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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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iTunes Ever wonder how it is exactly that iTunes works?  Well, we have your hookup — no need to wonder any longer.  HowStuffWorks has published a complete, exhaustive, in-depth article explaining in detail how iTunes actually works.

The iTunes Music Store is composed of XML-based pages, lots of them encrypted using 128-bit AES in CBC mode. AES-CBC is a type of symmetric-key encryption. AES (“advanced encryption standard”) basically takes a 128-bit block of code and reorganizes it into a 128-bit block of “ciphertext” using a particular key (an encryption algorithm). CBC mode (“cipher block chaining”) is a method of disguising any encryption patterns that might reveal the key.

It’s really quite an interesting read, covering all the aspects of what iTunes does, how it works, and why.  Great for the inquisitive mind, the Apple geek, or anybody with an inquisitive nature.


Read More | HowStuffWorks


Shakira V-CASTAs it turns out, Shakira’s new music video and single Hips Don’t Lie (which we can actually vouch for - we have yet to be lied to by any pair of hips) will be debuting exclusively on Verizon’s V-CAST network. This will give V-CAST subscribers the jump on viewing the new video, even before any television distribution outlet gets the chance. The package also includes behind-the-scenes footage, ringtones, and the like. The video will be made available to traditional channels at a later date. We expect to see mainstream entertainment hit mobile devices in limited-exclusivity fashion more and more, especially as ultra-portable devices become the norm.


Read More | TV Envy


iPod Hi-Fi

The biggest of the “fun new” Apple products of the day turns out to be the iPod HiFi Boombox. Calling the new accessory “Home Stereo. Reinvented,” the product shares some of the features of the iPod, but with the quality of a home stereo device. The boombox is a three-driver system enclosed in one unit, featuring an iPod dock right at the top. If you have an iPod shuffle, you can use the auxiliary inputs in the back to connect the device. The nice thing about the dock is that it will fit any of the dockable iPod models using inserts. The iPod Hi-Fi has built-in handles on both sides, making it portable. The power supply is built into the unit, so no need to lug around a bulky power brick. Even better, though, is that is can run on six D batteries. Nice for when you forget to bring your electricity generator with you to the beach.

Behind the black grating lie two 80 millimeter mid-range driver with sealed acoustic suspension, along with a 130 millimeter dual-voice coil woofer. In order to enjoy the iPod Hi-Fi to the fullest, you will need to download an iPod update that will be made available shortly. This will add a new “Speaker” menu item to the iPod menu interface, giving you control over tone, backlight, and album art settings. The iPod Hi-Fi can be controlled with the Apple Remote, which comes bundled with the unit. It can also accept audio input through an auxiliary jack and SPDIF optical audio input, which means it can be used with non-iPod audio players. Our only concern is the lack of an FM tuner. I mean, would that have been so hard? You can pick up an iPod Hi-Fi starting today for $349 USD.


Read More | iPod Hi-Fi Product Page


PK400

Attention audio mad scientists! If you happen to have a loony tune combining a polka and techno just waiting to get out of your head, here is your new best friend.  The ORLA PK 400 Piano Accordion Keyboard is just pure madness.  What we wanna know is, can we get a virtual version of this in Reason? Check out the deets on this synth:

Authentic Orchestral Voices and Organ Sounds
All instruments have 292 sampled sounds in each of the orchestral sections. These include the standard 128 General Midi voices + ORLA XM sound library voices. Each manual has real time Flutebars for creating your own original organ sounds with Flute or Tibia voicing. Both Tremolo and Vibrato effects are available on the Flutes.
40 unique accordion samples can be found within the Orchestra sections.
A variety of features such as Reverb, 3D Sound Enhancer, Octave shift and Sustain can be used to enhance the sounds.

Built In Registrations and Automatic Set Ups
In order to allow you to sit down and play straight away using professional sounding registrations each of the 90 onboard rhythm styles has an Automatic Set Up. These convenient registrations, set up the whole instrument instantly using sounds appropriate to the musical style selected. The instruments allow the player to adjust these registrations to suit personal taste. The 16 Overall Presets also come preset with settings to get you started once again covering a wide range of musical styles including Organ Sounds, Orchestral, Jazz and Big Band.

