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Apple report latest finances: Mac sales & margins up, iPod touch sales double

Apple have announced their fiscal Q4 2009 financial results, and it’s been another successful three months for the company.  Anybody suggesting that Apple’s tactics of selling relatively few expensive devices (rather than many cheap ones) will have some explaining to do in the face of these latest figures: Mac sales are up around 17-percent from the same period one year ago, while gross margin is up 36.6-percent.  That’s helped the company reach $9.87bn in revenue, of which $1.67bn is profit (compared to $1.14bn profit in Q4 2008).

After the cut, slumping iPod sales and the promise of “really great new products” by Steve Jobs 

While Mac sales are more than healthy, iPod sales continue to slide.  In fact, they’re down 8-percent compared to the same period in 2008, although iPhone sales have risen 7-percent in the same comparison.  10.4m iPods were sold – encompassing classic, shuffle, nano and touch – while 7.4m iPhones changed hands.  However the bare figures don’t tell the full story: 50-percent of iPod sales went to first-time buyers, rather than those upgrading from a previous model, while iPod touch sales have doubled.

Meanwhile, Steve Jobs is quoted as saying “We’ve got a very strong lineup for the holiday season and some really great new products in the pipeline for 2010″, leading to speculation about the Apple Tablet and other devices.  Unfortunately the company wouldn’t be led to explain any more about what these products might be.

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QNAP NMP-1000 HD network media player also does backup [Video]

Networked media players are, if not quite ten-a-penny, then at least increasingly common these days, so it takes more than an ethernet port and an HDMI output to impress us.  QNAP are hoping their NMP-1000 will do just that, however, thanks to its onboard 3.5-inch hard-drive (up to 2TB), Full HD 1080p output, YouTube and Flickr support, automatic NAS backup functionality and UPnP streaming.

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Video overview after the cut

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Connectivity includes gigabit ethernet (with an optional wireless adapter), component and composite video, S-video, coaxial and optical digital audio outputs and a number of USB ports.  There’s also USB and eSATA ports which are used to hook the NMP-1000 up to a computer and use it as an external hard-drive, handy for when you want to dump your media collection onto it.

As well as media playback, you can also use the QNAP as a backup drive for your home network, an FTP server for remote access, and as a standalone BitTorrent downloader.  It’ll play more file-types than are worth listing here – full list here – including Xvid, H.264 and DVD ISOs, and comes with a remote control.  No word on pricing, but it’ll apparently be available worldwide imminently.

Press Release:

QNAP NMP-1000 Brings Networked Video, Audio, Digital Pictures And Other Digital Content Into The Living Room

New Home Network Appliance Unique Blending of Set-top Box Player and Networked Storage Capable of Delivering Cinema Quality Video and Audio to the Home Theater

Taipei, Taiwan, September 2009 – QNAP Systems, Inc, a world-class manufacturer of Network Attached Storage (NAS) servers today unveiled a unique new network appliance that can best be described as a set-top player crossed with a NAS server. Computer users around the globe face the dilemma of how to centrally store, manage, and playback growing amounts of digital content spread around the home on multiple computers.

“QNAP ’s ground-breaking NMP-1000 Network Multimedia Player is the definitive product that bridges the gap between the home network and the living room” said Meiji Chang, CEO of QNAP Systems, Inc. “Users are clamoring to centrally store and enjoy all their digital content in the living room and the NMP-1000 just fits the bill” Mr. Chang added.

The new NMP-1000 incorporates an internal hard disk drive that easily catalogs digital pictures, videos, music, and other content from computers on the home network and can effortlessly play them back in the home theater with the included remote control.

The new NMP-1000 connects to the home network via wired Ethernet (wireless adapter ready) and to an HDTV via HDMI or Component interfaces, or Composite & S-Video interfaces for standard-def TVs. The NMP-1000 is capable of playing back smooth Full HD 1080p video and crystal clear audio; turning digital picture slide shows, home videos, purchased content, and even shared iTunes® libraries into a viewing/listening experience worthy of the living room. Because the NMP-1000 is Internet connected via the home network, you can even browse digital pictures & albums from Flickr™ or videos from YouTube™. The “10-foot” user interface makes it a snap to select content for viewing with the included remote control, and the NMP-1000 supports a very wide range of formats for playing back digital pictures, videos, movies, and music. Because the NMP-1000 incorporates technologies found in its popular Turbo NAS servers, it can also be used to automatically backup computers on the network and also for easy file storage and sharing. The NMP-1000 is equally at home on Windows®, Macintosh®, Linux, and even UNIX-based home networks.

