On Wednesday, peripherals manufacturer Logitech announced the release of its Flight System G940 simulator-grade flying kit. The unit, priced at US$299.99, contains a USB joystick, throttle and rudder pedals is the first such kit to offer force feedback via its joystick. A dual throttle allows simulated control of multi-engine aircraft using the split lever and rudder pedals with toe brakes offer better control, especially when simulating defensive maneuvers, crosswind landings or piloting helicopters.
The unit arrives with a 1-year limited warranty, is available today and can be combined with such pro-grade flight applications such as X-Plane for the Mac.
On Wednesday, shareware developer Maintain released version 4.3.4 of Cocktail (Tiger Edition), Cocktail, the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests.
The new version, a 1.9 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
Fixed minor compatibility issues with Mac OS X 10.5.7.
Fixed compatibility with Firefox and Google Gears.
Added clearing of Renepo.A-B and Tored.A trojans.
Other minor bug fixes.
Updated Automator actions.
Cocktail 4.3.4 retails for a US$14.95 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to run.
As WWDC gets closer (less than a week now!), people are beginning to wrap their predictions for the Keynote. A new iPhone is pretty much in the bag, but there are still a lot of questions on the minds of iPhone watchers.
It is presumed that any new iPhone models will not go on sale until at least the end of July, based on the previous two generations. If the hardware is ready, will the software be ready and solid? Apple already missed the boat on Push Notifications in firmware 2.x, as noted by Scott Forestall’s apology during the iPhone 3.0 sneak peek. Will it be ready in time for the release of 3.0?
According to MacRumors, Appple seems to be wrapping its high-volume testing of the push notification feature that it began in mid-April. A special “developer” build of the Associated Press’s iPhone app was distributed by Apple for testing the service. It is believed that the notification that testing is complete coupled with the release of iTunes 8.2, which reportedly adds compatibility with firmware 3.0, is the signal that Apple is wrapping up the iPhone OS development for imminent release.
Since it is expected that many of the WWDC sessions will focus on the new mobile OS, it will need to be ready in time for the event so that developers can start putting the finishing touches on their apps to be ready for 3.0 and the new iPhone (s?). One question I have is that given that OS 3.0 will be backwards compatible with both the original and 3G iPhones, is there a chance we might see Scott, Phil, or even a surprise visit from Steve, announce that the 3.0 version is ready for download on June 8th?! If you think about it, it might just be a good way to roll out the new OS and put it through it’s paces before the new hardware is in stores.
What do you think? Less than one week left to speculate. Share it in the forums!
On Wednesday, Other World Computing announced new memory and storage options for its Axiotron Modbooks along with a US$200 price reduction on new units. According to MacNN, performance upgrades that are currently available include up to 6GB of memory, up to 820GB storage or 160GB of SSD storage, and a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor.
The price reduction offered by Other World Computers delivers a new 13.2″ Modbook tablet starting at US$1,900. The notebook comes standard with a Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz processor, 2GB of memory, 120GB internal hard drive, and an 8X dual-layer SuperDrive. The company is also providing WAAS-enabled GPS while supplies last. Owners of current Intel Core 2 Duo white and black MacBooks have the option to convert their computer into a full-featured Modbook, starting at US$1,150.
Both the new Modbook and Modservice conversions are backed by a one-year warranty, and allow users to extend to a three-year warranty for an additional US$350.
If you’ve snagged a Mac within the past couple of years, you were probably offered Apple’s ProCare, which has functioned as advanced placement in the Genius Bar’s repair queue, initial setup for new Macs and complimentary training sessions. The service, introduced in 2004, was renamed “One to One” in 2007 when more individual training was offered.
According to The Unofficial Apple Weblog, One to One is now being changed to offer new features as well as new limitations. ProCare’s complete Mac setup & data transfer is now included with One to One. Previously, One to One only included a “simple” setup.
Other changes for One to One include exclusive workshops only available to One to One members as well as the new “Personal Projects” session for larger blocks of time. Members can now reserve a session for up to a three hour block of time to create, with an Apple trainer’s assistance. Similar to workshops, Personal Projects are a group activity in that several members will be present; while a workshop includes members working on the same topic, a project session includes members working on individual and unrelated tasks.
One to One is also now only available with the purchase of a new Mac at an Apple store; this is in contrast to the previous One to One and current ProCare services which could be purchased at any time. One to One memberships are also now only renewable two times for a maximum membership duration of three years. Existing memberships (beginning prior to June 2, 2009) in One to One will be renewable only one time.
Customers can purchase a new One to One membership along with a new Mac at any Apple Retail store now. Per Apple, this service’s availability will expand to Apple’s online channel in the near future.
Sony on Tuesday announced the release of its new mobile system known as the PSP go, a long-rumored PlayStation Portable system withe a smaller form factor. According to Macworld UK, the device is specifically designed for users interested in downloading games and videos. The device is planned for an October release in North America, Europe and Asia and will retail for US$249.
The PSP go measures 5.04″ x 0.65″ x 2.72″ and weighs 5.6 ounces. The device retains a 16:9 aspect ratio display that measures 3.8″ and 480 x 272 pixels, the same resolution as other PSP models, albeit smaller). Despite the rumors, the device lacks a touchscreen interface, unlike the iPhone or iPod touch.
The 3.8-inch TFT display slides upward to reveal control surfaces, much like a smartphone. Instead of a QWERTY keyboard you’ll find a directional pad, specialized buttons, a small analog thumbstick and start and select buttons.
