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Here are the highlights from today’s Apple Keynote, titled “It’s Showtime”:

  • Apple has announced a newly enhanced iPod. The standard iPod gets a 60% brighter screen with brightness control, 3.5 hours of video playback (up from 2 hours), gapless playback, and newly designed iPod headphones. The larger version of the iPod will do 6.5 hours of video playback. The 60GB 30GB iPod will sell for $249, while the 80GB model will sell for $349. Available today.
  • New games for iPod: The iPod now has purchasable games, which include Bejeweled, Cubis 2, Zuma, Pac Man, Texas Hold ‘em, Vortex, and more. They can be purchased in iTunes for $4.99 each. Games will also work on older 5th generation iPods.
  • New software updates for iPod: There is now a quick scrolling feature using letters, which allows you to jump to anywhere in your library virtually instantly and with more precision.
  • iPod nano: Second generation iPod nano announced. It looks more like a tiny iPod mini, with an aluminum enclosure for the $149 2GB model, while the larger $199 4GB model sports green, silver, blue, and pink. Finally, the $249 8GB model comes in black. All have a 24-hour battery life. There are also new chargers, lanyards, and armbands. All three iPod nano models are available today.
  • iPod shuffle: The iPod shuffle also goes 2ng generation today. Sporting a 12-hour battery life, the shuffle now is about the size of the Apple Remote, making it the world’s smallest MP3 player. It has a metal body with a white click wheel, and a 1GB capacity. Available in October for $79.
  • iTunes 7: Library now breaks up and separates different forms of media, and also provides sections for the Store itself and for devices. Apple will now provide album art for any music in your library, even if not purchased through iTunes. The 2006 NFL season will be available for purchase, and video resolution is now bumped up to 640x480 (up from 320x240)  in H.264 encoding. Gapless playback is supported in iTunes 7. Even better, you can now sync you iPod content to a second computer!
  • iTunes Movies: Apple is announcing that they are adding movies to the iTunes Music Store. Starting today, you can purchase films from Disney, Pixar, Touchstone, and Miramax (all of these are Disney owned.) Most titles will cost $9.99. You can pre-order new releases for $12.99 (or pay that price for the first week) - after that, they jump to $14.99. You can pre-order Disney’s Cars today. Movies are at near-DVD quality in 640x480 resolution, and you can start watching the movie while it downloads in the background. As for sound, movies have Dolby surround audio. Parental control allows you to block or allow movies by MPAA rating. There are 75 movies available for purchase, and more will be added on a weekly basis. The Movie Store is strictly for the US store for now, but will go Apple hopes to take it International in 2007.
  • One Last Thing: Wireless Set-top Box: In the first quarter of 2007, Apple will be releasing a wireless set-top box for the television. About half the size of a Mac mini, the box will have integrated USB, 802.11 wireless antennas, HDMI ports, optical audio out, and component video out. Apple is calling it iTV, although that name may not be final. Obviously, it’s meant to allow you to stream the video content on your PC to your television, using an interface that seems like an upgraded Front Row, controlled by the Apple Remote. Video startup is instant, and video looks great - close to DVD quality. Expect high-resolution artwork and movie text. The same videos will play on iTunes, your iPod, and now, your TV. The box also allows you to view trailers and other iTunes content directly from the Internet. Steve plays The Incredibles, which is curiously not in 640x480, but rather in widescreen high definition format. A sign of things to come? Apple says the device will work in conjunction with iTunes on both PC and Mac, and will sell for $299 USD, bringing Apple to your den, living room, car, and pocket.
  • John Legend: Steve Jobs closed the event by introducing John Legend, telling everyone that without the artists, none of this means anything. Legend came out and sang for everyone.

That’s it! You can now see all the updates on Apple.com reflecting everything that was talked about today. New iPods, new iTunes, and a lack of Core 2 Duo MacBook Pros.


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iTunes Down

In case you hadn’t noticed, the iTunes Music Store has been down for a few hours. Of course, Steve Jobs is set to hit the stage in roughly five minutes or so for his September 12 keynote, where we expect to see a couple of iTunes upgrades. Disney movie downloads anyone?


MacBook shutdown problem addressed Big companies do listen to complaints after all. Due to the comments of numerous MacBook users began suffering from sudden and inexplicable shutdowns, Apple has created a page to address the issue on the website. “If your MacBook is shutting down intermittently, please contact AppleCare for service.” While not particularly helpful, this means that Apple is addressing the issue and will hopefully have a solution (or at the least, an explanation) soon.

