The Zune, just like every other Microsoft product is a very functional and feature rich device. Unfortunately, it simply lacks the cool factor that seems to come bundled with every iPod ever shipped. Despite the intense struggles it has faced however, it seems pretty clear at this point that Microsoft is ready to stay the course and is content to scrap it out for the number two position. At least, this is the impression Joe Belfiore gave CNET News in a tell all interview on the future of the Zune. In the interview Belfiore recants his dream of a future where media flows seamlessly from Zune to Xbox or even a Mediaroom IPTV. On the subject of a Zune phone, Belifore didn’t have much to say other “stay tuned”. It’s hard to read much into that, but clearly it’s a lucrative market that could really help push the brand forward if executed properly. For those who haven’t been following the lineup, Microsoft just recently released new Zune hardware. They include a 120 GB hard drive based player to compete with the iPod classic, and an 8 GB flash drive based device to take on the iPod Nano. Both have been priced aggressively to compete with Apple going into the holiday season and in many ways are still a better value. From the interview it also seems apparent that Microsoft will continue to push hard on the value of the Zune as a social experience. Zune owners have the option of sharing playlists with friends and can even create profiles so everyone on the web will always know your favorite songs. The interview doesn’t reveal any new information, but presumably Microsoft must be carefully looking at devices such as the iPhone and iPod Touch. Both represent products they can’t currently compete with under their current lineup.
The current sea of web browsers is awash in promises, but what makes Firefox better then Internet Explorer? And is Google’s Chrome really any faster or better at rendering web pages then Safari? Neowin.net was looking to answer this very question when it authored an excellent roundup of browser rendering engines. The report helps to break down which browsers and applications make use of each of the four most prominent technologies: Trident (Microsoft), Gecko (Mozilla), Webkit (Apple/Google), and Presto(Opera). While both Trident and Presto are both closed source projects, Gecko and Webkit remain open source and are likely to be the basis of any future browsers entering the market. It is an excellent reference for users looking to switch browsers and is a reminder that we should pay attention more to the underlying engine being used then the name of the browser itself. Market share of the various engines is a very telling indicator of general compatibility on the web. It will also help you the next time a Mac head goes on rant over how much better Safari is than Chrome. You now have the tools you need to put him in his place.
A few days ago, we reported a novel attack on Will Wright's critically acclaimed title, Spore. The game, which comes inextricably chained to a monolithic slab of DRM, provoked a sea of gamers to crash headfirst into Amazon.com's user review section. Soon, the tides receded, taking with them all but a single star from Spore's user rating. Certainly, this demonstration of gamerly ire was more meaningful than a simple Internet petition, but those brave souls have yet to receive custom apology letters from EA with realistic-looking, printed-on signatures and tear blats, so a rousing success their movement was not.
Now, Forbes sends word that indignant gamers have peeled back their kid gloves to reveal cruel hooks. Where protest failed, they hope that theft will succeed.
"By downloading this torrent, you are doing the right thing," wrote one user going by the name of "deathkitten" on the popular file-sharing site The Pirate Bay. "You are letting [Electronic Arts] know that people won't stand for their ridiculously draconian 'DRM' viruses."
"You have the power to make this the most pirated game ever, to give corporate bastards a virtual punch in the face," deathkitten added.
In addition, the most-downloaded Spore tracker brings with it "step-by-step instructions for how to disassemble the copy protections, along with a set of numerical keys for breaking the software's encryption."
And it's not just embittered hyperbole. Chief Executive Eric Garland of Big Champagne, a peer-to-peer research firm, notes that deathkitten's tactics may very well be working. "The numbers are extraordinary," Garland said. "This is a very high level of torrent activity even for an immensely popular game title."
But the question remains: Is this the right course of action?
At this week’s CTIA trade show in San Francisco, Research in Motion, developer of the BlackBerry, announced the release of its first flip-design phone. Based on the candy-bar-style Pearl, the Pearl Flip 8220 will include a 240x320 primary display, a camera, music and video capabilities, and Wi-Fi. Like the Pearl, the Pearl Flip has been designed for the consumer market. Instead of a full keyboard, the device includes two letters on each key and also has a trackball, similar to the Pearl’s. T-Mobile will be the exclusive carrier of the Pearl Flip in the United States. Although no street price or relapse date were provided at the show. It is widely expected that the Flip will be available by the holiday season.
NEC said yesterday it would join IBM and six other semiconductor companies who are focused on developing new methods of manufacturing 32nm processors. The other six include Charted Semiconductor, Freescale, Infineon Technologies, Samsung, STMicroelectronics, and Toshiba, with the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University of Albany in New York also contributing.
The IBM-assembled alliance is attempting to create chips that use standard, bulk CMOS (complimentary metal oxide semiconductor) technology in the manufacturing process. Benefits of going this route include a 35 percent increase in performance over 45nm parts, while also cutting power consumption in half. The double-whammy would prove particularly attractive for mobile computing.
