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Daily Computer News and Rumors

December 23-31 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.)
Dec 31 Americans Will Use Technology to Help Fulfill Their New Year's Resolutions
Dec 31 Internet Not Just For Computers Anymore
Dec 31 Lenmar Announces New Battery Packs for Mobile Devices
Dec 31 Anticipation Builds for Macworld Conference & Expo
Dec 30 Toshiba Exhibits Its Best in Mobile Computing at 2004 CES
Dec 30 Fujitsu Debuts Multimedia Notebook Heavyweight
Dec 30 Belkin Offers Bluetooth GPS Receiver for Laptops and Handhelds
Dec 30 Belkin Announces Hi-Speed USB 2.0 Thumb Hub for Notebooks
Dec 30 Consumers Look to PC Companies for Home Networking Needs
Dec 29 Amazon.com Wraps Up Its Ninth Holiday With Busiest Season Ever
Dec 29 Akumen Debuts FireWire 800/1394b USB 2.0 Combo PCI Card
Dec 29 EA Plans Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Videogame
Dec 28 Sunday Shopping Watch
Dec 24 Reports of Email Fraud and Phishing Attacks Jump Over 400% During the Holidays
Dec 24 ATI Reports Record Revenues in the First Quarter
Dec 24 eMachines Introduces 64-Bit PC for Gaming and Other Multimedia Applications
Dec 24 CPUBuilders Offers 1.6 GHz Linux PC For Less Than $300
Dec 23 HD Radio Receivers to Debut at 2004 International CES
Dec 23 PCI Express to be Rapidly Adopted
Dec 23 Interactive Games on Cell Phones to Be Available in the U.S.
Dec 23 Good Guys and CompUSA Announce Close of Merger Transaction
Dec 23 NVidia Releases Holiday Gift Guide

 

Dec 31 - Americans Will Use Technology to Help Fulfill Their New Year's Resolutions. According to a national online study commissioned by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), 35 percent of Americans will make New Year's resolutions for 2004. While Americans start the New Year aiming to achieve personal resolutions and goals, many fail to reach them, which is why they will use technology to help.

"Each New Year, millions of Americans pledge to improve themselves and communicate better with family and friends. But soon, year-after-year, those good intentions fade. Consumer electronics can help consumers break the cycle and keep their resolutions," said Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association.

"Consumer electronics empower consumers, helping them improve productivity, organize and communicate better, and enhance their lifestyles. To make consumers more aware of these benefits, CEA is launching a new section of our website, www.CE.org, that directs consumers to technologies that will help them keep their New Year's resolutions."

Americans set challenging goals for themselves. According to the national online study conducted by eBrain, the market research division of the CEA, the top New Year's Resolutions for 2004 are:

Lose weight 21%
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Exercise more 13%
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Stop a bad habit 10%
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Get out of debt 8%
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Make more money 5%
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The survey found that nearly three quarters of the population (74 percent) have made New Year's resolutions at some time in their life, but more than half (59 percent) said they were very difficult or difficult to achieve. For 2003, 37 percent of Americans said they made a New Year's resolution, but only 46 percent of those who made resolutions actually fulfilled them.

Given the recent advances in consumer electronics, including Internet, broadband, digital imaging, wireless communications and affordability, the study indicates that Americans will be employing personal technology in 2004 to make their resolutions a reality. When asked which technologies would help them fulfill their 2004 resolutions, Americans' top responses were:

Computers 22%
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Cell phones 11%
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High-speed Internet connection 11%
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Financial planning software 11%
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Personal digital assistant (PDA) 8%
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Digital camera 7%
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Study respondents said technology would help them achieve their 2004 New Year's resolutions by:

Getting better organized 44%
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Using my time more wisely 42%
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Being more productive 41%
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Communicating more with family and friends 36%
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Learning new things/new hobbies/interests 35%
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Being on time for appointments or meetings 16%
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The majority (69%) of people said that consumer electronics "will be important to their lifestyle in 2004," and 58 percent "believe that these technologies will allow them to do their jobs better in 2004." When asked which consumer electronics will have the most impact on their lives in 2004, Americans' top choices were:

Computer 54%
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Cell phone 36%
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High-speed Internet connection 33%
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Digital camera 22%
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TV 21%
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DVD player 18%
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"We expect to see more Americans realize their resolutions in 2004 because of the usage of consumer electronics, especially as consumers get their hands on the latest innovations that will be announced in early January at the 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas," added Shapiro.

CEA's resources are available online at www.CE.org, the definitive source for information about the consumer electronics industry.

Dec 31 - Internet Not Just For Computers Anymore. The Internet in all its various incarnations will soon become as ubiquitous in our modern, everyday life as, say, electric power, running water or written words. The Internet is fast becoming part of every tool and toy we use, to the point that eventually, we won't think about it. Simply put, the Internet is not just about "computers" any more.

Ubiquity - "n. the state of being, or seeming to be, everywhere at the same time" - as relates to Internet-connected services and devices, is at the heart of many of the changes that the staff of Oakland Web developer e-agency has predicted for the coming year. What's new and important, or will be by the end of the year, in e-agency's world of increasingly integrated and interactive business communications?

Their predictions: The big impacts in 2004 will come from five big ideas.

1) Everything wireless - from phones to laptops, cameras to coffee shops - will be major agents in the inevitable march of ubiquity.

2) The Presidential election campaigns will make this the year that politics on the Web goes mainstream, becoming part of the way political campaigns function, and the way we vote.

3) Search-related Web marketing was hot last year, because it was a bargain for advertisers. Now, as it becomes less of a novelty, search-related advertising will become a tool that consumers will be glad to use, right through the point that we forget to notice it anymore. (And although the prices are now relatively higher, it's still a bargain.)

4) Spam probably won't die this year, but it won't be because too few weapons of mass destruction are thrown at it. The State of California led the way with a new anti-spam law last fall, the U.S. Congress recently followed, and everyone from Microsoft to AOL (to e-agency!) is looking for ways to rid our inboxes of a torrent of offensive, unwanted and even fraudulent e-mail. There will be some limited successes. But spam control may open the door to government attempts to regulate Internet operations in other areas.

