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Google is preparing to launch a music download service, according to research firm Caris & Company.  It is rumored that Google has been meeting with leading music executives for “networking opportunities.”  The new site is expected to gain support from the music industry, as iTunes does not offer flexible pricing or a subscription service.  Rumors were also confirmed at a recent analyst meeting where Google highlighted plans to expand into downloadable media.


Read More | Forbes


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Apple and MicrosoftApple has quietly released the beta version of Boot Camp, a software package that allows its new Intel-based systems to run Windows XP.  The next major revision of Mac OS X, v10.5, will have the software incorporated into it, and therefore the beta software will only work for a limited time.

The software doesn’t act as an emulator but allows Windows XP to run natively, thereby reducing any bottlenecks and performance issues.  It works by creating a partition on the hard drive just for Windows XP, and includes all of the required drivers thereby making the install much easier than the unofficial methods that are currently floating around.  A graphical interface walks the user through the process of creating the partition and burns the drivers to a CD/DVD.  Upon completing the install, users will have the option of dual-booting into either Windows XP or OS X.

Requirements for Boot Camp include the obvious Intel-based Mac, plus a USB keyboard and mouse (or integrated keyboard/trackpoint for laptop users), Mac OS X v10.4.6, the latest firmwares, 10GB of free space, one blank CD/DVD, and Windows XP Home or Professional with SP2 or later.

“We think Boot Camp makes the Mac even more appealing to Windows users considering making the switch” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing.  Indeed, this may be just the impetus that some Windows users were waiting for.


Read More | Apple via Computerworld


Pioneer PDP-5000EX

Fresh picked from the crop of new plasma displays is Pioneer’s PDP-5000EX, a 50-inch plasma display that offers 1080p as its primary claim to fame, and is a world’s first according to Pioneer.  Offering double the pixel density and a faster refresh rate than 720p displays, the PDP-5000EX also includes proprietary technology (with the requisite fancy names), designed to improve picture quality.  Such as:

• The Deep Waffle Rib Structure makes each cell deeper to increase overall phosphor area for a brighter image.
• The PUREBLACK Crystal Layer sandwiched between the plasma glass and the individual light cells conducts energy more efficiently so each cell is charged and discharged at a faster rate, improving contrast and brightness while using less energy.
• High Quality Up Conversion to 1080p minimizes interlacing motion artefacts of 1080i and increases the resolution of a 720p signal.
• New PURE Drive 2 HD Signal Processing delivers low noise, high contrast and natural colour images. The High Precision Video Scaler receives and displays 1080p HD native resolution.
• The Direct Colour Filter reduces ambient light reflection and heightens colour reproduction through the elimination of an extra layer of glass for sharper, crisper and more vivid images.
• Enhanced ISF C 3 capability allows a certified calibrator to perform advanced colour calibration with never-before-achieved simplicity, accuracy and reliability.

The display will be available in June 2006 with pricing yet to be announced.

Read More | Pioneer via TechEBlog


Navman

Typical GPS systems require you to enter your destination by street address which can be a tedious process.  Navman is out to change that with their NavPix enabled GPS systems, the iCN720 and iCN750.  The GPS units have a built in 1.3MP camera that allows you to take pictures of your house, favorite restaurants, landmarks, etc., while it tags each picture with the relevant locational data.  Prash Vadgama, president of Navman believes that “images are an obvious and unmistakeable way to identify a destination”.  He continues by saying, “Each NavPix image has the exact geographical location of where that picture was taken embedded in the image data. You then use that image as an alternative way to choose and set your destination in the Navman iCN700 series”.

Since you won’t have pictures of every destination in advance, the Navman website will have images of famous landmarks and interesting places, as well as a method to create your own geo-referenced images which can be downloaded to your GPS.  In addition to letting you create and store your own images online, Navman will allow users to trade pictures, further enhancing the reach of the NavPix feature.

Available in Europe in May 2006 with no word on US availability.  Full specifications after the jump.


Read More | Navman via gizmag

Click to continue reading Navman iCN700 Series With NavPix


MicrosoftMicrosoft has announced that Virtual Server R2 Enterprise Edition will come with a new pricing structure - free.  In addition, new offerings are now available in the form of virtual machine add-ins and technical support for Linux guest operating systems, a dramatic change for the software vendor.  By making Virtual Server free, Microsoft is responding to similar moves by its competitors.  One such competitor, and leader in the virtualization market, is VMWare who made their own GSX Server software available for free back in February. 

Microsoft acquired Virtual PC, and the unreleased Server product, from Connetix Corp. in 2003.  When first launched in September 2004, Microsoft’s Virtual Server came in two flavors - Standard and Enterprise with pricing at $499 and $999 respectively.  This past December version R2 was released, along with a pricing change of $199 for Enterprise Edition and $99 for Standard Edition.


