January 27, 2012

Spanish firm NT-K beats Apple in court, files extortion charges

Two months ago, Spanish tablet maker Nuevas Tecnologías y Energías Catalá (or NT-K for short) won a design infringement lawsuit Apple filed against it a year earlier. Now, NT-K is on the offensive and seeking damages from Apple; the company has filed extortion charges against Apple, according to The Mac Observer.

NT-K’s tablets were all seized when Apple successfully obtained an injunction against sales of the devices, and NT-K argues this was a severe detriment to sales. It’s hard to argue with their reasoning, but analysis by FOSS Patents questions whether Apple pursuing its legal rights in an infringement case falls under the umbrella of extortion. “For now I don’t see evidentiary support for the claim that Apple sought to ‘extort’ NT-K and possibly other small companies,” Florian Mueller writes.

Over the past year, Apple has aggressively targeted companies it feels are copying designs of the iPad and iPhone. Companies both large and small have borne the brunt of Cupertino’s wrath, from smaller outfits like NT-K all the way up to industry giants like Samsung.


TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Sennheiser Announces Two New Headphone Models, Audiophiles Respond With Enthusiastic Golf Clap [CES 2012]

Sennheiser ces2012

Sennheiser Announces Two New Headphone Models, Audiophiles Respond With Enthusiastic Golf Clap [CES 2012]LAS VEGAS, CES 2012 — Sennheiser is attacking the audio market with two exciting new headphones: the high-end HD 700s, and the mid-tier anodized-aluminum-crafted Amperior. Both have taken me to my happy place.

Sennheiser Announces Two New Headphone Models, Audiophiles Respond With Enthusiastic Golf Clap [CES 2012]

HD 700

In both price and sound signature, Sennheiser’s new HD 700s are meant to sit right between the HD 650 and HD 800 models. I had a chance to talk with Sennheiser about the 700s, and they told me that, sound-wise, the they’re a little warmer than the the 800s but not as colored as the 650s. They’re also aimed at audiophiles, not studio engineers, and like the 650s, feature a fully open design. The HD 650s and 800s are two of the best earphones I’ve ever heard, so I’m excited for the HD 700s.

For more on the specs and sound signature, I recommend checking out the full press release.

The HD 700s will be available in stores in March.


The first thing you notice about the Amperior’s is how hefty and well-made they feel. They’re constructed of anodized aluminum, are optimized for the iPad, iPod, and iPhone, and come equipped with inline audio controls just like the standard white Apple headphones. They also feature an inline mic, so you can use them during phone calls.

I had a chance to spend some time with the Amperiors, and I was impressed with how good they sounded. I wasn’t using an amp either, just plugged them right into my iPhone.

The Amperiors will also be available in March.

A Worthy Mention, the RS 220

I’ve never heard a set of wireless headphones that impressed me, but the RS 220s ($ 600) are looking like they might be going down that path. My new friend Jude, Editor at world-class headphone review site Head-Fi.org, has already crowned the 220s one of the best new products of the year. This comes from a guy who reviews high-end headphones for a living.

The 220s are beautiful too. They’re on display here at CES, so I can also tell you first-hand — they’re dead sexy.

The RS 220s were announced in September, and are available now in stores and online.

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Cult of Mac

Happy 7th anniversary to the Mac mini

“I wish I had a nickel for every time somebody asked me that,” Steve Jobs said as the question “Why doesn’t Apple offer a stripped down Mac that is more affordable” flashed up behind him during Macworld 2005 keynote.

Today, that stripped-down computer celebrates its seventh anniversary. The Mac mini has had its demise predicted nearly as often as the iPod classic. But the durable little machine keeps chugging on and has inspired everything from a fan of RAID machines to media centers, car stereos and even apple pie.

While the Mac mini began its life as a low-end PowerPC G4 machine, current build-to-order models can meet or exceed stock-configuration iMacs. They’ve become smaller, more powerful, yet are still an excellent switcher machine for those who already own a monitor and keyboard. They also can function as a server or serve a variety of needs for homes and businesses.

Here’s to you, Mac mini. I expect to still find you around for years to come. You can check out the original introduction from 2006 below.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

T-Mobile CTO says carrier may get next iPhone

By Mikey Campbell

Published: 05:45 PM EST (02:45 PM PST)

T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray claims that upcoming wireless chipsets would allow Apple to include the carrier’s unique operating spectrum in the next iteration of the iPhone, which would finally bring the popular handset to nation’s fourth-largest network, though quickly-advancing LTE rollouts by the top three telecoms may cause the Cupertino, Calif., company to completely bypass the frequency band altogether.

