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Welcome to InfoHQ Computer 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 Computer News and Rumors is an archived column, so feel free to review previous week's or month's computer news by clicking on the link below. Previous computer news articles can also be searched, by using our site search feature found in the right-hand column.
InfoHQ Computer News and Rumors Article Index Date (Click on story to read, use your Browser's back button to return to the Index.) Mar 15 Mitsubishi Announces High-Definition Television and Networking Strategy Mar 15 Boeing Implements Linux NetworX Cluster System Featuring 96 AMD Athlon Processors Mar 15 Red-M Tees-off With the World's First Bluetooth Country Club Mar 15 IBM #1 In Worldwide Server Market Revenue in 2000 Mar 14 Sony Brings Double Density CD-R/RW Technology to the U.S. Market Mar 14 HP Introduces Its First CD-Writer/DVD Reader Combo Drive Mar 14 NEC Computers Inc. Announces Highest Performing NEC Microdesktop PC Mar 14 Lower Income Surfers are the Fastest Growing Group On the Web Mar 13 Handspring Introduces Super-thin Visor Mar 13 AOpen America Introduces New Generation of Pentium 4 Motherboards Mar 13 Viking announces 128 MB SmartMedia and 64 MB MultiMediaCards Mar 13 Digital Cinema and Cable Video-On-Demand Will Transform Movie Distribution Mar 12 Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., IBM and Toshiba Join to Develop "Supercomputer-On-A-Chip" Mar 12 Toshiba and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. to Make Embedded DRAM Mar 12 Micro Solutions' New Backpack Triple Play Cd-Rewriter Mar 12 DSL Internet Services Continue to Gain on Cable Mar 11 Sunday Shopping Watch Mar 10 HDD Sales to Consumer Electronics off to Solid Start Mar 10 STMicroelectronics and Hercules Partner for Leading-Edge PC Graphics Solutions Mar 10 BrightCom to Demonstrate Real World Bluetooth Wireless Technology Mar 9 No Clear Winner in Battle Between DDR DRAM and RDRAM in 2001? Mar 9 QPS Shipping Palm-Size Portable Firewire Hardrives Mar 9 Tantivy Introduces Internet-CDMA (I-CDMA) Portable Wireless Broadband Technology Mar 9 Americans, Europeans Have Distinctly Different Web Habits Mar 8 Dell Adds Ultra-Portable Notebook to Consumer Line Mar 8 Americans Say No Single Wireless Device Can Do It All Mar 8 FiberCycle Announces First Ultra-Dense Servers Using Transmeta Processor Mar 8 'NAKEDWIFE' Self-replicating Worm hits systems in U.S., Europe and Canada
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March 15 - Mitsubishi Announces High-Definition Television and Networking Strategy. Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America Inc. (MDEA) today announced its strategy for the 2001 introduction of integrated high-definition televisions (featuring built-in digital receivers) with networking capability.
The company specifically announced the fall introduction of several HDTVs with integrated digital receivers, IEEE 1394 high-speed serial bus circuitry with 5C copy protection, and HAVi (Home Audio Video interoperability) control software. Specific roll-out dates, screen sizes and pricing will be announced at MDEA's National Dealer Line Show in early May in Long Beach, Calif.
IEEE 1394 high-speed serial bus, better known as FireWire, is quickly becoming the de-facto standard in the interconnection of digital devices. As the FCC designated connection method between digital television devices and digital cable set-top boxes, FireWire supports both high-performance digital audio/video products and computer devices as the United States migrates to DTV.
While conventional LAN networks operate at speeds of 10 or 100 megabits per second (mbps), they cannot easily support streaming audio and video at HD resolution. IEEE 1394 networks easily support the TCP-IP packet requirements of computers, operate at 400 mbps or more, and handle multiple streams of HD audio/video.
In order to support the control needs of home theater products and other non-traditional networked devices such as security and heating/ventilation/air conditioning systems, and other devices, MDEA adopted the HAVi software system. HAVi seamlessly allows for easy, intelligent control of conforming connected devices.
5C, which Mitsubishi Electric previously announced as its copy protection technology, is fully incorporated into the IEEE 1394 networking system to provide unsurpassed copy protection to sensitive content, while maintaining the consumer's "Fair Use" rights to make copies of certain materials.
MDEA also noted that DVI (Digital Video Interface) input is not part of its long-term product strategy because it is not networkable, controllable or recordable. Devices that support the DVI interface are really encouraging the demise of "Fair Use" home recording rights, because the DVI signal is not recordable.
"It is our strategy to ensure that our products fully support networking technologies and home recording rights as we migrate to a fully digital home theater and control environment," said Robert A. Perry, director of marketing.
"As consumers purchase more digital products, they want to be comfortable that their products can connect and communicate. The IEEE 1394 interface, coupled with Audio Video Control (AVC) and HAVi software, delivers that comfort. We specifically rejected the DVI interface, because it is effectively a `monitor' connection that cannot be networked or recorded.
For additional information about MDEA, visit http://www.mitsubishi-tv.com.
March 15 - Boeing Implements Linux NetworX Cluster System Featuring 96 AMD Athlon Processors. AMD announced today that The Boeing Company has implemented an AMD Athlon processor-based supercluster developed by Linux NetworX.
The high performance cluster system, featuring 96 AMD Athlon(TM) processors, is running computational fluid dynamics applications in support of the Boeing Delta IV Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program at the company's Space & Communications division in Huntington Beach, Calif.
The Delta IV is the newest class of rockets developed by Boeing that will enter service in 2002 and will have the capability of lifting satellite payloads of up to 29,000 pounds into geosynchronous transfer orbit.
"We are delighted The Boeing Company has chosen an AMD processor-based solution, as this win reflects confidence in AMD's leading technology at the level of large U.S. enterprises," said David Somo, vice president of the Americas sales & marketing group for AMD. "The innovative AMD Athlon processor provides stability, reliability, and compatibility, as well as excellent performance for enterprise-level computing. AMD is pleased with the win, and the successful partnership with Linux NetworX."
