This holiday season, Microsoft is taking aim at arch-rival Apple's iPod - and its companion iTunes software. This week, Microsoft cut the retail prices on 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB Zunes as well as on the Car Pack, Home/AV Pack, and Dock Pack. With the 8GB Zune now selling for $139 (was $149) and the 16GB model now selling for $179 (was $199), Microsoft is undercutting the price of comparable Nanos by $10 (8GB) and by $20 (16GB). The 4GB Zune anchors the lineup at $99, down $30 from its old price.
The Car Pack now sells for $69 (was $79), but the Home/AV Pack, also formerly $79, is now just $59. The Dock Pack is also cheaper at $39 (was $49).
To find out how Microsoft plans to use Zune software to drive hardware sales, join us after the jump.
As it stands, the PC gaming industry is estimated to be worth a massive $20 billion today, and it is predicted to enlarge to $34 billion by 2012.
While many have claimed that PC gaming is dying, they don’t take into account the sales of gaming-oriented PCs. According to Ted Pollak, one of the two men behind this robust estimation, “Retail software figures are not an accurate barometer for the health of the PC gaming industry. The retail numbers don’t capture the casual and digitally distributed games, either.”
Pollak goes on to state that PC gamers don’t really buy that many games to begin with. “Enthusiast PC gamers often latch onto one or two games that offer multiplayer options and stick to these titles for years. Hardware is where they spend the big bucks.”
And yes, it is noticeable that a good amount of the sales went to complete PCs, but there’s also a large market of you that buy your own parts. Many of the sales come from upgrade pieces such as improved graphics cards and memory. And for this, we at Maximum PC salute you.
Last week we reported that Continental Promotions Group (CPG), one of the largest and oldest rebate entities in the business, managed to put itself in a rather sticky situation by not having enough funds to pay off its obligations. To quickly recap, manufacturers have a pretty good idea of how many rebates on any given product will be processed and cut a check to CPG based on that amount. CPG then doles out the funds as rebate forms come trickling in, but a large chunk of money has gone inexplicably missing. According to HardOCP, CPG owes anywhere between $9 million to $12 million, but only has $3 million in cash. Oops!
No laughing matter, it's the consumers who ultimately get the raw end of the deal, but at least one company has stepped up where CPG has fallen down. In a letter to its customers, John Malley, BFG's senior director of marketing said that it has "corrected the situation" so that U.S.-based customers are clear to cash their rebate checks.
"One of our third-party rebate processing companies recently informed us that they are experiencing financial difficulties, and that the funds provided to them by BFG Technologies to pay rebate checks for certain BFG products were no longer available," Malley writes. We are happy to inform our rebate customers in the U.S. that BFG has corrected the situation, and you CAN cash your check to receive your rebate payment. This applies to all rebate checks for BFG Technologies. For Canadian customers, please hold on to your check and do not attempt to cash it. We are actively working on a solution for you and will update this message or contact you directly before the end of this week."
Malley asks that anyone who has already tried to cash a rebate check only to have it bounce or be refused by the bank to contact firstname.lastname@example.org so that BFG can issue a new check, one which should clear the bank.
Dual-channel memory might not be dead, but Intel's Core i7 platform has kicked off the era of triple-channel memory kits and most manufacturers have already jumped on board. Enter Mushkin, who not only is making tri-channel DDR3 kits available, but has launched 16 different models ranging in speed from 1066MHz to 1600MHz.
998674 – 3GB (3x1GB) XP3-10666 6-6-6-18 1.65V
998675 – 6GB (3x2GB) XP3-10666 6-6-6-18 1.65V
998676 – 3GB (3x1GB) HP3-10666 7-7-7-20 1.5-1.6V
998677 – 6GB (3x2GB) HP3-10666 7-7-7-20 1.5-1.6V
998583 – 3GB (3x1GB) EM3-10666 9-9-9-24 1.5V
998585 – 6GB (3x2GB) EM3-10666 9-9-9-24 1.5V
998678 – 3GB (3x1GB) XP3-12800 7-8-7-20 1.65V
998679 – 6GB (3x2GB) XP3-12800 7-8-7-20 1.65V
998680 – 3GB (3x1GB) XP3-12800 8-8-8-24 1.6-1.65V
998681 – 6GB (3x2GB) XP3-12800 8-8-8-24 1.6-1.65V
998658 – 3GB (3x1GB) HP3-12800 9-9-9-27 1.5-1.6V
998659 – 6GB (3x2GB) HP3-12800 9-9-9-27 1.5-1.6V
998682 – 3GB (3x1GB) HP3-8500 6-6-6-18 1.5-1.6V
998683 – 6GB (3x2GB) HP3-8500 6-6-6-18 1.5-1.6V
998570 – 3GB (3x1GB) EM3-8500 7-7-7-20 1.5V
998571 – 6GB (3x2GB) EM3-8500 7-7-7-20 1.5V
"We’ve worked diligently to create parts for the Core i7 platform that push specifications to unprecedented levels while maintaining the high quality and reliability standards of our existing products," said Brian Flood, director of product development for Mushkin. "Our triple-pack customers will be rewarded with the utmost reliability from our standard rated products, and greatly increased performance from our high performance line."
