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Daily Computer News and Rumors

January 02-08 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.)
Jan 08 AMD Ignites the New Year New Mobile and Desktop AMD Athlon 64 Processors
Jan 08 Toshiba's New Desktop Replacement Notebooks Offer Major Features at Minimal Prices
Jan 08 Palm Introduces Sequel to Top-selling Zire Handheld
Jan 08 AT&T Wireless and palmOne DeliverTreo 600 Smartphone to Customers Nationwide
Jan 08 Pacific Digital Introduces Blue Lightning CD-RW Burner & DVD-ROM for Gamers
Jan 07 Dolby Laboratories Highlights Key Trends to Drive Audio Market at CES
Jan 07 DISCover PC Game Consoles Launched at CES
Jan 07 CMS' Award-Winning External Serial ATA Backup System for Desktops Now Shipping
Jan 07 Belkin Announces Bluetooth Wireless Desktop
Jan 07 2004 Sales of Consumer Electronics to Set New Record
Jan 06 Transmeta Debuts Crusoe® TM5700/TM5900 Processors
Jan 06 Dell Offers Zero-Percent Financing for Consumers
Jan 06 Play Your MP3 Player Through Your Car or Home Stereo
Jan 06 Other World Computing Launches New Mercury Extreme G4/1.25GHz Processor Upgrade
Jan 06 Konica Minolta Introduces Next Generation Single Lens-Reflex 5 Megapixel Digital Camera
Jan 04 Sunday Shopping Watch
Jan 02 America Online Releases 'Top 10 Spam' List of 2003
Jan 02 Online Shopping Performance Improves Slightly in Final Rush to Christmas
Jan 02 Falcon Northwest Standardizes On NVIDIA Graphics For FragBox Gaming Systems

 

Jan 08 - AMD Ignites the New Year New Mobile and Desktop AMD Athlon 64 Processors. AMD (NYSE: AMD) kicked off 2004 with today's introduction of the new Mobile AMD Athlon(TM) 64 processors 3200+, 3000+ and 2800+, the world's only Windows(R)-compatible 64-bit mobile PC processors for mainstream notebook computers.
The new mobile processors mark the latest addition to the award-winning AMD Athlon 64 processor family and feature outstanding mobility, industry-leading 32-bit performance and 64-bit capability.
AMD also announced the addition of the AMD Athlon 64 processor 3400+ for desktop PCs and desktop-replacement notebooks, designed to give customers the ultimate experience on today's digital media applications.

"AMD continues to lead the industry toward pervasive 64-bit computing with the launch of the new Mobile AMD Athlon 64 processors, enabling the industry's first 64-bit-capable mainstream notebook computers," said Marty Seyer, vice president and general manager, Microprocessor Business Unit, AMD. "The AMD Athlon 64 family of processors puts eye-popping 64-bit power on desktops and notebooks along with best-in-class 32-bit performance."

Leading computer manufacturer HP is among the more than 60 computer manufacturers and system builders supporting the AMD Athlon 64 processor family. "HP remains committed to offering consumers leading-edge technology, such as the AMD Athlon 64 processors, on our configure-to-order desktop PC line, giving our customers access to the latest technology at competitive prices," said Sam Szteinbaum, vice president and general manager, North America Consumer Computing, HP. "With our customized PC offerings, we are giving customers the choice to build the right PC for their needs."

For the new Mobile AMD Athlon 64 processors, notebook computer manufacturer eMachines will have systems available in January. "eMachines is proud to partner with AMD in extending 64-bit computing to mainstream notebook computers. Together we are delivering to notebook users the latest technology and the highest performance at a value price," says Ed Fisher, senior vice president, Global Sales Operations for eMachines. "Sales of our AMD Athlon 64 processor-based desktop products are already exceeding our expectations and we expect similar results for our M6000 Series notebook launching in January."

"Because mobile customers increasingly use laptops for digital media applications that demand incredibly high levels of performance, they are increasingly concerned with premature obsolescence," said Rob Enderle principle analyst for the Enderle Group. "AMD's new mobile 64-bit processors address this concern directly while maintaining a competitive price that is a solid value in any market and almost unheard of in mobile computers."

The Next Step in Performance for Desktops and Desktop-Replacement Notebooks

AMD also announced the AMD Athlon 64 processor 3400+ for desktop PCs and desktop-replacement notebooks. The processor will be supported by HP's configure-to-order desktop PC line in early 2004. The AMD Athlon 64 processor 3200+ began appearing in configure-to-order Compaq Presario 8000Z desktop PCs in November and as an option in configure-to-order HP Pavilion a450e desktop PCs in December. Fujitsu Siemens Computers and Fujitsu Ltd. will have desktop systems available immediately.

"The AMD Athlon 64 processor puts great performance in our consumer systems," said Peter Esser, executive vice president, Volume Products at Fujitsu Siemens Computers. "This processor helps preserve our customers' software investment by efficiently running existing applications while allowing them to transition to 64-bit computing at their own pace."

"The AMD Athlon 64 processor 3400+ brings outstanding 32-bit performance and 64-bit capability to our high-end, compact desktop PC FMV-DESKPOWER C90GW/C, announced today," said Kuniaki Saito, general manager, Fujitsu Limited Desktop and Workstation Products and Personal Computer Peripherals Divisions, Personal Systems Business Group. "Fujitsu is committed to providing PC offerings that best suit our customers' needs. The AMD Athlon 64 processors help us enable those solutions."

All desktop AMD Athlon 64 processors feature 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.

The AMD Athlon 64 processor 3400+ for desktop-replacement notebooks is designed for high-performance computing and wireless connectivity and offers AMD PowerNow!(TM) technology for advanced power management and optimized system battery life in addition to compatibility with all available wireless LAN solutions. High-performance system builders Alienware and Voodoo have both announced plans to release notebook systems based on the AMD Athlon 64 processor 3400+ for desktop-replacement notebooks in the first quarter of 2004.

64-bit Computing: The Next Frontier for ISVs

The AMD Athlon 64 processor 3400+ is designed to help consumers make the most of the digital media products, from digital cameras to digital music players that topped their wish lists in the recent holiday season. Independent software vendors are eager to develop for the 64-bit environment enabled by AMD64 technology. ISVs are among the more than 250 infrastructure partners supporting the AMD64 platform.

"People want more performance from their computers when it comes to digital media applications," said Jerome Rota, DivX Networks' co-founder and codec team lead. "We are optimizing our official video encoding product, Dr. DivX, for the AMD64 platform and expect it to be available later this quarter. With it, consumers can create DivX video from any source faster than ever before because AMD64 technology can speed the process by as much as 18 percent."