The NMP-1000 is fully DLNA™ compliant and features advanced technology including HDMI 1.3 support, powerful Sigma Designs® video/audio hardware decoders, and a host of advanced networking support hidden under the hood. Set-up and the overall user experience of the NMP-1000 are exceptionally easy and enjoyable.

Availability
The NMP-1000 is worldwidely available now. Please visit the QNAP website for additional product information and to locate a reseller or distributor. www.qnap.com

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Cables To Go boosts wireless USB range to 150 feet

Wireless USB is a great bit of technology that not only allows us to shed some of the cables running between computers and peripherals, but allows us to move gear further from your computers and still get connectivity. Cables To Go has announced that it now has a Wireless USB Superbooster Extender that allows connectivity for up to 150 feet.
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The device allows a user to place gear like printers, scanners, cameras, or interactive whiteboards up to 150 feet from their PC or laptop and still have complete access to the device. Cables To Go even says that the remote item connected to the extender can be accessed from another floor or room.

That would mean at home you could put a printer up stairs for the office and still be able to print to it when working downstairs. The adapter would also be a great way for schools to allow multiple rooms to share expensive scanners. The Wireless USB Superbooster Extended is available now for $189.99.

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Pioneer’s BDR-205 Blu-ray Writer

Blu-ray players are becoming more and common on many notebook and desktop computers as most systems support HD content. What we still don’t see a whole lot of on computers are internal Blu-ray writers. Pioneer has unveiled the first 12x speed Blu-ray burner for desktop computers today.

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The burner is called the BDR-205 and it is an internal 5.25-inch drive. The drive is designed to be integrated into computers by system builders or users looking to upgrade to Blu-ray writing capability. The high capacity of Blu-ray discs also makes the drive a viable backup medium.

The writer can burn Blu-ray media at 12x write speeds, can write to DVD at 16x speed and CD media at 40x. Pioneer will begin shipping the new drive in October for $249. It wasn’t so long ago that this drive would have carried a price tag five times that amount. The drive connects via SATA.

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Sharp LX-Series HDTVs with 2m:1 contrast

Sharp Japan have outed four new LX-series HDTVs, each boasting massive 2,000,000:1 contrast ratios.  The range starts from the 40-inch LC-40LX1 and tops out at the 60-inch LC-60LX1, with 46- and 52-inch models in-between; each offers Full HD 1920p resolution, “industry’s lowest” power consumption, and a six-speaker integrated sound system with dual sub-woofers on all but the smallest.

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Connectivity includes three HDMI ports together with various sets of component and composite, S-Video, ethernet and a modem, the latter two to access Sharp’s internet-TV services.  There’s also a serial port, for system integrators, digital audio output and a PC input.

The LC-40LX1, LC-46LX1 and LC-52LX1 will all go on sale in Japan on November 10th, priced at the equivalent of $2,800, $3,900 and $5,000 respectively.  As for the 60-inch flagship LC-60LX1, that will arrive on November 25th, priced at $6,100.

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Are mobile high definition ports REALLY required

  samsung_eco-580x580Some of the world’s largest phone companies — including the likes of Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Samsung and Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericsson — have banded together and formed the Mobile High-Definition Interface Working Group. The group’s plan is to create a new, standardized port for mobile phones that can feed high-definition video and audio signals to HDTVs. Is this really necessary?
 
Last week, Samsung and Sprint announced the Instinct HD. The Instinct HD’s claim to fame is that it can record high-definition video. While the Instinct HD’s built-in display itself is not capable of showing an HD signal, it can pass HD video to an HDTV through an HDMI port that is built into the phone.

Anyone familiar with HDMI ports — found on HDTVs, cable boxes, Apple TV, Playstation 3, Blu-Ray players, etc. — knows that HDMI is a fairly compact port. HDMI can transit HD movies and 5.1 digital surround sound. One cable that does pretty much everything you need to get high-quality video and audio from the source to the display.

I examined the HDMI port on the Instinct HD over the weekend. It is nice and tidy, and is tucked into the side of the phone without adding any bulk to the design. Despite an existing standard with a good physical footprint, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Silicon Image think differently.

From today’s press release, the Mobile High-Definition Interface Working Group says that it wants “to provide an easy and cost-effective implementation for manufacturers while offering consumers a simple and reliable mobile connectivity experience. A single-cable with a low pin count interface will be able to support up to 1080p high-definition (HD) digital video and HD audio in addition to delivering power to a portable device.”

