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Daily Computer News and Rumors

August 17-24 2003

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
Date
(Click on story to read, use your Browser's back button to return to this index.)
Aug 24 Sunday Shopping Watch
Aug 22 University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Study Released
Aug 22 Canon's New EOS Digital Rebel; Affordable New 6.3 Megapixel Autofocus SLR
Aug 22 Kodak EasyShare DX6490 Digital Camera for 'Advanced Amateur' Photographers
Aug 22 Win4Lin Lets Users Run Windows Applications on Low-Cost Linux Boxes
Aug 21 Philips Licenses Memory Stick Technology From Sony
Aug 21 HP Reports Third Quarter 2003 Results
Aug 21 Verbatim's New Store 'n' Go USB 2.0 Drives Achieve Speed Milestone
Aug 21 Worst Virus Week in History Continues
Aug 21 Blackout Creates Soaring Demand for Emergency Data Recovery Services
Aug 21 Adobe Photoshop Update Now Available for Power Mac G5
Aug 20 NVIDIA Leverages Denali for PCI Express Design Verification
Aug 20 Worldwide DRAM Market is Showing Signs That a Recovery Is Under Way
Aug 20 Average Monthly Spending for Satellite TV Service Drops Below Cable Service
Aug 20 AOL 9.0 Optimized Number 1 for Web Speed
Aug 20 Epson and Bachmann Software Provide Mobile Printing from Palm OS Handhelds
Aug 19 AMD Predicts Database Will Be the Early `Killer Application' for 64-Bit
Aug 19 Plextor Introduces External USB 2.0 52X CD-R/RW Drive
Aug 19 Internet Performance Holds Steady So Far
Aug 19 Worldwide Semiconductor Industry Is On Track for 11 Percent Growth in 2003
Aug 19 Palm OS Licensees Accounted For 51 Percent of PDA Shipments
Aug 18 Microsoft Details Procedures to Eradicate Blaster Worm
Aug 18 ATI Graphics Technologies to Power Future Xbox Products
Aug 18 1394 Trade Association to Demonstrate Complete Home Network
Aug 18 SanDisk Introduces New Memory Stick Duo Cards
Aug 18 Aspyr Media Inc. Ships Activision's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 For PC and Macintosh
Aug 17 Sunday Shopping Watch

 

Aug 24 -Sunday Shopping Watch.

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

Weekly Comparison. While there are not as many advertised systems as last week, it is still a good weekend to go out and buy a new desktop or laptop computer.

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 3 months of free Earthlink plus 12 month no-interest financing on all desktop and laptop purchases, and $150 mail-in rebates on advertised desktop packages and $100 mail-in rebates on laptops.
Circuit City is offering $150 mail-in rebates on advertised desktop packages and notebooks plus 12 months no interest.
Office Depot has no store-wide promotions this Sunday.
CompUSA has an Unadvertised Specials page which you need to print out and bring to your local store to receive savings.
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
Category
Product Description
Price* (see above)
Prices up or Down this Week
Store
1. Best Celeron Deal
Compaq 2.4 GHz complete system with 17" monitor
$429
-
Circuit City
2. Best Celeron Deal
HP 2.5 GHz complete system with 17" monitor
$519
-
Best Buy
1. Best Pentium 4 System
Compaq 2.2 GHz complete system with 17" monitor
$549
-
Best Buy
2. Best Pentium 4 System
HP 2.4 GHz Media Center complete system with 15" flat panel, DVD-R/W, and HT Technology
$1509
-
Best Buy
1. Best AMD Athlon XP System
eMachines 2400+ complete system with 17" monitor
$389
-
Best Buy
2. Best AMD Athlon XP System
eMachines 2600+ complete system with 17" monitor
$589
-
Best Buy
3. Best AMD Athlon XP System
HP 2800+ complete system with 17" monitor
$869
-
Best Buy
Best Low-cost Laptop

Compaq 2 GHz Celeron with DVD/CD-RW

$749
Circuit City, Best Buy ($799)
1. Best High-end Notebook
HP 2400+ Athlon XP with DVD/CD-RW
$1049
-
Circuit City
2. Best High-end Notebook
Compaq 2.4 GHz Pentium 4 with DVD/CD-RW
$1199
-
Best Buy
3. Best High-end Notebook
Toshiba 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 with DVD - RW
$1519
-
CompUSA
Peripherals and Software
Best Sunday Deal
Maxtor 7200 RPM 80 GB hard drive with 8 MB buffer
$59
(after rebates)
-
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
Circuit City 7200 RPM 120 GB hard drive with 8 MB buffer
$69
(after rebates)
-
Circuit City
Best Sunday Deal
Western Digital 7200 RPM 160 GB hard drive with 8 MB buffer
$99
(after rebates)
-
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
E-GeForce FX 5200 128 MB DDR
$89
(after rebates)
-
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
TDK 4X multiformat DVD-RW
$249
(after rebates)
-
Best Buy

 

InfoHQ Quick Jumps to Upgrades from DealTime - Click to check on latest prices
Video Cards ATI Radeon
  GeForce4 FX
Hard Drives Maxtor
  Western Digital
  Seagate
CD-RW Drives 40x/48x Write Speed
DVD-RW Drives DVD+RW/CD-RW
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.

Aug 22 - University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Study Released. E-businesses are getting better overall in the view of their customers--but performance varies widely from company to company, according to the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) study released today.
The report, which includes measurements of search engines, portals, and online news and information websites as part of the e-business category, identifies a few outstanding performers and shows that Google, Yahoo!, and others are pulling off the extraordinary feat of morphing their business models without losing customer satisfaction and loyalty, while other companies lag behind.

Google and Yahoo! have scores that place them among the best performers of any of the roughly 200 top companies the ACSI measures on an annual basis. The new report revealed that AOL, though still a weak performer, has made a dramatic improvement in the past year and may be on the path to restoring the strength of its customer base. Meantime, the major news and information websites maintain a solid showing but demonstrate none of the signs that they dramatically impress their customers like the best Internet companies.

Overall, the ACSI e-business industry score improved over last year, up to 71.4 from 68.7 in 2002 (on a scale from 0-100). The e-business industry score trails the national ACSI score (73.8), which aggregates all industries measured by the Index, both online and traditional. Both the e-business score and the national average are dramatically below the rating consumers gave e-commerce (77.6) in a report released in February 2003.

Search Engines: Google has consistently been far and away the best performer in this category (82), and one of the best in any category measured by the ACSI. Ask Jeeves improved its performance an impressive seven points, up to 69, but nowhere near enough to make a dent in Google's lead. The other company named in the report, Alta Vista, trailed badly, earning only a 63. Both search engines lag "all others" in the category, mostly niche players who collectively earned a 78--which is a strong score that bears watching.

"Google's score is more than enough to dominate the search engine field," said web expert and ForeSee Results CEO Larry Freed. "In fact, their score shows they have one of the strongest relationships with their customers of any kind of company, online or offline. What's remarkable is that they are not leaving their customers behind while they continue to evolve their business model. That's a tough balancing act--and they're not just maintaining the strength of the customer asset, they are actually improving it from year to year."

Portals: Perennial laggard AOL is the most surprising story this quarter and made a dramatic six-point jump in performance. The increase brings AOL's score to 65, barely a low pass but an impressive leap in the right direction. Yahoo! remains the dominant player in the category (78), with a two-point improvement over last year. MSN also moved up two points to 74, staying in the game but making no net headway. The score to beat among portals is 79, the average of other, smaller players measured as part of the ACSI sample.

"AOL's improvement is very, very impressive," said Freed. "People have said AOL was down for the count before and have been proved wrong. If AOL can keep this up, that company may prove once again how capable and resilient it really is. They said they were going to re-focus on customers and it looks like that was much more than lip service. They are looking like the AOL whose stock everyone used to want--aggressively innovating and earning customer loyalty. If they can do this amid all the issues with their parent company and huge changes in the online world, it will be one of the most impressive acts of the company's history."

Freed noted that AOL is building customer satisfaction even as it evolves its business model in multiple ways.

