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Is Windows 8 worth it?

Windows 8 is great!

Back to Windows 7!

What is windows 8?

Posted by Christo [PCD]
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Thursday 10 September 2009
Apple Slashes iPod Prices
MaTiCa , Thursday 10 September 2009 - 12:02:27 //

At the much awaited Rock and Roll event, Apple refreshed its existing iPod line up with slew of changes. Few old models were quietly dropped and new ones with more storage replaced them. In the new iPod Touch lineup, the legendary iPod Classic gets highest capacity and iPod Shuffle gets more colorful.
Also, there's a price cut as always since September is meant to be Apple's annual product life cycle for iPods.

New Faster iPod Touch

Two new third generation iPod Touch models in 32GB and 64GB capacities join in the iPod Touch lineup and the 16GB iPod Touch model quietly slips out. Both new iPod Touch models support OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics for accelerated 3D graphics and are boasted to be 50 percent faster. Hence, it s believed that both new iPod Touch models have the same 600MHz Samsung S5PC100 mobile application CPU based on ARM's CORTEX A8's design.

If iPod Touch carries the same PowerVR SGX chip as in the iPhone 3GS, it is still capable of running 720p HD video natively. Also, the OpenGL ES 2.0 support will allow game developers for iPhone Platform to make games with better graphics.

Big bully iPod Touch 64GB can store up to 14,000 songs, 90,000 photos or 80 hours of video. That's seriously a massive storage for a handheld touchscreen device. Apart from storage bump, the new third generation iPod Touch models have new Genius Mixes feature that is capable of making up to 12 playlists automatically, based on the existing tracks on the device.

Third generation iPod Touch also has voice control. So, earphones from Apple or any third party earphones with remote can be used for Voice Control on Music playback. A slew of new features would be added with the iPhone OS 3.1 software update that is available for download from the official Apple site.

Apple sells the new 64GB iPod Touch for $399 (Rs. 19,200 approx.) which is the old price 32GB second generation iPod Touch model. While the new 32GB third generation iPod Touch is now priced at $299 (Rs. 14,400 approx.). Price of 8GB second generation iPod Touch model is slashed by $30 (Rs. 1,440 approx) to $199 (Rs. 9,600 approx.) from $229 (Rs. 11,000 approx.).

Unfortunately, rumors that the third generation iPod Touch will get a camera did not materialize and it's like that recent reports of camera module failure might just be true. So, it's likely that the images of iPod Touch with camera that surfaced last month might be of the fourth generation iPod Touch model.

[Submitted by MaTiCa]

186 1252576867 Apple

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Wednesday 09 September 2009
Twilight of the iPods
Christo [PCD] , Wednesday 09 September 2009 - 19:02:00 //

On Wednesday evening, UK time, Apple is expected to release an upgrade to its iPod line. But amid the inevitable hype surrounding its careful marketing and intentional secrecy about the content of the launch, a different truth is emerging: that we are seeing the twilight of the stand-alone digital music player (DMP), a product category only just over 10 years old.

That does not mean that digital music players will vanish. Quite the opposite: the sector is still growing. Increasingly, though, the products have some sort of connectivity – whether Wi-Fi, mobile phone, Bluetooth or all three.

But if you look closely enough, the signs that the stand-alone player is in decline are all around. The first, and most obvious, was Apple's announcement in its latest quarterly results that iPod sales fell year-on-year for the first time since the product's launch in October 2001. As the iPod dominates the market for DMPs, any drop in its sales indicates a fall in the market.

Next is the news that in the last week of August, Sony's Walkman DMPs outsold the iPod in Japan for the first time in four years . But that was against a background where sales of DMPs fell by 13.5% for the fifth month in a row; and Sony forecast that it would sell 6.7m units in the year to March 2010 – compared to 7m sold the previous year. The conclusion? The market for those DMPs is falling. By contrast, in July the launch of the new iPhone 3GS at the same time the iPhone was the most popular phone in Japan.

Then there is Microsoft's decision to drop older versions of its Zune music player, which despite having Wi-Fi connectivity (unlike all iPods, except the iPod Touch) has failed to make an impact on the North American market, the only place it is sold. The Zune has been close to an embarrassment to Microsoft, losing money and never living up to expectations, with sales dropping 42% in the last quarter – though the company hopes for better from its next, touchscreen Zune HD.

