Earlier this week we learned Nvidia had decided to sell its own branded videocards in Best Buy, which so far appear limited to the GeForce GTX 450 and 460. The move had us wondering how Nvidia's add-in board (AIB) partners would react, who would now be in direct competition with the graphics chip maker.
"No comment," EVGA's Joe Darwin told CNET when asked how his company felt about the news. "It's something [Nvidia] has always talked about, and now it's finally here."
Put another way, EVGA seems perturbed but publicly poised. Darwin also explained what value his company brings to the graphics card business that sets it apart from Nvidia.
"Definitely our level of customer service and our programs and our community. All of our tech support is in house, 24-7," Darwin said. "There are actual EVGA employees that do the support here; it's not sourced out. They get all the training from our product team. Our RMA service averages two to three days to turn around products in to us [for repair]. We haven't seen anyone else that can compete on that level."
EVGA is also known for its robust warranty program. Provided buyers register their cards within 30 days of purchase, EVGA cards carry a lifetime warranty, including overclocking and using third party heatsinks (as long as you don't physically damage the card in the process).
The Web is bustling with chatter over some Nvidia-branded videocards spotted in Best Buy. Perhaps looking to pick up the slack left by BFG in the retail sector, Nvidia plans to sell a few different Fermi-based graphics cards under its own moniker.
"Nvidia and Best Buy are working together to offer PC customers the opportunity to experience firsthand the latest in PC technologies right inside Best Buy stores," explains Bryan Del Rizzo, PR manager at Nvidia. "As part of this broad initiative, Nvidia is supplying to Best Buy specific GeForce models built and supported by Nvidia. These products will only be available at Best Buy and will complement GeForce products from our partners. We will provide more details on this later."
It's an interesting move by Nvidia, which outside of EVGA doesn't always appear to be on the best of terms with its add-in partners. A couple years back, XFX branched off as an Nvidia-only partner and began selling ATI videocards as well, and more recently, BFG essentially blamed Nvidia for its demise, claiming a "major supplier would not support our business."
We'll have to wait for Nvidia to spill more details to really know what's going on, but in the meantime, we headed over to Best Buy to take a peek for ourselves, and sure enough, it appears the graphic chip maker is focused on selling its own branded GeForce GTS 450 and 460 videocards rather than handing off sales of mid-range parts to EVGA, Zotac, or any other board partner.
The Best Buy Geek squad is no doubt made up of many talented and well intentioned souls, but the marketing department has fallen off the deep end. Based on this picture taken by the folks over at dualshockers.com the Geek Squad is now planning to offer customers the option to receive Sony’s free firmware update in-store before taking the console home. That sounds reasonable enough, until you do the math and discover that they are charging a whopping $30 for the service.
Just in case you have never used a PS3 I’ll detail the procedure below.
1.)Connect Ethernet Wire or Configure Wi-Fi
2.)Press X on “Check for Firmware Update”
3.)Return in 5 minutes time.
It sounds to us like Best Buy is trying to turn the Geek Squad into a gang of certified wallet inspectors, but I guess everyone has to make money somehow.
Let's not kid ourselves, Best Buy's Geek Squad division isn't exactly a respected establishment in DIY circles, and referring someone to Geek Squad for tech support is like, well, does this even need an analogy? No offense to any of our readers who may work as a Geek Squad tech, but you know what they say about a few bad apples.
What's even worse -- and we thought unthinkable -- is when the manufacturer of one your computer parts suggests calling Geek Squad to diagnose your failing gear before they'll replace it. That's exactly what one user who wrote into The Consumerist claims happened when his Netgear DGN2200 wireless router with DSL modem went on the fritz.
"Five calls to [Netgear's] tech department and it is still not working," the user claims. "On the fifth and final call they suggested I call the Geek Squad (approximately $139 for them to come to our home) to troubleshoot it and if it proves the modem is bad they will send me a new unit at that time (which I only paid $79 to begin with)."
It doesn't take a math whiz to figure out that's a bum deal. Assuming it all went down the way the user claims it did, let's hope this was an isolated incident.
Intel is trying to bolster profits in the low-end CPU market, but it’s a move that will make enthusiasts understandably nervous. Customers who purchase a desktop computer featuring the Pentium G6951 processor will be given the option to buy a $50 scratch coupon allowing them to unlock additional threads and L3 cache on the chip. To be clear this is very different from “binning” where a CPU gets reclassified after testing. The G6951 is intentionally being sold with locked potential the consumer has the option to buy after the fact. Hardware.info got its hands on an early sample of the chip, and has confirmed that in addition to Hyper-Threading, users are able to unlock a full 1MB of L3 cache.