"The line is blurring between subscription-based services like AOL and Internet portals like Yahoo!," said Freed. "Both are taking on characteristics of the other, and both Yahoo! and AOL are increasing the strength of the customer asset base while they do this. It's also apparent that there are actually some ways in which AOL's merger is finally yielding some of that 'synergy' we heard so much about, like with AOL-only Time content."

News and Information: News and information sites proved to be solid, if unexciting, performers. MSNBC.com and ABCNews.com tied at 74, followed closely by CNN.com and USAToday.com, which tied at 72. There was little change upward or downward in the category. NYTimes.com brings up the rear again this year with a score of 70, down one point from last year.

"News sites show every sign of being, basically, a mature industry," offered Freed. "The innovation that we see come from hyper-competitiveness in so many online industries just doesn't exist in the news field. While some companies like Google and Amazon were created by and for the Internet, that's not the case with the major news organizations. News sites have basically created an online version of what they do offline and haven't felt the need to change much. This accounts for the big difference in scores as compared to Internet companies like Google and e-retail sites, which have felt the pressure to innovate and deliver intensively to customers."

All categories are measured once per year. The e-business portion of today's report from the University of Michigan was co-sponsored by ForeSee Results. Michigan produces the ACSI in partnership with ASQ and the CFI Group each quarter.

Aug 22 - Canon's New EOS Digital Rebel; Affordable New 6.3 Megapixel Autofocus SLR. The Canon EOS Rebel has gone digital. Adding to the world's most popular line of autofocus SLR cameras, the new EOS Digital Rebel combines the quality, affordability and ease of use the Rebel is renowned for with the immediacy, vitality and economy that digital delivers. Sleek and stylish - with a high-grade titanium gray metallic finish - the Digital Rebel puts the power and flexibility of a single lens reflex camera into a compact, light weight, high performance, high resolution 6.3 megapixel package.

"With this Digital Rebel we have added 'affordable' to the lexicon of digital SLRs," said Yukiaki Hashimoto, senior vice president and general manager of the Consumer Imaging Group at Canon U.S.A., Inc., a subsidiary of Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ). "By leveraging the design, engineering and manufacturing expertise gained developing EOS pro-digital SLRs, Canon is able to bring the Digital Rebel SLR to consumers at a price point once reserved for digital point and shoots. As we have with other benchmark products such as the AE-1, Sure Shot, Rebel and ELPH, we expect to dominate an entirely new market category. For price, power and performance, this is one Canon that will blow the market away."

Price and Availability

The EOS Digital Rebel will be offered in two kit configurations: with or without the EF 18-55mm f/3.5 - 5.6 zoom lens. Initial shipments of each kit will begin in mid-September. The estimated selling price for the zoom lens kit which includes a battery pack and charger, plus software, manuals, interface cables, neckstrap and Canon USA limited warranty will be $999. The estimated selling price for the body-only kit with the same accessories and limited warranty will be $899.

For more information, visit www.usa.canon.com.

Aug 22 - Kodak EasyShare DX6490 Digital Camera for 'Advanced Amateur' Photographers. Eastman Kodak Company today unveiled its most advanced EasyShare digital camera to date, the Kodak EasyShare DX6490 zoom digital camera. With its unique combination of sophisticated features, exceptional performance, and US$499 suggested retail price, it establishes a new price-to-performance benchmark for 'advanced amateur' photography, giving more people the opportunity to shoot like a professional.

The DX6490 camera is the first to unite a professional quality Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon 10X optical zoom lens (38-380 mm equivalent) with a f/2.8 - f/3.7 maximum aperture; a new Kodak Color Science image processing chip for the richest, most accurate colors; low-light precision auto focusing; and multiple shooting modes for optimal creative control -- all with effortless operation that people have come to expect from Kodak. It will be available worldwide beginning this September.

"So many digital photographers want expert results, but without the cost or hassle. This camera proves our ability to deliver powerful performance with the very best color and image quality -- quality that lives up to Kodak's renowned photography heritage," said Yusuke Kojima, general manager of Kodak's consumer digital camera business and a vice president, Eastman Kodak Company. "The DX6490 camera opens the door to a new world of digital photography, placing more power, control and quality in the owner's hands. It's an unequaled combination of price and performance."

The 4-megapixel camera has been designed with some of the world's highest quality components working in concert to afford outstanding quality, even in challenging photographic situations. Imagine being able to capture the beauty and character of a friendly face while the sun sets in the background. With Kodak's integration of the Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon 10X optical zoom lens, the Kodak Color Science image processing chip, and intelligent matrix metering, photographers faced with this scenario will achieve portraits with edge-to-edge sharpness and brightness, rich color, and highly accurate exposure.
Because of the tight incorporation of these and other sophisticated features, DX6490 camera owners are consistently presented with remarkable dynamic range, fine detail and delicate highlights -- results that advanced amateurs have typically associated with high-end digital SLRs.

The award-winning Kodak EasyShare digital photography system --consisting of cameras, software, docks and printer docks, inkjet papers and accessories -- makes taking, organizing, sharing, and printing high quality digital pictures effortless. More information on Kodak EasyShare products is available at www.kodak.com/go/EasyShare.

Aug 22 - Win4Lin Lets Users Run Windows Applications on Low-Cost Linux Boxes. NeTraverse announced today the immediate availability of the award-winning Win4Lin at Walmart.com. Win4Lin joins two other Linux distribution vendors on the site and is the first pure application vendor to be featured.

The increasing momentum of Linux is taking it from everyday deployments on the Server to acceptance on the Desktop. At the same time, Linux on the Desktop is evolving from being predominantly a technical workstation solution to becoming a mainstream home consumer solution. Walmart.com has been on the front wave of consumer adoption of Linux with low-cost systems from Microtel and pre-installed Linux distributions like Lindows and Lycoris.

Win4Lin allows users to run their existing Windows software on the Linux operating system, as if the Windows desktop were just another application. The Windows applications and the Linux applications share the same file system and system resources, making performance snappy and the system easy to manage.

"Giving users the ability to run their familiar Windows applications on pre-loaded, low-cost Linux PCs is a tremendous step forward in the adoption of Linux on the desktop," said James Curtin, President and CEO of NeTraverse, Inc. "Users have been inhibited in adopting Linux on the desktop by the lack of applications available. Now Win4Lin allows a user to run virtually their full library of existing Windows applications."

"Win4Lin is the perfect enabling product for the consumer who is looking to move to the more powerful, stable and cost-effective Linux environment but still needs to use those one or two Windows applications that are hard to replace, whether it is QuickBooks or Dreamweaver, or even Outlook or Internet Explorer," said Rich Hindman, Vice President of Microtel Computer System. "Win4Lin is the product that extends the reach and appeal of Linux from power users all the way to moms on Main Street."

For more information on NeTraverse and NeTraverse products, please visit www.netraverse.com.

Aug 21 - Philips Licenses Memory Stick Technology From Sony. Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE:PHG)(AEX:PHI) today announced that it is licensing Memory Stick(TM) technology from Sony for use in its Nexperia(TM) portfolio of programmable silicon on chip (SOCs) and system solutions for multimedia applications.

The combination of Memory Stick technology with the advanced image processing capabilities of Nexperia system solutions will provide consumers with superior performance and additional techniques for handling content stored on a Memory Stick, such as improved image capabilities including real-time image rotation, zooming and panning. For Philips' customers, the software programmability of Nexperia system solutions allows device manufacturers to cost-effectively differentiate their end products from competitors by adding new or enhanced features.

The number of Memory Stick compatible products is increasing at a rapid pace and is expected to reach 200 million by 2005 (source: Sony). By bringing this storage technology to other consumer devices such as digital TVs and liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs via Nexperia system solutions, consumers will be able to easily enjoy their multimedia content through various appliances in the home.
For example, with a Nexperia system solution-based TV, consumers will now be able to access different file formats stored on the Memory Stick directly on their TV. They will be able to view both still images (JPEGs) and motion video clips (MPEGs) while listening to audio files such as MP3s. Furthermore, the powerful processing capabilities of Nexperia will enable consumers to capture still images from the motion video displayed on their TV screen and compress and store these as JPEG images onto the Memory Stick for use in other devices such as digital still cameras and personal digital assistants (PDAs).

