Why the Budget All-in-One Desktop Will Fail  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , , , ,

LAS VEGAS — Several manufacturers are scooping out the guts of netbooks and implanting them in inexpensive, all-in-one desktop computers. And even though they're cheap, it's unlikely these desktops will break into the mainstream.

Multi-Star International (MSI), Asus, Viewsonic and Shuttle showcased various budget all-in-one desktops at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. And hardly any convention attendees even appeared to care about the devices; most of their attention remained fixated on mini notebooks.

MSI is proving to take this new category most seriously with four all-in-ones on display at CES. Dubbed the NetOn series, the computers included the same processor and chipset as the MSI Wind netbook. They range from $500 to $800, depending on screen size (from 16 to 22 inches) and other configurations such as optional touchscreens.

Of course, these companies are embracing this new marketing direction with two trends in mind: 1.) Budget devices, such as netbooks, are flourishing largely because consumers are spending less in a failing economy; and 2.) All-in-one compartmentalization is also highly desirable, as proven by the phenomenally popular iPhone. (full Story)

AMD Plans Graphics Supercomputer  

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AMD announced plans to develop, along with software company OTOY, what he called the "fastest graphics supercomputer" in the world in the second half of 2009. It will be known as the Fusion Render Cloud. It's unclear whether the rendering services will be used for game creation, delivery, or both.

LAS VEGAS, Jan 8 (Reuters) - U.S. chip maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc, facing a slump in demand for personal computers, is hoping the old adage that entertainment is recession proof will prove true this year.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Thursday, AMD Chief Executive Dirk Meyer showed off new technology for advanced computer graphics in video games and films, in what the company called the convergence of the "cinematic and the interactive."

Meyer said AMD's new chips will help blur the lines between games and films, helping them look much more life-like.

He also announced plans to develop, along with software company OTOY, what he called the "fastest graphics supercomputer" in the world in the second half of 2009. The supercomputer could help film studios make movies more interactive and gaming companies increase realism, Meyer added.

But the upbeat tone of his presentation was at odds with the half-empty Las Vegas Hilton Theater and the chip industry's somber mood.

Just a day earlier, AMD's chief rival Intel Corp (INTC.O), the world's largest chip maker, stunned the market with its second revenue warning on the fourth quarter, saying demand for personal computers was even worse than it feared. Intel and AMD make nearly all the microprocessors for the world's 1 billion PCs.

Meyer said the consumer electronics industry is in the middle of a "sea change" and called the current economic situation "challenging," "volatile" and "unprecedented."

"Optimism has been a little more difficult to achieve these days," he said.

AMD laid off 600 workers in its most recent quarter from a total workforce of about 15,500 as the sector started to contract.

The company has posted losses for eight consecutive quarters, in part due to delays in rolling out new chips that resulted in AMD falling behind Intel technologically.

But AMD is hiving off its manufacturing plants into a joint venture with Abu Dhabi to cut costs and get a cash injection, and its last quarterly results were better than Wall Street had expected thanks to a new graphics chip.

In difficult times, Meyer said AMD can set itself apart because it is the only chipmaker that can deliver both x86 and graphics chips, which is the key to its Fusion chip platforms.

Fusion is AMD's name for technology that merges a graphics processing unit and central processing unit on a single chip. The effort springs from AMD's $5.4 billion purchase of graphics chipmaker ATI Technologies in 2006. (full Story)

Most Anticipated Games of 2009  

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Behold the 11 games that we're looking forward to the most in 2009. Yes, 11. Because 2009 is going to be one louder.

In choosing the games that should make waves this year, Game|Life contributors Nate Ralph, Earnest Cavalli, Chris Baker and I made sure to select titles that we were personally excited about.

The types of games that pack the most appeal will naturally be different for each of us. For example, Nate is too young to remember Punch-Out!!, but when I get the Wii version of the game, I am going to tear open the shrink-wrap with my teeth.

We also tried to constrain this list to games that will actually come out this year. So no Alan Wake, no God of War III and certainly no Duke Nukem Forever.

With these factors in mind, we present the 11 most anticipated games of 2009. Time to sharpen your incisors.

Punch-Out!! (Wii)

This revival of Nintendo's classic puzzle-sports-rhythmic-punching game has been a very long time coming. The original is probably my favorite 8-bit game ever, and no boxing game has ever been as much fun. Probably because Punch-Out!! never had anything to do with boxing. It was about perfecting your twitch reactions while trying not to fall over laughing at the ridiculous ethnic stereotype cartoons that served as your opponents.

Punch-Out!! for Wii will continue that storied tradition: Watch the croissants fly from Glass Joe as he's knocked to the canvas. Will the addictive gameplay be as perfectly replicated? I hope and pray that it will. The game might go off the rails if it makes too much use of Wii waggle controls and feels too much like aWii Fit exercise minigame. But the return of Punch-Out!! is reason enough to get excited. — Chris KohlerInfamous

Infamous (PlayStation 3)

Fact: Sucker Punch makes excellent action games -- the Sly Cooper series was a great addition to Sony's PlayStation 2 lineup. Fact: Grand Theft Auto plus superpowers can equal an amazing experience — I don't think I need to remind anyone of Crackdown.

Sucker Punch is billing Infamous as the ultimate superhero simulator, a game that lets you choose your path, saving the city or wreaking destruction. I'm really interested to see how the story plays out and how the open world environment is used — is it just window dressing for your destructive amusement, or will you really feel like the most powerful being in a living, breathing world? We know so little about howInfamous will play, but as it is likely to be Sony's marquee title for 2009, I imagine we will be hearing a lot about it. — Chris Kohler

Thelost12

Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and the Damned (Xbox 360)

I'm sick of hanging out with Niko Bellic. I mean, I know he had a rough adolescence in Serbia and all, but that can only excuse so much murderous, sociopathic behavior. But man, oh man, I sure do miss kicking it in Liberty City. What a place! The sights, the sounds, the insane stunt jumps and plentiful rocket launchers! I'm itching for the chance to visit again, this time in the company of grizzled biker Johnny Klebitz.

The new Xbox 360 downloadable expansion to GTA IV offers a lengthy new narrative, and upgrades my favorite virtual metropolis with new weapons, missions, vehicles and multiplayer modes. What's that you say? Klebitz is probably a murderous sociopath just like Niko? Yeah, well ... as long as he doesn't have an annoying cousin that's always phoning him, I think I can put up with that. — Chris Baker

Resi_evil_5

Resident Evil 5 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)

Until we zombie purists convince George Romero to open a game development studio, Capcom Entertainment is our best substitute in the pixelized fight against the undead. Metal Gear Solid 4-level visual polish, a nicely modified strain of the Resident Evil 4 control scheme, online co-operative multiplayer and the woefully underrepresented setting of the African Savannah all indicate that Resident Evil 5 almost has to be something special.

