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Daily Computer News and Rumors

April 24-30 2004

About News and Rumors. InfoHQ Computer News and Rumors is a daily column. It features news coverage of new PC and Mac computer hardware and software, Internet news, and other technical news items.
Every Sunday, News and Rumors features "Sunday Shopping Watch", which is a comparison and analysis of Sunday computer store advertisements.
The Daily Computer News and Rumors is an archived column, so feel free to review previous week's or month's computer news. Previous Daily Computer News articles can also be searched, by using our site search feature found in the top and bottom menu bar.

InfoHQ Daily Computer News and Rumors Article Index
(Click on story to read, use your Browser's back button to return to this index.)
Apr 30 iTunes Celebrates Its First Anniversary
Apr 30 NVIDIA Unveils New 64-Bit Drivers for NVIDIA nForce Platforms
Apr 30 Nintendo's Game Boy to Maintain Dominance in Market it Pioneered
Apr 30 8.5 Million US Homes to Add Broadband In 2004
Apr 30 Ulead Brings More Simplicity to Home Movie Making with New Version of Video Editing Software
Apr 29 Acer Unveils Next Generation Notebook - TravelMate 8000
Apr 29 Turbolinux Announces First Linux Support for Microsoft Windows Media Format
Apr 29 SBC Yahoo! DSL Returns to Best-Ever Price of $26.95 a Month for High Speed Internet Service
Apr 29 EA to Return Fans to Middle-earth in the Lord of the Rings, the Third Age Roleplaying Game
Apr 28 Toshiba and UPS Join to Set New Standard for Laptop Repair
Apr 28 StarBand and NomadISP launch WiFi Hotspot Service
Apr 28 Worldwide Handheld Device Shipments Decline 12% from Previous Year
Apr 28 All-New Yahoo! Messenger Offers Exclusive Features
Apr 27 Apple Introduces New PowerBook G4 Line
Apr 27 IDT to Deploy America's First Commercial WiFi Phone Service
Apr 27 VoIP is a Turning Point for Us Telecoms
Apr 27 CNET Download.com Expands with Free, Legal Music and Game File Services
Apr 27 EA To Own the Streets This Fall with Need for Speed Underground 2
Apr 26 One Year Later, the AMD Opteron Processor Transforms The Enterprise
Apr 26 Huge Surge in Phishing Scams as Fraudsters Seek Financial Gain
Apr 26 Toshiba's New 100GB 2.5-inch HDD Offers World's Highest Capacity
Apr 26 Sonic Debuts eDVD 3
Apr 26 Semiconductor Market to Outshine 2003 with 29% Growth in 2004
Apr 25 Sunday Shopping Watch

Electronic Gaming Monthly Free Year Subscription to Electronic Gaming Monthly!! While it Lasts....



Apr 30 - iTunes Celebrates Its First Anniversary. Apple® today celebrates the first anniversary of its iTunes® Music Store. Launched one year ago today, the iTunes Music Store has revolutionized the music industry with its 99 cents-per-song pricing, free previews, one-click purchasing and downloading, and groundbreaking personal use rights. In its first year, music fans have purchased more than 70 million songs, making it the number one online music service in the world with more than 70 percent market share of legal downloads for singles and albums. iTunes customers are currently purchasing 2.7 million songs per week, a rate of 140 million songs per year.

“iTunes has exceeded our wildest expectations during its first year, charting a new direction for the music industry,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “The unbeatable combination of iTunes and the market-leading iPod offers music fans a seamless experience for discovering, buying, managing and enjoying their music anywhere.”

To kick off its second year, Apple today launched the third generation iTunes Music Store, featuring the industry’s largest online music catalog of over 700,000 songs from all five major music companies and over 450 independent music labels, as well as groundbreaking new features.

Honoring Apple’s commitment to discourage music theft while preserving fair personal use rights, the number of times a user can burn the same playlist onto CDs with iTunes is being reduced from ten burns to seven. Users can still burn a single song an unlimited number of times and listen to their music on an unlimited number of iPods.

Apple is marking the first anniversary of its iTunes Music Store by thanking its customers with a free song of the day for the next eight days from artists who have helped make iTunes a runaway success, including Foo Fighters, Avril Lavigne, Courtney Love, Annie Lennox, Jane’s Addiction, Counting Crows, Renee Fleming and Nelly Furtado. Following the anniversary celebration, the iTunes Music Store will continue to offer a “Free Single of the Week” from up-and-coming bands, spotlighting emerging artists and offering iTunes customers a risk-free way to discover new music.

The iTunes Music Store continues to lead the industry with exclusive tracks from more than 150 artists, and starting today, offers dozens of out-of-print recordings from Motown Records, including the first 45 singles and 45 hard-to-find albums from the Motown archive—available digitally for the first time.

The iTunes Music Store features the exclusive digital music catalog of Walt Disney Records, including soundtracks from Disney’s classic animated films and Disney/Pixar’s computer-animated films. New exclusives available today include the new Beastie Boys single, “Ch-Check it Out” from the group’s first studio release in five years and the exclusive digital release of The Foo Fighters catalog.

Pricing & Availability

iTunes 4.5 for Mac® and Windows includes the iTunes Music Store and is available as a free download immediately from www.apple.com/itunes. Purchase and download of songs from the iTunes Music Store for Mac or Windows requires a valid credit card with a U.S. billing address. Further information about Apple’s digital music products can be found at www.apple.com/ipod and www.apple.com/itunes.

Apr 30 - NVIDIA Unveils New 64-Bit Drivers for NVIDIA nForce Platforms. NVIDIA Corporation (Nasdaq: NVDA), the worldwide leader in visual processing solutions, today announced the immediate availability of new 64-bit software drivers for systems and motherboards based on the NVIDIA nForce™3 media and communications processors (MCPs).

This new beta driver release is the first NVIDIA nForce3 driver package to support the Microsoft® Windows® XP 64-bit Edition for Extended Systems beta operating system, and provides valuable system management support for the Gigabit Ethernet, advanced RAID storage configurations, and hardware-optimized security features that are integrated into the NVIDIA nForce3 MCPs.

Optimized for the AMD64 processor family: the AMD Athlon 64, AMD Athlon 64 FX, and AMD Opteron™ processors, the NVIDIA nForce3 MCPs provides high performance, advanced scalability, and unmatched system stability, addressing the most demanding needs of technical users who are using the next-generation Microsoft 64-bit beta operating system and AMD64 platforms to create next-generation games, developer tools, and applications.

“AMD is leading the way to pervasive 64-bit computing and NVIDIA is helping make it possible for developers to take advantage of this technology with the release of these 64-bit drivers,” said Marty Seyer, vice president and general manager, AMD’s Microprocessor Business Unit. “NVIDIA and AMD share the vision of promoting an immersive cinematic computing experience that wasn’t possible with 32-bit memory limitations, and we are one step closer to this reality.”

The NVIDIA nForce3 MCPs integrate hardware and software technologies that expand PC desktop, gaming, and digital media functionality. By providing the industry’s only high-speed, native Gigabit Ethernet solution, fault tolerant and high performance RAID storage functionality, and integrated security features, the NVIDIA nForce3 MCPs deliver accelerated performance for multiple computing environments, including professional, consumer, and mobile computing platforms.

“Systems based on NVIDIA nForce3 MCPs and the AMD Athlon 64 and AMD Opteron processors provide a compatible, stable, and reliable computing platform for users who wish to exploit the benefits of both 32-bit and 64-bit computing environments,” said Dwight Diercks, vice president of software engineering at NVIDIA. “With the release of our beta 64-bit drivers, NVIDIA, along with AMD and Microsoft is delivering a computing platform with the leading-edge features, performance, and stability that content developers require to develop stunning next-generation games, tools, and video with an extraordinary level of realism and 3D images.”