By integrating Memory Stick controller logic onto its next-generation Nexperia devices, Philips improves the overall system performance by creating a direct link between Nexperia devices and Memory Stick devices. With the unique and flexible software programmability offered by Nexperia system solutions, customers will be able to differentiate their end products from the competition by adding new features and improving the look and feel of the graphic user interface.

Designed to be easy to use, with high reliability, Memory Stick was developed with the goal of recording different types of digital content and sharing and exchanging this among a wide variety of products. Several versions of Memory Stick are available including Memory Stick Duo, MagicGate Memory Stick, and Memory Stick PRO.

MagicGate Memory Stick has a capacity of up to 128MB and employs authentication between a device and media and provides encryption of content, so it can be used for both copyright-protected content and personal data. Memory Stick PRO is the new generation Memory Stick format to meet the needs in the coming broadband era and has a theoretical capacity of up to 32GB (Memory Stick PRO in 256MB, 512MB, and 1GB capacities are currently available worldwide), achieving new levels of high performance including real-time recording of high-resolution moving images.

Nexperia system solutions with the integrated Memory Stick technology will be available Q2, 2004. News from Philips is located at: www.semiconductors.philips.com.

Aug 21 - HP Reports Third Quarter 2003 Results. HP (NYSE:HPQ) today reported financial results for its third fiscal quarter ended July 31, 2003. Third quarter revenue totaled $17.35, compared to $16.54 billion in the prior year period. Revenues increased 5% year-over-year, but declined 4% sequentially reflecting business seasonality.

"The third quarter is always tough, but we still should have done better," said Carly Fiorina, HP chairman and chief executive officer. "Nevertheless, we are confident in our strategy and the actions we're taking. We expect to deliver a strong fourth quarter with every one of our businesses profitable."

"Our challenge in the Personal Systems business continues to be desktops, particularly in the U.S., where reduced volumes due to seasonality, and in some cases, our own overly aggressive pricing actions negatively impacted gross margins. We've already taken corrective pricing actions, and will return this business to profitability in Q4. Meanwhile, we continued to widen our market leadership in notebooks, the fastest-growing and most profitable segment of the PC market. Notebooks remained profitable for the quarter, growing revenue 27% year- over-year, faster than our nearest competitor, and gaining 1.4 percentage points of share sequentially.

"Imaging and Printing had a good quarter with revenue growth of 10% year-over-year, outpacing competitors. As planned, profit returned to more normal levels, with expenses up 20% year-over-year as we continued to invest in R&D, product rollovers and marketing to extend our leadership in this business. Our recent consumer launch of 158 digital imaging and entertainment products has been extremely well received.

"In our enterprise business, it was another strong quarter for Superdome shipments, with revenues up 64% over the same period last year. Unit shipments of industry standard servers grew 16% year-over-year, with a record third quarter in the U.S. and our strongest ever worldwide quarter. HP's performance in mid-range and low- end UNIX servers, however, was weak, as was the company's overall enterprise performance in Europe and Japan. We continued to make good progress on our cost structure, and acted more aggressively to reduce headcount than originally planned. This field restructuring, while the right decision for the long-term and now behind us, had an impact on revenue. The enterprise business will be profitable in Q4.

"HP Services performed well during the quarter. Managed services grew 21% year over year, customer support grew 8% year-over-year, and we returned HPS to double-digit profitability during the quarter," said Fiorina.

Outlook

For the fourth fiscal quarter 2003, HP estimates revenues will grow between 8% and 10% sequentially or $18.8 billion to $19.1 billion with non-GAAP EPS of $0.34 to $0.36, which assumes after-tax exclusion for charges in the fourth quarter totaling approximately $0.05 to $0.07 per share from amortization of purchased intangible assets, restructuring, and acquisition-related charges.

More information on this quarter's earnings is available on HP's Investor Relations site at www.hp.com/hpinfo/investor.

Aug 21 - Verbatim's New Store 'n' Go USB 2.0 Drives Achieve Speed Milestone. Verbatim(R) Corporation announced today that it is shipping new Store 'n' Go(TM) USB 2.0 Drives that support up to 8MB/sec read and 5MB/sec write performance on USB 2.0 systems.

With the ability to transfer 256MB of data in about 30 seconds and provide capacities of up to 1GB, the new Store 'n' Go drives are believed to be the fastest and one of the highest-capacity USB 2.0 drives on the market. About the size of a AA battery, the drives are flash memory-based removable storage devices that are instantly recognized when plugged in to the USB port of a desktop or notebook PC. Verbatim's Store 'n' Go USB Drives also provide password security features and are backed by Verbatim's Lifetime Warranty.

"The new Store 'n' Go drive takes full advantage of the speed capabilities of the USB 2.0 interface," said Mark Rogers, Verbatim Business Development Manager. "Not only is it the fastest, sleekest form factor USB 2.0 drive on the market, it is sold complete with all the accessories... lanyard, USB extension cable, security software, and has special design features for ease of use. In terms of speed, the Store 'n' Go USB 2.0 Drive is roughly five to eight times faster than a typical USB 1.1 flash drive. For people on the go, the ability to load or transfer files in 30 seconds or so, instead of 3-4 minutes, is a major benefit."

Store 'n' Go's fast USB 2.0 specification ensures high performance on today's fastest computers with USB 2.0 ports, while retaining full compatibility to USB 1.1 ports. In addition to being Plug & Play-compatible with Windows(R) 98/98SE/ME/2000/XP or higher as well as Macintosh(R) 8.6 OS and higher operating systems, Store 'n' Go can also be used with Linux 2.4.0 and higher systems. With support for all three operating systems, Verbatim Store 'n' Go USB Drives provide true cross-platform compatibility and the easiest way to transfer files between notebooks or desktops, even with different operating systems.

Verbatim Store 'n' Go USB 2.0 drives can be used exactly like a floppy disk, hard drive, or a CD ROM but are much more convenient for carrying your data with you. You can slip it in your pocket or purse, clip it on your key ring, or use the handy neck lanyard that is included with the drive. This makes it easy for road warriors and commuters to carry their data with them for easy access on any computer equipped with a USB port.

To meet the security needs of USB drive users, the Store 'n' Go drives include password protection and public/secure partitioning features. These features are designed to prevent both unauthorized access to files and accidental erasure of important files. The Manager software that is included with Store 'n' Go USB Drives can also be used to partition the drive into a public and a secure partition, so that sensitive data on the secure partition cannot be accessed, even if the drive is lost or stolen.

Pricing, Availability

The Store 'n' Go USB Drive is immediately available with 32MB, 64MB, 128MB, 256MB, 512MB and 1GB capacities. Suggested list prices range from $29 for 32MB to $349 for 1GB. The complete package includes a Carry Lanyard, USB Extension Cable, CD with Security Features/Windows 98 Driver and a Quick Start Guide.

Visit the company's web site at www.verbatim.com.

Aug 21 - Worst Virus Week in History Continues. F-Secure Corporation (HEX:FSC), a leading data security company, earlier today reported the fourth major computer virus alert within the past 24 hours, making this week the worst week ever for viruses in the history of computing.

"This week reminds me of fall 2001", comments Mikko Hypponen, Director of Anti-Virus Research at F-Secure Corporation. "Year 2001 still stays in history as the worst virus year ever, but this week is the worst ever for just one week. This week we've seen several major virus outbreaks as well as some completely new techniques in viruses." Descriptions of the four viruses to hit this week include:

Lovsan

The Lovsan (or Blaster) network worm started to spread on Monday, August 11, 2003. The worm spreads in an executable named MSBLAST.EXE to Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems unless recent Windows security patches have been applied. The infection is completely invisible to the end user and the worm will then keep on replicating from every infected machine. Lovsan has already infected hundreds of thousands computers and addition to the first Lovsan three new variants have been found. The latest one, Lovsan.D, was discovered on August 19, 2003.

