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Daily Computer News and Rumors

February 01-07 2004

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

InfoHQ Daily Computer News and Rumors Article Index
Date
(Click on story to read, use your Browser's back button to return to this index.)
Feb 06 Samsung Electronics Develops Satellite DMB Chip for Mobile Phones
Feb 06 Fujifilm Unveils Sleek New 3.2 and 4.0 Megapixel Cameras
Feb 06 NPD Group Reports Overall Decrease in PC Software Sales for 2003
Feb 06 America Online Launches Next Generation Version of AOL Instant Messenger Service
Feb 06 Best Buy Simplifies High Definition Choices For Consumers
Feb 05 Chipmakers Break Low k Barrier, Drives Next-Generation Electronics
Feb 05 Northgate Innovations Athlon 64 System Priced under $900
Feb 05 BlackBerry Surpasses One Millionth Subscriber Milestone
Feb 05 America Online Launches the Red Service Created Exclusively for Teens
Feb 05 Youth Market Represents Large Opportunity for Wireless
Feb 04 ATI Launches MOBILITY RADEON 9700
Feb 04 TSMC's Low-K Technology Goes Mainstream With Volume Production
Feb 04 Philips Launches Semiconductor Industry's First Single Chip For LCD TV
Feb 04 Toshiba's Satellite P15 Series Delivers Power and Performance
Feb 04 Salton Pioneers Kitchen of the Future
Feb 03 Intel Introduces Intel® Pentium® 4 Processors On High-Volume 90-Nanometer Technology
Feb 03 Dell Expands Value Desktop Line Aimed at Small Business
Feb 03 PENTAX Anounces Optio S4i Digital Camera
Feb 03 SIA Reports Global Semiconductor Sales Up 18.3% in 2003
Feb 03 At year-end, nearly one-quarter of wireless users were between 11 and 24 years old
Feb 02 January’s Top Selling Notebooks Driven by Promotions and Consumer Incentives
Feb 02 MyDoom Worm Attacks More Frequent than Spam
Feb 02 Worldwide PDA Industry Suffers 5 Percent Shipment Decline in 2003
Feb 02 Ahead Software's Nero Recode 2 Exceeds 20 Million Downloads
Feb 01 Sunday Shopping Watch

 

Feb 06 -Samsung Electronics Develops Satellite DMB Chip for Mobile Phones. Samsung Electronics has completed development of the world's first satellite digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) chip for mobile phones. The satellite DMB chip for mobile phones requires ultra-high integration, and Samsung Electronics has paved the way for localization of satellite DMB components. Satellite DMB is in the spotlight as the next generation in broadcasting formats. The service will be accessible anywhere to users on the move via either receivers in automobiles or handheld terminals.

Samsung has applied system-on-a-chip (SOC) technologies to enable the satellite DMB chip to select the signals intended for individual users from a myriad of signals transmitted form the satellite and convert them into high quality video images. The device also bills the payment for the service and identifies the user. Samsung has also designed the device to be extremely power efficient.

A Samsung spokesperson says, "We have completed development of the world's first satellite DMB chip for mobile phones. This achievement has paved the way for us to take the lead in core technology for various handheld products. We expect our work to accelerate the commercialization of satellite DMB services."

Samsung Electronics aims to launch a mobile phone with its new chip on board in time for the opening of satellite DMB service. Visit their web site at www.samsung.com.

Feb 06 - Fujifilm Unveils Sleek New 3.2 and 4.0 Megapixel Cameras. Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc. today added two sleek new entry-level models to its award-winning family of FinePix digital cameras. The FinePix A330 and the FinePix A340 offer faster operation times and improved power consumption with new, user-friendly menu navigation. The cameras allow first-time digital photographers to capture great pictures easily, while keeping the overall experience simple and fun.

"We're dedicated to best-possible image quality combined with ease of use and attractive values," said Susan Schaffer, Director of Consumer Product Marketing, Photo Imaging Division, Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc. "After all, digital photography should be fun for everyone! That's why we're pleased to offer slimmer, pocket-friendly models with extra-friendly features that make point-and-shoot results even better."

Top Features

The FinePix A330 offers 3.2 million effective pixels and a 3x optical zoom to capture bright, vivid images, while the FinePix A340 offers picture-takers 4.0 million effective pixels, combined with a 3x optical zoom, for printed images that look as real as life. Both cameras offer streamlined menu navigation, a quick playback mode and a slide-powered boot-up in sleek metallic bodies.

The cameras offer four scene position modes usually found in more advanced Fujifilm cameras, including portrait, night, sports and landscape settings. The macro setting on both cameras allow users to capture images of items only 4 inches away from the lens. In addition, AVI movies can be captured at a rate of 10 frames per second.

The FinePix A330 and A340 are compatible with the optional Fujifilm Picture Cradle, which allows easy optional NH-10 battery recharging, as well as streamlined image downloads and video playback when connected to a television set.

Availability

The FinePix A330 and A340 will ship with FinePix Viewer, ImageMixer VCD2 for FinePix, a 16MB xD- Picture Card(TM), two AA alkaline batteries, USB cable, video out cable, wrist strap, and a Picture Cradle adapter. The FinePix A330 will be available in March 2004 at a list price of $199.99, and the FinePix A340 will ship in May 2004 at a list price of $249.99.

Access the Fujifilm USA Web site at www.fujifilm.com.

Feb 06 - NPD Group Reports Overall Decrease in PC Software Sales for 2003. According to leading marketing information provider The NPD Group, the strong sales of personal finance, security and tax software helped negate dwindling sales in the gaming, operating system and educational software markets for personal computers in 2003.
Overall PC software retail sales in 2003 decreased 4 percent to $3.68 billion from $3.84 billion in 2002. Unit sales surpassed 102 million in 2003, falling 9.5 percent from 2002.

Four of the eight software categories tracked by The NPD Group reported unit and dollar sales increases in 2003. System utilities, business, finance and personal productivity all experienced gains while education, operating systems, games and imaging and graphics saw declines in unit sales.

"While much has been made of the poor security habits of consumers, the sales figures indicate that retail buyers are very much aware of their need to provide additional security to their PCs," said Stephen Baker, director of industry analysis for The NPD Group. "With two of the top four best-selling titles in 2003 and revenue that topped $500 million, systems utilities and security products are a key opportunity for retailers."

Finance software continued to be a key revenue generator, with unit and dollar volume for finance titles, including tax software, rising 6 percent over 2002. In 2003, five of the top ten best-selling software titles were tax products. Educational software unit volume fell 26 percent in 2003 on top of a 25 percent decline in 2002. The category has lost almost one-half of its revenue and more than one half its unit volume since 2000.

Despite weak PC game sales in 2003, games remained the dominant PC software product, accounting for one-third of all revenue and more than one-half of the unit sales. Nevertheless, PC games saw a 14 percent decline in both unit and dollar volume from 2002. The system utility category grew 13 percent, based on unit sales buoyed by a growing demand for Internet security software. Over 9.8 million units of system utility software were sold in 2003 compared with nearly 8.8 million units in 2002, a 12.3 percent increase.

"The decline in the retail software market in 2003 was the sharpest in the last four years," said Baker. "Despite the lackluster results, primarily caused by the games and education segments, there remains a strong growth opportunity in the consumer software market. One look at the best-sellers list shows that retail buyers remain committed to the PC as the ideal place to manage their money and are willing to invest in software that provides them with enhanced security and productivity."

For more information visit www.npd.com.

Feb 06 - America Online Launches Next Generation Version of AOL Instant Messenger Service. America Online, Inc., the world's leading interactive services company, today announced the launch of the most recent upgrade to the popular AOL(R) Instant Messenger(TM) (AIM(R)) service with new features including live video instant messaging compatible with Apple's popular iChat AV video conferencing application, account linking and online games.

