Despite a struggling economy, the worldwide PC market continues to grow, which is largely the result of mini-notebooks. The immense popularity in low-cost netbooks has also favored Intel, whose Atom CPUs contributed to record growth in the processor market in Q3 2008. But are consumers truly happy buying underpowered ultraportable PCs? According to a study by Biz360, an information-services company, customer satisfaction is falling short of the sales growth.
"The results of the analysis indicate that there is a lot of opportunity for improvement across the board for Netbook products," Biz360 concludes. "Netbook manufacturers also face a significant challenge with consumers whose expectations are based on years of desktop pc usage."
Surprisingly, Biz360 found that Acer ranks lowest in Net Advocacy (Biz360's proprietary metric that factors the positive and negative sentiment of individual comments), despite being the top seller in Q4 2008. Acer's Aspire one series had a 34 percent lower Net Advocacy than the average for all laptop brands.
Not so suprisingly, the number one complaint against netbooks has to do with performance, in which Biz360 found opinions to be "predominately negative."
Earlier this month BFG announced it would become a boutique system builder, a bold move considering the market sector has seen the departure of big name boutiques like Alienware, Voodoo, and HyperSonic as standalone entities (now owned by Dell, HP, and OCZ respectively). Even bolder was the announcement of its $8,000 flagship Elite model in the new Phobos line, which comes standard with dual BFG GeForce GTX 295 videocards, Intel's Core i7 965 Extreme processor, 6GB of RAM, and other high end treats.
Now that www.bfgsystems.com has gone live and is taking orders, we have more information on the Performance and Advanced models, which start at $3,000 and $8,000 respectively. For three grand, the Performance configuration comes standard with a water-cooled Core i7 920 (2.66GHz) processor, 6GB of DDR3-1333 RAM, GeForce GTX 285 videocard, two 640GB WD hard drives, DVD burner, and a 1KW PSU. The Advanced configuration bumps the processor up to Intel's Core i7 940 (2.93GHz), adds a second GTX 285 videocard, trades the 640GB hard drives for a pair of 300GB Velociraptors instead, and forgoes onboard sound in favor of Creative's X-Fi Titanium.
All three configurations come with free in-home setup.
We've been following closely ever since some Seagate hard drive owners started complaining late last week that their hard drives were failing "at an alarming rate." Following a flood of complaints on Seagate's support forum and plenty of media coverage, Seagate responded with a firmware update that was supposed to solve the issue and prevent future lockups from occurring for owners who hadn't yet been affected. Turns out the new firmware wasn't quite ready for prime time, and Seagate had to pull the update after learning it was bricking users' hard drives. Oops!
The latest straight from Seagate is that the company has now released yet another firmware update that both will prevent future problems and undo the damage inflicted by installing the original firmware 'fix.'
Every time Intel sets foot in the SSD market, something good seems to happen. The company's first foray resulted in one of the fastest SSDs yet available with its X-25M boasting read and write speeds of up to 250MB/s and 70MB/s respectively, and now the chip maker wants to boost capacities.
The amount of storage space most SSDs offer has typically been a weak point with the technology to this point, but according Bloomberg, Intel sent a document to its customers telling them to expect a 320GB SSD in the fourth quarter. The comparatively high capacity SSD will be one of eight new drives Intel plans to release, all of which will be built with 32nm chips.
No word yet on pricing or a specific release date, but if released today, the 320GB SSD would be the consumer market's largest capacity to date. However, Toshiba is also working on a high capacity SSD that will offer 512GB of storage and expects to ship the drive in Q2.
We wouldn't advise strapping a brick of Black Cat fireworks to a perfectly good computer mouse, but if you have an old rodent laying around just taking up space in your PC parts bin, you now have an excuse to put it to sleep in the most inhumane manner you can think of. That's because gaming peripheral maker Razer is asking users to submit a YouTube video of "how you trashed your old mouse to stand a chance to win the Razer Mamba," which is Razer's new hybrid gaming mouse.
Razer showed off the Mamba at this year's CES, which features a hybrid wired/wireless design in a shell that looks very similar to the company's DeathAdder. The new mouse is set to go on sale in February with an MSRP of $130. The deadline to enter the contest is January 30, with winners to be announced on February 17, 2009.