For more information on NVIDIA nForce3 MCPs, please visit www.nvidia.com.

Apr 30 - Nintendo's Game Boy to Maintain Dominance in Market it Pioneered. Long the sole territory of Nintendo's Game Boy line, the handheld gaming market has suddenly become crowded with competition, reports In-Stat/MDR (www.instat.com).

However, the high-tech market research firm finds that, with three new handheld consoles coming to market, Nintendo is not intending to rest on its laurels, offering new product lines and accessories in an effort to maintain its hold on this market. As a result, Nintendo will enjoy continued success in the market segment that it pioneered with both its Game Boy and its new DS platform.

While the Nokia N-Gage, Tapwave Zodiac and Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) focus on gaming, they do offer other features, ranging from digital audio players to Bluetooth capability to mobile phone functionality that make them new types of consumer convergence devices. However, according to Brian O'Rourke, a Senior Analyst with In-Stat/MDR's converging markets and technologies group, "Nintendo is the most successful company in the history of handheld games. While all three of these new platforms have higher prices, and are targeting an older demographic than the incumbent Game Boy platform, none will be able to escape Nintendo's long shadow."

In-Stat/MDR has also found that:

-- Sony will also be successful in this market as it should be able to draw on its PlayStation experience and substantial software library to succeed in the handheld market. The PSP is scheduled to make its debut in Japan in the fourth quarter of 2004.

-- Nokia, though it may struggle at times, has initially shown the resources and determination to succeed in this market. Nokia will face substantial challenges in establishing the platform and assuring the availability of sufficient software to entice consumer interest.

-- A start-up company founded by ex-Palm executives, Tapwave may be the odd man out, as it has difficulty competing with the heavyweights in this market. Tapwave has the most difficult task of the three competitors in establishing its platform. It is currently available only on the web and does not have the deep pockets of its competitors. As a result, it will be challenged in attracting third-party publishers to develop game software, the lifeblood of any game platform.

Apr 30 - 8.5 Million US Homes to Add Broadband In 2004. 2004 will be another banner year for broadband in the United States, with the number of homes using high-speed Internet service growing from 25 million today to 33.5 million by year's end.
According to a new report from global research firm Strategy Analytics, cable modem users will account for 5.2 million of these new subscribers, while 2.9 million households will add DSL service. About 400,000 homes will use alternate broadband access technologies such as fiber, wireless, and two-way satellite services.

The report, "Broadband in the US: Service Provider Strategies in a Changing Market," also predicts that the year ahead will see major changes in the competitive positioning of telephone and cable TV companies delivering broadband. While lower prices and branded content have helped DSL attract first-time customers making the switch from dial-up to broadband, cable operators can target a wider range of consumers by delivering faster access speeds and multi-service bundles.

"Cable's combination of higher access speeds, wider availability and more compelling bundles lets the leading operators target several classes of consumers," notes James Penhune, Director of Strategy Analytics' Broadband Media & Communications practice. "These include new users as well as a growing number of consumers seeking advanced video services such as High Definition TV (HDTV) and Video On Demand (VOD). At the same time, aggressive cable telephony deployments from leaders like Time Warner, Comcast and Cox will help these companies reach customers seeking simplicity and savings from triple-play bundles combining video, data and telephony."

"To match these advantages, regional phone companies, like SBC and Verizon, must make the most of their partnerships with satellite TV operators," adds Penhune. "Previous telco-satellite partnerships often failed to produce the simplicity and reliability that bundling is meant to deliver. But if tighter strategic alliances like SBC's deal with EchoStar prove credible to consumers, they will help the telcos keep pace with cable on bundling and postpone the need to consider more costly video strategies such as fiber deployments."

Apr 30 - Ulead Brings More Simplicity to Home Movie Making with New Version of Video Editing Software. Due to confusing technology and lack of time, many consumers have shied away from editing and sharing their home videos. Ulead Systems, a top developer of digital media software, has eliminated these traditional barriers to video editing by making home movie creation simpler with VideoStudio 8.

With years of fine tuning, VideoStudio 8 now offers refined automated video editing tools for consumers who want to quickly and easily turn home videos into polished movies to share on DVD, CD, or the Web. VideoStudio 8 offers a unique approach to video automation with tools that enhance the story-telling process. The newly added three-step MovieWizard provides just the right mix of theme-based intro and exit graphics, transitions, text effects and music to tell a story, without losing the intended message in confusing cuts and edits. At the same time, VideoStudio 8's full featured Video Editor includes new and enhanced effects and filters, as well as overlay and audio tools for more advanced editing techniques and control.

"You can't create a great film just by knowing the latest video editing techniques -- you have to also be a story teller," says Travis White, video editing product manager of Ulead Systems, North America. "This is no less true for people who shoot home videos. They want to re-create the story for important moments in their lives. VideoStudio 8 lets them do this easily and quickly without losing their message."

For further time savings, VideoStudio provides an Auto Analysis tool that examines and removes poorly shot video clips and syncs video to the duration of a music track. A new Music Generator instantly creates musical scores to match the exact duration and mood of a movie, while real-time audio mixing, a rubber band timeline, and audio filters such as Normalization, Remove Noise and Amplify provide more audio control. Sharing home videos over the Web is now just as easy as sharing photos. With a one-click upload button, VideoStudio 8 users can seamlessly transfer home movies for immediate and convenient viewing via Neptune.com MediaShare.

VideoStudio 8 is available at www.ulead.com and will be in North American retail stores and catalogs in May for $99.99. Current VideoStudio users can purchase the upgrade for $49.95 at Ulead.com.

Apr 29 - Acer Unveils Next Generation Notebook - TravelMate 8000. Acer(R) America Corporation, one of the leading worldwide suppliers of laptop PC solutions, today introduced the TravelMate(TM) 8000 to its award-winning line of TravelMate notebooks. Based on Intel(R) Centrino(TM) Mobile Technology, the TravelMate 8000 delivers cutting-edge performance, multiple connectivity options through 802.11b/g, and up to 5 hours of battery life in a thinner, lighter notebook PC.

Designed as both a mobile workhorse while also offering the performance of a desktop replacement, the TravelMate 8000 is an ideal system that meets the needs of users of business professionals regardless of their location, environment or workload.

The TravelMate 8000 is the next-generation offering of Acer's award-winning TravelMate 800 platform. Originally announced in March 2003, the TravelMate 800 was widely acclaimed as the highest performing thin-and-light notebook available while receiving many industry accolades, including Editors Choice designations from C/net, ZDnet, and Tech Edge Magazine and a Best Buy award from Laptop Magazine.

The low power design of Intel(R) Centrino(TM) Pentium M processor enables the TravelMate 8000 to offer an unprecedented set of features -- such as 15" SXGA+ LCD, 1.8GHz clock speeds and built-in wireless connectivity -- without sacrificing long battery life or lightweight design.
The integrated Wi-Fi 802.11b/g LAN support allows users to connect to widely available wireless networks, while Bluetooth wireless connectivity is provided for the new generation of printers, cell phones, and other peripherals. In addition, offering ATI MOBILITY(TM) RADEON(TM) graphics with up to 128MB of DDR VRAM, the TravelMate 8000 delivers stunning graphics that have previously only been available with high-performance desktop systems.