Advanced Rhythm Orchestrations
Each one of the instruments has an extensive rhythm section featuring 90 different rhythm styles. These cover a broad range - from traditional dance rhythms such as Waltz, Foxtrot and Quickstep to modern contemporary beats and great Latin rhythms. Each style has 3 Variations, fully orchestrated Intros and Endings and Fill In patterns.

Built in Performance Recorder with Disk Drive
The built-in disk drive can be used to load and save musical data including registrations, rhythm styles and songs. The new Auto Save facility eliminates many of the problems people have previously encountered when using disks.
The performance recording side of the disk drive is for recording and playback of your own performances.
Once again the emphasis is on ease of use with a minimal amount of button pushing required to both record and save to disk.

You have to give theses guys mad props for even thinking of something so insane.  For the mad scientist with a twist of tech, the full specs can be found at the Accordions.com site, or ORLA direct.

Read More | Accordions.com
Read More | ORLA


Acrilan RadioSatellite radio has me spoiled.  I can’t remember the last time I listened to normal terrestrial radio and I have no intentions of going back.  However, there are those of you who still partake of FM broadcasts, and for that there’s the Acrilan Radio.  The Acrilan is a 4 inch diameter piece of acrylic whose outer body controls the volume, and pop-up center button handles power and volume.  Not much going on in the color choice department with only white and silver up for grabs but that’s a minor quibble.  A mono speaker and blue LED lighting round out the package.  Only one major problem - since it’s made for the Japanese market the frequency range (76.1 - 96.3 MHz) doesn’t match up with that of the U.S. 


Read More | AssistOn (jp) via The Red Ferret


Sony VGX-XL1Sony has a Media Center PC available called the VGX-XL1 Digital Living System - quite a mouthful for what is essentially a run-of-the-mill Media Center PC.  Sure, it has some additional bells and whistles, one of which is a 200-disc CD/DVD changer.  At first glance, a 200-disc changer is nothing terribly new, but this one has the ability to sequentially rip 200 CD’s without having to be “babysat” during the process.  Of course, when you’re not ripping CD’s you can use it to store your DVD’s for immediate access via your Media Center PC.

Right now the only way to get the changer is to buy the whole XL1 package which goes for a tidy $2,299.99 MSRP.  In the rumor department though, there’s this one guy who talked to his friend’s mother who knows this janitor who cleans the Marketing Dept. at Sony who overheard…okay, it’s not quite that bad.  However, rumor has it that Sony will be offering the changer as a standalone model when their new XL2 PC launches (no ETA on that yet).  The changer connects via Firewire, so as long as your MCE has that (and what self-respecting MCE doesn’t?), you’ll be good to go.

Read More | eHomeUpgrade


Sega iFish

We love insanely odd gadgets from the Orient. Today, Sega’s iFish has caught our attention. The iFish is basically a toy fish that “swims” across your desk on two wheels. It plays 50 “healing” sounds (read: nature, oceans) and reacts to movement with light effects built into it’s head. Hook it up to a music source, and the iFish will move and groove to the beat, similar to the way the iDog does it’s thing. If you want to import, check out Brando where you can pick one up for $64.90 USD. The iFish hits stores in Japan later this month.


Read More | iFish Product Page (Japanese)


Sonos ZP80

Sonos, Inc., the developer of wireless multi-room music systems for the digital home, has just introduced a new ZonePlayer to complement their original music system.  The Sonos ZonePlayer ZP80 allows you play all your digital music, all over your house, on all of your favorite audio equipment – a home theater system, powered speakers, a premium table top radio, etc. By connecting a ZP80 to any amplified audio device via the analog or digital outputs, that device instantly and seamlessly becomes part of a wireless, multi-room digital music system.  This provides the consumer with the power to use the full-color Sonos

iPod

remote control to manage all of their music, in all of their rooms. “We created the ZP80 because many of the rooms where consumers want to listen to digital music already have an amplifier,” said John MacFarlane, chief executive officer, Sonos, Inc.  “Our goal is to provide digital music lovers with a range of products for building a wireless digital music system throughout their homes.” These will be available in Spring 2006 at $349 USD a pop.


Read More | Sonos


Microsoft and MTV UrgeLook out y’all, yet another digital audio download service is on the horizon, this it is a result of a joint venture between Microsoft and MTV. The service, dubbed “Urge,” will likely be integrated into the next release of Windows Media Player, and will offer over 2 million songs from major and independent artists, as well as original MTV content in both audio and video form. No word on pricing just yet.


Read More | Reuters


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