Linux NetworX has already captured attention with its award-winning supercluster Evolocity(R), a complete turnkey cluster solution based on the AMD Athlon processor. The entire line of Evolocity clusters include both unique hardware and Linux NetworX cluster management software called ClusterWorX(R). The Evolocity 4500 received a Best of Show Award for Network Servers & Peripherals at NetWorld+Interop 2000 Atlanta.
Linux NetworX can be found on the Web at www.linuxnetworx.com. AMD can be found at www.amd.com.
March 15 - Red-M Tees-off With the World's First Bluetooth Country Club. Red-M(TM), a pioneering developer of Bluetooth(TM) networking solutions and subsidiary of Madge Networks N.V. (NASDAQ NM: MADGF), today announced the implementation of the world's first Bluetooth enabled wireless country club.
The prestigious Stonebriar Country Club, located in Frisco near Dallas, Texas, has deployed a Bluetooth network to enable wireless access to the Internet for club members, and provThe Stonebriar network is based on Red-M's award winning 3000AS and 1000AP Bluetooth networking products.
Initially deployed in the club's Grille Room, the network provides members with mobile access to their email, the Internet and Stonebriar's member-only Intranet website while inside the club. By offering its members this highly flexible, mobile Internet service, Stonebriar will help maintain its position as one of the most prestigious country clubs in the US. ide the platform for the deployment of exciting new member services from a range of personal devices.
The network will also form the basis for the development of new member services. These include enabling members to reserve a tee time, input golf scores, or even check on a child in Stonebriar's playroom facility from a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) or handheld device. In addition, Stonebriar's employees will be able to better serve club members by using PDA's to access member profile information.
"Being the first country club to offer mobile solutions over Bluetooth adds remarkable value, not only because it will increase members' access to email, club Intranet and Internet services, but also because it will provide new conveniences - such as checking stock quotes, golf scores or up to date diary appointments from anywhere in the club house", said Jim Swieter, General Manager of the Stonebriar Country Club. "Red-M's technology has made all of this possible."
"We are now seeing the deployment of in-building Bluetooth networks. These networks demonstrate the benefits Bluetooth technology can bring to the hospitality industry, a sector which stands to benefit significantly from the mobile revolution," said Simon Gawne, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Red-M. "We are delighted to have enabled Bluetooth at the Stonebriar Country Club."
Stonebriar Country Club is set in quiet and peaceful grounds and is located within easy access of Dallas, just off the main Dallas North Tollway. It can be found on the Web at http://www.stonebriar.com.
Information on Red-M can be found at www.red-m.com.
March 15 - IBM #1 In Worldwide Server Market Revenue in 2000. International Data Corporation (IDC) reported today that IBM is the number one server vendor worldwide for the year 2000, outselling rival Sun Microsystems by a 32 percent margin.
According to IDC's final year-end study of the server market, IBM had worldwide server revenue in 2000 of $13.6 billion compared to Sun with $10.3 billion. IBM's worldwide leadership over Sun also extended to server shipments, with IDC reporting that IBM shipped 608,118 servers in 2000, 77 percent more than Sun's of 343,803 shipments.
The new report also shows IBM passed UNIX server maker Hewlett-Packard (HP) for the first time in UNIX server market share in the fourth quarter of 2000, reflective of a record-breaking final quarter for IBM's combined server business that saw revenue grow 35 percent at year-to-year constant currency.
Also contributing to IBM's top ranking was the company's introduction in October, 2000 of IBM eServer, a new generation of servers featuring mainframe-class reliability and scalability, broad support of open standards for the development of new applications, and capacity on demand for managing the unprecedented demands of e-business. IBM's eServer line provides flexibility to help customers build and manage e-business infrastructures affordably and effectively.
IBM is the number one server vendor in the world. For more information, visit http://www.ibm.com/servers/eserver.
March 14 - Sony Brings Double Density CD-R/RW Technology to the U.S. Market. Sony Electronics today announced it will begin shipping its Double Density CD-R/RW products throughout the U.S. beginning in April, offering twice the capacity of conventional 650MB CD-R/RW media.
The new Sony Double Density ATAPI internal drive (model CRX200E-A1) and corresponding Double Density 1.3GB DD-R/RW media maintain the same features that have made the conventional CD-R and CD-RW formats so popular, while satisfying the need for higher capacity. The drive is also capable of recording standard CD-R/RW discs and reading all CD-based discs for smooth backward compatibility.
"The Sony Double Density drive is designed to provide the same functionality of conventional CD-RWs with more capacity for sharing, backing up and archiving large files," said Robert DeMoulin, product marketing manager for Value Added Products at Sony Electronics' Component Company.
The drive supports high speed 12X maximum write for DD-R/CD-R, 8X maximum rewrite for DD-RW/CD-RW and 32X maximum playback for all CD types. It also incorporates an 8MB buffer memory for secure writing at high speeds.
In order to double capacity, DeMoulin said that a few simple modifications were made to the conventional CD format. Physical track pitch and minimum track length were miniaturized to increase data capacity from 650MB to 1.3GB, a parameter in the error-correction scheme (CIRC) was changed, and the address format (ATIP) was expanded. The remaining areas inherit the basic specifications of the conventional CD format to make use of the existing CD infrastructure.
The Double Density drive comes with high performance recording software that is compatible with Windows(R) 95/98/2000, Windows Me(TM) or Windows NT(R) 4.0 systems.
The Sony Double Density ATAPI internal drive (model CRX200E-A1) will be available next month for an estimated U.S. retail selling price of $249. DD-R and DD-RW discs will also be available for about $1.99 and $2.99 respectively. For additional information about Sony CD-R/RW and DD-R/RW products, visit Sony's World Wide Web sites at http://www.sony.com/spressa, or at http://www.storagebysony.com.
March 14 - HP Introduces Its First CD-Writer/DVD Reader Combo Drive. Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HWP) today unveiled the company's first HP CD-Writer/DVD combination drive and a new high-performance HP CD-Writer drive. With these drives, Internet consumers are able to store and share music and images, and create their own custom CDs in less time.
The HP CD-Writer DVD Combo 9900ci drive is an internal drive that can be used to read DVD discs, download and store MP3 files and digital images, create custom discs and play CDs. While supplies last, customers who purchase this drive will receive DVD player software that allows them to play DVD movies or multimedia games on a PC.