"Improving on a system like the TravelMate 800 that has been universally lauded by the media is not an easy proposition. However, with the addition of an enhanced graphics engine, more wireless options and an increase in overall processing horsepower, we've managed to not only advance this platform, but also notebook performance across the industry," said Sumit Agnihotry, mobile product manager for Acer America.
"The TravelMate 8000 offers a level of performance that's never before been available in a mobile system. Its combination of raw muscle and battery life in a thin-and-light chassis will allow end-uses to handle any computing task regardless of their location."


The TravelMate 8000 is available through Acer Authorized Resellers throughout North America starting at approximately $1999.

For more information about Acer America, please visit the website at: www.acer.com/us. Online support is available at www.acersupport.com.

Apr 29 - Turbolinux Announces First Linux Support for Microsoft Windows Media Format. Turbolinux, a global provider of Linux solutions and the best-selling Linux distribution in Asia-Pacific, today announced "Turbolinux 10 F...", a new Linux operating system designed for home computer users. With 10F, Turbolinux becomes the first major Linux distributor to ship a media player capable of streaming pure Windows Media format audio and video. 10F is based on Turbolinux 10 Desktop.

"Japanese consumers are moving in large numbers to Linux," said Koichi Yano, president and COO of Turbolinux, Inc. "Turbolinux Desktop has long had the best Asian language support and with 10F we now have the best multimedia system for consumers."

Home users can now watch feature DVD movies and Windows Media streaming video on "Turbolinux 10 F...". CyberLink's PowerDVD for Linux is included in the new "Turbolinux 10 F..." and supports Content Scramble System (CSS), an encryption system widely required by studios to protect popular Hollywood and theater movies.
Turbolinux engineers developed new software called Turbo Media Player that works with xine, a widely-used Linux media engine, to make it possible for customers to watch streaming video in Windows Media format. Turbolinux is the first Linux company to form a relationship with CyberLink to allow viewing of encrypted movies in different international DVD regions established by the major studios.

Turbolinux 10 Desktop was ranked as one of the top 10 best-selling system software packages in Japan in the first quarter of 2004, including proprietary vendors such as Microsoft and Apple, according to market research firm BCN. Last month Turbolinux announced an OEM agreement with HP to distribute Turbolinux Desktop in 12 Asian markets on new HP business desktop computers.

New features in "Turbolinux 10 F..." include:

-- Streaming video and audio support for Windows Media Format, RealVideo/Audio and MP3;

-- PowerDVD for Linux enables legal playback of DVD movies and supports Dolby stereo sound and simultaneous display of sub-titles, and;

-- Sun's Java applet and Macromedia Flash browser support.

"Turbolinux 10 F..." will be available for purchase in Japan on May 28, 2004 and is priced at $149 per copy. Customers upgrading from the previous version of Turbolinux Desktop can purchase 10F for $64. Customers outside Japan can purchase "Turbolinux 10 F..." starting June 30, 2004.

For more information, visit www.turbolinux.com.

Apr 29 - SBC Yahoo! DSL Returns to Best-Ever Price of $26.95 a Month for High Speed Internet Service. Extending its leadership in delivering the most choices and best value in broadband Internet service, SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC) today announced the return of its most popular promotional pricing for SBC Yahoo! DSL: $26.95 a month when ordered online or through retail outlets. (Other monthly charges apply; see below.)
The offer was first introduced in October 2003 on a limited basis and has also been available for customers who subscribe to SBC Total Connections, a premium SBC bundle which includes local and long distance services, call management features and wireless service.

Now, the new price promotion is also available to any new residential SBC customer who orders online at sbc.com or at any of the more than 2,000 retail outlets where SBC Yahoo! DSL service is offered.

Additionally, to simplify choices for customers and make it even more convenient for them to personalize their SBC Yahoo! DSL service, SBC Internet Services now offers two levels of speed offerings, designed to meet customers' bandwidth and budget needs. Customers can choose from:

-- SBC Yahoo! DSL Express: Offered for as low as $26.95 a month, the standard SBC Yahoo! DSL service, with speeds of 384 Kbps - 1.5 Mbps x 128 Kbps, provides plenty of capacity for activities like surfing the Web, sending e-mail messages and online shopping.

-- SBC Yahoo! DSL Pro: Starting as low as $36.99 a month, this new flagship package delivers up to twice the bandwidth with 1.5 - 3.0 Mbps x 384 - 416 Kbps. (Other monthly charges apply; see below.) It's ideal for downloading music, streaming video, playing online games, and sending and receiving large files.

"With simplified packages, great promotional pricing and speeds of up to 3.0 Mbps, SBC Yahoo! DSL subscribers can do more, even faster than before, and save money while they're at it," said Ray Wilkins, group president, SBC marketing and sales. "Our leadership in delivering innovative DSL Internet offers, value pricing and more choices is the cornerstone of our success as the nation's largest DSL provider."

In addition to the multiple speed offerings, ongoing enhancements to SBC Yahoo! DSL deliver personalized content for home and business users, powerful communications tools, industry-leading safety and security features and a comprehensive parental controls and content filtering package. To learn more about SBC Yahoo! DSL, customers can visit www.sbc.com/sbcyahoo.

Apr 29 - EA to Return Fans to Middle-earth in the Lord of the Rings, the Third Age Roleplaying Game. Return to Middle-earth(TM) to forge a new adventure... Electronic Arts (Nasdaq:ERTS) announced today that The Lord of the Rings(TM), The Third Age(TM) roleplaying game is under development for a planned fall 2004 release.

The epic quest, in which players will take on the roles of new characters choosing their own path through Middle-earth while interacting with the heroes and villains of the trilogy, will be available for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox(R) videogame system from Microsoft, Nintendo GameCube(TM), and Game Boy(R) Advance under the EA GAMES(TM) brand.

Based on New Line Cinema and Peter Jackson's acclaimed film adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, The Third Age videogame allows players to adventure through Middle-earth, building a party of heroes as they journey.
Players battle on the side of the Fellowship, but can unlock additional encounters where they fight on the side of Sauron as they progress. In the game, players will interact with the characters of the Fellowship in a unique structure, taking on individual quests while intersecting the major events of the film trilogy that drive the story forward. Parties will traverse through both familiar and seldom-glimpsed locations, using an innovative turn-based battle system as they fight, encountering the demonic Balrog in the Mines of Moria, defending the fallen city of Osgiliath, or trying to destroy Helm's Deep.

The Lord the Rings, The Third Age, is being developed by EA's Redwood Shores studio, the same studio that developed the hit The Lord of the Rings; The Return of the King(TM) game. The Game Boy Advance version is being developed by Amaze Entertainment, Inc., d/b/a Griptonite. For more information on EA's The Lord of the Rings games, visit the official franchise website at . http://lordoftherings.eagames.com.

Under an exclusive licensing agreement with New Line Cinema, EA has the rights to create and publish interactive entertainment games based on the movie trilogy. A real-time strategy game for the PC, The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth(TM), is under development for release in the fall of 2004.

Apr 28 - Toshiba and UPS Join to Set New Standard for Laptop Repair. The Digital Products Division of Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc. and UPS (NYSE:UPS) today announced a new laptop computer repair process designed to reduce turnaround time for customers to four days or less.
The move is part of a wide-ranging customer service initiative by Toshiba designed to raise the bar in the highly competitive PC market. Toshiba expects to build customer loyalty as its customers recognize that if they ever do have a problem with their laptop, downtime will be held to an absolute minimum.

While improving customer satisfaction, Toshiba expects to save millions of dollars by streamlining its service operations and gaining better inventory visibility by using UPS's information technology. The computer maker also expects to gain valuable data about product performance that will help improve future product design and manufacturing.