Welchi

Welchi (or Nachi) worm was first discovered on August 18, 2003. It uses the same RPC hole to infect machines as Lovsan. However, Welchi also tries to infect web servers running Microsoft IIS 5.0, by exploiting a WebDAV vulnerability found in March 2003.

Welchi is clearly much more advanced than the relatively simple Lovsan worm. When infecting a computer that already has been infected by Lovsan, Welchi kills Lovsan and removes the infection. In addition to this feature, the worm will try to apply the Microsoft patch to close the RPC hole. Welchi is programmed to die on January 1st, 2004. After this date the worm will uninstall and remove itself from infected systems. Biggest side effect of Welchi is that it generates lots of network traffic - enough to cause problems for some routers and switches.

Sobig.F

This worm is part of the Sobig family, which was started by Sobig.A in January 2003. Sobig.F, which was discovered on August 19th, is then the fifth variant of this worm. Sobig variants all stop spreading on certain date. When the previous variants expired, the next variant would start spreading. All Sobig versions have spread widely.

"Sobig.E was programmed to die on July 14th, and we expected to see the next version around that time. However, apparently the virus writer has been on vacation since it took four weeks for Sobig.F to appear", Mikko Hypponen says.

Sobig variants typically install backdoors to infected systems. Some of them have been used to send massive amounts of spam.

Lovsan.D

Lovsan.D is a new variant of the Lovsan worm, with modified attachment name. Instead of msblast.exe the attachment is now named mspatch.exe.

Dumaru

Dumaru was found on August 19th and it exploits the fuss caused by the Lovsan worm. Dumaru will send an email message spoofed to be from support@microsoft.com. According to the body text the attached PATCH.EXE file will fix the vulnerability. If this attachment is opened, the machine will be infected. Dumaru also installs a backdoor through which the virus writer can remotely control the machine.

More information on these worms and F-Secure Anti-Virus can be found at www.f-secure.com.

Aug 21 - Blackout Creates Soaring Demand for Emergency Data Recovery Services. IT professionals in affected areas of the U.S. and Canada are just now realizing the impact of the blackout while evaluating the extent of their data loss and prioritizing the amount of critical information they need to recover, according to Kroll Ontrack Inc., provider of Ontrack Data Recovery products and services and a wholly owned subsidiary of Kroll Inc. (Nasdaq:KROL).
Ontrack has been operating in emergency mode responding to a 39 percent increase in call volume at its U.S. data recovery call centers providing solutions to help the blackout victims save their critical data.

Many companies responsible for managing and protecting data, like computer consulting firm Assured Technologies, Inc. of Mineola, New York, found themselves panic-stricken after the effects of last week's blackouts. Due to a malfunctioning Uninterruptible Power Supply, business critical information that was believed to be protected was inaccessible and feared lost. After Assured Technologies made several unsuccessful attempts at recovering the data themselves, Ontrack Data Recovery stepped in and initiated recovery using its service capabilities.

"There's nothing worse than realizing your data is gone and feeling you have no options for recovery," said Eric Shaw, president of Assured Technologies, Inc. "Ontrack quickly put my fears to rest and was able to recover 100 percent of the lost data, saving my company in the process."

According to Jim Reinert, Director, Ontrack Data Recovery, Shaw's experience was typical. "Unfortunately, traditional disaster recovery plans may not address data recovery and even more disturbing is the misperception that data can not be recovered after such an unforeseen and disastrous event. Our annual investment in research and development coupled with our patented technology, enables Ontrack to help people recover from nearly all data loss situations - no matter how devastating the disaster.
" Reinert also speaks to the quality of the recovery process in that it actually recovers the most recent data files versus the restoration of older, archived data files stored on backup - saving both time and productivity.

To companies and consumers concerned about data loss and possible recovery, Reinert offered the following advice:

-- Never assume that data is unrecoverable, no matter what it has been through;

-- Do not shake, disassemble or attempt to clean any hard drive or server that has been damaged;

-- Do not attempt to operate visibly damaged devices;

-- For mission critical situations, contact a data recovery professional before any attempts are made to reconfigure, reinstall or reformat

Data recovery products from Ontrack are available for both businesses and personal users. Residents in the affected areas interested in Ontrack's advice and service discounts should contact Ontrack via their Web site at www.ontrack.com.

Aug 21 - Adobe Photoshop Update Now Available for Power Mac G5. Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE), the leader in network publishing, today announced the immediate availability of a new update to Adobe(R) Photoshop(R) 7.0.1 software designed to take full advantage of Apple's new Power Mac G5 product line. This update is available as a free download from the Adobe Web site and, for a limited time, also will be included with all Power Mac G5 systems shipped by Apple.

With this new update, customers who purchased Adobe Photoshop 7.0.1 for an Apple G3 or G4 system can transfer their software to a new Power Mac G5 and be assured of getting the best performance from Apple's fastest system available. The Power Mac G5 delivers performance that will enable Adobe Photoshop 7.0.1 to run up to twice as fast when compared to previous Macintosh models.

The Adobe Photoshop 7.0.1 G5 Processor Plug-in for MacOSX is available immediately for download from Adobe's Web site at www.adobe.com.

Aug 20 - NVIDIA Leverages Denali for PCI Express Design Verification. Denali Software, Inc., the leading provider of electronic design automation (EDA) tools and intellectual property (IP) for chip interface design and verification, today announced that NVIDIA Corporation (Nasdaq:NVDA) has signed a multi-year agreement to license Denali's verification tools for use in its chip design efforts.
NVIDIA engineers are now using Denali's PureSpec(TM) product to verify the correct operation of the PCI Express interface in its chip designs. The tool helps NVIDIA engineers catch potential bugs early in the development cycle before the design is implemented in silicon.

The PCI Express architecture is a new serial interconnect technology that replaces the current AGP standard in motherboards for the next generation of graphics applications. PCI Express significantly increases bandwidth between the central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU) by enabling a balanced distribution of bandwidth to those applications that require it the most.

"NVIDIA is dedicated to delivering the highest quality products for our customers. PCI Express is a key technology for our next-generation GPUs and we've developed a very sophisticated verification environment to ensure the quality of this new interface," said Gopal Solanki, vice president of hardware engineering at NVIDIA.

"Denali's reputation for verifying memory interfaces allowed us the opportunity to look at their product for PCI Express verification. As we evaluated PureSpec, we knew we had a winner when it caught a number of bugs that went undetected using other methods. We continue to be impressed by the tools performance, and we have incorporated it into our overall verification methodology for our PCI Express interfaces."

"What NVIDIA is doing with graphics processing technology is truly amazing," said Denali vice president of marketing Kevin Silver. "They consistently push the envelope in terms of design and verification technology, and they do it successfully under tremendous time-to-market pressures.
"With PureSpec, Denali is providing NVIDIA with best-in-class solution for both verifying their PCI Express interface and ensuring interoperability with other chips using the PCI Express standard. PureSpec is being used in the vast majority of the current PCI Express chip design efforts, and our unique ability to enable pre-silicon interoperability verification is a key value to NVIDIA and the PCI Express community in general."

The PureSpec product is available now for customer evaluation at: www.denali.com/purespec.

Aug 20 - Worldwide DRAM Market is Showing Signs That a Recovery Is Under Way. After more than two years of recession and huge losses, the dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) market is on the verge of recovery.

This is welcome news for the long-suffering DRAM vendors, but will put pressure on PC vendors and other DRAM users as prices for critical components increase, according to Gartner, Inc. (NYSE:IT)(NYSE:ITB).

Worldwide DRAM revenue is forecast to reach $5.1 billion in the third quarter of 2003, a 37.8 percent increase over the third quarter of 2002. Gartner analysts project DRAM revenue to reach $18.9 billion in 2003, a 21.8 percent increase from 2002.

Gartner analysts said the DRAM industry needs to be aware of the tentative nature of the upturn. "This recovery is going to be based on lack of supply, not increasing demand," said Andrew Norwood, principal analyst for Gartner's semiconductor research group. "We have been here before, and if the DRAM vendors become greedy and increase production, the industry will quickly swing back into oversupply and prices will crash."