The high-performance internal HP CD-Writer 9710i allows consumers to write 650 MB of data -- 74 minutes of audio to a CD -- in about five minutes. With this CD-writer drive, HP is offering one of the fastest write speeds in the industry today.
Both products are expected to be available in the United States later this month wherever name-brand computers and consumer electronics are sold. More information is available at http://www.hpcdwriter.com.
March 14 - NEC Computers Inc. Announces Highest Performing NEC Microdesktop PC. NEC Computers Inc., a leading provider of mobile, desktop and server computing solutions for the enterprise market, today announced that its PowerMate 2000 microdesktop PC will leverage the speed of an Intel Pentium(R) III 866MHz processor, making it the highest performing microdesktop PC in NEC's PowerMate desktop product line.
Utilizing the Pentium III 866MHz processor, the PowerMate 2000 microdesktop offers users computing in space constrained environments the processing performance advantages of a traditional desktop tower system in a sleek, compact design.
Engineered for the growing enterprise, the PowerMate 2000 microdesktop is designed for environments where desktop space is a premium. Significantly smaller than many of the top selling desktop PCs, the PowerMate 2000 microdesktop base measures only 10.5 inches wide by 7.7 inches deep and includes a 15-inch XGA TFT LCD display.
Designed to ease viewing, the display offers the flexibility of traditional monitors to tilt (40 degree range) and to swivel (160 degree range), while providing the sharp image and crisp text presentation of a digital LCD panel interface, 8MB of video RAM based on Dynamic Video Memory Technology (DVMT) and an Advanced Graphics Port (AGP).
Unlike a number of "legacy-free" systems, the PowerMate 2000 microdesktop offers a number of expansion options through two CardBus PC Card (Type-II) slots and two USB connections providing customization and upgradeability.
For more information on the system, visit www.neccomp.com.
March 14 - Lower Income Surfers are the Fastest Growing Group On the Web. The Internet ratings report for the month of February 2001 from Nielsen//NetRatings reveals that lower income Web surfers at home grew at a faster clip than any other income group, spiking 46 percent since February 2000.
Surfers earning less than $25,000 a year accounted for 6.3 million of the total Internet population who accessed the Web in February 2001, compared to only 4.3 million during the same month last year.
The upper middle-class income group earning between $50,000-74,999, jumped 42 percent in the past year. More than 30 million Internet users belong to the upper middle-class income group, making it the largest segment of the online population.
Users who earned between $25,000-49,999 grew 40 percent in the past year, representing more than 26 million people. Overall, the Internet grew 29 percent during the year.
"Like other forms of media, Internet access was first adopted by higher income groups who were willing to pay the cost of personal computers and monthly ISP service charges," said T. S. Kelly, director of Internet Media Strategies, NetRatings. "As the cost of personal computers and Internet access continues to drop, the doors have opened for lower income groups to tap into the Web. New Internet-based technologies in cell phones, handheld devices and video game consoles have introduced the Web to a broader demographic, helping to narrow the digital divide."
For more information, please visit www.nielsen-netratings.com.
March 13 - Handspring Introduces Super-thin Visor. Handspring, Inc., (NASDAQ:HAND) today introduced Visor Edge(TM), an extremely thin, infinitely expandable handheld computer that brings ultimate portability and flexibility to the popular Visor family of expandable handheld computers.
Visor Edge offers a crisp monochrome screen, a rechargeable battery and all of the enhanced performance benefits of the popular Visor Platinum edition. Based on Palm OS 3.5.2H2, Visor Edge is also the first Visor product to be available in a metal casing, which comes in three new metallic colors: silver, blue and red.
With a small and easily detachable Springboard slot that simply slides onto and off of the back of the product, Visor Edge is compatible with all existing Springboard modules that support Palm OS 3.5, including VisorPhone. The detachable slot gives people the option to use Springboard expansion products as needed while affording the benefits of a more slim design when modules are not in use.
In addition to its sleek style, Handspring has enhanced two key software functions that are unique to Visor Edge: Fast Lookup and Silent Alarm. With the Fast Lookup feature, people can access contact information more rapidly using the application buttons, without having to use the stylus or Graffiti text input.
The Silent Alarm feature offers users a purely visual reminder of appointments, ideal for use in meetings or other occasions when audible alarms are inappropriate. When the Silent Alarm is activated, the light underneath the power button will blink to alert you of your next appointment without disturbing others.
Available immediately in three metallic colors at Handspring.com, and in select retail stores across North America and English-speaking regions throughout the world by the end of the month, Visor Edge will sell for U.S. $399. Availability of colors may vary at retail stores.
The company also introduced a new graphite color version of its popular Visor Platinum today, which is available immediately in the U.S. at Handspring.com for $299.
March 13 - AOpen America Introduces New Generation of Pentium 4 Motherboards. AOpen America, Inc. today announced the newest member of its expanding motherboard product line, the AOpen AX4T, using Intel's new Pentium 4 processor chip and the Intel 850 Chipset.
AOpen has incorporated all the features of Intel's NetBurst micro-architecture coupled with the new Intel 850 Chipset memory controller hub and I/O controller hub to support the latest Internet and e-Commerce technology with high bandwidth memory and communications, direct pipelines for audio and video, and improved calculation capabilities.
The AOpen AX4T specifications include 100 MHz Front Side Bus (FSB), 400 MHz system bus support, 300/400 MHz RDRAM RIMM support, jumperless design, onboard IDE controller support, LAN controller onboard including Fast Ethernet support, AGP 2.0 and CNR compliance, AC'97 2.1 Audio CODEC onboard, and 4 channel USB ports.
The AOpen AX4T architecture is implemented using the ATX form factor, accommodating 5 PCI slots, 1 AGP slot, and 1 CNR. Capability is included for up to 2.0 GBytes of RDRAM using 184 pin RIMMs in 64/128/256/512 MByte memory modules. Onboard sound is accomplished using Sigma Tel's STAC9700 AC'97 CODEC. I/O support includes 2 serial ports, 1 parallel port, 4 channel E-IDE hark disk controller, 1 floppy connector, 2 channel USB ports, 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port, PS/2 mouse and keyboard interface, plus game/MIDI port, speaker out, mic-in. Also included is a real time clock, 3 Volt lithium battery, and 4 Mbytes of Award PnP Flash ROM BIOS.