Razer hasn't said how many winners it will select or what the criteria will be, but this isn't the first time the gaming peripheral company has tasked users with destroying hardware for a chance at trading up. Razer ran a similar contest with its Tarantula keyboard, in which 5 winners were selected.
Don't plan on entering but still have a cool idea on how to destroy a mouse? Hit the jump and share!
Add Corsair to the list of manufacturers now offering SSDs. Like many others before them, the memory maker is focusing on the mainstream market with its SSD debut, but is skipping lower capacity 32GB and 64GB models, at least for the time being, and has jumped straight to 128GB.
Corsair's also skipping the JMicron 602 controller, which is probably a good move considering the associated complaints of stuttering and poor overall performance. Instead, Corsair's S128 will use a Samsung controller and specially-selected Samsung NAND chips. Just don't expect to be blown away by its performance - the MLC-based SSD comes rated at up to 90MB/s and 70MB/s read and write speeds respectively, although Corsair says that faster drivers are in the works.
No word yet on price and availability in the U.S.,
Well that was fast. Just two weeks after launch, AMD has significantly cut pricing on its Phenom II X4 processors. And the chips weren't that expensive to begin with. The Phenom II X4 920 and 940 debuted at $235 and $275 (per 1,000-unit trays) respectively, meaning you could pick up the company's flagship CPU for under $300 when normally a top of the line processor commands a grand. Now the 920 and 940 are being sold on Newegg for $195 and $235 respectively.
While it might seem AMD is being a bit hasty in slashing prices, you can chalk it up to competitive pressure from Intel, who could care less about AMD's financial situation. Not only is Core i7 in no danger of conceding its performance crown, but two days ago Intel announced price cuts on its Core 2 Quad Q9650, Q9550, and Q8200 processors, which now sell on Newegg for $334, $283, and $170 respectively.
Qualcomm has bought AMD’s handset division for $65 million. AMD has disposed of the handset business to exclusively focus on its fundamental businesses. The handset business has only spewed losses and caused despair ever since it fell into AMD’s lap as part of its 2006 acquisition of ATI.
Qualcomm has agreed to retain some of the existing employees involved in the handset division, although the exact figure hasn’t been revealed. Qualcomm will use the technology, which has changed hands as part of the deal, to develop more advanced graphics and audio solutions for mobile devices.
Samsung and Elpida will be introducing new 50nm DDR DIMMs this year that will feature higher densities and speeds, while lowering latencies, power consumption and costs.
Thanks to Elpida’s new 50nm process that uses fluoride immersion lithography with copper interconnect technology; there will be a 25 percent speed boost from the very first generation of these new sticks of DDR3.
Samsung’s process is aimed specifically at making 2GB DDR3 sticks, and is presumed to become their prime creation process this year. They’re reporting a 60 percent increase in productivity over their DDR2 equivalents.
The prices of all this fancy new DDR3 is expected to drop from 100 percent down to only 10 percent by the time Lynnfield and Windows 7 launch in Q3 of this year. And according to the International Data Corporation, DDR3 sales will account for 29 percent of the total DRAM units sold in 2009. From there, it’s expected to boost to 72 percent in 2011.
Citing un-named notebook makers, DigiTimes says Intel will launch its next generation Atom processor, currently codenamed Pineview, in the second half of 2009. The new chip will come in both single- and dual-core flavors, although the dual-core variant will only be used in nettops, DigiTimes says.
The new chip will be built using a 45nm manufacturing process with built-in Northbridge functions, such as an integrated memory controller and graphics. Intel is expected to pair the new chip with its upcoming Tiger Point Southbridge to create a new, lower cost netbook platform currently codenamed Pine Trail-M.
But not only will future netbooks cost less as a result of Pineview, but they might be smaller too. By integrating the Northbridge with the CPU, Pineview requires significantly less motherboard space by up to 60 percent, bringing the total down from 2,174mm squared (Atom N270 + 945GC) to 773mm squared. The new platform will also cut back the amount of PCB layers from six to four, while also reducing maximum TDP from 8W to 7W.
In other words, look for tomorrow's netbooks to be smaller, faster, consume less power, and easier on the wallet.