Stamford-based IT research firm Gartner has revealed the worldwide PC industry’s sales figures for the second quarter. Overall, the global PC industry registered a growth of 16% as a total of 71.9 million units were shipped during the quarter. More and more people are turning to notebooks, as opposed to desktops, as notebook prices continue to plummet. However, the US PC industry couldn’t keep up with the highly promising growth rate seen globally and managed a much subdued rate of 4.2% - total shipments stood at 16.5 million units.
If its Q2 performance is anything to go by, HP is not moving an inch from its position as the top PC maker in the world. HP’s sales grew at a faster rate than even the global average. But Dell is not too keen on staying at No.2 either. It raised its market share to 15.6% and even outshone HP’s year-over-year growth rate. These days one can’t resist mentioning netbooks but they really didn’t leave much of a mark in the US; still early days, though.
Ubuntu's Hardy Heron (8.04) operating system has been flapping its wings in full-release form since late April, and now the latest Linux distro lands on pre-configured Dell systems. This isn't the first time Dell has offered Linux as an OS option, but up until now, OEM shoppers looking for a Windows-alternative were stuck using Feisty Fawn (7.04), bugs and all.
So why the nearly three month-long delay? Dell claims it spent that time in development to ensure a smooth rollout with the new OS, as well as testing for peripheral support, including ATI graphics, fingerprint readers, HDMI, and other odds and ends. Linux support has increased leaps and bounds from the pre-Vista days, but the emergence into the mainstream segment has been a relatively recent development, so it comes as little surprise that pre-configured systems using the latest distro release wouldn't be as quick to market as a Windows PC.
Dell currently offers Ubuntu on its Inspiron 530N desktop, Inspiron 1525N laptop, and XPS M1330 laptop machines, and is expected to add its XPS M1530N and new Studio 15N laptops to the lineup by early August.
Solid-State Drives (SSDs) are taking aim at the mainstream market, boasting both faster speeds and suddenly affordable pricing than even just a few short months ago. But even as the price-to-performance ratio becomes much more attractive, reliability remains a concern. Flash memory doesn't contain any moving parts, but the memory is only capable of so many write and erase cycles before it turns into read only memory. That might soon change.
Samsung and Sun Microsystems are co-developing a single-level-cell NAND flash memory device the companies claim will offer "much higher endurance levels than any other flash memory device on the market today." The new memory is said to offer five times the data write-and-erase cycles of existing solutions. Even more impressive, Samsung claims its server-grade SLC memory will provide a 100-fold increase in the number of data transfers over traditional hard drives.
While Samsung and Sun are excited over where flash memory is headed, not everyone shares their same enthusiasm. A Fujitsu executive recently downplayed SSDs saying the technology is still over two years away from being a viable option, and an IDC report indicates that initial comparisons between SSDs and HDDs may have been misleading.
Are we getting close to finally replacing hard drives as the main storage device in today's PCs, or is the recent hype much ado about nothing?
The average user would never dream of paying four figures for a processor, and even today's $1,500 budget boxes can end up being very capable rigs with the right parts selection. Even still, there exists a market for high-end silicon, and Intel's Extreme series always command a premium. But this time around, Intel might be looking to give enthusiasts a break.
Rumor has it that Intel will serve up its delicious 3.2GHz Extreme series Bloomfield processor at just $999 in thousand-unit tray quantities. While that might not appear to be a bargain at first glance, it's a full $500 cheaper compared to the current cream of the crop, the Core 2 Extreme QX9700. If the rumor holds true, the new pricing will mark a return to the way Intel used to price its flagship Extreme model.
Intel is also expected to introduce a performance chip clocked at 2.93GHz at a much easier to swallow $562 price point, and a mainstream model at 2.66GHz for $284.
For those that haven't been following, Intel's much anticipated Bloomfield (Nehalem) processors will introduce a new socket with 1366 pins and finally bring an integrated memory controller to the table.
Solid state drives (SSDs) are usually considered to be more power efficient, faster, and in some respects more reliable than hard disk drives and they command a hefty premium over other drives. Dell's offering of a 128GB solid-state drive as an option on its Latitude, XPS, Alienware, and Precision laptop models for $649 is a steep drop price drop since many SSDs with half of that capacity still sell for more than $700. Is it really worth it? The IDC released a report that claims the performance gap between SSDs and lower-cost high-performance hard disk drives is not that significant at the system level.
TargetTech.com quotes David Reinsel, one of the authors of the report, "Many tests have been done comparing 4,200 rpm hard drives to SSDs, but 5,400 rpm is now mainstream and even 7,200 rpm disks are available." He adds that the gap between performance in systems with 7,200 rpm 2.5-inch drives and systems with SSDs was much smaller than expected, mainly because of the performance of the system as a whole rather than just the storage device. Reinsel goes on to say, "There will be what's called a 'period of interdependency' with this technology. It isn't just plug and play." He suggests that system redesigns will be necessary in PCs and enterprise systems to gain the full benefit from flash.