The product is available now through AOpen's channel partners. The AOpen AX4T product is retail priced at $219.00 USD and includes a one-year warranty. For more information on the AOpen AX4T and AOpen's complete family of motherboard products please visit AOpen's website at: http://english.aopen.com/products/mb/default.htm.
March 13 - Viking announces 128 MB SmartMedia and 64 MB MultiMediaCards. Viking Components, one of the world's largest manufacturers of component technology, today announced the expansion of its flash memory line to include the industry's highest-capacity SmartMedia(TM) and MultiMediaCards (MMC) available.
Viking's 128 MB SmartMedia card and 64 MB MMC card are now available through resellers and retailers nationwide.
"As the flash memory card market continues to grow, Viking is committed to expanding its flash line with the latest technologies to stay ahead of the increasing storage demands of this market," said Rick Crowe, product manager, Viking Components. "Viking's high-capacity flash cards are both rugged and reliable and meet the storage needs of enthusiasts looking to store more information onto one card -- more data, more high-resolution images and more hours of CD-quality music."
Viking's extensive line of flash memory includes CompactFlash(TM) cards in capacities up to 256 MB, PC Cards in capacities up to 1 GB, SmartMedia in capacities up to 128 MB, MMC in capacities up to 64 MB, and the IntelliFlash(TM) line of USB-enabled flash memory readers/writers supporting CompactFlash, SmartMedia, PC Card and Sony(R) Memory Stick(R) technologies.
Visit the Viking Web site at www.vikingcomponents.com.
March 13 - Digital Cinema and Cable Video-On-Demand Will Transform Movie Distribution. Digital cinema and video-on-demand (VOD) are poised to outpace the Internet and change the way movies are distributed, according to a new Report by Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR).
Movie studios, theater circuits, cable companies, and technology vendors will each play a part in the development of business models that take advantage of digital technology; they will also share in $6.5 billion in increased movie-industry revenues by 2006.
"The Internet will never be an important venue for the distribution of mainstream feature films," said Eric Scheirer, analyst at Forrester. "Rather, it's two other digital technologies -- digital cinema and cable-based video-on-demand -- whose rapid development will fuel strong industry growth. The transition to digital cinema is in its early stages, but by 2004 it will be on a fast track to long-term commercial viability. And cable operators are moving aggressively with the rollout of next-generation digital services."
Digital cinema's development has been stymied by exhibitors' financial woes and studios' security concerns. Forrester believes that technology vendors will step in to break the funding stalemate, investing heavily to support the deployment of the necessary digital infrastructure. By 2006, one-third of the nation's big screens will be digital. Digital cinema will also provide theater chains with new revenue opportunities in merchandising, in-theater advertising, and nonmovie presentations, such as premium sporting events.
"While digital cinema transforms theaters, cable and satellite VOD will overcome their sluggish start to transform the home-video industry and smother IP-based movie services," added Scheirer. "Although Internet-based movies and their production companies enjoy the limelight now, movie fans prefer watching films on TVs -- not on PCs. In order to succeed as a revenue-generating service, VOD must move onto the TV screen. Cable TV will win the race to bring VOD services to the mass-market home viewer, beating out the competition from DSL and digital broadcast satellite (DBS) providers."
Information about Forrester Research can be found at www.forrester.com.
March 12 - Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., IBM and Toshiba Join to Develop "Supercomputer-On-A-Chip". Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI), IBM Corporation (IBM) and Toshiba Corporation (Toshiba) announced today plans to research and develop an advanced chip architecture for a new wave of devices in the emerging broadband era.
Combining SCEI's vision and strong leadership in the computer entertainment world, IBM's unparalleled computer and semiconductor technologies and Toshiba's extensive capabilities in system LSI (large-scale integration), especially for consumer applications, the companies will collectively invest more than $400 million in the next five years to design a "supercomputer-on-a-chip."
Under the agreement, the three companies will establish a joint development center within an IBM facility in Austin, Texas. At its peak, the center will be staffed with nearly 300 skilled computer architects and chip designers dedicated to the development project.
Code-named "Cell," the new microchips will employ the world's most advanced research technologies and chip-making techniques, including copper wires, silicon-on-insulator (SOI) transistors and low-K dielectric insulation, with features smaller than 0.10 microns - 1,000 times thinner than a human hair. The result will be consumer devices that are more powerful than IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer, operate at low power and access the broadband Internet at ultra high speeds. Cell will be designed to deliver "teraflops" of processing power.
Under the agreement, SCEI, IBM and Toshiba will each manufacture the product for a variety of consumer applications.
"The processor platform that people have only been able to imagine is now going to become a reality," said Ken Kutaragi, president and CEO of SCEI. "The new broadband processor, code-named Cell, that we are going to create, will raise the curtain on a new era in high-speed, network-based computing. With built-in broadband connectivity, microprocessors that currently exist as individual islands will be more closely linked, making a network of systems act more as one, unified `supersystem.' Just as biological cells in the body unite to form complete physical systems, Cell-based electronic products of all types will form the building blocks of larger systems. SCEI, IBM and Toshiba are mapping out the future of broadband computing." Visit the companies' web sites at www.sony.com, http://www.chips.ibm.com, and http://www.toshiba.co.jp.
March 12 - Toshiba and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. to Make Embedded DRAM. Toshiba Corporation (Toshiba) and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) announced today that they entered into a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the parties' cooperative relationship on 0.13 Micron Rule Semiconductor Embedded DRAM Logic Process for semiconductor fabrication.
This process will be used for PlayStation(R) and PlayStation(R)2.
By integrating DRAM and high speed logic circuit on a single silicon, it becomes possible to secure a very wide bus bandwidth, introduce innovative architectures, reduce power consumption, achieve higher speeds and integrate multiple number of ICs onto a single chip.
Toshiba has already established the 0.13 Micron Rule Semiconductor Embedded DRAM Logic Process and using this, PlayStation and PlayStation 2 will seek for the further integration of the chips while realizing very high performance. The semiconductor used in PlayStation and PlayStation 2 has now grown into one of the largest applications of this process.