5) It's the economy ... ! Cash is beginning to flow again, and more than ever before will flow through the Web. Smart companies will invest early in upgrading their Web presence - both their public sites and their operations-oriented intranets and extranets. The smart ones will also elevate Web spending to a regular and accountable spot in their annual budgets and demand realistic predictable returns on and careful management of their investments.

You can read e-agency's 2004 predictions at www.e-agency.com.

Dec 31 - Lenmar Announces New Battery Packs for Mobile Devices. Lenmar Enterprises, Inc., a leading manufacturer of rechargeable batteries, battery chargers and accessories for consumer electronics, today announced a unique new battery product. The new Freedom Pak Kits offer 2-hour and 4-hour capacities, and deliver full portable power for laptops, digital cameras and portable DVD players. This translates up to 1,500 additional photos for digital camera users - all while charging the internal battery.

The Freedom Pak Kits are modular, Lithium-Ion battery packs that plug directly into laptops, DVD players or digital cameras. In addition, they can be stacked to provide up to 12 hours of continuous operation. More convenient than plate-type batteries, Freedom Paks are lightweight and easily fit in a jacket pocket or briefcase. Each Freedom Pak Kit also includes Lenmar's award-winning Mach 1 SpeedCharger, the world's fastest battery recharger. The Mach 1 will recharge 80% of the Freedom Pak's capacity in less than one hour and provide a full charge in under two hours- less than half the time of conventional chargers.

"This innovative new battery product gives users the extra power they need to make portable computing more practical, DVD viewing more enjoyable and let digital camera photographers shoot for days without AC recharging," stated Marty Goldberg, Lenmar CEO.

The Freedom Pak works by applying voltage to charging the device's internal battery while supplying the necessary energy to operate the laptop with full screen brightness, the DVD player for uninterrupted movies, or the digital camera for continuous photo taking. Depending on the model, after two or four hours of operation with the Freedom Pak, the device's internal battery is charged and ready to continue powering the laptop, DVD player or camera.

When used connected to an AC outlet in the office or at home it provides a combination uninterruptible power system (UPS) and extended power backup system for a laptop.

The Freedom Paks employ Lithium-Ion cells with Lenmar's trademarked NoMEM technology. Two models are currently available in the series, the Freedom Pak FP2200/FP2200S 2-hour pak and the Freedom Pak FP 4400/4400S 4-hour pak. The Freedom Paks for laptops are compatible with IBM, Compaq, Toshiba, Sony Vaio and other laptop models using a "standard" AC plug. Supported DVD players include Panasonic, …….. Compatible digital camera models include Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Olympus, Canon ……………

The Freedom Pak Kits for laptops and DVD players are the Model FP2200, priced at $139.99 MSRP, and the Model FP4400 at $199.99. The Freedom Pak Kits for digital cameras are the Model FP202, priced at $139.99 MSRP, and the Model FP205 at $199.99.

For more information about Lenmar, please visit their web site at www.lenmar.com.

Dec 31 - Anticipation Builds for Macworld Conference & Expo. IDG World Expo, the leading producer of world-class tradeshows, conferences and events for technology markets around the globe, today provided a preview of the 20th Macworld Conference & Expo(R) in San Francisco, to be held next week at the Moscone Center.

Hundreds of new products are expected to debut at next week's event, which will feature an exhibit floor filled with the most innovative companies serving the Mac community. Macworld will also include five packed days of educational content, with conference sessions appropriate for Mac users of all levels and backgrounds.
The Macworld conference program runs Monday through Friday, January 5-9, 2004 at San Francisco's Moscone Center. The Macworld exhibit floor opens on Tuesday, January 6.

The Macworld exhibit floor will feature the newest products and applications for the Mac platform from companies such as Apple, Adobe, Aspyr, Avid, Canon, EPSON, FileMaker, Harman Multimedia, HP, Intuit, Macromedia, Microsoft, MYOB, Roxio, Xerox and many others.

Presented by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, the opening keynote will take place on Tuesday, January 6 at 9 a.m. For more information or to register for the event, please visit www.macworldexpo.com.

Dec 30 - Toshiba Exhibits Its Best in Mobile Computing at 2004 CES. Toshiba will showcase their latest offerings in mobile computing technology. The booth will feature a gaming atmosphere with the latest and greatest in technology to enjoy today's games to the fullest. Visit the "Gaming Extravaganza" to experience all that Toshiba has to offer. Not only for the gamer, these products can greatly enhance home and workplace computing. Mobile computing solutions will include:

Consumer/Multi-Media Notebooks:

-- Toshiba Satellite(R) M35 -- Best-suited for use
in the office and at home, this lightweight
notebook PC includes a 15.4-inch wide-screen
diagonal display that's great for reviewing
reports and watching movies.

-- Toshiba Satellite P25 -- Featuring a 17.0-inch
diagonal wide-screen XGA display, this Media
Center Edition 2004-based notebook is the ideal
mobile entertainment station for
space-constrained environments, combining a CD,
DVD and television recording/playback into one
device.

-- Toshiba Satellite P15 -- Outfitted with a
15.4-inch diagonal wide-screen XGA display, this
Media Center Edition 2004-based notebook is
designed for consumers who desire increased
portability and want the ability to access their
files while on a trip, around the campus or in
the home.

Professional Productivity Tools:

-- Toshiba Portege(R) M205 -- Toshiba's next
generation tablet PC offers users the portability
of a notebook computer and the flexibility of a
pad of paper. Compute traditionally with this
convertible form factor or write directly on the
screen for easy note taking in meetings.

-- Toshiba Portege R100 -- The thinnest and lightest
notebook offered by Toshiba, the 2.4 pound
Portege R100 is perfect for the mobile executive.

-- Toshiba Pocket PC e405 -- One of the thinnest
PDAs on the market, the Pocket PC e405 includes
convenient text-to-speech and voice command
applications to easily organize and access
appointments, contacts, and files.

-- Toshiba Pocket PC e805 -- Integrated Wi-Fi(R)
(802.11b) connectivity, VoIP capabilities and a
bright 4.0-inch color display makes this PDA the
ideal productivity tool for the office
environment.

-- Toshiba TLP-S10U Projector -- At only $999 and
4.7 pounds, this projector is perfect for the
road warrior on a tight budget.

