Between raising the fee scale to censoring sellers from leaving anything less than positive feedback, Ebay has found itself under an increasing amount of scrutiny this past year. The online auction site is also finding that e-tailers are starting to offer more competitive pricing, a move Ebay believes is responsible for driving potential customers away from its auction format as buyers look for instant gratification.
"Buying online has changed," said Scot Wingo, chief executive of the market research firm ChannelAdvisor. "Retail sites no longer make customers choose between convenience and price."
To win customers back and prevent others from leaving, Ebay will once again change its fee structure, this time to the advantage of sellers looking to unload goods at a set price. Starting in mid-September, sellers will pay just 35 cents to list a fixed price "Buy It Now" auction, representing a 70 percent reduction in upfront fees.
While the new pricing scale might not be met with a warm welcome by sellers who prefer the auction format, Ebay is quick to note that "sellers can still choose to list items in Ebay's auction-style-format, which, with a low start price, remains the most cost-effective way to offer many kids of items."
Comcast is not about to stop in its attempts to manage heavy users on its network after the hand slap from the Federal Communications Commission that found that Comcast had improperly blocked peer-to-peer programs.
Bloomburg reports that Comcast now has plans to slow Internet service to the heaviest users during periods of congestion. The internet speeds for targeted customers will be reduced for periods lasting from 10 minutes to 20 minutes, to keep the service running smoothly for other users.
How much of a slow down? Mitch Bowling, Comcast's senior vice president and general manager of online services said it would back down to “a really good DSL experience''.
Internet Service Providers need a way to control bandwidth hogs during peak times in order to keep things profitable. The only other way is to add additional bandwidth that they would never even touch the rest of the time, which comes off their bottom line. Comcast’s first mistake was being sneaky about it and not disclosing the practice to consumers.
I actually like their latest idea, but from the sounds of this, they are about to repeat their second mistake; not defining what constitutes a heavy user and what exactly is this penalty phase with the bandwidth cap? The generalities just make users uneasy. Those same uneasy users will backlash if they unknowingly get caught up in Comcast’s heavy user slowdown, with what they see as reasonable usage. That reasonable usage is completely subjective, unless Comcast chooses to define it.
What do you think? Is Comcast’s latest plan an improvement?
With the emergence of eSATA combined with Firewire still sticking around, competition remains stiff for USB to stay on top of its game. Helping it do that, NEC this week expanded its wireless USB devices lineup with the introduction of the uPD720171 wireless USB host controller. The new controller ups the ante over NEC's previous model with higher throughput and higher performance.
"As the consumer appetite for wireless connectivity increases, the industry is requiring reliable, standardized interface solutions that can transmit data at speeds equivalent to wired USB connections," said Yoshiyuki Tomoda, Group Manager, SoC Systems Division, NEC. "By providing these performance levels, our new uPD720171 host controller is helping bring the industry closer to mainstream adoption of advanced wireless technologies."
NEC claims the new host controller supports data transfer rates of up to 480 Mbps within a maximum range of three meters, along with up to 32 connections to physical wireless USB compliant devices. Pricing and availability are yet to be determined.
Archos has divulged details of three new Internet Media Tablets, Archos 5, Archos 5G and Archos 7. The Archos IMTs run on the TI ARM Cortex microprocessor and offer WiFi and 3.5G HSDPA connectivity. Only the Archos 5G has inbuilt 3.5G connectivity and users will have to buy additional plug-ins for using 3.5G on other two tablets.
The Archos internet tablets offers 5 to 7 inch touch-screens and up to 320GB of storage. There are a lot of plug-ins and accessories like the high-definition video plug-in that offers 720p video playback. Throw in the DVR peripheral, the Archos turns into a digital video recorder and, additionally, it lets users browse the internet on their TV using a remote control. The DVR accessory even lets users beam live TV to a wide gamut of devices using WiFi – a portable media center of sorts.
The Archos 5 goes on sale sometime in September and will be available in three versions, 60GB ($349.99), 120GB (399.99) and 250GB ($449.99). The Archos 7 and Archos 5G internet tablets will be available in October and early 2009 respectively.
Tom’s Hardware reports that Intel will demonstrate Hynix’s just announced 16GB 2-rank DDR3 DIMM at this year’s IDF. This comes on the heels of Elpida Memory’s 16GB FB-DIMM in DDR2 flavor that I covered a few weeks ago.