Honestly, I'm just giddy for a chance to pop off heavy munitions into the brains of some undead foes. At the end of a long workday, nothing is more satisfying than the wholesale slaughter of shambling hordes. — Earnest Cavalli

Beatles660

The Beatles Game (Multiplatform)

We don't know what it'll look like, how it'll play or even what it'll be called. But Harmonix's collaboration with The Beatles is the odds-on favorite to be the biggest thing to happen to videogames, and maybe even music, in 2009.

The creators of Guitar Hero and Rock Band have turned millions of gamers into faux rockers with plastic instruments, letting non-musicians experience the joy of jamming. And what better way to put on a show in your living room than with the legendary music of the greatest band of all time? Harmonix is forgoingRock Band 3 this year to concentrate its efforts on re-creating the Fab Four's music in interactive form. Even if this were just downloadable content for Rock Band, it would be one of the best things to happen this year. As a standalone game, it'll be unstoppable. (As long as Harmonix includes an option to sing the entire B side of Abbey Road without stopping, I'll be happy.) — Chris Kohler

Dawnwar1

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II (Windows)

For more than two decades, the tabletop game Warhammer 40,000 has captivated countless fans with relentless miniature figurine battles waged between hyper-religious superhuman space fascists, space Orks, space Elves and savage, genetically engineered insect-things that are also from space.

The transition to the real-time strategy genre on the PC went fairly well, but the onset of sequel-itis has left the original Dawn of War looking a bit tired. Fortunately, Relic Entertainment is bringing players back to the basics with Dawn of War II — namely, control of small, elite squads embroiled in close-quarters combat, with a number of traditional RPG mechanics rolled in. Dawn of War's gleefully excessive brutality and visual flair have been revamped, adding tantalizing levels of detail to the act of vigorously throttling enemy units before hurling them through the air like a large, wet sack. There will also be bits of traditional base-building and resource gathering on the multiplayer side of things, but confess: We're all really in it for jetpacks and chainsaw-swords. — Nate Ralph

BioShock 2: Sea of Dreams (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC)

I'm anticipating this game in the sense that I'm anxiously holding my breath. 2K says that BioShock can be its Star Wars, meaning that this episode could be as awesome as The Empire Strikes Back. But the original BioShock worked so well because it had such a unique story. Will a trip back into the world of Big Daddies and Little Sisters be as interesting this time around, now that we've already experienced it?

More worrisome than that: Will the fact that Ken Levine and 2K Boston are passing off development to the new 2K Marin studio in Northern California change things? Developing the BioShock sequel is a tall order for a rookie developer. The original's blend of intelligent political commentary and riveting human drama had me hooked, and I'd fall in love with a game that managed to recapture that feeling. I can't wait to find out if Sea of Dreams can pull it off. — Chris Kohler

Darkvoid

Dark Void (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows)

Gears of War's cover system is getting a bit tired these days, so when I heard at E3 that Capcom's upcoming shooter Dark Void lifts it, I had to stop myself from yawning. But then the developer giving the demo twisted the camera angle to reveal that we weren't walking down some dark hallway blasting enemies — we were flying up the side of a tower, leaping from cover point to cover point courtesy of a veryRocketeer-ish jetpack.

Moments later, the protagonist leaped off the side of the tower, cutting a beeline toward a wildly maneuvering metal disc. Try as it might, the disc couldn't get out of his path, and when he alighted on top of the frame, a familiar sequence of button presses popped up just as they might in God of War. Triangle, X, Square and the craft's pilot had been beaten soundly and thrown from the disc — only to have his ride hijacked, Grand Theft Auto-style, by our hero. Three minutes of gameplay and Dark Void had cemented itself in my mind as the sleeper hit of 2009. — Earnest Cavalli

Starfcraft2

StarCraft II (Windows, Mac)

Let's review: The original StarCraft, released in March of 1998, was one of the deepest, best balanced, most addictive real-time strategy games ever made. It had three richly varied races, an actual story and near-limitless potential for strategic variations. Now, Blizzard Entertainment — a developer that has never released a bad game — is finishing up a sequel with gorgeous graphics, new unit types and abilities, and improved online matchmaking.

What's not to anticipate about StarCraft II? I mean, except for the fact that I'll be losing my job and my friends and getting scurvy because the game will end up devouring every waking moment of my life. Some people are griping because Blizzard has already announced plans to hold back some content for expansion packs. But come on, do you really think you won't get your money's worth? People are still playing the original, 11 years later. — Chris Baker

Killzone2_1

Killzone 2 (PlayStation 3)

With a name like Killzone, you'd be forgiven for dismissing this first-person shooter as yet another hypermasculine, shades-of-gray gorefest. Don't get me wrong — there'll be plenty of blood sprays and vulgar übermenschen, but Guerrilla Games' next stab at the good-guys-versus-space-Nazis formula promises to deliver much more.

The run-and-gun mantra of console shooters past has given way to a focus on tactical supremacy, with a snappy cover system giving you time to plan your next move. The slower pace should let us really appreciate the eerily hypnotic reloading animations and the stunningly realized crackle and pop of machine-gun fire. Right up until those brutally clever baddies either flank your position, or blow chunks out of whatever it is you were hiding behind. Good looks and brains to match. Where do I enlist? — Nate Ralph (full Story)

AMD Introduces New Mobile GPUs at CES 2009  

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Las Vegas—AMD is beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. At CES 2009, soon after launching its netbook-like Yukon platform, the manufacturer's graphics division unveiled an assortment of graphics chipsets for laptops. The ATI Mobility Radeon 4000 series will eventually replace the current 3000 series, although AMD hasn't officially named any partners who plan to use these chipsets yet.

For gamers, the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4850 and 4870 are high-end graphics cards, with a thermal envelope of 35 watts. So yes, you'll probably find them in gargantuan gaming systems like the Alienware M17 or any other laptop frame with a 17-inch screen or larger. These particular models can be used in a CrossFireX configuration, meaning they can be paired with each other, similar to Nvidia's SLI brand.

The ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4670 and 4650 are mid-range graphics cards aimed at casual gamers and HD video enthusiasts alike. These cards dissipate less heat than the 4800 line, and thus will work for thin-and-light systems and portable desktop replacements. They, too, can be arranged in a CrossFireX configuration.

