In case you haven't been paying attention, the netbook sector is one of the hottest areas in the PC market. Demand has been so high that, despite a weakening global economy, mini-notebooks have played a large role in worldwide PC shipments reaching 80.6 million units in the third quarter of 2008. That's a 15 percent jump from this same time last year. Ironically enough, economic woes might be exactly the reason why sales have been so good.
"In the North America market, the economic crunch created more interest in the sub-$500 segment," noted Mika Kitagawa, principal analyst for Gartner's Client Computing Markets group. "Because the mini-notebook is still a new segment, it is too early to determine if the emerging segment created new market opportunities, or if it cannibalized lower priced systems."
Gartner notes that Asus and Acer have been two of the bigger beneficiaries of the emerging mini-notebook sector, as both companies "had a strong focus and acted quickly." As a result, other vendors are playing catch-up, but it might prove difficult to reach the same level of market expansion that Asus and Acer have been able to reach. Acer especially had a good third quarter, recording a 47 percent growth in worldwide PC unit shipments from Q3 2007.
It seems as though many enthusiasts are biding their time with Vista and have already begun looking forward to Windows 7. In some respects, so has Microsoft, who doesn't need much coaxing to talk about the new OS, whether it be about the refined UAC experience or explaining where the Windows 7 naming scheme comes from. But that doesn't mean Vista's being kicked to the curb.
On the contrary, it looks as though Vista's second Service Pack will make a debut before Windows 7, suggests ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley. According to Foley, select hardware and software partners have already received a beta of SP2, and while the murmurs are unusually quiet regarding what the new Service Pack will bring, Foley's sources have indicated that Microsoft's goal is to deliver SP2 before Windows 7 in an attempt to lessen confusion among users mulling whether to deploy Vista or wait for the new OS. And what does Microsoft have to say on the matter?
"Microsoft is working on a second Windows Vista Service Pack (Windows Vista SP2) and will share more details in the coming months," a Vista spokesperson wrote.
Hit the jump and let us know what you're most looking forward to: Windows 7 or Vista SP2.
The decision of whether or not to pick up a Blu-ray player at the same time an HDTV is purchased may soon get a little easier, as the two are poised to come together in a single package. As of next month, Sharp will become the first company to offer an LCD HDTV with a built-in Blu-ray player and recorder.
32" LC-32DX1 (1366x768)
37" LC-37DX1 (1366x768)
42" LC-42DX1 (1920x1080)
46" LC-46DX1 (1920x1080)
52" LC-52DX2 (1920x1080)
Sharp's new Aquos DX series will allow viewers to watch a program on one channel while recording on another at the same time. By supporting H.264/MPEG4 AVC encoding, Sharp says its built-in recorder will be able to hold up to 11 hours of high-definition video in 720p on a single 25GB Blu-ray disc.
Pricing will start at about $1700 for the 26-inch model and run up to $5000 for the 52-inch set. Japan gets first crack at the new sets starting on November 20, with U.S. availability by the end of the year.
"Fallout 3, Far Cry 2, Fable 2... uh, LittleBigPlanet," I nonchalantly listed, sliding my scroll bar up and down a ludicrously large list of games that'll begin hogging shelf space next week. Instantly, a deafening shout of "OH! LittleBigPlanet!" flew straight and true, right into my unsuspecting ears, from the other side of a view-obscuring television. "You're so buying LittleBigPlanet!" My friend's voice continued, registering at somewhere around War-crime on the decibel scale.
Yeah, LittleBigPlanet's kind of a big deal around the gaming scene's more console-y bits, but what's it mean for PC gamers? Well, in these parts it's not quite a revolution, but it's pretty damn close.
Over the past couple years, "user-created content" has crept onto many game developers' billowing lists of PR-friendly buzz words, and with good reason. Whether it's Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's character creation system or Spore's, well, everything, people love to spill their creative frustrations onto videogaming's canvas. (And drawing new Mega Man levels on graph paper is so nineties.)
Now stop! Take your finger off the scroll wheel; the comments section isn't going anywhere. Yes, PC gaming gospel states that we must fling ourselves into Internet forums, kissing the ground, and praising mods -- and games like Oblivion and Spore did not invent user-created content -- but guess what? Mods are old news, no matter how crazy-awesome they might potentially be.
Why? Consoles. Consoles. Consoles. Like it or not, aside from a few shining examples, game design has parked its heart in simpler interfaces and ease-of-use. PC gaming, its cash cow now six feet under for a number of reasons, simply isn't worth the effort these days. As a result, real mod support -- sloppily attempted in only a single console game -- watched its bungee cord snap as it plummeted right off developers' priority lists. After all, mod tools don't just appear out of thin air; they siphon extra time and cash away from other areas of development. When simple user-creation tools can offer a menagerie of similar (but less versatile) powers to a wider range of people, mod tools sadly get kicked to the curb.