Read More | Microsoft via Computerworld


Samsung Q1 UMPC

It looks as though Samsung will be one of the first companies to have an Ultra Mobile PC available for purchase.  We gave you insight into the UMPC just a few weeks ago, and with products about to hit the shelves, it’ll be interesting to see if they fly, or flop.  Granted, they’re very cool from a gadget standpoint as they do a little bit of everything, but that may be the whole crux of the problem.  Devices that do a bit of everything tend to not do any of them really well, and turn out to be rather mediocre as a whole.  Somehow this smacks of the Tablet PC all over again in that there isn’t a strong market for the product (even less so with the UMPC), but I digress . . . on with the show.

Expansys has the Samsung Q1 UMPC up for pre-order for £799.95 (~ $1,390 USD).  The specifications are what you’d expect of an “everything but the kitchen sink” type of device.  Running a Celeron M ULV CPU at 900MHz, it comes with 512MB RAM, a 7” WVGA LCD (800x480), Bluetooth, GPS, Wireless (802.11 a/b/g), and more.  About the only thing missing would be some form of high speed data like UMTS or EVDO, but that was never in the design specs anyway. 

Full specifications after the jump.


Read More | Expansys via Ubergizmo

Click to continue reading Samsung Ultra Mobile PC Available For Pre-Order


Consumer Electronics AssociationResearch studies have shown that research studies can cause brain cancer in researchers.  Well, maybe not, but it does seem that for everything in this world, somewhere a study of its effects on society exists.  Take the latest study from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) which states that the average household in the US owns 26 pieces of consumer electronics.  That number is up from last year where only 25 products were owned, so somebody must have been a good boy or girl around their birthday. 

The top five areas of growth were shown to be MP3 players, digital cameras, car video systems, in-dash CD players and notebook computers.  Of the products surveyed, the top five won’t come as a surpise to anyone with the television easily topping the list with 95% penetration.  Following closely behind was the VCR (87%), cordless phones (85%), DVD players (81%), and wireless phones (78%).

Maybe it’s just me, but the survey’s magic number of 26 doesn’t even begin to make a dent in the number of electronic items at my house that slurp happily away at the power grid or chew through batteries.  Anyone else blow way past the average 26?


Read More | CEA via CE Pro


Cinema Now & MovielinkTwo movie download services, Cinema Now and Movielink, have announced that they have entered into licensing agreements with major studios.  Cinema Now has inked agreements with Sony Home Pictures Entertainment and Lionsgate Films, while Movielink has signed with Warner Bros., Universal, Sony Pictures, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox and MGM.  Of the seven studios that Movielink has signed with, five are in joint ownership of the company.  In addition, both companies have non-exclusive licenses with other studios and licensors.

With digital media comes heavy DRM implementation and Microsoft’s DRM software is the system of choice for both services.  Rentals from either company are yours to watch as many times as you wish during a 24-hour period which begins the moment you first start to view a film.  Purchased films are storable indefinitely, but neither company allows the movie to be burned to a DVD for playback on a standard player.  Movielink does allow their movies to be transferred onto 2 additional computers for playback, with the copies being managed by their Movielink Manager software.

Cinema Now has better pricing with purchased movies being offered for $9.95 to $19.95 and rentals going for $2.99 to $3.99.  Movielink on the other hand, charges more with purchasable movies going for $20 to $30, and rentals for $0.99 to $4.99.  (All prices quoted are in US dollars.)

DRM complications aside, with purchases prices rivaling and often exceeding that of a movie on DVD, it’s doubtful that traditional rental services like Netflix and Blockbuster have anything to worry about . . . for the short term.  Oh, and put away your trusty Firefox or other Internet browser as both services only work with Internet Explorer.


Read More | Cinema Now via Pocket-lint
Read More | Movielink


CrayOn a fairly regular basis, some research lab or government institution needs computing power on a massive scale.  In this case it’s the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  They’re having Cray, an old hat at supercomputers, build them a system that should break the 1 petaflop barrier (that’s 1 quadrillion floating-point operations per second).  The next closest system currently in operation is IBM’s Blue Gene/L which turns out a quite respectable 350 teraflops. 

To achieve the necessary performance, the system (which goes by the name Baker) will utilize 24,000 2.6GHz quad-core AMD Opteron processors (96,000 cores!), taking up residence in 187 liquid-cooled cabinets.  Totally dependent on the cost of memory at the time of construction, Baker will be outiftted with 187 to 400 terabytes of memory (yes, you read that correctly - terabytes) and hard drive space will fall between 1 and 11 petabytes.  Baker is only in the design phase right now and won’t be operational until sometime in 2008, which coincidentally, is the same year IBM has targeted for expanding Blue Gene/L to 1 petaflop.

We can only imagine that a project of this magnitude has execs at AMD giddy as little school girls.


Read More | Cray via GCN


Scrubs iTunesFor those keeping tabs, Scrubs is now the latest show that is available for purchase on the iTunes Music Store. While there is no Season Pass option as of yet, you can purchase Season 5 episodes starting now. The back story on this one is unique as well, since NBC has made the Touchstone Television (owned by Disney-ABC) produced series available on the Internet. This marks the first such partnership for a prime-time series to be made available for commercial purchase via download. Snazzy.


Read More | TV Envy


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