Catch up on this week’s tech and science news with the latest TowleTech from our correspondent Daniel Williford.
Microsoft reached out to influential music blogs to offer up a test of its upcoming Zune player. Stereogum has an excellent review of Zune along with an interview with Microsoft’s Director of Marketing for the Zune project, Chris Stephenson. The player only comes in one model, a 30GB available in black, white, and brown. While it has important features that iPod doesn’t have, at $300, it’s only $50 less than an 80GB iPod. But, Stephenson notes, the product is only stage one, and is only a part of what the Zune team is trying to build. "We’re much more about connected entertainment," he said, highlighting the player’s ability to connect wirelessly with other players and over the Internet.
Aside from creating the ‘iPod killer’, Microsoft is also hoping to create the ‘Google killer’ with the official launch of its Live Search, which has been incubating in beta stage until now. The clean interface boasts "a new look and features such as easier browsing of searched
images, suggestions of related links and a scratch pad to allow users
to store pictures and information." Time will tell if the search functionality is as good or better than Google, but I found the updated mapping service to be ahead of the crowd (albeit a bit slow).
After dangling the goodies in front of hungry gamers for months, Nintendo announced the official release date and price of its Wii console. It’s all yours on November 19th for 250 bones. Also released were videos of the thing in action, which uses a remote-like controller that works wirelessly by arm and wrist movements.
Google hopes to build the first 100 mpg hybrid vehicle as just one project of its philanthropic for-profit charity, called Google.org. "The emphasis is on social, not economic returns."
Tivo Series 3 is coming down the pipe, now with expanded support of High Definition programming. It can record two HD programs at once onto its 250GB hard drive, and also features an upgraded sound output. The $800 price tag, however, likely means that only the most enthusiastic tech hounds will splurge on it.
In a bold move, AT&T launched an online television network, offering channels like the Food Network the Weather Channel and the History Channel — 20 total — for $19.99 per month.
The fancy new next generation iPod was NOT released at the big Apple press conference this week, as many had hoped. Instead, the iPod Nano got a colorful make-over, and the iPod Shuffle got a bit of a make-under, and iTunes version 7 was released.
Your computer’s hard drive is a disk that spins constantly, which could provide an instrument for detecting natural disasters like Tsunamis. An engineer has developed peer-to-peer software that records data on the vibrations of individual user’s hard drives in order to analyze unusual rumblings throughout an area. "By having numerous supernodes compare vibration levels, the software
can reject false alarms and substantiate actual threats based on the
uniformity of the data."
What’s the second largest digital music store in the US after iTunes? eMusic, and now it’s coming to the EU. The music store, which focuses mostly on indie genres and sells MP3s with no digital rights protections, will be the first service to launch in all 25 European Union member nations.
Visit our correspondent Daniel Williford at his blog, Until Today…