Every PC builder faces the same question when picking out new parts: Should I buy Product X or wait for Product Y? That's because there's always a faster graphics card around the corner, a more capacious solid state drive on the horizon, or a new CPU architecture on the verge of being announced. No matter how long you play the waiting game, it's impossible to stay ahead of the curve for any real length of time. The same is true for consumer electronics, though would you have guessed that three months is the average lifecycle of a mobile device?
Its first ever pop-up store will open in California on Friday
Electronics online retailer Newegg has enjoyed a great deal of success since its inception in 2001 and, along with other e-tailers, has made life increasingly difficult for brick-and-mortar stores. And like other e-tailers, it has benefited from “showrooming”, a practice in which the buyer visits a brick-and-mortar store to physically evaluate products only to buy them online at a better price. So it is no surprise that it is getting ready to host its maiden pop-up store, where prospective buyers will be able to pop in and "showroom" everything from ultrabooks to digital cameras.
Japanese consumer electronics giant Panasonic announced late last week that they are in the middle of a “major restructuring”, which could see cuts to at least five percent of its work force in the coming months. Based on current staffing estimations which peg the company ranks at close to 367,000, this could result in a whopping 17,000 jobs cut, most of which will likely be in Japan. Panasonic officials claim the company will be refocusing its efforts on three key market segments as a result of changing global business environments, down from the five it was pursuing currently. In addition to the refocusing, Panasonic claims at least a small percentage of the cuts will be a result redundancies found following the acquisition of Sanyo and Panasonic Electric Works.
Connected TVs made up 20 percent of all television shipments in 2010, according to market research firm DisplaySearch. But the best is yet to come as it expects their shipments to grow at a 30 percent compound annual rate through 2014 to reach 123 million units.
The Consumer Electronics Show is undoubtedly the biggest tech event at the start of each new year. It usually offers the tech community a titillating precursor of things to follow later in the year. So what should one expect to see at this year’s event? Sadly for those of you already feeling inundated, CES 2011 is likely to be dominated by tablets.
Asustek will be unveiling a 12-inch enterprise tablet running Windows 7. Rest of its lineup will be made up of a couple of 10-inchers and one 7-inch tablet. One of those 10-inchers is said to feature the Windows 7-Oak Trail combo, whereas the other is built around Nvidia’s Tegra 2 platform and Android.
MSI will also be bringing a 10-inch Wintel-based tablet to the show floor. Also on display will be engineering samples of the company’s ARM-based Android tablets.
AMD, Intel, and Nvidia rule the desktop graphics scene, but in the consumer electronics world, ARM flexes its muscle with the best of them. Towards that end, ARM today unveiled its new Mali T604 GPU with up to 5 times better performance than current Mali graphics chips, the company claims.
"Visual computing is driving the next generation of consumer electronics, as consumers and developers demand the highest levels of graphics performance," said Lance Howarth, EVP and general manager, Media Processing Division, ARM. "The tri-pipe architecture in the Mali T604 provides both market leading compute functionality and high-performance graphics without compromise, enabling unequaled user experiences in energy-efficient consumer electronic devices."
As Howarth aludes to, the scalable, multicore chip employs an tri-pipe graphics architecture that, along with other patented techniques, reduces memory bandwidth consumption by up to 30 percent, which ARM says substantially improves system level energy efficiency.
The Mali T604 chip will find its way into a variety of CE devices, including smartphones, tablets, DTVs, automotive infotainment systems, and other high-end digital gadgets. That's good news, given the GPU's supposed ability to process 4X full scene anti-aliasing (FSAA) "with minimal performance drop."
Yamaha this week unveiled (PDF) its BD-A1000 Blu-ray player with content playback capabilities from Netflix, Blockbuster, and YouTube Internet streaming baked in.
"The BD-A1000 represents Yamaha's first universal Blu-ray player, and adds a new dimension to home entertainment with a multitude of Internet-related, interactive features such as BD-Live and BonusView, which provide secondary video/audio for enhanced commentary and information, as well as features for existing and future entertainment options via USB," Yamaha said.
Some key features include Full HD audio decoding, 1080p/24Hz-compatible HDMI, 7.1 multi-channel analog output with four 2-channel DACs, and disc and USB multimedia format compatibility for AVCHD, WMV, JPEG (HD), MP3, and WMA. Yamaha notes that the BD-A1000 has been specifically designed to integrate with the company's AVENTAGE line of AV receivers, so that by pressing the SCENE BD/DVD button on an AV receiver, for example, fires up the BD-A1000 and begins disc playback.
The new Blu-ray player carries an MSRP of $700, making it one of the pricier players we've seen in some time.
Several days after details about the WD TV Live Hub surfaced on the internet, Western Digital today launched the set-top-box that boasts a few additional features over previous WD TV devices. It is a network media streamer, DLNA-compliant media extender and 1TB hard drive all rolled into a single $200 package.
You can not only use this networked media player to view media content, whether it be locally stored or Internet based, on your TV, but also stream local content to any DLNA/UPnP compatible device, including game consoles, Blu-ray Disc players and other WD TV Live media players.
Despite its versatility, the WD TV Live Hub is missing something very basic -- Wi-Fi. Perhaps Western Digital was hoping that the Hub’s other features would offset its lack of Wi-Fi.
Cloud gaming startup OnLive has been vacillating on its monthly subscription fee from its very inception. While it initially set out to charge $14.95 per month for the streaming games service, it not only lowered the monthly fee to $4.95 just before launch, but also offered a free one year subscription to early adopters – those who signed up during the service's inaugural month. But the company seems to have finally found a solution to its pricing conundrum.
“Although we wish we could have confirmed no monthly fee from the get-go, pioneering a major new video game paradigm is hard: we had to first grow to a large base of regular users before we could understand usage patterns and operating cost,” Perlman wrote in a blog post.
“Now that we’ve reached that stage, we can confidently say a monthly fee is not needed, which deserves a double WOOT! WOOT!”
Samsung is reportedly prepping memory cards based on the Universal Flash Storage (UFS) standard for launch in the first half of 2011. According to Digitimes, the Korean electronics major is working closely with fellow members of the JEDEC Solid State Technology Association, including Nokia and Texas Instruments, on standardization efforts for the next-generation spec expected to supplant current flash memory card formats. The JEDEC Solid State Technology Association is scheduled to publish the UFS specification before the end of this year. The first crop of UFS cards will boast data transfer rates of up to 300Mbps.