Netbooks really help the overall sales figures for PCs, but as it turns out, they aren’t so great for the bottom line. It’s the highly attractive price of netbooks that keeps them in high demand. This might actually be a negative trend for PC makers, according to market research firm, DisplaySearch.
John Jacobs, director of notebook research for DisplaySearch, said, “…the lower [average selling price (ASP)] of these devices are clearly having a negative impact on portable PC market revenue. For 2009, we expect continued ASP erosion across all portable computer categories, leading to the first [year-over-year] decline of portable computer revenue.” Netbooks are currently responsible for a staggering 21.5% of PC shipments. Even with these unit numbers, they only make up 10.9% of revenue.
Sales prices of full size notebook computers have been pushed down considerably by the netbook bonanza. Notebook prices are down 10% in the last year. This may be an unsustainable trend in the PC market. The trend is, however, expected to continue next year.
Nvidia's chipset business has taken a PR beating in the past 12+ months. It all started when Nvidia's notebook GPUs began failing at an "abnormal" rate, then there was the whole SLI licensing fiasco. Now Nvidia is saying it plans to halt development of future chipsets that might work with Intel's Core i5 and i7 architecture.
According to Nvidia, it doesn't have much choice in the matter.
"We will continue to innovate integrated solutions for Intel's FSB architecture," wrote Ken Brown, a spokesperson for Nvidia. "We firmly believe that this market has a long healthy life ahead. But because of Intel's improper claims to customers and the market that we aren't licensed to the new DMI bus and its unfair business tactics, it is effectively immposible for us to market chipsets for future CPUs. So, until we resolve this matter in court next year, we'll postpone further chipset investments for Intel DMI CPUs."
As Arstechnica explains it, Nvidia has a license to Intel's frontside bus protocol, but there is no frontside bus in the P55 platform. The CPU now talks to the I/O hub using the same DMI bus that in previous platforms was used by the MCH. Nvidia has so far been unable to get a DMI license from Intel that would allow them to continue to making chipsets, prompting Nvidia to take Intel to court.
Nvidia was a bit more dodgy when it came to setting the record straight with regards to future chipsets on the AMD platform. At least one report suggests Nvidia has also halted development on the AMD side, and Brown didn't confirm or deny the report, saying only "we continue to sell a higher quantity of chipsets than AMD itself."
Canon’s original Digital Rebel 300D lit the fuse that started the sub-$1,000 digital-SLR war. With the “DRebel” now in its fifth iteration, it’s hard to believe just how far this camera has come.
The original DRebel sported a dust-sensitive 6.3MP CMOS sensor and a pathetic four-shot JPEG buffer. The new EOS Rebel T1i 500D ups the megapixels to 15.1 and features a massive 170-shot JPEG buffer at 3.4fps. Dust cleaning, once rare in DSLRs, is featured, as is Live View, or the ability to use the LCD screen to focus and frame a shot. The three-inch screen is a gorgeous 920K pixels and makes smaller and lower-res screens seem antiquated.
The real eyebrow-raising feature of the Rebel T1i, though, is its support for 720p and 1080p video modes. While we once believed that DSLRs would never do video, it’s now the top checkbox on newer models. The T1i supports 720p at 30fps, but at 1080p resolution the frame rate drops to a nearly unbearable 20fps. Video is compressed using H.264 and is stored in a QuickTime .MOV container.
In a change of pace, DDR2 pricing has finally surpassed DDR3, at least on the contract side. According to DRAMeXchange, contract quotes for 2GB DDR2 modules jumped up to an average of $31.50 in the first half of October, a little above DDR3's $31 quote. In addition, 1Gb (gigabit, not gigabyte) DDR2 chips have settled at $1.78, slightly above DDR3 at $1.75.
In the spot market, DRAMeXchange notes that prices for 1Gb DDR2 surged by 5 percent in a single day on October 8, and average quotes for 1Gb DDR2 800MHz chips managed to top the $2 mark at $2.24.
What this all means going forward is anyone's guess in the unpredictable memory market. But it at least appears that DDR3 will become a better bang/buck investment on the consumer side than DDR2. Elpida has already announced plans to increase output of DDR3 chips from 20,000-30,000 up to around 75,000 wafers per month, and Samsung also said it would ramp up production.
Iomega today announced the next generation of its double-drive desktop NAS box, the StorCenter ix2-200. The box comes available in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB capacities, each with a four-step setup process, and sports a few noteworthy tricks, such as built-in torrent support.
It also touts multiple IP security camera support, RAID 1 configurations, device-to-device replication, VMWare certification, Time Machine support for Apple computer backups, Bluetooth, remote access, and a bunch more marketing bullets.
