Apple devices dominate wish-lists in most other electronics categories -- even routers
If there was one word to summarize what's at the top of US Christmas gift lists when it comes to electronics, the word is "Apple." Retail analyst firm Parks Associates revealed that in its latest survey, the iPhone maker -- long the most popular brand for tablets, smartphones, MP3 players and TV set-top boxes -- is now also the hottest brand in desktop computers. The top spot for desktops was previously held by Dell for the last two years, with Apple coming in second until the 2013 survey.
New keyboards and mice intended to improve comfort at work
Microsoft has announced its release of two new desktop accessory sets: the Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop and the Sculpt Comfort Desktop. Intended for comfort and productivity with long-term use, both products are optimized for Windows 8. The Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop consists of a split keyboard design, which helps to position the forearms in a relaxed pose, and have the palms cushioned. The ergonomic mouse assists with a neutral wrist position and minimizes carpal tunnel pressure. The Sculpt Comfort Desktop has a detachable palm rest on a contoured keyboard, and a Windows touch tab featured on the mouse, specifically for Windows 8 navigation. The Sculpt Comfort Desktop and Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop are available for $80 and $130 respectively.
Windows XP support expiry to marginally help PC sales next year
Shipments of personal computers are set to drop even lower before the end of the year, continuing the ongoing trend for the PC industry as a whole. New figures released by IDC predict that overall PC shipments will decline by as much as 7.8 percent in 2013, with it set to go down by a further 1.2 percent in 2014.
Apple, Toshiba beating industry average, still suffering downturns
Traditional desktop and notebook computer shipments have suffered the worst year-over-year drop in almost 20 years as consumers shift to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, numbers from both IDC and Gartner revealed on Wednesday. The two companies' numbers disagree somewhat on exact amounts, but both believe PC (referring to both Windows and Mac desktop and notebook) shipments have fallen by between 11 and 14 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period last year.
Also adds star ratings and Chrome enhancement
Google has updated its Google Play (formerly Android Market) Music subsection with some new, "experimental" controls that include a toggle for using HTML5 rather than Flash for desktops, along with the replacement of the "thumbs up/down" rating system with a five-star rating, the iTunes standard. For Chrome users, the service can now provide desktop notifications. The changes mark the continuation of efforts to improve the service, which officially launched in November.
AMD Fusion APUs, better performance, battery life
AMD has announced that it has updated its C- and E-Series Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) for ultrathin and low-cost notebooks, netbooks, all-in-ones and desktop PCs. The revised Fusion APUs are said to deliver improved graphics performance, enhanced memory, and DisplayPort ++ (dual-mode support for both HDMI and DVI over DisplayPort). Power management is also improved with 12 hours of resting battery life from a single charge, up from 8 hours in previous models.
Will be available as free update in August
Radical Breeze's software development environment Illumination Software Creator will reach version 4 later this summer, and will expand its range of platforms for which it can build apps from the existing Mac, Windows, Linux and iOS, Android and Flash (as well as lesser mobile platforms like the Nokia Maemo tablet) to include HTML5 web apps, WebOS and Windows Phone 7 apps as well. A new image library facility will now allow art assets to be used across all platforms.
Version 1.0.2 improves text, photo rendering
Raskin Software has launched an update to its alternative Finder application for the Mac, Raskin 1.0.2. The software uses a pan and zoom system for portraying the Mac desktop and filing system, displaying teaser images of files as quick visual aids to finding needed images. The surface of the Raskin system expands beyond the display screen, supporting panning to see a visual representation of all the folders with files within - essentially the user can see every file on the computer by panning around -- then can zoom in to find and work with the desired file. The software includes support for MacBook trackpads and Magic Trackpads, making trackpad navigation especially easy.
Computer contents shown in single interface
Raskin has introduced its self-titled interface utility that provides an alternative to standard Mac desktops. The visual user interface presents a variety of content on a single surface, while allowing users to view, arrange and open documents using zoom and pan navigation.
3D desktop allows stacks, pinning files to walls
BumpTop has released its self-named 3D-desktop utility for Mac OS X. It presents a user's Mac desktop in a three-dimensional display, with four walls -- left, right, front and back -- and a floor, which is essentially the standard Finder desktop. It supports features such as Exposé Quick Look, while enabling multi-touch gestures for trackpad-equipped MacBooks and MacBook Pros.
