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Daily Computer News and Rumors

January 15-22 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 22 Alliance Semiconductor Introduces High-Performance HyperTransport-to-PCI-X Bridge
Jan 22 Nintendo Announces Dual-Screened Portable Game System
Jan 22 MySQL Introduces New Easy-to-Use MySQL Administration Tool
Jan 22 Plasma and LCD TVs Will Combine to Ship 50 Million Units in 2007
Jan 22 Worldwide Cable TV Industry Manages to Grow in 2003
Jan 21 InfoHQ New Article, Designing Your Own Desktop Gaming PC
Jan 21 Toshiba Introduces Newest Member of Satellite A45 Series
Jan 21 AOpen Introduces New 52X Combo Drives
Jan 21 Digital Radio Not Falling on Deaf Ears
Jan 21 Even On a Slow Day, 1 of Every 125 Emails Is a Danger
Jan 21 AtomFilms & Maven Networks Introduce A Better Way to Watch Movies Online
Jan 20 eMachines Introduces 64-Bit Wireless Widescreen Notebook Line
Jan 20 Miami Firm 0Spam.Net Blows Past Competition in Spam Control
Jan 20 Apex Digital's ApeXtreme PC Game Console Honored as `Best of CES'
Jan 20 SMC Introduces Two New High Power Wireless PCI Cards
Jan 20 Alienware Selects VIA K8T800 Chipset for Flagship AMD Processor Systems
Jan 19 Nanosys and Intel to Investigate Nanotechnology-Enabled Memory
Jan 19 IBM Reports 2003 Fourth-Quarter and Full-Year Results
Jan 19 Nintendo Sales Skyrocket in the U.S. and Around the World
Jan 19 50% of All Internet Households Are Interested in VoIP Telephone Services
Jan 19 CinemaNow is First to Add Download-To-Own Video Option to Online Service
Jan 18 Sunday Shopping Watch
Jan 16 Intel Fourth-Quarter Revenue Of $8.74 Billion At Record Level
Jan 16 Systemax Announces New $899 Notebook Featuring Intel Centrino Mobile Technology
Jan 16 SMC Ships New EZ-Stream Universal 802.11a/g Wireless Router
Jan 16 VentureWire Reports Biotechnology and Semiconductor Venture Investing Up in 2003
Jan 16 Number Portability Rules Will Double The Number Of Households Dropping Traditional Phone Service
Jan 15 Upbeat 2004 International CES Bodes Well for Shift to Digital and Future Industry Growth
Jan 15 Dell Delivers New Business Notebook Computers That Are Easy on the Budget
Jan 15 Virus Writers Building Underground Network for Rapid Dispersal of New Viruses
Jan 15 Microsoft Unveils Smarter Retailing Initiative
Jan 15 ATI Turbo-Charges Firegl Workstation Graphics with Introduction of High-End Firegl X2-256T
Jan 15 Only 45% of Users Will Primarily Use Traditional Desktops by 2006

 

Jan 22 -Alliance Semiconductor Introduces High-Performance HyperTransport-to-PCI-X Bridge. Alliance Semiconductor Corporation (Nasdaq:ALSC), a leading worldwide provider of analog and mixed signal products, high-performance memory products and systems solutions for the communications, computing, embedded, industrial and consumer markets, today announced the availability of its high-performance AS90L10204 HyperTransport(TM)-to-PCI-X Bridge. The AS90L10204 is optimized for computer applications including workstations, computer servers, server blades, workstations and desktop PCs.

Alliance's AS90L10204 works with AMD's Opteron(TM) and Athlon(TM) families of X86-microprocessors, as well as with Transmeta's Efficeon(TM) microprocessor. The AS90L10204, microprocessor and South Bridge, create a three-piece chipset that bridges the HyperTransport interface from the Opteron, Athlon or Efficeon microprocessors to the PCI-X bus. This enables system manufacturers to tap into the vast infrastructure of peripherals and system components based on PCI-X, such as Network Interface Cards (NICs), RAID Controllers, Host Bus Adaptors (HBA) and others.

"The AS90L10204 HyperTransport-to-PCI-X Bridge expands the possibilities of today's PC and server system architectures by providing new design options based on the HyperTransport technology," said Robert Napaa, vice president of marketing and business development for Alliance's System Solutions Business Unit. "By using our AS90L10204, customers can design, manufacture and market high-capacity, cost-effective workstations, computer servers, server blades, workstations and desktop PCs."

The AS90L10204 supports two 8-bit HyperTransport interfaces that provide 1.6 GB per second of bandwidth in each direction and a single 64-bit, 133-MHz PCI-X bus which enables the connectivity to a variety of PCI-X based peripherals and add-on cards.

The AS90L10204 is currently sampling along with a complete suite of reference design and software drivers.

Additional information is available on the Alliance Web site at: www.alsc.com.

Jan 22 - Nintendo Announces Dual-Screened Portable Game System. An unprecedented approach to video game play -- holding two separate game screens in the palm of your hand -- hits the scene later this year when Nintendo introduces a new portable game system, code-named Nintendo DS.

From information made available today, players can look forward to being able to manage their game progress from two different perspectives, enhancing both the speed and strategy of the challenge. For example in a soccer game, users can view the whole game on one screen while simultaneously focusing on an individual soccer player's tackle or goal on the other screen.

Players will no longer be forced to interrupt game play to shift perspective, such as moving from a wide shot to a close up, or alternating between a character's ongoing battle and a map of the environment. Nintendo DS makes it possible to perform the tasks in real time by simply glancing from one screen to the other.

Today's announcement is but a glimpse of the additional features and benefits that will be shown in full at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles in May. Once fully revealed, players will see innovative advances in game interaction.

"We have developed Nintendo DS based upon a completely different concept from existing game devices in order to provide players with a unique entertainment experience for the 21st century," explains Satoru Iwata, Nintendo president.

Nintendo DS features two separate 3-inch TFT LCD display panels, separate processors, and semiconductor memory of up to 1 Gigabit. It's scheduled to launch worldwide before the end of 2004.

In addition to Nintendo-developed software, the company is in discussions with third-party game developers around the world.

Nintendo DS will be marketed separately from the company's existing Nintendo Game Boy(R) Advance portable system and Nintendo GameCube(TM) home console.

For more information about Nintendo, visit the company's Web site at www.nintendo.com.

Jan 22 - MySQL Introduces New Easy-to-Use MySQL Administration Tool. MySQL AB, developer of the world's most popular open source database, today announced MySQL Administrator, a new open source tool with a graphical user interface (GUI) designed to provide easy management and monitoring of MySQL® database servers.
MySQL Administrator is the first product in a new family of open source administrative tools by MySQL AB. MySQL AB is demonstrating MySQL Administrator at LinuxWorld Expo in booth # 451, January 21-23, at the Javits Center in New York.

“We want to make database management easy and affordable for everyone, and our new open source administrative tool fully supports this goal,” said Mårten Mickos, MySQL AB CEO. “MySQL Administrator is the first example of the intuitive, powerful tools that MySQL will continue to contribute to the expanding ecosystem of MySQL-related software comprised of hundreds of products from MySQL partners and the open source community.”

MySQL Administrator: Database Management Made Easy

MySQL Administrator is a powerful graphical front-end for administrating and monitoring MySQL servers. It integrates database management and maintenance into a single, seamless environment, with a clear and intuitive graphical user interface. MySQL Administrator is designed to simplify and maximize the effectiveness of the key tasks of a database administrator, such as server configuration, user administration and database health monitoring. Other common administrative activities such as backup and restore and log management can also be performed through the MySQL Administrator graphical user interface.

"MySQL Administrator is an extremely intuitive visual tool that makes managing MySQL much easier and faster,” said Yazz Atlas, senior systems engineer at the Open Source Development Network (OSDN). “Now developers can quickly authenticate MySQL users and create backups, which is critical to the long-term health of a large database infrastructure. Also, optimizing and fine-tuning the server for more performance has gotten a lot easier."

Availability and Support

MySQL Administrator will be available for download from the MySQL AB Web site at www.mysql.com by early Q2 2004. It will be available for the Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems.

Jan 22 - Plasma and LCD TVs Will Combine to Ship 50 Million Units in 2007. Flat-panel plasma and LCD TVs are breaking out among the mainstream TV-buying public. According to new research from IDC, dropping price points and growing interest in high-definition television will drive flat-panel TV display shipments to 50 million units in 2007.
"The wow factor can't be underestimated when it comes to adoption of flat TVs," said Bob O'Donnell, director of Personal Technologies research at IDC. "People want the clearest, sharpest image they can find. Combine that with the right price point and a form factor you can hang on the wall, and people will be banging down the doors to buy."

Sprouting from meager beginnings at the start of this century, flat-panel TVs accounted for just 0.5% of the worldwide TV market in 2000. As the market continues to accelerate, flat TVs will quickly account for 27% of the worldwide market by 2007. Adoption rates in the U.S. will be even more aggressive.

Key Findings

-- In 2004, the U.S. will surpass Japan as the largest market for LCD TVs.

-- The plasma market will maintain its fascination with 42-inch displays.

-- Poor quality of standard definition TV signals may inhibit short-term growth of the flat TV market.

-- PC and monitor vendors will provide a very serious challenge to traditional consumer electronics companies.
Additional information can be found at www.idc.com.

Jan 22 - Worldwide Cable TV Industry Manages to Grow in 2003. Although the total number of worldwide cable TV subscribers increased last year, the rate of growth in 2003 was the slowest in over a decade. However, even with the recent slow-down in worldwide growth, total cable TV subscribers are projected to reach 395 million by 2007.

According to In-Stat/MDR (www.instat.com), cable TV subscriber growth will result from not only cable television operators' ability to attract new subscribers to their traditional analog video services, but also from recently deployed digital video, voice, and data services. The high-tech market research also reports that while annual cable TV subscriber growth was tracking around 3% in 2003, digital cable TV subscriber growth reached 22% during the same time frame.