Lastly, the ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4500 and 4300 series will start making their way into thin-and-light, mainstream, and ultraportable laptops. The cards work with small form factors because their thermal envelopes are particularly low, ranging from 10 to 20 watts. (full Story)

ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4800

Acer Says Fourth-Quarter Revenue Fell 5 to 10 Percent  

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Acer, the world's third biggest PC maker, said on Friday that its revenue fell by 5-10 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, as retailers cut their inventory amid a softer market. In December, the company had actualy said that profits could increase.

TAIPEI, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Acer Inc, the world's third biggest PC maker, said on Friday its revenue fell by 5-10 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, as retailers cut their inventory amid a softer market.

However, the company said in a statement it expects its operating margin in the last three months to have improved or remain broadly unchanged from the third quarter of 2008.

"In the current worldwide economic situation, even though most of the channels have been more cautious and less willing to carry inventory by year end, Acer's product demand has remained healthy and stable," the company said in a statement.

A newly implemented change to accounting rules in Taiwan that regulates inventory control, known locally as accounting standard No. 10, would also not have any influence on the company, the statement said.

Acer, which has not publicly disclosed its operating margin in the past, reported a revenue of T$159 billion ($4.8 billion) in the third quarter of last year.

In contrast to rivals it issued an upbeat outlook in December, saying that its fourth-quarter profit could exceed its own previously undisclosed profit forecast due to effective cost control.

Acer is the latest in a string of tech companies to warn of reduced earnings, impacted by the global economic slowdown. On Thursday its smaller cross-town rival Asustek said it would not be able to meet its previous shipment forecasts. (full Story)

Remember last March when I mentioned video games you could stream from a server to a thin client? Here's some of what I wrote:

Imagine buying or subscribing to a game online that pipes nothing more than visual information to your local view screen, reconfigures the interface dynamics of the game to match the size and interactive capacity of said interface, then lets you engage at whatever level you like without worrying whether you have the latest graphics processor or sound card or CPU.

"This is likely to never happen," responded one user.

"There is no way that there will be a company that can provide bandwidth of that magnitude," warned another.

Ready for infernal regions to get frosty and battalions of pigs with wings?

Looks like it is going to happen after all, courtesy a little cloud supercomputing wizardry at AMD.

At the Consumer Electronic Show presently unfolding in Las Vegas, AMD divulged plans for a client-server solution that would deliver "graphically-intensive applications" to "virtually any type of mobile device with a web browser without making the device rapidly deplete battery life or struggle to process the content."

According to AMD:

The AMD Fusion Render Cloud will transform movie and gaming experiences through server-side rendering -- which stores visually rich content in a compute cloud, compresses it, and streams it in real-time over a wireless or broadband connection to a variety of devices such as smart phones, set-top boxes and ultra-thin notebooks.

By delivering remotely rendered content to devices that are unable to store and process HD content due to such constraints as device size, battery capacity, and processing power, HD cloud computing represents the capability to bring HD entertainment to mobile users virtually anywhere.

What's that mean to gamers like you and me?

Streaming video games would upend gaming as we know it. For starters, the technology would challenge the need for offline retail sales, eliminate lengthy software downloads, spiraling local storage requirements, messy DRM software, expensive computer components, and reduce PC hardware driver and code compatibility quirks.

It would theoretically decrease game bugs (see again: "reduce PC hardware driver and code compatibility quirks"), scupper the distinction between "PC" and "console" games entirely, and arguably relegate standalone consoles to dumb set top boxes. (full Story)

Razer Mamba Gaming Mouse Is Lag Free  

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The Razer Mamba looks like a winner for gamers or anyone looking for a high-performance mouse: Lag free, 2.4GHz wireless or wired, with teflon base, and 1ms polling rate, rather than the usual 8ms.

The Razer Mamba also includes a host of features like Razer Synapse™ on-board memory that lets gamers store and bring their mouse settings wherever they go. And the world’s fastest 5600DPI Razer Precision™ 3.5G Laser sensor, the Razer Mamba wireless gaming mouse lets gamers move with lightning speed and precision to easily escape from becoming prey.

Cost: US- $129.99; Europe- €129.99
Available: Razerzone.com Feb, 2009, Worldwide Q1 2009

Features:
• Detachable seven-foot, lightweight, braided cord
• Battery life & DPI stage indicator
• Ultra-large non-slip Hyperesponse™ buttons
• Ergonomic design
• Zero-acoustic Ultraslick™ Teflon feet
Specifications:
• Gaming Grade Wireless Technology
• Dual Mode Wired/Wireless Functionality
• Razer Synapse™ On-board Memory
• 5600DPI Razer Precision™ 3.5G Laser sensor
• 1000Hz Ultrapolling™ / 1ms response rate
• Up to 200 inches per second*/ 50g acceleration
• Approximate size: 128mm x 70mm x 42.5mm
• Battery Life: 14hrs (continuous gaming); 72hrs (normal gaming usage)
*Depends on surface used (full Story)

Google May Be Working on Its Own Router  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , ,

According to various SD Times sources, including one inside Cisco, Google is exploring the idea of dumping Juniper Networks in favor of building its own routers to handle their ever-expanding need for bandwidth.

It seems unlikely that Google would go all in on the hardware end like this, but whether they partner up or not, just a rumor is enough to make companies like Cisco nervous—and send Juniper stock into a tailspin. [SD Times via Bnet via Slashdot via gizmodo]

The Cybershot G3 is a camera so special Sony Sir Howard Stringer himself did the honors: It's the world's first Wi-Fi camera with a built-in browser.

END Besides stealing your neighbor's Wi-Fi, it has free access to any AT&T hotspot until 2012, but then it won't matter since we're all going to die then anyway when the world ends. It's worded so it might mean you can only use AT&T spots for free to hit Sony's Easy Upload Home Page (which provides quick access to sites like Shutterfly, Picasa and YouTube), not furries.meetup.com. But we'll find out. Oddly unmentioned in the list of supported services is Flickr.

Still, it doesn't really matter if it has a web browser, if the browser can't render itself out of ASCII paper bag—we're hoping it's a WebKit dealio 'cause that would make it a quick call from the sidelines. But we're not holding our breath on that (we are talking Sony, after all), so we'll have to grab some hands on time to see how well it handles the real internet. Sony's seeing this more as a flexible, fast way to dump and check your photos and videos online, direct from your camera, not so much as a way to compulsively watch YouTube videos or read Gizmodo, even though that's exactly what we want, and will try to do, practicalities aside.

