Apple follows suit, drops iPhone 3GS handset price to $49 with AT&T contract

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 10th, 2011, 06:39
Category: iPhone, News, retail

Without a ton of fanfare, Apple has dropped the price of its entry-level 8GB iPhone 3GS handset to US$49 with a new two-year contract with AT&T, matching the new low price that last week was offered exclusively by the carrier.

The 8GB iPhone 3GS now retails for US$49, down from its original price of US$99. The price change came quietly, without an announcement from Apple, just a few days after AT&T revealed it had reduced the price of the iPhone 3GS as well.

Per AppleInsider, last week, AT&T made it clear that the price of the iPhone 3GS sold in Apple’s own channels, such as its retail and online stores, were determined by Apple itself, suggesting the US$50 price cut was solely AT&T’s doing. At the time, Apple’s official iPhone site still offered the 8GB iPhone 3GS for US$99.

The current-generation iPhone 4 models still carry the same price with a two-year AT&T contract. The 16GB model sells for US$199, while the high-end 32GB model has a price of US$299.

AT&T’s chief rival, Verizon, is widely expected to announce on Tuesday that it will carry a CDMA version of the iPhone in just a matter of weeks. While reports have said Verizon will offer the iPhone 4, no mention has been made of the iPhone 3GS, first released in 2009. If Verizon’s deal is only for the iPhone 4, the US$49 iPhone 3GS could remain an AT&T exclusive.

Starting with the launch of the iPhone 3GS in 2009, Apple began selling the previous year’s model with a two-year AT&T contract in the U.S. for US$99. While the initial US$99 handset from Apple was the iPhone 3G, last year that was upgraded to the 8GB iPhone 3GS when the iPhone 4 launched.

Rumor: Verizon iPhone to be announced Tuesday

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 10th, 2011, 06:29
Category: iPhone, News, Rumor

With multiple signs pointing towards the imminent release of Verizon’s iPhone, the Wall Street Journal has stated that a new deal will “upend the balance of power in the industry, ending Verizon rival AT&T Inc.’s exclusive hold on the device and leaving smaller players like Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA facing two well-capitalized competitors offering the world’s most popular smartphone.”

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” the report said that while “it wasn’t immediately clear when Verison would have the devices in its stores,” the carrier would be announcing details in its press conference scheduled for next Tuesday in New York.

It also said the device “would be similar to the existing iPhone 4, but run on the carrier’s CDMA technology.” Verizon made a big splash at CES surrounding its “4G” LTE deployment plans, but that new network won’t be available for voice calls until 2012.

The report noted that Apple’s exclusive deal with AT&T, which started in 2007, “has fueled much of the carrier’s subscriber growth and has given it a solid lead in smartphone customers.”

Additionally, it noted that “the arrangement between Apple and AT&T was groundbreaking at a time when carriers tightly controlled the appearance and function of their phones, and put Silicon Valley companies like Apple and Google in the wireless industry’s driver’s seat.”

At the same time, while “Apple feels it has had tremendous success through its exclusive relationship with AT&T,” the report stated, “it recognized that it needs to partner with Verizon to grow sales faster in the US.” A note filed by analyst Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros in December said the carrier was “still excited” about launching Apple’s iPhone early next year “to combat slowing Android momentum in the US.”

Verizon has partnered with HTC and Motorola over the last year to promote Android phones in a hedge bet against BlackBerry’s inability to deliver a worth competitor to the iPhone. However, the carrier has since seen a drop in Android interest with the arrival of iPhone 4.

Despite its “Droid” branded push in 2010, “Top Verizon executives have continued to meet regularly with their counterparts at Apple, however” the report noted, “and have long expressed interest in carrying the iPhone, which could help add to the carrier’s base of 93 million subscribers.”

AT&T has braced itself for the loss in iPhone exclusivity that it has seen coming for some time, working to lock existing iPhone 4 buyers into two year contracts and relying upon family and business plans that make it hard for individuals to leave the carrier.

Other US carriers may be hit harder, including T-Mobile and Sprint, neither of which are expected to gain access to iPhone sales, even though the new CDMA iPhone should work on Sprint’s network, and the existing iPhone 4 can work on T-Mobile’s, albeit limited to the much slower, 2G GSM/EDGE service.

The report noted that Verizon’s iPhone launch event “threatens to overshadow Verizon’s keynote address Thursday at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, where the carrier touted its new 4G network and announced a number of Google-powered phones and tablet PCs designed to make use of the network’s capabilities.”