Even with rapid digital subscriber growth, the modest total subscriber growth rate is forcing many cable TV operators to re-focus their customer acquisition strategies. "Cable television growth in North America and Europe has dramatically flattened over the past two to three years, and this has been an unwelcome trend for many cable TV Multiple Systems Operators (MSOs) who have been counting on new subscribers to increase their revenues," said Mike Paxton, a senior analyst with In-Stat/MDR.

While some recent subscriber losses have come from regional economic recessions, long-term cable TV subscriber growth is increasingly threatened by DTH satellite services.
However, according to Paxton, "The good news for cable operators is that the digital revolution is bringing both new services to cable customers and new sources of revenue to cable operators."
These digital cable offerings cover services such as: expanded channel lineups, Video-on-Demand, High Definition TV services, and high-speed data services. A key challenge for cable operators is that the cost to upgrade cable plants in order to provide these digital transmissions is substantial. This high cost, in turn, has slowed the overall pace of digital upgrades and has limited digital cable TV service to a few of the wealthier countries in the world.

In-Stat/MDR has also found that:

-- The top four countries in terms of total cable TV subscribers remain China, the United States, India and Germany.

-- Over the past three years, the majority of worldwide cable TV subscriber growth has come from Asia, with the countries of China and India accounting for up to 60% of all annual subscriber additions.

-- The North American cable TV market actually shrank a little in 2003, as several hundred thousand former cable subscribers either switched to satellite services or simply "pulled the plug" on cable. However, the North American market remains the seat of innovation for digital cable services. During 2003, digital cable TV subscribers in North America increased by 20%.

Jan 21 - InfoHQ's New Article, Designing Your Own Desktop Gaming PC - InfoHQ is pleased to announce its latest article, Designing Your Own Desktop Gaming PC.
The article details how you can design your very own desktop gaming PC using a PC configurator. It can be cheaper, and more satisfying, than buying a Dell
.

Jan 21 - Toshiba Introduces Newest Member of Satellite A45 Series. The Satellite(R) A45-S130 notebook computer provides the ideal combination of productivity tools and multimedia functionality at a very low price point. Perfect for consumers, students and budget-conscious families, the Satellite A45-S130 includes an Intel(R) Celeron(R) processor, large hard drive and plenty of memory.

The Satellite A45-S130 comes equipped with integrated Wi-Fi (802.11g) wireless connectivity(a) for surfing the web at home or at a local public hotspot, plus SRS(R) TruSurround XT(TM) sound that provides exceptional home theater surround sound during DVD and CD playback. Additionally, the Satellite A45-S130 features Microsoft(R) One Note(TM), allowing users to electronically capture, organize and reuse notes easily.

FEATURES:
Satellite A45-S130
-- Intel Celeron processor, 2.80GHz
-- Microsoft Windows(R) XP Home Edition
-- 40GB(b) hard disk drive
-- 512MB DDR SDRAM
-- 15.0" diagonal XGA display
-- DVD-ROM/CD-RW multi-function drive
-- Integrated Wi-Fi 802.11g
-- Integrated V.92 modem, 10/100 Ethernet
-- Four USB 2.0 ports
-- Microsoft Works
-- Microsoft Office One Note
-- SRS TruSurround XT Technology
-- Toshiba ConfigFree(TM) Software
-- ESUP: $1,199

AVAILABILITY:
The Satellite A45 Series is now available at www.shoptoshiba.com and retail distribution channels

Jan 21 - AOpen Introduces New 52X Combo Drives. AOpen(R) Inc., an award-winning leader in PC component design and manufacturing, today announced a new pair of 52X Combo Drives - the COM5224 and the COM5232. As of the date of this announcement, AOpen is one of only two optical drive manufacturers based in Taiwan that is able to produce 52X combo drives of this type.

"We constantly make every effort to remain in the lead and stay very competitive with our optical drive design and manufacturing," said Sean Chang, director, Optical Drive product line, AOpen Inc. "Our new COM5224 drive, which rewrites at 24X, will be shipping by late January, 2004, followed by our COM5232 drive, slated to ship in late February, 2004 with the capability to rewrite at 32X." Chang went on to state that, "both drives offer AOpen's hallmarks of solid performance and reliability at very competitive pricing."

To add to the already impressive value of the AOpen 52X combo optical drives, both drives come bundled with CD authoring software from Nero and InCD for quick and easy creation of audio, video and data CDs; as well as PowerDVD playback software, enabling PCs to playback DVD video in home theater mode for dynamic motion picture viewing.

In addition to these impressive bundles, the AOpen 52X combo optical drives come with the following standard AOpen features:

-- All-in-one - read/write/rewrite CDs and read DVD-ROM discs.

-- Buffer under-run-proof technology for extra dependability.

-- Support DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-R and DVD-RW formats.

-- Support Ultra DMA Mode 2 with 2MB buffer memory.

-- Support Mt. Rainier for drag-and-drop disc copying.

-- Support Mt. Rainier (CD-MRW) under background formatting.

-- Write speeds of 52X - CD-R and 24X/32X - CD-RW.

-- Read speeds of 52X - CD-ROM and 16X - DVD-ROM.

-- Standard E-IDE/ATAPI interface - easy to install.

-- Smooth, steady DVD playback.

-- Support writing models of TAO, DAO, SAO and packet writing.

-- Support for the MultiRead function.

-- Low power consumption.

Both the COM5224 and the COM5232 have MSRPs of $65 USD each and come with a 1-year limited warranty. For more information about these quality optical drive products from AOpen, please visit the AOpen web site at: http://usa.aopen.com.

Jan 21 - Digital Radio Not Falling on Deaf Ears. The worldwide digital radio market, both satellite and terrestrial, will grow to over 19 million unit shipments in 2007, reports In-Stat/MDR (www.instat.com).

The high-tech market research firm believes that new content (stations that only exist in digital) and data services will drive consumer demand for radios. These factors are already at work in the digital satellite radio arena in the United States and the digital terrestrial market in the United Kingdom.

"The conversion from analog radio to digital has been a long, slow process that will take many more years," said Michelle Abraham, a senior analyst with In-Stat/MDR. "When the first digital broadcasts became available in Europe, receivers were too expensive for the mass market. Over five years later, receiver prices have come down, but many countries are still trialing digital broadcasts, waiting for the regulatory framework to be in place and digital coverage to expand."

In-Stat/MDR has also found that:

-- In the countries that are the farthest along with Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), new, less expensive radios are bringing more interest in DAB.

-- Satellite radio has been successful in the United States, and other countries are hoping to duplicate that success. In South Korea and Japan, providers want to deliver not only audio streams but video streams as well.

-- Several hundred million analog radios are sold worldwide each year, in the form of stereo receivers, CD boom boxes, portable devices, alarm clocks and car stereo systems. Reductions in the cost of digital tuners will convert the more expensive of the analog radios to digital by the end of 2007.

Jan 21 - Even On a Slow Day, 1 of Every 125 Emails Is a Danger. "Spam accounts for more than half of email traffic, but 1 of every 125 messages either contains a virus, is malformed code, includes forbidden attachments or is an attempt at an unauthorized relay," says Bill Simpson, Vice President of Product Management, BorderWare Technologies Inc.

BorderWare Technologies Inc., The Security Appliances Company(TM), today announced that the company is presenting at the Strategic Research Institute's Email Security Summit. The two-day conference, which starts February 2, 2004 at The Westin Grand in Washington, DC, covers a range of email security issues from implementation and corporate policy, to regulatory requirements and protection against new threats.

Mr. Simpson is participating in a panel discussion session on "Spam, Email Worms & Malware" on Tuesday, February 3, 2004. BorderWare is also among a limited number of vendors invited to showcase their product, the award-winning MXtreme Mail Firewall, at the conference.

The Next Big Threats to Messaging

Throughout 2003, application level security threats were on the rise, with major attacks and security vulnerabilities, such as SoBig, Blaster and spam, targeting email. According to industry researchers, there is every indication that blended attacks will rise in 2004, posing a growing risk to corporate messaging systems and continuing to sap user productivity.
For example, studies find that half of IT professionals still regard viruses, Trojans and worms as serious concerns, despite the fact that they already deploy some kind of desktop-based anti-virus protection within the enterprise. Companies are beginning to enhance perimeter security for email with anti-spam point-solutions, but many are still not doing enough to protect their most important communications assets from all threats.

BorderWare's MXtreme Mail Firewall for example, which installs at the network edge, delivers the most comprehensive perimeter security for email systems. MXtreme prevents any number of threats to email 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.

For more information visit www.borderware.com.

Jan 21 - AtomFilms & Maven Networks Introduce A Better Way to Watch Movies Online. AtomFilms and Maven Networks, a broadband media software company, announced today at the Sundance Film Festival, the debut of 'AtomFilms Hi-Def', a free, advertising-supported service that enables enhanced online viewing of world-class independent films, including select titles presented in high definition 720p format.
During its beta phase in December 2003, 'AtomFilms Hi-Def' attracted more than 10,000 enthusiastic users. Major brand advertisers, including Nintendo, have signed on for the service's public launch.

'AtomFilms Hi-Def' leverages Maven's broadband media application software and delivery network to provide a quality, full-screen viewing experience that has previously eluded movie fans online. After an initial download, 'AtomFilms Hi-Def' users automatically receive weekly desktop delivery of three of AtomFilms' best movies, viewable at 850kbps, ensuring playback that rivals DVD quality.

Additionally, 'AtomFilms Hi-Def' users also have the option to receive two films each month that are viewable at almost three times the resolution of DVD video: Windows Media High-Definition Video (WMV HD) at 720p resolution. This enables a stunning visual experience for users with Windows XP-based machines and marks the first time that true high definition movies are available on the Internet.

The films available on 'AtomFilms Hi-Def' represent the best of the renowned AtomFilms catalog of shorts. They range from one minute to thirty minutes in length; many boast film festival awards, Academy Award nominations, and involvement by well-known talent. In celebration of the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, this week's lineup includes the adrenaline-packed skiing short "Collins Brothers," and two hits from past Sundance Film Festivals ("Girl Go Boom" and "Venus Blue").