Oh hey! I think there's a camera somewhere in there too. 10 megapixel sensor with 4x optical zoom, but it's got 4GB of storage built-in (optional expansion is Memory Stick only, grrr), with a 921,600-dot, 3.5-inch touchscreen and photo browsing software integrated. Otherwise, it's got typical Sony features like Intelligent Scene Recognition (automatically picks the best automatic scene setting, automatically), Face Detection, Smile Shutter (it snaps when people smile) and Dynamic Range Optimizer, which automagically balances contrast and detail.

It's available rightnowomg for $500. (full Story)

Dish Network has had Sling integrations before, but they just dropped a brand new HD-DVR with remote Sling capabilities built in along with a redesigned SlingGuide interface.

The ViP® 922 can also be controlled using SlingGuide™, a new way for consumers to control their TV viewing experience over the Internet. SlingGuide features a powerful search engine for the TV along with the ability to schedule the ViP® 922 DVR timers remotely.

Other ViP® 922 features include:
• News feeds located on the home screen, giving viewers instant access to national news, weather, sports, and stock quotes.
• Ability to organize channels by channel name or number.
• 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480i and 480p support.
• Internet-delivered DISH On Demand including 1080p content.
• Ability to move one day in the guide while browsing full screen EPG or partial EPG.
• Connections to home networks via Ethernet, HomePlug Turbo (the next generation of HomePlug that allows for faster in-home transfer of content using home power lines), or WiFi (with optional WiFi adapter).
• Powerful search capability across all available video sources, including IP, VOD, satellite or DVR.
• Intuitive timer creation and DVR management, allowing users to categorize programming by groups (video source, title, genres) or by content description (date, length, ratings and more).
• Ability to load photos, MP3s and selected Internet content.
• Future upgrades such as photo sharing, movie ticket purchases, family calendars, instant messaging, streaming audio, and the ability to transfer content within a home network.

EchoStar’s new user interface and remote control for the ViP® 922 were selected as CES Innovations 2009 Design and Engineering Award honorees. Demonstrations of the ViP® 922 will be available at DISH Network’s Booth No. 14438, located in the Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Jan. 8-11. For more information about DISH Network, visit www.dishnetwork.com or call 1-800-333-DISH (3474). (full Story)

Watch YouTube on a Gaming Keyboard  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , ,

I just greased on Logitech's G19 gaming keyboard with its full-blown, full-color LCD display, and it feels just like the G-keyboards you love, but you know, topped a pretty YouTube-playing, widget-powered display.

* GamePanel LCD requires software that supports Logitech® GamePanel™ technology
Logitech® G19 keyboard for gaming
An arsenal of advanced gaming technology
Announcement Date: January 6, 2009 Shipping: March 2009
Price: $199.99 Available at: www.logitech.com
Product Overview
As a gamer, you never compromise – not on your team, not on your weapons and certainly not on your hardware. The Logitech G19 keyboard features a tiltable, color GamePanel ™ LCD to
show game stats, VOIP communication data, and many other favorite items. With customization
capabilities such as user-selectable character backlighting color, 12 fully programmable G-keys,
two high-speed USB ports and multi-key input, the Logitech G19 keyboard is the perfect
weapon for your gaming rig.
Key Features

 Color GamePanel LCD* can show game stats, system information, communication data,
video playback, image slideshows, or other information, without leaving the game.
 Twelve programmable G-keys with 3 shift states (or modes) means that you have 36
programmable macros per game or application
o Use the MR (macro record) key to record new macros on-the-fly.
 Multi-key input allows you to use up to five keys at once to perform multiple complex actions.
 Two high-speed, powered USB 2.0 ports give you the ability to connect you mouse to the
keyboard or to transfer data to and from peripherals such as MP3 players and flash drives.
 User-selectable character backlighting color lets you personalize the keyboard to
complement the rest of your computer and gaming equipment.
System Requirements
 Windows® XP or Windows Vista®
 Mac® OS X 10.4 or later
 High-speed USB 2.0 port
 20 MB of available hard disk space
 CD-ROM drive
Product Specifications
 Length: 19.5 inches
 Height: 2 inches
 Width: 10.5 inches
 Weight: 4.86 lbs
 Display: Color 320-by-240 pixel display (full Story)

Watch YouTube on a Gaming Keyboard  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , ,

I just greased on Logitech's G19 gaming keyboard with its full-blown, full-color LCD display, and it feels just like the G-keyboards you love, but you know, topped a pretty YouTube-playing, widget-powered display.

* GamePanel LCD requires software that supports Logitech® GamePanel™ technology
Logitech® G19 keyboard for gaming
An arsenal of advanced gaming technology
Announcement Date: January 6, 2009 Shipping: March 2009
Price: $199.99 Available at: www.logitech.com
Product Overview
As a gamer, you never compromise – not on your team, not on your weapons and certainly not on your hardware. The Logitech G19 keyboard features a tiltable, color GamePanel ™ LCD to
show game stats, VOIP communication data, and many other favorite items. With customization
capabilities such as user-selectable character backlighting color, 12 fully programmable G-keys,
two high-speed USB ports and multi-key input, the Logitech G19 keyboard is the perfect
weapon for your gaming rig.
Key Features

 Color GamePanel LCD* can show game stats, system information, communication data,
video playback, image slideshows, or other information, without leaving the game.
 Twelve programmable G-keys with 3 shift states (or modes) means that you have 36
programmable macros per game or application
o Use the MR (macro record) key to record new macros on-the-fly.
 Multi-key input allows you to use up to five keys at once to perform multiple complex actions.
 Two high-speed, powered USB 2.0 ports give you the ability to connect you mouse to the
keyboard or to transfer data to and from peripherals such as MP3 players and flash drives.
 User-selectable character backlighting color lets you personalize the keyboard to
complement the rest of your computer and gaming equipment.
System Requirements
 Windows® XP or Windows Vista®
 Mac® OS X 10.4 or later
 High-speed USB 2.0 port
 20 MB of available hard disk space
 CD-ROM drive
Product Specifications
 Length: 19.5 inches
 Height: 2 inches
 Width: 10.5 inches
 Weight: 4.86 lbs
 Display: Color 320-by-240 pixel display (full Story)

Giinii Movit Mini: The Android Tablet  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , ,

The idea sounds so sexy: An Android tablet. Remarkably thin, with over four inches of touchscreen, like an Android iPod touch. Actually, that's a lot what it's like.

Namely, 'cause there's no cellphone—Wi-Fi only. But since it's Android, you can obviously VOIP out of the box, so it's not THAT big of a deal. At $149, with no carrier contract to deal with, it's comparable in that way too. (full Story)

Charges Gadgets with No Wires Necessary  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , ,

Fulton Innovations showed off their eCoupled induction charger with an iPhone that was able to recharge by simply placing it on a surface, no adapters necessary. It was a modded iPhone, sure, but cool nonetheless.