The details of the collaboration will be subject to the definitive agreement to be worked out by the parties. The alliance with Toshiba will reinforce the relationship of the two companies already established through development and production of the graphics processor, used for PlayStation, and Emotion Engine, a CPU used in PlayStation 2, and Oita TS Semiconductor Corporation, a joint venture between Toshiba and SCEI. Visit the companies' web sites at www.sony.com, and http://www.toshiba.co.jp.
March 12 - Micro Solutions' New Backpack Triple Play Cd-Rewriter. Micro Solutions, Inc. has raised the bar on external CD-RWs with its new 8x8x32 backpack triple play cd-rewriter.
Introduced today, this drive is the first and only external cd-rewriter currently on the market to incorporate conveniently and cost-effectively in one box the three most prominent computer I/O interfaces - USB port, parallel port and PC Card. In addition, it supports an 8x write speed on Pentium processor-based notebooks through the PC Card slot, making it the fastest external CD-RW available that doesn't require any additional hardware to be installed.
"Unlike some other external cd-rewriters that make users pay separately for additional connection options, we bundle our best three interfaces in the new backpack triple play cd-rewriter," said Pat Barron, vice president of sales at Micro Solutions. "Having three industry standard connections in one box makes it easy to use this cd-rewriter on either a notebook computer or a desktop system. It's the fastest external CD-RW users can get today without adding extra adapter cards, with the best connectivity options standard - all at an economical price."
Micro Solutions' approach of "no cards to install" means the triple play cd-rewriter is plug-and-play, so users do not need to open a desktop or laptop and install additional hardware. The drive also is hot pluggable on all ports, so those with Windows 95(a), 98, Me and 2000 can attach and detach the drive without needing to restart their computers.
The 8x8x32 backpack triple play cd-rewriter (model number 193250) has a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of $269. Another model with all the same connectivity options, the 8x4x32 backpack triple play cd-rewriter (model number 193200), has an MSRP of $249.
For more information, visit the company's Web site at http://www.micro-solutions.com.
March 12 - DSL Internet Services Continue to Gain on Cable. Internet-based research, today released the results of a new survey of more than 187,000 Internet users, including more than 36,000 who access the Internet using a cable modem service or digital subscriber loop (DSL) service. The results show that despite provisioning and customer service problems, the number of DSL service users continues to gain on the number of cable modem users.
The study's results show that the number of U.S. households with broadband Internet connections grew 41% between April 2000 and January 2001, climbing to just over five million households in January.
DSL connections more than doubled over this stretch and accounted for three-quarters of the growth in broadband subscribers. The number of cable modem subscribers increased by only about 10%, and accounted for about one-in-six new subscribers. The net result is that DSL's share of broadband subscribers is approaching the share of the cable modem services.
Cable modem services are not winning the share wars even though their subscribers are more satisfied than are DSL subscribers. The Consumer TechPoll results show that cable modem subscribers are more satisfied than DSL subscribers; but there are some differences among the customers of individual service providers. Cox Cable customers are generally more satisfied than are customers of other cable modem suppliers. Customers of AT&T Broadband -- who had problems with customer service, the monthly service cost, and the reliability of their connection -- are much less satisfied.
Qwest performed best of the DSL service providers measured; its satisfaction scores are in line with those of cable modem suppliers and well above other DSL providers. Overall, however, DSL service subscribers are less satisfied with most aspects of their service than are cable modem subscribers. A key problem for DSL subscribers: the time it takes to get service once it's ordered. Verizon and Earthlink customers in particular are dissatisfied with this aspect of their service.
For more information about Harris Interactive, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.
March 11 - Sunday Shopping Watch.
Special Discounts and Financing.
Best Buy is giving away 1 year of free MSN with any computer purchase. They are also offering a $100 instant savings on any AMD processor computer package. Best Buy also has a third promotion, buy any HP build-to-order computer with a CD-RW drive and receive $100 instant savings.
Circuit City has a $100 mail-in rebate on any desktop computer package with a CD-RW drive.
Office Depot has no special store-wide sales this weekend.
CompUSA has no ad this weekend.
Staples is also giving away 1 year of free MSN with any computer purchase. They are also offering a $100 mail-in rebate on any AMD Duron computer package.
Internet Rebates. All stores continue to offer 3 year, $400 Internet Rebates. Please see our article, What You Need to Know About Internet Rebates and Free PCs, for an in depth discussion of Internet Rebates.
Definitions. A complete system/package is defined as a computer with monitor and printer or scanner.
A built-to-order system is customized at eh retailer and then ordered from a Vendor's store. 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).
* Prices discussed in this article. Advertisers typically deduct the $400 Internet rebate from an items true price. We report all prices without subtracting the $400 Internet rebate, however all other rebates and discounts are usually subtracted.
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.
Best Deals this Sunday Category Product Description Price* (see above) Store Best Celeron Deal HP 766 MHz complete system $850 Circuit City Best Low Cost Pentium III System Compaq 850 MHz complete system with CD-RW, DVD $1249 Staples Best High End Pentium III System None advertised Best Pentium 4 System Sony 1.3 GHz system only $1799 Circuit City Best Duron System Compaq 750 MHz Duron complete system $699 Staples Best High End Athlon System Compaq 1.2 GHz complete system $1799 Circuit City Best Low Cost Notebook Toshiba, Compaq - 700 MHz Celeron $1099 Circuit City, Office Depot, Staples Best High End Notebook Compaq 700 MHz Pentium III with DVD $1599 Staples
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 the highlights of local (Dayton, Ohio) computer chain store advertisements. While we can not guarantee your local chain store have the same items, this article should help you to make informed buying decisions.
March 10 - HDD Sales to Consumer Electronics off to Solid Start. The sale of hard disk drives (HDDs) to consumer applications exceeded 2 million units in 2000, with game consoles, PVRs, MP3 players, digital cameras, and a host of other emerging devices anchoring demand.
The market will grow 79% annually through 2005 to over 100 million HDDs, according to research published jointly by TrendFOCUS, a Los Altos, California-based market intelligence firm, and the Institute of Information Technology (IIT) of Tokyo, Japan.