Designed to give users a more expressive instant messaging experience, AIM's new version offers a number of new advanced instant messaging capabilities that extend the vibrant social interaction that takes place within the AIM community. For the first time, users will have the ability to conduct live video instant messaging conversations, link up and manage multiple AIM screen names from the same session, and invite their buddies to play online games through their instant messaging connection.

The new live video instant messaging feature in AIM 5.5 is fully compatible with iChat AV 2.1, Apple's breakthrough video conferencing technology. Now AOL users from a PC can tap into the worldwide community of iChat AV users on Macs.

"With the increased popularity of instant messaging both for fun and for work, our focus is innovating so that AIM users have new advanced features that allow them to create more interactive instant messaging experiences," said Ed Fish, Senior Vice President and General Manager, AOL Desktop Messaging. "With enhanced new features including video conferencing with both AIM users and the large community of Apple's iChat AV users, AIM 5.5 offers additional tools to help stay in touch, be more productive and be more entertained."

"With the introduction of iChat AV in Mac OS X 'Panther' and the iSight camera, Apple revolutionized the way people communicate with each other over the Internet," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "Now iChat AV users can video conference with their AOL buddies around the world who use PCs."

The AIM service is at the center of one of the largest and most active communities online. Touched by more than 50 million active users(1) each month and supported by a network infrastructure that handles nearly two billion instant messages each day, the AOL Instant Messenger network makes it possible for people from around the world to communicate with each other via text, audio or video all in real time, and to engage in other shared activities, such as casual gaming.

Key Features of AIM 5.5 include:

-- Live Video Instant Messaging: For the first time, AIM users now have the ability to engage in live streaming video conversations with others via their instant messaging connection. With only a web cam, microphone and one click on the video button in AIM 5.5, users can start a live video/audio conversation with other AIM users from just about anywhere in the world.

-- AIM Games: By clicking on the "games" button within the AIM Buddy List(R) feature, users can find and invite friends to compete in online interactive games. Not only can AIM users invite and play online games with others, but they can also instant message with those they're playing with, making for a more interactive and competitive gaming environment.

-- AIM Account Linking: With account linking, users with multiple screen names can sign onto AIM once, and have all of their screen names appear online. Users can view multiple buddy lists from a single location, choose to have all their instant messages from multiple screen names automatically forwarded to a single AIM account, and link icons, expressions and other messaging features to these different names. Users can, for example, maintain work and home personalities, family and gaming personas, all linked up to their chosen features. Account linking also works with special screen names for love.com, a new real-time personals service featuring the AOL Instant Messenger service.

Availability

AIM 5.5 is available today at www.aim.com. Video functionality is free and available to users using the Microsoft Windows XP operating system. iChat AV 2.1 Public Beta was released by Apple today and is available for free download at www.apple.com/ichat.

Feb 06 - Best Buy Simplifies High Definition Choices For Consumers. Best Buy, the nation's leading specialty retailer of digital technology and entertainment products and services, today launched five new High Definition (HD) bundles for customers to choose from. The new offerings will help take the confusion out of purchasing HD packages and match the consumer's need with the best service solution.

"Our customers are embracing HD technology, but until now, there hasn't been an easy way for them to find an entire package - TV and service - that fits their unique needs," said Bill Cody, vice president of home theater for Best Buy. "We've created customer-friendly bundles that will enable more people to experience and enjoy the true benefits of HD."

Customers who currently own, or are buying a high definition television can easily add one of the bundles to experience HD in the comfort of their own living rooms. The following HD bundle product and service packages will be available starting February 8 in all Best Buy stores in the United States.

-- Diamond Package - $899.99

-- For customers starting from scratch who want all the HD they can get for the best possible viewing experience.

-- This customer may have DIRECTV but does NOT have a special HD receiver required for HD viewing, cable, or off-air content.

-- Includes DIRECTV HD receiver, 20-inch TripleSat dish, off-air antenna and professional installation.

-- Platinum Package - $799.99

-- For customers who want access to all the available local and satellite HD options to enhance their viewing experience.

-- This customer either has DIRECTV, but who wants both off-air and DIRECTV HD content.

-- Includes DIRECTV HD receiver, off-air antenna and professional installation.

-- Gold Package - $699.99

-- For customers who want HD movies and sports from DIRECTV.

-- This customer either has DIRECTV or wants DIRECTV content, but does not want off-air HD content.

-- Includes DIRECTV HD receiver, 20-inch TripleSat dish and professional installation.

-- Silver Package - $599.99

-- For customers who want their local, or free, HD broadcast channels.

-- This customer has either DIRECTV or Digital Cable, and seeks local HD content.

-- Includes HD receiver, off-air antenna and professional installation.

-- Bronze Package - $499.99

-- For those customers who are already enjoying HD and want to access additional HD content and have the option of getting all DIRECTV channels offered in HD.

-- This customer has DIRECTV and an HD receiver but needs an HD dish and antenna.

-- Includes 20-inch TripleSat dish and install, off-air antenna and professional installation.

The packages will be available in stores through February 28, 2004. For more information about Best Buy, visit www.bestbuy.com.

Feb 05 - Chipmakers Break Low k Barrier, Drives Next-Generation Electronics. Key semiconductor designers, manufacturers and Applied Materials, Inc. today mark the beginning of the Low k Era in chipmaking. Semiconductor companies Agere Systems, Altera Corp., AMD, ATI Technologies, LSI Logic, NEC and Toshiba, and semiconductor foundry TSMC, are utilizing Applied Materials' Black Diamond(R) low k film to manufacture some of the world's most advanced chips.

To date, more than 40 million chips use the Black Diamond film to power the latest mobile electronics, high-speed game consoles, networking systems and computers just entering the market. Breakthrough products featuring these new low k chips will be showcased at a celebratory event in San Francisco this afternoon.

New cutting-edge devices use low k dielectrics as an insulation material that allows smaller, tightly spaced interconnect wires to move electronic signals through the device at multi-gigahertz speeds. Low k enhances speed gains and offers the critical advantages of reduced power consumption with lower crosstalk for heightened performance.

"The transition to low k is a huge breakthrough for the industry, enabling chipmakers to deliver higher performance, lower power and innovative features at lower costs," said Mike Splinter, president and chief executive officer of Applied Materials. "This milestone achievement has required a new level of collaboration, drawing on expertise in process, design, and packaging from many world-class chipmakers to bring this technology to volume production. Applied Materials is honored to be part of this breakthrough, working together with customers who have helped to break the low k barrier and extend Moore's Law. "

Proving that the low k era is now a reality, TSMC has implemented the material in its 130 nanometer (nm) and 90nm processes, which have been used to manufacture more than 40 low k chip designs for leading chipmakers. Among the designs are lightning-fast chips such as LSI Logic's high-performance ASICs and RapidChip(TM) Platform ASICs designed with the company's Gflx 110nm process technology, and ATI's RADEON(TM) 9600XT and MOBILITY(TM) RADEON(TM) 9700 graphics accelerators that deliver best-in-class gaming performance while keeping power consumption to a minimum.

TSMC-manufactured designs also include Agere's DSP16411 chip that offers enhanced performance and low power for wireless communications, and Altera's new Stratix II FPGA family. Low k benefits the Stratix II family's ability to deliver on performance, while striking a balance with the power considerations at 90nm. The Stratix II FPGA family supports high-bandwidth applications including high-end chip rate processing in cellular base stations, data processing on high performance line cards used in a broad range of routers and edge switchers, and Voice over IP (VoIP) solutions gateways, to name a few.