"This move is an industry first that will streamline our service and support efficiencies and give Toshiba an edge in the fiercely competitive PC market," said Mark Simons, vice president and general manager for Toshiba's Digital Products Division. "With this program, we are way ahead of the competition in terms of efficiencies and quality and our customers are the ultimate beneficiaries. It will eliminate multiple transportation steps, centralize parts and repairs, and reduce costs."

The new repair program will utilize The UPS Store retail network for professional packaging and convenient drop-off of laptops; UPS's package delivery network for movement of customer computers, and UPS Supply Chain Solutions for parts management and technical repair. The new process benefits Toshiba's United States laptop customers, including consumers and business professionals.

The process utilizes a specially-designed repair center at UPS Supply Chain Solutions' logistics and technology campus in Louisville, Ky. The 2 million-square foot campus, which specializes in high-tech support, is adjacent to the UPS Worldport global air hub. The proximity to the air hub means it is possible that a laptop can be received, repaired and shipped directly to the owner in the same day, with delivery as early as 8:30 a.m. the next morning. UPS Supply Chain Solutions repair technicians are certified to repair the entire laptop.

Getting a Toshiba laptop computer repaired is easy. Customers call Toshiba's toll-free customer service center to obtain repair consent and the address of the most convenient The UPS Store. Or, they can log onto www.theupsstore.com to get directions to one of the 3,300 The UPS Store locations. Toshiba also can send their customers easy-to-assemble packaging that can be shipped via UPS or shipped by another carrier. The laptop also can be taken to a Toshiba Authorized Service Provider.

"As a leader in the PC industry, Toshiba has recognized that post-sales service and ease-of-use are critical ways to build positive, long-term relationships with customers," said Dan Brutto, vice president and general manager, global transportation/shared services, UPS Supply Chain Solutions. "With this solution, Toshiba is telling its customers that if they ever do have a problem, the return and repairs process will be hassle-free."

The new repair process is now in effect. For more information visit www.toshiba.com. The UPS Store locations are available at www.theupsstore.com.

Apr 28 - StarBand and NomadISP launch WiFi Hotspot Service. StarBand, America's leading high-speed, two-way satellite Internet provider, and NomadISP, a division of LinOra Corporation, today launched the NomadISP AH-1 'Anywhere Hotspot' product powered by StarBand.

The Anywhere Hotspot turnkey solution offers high-speed Internet connectivity through the StarBand network via NomadISP's industry standard WiFi technology. Because StarBand's satellite provided high-speed Internet service is powering the Anywhere Hotspot service, it is available to any location across North America and is particularly well suited for those unable to get affordable broadband connectivity via DSL or Cable.

The Anywhere Hotspot allows remote, yet heavily populated places such as campgrounds, RV Parks, marinas, convention centers, hotels, libraries, airports and train stations to access public wireless broadband network services for their visitors with a WiFi enabled laptop or other Internet device.

"Many recreational area site owners are impressed with the extensive feature list of the Anywhere Hotspot product suite offering a complete solution to High-Speed WiFi Internet access for guests. However for most, the needed broadband connectivity to power the AH-1 product was not available," says Kelly Hogan, CEO and founder of NomadISP. "Our partnership with StarBand solves this problem and makes offering a turnkey WiFi solution to owners not only affordable and quite profitable, but also insures the owners have a local contact for installation and support."

"Increasingly, today's travelers need to stay connected to the Internet wherever they travel," claims StarBand Chairman and CEO Zur Feldman. "The Anywhere Hotspot powered by StarBand is a great solution for a wide array of hospitality, lodging, and recreational businesses seeking to provide this service to their customers while profiting from this opportunity."

StarBand and NomadISP already have service agreements in place with campgrounds across the country and responses have been overwhelmingly positive.

The NomadISP Anywhere Hotspot powered by StarBand ranges from $1,795 to $1,995 for a complete hardware package and as little as $149.99 per month. The site owner can recover the monthly service fee with usage by as few as five end-users per day. The expansive StarBand dealer network will distribute this turnkey WiFi hotspot solution.

For more information, visit www.nomadisp.com.

Apr 28 - Worldwide Handheld Device Shipments Decline 12% from Previous Year. The worldwide market for handheld devices declined in the first quarter of 2004 due to seasonally sluggish demand and vendor re-focusing. According to IDC's Worldwide Handheld QView, device shipments decreased 11.7% year-on-year in 1Q04 and dropped sequentially 33.1% to 2.2 million units.

While vendor commitment to entry-level devices at lower price points has helped to grow the handheld user base, many would-be handheld purchasers obtained their devices during the holiday shopping season in the fourth quarter of last year. As a result, despite growth in the European market, the seasonal slump hit vendors particularly hard during the first quarter of this year. The market was also strongly impacted by a number of vendors focusing on trimming down their product offerings and clearing their channels in preparation for spring product launches.

"Despite increasingly powerful handheld devices reaching market, the consumer uptake of entry-level devices available from nearly every vendor calls into question the upgrade path and value posed by the high-end devices. If entry-level devices prove to be the most successful products adopted by consumers, the long-term impact could be acceleration away from hardware differentiation and a further loss of value in the handheld industry," said David Linsalata, analyst in IDC's Mobile Devices program. "Handheld device vendors must continue to search for consumer and enterprise solutions for their products, such as GPS device bundles, that utilize the range of capabilities contained in a handheld device."

Vendor Highlights

-- palmOne - Hit particularly hard by the seasonality of the handheld market, palmOne posted a sequential decline of 38.7% and a corresponding decrease in market share from 39.4% to 36.1%. However, palmOne will announce two Zire handhelds this quarter and, given the fact that the Zire family has surpassed 3 million units in fewer than 18 months, palmOne's shipments are expected to increase in the near future.

-- Hewlett Packard - Despite the declining handheld market and a 32.9% sequential drop, HP posted the strongest year-over-year increase among the top 5 vendors with a rise of 24.8%. This increase, based on the strength of an array of devices hitting the entire spectrum of price points, enabled HP to maintain its market share position of 25.7%.

-- Sony - Caught in the middle of a strategy shift to a streamlined set of products and a focus on improved PIM and other core handheld applications, Sony's market share dropped to single digits on a sequential drop of 57.2% and year-over-year drop of 49.6%.

-- Dell - Riding the benefit of a fiscal year-end sales push in January as well as Dell's direct sales model, Dell experienced a 1.1% sequential decline in shipments, the lowest drop among the top 5 vendors. Seasonality did take its toll, however, as the company only increased 2.2% year-over-year, bringing its market share up 4.7% to 7%.

-- Toshiba - Despite a relatively lackluster first quarter with a year-over-year shipment decrease of 34.1% and a sequential decrease of 48.4%, Toshiba reentered the top 5 vendor list this quarter. Toshiba, a constant member of the top 5 vendors since Q302, was knocked out of the top 5 vendor list last quarter by newcomer Medion's strong sales. Medion did not, however, repeat last quarter's performance.

Additional information can be found at www.idc.com.

Apr 28 - All-New Yahoo! Messenger Offers Exclusive Features. Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO), a leading global Internet company, today announced the newest public beta version of its popular Yahoo!(R) Messenger (http://messenger.yahoo.com) service.

Leading the instant messaging industry in time spent per user, Yahoo! Messenger continues to drive innovation in the instant messaging marketplace by introducing unique features and deeper integration with Yahoo! services including LAUNCHcast, Yahoo! Games, Yahoo! AddressBook, and Yahoo! Search.

