That’s the first thing we thought when we saw the new Arc Mouse, which Microsoft claims with “raise the style stakes” in peripheral design. We have to admit, it certainly looks different from any mouse we’ve handled before. The foldable design makes it extremely compact when snapped shut for travel purposes. Yet when expanded, the arch is spacious enough to fill out our manly palms. The Arc felt very comfortable in our hands as we moved it around a table, but was noticably lighter and not as solid as the gaming mice we're accustomed to. A micro transceiver snaps into the bottom of the mouse using a magnet, and only sticks out a single centimeter when plugged into a USB port (it uses the same 2.4GHz wireless tech as Microsoft’s other mice).
And if you’re worried about sturdiness, the Arc’s hinge has been tested to withstand 25lb’s of downward force, though we didn’t exert that much force in our test (we didn’t want to break it!). Surprisingly, it doesn’t use Microsoft’s new BlueTrack sensor, instead opting for a traditional laser tracker (no word on DPI). Look for the Arc to go on sale later this month (launching with black or red options) for $59.95.
Down but not out, AMD may be gearing up to turn its fortunes around in early 2009. The optimism comes courtesy of Chinese-language website HKEPC, which claims to have the skinny on 10 new AMD processors expected to be released during the next three quarters. And where is HKEPC getting their information? Un-named motherboard makers, of course.
According to the report, AMD will begin production of two versions of what it has code named Deneb later this year. One version of Deneb boasting clockspeeds between 2.6GHz to 3.0GHz will have a thermal envelop of 125W, while another version, clocked between 2.4GHz and 2.8GHz, will come rated at 95W. The latter is expected in Q1 2009.
AMD's Propus processors will have smaller amounts of cache than their Deneb brethren, and those carrying the EE designation will consume just 45W. HKEPC says to AMD will start producing Propus parts in the Q1 and Q2 of 2009.
Let's start with the good news. Intel's new SSDs aren't just fast, they appear to be stupid-fast. The chip maker claims read speeds up to 250MB per second and write speeds up to 70MB per second, along with an 85ms read latency. And while Maximum PC has yet to put these numbers to the test, initial reports (BAM, POW) at least look promising.
Now the bad news. While Intel might be helping SSD technology regain its reputation for speed, the company's also pushing SSDs right back into stratosphere pricing tiers at a time when vendors are making a push for higher price/GB ratios. Intel announced its 80GB version will cost $595 (available now), and that's in 1,000 quantities - yikes! The 160GB model will debut later this year for an unspecified amount, but it's probably safe to assume it will command over $1,000.
Anyone think the additional speed is worth the pricing premium?
Business executives will soon be able to view porn without fear of mucking up their system with malware, and they'll have HP, Mozilla, and Symantec to thank for it. The three-pronged team has set out to create what HP calls the Firefox Virtual Browser, which will appear on the upcoming HP Compaq dc7900 business desktop.
If the concept of a virtual browser sounds familiar, it's because these solutions already exist outside of the OEM realm, some of which have been covered in your favorite computer magazine (assuming Maximum PC is your favorite rag). Like Trustware's BufferZone, the Firefox Virtual Browser consists of a virtual layer independent from the operating system. This sandbox approach means that any downloaded cruft that manages to spread its contaminates stays contained and can easily be undone by simply emptying the virtual environment..
"What we have created is a virtual layer where your browser runs and all the downloads, all the clicks, all the cookies and everything is placed within...a virtualized run-time environment," explains Kirk Godkin, HP senior product manager for business PCs. "With the browser, the user only has to click the mouse and it will reset the browser to its original state and all their favorites will remain the same."
Godkin went on to say that the virtual browser will eventually spread to all of HP's corporate desktops by the end of November, but didn't say whether not HP is also working with Microsoft on a similar option for Internet Explorer.
Holy moly, talk about being charged up! HP claims its new EliteBook 6930p can deliver up to 24 hours of battery runtime, or 5 hours longer than Dell's Latitude E6400, provided it comes equipped with an optional ultra-capacity battery.
“All-day computing has been the holy grail of notebook computing,” said Ted Clark, senior vice president and general manager, Notebook Global Business Unit, HP. “With the HP EliteBook 6930p, customers no longer have to worry about their notebook battery running out before their work day is over.”
While we can't rule out a dose of voodoo magic as a contributing factor, much of the credit goes to the Intel 80GB SSD drive and 14.1-inch mercury-free Illumi-Lite LED display, both of which HP says are required add-ons to make the feat possible. And that's not with a wimpy processor either - the least powerful CPU in the 6930p's lineup is an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400. Toss a spill resistant keyboard and an inner magnesium shell into the mix and HP has one tough mother on its hands.