The benefits of low k are also demonstrated in AMD's 64-bit processors, including the AMD Opteron(TM) and AMD Athlon(TM) 64 microprocessors, whose advanced performance powers some of the world's fastest and most demanding servers, supercomputers, and desktop and notebook PCs.

For mobile electronics such as laptop computers, PDAs, digital cameras and cell phones, low k provides the advantage of reduced power consumption for extended battery life. Toshiba has achieved up to a 50 percent reduction in power consumption for its TC300 family of ASICs through a combination of optimized design and incorporation of low k films, leading to far longer mobile usage between battery charges. NEC tapped low k to enable packing 100 million transistors and nine levels of copper layers into its most advanced UX6 chip family.

Ongoing development and collaboration by chipmakers worldwide have successfully overcome the daunting challenges of implementing low k technology. Teamwork, perseverance, and innovation have paid off as these top semiconductor companies rapidly gain a unique market advantage--using low k technology in a broad spectrum of products that have the potential to change the way consumers work, communicate, and play.

Applied Materials (Nasdaq:AMAT) is the largest supplier of products and services to the global semiconductor industry. Applied Materials' web site is www.appliedmaterials.com.

Feb 05 - Northgate Innovations Athlon 64 System Priced under $900. Northgate Innovations, Inc. (OTCBB:NGTE), in conjunction with Staples, Inc., announced the availability of a fully configured AMD Athlon(TM) 64 processor-based PC.

This PC system, exclusively available at Staples.com, is based on the AMD Athlon 64 processor 3000+, the world's only Windows(R)-compatible 64-bit PC processor. This computer represents the next generation of high-powered personal computers. With simultaneous 32- and 64-bit computing, consumers can confidently make a seamless transition into the digital future.

"We are so pleased to be able to bring this latest advanced technology to the market, at such a great price," said Bob Anderson, Vice President, Business Development at Northgate. "Working with Staples allows customers a great online buying experience with the convenience of receiving the product at their home or office."

The AMD Athlon 64 processor 3000+ features 512MB of DDR memory along with AMD's Cool'n'Quiet(TM) technology, designed to detect when full power is not needed and automatically adjust system power consumption, enabling a cooler, quieter system. Northgate's system also gives customers a 120GB 7200RPM hard drive, and a DVDRW combo drive.

"This system from Northgate Innovations puts the incredible 64-bit power and best-in-class 32-bit performance of the AMD Athlon 64 family of processors at the fingertips of desktop users," said Marty Seyer, vice president and general manager, Microprocessor Business Unit, AMD.

According to Ron Gerace, Vice President of Merchandising for Staples Business Delivery, "The AMD Athlon 64 processor 3000+ makes it easy for customers to upgrade their PC at a low cost. With AMD64 technology, most existing applications run faster, saving customers time. And it can help protect against obsolescence so customers can stretch their computer dollars further."

The system sells for $899.99. Further details of the Northgate STCA6430NM can be seen at www.staples.com.

Feb 05 - BlackBerry Surpasses One Millionth Subscriber Milestone. Research In Motion (RIM) (Nasdaq:RIMM) (TSX:RIM) today announced that its BlackBerry(R) wireless platform surpassed another major milestone with more than one million active subscribers. RIM continues to lead the market it pioneered with integrated wireless data solutions for mobile professionals; and this achievement tangibly illustrates the growing popularity and momentum of BlackBerry.

"This is an important threshold for BlackBerry and even a positive industry indicator since BlackBerry is now the first integrated wireless data platform to reach the one million subscriber mark," said Mike Lazaridis, President, Co-CEO and Founder of Research In Motion. "We look forward to building on this early success along with our carrier, developer and licensing partners around the world."

BlackBerry was originally introduced in 1999 and quickly became the wireless email standard for many enterprise and government organizations. Since that time, the BlackBerry platform has evolved to also meet the needs of small/medium businesses as well as individual mobile professionals. Today, with Blackberry coverage on fifty networks in over thirty countries, BlackBerry supports a wide range of email, phone, SMS, organizer, intranet and Internet-based applications.

For individuals and smaller companies, BlackBerry Web Client(TM) allows users to access multiple corporate and/or personal email accounts from a single BlackBerry handheld. For larger enterprises with an IT department, BlackBerry Enterprise Server(TM) software tightly integrates with Microsoft(R) Exchange or IBM Lotus(R) Domino(TM) and works with existing enterprise systems to enable push-based, secure, wireless access to existing email and other corporate data.

RIM also introduced the BlackBerry Connect(TM) licensing program last year to begin allowing other wireless device manufacturers to connect their handsets to BlackBerry Enterprise Server(TM) and BlackBerry Web Client(TM) services. BlackBerry Connect supports Palm OS, Symbian OS and Windows Mobile; and handset partners currently include HTC, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.

For more information, visit www.rim.com or www.blackberry.com.

Feb 05 - America Online Launches the Red Service Created Exclusively for Teens. As online activity among today's teens continues to increase, America Online, Inc., the world's leading interactive services company, today announced the launch of the RED(TM) service, a radically new, customizable online experience for teenagers. Based on extensive market research and feedback from teens across the country, the RED service offers teens their own customized version of the AOL(R) service, putting them in control of their online experience.

The latest industry research shows that teens are among the fastest growing online audiences. Jupiter Research reports that 18 million teens aged 12-17 are online today and that number is projected to grow to 22 million by 2007.(2) In addition, a new America Online/Digital Marketing Services, Inc. online survey conducted in Opinion Place shows that more than half (53%) of teens go online every day and 73% are online five or more days a week.

The AOL "Teen Wired" survey of more than 2,000 teens and parents of teens from the 15 largest cities in the U.S. also uncovers online trends, behaviors and preferences among the teen audience.

Specific findings of the AOL/DMS "Teen Wired" survey include:

-- Fifty-three percent of teens aged 13-19 go online every day and 73% go online five or more days per week.

-- Teens use the Internet to send email (82%), exchange instant messages (72%), do homework or research for school (71%) and play online games (65%).

-- Teen girls are more likely than teen boys to instant message/email with friends, use the Internet to do research or homework for school and send and receive pictures from friends and family. Teen boys prefer to play online games, get sports information and watch short cartoon or video clips online.

-- Eighty-one percent of teens and parents talk about online safety.

-- If teens had to give up something forever, 25% would miss instant messaging or emailing with friends and family the most.

-- More than eight in ten teens (84%) listen to online music. Nearly a quarter of teens (22%) listen to online music every time they go online.

-- For 21% of teens, the first thing they do when they get home from school is to go online to check email and IM with friends.

The groundbreaking RED service is designed to respond to the surge in online activity among today's teens and to empower them by letting them customize and personalize their desktop and choose content to highlight based on their specific interests. The RED service gives teens their own Welcome Experience, toolbar and Buddy List(R) feature as well as exclusive content and features from leading brands, original programming and expanded community tools.

It is available at no additional cost to AOL members using AOL(R) 9.0 Optimized, the newest version of the AOL(R) client software. For more information on the RED service, go to www.aolepk.com/red.

Feb 05 - Youth Market Represents Large Opportunity for Wireless. With an estimated 25 to 35 million potential customers, the youth market in the United States could represent an extremely lucrative opportunity for the wireless industry. High-tech market research firm In-Stat/MDR (www.instat.com) reports that opportunities exist not just for wireless carriers, though they stand to reap the largest share, but for handset manufacturers, wireless application developers and publishers as well.

"To successfully tap this customer segment, the wireless industry will need to focus on developing innovative services that appeal to youth, but that also fit parents' buying habits," said Ken Hyers, a senior analyst with In-Stat/MDR.
"This will call for a multiphased product and service offering from carriers. A combination of plans, including a mix of post-paid and pre-paid, family plans, and youth-oriented sub-brands should all be considered by carriers interested in this customer segment. Service offerings, particularly data services, are of interest to younger wireless customers -- the wireless industry should ensure that their product mix in this category is wide and complete enough to appeal to younger users."