For brand advertisers, such as Nintendo and Microsoft WindowsXP Media Center, AtomFilms Hi-Def provides a unique interactive channel that delivers television-style advertisements even better than television does - offering high-quality playback, detailed usage tracking, and no ad-skipping or channel-changing. The commercials play prior to each film in the weekly line-up.

"We are at a crossroads in the evolution of digital entertainment," said AtomFilms founder Mika Salmi. "'AtomFilms Hi-Def' represents a giant leap forward, for audiences and advertisers alike. I'm pleased that through our partnership with Maven Networks we've made the viewing of movies online much more accessible and fun. Our audience is also privy to the immense power and impact of Microsoft's WMV HD and I am proud that we are the first to provide this glimpse into the future of high definition online films."

"Maven complements highly compelling user experiences with the software infrastructure needed to support a new generation of ad-driven video services and subscription-based business models," said Hilmi Ozguc, Maven Networks co-founder and CEO. "We are pleased to provide AtomFilms with the content management, production and delivery platform it needs to create groundbreaking services that offer movie fans an exceptional viewing experience and advertisers a branding medium that rivals television."

"AtomFilms is a pioneer in using WMV HD to enable the first online delivery of HD short film content to consumers." said Dave Fester, general manager of Microsoft's Windows Digital Media Division. "The quality of WMV HD means movie fans get a great experience, and the compression efficiency of WMV HD makes it the most cost-effective way of delivering HD content online."

'AtomFilms Hi-Def' is being showcased at this week's Sundance Film Festival, where the service premiered at Microsoft's party at 350 Main St. on January 19th (9pm-12am) In addition, throughout the week festival attendees will also be able to experience the new service and access past Sundance hits at Microsoft's Digital Center.

For more information about AtomFilms Hi-Def, please visit http://hidef.atomfilms.com.

Jan 20 - eMachines Introduces 64-Bit Wireless Widescreen Notebook Line. eMachines Inc., the second-largest provider of PCs in U.S. retail stores, today announced the first 64-bit notebook line from a major PC brand, offering state-of-the-art performance with 15.4-inch widescreen display and 54g(TM) wireless connectivity.
Incorporating the Mobile AMD Athlon(TM) 64 processor 3000+, the M6805 and M6807 are the first in a family of eMachines 64-bit notebooks, delivering unparalleled computing performance and display for DVD movies, games, digital photography and other 32-bit multimedia applications.

"By being the first major PC company to introduce a 64-bit notebook line, eMachines continues to demonstrate its ability to provide the best value at any price point -- delivering high-performance notebooks with the latest technology," said Ed Fisher, senior vice president, global sales operations for eMachines, based in Irvine.

"The M6805 and M6807 offer consumers high-speed processing, graphics and wireless connectivity with optimal widescreen display and premier post-sale customer service," Fisher said.

"The new notebooks from eMachines showcase the features of the Mobile AMD Athlon 64 processor 3000+," said Marty Seyer, vice president and general manager, Microprocessor Business Unit, AMD. "With the Mobile AMD Athlon 64 processor, the eMachines notebooks give consumers high-performance computing in addition to advanced power management with AMD PowerNow!(TM) technology and compatibility with today's most popular wireless LAN solutions."

Combined with the notebooks' 15.4-inch LCD display and ATI's Mobility RADEON 9600(TM) video card, the systems offer cinematic visual quality for gaming and other graphics-intensive applications. The display features a 16:10 aspect ratio, similar to the widescreen TV format, allowing up to 30 percent more DVD viewing area than a standard 15-inch notebook screen.

Both notebooks feature HyperTransport(TM) technology, designed to increase bandwidth and reduce bottlenecks for faster processing speed and seamless multi-tasking on multiple applications.

With a combination DVD and CD-RW drive, the M6805 is priced at $1,449 after manufacturer's $100 mail-in rebate, while the M6807, with a multi-format DVD-RW(+/-) drive, is priced at $1,549 after $100 rebate.

Both the M6805 and M6807 incorporate the 54g chipset from Broadcom(R), providing up to five times the performance of 802.11b while maintaining compatibility with other wireless devices on the market.

The new eMachines' M6000 series notebooks feature a "6-in-1 Media Reader" for quick downloading, editing and sharing of digital, audio and video images. The media reader supports Compact Flash, Micro Drive, MultiMedia Card, Secure Digital, Memory Stick and Memory Stick Pro storage formats.

Other features include 512 MB PC2700 DDR memory, 60 GB hard drive, four USB 2.0 ports, one IEEE 1394 Firewire port, PCMCIA slot for Type I or Type II card bus, and 10/100 Mbps built-in Ethernet.

The M6000 series is 1.6 inches thin and weighs 7.5 pounds. The notebooks include an 8-cell lithium ion battery offering approximately 2.5 hours of battery life.

eMachines' new 64-bit notebook line is currently available at major consumer electronics retail outlets nationwide. For more information visit www.emachines.com.

Jan 20 - Miami Firm 0Spam.Net Blows Past Competition in Spam Control. Internet security firm 0Spam.Net(TM) today released its key spam filtering statistics for the month of December. Nearly two-thirds (66.48%) of all mail traveling through their system was caught as Spam, Pornography or Viruses.

They correctly detected 99.997% of all spam passing through their system; the bulk of their competition detected 85% or less. False positives are legitimate messages that a spam control system falsely identifies as spam. 0Spam.Net(TM)'s false positive rate was less than 0.0000005% - that means the odds are about 1 in 2,000,000 that an email will get mistakenly blocked as Spam.
Corporate and government clients averaged a productivity return on investment of $293.14 for each $1 spent to protect an email address under the system. The lowest customer's return on investment was $18.45 for every $1 spent.

"We're now two to three orders of magnitude lower in our false positive rate than any of our competition," said Bill Franklin, president of 0Spam.Net(TM). "No one else is getting close to our false positive or detection rates.
What allows us to be so accurate is that in addition to looking at the images, links and phrases in a message, our system analyses and remembers the routes that valid and invalid emails travel. That artificial intelligence is examined as each new email enters the system. Couple that with our low cost of $1 per month per protected corporate email address, and we're hard to ignore."
Franklin added, "By eliminating spammers' ability to reach their target audience, we're winning this war organization by organization, and family by family."

The 0Spam.Net(TM) system works by having email forwarded to a cluster of servers that remove Spam before forwarding it on to the client's actual email server. Family and individual accounts work similarly, but either directly store email on 0Spam.Net(TM)'s servers or use forwarding tools to move email automatically from their email accounts with other Internet service providers.

About 0Spam.Net(TM):

0Spam.Net(TM) is the most accurate Anti-Spam solution in the world for eliminating Spam, Pornography and Viruses from email. Solutions are offered for companies, governmental and non-profit organizations, as well as for individuals and families. 30-day trials are available for each type of account.

For more information, visit www.0spam.net.

Jan 20 - Apex Digital's ApeXtreme PC Game Console Honored as `Best of CES'. Apex Digital, Inc.'s revolutionary PC game console, the ApeXtreme (pronounced Apex Extreme), has been honored as the best new home audio or video product introduced at the 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The award was bestowed as part of TechTV's "Best of CES" award program.

TechTV, an established authority on the hottest new products and technology, chose the best and brightest in 10 categories from more than 5,000 new products making their debut at the 2004 International CES. The contest was only open to exhibitors at the show and only to those products that were introduced at the 2004 International CES or available for sale after Dec. 1, 2003. The TechTV appointed panel of technology journalists selected winners in each category according to their innovative appeal, usability, usefulness, and value.

"Our judges were really impressed with this year's submissions and the level of innovation and design," commented Andrew Hawn, TechTV's product lab director, and coordinator of the contest. "Each year the competition seems to get tougher and tougher, but we know consumers will really love these 10 new products."

The ApeXtreme moves PC versions of electronic games out of the computer room and into the TV room, giving gamers the ability to play their favorite "PC-only" games on a console machine, with a bigger game image -- on their standard TV.

The device also combines all the most popular features of Apex Digital's successful line of DVD players such as Component, Composite, S-Video and DVI output with everything a gamer could want in a game console like a 1.2 GHz processor, 40GB hard drive and networking capabilities. Additionally, the ApeXtreme boasts 5.1 channel digital audio output, as well as the ability to playback a variety of CD and DVD formats. It will be available to consumers later in the first quarter of this year. Suggested retail price is $399.

"By selecting the ApeXtreme as one of the 'Best of CES,' the judges have told the world what we have known since we began developing the device," said Apex Digital President Steve Brothers, "that this device will be a hit. The positive reaction to the ApeXtreme by our customers and other visitors to our booth was astounding. To be selected as one of the 10 best new products at the show is the icing on the cake."

Just like a proprietary game console, there is no waiting to play games on the ApeXtreme. Unlike personal computers, there's no "boot-up" time with the ApeXtreme -- turn it on, drop in the game CD/DVD and you're ready to play. The device's unique game-play ability is made possible by a patented "Drop & Play(TM)" Engine, developed by Digital Interactive System Corporation (DISC). Apex has partnered with DISC to bring this groundbreaking technology to market.

"We have been excited about the idea of a PC game console since we first patented the concept," said DISC President Avraham DorEl. "We're pleased that the tech-savvy 'Best of CES' judges agree that the market is ready for a dedicated PC game console like the ApeXtreme."

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

The winners were announced on Saturday, January 10, 2004 at an awards ceremony in Las Vegas. Additional information on each of the finalists and winners can be found at www.techtv.com/ces.

Jan 20 - SMC Introduces Two New High Power Wireless PCI Cards. SMC Networks, leading provider of networking solutions for the Enterprise, the SMB and all the way home, today introduced the newest members of its award-winning EliteConnect High Power family of wireless networking products: the SMC2512W-B EliteConnect 2.4GHz 802.11b High Power Wireless PCI Card and the SMC2512W-AG EliteConnect Universal 2.4GHz/5GHz High Power Wireless PCI Card.