"In most consumer devices, HDDs are attractive alternatives to flash and optical drives," stated Mark Geenen, president of TrendFOCUS. "New applications are appearing daily, complementing PVRs, MP3 players, digital still and video cameras. Game consoles, like Microsoft's Xbox, will really drive growth starting this year."
"Each emerging application has opportunities and challenges," adds Geenen.
-- Game consoles from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo will use HDDs to complement DVD capabilities for game storage, on-line playing, and Internet access;
-- PVRs and VCR alternatives will ultimately replace traditional VCRs, with HDDs as the core storage medium. Cable operators will ship PVRs in 2001, launching the mainstream market;
-- Digital still and video cameras are converging in performance, capability, and price, so small HDDs will see tremendous demand growth;
-- Automobile intelligence systems are just starting to ship, with HDDs providing functionality and capability;
-- PDAs and mobile phone functionality is converging, with wireless communication driving storage demand at a faster rate
-- HDDs will support the wireless revolution;
-- Other devices, like computer printers, Internet appliances, and wearable computers will also demand high-capacity, low-cost storage.
"Our research shows that consumer applications could supplant PCs as the primary market for HDDs by 2010," added Geenen. "Home networks, gaming, and convergence of entertainment in the home will create unprecedented opportunities to the HDD industry."
TrendFOCUS can be found on the Web at www.trendfocus.com.
March 10 - STMicroelectronics and Hercules Partner for Leading-Edge PC Graphics Solutions. STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM) and Hercules (Euronext Paris, Guillemot - 6672) today announced that the two companies are working together to bring leading-edge PC graphics solutions to the market.
The relationship brings together two companies with strong and complementary track records in the graphics market: Hercules has long been one of the most respected names in PC Graphics cards and ST is one of the world's leading manufacturers of complex silicon chips for PC peripherals.
Cementing the relationship, both companies announced innovative new products: ST's KYRO II PC Graphics controller and Hercules' 3D PROPHET 4500 PC Graphics card, the world's first top-performance graphics board that is within every gamer's reach.
KYRO II is ST's second generation of PC Graphics controllers based on Imagination Technologies' PowerVR(TM) architecture. This unique Tile Based Rendering technology eliminates much of the redundant processing overheads and memory bottlenecks produced by less efficient graphics algorithms. By its more intelligent use of computing and memory resources, KYRO II sets a new performance standard in the graphics processor industry.
3D PROPHET 4500 features the best of KYRO II technology, combining a very efficient design, 64MB of fast on-board RAM and the perfect drivers to offer the ultimate experience to the whole gaming community, in their current and future games. 3D PROPHET 4500 demonstrates clear performance leadership when compared on popular games and industry benchmarks with other products in its class.
"The key in computer graphics is today to be able to cope with the increasing scene complexity and bandwidth and large texture volumes without sacrificing the perfect quality of high resolution images," said Claude Guillemot, President of Hercules Technologies. "ST, with its technical expertise, came out in an incredibly short time with a breakthrough architecture for the KYRO II graphic controller that will delight the most ambitious game developers. Which is why we have chosen ST's KYRO II as the foundation of our new product family. This expertise leads the way to more future partnerships in new multimedia technologies." The companies can be found on the Web at www.guillemot.com and www.st.com.
March 10 - BrightCom to Demonstrate Real World Bluetooth Wireless Technology. In keeping with its position as the pioneer of next generation Bluetooth solutions, BrightCom Technologies Limited will demonstrate a real-world, Bluetooth (TM) wireless technology-connected office environment March 22 to 28, 2001 at CeBIT 2001 in Hannover, Germany.
The Bluetooth network of computers, LAN access points and printers will span between BrightCom's two booths 13 and 14 in the Bluetooth pavilion (5d4) in Hall 1.
"BrightCom was the first company to demonstrate a computer to printer link over Bluetooth wireless technology at Networld Interop in May of 2000," said David Barach, president of BrightCom's Calif-based U.S. subsidiary. "For CeBIT, we have taken the next step with a real live network of Bluetooth devices all communicating dynamically with each other. We are gathering different aspects of the wireless communications to demonstrate some aspects of using Bluetooth in a variety of scenarios. Having the network spread between two booths brings home the message that Bluetooth wireless technology means no more wires to trip over!"
As one of the pioneers of practical Bluetooth implementations with the first generation of working silicon since early 2000, BrightCom was the first to recognize that the various Bluetooth market sectors have different needs for power consumption, performance, hardware interfaces and processing power. As a result, the company has been working on the next generation of Bluetooth chips, called IntelliBlue(TM), that takes the form of families of chips to meet different vertical market application needs, the first of which will be on show at CeBIT.
BrightCom can be found on the Web at www.brightcom.com.
March 9 - No Clear Winner in Battle Between DDR DRAM and RDRAM in 2001? The critical battle for the future of dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) technology is being waged in the PC memory arena, but this dispute won't be resolved this year, according to Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT and ITB).
As the DRAM industry evolves, there are two technologies that are competing for this space. They include double data rate DRAM (DDR DRAM) and Rambus DRAM(RDRAM).
Microprocessors with clock speeds measured in gigahertz will be the norm in the coming years. Increasing clock speeds have been driven by the demands of the PC, which accounted for about 75 percent of the DRAM market in 2000, and enabled by advances in semiconductor design and manufacturing. Memory buses cannot supply data fast enough for these new microprocessors, which require data transfer rates of 1.6 GB/sec and higher.
"While microprocessor vendors have continued to increase microprocessor performance, access time to data held in system main memory has struggled to keep pace, creating a bottleneck to higher system performance," said Richard Gordon, principal analyst with Gartner Dataquest's worldwide semiconductors group. "This data transfer rate, or bandwidth, shortfall has led to the development of new DRAM technologies, such as RDRAM and DDR DRAM." Intel and AMD have been the leading PC microprocessor vendors, but for the first time, AMD has stopped relying on Intel to provide a lead and has decided to follow its own path in support of DDR DRAM.
Intel's motivation in supporting RDRAM has been documented. It needs a memory technology in the mainstream PC space that can keep pace with its strategy of continually increasing microprocessor performance. Intel is subsidizing RDRAM by bundling Rambus Inline Memory Modules (RIMMS) with Pentium 4 microprocessors, effectively eliminating the added cost incurred by PC OEMs in configuring systems with Rambus DRAM technology.