Verizon has invited Mac journalists to the event but has notably excluded Gizmodo staff from its invitation list, a move that all but confirmed that the event involved Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Western Digital Scorpio Black notebook drive now available in 750GB capacity, 7200 rpm speed

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 7th, 2011, 08:19
Category: hard drive, News

If you’re using your Mac notebook for video, gaming or graphics work, you’re going to want a spiffy hard drive.

Per Macworld, Western Digital has announced that the latest hard drive in its Black series is ready and shipping. The WD Scorpio Black is a 2.5″ SATA hard drive, now available in 160, 250, 320, 500 and 720GB capacities, features a 7200 rpm spin speed and 16MB cache, Western Digital claims the Scorpio Black is one of the fastest drives on the market.

WD’s drive uses Advanced Format technology (which is optimized for Mac and the latest Windows operating systems) to make for a more efficient media format, which in turn allows for greater drive capacities and increased memory storage density. Other notable features include the Scorpio Black’s free fall detection (which aids in preventing shock damage and data loss) and multiple platform compatibility (ensuring that the WD drive will work in hundreds of systems on multiple platforms).

The new Scorpio Black drive retails for US$149 for the 750GB drive.

AT&T now selling iPhone 3GS for $49 to qualified customers

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 7th, 2011, 03:18
Category: iPhone, News, retail

attlogo

Sometimes you have to do interesting things to stay in the game.

Per the cool cats at the Mac Observer, wireless carrier AT&T announced on Thursday that on Friday, January 7, it will start selling the 8GB iPhone 3GS for US$49 to new and upgrade-eligible customers. Last month, retailers including Best Buy and Radio Shack offered temporary $49 iPhone 3GS deals, but now that price point is official, at least from AT&T: at the time this article was posted, Apple’s online store continues to offer the iPhone 3GS for US$99.

Apple released the iPhone 3GS during the summer of 2009, but it continued to be sold for US$99 after the iPhone 4 was announced last summer. Radio Shack’s holiday deal last month also knocked US$50 off the price of the iPhone 4, but prices for the current-gen smartphone seem poised to remain where they previously were for the time being.

Rumors have persistedthat the iPhone is headed to Verizon soon, which may have prompted the price change by AT&T.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.6, adds App Store support

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 6th, 2011, 11:28
Category: News, Software

snowleopard

Somewhat surprisingly, Apple released version 10.6.6 of its Mac OS X operating system today. The new version, which ranges from 160 megabytes to 1.06 gigabytes should you download the combo updater, adds the following fixes and changes according to Macworld:

- App Store integration and support.

- Fix for a cropping problem with some PostScript printing in landscape mode.

- Fix for an issue with ATI graphics card-powered Macs where connecting an external DVI display could yield erratic mouse pointer movement.

- Fix for a single security vulnerability related to the PackageKit system, preventing a man-in-the-middle attack that could force the app to quit or potentially execute arbitrary code.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run and can, as usual, be snagged via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature.

Apple adds ‘Support Profile’ feature to web site, allows users check warranty info

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, January 6th, 2011, 05:21
Category: News

applelogo_silver

It’s not the most exciting thing in the world but it could be useful.

Apple on Wednesday added a new feature to the Support section of its web site, dubbed “My Support Profile,” where users can track their repair and support activities, as well as check on the status of a warranty.

Per AppleInsider, users can now log in to the new site at supportprofile.apple.com with their Apple ID and password. From there, all Apple products registered to the person’s name are listed, and more can be added. It can even detect the serial number of a Mac being used to visit the site.

The site lets users initiate a support call with Apple, or set up a repair of a faulty device through AppleCare. It also offers the ability to add an AppleCare Protection Plan to hardware.

Products can be given a “nickname” to make them easier to identify, and information such as the device’s serial number is available. Users can also edit their personal contact information, and set up VoicePass or text message support preferences based on telephone number and time of day.

The site keeps a record of phone support calls, with a recommended list of potential fixes for the issue discussed. Users can also check the status of a repair that may be in progress, or view previous repairs or replacements of products.

The site also tracks repair activities that may have taken place in an Apple retail store, giving details of the user’s request, the service administered, and confirmation that the product was returned.

If you’ve tried the new service and have any feedback to offer, please let us know and thanks in advance!

Micron announces 500GB notebook SSD hard drives

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 5th, 2011, 06:28
Category: hard drive, Hardware, News

Micron Technology on Tuesday announced its highest capacity laptop solid-state drives (SSDs) based on its smallest circuitry technology; the largest SSD doubles the amount of data that can be stored compared to its predecessor.