And finally, there is the forecast by In-Stat, a consumer-analysis company, which suggests that the market for stand-alone DMPs peaked in value last year at $21.8bn and "will slow considerably over the next five years". It reckons that the market's growth fell below 10% at the end of 2008 for the first time since the Saehan "MPMan" player, able to store 32MB of data, went on sale in 1998. Soon after Diamond Multimedia started selling the Rio PMP300.

Download downturn

That in turn carries serious risks for the music industry, which for some time has surfed along on the iPod sales boom, warns Mark Mulligan, vice-president of the global media practice at the analysis company Forrester Research. Digital music downloads have been driven by DMP sales growth. But what happens when that growth slows? Logically, digital music sales – which the music industry had hoped would replace CD sales – slow down too.

"There's a really, really important point that we have been trying to hammer home to the record labels for some months, which is: what happens to music sales as device sales start to slow? Apple is 75%-80% of the music download market. Its fortunes are explicitly tied to iPod sales. And even before the last quarter, if you do a simple calculation – assuming a two-year replacement cycle for each iPod, and calculate the installed base – then you discover that the installed base of iPods stopped growing in 2007." Mulligan puts the total installed base at roughly 110m at the end of 2008.

He explains that 2005 was the "liftoff" year for iPod sales, and for the installed base to grow beyond that would require a "massive" sales surge – which is not happening. Instead, people are turning to the iPod Touch and iPhone; and those people are not buying as many tracks as iPod-only buyers.

But the music industry has had a troubled relationship with DMPs through their lives. In 1998 the first reaction of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), representing US record labels, to the Rio was to sue Diamond Multimedia because it could be used to play illicit copies of music. (A judge dismissed the case in October 1998.) The next was to ignore it: in 1998 Nick Raymonde, then the A&R (artists and repertoire) director at BMG Music, one of the biggest music companies, said in an interview that MP3 "is not a particularly good format technically" and "I don't really see a lot of kids walking around with MP3 players yet". He's probably seeing it now. And MP3 has remained the dominant format for storing music, with Amazon and other online retailers adopting it – forced principally by Apple's blanket refusal to use the Windows Media Audio format.

The iPod's arrival, with its click-wheel access to huge numbers of songs (5,000 on the first 5GB hard drive model), galvanised the market, which began to take off. By July 2006, a study by Digital Life America and Canada-based Fast Forward found 28% of Americans aged 12 and over had a DMP – up from 12% the previous year – with sales growing fastest among women. The iPod had a 68% US market share, up from 53% in 2005, with Creative Labs a distant second with 6%; dozens of other manufacturers with shares no larger than 3% made up the other 26%.

But now that market has matured – or become saturated. It is no longer enough simply to play music (or, as non-iPod devices often can, have an FM tuner and voice recorder). Connectivity is now the key.

There's wealth in wireless

According to Stephanie Ethier, a consumer devices analyst at In-Stat, the slowdown in the stand-alone market is caused by "market maturity, a weak economy and competition from other multimedia handhelds – primarily mobile phones". She believes the total market for personal media players (a category that includes Wi-Fi-enabled devices such as the iPod Touch, Zune and Sony's new X-series Walkman) will grow from 200m in 2007 to 245m in 2012 – but of that, 21%, or 52m, will have Wi-Fi. That means 193m sold without, a fall compared to 2007. And the value of those 193m will be below that in 2007, as storage gets cheaper and the market commoditises.

Apple, again, clearly recognised that with its launch in September 2007 of the iPod Touch – essentially, the iPhone with the phone and Bluetooth systems taken out, but Wi-Fi left in. Since its launch, the iPod Touch has sold 18.6m units worldwide – compared to 26.4m units of the iPhone, launched three months earlier.

That connectivity though means that the complexities of the device – and the need for good user interface design – are suddenly much higher. Wi-Fi means email and web browsing become possible, if not obligatory, and the idea that you might be able to do even more with the device – as the iPhone and iPod Touch have demonstrated through Apple's online App Store, selling 65,000 different applications – raises the bar for those in the market. As Michael Gartenberg, a consumer analyst at the research company Interpret, says: "Let's face it. app stores are table stakes for mobile platforms today. If you don't have one, you're not even in the game."

Building up interest

It's easier for mobile phone companies to consider building an app store, because they know how their handsets work. But they have the challenge of working out how to make any revenue from them, and designing them so that people want to use them to download applications. RIM, with the BlackBerry platform, Palm, Nokia (with the Ovi store) and of course Apple.