Does HDMI not already match this description? HDMI ports measure 0.45 inches by 0.15 inches, according to my measurements. That’s hardly “big”. The Samsung Instinct HD, which houses an HDMI port, measures a svelte 13mm.

I have to wonder if this is a licensing issue. Do mobile phone makers want to avoid licensing HDMI from the standards body that created it? Do mobile phone makers want to have their own product to license to other OEMs? What’s the real impetus behind this effort? Today’s announcement didn’t say, though some of the members of the new working group are part of the body that license the HDMI standard.

The one issue that could be at play is cost of the hardware. The Group says it wants a low pin-count connector. Reducing the pin count leads to a less complicated motherboard, which in turn could generate cost savings. But will the cost of creating the new standard outweigh the benefits in the long run?

What do you think, is this a worthwhile endeavor?

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Acer Aspire AS1410 CULV ultraportable gets netbook price-tag

Acer have announced a new ultraportable, and if you’ve been tempted by the price and portability of a netbook but need something with a little more grunt then the Acer Aspire AS1410 might just take the top-spot on your shopping list.  Based on Intel’s CULV platform, the AS1410 packs a Celeron SU2300 1.2GHz processor with 2GB of RAM, a 160GB hard-drive and Windows 7, along with GMa 4500MHD graphics, and all for $399.99

Connectivity includes WiFi a/g/n, gigabit ethernet, an HDMI port, three USB 2.0 ports and a multiformat memory card reader.  You also get a webcam, stereo speakers, a 6-cell 4,400mAh battery good for up to 6hrs and a multitouch trackpad.

The whole thing tips the scales at 3.08lbs, which isn’t bad for an ultraportable with an 11.6-inch 16:9 display.  Options include doubling the RAM and up to a 250GB hard-drive, but we reckon most people will see the entry-level Acer Aspire AS1410 as the bargain it as and just spend the $399.99.

Press Release:

NEW ACER AS1410 SERIES BRINGS STYLE AND AFFORDABILITY TO ULTRAPORTABLE COMPUTING

11.6-inch notebook lightens the load for mobile users who want to enjoy social networking, video and productivity applications on the go; available for just $399

SAN JOSE, Calif., Oct. 20, 2009 – Bringing affordability to the ultraportable notebook platform, Acer America today announced the new Acer Aspire AS1410 Series. These new notebooks integrate enough power for enjoying digital entertainment in a very sleek, stylish design for just $399.

“With the rising popularity of social networking, consumers are more connected than ever to the online world,” said Ray Sawall, senior manager of product marketing for Acer America. “When it comes to selecting a notebook, they’re increasingly concerned with size, weight and style. The AS1410 Series is small enough to be carried in a backpack or even a large purse but with enough power for spreadsheets and presentations. Aggressively priced, the AS1410 is an affordable mobile solution for checking Twitter updates, viewing YouTube videos and handling productivity applications on a plane, at school or a coffee house. Those in the market for a netbook should consider this notebook as an option, due to the step up in processing power.”

Just one-inch-thin and 3.08 pounds, these systems are sleek and light, but with a full-size keyboard. The full-sized keyboard is comfortable and easy to type on, particularly for taking advantage of productivity applications. The compact size combined with a traditional keyboard comprises a convenient platform for frequent travelers and students. With the needs of mobile users in mind, the AS1410 Series is designed to suit an individual’s own personal flair with three elegant color options – Diamond Black, Sapphire Blue and Ruby Red.

Powerful Performance; Petite Package
Although it’s the size of a netbook, the Aspire AS1410 Series is truly a mainstream notebook with the performance to suit a variety of users. Featuring an Intel® Celeron® processor and 2GB DDR2 memory (upgradeable to 4GB), the notebooks have plenty of power for document creation, media playback and daily task management.

The systems are also outfitted with the new Windows 7 Home Premium operating system and up to a 250GB hard drive,(1) which is large enough to store a vast library of music, images and spreadsheets. Offering plenty of productive time when away from a power outlet, a 6-cell Lithium Ion battery provides up to a whopping six hours of battery life,(2) enough power to keep the PC charged on a coast to coast flight.

The systems are also primed for visual clarity. The 11.6-inch widescreen HD LED-backlit display is large enough to comfortably view videos, photos, documents and web pages. Featuring LED backlit technology, a 16:9 aspect ratio and Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD, the AS1410 Series delivers realistic HD pictures with crisp detail and smooth video playback.