They also talked about batteries that they would soon be offering for phones that, you know, actually let you swap the battery out. This would allow you to buy a new battery for your phone and never plug it in again. It sends a good amount of power through that little amount of air, too, as they had a 2kW blender running with no cords attached. Eventually, phone companies will get on board with this technology, which uses internal coils to pick up the charge, and we won't have to go aftermarket to ditch the wires, but until then it's pretty cool to see this tech in action. (full Story)

Expensive Gadgets – Gold Cases  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , ,

18k gold cases for cell phones and iPhones are shown at the ...

 

 

18k gold cases for cell phones and Apple iPhones 3G are shown at the VX booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Friday, Jan. 9, 2009.

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

TomTom Go 740 Live: Their Connected GPS  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in ,

TomTom's Go 740 Live GPS is their first to have a cellular connection built-in, used to download traffic weather and friend finder information.

Old TomTom's had cellular data capabilities with very limited models, over bluetooth, through your cellular handset, but model support, but having this service built in, free for a year. The unit also records map data corrections, and in Wikipedia style. And I really have been liking TomTom's advanced lane guidance, which draws a pretty nice illustration of complicated turn offs.

This TomTom also uses "IQ Route" tech to measure arrival times, based on time of day and weekend vs weekday traffic patterns, gathered from users who dock and sync their navs with software. But, unlike Dash and Telenav Shotgun, it can't upload in real time, so you're not getting real time data for traffic jams from other users. (You get it from other providers.)

The device works on a GPRS network, leading me to believe its on AT&T, since they've been very into providing service for devices lately. (full Story)

After the press conference blitz of today, I snuck off to Panasonic's booth (still under construction) to check out their 3DHD technology—a 3D plasma screen that runs in true 1080p.

Before you read any further, I'll answer that nagging question. Yes, you need to wear special glasses.

The demo system starts with a retrofitted 103-inch Panasonic plasma. Coupled with active shutter glasses, a Blu-ray player feeds a 120fps 1080P signal to the television. 60fps are for the right eye while the other 60fps are for the left. IR syncs the glasses to the Blu-ray player to the TV, and presto, 3D magic is made.

So how's it look?

Good. It is sharp, I'll give Panasonic that. 60fps per eye means that the 3D image isn't created through some cheap interlacing effect that would kill the resolution. Watching highlights of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies (captured on dual lens 3D cameras), I was really impressed by the endless lines of drummers popping off the screen without the hokey feel of most 3D. A basketball game was equally impressive. It was like watching a perfectly photo-realistic NBA video game, minus the canned animations. (full Story)

I just played around with the new Lenovo W700ds laptop, complete with two screens and built-in Wacom tablet, and it's a monster. It's not exactly portable, but it's as feature-filled as laptops get.

Of course there's the secondary screen, clocking in at 10.6 inches and popping out of the side of the 17-inch screen. But there's also the built-in Wacom digitizer. And the fingerprint scanner. It is, frankly, awesome. But the cost of said awesomeness is size: this thing is an absolute tank. (full Story)

Alpine is rolling out their new lineup of receivers, with the iXA-W404 leading the charge. It features a 4.3-inch QVGA touchscreen monitor that more or less mimics coverflow.

Beyond the touchscreen navigation, the iXA-W404 meets "Works With iPhone" and "Made For iPod" designations, it also features a dedicated USB input (can also play iPod/iPhone video files), Bluetooth connectivity (with a separate module) and the ability to connect to additional music sources like HD Radio. A price and release date have yet to be determined.

Other releases include:

•iDA-X305: 2.2-inch color TFT screen, iPhone/iPod compatibility, USB input, built-in 18W RMS x 4 amplifier, three pairs of pre-outs and a 24-bit DAC. Price: TBD
•CDE-102 CD Receiver: USB, iPhone/iPod compatibility, built-in 18W RMS x 4 amplifier (at CEA-2006 power ratings), HP crossover and two sets of pre-outs. Price: TBD

Further details are available in the press releases below.

Alpine iXA-W404 2-DIN Digital Media Receiver

The iXA-W404 is Alpine’s first touch-screen digital media receiver. Designed to deliver a
fully integrated iPod®/iPhone® experience in the car, the receiver has no CD
mechanism. The iXA-W404 meets Apple Inc.’s specifications for the “Made for iPod” and
“Works with iPhone” designations, and features a dedicated USB input for optimal
iPod/iPhone connection and superior digital sound quality. The USB input also enables
connection to USB memory devices. The iXA-W404 can also play iPod/iPhone video
files.

The 2-DIN iXA-W404 gives users two ways to navigate and access their iPod music via
their in-dash head unit: the double-encoder knob and the vibrant 4.3-inch QVGA color
touch-screen monitor. The unit’s intuitive user interface and search menu are very
similar to the iPhone/iPod Touch interface, so that users can continue the familiar iPod
experience in the car. The unit’s ultra-responsive touch-screen lets users quickly browse
through their file collection by lightly dragging the on-screen album covers with their
finger. The current album is shown in the center of the screen, with the previous two
albums/songs and next two album/songs on either side of the current selection. Users
can also navigate through files alphabetically via an alphabet bar shown on the right side
of the screen.

For those who want more from their aftermarket head unit, the iXA-W404 delivers. It is
enabled for integrated Bluetooth connectivity so that users can conduct hands-free
phone conversations through the car’s sound system. (Separate Bluetooth module
required.) The iXA-W404 can also connect to a variety of additional sources, such as HD
Radio™ with iTunes® Tagging and multicasting, satellite radio, navigation and more.
(Additional products and subscriptions required.) Discerning audio enthusiasts can enjoy
custom sound processing with the addition of a separate Alpine IMPRINT Audio
Processor. (full Story)

Police Use Google Street View to Solve Kidnapping Crime  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , ,

Usually when we hear Google Street View news, it's over kitty-cat privacy issues or people peeing in the street. But this time around, the mayhem monitor actually helped solve the kidnapping of a young girl.

Police in Massachusetts were trying to track down a missing 9-year-old girl who had allegedly been kidnapped by her grandmother. They had managed to find the girl's cellphone coordinates and traced it to an intersection in Virginia.

Since they were nowhere near Virginia, the policemen turned to Google Street View to help them round up possible hiding-out locations. They identified a building that looked like a motel, confirmed it was one with a subsequent Google search and then called the Virginia State Police, who visited the motel and found the grandmother and the girl.

The moral of this story is: Police know how to Google now. Be afraid. Be very afraid. (story Link)

Samsung, LG, Sony and Vizio have all pledged to support the Yahoo Widget Channel technology originally launched last September. But only Toshiba will be using Intel's media processor inside its TVs.