"We are pleased to announce that the Nero 6.0 Ultra Edition supports the AMD Athlon 64 family of processors," said John Tafoya, vice president of Business Development at Ahead Software. "More than 120 million users have selected Nero to burn their digital media to CDs and DVDs. The new AMD Athlon 64 processor 3400+ provides a powerful boost for the most processor intensive tasks."

For gamers and game developers, the 64-bit environment enabled by AMD64 technology transforms virtual worlds into dynamic environments that offer more realism than ever before.

"AMD64 opens a whole new world for developers and gamers. The power of 64-bit computing means gamers can wait until they see the whites of their opponents' eyes before firing," said Mark Rein of Epic Games. "It simply means a level of realism that, until now, has existed only in the real world."

AMD64 Technology Paves the Way for Pervasive 64-bit Computing

The award-winning AMD Athlon 64 family of processors extends the power of AMD64 architecture to desktop and notebook computers. The AMD64 technology follows the evolutionary path of the industry-standard x86 architecture, allowing development of a unified 64-bit computing infrastructure designed to be fully compatible with the pervasive x86 architecture. AMD64 technology allows customers to protect their investments by continuing to use their 32-bit software until they decide to migrate to new, 64-bit software.

Pricing and Availability

More than 60 manufacturers and system builders worldwide feature systems based on the AMD Athlon 64 family of processors. Mobile AMD Athlon 64 processors 3200+, 3000+ and 2800+ are priced at $293, $233 and $193, respectively, in 1,000-unit quantities. The AMD Athlon 64 processor 3400+ for desktop and desktop-replacement notebook computing is priced at $417 in 1,000-unit quantities.

For more information visit www.amd.com.

Jan 08 - Toshiba's New Desktop Replacement Notebooks Offer Major Features at Minimal Prices. Toshiba's Digital Products Division (DPD) today introduced the Satellite A45 Series of notebook PCs that delivers the features of a desktop PC at a very low price. Designed for cost-conscious consumers, families and students, the Satellite A45 Series offers the perfect combination of power, performance and multimedia functionality.

Packaged in a newly designed electric blue chassis, the Satellite A45 Series comes fully equipped with integrated Wi-Fi (802.11g) wireless connectivity (except the Satellite A45-120), so users can enjoy surfing the web on a wireless home network or at a local public hotspot.
The high-end notebook in the series (the Satellite A45-250) comes standard with a DVD+-R/+-RW drive, allowing users to view or copy DVDs using either the + or - format -- eliminating the concern about compatibility issues.
To complement any multimedia experience, the Satellite A45 series come standard with new SRS(R) TruSurround XT(TM) sound technology from SRS Labs providing exceptional bass-thumping home theater surround sound audio during DVD and CD playback. The notebooks also include Microsoft(R) Office OneNote(TM), enabling users to easily capture and organize notes more efficiently.

The Satellite A45-120 is the perfect entry-level notebook including a built-in DVD-ROM/CD-RW multi-function drive, Intel(R) Celeron(R) processor and ample storage space.

In addition, the mid-range Satellite A45-S150 notebook offers increased memory (512MB) for more storage capabilities, integrated wireless connectivity and a faster processor to offer greater horsepower when creating multimedia presentations or watching DVD movies. The Satellite A45-S150 is a welcome addition to any college dorm room or home office environment and also includes a TV-out port -- simply plug the notebook into any size TV to expand your viewing area.

The most powerful member of the series, the Satellite A45-S250 is fully loaded with enough speed, memory and performance to suit even the most advanced computer users' needs. The Satellite A45-S250 is a multimedia powerhouse, fully equipped to handle audio, video and data from a number of sources and formats.
With breakaway features such as i.Link(R) (IEEE 1394) and a built-in Secure Digital(TM) (SD) slot, the Satellite A45-250 is set-up to easily transfer files from a variety of consumer electronic devices including digital cameras, video cameras, and Pocket PCs. The Satellite A45-250 also includes a multi-format DVD recordable drive to burn transferred data to a DVD. Also, by incorporating both the + and - formats, the Satellite A45-250 ensures compatibility with all DVD sources.

Availability

Starting as low as $1,049, Toshiba's Satellite(R) A45 Series mobile PCs are perfect for budget conscious consumers, students and families that demand performance. The Satellite A45 Series is now available at www.shoptoshiba.com and retail distribution channels including computer superstores and consumer electronics stores.

Jan 08 - Palm Introduces Sequel to Top-selling Zire Handheld. Adding value to the top-selling original Palm(TM) Zire(TM) handheld while holding its $99 price steady, Palm, Inc. (Nasdaq: PALM) today introduced the Palm Zire 21 handheld, with more software, a faster processor and four times greater memory.
The Zire 21 handheld -- with an estimated U.S. street price of $99 -- is an affordable and easy way for the first-time handheld-buyer to juggle daily tasks surrounding work, family and social activities.

Zire 21 Handheld Benefits and Features

Four times the storage capacity of the original Zire handheld with 8MB of memory (7.2MB user available);

Faster access to information with new 126MHz Texas Instruments OMAP processor;

Newest versions of Date Book, Address Book, Note Pad and To Do List with the latest Palm OS(R) software, Version 5.2.1; and

New Software Essentials now included on the installation CD.

"The Zire 21 handheld is Palm's sequel to the fastest-selling handheld in history," said David Christopher, vice president of product management for Palm Solutions Group. "With the same great price and ease of use, the sequel offers more memory for data and applications, as well as faster performance. We expect the Zire 21 handheld to be another hit with first-time users and gift-givers."

Memory Expansion

With four times more memory than the original Zire handheld, the Zire 21 handheld's 8MB (7.2MB user available) adds room for storing years of appointments and thousands of contacts, with additional space for choosing from more than 19,000 applications, ranging from business software to exercise logs and shopping-list managers.(1)

New Processor

Running on a new and faster 126MHz Texas Instruments OMAP processor, the Zire 21 handheld speeds access to information. Designed to meet the demands of students, families and people on the job, the Zire 21 handheld offers faster interactions and easy-to-learn-and-use applications.

Software

With the latest Palm OS software, Version 5.2.1, the Zire 21 handheld features classic Palm PIM (Personal Information Management) applications with an emphasis on value and simplicity. Palm's famous, easy-to-use PIM applications (Date Book, Address Book, Note Pad, To Do List, Memo Pad, and Calculator) allow users to quickly keep track of important information. Recurring appointments need only be entered once. Helpful reminder alarms alert users to meetings or appointments.

