Vista Computers Half the Cost of Macs on Average
Many people are eying the ultra-portable bargain notebook market thanks to up-and-comers like Lenovo's IdeaPad S10 and the MSI Wind. Chipmakers like Intel and VIA are struggling to keep up with demand for the bargain machines. However, lost amid the ruckus is an equally significant trend in slightly higher-end model pricing.
Going to Best Buy, Circuit City, or even Target; a plethora of machines from manufacturers like Dell and HP assault the eyes. Many of these Vista machines have impressive muscle for modest prices. Take HP -- the average sale price (ASP) of a notebook with 14.1-inch display, 2GHz processor, 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive is $699. That kind of machine can not only replace a desktop, but also meet most users
Matrox TripleHead2Go new higher resolutions
Matrox Graphics announces new triple widescreen modes for the TripleHead2Go Digital Edition: 3x1680x1050 and 3x1440x900. The new modes allow gaming enthusiasts and professionals to benefit from the advantages of widescreen technology across an astonishing desktop set-up.
"With TripleHead2Go, users can now drive three widescreen monitors from a single system," says Caroline Injoyan, Business Development Manager, Matrox Graphics. "The ultra-wide desktop gives gamers a maximum field-of-view for an unrivaled gaming experience and professionals a vast desktop for managing multiple applications."
The expanded playing area provides gaming enthusiasts with extra pixel space to view wider interactive scenes for a competitive advantage during game play. What's more, the additional onscreen information in a widescreen Surround Gaming(tm) set-up creates a heightened level of immersion for a more enjoyable gaming environment.
"TripleHead2Go offers us an amazing panoramic setup on any system in the blink of an eye," remarks Marek Spanel, CEO, Bohemia Interactive. "Seeing brand new game worlds spread out to the far corners of your view is quite simply, stunning."
Professional workstation users can also benefit from a triple-widescreen desktop-less scrolling, toggling, and re-sizing of windows significantly enhances efficiency and increases overall productivity by ensuring all the information they need is conveniently at their fingertips.
The new TripleHead2Go widescreen modes-enabled by connecting the TripleHead2Go to the system's dual-link DVI connector-are available with select NVIDIA
Home wireless without the power trip
A new generation of low-power radio technologies is creeping into our homes, in the form of wireless light switches and remote-controlled plug sockets. But the next generation of home-automation kit is all going to communicate every which way, assuming a common language can be agreed upon.
Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Bluetooth Low Energy would all like to play in this space, and Intel is even trying to squeeze Wi-Fi into the role. The industry believes the time is right for watches, key fobs and door locks to be wirelessly enabled, and that it's finally time to replace the aging infrared remote controls that have been controlling our TVs for the last few decades.
Not that the IDrA (Infrared Data Association) is taking this lying down. The group is quick to point out that the most expensive part of building IR into a device is the plastic window covering the transmitter, and has demonstrated a 1Gb/sec version of the standard. But line of sight is always going to be a problem for IR, so for most applications radio works better.
Still seeing infrared?
Several radio standards are competing for the title, all offering limited bandwidth and very low power consumption, but differing both in the details of their protocols and in how they expect the architecture of our (home) wireless networks to evolve.
Groups such as the Bluetooth SIG and Ozmo Devices (who have been demonstrating Intel's Cliffside low-power Wi-Fi) see the future filled with client devices connected to more powerful servers. In the case of Ozmo the "server" could be a games console or home computer, while the Bluetooth SIG still reckons the mobile phone will be the most popular server for their "Bluetooth Low Energy" standard. This divergence is based on the technologies onto which the two approaches piggy-back: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth respectively.
The standard formally known as Wibree, now christened "Bluetooth Low Energy Technology", is designed to make use of much of the Bluetooth silicon - not just the antenna as Nokia's original Wibree proposed. The SIG reckons that should make the cost of bundling Low Energy an insignificant increment on that of putting Bluetooth into a device. Phones supporting Bluetooth should, from the end of 2009, automatically support the Low Energy technology, though it remains to be seen if there will be any Low Energy devices for them to talk to by then. The idea is that watches, light switches etc. will only have the Low Energy components, though the cost of those is still unknown.
Cliffside is a technology from Intel that does much the same thing with Wi-Fi circuits. The argument is that as every device is going to have Wi-Fi anyway you might as well make use of that circuit for your low-power connections too. Cliffside allows a device to connect to a traditional Wi-Fi network while simultaneously talking to low-power-Wi-Fi devices, such as those recently demonstrated by Ozmo Devices.
