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.
Well, how's this for unexpected? One day, one of North America's two pillars of professional gaming collapses, and the next, pro gamer Tom "Tsquared" Taylor becomes the first pro gamer to slap a mugshot on Dr Pepper's tiny, 20 oz. billboard.
Taylor will appear on roughly 175 million bottles of the good doctor's delicious nectar from January to April 2009. He currently twiddles his thumbs for Major League Gaming, and, despite the fact that we've never heard of him, is apparently a pretty popular guy.
“It’s not like I’m Tom Cruise or Usher walking down the street or anything like that, but it’s gotten to the point where you have to look your best when you go out,” Taylor said. “I carry a Sharpie around, like Peyton Manning.”
Along with adopting the latest Manning-inspired fashion trends and name-dropping like life is a giant Twitter input box, Taylor recently inked a three-year, $250,000 contract with MLG.
The upshot of all this: pro gaming in North America still has a shot at taking off. Now if promoters can figure out a way to really capitalize on the popularity of players like Tsquared (step one: stop using nicknames like "Tsquared"), then pro gaming might just blossom into something special.
Don’t worry, fear mongers. The LHC isn’t going to start up anytime soon, and it’s all because of one bad solder.
When the LHC was initially started up, it was doing lots. It was going through all of its testing, it was gathering plenty of data to boot, and it wasn’t destroying the planet (I like that last one the most). The testing process of CERN’s love child was well underway, but sadly came to an immediate halt when a transformer broke in the last stage of testing, taking down plenty of expensive circuits with it. All, according to Spokesman James Gillies, thanks to one bad solder.
June is slated for the earliest restart date, but until then they’ve got a massive $21 million to spend on repairs. What exactly they plan to spend it on hasn’t been announced.
While Intel’s Atom processor is meant for low-power demand machines, such as netbooks, it’s found a new use with a not-so-likely candidate – a supercomputer.
Silicon Graphics (SGI) has started exhibiting a new concept for a supercomputer that could pack almost 10,000 Intel Atom processors into one rack. SGI is planning to name it the Molecule.
The Molecule could reportedly offer the horsepower and memory bandwidth of more than 750 high-end desktop PCs, and consume only half the power. It would also occupy a meager 1.4 percent of the physical space.
After already once claiming the gleaming golden press release for fastest-selling PC game in 2007, Blizzard's back to its crazy shenanigans. According to Acti-Blizz's better half, WoW: Wrath of the Lich King moved 2.8 million units in a single day -- 400,000 more monetarily magnetized boxes than previous record holder WoW: The Burning Crusade.
“We’re grateful for the incredible support that players around the world have continued to show for World of Warcraft,” said Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime.
“Wrath of the Lich King contains some of the best content we’ve created for the game so far, and we look forward to seeing even more players log in to experience it in the days ahead.”
So, did you brave the WotLK-starved hordes to secure a day-one copy? We didn't, but the local line weaved down from GameStop and up into our room anyway, so we still consider our war stories valid.
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.
Nvidia has released new WHQL-certified videocard drivers for GeForce 200-series, 9-series, and 8800-series GPUs only (owners of older videocards need not apply). The approximately 73MB download enables finally brings to fruition a license agreement between Nvidia and Intel by enabling SLI on SLI-certified Intel X58-based motherboards. The new driver also supports multi-monitor support in an SLI-configuration, which previously had only been available with beta drivers. PhysX acceleration is also enabled when installing the new driver.
On the gaming front, Nvidia claims double-digit percentage performance gains in a number of titles, including a giant 80 percent boost in Lost Planet: Colonies. Far Cry 2 is the other big beneficiary with a purported 38 percent performance gain. Devil May Cry 4, Assassin's Creed, BioShock, Comapny of Heroes: Opposing Fronts, Crysis Warhead, Race Driver: GRID, and World of Conflict all receive performance gains ranging from 10 percent to 25 percent, according to Nvidia. And for you benchmarking gurus, 3DMark Vantage's performance preset should perform 10 percent better as well.
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.
The DRAM industry knows well that the global economy is struggling, and so too would the processor market if not for the popularity of netbooks and Atom chip sales. But one company who apparently didn't get the memo that the economy is in shambles is Hewlett-Packard.
According to the company's fourth quarter results that were leaked on Monday, the OEM took in $33.6 billion in revenue in Q4 2008, representing a 19 percent jump from the same quarter one year ago, or 16 percent when adjusted for currency affects, Cnet says.
"HP delivered another solid quarter, as it continues to benefit from its global reach, diverse customer base, broad portfolio, and numerous cost initiatives," CEO Mark Hurd said in a statement. "Our ability to execute in a challenging marketplace differentiates HP, enabling it to increase share, expand earnings, and emerge from the current economic environment as a stronger force."
The news gives HP shareholders reason to cheer, who received $1.03 per share, excluding after-tax adjustments. Adjustments related to restructuring, in-process research development, amortization of purchased intangibles, and other acquisition-related charges knocked the figure down slightly by 19 cents per share, netting shareholders 84 cents per share.
The future looks bright as well. HP expects to pull in between $32 billion and $32.5 billion in the first fiscal quarter of 2009, and expects revenue for all of 2009 to be between $127.5 billion and $130 billion, with earnings per share between $3.38 and $3.53, or an adjusted $3.88 to $4.03.