For more information, visit www.toshiba.com.

Dec 30 - Fujitsu Debuts Multimedia Notebook Heavyweight. Fujitsu Computer Systems today unveiled a powerful addition to its LifeBook(R) product line -- the LifeBook N5000 notebook. Stacked with a speedy desktop-class processor, ample system memory and a powerful graphics solution, the new notebook offers unprecedented performance in a portable package.

"Desktop replacement notebooks are becoming increasingly popular among students, multimedia enthusiasts and home users," said Paul Moore, director of product marketing for Fujitsu Computer Systems. "With the LifeBook N5000 notebook, users can have a high performance system that's portable enough to take to study group or tuck away when guests arrive."

The LifeBook N5000 incorporates an Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 Processor operating at 3.0 GHz or 2.8 GHz and is one of the first notebooks to utilize Hyper-Threading (HT) Technology. HT Technology enables the processor to execute two threads (parts of a software program) in parallel, boosting performance and letting users multitask more effectively. The processor also features an advanced 800 MHz system bus, the fastest bus speed available on a notebook today.

For crisp visual effects, the notebook uses an ATI MOBILITY(TM) RADEON(TM) 9600 graphics chip with 64 MB of dedicated video memory and a high-resolution 16-inch SXGA+ Crystal View display. Exclusively offered on the Fujitsu LifeBook N5000 notebook, Crystal View brings CRT-like qualities to LCD screens. Its combination of high contrast ratio (600:1) and superior brightness (350 nits) makes images even sharper and colors more vivid.

Users can equip their LifeBook N5000 notebook with a DVD-RW drive, a massive 80 GB ATA 100 hard drive, up to 2 GB of DDR 333 system memory and dual-band wireless LAN (802.11a+b/g). Multiple ports and a Memory Stick/Secure Digital media card slot add to the notebook's versatility, allowing users to transfer music, pictures, video and data quickly and easily.

"The LifeBook N5000 notebook employs some of the most sophisticated technology in a PC today," said Moore. "We wanted to introduce a system that offers great performance and functionality, and have it come in at an attractive price point. The LifeBook N5000 notebook certainly delivers on all accounts." Pricing for a recommended configuration with a DVD-RW drive starts at $2,049.

For more information, please see: www.fujitsu.com.

Dec 30 - Belkin Offers Bluetooth GPS Receiver for Laptops and Handhelds. Travelers in unfamiliar areas can now find their way easily with the Bluetooth GPS Receiver from Belkin. Designed to connect quickly to your PDA or laptop, the Belkin Receiver displays your position in real time. It shows your progress as you travel, illustrating your current location in relation to your destination. The Receiver will begin shipping in North America on January 15, 2004.

The Bluetooth GPS Receiver from Belkin offers advanced features, unique among competing GPS receivers-at the more affordable price of $299.99. Belkin includes navigation software for which other GPS device manufacturers require a separate purchase.
Designed to indicate your speed, direction of travel, elevation, latitude, and longitude within 10 meters, the Belkin Receiver software covers any city in the US and Canada. It quickly identifies your current position as well as a destination or point of interest. Routes can be calculated and viewed immediately, and automated voice prompts instruct when and where to turn.

The Receiver also features a high-sensitivity mode, which allows it to function in previously inaccessible environments, such as severe urban canyons, parking garages, through dense foliage, multilevel freeways and, in many cases, indoors.

Another differing benefit of the Belkin Receiver is its support of both Pocket PC and Windows® devices.

Special Features of the Belkin Software

Lets you choose destinations by address, intersection, point of interest, or contacts

Offers dynamic reroute and detour options

Provides 4 types of map views

Alerts user to speed level

Records your trip for future playback

Benefits

Includes a CLA charger (that is compatible with Dell® Axim™ and Compaq® iPAQ™ PDAs), USB charger, and DC charger

Uses removable, rechargeable lithium-polymer battery to provide up to 10 hours of continuous operation

Tracks position using data from 12 satellites, with an accuracy of up to 10m

Belkin products are available through www.belkin.com as well as through a network of major distributors, resellers, and superstores.

Dec 30 - Belkin Announces Hi-Speed USB 2.0 Thumb Hub for Notebooks. Anybody who travels with his or her laptop and multiple peripherals will need a compact USB 2.0 hub that will not take up much room. The travel-friendly Belkin Hi-Speed USB 2.0 Thumb Hub fits the bill perfectly. The size of a pager, it features four ports and conveniently slips into the pocket of your notebook bag without using up precious space. The Thumb Hub is currently shipping in North America.

The Belkin Thumb Hub provides the convenience of being able to connect up to four high-speed devices without the need for a power supply. If additional power is required, the Hub includes a universal switching power supply, which is ideal for worldwide travel. With the versatility for you to connect up to four high- or low-speed devices, you can use your existing low- and full-speed devices in addition to your new high-speed devices.

Benefits

Connects up to 4 USB devices without a power supply

Includes global-use power supply and USB extension cable

Transfers speeds up to 480Mbps

Operates with Plug-and-Play ease

Belkin products are available through www.belkin.com as well as through a network of major distributors, resellers, and superstores.

Dec 30 - Consumers Look to PC Companies for Home Networking Needs. The popularity of home networking is on the rise and PC companies such as Dell and HP are establishing themselves as the choice supplier for home networking consumers, according to a survey conducted by The NPD Group.

Overall, Dell was identified as the clear choice among potential suppliers for those planning to install a home network. Dell was cited as a leader in developing home networking products by close to half (49 percent) of those who have a home network and more than half (57 percent) of those who don't yet have one. HP came in just a few percentage points under Dell among those who currently have a home network (44 percent) and 40 percent of those who are planning to install one. Over 50 percent of respondents cited Dell as a product leader, support leader and value leader for home networking products.

"Given that most of what consumers do with home networks today are PC centric tasks, it is not surprising that most consumers said they would turn to PC companies to supply their networking gear," said Stephen Baker, The NPD Group's director of industry analysis. "The question for the future is how consumers will view these providers when the uses begin to involve more extensive inclusion of home entertainment gear."

