Once upon a time, I dismissed the iPhone as a wannabe smartphone, lacking the key features that truly warranted that label. Since I wrote that column about two years ago, Apple has gone on a feature-adding rampage—adding push email, support for Exchange servers, third-party applications, and a veritable alphabet soup of new acronyms (GPS, MMS, and 3G, for starters). Two years into the iPhone era, the device is so much more than a phone with an iPod attached— it’s an instant-on, always-connected, pocket-sized computer.
On paper, the 3GS doesn’t seem like a major upgrade from the previous-generation iPhone, especially when you consider that many of the bullet points on the 3GS’s feature list came to older iPhones in the form of the 3.0 firmware release. And at first glance, even the new 3GS-exclusive features—a faster CPU, more memory, a more capable GPU, faster network connectivity, a higher-resolution camera that can finally shoot video, voice control for key features, and a compass—seem like a mixture of unsexy, incremental, shoulda-been-there-already features, and just plain meh. Worse, some of the features require carrier support, so things like MMS messages, higher-speed HSPDA support, and tethering won’t be available in the United States until AT&T deigns to support them.
MSI’s latest venture into the netbook market offers slightly faster performance than the rest of the netbooks we’ve tested with much longer battery life to boot, but the nine-cell battery that makes that possible sends the MSI Wind U123 into the heavyweight range. It makes us wonder: How heavy can a netbook become before it stops really being a netbook? Do we buy them for their formfactor or their performance? Or is it just the price?
The battery is the first thing we noticed about our Wind review unit. The dang thing juts from the back of the netbook, raising the back end more than an inch from horizontal and adding more than a pound to the total weight—making the lap weight three pounds, four ounces. But it’s worth it if battery performance is king. In our full-screen DVD-video battery rundown test, the U123 far outlasted the competition, achieving just over seven hours of playback. The previous netbook record was shared by two Eee PCs, the 901 and 1000HE, both of which clocked in at five and a half hours. This means a nine-cell-powered Wind U123 will likely get eight to nine hours of light usage on a single charge.
Remember Chumby, the squishy Internet appliance with a 3.5-inch touchscreen display and WiFi connectivity? Basically a glorified alarm clock, Chumby could also stream news feeds. stock quotes, photos, weather info, and whatever else could be imagined through widgets.
Well, Chumby's back, this time without the squishy exterior and renamed the 'One.' The new model puts a bigger focus on radio features with Pandora support and the ability to access other internet radio stations. And like the original, you can install widgets, of which there are about 1,500 to choose from. The One touts a faster processor, bumping up from 350MHz to 454MHz, but otherwise the specs look to be the same.
Look for the One to retail for about $100 in a month or so.
Sources at graphics card makers expect AMD to unveil the ATI Radeon HD 5770 and 5750 in October, and Radeon HD 5870 X2 and Radeon HD 5850 X2 a month later. The report adds that AMD will launch the single-GPU Radeon HD 5890 when the market seems to plead for it. That apparently is Digitimes’ way of saying that its sources have no idea when the Radeon HD 5890 will be released.
With 802.11n Draft 2.0 routers becoming as common as Storm Troopers at Comic-Con, manufacturers need a feature that sets their product apart from the crowd. Like many of its competitors, Belkin added a second radio to its N+ Wireless Router—but this one is used for a very different purpose.
Rather than operating on a separate frequency (to separate audio and video streams from more mundane data), the second 2.4GHz radio on Belkin’s router establishes a guest network that limits clients to Internet access. Belkin’s web interface provides extremely limited access to this second radio’s settings: You can turn this radio on or off, change its SSID and passphrase, and choose between WPA/WPA2 pre-shared key or “Hotel Style” security.
E-book readers are poised to become as popular as netbooks, and it's Amazon who stands to benefit the most, whose Kindle readers lead the charge. But the handheld digital readers are best served for personal use and not in an academic setting, suggests Princeton University.
As part of a pilot program, 50 Princeton students received a Kindle DX e-book reader at no cost, but according school newspaper The Daily Princetonian, "many of them said they were dissatisfied and uncomfortable with the devices."
The Kindles were given to students and faculty in three courses -- WWS 325: Civil Society and Public Policy, WWS 555A: U.S. Policy and Diplomacy in the Middle East, and CLA 546: Religion and Magic in Ancient Rome. In all three classes, the general consensus was that the devices were too difficult to use.
"I hate to sound like a Luddite, but this technology is a poor excuse of an academic tool," said Aaron Horvath, a student in Civil Society and Public Policy. "It's clunky, slow, and a real pain to operate."
Horvath went on to explain that by trading in textbooks for the Kindle, students lose the ability for physical interaction, including highlights, page-tearing, sticky notes, margin notes, and so forth.
The price suppliers pay for DDR2 RAM has been climbing slowly for some time. Now it may have finally crossed paths with DDR3 prices, says price tracker DRAMexchange. The cost of a 1Gb 800Mhz chip has risen to $2, about the same as DDR3.As more platforms add support for DDR3, adoption has accelerated.
The increase in price had been accelerating in the last few weeks. It has gotten to the point that PC OEMs find supplies of DDR2 chips to be dwindling. When an OEM can get more advanced DDR3 for the same price, the market should switch over, according to analysts.This means you may be seeing a lot more DDR3 RAM in computers going forward.
More cool things coming out of the Intel Developers Forum. Intel showed off an upgraded stock cooler for its upcoming six-core Nehalem processor, codenamed Gulftown. Generally speaking, stock coolers are barely more than adequate when it comes to noise, cooling power, and overclockability.
However, Intel’s latest cooler takes steps to change some of that. It features an updated tower design, additional fins on the heatsink and four copper heatpipes. Obviously, overclocking enthusiasts will seek out after-market solutions, but this should be a nice change for those looking to save a buck.
Intel’s i9 six-core processor was expected to be released in the fourth quarter of this year, but has since been delayed until early of next year.
When we reviewed the first Killer network card (Holiday 2006), we found that the meager performance gains it offered couldn’t justify its $250 price tag. Now Killer’s back with the new Xeno, a PCI Express design that costs $100 less than the original card, but it still doesn’t offer much benefit for the price.
The Killer’s big promise with the Xeno is that it will improve your ping in games by offloading network overhead from your CPU to a dedicated processor on the board. To test this claim, we set up two identical test beds in the Lab. Then we joined the same Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead servers and followed the same players in spectator mode while measuring the ping and frame rate on each system at identical intervals, using Fraps. In this test, we measured a fairly consistent ping difference of 5ms in favor of the Xeno, which is in line with what we measured in 2006.
More proof that Intel's P55 platform packs enough punch to satisfy power users and mainstream users alike, MSI's P55-GD80 motherboard helped Taiwan overclocker Coolater set a new Core i7 overclocking record. Using the aforementioned board, Coolater was able ramp up his 2.8GHz Core i7 860 CPU all the way to 5.39GHz.
"The MSI P55-GD80 owes much of its outstanding overclocking ability to its equipped MSI-exclusive technologies, such as the one second auto-overclocking feature OC Genie, the SuperPipe cooling system that effectively drops the operating temperature by 50C, and 1>4 phase total DrMOS power supply design," MSI said in a related statement.
According to the validated CPU-Z screenie, Coolater ran a 245.39MHz bus speed with a 3926.2MHz frontside bus and a 1.672 vCore. And of course at nearly 5.4GHz, LN2 was involved in keeping the proc cool.