"Stabilizing prices and lower inventories alone do not constitute a recovery in the DRAM industry, but these factors combined, and the positive sentiment in the DRAM industry point to the possibility that the DRAM industry recovery has, at long last, begun," Norwood said. "Recent cuts in planned DRAM supply by major vendors have set the industry up for a possible shortage. If this happens, it will mean a return to profits for vendors and strong revenue growth."

A market recovery will be good news for the major DRAM vendors such as Samsung Electronics, Micron Technology, and Infineon Technologies, who have been suffering a prolonged downturn for over two years. A recovery could be critical to the survival of beleaguered South Korean manufacturer Hynix Semiconductor.

Prices in the spot and contract markets began to stabilize in the second quarter of 2003, and have continued to improve. Average selling prices (ASPs) are forecast to increase 20.5 percent in the third quarter of 2003, reaching $5.55, on a 256Mb equivalent basis. Some major DRAM vendors are also reducing anticipated DRAM production in favor of other devices such as NAND flash, which has improved the outlook for the supply and demand situation.

Although this is optimistic news, Gartner analysts said that DRAM remains the most volatile area of the semiconductor industry. "The expected balance between supply and demand could easily swing into oversupply if PC demand is not as strong as expected," said Norwood. "Likewise, if DRAM manufacturers increase production ahead of plan, owing to improving market conditions, the market could be pushed to oversupply earlier than predicted. Any move into oversupply and the related buildup in inventory levels would have a knock-on effect on pricing. If ASPs deteriorated seriously, revenue and profits would quickly evaporate."

For more information, visit www.gartner.com.

Aug 20 - Average Monthly Spending for Satellite TV Service Drops Below Cable Service. The average price difference between cable and satellite TV service has narrowed significantly over the past five years, with the average monthly expenditure for satellite service falling below cable for the first time, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2003 Residential Cable/Satellite TV Customer Satisfaction Study(SM) released today.

The study finds that the average monthly expenditure for satellite TV service is $48.93 -- up 8 percent from 1998. However, cable spending has increased 41 percent in the same time period, moving from an average of $35.15 per month in 1998 to $49.62 per month in 2003. Accounting for much of the spending increase among cable subscribers are upgraded and/or additional services such as digital TV, video-on-demand and high definition TV, which are being actively marketed to consumers.

While cable continues to be the dominant provider, satellite subscriptions are steadily growing. Currently, 60 percent of households surveyed subscribe to cable service, down from 68 percent five years ago, while satellite subscriptions have increased from 7 percent of households in 1998 to 17 percent in 2003.

"Digital cable hasn't turned out to be the solution the cable industry needed to stem the tide of migration to satellite providers," said Steve Kirkeby, senior director of telecommunications research at J.D. Power and Associates. "Although digital cable subscribers report higher satisfaction than do analog cable subscribers, both groups dramatically trail satellite subscribers in overall customer satisfaction, with cost of service being a key issue."

One area where cable providers may have an opportunity to stem this migration to satellite is in bundling telephony and Internet access with cable TV service. With growing consumer desire to combine multiple services in a single bill for convenience and simplicity, the study finds that 34 percent of cable subscribers want to combine their cable service with some other telecommunications product or service.

Both satellite providers in the study receive the top two customer satisfaction rankings among the 13 major providers of cable/satellite TV service. DirecTV ranks highest in overall customer satisfaction performance for the second consecutive year, followed closely by DISH Network. Among the six factors that contribute to overall satisfaction, DirecTV receives top ratings in performance and reliability; cost of service; billing; and offerings and promotions. It also performs near the top in the remaining two factors: image and customer service.

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates. www.jdpower.com.

Aug 20 - AOL 9.0 Optimized Number 1 for Web Speed. America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) today announced that testing of its exclusive AOLTopSpeed(TM) technology in the newly-released AOL(R) 9.0 Optimized version of software allows its members to download web pages faster than all other national dial-up ISPs that were tested.

The Company also announced that, starting today, AOL members using Windows(R) 98 or higher operating systems can get the new AOL 9.0 Optimized, the latest version of the AOL and AOL(R) for Broadband services, at AOL Keyword: Upgrade.

The comprehensive, third-party study was conducted by VeriTest, the testing division of Lionbridge (Nasdaq: LIOX). Using VeriTest's Internet BenchMark(TM) testing methods, the independent analysis shows that AOL 9.0 Optimized allowed members to finish downloading web pages "significantly faster" using a dial-up connection than Earthlink's "Earthlink Plus", Earthlink's standard software, and those of other major nationwide ISPs that were tested.

In the first major, third-party comparative testing of web accelerator technologies among national ISPs, VeriTest results indicate that Internet web pages downloaded - on average - 21% to 65% faster on AOL 9.0 Optimized compared to the latest software versions of other national dial-up ISP services that were tested.**

AOL members have a clear and distinct advantage over other 'web accelerator' services provided by other major ISPs when surfing the Internet and downloading web pages using the built-in web browser window in version AOL 9.0 Optimized.

"We know that AOL members have a true need for speed when cruising the Internet, and AOL TopSpeed(TM) in AOL 9.0 Optimized provides the fastest Web surfing available," said David Gang, Executive Vice President of AOL Products. "The VeriTest results underscore our focus on offering features and enhancements in AOL 9.0 Optimized that let members get the most from being online."

In addition to the VeriTest study, other internal testing conducted by AOL also demonstrates that AOL TopSpeed(TM) improves on average the web browsing performance of all members on AOL 9.0 Optimized, whether they access the service via dial-up or high-speed connections. The AOL internal tests conclusively showed that AOL 9.0 Optimized dial-up members will see the most appreciable and noticeable difference when accessing their favorite web sites using the new AOLTopSpeed(TM) product.

In addition to the positive results as measured by VeriTest and AOL's internal testing, the further benefit to all AOL members using version 9.0 is that they will enjoy superior, unparalleled web speed performance using AOLTopSpeed(TM) technology at no additional cost to their monthly subscription. AOLTopSpeed(TM) technology has been added to the AOL 9.0 Optimized software as part of the core service, and not as an additional, premium cost to members, offering AOL members tremendous value combined with superior web enhancement technology.

The results of the VeriTest study affirm AOL's longstanding leadership position in the online industry when it comes to web speed performance. In regular Internet BenchMark Service independent lab tests, AOL has been ranked #1 by VeriTest in 29 consecutive months --consistently outpacing other major dial-up internet providers in web page download speeds.

In 1995, AOL became the first national ISP to make 'caching and compression' of web pages a core service function. Since that time, AOL has constantly worked to improve, enhance and upgrade web speed performance technologies.

For more information about AOLTopSpeed(TM) in AOL 9.0 Optimized, or to see a demonstration of the product, members can visit AOL Keyword: TopSpeed(TM).

In addition to AOL TopSpeed, AOL 9.0 Optimized includes a number of valuable new features designed to help members get the most from being online. AOL 9.0 Optimized is available exclusively to AOL members before its general release in stores and marketing outlets this fall. Members may also order a free AOL 9.0 Optimized CD from the online upgrade area.

For more information visit www.aol.com.

Aug 20 - Epson and Bachmann Software Provide Mobile Printing from Palm OS Handhelds. Epson America Inc. and Bachmann Software today announced the availability of Epson-compatible mobile printing software for printing fully formatted text, as well as some graphics, from handheld computers based on the Palm OS(R).

As part of the initiative, Epson and Bachmann worked together to add graphical printing support for most Epson ink jet printers to Bachmann Software's popular PrintBoy software for Palm OS handhelds. With PrintBoy, handheld users can print fully formatted documents, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, calendars and much more from the most popular Palm OS compatible applications, including DataViz' Documents To Go and Smart List To Go, Cutting Edge's QuickOffice, DDH's HandBase and more. PrintBoy supports direct printer connections from the handheld to Epson printers using Bluetooth, 802.11b ("Wi-Fi"), wired networks, and infrared through Bachmann Software's InfraReady Plus printer adapter.