"Through DDR DRAM, DRAM vendors have seized the only chance they have to keep control of the DRAM technology road map and to avoid the ignominy of becoming little more than silicon foundries for Intel and Rambus," Mr. Gordon said.
To avoid a recurrence of this technology transition debacle, Gartner Dataquest analysts said DRAM vendors should make more of an effort to form an industry-wide DRAM alliance (which must include AMD and Intel) to develop a credible DRAM technology road map. This alliance should strive for transparency between participants to avoid conflict and the possibility of damaging legal action.
"The next couple of years could see a highly fragmented DRAM market in technology terms. The year 2001 is likely to see shortages occur owing to product-mix issues, so DRAM vendors must plan for flexibility in their strategy for wafer starts," said Andrew Norwood, senior analyst with Gartner Dataquest's worldwide semiconductors group. "DRAM vendors should maintain equal support for both DDR DRAM and RDRAM and be prepared to ramp up volume production for whichever technology the market adopts."
For more information about Gartner, visit www.gartner.com.
March 9 - QPS Shipping Palm-Size Portable Firewire Hardrives. QPS, Inc. is currently shipping its Que!(TM) M2 QuadSlim(TM) palm-size portable drives.
The external hard drives are FireWire-bus powered -- which eliminates the need for a power supply for desktops and notebooks that have a built-in 6-pin FireWire connection. A power adapter is included with the drives for use with other computers.
Three built-in FireWire connectors allow up to five drives to be stacked and daisy-chained in a tower configuration with just one FireWire 1394 cable. Weighing under 1/2 lb., the drives can easily be moved from one computer to another.
The ultra portable Que! M2 allows the user to transport large amounts of data files, videos, MP3s, etc. safely and easily. A drive can be carried in a pocket, clipped to a belt or attached to any smooth surface with the QPS unique mounting suction cup. The hot swappable feature makes the drives easy to install and use. Que! M2 drives offer a buffer size of 1024K and a transfer rate up to 16.6 Mbytes per second.
Retrospect(R) Express Backup software is included with the drives, which gives customers using Mac OS or Microsoft Windows an ideal storage solution, complete with flexible backup and restore capabilities -- without the need to purchase additional software. Also included is a formatting utility by CharisMac.
Additional accessories include 1394 and I-Link FireWire cables, a shock resistant carrying bag, a belt-clip and a suction mount cup. Optional LAN-enabled 10-drive or 4-drive rack-mounts for networks will be available when QPS introduces a new line of network attached storage (NAS) products this year.
Three configurations now shipping are: 6GB priced at $279, 10GB at $329 and 20GB at $429, MSRP. Que! M2 QuadSlim drives are compatible with FireWire-enabled PCs and Mac computers. QPS, Inc. can be found on the Web at www.qps-inc.com.
March 9 - Tantivy Introduces Internet-CDMA (I-CDMA) Portable Wireless Broadband Technology. Tantivy Communications Inc., a provider of portable wireless broadband technology, today announced its I-CDMA(TM) wireless protocol.
I-CDMA is the only technology available today to enable portable, end-to-end, wireless broadband Internet access. I-CDMA allows replication of the rich desktop Internet experience, offering a realistic answer to end users' unmet needs for a portable, yet affordable wireless data service, giving them anywhere, always-on Internet access.
By optimizing for portability, Tantivy's I-CDMA technology brings clear advantages to both carriers and end users in three key areas: speed, capacity and coverage. The technology can support per user access speeds of 368 Kbps for downloading and 224 Kbps for uploading data--an experience comparable to today's high-speed wired alternative solutions. Tantivy's portable I-CDMA technology can support 1,000 users per 1.25 MHz channel--10 times the user capacity of other 2G and 3G proposed network technologies.
I-CDMA technology can be easily deployed as an overlay to a service provider's existing wireless infrastructure. It provides broader coverage areas for users within a cell site, ensuring a consistent quality of service to the edge of the cell, meaning users get the same data rates wherever they are within an IS-95 cellprint. It also ensures better in-building penetration and improves fade margin. Tantivy's I-CDMA technology is spectrally compatible with IS-95 and based on industry standard Internet Protocol.
"Through our I-CDMA portable wireless broadband solution, Tantivy is achieving its vision of providing `anywhere' Internet," said Randy Roberson, president and CEO of Tantivy. "This technology will give consumers affordable access to rich Internet content with near symmetric uplink and downlink capabilities for applications such as streaming media or opening e-mail files with large attachments. I-CDMA technology is enabling service providers to improve their cost efficiencies as well as provide them with an opportunity for new revenue."
For additional information about Tantivy, visit the company's Web site at www.tantivy.com.
March 9 - Americans, Europeans Have Distinctly Different Web Habits. Europeans and Americans alike are heavy users of Instant Messaging applications, according to a new study by NetValue, a global leader in tracking and interpreting online behavior, but that is where the similarities end.
Using representative panels of global Internet users, the NetValue WorldWired(TM) study also found that:
- Europeans are heavy users of Instant Messaging, especially in Spain where Spaniards spend an average of 10.6 days per month on Instant Messaging and only 9.9 days surfing the Web. Germany, the UK and France spend an average of 10.0 days, 8.1 days and 8.4 days instant messaging respectively. Comparably, in the US, users spend an average of 8.9 days instant messaging.
- US users spend nearly twice the amount of time (11.5 hours/month) surfing the web than their European counterparts - with Germans averaging of 6.8 hours/month, the French an average of 6.2 hours, and UK surfers an average of 5.8 hours.
- NetValue discovered that men and women tended to have high affinities* to different sectors depending on their country. For example, women in the US had a high affinity for the Environmental sector while women in Spain had a high affinity with eCards. Men in France had the highest affinity to the Cyber Media sector while men in Germany had the highest affinity to the Weather sector.
Still, there were interesting commonalities that linked the countries. According to NetValue, men in both Europe and the U.S. have a high affinity to the adult sector, which ranked in the top 5 in every country but the UK, while women on both sides of the Atlantic have a high affinity to the astrology/horoscope sector.
Complete results of the study are available at www.netvalue.com.
