting that this format was matured and fully defined when it was released… in other words bring new features to push consumers to upgrade or change more frequently their audio/video equipments…

MacWorld Expo 09: our photo gallery

By Moose - 08/01/2009 15:28:41 CET - Category: Apple
Just a quick reminder that you can view the latest pictures taken on the show floor on our flickr photostream or simply watch the slideshow below.

SDXC: New SD Card Format

By linathael - 08/01/2009 15:28:24 CET - Category: Laptop
The flash memory market has been evolving very rapidly over the last few years, but is nevertheless massively affected by the current economic slow down. Among features, the capacity and data transfer speed of our flash memory card have been the main two factors used by manufacturers to offer new/faster products. This is true with the freshly emerging SSD market too.
For our memory cards, massively used today in all handheld devices, from mobile phones to camcorder, we can now store GB of data on a plastic-wrapped card of less than half a square centimeter. Defining new formats is also a way to keep a competitive market alive, and this is especially true for SD card. A new SD format has been announced, the SDXC. It is defined to replace the current SDHC which was implemented to succeed to the previous SD format. With the SDXC we could now get cards featuring storage capacities ranging fro; 32 GB to 2 TB, while data transfer speed should top at 300 MB/s. This looks nice on paper and it will for sure allow manufacturers to apply premium price for such faster SD cards which will most likely be useful only in some high-end camera and/or camcorders. Once the SDXC will have fully invaded the market, it will be time to introduce a new SD format, maybe ultra SDXC…

Intel announce results that show a 23% drop

By crispin. Original by Lionel - 08/01/2009 15:05:30 CET - Category: PC - Source:
Proof of a net deceleration in the market, rock-solid Intel announced its figures for the last quarter that have fallen by 23% compared to the same period the previous year. The foundry laments the large fall of its sales, while its customers have sought to lower their stocks of machines.
It is of course necessary to await the figures of the other players in the market such as AMD and NVidia to be able to paint a complete picture of the impact of the economic crisis on the computer industry.

Asus Launches a Computer in Keyboard

By linathael. Original by Lionel - 08/01/2009 14:03:09 CET - Category: PC - Source: Gizmodo
Hereafter are photos of the last EEE product from Asus:

Yes, it is a keyboard, but it is not only a keyboard... it includes the entire hardware of a computer, including output and input ports, as well as Ethernet and Wi-Fi.
It does look very similar to the current Apple Alu-style keyboard, by its design, as well as as the materials (Alu + keys) and the backlighting. Nevertheless, it is an Asus product, and if details about the hardware were not released yet, it will most likely be very similar to the low-end components used for the other EEE PC models.
We can be pro-Mac users, and recognized that Asus has been successful in introducing new products among PC manufacturers, being able to bring the EE PC models to the market, while featuring low performance levels, their small size makes them a true sub-notebook for many users.

MacWorld Expo : ModBook Hands On

By linathael. Original by Moose - 08/01/2009 09:27:46 CET - Category: Laptop
Yesterday, The Woz himself (aka Steve Wozniak) unveiled the product which was tagged by many websites as a vaporware, the ModBook. The ModBook is a MacBook with a grafted touch screen and a radiofrequencies and pressure-sensitive pencil. In other words, it is like working with a screen/tablet, but with a MacBook.

You simply need to purchase the kit from Axiotron (1299 USD), and you can install it yourself on your MacBook (only the plastic models, does not work with unibody yet). Once installed on the MacBook enclosure, you simply use the pencil as a mouse pointer, pressing on the screen to click, etc. The pencil features programmable buttons, for setting up some special/dedicated functions, such a the right-click. There is a button on the top left corner of the ModBook enclosure to switch the MacBook on/off, and another button let you switch the... GPS! Indeed, the ModBook includes a geo-positioning solution which can be very useful for some professional application, for deliveries or for geo-tagging of documents or photos.
Using the pencil needs some practicing, and one might need some time to adapt with the triple layer to transparent screens: the MacBook display, the touchscreen and the protection screen. So, you clearly see that the pencil ends does not touch the screen, it is a bit puzzling at the beginning but I guess you can easily get used to it.
The ModBook supports Apple's Ink technology, but Axiotron offers its own dedicated software resource, offering support for more languages as well as advanced features.
Axiotron is also presenting a prototype of ModBook pro. As expected, based on a MacBook Pro, the touchscreen is sensitive to fingers, as the iPhone's one. For the moment, the touchscreen does not support multitouch, but Axiotron indicates that it is only a matter a software implementation, the hardware is already set for it.