Las Vegas (Reuters) - Yahoo Inc unveiled on Wednesday a list of partners to aid its push to bring the Internet and television together, hoping their joint effort will finally connect with consumers.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Yahoo said it has forged deals with companies including Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, LG Electronics Inc, Sony Corp and Vizio, which will make high-definition TVs that support Yahoo's online service.

Ever since the dawn of the Internet Age, tech companies have been promising to bring "convergence" of the online and TV universes, but those efforts have failed to take off with consumers who have found such products difficult to use.

The new TVs announced on Wednesday will be in the market as early as the spring and will support widgets—small Internet applications—that run alongside broadcast TV content, but not over it.

The applications can be used for a wide array of Web activities, like watching videos on Google Inc's YouTube.com, social networking on News Corp's MySpace.com, tracking stocks and sports teams, buying and selling on eBay, messaging friends using Twitter, or using Yahoo's own photo-sharing website Flickr.

The widgets will allow viewers more interaction with the programs they're watching, Yahoo said. There will also be applications based on Yahoo-branded services such as Yahoo Finance.

Yahoo, which has lagged behind larger rival Google in the Web search market, will use the technology as a new avenue to sell advertising.

In an interview ahead of CES, Patrick Barry, vice president of connected TV at Yahoo, said TV "is still top of mind for advertisers," the place where people spend the most time. (full Story)

It was over two years ago that Mike Abary, senior vice president at Sony, reached into his inner suit pocket and pulled out the Sony VAIO VGN-UX180P. At the time he called this handheld PC, which ran a full blown version of Windows XP, "an achievement in ingenious design." Little did he know he'd be pulling the same stunt again recently at a quaint hotel in Manhattan, where I was one of the few journalists invited to preview Sony's take on the netbook revolution.

Abary reached into his suit jacket and pulled out a clamshell the length of two UX180Ps, but not even an inch thick. He described it as Sony's answer to the surging netbook market—only it's not being classified as a netbook, it's not an update to the UX180P, and the intended audience, interestingly enough, is women. It's called the Sony VAIO P-Series or simply, the Sony Lifestyle PC.

Even though there are no ties between them, the Lifestyle PC conjures up images of Intel's Moorestown concept device. It weighs a mere 1.4 pounds, only two-tenths of a pound heavier than the original UX180P. And it's about the length of the ASUS eeePC 1002HA but only half its depth, looking like an oversized TV remote with a lid. Its look is unique, and its design intentions are clear: Sony wants to dissociate the Lifestyle PC from the MSI Wind, the Asus eeePCs, and the Acer Aspire One—some of the more popular netbooks in the market. In my opinion, it has successfully done so.

The 8-inch LED screen is unlike anything you'll see on a netbook, or a laptop for that matter. In order to maintain its physical dimensions, the vertical height of the screen had to be compressed, making the screen appear extraordinarily wide. It's clearly smaller than the 10-inch screens found on the Wind and the 1002HA, but the screen resolution is what makes everything gel.

Practically every netbook uses a 1,024 X 600 resolution; the Lifestyle PC's native resolution is 1,600 X 768. Such a resolution can fill up the screen, for instance, with three file Explorer windows without any overlap. There's even a Windows Arrangement button (next to the mouse buttons) that will neatly tile your application windows together. Increasing the resolution of such a small screen could cause problems with text, but text and icon sizes were tolerable and the potential of watching a video while Microsoft Word and Powerpoint are fully opened on each side is very compelling. (full Story)

When Apple upgrades its flagship iTunes media application, people take notice. The new version, iTunes 8, adds a tiled album-cover view, a custom playlist-generation feature called Genius, a Visualizer update, and some accessibility enhancements. It also brings high-definition TV episodes to the iTunes Store for the first time, and it marks the return of NBC content after a protracted battle over royalty rates. In addition, at MacWorld on January 6th, 2009, Apple made three key changes to the iTunes Store. First, it announced that it has finally removed DRM from all but two million of the ten million songs in its catalog (the DRM on the rest will disappear by the end of March). It also announced three tiers of pricing for tracks, in a nod to the major record labels' demands; tracks will now cost $0.69, $0.99, or $1.29 each. Finally, iPhone owners will be able to buy music tracks over 3G cellular networks, not just over Wi-Fi—putting Apple in direct competition with Sprint Music, Verizon V CAST Music, and other cellular services. These long-awaited improvements put Apple over the top; it finally takes the Editors' Choice from long-time favorite Rhapsody.

That said, iTunes 8 still doesn't do everything. It still lacks a music-subscription option, and Apple still prefers that you play within its walled-garden ecosystem of iPods, iPhones, Apple TV devices, and iTunes Store purchases—particularly when it comes to video. But there's no denying that iTunes 8 remains a formidable choice in media suites for both Mac and PC computers, even if most of the flaws we noted in our last review of version 7.7 remain.

I tested iTunes 8, using a MacBook Pro 2.2 GHz Merom Core 2 Duo machine with 2GB of RAM. I also put together a test library of 581 tracks, including music purchased from the iTunes Store, music purchased from Amazon's DRM-free MP3 store, and unprotected MP3 and AAC tracks ripped from CDs. Finally, I re-ran tests on a separate 24-inch aluminum iMac and a Core 2 Duo HP Pavilion laptop running Windows Vista, each with a different music library, to check stability. All three were stable in operation, but the iTunes 8 installer crashed the aluminum iMac hard, forcing a reboot and a second attempt before it worked. (full Story)

The smoke surrounding Creative's rumored offshoot, ZiiLabs, cleared today at CES, where it was revealed to be a media-application processor developer with a very slick system-on-a-chip, less consumer product than building block for many.

Yeah, I know, you see "StemCell Computing" and you kinda want something goopy and weird that could perhaps, when given enough density, clone a Shakey's pizza shop. But the folks at Creative—including the chairman, my old buddy Sim Wong Hoo—are pretty stoked about this little system on a chip, the ZiiLABS ZMS-05 SoC, which comes out of the acquisition of the company formerly known as 3DLabs.

I suspect this is the last time the mainstream gadget media will hear about Zii directly until there are Zii-powered electronics bopping around, but that might not take long, as the following press release promises a "complete, powerful and energy efficient platform with a very rapid time-to-market."

Dreaming big, they even say that the technology allows "virtually unlimited chaining" to form "a state-of-the- art ‘hypercomputer’ with many petaflops of processing power...100 times smaller, 100 times greener and 100 times lower cost than conventional super computers." Sounds pretty good, in a crazy future's-so-bright sort of way. Good on you, Creative and ZiiLabs—now let's see some dang ZiiToys!!!

