Diehard Windows PC users, and Maximum PC readers in particular, aren't known for being shy in sharing their disdain for the evil empire known as Apple. Reasons are many: misleading advertisements, overpriced gear (the so-called 'Apple tax'), proprietary architecture, snooty iPhone owners, and the list goes on. Naturally, this contempt extends over to the iPad by those who wish bad things on Apple, which some consider the anti-PC. No keyboard? Oversized iPod touch? iTunes? Whatever your reason(s), it's fine if you choose to hate on the iPad, just don't blame Apple's tablet for weakening the PC market.
As power users, we rarely, if ever, follow the same path as mainstream users do. We build our PCs from scratch, we know what technology to invest in and which ones to avoid, and rather than wait for our rigs to require a complete overhaul, we keep things running smooth with well timed upgrades. But even so, every once in awhile we reach the end our ropes where it makes more sense to start from scratch than to plug in more parts to an aging system. According to a new study, that time typically comes around every four and a half years.
What you are staring at right now could quite literally be staring back at you in a few years’ time. Pictured here is a prototype of an implantable eye pressure monitor designed for glaucoma patients. It happens to be the “first true millimeter-scale complete computing system” in the world, also making it the smallest computer till date. Hit the jump for the specs of this bantam computing wonder.
Someone at Asus deserves a raise. We're talking about whoever it was that convinced the company it was a good idea to put so much time and energy into the netbook market, because that strategy has paid off in a big way. For the first time ever, Asus has positioned itself as one of the top 5 PC makers in the world, and it's mostly due to Eee PC sales.
According to market research firm IDC, Asus shipped 4.3 million PCs in the second quarter of 2010, claiming 5.3 percent of the market. That also represents an 84 percent growth rate for the quarter, putting the company shoulder-to-shoulder with Toshiba for the fifth spot.
"It's remarkable, particularly for people who haven't seen the Asus name around," said Loren Loverde, head of IDC's Quarterly Worldwide PC Tracker. "Toshiba is a long-time venerable PC player. Asus is a relative newcomer. But they have been shipping pretty significant volumes (of PCs), more substantially outside the U.S., but pretty significantly in most markets."
Hewlett-Packard still leads the pack with 18.1 percent of the market, trailed by Dell, Acer, and Lenovo, in that order.
Dr. Aric Sigman, a psychologist and author living in the UK, argued his case at a conference of childcare specialists that children under the age of nine should not be allowed to use a computer. It's not that they'll muck things up, but the other way around - computers are wreaking havoc on their brains, Dr. Sigman says.
"There is evidence to show that introducing information and communication technology (ICT) in the early years actually subverts the very skills that government ministers said they want children to develop, such as the ability to pay attention for sustained periods," Dr Sigman said.
"The big problems we are seeing now with children who do not read, or who find it difficult to pay attention to the teacher, or to communicate, are down to attention damage that we are finding in all age groups."
We think he might have said more, but quite frankly, we had a tough time paying attention. Must have been all that Oregon Trail from back in grade school.
As smartphones continue to become more powerful and handheld tablet computing gains steam, some say the demise of the dedicated PC is imminent, but don't count Dell among those who would ring the death knell.
"What's converging is the data, not the device," Dell CEO Michael Dell told attendees of the Citrix Synergy user conference in San Francisco during a keynote speech. "It's not clear that one device replaces another."
According to Dell, users are more likely to carry several devices with each one focused on a specific task rather than an all-encompassing gadget.
"Some are better for carrying with you. Others for consuming content, others are better for creating content," Dell added.
In other words, Dell is saying don't expect a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device to eventually become the multi-function computer users gravitate towards for work, communication, social networking, and entertainment all in one.
In what research firm Gartner is calling a "robust recovery" in certain parts of the world, PC shipments around the globe ballooned to 84.3 million units in the first quarter of 2010. That's a 27.4 percent increase from the same quarter in 2009, and higher than the 22 percent growth Gartner had predicted.
"The stronger-than-expected growth was led by a robust recovery in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) PC market, which grew 24.8% in the first quarter of 2010," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "All other regions recorded double-digit growth rates, although the US and Latin America were slightly lower than what we had expected.
"These first-quarter results indicate that the professional PC market is gradually picking up, driven by PC replacements in mature markets," Kitagawa said. "With a relatively positive macroeconomic outlook, business demand was more forthcoming. Major PC replacement demand driven by Windows 7 will become more apparent in the second half of 2010 and the beginning of 2011."
PC shipments in the US totaled 17.4 million units in the first quarter, representing a 20.2 percent growth rate from one year ago. That's the second consecutive quarter of double-digit shipment growth. Toshiba was a big benefactor in all this, which saw shipments jump by 50 percent as the result of competitive pricing and promotions.
Just a few days ago, iSuppli said worldwide PC shipments had declined in Q1 by the "largest historic rate" since the firm has been tracking the market. But after a rocky start, the PC market could be headed for a rebound by the end of the year, says market research analyst firm Gartner.
According to Gartner, the market is on pace to ship 274 million PCs worldwide by the end of 2009. That's still a 6 percent drop compared to last year's shipments of 292 million, but better than Gartner expected, who previously predicted a 9.2 percent decline.
Going forward, Gartner says shipments will pull an about-face in 2010 and predicts a 10.3 percent growth rate. However, the firm also warned that Windows 7, available today in pre-order form at a reduced rate, isn't likely to prove a game changer for PC sales.
"Unless Microsoft mounts a major marketing campaign in support of Windows 7, we think consumers will simply adopt the new operating system as they would normally buy new PCs and/or replace old ones," Gartner Research Director George Shiffler said in a statement.
First spied at CES earlier this year, ViewSonic has begun shipping its VPC100 All-in-One PC in the U.S. Billed as being eco-friendly, ViewSonic says the VPC100 uses about 50 percent less plastics and requires roughly 45 percent less power than a traditional computer.
The spec sheet screams nettop and consists of an 18.5-inch LCD display with a 1366x768 resolution, Intel Atom N270 processor (1.6GHz, 533MHz frontside bus), 1GB of DDR2 RAM, 160GB hard drive, four USB 2.0 ports, WiFi, Super Multi DVD writer, and Windows XP.
The VPC100 is available now with an MSRP set to $599, an street pricing hovering around $550.
Power users routinely punch into the BIOS in order to fine tune their system, but it can be an intimidating place to go exploring if you've never before burrowed beneath the surface. And just like in real life, poking around in unknown places can be a dangerous affair if you don't know what you're doing or where you're going. On the other hand, once you understand the inner workings of your PC's control center, a whole world of overclocking and troubleshooting suddenly opens up. But what exactly is the BIOS?
Every modern motherboard comes with an embedded Flash EEPROM module, otherwise known as the BIOS chip. Short for Basic Input Out System, this is the first bit of code executed when you boot your PC. The BIOS stores all kinds of essential information about your system, such as your CPU's clockspeed, the size and type of RAM you're running, the boot order of your media, what onboard devices are present, and much, much more. An improperly configured BIOS can prevent Windows (or Linux) from loading, while a finely tuned BIOS has the potential to significantly improve performance over that of a similarly spec'd machine.
Whatever your goal is, this is your go-to guide for everything you've ever wanted to know about the BIOS. We cover every setting -- even the obscure ones -- so you'll never feel lost or out of your element, no matter what motherboard you're rocking under the hood.