It’s been a while since we’ve posted a Parts and Price Guide on the site—okay, it’s been a long time. Now we’re back and better than ever, and so are the system specs we’re pairing you up with this month. We’re starting you off with a $1000 PC, which is a happy mid-way price point between the $700 recession special and $1500 budget surplus found in this year's Dream Machine roundup. $1000 may not seem like a steal for the truly frugal, but in a world of fluctuating economies and ever-changing technologies, getting the most “bang for your buck” is more important than getting rock bottom prices at the expense of performance. And in the time since we last posted a buyer's guide, new awesome technologies like Intel's Core i5 and ATI's Evergreen series of GPUs (which powers the Radeon 5870) have redefined our expectations of budget PC performance. With these computing advances in mind, we've carefully pieced together a sub-$1000 spec that doesn't break the bank or compromise performance.
Follow along for the secret to a hearty, healthy computer, for only a grand!
HighPoint Technologies unveiled the Rocket 600 series host adapter. The first of its kind it supports SATA 6Gb/s over PCI-Express 2.0
The Rocket 600 series cards boast 6Gb/s performance for two drives offering 500MB/s throughput. It uses standard SATA cables and connectors and features two types of backwards compatibility. First, it supports PCI-Express 1.0 as well as SATA 3Gb/s and 1.5Gb/s devices. Driver support was written in compliance with the AHCI standard so driver support is native to most operating systems.
The new series features two cards: the Rocket 620 and Rocket 622. The more expensive ($79.99) Rocket 622 offers eSATA ports instead of the SATA connectors on the $69.99 Rocket 620. The new adapters will be available late October into early November.
Lately motherboard manufacturers have been looking to make a splash with their naming schemes, and MSI is no exception. The company's first gaming oriented mobos built around Intel's P55 platform will be dubbed the "Big Bang" series, MSI announced today.
"Unique and innovative, the all-new Big Bang series will deliver the shock and awe of unprecedented experience and expand into its own collection of galaxies," MSI stated in a press release.
Sounds ambitious, and the first galactic board created from the Big Bang series is the Trinergy. Goofy marketing aside, the Trinergy looks promising on paper and comes with 100 percent Hi-c capacitors, a discrete Quantum Wave soundcard, 3-way SLI support, MSI's OC Genie, an external dashboard for on-the-fly overclocking, and some other goodies.
MSI said it plans to follow up the Trinergy with its upcoming Big Bang Fuzion, which will support different GPUs in a single system. Look for Fuzion to land on our home planet sometime before the end of 2009.
More Ion-powered nettops are on the way, including three new models from Asus subsidiary ASRock. All three up the ante over the company's previous nettops with RAID support, eSATA, MCE remote (not on the lower end model), and a few other odds and ends. Blu-ray even makes a cameo in the higher-end unit.
The three new machines consist of the Ion 330Pro, 330HT, and 330HT-BD. Each one comes spec'd with an Intel Atom 330 dual-core processor clocked at 1.6GHz, up to 4GB of DDR2-800 memory, Nvidia's Ion graphics, up to 1.5TB of total hard drive space, DVD or Blu-ray drive, 7.1 channel audio, Gigabit LAN, 802.11b/g/n WiFi (330Pro excluded), and the usual assortment of ports (HDMI, USB).
No word yet on price or a release date, nor is there any mention of what OS the machines will use (we're guessing Windows 7).
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.