Mix: aTV Flash, iFund, Solar patent, Orange upgrade | iLounge News

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Mix: aTV Flash, iFund, Solar patent, Orange upgrade

Apple Core has begun offering its aTV Flash, a USB flash drive accessory for the Apple TV that allows users to easily hack the set-top box. The drive connects to the Apple TV’s USB port, and automatically installs a variety of software including a Safari-based web browser and a RSS feed reader, and adds support for a variety of unsupported video codecs like DivX, Xvid, and AVI. The aTV Flash is said to be warranty-safe, and retails for $70, including one year of software updates.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has revealed the first two companies being funded by its $100 million iFund. Pelago, the first company to receive funding from the iFund, is working on a location-based service called Whrrl, which uses the mapping capabilities of the iPhone and other smartphones to offer up information about local restaurants, shops, events, and other points of interest. The other company, iControl, is working on a home automation app that would give iPhone users remote control over air conditioners, lighting, window shades, and more. Announced at Apple’s iPhone Software Roadmap event in January, the iFund consists of $100 million in funds set aside for investment in companies developing applications for the iPhone.

A new Apple patent filing suggests the company is exploring the integration of solar cells into its portable devices. Titled “Solar cells on portable devices,” the patent describes several different methods of building the cells into the devices, including having the cells glued into a stack of transparent or semi-transparent materials, allowing even the device’s screen to serve as a solar surface. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company‚Äôs research in this area.

Some French iPhone owners are claiming to have been contacted by Orange regarding a possible upgrade path to an upgraded model. Several readers of French site PC INpact claim to have been called by Orange, and offered a trade-in deal that would leave them paying 50 Euros for the new phone, or a “generous” discount should they choose not to trade-in their handset. Orange has yet to issue a statement regarding the matter; no trade-in programs have yet been announced by any of the iPhone’s official carriers.

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Comments

1

I just did a Factory Restore on my AppleTV after trying desperately to get aTV Flash to work as advertised.

The site has some pretty serious omissions. This is a collection of disparate shareware apps on a flash drive. Many require additional downloads and Terminal skills. There is almost no documentation included and no online documentation on the Apple Core site. You will be directed to various wikis on each app’s developer pages.

A few of aTV’s/AppleCore’s shortcomings:

- You must perform a Factory Restore and update before installing aTV. Yup have to reinstall all of your media files (100GB for me). This would be forgivable if everything else worked.
- Flash is installed, but requires copying OS 10.4 files from a Tiger install DVD or an Intel Mac running 10.4. Even then, Couch Surfer fails to display Flash and freezes AppleTV anytime it encounters Flash Video.
- There are no previews for movies in nitoTV, Sapphire or Files unless they are commercial movies
- There are references to features that are not documented (“Play DVD files WITHOUT converting them”, “DVD Import Location”).
- Misleading statements about it’s ease of use (“just drag and drop your media files onto the Apple TV”, this required an SFTP client; “Sync, organize and watch non-iTunes video files”, there is no “sync” capability… that implies automated, two way communication rather than SFTP).

This package is for tinkerers only. Ironically, it’s marketed as a plug and play solution (“The software installs automatically, and no modification or coding is required.”). Anybody that is willing to put this kind of time into tweaking their AppleTV can download the apps and use a spare flash drive to install them. You’re going to be visiting those site anyways to read the documentation.

The support staff is polite and timely in their responses. Unfortunately, they couldn’t give me my time back.

Posted by Michael Pantoja on May 27, 2008 at 10:02 PM (PDT)

2

Integrating solar collectors into the screen display is a novel idea, but it still begs the eternal question: given the current and foreseeable state of solar cell efficiency, is there enough panel surface area to make it a feasible means of charging the battery or even provide enough direct power to operate a device like an iPhone or iPod? When MSI introduced their solar powered MP3 player prototype a couple of years ago, that was the big question then. If I recall correctly, it was never really satisfactorily answered by MSI.

An iPhone or Touch has a bigger footprint than the MSI did; perhaps solar cell technology and efficiency has progressed enough to make the concept work, although the rather chunky and big eMotion EM-SOL1GIG introduced earlier this year would seem to contradict this. No one will ever mistake this thing for a iPod nano. But perhaps Apple has a trick up its sleeve and can actually make this concept fly…at least as long as you’re located anyplace other than the gray, gloomy, cloudy Pacific Northwest, that is…

Posted by flatline response on May 28, 2008 at 10:57 AM (PDT)

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