When you're on top, everyone comes gunning for you, especially in a lucrative market like the e-reader business. Not only will Amazon have to fend off competition from Sony, but it will also have to contend with startups and other newcomers hoping to grab a piece of the e-book pie.
Enter Christopher Maire, CEO of txtr, who said his firm would release an e-reader before Christmas rolls around. Or in other words, just in time for the holiday shopping spree.
"Reading is a 100 million market and we think is a big opportunity for providing an 'Easy tech' solution," Maire explains. "The e-reading design will be launched by Christmas, and is custom designed to include energy saving.."
Maire went on to say his company's device will include touch technology, a simplified form factor, and various connectivity options, including UMTS, GPRS, WiFi, Bluetooth, and USB. But the company's real advantage, Maire claims, is on the software side. The CEO says that txtr is a software stack company and it will share folders in the cloud, licensing its middleware stack to other manufacturers. At launch, Maire says his company's software will boast support for the iPhone.
Perhaps in an attempt to stave off the competition in what's shaping up to be a battle royal in the e-book reader market, Amazon has again dropped the price of its Kindle 2, this time from $299 to $259. In addition, Amazon said it will start selling an international version with a built-in AT&T SIM card for $279 on Monday, October 19.
“Kindle is the most wished for, the most gifted, and the #1 bestselling product across the millions of items we sell on Amazon, and we’re excited to be able to lower the price," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. "We’re also excited to announce a new addition to the Kindle family–Kindle with global wireless. At home or abroad in over 100 countries, you can think of a book and download it wirelessly in less than 60 seconds."
The U.S. Kindle Store now comes crammed with more than 350,000 books, including 104 of 112 New York Times Bestsellers, Amazon says. And most of those sell for $10 or less. But Amazon also faces increasing competition from a number of other players suddenly panning for gold in the e-book market, including Sony, Asus, and others.
In preparation for the launch of Windows 7 and its multitouch capabilities, Gateway has announced two touchscreen all-in-one PCs built specifically for the upcoming OS.
On the higher end, the Gateway One ZX6810-01 will come with a 23-inch touchscreen display, an Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200S, a heaping 8GB of DDR3-1333 memory, a 64GB solid state drive for the OS and 1TB hard drive for storage duties, and ATI Radeon Mobility HD 4670 graphics with 1GB of memory. Cnet, who managed to get its hands on one already, praised the PC for its speed, while noting that the "touch input could be frustratingly unresponsive" at times.
Lower on the all-in-one totem pole sits the Gateway One ZX4800-02. At half the price of its bigger brother, this model boasts a 20-inch touchscreen display, an Intel Pentium dual-core T4300 processor, 4GB of DDR2-800 memory, a 750GB hard drive, and Intel's GMA X4500HD graphics. both PCs ship with 64-bit flavors of Windows 7 Home Premium.
Gateway says the ZX4800 will be available in late October or early November for $750, while the FX6810 will debut sometime in Q4 for $1,400.
Any large technology company relies on their server infrastructure to serve their customers. The sort of power that runs Google or Facebook doesn’t come cheap. It's not so much the cost of the hardware, it’s the massive cost of powering that infrastructure that eats into the bank account. Two start-ups aim to change the server game with some new, low-power alternatives to conventional servers.
SeaMicro, from Santa Clara, is putting together servers based on the low power Atom chip seen most often in Netbooks. Those in the know have indicated that SeaMicro will be able to pack 80 Atom chips in a very small chassis. These Atom servers would offer massive reductions in energy costs, but still provide adequate processing power to serve up data. After all, how much power does it really take to push out some Google results?
In Austin, Texas, there’s an even more ambitious server project afoot. Smooth-Stone is working to integrate the ARM chips you’ve seen in smartphones, like the iPhone, into a new server architecture. Smooth-Stone CEO, Barry Evans, accumulated a great body of knowledge working for Intel’s mobile products group. This seems to jive nicely with the company’s apparent goals. Details on this one are scarce, but if the performance is sufficient, the energy savings could be staggering. Could it be that the era of companies running rack after rack of Xeon-based web servers is coming to a close?
Netgear announced their latest foray into the open source wireless router realm with the Netgear WNR3500L. Cisco based Linksys routers targeted at consumers have been flaunting the Linux OS for quite some time. However, Netgear has plans to become a favorite amongst the open source networking community.
The WNR3500L rocks the latest 802.11n support and is fully customizable with the latest open source firmware out there: DD-WRT, OpenWRT, and Tomato. Som Pal Choudhury, senior product line manager for advanced wireless, also mentioned their “Development Partner Program, with multiple software vendors and developers creating customized, robust, commercial-grade applications on the WNR3500L.”