Over the last couple of years, this market has not gone unnoticed by the wireless industry. Carriers, such as the industry giants Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless, and Cingular, have all rolled out pre-paid services specifically targeted at kids and young adults. Just last year, Sprint, in partnership with Virgin Mobile of the UK, rolled out a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), called Virgin Mobile USA, tailored to appeal to the "MTV Generation."
These services have had varying levels of success in penetrating this target market and, collectively, have millions of subscribers in this age group.

In a recent survey of both parents and young adults, In-Stat/MDR found the following:

-- The average age of a child whose parent supplied the mobile phone was most likely to be 19 or above, indicating that parents provide their children with their own phones as a safety tool when the children begin to move out of the house for the first time.

-- Youths were, by a substantial margin, more likely to be customers of Verizon Wireless, then any other single wireless carrier.

-- Youths, and particularly young adults, were highly likely to use wireless data services regularly.

Feb 04 - ATI Launches MOBILITY RADEON 9700. ATI Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATYT)(TSX:ATY), the global leader for mobile graphics, today set a new industry standard with the introduction of the first low-k based graphics solution for notebook PCs. The MOBILITY(TM) RADEON(TM) 9700 was unveiled today at a product launch gala event in Taipei, Taiwan.

As the first mobile graphics provider to support Microsoft(R) DirectX(R)9.0, ATI has a proven track record of pushing the envelope in mobile visual processing. The addition of low-k extends the company's lead in notebook graphics innovation, providing key enhancements to enable the industry's highest mobile clock speeds while reducing power consumption. MOBILITY RADEON 9700 is a robust solution that fully leverages DirectX(R)9.0 capabilities to provide the most powerful mobile graphics solution on the market today.

MOBILITY RADEON 9700 will power notebooks from such industry leaders as Acer, Alienware, Fujitsu-Siemens, Gericom, LG, Medion, Packard Bell, rockdirect, Samsung, Targa and VoodooPC. In addition, leading original design manufacturers such as Asus, Clevo, Compal, ECS, FIC, Quanta, Uniwill and Wistron will offer notebooks including the MOBILITY RADEON 9700.

"With recent advances in mobile graphics technology, consumers can now enjoy a rich visual experience from their notebook PC that rivals that of the desktop," said Phil Eisler, Vice President and General Manager. Mobile and Integrated Products Group, ATI Technologies Inc. "ATI is extending its market leadership in notebook graphics by pioneering the use of low-k technology to offer new levels of performance and power efficiency with the introduction of MOBILITY RADEON 9700."

ATI worked closely with TSMC, to develop and implement a low-k technology for the MOBILITY RADEON 9700. TSMC's low-k technology reduces device capacitance at the interconnect level to enhance the performance of ATI's proprietary technologies that are built into the MOBILITY RADEON 9700.

"The emergence of low-k products such as the MOBILITY RADEON 9700 is a prime indicator of a fundamental shift in semiconductor process technologies," said F.C. Tseng, deputy chief executive officer at TSMC. "TSMC is the only foundry with two generations of production-proven low-k based semiconductor processes, enabling companies like ATI to make great strides in device performance and optimization. The introduction of MOBILITY RADEON 9700, brings low-k technology into the mainstream, fully harnessing these new capabilities for mobile users around the globe."

Valve software, the award winning software house responsible for the smash hit Half-Life and the forthcoming Half-Life 2, recently had the opportunity to experience the MOBILITY RADEON 9700 first hand. "ATI has earned its leadership position in the desktop GPU market by consistently delivering top performing products," said Gabe Newell, Managing Director, Valve. "With its latest mobile products, ATI is extending its line of superior product offerings to new markets. If you're going to play games on a mobile PC, play it on a MOBILITY RADEON 9700."

Key features of the MOBILITY RADEON 9700 include:

-- Introduces low-k technology for the fastest mobile performance and longest battery life;

-- Most advanced mobile technology to drive over 100 of the top DirectX(R) 9.0 game titles;

-- Four powerful rendering pipelines that deliver the ultimate cinematic visuals;

-- Features POWERPLAY(TM) 4.0 so you can get the most life out of your notebook battery - without sacrificing performance;

-- First in the industry to deliver SMARTSHADER(TM) Effects which delivers a unique visual experience to the look of games; and

-- Features ATI's VPU RECOVER for the industry's most stable 3D acceleration software

Visit their Web site at www.ati.com.

Feb 04 - TSMC's Low-K Technology Goes Mainstream With Volume Production. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSE:2330) (NYSE:TSM), today announced that its industry-leading low-k technology has entered mainstream production following the introduction today of ATI's MOBILITY RADEON 9700. The introduction of the low-k graphics processor to the notebook PC market reaffirms the arrival of the low-k technology era.

"TSMC is the only semiconductor foundry with two generations of proven low-k technology in production, including both the 0.13-micron and 90nm nodes," said Genda Hu, vice president of marketing for TSMC. "The volume production of ATI's MOBILITY RADEON 9700 vividly demonstrates the growing trend toward low-k based products."

Low-k technology improves device performance while reducing power consumption, making it an ideal choice for both high-performance and low-power applications. TSMC's low-k technology also offers design ease, which reduces overall design time due to a better power delay trade-off than that of FSG counterpart. This combination allows designers to take immediate advantage of TSMC's 0.13-micron and 90nm Nexsys(SM) Technology for SoC design. The 90nm Nexsys technology is the first process technology based entirely on low-k dielectrics, and is ramping to production this quarter."

While many semiconductor companies struggle to qualify low-k manufacturing, TSMC has delivered dozens of low-k customer products into volume production. The company manufactured over 10,000 production wafers using this technology in 2003, and expects to ramp its low-k technology in both 0.13-micron and 90-nm nodes significantly in the coming years. TSMC is expected to deliver over 100,000 low-k wafers in 2004.

TSMC has led the advancement of low-k dielectrics for the past three years. TSMC was the first company to announce its intention to use CVD-based low-k dielectrics in January 2001, and became the first company to production-qualify its 0.13-micron low-k process in August of 2002. TSMC's 0.13-micron copper/low-k yields now rival those of wafers using traditional FSG dielectrics. More important, TSMC's proven low-k film, combined with copper interconnects, drives higher device performance and lower power consumption, irrespective of other design enhancements. This means low-k technology will amplify any new semiconductor design improvement.

Moreover, TSMC, in collaboration with leading package service providers, has resolved the package issues that in many cases continue to plague the adoption of low-k technology by other semiconductor companies. Packaging solutions for mainstream package types have been established and are already available from multiple vendors.

ATI's MOBILITY RADEON 9700 is the first notebook PC 3D graphics processor to be built on a low-k process. The MOBILITY RADEON 9700 provides the industry's fastest mobile clock speeds while reducing power consumption, two key elements for success in the notebook graphics market.

For more information about TSMC see www.tsmc.com.

Feb 04 - Philips Launches Semiconductor Industry's First Single Chip For LCD TV. Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE:PHG)(AEX:PHI) today announced the launch of its TDA15500 single chip solution for low-end LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) TV sets. The TDA15500 is the first single system chip solution that provides manufacturers of LCD TV sets features such as video decoding, picture improvement, de-interlacing and scaling, sound entertainment and a microcontroller with teletext.

The technology behind the TDA15500 is derived from Philips' Ultimate-One-Chip (UOC) third generation solution and Philips' scaler expertise. The high integration level of the single chip and the solution's resulting lower cost enable manufacturers, with the help of a reference design, to compete effectively and offer affordable LCD television sets to the Connected Consumer.