Continue reading to find out why this trend might not be as awful as it sounds.
Xbox Evolved -- a site claiming to have first broken the news that the Xbox 360's hard drive would be optional, way back in 2004 -- has heard from "incredibly reliable" sources that the Xbox 360's all-too-quickly approaching successor will be forward-compatible.
"Forward-compatible," the avant garde cousin of "backward-compatible," apparently refers to the Xbox 361-plus-infinity-plus-one's ability to act as a performance-enhancer for Xbox 360 games.
"This isn’t a side effect of textures being cleaner and upscaled resolution, this is a new animal completely," reads the article. "Imagine playing Gears of War 3 on your Xbox 360 it looks and plays good right? Well imagine that the year after it comes out you go out to buy the next Xbox and it looks even better, it plays even better. Features in the new controller are utilized with the game, the graphics do not only look sharper, but the draw distance is better, the speed is better, framerate, and there are even new features, perhaps even levels via DLC for the game on the third-generation Xbox."
"GoW3 is of course an example of what this could mean, past the forward-compatibility information, Xbox Evolved has not been given any other information about the next generation of Xbox."
So yeah, it's just like a PC. Get a new machine? Old Game X gets a new coat of paint. And while we certainly think this sounds like an interesting feature, we hope Microsoft doesn't get too caught up in new features to remember little things like focus-testing.
You didn't think escaping the three least popular letters in the alphabet would be that easy, did you? Today, Ubisoft Forum Manager "bukowski113" confirmed Spore DRM's "The Empire Strikes Back," placing yet another title under SecuROM's much-maligned rule. According to his forum post, Far Cry 2's DRM will work as follows:
You have 5 activations on 3 separate PCs.
Uninstalling the game “refunds” an activation. This process is called “revoke”, so as long as you complete proper uninstall you will be able to install the game an unlimited number of times on 3 systems.
You can upgrade your computer as many time as you want (using our revoke system)
Ubisoft is committed to the support of our games, and additional activations can be provided.
Ubisoft is committed to the long term support of our games: you’ll always be able to play Far Cry 2
In short, it's more or less unchanged from Spore's variation on the theme. We'll be buying Far Cry 2 anyway, though. After all, we just enticed a bunch of readers into taking up their pitchforks, so we feel we've done our part in the protest. DRM is bad and should be hated!
Adobe’s senior marketing manager in the Platform Business Unit, Tom Barclay, said that the Flash Player 10 is capable of “things not possible with Silverlight 2.” The direct reference to Silverlight 2 underscores the amount of respect Adobe accords to its seemingly innocuous rival – just about enough. Barclay heavily touted the addition of Adobe Pixel Blender-related functionality in the new edition. Flash Player 10 has simultaneously become available on Windows, Mac and Linux.
After it was revealed that some of the Asus Eee Box PCs sold in Japan came with a preloaded virus, the Taiwanese company ordered a recall of all such infected PCs. Now, Asus has placed the entire blame on a second-tier Chinese OEM that had been tasked with the responsibility of manufacturing Eee PCs for the Japanese market.
The unnamed OEM had been chosen in order to cut costs, but eventually became the source of embarrassment for Asus. The company now plans to transfer Japanese Eee Box PC orders to other second-tier OEMs.
So you just got a snazzy new printer, huh? Funny thing, so did GE! While they think your photo quality printer is nice, they’re much happier with theirs that prints OLED lights.
GE’s printer, which is about the size of a semi-trailer, coats an 8-inch plastic sheet with chemicals and seals it up with a layer of metal foil. Once an electric current is applied to this sheet, it lights up with a blue-white glow.
GE has been heralding the countless possibilities of these sheets. Given that they’re flexible, one could wrap them around a pillar, tack them to a wall or even make a translucent version and attach it to a window (though, nobody’s really sure why). And given that these panels provide diffused light, they’ll be much easier on the eye than current lighting technology.
Lawrence Gasman of Nanomarkets LLC, a research firm in Glen Allen, Virginia is suggesting that these OLEDs could become very common sources of lights, with sales reaching $5.9 billion by 2015.
Bob Sagebiel, the technical marketing manager for lighting at Arrow Electronics Inc. isn’t as confident in these figures though. He points out that these fixtures won’t fit into the 20 billion light-bulb sockets worldwide, and that since they’re so different from current lighting technology they may have issues being accepted. Not to mention commercial buildings would need to be rewired in order to take advantage if potentially bigger OLED panels that wouldn’t fit into existing fixtures for fluorescent tubes.
Only time will tell, but the future for this technology looks pretty bright (see what I did there?).
So if you’re trying out the 3.1 beta, enable the TraceMonkey engine and see what it can do for you. Share your experiences after the jump.