EarthDesk 5.0 ships
Xeric Design has released EarthDesk 5.0, featuring a complete rewrite in Cocoa, faster rendering and higher resolution maps. The realtime desktop worldmap provides users with an image of Earth featuring Sun, Moon and city-based illumination and cloud cover. The Cocoa rewrite provides a new rendering engine for both faster rendering speed and lower processor usage. It is a 32- and 64-bit application that is Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) ready. Version 5.0 also adds seasonal maps with changing snow and vegetation levels and a higher resolution map for large displays. It can now provide cloud data as well.
Gateway debuts new PCs
Gateway on Wednesday evening introduced smaller, more powerful back-to-school desktop PCs, including its small form factor SX Series and its compact DX Series mini-tower line as well as its FHD Series of monitors featuring a new edge-to-edge glass design. Both the SX Series and DX Series PCs include a unique “digital photo frame” button that quickly delivers a slide show of favorite photos along with a “device deck" described as a small recessed area on top of the chassis to put device -- such as a digital camera, MP3 player or camcorder -- for connecting to USB ports and downloading media. Other new features include a tilt-enabled card multi-card media reader for easy access, a rear cable management hook to organize cables.
Print It!, iFind
iWeb Valet 2.0 ($19) is a tool for enhancing and uploading iWeb pages. After creating a page in iWeb, instead of publishing to MobileMe, iWeb Valet allows users to publish the site to a local folder and then upload it to an FTP sever. The update includes the ability to add new interactive widgets and also allows users to preview the modified pages in a browser at any point, instead of having to upload it to a web sever first. [Download - 8.6MB]
CheckUp 2.1 ($25) is a tool designed to check and monitor the behavior of a Mac system, either locally or remotely. The software scans a computer and provides information on the systems functionality and overall performance and can also allow any unused applications to be removed. The latest update includes a revised interface, support for Raid disks, improved support for Spaces and a better memory test. [Download - 17.4MB]
Xmart Volume, iWorkService
Currency Assistant 3.0 ($19) allows users to convert values between 174 world currencies (all major circulating currencies plus the 16 Eurozone legacy currencies). The software also automatically updates exchange rates over the Internet using the rates published by the European Central Bank, the Bank of Canada, the International Monetary Fund, and the Bank of Italy. In the latest release the software has been rewritten as a Universal Cocoa application, the currency conversion calculator has a fully revised interface and introduces several other new features. [Download - 2MB]
Apple tops PC Mag
Readers of PC Magazine have awarded top scores to Apple Products, during a recent survey on electronic products. Apple received the highest ratings in all of the categories it was involved in, laptops, desktops, routers, cell phones, media players and tech support. In all of these categories Apple received Readers Choice status and performed "significantly better than average." This year the iPhone was named the "ultimate smartphone" and topped other competing smartphones such as the BlackBerry Curve and Pearl.
AOL Xdrive, 5GB backup
Following Adobe's announcement of the AIR application platform, AOL has unveiled Xdrive Desktop Lite, a backup application based on the AIR standard. Computerworld reports that AOL is offering users 5GB of backup for free, which is accessed using the downloadable Xdrive application – a first time offering for Mac users. Xdrive Desktop Lite gives users drag-and-drop functionality to backup any data. The service is also available in a 50GB flavor, which costs users a yearly fee of $100.
Conjure 2.3 desktop
Conjurebunny today unveiled Conjure 2.3, an update for its replacement desktop front-end, bringing a number of changes related to contacts, Clusters, and Clothesline. Contacts within Conjure are now considered desktop entities, just like applications, folders and files, allowing them to be viewed directly from the desktop level. The upgrade is free for existing v2.x users, while new users can purchase the full version of Conjure 2.3 for $25.
Panda Systems today unveiled PandoCalendar 7.0.6, an update to its desktop calendar application, adding several new features and bug fixes. In addition to increased Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard compatibility, users can also browse through all recurring events by group in a dedicated window. Two new File menu options allow users to create new notes and appointments, while a popup menu with preset snooze times has been added to the reminder window. PandoCalendar is available for free from Panda Systems' web site.