New valuable software essentials are included on the Zire 21 handheld installation CD. Users can keep track of birthdays and anniversaries, automobile maintenance, passwords, and expenses, as well as read an eBook and play games with software included in the box.

Availability

The Zire 21 handheld is available now in most countries worldwide via consumer-electronics outlets, major retail chains and online e-stores. Information about Palm, Inc. is available at www.palm.com/aboutpalm.

Jan 08 - AT&T Wireless and palmOne DeliverTreo 600 Smartphone to Customers Nationwide. AT&T Wireless (NYSE:AWE) and palmOne, Inc. (Nasdaq: PLMO) today announced the immediate availability of the Treo(TM) 600 smartphone, an integrated wireless smartphone with a built-in QWERTY keyboard that runs over AT&T Wireless Next Generation GSM™/GPRS network. The Treo 600 smartphone combines a world-class phone, a Palm OS(R) organizer, messaging, email, and web-browsing capabilities into a single compact device.

The Treo 600 smartphone is available from AT&T Wireless for $499.99, after a $50 instant rebate, when customers purchase qualified service plans starting at $12.99 per month. The Treo 600 smartphone is available through AT&T Wireless' various sales channels and online from Handspring.com. For a limited time, palmOne is also offering all Treo communicator owners the ability to upgrade to a Treo 600 smartphone for only $399 exclusively at www.Handspring.com.

"We are delighted to be working with AT&T Wireless to deliver this world-class smartphone to their customer base nationwide," said Joe Sipher, vice president of product and carrier marketing for palmOne. "Treo 600 represents a breakthrough in the design and functionality of a smartphone device, and we are working closely with AT&T Wireless to make sure our applications are seamlessly integrated into their network services, giving customers the best possible voice and data application experience."

"In today's competitive environment, business customers with the ability to stay connected to their information while mobile have a clear advantage over those who don't," said Jeff Bradley, senior vice president of business data solutions at AT&T Wireless. "With the Treo 600, mobile professionals now have access to one of the most advanced smartphones available -- and a simple and powerful solution to access corporate information throughout North America and across the globe.(2) We're very pleased to add this device to our portfolio, especially ahead of this year's holiday shopping season."

The Treo 600 smartphone is one of the first quad-band smartphones (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) that allows customers to make and receive calls and use data services on GSM/GPRS networks worldwide. A full list of roaming countries is available at www.attwireless.com. The Treo 600 smartphone operates on the Palm OS 5.2 operating system, providing everything you need to stay organized, including calendar, contact list, to-do list, and memo pad. The Palm OS allows customers to take advantage of thousands of existing applications, including games, office document readers, multimedia applications, and valuable utilities for both personal and business needs.

The Treo 600 smartphone provides a robust and easy-to-use POP3 email solution and comes preconfigured with settings for several popular ISPs, or users can set up the Treo 600 smartphone to access their own POP3 accounts.
The Treo 600 smartphone supports attachment handling, including access to Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel compatible documents. In addition, through agreements with Good Technology and Visto Corporation, AT&T Wireless is now offering corporate email solutions that provide businesses with access to Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes email behind their corporate firewalls.
Customers can also send and receive text messages in a powerful new way that allows users to see the "chain" of previous text content --similar to an instant messaging experience.

The Treo 600 smartphone provides access to a variety of advanced multimedia features. An integrated VGA camera works with AT&T Wireless Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS), which allows customers to send/receive images, annotate messages and add system sounds such as ringtones to their notes. The Treo smartphone includes MP3 playback functionality. Additional information about the Treo 600 smartphone can be found at www.attwireless.com/palm.

Jan 08 - Pacific Digital Introduces Blue Lightning CD-RW Burner & DVD-ROM for Gamers. Pacific Digital Corporation expanded its storage product line today when it added two new Pacific Digital "Blue Lightning" drives: a 52x24x52 CD-RW Burner and a 16x48 DVD-ROM for PC Gamer systems.

The internal "Blue Lightning" 52X CD-RW drive comes bundled with CD creation software, a complete solution for data backup, storage and distribution, the new drive can be used for everything from sharing data and music – to archiving 700MB of content on one disc. The "Blue Lightning" 52X burner is fast and reliable. It writes to CD-R at 52x; and to CD-RW at 24x speeds. It reads CD formats at 52X speeds.

The internal "Blue Lightning" 16X DVD-ROM drive comes bundled with WinDVD video playback software, making a complete solution for CD and DVD playback. The fast new drive supports reads DVD+RW, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD-R, and DVD-ROM formats at 16X, and reads CD formats at 48X speeds.

"As the drive operates, the Blue LEDs in the transparent bezel light up. Now Gamers can mod their case with the latest gear from Pacific Digital," said Tony Tate, vice president of sales at Pacific Digital. "The uniqueness of the product has created a buzz and the product catches your eye."

The internal DVD-ROM drive (U-30214) is available now at an MSRP of $59. The internal 52X CD-RW drive (U-30204) is also available now at an MSRP of $59. The new drives will soon be available at Amazon.com, Buy.com, Computers4sure, PC Nation, PC Mall.com, HardDrive.com, as well as Ingram Micro which distributes to resellers and other dealers listed on the Pacific Digital Web site at www.pacificdigital.com.

Jan 07 - Dolby Laboratories Highlights Key Trends to Drive Audio Market at CES. Dolby Laboratories continues to demonstrate its commitment to provide innovative, high-quality audio solutions in key growth areas of the audio market at the 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held January 8–12 in Las Vegas. This year, Dolby identifies four exciting industry market trends that will underscore the growth and adoption for Dolby's premier technologies.

"Leveraging our expertise and heritage in providing superior surround sound for the motion picture industry, Dolby is committed to providing highly compelling industry-leading audio technologies targeted at the home theater, gaming, personal computing, automotive, and broadcast markets," said Ron Vitale, Director of Marketing, Consumer Division, Dolby Laboratories. "We see tremendous opportunity for Dolby to lead the way in 2004, as the markets for personal surround sound, DVD recording, high-definition television (HDTV), and mobile electronics gain significant traction, and consumers recognize the excitement and value of a high-quality audio entertainment experience."

Personal Surround Sound

The first of these market trends points to the increasing consumer desire to enjoy surround sound entertainment in environments that may not be conducive to multichannel audio setups. Dolby's Personal Surround Sound initiative is focused on delivering a surround sound listening experience in environments such as these, where a multichannel speaker system is not possible or practical.

