Cooler Master wowed us last year with its full-tower HAF 932, which garnered Maximum PC’s coveted Kick Ass Award (November 2008). Now we’ve gotten our hands on the midtower version of the HAF, the 922, and it looks awfully familiar.
Superficially, the HAF 922 is like a cross between the full-tower HAF 932 and last month’s CM Storm Sniper. In fact, HAF 922’s interior is virtually identical to the Sniper’s—it has the same fixed motherboard tray with the CPU backplate cutout, cable tie-downs, and cable-routing holes. The five 5.25-inch drive bays use the same toolless retaining mechanism, and the five 3.5-inch hard drive bays use the same slide-out toolless trays. But where the Sniper had toolless PCI locking mechanisms, the HAF opts for more-traditional thumbscrews. And the interior of the HAF, unlike the Sniper’s, is unpainted metal (although the Sniper’s motherboard tray isn’t painted, either).
Have you ever found yourself in a life or death situation where you simply couldn’t take your gloves off to operate a touch screen? Well probably not, but Ultra rugged-PC maker Getac who primarily supplies computer hardware to the police, military, and other field service organizations feels this is a market that is clearly under served, and is hoping to fill a niche with its new V100 convertible tablet PC. The V100 will be the first tablet PC on the market to sport a brand new resistive multitouch display, which unlike the capacitive screens found in the common iPhone, works even when you can’t operate the display with your bare fingers.
The inspiration behind the tablet is to bring multitouch computing to non-traditional markets, and take advantage of the increased compatibility that is being added in Windows 7. “Our customers work in some of the most extreme environments and weather conditions where touch screen technology and flick gestures are faster, safer and more convenient than using a keypad,” said Jim Rimay, president of Getac in a statement.
With regards to the internal specs on the V100 it will contain a full size keyboard, sunlight-readable 10.4 inch TFT LCD, and an ultra-low voltage 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. On the outside it features a magnesium-alloy case making it vibration, dust, moisture, and even drop resistant. Pricing for the V100 will start at around $3,499 with an extra $225 for the multitouch display. It is expected to go on sale at the end of November.
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.