The new SMC2512W-B High Power Wireless PCI Card increases mobility and flexibility for wireless networking by providing 802.11b connectivity with up to 200 milliWatts (mW) of transmit power – nearly four times the power of standard PCI Cards and twice the power offered by any other wireless 802.11b PCI Card on the market today.
The SMC2512W-AG brings 100mW of power with Universal connectivity—it connects to any 802.11a, b or g wireless network. The SMC2512W-B will be available in January at an MSRP of $109.99; and the SMC2512W-AG will be available in February at an MSRP of $129.99.

As the highest-powered PCI cards on the market today, the new SMC2512W-B and SMC2512W-AG feature both high transmit power and excellent receive sensitivity. With operating ranges of up to 2,700 and 2,145 feet, respectively, the SMC EliteConnect 802.11b High Power Wireless PCI Card and SMC EliteConnect Universal 802.11a/b/g High Power Wireless PCI Card overcome significant indoor multipath distortion to provide dramatic improvements in wireless signal quality and throughput.
The already superior range of the SMC2512W-B can be increased even farther by attaching an optional high-gain antenna (SMCANT-OM5) to one of the two available MMCX connectors.

“We’re excited to add PCI versions of our highly-successful, award-winning High Power wireless network adapter to the portfolio of SMC wireless products,” said SMC Networks Product Manager Betty Chan. “Range and security are the two biggest issues in wireless networking today, and the new SMC2512W-B and SMC2512W-AG EliteConnect High Power Wireless PCI Cards excel at both.”

For more information, visit www.smc.com.

Jan 20 - Alienware Selects VIA K8T800 Chipset for Flagship AMD Processor Systems. VIA Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator and developer of silicon chip technologies and PC platform solutions, today announced the VIA K8T800 chipset has been selected ahead of competing solutions for Alienware's Aurora high-performance PCs, further endorsing the VIA K8T800 as the best performing chipset for the AMD64 platform.

Alienware's new Aurora PCs, based on the high-performance AMD Athlon™ 64 FX and AMD Athlon 64 processors, will feature the VIA K8T800 chipset that harnesses VIA's advanced Hyper8™ technology, delivering the industry's fastest HyperTransport™ link between processor and chipset. Providing full support for the most comprehensive range of I/O and storage technologies, the K8T800 chipset has beaten all competition to become the undisputed leader on the AMD64 platform.

"The key to the success of the K8T800 chipset has been unmatched performance, thanks to VIA Hyper8 technology and an unparalleled feature set, including native Serial ATA and V-RAID," commented Timothy Chen, Head of U.S. Sales and Marketing, VIA Technologies, Inc. "By working with prestigious companies such as Alienware, we intend to stay at the forefront of the AMD64 revolution, and build upon our position as the leading supplier of core-logic chipsets for the AMD platform."

"As the world's leading supplier of high-performance systems, our customers demand cutting-edge technology," said Kevin Wasielewski, Vice President of Marketing for Alienware Corporation. "Alienware is proud to offer VIA's K8T800 chipsets in Alienware Aurora systems and remains committed to offering the best performing components available in all of our systems."

About the VIA K8T800 Chipset

The VIA K8T800 chipset enables an exciting new generation of 64-bit capable performance desktop PCs and Media Centers for enthusiasts and consumers who demand the most sophisticated graphics capabilities for gaming and digital video editing. VIA's acclaimed Hyper8 technology enables a full 16-bit/1.6GHz implementation of the high bandwidth HyperTransport processor-to-chipset link, which ensures that all AMD64 processor-based systems can achieve their full performance potential.

In combination with the market-leading VIA VT8237 South Bridge and a broad array of VIA companion chips, the VIA K8T800 chipset provides the most comprehensive range of storage, multimedia and connectivity features available for the AMD Athlon 64 processor platform today, including native Serial ATA/RAID, VIA Vinyl audio, VIA Velocity™ Gigabit Ethernet, and USB2.0.

For more information, please visit www.alienware.com and www.via.com.tw.

Jan 19 - Nanosys and Intel to Investigate Nanotechnology-Enabled Memory. Nanosys announced today that they have entered into a collaborative agreement with Intel to investigate using nanotechnology for future memory systems. Under the agreement, Intel will help support nano-related technology efforts at Nanosys for possible use in memory products. According to the agreement, Nanosys and Intel will work together exclusively on certain areas of memory related technologies for a set period of time.

"We're very pleased about working with Intel in such an exciting area of opportunity," said Calvin Chow, Nanosys co-founder and Chief Executive Officer. "Intel's expertise and success in the practical development and commercialization of semiconductor technologies for high value market segments makes them an excellent collaborator for Nanosys."

"Investments in companies like Nanosys play an important role in exploring novel applications of next-generation materials," said David Tennenhouse, vice president and director of research at Intel. "This collaboration will combine the strength of Intel in semiconductor memory technologies and the strength of Nanosys in certain advanced nanomaterials."

Nanosys also announced that Intel Capital, the strategic investment group at Intel Corporation, participated in Nanosys' $38M Second Round Financing that closed in May 2003.

About Intel Capital

Intel Capital, Intel's strategic investment program, focuses on making equity investments and acquisitions to grow the Internet economy in support of Intel's strategic interests. Intel Capital invests in hardware, software and services companies in several market segments, including computing, networking, and wireless communications. For more information, visit www.intel.com/capital.

About Nanosys

Nanosys, Inc. is an advanced technology company, leading the burgeoning nanotechnology industry through the development of nano-enabled systems. These systems incorporate novel and patent-protected nanostructures that integrate functional complexity directly into each individual nanoparticle, enabling the low-cost fabrication of revolutionary high-value, high-performance applications in a broad range of industries from life and physical sciences to information technology and communications to renewable energy and defense.

These nanostructures include nanowires, nanorods, nanotetrapods, and nanodots formed from all of the industrially important semiconductor materials as their principal active elements. These systems exploit the fundamentally new and unique electronic, optical, magnetic, interface, and integration properties associated with materials on the nanometer-scale. Nanosys's initial applications include exquisitely sensitive chemical and biological sensing structures, high performance large area electronics, and lightweight high-efficiency conformal solar cells. Nanosys, Inc. is a highly innovative company combining the best talent and has one of the strongest intellectual property positions in the field of nanotechnology.

Jan 19 - IBM Reports 2003 Fourth-Quarter and Full-Year Results. IBM today announced fourth-quarter 2003 diluted earnings per common share of $1.56 from continuing operations compared with diluted earnings of $1.11 per share in the same period of 2002, an increase of 41 percent. The prior-year period included $.23 per diluted share for charges primarily associated with the acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting (PwCC).

Without these charges, diluted earnings per share from continuing operations improved 16 percent year over year. Income from continuing operations for the same period of 2003 was $2.7 billion compared with $1.9 billion a year ago, an increase of 42 percent, including $405 million for the after-tax charges primarily related to the PwCC acquisition. Fourth-quarter revenues from continuing operations were $25.9 billion, up 9 percent compared with revenues of $23.7 billion in the 2002 period.

Samuel J. Palmisano, IBM chairman and chief executive officer, said: "This was a very good quarter for IBM and an encouraging end to a year in which we steadily gained momentum and posted record revenues. Our pretax earnings and earnings per share were up double digits for 2003, and we ended the year with more than $7.6 billion in cash.

"IBM's product and services portfolio -- fueled by unmatched innovation capability -- is very strong and getting stronger. With few exceptions, the company performed well across the board. We had more than $17 billion in services signings, and good growth in our industry-leading server and WebSphere businesses. Most encouraging is that our On Demand strategy is today a reality -- it has entered the mainstream, and it is increasingly driving our business results.

"The company's performance would not be possible had we not made investments during the downturn and fundamentally repositioned IBM for leadership in the high-value enterprise space, which remains our sole focus. We are gratified that the strategies and investments are paying off, and that team IBM is executing on behalf of our clients.

"We enter 2004 with good momentum. The client buying environment is steadily improving. We are enthusiastic about our prospects for this year and beyond."

For more information, visit IBM investor relations Web site at www.ibm.com/investor.

Jan 19 - Nintendo Sales Skyrocket in the U.S. and Around the World. Around the world and around the block, Nintendo has taken a leadership position in the video game industry. Hardware and software sales in 2003 made significant leaps over 2002, and Nintendo's success bumped Microsoft's Xbox to the No. 3 position in the 2003 console wars.

Global holiday sales for Nintendo GameCube(TM) in 2003 outpaced 2002 by a whopping 70 percent, and Nintendo does not plan to change its global sales target of 6 million Nintendo GameCube systems this fiscal year.

Nintendo estimates for 2003, Nintendo GameCube U.S. hardware sales increased by more than 35 percent over 2002; Sony's PlayStation 2 dropped by about 25 percent and Xbox showed no relevant market growth. In December alone, Nintendo GameCube hardware sales soared 69 percent over December 2002, compared to a drop of about 30 percent for PlayStation 2. Again, Xbox showed little change.

U.S. sales got a boost from a Sept. 25 price drop, which brought Nintendo GameCube to an MSRP of $99.99. Now Nintendo GameCube has nearly 6.8 million units sold in the U.S. since its 2001 launch. And Mario Kart(R): Double Dash!!(TM) has become the fastest-selling Nintendo GameCube game in the United States, selling more than 1 million units in just seven weeks.

"With the price drop for Nintendo GameCube and strong games across the board, we expected to have a good holiday season, but these numbers surpassed even our best projections," explains George Harrison, Nintendo of America's senior vice president of marketing and corporate communications. "Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance have become the engines powering the video game industry this year."

The hand-held Game Boy(R) Advance also saw double-digit increases in the United States, with nearly 2.5 million units sold in December, an 11 percent increase over December 2002. Nintendo sold more than 8.2 million Game Boy Advance systems in 2003, an increase of 18 percent over 2002 and the most sold in one calendar year in the 14-year history of the Game Boy. In 2003, the Game Boy Advance outsold PlayStation 2 by nearly 2 million units.