Dolby® Virtual Speaker and Dolby Headphone technologies enable users to listen to music, watch movies, and play video games, all while enjoying the enveloping surround listening experience of a 5.1-channel speaker system through just two speakers, or any pair of stereo headphones. Denon Electronics Ltd., Pioneer Corporation, and Sony Vaio are just a few industry leaders that have adopted these technologies. More than ten leading consumer electronics manufacturers are expected to unveil products incorporating Dolby personal surround sound technologies.

DVD Recording

The second major market trend relates to the unprecedented growth of DVD recording. "DVD recorders will be big in 2004, and will essentially replace the market for video cassette recorders," said research analyst Adrienne Downey of Semico Research.

"We predict global sales of 13.3 million DVD recorders in 2004, compared with just 3.5 million in 2003." Beyond just being a VCR replacement, next-generation DVD recording devices are also expected to integrate a hard disk drive (HDD) with personal video recording (PVR) capabilities.

Armed with these devices, consumers can record their favorite TV programming for playback or archival, and can record, edit, and organize original content from a digital camcorder or VHS tape. Dolby Digital technology in these products preserves the integrity of the recorded audio signal while maximizing available disk space for other features, such as video. Because Dolby Digital is the audio standard for DVD-Video discs, DVDs that users record will play back on DVD-Video players.

HDTV

Dolby Digital is not only the standard audio format for DTV, and the de facto standard for digital satellite broadcasts, but it is also the designated audio format for HDTV in North America. The HDTV market is the third promising growth area for consumer electronics hardware manufacturers and retailers.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) projects that 5.8 million DTV units will be sold in the US in 2004, 8.3 million in 2005, 11.9 million in 2006, and 16.2 million in 2007. Some 85 percent of those sales will go toward HDTV products, which reinforces the CEA's long-held belief that HDTV will be consumers' choice in the analog to DTV transition. This growth, coupled with the increase in 5.1-channel high-definition content and broadcasts, will enable consumers to experience a rich, highly encompassing surround sound experience that complements the vibrant high-definition picture. One simple digital audio connection from your digital television set or set-top box to your A/V receiver—equipped with Dolby Digital—makes it all possible.

Mobile Entertainment

Beyond the home environment, mobile entertainment is another market arena poised for steady growth. Dolby surround technologies have migrated from the cinema to the home theater and broadcast, and are now enabling surround sound in automotive environments as part of Dolby's "Surround in MotionTM" initiative. Consumers recognize that their vehicles provide an ideal environment for multichannel sound, and are demanding enhanced in-car entertainment options.

Many automobiles are already equipped with multispeaker sound systems that are easily upgraded for surround playback. In 2004 and beyond, Dolby mobile entertainment technologies, including Dolby Pro Logic® II, Dolby Digital for DVD-Video playback, and DVD-Audio with MLP LosslessTM technology, will be integrated into a variety of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and aftermarket products. Acura, Aston Martin, and Volvo have introduced OEM-branded vehicles offering a selection of Dolby audio technologies.
In addition, leading manufacturers of aftermarket automotive products—including Alpine, Kenwood, and Pioneer—have introduced a variety of Dolby technologies that satisfy consumers' entertainment listening habits.

For more information about Dolby Laboratories or Dolby technologies, please visit www.dolby.com.

Jan 07 - DISCover PC Game Consoles Launched at CES. Digital Interactive Systems Corporation (DISC) today formally debuted the first next-generation game console, DISCover®, at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

DISCover PC Game Console technology gives Apex Digital and Alienware® a way to enter the lucrative $13 billion game console market without having to spend hundreds of millions to first develop their own proprietary games. Apex Digital and Alienware DISCover consoles play thousands of unmodified PC games on a television or home entertainment system.

Apex Digital, Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of DVD players, will introduce its ApeXtreme DVD player/DISCover Game Console for which Apex is a 2004 CES Innovations Award honoree. Alienware, the leading manufacturer of high-end gaming PCs, will unveil its Media Center PC and DISCover Game Console.

"A console designed to play PC games on a TV may find an audience among PC gamers looking for a unique and new type of game experience," said Schelley Olhava, IDC analyst, Consumer Markets, Gaming. "Historically serious gamers have shown a willingness to try new technologies, and if happy with the experience, will gladly spread the word among the mainstream gamer audience."

"Windows XP Embedded delivers the power of the Windows operating system in componentized form, enabling embedded developers to rapidly build reliable and advanced embedded devices," said Jane Gilson, group product manager in the Embedded Devices Group at Microsoft Corp. "As a Microsoft Windows Embedded Partner, DISC exemplifies how Windows XP Embedded enables manufacturers to quickly create home entertainment appliances that can play unmodified PC games and access digital entertainment."

Only DISCover offers true console capabilities for unmodified PC games. Users simply drop a game CD into a console and start playing using DISCover's Drop & Play™ technology. DISCover technology works transparently to automatically configure games for no-hassle convenience. This enables gamers playing on home entertainment systems (including HDTVs) to enjoy a new level of audio and visual excitement.

"The success of any game console depends on the number of titles it offers," said Avi DorEl, president of DISC. "The videogame console that offers the most games is always the most popular. Yet even the market leader only offers a limited number of proprietary titles compared to the thousands of titles available to the DISCover."

In addition, while the major videogame console vendors are just beginning to develop online gaming capabilities, DISC is partnering with GameSpy to immediately enable DISCover users to gain access to the world's largest community of online PC game enthusiasts via a built-in "DISCover Arcade."

"GameSpy and DISCover will be able to bring the excitement of online gaming to an entirely new community," said Jonathan Epstein, president of GameSpy Industries. "By using GameSpy's Arcade, DISCover console users will be instantly connected to the world's largest enthusiast online gaming community."

For more information about Apex Digital Inc. go to www.apexdigitalinc.com.

For more information, please visit www.alienware.com.

Jan 07 - CMS' Award-Winning External Serial ATA Backup System for Desktops Now Shipping. CMS Products Inc. (formerly CMS Peripherals), the leader in backup and storage solutions for notebook and desktop computers, today shipped the Velocity Series backup system for desktop computers. With capacities ranging between 80GB and 200GB and a starting price of $299 MSRP, the Velocity Series is now available through major distributors, corporate resellers, mail order and direct from the company's Web site, www.cmsproducts.com.

Named "Best of COMDEX/Las Vegas 2003" in the Peripherals Category, the Velocity Series is the industry's first comprehensive, all-in-one backup solution to incorporate a Serial ATA interface, providing users with complete backup, restore, disaster recovery capabilities and an externally bootable backup system. With the implementation of Serial ATA technology, the Velocity Series is capable of clocking transfer rates of up to 1.5Gb per second meaning users can backup 20GB of data in less than 20 minutes compared to more than 60 minutes with USB 2.0 or FireWire interfaces.