Regarding functionality, the home networking survey found that consumers planning a home network are expecting significantly more functionality than is currently available. Planners anticipate being able to easily add devices to their network and to use the devices to do tasks such as media file sharing and streaming among the devices, tasks that are not simply accomplished given most of what is readily available. Those with home networks are much more realistic about the capabilities of the technology and are satisfied with their ability to perform the expected tasks while realistic about the challenges facing them should they attempt to incorporate more tasks and devices into the network.

"Today, digital photo and video sharing represent the most popular media-related task accomplished on the PC. In order to capitalize on the consumers' interest in home networking, manufacturers must develop and support improved media-sharing products," Baker added. "If suppliers are not able to provide the next wave of buyers with devices and infrastructure that meet these expectations there is potential for disappointment and unhappiness among these network planners."

The survey also reveals the type of home networks being installed. When looking at current home network owners, over half reported having an Ethernet network and 22 percent reported having a Wi-Fi network. When examining respondents who have more than two computers at home, two-thirds of such respondents reporting the use of Ethernet but Wi-Fi is becoming more popular especially among notebook owners. Consumer's desire for mobility and the natural combination of no wires networking and notebook computers have propelled sales of both categories in 2003.

Sales data collected through NPD's point of sale panel shows consumers increasing choice of wireless networks as their preferred installation. Through the first 10 months of 2003 sales of wireless networking hardware exceeded $500 million in US retail sales, reflecting revenue growth of almost 120 percent. Wireless networking products account for 56 percent of all revenue generated for consumer networking devices, attesting to the powerful draw Wi-Fi networks exert over the buying public.

"As consumers begin to embrace the technological changes by the current wave of digital convergence, home networking will be one of the first technologies to which consumers will be exposed," said Baker. "The reality of today's home networking falls far short of what the networked home of the future will look like. Today's network owners recognize that while would like to do more their home networks, the current technology has limits."

NPD is located on the Web at www.npd.com.

Dec 29 - Amazon.com Wraps Up Its Ninth Holiday With Busiest Season Ever. Amazon.com (Nasdaq:AMZN) today announced it has finished its busiest holiday season ever during which time it set a single-day record with more than 2.1 million units ordered, or 24 items per second, worldwide.

"Offering more selection than ever and low prices helped our customers find exactly what they were looking for at Amazon.com this holiday season," said Jeff Wilke, Amazon.com senior vice president of worldwide operations and customer service. "We're thankful to the millions of customers worldwide who trusted us with their holiday shopping this year."

Worldwide 2003 Holiday Facts

(includes www.amazon.com, www.amazon.co.uk, www.amazon.de, www.amazon.fr, www.amazon.co.jp and www.amazon.ca)

-- On the peak day this season, Amazon's worldwide fulfillment network shipped over one million packages.

-- More than 70,000 gift certificates were ordered worldwide on December 24, 2003, for delivery via email in time for Christmas.

-- Amazon.com shipped more than 99 percent of orders in time to meet holiday deadlines worldwide.

Amazon.com 2003 Holiday Facts (www.amazon.com only)

-- Compared to 2002, later free shipping deadlines gave customers four additional days of Free Super Saver Shipping this holiday season. Deadlines were also extended for Holiday Guaranteed Shipping, Two-Day Shipping and One-Day Shipping by one extra day (compared to 2002).

-- The last order placed in time for Christmas delivery occurred at 11:32 a.m. PST on Tuesday, December 23, 2003. The order contained the perennial Christmas favorite Forensic Pathology, Second Edition. The order was delivered to Vail, Colorado on December 24.

-- The "Holiday Shoppers" feature, which tracked the estimated number of visitors at Amazon.com during the prior 60 minutes, topped 630,000 on Monday, Dec. 15.

Amazon.com's hot holiday sellers since November 28, 2003 (based on units ordered):

-- In Sporting Goods, pedometers were a popular gift item this year, with the Sportline 360 Fitness Pedometer taking the top spot. Scooters, personalized golf balls and snow boards were also very popular. The Photon Golf Digital Scorecard and the Pro Performance Sports Hit-A-Way Baseball Trainer were two of the more interesting best-selling items in the store.

-- In Gourmet Food, Harry & David's Tower of Treats, Ghirardelli chocolates, Omaha Steaks' Top Sirloin, and a veritable cornucopia of gift baskets were some of the most popular items ordered for the holidays. An interesting top-seller in this category was the Fireworks Popcorn Bowl Gift Set sold by Wisconsinmade (an 11" wood bowl with four varieties of popcorn, seasonings and two "popcorn forks").

-- In Electronics & Office, digital cameras are again the most popular items driven by higher resolution and better lenses available for even lower prices than last year; the top-seller was the Canon Powershot S230. Wireless equipment is also very popular with both wireless routers and wireless cell phone headsets among the top-selling items. Netgear's MR814 802.11b Wireless 4-port cable/DSL router, the Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router and Jabra's FreeSpeak Bluetooth Headset took top honors.

-- In Home & Garden, the ever-popular shaver gift goes upscale this year (Norelco's 8894XL Spectra -- James Bond's Shaver of Choice -- with Polymer Display). The iRobot Roomba robotic vacuum was also a top-seller. Calphalon Commercial cookware, the venerable Kitchenaid Classic Stand Mixer, and the Casa Moda "S'mores" Maker all made the list. The tool to have this year was the Strait-Line 64001 Laser Level.

-- The musical gamut of top-sellers ran from Sarah McLachlan's Afterglow, to The Beatles' Let it Be...Naked, and Josh Groban's Closer.

-- Video/DVD sales were dominated by the big-name movie series (new and old). Two Lord of the Rings -- The Two Towers gift sets, The Matrix Reloaded, Terminator 3, and The Adventures of Indiana Jones set were all in the top 10.

-- The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown), South Beach Diet (Dr. Arthur Agatston), and The Five People You Meet in Heaven (Mitch Albom) were the top-selling books this holiday season.

Dec 29 - Akumen Debuts FireWire 800/1394b USB 2.0 Combo PCI Card. Akumen Online Inc. announces a combination FireWire 800/1394b and USB 2.0 PCI Host Adapter Card for Windows and Macintosh. With the hardware and peripheral industry on the verge of an explosion of new products using the two technologies, this card is the first to combine both higher speed standards in a single product.