Integrated speakers and Dolby® Sound Room® audio enhancement deliver lifelike sound for enjoying videos, movie downloads and music. A webcam and digital microphone make it fun and easy to get virtual face time with friends and family via live video streaming and video chat.

Intuitive PC Navigation, Convenient Connectivity
Affording easy, intuitive PC navigation, the new Aspire notebooks have a multi-gesture touchpad. Users can scroll, zoom in and out and quickly flip through web pages, photos, spreadsheets and more by pinching, flicking and swirling their fingers across the touchpad.

Despite the compact form factor, the new notebooks offer a wide array of ports including an integrated multi-in-one media reader to conveniently transfer files from digital devices. An HDMI port allows the systems to support any PC or TV video format via a single cable, while three USB 2.0 ports enable connection to the latest peripherals and digital devices. Advanced Intel 802.11a/b/g/Draft-N Wireless and Gigabit Ethernet LAN enable fast access to email, the web and social networks.

Pricing/Configurations/Availability
The Acer® Aspire AS1410 Series notebooks will be available for U.S. customers at leading retailers this holiday season. A sample configuration as well as specifications and pricing follow.

Acer® Aspire AS1410 Notebook PC – Prices begin at $399.99
• Intel® Celeron® Processor SU2300 (1.2GHz, 1MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB)
• 11.6-Inch HD Widescreen CineCrystal™ LED-Backlit Display (16.9 Aspect Ratio; 1366×768 Resolution)
• Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
• Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD
• 2GB DDR2 Dual-Channel 667MHz Memory (Upgradeable to 4GB)
• 160GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive(2)
• Multi-in-1 Digital Media Card Reader
• Intel® WiFi Link 1000 802.11 a/b/g/Draft-N
• Integrated Acer Crystal Eye Webcam
• Two Built-In Stereo Speakers and Dolby® Sound Room® Audio Enhancement
• Full-Size Acer FineTip Keyboard
• Multi-Gesture Touchpad Supporting Circular Motion, Scrolling, Pinch-Action Zoom and Page Flip
• Three USB 2.0 Ports
• HDMI Port
• 6-Cell Li-Ion Battery (4400 mAh), up to Six Hours Battery Life
• 3.08 Pounds
• Two-Year International Travelers Limited Warranty

About Acer
Since its founding in 1976, Acer has constantly pursued the goal of breaking the barriers between people and technology. Focused on marketing its brand-name IT products around the globe, Acer ranks as the world’s No. 3 vendor for total PCs(3) and No. 2 for notebooks,(4) with the fastest growth among the top-five players. A profitable and sustainable Channel Business Model is instrumental to Acer’s continued growth, while the successful mergers of Gateway and Packard Bell complete the company’s global footprint by strengthening its presence in the U.S. and enhancing its strong position in Europe. The Acer Group employs more than 6,000 people worldwide. 2008 revenues reached US$16.65 billion. See www.acer.com for more information.

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Samsung AMOLED 12M Cameraphone

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The Samsung SCH-W880 will arrive in Korea from early in October, where users will be able to marvel at its 3.3-inch WVGA AMOLED touchscreen and gasp in glee at its 3x optical zoom.

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The World’s First 12-megapixel Camera Phone with an Optical Zoom Is Launched in Korea

Following the launch of Pixon12, the first 12 megapixel camera phone in June, Samsung astonishes the world with the 12 megapixel camera phone featuring Optical Zoom

Seoul, Korea, September 29th, 2009 – Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., a leading mobile phone provider, today announced the launch of the ‘Samsung AMOLED 12M’ (Model Name: SCH-W880), the world’s first 12-megapixel camera phone with an optical zoom up to 3 times. The phone is going to be sold in Korean market from early October.

The ‘Samsung AMOLED 12M’ is incorporated with the latest camera technology and display technology – the world’s first 12-megapixel camera with an optical zoom and the world’s most advanced WVGA (800 x 480) AMOLED full touch screen.

As a response to one of the most demanding mobile consumers in Korea, the ‘Samsung AMOLED 12M’ comes packed with a host of functions which enable consumers to easily capture, browse and share their images on the move – all on a brilliant full-touch 3.3-inch WVGA AMOLED screen.