Nintendo also led the way during the holiday season's software boom. The 2003 sales for Nintendo GameCube software increased 63 percent over 2002, while Xbox software increased 54 percent and PlayStation 2 software increased 23 percent. Nintendo expects to continue riding the wave of success through 2004, with a steady flow of strong software titles, including Final Fantasy(R): Crystal Chronicles(TM) in February and Pokemon Colosseum(TM) in March.

For more information about Nintendo, visit the company's Web site at www.nintendo.com.

Jan 19 - 50% of All Internet Households Are Interested in VoIP Telephone Services. One-half of all Internet households are interested in VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) services, which could deprive current long-distance companies of their most profitable subscribers.

Interest in these services is disproportionately among subscribers with high monthly phone bills, and cost savings is the primary driver, according to Residential Voice-over-IP: Analysis & Forecasts, a new report from Parks Associates. Furthermore, interest in VoIP service is consistent among both broadband (52%) and narrowband (48%) households.

"Consumers are looking at VoIP service as a replacement for their primary phone line, not as a secondary backup," said John Barrett, a research analyst at Parks Associates. "VoIP could also serve as a lure for new broadband subscribers, given the strong interest among narrowband households. The market is still searching for a 'killer' broadband application. Wouldn't it be ironic if it turned out to be telephone service?"

The survey conducted for Residential Voice-over-IP: Analysis & Forecasts sampled 3,300 households on VoIP services.
Parks Associates is a market research and consulting firm focused on all product and service segments that are "digital" or provide connectivity within the home. They can be found online at www.parksassociates.com.

Jan 19 - CinemaNow is First to Add Download-To-Own Video Option to Online Service. CinemaNow, Inc., a leader in IP-based video-on-demand distribution and technology, today announced the launch of a new version of its video-on-demand Web site, www.cinemanow.com.

The site features several new functions designed to provide users with more options in the way they purchase and view movies via the Internet. Most notable is the addition of download-to-own capabilities (also known as digital sell-through), which allows users to purchase and download a permanent copy of a digital file for unlimited playback on that device. CinemaNow is the first major video-on-demand service to offer a download-to-own model and this, along with the ability to rent movies on a pay-per-view basis or access them via a subscription, makes CinemaNow the most complete and flexible service for accessing movies online.

"Allowing users to download and own DVD-quality versions of video content is the next great frontier in digital distribution," said Curt Marvis, chief executive officer of CinemaNow. "As the recent activity in the music industry has proven, Internet-based delivery of on-demand content is now ready to fully realize its potential as a mass distribution platform. With the launch of this new site, CinemaNow is firmly positioned as the leader in the movie-on-demand space."

"CinemaNow's smart use of innovative technology such as Windows Media 9 Series and Windows Server 2003 together helps ensure high-quality viewing experiences for customers," said Jason Reindorp, group manager, Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft Corp. "The customer ends up with great options for what they want to watch and how they want to watch it."

All download-to-own content is made available in Microsoft's Windows Media Video 9 Series format and is protected by Microsoft's Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM) software in conjunction with CinemaNow's PatchBay(TM) technology. The download-to-own functionality will also be made available for Windows XP Media Center Edition users via the CinemaNow Windows Media Center Edition Web site and to owners of Microsoft's new Portable Media Center devices, which launches in the second half of 2004.

Among the first titles now available on a download-to-own basis are the legendary surf documentary "Endless Summer" and several music concert films from such varied performers as rapper Tupac Shakur, reggae star Ziggy Marley and classic rocker Peter Frampton. All of the music concerts mentioned are available in high-quality 5.1 surround sound using Windows Media Audio 9 Series Professional.

CinemaNow, Inc. (www.cinemanow.com) is the global leader in Internet-based video-on-demand (VOD) and subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) distribution and technology.

Jan 18 - Sunday Shopping Watch.

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

Weekly Comparison. A very good weekend to go out and buy new 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 $150 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 media center desktop packages.
Office Depot is offering 6 months no payments, no interest, financing on notebook or desktop purchases of $299 and higher, and up to $150 mail-in rebates on advertised desktops
CompUSA is offering 18 months no payments, no interest, financing on notebook or desktop purchases of $799 and higher, up to $150 mail-in rebates on advertised laptops, and a computer trade-in program.
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
$346
-
Office Depot, Best Buy($389)
2. Best Celeron Deal
Compaq 2.7 GHz complete system with 17" monitor
$469
-
Circuit City
1. Best Pentium 4 System
Sony 2.66 GHz Pentium 4 complete system with 15 inch flat panel, and DVD-RW
$999
-
Circuit City
2. Best Pentium 4 System
HP 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
HP Athlon 3000+ complete system with 17 inch monitor
$719
-
Best Buy
2. Best AMD Athlon XP System
Compaq Athlon 3000+ complete system with 17 inch monitor
$739
-
Best Buy, Circuit City
3. Best AMD Athlon XP System
eMachines Athlon 3000+ complete system with 15 inch flat panel
$879
-
Best Buy
1. Best Low-cost Laptop
Compaq 2.3 GHz Pentium 4 with DVD/CD-RW
$799
-
CompUSA
2. Best Low-cost Laptop
Toshiba 2.8 GHz Celeron with DVD/CD-RW
$799
-
CompUSA
3. Best Low-cost Laptop
HP Athlon 2500+ with DVD/CD-RW
$899
-
Circuit City, Office Depot($949)
1. Best High-end Notebook
HP Pentium 4 2.3 GHz with DVD-RW
$1249
-
CompUSA
2. Best High-end Notebook
Toshiba Pentium 4 2.8 GHz with DVD-RW
$1449
-
Best Buy, CompUSA
3. Best High-end Notebook
Toshiba widescreen Pentium 4 2.8 GHz with HT Technology and DVD-RW
$1549
-$250
CompUSA
Peripherals and Software
Best Sunday Deal
Western Digital 120 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 8 MB buffer
$69
(after rebates)
-
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
Western Digital 250 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive with 8 MB buffer
$149
(after rebates)
-
CompUSA, Best Buy($159)
Best Sunday Deal
Xtasy Radeon 9600XT 128 MB
$149
(after rebates)
-
CompUSA
Best Sunday Deal
ATI Radeon 9600XT 128 MB
$179
(after rebates)
-
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
ATI Radeon 9800XT 256 MB
$179
(after rebates)
-
CompUSA
Best Sunday Deal
BFG GeForce FX 5200 128 MB
$69
(after rebates)
-
CompUSA
Best Sunday Deal
BFG GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 256 MB
$399
(after rebates)
-
CompUSA
Best Sunday Deal
TDK 8X DVD-RW Drive
$169
(after rebates)
-
CompUSA
Best Sunday Deal
Plextor 8X DVD-RW Drive
$189
(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 16 - Intel Fourth-Quarter Revenue Of $8.74 Billion At Record Level. Intel Corporation today announced fourth-quarter revenue of $8.74 billion, up 12 percent sequentially and up 22 percent year-over-year. Fourth-quarter revenue was slightly higher than the previous record of $8.73 billion set in the third quarter of 2000.

Fourth-quarter net income was $2.2 billion, up 31 percent sequentially and up 107 percent year-over-year. Earnings per share were $0.33, up 32 percent sequentially and up 106 percent from $0.16 in the fourth quarter of 2002.

"We ended the year on a high note as ongoing strength in emerging markets coupled with improving demand in established markets drove revenue to record levels," said Craig R. Barrett, Intel chief executive officer. "Intel's substantial investments in capital and R&D over the past few years allowed us to ship record microprocessor units in 2003 and introduce exciting new products such as Intel® Centrino™ Mobile Technology.

"In 2004, our focus will be to drive double-digit growth through technology leadership and global market expansion, and by pursuing adjacent opportunities in communications and the digital home, while using our 90-nanometer and 300-millimeter factories to reduce costs and improve profitability."

The fourth quarter 2003 results included the impact of a $611-million goodwill write-down related to the Wireless Communications and Computing Group (WCCG). At the time of the fourth-quarter Business Update, the company also anticipated a tax benefit of approximately $200 million related to a divestiture. Due to an additional divestiture that closed during the quarter, the tax benefit increased by $420 million, or approximately $0.06 more than anticipated. Intel's third-quarter results included a tax benefit of $125 million related to a divesture, and last year's fourth-quarter results included a tax benefit of approximately $75 million related to divestitures.

Full-Year Results

Revenue for 2003 was $30.1 billion, up 13 percent from $26.8 billion in 2002. Net income was $5.6 billion, up 81 percent from $3.1 billion in 2002. Earnings per share were $0.85, up 85 percent from $0.46 in 2002.

For the year, the company paid cash dividends of $524 million, or $0.08 per share, and used $4.0 billion in cash to repurchase approximately 176 million shares of common stock.

BUSINESS OUTLOOK

The following statements are based on current expectations. These statements are forward-looking, and actual results may differ materially. These statements do not include the potential impact of any mergers, acquisitions, divestitures or other business combinations that may be completed after Jan. 13, 2004.

** Revenue in the first quarter is expected to be between $7.9 billion and $8.5 billion.

** Gross margin percentage in the first quarter is expected to be approximately 60 percent, plus or minus a couple of points. Intel's gross margin percentage varies primarily with revenue levels, product mix and pricing, changes in unit costs and inventory valuation, capacity utilization, and the timing of factory ramps and associated costs.

** Gross margin percentage for 2004 is expected to be approximately 62 percent, plus or minus a few points, as compared to 57 percent in 2003.

Intel Architecture Business

For the desktop, Intel began shipments of the Pentium® 4 processor Extreme Edition at 3.2 GHz which brings Hyper-Threading Technology and an additional 2 Mbytes of cache memory to demanding PC gamers and computing enthusiasts. During the fourth quarter, Intel also began shipping the company's first 90-nm microprocessor, code-named Prescott, which is being ramped in high volume.