FireWire 800, or 1394b, is the newest FireWire implementation, raising the top speed to 800Mbps. Widely used in storage and high speed peripherals, and performing a vital role in digital audio and video, FireWire has exploded into widespread use. The new, faster FireWire 800 is transforming computer storage even now, and the coming months will see a wide array of powerful new 800Mbps product introductions. The Akumen card has two external FireWire 800 ports and one shared internal connector.

USB is a standard bus technology on virtually every personal computer made. The new USB 2 standard profoundly multiplies the available speed, making USB 2.0 a viable option now for a new class of higher speed products. The Akumen card has 3 external USB 2.0 ports and one shared internal connector.

Both technologies are backwards compatible, meaning they will still support legacy products. But a wide variety of new products using the new technologies are being announced now. Many are already sold by Akumen.

The new card, and all Akumen's FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 products, can be seen now at www.akumen.com.

Dec 29 - EA Plans Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Videogame. Next Installment in Successful Franchise Allows Gamers to Play as Harry, Ron, or Hermione as They Face Harry's Most Terrifying Opponents yet: the Escaped Convict Sirius Black and the Dreaded Dementors of Azkaban

Harry Potter(TM) fans will experience the magic and peril of Harry's third year at Hogwarts(TM) in the highly anticipated Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(TM) videogame shipping in spring 2004, Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS) announced today.

For the first time gamers will play as friends Ron Weasley(TM) and Hermione Granger(TM) as well as Harry Potter, switching between characters and utilizing their key attributes and skills to resolve challenges and overcome enemies. The three friends will need to combine their strengths and master a variety of new spells as they face Harry's most terrifying opponents yet: the escaped convict Sirius Black(TM) and the Dementors(TM), the sinister guards of Azkaban prison.

From the opening scene on the Hogwarts Express(TM) to the climatic finale on the shore of the great lake at Hogwarts, the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban videogame will immerse players in the magical world of Harry Potter. Players will unravel the mystery surrounding Sirius Black and his escape from the infamous wizard prison Azkaban, as they take part in the most exciting and challenging Harry Potter videogame adventure yet. Gamers will encounter a host of new characters and creatures, engage in a variety of sub-quests, fly on a Hippogriff, reveal the secrets of the Marauder's Map, and take on their friends in multiple two-player challenges.

Under development by EA's UK Studio, the team behind the worldwide success of the Harry Potter library of games that have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is scheduled for release for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft, Nintendo GameCube(TM), Game Boy(R) Advance, and PC CD-ROM.

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

Dec 28 - Sunday Shopping Watch.

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

Weekly Comparison. Grab your Christmas gift money and take advantage of some really good deals this weekend.

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 12 month no-interest financing on all desktop and laptop purchases, and $150 mail-in rebates on advertised laptops and up to $200 mail-in rebates on advertised desktop packages.
Circuit City is offering 12 months no interest financing on advertised desktop packages and notebooks, and up to $150 mail-in rebates on advertised laptops and desktop packages.
Office Depot has no store-wide promotions this Sunday.
CompUSA is offering 12 months no payment, no interest, financing on any laptop purchase of $799 and higher and they are also offering $150 off advertised laptops.
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 2.5 GHz complete system with 17" monitor
$349
-$50
Circuit City
2. Best Celeron Deal
eMachines 2.6 GHz complete system with 17" monitor
$419
Best Buy
1. Best Pentium 4 System
Sony 2.6 GHz Pentium 4 complete system with 15" flat panel, and DVD-RW
$999
-
Circuit City
2. Best Pentium 4 System
HP 2.6 GHz Pentium 4 Windows Media Center complete system with 15" flat panel, and DVD/CD-RW
$1299
-
Best Buy
3. Best Pentium 4 System
Sony 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 complete system with 15" flat panel, HT Technology, DVD-RW, and all-in-one printer
$1199
-
Best Buy
Best AMD Athlon XP System
AMD Athlon 64 3200+ complete system with 17 inch monitor (build-to-order)
$1249
-
Best Buy
1. Best Low-cost Laptop
HP 2.4 GHz Celeron with DVD/CD-RW
$699
-
Circuit City
2. Best Low-cost Laptop
Toshiba 2.4 GHz Celeron with DVD/CD-RW
$749
-
CompUSA
3. Best Low-cost Laptop
Toshiba 2.8 GHz Celeron with DVD/CD-RW
$849
-
CompUSA
4. Best High-end Notebook
HP Pentium 4 2.3 GHz with DVD-RW
$1199
-
CompUSA
1. Best High-end Notebook
Sony Pentium 4 2.8 GHz with DVD-RW
$1349
-
Circuit City
2. Best High-end Notebook
Toshiba Pentium 4 2.8 GHz widescreen with DVD-RW
$1749
-
Circuit City, Best Buy ($1799)
3. Best High-end Notebook
Toshiba Centrino widescreen 1.4 GHz with DVD/CD-RW
$1349
CompUSA
4. Best High-end Notebook
Compaq Centrino widescreen 1.4 GHz with DVD/CD-RW
$1449
CompUSA
Peripherals and Software
Best Sunday Deal
Maxtor 40 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 2 MB buffer
$39
(after rebates)
-
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
Maxtor 160 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 8 MB buffer
$89
(after rebates)
-$10
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
Maxtor 250 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 8 MB buffer
$149
(after rebates)
-
CompUSA
Best Sunday Deal
eVGA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128 MB
$189
(after rebates)
-
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
PNY GeForce FX 5200 128 MB
$69
(after rebates)
-
Circuit City
Best Sunday Deal
TDK 4X DVD-RW
$119
(after rebates)
-
CompUSA

 

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.

