The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) introduced a bunch of new SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.0) peripherals with more to come. With USB 3.0 promising performance as much as ten times faster than USB 2.0, you'll want to add USB 3.0's digital goodness to your system as soon as you can. So, what do you need to know to make it work? Whether you have a desktop or mobile PC, we survey your options and help you zero in on your best choices.
Acer certainly talks the talk, and the problem for its competitors is that, for the most part, the company also walks the walk. Take note HP, because Acer's gunning for your top spot in the global PC market, a place the company thinks it will reach by 2012.
Or so says Acer's outspoken Chairman Wang Jeng-tang and President Gianfranco Lanci. In fact, it seems like everyone over at Acer likes to beat their chest, as evidenced by the company's founder earlier this week saying that US-brand PCs will be extinct in 20 years, "just like what happened to US television brands."
HP is one of those US brands, and also happens to be the largest maker of PCs on the planet with a 19.3 percent share. Acer, who jumped ahead of Dell not that long ago for the No. 2 spot, holds 13 percent of the global PC market, and it's not unrealistic that Acer would become the top dog in two years.
This will especially be true if the notebook market continues to grow, which is a sector where Acer thrives. The company said it shipped about 33-34 million notebooks last year, and thinks it it will ship 40 million in 2010.
Nvidia’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang offered some interesting thoughts on the PC industry in a recent BBC interview. He said that people are no longer wowed by their computers. Huang chalked this up to a maturity in PC hardware. He explained that people have been doing things the same way for so long, that the platform has lost some of its luster.
So is there hope? Huang seemed to think so, imagining a future of gesture-based input and intuitive smart computer systems. The Nvidia CEO focused unsurprisingly on playing up the GPU as a way to reach this more interesting PC future. "These kinds of capabilities are certainly within the next generation, because we have created a processor for the GPU that makes it possible to do parallel processing so much faster on a PC," said Huang.
Nvidia’s expansion into areas beyond their traditional graphics card business, combined with multiple delays of their new Fermi GPUs, led some to speculate the graphics giant was through with PCs. But Huang took the opportunity to make it clear that PC gaming will continue to be Nvidia’s focus.
Those of you sporting a PC made in the the good ol' U.S. of A. may want to take note - two decades from now, you'll have no choice but to buy a foreign-made computer. Why? Because according to Acer founder Stan Shih, U.S. computer brands are on their way out.
"The trend for low-priced computers will last for the coming years," said Shih. "But US computer makers just don't know how to put such products on the market... US computer brands may disappear over the next 20 years, just like what happened to US television brands."
Acer's been on a roll the past year, nudging ahead of US-based Dell in a photo-finish as the world's second-largest computer vendor, and should Acer continue to fly high, it could pass HP, another US computer maker, for the top spot by 2011.
Microsoft's Kodu game-development tool is now no longer restricted to the Xbox 360. Kodu's journey to the PC was not entirely a walk in the park for its developers as they had to do some serious work to make it compatible with the keyboard-mouse combo. The tool is supposed to be ridiculously easy even for kids, allowing them the opportunity to channelize their creativity in an enjoyable manner. It is available as a technical preview at this point in time. Microsoft researcher Matt MacLaurin is credited with the development of Kodu. The former Apple employee is currently part of Microsoft's Fuse Labs. He got the idea of creating Kodu in 2006, when he sensed his three-year-old daughter's interest in computers.
The SG41J1 is a low end PC based on the G41 chipset and runs Core2 Quad CPUs. You’ll get integrated Intel graphics on this model. The next step up is the SH55J2 which has the Intel H55 supporting both Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs, but still just integrated graphics here. If you’re out for performance in your tiny PC, the SX58HJ3 is the way to go. It will run Core i7 CPUs and somehow has room for a CrossFireX or Nvidia SLI setup.
Stepping a bit out of their comfort zone, Shuttle is also showing off their now Shuttle X50 V2 all-in-one. It will have a dual-core Atom and Intel GMA graphics. No availability or pricing information was released.