In mobile, the company introduced the Celeron® M processor, the first value processor based on the company's Banias microarchitecture for mobile computing. Intel also introduced the Mobile Celeron processor at 2.50 GHz along with a 2.8-GHz Celeron processor for use in mobile and desktop systems. Intel now expects the company's first 90-nm mobile microprocessor, code-named Dothan, to be shipped during the second quarter, later than originally planned due to circuit modifications that needed to be made prior to the volume manufacturing ramp.

For the digital home, Intel announced development of the Entertainment PC, a slim, remote-control-based device that connects to consumer TV systems. Entertainment PCs are expected to be available from PC manufacturers in mid-2004 for below $800, giving consumers the ability to store and wirelessly share digital music, photos, videos and 3-D games in the home. The company also announced the $200-million Intel® Digital Home Fund, which will invest in companies developing hardware and software technologies for driving the convergence of PC and consumer electronics applications. Intel demonstrated a new Liquid Crystal On Silicon technology designed to enable HDTV displays with higher image quality and lower cost than current displays.

In enterprise computing, a number of customers around the world adopted Itanium® 2-based servers, including CompUSA, Fiat Group, First Trust Corporation, the ING Group, the Koehler Group of Germany and Korean telecommunications provider KT. The Itanium 2 processor extended its performance leadership by achieving the industry's first TPC-C benchmark result exceeding 1 million transactions per minute. In high-performance computing, the number of Intel processor-based systems in the TOP500* list grew by nearly 50 percent over a six month period, with supercomputers based on Intel processors outnumbering those based on RISC processors for the first time.

Additional information about Intel is available at www.intel.com.

Jan 16 - Systemax Announces New $899 Notebook Featuring Intel Centrino Mobile Technology. Systemax (NYSE: SYX), a leading manufacturer and distributor of PCs and related computer products for businesses, has announced a new groundbreaking $899 price (after $100 rebate) on its Pursuit(TM) 4000 notebook featuring Intel(R)'s Centrino(TM) mobile technology platform. The new price makes it the lowest-priced Centrino based notebook available on the market today.

The Pursuit 4000 notebook has a 14" XGA base with an Intel(R) Pentium(R) M processor for superior performance and a thin, lightweight design (as low as 4.3 lbs). The built-in Centrino platform empowers users with its Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 802.11b connectivity and a battery life that can extend up to a remarkable 4+ hours. At its new $899 price, the Pursuit 4000 represents the best value in portable computers available on the market.

"Corporate business professionals and 'road warriors' require the convenience and mobile power of Intel's Centrino platform but should not have to bust their budget in order to get it," said Sean Aryai, Director of Marketing, Systemax. "That's why the new Systemax Pursuit 4000 is the ideal portability solution. It provides the four plus hour battery life and integrated wireless capabilities of the revolutionary Centrino platform plus a host of other standard features to help manage the challenges of being on the road. It's an unbeatable value."

About the Pursuit 4000

The new Pursuit 4000 notebook features a brilliant 14" XGA Active Matrix screen display and 64MB graphics for exceptional resolution. It also boasts a striking blue color with blue status lights, offering style in addition to performance. Additional features include: -- 128MB DDR SDRAM -- 20GB Ultra ATA Notebook Hard Drive -- CDROM Drive -- Microsoft(R) Windows(R) XP Home Edition -- Intel(R) PRO/Wireless Network Connection 802.11b -- CA eTrust 7.0 Anti-Virus with free lifetime definitions -- Standard One Year Warranty

All Systemax notebooks and desktop PCs are custom configurable.

The $100 rebate coupon is included with the system. The Systemax Pursuit(TM) series is available at www.globalcomputer.com, www.dartek.com and www.tigerdirect.com.

Jan 16 - SMC Ships New EZ-Stream Universal 802.11a/g Wireless Router. SMC Networks, leading provider of networking solutions for the Enterprise, the SMB and all the way home, today announced that the newest member of EZ-Stream(TM) Home Entertainment Networking family of products, the SMC2304WBR-AG EZ-Stream Universal 2.4GHz/5GHz Wireless Cable/DSL Broadband Router, began shipping this week, and is available through select retailers and integrators at an MSRP of $199.99.

A high-performance, easy-to-use multi-function device, the new EZ-Stream Universal Broadband Router is the perfect solution for today's leading-edge households, with multi-standard wireless capability that lets it communicate with any 802.11a, b or g wireless devices. Its blazingly fast performance and high bandwidth in 802.11a/g Turbo mode make the SMC2304WBR-AG a perfect companion to the EZ-Stream Universal Wireless Multimedia Receiver for home entertainment networking.

"To date, home networking has been driven by the sharing of broadband in multi-PC households," said Danielle Levitas, director of IDC's consumer devices and services research. "However, entertainment will be the critical driver to bring home networking technology into mainstream households. The EZ-Stream Universal Broadband router will allow consumers to view and listen to content stored on their PCs -- namely music, family photos, and video -- on their home entertainment systems."

"The EZ-Stream Universal Broadband Router presents a gateway to a whole new way to network homes, for a whole new collection of reasons: to view the family photo album on the television; to transmit downloaded video for viewing on the television; to listen to downloaded MP3 files on the stereo -- the list goes on," said Brian Larsen, SMC Networks' product manager. "This router has the bandwidth, speed, universality to make home entertainment networking easy and seamless."

SMC's EZ-Stream Universal 2.4GHz/5GHz Wireless Cable/DSL Broadband Router (SMC2304WBR-AG) works simultaneously with 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g wireless standards, providing truly universal wireless connectivity. That means that it will be compatible with existing equipment at home or in the office, with optimal performance.

"While 802.11b is fine for most home computer-to-computer and broadband sharing applications, 802.11a and g provide the enhanced bandwidth that moves video and music better," added Larsen.

The new SMC2304WBR-AG platform-independent, multi-functional router combines a 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11a, b and g Wireless Access Point, a 4-port 10/100 Mbps dual-speed switch with Automatic MDI-MDIX ports, Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) firewall security, network management, parental controls and Virtual Private Network (VPN) passthrough support. With the EZ-Stream Universal Wireless Broadband Router as the Internet gateway, wireless home entertainment networking can access and carry voice, data, audio, multimedia, video -- all of the applications that a home entertainment network distributes.

The EZ-Stream Universal Wireless Cable/DSL Broadband Router supports transfer rates of up to 108 Mbps in 802.11a and g modes -- 10 times the data rate and throughput of standard 11 Mbps WLAN products. Thanks to its high-bandwidth, a high-speed capability, this high-powered router is perfect for today's demanding home networking: gaming, transmitting music and movies via networked set-top boxes, PCs, and SMC's own EZ-Stream Universal Wireless Multimedia Receiver (SMCWMR-AG) to TVs and stereos.

For more information about SMC Networks or its products, visit www.smc.com.

Jan 16 - VentureWire Reports Biotechnology and Semiconductor Venture Investing Up in 2003. VentureWire, a newsletter published by Dow Jones Newsletters, today reported that preliminary totals show venture capital investing in the U.S. declined 16 percent in the final quarter of 2003. Venture capitalists invested $3.7 billion in the quarter, down from $4.3 billion in the comparable quarter of 2002. VentureWire also reported that the number of financings declined to 335 from 405 in the year-earlier quarter, a drop of 18.5 percent.

For the year, U.S. venture investing totaled $15.2 billion, down from $20.6 billion in 2002, or 25.7 percent. The 2003 total is the lowest since 1998, when U.S. start-ups raised $13.5 billion in private capital.

Despite the overall decline, investment in biotechnology and semiconductor start-ups in 2003 was up compared to the prior year. Biotech companies raised $2.9 billion in 2003, a small increase from $2.8 billion in 2002. Semiconductor companies raised $1.6 billion in 2003, an increase of about $50 million over 2002.

The annual totals are estimates based on final investment data for the first three quarters plus preliminary figures for the fourth quarter compiled from financings reported daily by VentureWire. The estimate provides an early view of venture capital investment trends for the year. Final investment numbers for the fourth quarter and the 2003 will be available later in January, after the completion of a survey of venture capital investors.

Over the past 15 years, this survey has typically yielded an additional 10 percent to 20 percent in venture capital investment when final investment numbers are tallied. However, the additional percentage increase has rarely changed overall investment trends. "Biotech has been strong for several years now as investors shifted dollars out of information technology," said Ken Andersen, managing editor of VentureWire. "But the continuing strength in semiconductor investment is a signal that prospects for IT-related investing are improving."
In the fourth quarter, Intel Capital and Menlo Ventures were the most active venture investors, with ten announced investment deals each. For the year, New Enterprise Associates was the top investor with 62 financings for U.S.-based companies. NEA was also the most active investor in 2002, with 78 financings.

VentureWire (www.venturewire.com), a service of Dow Jones Newsletters (www.djnewsletters.com), produces online newsletters and events focusing on the high-tech startup, venture capital and technology industries.

Jan 16 - Number Portability Rules Will Double The Number Of Households Dropping Traditional Phone Service. New FCC-mandated rules that allow telephone numbers to be ported between wireline and wireless service will directly result in the displacement of 2 million wirelines by 2007, according to a report released today by Advanis. In all, 6 million U.S. households are likely to give up their wireline service over the next two years.

The report, based on a survey of 1000 household decision makers, explores the impacts of wireline number portability on both the wireline and wireless telephony markets.

"Local number portability makes it easier for those households that have already thought about it, to go ahead and cut the cord," says Dave Cosgrave, a Managing Analyst with Advanis and author of the report. "If LNP is implemented quickly and smoothly between wireline and wireless carriers - a big 'if' given what has happened so far with wireless to wireless portability - the historical rate of wireline displacement will likely double."

Still, the report points out that the majority of households remain unwilling to even consider displacing their wireline service, despite widespread awareness of LNP. They cite numerous reasons for keeping their regular phone service, such as concerns about call quality and reliability, and a reliance on wirelines for dial-up Internet and other services. Age, income, and prior wireless experience are also factors - older households with no wireless phone service are the least likely to consider giving up their wirelines.

