We suspect there's going to be a lot of interest in Motorola's upcoming Droid smartphone, which is set to launch on November 6. And if you're itching to get your hands on one, Best Buy is already taking preorders for the handset, and the best part is they'll remove the hassle of dealing with the $100 mail-in-rebate and issue the kickback as an instant savings instead.
"We're excited to feature this new device for our consumers, as it represents the latest and greatest in mobile technology," said Best Buy Mobile President Shawn Score. "Bringing the Droid to Best Buy Mobile expands our already unmatched assortment of smartphones allowing customers to compare high-end devices like the iPhone 3GS, HTC Hero, and Droid all under one roof. The fact that customers can purchase the phone first at Best Buy through the pre-sell is an added bonus."
This is similar to what Best Buy did with the Palm Pre, and we imagine an even better turn out this time around. Motorola's Droid is poised to become the first Android 2.0-based smartphone, and has the best chance of all Android handsets to date at challenging Apple's iPhone.
Here's a recall you don't see very often. Sony, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, announced a voluntary recall of some AC adapters in use on certain all-in-one Vaio desktops and Vaio docking stations.
According to the safety notice, faulty insulation inside the AC adapter can fail over time, which then poses an electrical shock hazard. So far there have been four reports of the affected adapters short circuiting, none of which occurred in the U.S., but no one has been injured.
The recall affects AC adapter model VGP-AC19V17. These were supplied with certain all-in-one Vaio desktops (VGC-LT series and VGC-JS2 series) and Vaio docking stations (VGP-PRBX1 and VGP-PRFE1) sold through various outlets between September 200 through October 2009.
If you have one of these adapters, Sony advises turning off the PC and unplugging it right away. You can contact Sony for a replacement either by calling 877-361-4481, or by visiting the firm's website at esupport.sony.com/ac19adapter.
Aside from adding more buttons and tweaking the ergonomics, there hasn't been a ton of innovation when it comes to the actual design of the computer mouse. That's part of what made Apple's announcement of its multitouch Magic Mouse so interesting, even if you couldn't see yourself using one. And judging by Microsoft's recent prototypes, multitouch rodents could become the next fad in PC peripherals.
"If the [traditional] mouse pointer is your virtual fingertip, we're giving you a virtual hand," says Dan Rosenfeld, a researcher with Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group in Redmond, WA.
Rosenfeld points out that multitouch surfaces exist for tabletops, computer monitors, and smartphones, but "there's really nothing addressing the kind of tasks that lots of people do all day long, sitting in front of a desk at a computer."
This is where Microsoft's prototypes come in. The funky designs look different than any computer mouse you've seen before, and that's the whole point - they are different. Microsoft's Articulated Mouse, for example, comes with finger rests for your thumb and index finger. Three optical sensors then track your movement in each of the two arms of the mouse and the main base.
But the question remains: Is there even a market for multitouch mice? Apple and Microsoft seem hellbent on finding out.
Alcatel-Lucent on Wednesday unveiled a pair of new IP routers the firm says are designed to give service provides a cost-effective alternative for "offering smaller communities the same advanced mobile, residential, and business services" that are currently employed in larger metropolitan areas.
The new units include the three-slot, 5RU 7750 SR-c12, and one-slot, 3RU 7750 SR-c4. Both serve up 90Gbps of forwarding capacity and can support edge routing interface speeds from T-1 to 10G Ethernet. Alcatel-Lucent also noted that both run under the same operating system as the company's entire Service Router family.
"With these additions, Alcatel-Lucent is effectively extending a proven, feature-rich platform to address new market opportunities where they need the capacity and capability, but at more cost-effective price points," said Glen Hunt, principal analyst, Carrier Infrastructure, Current Analysis. "The elegant integration with the existing portfolio -- especially with a single operating system from end-to-end -- makes it attractive to operators who are looking to deliver full featured, high performance services from their smaller or more remote points of presence in order to drive new revenues."
Other features include native IPv6 support, non-stop routing, non-stop services, Multi-Chassis-LAG, and support for a range of legacy and Ethernet and interface types.
The SRu 7750 SR-c12 and SR-c4 are available now, although Alcatel-Lucent didn't say for how much.
The guts of the Lenovo IdeaPad S12 are virtually identical to the IdeaPad S10 that we reviewed back in 2008—1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU, 1GB DDR2 RAM, 160GB HDD, and integrated Intel GMA950 graphics. The difference is the body. At 11.4 inches wide, this is one of the largest “netbooks” we’ve ever tested. The S12 has a 12.1-inch WXGA screen with a 1280x800 native resolution—far superior to the netbook-standard 1024x600, and much more usable. The glossy screen is impressively bright even at low LED-backlight levels.