Yahoo! Messenger is the only major instant messaging service to provide consumers with access to pre-programmed or customized radio stations available directly in their instant messaging application, enabling an advanced music connection experience among friends through LAUNCHcast, a leading Internet radio music service. It is also the first major instant messaging service to offer U.S. consumers Avatars, graphical and customizable characters that represent people; and Audibles, expressive, verbal animations.

In addition, Yahoo! Messenger improves people's ability to get the best of what they want from other popular Yahoo! services. Integrating services such as Yahoo! Games, makes it easy for fans to play two-person games including Chess, Checkers, Dominoes and Word Racer, directly in the instant messaging window.
Deeper integration with Yahoo! Search through new search shortcuts makes sharing results with friends easier than ever. New features like enhanced access to contacts including e-mail and mobile information through Yahoo! AddressBook and the ability to be seen by certain friends of choice through the Stealth mode feature, provide an easy, efficient and fun way for people to manage relationships and communicate in real time.

"With this newest version of Yahoo! Messenger, we are changing the instant messaging landscape by introducing new ways for people to express, share, and manage, making instant messaging more essential to their lives," said Lisa Pollock Mann, senior director of messaging products at Yahoo!. "By integrating unique features with compelling services from across our network, Yahoo! Messenger continues to enable powerful interactions between friends and family."

Apr 27 - Apple Introduces New PowerBook G4 Line. Apple® today announced a new line of PowerBook® G4 notebooks with faster PowerPC G4 processors running at up to 1.5 GHz; faster graphics performance; and a 4x SuperDrive™ (DVD-R/CD-RW) for burning professional-quality DVDs—all housed in the industry-leading aluminum enclosures that have defined the latest generation of PowerBooks. All new PowerBook G4s come standard with AirPort® Extreme 54 Mbps 802.11g pre-installed for wireless networking right out of the box.

“Apple’s PowerBook G4 notebooks continue to lead the industry with an unrivaled mix of performance and portability,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “No other notebook packs so much performance and so many cutting-edge features, including large widescreen displays, high-speed wireless networking, advanced connectivity and industry leading graphics, into such a thin and light design.”

Both the 15-inch and 17-inch PowerBook G4 now offer up to a 1.5 GHz PowerPC G4 processor and phenomenal graphics performance with the ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics processor. For customers who want the highest graphics performance, the 1.5 GHz 15-inch model and 17-inch PowerBook can now be custom configured with up to 128MB of graphics memory. The new 12-inch PowerBook G4 features a 1.33 GHz PowerPC processor, NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200 graphics with 64MB of dedicated video memory and a larger 60GB Ultra ATA hard drive.

Offering the latest in wireless communications, every new PowerBook G4 notebook comes with built-in AirPort Extreme wireless networking and an internal Bluetooth module for wireless connectivity to a range of peripherals such as cell phones, PDAs, printers and headsets, as well as the Apple Wireless Keyboard and Apple Wireless Mouse.

Pricing & Availability

The new 12- and 15-inch PowerBook G4 models are available immediately, and the new 17-inch PowerBook G4 is expected to be available in early May through The Apple Store® www.apple.com, at Apple’s retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers.

Apr 27 - IDT to Deploy America's First Commercial WiFi Phone Service. IDT Corporation today announced plans to deploy the first commercial WiFi phone service in the US. IDT's WiFi phone service will allow users to bypass local phone companies and make domestic and international phone calls via a wireless connection to the internet.

IDT plans to initially roll out the WiFi service in select areas of the Ironbound section of Newark, New Jersey. This initial deployment will provide research to help IDT develop the new service as it is rolled out in other areas. The new phone service will utilize Net2Phone's innovative Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) platform.

"IDT is opening up the next frontier in telecommunications," said Howard Jonas, Chairman of IDT Corp. "By combining WiFi wireless technology with IDT's global telecommunications network and retail distribution, Net2Phone's VoIP platform and the fixed wireless infrastructure of IDT Business Services (Winstar), IDT is providing residential consumers with a more affordable and flexible phone service."

WiFi phone customers will not need their own expensive broadband connection to access the service. IDT will provide wide area WiFi coverage in the targeted neighborhoods. Calls will be routed via Net2Phone's VoIP platform, and terminated by IDT's worldwide telecommunications network and infrastructure. IDT Business Services' (Winstar) fixed wireless network will provide backhaul services for the traffic. IDT is currently deploying its initial network and expects to begin service in Newark within 30-60 days.

"While many are still talking about WiFi phone service, IDT is making it a reality," said Jim Courter, IDT's CEO. "IDT is bringing the first commercial WiFi phone service into the marketplace. Not only have we found a profitable application for WiFi, but we're creating a new industry within telecommunications that can provide basic phone service for a fraction of the cost of traditional phone service."

IDT's network is being designed to be compatible with advances in wireless technology. IDT's WiFi customers will benefit from a seamless transition to WiMax service as that technology matures and becomes more widespread.

"Net2Phone pioneered VoIP," said Stephen Greenberg, CEO of Net2Phone. "Now, together with IDT, we are launching the next generation in telecom. With IDT's reach and infrastructure expertise and Net2Phone's innovative VoIP platform, we are well positioned to ride the burgeoning WiFi network explosion to offer consumers and businesses affordable telephony services."

"Companies like IDT have led the renaissance of Newark," said the Honorable Sharpe James, Mayor of the City of Newark. "Believe it or not, there are still people in America who cannot afford basic home phone service. Now IDT is using its technology to bridge the "telecommunications divide." Because of IDT, Newark becomes the first city in America where affordable WiFi phone service will be commercially available."

Apr 27 - VoIP is a Turning Point for Us Telecoms. The rapid growth of voice over IP (VoIP) services in the USA represents a turning point in the development of the US telecoms market, according to a new report, VoIP in the US Market: services, business models and regulation, from Analysys Research, the global advisers on telecoms, IT and media (www.analysys.com).

"VoIP will have a fundamental impact on all aspects of US telecoms because it causes fragmentation of supply and services offered," says Michael Kende, co-author of the report and a principal consultant within Analysys' Washington DC office. "The US voice market will finally lose its monolithic character but VoIP is unlikely to replace traditional PSTN voice during this decade."

According to Analysys forecasts, by 2008, VoIP penetration is expected to reach 17% of broadband-enabled households (growing from under 1 million at the end of this year to 11.7 million in 2008), and 23% of broadband-enabled small-business establishments (increasing from less than 100,000 in 2004 to 800,000 in 2008). Together, consumers and small businesses are expected to provide almost 13 million VoIP subscriptions and USD5.7 billion in annual service revenue in 2008. Although this is a significant amount, it represents 2.5% of the 2003 total US telecoms revenue of USD224 billion.

For medium and large businesses VoIP growth is also very strong. Analysys expects the estimated installed base of IP station lines to increase from just over 3 million in 2004 to more than 18 million by the end of 2008. This represents a compound annual growth rate of over 50%.

The report states that during 2003, VoIP broke simultaneously into the market consciousness of the US consumer, major industry telecoms players and regulators with its promise of huge cost savings. Major service providers, such as AT&T, MCI, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and others, made startling announcements to roll out and expand VoIP services and network deployment.

"VoIP has now moved from a behind-the-scenes network-migration strategy to a distinct billable service, separable from the underlying network, controllable by the end user, and with its own pricing schemes, features and terminal equipment," says Michael Kende. "In doing so it has the potential to shift market power to the end user and new service providers, to disrupt the balance of universal service subsidies, and to redefine the geographical and technological basis of the US telecoms industry and its regulatory structure."

The report acknowledges that VoIP providers face a raft of potential regulatory impositions and decisions that will have a major impact on their business models.