While clearly a problem for wireline operators, the report cautions that wireline displacement is not necessarily a boon to the wireless industry either. The good news for wireless operators is that they won't have to match the wireline value proposition of unlimited calling for $42 per month to compete for high value customers. The bad news is that for every 100 wirelines displaced, the wireless industry may only gain 30 net-new subscribers.
The rest will transfer their home numbers to an existing service, or, if they can get a better deal, replace an existing wireless service. The net result could be even more churn for the wireless industry, particularly if there is aggressive price competition for existing wireline business.

For more information visit www.advanis.ca.

Jan 15 - Upbeat 2004 International CES Bodes Well for Shift to Digital and Future Industry Growth. With thousands of new products and technologies announced this week in Las Vegas, the future of the digital lifestyle looks bright as global technology executives, buyers and media from around the world networked at the 2004 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

The 2004 International CES set records across the board with 129,328 technology executives visiting 2,491 companies in 1.38 million net square feet of exhibit space. Final attendance numbers will be posted this spring after review by a third-party auditor. By comparison, the 2003 International CES had 117,704 attendees and 2,230 companies in 1.25 million net square feet of exhibit space. With executives from more than 110 countries, international attendance grew to 18,050 industry professionals compared to 16,606 last year. CES continues to establish itself as the global marketplace for consumer technologies.

"The innovation, phenomenal products, convergence of technologies, people and excitement were unprecedented," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the producer of the International CES. "While it may have been 'plastics' in the 1960s, this era's technology is consumer electronics as leaders from IT, cable, broadcasting, entertainment, education, transportation and government converged in Las Vegas for CES."

"The hotels were packed, the flights were full, and the exhibitors and attendees were thrilled," said Karen Chupka, vice president of events conferences for CEA. "We are delighted that CES is the world's leading event for technology."

Whether it was sleek and amazingly thin display technologies, imaging, mobile electronics, wireless, home networking or entertainment, the products on the CES show floor encompassed the latest in digital technologies, featuring a wide array of features at a range of price points to meet consumer demand.

Display technology was abundant across the show floor. Thin, flat, bigger LCD and plasma displays dominated hundreds of booths of not only traditional display manufacturers, but an increasing number of IT companies such as Dell and Epson. Epson showcased its Livingstation 57-inch widescreen high-definition television, Samsung touted the world's largest LCD HDTV offering full 1920 by 1080 progressive scan resolution, and Philips made a splash with its Mirror TV featuring a video display that turns into a mirror when not in use.

Portability, connectivity and wireless technology were among the significant trends of the show. The capability of thousands of products across the show floor to interoperate with each other via wireless technology created one digital world under the roof of the convention center.

Wireless phones, PDAs and other data products were on display embedded with video displays, cameras and a proliferation of services such as e-mail capabilities, Web-browsing, instant messaging, gaming and streaming video. Nokia debuted its Nokia 3660 capable of capturing and sending still and video images. Archos launched the AV300 Cinema-to-Go, the industry's first personal, portable video player that can record and play back movies with stereo MP3 audio while also operating as a digital audio recorder and player, photo player and storage device. Panasonic showed its D-Snap camcorder, the world's smallest camcorder with no moving parts. Sony Ericsson showcased its Bluetooth music player HBM-30, a combination Bluetooth headset and MP3 player that lets users listen to digital audio while connected to a phone.

The networked home figured prominently at CES this year as more home owners demand access to content and home control features anywhere and at any time. Content now can be stored in the home PC or other products such as media servers and controlled by wireless or Web-enabled remotes.
CES showcased this up and coming trend with a number of products such as CorAccess Systems' Amego handheld home remote which allows consumers to view and control all aspects of the home including lighting, theater, security and HVAC. Salton's Beyond Connected Home "Home Hub and Coffee Maker" provides instant weather, traffic and news on demand. And Rockford/Omnifi showed its AV Digital Media Streamer enabling consumers to stream high-quality video files stored on a PC to a home entertainment system.

Digital imaging technology had its largest presence on the show floor in history. The new Flash Forward TechZone showcased the latest digital cameras, printers, software and accessories. HP displayed its Scanjet 4670, an ultra-thin printer about the width of the spiral notebook. And Panasonic showed its Lumix camera, the industry's first four megapixel digital camera with 12x optical zoom.

The 2004 International CES also housed the world's largest mobile electronics tradeshow. In-car entertainment, two-way communications, satellite television, navigation and vehicle tracking were all prominent at CES. KVH Industries displayed its TracVision A5, an ultra-low profile antenna that brings digital satellite television to the automobile. Databahn showcased the Mobile Satellite Broadband Solution that delivers two-way capabilities, a T-1 broadband connection, voice-over IP and satellite television in a 26-inch dish that mounts on top of the vehicle. In the realm of navigation, Sanyo Fisher showed off its M3 GPS mobility navigation/multimedia system. The product combines a DVD-based GPS guidance system with a fully functional DVD/CD player and navigation system.

More than 130 leaders from the federal and foreign governments attended the International CES, adding to the global flair of the event. Officials from the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission and both the Senate and House of Representatives joined government technology officials from other countries including Germany, Korea and Japan at the International CES.

"The momentum created here at CES this week will help carry the industry forward in 2004 as we begin gearing up for the 2005 International CES," said Chupka. "Already, 1,290 exhibitors have signed up for more than 1.27 million net square feet of space. We will continue to improve the show's infrastructure to support the growth of the International CES. By the 2005 International CES the Las Vegas monorail will be open, and CEA and Las Vegas officials already are planning how to make the 2005 show an even better experience."

The 2005 International CES runs January 6-9 in Las Vegas, Nev. CEA's resources are available online at www.CE.org, the definitive source for information about the consumer electronics industry.

Jan 15 - Dell Delivers New Business Notebook Computers That Are Easy on the Budget. Price-sensitive customers in need of a notebook computer that delivers mobility can now choose the Dell Latitude(tm) D505 notebook, starting at $1,049, with Intel's new Celeron M processor and Wi-Fi(R) capability.

This thin and light notebook, with a starting weight of just over five pounds, is equipped to power mobile users through daily essential productivity tasks like e-mail, word processing and Internet surfing.

The Latitude D505 shares the same intuitive design and innovative D/Port docking solution and D/View notebook stand as other products in the Latitude D-Family portfolio. Designed for budget-conscious education customers and small and medium businesses with a networked environment, it provides true mobility without sacrificing reliability, flexibility or performance.

Dell education and business customers were consulted in the development of the D-Family notebooks and provided feedback regarding their notebooks' usability, features and form factors. Dell relied on this feedback in developing the Latitude D505 as well as the other D-family notebooks. This continued focus on meeting customer needs contributes to Dell's No. 1 ranking in Technology Business Research's quarterly IT Buying and Customer Satisfaction Study for notebook PCs, where it has maintained its leadership position for more than five years.

The Latitude D505 can be configured with an Intel Celeron M processor or a Pentium M processor, choice of 14.1-inch or 15-inch XGA displays and Intel's PRO Wireless 2100 wireless miniPCI card (802.11b). Customers can also choose Dell's TrueMobile(tm) 1300 (802.11b/g) or TrueMobile 1400 (802.11a/b/g) wireless solutions.

Dell offers a single point of accountability for deployment services to support its latest portfolio of Latitude products, which can help save time and effort and allow customers to focus IT resources on more strategic projects. More information about the Latitude D505 and other members of the D-Family can be found at www.dell.com/latitude.

Jan 15 - Virus Writers Building Underground Network for Rapid Dispersal of New Viruses. Clearswift, the MIMEsweeper company, predicts a rise in malicious threats and the birth of the "superworm" in 2004, following an analysis of 2003 and the detection of a private peer-to-peer malware network. Clearswift is advising organizations to review their e-mail and Web security to ensure their PCs are not used to distribute viruses or execute criminal activities on behalf of malicious groups.

The Sobig project last year, consisting of six successive viruses, marked the emergence of long-term malware projects, involving multistage attacks using spam, worms, trojans, spyware and proxies. Furthermore, 2003 saw a clear switch in motivation of the virus writer -- intellectual challenge or simple-minded cyber-vandalism is no longer the primary motive.

Instead, financial gain is now the principal reason behind virus development. It has become apparent that the Sobig project was instigated by organized crime gangs which are now deploying the tools of spammer, virus writer and hacker in a coordinated manner to expand their operations into cyberspace. These groups have now established a network of broadband home PCs which can be covertly used as an anonymous platform for criminal activity.

The Sinit Evolution

More recently, a private peer-to-peer malware network has been created, marking a major milestone in the evolution of the virus landscape. The network, dubbed Sinit, removes the single-point-of-failure that is often targeted by law enforcers in order to terminate viruses (as was the case with the last Sobig virus). With Sinit, there is no central server that can be shut down. Each infected host becomes part of a peer-to-peer network through which additional trojans are spread to all hosts. It has been estimated that hundreds of thousands of PCs have already been infected.

Sinit enables rapid dispersal of viruses and uses sophisticated encryption technology to prevent anti-virus companies from tracking development activity or modifying the virus codes. Sinit could also constitute the launch pad for a highly efficient "superworm." Theorists have postulated that a superworm could be capable of infecting all vulnerable hosts on the Internet in minutes.

"It looks as though 2004 will be the year of the superworm," commented Pete Simpson, manager of ThreatLab at Clearswift. "It's always been an arms race in the battle between virus writers and anti-virus companies, however, both sides now have financial incentives. Sinit represents a new and daunting challenge to anti-virus companies and further emphasizes the need to have a multilayered defense against these security threats."

While organized crime has come to dominate the malware scene, in 2003, the traditional virus-writing groups have not been entirely moribund. Serotonin, a virus developed last year that has yet to be released in the wild, represents an entirely new generation of worm. Using "Genetic Programming" techniques, based on processes analogous to those operating in biological evolution, the worm mimics natural selection processes. Although this has not been released in the wild yet, it demonstrates the potential problems to come.