"There are over 25 million handhelds based on the Palm OS, and many of the users have a growing need to print directly from their device," said Mitch Kadish, senior product manager, connectivity products, Epson. "If we can make it easy to print directly, then users won't have to go through the synchronization step with their computer, saving them time and making it more convenient. Bachmann Software offers quality products, supports a wide range of Palm OS applications, and has experience with a variety of interfaces including Bluetooth."

"Our goal is to make printing from handhelds as available to computer users as it is today from desktops and laptops," said Glenn Bachmann, president of Bachmann Software. "Our partnership with Epson and their strong presence in the printer market enabled us to take an important step towards reaching that goal."

PrintBoy Premium with Epson driver support is available directly from Bachmann Software at http://www.bachmannsoftware.com. A free trial version can also be downloaded from Epson's web site and is included with the purchase of the Bluetooth Print Adapter from Epson (available at www.epson.com/bluetooth ).

Aug 19 - AMD Predicts Database Will Be the Early `Killer Application' for 64-Bit. A new research study commissioned by AMD (NYSE:AMD) and conducted by Gartner Custom Research, a division of Gartner, Inc., concludes that as enterprises migrate to 64-bit computing, having a platform that supports both 32-bit and 64-bit applications will be critical to their migration strategy(a).

Gartner Custom Research conducted both qualitative and quantitative interviews with IT managers from government, healthcare, financial, and other enterprises of all sizes who were key decision-makers regarding their respective company's computing platforms. Respondents were surveyed on their plans on migrating from 32-bit to 64-bit computing, their perceptions of 64-bit computing and what applications will drive their adoption of it.

With regard to the benefits of 64-bit computing, the respondents said the primary benefit of 64-bit computing is increased performance through the ability to access more memory. Respondents see 64-bit computing as enabling faster queries and processing for large database applications as well as facilitating faster financial transactions. Most respondents agreed that 64-bit migration will start with large, core database servers and transaction-based applications.

More than 80 percent of the respondents stated that the ability to run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications while migrating to 64-bit is somewhat or extremely important. More than 50 percent of the respondents said that migration cannot occur without 32- and 64-bit capability. Not having backward compatibility to 32-bit was seen as a definitive barrier to 64-bit computing by many of the respondents.

"The results of Gartner's survey confirm what we continue to hear from our customers -- they need an industry-standard 64-bit solution that provides protection for their substantial investment in 32-bit infrastructure," said Marty Seyer, vice president and general manager of AMD's Microprocessor Business Unit. "Migration to 64-bit will happen at the customer's own pace, which is why the customer-centric AMD Opteron(tm) processor gives enterprises leading-edge 32-bit performance for their existing applications and the 64-bit computing power to meet their growing database and business process application needs."

"The Microsoft(R) WOW64 (Windows(R) on Windows) subsystem will allow most 32-bit applications to launch seamlessly on 64-bit Windows," said Brian Marr, Windows product manager. "WOW64 is designed to provide interoperability and great performance on AMD64 processors across the 32/64-bit boundaries. As customers migrate to 64-bit Windows XP and Windows Server, they will have a code base that will support both 32- and 64-bit applications."

AMD can be found online at www.amd.com.

Aug 19 - Plextor Introduces External USB 2.0 52X CD-R/RW Drive. Plextor Corp., a leading developer and manufacturer of high-performance CD-related equipment and software, today announced the availability of an external PlexWriter(TM) Premium-U CD-R/RW drive with Hi-Speed USB 2.0 interface. Designed for end users who require maximum levels of performance, reliability, and functionality, the 3-in-1 drive features 52X CD-Write, 32X CD-Rewrite, and 52X-max CD-Read.

The PlexWriter Premium-U drive includes an enhanced version of PlexTools(R) Professional software, a unique set of user-controllable recording tools. GigaRec(TM), which allows high-capacity data storage of up to 1 GB on a 700 MB disc, is now available at 8X CD-R write speeds (as well as 4X CD-R), enabling users to boost disc capacity up to 40% while recording discs in half the time. GigaRec(TM) also offers settings that reduce the amount of jitter in the resultant recording.

PlexTools Professional when used with the Premium-U also includes VariRec(TM), which allows user adjustment of laser power to produce the highest quality audio recording possible; SecuRec(TM) password protection; Q-Check(TM) disc quality reports; Silent Mode(TM) load/unload, spin up/down, and write/read speeds; and stable PoweRec(TM) recording at maximum speed.

"The new Premium-U drive includes the latest improvements to PlexTools Professional software, making this the most technologically advanced PlexWriter drive ever," said Howard Wing, vice president of sales and marketing for Plextor. "This enhanced software is also available as a free upgrade to all current Premium drive customers, who simply need to download and install the new software and firmware updates."

The Plextor PlexWriter Premium-U drive is scheduled for shipment to distributors and resellers in North and South America in late September 2003. The Premium-U drive has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $169.00 USD. All retail packages include unlimited toll-free technical support and one-year full warranty. Reservations for the Premium-U drive are now being accepted at www.plextorshop.com.

Aug 19 - Internet Performance Holds Steady So Far. The major Internet backbones and Web sites have not yet shown any major adverse effects from the massive power outage in the Northeast, and Microsoft is successfully withstanding the MSBlast worm attacks and other Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks being launched against its primary Web site for automated updates, according to Keynote Systems (Nasdaq:KEYN), The Internet Performance Authority(R). Keynote will continue to monitor Internet performance closely all weekend long. Members of the media should contact the editorial contacts on this release for performance updates and interviews with Keynote executives.

Keynote is monitoring all the major U.S. Internet backbones from the 25 largest U.S. metropolitan areas and so far no major Internet performance difficulties have emerged during the outage and major Web sites remain accessible and are responding at normal performance levels.

The primary Microsoft Web site used for automated software updates by the Windows system, windowsupdate.microsoft.com, continues to be available despite the attacks on Microsoft.

However, other Microsoft Web sites were apparently attacked, starting at 11:30 p.m. EDT August 14. Microsoft spokesman Sean Sundwall has been quoted as saying that the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks launched at that time against Microsoft's primary home page, www.microsoft.com, had nothing to do with the MSBlast worm.
Keynote's measurements from the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. show that Microsoft's primary Web site, www.microsoft.com, had availability problems starting at 11:30 p.m. August 14, EDT, when availability plunged to below 25%, eventually declining to zero availability. The Web site began to return to service at 3:15 a.m. August 15, EDT, and has now returned to better than 90% availability.

Internet performance is displayed in real-time on the Keynote Internet Health Report, which is a standard tool used by major Internet Service Providers. The free version of that report is available at www.internethealthreport.com.

Aug 19 - Worldwide Semiconductor Industry Is On Track for 11 Percent Growth in 2003. Following a healthy second quarter in 2003 and cautious optimism about the onset of the usual seasonal uptick in demand, the worldwide semiconductor market appears to be continuing its recovery, according to Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT and ITB).

The worldwide semiconductor market is forecast to reach $173 billion in 2003, an 11.2 percent increase over 2002. In 2002, worldwide semiconductor revenue totaled $156 billion.

"Noteworthy improvements in market conditions during the last few weeks confirm that the industry is continuing its recovery as expected and is about to enter a more accelerated growth phase. This observation is in line with our long-standing assumption of a three-phase recovery in the market," said Richard Gordon, research vice president for Gartner's semiconductor research group.
"While many industry watchers have been revising down their forecasts recently, we have been predicting growth of around 10 percent for 2003 since the fourth quarter of last year. Our forecasting consistency is a testament to our rigorous methodology and comprehensive applications-based forecast database."

Gartner analysts said that in front-end semiconductor manufacturing, silicon demand is increasing, overall wafer fab utilization now exceeds 80 percent and foundry wafer pricing has firmed up. In packaging and assembly, overall utilization rates continue to increase on a monthly basis and leading-edge capacity has become tight as the demand for advanced packaging solutions grows.

In device markets, inventories are back to normal levels, pricing has stabilized, and in some cases, there are shortages of critical components. In application markets, the digital cellular handset market remains robust, demand for digital consumer electronics products has not waned and there are early signs that the corporate PC replacement cycle has begun.