Dec 24 - Reports of Email Fraud and Phishing Attacks Jump Over 400% During the Holidays. Analysis of Unique Phishing Attacks Submitted to Anti-Phishing.org for the November and December 2003 Shows Dramatic Growth in Email Spoofing and Fraud Activity Highlights:

-- More than 60 unique new phishing email fraud attacks have been launched against consumers in the last 2 weeks

-- Over 60 million email fraud attacks are estimated to have been sent out - timed for the peak of the holiday season

-- eBay customers were the most highly targeted by scammers, with 24 unique email fraud attacks over the past 60 days

-- Online financial institutions, including banks, Visa and PayPal, represented the largest target group with 35 unique email fraud attacks reported over the past 60 days

Tumbleweed(R) Communications Corp. (Nasdaq:TMWD) and the Anti-Phishing Working Group today released the results of analysis of phishing scam attacks submitted to www.anti-phishing.org, the Internet's most comprehensive archive of email fraud and phishing attacks. This analysis identifies over 90 unique email fraud and phishing attacks sent out to millions of consumers over the past 60 days, with a dramatic increase in the number of attacks over the past two weeks in particular.

Phishing attacks involve the mass distribution of "spoofed" e-mail messages with return addresses, links, and branding which appear to come from banks, insurance agencies, retailers or credit card companies. These fraudulent messages are designed to fool the recipients into divulging personal data such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers and passwords, social security numbers, etc. Because these emails look "official," an average of 5% of recipients respond to them, resulting in financial losses, identity theft, and other fraudulent activity. In addition to the direct cost of fraud and the lingering effects of identity theft for consumers, this growing application of criminal spam threatens the integrity of companies that do business online.

The Anti-Phishing Working Group estimates that more than 60 million email fraud and phishing attacks have been sent out over the past two weeks, driven by scammers' desires to take advantage of the confusion of the holidays and the increased online transactions that take place during the gift giving season. There are a number of ingenious scams that play on the holiday theme.
One example is a fake online Christmas card, designed to compromise AOL accounts. In this scam, the recipient receives a spoofed email from the "AOL Hallmark" team, and is asked to visit a website to pick up his/her card. In order to access the site (which is run by the scammer), the user is asked to log in to his or her AOL account, thereby divulging the account name and password. The compromised account can then be used to launch further phishing attacks, virus attacks, spam, or other nefarious activity.

In the last week, phishing attacks against the customers of major Internet Service Providers have been exploiting a recently unearthed vulnerability in the Microsoft Internet Explorer web browser. This vulnerability allows criminals to disguise a fraudulent Web address, making it appear exactly as if it were a legitimate Web site for a known brand that they trust. Phishers can now spoof the email address, Web site graphics, Web site address, and even the SSL-lock icon in the Web browser.

"Consumer phishing attacks are dangerous, and are quickly increasing both in number and in sophistication. To most Internet users, the emails and Web sites are indistinguishable from legitimate business communications. The spam epidemic has rapidly evolved from a nuisance to a real security threat with the shift from dubious advertising to financial crime and identity theft," said Dave Jevans, Chairman of the Anti-Phishing Working Group and a Senior Vice President at Tumbleweed Communications.
"The Anti-Phishing Working Group was founded as an industry resource to address this critical challenge to individuals and companies on the Internet. At stake is our very trust that the Internet can be relied upon for safe and secure commerce and communications."

About the Anti-Phishing Working Group

The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) is focused on eliminating the problem of phishing and email spoofing attacks, by developing and sharing information about the problem, and promoting the visibility and adoption of industry solutions. Membership in the group is open to qualified financial institutions, corporations, law enforcement agencies, public policy groups and solution vendors.

The Web site of the Anti-Phishing Working Group is www.anti-phishing.org. It serves as a public and industry resource for information about the problem of phishing and email fraud, including identification and promotion of pragmatic technical solutions that can provide immediate protection and benefits against phishing attacks. The analysis, forensics, and archival of phishing attacks to the Web site are currently powered by Tumbleweed Communications' Message Protection Lab.

Dec 24 - ATI Reports Record Revenues in the First Quarter. ATI Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ:ATYT)(TSX:ATY), today announced its financial results for the first quarter of fiscal 2004, ending November 30, 2003. ATI reported record revenues of U.S. $469.7 million, a 40% increase relative to the first quarter of fiscal 2003. Gross margin showed continued strength at 35.9%. Net income per share for the quarter was $0.19 compared to $0.03 for the same period last year. Adjusted net income per share for the quarter was $0.19.

Strong performance in desktop discrete products, based on increasing penetration of the add-in-board and system integrator (SI) channel led the revenue growth. Gross margin percentage showed continued strength throughout the quarter based on ATI's competitive product line-up.

Other highlights included: initiating volume shipments of desktop integrated graphics processors; sampling the world's first PCI Express video processor in anticipation of the PC market transition in 2004; and continuing volume shipments of the IMAGEON multimedia coprocessor.

"Product leadership is enabling ATI to win new customers and penetrate new markets today," said KY Ho, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of ATI. "Our focused execution on delivering our product roadmap is attracting new channel partners and establishing broader distribution for the future."

Outlook

Based on the strength of the Company's product line, increased SI channel penetration, and an improving PC market, the Company anticipates that its results for the second quarter of fiscal 2004 will be stronger than typical seasonality.

For more information, visit www.ati.com.

Dec 24 - eMachines Introduces 64-Bit PC for Gaming and Other Multimedia Applications. eMachines, Inc., the third-largest provider of desktop PCs in the United States according to IDC, today introduced its T6000 PC, the first in a series of new 64-bit PCs from the company incorporating the AMD Athlon 64 processor.

Enhancing the performance of 32-bit applications for gaming, digital photography and other multimedia applications, the T6000 provides a ready platform for the coming era of 64-bit computing for consumers. The product features an AMD Athlon 64 processor 3200+ with HyperTransport™ technology, increasing bandwidth and reducing bottlenecks for increased processing speed and seamless multi-tasking on multiple applications.

"The T6000 is designed to offer cinematic gaming experiences and accelerate digital photography applications such as Photoshop," said Ed Fisher, senior vice president, global sales operations for eMachines, based in Irvine, Calif. "It also provides a platform for cutting-edge 64-bit applications promising new computing experiences that are planned for release as early as the first quarter of 2004."

"The eMachines T6000 series of 64-bit PCs demonstrates our continuing commitment to providing consumers high-quality products with the latest technology at the right price," Fisher said.