In an interview with CNET on Wednesday, T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray alluded to reportedly inside information in saying that Apple’s next iPhone iteration may include a radio chipset capable of operating on the company’s AWS network, meaning the number four U.S. cell carrier may finally get to sell the popular handset.

“The next chipset will support AWS,” Ray said. “The challenge that existed in the past will go away.”

All current and legacy iPhone models are incapable of communicating with T-Mobile’s unique AWS spectrum band, which is used by only a few U.S. carriers like Cincinnati Bell and MetroPCS. Ray believes that this technical hurdle was to blame for keeping the iPhone away from T-Mobile’s network.

Ray’s statements come on the heels of those from Chief Executive Officer Philipp Humm, who said on Tuesday that the AWS frequency band was the “key reason” that the iPhone is not offered on the company’s network.

Citing access to the roadmap of chipsets on the market, Ray said that Apple has the option to include AWS into an upcoming version of the smartphone, though is quick to state that the iPhone maker could completely ignore the older wireless protocol and continue without T-Mobile’s business. The company later noted that Ray was not privy to Apple’s plans, and thus his statements should be considered mere speculation.

Apple is expected to move to LTE, the wireless standard which AT&T, Verizon and Sprint are currently in the process of rolling out. Ray commented that T-Mobile could deploy LTE in certain areas, and the carrier will continue to aggressively improve its existing infrastructure by concentrating on HSPA+, which the company dubs as “4G.”

The news comes during T-Mobile’s recovery after an AT&T takeover deal was scrapped in December.


Blue Microphones Keeps On Innovating: Announces Three New Microphones Here At CES [CES 2012]


Blue Microphones Keeps On Innovating: Announces Three New Microphones Here At CES [CES 2012]LAS VEGAS, CES 2012 — Blue has announced three new microphones for Mac, iPhone, and iPad here at CES: The Mikey, Tiki, and Spark. I spent a bit of time at the Blue booth checking out their new mics, and I liked what I saw.

Blue Microphones Keeps On Innovating: Announces Three New Microphones Here At CES [CES 2012]

The Mikey

The Blue Mikey is a stereo microphone you can use with your iPod touch (4th generation), iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPad 2 or iPad. The previous version of the Mikey only worked with iPods or 3GS and older iPhones. I had an opportunity to use the previous version of the Mikey, and I liked it quite a bit. It was super easy to use, delivered pleasing audio, and was definitely a step up from the built-in 3GS microphone. I suspect I’ll be liking this new Mikey too, I just hope it supports Apple’s Camera app so I can use it when recording videos.



The Tiki

Blue wants the Tiki to be your go-to mic for Skype and FaceTime calls. Tiki is small, portable, and its advanced built-in sound-isolating DSP functionality is supposed to be a wonder at picking up only your voice and ignoring all other background noise (spinning computer fans, typing noise, etc). Once we get our review unit, we’ll be able to see just how well this noise-isolating tech actually works.


The Spark

The Spark is a cardioid, solid-state condenser microphone aimed at helping you get professional recordings on your Mac and iPad. This new Spark is actually an updated model, and its new iPad compatibility opens up a whole new world of use for the Spark. You could use it to podcast on your iPad, or use it to record instruments or vocals right into your Garage Band app. We’re expecting a review unit in the next couple of months, our iPad is ready and waiting.

Blue Spark


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Cult of Mac

iPod shuffle debuted on this day in 2005

On January 11, 2005, Apple introduced the iPod shuffle to the world.

Designed as a way to enjoy music while exercising, the shuffle brought random play of music to the iPod. The first edition of this device looked remarkably like a white stick of gum, featuring no display or scroll wheel, and plugging right into a USB port for syncing. It was also the first Apple iPod to do away with an internal hard drive, using only flash memory to store music.

Since that time, the iPod shuffle has been transformed several times. The first change in September, 2006 turned the device into a small clip-like device similar to the iPod shuffle we know and love today. The third-generation shuffle, which was introduced in March of 2009, took small size to a ridiculous extreme. This model did away with on-device controls, using volume and track buttons on the white earbuds instead. It was also the first iPod to provide VoiceOver to announce track names and other information to listeners.

The latest incarnation of the iPod shuffle returned to the larger size of the second generation device, bringing back the buttons and retaining VoiceOver. Announced on September 1, 2010, the current iPod shuffle costs only US$ 49 for 2 GB of storage and comes in five colors.

Happy anniversary to the popular and low-priced iPod shuffle!

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Shazam Player For iPhone Replaces The iOS Music App With Lyric And Social Integration

Shazam Player For iPhone Replaces The iOS Music App With Lyric And Social Integration

Popular music service Shazam has released a free iPhone app today called Shazam Player. The application is meant to serve as a replacement for the stock iOS 5 Music app, and Shazam is hoping to set itself apart with several marque features.