Creative Launches the Zii Platform and Ushers in the Era of StemCell Computing
Creative Forms ZiiLABS and Ushers in the Era of StemCell Computing Where Nano-Sized Super Computing Will Be Available in Our Daily Lives through Flexible, Tiny, Powerful and Scalable SoC

CES, Las Vegas, NV - Jan. 8, 2009 — Creative Technology Ltd. today announced the formation of ZiiLABS™ (a wholly owned subsidiary of Creative), with the combination of 3DLABS — which has a 25-year history as a leading innovator in programmable graphics, media and applications processing — and resources drawn from the largest product group in Creative, the Personal Digital Entertainment group.

The formation of ZiiLABS, the launch of the new ZiiLABS ZMS-05 SoC (System-On-Chip) and the new Zii™ Platform today usher in the new era of StemCell Computing™. The new ZiiLABS ZMS-05 SoC (System-On-Chip) will be unveiled and demonstrated from January 8-11 at the Consumer Electronics Show, South Hall booth #30651.

“We have invested a billion dollars and 10,000 man years of R&D effort over the last 25 years in platform solutions,” said Sim Wong Hoo, chairman and CEO of Creative Technology Ltd. “The combination of the technology from 3DLABS and the product development prowess of our Personal Digital Entertainment group delivers a complete, powerful and energy efficient platform with a very rapid time-to-market for our partners – the Zii Platform.”

“We now look to shaping the future of computing with the introduction of the integrated ZMS-05 media-rich processor, and ushering in the new era of StemCell Computing where we will bring the incredible benefits of nano-sized super computing right into our daily lives,” said Hock Leow, president of ZiiLABS.”

This StemCell approach has benefits in terms of:
· Flexibility — Utilizing a breakthrough technology comprising of programmable Processing Elements (PEs) which are basically Software Defined Silicon
· Scalability — 10Gigaflops to Petaflops (1015 floating point operation per second)
· Energy Efficiency — Huge processing power of the ZMS-05 SoC enables it to perform more in less time, equating to low power consumption
· Complete Solution — Ready-for-Market Zii Platform Solutions (full Story)

Dell Studio XPS 16  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , , , , , , ,

Dell wants you to know that its latest Studio XPS line brings with it a level of prestige—a refined segment for customers who seek luxury and style. The Dell Studio XPS 16 ($1,804 direct) accomplishes just that, succeeding the XPS M1530 as Dell's new bad-boy media center. Seeing how every laptop maker is putting in the same processors and advertising 4GB of memory, home-theater features, and big screens, Dell decided to raise the bar with the XPS 16. Design is its biggest differentiator, as it uses not just one but a number of the hottest techniques in manufacturing. Its display is none too shabby as well. Photographers and professionals can reap the benefits of the RGB LED widescreen and the 1080p resolution without paying outrageous prices for them. For this, the XPS 16 reigns as our new Editors' Choice for the media center category, trumping the HP HDX16t.

The lid is clearly one of the main attractions. It takes its cues from trendsetters like the aluminum Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (Dual Graphics), the leather-clad ASUS U2E-A2B, and the HP HDX16t with its polished exterior, mixing a little bit from each of these laptops in a manner reminiscent of an exotic drink: one part black leather trimming, one part aluminum accent, and two parts lacquered top. The lacquered part is defined by a process called In-Mold Decoration, similar to the one perfected in the HDX16t, which allows different designs to be placed between the glossy coating and the magnesium alloy skeleton.

At 6.9 pounds, the XPS 16 is not an ideal companion for road warriors, although it's more portable than the Gateway MC7803u (7.7 pounds) and the Acer Aspire 6930G-6723 (7.2 pounds). It's a smidge heavier than the HDX16t, and for good reason: The XPS 16 uses a big 85-Wh (nine-cell) battery, as opposed to the HP's 56-Wh (six-cell) option. The XPS 16 has its own six-cell option, which would bring its weight down to 6.5 pounds, thus making it as light as the Sony VAIO VGN-FW198UH (6.4 pounds). I'll get to why the nine-cell battery is the best option a little later. (full Story)

Remember those gimmicky neck cooling fans that came out years ago? Well, the NxSet from S1 Audio is kind of like that, only these are intended to replace your earbuds.

Designed as a sleek and light-weight neckband, NxSET products move the traditional headset to the shoulders, where two integrated speakers on either side of the device project sound up to the users ears, providing full fidelity stereo sound and comfort. At higher volumes, NxSET can be placed in a common area to easily share music or a phone conversation with multiple people.

There are several different models to choose from:

•NxSET Music 1 – Includes two high-fidelity speakers that project audio to the ears when worn
around the neck. When the volume is increased, the device can be used as a miniature and
highly portable speaker system.

•NxSET Music 2 – Similar to the Music 1 model with the addition of retractable earbuds for
entirely private listening.

•NxSET Mobile 1 – Designed to work with mobile phones, this model includes a single speaker
and retractable earbud along with high performance microphone to replicate an off-the-head
mobile headset. CSR BlueCore™5 Bluetooth™ technology is incorporated to eliminate the need
for cords.

•NxSET Mobile 2 – Similar to Mobile 1, this device is designed with music-enabled phones in
mind and features two personal speakers where users can switch between stereo phone headset
and listening to streaming stereo functionality without cords, thanks to CSR BlueCore™5
Bluetooth™ technology. The device also includes two retractable earbuds for completely private
listening.

Whether people will dig the Running Man / Dog collar vibe of the NxSet remains to be seen. A price and a release date have not been determined. (full Story)

Here's Looj, iRobot's second generation of—get this—The World's Only Gutter Cleaning Robot. Just put Looj in the gutter and operate it via remote controller. According to them, it is more efficient than the previous.

The iRobot Looj Gutter Cleaning Robot drives easily under gutter straps, propelled by a three-stage auger that dislodges and eliminates dirt, leaves and debris that can cause water damage, overspills and ice dams in addition to creating a breeding ground for carpenter ants, mosquitoes and other pests.

Oooooh, naughty naughty. Add a new antena, smart speed, and a battery door that doesn't need tools to be opened, and Bob's your uncle. Bob, the gutter cleaner. Seriously, is this really a gutter cleaning robot or something else?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

iRobot Announces 2nd Generation Looj™ Gutter Cleaning Robot

World's Only Gutter-Cleaning Robot Sports New Internal Antenna, Anti-Flipping Auger and Smart Speed

LAS VEGAS, NV – Consumer Electronics Show – January 8, 2009 – iRobot Corp. (NASDAQ: IRBT) today unveiled the second generation iRobot® Looj™ Gutter Cleaning Robot at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The Looj, which makes gutter cleaning fast and easy by reducing ladder work and dangerous over-reaching, has new features that help it break up clogged leaves and debris faster and improve overall performance.