With the booming flat panel display and LCD TV market, we are witnessing unprecedented changes in the world of television. According to Strategy Analytics, the LCD market is likely to reach 32 million units by 2008 on a quantum basis, approximately 7 times the figure expected for 2003. Small and medium sized displays currently dominate the market, but the 30"+ segment will grow rapidly from 2005 onwards. Due to Philips' commitment to developing state-of-the-art chip technology for the LCD TV market, Philips is ahead of the industry in developing single chip solutions such as the TDA15500 which will help drive the adoption of LCD TV.

"With Philips' proven and extensive knowledge in the television arena, its semiconductor division is a leader in developing single chip technology," said David Mercer, VP and Principal Analyst at Strategy Analytics. "Single chip solutions such as Philips' TDA15500 will help drive growth in the low-end LCD market as the technology will allow more manufacturers to bring affordable LCD TV sets to market."

"Our latest single chip system solution revolutionizes the LCD TV industry and we are the first to the market with such a single chip," said Jos Klippert, marketing director for LCD TV solutions at Philips Semiconductors. "The TDA15500 is a low cost, single chip implementation in an easy to use reference design that gives our customers the possibility to build competitive LCD TVs with fast time to market in a highly competitive marketplace -- whilst also providing our customers with the flexibility to differentiate themselves from other market players."

Containing the field proven and truly global video decoding from Philips' UOC family, the TDA15500 offers customers a way for a smooth implementation of LCD TV solution. The single chip also contains an on-chip microcontroller that permits the full implementation of LCD TV systems with a minimum number of external components. Integrating the video decoding capabilities developed in the UOC family with advanced de-interlacing features allows for this easy implementation of the LCD-TV solution and gives customers rapid time to market.

The system inherits the software environment already established in fifty percent of TV sets produced worldwide based on the Philips GTV reference software. In addition, by integrating this single chip into LCD television sets, manufacturers will gain a serious competitive advantage in the low-end market, drive costs down in the LCD TV market in general and ultimately provide end consumers with LCD TV sets that they can afford, hence paving the way for mass adoption of LCD television.

Pricing and Availability

The TDA15500 solution is priced starting at under US $12 for volume quantities. Product sampling will begin in Q2 2004 with mass production expected to commence in Q4 2004.

Philips is located at: www.semiconductors.philips.com.

Feb 05 - Salton Pioneers Kitchen of the Future. Salton Europe, a leading marketer and distributor of branded, high-quality small appliances, today introduced its Beyond™ Connected Home product line, a group of networked home products designed to make life simpler, more convenient and fun.

"People today face increasingly demanding schedules and these new products are designed with that in mind," said Bob Lamson, managing director of Beyond. "They keep up with the pace of life so families can enjoy those few precious moments they get without worry."

In a connected home, networking creates communication between appliances, electronics, security and HVAC systems so the home instinctively knows what needs to be done and when to do it. Salton's initial focus with the Beyond line is connectivity in the most popular room of the house – the kitchen. While excellent everyday products on their own, Beyond products really come alive when networked together, sharing vital information and delivering the convenience of a truly connected home.

A new version of Beyond's flagship kitchen entertainment centers, the iCEBOX, CounterTop, is designed for the counter rather than mounting under kitchen cabinetry. And for those who prefer overseeing their Beyond products from the comfort of their bedroom, the Home Hub provides that freedom. Both the new iCEBOX CounterTop and the Home Hub can be used as command centers for Beyond appliances, each of which communicates wirelessly with the other Beyond products. In the near future they will communicate with products of other manufacturers as well.

With broadband or dial-up Internet access, television, a DVD and CD player, FM radio and home security monitoring capabilities, the Microsoft CE .NET based iCEBOX – both the new CounterTop and FlipScreen models – bring information, communication and entertainment to busy families, making life in the kitchen more convenient and exciting. The washable keyboard and remote means even spills can't stop the fun.

The Beyond Microwave cooks perfectly and evenly every time with the simple swipe of the barcode on a package of food. It comes programmed with up to 4,000 barcode settings in memory and updates itself with thousands more when networked with the Home Hub or iCEBOX CounterTop. Users can even add their own barcodes and program cooking times so favourite meals are heated to perfection time and time again.

Perfect, no fuss baking is easier than ever with the Beyond Bread Maker. The Bread Maker is preprogrammed with hundreds of barcodes from bread and cake mixes so flawless baking is as simple as a scan and a beep. New barcodes are automatically added when networked and are easily programmed.

The Beyond Coffee Maker conforms to busy schedules with flexible seven-day-a-week programming. 6 a.m. Monday, 7:30 a.m. Friday, 10:00 a.m. Saturday: each day of the week can be programmed with unique brew and shut-off times so coffee is ready right when the user wakes up, or as they head out the door. And if someone forgets to add water for brewing the next day, their Home Hub or CounterTop iCEBOX will remind them.

Besides being a control centre for the Connected Home, the Beyond Home Hub doubles as a high-quality clock radio and CD player that's perfect for the bedroom. Leveraging Microsoft Windows CE .NET technology, the Home Hub delivers personalised news, weather, stocks, and more – all the critical information needed to start the day. It is the first tool that connects the bedroom to the rest of the home, adding convenience and control without having to run around the house.

"Contemporary families want life at home to be less complicated so they can focus on the people and things that really matter," added Lamson. "Beyond products are making that possible."

In addition to their practicality, Beyond Connected Home products are designed to complement today's contemporary kitchen. The connected small appliances have a sleek stainless steel and black design and LCD screens with bright blue backlights.

Primarily focused in the kitchen, Beyond Connected Products – the Beyond iCEBOX CounterTop, Beyond Microwave, Beyond Bread Maker, Beyond Coffee Maker, and Beyond Home Hub – will be available at retailers in the second quarter of this year. The 2004 Beyond iCEBOX FlipScreen is available from more than 100 retailers throughout Europe.

To learn more about Salton's Beyond Connected Home product line, visit the Beyond stand at Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) 2004, located in Stand 6434 February 3 – 5, 2004. More information about Salton can be found at www.saltoneurope.com.

Feb 04 - Toshiba's Satellite P15 Series Delivers Power and Performance. Toshiba's Digital Products Division (DPD) today introduced the newest members of its Satellite(R) P15 notebook series, the P15-S470 and P15-S420. Designed for students, families and consumers, the Satellite P15 Series combines Toshiba's expertise in mobile computing, hardware design and digital convergence. With eye-popping graphics and built-in stereo speakers, the Satellite P15 Series provides a theater-quality experience whether watching DVDs or playing computer games.

Both new members of the Satellite P15 Series feature a brilliant 15.4-inch diagonal widescreen display. Not only perfect for viewing movies, but the 15.4-inch widescreen display is ideal for editing digital images, working on multiple applications side by side or viewing spreadsheets without having to change windows.

The Satellite P15 Series is also a serious productivity tool including an Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 processor with Hyper-Threading Technology that enables better system responsiveness and performance when performing two or more applications simultaneously, as well as integrated wireless technology, a massive hard drive and plenty of memory (512 MB).

Additionally, the Satellite P15-S420 includes a built-in DVD +-R/+-RW drive to easily view and record DVDs without the worry of compatibility issues, and the Satellite P15-S470 comes standard with a DVD Multi drive that can be used as a second hard drive, for recording digital content, or burning CDs and DVDs. The Satellite P15-S470 also includes Microsoft(R) Windows(R) XP Media Center Edition, which enhances home entertainment by enabling users to watch or record their favorite television programs for later viewing right on their notebook.

Availability

The Satellite P15 Series is now available at www.toshibadirect.com and retail distribution channels including computer superstores and consumer electronics stores.