"Actions undertaken in 2004 could represent a turning point in the development of the US telecommunications sector as decisions made by the FCC will determine the playing field under which operators can compete with the incumbent," says Michael Kende.

Apr 27 - CNET Download.com Expands with Free, Legal Music and Game File Services. Download.com, the world's leading download resource and a property of CNET Networks, Inc. (Nasdaq:CNET), today announced the addition of free, legal music and game file discovery and download services, expanding beyond its core offering of software downloads.

The move is manifested on the site's home page (http://music.download.com), which today unveiled three tabs -- software, music, and game files -- as clear entry points into CNET Download.com's expanding offerings.

On a monthly basis, tens of millions of people turn to CNET Download.com to discover free-to-try, legal software, easily navigating between more than 30,000 latest-version offerings in 12 primary categories for virtually any purpose, business or pleasure. Users download more than 75 million software files each month. An unbiased resource, CNET Download.com makes software discovery easy, directing users to "most popular" and "most talked about" lists, new releases, product spotlights, and top-rated programs in each category.

Now, CNET Download.com is adapting its proven, intuitive interface and unbiased approach to meet the needs of music and gaming fans, helping them find and download free, legal music and game files from a broad selection of offerings that will become increasingly comprehensive as the year progresses.

"CNET Download.com earned its popularity by making it easy for people get the most out of their computers and handheld devices," said Scott Arpajian, senior vice president of CNET Download.com. "As digital music and gaming technologies break into the mainstream, it is natural for us expand into these categories, providing the digital fuel that brings them to life."

CNET Download.com Music

CNET Download.com's user base includes a heavy following of music fans, as evidenced by the fact that the "Audio and Video" software category steadily ranks as the number-one download category on the site. Now, the people who turn to CNET Download.com for software such as CD burners, media players, rippers and encoders, music management, and MP3 search tools will also be able to fill their audio devices with free, legal songs.

CNET Download.com's music service debuts today with thousands of songs, which it has gathered since it invited artists to upload their music starting last month. CNET Download.com expects this database to rapidly increase in size and variety, as more artists discover the unmatched opportunity to stage their music in front of tens of millions of music fans. Currently featuring basic functionality only, it will roll out a number of new community, discovery, and technology features as the year progresses.

This CNET Download.com music launch is separate from CNET Networks' coming launch of the all-new MP3.com site, which will take place in the next few weeks.

CNET Download.com Game Files

CNET Download.com co-developed its game files feature with CNET Networks' GameSpot, and launched it late last year as a new category. The category quickly grew in popularity, and is currently among the most popular categories on CNET Download.com. Now broken out as one of the three featured digital fuel genres on the CNET Download.com home page, the game files offering stands apart from other game file services in that it offers the largest selection of fast, free and secure game files.

Apr 27 - EA To Own the Streets This Fall with Need for Speed Underground 2. Electronic Arts (Nasdaq:ERTS) today announced the development of Need For Speed(TM) Underground 2 under the EA GAMES(TM) brand. Need for Speed Underground 2 is the sequel to Need for Speed Underground, which has sold more than five million copies worldwide since its release in November 2003.

Need for Speed Underground 2 will challenge gamers to immerse themselves in the tuner culture, exploring an expansive, free-roaming city divided into five distinct neighborhoods. Gamers will encounter rival racers who will initiate events, tip players off to the hottest racing spots, and show them where to buy the most sought-after licensed aftermarket upgrades.

The game will feature new game modes, deep new performance customization and tuning, and more than 30 licensed cars. The game also delivers twice the visual customization upgrades as the original game, providing a staggering 70 billion possible car combinations for total automotive self-expression.

Need for Speed Underground 2 is currently under development by EA Canada and is scheduled for release in fall 2004 for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, Xbox(R) video game system from Microsoft, Nintendo GameCube(TM), PC, and Game Boy(R) Advance. This game has not yet been rated by the ESRB.

EA's homepage and online game site is www.ea.com.

Apr 26 - One Year Later, the AMD Opteron Processor Transforms The Enterprise. AMD (NYSE:AMD) today celebrates the one-year anniversary of the AMD Opteron(TM) processor, which transformed the enterprise with groundbreaking architecture, world-class 32-bit performance and an ecosystem committed to the development of an industry-standard 64-bit solution.

One year ago, AMD introduced the AMD Opteron(TM) processor, the world's first 32-bit and 64-bit processor compatible with the x86 architecture. As a result of overwhelming customer demand, leading OEMs -- Fujitsu-Siemens Computer, HP, IBM and Sun -- are currently shipping AMD Opteron processor-based systems. More than 250 OS and ISV partners support AMD64 technology including Computer Associates, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, RedHat, Sun, SUSE LINUX and VMware.
Enterprise customers in diverse industries such as computer-aided engineering, digital content creation, entertainment, automobile manufacturing, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and financial services have installed AMD Opteron processor-based systems. Additionally, the AMD Opteron processor has garnered 14 industry awards, including the InfoWorld Readers' Choice Award for Best Processor/Component and PC Magazine's Technical Excellence Award.

"Just one year ago, 64-bit computing was an elite class of computing accessible to only a small percentage of the market. This all changed with AMD64," said Dirk Meyer, senior vice president, Computation Products Group, AMD. "AMD is leading the industry to pervasive 64-bit computing with industry-standard AMD64 technology featuring our Direct Connect Architecture -- a smart approach to architectural design that vastly improves overall performance."

"AMD has helped change the industry landscape by establishing the AMD64 technology as the first platform to bring 64-bit computing to the x86 architecture. OEMs who have added AMD Opteron processor-based servers to their portfolios have expanded their addressable market for the x86 marketplace," said Vernon Turner, group vice president of Global Enterprise Server Solutions at IDC. "The AMD Opteron processor gives enterprise customers flexibility and scalability with the investment protection of an industry-standard server platform."

"A year ago, we showed the world the best way to get to 64-bit computing was with the AMD Opteron processor. We have continued to revolutionize the server market by essentially making 32-bit-only servers obsolete and forcing others to follow in our lead," said Marty Seyer, vice president and general manager of the Microprocessor Business Unit, AMD. "AMD has paved our way into the enterprise with an industry-standard architecture that delivers world-class 32-bit performance and a simplified path to 64-bit computing."

A true enterprise-class solution

"We chose to expand our product offerings with the AMD Opteron processor because we recognize the immediate performance advantages in 32-bit environments, which accelerates ISV adoption and further advances the future of 64-bit ecosystems," said James Mouton, vice president, platform division, Industry Standard Servers, HP. "The ProLiant servers and blades incorporating the AMD technology simply gives us the ability to offer our customers more performance and more choice."

"As the first OEM to announce support of the AMD Opteron processor and the first to introduce an AMD Opteron processor-based workstation to the market, IBM has worked closely with AMD to give customers the flexibility and performance to power intense computing applications," said Dave Turek, vice president of Deep Computing at IBM. "As our customers continue to pursue new achievements in business and science through high-performance computing, we will continue to work with companies like AMD to offer the choices customers require."

"Increasing customer demand for x86 solutions that are 32-bit and 64-bit capable, and deliver maximum performance led us to pursue a collaboration with AMD," said Souheil Saliba, vice president of marketing and strategy, Sun Microsystems Inc. "With the addition of AMD Opteron processors, we now have a competitive set of high-performance x86 systems that support the Solaris Operating System x86 platform, RedHat Linux and SUSE Linux. Our strategic alliance with AMD and collaboration on future joint technology development will result in a broad set of enterprise servers based on the AMD Opteron processor."