But Mulligan warns that for the record industry, this brings all sorts of dangers which won't help sell more songs. "The iPhone, iPod Touch, devices like that, are basically vanilla products where the owner adds apps to customise it." Then they can use it for navigation and games, not necessarily songs. Hence the necessity for the record industry to push schemes such as Nokia's Comes With Music, where handset buyers get free music for a year, or Universal's download deal with Virgin Media.

"I don't think Comes With Music would have been licensed three years ago," says Mulligan. "But the record labels understand that [digital sales to iPods] isn't enough. There's no hockey-stick upturn in digital downloads. They're pretty much having to go with anything that the market comes to them with – Spotify, whatever. And they have a clear need to be forcing product innovation. The album format was devised in 1909. It hasn't changed since."

The product rumoured before Wednesday night was the "iTablet" – a tablet computer being developed by Apple with record labels. "I've learnt never to second-guess Apple," Mulligan says. "But if you had things like interviews and apps and music on a touchscreen netbook – that would be an ideal format. That's just what the music industry needs."

With the iPod – increasingly key to Apple's growth – now glimpsing its end, there will be pressure on Apple too to revitalise its offerings. But will Wednesday night's launches have been enough?
[Submitted by MaTiCa]

186 1252512663 Twilig

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Tuesday 08 September 2009
Analyst: Intel's New Flash Cache Negates SSD Performance Edge
Christo [PCD] , Tuesday 08 September 2009 - 07:07:55 //

Is Intel's new motherboard flash poised to damage SSD demand?

Turbo memory is returning in 2010, says chipmaker Intel. Intel's original Turbo Memory, which first debuted in 2006, was less than well received. While it shipped millions of units by Intel's own estimates, reviews of the product were lukewarm. Armed with new drivers and a new plan, this time around Intel believes it has what it takes to achieve a much greater success.

Intel's upcoming Turbo Memory successor, Braidwood, will consist of NAND flash module residing on "5 Series" motherboards (used with the upcoming Westmere 32 nm processors) and serve as a cache for all reads and writes. Capacities will be approximately 4GB to 16GB, and the cost increase will be approximately $10 to $20 per system, according to analyst Jim Handy, who authored a recent report on Braidwood. The technology is set to launch in the first quarter of 2010, though it may be delayed.

Some former skeptics of Turbo Memory have become Braidwood believers. Some are even going as far as to say that it could send the burgeoning SSD market reeling. Mr. Handy is among those convinced that the new product will trouble solid state drive markers. He points out that the new cache uses SLC (single level cell) NAND, which is approximately a quarter of the cost of the DRAM traditionally used in caches. Meanwhile, it provides better performance than most solid state drives, which use the cheaper, but lower performance MLC (multi-level cell) NAND.

He states, "The move to NAND in PCs will boost the NAND market, soften the SSD and DRAM markets and pose problems for those NAND makers who are not poised to produce ONFi (open NAND flash interface) NAND flash."

Traditionally, performance has been the strongest selling point of SSDs. Other benefits include lower power consumption and increased reliability over hard disc drives.

If the SSD market suffers, Intel could be hurting itself. Intel currently makes two relatively well selling drives -- the X25-M and the X25-E. The company, however, disagrees with Mr. Handy's analysis.

Intel responded to the analyst's remarks, stating, "It's not just the performance, but also the added reliability...[SSDs] can help facilitate versus a hard drive. We see a long life ahead for SSDs, and won't stop inventing a variety of other technologies that make computers faster and/or more energy efficient."

However, Mr. Handy counters, "If you really get down to what makes consumers buy SSD, the reliability issue is not something they often cite as reason [for] spending extra money on an SSD."

According to Mr. Handy current SSD makers -- Toshiba, Samsung, Hynix, Micron -- as well as DRAM suppliers will be most effected. He believes that if SSDs no longer offer significantly superior performance, few will buy them for their improved reliability and lower power consumption, when hard drive power consumption is already low in comparison to other system components and most drives are already relatively reliable.

He concludes, "Intel has got a very good [SSD] product. But, they view additional layers of NAND technology in PCs as inevitable. They don't think SSDs are likely to take over 100% of the PC market, but they do think Braidwood could find itself in 100% of PCs."