For as long as netbooks have existed, people have been buying more and more of them. More than 33.3 million netbooks will have shipped by year’s end, amounting to a 103 percent increase over last year. Revenue will be up about 72 percent indicating some price cuts. But according to DisplaySearch, as laptops with ultra low voltage (ULV) CPUs become cheaper, netbook sales will slow considerably.
They project netbook shipments to only grow by about 20 percent next year. Still, the situation can’t be bad when 20 percent growth is a big drop. As ULV laptops creep below $500, consumers will begin purchasing them in larger numbers. ULV computers have similarly good battery life, but better performance than netbooks running Atom chips.
The report also suggests that the uptick in ULV sales will likely mean manufacturers will take a revenue hit of only 1% or so. While netbooks will remain big sellers, they probably won’t have another year like 2009.
Desktop-style internet browsing is expected to become a mainstream feature across all mobile phone segments, including budget and feature phones, as mobile phones are now being taken very seriously as internet devices by vendors and users alike. With an increasing number of people taking to the internet on mobile phones, the mobile internet market is certainly headed upwards, both in terms of its overall worth and bandwidth consumption.
Morgan Stanley has published a couple of voluminous reports, called 'The Mobile Internet Report” and 'The Mobile Internet Report Key Themes,” in order to quantify this boom. According to the two documents, it expects the mobile internet market to be "at least 2x size of Desktop Internet” in the coming few years. A recent study had confirmed the iPhone's status as the most popular mobile internet device when it revealed that the smartphone accounted for half of the world's mobile data bandwidth.
Does this mean that the iPhone will ride the mobile internet wave to become just as popular an internet device as the ubiquitous PC? Morgan Stanley definitely believes the odds favor the iPhone, which "may prove to be the fastest ramping and most disruptive technology product / service launch the world has ever seen." The firm believes that smartphone shipments will outnumber PC shipments by 2012.
Oh, Windows 7. I enjoy a number of enhancements to the operating system over that of its lesser brother, Windows Vista. However, one of the chief omissions of this new OS has actually been one of the more useful staples of Windows for a long time. It's the good ol' network activity light, a little icon in your tray that would blink on and off to match whenever you sent or received network traffic. Not only was this tiny icon a quick troubleshooting device--no send light when loading an Internet-using application means trouble--but it was a useful way to tell how much bandwidth you've eaten up during your daily computing session, as you'd get your usage stats by simply hovering your mouse over said icon.
But alas, there is no way to resurrect said icon or functionality natively in Windows 7. Sure, you can bring back an icon of-sorts, but it ain't gonna blink. Sorry. It's just a simple little link to your Network and Sharing center. To truly reap the benefits of the old-school network activity light, you're going to have to look to a third-party developer. That, or click the jump, because I've found the perfect little utility that replicates this feature in Windows 7 error-free.
Brian Rakowski, the Google Chrome product manager, dishes out the details on the Official Google Blog. The Google Chrome betas for Mac and Linux, he says, were engineered to meet the demanding expectations of both platforms. Mac users, he says, will be impressed with the almost instantaneous launch time--so fast “there’s hardly even time for the icon in the dock to bounce!” The Mac version integrates with Mac features, such as the Keyhain, spell check, and SandBox for enhanced security.
For the Linux beta, Google remained faithful to the open source community, with more than 50 contributors contibuting to Chrome's foundation, Chromium. Google Chrome for Linux fits natively with the operating system where possible, including integration of native GTK themes, and updates managed by the standard system package manager.
Google, according to Rakowski, is all too aware that a browser without extensibility just isn’t a browser. But, at the same time, Google didn’t want to jeopardize Google Chrome’s speed and stability. Extensions, according to Rakowski, accomplishes these objectives. Extensions, says Rakowski, “are as easy to create as web pages, easy to install, and each extension runs in its own process to avoid crashing or significantly slowing down the browser.” Rakowski says there are more than 300 extensions now ready for use, but only for Windows and Linux boxes.