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Amazon.com to sell music downloads September 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Apple, Gadgets, Internet, Music.
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Amazon.com to sell music downloads as SpiralFrog goes for free

The world of online music stores is growing rapidly as Amazon.com  has started testing a digital-music download service to compete with Apple’s iTunes, while another iPod killer, SpiralFrog plans to offer free downloads of millions of tracks, legally.

The Amazon MP3 store will allow shoppers to buy and download individual songs or entire albums that can be copied to any device or computer, burned onto CDs and played on most types of PCs and music players, including Apple’s iPod or iPhone. Songs will cost 89-99 cents each and albums will sell for $5.99 to $9.99.

Amazon.com said the new service will include tracks from more than 20,000 record labels and they will be available in the MP3 format without anti-copying programmes known as digital rights management software (DRM).

iTunes was the largest online music store in 2006, with 70% of the market, according to research firm NPD Group. But record companies, such as the giant Universal Music Group which controls 25% of the world music marke, are trying to reduce Apple’s domination of the digital music marketplace by refused to renew a long-term agreements to sell their music on iTunes.

Apple sold more than 3 billion songs since iTunes’s April 2003 debut and the service currently offers more than 5 mln songs, 550 TV shows and 500 movies. On the other hand, as music lovers been getting free music online since the days of Napster, peer-to-peer sites such as Limewire and Bit Torrent are getting more common, but are also deemed in violation of copyright and can expose users to viruses and malware, not to mention poor recordings.

Newcomer SpiralFrog has the support of dozens of music companies, including Universal Music Group and the site offers more than 750,000 songs for free, including popular tracks from U2, Timbaland, Amy Winehouse and others. The only snag is that SpiralFrog tracks cannot be downloaded to iPods, by far the most popular of all portable media players, though downloads can happen to Windows-compatible devices.

Users also have to renew their free subscriptions every month to retain access to the SpiralFrog library, at which time they will also be required to fill out a survey on their music and buying habits. They will have to wait 90 seconds for every download, during which time they will hopefully look at ads which is where SpiralFrog aims to make money.


No iPhone shortage this Christmas September 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Apple, Gadgets, Mobile Telecoms.
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Apple’s doubling production to meet demand

There might be queues aplenty on iPhone launch day on Friday 9 November, but there certainly won’t be a shortage of phones.

Sources close to Apple say the company is nearly doubling the number of iPhones it’s making ahead of Christmas from the originally planned 1.54 million, to a staggering 2.7 million.

That’s presumably to meet rising demand from the US following the $200 (£98) price cut in the iPhone’s price there, while also satisfying eager iPhone buyers in the UK, France and Germany.

If the increased production numbers are true, then Apple will have also busted its own stats for the whole of 2007, with 4.8 million phones to be built, compared to the 3.6 million it had originally predicted. Apple says it hopes to sell 10 miillon iPhones by the end of 2008.

Parlez-vous iPod? September 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Apple, Gadgets.
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Foreign phrases at your fingertips with new series of audio tracks

You’re in a busy train station in Paris and need to buy a ticket, but you draw a blank under the impatient clerk’s wilting glare. Time to panic? Nope, instead you pull out your iPod and with a couple of clicks hear and see the French language phrases you need.

If you’re one of the 40 million people with iPods or other MP3 players, you can take advantage of a new audio and visual phrasebook for travellers called iSpeak French by Alex Chapin ($15.95, also available in German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese).

It allows you to see and hear hundreds of words and phrases, which you can use as study tools to prep for an upcoming trip or as a language reference while you’re on the road. You’re never more than three clicks away from any of the words or phrases.

Downloading the phrasebook into your iPod gives you access to nearly 1,500 audio tracks, organized into categories like finding accommodations, arranging transport and dining out. And when trouble inevitably arises, you’ll be able to say, “My car won’t start,” “The bill is not correct,” or if all else fails, “I want to call a lawyer”, all phrases included in the book.

You can locate the words and phrases on your iPod in the same way you find music files, by browsing Artists or Genres. Using Playlists, you can create your own dictation by choosing titles from various parts of the book.

Words and phrases scroll by on the screen as they play, in French and English. But if your player doesn’t have a screen, this feature won’t be available and you’ll have to make do with the hard-copy booklet included for your reference.

I found that downloading was straightforward enough. But be warned, the phrasebook does use a lot of memory, about two gigabytes, or half of the memory available in my iPod Nano. Depending on how much memory you have, you might not have much, if any, space left for music, audiobooks or other applications.

As language lessons go, this is fairly basic. It doesn’t include pronunciation guides, grammar rules or conversations. But it does make excellent use of the memory and organizational abilities of iPods and other MP3 players. Available at leading bookstores and online at Chapters and Amazon.

New Japanese humanoid invites grown-ups to play July 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Gadgets.
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One of Japan’s top toy companies said Friday that it would launch small humanoids for adults to play with, hoping to tap a new market as the developed world gets older.

The 16.5-centimeter (half-foot) tall robot, named i-Sobot, is able to make some 200 physical movements, including somersaults and other complex acrobatics, speaks some 180 words, and responds to verbal commands. Tomy Co. Ltd. said that the target audience was men in their 40s and above.

“As the number of children decreases, toy makers, if they want to maintain their market, have to reach out to adults and lift the barriers between toys and high-tech products,” company official Kimi Watanabe told a news conference. There are lots of adults who dream of having a real robot but don’t have the means, knowing it would cost them several hundred-thousand yen,” or thousands of dollars, he said.

The i-Sobot will go on sale in Japan at a cost of 30,000 yen ($250) October 25. An English-speaking version will go on sale shortly afterwards in the United States. The company chose to make the Japanese-speaking robot white and the US version black. A European launch is anticipated next year. Tomy hopes to sell 50,000 units in Japan and 300,000 worldwide.

The robot will be the first product sold with Sanyo Electric Co.’s next-generation rechargeable Eneloop battery “in hope of sending an ecological message and reducing the use of disposable batteries,” Watanabe said.

Japan has one of the world’s oldest populations as more seniors live longer and many young people decide that starting families would impose a burden on their careers or lifestyles.

Samsung camera with an inbuilt travel guide July 19, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Gadgets.
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samsung_camera.jpg  Samsung Camera Model i7

  • Integrated MP3 player and PMP – Portable Media Player function
  • Inbuilt Tour Guide function with instant access to travel information covering 2,600 regions in 30 countries
  • Physical User Interface
  • 180 degree rotational 3.0” LCD touch screen
  • 7 mega pixels
  • 3x optical zoom
  • Intelligent Face Recognition Technology
  • ASR – Advanced Shake Reduction