No longer can organizations expect to be protected from malicious codes by deploying just firewall and anti-virus technology -- the ever-evolving nature of viruses requires a more proactive defense. Content security provides an additional layer of defense by enabling the generic blocking of executables, scripts and specified file types to protect against viruses and nonviral malware such as spyware. It will also intercept other malicious code in e-mail and Web pages.

About Clearswift

Clearswift's software portfolio includes the award-winning MIMEsweeper(TM), a product family for e-mail and Web e-policies. More information about Clearswift, its products and services is available at www.clearswift.com.

Jan 15 - Microsoft Unveils Smarter Retailing Initiative. Microsoft Corp. today announced its Smarter Retailing Initiative (SRI), created to help retailers improve how they sell and operate, and provide a technology and solutions framework for enabling the next generation of retail innovation.

The initiative focuses on three critical areas: Smarter Shopping, Smarter Selling and Smarter Operations. Based on extensive research, feedback from Microsoft’s customer advisory board, and industry-specific development investments by Microsoft’s retail-focused industry solutions team, the Microsoft® Smarter Retailing Initiative provides an innovative approach, based on open standards, to allow retailers to take full advantage of their legacy investments by connecting the retail enterprise to the store and to the consumer. SRI fundamentally changes the retailer’s rules of engagement with customers and the customer’s in-store experience.

The initiative is launching with the active support of more than 20 companies, all of which have committed to delivering solutions and services that align with the Smarter Retailing vision and using Microsoft’s .NET Framework, the programming model for building XML Web services and applications.
The companies include Accenture; BlueCube Software; Cap Gemini Ernst & Young; CRS Retail Systems Inc.; Dell; Fujitsu Transaction Solutions Inc.; HP; Infosys Technologies Ltd.; Intel Corporation; JDA Software Group, Inc.; Manhattan Associates Inc.; NCR Corporation; NSB Group; ProClarity Corporation; Retalix Ltd.; Sysrepublic; Trax Retail Solutions; and Wipro Ltd.

In addition, leading enterprise retailers such as 7-Eleven, Inc., Circuit City Stores, Inc., Costco Wholesale Corporation, Meijer, METRO Group, and Rite Aid Corporation have recently adopted Microsoft-based solutions ranging from smarter operations to smarter shopping. One example is the use of Windows® XP Embedded technology within the retail industry.

“Microsoft’s Smarter Retailing Initiative flows from our belief that there are many opportunities for innovation in the retail industry today, but they primarily lie on the edges, where retailers interact with consumers and manage their supply chains,” said Brian Scott, general manager for the Retail & Hospitality Industry Solutions Group at Microsoft. “We are excited that many industry-leading solution providers and retailers share our vision and are already working to help make it real for the marketplace.”
Smarter Retailing solutions will focus on three key areas, which work together but offer unique business drivers and financial benefits:

Smarter Shopping enables retailers to leverage their IT investments to create a seamless and personalized retail experience to satisfy consumers who demand service, convenience and information. Some focus areas include leveraging the digital devices that employees and customers already know, such as cellular phones and personal digital assistants, to differentiate product and service information.

Smarter Selling helps retailers maximize sales and customer satisfaction through labor deployment and by empowering employees with production location and inventory information as well as customer relationship management skills. The sales associate and customer interaction is improved through a more efficient and informed process, enabling employees to confidently address each customer’s question or need and even anticipate the customer’s needs before they are expressed.

Smarter Operations offers increased efficiency by providing real-time visibility into the metrics that drive profitability. This includes tools to easily manage the adoption of transforming technologies such as wireless devices and radio frequency identification (RFID). Focus areas include store management and flexible infrastructure.

“It is clear that the rules for engagement with customers are changing, and new technologies such as RFID are playing a big role,” said Jeff Smith, global managing partner of the Retail and Consumer Goods practice at Accenture. “Microsoft’s Smarter Retailing Initiative will help the industry embrace innovations that will allow them to turn customer information into insights they can use to tailor the consumer experience, differentiate themselves from competitors and win customer loyalty.”

Microsoft’s Smarter Retailing Initiative is built on open industry standards such as Web services and XML, and retail-specific standards such as IX Retail, OPOS, RFID and UCCNet. In addition, Microsoft has been working closely with the Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS), the standards division of the NRF, to improve the use of technology in the retail industry. Because of its focus on standards, the Smarter Retailing Initiative drives simplicity, consistency and true choice throughout the hardware and software ecosystem.

The Smarter Retailing Initiative was created through in-depth industry and consumer research with many of Microsoft’s key partners and numerous customers worldwide. The initiative was formed in part to help retailers respond to consumer demands for convenience and information on their own terms and across multiple channels, business demands for streamlined operations, and store demands for associate efficiency and customer service capabilities.

More information can be found at www.microsoft.com/smartretail.

Jan 15 - ATI Turbo-Charges Firegl Workstation Graphics with Introduction of High-End Firegl X2-256T. ATI Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ:ATYT) (TSX:ATY) is extending its line of workstation graphics accelerators today with the introduction of the high-end FireGL(TM) X2-256t. Based on ATI's award-winning scalable workstation graphics architecture, this turbo-charged graphics board delivers the industry's fastest 3D performance for products under $1000 (based on comparison to competitive products displayed at www.specbench.org).

The FireGL X2-256t is capable of handling users' most demanding projects when running high-end 3D applications based on OpenGL and DirectX 9. Featuring increased engine and memory speeds, plus a redesigned board with a performance-enhancing copper fan, the FireGL X2-256t delivers up to 25% more processing power than its predecessor. Four geometry engines and eight parallel rendering pipelines power the board which comes with 256MB of graphics memory and dual DVI-I connectors. The FireGL X2-256t delivers fast 3D performance, superior quality imaging and ISV certification for professional applications such as 3dsmax, SolidWorks, MicroStation, Maya, and Softimage XSI.

"With performance that rivals competitive products costing twice as much, the FireGL X2-256t features advanced pixel shader support and the ability to render complex models, scenes and effects in real-time," said Dinesh Sharma, Director, Workstation Products, ATI Technologies. "This turbo-charged accelerator enables 3D professionals to speed up their production pipeline, delivering high-end performance and ISV certification for sophisticated CAD (computer aided design), solid modeling, DCC (digital content creation) and visual simulation applications."

The FireGL X2-256t has an MSRP of US $899 and will be available later this month through workstation OEMs, system integrators and value added resellers. The FireGL X2-256t joins the existing products in the FireGL family including the entry-level FireGL(TM) T2-128, the mid-range FireGL(TM) Z1-128, the FireGL(TM) X1-128 and the MOBILITY(TM) FireGL(TM) T2 processor for mobile workstations.

For additional product details, or information on our reseller and distribution partners, please visit www.ati.com/FireGL.

Jan 15 - Only 45% of Users Will Primarily Use Traditional Desktops by 2006. By 2006, only 45% of corporate users will count a traditional desktop as their primary information device, according to META Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: METG). Another 40% will primarily use a notebook or tablet PC, with the final 15% focusing on thin-client or other information appliances (e.g., custom device, handheld). A key factor is the increasing percentage of users who will be equipped with multiple devices over and above the current combination of a PC and a personal information/communication device (e.g., handheld, cell phone).

"By 2007, the average user will interact regularly with at least four distinct computing devices -- a personal home PC, smart digital entertainment system, corporate computer, and mobile information device," said Steve Kleynhans, vice president with META Group's Technology Research Services. "This multiplicity of devices will force software vendors to focus on information synchronization as well as 'thinning' or 'roaming' applications to enable users to access their information independent of the device they are using."

Device selection needs to be matched to user job requirements, including information access and mobile needs to ensure that full value is obtained from end-user platform investments. Corporate IT planners must be aware of the alternatives coming into the market for servicing end users and make selections appropriate to the needs of the user base. This will require increased due diligence to gain an appropriate understanding and develop new technical skills. New device options will not only help IT organizations further trim operations costs, but also provide additional value in the form of improved information productivity.

Although light and convenient, current-state tablet PCs (without an integrated keyboard) are not functional enough for most office users as their only computing device. Improved form factors, coupled with declines in the cost of digitizers and a growing number of digital ink- and pen-enabled applications, will bring the tablet to the mainstream by 2006 -- one-third of all corporate notebooks will include tablet capabilities.
Closely related to the tablet PC are smart display devices, which enable users to wirelessly access their PCs using WinXP's remote desktop facility. Although Microsoft has discontinued further development on the current consumer-focused smart displays, we expect that the technology could reappear in the corporate environment.

"There is an opportunity in the corporate space, where 60% of information workers are 'corridor warriors' that roam from meeting to meeting, to provide users with access to basic information (e.g., e-mail, instant messaging, Web browsing) and note-taking capabilities while attending meetings on premises," said Kleynhans. "The devices could even be shared among users or possibly kept in meeting rooms. Any costs should be outweighed by the increase in meeting productivity for most knowledge workers."

Blade computers initially emerged as a way to make compact scalable servers by combining numerous low-cost self-contained PCs within a single chassis. This enabled the systems to share infrastructure such as power supplies, network and storage interconnects, and consoles.
PC manufacturers have now begun to move these systems beyond the server and into the end-user tier by assigning individual blades to users who access the blade using a thin-client device. Most of the administrative benefit and potential cost savings of blades come from designing a truly roaming environment. However, the effort involved and the backlash from users unwilling to succumb to a locked-down PC environment are substantial, making this option appropriate only for some groups.

"Blades will likely be used to augment traditional computing platforms as a means of delivering specific applications that may require alternative OSs (e.g., Linux) or dedicated processing power (e.g., real-time processing)," said Kleynhans. "Blades will become a commonplace solution implemented primarily in the same places that Citrix/Windows Terminal Server (WTS) solutions are currently applied. Blades will remain a niche product -- by 2006, blades will replace traditional PC form factors for roughly only 10% of users."

Visit www.metagroup.com for more details.

 

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