AMD64: The direct connection to performance

With Direct Connect Architecture, AMD64 offers the enterprise more than just 64-bit extensions. AMD removed the bottleneck of a front-side bus and directly connected the processors, the memory controller and the I/O, resulting in improved overall system performance and efficiency. AMD is now positioned to target the key four-way server market for the data center that withered over the years. The flexibility of AMD64 with Direct Connect Architecture uniquely addresses the complexity and costs of bringing four-way solutions to market.

Also targeting low-power solutions for the data center, the AMD Opteron processors HE (55 watt) and EE (30 watt) for servers and workstations offer the most performance per watt of any processor in their class.

Going forward, AMD plans to continue to drive widespread adoption of AMD Opteron processor-based systems at all levels of enterprise environments -- from high-performance clusters to blade servers. By working with OEM partners to deliver reliable, secure solutions with industry-leading performance, AMD will continue its tradition of customer-centric innovation.

For more information, visit www.amd.com.

Apr 26 - Huge Surge in Phishing Scams as Fraudsters Seek Financial Gain. There has been a vast increase in the number of phishing emails in circulation over the past six months, according to MessageLabs, the leading provider of managed email security services to businesses worldwide. In September 2003, the number of phishing emails seen by MessageLabs was 279. By March 2004, this figure had risen almost 800-fold to 215,643. The number of phishing emails peaked in January 2004 at 337,050, an increase of more than 1200 percent.

"Phishing" is the latest online financial "scam" targeting computer users. Emails claiming to be from legitimate organizations direct recipients to an often perfect replica of that organization's website. At this point victims are asked to update personal security information that is then used to make online financial transactions, defrauding businesses and their customers.

"In just six months the number of phishing emails seen by MessageLabs has increased exponentially -- evidence that the number of individual scams has also risen dramatically," noted Mark Sunner, Chief Technology Officer at MessageLabs. "For targeted organizations the impact can be high -- including lost productivity, customer confusion and complaints, damage to the brand and legal implications. For individual users, the financial losses can be excessive. If allowed to continue unchecked, online phishing scams threaten to undermine confidence in e-commerce as a whole."

To date, phishing has occurred on every major English-speaking continent. The latest recorded victim is one of Switzerland's largest regional banks, Basler Kantonalbank. With headquarters in Basel, the bank has warned customers to be wary of emails claiming to come from the bank asking for sensitive personal details.

In the United States, Citibank, eBay, PayPal, Wachovia, Visa and Bank of America are on the list of major banks and online transaction companies that have been targeted, and in the United Kingdom, the perpetrators have gone after customers of Barclays, NatWest and Lloyds TSB, among others.

While perpetrators are hard to track, last month the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department arrested a Texas man accused of creating bogus emails posing as messages from AOL and PayPal. Recent investigations have uncovered phishing is becoming more sophisticated and is increasingly being carried out by gangs in Eastern Europe and Russia rather than by individuals.

Overall it is impossible to determine how many users have fallen victim to online phishing scams but analysts estimate that up to five percent of fraudulent emails succeed in obtaining the victim's financial data.

There are a number of options available to organizations wanting to protect themselves against phishing scams:

-- Consider a fraud protection service that proactively monitors international email traffic and provides immediate notification upon the discovery of new phishing emails.

-- Add or update existing incident response procedures so that security teams can quickly contact the right law enforcement bodies and work with them to identify and shut down fraudulent websites.

-- Educate customers on a regular basis to ensure they are aware of how they will be communicated with, the kinds of information they will be asked for and the potential threat posed by phishing scams.

For more information on MessageLabs and its industry-leading email security and management services, please visit www.messagelabs.com.

Apr 26 - Toshiba's New 100GB 2.5-inch HDD Offers World's Highest Capacity. Toshiba Corporation today confirmed its leadership in the fast growing market for 2.5-inch hard-disk drives (HDD) with the announcement of the "MK1031GAS," the highest capacity drive yet achieved in this increasingly important form factor.

Making full use of Toshiba's latest advances in HDD technologies, including the highest areal density yet commercialized, the new HDD delivers a 100GB storage capacity, and does so in a drive only 9.5mm high. "MK1031GAS" is ideally suited for integration into portable PCs, especially those with advanced audio-visual capabilities that need the capacity to handle large video sources.

"We are delighted to announce the world's highest capacity 2.5-inch HDD," said Seiji Kawagoe, Senior Manager of the HDD Product Planning Department, Storage Device Division, in Toshiba's Digital Media Network Company. "We made improvements to push the capacity, increase shock resistance and to lower power consumption and noise. The resulting drive is perfect for integration in high spec portable PCs and other portable devices. Our strategy is to create the technologies and products that make a reality of ubiquitous computing, and we are sure the "MK1031GAS" makes a valuable contribution to that."

Toshiba achieved the world's first 100GB 2.5-inch HDD by establishing a new benchmark for areal density: 80-gigabits of data per square inch. The key to achieving this was replacing the Pico Sliders attached to the drive's heads, and which maintain the appropriate distance from the disk during read and write operations, with Femto Sliders that are 35% smaller and much lighter. Advances were also achieved in the thin-film technology for both the head and the platter.

The new drive's shock resistance of 3,185 m/s(2)(325G, 2msec) is 50% higher than in Toshiba's current 2.5-inch HDD, due to employment of the smaller, lighter Femto Sliders in combination with a lighter head-suspension and head arm.

Power consumption of the "MK1031GAS" is approximately 20% lower on average than the company's current drive* due to pulse width modulation (PWM) that controls disk rotation speed by switching the power supply to the spindle motor on and off at a certain frequency. A DC-DC converter is also used in the power unit.

Low noise operation, as low as 21dB in an idle state, is achieved by an optimized sinusoidal waveform to control the operational current of the spindle motor.

Samples of the MK1031GAS will be available in May.

Apr 26 - Sonic Debuts eDVD 3. Sonic Solutions (Nasdaq:SNIC) today introduced eDVD 3, the latest upgrade to its industry-leading application for linking DVD to the Internet. The new version of eDVD(R) allows corporate and creative producers to web-enable their DVD titles and provides significant technology enhancements including the ability to link to documents such as PDFs or high-resolution JPEG files from a DVD, the ability to add URL links to a finished DVD volume, and cross-platform playback on both the PC and Macintosh.

"With millions of people watching movies on their PCs and connecting to bonus content via the Internet, Hollywood has proven that web-linking technology adds significant value to DVD titles," said Rolf Hartley, senior vice-president and general manager of Sonic's professional products group. "Now, producers of business-to-business, special interest, and event titles can create connected DVDs for their customers with the same technology that drives Hollywood."

eDVD 3 is based on InterActual's well-known Player 2.0 web-enabling technology which was incorporated into over 80% of the top selling (U.S. market) DVDs of 2003. eDVD 3, which is a stand alone PC-based application, offers functionality that previously was available only as an integrated component of Sonic's DVD Creator workstation for the Macintosh. eDVD 3 is compatible with the majority of DVD authoring applications on the market today, enabling corporate and creative producers to easily add web-links and other connectivity features to their DVD titles.

"Our clients request web links for their DVDs 75% of the time, and with eDVD 3 we can now offer comprehensive connectivity with industry-standard technology for their titles," said David Weissman, general manager, Video Arts, Inc., a San Francisco-based digital video design studio. "eDVD 3 provides an excellent opportunity to enhance DVD projects with true cross-platform playability and links to the Internet. This represents an immense value for our customers."

eDVD 3 is expected to ship in May 2004 through Sonic's worldwide network of value-added resellers at a U.S. suggested list price of $899.

Sonic Solutions can be found online at www.sonic.com.