If you are the ultra curious type and have ten grand to blow you can grab the report here. My credit card just laughed at me for trying.
Even though SSDs have dropped in price, they still are not a good performance item for the price point. A Fujitsu 120GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb OEM notebook drive is going for $99, versus a $640 SSD with the same capacity. The price savings can buy you a lot of other goodies. We will have to wait for systems to be updated to take advantage of SSD drives and of course in the mean time, the price will continue to go down. When will it be the right price point versus performance for you to make the switch?
Cell phone technology has come a long way since it was first introduced, and just as we can't help but snicker when catching a glimpse of the old beige bricks that started it all, it won't be long before today's mobile phones will be considered equally rudimentary. But even with the rapid pace of technology, it took Apple's iPhone to change the game, ushering in what's sure to be a new era of nifty must-have functionality. But what exactly will the post-iPhone cell phone be capable of?
Popular Science whips out its crystal ball so you don't have to, and what they've come up with are five different features that are all destined to come to future cell phones no later than 2009. More than just a wishlist, Popular Science explained the reasoning behind each category and which companies are at work on each technology. PC-grade computing and graphics by late 2009? Sign us up! The list looks sound, but one must-have feature noticeably absent is Sprint's crime deterrent system.
What features would you like to see in tomorrow's cell phones?
Usually when a company releases a product containing with a worm, it's not a good thing. But when that WORM comes in all caps, the nomenclature takes a whole different meaning. In this case, SanDisk has developed a card that can be written to only one time, after which it becomes a read-only card. That's not something that will appeal to home users, but SanDisk's WORM (Write Once Read Many) media means police and courtrooms no longer need to reject SD cards as evidence for fear of tampering.
Potential uses for WORM cards include police witness and suspect interviews, cash registers, electronic voting, security cameras, in-flight 'black boxes,' medical devices containing patient information, and anything else where a permanent one-time write would be desirable. Once written to, SanDisk claims the new cards will retain the data for up to 100 years. "As digital media volume has grown and surpassed traditional analogue media such as film and audio cassettes in the consumer market, law enforcement agencies and other professionals are facing rising costs and lack of supply," said Christopher Moore, director of product marketing for OEM memory cards at SanDisk.
The SD cards currently come in 128MB versions, but beefier WORMs are expected later this year. Yummy.
The man who has been perched atop AMD’s corporate hierarchy since April, 2004, and overseen the company’s horrendous streak of six consecutive quarterly losses – still unbroken, has stepped down as AMD’s CEO. Hector Ruiz will now be replaced by, Dirk Meyer, heir apparent to AMD’s throne of thorns. But he won’t leave AMD altogether and will don the role of executive chairman.
Had AMD advertised for this job instead of roping in Dirk Meyer straightaway, the advertisement would have carried a warning: this job carries a great – possibly grave - risk of hypertension and nervous breakdown, please, apply at your discretion.
Dirk Meyer held the reigns of the team that developed the first Athlon processor and has served as the company’s president and chief operating officer. Leading AMD is a job that will currently find very few takers and so Mr.Meyer might need your best wishes
Say what you will about Best Buy's Geek Squad and Circuit City's Firedog computer repair centers, but no matter what amount of ridicule each one might receive in tech circles, those without access to a next-of-kin techspert find themselves using the oft overpriced (and sometimes overzealous) services offered by each. Now Wal-Mart wants a piece of the fix-my-PC pie too.
According to the mega-chain, Dell is testing a repair and installation service for electronics in up to 15 of its stores in the Dallas area. The "Solution Stations" will not only offer PC repair, but HDTV and home theater installation, wireless support, and other electronic services.
"For Wal-Mart, the program provides an opportunity for us to understand more about what our customers need and expect in home installation and technology services, within a specific market," the company said in a statement on its website. Wal-Mart also indicated that the program is a small pilot and that there are currently no plans to expand outside of Dallas beyond the 15 select stores.
And what about pricing? According to the Dallas Morning News, memory installation will run $29 in-store, or $99 if making a house-call. To install a wall-mounted TV, connect cables, and integrate three video components, it is charging $289.
So it's official; you can now get everything and the kitchen sink at Wal-Mart, and that includes PC repair. But would you want to?
Just call us licky. We mean, lucky. You've seen the official super-hot photos of the Voodoo PC's Envy laptop, but we got our hands on one and were able to take tons of close-up photos of the as well as try out the highly touted instant-on feature. Our initial impressions: the laptop is really light. HP claims the laptop (it was the SSD version) weighs three and a half pounds, and even though we didn’t have a scale in our messenger bags, it sure felt about the same weight as the Macbook air, power supply notwithstanding. Stacking the Envy against a Macbook Pro and Thinkpad X300, Voodoo’s pricey portable was both smaller and slimmer, though it sports a 13” screen.
Click the jump for more impressions and all the photos, including the instant-on Linux interface, laptop size comparisons, and gross licking details.