Hynix’s new DDR3 DIMM uses MetaRAM’s DDR3 MetaSDRAM technology letting manufacturers pack four times the amount of mainstream DRAM onto these sticks and still be a drop in solution, using the standard DIMM power and thermal envelope.
Intel will also demonstrate a server with 160GB using Hynix DDR3 R-DIMMs and Meta SDRAM technology in the Advanced Technology Zone.
DDR3 MetaRAM is similar to the previous generation of DDR2 technology that enables significantly more memory in a server. An added benefit of the DDR3 MetaRAM technology is that enables larger memory capacity without negatively impacting the operating frequency of the DDR3 memory channel. It is the only technology that has been demonstrated to run 24GB of DDR3 SDRAM in a channel at 1066 million transactions per-second (MT/s). Using 3 of 16GB DIMM, users can achieve 48GB per channel running at 1066 MT/s, while other competing solutions max out at 16GB per channel at 1066MT/s.
I thought we’d never have machines using Vista’s (Ultimate and Business) 128GB RAM limit in it’s lifetime, but perhaps there is hope! If you have deep pockets you could fill the average 4 slots in an enthusiasts machine with 64GB of RAM. It most likely would be overkill. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what the performance stats would look like?
Monday, we told you about the forthcoming SATA Revision 3.0, also known as SATA 6Gb/s. Given the fact that conventional hard disks still don't saturate the original SATA 1.5Gb/s bus, let alone the mainstream SATA Revision 2.0 3Gb/s bus, why bother with another speedup?
In a word: SSDs. The Inquirerreports that the new Intel solid-state drives introduced this week at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) come very close to saturating the SATA 3Gb/s bus with 250MB/s read speed, while blowing the doors off conventional hard disks and third-party SSDs. And, they're not alone. As we reported Monday, Indilinx isn't far behind, offering the 230MB/s Barefoot SSD drive controller.
To learn more about why some SSD drives are faster than others, and what else SATA-IO is working on for the near future, join us after the jump.
So, what makes some SSD drives faster (or slower) than others? SSD drive performance is affected by two factors: the speed of the controller and the speed of the SSD memory chips. Currently, the fastest SSD drives use single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash, while drives using multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash trade higher capacity for slightly slower performance. As capacities climb and performance zooms, it's going to be an interesting fall and winter in the SSD business.
That's the good news. The Inquirer also reports that the SATA-IO's Power over eSATA initiative, announced in January, is now expected to be released in early 2009 (rather than late this year as was originally expected). Power over eSATA will enable eSATA drives to pull their power from the eSATA port, just as many USB drives get their power from the USB port. Whenever Power over eSATA appears (and let's hope they come up with a cooler acronym than the logical "PoeSATA"), it will be very helpful in getting eSATA to become mainstream.
It will arm 13 data centers with cloud computing infrastructure that will provide cloud computing cushion to its customers in the face of network disruptions or failures. Basically, its clients will be able to access cloud-based computer services when their own networks are down - and even out. So even during network disruptions it would be business as usual for IBM’s clients.
Intel unveiled the Intel Media Processor CE 3100, a System on Chip (SoC) for consumer electronics based on Intel Architecture (IA), at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. This particular SoC has been designed keeping in mind internet-enabled consumer electronics products like optical media players, connected CE devices, advanced cable set top boxes and digital TVs. Intel hopes that the CE 3100 will make it easier for people to stay connected to the internet on their favorite CE devices without feeling any vexing technical constraints.
Gaming, in at least one major way, imitates real life -- and I hate it. Year after year, the game release schedule ebbs and flows with the prototypical real life schedule, and the end result isn't pretty. Spring is simple enough; summer is a time for basking and vacationing. But winter and fall make up for summer with gusto. Papers flutter about as work and/or school top-off on the overwhelming meter, family members get traded amongst households for myriad holiday celebrations, and nothing ever goes according to plan.
Meanwhile, spring showers usually herald games that winter and fall somehow missed, summer deludes us into getting excited about games like Too Human, and fall/winter try to cram as many games as possible into what little free time we have left over thanks to, you know, life. And guess what: everyone's favorite part of the cycle kicks off yet again in only a couple of weeks.
So, my question: as a result of the so-called "most wonderful time of the year," what games do you most regret having missed out on? Are there any games you plan on sacrificing for the greater good this year?
Sadly, if today's Roundup is any indication, don't count on a dam for the annual game flood any time soon. Inside, you'll find a concrete release date for Fallout 3, the first details about the greatly enhanced PC edition of GTA IV, and tons of other news nuggets in between. Give it a read after the break.