All this traffic at 2.4GHz might see the channel getting a bit crowded, if it wasn't already. But Ozmo reckons their technology will scale well to 5.8GHz - another chunk of unlicensed space to which Wi-Fi connections are increasingly shifting.
So the question becomes whether Bluetooth or Wi-Fi is going to be the wireless technology embedded in everything by default - on which technology the low-power variation can most usefully piggy-back.
Ozmo reckons its devices can out-perform Bluetooth, offering 9Mb/sec bandwidth and with 2.5 times the battery life of a Bluetooth device. But Bluetooth Low Energy should have 10 times the battery life of a normal Bluetooth device, even if it won't be able to offer the same bandwidth.
Point to the window, point to the door
A 10x improvement in battery life is all very well, but to reach a life measured in years rather than days you need to move away from existing technologies and adopt something a little more radical.
Zigbee is a low-power protocol that can also fit into 2.4GHz, and operating at such low bandwidth it can squeeze in around other applications - one of the 16 bands used by Zigbee at 2.4GHz is actually a Wi-Fi guard band, so will never be filled by networking kit. Zigbee can also hang around at 433Mhz, but that's a very chaotic band for interference, or 868Mhz, though there's not much room to breathe there.
Zigbee was designed from the ground up to be a very low-power networking technology, and one that allows nodes to act as relays, creating an auto-forming mesh network to extend coverage. Zigbee and its competitor Z-Wave both offer a battery life measured in years, and the first consumer products using the technologies are now on the shelves.
AlertMe.Com is typical. It uses Zigbee-equipped sensors operating at 2.4GHz and with a battery life of several years to monitor doors and windows, as well as temperatures and user interaction, with mesh-enabled nodes operating as status lights while routing connections around the network. The mesh that AlertMe.Com creates only connects to a single hub, but there's no reason for a Zigbee deployment to be limited in that way.
AlertMe.Com is working on more devices, including a remotely-controlled plug socket, which should provide a standard platform for home automation. This first deployment will be controlled by AlertMe.Com as all traffic must be routed through their servers, but it won't be long before we see more open Zigbee hardware on the shelves.
So if you believe the future will be devices connecting to peripherals then it's most likely going to be Bluetooth Low Energy or low-powered Wi-Fi, depending on which is the dominant embedded technology. But if you see a future in networks of nodes around the home then Z-Wave or Zigbee is the technology of choice.If, on the other hand, you want to see high-definition video or uncompressed audio flying around the house then you'll need something else entirely, and we'll be looking at some of the options there soon.
World's dumbest file-sharer: Judge to the rescue
The Judge who presided over the first successful prosecution of an American P2P file sharer has hinted that he has changed his mind - and may nullify the trial.
Jammie Thomas sold her knickers online (see pic) after being
convicted of copyright infringement last year. A jury of her peers in
Duluth, Minnesota wasn't impressed by what they regarded as a
time-wasting trial, when she should have copped to a small fine:
"Her defense sucked... I don't know what the censored (oops - hehe) she was thinking, to tell you the truth," said jury member Michael Hegg at the time.
But now Judge Davis thinks that the basis of the record companies' pursuit of file-sharers sucks, too. It hinges on the prosecution's use of the "making available" argument. Last October, the prosecution successfully argued that leaving songs in a shared folder on a network means making them available, leaving the sharer liable for infringement damages. That's what Judge Davis told the Duluth jury, too. The problem is, the Copyright Act doesn't use the words "making available".
What the Act does do, however, is define five exclusive rights in the copyright 'bundle': Reproduction, adaptation, publication, performance and display. And for sound recordings, it defines "publication" as "offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display".
Which seems clear enough.
But the courts have expressed differing views on the matter. Within the space of a fortnight earlier this year, we saw two courts accept the argument that shared folders aren't publication while another rejected it.
GPS cellphones to unleash gamers onto the streets
You may not yet know it, but gamers will soon be quitting their living rooms and heading outdoors.
Handheld consoles and laptops made gaming portable, while the Nintendo Wii made gaming active. Now active, portable gaming is possible thanks to GPS and improved graphics becoming standard in cellphones.
By 2013, the world's largest handset manufacturer, Nokia, expects half of its phones to be GPS capable, giving them the ability to fix their locations on the planet to within a few metres.
Apple's iPhone, seen as a benchmark for other manufacturers, also has GPS and many handsets have motion-sensing accelerometers, just like a Wii controller. Games studios are racing to exploit a new world of what is called "pervasive gaming", where everyone carries a powerful gaming machine in their pocket.