Micron’s new RealSSD C400 flash drive line offers capacities ranging from 64GB to 512GB and will be available in 1.8″ and 2.5″ form factors, both supporting a 6Gbit per sec serial ATA (SATA) interface. The SSDs are based on Micron’s latest 25 nanometer (nm) NAND flash lithography technology.



Per Macworld, the C400′s predecessor, Micron’s RealSSD C300 drive, was its first to leverage the SATA 3.0 specification, which offers 6Gbit/sec. throughput, and the Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFI) 2.1 specification, which provides sequential read speeds of up to 355MB/sec. and sequential write speeds of up to 215MB/sec. The C300 also came in 1.8″ and 2.5″ models, with either 128GB or 256GB of capacity.

Crucial, a division of Micron, will begin selling the new SSD portfolio under the name Crucial m4 SSD. The Crucial m4 SSD product line is expected to be available online and through select global channel partners in the first quarter of 2011. Micron is not offering pricing information on the new SSDs.

The new drives achieve read speeds of up to 415MBps, which is 17% faster than Micron’s C300 SSDs. With write performance varying by capacity, the new 512GB drive delivers up to 260MBps write speeds, which is 20% faster than the C300 SSDs .

Micron is currently working with notebook manufacturers to qualify its new RealSSD drives, with samples of the RealSSD C400 drives available now. Micron expects mass production to begin in February.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iMovie 9.0.1 update

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 5th, 2011, 05:11
Category: News, Software

imovieicon.png

Late Thursday, Apple released iMovie 9.0.1, the latest version of its consumer-level video editing application. The new version, a 27.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Fixes an issue where stabilization would not be applied correctly to some video clips from iPhone and iPod touch.

- Fixes an issue that prevented use of some valid Facebook passwords that contained non-alphanumeric characters.

- Improves compatibility with some cameras that create content in multiple formats.

- Improves performance when scrolling the Project Library.

iMovie 9.0.1 requires Mac OS X 10.6.3 or later to install and run and can be snagged manually or via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

Garmin releases StreetPilot GPS app for iOS

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 4th, 2011, 10:33
Category: iPhone, News, Software

GPS outfit Garmin announced on Tuesday that the company had released StreetPilot, its first turn-by-turn navigation app for the iPhone. Per Macworld, StreetPilot offers voice-prompted directions—with text-to-speech capability for reading aloud street names—along with a variety of more advanced GPS features.

As with Garmin’s standalone GPS devices, StreetPilot offers free traffic alerts, lane assistance with realistic previews of upcoming junctions, 2D and 3D views, and speed limit indicators. The application sports current maps of the U.S. and Canada that are fetched from Garmin’s servers, and also provides points of interests and local search integration.

The app also integrates with various bits of data on your iPhone: you can control your music, quickly access your friends’ addresses, and, of course, take advantage of iOS 4’s multitasking.

StreetPilot retails for US$40 and requires an iPhone 3G or newer, or an iPad with 3G, running iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.

HandBrake updated to 0.9.5, now Intel-only

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 4th, 2011, 05:14
Category: News, Software


Handbrake, Eric Petit’s incredibly useful open-source DVD ripping/conversion utility, has been updated to version 0.9.5 and gone Intel-only.

The new version, which can be found here, boasts the following fixes and changes:

Core Library:
- BluRay disc structure support (No decryption support)
- Updated Libraries (x264, ffmpeg)
- SSA Subtitle support (Including burn-in)
- MP3 audio now supported in MP4 files (Note: Limited Player compatibility)
- VOBSUB subtitle now supported in MP4 files (Note: Limited Player compatibility)
- Updated Presets for newer devices and better quality
- AC3 encoding support
- Many Bug Fixes and other small improvements
- Improved DVD Main Feature detection (when using dvdnav)
- Universal audio downmix support (all audio types can be downmixed)
- Poin-to-Point encoding (second or frame start and end times)
- Peak framerate option (Capped VFR)

All GUIs:
- Updated x264 Advanced Panel
- Video Quality Slider drops % value and only shows RF for x264
- Batch Scan (Scan Multiple files at once. N.B: Does not include multiple VIDEO_TS folders / Image files)
- Many Bug fixes
- Many Tweaks to improve usability
- Ability to edit queue jobs

Mac GUI:
- New Audio Panel supporting >4 Audio Tracks
- VLC detection in /Applications and ~/Applications
- Multiple instance support

Windows GUI:
- Encode Status in GUI. (CLI window is now always hidden)
- Improved Auto-Naming for Destination file name
- Drag / Drop Video onto Main Window to scan

Linux GUI:
- Multiple instance support (run multiple copies of ghb at once)
- Many Bug fixes and UI improvements

Handbrake 0.9.5 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.