Feb 03 - Intel Introduces Intel® Pentium® 4 Processors On High-Volume 90-Nanometer Technology. Intel Corporation is delivering four new processors (formerly codenamed Prescott) that are built on the company's industry-leading, high-volume 90-nanometer (nm) manufacturing technology. These processors are among six new offerings in Intel's line of desktop chips, bringing new features and high performance to a wide range of PC users, from mainstream consumers and businesspeople to gaming enthusiasts and computer power users.

"This new manufacturing technology, along with numerous architectural enhancements, enable us to continue delivering products that allow end users to interact with a wide variety of digital devices," said Bill Siu, vice president and general manager, Intel Desktop Platforms Group. "These processors provide improved responsiveness for today's corporate and home applications, and offer headroom for the next wave of technologies."

Intel's 90 nm (a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter) process technology is the most advanced semiconductor manufacturing process in the industry, built exclusively on 300 mm wafers. This new process combines high performance, low-power transistors, strained silicon, high-speed copper interconnects and a new low-k dielectric material. This is the first time all of these technologies have been integrated into a single manufacturing process.

Intel® Pentium® 4 processors built on the 90-nm process retain the multitasking capabilities of Hyper-Threading (HT) Technology, and include new features such as enhanced Intel® NetBurst? microarchitecture, a larger, 1 MB Level 2 (L2) cache and 13 new instructions.

Desktop Processor Family Fuels Office and Digital Home Usage Models

Intel's family of Intel Pentium 4 processors supporting HT Technology provide home and business users a great computing experience by keeping the PC responsive while processing other tasks in the background. For example, a home user can play an immersive game while encoding audio or video, compressing images or compositing special effects. An IT department can run background applications such as continuous virus scanning, encryption or compression simultaneously, while minimizing disruption for other business users in the same computing environment.

In addition to the four processors manufactured on the 90-nm process, Intel added a 3.40 GHz version of the Intel Pentium 4 processor supporting HT Technology based on Intel's 0.13-micron process technology to its desktop processor family.

Updated, Extreme Performance for Gaming

Intel has also revved up the speed of its Pentium® 4 processor Extreme Edition supporting HT Technology to 3.40 GHz. This processor is built on Intel's 0.13-micron process technology, and is targeted specifically for high-end gamers and computer power users with its 2MB of on-die Level 3 (L3) cache. These users can now expect an even better experience when pushing their PCs to the edge of performance.

The Intel Pentium 4 processor with HT Technology Extreme Edition at 3.40 GHz delivers the highest Microsoft Windows XP* desktop processor performance as measured by SPEC CPU 2000 (compared to other Microsoft Windows desktop processor results published at http://www.specbench.org/cpu2000/results/ as of Feb. 1) with a SPECint*_base2000 score of 1666 and a SPECfp*_base2000 score of 1546.

Specifications, Pricing and Availability

Intel is shipping boxed versions of these processors to Intel authorized distributors for system integrators worldwide. Availability of OEM systems based on Intel Pentium 4 processors with HT Technology at 3.40 GHz and built on 90-nm process technology is expected later in the first quarter of 2004.

Processor Process Technology Frequency Front Side Bus (FSB) On-die Cache Price in 1,000-Unit Quantities Compatible Chipset(s)
Intel Pentium 4 processor Supporting HT Technology 90 nm 3.40 GHz 800 MHz 1 MB L2 $417 Intel®875P and Intel®865 Chipset families
Intel Pentium 4 processor Supporting HT Technology 90 nm 3.20 GHz 800 MHz 1MB L2 $278 Intel 875P and 865 Chipset families
Intel Pentium 4 processor Supporting HT Technology 90 nm 3.0 GHz 800 MHz 1 MB L2 $218 Intel 875P and 865 Chipset families
Intel Pentium 4 processor Supporting HT Technology 90 nm 2.80 GHz 800 MHz 1 MB L2 $178 Intel 875P and 865 Chipset families
Intel Pentium 4 processor Supporting HT Technology Extreme Edition 0.13 micron 3.40 GHz 800 MHz 512 KB L2,2 MB L3 $999 Intel®875P Chipset
Intel Pentium 4 processor Supporting HT Technology 0.13 micron 3.40 GHz 800 MHz 512 KB L2 $417 Intel 875P and 865 Chipset families

Intel, the world's largest chip maker, is also a leading manufacturer of computer, networking and communications products. Additional information about Intel is available at www.intel.com.

Feb 03 - Dell Expands Value Desktop Line Aimed at Small Business. Dell (Nasdaq:DELL) today introduced a value-priced desktop system aimed to meet the network computing needs of budget-conscious small businesses.

The OptiPlex(tm) 170L, starting at $449, is ideal for small business customers that scrutinize purchase price yet require such network capabilities as systems management to enable the remote update of system software. Replacing the OptiPlex 160L, the 170L can help increase office productivity using faster Intel(R) Celeron(R) (up to 2.6 GHz) and Pentium(R) 4 (up to 3.2 GHz) processors with 800MHz front side bus, optional Hyper-Threading Technology capability, improved memory performance and an updated graphics solution.

"Many of Dell's small business customers are so focused on the purchase price of desktop systems that they may sacrifice business critical attributes such as network optimization and systems management," said Indraj Gill, worldwide marketing director for Dell(tm) OptiPlex. "With the OptiPlex 170L, small businesses get a product that addresses their budget concerns and offers the performance and functionality used by larger companies."

Technical Features of the OptiPlex 170L include:

-- Intel Pentium 4 processors up to 3.2GHz or Intel Celeron up to 2.6GHz

-- Integrated 10/100Mbps Ethernet with Remote Wake-up and PXE Support

-- Up to 2 GB of DDR333(a) or DDR400 shared(b) SDRAM

-- Six 2.0 USB ports, two front and four rear

-- 40GB 7200 RPM, 60GB 7200 RPM and 120GB 7200 RPM IDE SATA hard drives

-- Three PCI expansion slots, one 3.5-inch external diskette bay, two 5.25-inch external diskette bays and two internal drive bays

-- CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD-ROM and CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drives available

-- Integrated ADI AC97 audio

-- Intel Extreme(R) Graphics 2

-- One year Next Business Day On Site service(c), optional upgrade to 3 years and/or Gold Technical Support

Complete product details can be found at www.dell.com/optiplex. Dell supports small businesses with products and services targeted for their needs. Complete information on Dell Services is available at www.dell.com/services.

Feb 03 - PENTAX Anounces Optio S4i Digital Camera. PENTAX USA packs a hefty 1.8 inch LCD monitor for larger viewing and focusing on the tiny, new Optio S4i digital camera. With 4.0 megapixels and a 3X optical zoom, this latest Optio digital camera also features the first PENTAX digital cradle-style lithium ion recharge base unit. The rechargeable unit design makes it so easy to recharge the Optio S4i. Simply set the camera in the recharge base until it ready to use again.

Featuring the legendary smc PENTAX lens and the unique PENTAX Sliding Lens system that allows the lens to retract fully when the camera is off lens, the Optio S4i is sleek and compact enough to carry everywhere. With the optional, acrylic waterproof housing that is newly-designed for the Optio S4i, everywhere may well include the exciting world of underwater digital photography. For optimal results, the Optio S4i now features both Marine Picture and Marine Movie modes to capture drama of blue underwater hues.

The PENTAX digital advantage doesn't stop there. Equipped with PictBridge, a new direct-print standard released by the CIPA (Camera and Imaging Products Association), the Optio S4i connects directly to your printer so you may print images without the need for a personal computer. For more convenience, the PENTAX Optio S4i includes an ACDSee(TM) software package that is designed exclusively for PENTAX digital cameras. Valued at $150, the package includes ACDSee(TM) 5.1, FotoSlate(TM), FotoCanvas(TM) and Photostitcher. ACDSee(TM) digital camera software makes it easy to retrieve, view, manage, print, enhance and share your digital photos.