The first wave of games are largely based on treasure hunts, with a phone guiding users through a set of waypoints to a particular goal.
UK firm LocoMatrix does it using photos of a neighbourhood. An onscreen thermometer lets a player know if they are "getting warmer" as they close in on the next waypoint, and users can create and share their own treasure hunts.
Richard Vahrman of LocoMatrix was inspired while using handheld GPS for walking routes, and says location-aware gaming could have health benefits. "If we could make a compelling game on a mobile, then youngsters might get out more," he says.
Other treasure hunt games include GPS Mission, from Orbster in Karlsruhe, Germany. But games that blend real and virtual worlds can offer a richer gaming experience.
Another example, Stamp the Mole, starts with users defining an arena using GPS, before chasing moles visible only on their mobile screens inside it.
The Shroud, from Florida firm Your World Games mixes the real world around a player into the world of an adventure game. Travelling to real-world locations can unlock or solve quests in the virtual world.
While some location-aware games can be played anywhere, others may be strongly connected to a particular area, says Constance Fleuriot of the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol, UK, those strongly connected to a particular area, say, Manhattan, and those that can be played anywhere.
"The former could be linked to the history of an area and give you a different viewpoint of a place," says Fleuriot. "The latter are portable."
Phones with GPS also allow players to discover each other's locations and meet physically as well as virtually. That kind of camaraderie will appeal to many, says Mark Eyles, principal lecturer in the Advanced Games Research Group at the University of Portsmouth, UK.
"If they are designed correctly, they will attract people who currently aren't gamers simply because they are social and fun," says Eyles.
Just as the sometimes madcap physicality of Wii gaming has loosened inhibitions, Fleuriot says social location-based gaming can do the same.
"We had a group of adults who played an activity game of Stamp the Mole outdoors and they said: 'We look like prats, but at least we're all prats together,'" says Fleuriot.
Jon Dovey, a new media expert at Bristol University, says GPS gaming is likely to be the first application to introduce the masses to being connected digitally to their surroundings, something he calls "ambient connectivity".
The 14-to-19 age group will lead the way, Dovey says, because their social lives depend heavily on cellphones.
"As soon as you get the link between texting, social networking and GPS-enabled devices, you are going to get something that takes off like wildfire among young people because their culture is already primed for it,
But being able to discover the physical location of other people has downsides. Researchers at Portsmouth University have had to abandon GPS games projects because they cannot get approval from the ethics committee.
"Already there are social networking applications for the GPS iPhone which let you see where other iPhone users are," says Andy Bain, lecturer at Portsmouth University's School of Creative Technologies. "If I were a thief I'd abuse that knowledge right away to get myself more iPhones."
Commercial games developers are not subject to the same ethical scrutiny as academics, he adds. It could be left to their customers to work out how to avoid anti-social gamers.
In fact, truly mobile gamers must learn to weigh up a range of new hazards. Bain worries that gamers may focus so hard on their mobile phone's small screen that they lose awareness of real-life hazards, such as traffic on a busy road.
The developers of The Shroud have clearly thought of this already; its terms and conditions state baldly that "You will be responsible if you or anyone else is injured or killed while you are playing". Game over.
Hard 'core'? Birmingham City Council's net filtering
Back in early July, the Birmingham Post
reported on Birmingham City Council's adoption of online filtering
software. It will block Council workers from accessing sites on
subjects as diverse as smut, porn, cannibalism and witchcraft. But is
it a sign of (bad) things to come for net users in public service?
The story took a turn for the better last week, as the National Secular Society (NSS) wrote to Birmingham City inquiring whether the council seriously intended banning access to New Age and Atheist material, whilst leaving open access to religious sites of almost any and every other denomination. On the surface, this would seem to represent a foot-in-mouth result on the part of the Council. It would also be followed with legal action by the NSS if it turned out to be true.
Not so fast. What appears to be happening is that Birmingham City Council is starting to translate some broad existing guidelines on internet use into actionable policy. At the highest level, the guidelines are almost unexceptionable. Employees
Trailer: Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising
Codemasters has released an E3 trailer for Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising. This clip features a slow motion breakdown of a tank firing off rounds in the middle of the night.
The game is expected to be released for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2009.