"The combination of Serial ATA technology and CMS' comprehensive BounceBack software makes the Velocity Series the industry's first externally bootable, high speed and economical backup solution," said Eric Robinson, vice president of engineering, CMS Products. "The Velocity Series promises to revolutionize the backup world by delivering innovation and unsurpassed levels of performance."

The integration of Serial ATA technology also makes the Velocity Series the first externally bootable device for Windows operating systems. An externally bootable system provides instant disaster recovery after hard drive or operating system failure. CMS will offer an optional Serial ATA controller card, making the technology compatible for desktops not supporting the Serial ATA interface on the motherboard.

The Velocity Series is compatible with both Windows 2000 and Windows XP operating systems and includes a 3-year warranty. Visit CMS' Web site at www.cmsproducts.com.

Jan 07 - Belkin Announces Bluetooth Wireless Desktop. Keep your desk uncluttered and free of wires with the Bluetooth Wireless Desktop from Belkin. The Desktop lets you enjoy the freedom and convenience of wireless computing. It comes packaged with a Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard, Bluetooth Wireless Optical Mouse, and Bluetooth USB Adapter. The package will begin shipping in North America on February 2, 2004 and is priced at $129.

The Bluetooth Desktop provides simple control of your computing devices and features a comfortable, ergonomic design.

The Keyboard gives you the accuracy and high performance of a conventional keyboard along with freedom from cables. It adds functionality with nine keys for multimedia control and eight for Internet access.

The Mouse allows you to navigate your desktop with optical precision. Designed to set up quickly, it requires no desktop receiver and works with a PC that supports the HID profile and that is enabled with Bluetooth technology.

The USB Adapter enables your computer with Bluetooth technology to let you connect up to seven Bluetooth devices, including your keyboard and mouse, as well as printers and PDAs simultaneously.

Benefits

Works at distances of up to 10m (33ft.)

Consumes less power, extending battery life

Keyboard offers 104-button support

Mouse navigates easily using 4 buttons and the scroll wheel

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

Jan 07 - 2004 Sales of Consumer Electronics to Set New Record. Manufacturer-to-dealer sales of consumer electronics products will total a record $101 billion in 2004 - a five percent increase over 2003 - according to figures released today by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). These figures were issued as part of CEA Market Research's semi-annual U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales & Forecasts report.
CEA also announced that estimated year-end sales for 2003 total $96.3 billion, marking a modest increase of two percent over 2002 figures. The 2003 estimate for year-end sales exceeds the previous forecast CEA released in July 2003.

"Consumer electronics continue to win over American consumers by providing the tools to create, educate, entertain and connect," said Gary Shapiro, CEA president and CEO. "Be they digital imaging or electronic gaming products, new wireless devices or the next generation of in-car electronics, cutting-edge digital video or digital audio products - again and again, consumers have shown that they look to our industry to provide them with the tools to access information, culture, friends, family and the vast world of possibilities."

In the video category, total sales of digital television (DTV) products account for some $6.1 billion of industry revenues in 2003 on nearly 4 million units, representing an increase in dollar sales of 44 percent and an increase of 56 percent in units over 2002 figures.
New display technologies have helped boost the tremendous growth in sales of DTV products, with sales of plasma television estimated to reach nearly $1.5 billion in revenues for 2003, up from $515 million just one year ago.
LCD television sales during 2003 will total $651 million, compared to $246 million in 2002. In 2004, CEA projects another banner year for DTV product sales, with total shipments of more than 5.7 million units on dollar sales of $8 billion. Sales of plasma displays are expected to generate $2.2 billion in 2004 and revenues of LCD displays are projected to increase to more than $1 billion.

Sales of stand-alone DVD players continued to maintain its position as the fastest selling technology of all time during 2003 with factory-to-dealer shipments of some 22.1 million units on dollar sales of more than $3 billion for the year, up from 17 million units and $2.4 billion in revenues during 2002. Currently, 50 percent of U.S. households now own at least one DVD player - a figure that is expected to increase in 2004, as CEA projects DVD player unit sales to reach more than 23.8 million units by the year's end.

Manufacturer-to-dealer sales of direct-to-home satellite systems totaled 9.7 million units on dollar revenues of nearly $1.4 billion in 2003 and sales of personal video recorders (PVRs) skyrocketed with increases of more than 239 percent over 2002 to $193 million in revenues.

The audio category also is benefiting from rapid consumer adoption of digital products, in spite of facing declines across several products. MP3 players shot past all estimates for a record-setting year in 2003, despite continuing debates over home recording rights.
Factory-to-dealer shipments of MP3 players totaled 3.8 million units during 2003, an increase of 121 percent compared to 2002, and are expected to rise again in 2004 to more than 5.1 million units. Dollar revenues of MP3 players for 2003 leapt to $556 million, a 171 percent increase over 2002. CEA projects dollar revenues of MP3 players to increase another 27 percent to $706 million for 2004.

In digital imaging, digital camera sales will total some $3.4 billion in revenues for 2003, up 22 percent from 2002, with unit sales of 12.5 million. With digital cameras in a strong growth mode, household penetration has quickly approached the one-third mark, with 33 percent of U.S. households now owning at least one digital camera.

Two categories once thought to have reached a plateau - PCs and wireless phones - saw growth in 2003. PC sales finally have returned to positive territory in 2003 as unit sales rose roughly 15 percent and dollar sales total $12.5 billion, with digital media and increasing PC specs helping drive a new upgrade cycle. Also in 2003, sales of wireless telephones increased by 20 percent to 70.5 million units on dollar sales of almost $9.2 billion.

Data cited in this release is included in the U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales & Forecasts: 1999-2004, available at no cost to CEA members. Non-member may purchase this report for $149 from CEA Market Research. For a list of available reports and purchasing information, visit www.CE.org/market_research.

Jan 06 - Transmeta Debuts Crusoe® TM5700/TM5900 Processors. Transmeta Corporation (NASDAQ: TMTA), the leader in efficient computing, today introduced its Crusoe TM5700 and TM5900 microprocessors, creating a new standard in ultra-compact, efficient computing.

The new processors feature an integrated Northbridge and are available in a 21mm x 21mm package for increased design flexibility and to enable smaller form factors for x86-compatible, energy efficient mobile and embedded computing.