Firstly, Shazam Player brings LyricPlay to your iPhone’s music library, meaning that you can get fullscreen lyrics for tracks as you listen. You can also watch music videos on YouTube in-app, get tour information, read artist bios, and share what you’re listening to on Twitter and Facebook.

Shazam’s new app uses Apple’s Music app API to pull tracks from your onboard library. While the music player itself doesn’t offer anything special in Shazam Player, the added features that Shazam brings to table are worth noting.

LyricPlay is an innovate take on presenting lyrics alongside a song. When you open Shazam Player for the first time, you will be asked to let LyricPlay scan your iPhone’s library to match tracks with LyricPlay for playback. Once this is complete, you should have a decent amount of tracks ready to take advantage of the feature. LyricPlay currently has a growing database of 30,000+ songs.

Shazam Player For iPhone Replaces The iOS Music App With Lyric And Social Integration

Tapping the LyricPlay button or the little music note next to the skip forward button will initiate the fullscreen experience while a song is playing.  Shazam displays a typographical layout of the song’s lyrics as they are sung, with certain chunks of the text highlighting as the track progresses. Karaoke night, anyone?

Once you’ve connected the app with your Twitter and Facebook accounts, you can share track information with your friends. Shazam wants you to explore your music more, so you can pull up related YouTube videos and lookup tour dates in-app as well. While this app probably won’t convince most of us to switch from the stock Music app, it’s still worth checking out.

Shazam Player is available for free in the App Store.

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Cult of Mac

TUAW TV Live: A refreshing respite from CES 2012

Apple’s upstaged the entire CES 2012 event by announcing their own education event on January 19 at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, so now I’ll continue the trend by demonstrating some real shipping products for Apple equipment. Who wants to hear CES rumors about products that may never ship? I’ll give you the stuff that’s already available to help you be more productive and have fun.

Below, you’ll find a Ustream livestream viewer and a chat tool. The chat tool allows you to participate by asking questions or making comments.

If you’re driving somewhere and would like to watch TUAW TV Live while you’re stuck in traffic, please don’t — keep your eyes on the road! However, if someone else is doing the driving, you can watch the show on your iPhone and join the chat by downloading the free Ustream App. It’s a universal app and is wonderful on an iPad, both for viewing and participating in the chat.

We’ll start at about 5 PM ET, so if you’re seeing a prerecorded show, be sure to refresh your browser until you see the live stream. For those of you who are not able to join us for the live edition, you’ll be able to view it later this evening on our TUAW Video YouTube channel and as part of the TUAW TV Live podcast viewable in iTunes or on any of your Apple devices.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

This Is Microsoft’s Best Product Of CES, Hands Down!

This Is Microsoft’s Best Product Of CES, Hands Down! [CES 2012]

This Is Microsoft’s Best Product Of CES, Hands Down! [CES 2012] LAS VEGAS, CES 2012 – There are some really awesome products on the showroom floor of CES this year, but we think we’ve found the greatest Microsoft product of all time. OF ALL TIME! Microsoft lipbalm. Admit it. You’re jealous that you don’t have your own stick yet aren’t you?

To make up for your absence at CES, we’re going to have a caption contest, and the winner gets a bag of CES swag that we got from the floor today.

To enter the contest, just comment on this article with your caption for the Microsoft Chapstick picture. Funniest caption wins and we’ll announce the winner on Friday, Jan. 13th at 12pm PST. Good luck.

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Buster Heine was born and raised in Roswell, NM, but lives in Phoenix where he spends his hours as a student/writer/seeker of epic fun. Generally speaking, there are three major loves in his life: Apple products, burritos, and himself (because narcissism is the new black). Website: bust3r.com; Twitter: twitter.com/bst3r.

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Cult of Mac

Adobe to entice users to upgrade to CS6 with special pricing

After getting a good amount of criticism for changing its upgrade policy late last year, Adobe is offering incentives for Photoshop and Creative Suite CS3 and 4 users to get them to jump on the CS6 bandwagon.

Starting with Adobe CS6, Adobe is restricting upgrade pricing just to those who are one version behind — those who currently use CS5 or CS5.5. Adobe explained that it would help customers integrate with the new Adobe Creative Cloud service, and it is a move to streamline perpetual licenses. However, it cuts out a number of companies utilizing older CS products and will either have to pay the full price for an upgrade or move to the subscription service. My day job, for example, uses Photoshop CS3 and InDesign CS4. Currently, those who own Adobe software as old as CS2 can purchase CS5.5 at upgrade pricing.

Adobe has not announced the specific upgrade pricing for CS3 and CS4 users as of yet, but the offer will last from when CS6 is released until December 31.

[via The Loop]

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog