PowerPage Podcast Episode 143 (updated)

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Date: Friday, September 3rd, 2010, 16:11
Category: Podcast

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Episode 143 of the PowerPage Podcast is now available. You can either download it from the iTunes Store or directly (23.4 MB, MP3).

Panel: Jason O’Grady and Rob Parker

Topics: We give our first impressions of the new iPods, Apple TV and iTunes 10 announced at Apple’s September 1 event and we play "What’s on your Mac."

Here’s what’s on our Macs this week:

Jason

  • WD My Passport Essential SE (750GB – $100, 1TB – $118 on Amazon) – Compact and high-capacity external USB hard drive, perfect for backups.
  • Jawbone Icon Bluetooth headset (The Rogue $99) – Hands down the best Bluetooth headset on the market. This version fixes three issues I’ve had with the presious Jawbones: it has an industry-standard microUSB port, an unbreakable earloop and better power and answer buttons.
  • Otterbox cases for the iPhone (Commuter $34.95, Defender $49.95) – The best and most protective cases for the iPhone 4 available in a range of protection.
  • Surf Watch ($9.99, App Store) – Notifies you via push notification when when and wave conditions for your favorite buoys match your ideal surf criteria.

Rob

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Subscribe to the PowerPage Podcast in iTunes or add the Podcast RSS feed to your RSS client. Our theme music is generously provided by The Tragically Hip their new release “We Are The Same” is available on iTunes.

Update: Broken Otterbox and Jumsoft links fixed.

Nvidia announces seven new GeForce 400M notebook graphics card with accelerated Web browsing features

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Date: Friday, September 3rd, 2010, 14:26
Category: News, Processors

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This could be nifty.

Graphics chip maker Nvidia on Friday announced seven new GeForce 400M series graphics cards for notebooks, which could provide parallel-processing capabilities to accelerate Web browsing and 3D image rendering.

Per Macworld, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome have either implemented or will soon include the capability to offload tasks like rendering of HTML 5 or Flash video content to graphics processors. Nvidia’s new GeForce graphics cards will be faster at processing those tasks than CPUs, which should make Web browsing snappier.

The new graphics cards will be around 40% faster than the earlier 300M series at execution of tasks, said Ken Brown, an Nvidia spokesman.

While the CPU remains at the center of running tasks, developers are writing applications to harness the parallel-processing capabilities of graphics processors to speed up applications, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research.

“That’s one of the changes with the new browsers, is they support that capability,” McCarron said.

Notebooks with Intel’s latest Core processors already have a graphics processor integrated in one chip next to the CPU. However, discrete GPUs have a faster and wider pipe to run applications, McCarron said.

Still, graphics processors can draw more power than CPUs or integrated graphics, which can affect battery life of notebooks. Nvidia’s graphics cards support new switchable technology called Optimus, where specific tasks like video rendering can be seamlessly switched between the CPU and GPU. The GPU kicks in only when needed, preserving the notebook’s battery life.

Nvidia declined to comment on the exact power drawn by the new graphics cards, citing company policy. In recent years the company has taken charges for faulty dies and weak packaging material used in its graphics chips that led to notebooks overheating. Those issues have been resolved for a while, Brown said.

“Nvidia GPUs are made with a different manufacturing substrate to prevent chips from experiencing thermal issues over time. Our GPUs run in the tolerance level of their specification and the notebook chassis design constraints,” Brown said.

More laptops are shipping with discrete GPUs as users look for stronger multimedia capabilities, McCarron said. Nvidia will be trying to extend its presence in the market with the new products, and it will have to compete with rival Advanced Micro Devices, which already offers Radeon HD notebook graphics cards.

Beyond Web browsing, the graphics cards will provide a better gaming experience and bring Blu-ray 3D movie playback to laptops, Nvidia’s Brown said. The graphics cards will support DirectX 11, Microsoft’s latest graphics technology included in the Windows 7 OS.

The new offerings include the GeForce GT 415M, GT 420M, GT 425M, GT 435M, GT 445M, and the faster GTX 460M and GTX 470M graphics cards. The cards will be available only through the PC makers, and Nvidia did not comment on when the notebooks would become available. The graphics cards will be offered through PC makers including Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba.

Individual pricing for the graphics cards and whether or not the cards would eventually find their way to Apple’s notebook products were not disclosed.

Two new Apple patents emerge pertaining to cloud-based sorting, syncing

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Date: Friday, September 3rd, 2010, 08:21
Category: Apple TV, News, Patents

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Two days after Apple’s media event unveiled a new cloud-based Apple TV, two patent applications from the company describe methods to improve the experience of over-the-air syncing, and browsing of Internet-based content.

Per AppleInsider, the documents describe wirelessly syncing data between a server in the “cloud,” and a client device owned by an individual user. They also detail methods that aim to improve the navigation, browsing, search and playback of digital media that is hosted on a remote server.

One patent application, entitled “Media and User Interface for Accessing Groups of Media Assets,” relates to browsing content through scrolling lists, searching for specific content, or viewing by category types. The other, named “Data Synchronization Protocol,” describes the syncing of data over the Internet to portable devices like the iPhone, and stationary ones like a Mac.

The timing of the publishing of the documents is noteworthy, as the new Apple TV focuses exclusively on streaming from external devices and over the Internet. Apple will allow TV episode rentals for 99 cents, and first-run HD movies for US$4.99 over the device, as well as access to other Internet-based content from Netflix, YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe.

The new Apple TV aims to simplify the browsing experience by relying solely on the cloud, and not saving data on the device itself. In addition to streaming video, the new Apple TV also helps users catch shows they may have missed by keeping viewed content synced with the cloud.

Wednesday’s Apple TV announcement is expected to be only the beginning for Apple’s cloud-based initiative, as the company is reportedly looking to offer an Internet-based iTunes service. Apple has reportedly been in talks with content providers and aims to obtain the necessary licenses to allow users to stream their content to their devices, even with limited or no storage like the Apple TV.

The new application related to data synchronization describes syncing across a number of devices, including Macs and iPhones. It describes allow over-the-air syncing of portable devices, like the iPhone, that currently must be tethered to a computer via USB to sync.

The described invention includes “fast,” “slow” and “reset” sync modes, determined based on a request received from the mobile device. The sync modes can be applied to different types of data classes with different file sizes (say, contacts vs. photos) to more efficiently conduct the cloud-based sync.

The application related to browsing on the Apple TV describes providing a list of information to users, and allowing them to expand that list or seek additional information via a remote control.

It describes methods for quickly sorting content that can be streamed from the cloud, based on criteria set by the user when they browse based on category, or conduct a search.

The application pertaining to syncing was filed on May 13, 2010 and is credited to Brendan A. McCarthy and Carsten Guenther. The application related to browsing of content was originally filed for on May 12, 2010, and is a continuation of a patent filed on May 28, 2007. It is credited to Rachel Clare Goldeen, Jeffrey Ma, Michael Margolis, Rainer Brodersen, Calin Pacuraiu, and Jeffrey L. Robbin.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.5 beta four to developer community

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Date: Friday, September 3rd, 2010, 04:39
Category: News, Software

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Late Thursday, Apple seeded Apple on Thursday seeded its fourth beta of Mac OS X 10.6.5 to developers, as the security and maintenance update continues to be tested before its public release.

Per AppleInsider, sources familiar with the latest build, said to be known as 10H535, indicated that it features the same focus areas as the previous build, issued exactly one week ago Developers have reportedly been asked to concentrate on 3D Graphics, Mail, iCal, QuickTime, Time Machine and USB Devices.

The latest build is also said to have the same known issue as before, in which having VMWare or Parallels installed may prevent the use of devices connected to a USB port.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.