The small footprint of the Transmeta Crusoe TM5700/TM5900 processors make it ideal for applications that require high performance processing within small and thermally constrained environments, including thin clients, blade servers, printers, copiers, point-ofsale terminals, smart displays, portable consumer devices, ultra-personal computers (UPCs) and set-top boxes.

The TM5700/TM5900 have already begun sampling with Transmeta's customers and will be in production in January 2004.“The Crusoe TM5700/TM5900 processors are another significant step in advancing the cause of efficient computing,” said Dr. Matthew R. Perry, president and CEO of Transmeta.
“By delivering a solution that is 50 percent smaller than our existing Crusoe TM5800 processors, Transmeta allows system designers to further leverage the high performance and low-heat dissipation characteristics of Transmeta’s proven hardware and software architecture for a wide range of new smaller form factor, fan-less designs.”

The TM5700 and TM5900 processors are a continuation of the Crusoe product line and provide the established low-power and high-performance characteristics of Crusoe’s highly efficient 128-bit VLIW (very long instruction word) engine, which issues up to 4 instructions per clock cycle. The Crusoe architecture includes fully integrated on-chip Northbridge core logic, reducing chip count and power requirements and decreasing the size and cost of the PC board.

The new processors offer up to 1 GHz of x86-compatible performance and incorporate integer and floating-point execution units, separate 64 Kbyte instruction and data caches, a large 512 Kbyte (TM5900) or 256 Kbyte (TM5700) L2 writeback cache, a 64-bit DDR SDRAM memory controller, and a 32-bit PCI controller.

Transmeta’s LongRun® power management technology further reduces thermal constraints by dynamically adjusting the operating voltage and clock frequency of the processor core based on application demands and intelligently adapting processor operation to system thermal environments.
Additionally, a small form factor Mini-ITX motherboard evaluation/reference platform based upon the TM5900 processor will be available in Q1 2004. This highperformance, low-power platform comes with schematics, design guides, processor specifications, device drivers and all other requirements for evaluation and initiating product designs.

To learn more about Transmeta, visit www.transmeta.com.

Jan 06 - Dell Offers Zero-Percent Financing for Consumers. Is 2004 the year you plan to get an MP3 player for the gym, a handheld to get organized, and an LCD television to watch the Super Bowl? And save money? If so, it looks like 2004 may be your year.

For the first time, Dell tomorrow -- Saturday -- will begin offering well-qualified consumer customers in the United States 12 months of no-interest financing(a) on everything from personal computers to the company's new line of consumer electronics products, including digital music players, handhelds and LCD televisions. The offer runs through Friday, January 30.

The financing offer, combined with Dell's direct, build-to-order business model, are further indications of Dell's commitment to offering technologies that are not only simple to use, but easy to buy.

Information on Dell and its products can be obtained at www.dell.com.

Jan 06 - Play Your MP3 Player Through Your Car or Home Stereo. Listen to music from your MP3 player through Belkin's improved FM stereo receiver. The Belkin TuneCast II FM Transmitter, an enhanced version of the TuneCast I, connects portable music players to your car or home stereo using FM radio waves. The TuneCast II will begin shipping in January of 2004 in North America.

The TuneCast II scans all FM frequencies 88.1-107.9MHz (as opposed to just four frequencies that other transmitters offer) and selects the best frequency for your music experience. It also memorizes up to four FM frequencies to give you easy and quick access to your favorite songs.

The TuneCast II also features a unique Auto ON/OFF function, which frees you from manually toggling your TuneCast II's ON/OFF switch by simply powering on when an audio signal is detected. If there is no signal detected for a period of 60 seconds, your TuneCast II will switch off. This innovation preserves battery life while making your mobile audio experience simpler.

Just plug the TuneCast II into the headphone jack of your iPod , PDA, MP3, CD, or cassette player; or connect it to your PC or laptop computer. Tune your car stereo or receiver to any clear FM frequency, and enjoy your music experience with more sound and fewer wires.

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

Jan 06 - Other World Computing Launches New Mercury Extreme G4/1.25GHz Processor Upgrade. Other World Computing (OWC) today announced a new Mercury Extreme G4/1.25 Gigahertz (GHz) processor upgrade that is guaranteed by OWC to run at actual clock speeds of up to 1.467GHz.

Today's announcement was made by OWC at the Macworld Conference & Expo, being held January 5-9, 2004 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, where the company is exhibiting in booth #2233.

This addition to the popular line of AGP processor upgrades replaces OWC's prior 1.25-1.26GHz Mercury Extreme model and uses Motorola's new PowerPC G4 7455B 1.25GHz processor. It is immediately available online from OWC for only $429.99, allowing the new cards to offer top-notch performance at a mid-range price point.

"We've found that Motorola has been very conservative with the speed marked on its 1.25GHz G4/7455B processors," said Larry O'Connor, president of OWC. "We've been able to establish a design and burn-in process allowing us to guarantee that our new Extreme model using this processor will safely operate at speeds of up to 1.467GHz.
"We are very confident that all our Mercury Extreme models are priced to give the maximum performance for the price, but this new 1.25-1.467GHz card offers even more for the money. It's already an 'extreme' value for a 1.25GHz card, and the fact that you can run it at up to 1.467GHz is simply an incredible added bonus."

The OWC Mercury G4 Extreme line offers cost-effective, easy to install plug and play solutions to increase the performance of Apple PowerMac G4 models. Requiring no software enablers, OWC's Mercury Extreme processor upgrades are completely compatible with all Macintosh software and operating systems. Additionally, these upgrades can make it possible to utilize certain application features or run entire applications that require higher processing speeds than many stock processors provide.

OWC Mercury Extreme G4 processor upgrades are backed by a three-year warranty and a 30-day 100 percent money-back guarantee. Each Extreme G4 processor upgrade features 256 Kilobytes of 1:1 L2 cache on-chip and 2 Megabytes (MBs) of high-speed SPD or DDR L3 Cache. They are compatible with Apple PowerMac G4 AGP Graphics (Sawtooth), Gigabit Ethernet, Digital Audio and Quicksilver models and support Mac OS 9.2.1 and higher, as well as all OS X versions up to and including the latest 10.3.x "Panther" versions.

For complete specs and additional information on the Mercury Extreme G4 line, please visit www.macsales.com/Extreme.

Jan 06 - Konica Minolta Introduces Next Generation Single Lens-Reflex 5 Megapixel Digital Camera. Building upon the success of the highly acclaimed DiMAGE 7 series of digital cameras, Konica Minolta Photo Imaging U.S.A., Inc. introduces the new 5 megapixel SLR-type DiMAGE A1 digital camera. The DiMAGE A1 was designed with today’s creative digital photographer in mind.