NPD - best seling games
1.Nancy Drew: The Phantom Of Venice / Her Interactive / $18
2.The Sims 2 Double Deluxe / EA Maxis / $30
3.The Sims 2 IKEA Home Stuff Expansion Pack / EA Maxis / $20
4.World Of Warcraft: Battle Chest / Blizzard / $39
5.Spore Creature Creator / EA Maxis / $10
6.Diablo Battle Chest / Blizzard / $39
7.World Of Warcraft / Blizzard / $20
8.World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Expansion Pack / Blizzard / $30
9.Sid Meier's Civilization IV / Firaxis Games / $30
10.Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare / Infinity Ward / $50
First Details on a Future Intel Design Codenamed 'Larrabee'
Intel Corporation is presenting a paper at the SIGGRAPH 2008 industry
conference in Los Angeles on Aug. 12 that describes features and
capabilities of its first-ever forthcoming "many-core" blueprint or
architecture codenamed "Larrabee."
Details unveiled in the SIGGRAPH paper include a new approach to the software rendering 3-D pipeline, a many-core (many processor engines in a product) programming model and performance analysis for several applications.
The first product based on Larrabee will target the personal computer graphics market and is expected in 2009 or 2010. Larrabee will be the industry's first many-core x86 Intel architecture, meaning it will be based on an array of many processors. The individual processors are similar to the Intel processors that power the Internet and the laptops, PCs and servers that access and network to it.
Larrabee is expected to kick start an industry-wide effort to create and optimize software for the dozens, hundreds and thousands of cores expected to power future computers. Intel has a number of internal teams, projects and software-related efforts underway to speed the transition, but the tera-scale research program has been the single largest investment in Intel's technology research and has partnered with more than 400 universities, DARPA and companies such as Microsoft and HP to move the industry in this direction.
Over time, the consistency of Intel architecture and thus developer freedom afforded by the Larrabee architecture will bring about massive innovation in many areas and market segments. For example, while current games keep getting more and more realistic, they do so within a rigid and limited framework. Working directly with some of the world's top 3-D graphics experts, Larrabee will give developers of games and APIs (Application Programming Interface) a blank canvas onto which they can innovate like never before.
Initial product implementations of the Larrabee architecture will target discrete graphics applications, support DirectX and OpenGL, and run existing games and programs. Additionally, a broad potential range of highly parallel applications including scientific and engineering software will benefit from the Larrabee native C/C++ programming model.
Additional details of the Larrabee architecture discussed in this paper include:
The Larrabee architecture has a pipeline derived from the dual-issue Intel Pentium
Quake-Con 08: Carmack On Consoles Interview
Weighing in on the new consoles, the master of doom, John Carmack, also gets us up to speed on engine improvements.
People Finally Embrace 64-bit Windows
The hottest buzz in the tech industry in 2003 was 64-bit hardware and operating systems. That year the industry seemed on the verge of a computer revolution. Then AMD CEO Hector Ruiz stated, "Our industry, right now, is hungry for another round of innovation."
AMD released its first 64-bit processors that year. While sales were
decent, there was no consumer 64-bit operating system to take advantage of the
hardware. Then finally in
2005, Microsoft released Windows XP in 64-bit form. Yet again the 64-bit
industry seemed set to explode.
The release was met with much criticism, though. Part of the problem was necessity -- even in 2005 the average user did not need more than 2 GB, in most circumstances. Another major hitch was driver support. All drivers had to be rewritten to work with the new width.
Despite these difficulties, three years later, for the first time, the 64-bit industry is at last healthy and growing. With virtually all new processors from Intel and AMD supporting 64-bit, 64-bit OS's are flourishing as well.
In a recent blog, Microsoft's Chris Flores reported that 20 percent of new Windows systems connecting to Windows Update were 64-bit. This is up from a mere 3 percent in March. He stated, "Put more simply, usage of 64-bit Windows Vista is growing much more rapidly than 32-bit. Based on current trends, this growth will accelerate as the retail channel shifts to supplying a rapidly increasing assortment of 64-bit desktops and laptops."
Retailers such as Best Buy and Circuit City are also catching on to the trend, offering largely 64-bit OS-equipped machines for their most heavily advertised models. Many manufacturers are also throwing in their support; Gateway will be transitioning its entire desktop line to 64-bit in time for the back-to-school shopping season. To put this in perspective, in its first quarter, only 5 percent of Gateway's notebooks and desktops were 64-bit. In its third quarter, a whopping 95 percent of desktops will be 64-bit and 30 percent of notebooks will be.