"It is becoming increasingly likely that the long-awaited corporate PC replacement cycle will be characterized by incremental increases in IT spending spread over a more prolonged timeframe than we have seen in the past," Gordon said. "While this trend would underpin a sustained semiconductor recovery, it may act to temper headline annual revenue growth. Excess capacity in the telecommunications sector also remains a concern that could postpone the return and inhibit the level of telecommunications industry capital spending in the medium to long term."

Additional analysis is being presented during the upcoming 3Q03 Semiconductor Forecast Teleconference on August 22, 2003 at 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. (EDT). Key topics that will be covered range from which devices and applications will determine the worldwide semiconductor forecast to how economic, consumer and broader industry factors are expected to affect semiconductor revenue. For more details, please visit www.gartner.com/teleconference/asset_47053.jsp.

Aug 19 - Gartner Says Palm OS Licensees Accounted For 51 Percent of PDA Shipments. Poor worldwide economic conditions, low consumer confidence and a severe decline in the Chinese PDA market affected the worldwide PDA market in the second quarter of 2003, as shipments dropped 7.3 percent from the same period last year, according to Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT and ITB).

Palm OS-based PDAs comprised 51.4 percent of worldwide PDA shipments, while Pocket PC PDAs composed 35.9 percent of total units. In terms of end-user spending, PalmSource licensees accounted for 41.0 percent of the $827 million spent on PDAs in the second quarter of 2003, compared with 47.7 percent spent on Microsoft Pocket PC PDAs. The 66 percent higher average selling price of Pocket PCs accounted for the difference between unit and dollar shares.

"It is critical for Palm to hold its ground while waiting for the launch of Palm OS 6, which is expected in early 2004," said Todd Kort, principal analyst for Gartner's Computing Platforms Worldwide group. "OS 6 should put Palm on more even footing with Microsoft as wireless PDAs gain acceptance in enterprises in 2004."

In the overall PDA market, the second quarter is traditionally slow, however, Palm, Inc. experienced a 15.3 percent increase in shipments from a year ago, and it held onto the top spot in the worldwide rankings with 38 percent of PDA shipments. Hewlett-Packard remained in the No. 2 position with 15.3 percent of the market, even though shipments were down 10 percent. Research in Motion moved into the top 5 worldwide with market share of 5.3 percent, up from 2.1 percent a year ago.

"The Palm Zire 71 was by far the best-selling PDA on the market, and the new Tungsten C was also well received, which helped Palm maintain its solid leadership position" Kort said. "While HP's shipments were down, a good portion of their decline is attributable to shipments cutbacks in anticipation of the launch of five new models following the introduction of Microsoft's Windows Mobile 2003 operating system on June 23."

Palm still sits atop the U.S. PDA market with a 46.7 percent market share, while Sony remained No. 2 with 12.1 percent market share. Sony maintains an aggressive PDA development program, but Gartner analysts said Sony has been impacted by the Palm Zire 71, which has helped Palm stem the tide of customer defections to Sony.

"Research in Motion (RIM) also had an excellent quarter in the United States, growing 128 percent," Kort said. "RIM has introduced several new models that provide an incentive for subscribers to upgrade from older Mobitex-based units to models based on GSM/GPRS (Global System for Mobile Communications/general packet radio service) or CDMA 1x. RIM is rapidly expanding its presence outside North America and more deeply penetrating existing accounts."

For more information, visit www.gartner.com.

Aug 18 - Microsoft Details Procedures to Eradicate Blaster Worm. At 11:34 A.M. Pacific Time on August 11, Microsoft began investigating a worm reported by Microsoft Product Support Services (PSS). A new worm commonly known as W32.Blaster.Worm has been identified that exploits the vulnerability that was addressed by Microsoft Security Bulletin MS03-026.

Who Is Vulnerable?
Users of the following products are vulnerable to infection by this worm:
. Microsoft® Windows NT® 4.0
. Microsoft Windows® 2000
. Microsoft Windows XP
. Microsoft Windows Server(TM) 2003

Your computer is not vulnerable to the Blaster worm if either of these
conditions apply to you:

If you are using Microsoft Windows 95; Windows 98; Windows 98 Second
Edition (SE); or Windows Millennium (Me).

If you downloaded and installed security update MS03-026 prior to
August 11, the date the worm was discovered.

For more information, and steps to take to rid or protect your computer from the Blaster Worm, visit Microsoft's Security web page at http://www.microsoft.com/security/incident/blast.asp.

Aug 18 - ATI Graphics Technologies to Power Future Xbox Products. ATI Technologies Inc. (TSX: ATY, NASDAQ: ATYT) today announced it has entered into a technology development agreement with Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT). Under the agreement, ATI is developing custom, leading-edge graphics technologies for use in future Xbox(R) products and services.

"We're combining Microsoft's vision, software experience and R&D resources with ATI's pioneering leadership in graphics technologies to create innovative future Xbox products and services that meet the lifestyle needs of consumers in the Digital Decade," said Robbie Bach, senior vice president of the Home and Entertainment Division at Microsoft. "We selected ATI after reviewing the top graphics technologies in development and determining that ATI's technical vision fits perfectly with the future direction of Xbox."

"Microsoft shares our passion for cutting-edge innovation," said K. Y. Ho, chairman and chief executive officer, ATI Technologies Inc. "Our success working with Microsoft in the past gives us great confidence as we move forward, and our broad experience and wealth of engineering resources will ensure that we deliver. This agreement cements ATI's position as the prime graphics supplier for the future of the games industry."

For more information on ATI visit www.ati.com.

Aug 18 - 1394 Trade Association to Demonstrate Complete Home Network. The 1394 Trade Association will bring its state-of-the-art Home Network demonstration to the annual CEDIA conference Sept. 3-7 in Indianapolis, featuring high definition video delivered more than 80 meters to a new Mitsubishi HDTV.

The 1394 networking house, built by the 1394 Trade Association with Texas Instruments, Inc., will be located at booth 32 in the Indianapolis Convention Center during CEDIA's floor hours.
It includes a complete set of FireWire-equipped computer and consumer electronics products including a Hewlett-Packard Media Center PC, JVC digital VHS, Pioneer AV receiver and Pioneer DVD player, and a Sony VAIO notebook computer. It also includes a new Mitsubishi television.

HD Video Moves 80 Meters from VHS to HDTV

HD video originates in the D-VHS, and is delivered over CAT 5 cabling a total of 80 meters through a phase plate provided by USTec, a leader in advanced home wiring systems. It then moves into the HDTV. The demo also includes file sharing between the VAIO and Media Center computers, as well as a shared Internet connection between them. In addition, the demo will include whole house audio using the Pioneer DVD player.

"The Networked House provides an exciting vision of all of the distance, speed and reliability provided by the 1394 standard, with the very latest consumer electronics and computer products," said James Snider, executive director of the 1394 Trade Association.
"This demonstration has impressed retailers and installers throughout the U.S., because it enables delivery of high definition video across standard Category 5 cable. By replacing wall plates, homes wired with Cat-5 cable can become a 1394b network, which will work seamlessly with 1394a devices. With the increase in 1394 enabled A/V products coming into the market this year, installers are lining up to install 1394b networks. This is the only networking technology developed specifically for High Definition Video."

Adding to the growth of the 1394 standard during the spring and summer months is an impressive new set of Fire-Wire equipped products starting shipping in the second quarter. These include new digital set top boxes from EchoStar, with two 1394 ports, along with new entries from Samsung (the DCA -TV), and Panasonic (the EP-T10). New televisions include the Vision Plasma TV from Sanyo, and a 65-in projection HDTV from Sony Corporation. Also new to the market: Pioneer's 1394-equipped AV receiver.

The 1394 Trade Association is a worldwide organization dedicated to the advancement and enhancement of the IEEE 1394 multimedia standard. 1394 products are marketed worldwide under the FireWire™ and i.LINK™ brands. For more information, including a complete list of all 1394-equipped consumer and computer products, visit www.1394ta.org.