The S12’s keyboard features large, comfortable keys and is a joy to type on, although as usual, Lenovo has mixed up where the Ctrl and Fn keys should be. The glossy black patterned lid and matte-black ABS frame make the S12 one of the best-looking and best-constructed netbooks we’ve ever tested, although the battery is a little wobbly and the lid is a fingerprint magnet. Both RAM and hard drive are easily accessible and upgradeable.
Intel working in conjunction with Numonyx unveiled breakthrough technology that will keep Moore’s Law accurate. The new process will enable non-volatile memory to cost-effectively scale down to 5nm.
Without getting too technical, the companies were able to build upon phase-change memory (PCM) and create a new technology call “phase-change memory and switch” (PCMS). PCMS integrates a new thin-film selector that effectively lets the memory/selector layers stack very densely. The nature of PCM allows it operate in two ways: quick “RAM like” bit changing, and non-volatile storage.
It is unlikely well see devices using the technology for “many years” according to Al Fazio, Intel Fellow and director of memory technology development. However, this is a key first step in continuing to scale technology according to Moore’s Law.
Like Wile E. Coyote after failing to catch the Road Runner for the umpteenth time, it's back to the drawing board for Intel, who must figure out what the heck is going on with its 34nm solid state drives (SSDs). Allow us to elaborate.
Earlier this summer, the chip maker halted shipments of its X25-M G2 drives when it was discovered that a BIOS bug could lead to data corruption. More recently, Intel released its new TRIM firmware, which was supposed to inject a 40 percent boost to sequential write speeds, but just one day after its release, Intel has pulled the update due to corruption issues in Windows 7. Apparently, the firmware has been doing more harm than good and managed to brick a few drives.
"Yes, we have been contacted by users with issues with the firmware upgrade for our 34nm SSDs and we are investigating. We take all sightings and issues seriously and are working toward resolution. We have temporarily taken down the firmware link while we investigate," Intel said in a statement to Engadget.
When Intel will have a new update is anyone's guess. In the meantime, there's a 6 page (and growing) discussion taking place on Intel's support form where you can keep up with the latest developments.
Intel may be content to wait until 2011 before jumping on the USB 3.0 bandwagon, but that isn't stopping third-party mobo makers from taking advantage of the SuperSpeed spec right now. Take Asus, for example, who has just launched a pair of motherboards the company claims features "true" USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s performance.
So what exactly is all this talk of 'true?' According to Asus, a special expansion bridge chip outfitted to its P7P55D and P7P55D-E series alleviates bandwidth constrictions for both the USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s controller chips, whereas other solutions might knock the theoretical bandwidth down by as much as 50 percent.
Other features of the new boards include CrossFireX and SLI support, eSATA, up to 10 USB 2.0 ports (and 2 USB 3.0 ports), Firewire, DDR3 2200 support, and full Windows 7 support.
If we're to believe the hype (and it's awfully convincing), Motorola's upcoming Droid smartphone could be the first handset to truly challenge Apple's iPhone. We'll find out soon enough, as Verizon today confirmed Droid will arrive next Friday, November 6, for $199 with a 2-year contract and $100 mail-in-rebate.
"This is an exciting announcement for Verizon Wireless, as the Droid by Motorola is the first device that we are bringing to market under our ground-breaking strategic partnership with Google," said John Stratton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless. "Droid by Motorola gives customers a lifestyle device with access to more than 12,000 applications that will help them stay in touch, up to date and entertained, using the best 3G network in the country."
Built around the all new Android 2.0 (Eclair) platform, the slim (0.5 inches thick) smartphone has a lot going for it, including a 3.7-inch, 854x480 capacitive touchscreen, a built-in 5MP camera, DVD-quality video recording, a TI OMAP 3430 processor based on ARM's Cortex-A8 architecture and capable of racing along at up to 600MHz, Microsoft Exchange support, HTML5 support, and a bunch more, all of which will be heavily marketed.
"The marketing campaign that will support the launch of the Droid will be the largest in our history. We're going to put significant energy behind this product," said John Stratton, Verizon's chief marketing officer.
If Droid lives up the hype, the marketing may take care of itself.
The economic squeeze that has been choking the tech industry might be loosening its grip. How so? Following news that the GPU market skyrocketed 21 percent in the third quarter with a strong outlook ahead, iSuppli reports global semiconductor revenues are signaling the start of a recovery.
"The seeds of the current recovery were sown in the second quarter," said Dale ford, senior vice president, market intelligence, for iSuppli. "During that period, manufacturers began to report positive book-to-bill ratios, indicating future revenue growth. This was followed by another sequential increase in revenues in the third quarter."
After a 5.8 percent decrease in 2008, the research firm estimates global semiconductor revenues will grow by 16.5 percent in 2009. Part of the reason for this comes from chip suppliers "slashing costs dramatically" to clear out unsold inventory in the third quarter.
iSuppli did warn that the first two quarters of 2010 will see revenues that are slightly down compared to the fourth quarter of 2009, but added that the second half of the year should show a strong 13.8 percent growth rate, finally ending the two-year losing streak.