Every decent over clocker knows that most CPU’s, particularly in the midrange usually have tons of untapped potential and it will be interesting to see if Intel tries this approach on any of its other offerings. I have a feeling most enthusiasts would rather not see this approach gain any traction, but then again it could also help bridge the gap between high end CPU’s and their “unlocked” extreme counterparts. Intel has confirmed that this is simply a test to see how consumers will react, but clearly they now have the infrastructure in place to roll this out on a much larger scale based on feedback.
I’m willing to bet the Maximum PC community has a few opinions to help them with their research. Feel free to leave them after the jump.
Most of the recent buzz in the vexatiously noisy tablet market has been about potential iPad killers. Even though most of that much touted tablet revolution seems perennially stuck in upcoming mode, it hasn't deterred many from imagining a tablet-dominated future. A Wall Street Journal article earlier in the week quoted Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn as saying that the iPad was cannibalizing notebook sales by as much as 50%.
The comment attributed to him provided additional fuel for the ongoing tablet-versus-notebook debate, which seemed especially loud this week. But Dunn on Friday retracted that comment. “The reports of the demise of these devices are grossly exaggerated. While they were fueled in part by a comment in The Wall Street Journal they are not an accurate depiction of what we're currently seeing. In fact, we see some shifts in consumption patterns, with tablet sales being an incremental opportunity,” Dunn clarified in a statement.
Hate the iPad because it doesn't do Flash. Curse Apple's magical device for the lack of ubiquitous connectivity, like USB and HDMI. Hurl insults at the iPad because it's a giant iPod (that's oversimplifying, but let's keep hating), costs more than a netbook but lacks a physical keyboard, doesn't have a microSD card slot, or simply because it's Apple. Fair enough, but one thing you can't do is deny its impact on laptop PC sales, not if Best Buy's numbers are correct.
Talking with The Wall Street Journal, Best Buy Chief Executive, Brian Dunn, claims that internal estimates peg the iPad as cannibalizing laptop sales by as much as 50 percent. That's a remarkable, if not shocking figure. We're not so much surprised that the iPad is chewing into notebook sales, but that it could be replacing half of all laptops is staggering.
As Wired points out, Mac sales continue to grow every quarter, so most of that figure probably represents Windows market share. But should Microsoft be worried? That remains to be seen. The tablet market is still essentially a one-man show, and once Windows-based slates start shipping, we have to imagine that some of those folks picking up a tablet instead of a laptop will gravitate towards Windows devices.
In any event, does Best Buy's internal figure surprise you?
Amazon keeps the exact number of Kindle’s sold under wraps, but since we know it been the bestselling item on the website for two years running, it’s not hard to imagine that it leads the pack in the e-reader market. The Nook was slowly nibbling away at its market share prior to the price cut, but the only real advantage competitors had left was a presence at brick and mortar stores, something Amazon is finally going to change.
Best Buy & Staples will be getting all three Kindle variants heading into the fall giving consumers a chance to test Amazon’s best against the Nook, Sony Reader, and several other lower end e-book devices. This isn’t the first time the Kindle has hit retail stores, but it is a first for this generation of device. Placing the Kindle in the retail channel is understandably a difficult decision for a company that has built its entire business model around selling via the web, but one that ultimately can only help move more devices.
The decision is likely a result of the Kindle team being divided into two parts, one devoted to selling books and the other to selling hardware. Each team can make decisions to further each section of the business without worrying about the impact on the other end. Giving consumers a chance to check out the Kindle in person is a wise decision, and one that will likely pay off well going into the holiday season.
No official date has been given for stock to arrive at either Best Buy or Staples, but we imagine this is a result of the current backorder situation on the website.
We received word today that Best Buy is expanding its in-store eReader selection to include Amazon's Kindle. This will make Best Buy the only brick and mortar retailer to sell all three major eBook readers, which also includes B&N's Nook and Sony's Reader family.
"There's no question that eReaders have found their rightful place in today's digital lifestyle," said Chris Homeister, senior vice president and general manager of Home Entertainment for Best Buy. "Our goal is to help people choose the device that's right for them by providing the broadest selection of popular eReaders of any retailer, in one convenient place that enables people to easily see, touch, try, and buy."
The Kindles will show up in stores sometime this fall with pricing the same as through Amazon: the new Kindle with built-in Wi-Fi will sell for $140 and the Kindle 3G will go for $190. Later in the season, the Kindle DX will join the fray.
Electronics chain Best Buy has been experimenting with the used game business by offering customers store credit for trading in their pre-owned titles, a service which just recently was expanded to include 600 stores across the nation.
"The expansion of our trade-in program reaffirms our commitment to consistently pursue new ways to bring a better gaming experience to consumers," said Chris Homeister, GM of the home entertainment group at Best Buy. "Fall marks the launch of several highly-anticipated gaming titles and new technology, and we're thrilled to provide gamers with innovative ways to connect with the games they love."
By October, Best Buy will have rolled the service out to the rest of its 1,089 stores, and while there haven't been any specifics yet, the company is also reportedly going to start selling used games at its stores soon.