Apr 26 - Semiconductor Market to Outshine 2003 with 29% Growth in 2004. After its disastrous 32% decline in 2001 and a lackluster 2002, the worldwide semiconductor market turned up in 2003 and grew by 18.3%. In-Stat/MDR (www.instat.com), the high-tech market research firm whose 2003 forecast was a mere .2% higher than actual, now projects that growth will be an even stronger 29% in 2004, bringing total revenue to $214.7 billion and vying with 2000 for record-high annual revenue.

However, "Although we do not expect a replay of 2001 anytime soon, the strength of the current recovery should not be interpreted as a return to the good old days," said Mark Kirstein, In-Stat/MDR's general manager. "Fundamental changes are taking place in both the demand and supply aspects of the semiconductor market that will cause the next decade to be significantly different from the last."

Specifically, In-Stat/MDR notes, on the demand side, there lacks the existence of a single new "killer app" on the horizon to drive future market growth as PCs and mobile phones did in the 1990s. And, the wide variety of lower volume products that have emerged are subject to standardization and/or extreme competition, both of which tend to suppress ASPs and limit revenue growth.

On the supply side of the equation, commoditization of the CMOS process is holding prices down. The growth of the foundry industry, particularly in China, is expected to keep competition high, and therefore wafer prices low, in the long term. On the design side, the shift of design work to low-cost locations will ease growing design costs, while the growth of standards-based designs will limit intellectual property (IP) costs.

In-Stat/MDR's newest semiconductor market forecast also reports the following:

-- Although semiconductor prices are expected to rise moderately in the short term as capacity tightens, over the long term, In-Stat/MDR expects that price erosion will cause revenue to grow somewhat slower than unit shipments.

-- While 2005 will also see some growth, 2006 will experience a downturn. Growth is expected to resume in 2007 and 2008 as unit growth continues and ASP remains relatively flat, at a level lower than any recent year except 2002.

Apr 25 - Sunday Shopping Watch.

Best Sunday Deals - See our Best Sunday Ad Deals Table below for specific system prices.

Weekly Comparison. Good deals can be found in stores this weekend, however the sales are not as good as last week's.

This Sunday's Special Discounts and Financing. In addition to sales on specific items, the following store-wide sales are advertised this week. (Note that these ads are for the Dayton, Ohio area. Prices or offerings may be different where you live.)

Best Buy is offering 18 month no-interest financing on all advertised desktop packages and laptops, and $150 mail-in rebate on advertised laptops and desktop packages.
Circuit City is offering 12 months no interest financing, and up to $150 mail-in rebates on advertised desktop packages and notebooks.
Office Depot is offering rebates on advertised systems.
CompUSA has an online graduation sale.
Staples has no store-wide promotions this Sunday.
Compare to Online Prices - Compare the Sunday ad prices to those being offered at DealTime, it searches over 160 online computer stores.

InfoHQ Related Shopping Pages

Shopping Alerts - Our latest shopping advisories on buying digital cameras and camcorders, desktop computers, laptops, and other computer items.

Windows XP Upgrade Guide - All about upgrading to Windows XP.

What You Need to Know About Dial-up Internet Service Rebates - The pros and cons of 'free' Internet service deals. Also see our latest InfoHQ Tech Watch Newsletter; Free PC and Free Internet Deals.     

Definitions. A complete desktop system/package/complete package is defined as a computer with monitor and printer or scanner.
A build-to-order system is customized at the retailer and then ordered from a computer manufacturer. In addition to the computer's stated price, you still pay sales tax and shipping charges (if you order direct from the vendor without going through the chain store, you may not have to pay sales tax and you could get a better warranty).

Caution about advertised prices. When reading advertisements, read the fine print of the ad to make sure you know what is being advertised and what it cost. For example, many advertisers will show a complete system with computer, monitor, and printer but advertise a price for the computer only.

* Prices discussed in this article. We report prices after rebates and discounts are subtracted.
Items highlighted in Black are good deals.
Items highlighted in Red means prices have gone up and the system is not a good buy this week.
Items in normal text means prices are about the same as the previous weeks.

Best Sunday Ad Deals
Product Description
Price* (see above)
Prices up or Down this Week
Best Celeron Deal
eMachines 2.7 GHz complete system with 17" monitor
Best Buy, Circuit City, Office Depot
1. Best Pentium 4 System
eMachines Pentium 4 3.0 GHz complete system with HT Technology, 15 inch monitor, and DVD-RW
Office Depot
2. Best Pentium 4 System
HP Pentium 4 3.0E GHz complete system with HT Technology, 17 inch monitor, and DVD-RW
Best Buy
3. Best Pentium 4 System
Sony Pentium 4 2.8 GHz complete system with HT Technology, 15 inch flat panel, and DVD-RW
Circuit City
4. Best Pentium 4 System
Sony Pentium 4 3.2 GHz complete system with HT Technology, 17 inch flat panel, and DVD-RW
Best Buy
1. Best AMD Athlon XP System
HP Athlon 3000+ complete system with 17 inch monitor and DVD/CD-RW drive
Circuit City
2. Best AMD Athlon XP System
HP Athlon 3200+ complete system with 17 inch monitor and DVD-RW drive
Circuit City
Best AMD Athlon 64 System
HP Athlon 3200+ complete system with 17 inch monitor and DVD-RW drive
Best Buy
1. Best Low-cost Laptop
Toshiba 2.8 GHz Celeron with DVD/CD-RW
Best Buy
2. Best Low-cost Laptop
HP Athlon 2800 + with DVD/CD-RW
Circuit City
3. Best Low-cost Laptop
HP 2.8 GHz Celeron widescreen with DVD/CD-RW
Best Buy
1. Best High-end Notebook
HP Pentium 4 widescreen 2.8 GHz with DVD/CD-RW
Best Buy
2. Best High-end Notebook
eMachines Athlon 64 3000+ widescreen with DVD-RW
Best Buy
3. Best High-end Notebook
Gateway widescreen Centrino 1.5 GHz with DVD/CD-RW
Office Depot
4. Best High-end Notebook
Sony Pentium 4 2.8 GHz with DVD-RW
Circuit City
5. Best High-end Notebook
HP 17" widescreen Pentium 4 3.06 GHz with HT Technology and DVD-RW
Best Buy
6. Best High-end Notebook
HP Centrino 1.6 GHz widescreen with DVD-RW
Circuit City
Peripherals and Software
Best Sunday Deal
Seagate 120 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 8 MB buffer
(after rebates)
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
Seagate 200 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 8 MB buffer
(after rebates)
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
ATI 9600 XT Pro 128 MB
(after rebates)
Circuit City
Best Sunday Deal
Sony 52X DVD-RW
(after rebates)
Circuit City


InfoHQ Quick Jumps to Upgrades from DealTime - Click to check on latest prices
Video Cards ATI Radeon
  GeForce4 FX
Hard Drives Maxtor
  Western Digital
CD-RW Drives 40x/48x Write Speed
CPUs All AMD Athlon XP CPUs
  All Intel Pentium 4 CPUs
Antivirus Software All Manufacturers
Firewall Software All Manufacturers
All Other Products DealTime


Additional Information. For additional technical information, advice on how to buy a laptop or desktop, and vendor and manufacturer links, please see our Computer Buying Advice page.

About Sunday Shopping Watch. Sunday Shopping Watch appears every Sunday (except some holidays like Easter and Christmas) in our News and Rumors column. It is a review of local (Dayton, Ohio) computer chain store advertisements. While we can not guarantee your local chain store has the same items, this article can help you make informed buying decisions.


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