PENTAX U.S.A., Inc. will preview the Optio S4i on February 11 at the PMA Sneak Peek and the PEPCOM DigitalFocus media events in advance of the 2004 Photo Marketing Association (PMA) Trade Show from February 12-15 in Las Vegas. The camera will ship to retailers in April 2004.

For more information, visit www.pentaxusa.com.

Feb 03 - SIA Reports Global Semiconductor Sales Up 18.3% in 2003. Worldwide sales of semiconductors rose to $166.4 billion in 2003, up 18.3% from the $140.8 billion in global revenue recorded in 2002, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) reported today.

The industry's second half 2003 performance was one of the strongest on record, supported by U.S. GDP growth of 8.2% in the third quarter and 4.0% in the fourth quarter, and the satisfying of pent-up demand dampened in the run-up to the Iraq war. The industry recorded an 11% sequential revenue increase to $48.1 billion in the fourth quarter from $43.3 billion in the third quarter, and a 28% rise in year-over-year revenue in December of 2003.

"The industry's broad, upward momentum across all product sectors and geographic markets is driving us toward another year of strong, double-digit growth, which is now expected to exceed 19% in 2004," stated SIA President George Scalise. "The wireless sector continues to spearhead growth, but PC shipments also recovered in 2003 to an 11% unit volume increase. We are experiencing a virtual revolution in global consumer markets as consumers adopt new technology and multi-functional smart devices such as camera phones, PDA's and DVD's.

PC sales were a major contributor to growth in the year's fourth quarter, with DRAM revenue up 10.6%, and Microprocessors up 7.9% in the December quarter over the September quarter. The global wireless market was also very strong, growing 16% in 2003, double initial forecasts. In 2003's final quarter, year-over-year volumes were up 20%, with Digital Signal Processors rising 11.6% in the quarter and Flash up a hefty 29.3%. The wireline communications market turned in a positive performance in 2003's final quarter for the first time since 2000, with Programmable Logic Devices up 32.5%.

Global consumer electronics markets, driven by seasonality and buoyant worldwide consumer demand, also grew briskly during 2003's final quarter. Optoelectronics rose 11.6% and Application Specific Products for consumer were up 21%. Semiconductors are increasingly pervasive in automobiles, with the automotive market now 8.1% of end demand for semiconductors and dedicated chips up 10.3% in the fourth quarter of 2003.

Capacity utilization exceeded 95% in the fourth quarter, propelled by strong seasonal demand, and should trend modestly down in this year's first quarter, reflecting historical industry patterns.

All geographic markets recorded rising chip sales in the final quarter of 2004, with sales in Europe up 14.5% sequentially, Japan up 10.5% percent in the quarter, sales in the Americas up 10.2% percent, and Asia Pacific revenue up 10.0 percent.

More information about the SIA can be found at www.sia-online.org.

Feb 03 - At year-end, nearly one-quarter of wireless users were between 11 and 24 years old. According to the Yankee Group, although select carriers are showing increasing levels of sophistication in their customer segmentation models and their approaches to better understand current customers and reach new segments, others have just started to prioritize these efforts. The risks are high for carriers that do not execute well in 2004.

The Yankee Group report, "2003 Mobile User Survey Results: A Closer Look at the Youth Market Opportunity," shows that, for obvious reasons, the youth market is a priority for many carriers. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the youth market reached 56.8 million people, or 20 percent of the total population, in 2003.

"The youth market has a great deal of disposable income, is technology savvy and open to trying and using communications technologies in new ways," says Linda Barrabee, Yankee Group Wireless/Mobile Services senior analyst. "In fact, young adults are proving to be trailblazers in landline displacement and cutting the cord and also are proving ripe for the adoption and use of advanced services.

"Contrary to popular belief, the youth market may not be as underserved as originally thought. However, it offers solid growth opportunities, particularly within younger segments (i.e., teens), as well as incremental revenue opportunities in wireless data and a greater share of communications spend," says Barrabee.

The Yankee Group can be found online at www.yankeegroup.com.

Feb 02 - January’s Top Selling Notebooks Driven by Promotions and Consumer Incentives. The top three selling notebooks of the holiday season are continuing to outperform their competitors in the New Year due to successful promotions and reduced pricing, according to a recent retail study conducted by ARS.

Data amassed from ARS panel participants (from December 6, 2003 to January 17, 2004) found the Compaq Presario 2190US and the Toshiba Satellite A15-S129 (InfoHQ reviewed the Toshiba Satellite A15-S127 in July 2003) were the top two models within the US retail market. The Compaq Presario led with a 12.4% unit share and the Toshiba Satellite A15-S129 a 7.4% unit share. The Toshiba’s Satellite A35-S159 was the third best selling notebook, following closely with a 6.4% unit share.

In the last two weeks of December, the Compaq Presario 2190US and Toshiba A15-S219 received prominent Sunday circular placement with the top retailers which promoted these systems by offering significant consumer incentives of up to $350 in rebates and instant savings, with advertised price points as low as $649! “Such successful holiday promotions have positioned Compaq and Toshiba as the best selling notebooks so far this year”, asserts Sam Bhavnani, a Mobile Computing Analyst with ARS.

Among these findings, ARS reports the following promotions as successful catalysts in increasing notebook sales:

• The Compaq Presario 2190US was featured in holiday flyers from Best Buy, Circuit City and Staples, all of which offered manufacturer rebates, instant savings and retail rebates. Most notable was the promotional ad located on the back page of Best Buy’s weekly flyer (valid 12/14-12/20) for $649; the lowest price offered by any major retailer on this model.

• The Toshiba Satellite A15-S129 was featured in both Circuit City and CompUSA promotion materials throughout the holiday season which featured mail-in manufacturer rebates, instant savings and retail rebates. Noteworthy was Circuit City’s advertisement of Toshiba’s A15-S129 in its weekly flyer (valid 12/14-12/20) for $699; the final price included over $300 in manufacturer mail-in rebates, retailer rebates and instant savings.

• The Toshiba Satellite A35-S159 was also featured in the national sales circulars of major retailers, including a front-page placement on CompUSA’s “last-minute gifts” Christmas flyer in addition to featuring mail-in rebates and instant savings (valid 12/21-12/24) for $1149; urging consumers to ‘buy now’ with its ‘last-minute’ message and front page product ad placement.

In a product by product comparison, Compaq’s Presario 2190US and Toshiba’s A15-S219 share similar, consumer desirable hardware features; a 15-inch display, an Intel Celeron 2.4GHz processor, a 40 GB hard drive, DVD/CD-RW technology and 256 MB of RAM, but lack integrated WiFi (wireless) technology.

Toshiba’s A35-S159 also incorporates similar product specifications, but costs slightly more than Compaq’s Presario 2190 and the Toshiba A15-S219. The contributing factor to this price difference is the model’s larger hard drive at 60 GB, expanded memory at 512MB and the “must-have” feature that tech-savvy consumers are clamoring for, integrated WiFi technology.

Concerning the retail success of these top three products, Bhavnani states, “In today’s retail world, product specifications and new technologies are not always enough to drive consumer interest and in turn, sales. Retailers and manufacturers are at a pivotal point of continuing to successfully promote products, while understanding what incentives consumers are responding to, on a week-by-week basis. As this study demonstrates consumer incentives, successful promotions as well as desirable hardware are the keys to retail success.”

ARS is a competitive market intelligence company that analyzes daily market, channel, and product changes and informs clients what is happening and why, analyzes relevant impacts, and predicts what to expect in the near term. For more information on ARS, please visit www.ars1.com.