SSDs with a 64GB storage capacity fetched close to a grand last year. But their outrageous prices have become subdued with the passage of time. Now, if you act quickly, OCZ’s brand new Core V2 OCZSSD2-2C60G 2.5” 60GB SSD could be yours for $240 – approximately $4/GB. The SSD boasts read speeds of 170MB/sec and write speeds of 98MB/sec. It also features a built-in USB 2.0 port for firmware updates, and can serve as a replacement for your notebook’s HDD.
"With great power, there must also come great responsibility" -- Uncle Ben, Spider-Man
"With great power and great responsibility, there must also come walls of text." -- Far too many videogames
It's atrocious, too. Last night, I was forced to read my way through the opening of a game released only a week ago. The game's gloriously rendered prison cell bars would likely have even the rottenest of holding cells in jealous fits, yet mere moments after I moved beyond those gnarled steel beams, I was assailed by a text tutorial of such ridiculous length that it would've benefitted from a rabbit-ear feature.
"This is next-gen?" I wondered aloud.
We can polish graphics to such a sheen that even the most mundane objects wrap their tendrils securely around our eyes and never let go, yet integrating a tutorial with actual gameplay is an insurmountable task? The very thought is absurd, and doesn't exactly get me pumped to play the rest of the game. After all, if gameplay matters so little that the designers couldn't even be bothered to, you know, teach me through interactivity -- a little quirk that I hear makes games sorta cool -- then why should I expect anything better from the rest of their game? It's like popping a Porsche chassis over a Flintstones car; take the thing for a spin and your next stop will be the used-car dealership.
So, which ripe-smelling, antiquated videogame "features" do you think should be given the boot? Are there any that you'd actually like to see stick around?
Today's Roundup is all about the future -- no artifacts from 1993 here. Inside, you'll find only the latest news concerning Deus Ex 3, F.E.A.R. 2 (Yep, that's the name, now), and two separate plans to "save" PC gaming.
NBC's fling with Microsoft's Silverlight platform appears to be over, at least for the time being. NBC had previously agreed to stream the Beijing Olympics to viewers using Silverlight instead of Flash to deliver the content, but now that the Olympics have wrapped up, NBC has turned back to Flash for this week's NFL season opener.
Even still, the short-term relationship can be viewed as a success for Microsoft, who managed to increase its install-base through the apparently time limited partnership. Overall download specifics were never disclosed, but we do know that at one point 1.5 million downloads were being registered per day, and according to a spokeswoman for Microsoft, at one point "more than 50 percent of the visitors to NBCOlympics.com on MSN already [had] Silverlight 2 installed." Having a large install base is important because it makes it easier for Microsoft to convince developers to use its platform.
And for Adobe, it means getting back a major partner, but not without a downside. While viewers were able to watch NFL games with Flash installed, reports have surfaced complaining of unwatchable video quality saddled with freeze frames, blurry action, and skipping back and forth while as the feeds tried to buffer.
While the world looks ahead to Core i7, the first processor sporting the Nehalem architecture, Intel continues to tweak its currently shipping CPUs, this time for the server market. The new Xeon X5492 takes its place as the flagship Xeon processor, bumping the clockspeed from the previous high of 3.2GHz to 3.4GHz. The frontside-bus also gets a boost, settling in at 1.6GHz.
Intel also released the X5470, a slightly slower 3.33GHz part on a 1.33GHz frontside-bus. The lower clockspeeds allow the chip to consume a more modest 120W, compared to the X5492's 150W peak power draw. An even lower power L5430 makes a debut too. Aimed at small-profile desktops, the L5430 sips just 50W at 2.66GHz.
All three quad-core chips are available now with large-batch pricing from $562 (L5430) to $1,493 (X5492).
Intel's already popular Atom chip may get a whole lot more interesting next year if a leaked slide turns out to be accurate. The slide comes courtesy of Japanese technology news site PCWatch, and it shows that Intel plans on bringing a next-generation Atom chip to market in Q3 2009. Code named Pineview, the CPU will come in both dual- and single-core versions, according to the report.
But the biggest news with the new Atom is its Lincroft microarchitecture. Lincroft differs from the current Silverthorne microarchitecture by integrating both a GPU core and a memory controller into the chip package. How exactly Intel plans to mesh a GPU core remains a mystery, but such a feat would spark an already booming Netbook market, assuming it would even be made available for Netbook systems.
Making things even more interesting, AMD is reportedly readying its own Atom competitor code named Bobcat, which is expected to be a single-core 1GHz AMD64 processorwith 256kb of L2 cache with an 8W power draw.