Featuring the world’s fastest AF speed among 5-megapixel SLR-type digital cameras, a fast built-in f/2.8 – 3.5 7x optical zoom lens, a top shutter speed of 1/16,000 of a second, dual-focal macro system, extra-fine image-quality option, new CxProcess II and 3-D Predictive Focus Control, Subject Tracking AF, Anti-shake function, and compatibility with portable and studio flash systems, the DiMAGE A1 exploits the power of digital imaging by providing the tools photographers need to express their creativity and solve visual problems.
In addition, Konica Minolta has also introduced new remote imaging software for use with the DiMAGE A1, the new DiMAGE Capture software, for enhanced creative capabilities.

“The new DiMAGE A1 digital camera represents the next generation in quality and performance from Konica Minolta,” said Jon Sienkiewicz, vice president of marketing, Konica Minolta’s Camera Division. “The DiMAGE A1 is built for creative digital photographers who demand the highest quality images and versatility in a compact, easy-to-use camera.”

The new DiMAGE A1 is built around a high-precision electro-optical system designed to maximize image quality. The system starts with a 5.3 megapixel 2/3-type progressive primary-color CCD with 5.0 million effective pixels for fine high-resolution images. The DiMAGE A1 uses 14-bit A/D conversion to record the richness and infinite subtleties of light.

The DiMAGE A1’s fast f2.8 – f3.5 7x optical zoom lens is an advanced apochromatic (APO) lens employing anomalous dispersion (AD) glass to minimize chromatic aberration at all focal lengths and produce sharp, contrasty images. With a focal range of 7.2mm to 50.8mm, it is equivalent to a 28mm to 200mm 35mm zoom lens. The DiMAGE A1 zoom has a dual-focal macro system that allows the lens to be set at the wide-angle or telephoto position to take advantage of different focal lengths.

Fore more information about Konica Minolta Photo Imaging U.S.A., Inc., its products and services, visit www.ph.konicaminolta.us.

Jan 04 - Sunday Shopping Watch.

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

Weekly Comparison. After Christmas shopping deals continue on computers and peripherals.

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 $150 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 but has some very good sale prices on computers.
CompUSA has an Unadvertised Specials promotion on its site which you need to print and take into your CompUSA store.
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
eMachines 2.6 GHz complete system with 17" monitor
$389
-$40
Best Buy,Circuit City
2. Best Celeron Deal
Compaq 2.7 GHz system with 17" monitor
$499
-
Staples
Best Pentium 4 System
HP 2.6 GHz Pentium 4 system with DVD/CD-RW (no monitor)
$599
-
CompUSA
Best AMD Athlon XP System
HP Athlon 3000+ complete system with 17 inch monitor
$749
-
Best Buy
1. Best Low-cost Laptop
Compaq 2.4 GHz Celeron with DVD/CD-RW
$699
-
Office Depot
2. Best Low-cost Laptop
HP Athlon 2400+ with DVD-RW
$799
-
Best Buy
3. Best Low-cost Laptop
Toshiba 2.8 GHz Celeron with DVD/CD-RW
$899
+$50
CompUSA
4. Best Low-cost Laptop
Compaq Athlon 2500+ with DVD-RW
$999
-
Best Buy, Circuit City
1. Best High-end Notebook
Sony Pentium 4 2.8 GHz with DVD-RW
$1349
-
Circuit City
2. Best High-end Notebook
Gateway 1.4 GHz Centrino with DVD/CD-RW
$1399
Office Depot
Peripherals and Software
Best Sunday Deal
Western Digital 120 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 8 MB buffer
$59
(after rebates)
-
Circuit City
Best Sunday Deal
Seagate 160 GB 7200 RPM Serial ATA Hard Drive
$89
(after rebates)
-
CompUSA
Best Sunday Deal
Maxtor 200 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 8 MB buffer
$149
(after rebates)
-
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
ATI Radeon 9600 XT 128 MB
$149
(after rebates)
-
Circuit City
Best Sunday Deal
ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 128 MB
$279
(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.

Jan 02 - America Online Releases 'Top 10 Spam' List of 2003. Dubious education offers, pharmaceuticals, body enhancing hormones, and shady finance-related offers ranked as the most widely recognized junk email subject lines of 2003 by AOL 'spamwatchers' protecting the service from spammers on behalf of its members.

The AOL Postmaster team in northern Virginia has calculated the Top 10 most widely sent spam email subject lines - or 'headers' - on the AOL service in 2003 after reviewing data forwarded by AOL members during the year, much of it collected in the aggregate via use of the popular "Report Spam" button in AOL.

"We want to encourage AOL members and all online users to take this important data and use it to improve their online email experience," said Charles Stiles, Manager of the Postmaster Team within AOL's Anti-Spam Operations group. "Taking this Top 10 list of most often-used subject lines in spam emails and placing them in AOL's 'Custom Word List' is a great online New Year's resolution to make - and it's much easier to tackle than a lot of other resolutions people feel compelled to make in the offline world!"

"I'd also urge our members, as part of their online New Years resolution, to continue to be our allies in our ongoing fight against spam and spammers in 2004 by actively and regularly clicking on AOL's popular 'Report Spam' button on their email inbox, to continually develop and add to their 'Custom Word List' in Spam Controls, and to check their 'Spam Folder' regularly to make sure their personal, adaptive spam filters are fine-tuned and customized for maximum effectiveness," Stiles added. Members can access the Spam Folder at AOL Keyword: Spam Folder, or by clicking the easily accessible "Spam Folder" link on their mailbox in AOL 9.0 Optimized.

Information about setting up and using a Custom Word List can be found at AOL Keyword: Spam Controls. The Custom Word List anti-spam feature is available for members using AOL software versions 6.0, 7.0, 8.0, 8.0 Plus, and 9.0 Optimized.

Stiles offered up 'expert tips' for online consumers who are interested in improving their email experience by building a Custom Word List of terms that show up most often in the subject lines of junk emails. "First of all, when setting up any kind of anti-spam list, be as precise as possible and use your creativity to out-guess and out-smart spammers at their own game. That means setting up spam mail controls to block multiple variations of a particular word that you often see in spam subject lines.

"Second, look at the messages you report as spam, and make a list of the words used most often in those messages' subject lines - then add those words to your Custom Word List within Spam Controls. You can start by using AOL's own new Top 10 list for 2003.

"Third, when it comes to spam in your email inbox - report it, report it, report it! AOL can block spam better when our members report spam more often. Clicking on the 'Report Spam' button also trains our members' adaptive spam filters and helps their AOL software 'learn' what members' individual, personal email preferences are."