Feb 02 - MyDoom Worm Attacks More Frequent than Spam. BorderWare Technologies Inc., The Security Appliances Company(TM), today confirmed that no MXtreme Mail Firewall customers have been affected by the MyDoom outbreak or any of its variants and mutations.
According to report logs generated by an MXtreme customer - one of the largest corporations in Scandinavia - and sent to BorderWare technicians, MyDoom and its variants have attacked the customer more than 30,000 times in the past 24 hours, more than twice the number of spam messages in the same period. Reports volunteered to BorderWare from other customers around the globe indicate a similar pattern.

The MXtreme Mail Firewall installs at the network edge to deliver the most comprehensive perimeter security for email systems. MXtreme prevents any number of threats to email systems from spam, viruses, Trojans and worms, to malformed messages and denial-of-service attacks, while enabling overall email server functionality with sophisticated routing and delivery. MXtreme also provides secure remote access for Web Mail, and secure authenticated session proxies for Outlook Web Access (OWA) and iNotes.

To combat viruses, MXtreme integrates Kaspersky Anti-Virus (KAV), which recently added a "Best Buy" from SC Magazine to its growing number of awards and accolades. An unlimited license of KAV is included with each MXtreme, making it very cost effect for enterprises to build a layered defense against virus attacks at the perimeter.

"In larger enterprises, there may be several email servers sitting inside the network that would have to be updated with the latest anti-virus protection at the same time. One key advantage of protecting messaging systems at the perimeter, is that you can protect all of those backend mail servers simultaneously," said John Alsop, President and CEO, BorderWare Technologies.

For more information visit www.borderware.com.

Feb 02 - Worldwide PDA Industry Suffers 5 Percent Shipment Decline in 2003. PDA vendors are beginning to feel the impact that smartphones and enhanced mobile phones are having on the industry, as worldwide PDA shipments totaled 11.5 million units in 2003, a 5.3 percent decline from 2002, according to preliminary results from Gartner, Inc.
"Through the end of 2004, smartphones will generally have a negative impact on the low end of the PDA market, as many individual users will find the personal information management (PIM) and e-mail capabilities of smartphones acceptable," said Todd Kort, principal analyst in Gartner's Computing Platforms Worldwide group. "These users will tend to become less interested in low-end PDAs that have provided these capabilities."

"This will primarily impact the Palm OS because a relatively high percentage of Palm OS users rely on these devices solely for their PIM capabilities. Smartphones will become more important in the enterprise market in 2005, at which point we expect to see increasing erosion of the Microsoft side of the market," said Kort.

Research in Motion (RIM) thrived in the fourth quarter of 2003, as shipments totaled, 259,000 units, nearly equaling the total it shipped in all of 2002. RIM posted the strongest growth rate among top-tier vendors in 2003, as shipments increased 121 percent from 2002. Approximately 35 to 40 percent of recent RIM shipments were upgrades of older RIM devices. RIM's subscriber base is now close to one million users worldwide.

Gartner analysts said Hewlett-Packard was the most aggressive vendor in the second half of 2003, as it released seven new PDA models that hit price points ranging from $199 to $599. palmOne did well with the Tungsten T3 for the midrange PDA market, but palmOne, Sony, Dell, and Toshiba found the majority of demand for their products in the fourth quarter of 2003 was for sub-$250 models.

In the U.S. PDA market, palmOne was still the No. 1 vendor based on shipments in 2003; however, it suffered a double-digit decline. In 2002, the company accounted for more than half of all PDA shipments, but in 2003, its market share slipped to 43.3 percent.

"The U.S. market continues to consume just over half of all PDA shipments, and the U.S. PDA market is the key segment for overall growth," Kort said. "However, a weakening U.S. dollar is forcing U.S. PDA prices up because most PDAs and their components are manufactured in Asian markets, particularly Taiwan. Therefore, we expect good results in Europe, but mediocre sales in North America in 2004."

For more information, visit www.gartner.com.

Feb 02 - Ahead Software's Nero Recode 2 Exceeds 20 Million Downloads. Ahead Software, leaders in digital media technology, today announced that the latest addition to its Nero product, Nero Recode 2, has already surpassed 20 million downloads within the first four weeks of release. Nero Recode 2 which includes Nero Digital, the world's fastest MPEG-4 video and audio codec, are part of last month's update of Nero 6.3.

Nero Recode 2 is the first application to take full advantage of Nero Digital's power. In addition to its capabilities to re-author, copy, recode and reduce MPEG-2 streams (DVD-9 to DVD-5), Nero Recode 2 can transcode 'non-protected' DVD movies to Nero Digital, preserving chapters, sub-titles, multi-channel audio and above all else, quality - all at lightening speed. No other application today offers these features.

"The worldwide success of Nero Digital is extraordinary," said Richard Lesser, CEO of Ahead Software AG. "Nero Digital will soon be the number 1 brand in MPEG-4 with many CE devices to support this new standard."

The Nero 6.3 update including Nero Recode 2 with Nero Digital technology is available online at www.nero.com.

Feb 01 - Sunday Shopping Watch

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

Weekly Comparison. Not as many good deals as last week, but still some good sale prices to be found.

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 $100 mail-in rebates on advertised laptops and up to $100 mail-in rebates on advertised desktop packages.
Circuit City is offering 12 months no interest financing, and up to $150 mail-in rebates, on advertised desktop packages and notebooks.
Office Depot is offering $150 mail-in rebates on advertised desktops and notebooks.
CompUSA has an Unadvertised Specials ad that you need to print out and take to your nearest store to receive discounts..
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.

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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
eMachines 2.6 GHz complete system with 17" monitor
$346
-
Office Depot, Circuit City $389, Best Buy $439
2. Best Celeron Deal
HP 2.8 GHz system with 17" monitor
$619
-
Office Depot
Best Pentium 4 System
Sony 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 complete system with HT Technology, 15 inch flat panel, and DVD-RW
$1199
-
Circuit City
1. Best AMD Athlon XP System
eMachines Athlon 3000+ complete system with 17 inch monitor
$689
-
Best Buy
2. Best AMD Athlon XP System
eMachines Athlon 3200+ complete system with 17 inch monitor
$695
-
Office Depot
3. Best AMD Athlon XP System
HP Athlon 3000+ complete system with 17 inch monitor
$769
-
Best Buy
4. Best AMD Athlon XP System
HP Athlon 3200+ complete system with 17 inch monitor and DVD-RW
$849
-
Circuit City
1. Best Low-cost Laptop
Compaq 2.6 GHz Celeron with DVD/CD-RW
$899
-
Best Buy
2. Best Low-cost Laptop
HP Athlon 2500+ with DVD/CD-RW
$849
-$50
Circuit City, Office Depot $899
3. Best Low-cost Laptop
eMachines widescreen Athlon 2500+ with DVD/CD-RW
$999
-
Best Buy
1. Best High-end Notebook
Toshiba Centrino 1.4 GHz with DVD/CD-RW
$1399
-
Circuit City
2. Best High-end Notebook
Gateway Centrino 1.4 GHz with DVD/CD-RW
$1399
-
Office Depot
3. Best High-end Notebook
Toshiba widescreen 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 with HT Technology and DVD/-RW
$1749
-
Circuit City
Peripherals and Software
Best Sunday Deal
Western Digital 120 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 8 MB buffer
$69
(after rebates)
-
Circuit City
Best Sunday Deal
Maxtor 120 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 8 MB buffer
$79
(after rebates)
-
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
Maxtor 200 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 8 MB buffer
$149
(after rebates)
-
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
ATI 9600 XT 128 MB
$149
(after rebates)
-
Circuit City
Best Sunday Deal
ATI All-In-Wonder 9600 PRO 128 MB
$199
(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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