"eMachines' customers can immediately reap the benefits of the AMD Athlon 64 processor's extraordinary application performance while also gaining a foothold into the next wave of personal computing," said Marty Seyer, general manager of AMD's Microprocessor Business Unit. "AMD has taken the leadership role in bringing 64-bit computing to the desktop. With the evolutionary AMD64 technology, customers get leading-edge performance today coupled with the ability to take advantage of 64-bit computing when they want to."

The T6000 also includes an ATI RADEON™ 9600 video card with 128MB/128-bit dual channel memory support for "cinematic" visual quality for games and other graphics-intensive applications. Other features include a front-panel '8-in-1 Media Reader' for downloading digital audio and video from a wide range of new media devices, 512 MB PC3200 DDR memory, WD Caviar® SE 160 GB hard drive with 7,200 RPM and 8 MB cache, and CD-RW and DVD drives.

"The T6000 is perfect for gaming enthusiasts and demanding PC users," said Rick Bergman, senior vice-president, marketing and general manager, Desktop Business Unit, ATI Technologies. "ATI's RADEON 9600 graphics gives users a distinct advantage with its speed, precision and superior performance."

The eMachines T6000 series of 64-bit PCs will be offered at various price points up to $1299 and will be available from authorized eMachines retailers next year.

Featuring an elegant chassis design with six-channel audio and premium keyboard with "shortcuts" to key features, the eMachines T6000 includes seven USB 2.0 ports, two 1394 IEEE ports, one serial port and one parallel port as well as 10/100 Mbps built-in Ethernet, VIA KT800 chipset, floppy disk drive and V.92 modem.

The 8-in-1 media reader on the front panel offers compatibility with all major digital storage technology, including Secure Digital, Smart Media, Compact Flash, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, Micro Drive, Multimedia Card media, and USB 2.0 mini-flash drives. The T6000 features the Microsoft Windows® XP Home Edition operating system, Microsoft Works 7.0, Microsoft Money 2004, Encarta Online, Adobe® Acrobat® Reader™, Power DVD, Microsoft Media Player, Real Player, Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, CompuServe, MSN, and three-month AOL membership.

"With its new T6000, eMachines is satisfying the needs of the PC enthusiast and gamer market segments in which Western Digital's award-winning and innovative Special Edition series has been tremendously popular for years," Richard E. Rutledge, vice president of marketing for Western Digital Corp.

eMachines supports all of its PCs and monitors through a comprehensive Customer Care program comprised of one-year free parts, labor and technical support with several service options, including an End-User Replaceable Parts Program, five-day depot repair, and nationwide authorized service centers.

For more information, consumers can visit www.emachines.com.

Dec 24 - CPUBuilders Offers 1.6 GHz Linux PC For Less Than $300. CPUBuilders by Stratitec (www.cpubuilders.com) today announced the first 1.6 GHz PC powered by the award-winning CPUBuilders Linux for Everyone (TM) OS for less than $300. This new system, Model # CBS124LF, uses the high performance 1.6GHz AMD Duron CPU and is now available online at www.samsclub.com for $299, and at www.datatekusa.com.

Each system is pre-installed with the enhanced, award-winning CPUBuilders Linux for Everyone OS V3.0 -- designed to make the Windows-to-Linux migration easier -- and bundled with a complete suite of programs including applications to browse the Internet, send and receive email, type and print letters, create and deliver presentations, work on spreadsheets, edit and print digital photos, manage personal calendar and address book.

In addition to the enhanced operating system, this and all other CPUBuilders Linux systems are also shipping with the CPUBuilders Cognitio control panel, which facilitates adding new hardware, including plug-and-play devices, CD writers, hard drives, scanners and USB storage. Cognitio also includes an extremely easy-to-use OS and application software update system.

With the easier to use, windows-like graphics interface, Linux is now growing in popularity in personal computers due to its higher reliability and growing reputation as a cost-effective and easy-to-use alternative to Microsoft Windows.

Robert Barger, President of Stratitec Inc., the developer of CPUBuilders products said, "With the popularity of Linux growing rapidly, we believe the award-winning combination of the strong price/performance of our systems bundled with our Linux For Everyone OS, provides the best value in the market for businesses and individuals looking to add additional PCs or workstations at a lower cost."

CPUBuilders makes it possible for more small to mid-sized businesses, start-ups, families and individuals to easily afford a reliable, fully functional PC, backed by a full year of support after purchase. CPUBuilders currently develops and markets seven different systems ranging in price points from $250 to $450.

The CPUBuilders Linux Computer Starter System, Model #CBS124LF has a 1.6 GHz AMD Duron processor, 256 MB DDR RAM, 40 GB hard drive, CD ROM, and a full complement of bundled software all for less than an entry level price of $300. CPUBuilders sees this system as an ideal option for small businesses and households seeking multiple PC systems, consumers with limited budgets, or businesses looking to add low-cost, highly functional servers and workstations.

CPUBuilders systems provide high quality integrated video and allow customers the freedom to add a monitor of their choice from a wide variety of sources, starting at under $100 for a 17-inch monitor, when ordering from SAMS CLUB online www.samsclub.com.

Dec 23 - HD Radio Receivers to Debut at 2004 International CES. It has been called "stunning", "revolutionary" and an "inevitability", and it is now a reality with iBiquity Digital and major industry partners, including Texas Instruments, Phillips, Kenwood, JVC and Panasonic leading the consumer introduction of HD Radio technology during the 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2004).

HD Radio AM and FM broadcast technology represents the industry's biggest leap forward since the introduction of FM more than fifty years ago and will usher in radio's digital era with unsurpassed sound quality - FM delivering CD-level performance and AM matching today's FM stereo - plus new features, such as integrated wireless data that displays information as text or rich media directly on the faceplate of the radio.

HD Radio's digital technology also paves the way for the introduction of a number of new services designed to transform the radio broadcasting industry for the digital era. These services include interactive features supporting the on-demand delivery of audio and data programming at the press of a button, automated store-and-recall capabilities that bring television's PVR-based functionality to radio, and NPR's Tomorrow Radio project, a Supplemental Audio Programming (SAP) service that will allow network affiliates to simultaneously broadcast two separate programs on the same channel.