"The new StorCenter ix2-200 is definitely the easiest to use small office and consumer network storage appliance in the marketplace today," said Jonathan Huberman, president of Iomega and the Consumer and Small Business Products Division of EMC.
Both the 1TB and 2TB models are available now for $270 and $370, respectively. The 4TB NAS box will debut later this month for $700.
It's hard to argue with the success of Amazon's Kindle e-book reader, which has prompted competition running the gamut from Asus and MSI, to startups looking to cash in on the rapidly growing market. But one company Amazon apparently needn't worry about is Microsoft.
"We have a device for reading. It's the most popular device in the world. It's the PC," Microsoft's Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said on Thursday.
Er, what? But Ballmer wasn't joking and went on to say that Microsoft would be willing to work with Amazon to port more books over to the PC.
"I would love to see companies like Amazon and others bring their books to the PC," Ballmer said. "Hopefully, we can get that to happen with Barnes & Noble or Amazon or somebody. But no, we are not interested in e-readers ourselves."
Microsoft might not be interested in e-readers, but consumers are. Portable readers are expected to do particularly well this holiday shopping season, and Industry research firm Forrester this week raised its forecast for e-reader sales by 50 percent to 3 million units.
The future looks bright for touchscreen computing, which will get a boost from Windows 7's built-in support for multitouch technology. And in case you haven't noticed, touchscreen PCs are beginning to gain steam. But is the world ready for touch computing in its current form?
"The question is, can we rethink the touch interface as a first-class citizen and provide a fresh approach to the desktop?," says Anand Agarawala, founder and CEO of Toronto's Bumptop. "Not only is touch a more natural way to interact with your desktop, but it also adds to your productivity."
Up to now, there hasn't been much motivation to focus on touch. According to Display Search, only about 3 percent of desktops and notebooks currently come with a touchscreen. Touch technology is much more prominent in the smartphone market, so the first step is getting the hardware out there. Then there's the task of making touchscreens easier to use and functionally relevant.
"PCs with touchscreens look cool, but what do you do with them?," says Jennifer Colegrove, a director at Display Search. "When it comes to the iPhone there are 50,000 applications that use touch -- but what do you do on a PC with touch?"
That question might be answered sooner than you think.
Sony is accepting pre-orders for its newest laptop, the Sony Vaio X Series. Though most would consider this a “netbook” solution due to its hardware, it might be one of the snazziest, albeit most expensive, looking netbooks on the market.
Sony managed to cram an 11.1” widescreen, up to 2GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD and a 2GHz Intel Atom processor into a half-inch body weighing 1.6 pounds. They piled up some extras too: internal Verizon Mobile Broadband, GPS, webcam, and memory card readers. Oh, did I forget to mention, you could get up to 14 hours of use out of the included, extended battery (up to 3.5 hours with the standard).
No doubt, the extended battery increases the size and weight of the book, but all-things-considered it may be worth it to be that long without a power cable.
The price tag is steep (starts at $1299) for netbook-grade performance. You can check out more pics and pre-order your own at the Sony Style site. Is the X Series too rich for your blood?
Samsung Electronics, well known for its wide variety of computer peripherals, flat screen televisions, and digital cameras, appears poised to enter the memory card market.
DigiTimes is reporting that Samsung has struck an agreement with memory card maker Transcend to jointly market the cards for the Taiwan market. Samsung’s offerings will be targeted to the high-end market. Further details were not provided.
Neither Samsung or Transcend commented on the report. A formal announcement of the agreement is expected on October 20.
Has your PC been on th fritz lately? If so, there's a good chance it's the system memory causing all those headaches, according to Google's research. Google, which has several thousand computers in its data centers, collected real-world data on its systems and wrote a research paper (PDF) titled "DRAM Errors in the Wild: A Large-Scale Field Study."
"We found the incidence of memory errors and the range of error rates across different DIMMs (dual pin-line memory modules) to be much higher than previously reported," according to the paper written by Bianca Schroeder, a professor at the University of Toronto, and Google's Eduardo Pinheiro and Wolf-Dietrich Weber. "Memory errors are not rare events."
The results might surprise you. Google's research reveals that correctable memory errors occur in one of every three of the company's servers each year, and one in a hundred suffer an uncorrectable error, which usually leads to a crash.
It's important to note that Google's servers use ECC (error correction code) memory, yet each module, on average, suffered nearly 4,000 correctable errors per year. So what's the big deal if they're correctable? A correctable error on a Google machine is likely an uncorrectable error on your PC, says Peter Glaskowsky, an analyst at the Envisioneering Group.
However, Glaskowsky also points out that most consumer PCs aren't manipulating tons of data in memory.