I could not get additional information regarding the ModBook pro, such as: how to click or right click on such screen? How to move the pointer/cursor? More information should be available in the coming weeks.
Overall, the ModBook is well built and is the expected product, but its price (kit+MacBook) might be its main problem to achieve a large penetration among the Mac users. Most companies/corporate where tablets are being used are often relying on cheaper Pc Tablets (yes less versatile) or custom systems (with less functions).

MacWorld Expo 09: Interview with Lars Felber from Elgato

By linathael. Original by Moose - 08/01/2009 09:27:15 CET - Category: Video
Lars Felber, elgato

elgato is well known and renowned for its famous eyeTV solution allowing Mac users to watch TV on their Mac. If elgato is massively present at this expo, Lars Ferber indicates that it will most likely be the last one as "it smells end-of-life".
The last version of eyeTV offers a iTunes-like interface, with the list of sources on the left part (including the "smart recording"), the main window displaying the current video or the list of programs. However, elgato is attached to its eyeTV remote, as the icon of its product.
eyeTV 3 interface

One can browse the list of programs (up to the next 2 weeks) with different parameters and keywords, build complex requests, within a Spotlight-like interface. A new function, introduced with the last version of eyeTV allows you to "record all" recognized series, recording automatically the new episodes once they become available, similarly to iTunes for podcasts.
The interface allows you to simply quickly export your recordings to iPod/iPhone, Apple TV or even Toast with a couple of clicks. One can even automatically synchronize recordings in iTunes or Apple TV. The eyeTV Diversity model features a double tuner, so you can watch a program while recording another one, or use both in "boost mode" to improve channel reception when the signal is too weak.

eyeTV diversity

Forced by the market and users, eyeTV 3 integrates some iPod-dedicated functions, even though it remains limited: one can stream recordings on a local network, watch them on an iPod/Phone or on another Mac via a http interface. However, it is not possible to watch live TV shows, or get access to your video via internet.
Nevertheless, elgato is listening to its customers, collecting wishes for improvements of new functions, especially for an iPhone-dedicated application, and currently most users would like to use their iPhone as a remote control, similarly to the Remote app from Apple. Exclusively for France and some EU countries were full HD DTB is being deployed, eyeTV version 3.1 (to be available in January) will be able to decode an audio Dolby Digital +.
In another field, Lars Felber indicates that sales of their H.264 encoding hardware solution, known as turbo.264, are declining as such the function is massively available in new hardware, or have been added to existing software solution such as Handbrake. However, the product is still supported, and a new version should be released during H1 2009, offering full HD input/output encoding.

Sandisk offer mp3 players preloaded with music

By crispin. Original by Lionel - 08/01/2009 07:37:33 CET - Category: iPod
Sandisk perhaps has found a way of restarting its sales against the dominance of the iPod. The manufacturer offers to sell a preloaded mp3 player with 1000 pieces selected from Billboard and that cover many artistic styles. Their new slogan is 1000 pieces of music, 0 remote loading.

From the little that we can find about what is proposed, this offer will be a good deal since the mp3 player equipped with a memory card containing the 1000 titles is invoiced at $99.
It is also possible to acquire other memory cards also containing 1000 pieces arranged by topic for $39,99 which is an excellent deal. On the other hand, and is the downside of this price, it seems impossible to listen to this music elsewhere than on this player.
We do not know if this offer will be offered elsewhere apart from the United States, the negotiations for this kind of market have to be done at the level of each country, which is very constraining.
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