Microsoft lobbed another artillery shell towards brick and mortar retailers on Thursday with the debut of its new U.S. online marketplace. Microsoft has been slowly expanding its direct to consumer sales channel over the past several months and launched its first pilot program in the UK and Germany back in July. Currently the online marketplace offers everything from Mice and Keyboards to Xbox games and consoles. Landmark PC software products such as Windows and Office will also naturally be made available.
A disproportionately large percentage of our readers have been shopping on Newegg and Tiger Direct for years. And the idea of buying items online isn’t all that unique to most of us. Perhaps the most interesting new feature of the online marketplace however, is the option to download software and install it without the need for the physical media. Downloaded software can be burned by the customer to a DVD, but this process is optional. Microsoft will also allow repeat downloads of its software, and offer remote access to product keys. According to Microsoft’s Trevin Chow; "There is no longer any need to pay for shipping costs and waiting for the big brown truck to drive across the country."
We all know that online software distribution is hardly a novel concept, and people have been downloading productivity software and OS’s such as Open Office and Linux for years. Despite these facts however, this is still a huge step for the Redmond based software giant and a further reminder that internet distribution is here to stay. Let’s just hope they find new ways to compress this stuff. I’m not sure how much more of this my bandwidth cap will take!
It may have been little more than a cruel mistake, but Newegg certainly got our hopes up by showing Core i7 CPU’s for sale a whole three days before the official launch. The offending links and advertisements were quickly pulled from the site and now, little more than a handful of screenshots exist as evidence.
Core i7 is currently slated for launch on November 17thand it appears as though we’ll have to wait until then to place our orders. Normally, this incident wouldn’t classify as news, but the Newegg slip up does give us a pretty good idea of what the retail pricing will be on the three new SKU’s. The site was offering the 2.66GHz entry level part for $319.99, while the 2.93GHz and 3.2GHz models were priced at $599.99 and $1069.99 respectively. UK customers are seeing similar pricing and power users the world over are waiting with egger anticipation to embrace the new architecture.This isn’t surprising given that early benchmarks have the entry level Core i7’s mopping the floor with pricier, and higher clocked Core 2’s.
At long last, the Dell Mini 12 is availableto order for those of us that inhabit North America.
While Dell won’t be shipping out the $549 netbook until December, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get your order in now if you want to be among the first to get one. Packing a 1.33GHz Atom processor, 1GB of memory and a 40GB hard drive, the Mini is looking to be a solid productivity machine, all factors taken into consideration.
The Mini 12 can upgrade to a 1.6GHz Atom processor and an 80GB hard drive, but you’ll end up spending a notably steep $758 for it.
Major notebook vendors like Dell and Apple are going to have a much easier time delivering those beautiful LED backlit screens in the near future, as the price of LEDs are projected to go down by 50%.
While the amount of notebooks that actually had LED backlighting in them was only 5-6% in the first three quarters of this year, that’s expected to shoot all the way up to 25% during this fourth quarter. Even still, it’s projected that up to 40% of notebooks will have LED backlighting in 2009.
At the current rate, it looks like LED backlighting will be standard sometime real soon. That’s a bright future that we look forward to.
The economy is in pretty rough shape, and it would appear that Alienware has taken notice. Their latest machine is a clear attempt to tap into the market of people that don’t have several grand to drop on frivolous pursuits, or simply put, everyone but Eliot Spitzer.
The Area-51 750i will be built off of an Nvidia nForce 750i SLI motherboard, a Core 2 Duo E8400 and an Nvidia GeForce 9800GT. To compliment the mothership, there’s also 2GB of DDR2 RAM to keep the random accesses as random as possible, and it’ll all come to you on Windows Vista 64-bit.
While the tech specs might not seem incredibly impressive, the price isn’t too bad. And plus, who wouldn’t want that wicked Alienware case?
A report by Jon Peddie Research (JPR) earlier this week confirmed that AMD's recent success with its Radeon 4000 series has helped the company take back some market share from rival GPU maker Nvidia, while also forcing Nvidia and its partners to lower prices on the recently released GTX 200 series. It appears even more cuts are on the way.
DigiTimes, citing un-named sources at graphics cards makers, says that Nvidia "is planning to cut its graphics card prices in an attempt to curb further loss of market share" to AMD. For its part, AMD isn't finished taking it to Nvidia and anticipates grabbing 50 percent of the market following lowered prices on its ATI Radeon HD 4000 series.
In short, it continues to be a great time to be a PC gamer, and it only looks to get better as AMD and Nvidia battle on the pricing front.