March 8 - Dell Adds Ultra-Portable Notebook to Consumer Line. Dell (Nasdaq:DELL), the world's leading direct computer systems company, today announced the Inspiron 2100 notebook computer designed for consumers who are looking for the ultimate in portability and style.
At about the size of a mail-order catalog, the Inspiron 2100 is the smallest in the Inspiron line, weighing 3.4 pounds with a one-inch thin magnesium alloy case. Despite its small profile, performance is not compromised. The Inspiron 2100 features Intel's(R) Low Voltage Mobile Intel(R) Pentium(R) III processor at 700Mhz, a high-resolution 12.1-inch XGA screen, ATI Rage Mobility M graphics controller with 4 MB SGRAM and memory configurable from 64 to 256MB of SDRAM.
"This is the smallest, lightest notebook Dell offers in its Inspiron notebooks," said John Medica, vice president and general manager of Transactional Product Group. "This is the ideal product for consumers and small business workers who want to lighten their load but stay connected and productive."
The Inspiron 2100 includes many features designed for convenience and mobility. Each notebook includes a built-in 56k-capable modem and a network interface card to connect easily to the Internet. For cable-free communications, the Inspiron 2100 also supports current and emerging wireless technologies. For those who would like additional peripherals, an external media bay is available with the following disk drives: floppy drive, 24X CD-ROM, 8X DVD, 4X/4X/20X CDRW, Zip 100, and secondary 20 GB hard disk drive.
Prices for the Inspiron 2100 start at $1,899 and include Intel's Low Voltage mobile Pentium III with SpeedStep(TM) technology at 700MHz, 64 MB SDRAM, 5 GB hard disk drive, integrated 56k v.90 modem and 3Com 10/100 Ethernet, ATI Rage Mobility M with 4 MB video SGRAM, floppy drive media bay module, external bay and IDE media bay cable, and one-year next business day return to depot service.
March 8 - Americans Say No Single Wireless Device Can Do It All. More than half of people surveyed by a national Yankelovich poll released today said that if given the choice, they would carry more than one wireless device (in fact, 25% said they would carry 3 or 4 devices).
Commissioned by LetsTalk.com, a corporate wireless procurement solutions provider, the study also showed that Americans are divided as to which device -- a PDA or 2-way email device like the RIM Blackberry -- best complements a phone.
"This survey shows that in the minds of Americans -- no single device can manage all different functionalities of a cell phone, a portable email device or a wireless PDA," said Delly Tamer, president and CEO of LetsTalk.com. "Americans are willing to carry several mobile devices in order to have access to key communication tools and to increase their productivity."
Each respondent was asked to choose which device(s) they would be willing to carry around with them if price was not a consideration: a wireless phone, two-way email device such as a RIM Blackberry, Handheld PDA such as a Palm or Visor, or one-way pager.
-- 53% of respondents wanted more than one device
-- 34% wanted one device
-- 11% didn't want any device at all, even if it were given to them for free
When the responses were broken down by device:
-- 82% wanted a cell phone
-- 35% wanted a two-way email device
-- 30% wanted a handheld PDA
-- 11% didn't want any device at all
Of the subset of respondents who wanted a device to complement their wireless phone:
-- 37% chose a 2-way email device like the RIM Blackberry
-- 32% chose a PDA
-- 31% chose all three: a phone, PDA and Blackberry
The full study will be available on the Web at www.LetsTalk.com.
March 8 - FiberCycle Announces First Ultra-Dense Servers Using Transmeta Processor. FiberCycle, Inc. today announced its WebBunker family of Content Acceleration Servers, the first web-optimized, ultra high-density servers. WebBunker launches Transmeta's Crusoe processor into the Internet Data Center market, delivering industry-leading web transactions per watt. High traffic Web site operators can now increase the number of web transactions processed per rack by up to five times, without increasing power consumption.
WebBunker's unique ability to maximize transactions per square foot and per watt is based on several patent-pending technologies, including FiberCycle's Content Acceleration Multiprocessor architecture (CAMP), data center-driven ultra-dense server design --based initially on the Transmeta Crusoe processor -- the integration of front-end web server components, and WebBunker Command Center software, a deployment and management toolset.
The entry-level WebBunker 206 targets the immediate data center requirements of reduced power consumption and increased rack density, with an ultra-dense server design packing up to 12 processors in a 2U form factor. The high-capacity WebBunker 212 provides double the number of CPUs in the same form factor and adds connectivity to remote storage. WebBunker Command Center management software provides new provisioning and administrative capabilities, allowing hundreds or thousands of systems residing in data center racks to be deployed in minutes, rather than days or weeks.
"FiberCycle realized that Transmeta's low power operation could enable them to build an entirely new class of servers using hundreds of processors," said David Ditzel, vice chairman and chief technology officer, Transmeta Corp. "Transmeta's Crusoe processors are being used by FiberCycle to build unique servers with compelling advantages such as reduced power consumption, which can provide energy cost savings and maximize performance in a given space. Transmeta is committed to this emerging market space and we will continue to work closely with FiberCycle's innovative team as they push the envelope in the Internet data center server space."
General availability of WebBunker systems will occur in April 2001. Prices start at $10,900 per 6 CPU system. FiberCycle's CAMP technology is scheduled for availability in the 4th quarter. WebBunker can be purchased directly from FiberCycle at www.fibercycle.com.
March 8 - 'NAKEDWIFE' Self-replicating Worm hits systems in U.S., Europe and Canada. Late yesterday, an executable worm was launched affecting Fortune 500 corporations and large government organizations in the United States, as well as several other companies in Europe and Canada.
This worm, known as "NAKEDWIFE," "W32.HLLW.JibJab@mm" or "W32/Naked@MM", is sent as an e-mail attachment and is spreading rapidly by replicating and forwarding itself to everyone in users' Microsoft Outlook address books.
Attempting to garner attention by the suggestive and provocative title, this worm is very destructive. Once the user has double clicked on the attachment, the worm is launched. It deletes all files ending in .exe, .com, .bmp, .dll and .ini. In addition to the significant loss of files, contaminated computers will require the reinstallation of Windows to run properly.
This virus update was provided by Pelican Security, distributor of SafeTnet software. See related story below.
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