TUAW has been carefully documenting reports of this problem and has put together an explanation for the system crashes, linked below.

Read More | Apple via TUAW


It's Showtime!For days now, rumors about the new “Merom”-based Core 2 Duo MacBook Pros and iMac as well as the mysterious video iPod/iPhone have been making rounds on the Internet, in anticipation of an announced and unverified Apple release event. Unverified, that is, until now. The company has sent invitations to “select members of the media and others” to attend a “special event” on September 12, 10:00 AM Pacific Time in San Francisco, California.

While nothing is known about the nature of the event or what products will be released (for surely, Steve Jobs must have some new gadgets up his sleeves), it is a good bet that Core 2 Duo MacBook Pros will be exhibited, especially now that Dell and other PC manufacturers are already shipping laptops with the chip. A Core 2 Duo iMac was also expected, however those were just announced earlier today. Of course, let’s not forget the possibility of full-length movie downloads available via the iTunes music store.

The event is to be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater.

Read More | Macworld

Apple releases new ads Apple has just released three new advertisements to complement their already expansive and controversial lineup of Mac ads. With competition fierce in the computer market, especially now that Apple is utilizing the same hardware as PC manufacturers, any edge can prove vital for the Cupertino-based company. The three clips, entitled “Accident”, “Angel/Devil”, and “Trust Mac”, continue the same trends established in previous ads by elevating Mac features and playing down PC’s.

Read More | Apple

Vista MacBook

Finally it looks like Windows Vista will not only play nice with Boot Camp-enabled Macs, but it will do so while supporting all of the new Aero effects as well. According to a few, the new pre-RC1 build of Windows Vista, Build 5536, works on Intel-based Macs. The installation procedure is exactly the same as if you were installing Windows XP SP2, so it should roll along without a hitch. The only downside for now is that not all the drivers are Vista-capable, which means your iSight and Apple keyboard will not work until that issue is resolved. Still, this is the closest we have to full Vista support on the Mac. If only the Parallels guys would get it together a little quicker so that we can run Vista alongside OS X.

Read More | Kerim's Blog

Now, we bet a few Apple fanboys are going to be feeling a bit sheepish over this one. A couple of weeks back, Dell issued a sweeping recall of laptop batteries, garnering a few point-and-laughs from the non-PC using side of the fence. Of course, Dell was just acting responsibly here, as it is actually Sony who manufactures the faulty batteries for Dell. The thing is, they also manufacture the batteries for Apple, and thusly, Apple has issued a recall of 1.1 million iBook and PowerBook batteries. If you would rather not have your G4-based Apple portable burst into flames, you may want to click on over to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission page, detailing the recall.

(Thanks Veronica!)

Read More | US Consumer Product Safety Commission

Marware Macbook

We have heard quite a few stories from many a Gear Live reader as it pertains to the Apple MacBook and how some discoloration starts to set in after a while (although previously, it was after a very short while.) Enter in the Marware Protection Pack, built for the MacBook. This is essentially an inexpensive two-piece approach to protecting your MacBook. One piece is a removable wrist rest that both protects the area that easily becomes discolored, and also gives you cushion under your wrists. The set also includes a keyboard cover that doubles as a screen protector and wiping cloth. We will be hitting you back with a full review soon, but for now, you can pick one up for $19.95 USD - they are available in both black and white colors to match whatever MacBook model you own.

Read More | Marware Protection Pack Product Page

AppleAccording to Macworld, Apple shareholders have filed a suit against the Cupertino-based company in light of the ongoing investigation concerning Apple’s stock scandal. According to the suit, Steve Jobs and other executives changed their option-grant dates in order to “reap millions of dollars in unlawful profits.” Recently, Nasdaq has put Apple on notice for not complying with the exchange’s rules and is demanding that the company submit its latest financial report. If the company were to be taken off the stock exchange, stockholders would likely lose out. Until this latest development, Steve Jobs had not been implicated in the matter. We’ll just have to watch how this one plays out.

Read More | Macworld UK

Mac Pro Unboxing

It seems that Apple was pretty quick about shipping out those new Mac Pros like they promised, as unboxing images of the sexy product have already started popping up. One particular user on the MacRumors forum was even so kind as to post benchmarks along with his images. Truth be told, this is one fast machine. Anyone else out there pick one up yet?

Read More | MacRumors Forums via Unboxing


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