Power users have long dreamed of the day when hitting their PC's power button would result in an instantaneous boot. Technologies like SplashTop's Instant-On Linux-based OS have brought this concept closer to reality, but unlike the Instant-On OS, which works on a flash chip embedded on select motherboards giving users quick access to basic online tasks, Asrock's new Instant Boot feature promises super speedy boot times into Windows to the tune of just 3-4 seconds and has posted a video to prove it.
Impossible? Well, yes, but Asrock's creative approach puts a unique spin on shutting down and turning on your system. After installing the Instant Boot application on a compatible Asrock motherboard, shutting down your PC triggers a shutdown and reboot process that ultimately puts your system in a Hibernate or Standby state. The next time you hit the power button, you'll be up and running in as little as 3 seconds.
The obvious question is why not just put your system in Standby or Hibernate in the first place, and according to Asrock, Instant Boot's advantages include a less cluttered OS from a clean boot with no "accumulated garbage data," nor will you lose any data during a power outage. Whether or not Instant Boot becomes an instant hit is yet to be determined, but kudos to Asrock for thinking outside of the box.
Hit the jump and tell us what you think of this new technology.
YouTube might not ever be the cash cow Google hoped it would be when it purchased the video sharing site for $1.65 billion, but it won't be from lack of trying. The latest money making scheme being rolled out is a new ad platform YouTube is calling Sponsored Videos.
Sponsored Videos will let users promote their videos by bidding on keywords, whether those users be individuals or corporations. To help with the process, Google has created automated tools for users to place their bids for the keywords they want. As surfers type in those keywords, YouTube will display the tagged videos next to the search results. The new feature seems like an obvious one, so what took YouTube so long to implement it?
"In hindsight, it is a natural transition for YouTube to make," said Matthew Liu, a YouTube product manager. "We've been working on this for months. The key was, we wanted to make sure we got it right. There are a lot of intricacies involved. YouTube is a video discovery platform. We've been integrating with Google AdWords for some time, and now we're at a place where it can be win and win."
The Sponsored Videos will be clearly labeled when they appear following a keyword search and come priced on a cost-per click formula.
While Intel's Atom chip has been finding its way into nearly every netbook release, AMD has been playing it conservative by taking a wait-and-see approach. At this point, it's not hard to see that netbooks are here to stay, and AMD finally looks ready to capatilize on one of the hottest tech fads of the year.
According to AMD's updated processor roadmap, the chip maker is primed to target mini-notebooks and netbooks with a pair of new processors called Caspian and Conesus. Both are 45nm parts and built using the same architecture as the company's just-released Shanghai chip and both will be dual-core parts with an integrated DDR2 memory controller.
Caspian, which will find its way into ultraportables, will come with 2MB of cache compared to 1MB on Conesus. The latter will also utilize a BGA package so that it can fit into the limited space netbooks afford. Even still, AMD chief executive Dirk Meyer contends that netbooks aren't going to be the company's focus.
"First order, we're ignoring the netbook phenomenon," Meyer said, "concentrating on PC notebooks above that form factor.
Huh? Randy Allen, the senior VP of AMD's Computation Solutions Group, clarified Meyer's curious statement by saying AMD will cede part of the netbook market to Intel, particularly Mobile Internet Devices. "We won't be going to the bottom where Atom is going," Allen said. Allen further stated that customers of the Yukon netbook market don't want a "compromised PC exeprience."
Mail-in-rebates are a gamble no matter how you approach the situation. You can push the odds of getting a check in your favor by both following directions exactly as they're laid out and keeping a record of the entire process with photocopies of everything you send in, but no matter how careful you are, the promised check might never be in the mail. Depending on the amount, it could be worthwhile to stay persistent.
Now it appears that standard precautions may not be enough. According to HardOCP, Continental Promotions Group (CPG), one of the largest and oldest rebate entities in the business, is finding itself in dire straits and potentially unable to pay its obligations. When a manufacturer puts a rebate on a product, it anticipates a set of amount will be turned in. To cover the costs, said manufacturer will cut a check to CPG to cover the payouts, but according to HardOCP, those funds have gone inexplicably missing.
"We have it from good sources currently that CPG owes consumers somewhere in the neighborhood of $9M to $12M worth of rebates," HardOCP writes. "The problem here is that CPG currently only has about $3M in cash to cover that $9M-$12M in rebates owed to the consumer. Where that money has gone to is anyone’s guess and we will leave speculation up the law enforcement authorities and the courts."
HardOCP says CPG has been contacting its customers asking them to deposit more money into CPG accounts to cover the rebates or else it might not be able to honor consumer rebate checks. That can't sit well with manufacturers who already funded the rebates, nor will it sit well with consumers if they end up being the ones to get screwed.
What's your experience with mail-in-rebates been like? Hit the jump and let us know, good or bad.