Sony has also removed the Universal Media Disc (UMD) optical drive from the PSPgo, emphasizing the unit’s suitability for digital entertainment content transferred from the PlayStation 3 or directly over the PlayStation Network.
The PSP go also features built-in 802.11b Wi-Fi and support for Bluetooth 2.0 wireless peripherals, including headphones, headsets and PS3 wireless controllers. The device can be attached to a television or home entertainment system so you can watch videos stored in the unit and boasts 16GB of built-in flash memory, along with a Memory Stick Micro flash storage card slot that can be used to further expand the unit’s storage capacity.
Electronic Arts on Tuesday announced the simultaneous release of The Sims 3 for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows and Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch handsets.
The new version allows users to control simulated people inside a virtual world, the application allowing for dozens of unique personality traits as well as extensive customization for your Sims home. According to Macworld, the game bypasses the micromanagement of basic tasks such as bathing and using the restroom (unlike the first two versions) and allows for additional items to be purchased via an in-game store.
The Mac and Windows game also lets you record movies of your Sims, edit the soundtrack, story and transitions, then share the movies you’ve made with friends on The Sims 3 Web sites, social networks, and on your own blog.
The game ships on a hybrid DVD-ROM that contains both Mac and Windows versions of the games, retails for US$50 and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.7 or later, 2 GB of RAM, 6.1 GB of hard disk space and an ATI GMA X3100 or Nvidia 7300 GT graphics card or better to install and run.
Per the iPhone version, the application is available for US$9.99 through the App Store and requires iPhone OS 2.2 or later to install and run.
Nintendo just wrapped its media briefing on this end and the results are strange, encouraging and mixed:
-Nintendo’s Cammie Dunaway announced that this year’s theme will be “Everyone’s Game”. There’s something for everyone and Nintendo intends to address this.
-“New Mario Brothers” Wii was announced, the title featuring beautiful graphics as well as co-op and competitive play for up to four players at once wherein players can help each other or compete for points. Other features include a neat ability to switch to another player (such as from Mario to Toad to Luigi) at any point in time. The title will launch over the holidays.
-Nintendo is moving to introduce WiiFit Pus, which will work to find a workout program appropriate for the user and add 15 new balance games such as juggling and skateboarding. The title will arrive this fall and will also be able to be purchased and downloaded as a standalone item.
-Nintendo President and Chief Operating Officer Reggie Fils-Aime spoke about Nintendo’s interface, then introduced the Wii Motion Plus, a new controller that will function as a more advanced version of Nintendo’s current Wiimote. The controller will apparently have to be purchased on its own and no price point was mentioned for the unit.
-Nintendo’s Bill Trinen detailed the Wii Motion Plus, highlighting an increased ability to detect position and angles relative to the Wiimore, which can then be applied to a game. Trinen commented that Nintendo is looking to make this a more natural experience, that the unit will launch in the Americas on July 21st and that the improved motion sensor technology will be supported in assorted EA Sports titles as well as RedSteel 2.
-Nintendo will launch Final Fantasy: The Crystal Bearers as well as an exclusive version of Kingdom Hearts (Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days) to the Nintendo DS this September.
-Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story will hit in North America and Europe later this fall. Here, Mario and Luigi have to fight within Bowser’s body a la “Inner Space”.
-Nintendo will be resurrecting the Golden Sun RPG series with Golden Sun DS in 2010.
-Beginning on October 13th, James Patterson’s books will be available as an interactive novel/game (“Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion”).
-COP: The Recruit will play as a Ubisoft title. This seems to be a mix of Grand Theft Auto and an interactive novel.
-Nintendo will launch its Style Savvy title, wherein users design outfits, run your own boutique, supports wireless networking.
-Nintendo announced the the company has currently sold over one million DSi units. Representatives then highlighted that it will focus on user-generated content and sharing.
-Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again will allow users to create their own levels, then upload levels to friends. The title will be available as a download beginning June 8th.
-WarioWare DIY: Allows players to create their own levels and games themselves.
-Beginning this summer, the DSi will allow photos to be edited and uploaded to Facebook.
-Nintendo President Satoru Iwata announced that Nintendo’s research has divvied their game market into “active”, “maybe?” and “never”. In the survey, there are 295 million active players, 149 million “maybe” players and a given number of people who will never play games. Iwata then cited that the company is trying to open its markets and provide something for everyone.
-Perhaps the strangest thing of the briefing: Iwata then announced the Wii Vitality Sensor, a device that takes your pulse, analyzes data such as tension, etc. and returns biometric information. This can be used as a relaxation technique, per Iwata, but no release date or titles were mentioned for such a device.
-Nintendo then showed demo footage for Super Mario Galaxy 2, complete with beautiful environments, classic stuff, imaginative settings.
-Other games announced included The Conduit, an apocalyptic sci-fi title developed by Sega and exclusive for the Wii. The game will be available this June.
-Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is en route and will function as Resident Evil with a first-person shooter perspective.
-Dead Space: Extraction is exclusive for the Wii and, complete with beautiful graphics and awesome sound via the demo, will function as a prequel to Dead Space.
-Team Ninja and Nintendo are developing Metroid: Other M, which will function as a Metroid prequel of sorts and help flesh out Samus Aran’s back story and personal history.
The title is being offered with a 2010 release date.