In addition to the open source community, Netgear has collaborated with software application companies to deliver applications such as hotspot software by Sputnik, and remote access by Leaf Networks, among others, to run additionally on the Linux platform.
In terms of hardware, it sports a 480MHz MIPS 74K CPU, 8MB of flash memory, 64MB of RAM, 5 gigabit Ethernet ports, and USB ports for shared peripherals. Netgear will launch the router this Fall with a starting price of $139.99.
The price is a bit steep; do you think the flexibility of Linux and additional software, not to mention full 802.11n support is worth the price tag?
If you doubt the existence of mirror universes that are almost the same except for minor changes, Digital Storm’s 950Si rig could make a believer out of you.
The 950Si is that similar to Maingear’s Kick Ass Award–winning ePhex that we reviewed in August, albeit with some slight differences. For instance, the ePhex’s all-white enclosure was a Silverstone TJ10, while the 950Si uses a nearly all-black TJ09.
In graphics, the 950Si features dual EVGA GeForce GTX 295 cards while Maingear opted for three GeForce GTX 285 cards. Both rigs sport Intel’s top proc—the Core i7 975 Extreme Edition at 4GHz—but get there differently. Digital Storm does a straight multiplier overclock of 31x133MHz base clock to get to 4.1GHz. Maingear preferred a 21x multiplier with a 160MHz base clock to get to 4GHz.
Even in SSDs there’s a similar-but-different feel. Maingear tapped two Intel 80GB X-25M drives; Digital Storm opted for two of Corsair’s 64GB M64 SSDs.
OCZ on Monday announced its latest Z-Drive PCI-Express SSD, the m84. Unlike previous Z-Drives, the m84 doesn't target enterprise users and instead is intended for the 'mainstream' power user crowd.
"The OCZ m84 Z-Drive is the newest addition to our line of PCI-E solid state drives and is designed to offer consumers a high performance yet aggressively priced solid state solution," said Eugene Chang, Vice President of Product Management at the OCZ Technology Group. "While the previously released p84 and e84 Z-Drives were intended specifically for enterprise applications, the m84 delivers much of the same performance but at a price point that is competitive with standard SSD drives. This is the first time that such a high performance PCI-E based SSD that is optimized for media editing, gaming, and workstation productivity, has been so within the reach of power users."
The m84 comes built with multi-level cell (MLC) NAND and a bootable internal RAID 0 configuration. OCZ says users can expect read speeds up to 750MB/s and write speeds up to 650MB/s, at least in the 256GB model. Other capacities include 512GB and 1TB, with both of the higher capacity models improving read and write speeds to 870MB/s and 780MB/s, respectively. All three boast sustained write speeds in the neighborhood of 600MB/s.
For probably the first time in a very long time, the future appears bright for the memory market. Either that, or A-Data chairman Simon Chen is sporting an awfully bright pair of rose-colored glasses.
According to Chen, both the NAND flash and DRAM sectors have recovered in the second half of 2009, following the easing of an oversupply of chips that previously kept prices uncomfortably low. Chen views this as a positive sign moving forward, saying the overall memory sector is expected to return to its 2006 or 2007 form in 2010.
If true, this bodes particularly well for A-Data, who has aspirations of once again reigning as the most profitable among Taiwan-based memory module companies in 2010. A-Data is planning on expanding in India, Russia, Brazil, and Mexico, and according to Chen, sales generated from the emerging markets should grow significantly in 2010.
Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group plans to present a paper on five different touch-sensitive mice prototypes during this week's User Interface Software and Technology Conferences in British Columbia, Canada.
With Windows 7 touting mutlitouch capabilities, this could be Microsoft's way appealing to the majority of users who don't own a touchscreen display. But don't expect to see all five designs come to fruition - it's much more likely that the five prototypes would end up being whittled down to one or two products.
FTIR (Frustrated Total Internal Reflection) Mouse
This prototype uses the principle of frustrated total internal reflection and has a built-in-camera to sense user's touches on top o an arc-shaped piece of acrylic.
Hit the jump to see all the prototypes and tell us which one you like best.
Intel has kicked off a PC Mod contest to help generate some publicity and enthusiasm over the new Core i7 and Core i5 processors. Not that Intel needs to drum up any excitement about the processors; most enthusiasts have been anticipating them for quite some time.
The contest involves building, or modding, a computer with the new technology and submitting photos of your build to Intel. There will be a preliminary judging by Intel and sponsors and the top mods will be sent to the People’s Choice finals where the public can vote on the mod they like the best.
You can get more details at the Intel Core i7 Custom Challenge site. The deadline for submissions is November 16th and voting begins November 23rd.