Unlike HDTV, which requires that broadcasters move to new spectrum space, the FCC-approved HD Radio technology is designed to seamlessly integrate with the existing broadcasting spectrum and infrastructure. Broadcasters simply add new digital transmission equipment, while consumers transition to digital through the use of newly-introduced HD Radio receivers - similar to the way that black-and-white television gave way to living color.

During CES 2004, leading CE and OEM manufacturers, including Alpine, Delphi, Fujitsu/Eclipse, harman kardon, JVC, Kenwood, Onkyo, Panasonic, Sanyo and Visteon, will be showcasing a variety of HD Radio receivers some of which will be commercially available in 2004. Simultaneously, the very first HD Radio tuner - a Kenwood KTC-HR100 - will hit store shelves with stations in 100+ markets covering nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population having already licensed the technology in anticipation of its consumer launch.

For more information please visit: www.ibiquity.com.

Dec 23 - PCI Express to be Rapidly Adopted. Offering significant changes over PCI, PCI Express should be universally adopted among notebook and desktop PCs as well as workstations and servers, reports In-Stat/MDR (http://ww.instat.com). The high-tech market research firm expects that the increased performance, improved latency, and Quality-of-Service guarantees for data delivery in real time presented by the new architecture should lead to rapid adoption, with the first PCI Express chipsets hitting the market in volume in Quarter 2 2004.

PCI Express represents a second attempt to establish a universal Input/Output (I/O) architecture for PCs, servers, and workstations. The first attempt, PCI, is still the primary architecture for the vast majority of machines on the market. However, the need for increased speed in servers, as well as for graphics in higher-end machines, led to PCI offshoots, PCI-X and Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) respectively, which fragmented the PCI market. "Leading PC vendors all have PCI Express on their roadmaps, and its adoption in new PCs beginning in 2004 is certain," said Brian O'Rourke, a senior analyst with In-Stat/MDR.

In-Stat/MDR has also found that:

-- For similar PC types, consumer segments will adopt PCI Express before corporate segments because of the lack of requirements for stable platforms, consistent configurations, or Information Technology (IT) qualification in the consumer segment

-- Desktop PCs will adopt PCI Express before notebooks due to shorter design cycles.

-- Intel is expected to be among the first to market with their PCI Express chipsets in the second and third quarters of 2004. NVIDIA, VIA and SiS are expected to release chipsets within one quarter of Intel's release date.

Dec 23 - Interactive Games on Cell Phones to Be Available in the U.S. SmartVideo Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB: SMVD.OB) today announced it has signed an agreement with ZIO Interactive U.S.A., Inc. to provide, for the first time ever in the United States, fully interactive wireless gaming for mobile phone carriers and subscribers.

In September of this year The Research Room, a Sidney, Australia-based research company, announced in its Wireless Gaming: Strategy for Profit report, that they expect the global market for wireless gaming services to grow from $561 million in 2002 to $41.3 billion in 2007. The majority of this revenue is expected to be driven form downloadable games and the additional traffic that the networked and multiplayer games generate on the mobile data networks.

The report also indicates that wireless gaming will do more than just move gaming into the wireless world - it will create whole new markets for cross-platform, online multiplayer and networked games along with a potential ongoing revenue stream from sales beyond the initial purchase of the game.
Also, according to iGillottResearch in its November 2003 report Wireless Gaming in the U.S. by Charul Vyas, it is estimated that in 2003 mobile gaming industry revenues will exceed $83 million, up from $34 million in 2002. In addition, the report predicts that over the next few years the market will grow at an annual compounded growth rate of more than 90 percent.

Commenting on this announcement Hongsuk Lee, president and CEO of ZIO Interactive U.S.A. said, "This agreement with SmartVideo represents the first ever totally interactive mobile gaming capability in the U.S. Carriers will now be able to offer their subscribers the ability to use their cell phones to play standalone games or participate in multiple user games from anywhere in the world. Never before have mobile phone users been able to play interactive games with other mobile phone users or between a mobile phone and desktop computer."

"Working with ZIO Interactive U.S.A. to develop interactive games that are accessible from cell phones demonstrates our ongoing commitment to bring high value, interactive content to the mobile market place while generating new revenue streams," said Richard E. Bennett, president and CEO of SmartVideo. "We are aligned with the trend of the consumers desire for personalized entertainment on their mobile devices. Therefore, as a content provisioner for the mobile industry, we are steadfast in our goal to bring all forms of interactive, leading edge content to the mobile market such as entertainment, information in data and video formats."

Additional information on SmartVideo including sample demos can be found on the Company's Web site at www.smartvideo.com or www.smartvideo.ca.

Dec 23 - Good Guys and CompUSA Announce Close of Merger Transaction. Good Guys, Inc. and CompUSA today announced the consummation of their merger. As a result of the merger, Good Guys will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of CompUSA and will continue to operate under the Good Guys name. Also as a result of the merger, each outstanding share of Good Guys stock has been converted into the right to receive $2.05 in cash.

"We feel the merger with Good Guys fits well with our respective long-term strategies," said Larry Mondry, CEO, CompUSA. "Good Guys' ability to provide tech-savvy, early-adopters with the latest in consumer electronics adds an important brand to our portfolio."

CompUSA is one of the nation's leading retailers and resellers of technology products and services. CompUSA currently operates 226 CompUSA Superstores in 90 major metropolitan markets across the United States and Puerto Rico that serve retail, small-to-medium businesses, corporate, government and education customers and includes technical service departments. Most of the stores include classroom-training facilities. CompUSA also operates a web site that offers an assortment of over 80,000 items at www.compusa.com.

With fiscal 2003 sales of $750 million, Good Guys is one of the largest specialty retailers of higher-end entertainment electronics in the nation. With its differentiated product selection and knowledgeable team of product specialists, Good Guys is dedicated to providing entertainment solutions to the West Coast's early adopters and tech-savvy consumers. Founded in 1973, Good Guys operates 71 stores in California, Nevada, Washington and Oregon. For more information, visit www.goodguys.com.

Dec 23 - NVidia Releases Holiday Gift Guide. For the gamer, the family, the road warrior, or the videophile: NVIDIA-based products deliver great performance, cinematic quality graphics, and a multitude of multimedia features.
Check out their gift ideas for friends and family in the NVIDIA 2003 Holiday Gift Guide.

 

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