"We listened to our customers and designed an updated Looj based on their feedback," said Matt Palma, Vice President Sales & Marketing, iRobot Home Robots Division. "The one-of-a-kind Looj saves people time and frees them from the dull, dirty and dangerous work of gutter cleaning better than ever."

New Looj features include:

· Internal antenna

· Anti-flipping auger

· Smart speed

· Tool-less battery door

The winner of the 2008 Best of CES Innovations Award, iRobot Looj is the only product of its kind. (full Story)

Samsung Displays 'Show' Projector Phone  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , ,

LAS VEGAS - Well, surprise surprise: Logic Wireless doesn't have the only projector phone at CES this year.

Fresh off the plane from Korea comes the Samsung Show, a Korea-only projector phone that uses TI's DLP technology rather than the Logic Bolt's LCoS system to project images onto a big screen.

I got some hands-on time with the Show, but nobody I talked to knew much about it. It's a somewhat bulky candybar-style phone. It runs a proprietary OS, and includes support for Korea's DMB-T digital TV system. It uses Samsung's TouchWIZ user interface, which involves a touchscreen and movable widgets.

The Show's projector has five options: "File Viewer," which shows movies in a large-screen format; "Album," for photo slideshows, "Story Telling," which appears to project animated Korean children's stories, TV, and Flashlight, which is just a flashlight. (full Story)

LAS VEGAS – Microsoft on Wednesday released the beta version of Windows 7 to developers, and will make it publicly available on Friday, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said during a keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show.

"I encourage you all to get out and download it," Ballmer said.

The software giant also highlighted two additions to its Halo gaming lineup, including a strategy game that will be available next month.

Meanwhile, Ballmer announced the worldwide availability of Windows Live Essentials, a partnership with Facebook that will link Facebook activity with Windows Live, and a deal with Dell to pre-install Windows Live on all consumer and small business PCs.

"We're on track to deliver the best version of Windows ever," Ballmer said of Windows 7. "We're putting in all the rich ingredients – simplicity and speed – and working hard to get it right and get it ready." (full Story)

Bookmark Bedside Lamp Saves Your Spot  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in

I'm sick of using library receipts as bookmarks. I could buy one, but it kind of seems like a waste of money. Not so with the Bookmark lamp. It provides two useful functions.

The only problem is that it is only a concept at this point. Then again, anyone could make one of these in a matter of minutes. It's just a good, simple idea. [Designboom via Likecool via Coolest Gadgets via gizmodo]

First Impressions of Windows 7 Beta  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , , , ,

Windows 7 could be one of Microsoft's greatest operating systems, if it fulfills the promise shown by the unofficial beta version (build 7000) we have been testing for the past couple of days.

Let me preface these quick impressions of Redmond's latest opus by saying that I came to Windows 7 after having happily run the much-maligned Windows Vista on my Intel Core 2 Duo-based PC for the past 18 months (alongside Ubuntu).

I found Vista to be a worthy upgrade from Windows XP SP2. Despite its obvious flaws (can you say "resource hog"?) and the acknowledgement that some of its features need to be disabled by default, Vista at heart is a much more stable and usable operating system than XP, which was first released in 2001.

The release of Service Pack 1 and gradual driver improvements have built on Microsoft's somewhat-shaky Vista beginning.

Coming from this background, I have been pleased to discover over the past several days that Microsoft appears to have built on Vista's strengths and addressed most of its weaknesses with the beta release of Windows 7.

I found the Windows 7 beta a painless install. Out-of-the-box driver support on our test machine was perfect, and it took only half an hour and two quick reboots to begin running a stable desktop environment, though we wondered why Windows 7 created a 200MB partition in addition to its main partition. The 33MB of updates quickly came down the pipe upon loading the desktop.

Basic desktop performance was strong; the reports that Windows 7 is simply faster than Vista appear to be true. Certainly, Windows 7 had no problem simultaneously installing and launching applications, downloading files, browsing the Web, and carrying out other tasks on our modest 2.8GHz Pentium 4, which has only an 80GB IDE hard disk and 512MB of RAM.

Vista's most visible annoyance, User Account Control, has been pared right back on its default setting, and we encountered it only a couple of times throughout a whole morning of installing applications. However, if you feel nostalgic for UAC's old behavior, you can easily change it back via Windows 7's new Action Center, which now centralizes all of the security updates and warning alerts that Windows throws your way.

Windows 7 recommended that we install a third-party antivirus package (it suggested Kaspersky and AVG), but its antispyware package Defender comes preinstalled. Microsoft appears to have an antivirus package installed under the hood; when downloading new software with Firefox, we were told that our downloads were being scanned for viruses.

I particularly like the new photo-realistic device icons, and the overhaul of the way Windows handles and ejects USB storage devices. Microsoft appears to have wiped out a lot of the Windows XP-era interface quirks of Vista; the result is a much more simplistic, unified experience for common tasks.  (full Story)

Microsoft Windows 7 Beta 1  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , ,

Let's get it straight. Yes, the just-released Microsoft Windows 7 Beta 1 retains much of Vista's kernel architecture, as will the final version. That's prompted some pundits to quip that the new OS will just be a Vista service pack. Not so. The new OS is more compact than Vista, has an updated interface, and builds in better networking capability. It also includes some cool advances, such as multi-touch support and a redesigned taskbar with movable buttons. In addition, we're not likely to see the abundance of incompatibilities that caused such pain during the early phase of the Vista launch. That improvement is a direct result of the now-tuned Vista code in the kernel. In all, it's an impressive, though not revolutionary, release.

The latest thinking on the final release date for Windows 7 is January 2010. The version I tested here is actually feature complete, despite the Beta 1 designation, but Microsoft plans to take its time with the OS. And the company is certainly serious about hearing from beta testers. Nearly every window in the OS has a "Send feedback" link at the top, for example. Also, by default, the current code sends data to Microsoft's Customer Experience Improvement Program for evaluation of usage patterns and problems, though you can turn this off.

installation
You can put the beta on as many machines as you like, but you can't use it for real business purposes, and it expires in August of 2009. You'll still have to activate your installation—the company has learned its lesson about piracy. The installation process looks nearly identical to that of Windows Vista. If you have a wireless network, you'll notice one difference, though—the beta will identify the network during setup and ask whether you want to create a "homegroup"—the new easier home networking feature I'll discuss in a bit. (full Story)

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