Mushkin claims that each kit is hand-tested beyond its rated specification, suggesting at least a modicum of overclocking headroom. Each of the 16 kits also come bearing Mushkin's FrostByte heatspreader.
With all the attention netbooks and nettops have been getting lately, it would appear that small form factor (SFF) and all-in-one PCs are getting lost in the shuffle. That won't be the case for long, as according to DigiTimes' un-named sources at PC vendors, Intel is gearing up to launch three new 65W low-power quad-core CPUs specifically for these two market segments.
From a specification standpoint, the new chips will be identical to existing CPUs with the same model number, but the TDP drops from 95W down to 65W. Vendors said to already be on board include Apple, Acer, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell, with Asus still mulling it over. But because the chips won't come gimped, the lower power draw could also make them popular choices for users with standard desktop setups concerned about heat management.
Pricing for the Q8200s, Q9400s, and Q9550s will sit at $245, $320, and $369 respectively for thousand-unit tray quantities.
While Blu-ray continues to inch into living rooms amid lower prices, it won't be long until the high definition format becomes a mainstream feature in PCs, says Lite-On. The optical drive maker predicts 2009 as the year BD combo drives are a standard option in new PCs, with BD burners becoming commonplace by 2011.
By Lite-On's count, BD-ROM drives, BD combo drives, and BD burners are already showing signs of significant growth as the total number of global shipments has increased from 700,000 units in 2007 to 1.7 million in the first of 2008 alone.
But it all comes down to price, and OEMs will continue to charge between $100-$200 for BD combo drives in 2009, according to DigiTimes. Lite-On says the price of BD burners is expected to drop to between $50-$100 in 2011.
Kanguru has developed a new breed of flash drive eliciting one of those 'Why hasn't someone thought of this before?' moments. The new drive, which the company calls e-Flash, combines both eSATA and USB connectivity on a standard sized thumb drive.
"We’ve combined the fastest connectivity with the most universal connection for the best of both worlds,” said Nate Cote, VP of Product Management at Kanguru Solutions. “The ultra-fast transfer speed, high capacity and small size combine to make it a great portable solution for users that want the next generation of unbelievable performance."
Kanguru says the eSATA connection comes powered so that it requires no extra power, but the company also tosses in an "eSATA + Power bracket and an eSATA + Power cable for easy hookup to the computer you use it most on." The flash drive also comes preloaded with Hotswap! software.
The Kanguru e-Flash currently comes in 16GB and 32GB capacities ($85 and $120 respectively), with a 64GB planned for January 2009. The drive's aluminum casing can also be personalized with a custom engraving.
As predicted, HP today announced that they will immediately begin taking orders for the TouchSmart TX2, the first multi touch laptop widely available to consumers. The laptop, priced starting at $1,199, will begin shipping at the end of November.
The TX2’s multi touch interface will work with any program that already supports multi touch, as well as with HP’s integrated MediaSmart media suite. The laptop features an array of gestural controls, including all of the multi touch standards, like pinch-zooming and two finger rotation, as well as the ability to open MediaSmart at any time by drawing an “m” on the screen with both fingers. The screen uses capacitance-based touch detection and is designed to accept input either from the pad of a finger or from a built-in digital pen.
With a 12.1 inch screen and weighing in at 4.3 pounds, the TX2 is physically nearly identical to its predecessor, the TX2000. The only thing differentiating the two visually is the TX2’s glossy, charcoal-colored finish and “Reaction Imprint” design.
All but the cheapest loadouts of the TX2 come equipped with Turion X2 dual-core processors. All models will ship with Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics, and consumers can opt for up to 8GB of DDR2 SDRAM and 500GB of hard disk storage. The laptop also features a webcam and optional fingerprint reader.
What do you think of the TX2? Are multi touch laptops going to become the norm? Let us know after the jump.
Ms. Hilton! I must say, it is a pleasure to know that you’re a reader of our fine publication. Today we’ve got a wonderful story just for you, and it’ s all about an exceptional machine that will match perfectly with your comically undersized dog of the week.
China’s very own Eazo is offering a jeweled up PC that will come in many different colors, depending on what your desk is looking. Just make sure that you don’t throw off your feng shui!
The Eazo F20-SE Xing Crystal packs an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 processor and a Western Digital Green Power 1 TB HDD for storing all those important documents. So far though, there’s no word on how much memory is installed or what kind of graphics processing is available.
And while you’re looking at just how attractive this PC will look next to the pictures of your family, fifth car, and private jet pull out your wallet. This little beast will run you a fresh $70,000 for the top end model.
While Shuttle’s new XPC SG45H7 might not have many discernable differences from the usual Shuttle system, it’s got a hidden treasure trove of new features hidden underneath that compact chassis.
The XPC SG45H7 only comes in black, but it sports plenty of powerful pieces underneath the hood. For starters, they’re shipping Intel’s G45 Express chipset topped off with your choice of an Intel Core 2 Quad or Core 2 Duo processor. This is mostly thanks to the improved cooling and space provided by the new H7 case, which is slightly bigger than previous Shuttle PCs. It allows for a larger, quieter power supply fan, room for dual-slot graphics and up to four sticks of memory.
This slick little box is available from specialist retailers with prices listed as low as $349. And with this economy, prices that low coupled with hardware that hot is a combination that’s tough to beat.