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.
Last fall, Intel slapped the solid state drive market on the back of the head with the release of the 80GB X25-M MLC drive. That drive absolutely trounced the competition with its 200MB/s read speeds, incredibly low random-access times, and best of all, no random-write stuttering or cache overflows. The first X25-M garnered a Kick Ass Award and defeated all comers in our last SSD roundup (November 2008), but the market has come a long way since then. With powerful competition from drives sporting Indilinx and Samsung controllers, can the 160GB X25-M maintain Intel’s crown?
The 160GB X25-M ships in a silvery chassis, unlike its predecessor’s black, and is 7mm tall—an included spacer accommodates 9.5mm drive bays. Intel’s kicked the flash manufacturing process down from 50nm to 34nm, and retained native SATA and Native Command Queuing from its previous iteration.
MTube’s latest touch screen device isn’t a new mobile phone or netbook. Instead, the Mtube Android MID is intended as a multimedia device for living room entertainment.
It offers a 7.6-inch OLED touch screen, an ARM processor, internet access and wireless streaming to your television. You can send videos and images to your television using touch screen gestures. The details on how the device communicates with your TV are not clear; it’s likely a WIFI receiver will connect your HDMI ports (on the TV) with the MTube. MTube has been in negotiations to integrate a receiver into displays.
It’s not exactly production ready (the demo unit crashed in the video) but it is an interesting use of the Android operating system and could prove to be a clever entertainment device.
Sony Optiarc America, in particular, produces the Sony line of optical disk drives for DVD, CD, and Blu-ray media formats and is the focus of the investigation. Sony didn’t hint to which products are of interest, but if you like to follow the gossip circles (or have a bit of common-sense) it is likely something to do with Blu-ray.
Blu-ray’s prices have yet to see the traditional price declination expected from a hot technology that has been released over three years ago. In fact, prices have remained steady over that time despite HD-DVD disappearing from the picture.
Further, the technology hasn’t skyrocketed in popularity the way Sony expected and antitrust investigations are not likely to help that process along.
Dell unveiled a new ruggedized convertible tablet called the Latitude XT2 XFR today. It measures in at 1.5 inches thick making it the thinnest rugged convertible laptop on the market.
It is a “work in the field” type laptop weighing 5.4 pounds using a 4-cell battery. It features a 12.1-inch LED backlit display with multi-touch and gesture controls, Core 2 Duo processor (SU9600), and can support up to 5GB of RAM. The Dell engineers weren’t just hoping this thing could handle a coffee spill or a three centimeter drop, it has been designed to meet MIL-810G standards and is expected to be certified soon.
What does that mean? Well, for one, it can operate in temperatures ranging from minus 10 up 140 degrees Fahrenheit. It also features a thermal management system designed to keep things cool but also eliminate dust and water from entering the device.
The new laptop starts at $3,599 and will be sold in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Italy, Spain and Germany.
MSI chairman Joseph Hsu wasn’t entirely positive in his future outlook, however. Windows 7, according to Hsu, will help pick up lagging notebook sales. But a shortage on optical drives and DRAM, which is expected to continue into 2010, will put a crimp on MSI’s ability to meet expected demand.
Gigabyte, on the other hand, is a behind on its projections to ship 200,000 notebooks in 2009 because of a lousy first half. But, the trend in the third quarter is upward, and Gigabyte expects it will get at least 120,000 notebooks out the door by year’s end. For 2010 Gigabyte vice president Richard Ma expects to ship 300,000 notebooks, with half made in-house, and the other half made by Quanta Computer.
On the netbook side of things, MSI reports that the proportion of netbooks shipped dropped from 50% of all notebooks to 30%. Market demand, according the HSU, for ultra-thin notebooks was also weak. Ultra-thin shipments should pick-up in 2010, however, once Intel starts shipping a dual-core CPU for this market segment.
We're not sure how we would envision a $1,200 mouse, but we're pretty sure it wouldn't resemble the Titanium Mouse by Intelligent Design. Yet that's how much the Dutch outfit says their rodent is worth. So what do you get in exchange for all those ducats?
A handcrafted Bluetooth laser mouse, for starters. Intelligent Design says the body is finished in hand-formed grade 1 titanium and high-quality plastic (resin). The $1,200 rodent also integrates a 3-button neodymium scroll wheel, and how can you put a price on neodymium?
It's wireless and runs on two AAA batteries, and it boasts support for Windows XP, Vista, 7, and Mac OS X. But then again, if you have $1,200 to spare on an mouse, you could probably just hire someone to move your existing rodent for you, and fetch your lunch while you're at it.
This did, however, get us thinking. What's the most you would ever consider paying for a mouse? Hit the jump and sound off!
The U.S. Defense Department has decided to cautiously reinstate the use of USB thumb drives and other flash storage-based media. Flash storage -- and devices which use them, including memory sticks, digital cameras, media players, PDAs, and more -- were banned last November after thousands of military computers were infected by various malware, most of which was traced back to thumb drives.
That ban will soon be lifted, at least partially. Robert Carey, chief information officer of the U.S. Navy, said in a blog post that only "authorized individuals" are likely to be given permission to use thumb drives, and even then only for "mission-essential functions." And these won't be personal drives picked up off of Newegg or Best Buy.
"The days of using personally owned flash media or using flash media collected at conferences or trade shows are long gone," Carey said.
Instead, the drives will be "government-owned and procured," and will also contain built-in encryption chips that may require both a password and a fingerprint scan to decrypt the data, among other safeguards that are yet to be worked out.
According to Jon Peddie Research (JPR), the graphics market performed extraordinarily well in the third quarter, which bodes well for the upcoming holiday shopping season. How well? Graphics processors spiked 21.2 percent over the second quarter,, which JPR says was already strong to begin with.
"A total of 119.45 million units were shipped in the third quarter, exceeding the record 111 million units that shipped in third-quarter 2008," said Jon Peddie, president of JPR. "So the market has caught up with, and exceeded, last year's highs. The crash of fall 2008 is now behind us."
AMD fared particularly well with on-quarter growth at 30 percent. Intel wasn't far behind, noting on-quarter growth of 25.2 percent on shipments of 63 million units, or twice as many as Nvidia, its nearest competitor.
And these weren't all integrated graphics, either. According to JPR, "integrated graphics in notebooks, including netbooks, increased 27 percent over the second quarter -- a great gain, but less than discrete."