Some say Braidwood may negate much of the performance advantages of SSD drives. Some analysts are saying it could seriously damage the fledgling SSD market, whose growth is primarily being driven by the performance edge it offers. (Source: OCZ)

[Submitted by Christo [PCD]]

1 1252347370 Analys

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Windows Phones Launching on October 6
Christo [PCD] , Tuesday 08 September 2009 - 07:07:36 //

AT&T will give free Wi-Fi access to Windows Mobile devices

IPhone users have been enjoying the app store and access to all sorts of programs for over a year now. With the success of the Apple App Store, most all other providers are bringing their own offerings to market as well.

Word that Microsoft would be unveiling its own app store for Windows Mobile devices turned up in early July with a launch date pegged as this fall. Microsoft announced today that its next generation of mobile devices running Windows Mobile 6.5, also known as Windows Phones, will launch on October 6. The new line of phones will be designed to work closely with the Windows Marketplace, which presumably will launch at the same time as the new phones.

“A Windows phone gives people a single phone that works for their whole life, keeping them connected to the people and information they care most about by harnessing the power of the PC, phone and Web,? said Todd Peters, corporate vice president of the Mobile Communications Marketing Group at Microsoft.

Microsoft had no trouble getting phone makers and mobile service provides and in North America mobile carriers for the new phones will be AT&T, Bell Mobility, Sprint, Telus, and Verizon Wireless. Phone makers working with Microsoft include HP, HTC, LG, Samsung, and Toshiba.

The phones will feature a new version of Internet Explorer Mobile with support for Flash Lite. Office Mobile will be featured on the new Windows Phones along with tight integration of social networking. The aforementioned application store will offer some features that are not currently found with other offerings including the ability for users to return apps for a full refund if they don’t like them.

Gizmodo reports that AT&T will also be offering free Wi-Fi service to Windows Mobile devices as well, ensuring that the new Windows Phones will have the same access to Wi-Fi as the iPhone and Blackberry devices have.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the 2009 Mobile World Congress (Source: Microsoft)

[Submitted by Christo [PCD]]

1 1252347186 Window

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You'll be Saying Goodbye to Power Cords Within a Year, Says WiTricity CEO
Christo [PCD] , Tuesday 08 September 2009 - 07:07:09 //

Company believes that computers, phones, and EVs will within 5 years be operating without cords

You can't fault WiTricity for its ambition. As one of several companies looking to market emerging wireless power transmission technologies, WiTricity is making some of the boldest claims. Among the claims made by the company -- that within a year wireless power will be taking the mobile electronics industry by storm.

The concept of wireless power transmission is a relatively old one. In the 1890s, Nikolai Tesla was successful in illuminating incandescent light bulbs with wirelessly transmitted power. However, for decades this research lay dormant and untouched.

With modern telecommunications and interest in signals at an all time high, interest in the topic again picked up. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in particular, developed some intriguing technology that WiTricity would later be founded upon.

Eric Giler, CEO of WiTricity says that power transmission over several feet is an obtainable feat. He states, "Five years from now, this will seem completely normal. The biggest effect of wireless power is attacking that huge energy wasting that goes on where people buy disposable batteries. [And] Electric cars [are] absolutely gorgeous, but does anyone really want to plug them in?"

WiTricity isn't the only player in this new market, though. Several key technologies, each championed by different companies, are emerging.

One is radio power. Though only able to transmit small amounts of power, this approach can work over a long distance. A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, company called Powercast is among the pioneers in this field, using its technology to power temperature sensors in large office buildings and to power wireless Christmas trees (sold for $400 a piece). The company has lit up an LED with radio signals from 1.5 miles away.

Another approach is power pads. Advantages include low costs and relatively high efficiencies. Disadvantages include the extremely short distance and need for custom shapes and sizes of pads. This technology currently is employed in the Palm Pre's recharging stone and in electric toothbrush recharging stands.

WiTricity's technology works on a third type of transmission -- magnetically coupled resonance. Similar to sound waves, the transmission creates a magnetic field, that devices can convert locally to electricity. This technology enjoys a middle ground with a bit worse efficiency, a bit longer distance, and moderate costs. Intel is also working on a more efficient version of this approach.

Despite WiTricity's optimism about its new approach, challenges remain. A full deployment is estimated to possibly create a magnetic field as strong as the Earth's own magnetic field. According to recent research, referenced by Menno Treffers, chairman of the steering group at the Wireless Power Consortium, such a strong magnetic field can cause serious health risks.

Witricity uses magnetically couple resonance to transmit power over longer distances, as shown here. The company's CEO predicts the company's technology will be ubiquitous within five years. However, health concerns about the powerful magnet fields it uses remain. (Source: Business Unusual)

[Submitted by Christo [PCD]]

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