Aug 18 - SanDisk Introduces New Memory Stick Duo Cards. SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ:SNDK) today introduced the SanDisk Memory Stick Duo(TM) and Memory Stick PRO Duo flash memory cards to expand its Memory Stick product line. The two new Memory Stick Duo cards are designed to fit into electronic devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras and other consumer electronics devices.

The new Memory Stick Duo cards are targeted at the new generation of 2.5G and 3G mobile phones such as the 505i series currently offered by NTT DoCoMo in Japan. These mobile phones require greater storage capacity for their storage-intensive features such as digital cameras, video capture and playback, digital audio players, games, and messaging capabilities.

With higher performance and embedded MagicGate technology, the Memory Stick PRO Duo cards are targeted for digital music players, digital still and video cameras. The Memory Stick PRO Duo cards feature high capacity, high-speed data transfer and built-in security for the secure transfer of copyright-protected content and real-time recording of high-resolution images and video.

Some of the first consumer electronics products that use the Memory Stick Duo or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards include:

-- Sony-Ericsson P800 camera-phone/PDA combination

-- NTT DoCoMo D505i & SO505i camera-phones

-- Sony Network Walkman Digital Music Player

-- Sony Cyber-shot DSC-U50 digital camera.

"We are very excited to expand our product line to include the new Memory Stick Duo and Memory Stick PRO Duo cards," said Nelson Chan, senior vice president and general manager of SanDisk's retail business unit.
"We believe this will allow people with mobile phones, digital cameras and other devices that use these new cards to readily store and use their digital pictures, music and personal data. With these additions, SanDisk is currently the only company to offer every major industry-standard card format available, which makes SanDisk a true one-stop shop for our retail customers."

The new Memory Stick Duo and Memory Stick PRO Duo cards are approximately 1/3 the size of a Memory Stick card and measure 20 x 31 x 1.6 mm (0.8 x 1.2 x 0.06 in). For maximum flexibility, both cards include a Memory Stick adapter for use in all Memory Stick or Memory Stick PRO devices.

The new cards, which SanDisk expects to begin shipping in September, will be available in these capacities and respective pricing:

-- SanDisk Memory Stick Duo cards, 32 megabytes (MB) to 128MB,

$34.99 to $69.99

-- SanDisk Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, 256MB and 512MB, $129.99

and $309.99.

SanDisk's web site/home page address: www.sandisk.com

Aug 18 - Aspyr Media Inc. Ships Activision's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 For The PC and Macintosh. PC and Macintosh(R) gamers can now experience the ultimate skating challenge with the release of Activision Inc.'s (Nasdaq:ATVI) Tony Hawk's Pro Skater(R) 4 video game. The multi-platform game was developed by Beenox and published by Aspyr.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 lets players take on the role of legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk and 13 other professional skateboarders as they skate through enormous free roaming levels, choose from 190 progressively harder goals and build their skills to perform 14 of the greatest skateboarding stunts of all time.

"Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 marks a revolutionary step forward for the franchise with its free-roaming career mode and progressively harder goal system," states Dave Anderson, director, Activision Business Development and Licensing. "These features add a whole new dimension to the gameplay and provide a compelling new challenge for both novice players and ardent fans alike."

"The Pro Skater series is legendary," says Michael Rogers, President of Aspyr. "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 takes the game to the next level with huge advancements in graphics and gameplay. This is the closest you can get to skating without scraping a knee."

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater(R) 4 delivers the deepest and most challenging gameplay experience in the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series. The game's enhanced career mode allows players to earn respect and the chance to take on all new pro goals by conquering a skater-specific Pro Challenge based on each skater's personal history.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater(R) 4 for the PC and Macintosh is rated "T" (Teen) by the ESRB and is now available at your local retail outlet, with a Suggested Retail Price of $39.99.

For all of the latest Tony Hawk's Pro Skater(R) 4 for the PC and Mac news and information, visit www.aspyr.com.

Aug 17 - Sunday Shopping Watch.

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

Weekly Comparison. Another very good weekend to go out and buy a new desktop or laptop computer.

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 desktop and laptop purchases, and $150 mail-in rebates on advertised desktop packages and $100 mail-in rebates on laptops.
Circuit City is offering $150 mail-in rebates on advertised desktop packages and notebooks plus 12 months no interest.
Office Depot has no store-wide promotions this Sunday.
CompUSA has 6 months no payments, no interest for purchases over $199.
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
Category
Product Description
Price* (see above)
Prices up or Down this Week
Store
1. Best Celeron Deal
Compaq 2.4 GHz complete system with 17" monitor
$429
-
Best Buy
2. Best Pentium 4 System
Compaq 2.2 GHz complete system with 15" flat panel
$599
-
Best Buy
1. Best Pentium 4 System
Compaq 2.4 GHz complete system with 15" flat panel
$879
-
Circuit City
2. Best Pentium 4 System
HP 2.4 GHz complete system with 15" flat panel, DVD-CD-R/W, and HT Technology
$899
-
Best Buy
3. Best Pentium 4 System
Sony 2.6 GHz complete system with 15" flat panel, DVD-R/W, and HT Technology
$1099
-
Circuit City
4. Best Pentium 4 System
HP 2.4 GHz complete system with 17" flat panel, DVD-R/W, and HT Technology
$1479
-
Best Buy
5. Best Pentium 4 System
Sony 2.8 GHz complete system with 15" flat panel, DVD-R/W, and HT Technology
$1749
-$10
Circuit City
1. Best AMD Athlon XP System
eMachines 2400+ complete system
$369
-$20
Circuit City
2. Best AMD Athlon XP System
eMachines 2600+ complete system with 17" monitor
$589
Best Buy
1. Best Low-cost Laptop

Toshiba 2 GHz Celeron with DVD/CD-RW

$699
Best Buy, Circuit City ($749), CompUSA ($749)
2. Best Low-cost Laptop

Toshiba 2.2 GHz Celeron with DVD/CD-RW

$899
Best Buy, Circuit City ($949)
1. Best High-end Notebook
Toshiba 2.66 GHz Pentium 4 with DVD/CD-RW
$1199
-
Circuit City, CompUSA, Best Buy($1249)
2. Best High-end Notebook
HP 2.4 GHz Pentium 4 with DVD/CD-RW
$1049
-
CompUSA
3. Best High-end Notebook
Toshiba 3.02 GHz Pentium 4 with DVD/CD-RW
$1599
-
Best Buy
4. Best High-end Notebook
Toshiba Intel Centrino 1.4 GHz with DVD/CD-RW
$1449
-
Circuit City
Peripherals and Software
Best Sunday Deal
Western Digital External USB 2.0 7200 RPM 80 GB hard drive with 8 MB buffer
$99
(after rebates)
-
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
Maxtor 7200 RPM 200 GB hard drive with 8 MB buffer
$149
(after rebates)
-
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
ATI Radeon All-in-Wonder 9800 128 MB DDR
$399
(after rebates)
-
CompUSA
Best Sunday Deal
ATI Radeon 9800 128 MB DDR
$249
(after rebates)
-
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
ATI Radeon 9600 128 MB DDR
$159
(after rebates)
+$10
Circuit City
Best Sunday Deal
MadDog GeForce FX 5600 128 MB DDR
$149
(after rebates)
-
CompUSA
Best Sunday Deal
Verto GeForce FX 5200 128 MB DDR
$99
(after rebates)
-
CompUSA
Best Sunday Deal
Sony 4X multiformat DVD-RW
$279
(after rebates)
-
Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA
Best Sunday Deal
Sony 52X CD-RW
$59
(after rebates)
-
Circuit City, CompUSA
Best Sunday Deal
Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum
$129
(after rebates)
-
Best Buy

 

InfoHQ Quick Jumps to Upgrades from DealTime - Click to check on latest prices
Video Cards ATI Radeon
  GeForce4 FX
Hard Drives Maxtor
  Western Digital
  Seagate
CD-RW Drives 40x/48x Write Speed
DVD-RW Drives DVD+RW/CD-RW
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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