Stiles also outlined what made spam-fighting in 2003 unique at the grassroots level for the AOL Postmaster team: "There are many ways in which spammers were using techniques of fraud and falsification to attempt to get their junk email past AOL's anti-spam filters.
"We continue to see lots of interesting patterns used by spammers, such as: 'randomized characters' in the email subject line; the use of word variations, including 'whitespace' insertions within words, to elude spam screens; misspellings of common spam terms; numeric substitutions for certain letters within common junk email words - such as a number '3' for an 'E' and a number '1' for an 'I', and a number '0' for a 'o'; and even the use of characters from the Cyrillic alphabet in email subject lines."

At the same time, AOL announced it had blocked a total of almost 500 billion - or a half-trillion - spam emails from getting to the inboxes of its members during the 2003 calendar year. Using its advanced, finely-tuned spam-blocking filters, AOL estimates that by blocking this number of spam emails, it has detected and deleted prevented an average of 15,000 spam emails from getting into the inboxes of each AOL member. That amounts to an average of 40 less spam emails daily per AOL account.

The Company also reached a new high when it blocked 2.4 billion spam emails in a single day using its spam filters. During the 2003 year, AOL members also set a record for the amount of spam emails they reported to the Company in a single day at 20.4 million. AOL also reaffirmed that it routinely blocks 75%-80% of all Internet inbound email as spam, preventing it from reaching members' email inboxes.

AOL's 'Top 10 Spam Email Subject Lines' of 2003:(1)

1. Viagra online (also: xanax, valium, xenical, phentermine, soma, celebrex, valtrex, zyban, fioricet, adipex, etc.)

2. Online pharmacy (also: "online prescriptions"; "meds online")

3. Get out of debt (also: "special offer")

4. Get bigger (also: "satisfy your partner"; "improve your sex life")

5. Online degree (also: "online diploma")

6. Lowest mortgage rates (also: "lower your mortgage rates"; "refinance"; "refi")

7. Lowest insurance rates (also: "lower your insurance now")

8. Work from home (also: "be your own boss")

9. Hot XXX action (also: "teens"; "porn")

10. As seen on oprah (1) - Source: AOL. This list is unscientific, and is not in any specific order. The cited email subject headers are not ranked by volume.

AOL can be found online at www.aol.com.

Jan 02 - Online Shopping Performance Improves Slightly in Final Rush to Christmas. As the online gift buying season drew to a close last week and retail research organizations report huge increases in online retail sales for the holiday season overall, Keynote Systems (Nasdaq:KEYN), The Internet Performance Authority(R), issued its final press release reporting on the performance of the Keynote E-Commerce Transaction Performance Index this online holiday shopping season.

For the week beginning Monday, December 22 and ending Sunday, December 28, Keynote's E-Commerce Transaction Index showed that the overall average response time for completing a transaction was 13.86 seconds, while the success rate for completing a transaction was 97.33 percent. These are the best overall averages since Keynote first began issuing press releases reporting on the Index's performance this holiday shopping season (beginning the day after Thanksgiving).

The best performing sites on the index the Week of December 22 had average response times of 7.26 and 8.49 seconds, and success rates of 99.73 and 99.47 percent. The worst performing sites on the index had average response times of 24.71 and 24.14 seconds, and success rates of 93.43 and 94.54 percent. A transaction is defined as a Web site's ability to allow a consumer to click through a number of pages and successfully make a purchase.

As a means of comparison, the low point for response time this online holiday shopping season occurred the week of December 8 when the average response time was 15.03 seconds. The low point for success rate occurred the week of December 1 when the average success rate for completing a transaction was 93.68 percent. The most likely reason for the overall performance improvement of the Index the week of December 22 is that less people were shopping online the closer it got to Christmas. People shopping on December 22nd and after were likely in long shopping lines in brick and mortar stores, rather then click and mortar ones.

Growth figures make it abundantly clear that Internet use is becoming as ubiquitous as the telephone or the television, not only for obtaining information but also for conducting the personal business of our lives. The National Retail Federation predicts that 2003 holiday retail sales will be better than the previous three years and that online spending alone will increase to $95.6 billion the full year of 2003 up from $75.7 billion in 2002, giving the category 5 to 7 percent of total retail spending.

For the period November 17 to December 25, Visa USA reported non-travel online retail sales increased 45 percent over the same period last year to $9 billion with year-to-date sales as of December 25 up 37 percent, ComScore Networks reported e-commerce sales reached $11.72 billion from November 1 to December 26, a 29 percent jump from the same period in 2002.

"This level of rapid growth, however, can be a double edged sword for retailers if they are not prepared to handle the online onslaught," said Roopak Patel, senior Internet analyst in Keynote's Public Services group. "With consumers' increasingly heading to the Web for holiday shopping and other purchases, it is essential that retailers prepare their sites for larger loads all year, but especially during holiday periods."

Index results for the top performers and the worst average for the week can be found at www.keynote.com/solutions. Complete results of the Index can be found on E-Commerce Times at www.ecommercetimes.com/ectpi.

Jan 02 - Falcon Northwest Standardizes On NVIDIA Graphics For FragBox Gaming Systems. NVIDIA Corporation (Nasdaq: NVDA), the worldwide leader in visual processing solutions, announced today that Falcon Northwest has standardized on NVIDIA® GeForce™ FX graphics processing units (GPUs) in the stylish and portable Falcon Northwest FragBox line of gaming PCs. The FragBox ships with the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra GPU, while the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 is the GPU of choice in the FragBox Pro.

"After exhaustive testing and troubleshooting, it is clear that NVIDIA is the way to go with our FragBox line." said Kelt Reeves, President of Falcon Northwest. "NVIDIA provides the FragBox with graphics solutions that are not only faster than the competition, but run cooler and with much better reliability in the harsh environment of a small form-factor PC."

"Falcon Northwest caters to a demanding clientele with their high-performance, custom-built PCs," said Jeff Fisher, executive vice president of worldwide sales for NVIDIA. "The blazing speed, cinematic image quality, and unmatched stability of our GeForce FX line is exactly what Falcon Northwest’s customers require."

The Falcon Northwest FragBox is designed to pack an amazing amount of computing power into a fast, lightweight, and affordable package. The small 12-inch by 8-inch case is light enough to carry to a LAN party and stylish enough to be the show piece of a home entertainment system.

The Falcon Northwest FragBox line, equipped with NVIDIA GeForce FX graphics, can be purchased at www.falcon-nw.com.

 

 

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