Sick of hearing about Ultrabooks yet? If so, you'd better grab some Pepto Bismol. PC manufacturers have jumped onto Intel's slim n' fast bandwagon with almost astonishing vigor; the first Ultrabooks didn't even hit the streets until the end of last year, and a whopping 21 variations have dropped in the scant 5 months since. That's just the tip of the iceberg, however. Intel says that there are a full 75 more Ultrabooks already in development, and that lower price points and stricter standards are also coming.
It’s increasingly becoming a wireless world, folks. Just check out the headlines from the past week or so. On top of the omnipresent smartphone/tablet chatter, we saw the launch of next-gen “5G Wi-Fi” chips capable of streaming 1080p video without a hitch, and now, today’s news: even your SD card is going wireless. Seriously.
Life, it seems, is never fair for any developer. Just ask the gurus behind Valve's Steam service. For the past many years, Steam has existed as the dominant digital-download platform of choice for gamers worldwide. While a few improvements have been built into the actual application one uses to access the Steam service, the program in question has remained relatively unchanged in its design for a good chunk of its recent existence. Which, in itself, is a polite way to say that it's been ages since an actual upgrade brought a new look, feel, and functionality to the Steam client.
As I think of the many different "platforms" on the Internet, I'm reminded of just how closed-off the Steam application is for conventional tweaking. Some of this is mandatory--there's only so much Valve wants you to be able to access for fear of somehow disrupting Steam's security techniques and gaining access to the vault of unlocked, free-to-download titles. Take a moment to wipe the drool off your keyboard; I'll wait.
What's stopping Valve from incorporating other open architectures into its service, however? What about Web-wide login protocols? Authentication for third-party services that could offer spin-offs of Steam's built-in stats-tracking? Heck, what about some customized user interface support?
Some might say Steam is too big to be able to successfully navigate open-source and open frameworks. To that, I say hogwash: If Facebook can do it, so can Valve!
It's been nearly a week since I last reported about Apple's reluctance to allow its users access to the Flash platform. Apple--and Steve Jobs himself--have reportedly claimed that the instability of Flash was the driving factor behind Apple's ripping of this app straight off of its mobile devices (including the brand-new iPad) in favor of an HTML5-based solution for interactive content.
Although Adobe seemed to be letting Jobs' alleged tirade against Flash earlier this week go unanswered, ‘twas not meant to be. Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch has since responded in the company's official "Executive Perspectives" blog. I'm not much of a betting man (nightmares of CES losses haunt me to this day), but perhaps you are: Just which way do you think Lynch points the finger of blame for Flash's absence on--quote unquote--"a recent magical device."
I'm not sure which of these is a more compelling criticism of the Apple iPad: "They named it what?" or "Where's the Flash?"
It's no secret that Apple harbors no love for Adobe's Flash architecture. John Gruber over at Daring Fireball recently wrote up a wonderful treatise as to why this is the case. If you have a spare hour or so, I recommend giving it a look-see. I'll spoil the ending for the sake of continuing on with this column: Flash is a proprietary architecture that Apple has no control over. Thus, when Flash-based elements wreak havoc on the stability of Apple platforms, Apple can't do much to fix the issue--nor can the company convert the 32-bit Flash binary over to Apple's goal of a system-wide, 64-bit experience.
The enemy of Apple's proprietary enemy might be the company's friend, but it's no friend to the Internet.
After a long wait, the Video Electronics Standards Association, or VESA for short, announced it has finalized DisplayPort v1.2, doubling the data rate of the previous DisplayPort v1.1a standard and paving the way for higher performance 3D stereo display, higher resolutions and color depths, and faster refresh rates.
"DisplayPort v1.2 increases performance by doubling the maximum data transfer rate from 10.8Gbps to 21.6Gbps, greatly increasing display resolution, color depths, refresh rates, and multiple display capabilities," VESA said in its press release.
Other features of the updated spec include multi-streaming, which is the ability to transport multiple independent uncompressed display and audio streams over a single cable, support for high-speed, bi-directional data transfer, support for high-def audio formats, and synchronization assist between audio and video, multiple audio channels, and multiple audio sink devices using Global Time Code (GTC).
After a long seven years of development and tweaking, the IEEE has finally approved the 802.11n high-throughput wireless LAN standard.
The new standard, which is reportedly capable of throughput of 300Mbps, has been changed six times since its first conception. And, according to the IEEE, all existing WiFi certified 802.11 Draft N wireless products will work with the final standard.
No word as to when the standard will make its way to market.
The new PCI protocol, which has promised to double the data transfer rates of many add-on cards, has been delayed until mid-next year.
According to the PCI Special Interest Group, the protocol (which was due in 2009) will be held back even though most of the work has been done. Apparently, many problems have arisen with backwards compatibility and electrical requirements. But, moreover, the group has “underestimated the sheer amount of work needed” to get it out the door.
PCI 3.0 will reportedly provide speeds of 32GB/second, along with decreasing the amount of power drawn. Motherboards featuring this standard are expected to show up sometime in summer 2011.
Sick and tired of trying to find the right charger for your cell phone? Whether you're shopping for a new charger or trying to figure out which of the chargers in your desk drawer matches your phone, the industry's current lack of standards could make you just a little bit crazy - especially when you're staring at a blinking battery level display and you're expecting a very important call.
Thankfully, there's good news - if you can wait a few years. Today, GSMA (the mobile phone trade association) announced an agreement between virtually all of the world's major cell phone makers to stop the insanity and adopt a common charging connector standard: Micro-USB. The announcement, appropriately enough, was made at the 2009 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, CNet's 3GSM World blog reports.
To find out who's teaming up, who's snubbing the new standard, and how soon you can expect to see the standard adopted, join us after the jump.
Google Apps reached a major milestone in September last year, when it raced past the 1 million enterprise users mark. But the huge lead that its arch rival MS Office enjoys meant that the achievement was just worthy of a perfunctory pat on the back. Now Google has taken a major step that might help popularize Google Apps among business users and help it trim Microsoft’s huge lead to a small extent.