Aside from the increased memory, one other possible cause for adoption is the increased availability of software that takes advantage of the increased capacity. Adobe's various graphical design product lines have been revamped for 64-bit. Another drive may be gaming, which is typically memory hungry. "64-bit versions of Windows will begin to find their way into high-end gaming notebooks, which increasingly are being used as high-end notebook workstations as opposed to strictly gaming systems," said IDC analyst Richard Shim.
Finally, it may just be inevitability that is helping 64-bit. While the upgrade will only provide subtle benefits to the majority of users, even power users, it is an iterative advance. And like most advances, after a period of reticence, people are finally warming up to it.
Mars becomes the buzz in cyberspace
SPACE websites are abuzz with speculation about what NASA's latest Mars probe may have found.
The excitement has been triggered by the respected journal Aviation Week claiming the space agency has alerted the White House to "major new Phoenix lander discoveries concerning the 'potential for life' ". NASA has said little about the claims, although it has used the social networking site Twitter to play down the reports.
The magazine did say it was not life that had been discovered but evidence relating to the planet's "habitability". It strongly hinted that an announcement, perhaps next month, would be far more dramatic than last week's news that Phoenix had confirmed there was water ice on the planet.
Thailand bans GTA after video game style murder
A Thai video game distributor has stopped selling Grand Theft Auto, after a local teenager went on a self-confessed GTA style murder and robbery rampage.
The 18-year old high school student, who
Nvidia denies chipset farewell
Nvidia has denied that it
Guru3D: GeForce 9600 GT Galaxy Silent Heatpipe review
Noise always has been an issue with graphics cards. The past few years however manufacturers has put more emphasis on cooling solutions that though are high performance, are silent. Every now and then however there are some companies out there releasing a product completely passively cooled. Today therefore we test the first in a two-fold of passively cooled GeForce 9600 GT products. This one comes from the lads at Galaxy, and is completely heatpipe based. There are situations where passive cooling can be ideal - Home Theater PCs for example. Or even the common desktop PC if you game heavily and you like the lack of noise as much as I do.
Today we test a passively cooled GeForce 9600 GT product. This one comes from the lads at Galaxy, and is completely heatpipe based. But is it any good ?
Thermaltake RAM Cooler RamOrb with 4500 RPM 5cm Fan
Hehe, seriously sometimes when you see a product screenshot of something new, you tend to burn into laughter. Well at least I did when I noticed this new Thermaltake RAM Cooler RamOrb. Aah well here we go:
Thermaltake RAM Cooler RamOrb is designed with a heat transmitting channel to take heat away from the memory; consisting of a copper heatpipe to effectively conduct the heat to the copper fins for heat dissipation, and the extra 5cm fan works strongly to further accelerate the heat dissipation process. Other than the excellent structure, Thermaltake RamOrb is also angle adjustable for the enhancement of mechanical compatibility; and the side flow design integrates well with the chassis air flow to further push the cooling performance to the maximum. An additional tool included to fix the aluminum heat spreader makes the installation of RamOrb easy and simple; and with such slim sized cooler, you will also be able to add on multiple coolers for possible RAM upgrades in the future. Thermaltake RAM Cooler RamOrb measures 155 x 17 x 105 mm and weigh 136g.
FCC rules Comcast throttling illegal
The FCC bases its decision largely on a non-binding 2005 statement that high-speed Internet access should be open and widely available, a framework that both the FCC and advocates have said establishes a basis for net neutrality that gives all content the same level of access. By punishing certain forms of file sharing traffic simply through their format, Comcast is violating the principle of that statement, critics charge.
Voting for the ruling resulted in a narrow 3-2 decision that saw significant opposition from FCC chairman Kevin Martin's fellow Republicans in the Commission as well as repeated opposition from Comcast itself. The telecoms firm first denied its throttling practice but has since been forced to acknowledge its existence, now claiming it to be a "reasonable" measure to prevent heavy downloaders from bogging down the rest of the network.
A statement issued by Comcast in the wake of the ruling tries to minimize the perceived impact of throttling, saying that it engages only in "very limited" management of peer-to-peer uploads and says that the "overwhelming majority" of traffic is unaffected. The firm also points to its partnerships with BitTorrent and other companies, though these were formed primarily after Comcast's secret throttling methods were exposed.
Martin has added that Comcast's clear attempt to hide and deny its behavior made the offense especially serious.
While the FCC's move has been criticized for the absence of a financial penalty, it nonetheless sets a precedent that may see similar penalties launched against other American providers that either slow down certain types of traffic or else favor traffic to others, such as a company's own websites. Cox and other providers are suspected as following in Comcast's footsteps.