For its part, Intel is also working on a 32nm design. Chips built on the shrunken process are expected to debut in mid-2009. No date has been set for when IBM and its collaboration of companies will bring 32nm processors to market.
We'd all love to run a pair of 4870 X2 videocards, but for certain workstation tasks, these gaming-centric videocards would prove inappropriate. For those who put work before play, AMD today introduced two new workstation cards, one at each end of the performance spectrum.
Taking its place on the high rung, AMD's new flagship FirePro V8700 is based on the 4800 series with 800 stream processors. The company claims the V8700 is about 40 percent faster than its previous flagship offering. The card comes with 1GB of GDDR5 memory and sports a total bandwidth of 108.8 GB/s. Two DisplayPorts and a single dual-link DVI interface round out the feature-set.
On the lower end, the FirePro V3750 drops the stream processors down to 320 and comes with a more conservative (that's a nice way of saying 'much lower') 256MB of GDDR3, resulting in a bandwidth of 22.4 GB/s.
Both the V8700 and V3750 will be available sometime this quarter with an MSRP of $1,499 and $199 respectively.
If you enjoyed the first commercial starring Bill Gates and new OS pitchman Jerry Seinfeld (and judging by the comments in the accompanying news post, many of you did), then you're likely to be tickled by the latest installment, all agonizing 4 minutes of it (that's right, my PC brethren, I'm still not amused). Gates doesn't shake his tush in the latest Vista ad, but he does do the robot, or at least a 52-year-old semi-retired billionaire's version of the robot (admittedly not bad, all things considered).
The newest ad still stays mainly focused on trying to connect with current culture rather than outright attempting to whip Apple at its own game, which is to fight a battle of the OSes. But here's my beef - it's just not amusing, to me anyway. There are subtle (and some not so subtle) messages to be picked up on in both commercials, but just as I didn't find myself chuckling at the whole Shoe Circus setting, I'm equally unimpressed watching a couple of rich guys trying to coexist with the common folk (props to the spunky grandma, the sole shining star so far in this ad campaign). Taken to the extreme, as Gizmodo alludes to, the commercials' failure to live up to expectations ironically mimic the same characteristic that described Vista when it first debuted.
There's a particular line that stands out in this new commercial. After Gates and Seinfeld are caught stealing a leather giraffe, the man of the home tells the unlikely duo "I'm disappointed in the both of you." Me too.
Am I just being a hater, or are you guys and gals still digging these introductory commercials? Maybe I'm just bitter that Will Ferrell didn't end up with the role.
There's online storage, and then there's Dropbox. If you haven't heard of the latter, it's only the greatest thing to come to online storage since, well, ever. And now it's available to the public.
Dropbox purports to offer an easy way to share and store your files, but what makes Dropbox so unique is its ability to integrate with all your PCs, including Linux. It will even play nice with your Mac. Make a change to a file, and Dropbox will automatically update the changed file to any computer linked to your account. Not only that, but it will only transfer the part of the file that changed. Other goodies include the ability to designate shared folders, public folders for non-Dropbox users, drag-and-drop friendly, and AES-256 encryption.
Free accounts come with 2GB of storage, with a 50GB account available for $10/month, or $100/year.
There's no official word yet, but there's speculation that Intel might release it's six-core Dunnington chips next week at VMWare's VMWorld conference in Las Vegas. Dunnington isn't being aimed at the desktop crowd and will instead target the server market, so if Intel was looking to make a splash with its new CPUs before Nehalem debuts, VMWorld would be the place to do it.
For those that missed our coverage earlier this month, Intel's Xeon 7400 series Dunnington processor will not only be the first six-core CPU, but also the first Intel chip to sport a monolithic design, meaning all six cores will come on one slice of silicon. Current generation chips feature multiple cores in one package. Despite being monolithic in nature, Dunnington will still use an external memory controller, which Intel hopes to offset with a generous amount of cache. The six cores will share a beefy 16MB of L3 cache, and 3MB of L2 cache (9MB total).
Integrated graphics are typically of little interest to power users, but as onboard GPUs continue to develop, such solutions quickly become tempting for a secondary rig, kids' PC, or any other setup that has no aspirations for playing Crysis. If you fall into one of those latter categories, you may want to hold off for a couple of weeks before shelling out for a motherboard.
According to DigiTimes, Nvidia will launch its MCP7A IGP chipset by the end of the month, which will bring an integrated GeForce 9-series graphics core to the table. Two versions are being planned, with the MCP7A-U featuring a GeForce 9400 GPU and the MCP7A-S coming equipped with a GeForce 9300 GPU. Both GPUs will be identical in architecture, except the 9400 will come with a core clockspeed of 580MHz and shader frequency of 1,500MHz, whereas the 9300's core and shader will come clocked at 450MHz and 1200MHz respectively.
On the chipset front, the MCP7A chipset brings support for a 1333MHz frontside bus, up to 6 SATA ports, up to 12 USB ports, and RAID 0/1/0+1 and 5. Some motherboards will also support Nvidia's Hybrid technology when paired with a third party videocard.