“Samsung has led the camera phone market introducing the very many first of its kind camera phone – the first 5-megapixel (SCH-V7800, June 2005), the first 7-megapixel with an optical zoom(SCH-V770, July 2005), the first 10-megapxel (SCH-B600, October 2006), and recently, the first 12-megapixel camera phone for global market(Samsung Pixon12, June 2009). The Samsung AMOLED 12M is a living proof of our continuous commitment to introduce the most up-to-date technology to enrich users’ mobile experience.” said Executive Vice President JK Shin, Head of Mobile Communication Division in Samsung Electronics.

The Samsung AMOLED 12M enables users to take perfect pictures quickly and easily, thanks to the Dedicated Camera Power Key which also provides a real digital camera-alike look and grip feeling. Samsung AMOLED 12M features fast image saving for next shot, so users can move to next shot within around 2 seconds. The phone also provides high quality video recording (1280 x 720) which offers 30 frames per second.

The phone provides the best photo quality by adopting innovative camera features. With Touch Auto-Focus (AF) tracking, users can simply select focus point with the touch of a finger, after which the AF function will automatically follow the object, keeping it in focus even as it moves across the screen. Moreover, Smart Auto feature allows users to capture the perfect images as the camera automatically changes the scene and mode based on its object, background and lighting. Images taken on the Samsung AMOLED 12M are worth showing off to friends and loved ones as they boast digital camera quality thanks to the phone camera’s superb lens and Xenon flash.

Product Fact Sheet

Network

WCDMA (2100 MHz)

GSM(900), DCS(1800 ), PCS(1900) Roaming

Display

3.3” WVGA AMOLED

Camera

12MP with 3X optical Zoom + 2X Digital Zoom

Xenon + Power Led Flash

Touch AF Tracking, Smart Auto, Beauty Shot, Macro Shot,

Video / Audio

Video: HD Level (1280 x 720) 30fps

MPEG4, H.263, H.264, DivX, XviD

Audio: MP3, AAC, AAC+, AAC+e, WMA

Value Added Features

Terrestrial DMB (Mobile TV)

Connectivity

Bluetooth® 2.0, USB 2.0 HS (micro USB)

Memory

Internal memory: 4GB

External memory: Micro SD (up to 32GB)

Battery

1,100 mAh

Size

115.8 x 56.9 x 16.3 mm

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Amazon Basic, Amazon Spys on the Amazon Sellers.

Amazon.com has entered the private-label business with a line of “AmazonBasics” basic electronic gear, including cables and blank recordable media. Amazon has been able to this as it monitors all its sellers, It uses the data collected to setup its own business aside. Time to take amazon to court i would say, we 3m hdmi cable.

The site’s new line currently includes audio video cables and blank DVD media, with new items to be added in the next few months, Amazon said. Only the DVD media were in stock as of Monday, however; all of the cables were only available for pre-order.

“We saw an opportunity to create a line of consumer electronics basics that combine quality and low prices for an overall focus on value,” said Paul Ryder, vice president of Consumer Electronics for Amazon.com, in a statement. “We drew on our history of developing other private-label brands and combined that with our mission to give customers the ultimate in selection and value. AmazonBasics is the result. We will continue to gather input from customers and evaluate opportunities for new products under the AmazonBasics brand. We aim to offer our customers as wide a selection as possible, and we think AmazonBasics makes a great addition to the brands we already carry.”

Amazon appears to be offering a challenge to Monster.com as well as Monoprice.com, providing a low-cost alternative to Monster’s high-end A/V cables, but a more well-known alternative to Monoprice’s lower prices. A 6.5-foot “high speed” AmazonBasics HDMI cable, for example, will be priced at $8.94 when Amazon makes it available. On the other hand, Amazon’s own list of third-party HDMI cables offers some heavily discounted bargains.

With the additions, Amazon could challenge retailers like Best Buy, which has numerous house brands, including its Insignia line of TVs and other electronics gear. Retailers have also begun asking electronics and PC manufacturers for specific versions of their products, which the retailer can exclusively offer.

The AmazonBasics line will be added to Amazon’s international sites over the coming months, the company said.

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iPhone could get banned in Europe

Unless you live under a rock, you have probably heard about the alleged explosions of a few iPhones in Europe. A new report has surfaced that has the European Commission asking Apple for information on the alleged iPhone explosions.

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The European commission went so far as to warn Apple that if the phone is dangerous to the health of users that it would ban the iPhone from the European market. Exploding electronics are nothing new, a number of laptops have burst into flames after batteries overheated.

Apple has not yet officially responded to the allegations of exploding iPhones and the EC is investigating the issue. Perhaps Apple will step up research in an effort to prevent the popular device from being banned in Europe.

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