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Daily Computer News and Rumors

November 01-07 2003

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

InfoHQ Daily Computer News and Rumors Article Index
(Click on story to read, use your Browser's back button to return to this index.)
Nov 07 World's Fastest and Most Advanced Laptop - Codenamed MX51
Nov 07 HP and Oracle Set World Record Performance Mark - First to Top 1 Million Transactions per Minute
Nov 07 Toshiba's New 40GB 1.8-Inch Hard Disk Drive Caters to Mobile Storage Demands
Nov 07 Dat Ooptic Inc. Introduces FireWire 800/IEEE-1394b PCI CARD
Nov 07 Research Shows 18-34 Year Old Men Spend More Time Online Than Watching Television
Nov 07 Survey Identifies Top Teen Wish Lists and Gift-Giving for the Holidays
Nov 06 RedCannon Security Warns Computer Users Dangerous Lover Spy Service Is Still Active
Nov 06 On the Threshold Of Maturity, Bluetooth Market Comes Into Its Own
Nov 06 REAL Software Ships REALbasic 5.2.2 for Windows
Nov 06 Wireless Telecom Stocks Surge 34% Despite Excessive Risk to Investors
Nov 06 Market Share for Nintendo GameCube Doubles Following Price Drop to $99.99
Nov 06 Hasbro's VIDEONOW Personal Video Player Enjoying Extremely Strong Sales
Nov 05 Tapwave Zodiac Console Now Shipping to Customers
Nov 05 Canon Announces Smallest, Quietest Projector For Presenters and Home Theater Users
Nov 05 SmartDisk Adds New Models of Award-Winning FlashTrax
Nov 05 Envision Offers 10 Tips to Help Computer Users Maximize Display Performance
Nov 05 WatchGuard Boosts WLAN Security for Firebox SOHO 6 Integrated Security Appliances
Nov 04 Conexant and GlobespanVirata Announce Plan to Merge
Nov 04 SMC to Offer Home Entertainment Networking Bundle With New Intel Desktop Boards
Nov 04 New Verizon Wireless Push-to-Talk Service Siphoning Interest from Nextel
Nov 04 New ZoneAlarm Pro 4.5 Helps Thwart Identity Theft and Online Fraud for Internet Users
Nov 04 Christmas Online Shopping Hints from Best Web Buys Helps Consumers Save Time And Money
Nov 03 AMD64 Support Announced in Upcoming Microsoft Visual Studio `Whidbey'
Nov 03 Bell Labs Researchers Build Novel Semiconductor Laser Using Photonic Crystal
Nov 03 Compex Introduces iWavePort WL54G Wireless PC Cardbus
Nov 03 Gender Differences Influence Consumer Electronics Purchasing
Nov 02 Sunday Shopping Watch


Nov 07 - World's Fastest and Most Advanced Laptop - Codenamed MX51. Today, Michael's Computers introduced the world's first laptop with a 1600MHz FRONT SIDE BUS. Utilizing the new AMD 64-BIT Clawhammer 3200+ processor, this is leading technology operating more than 15 times as fast as any competitor and appearing only at michaelscomputers.com.

With support of more than 1024MB DDR Memory and the ATI's newest M10P VRAM 128MB Graphics card, no other laptop runs faster, clearer or easier.

"Those using Dell, Gateway, Apple, Alienware, Sony, HP, Toshiba, Compaq or other companies should switch at this time. The difference of middle class laptops and a high class laptop like the MX51 is like driving a car with 100 horsepower and then stepping into a 500 horsepower car...you absolutely feel the difference" - Michael, Owner, Michael's Computers

Computer Gaming World December Issue "We tested every laptop and your MX51 SMOKED the competition"

About Michael's Computers:

Michael's Computers, founded in 1996, is a world leader in design and manufacturing of ultra high performance computer systems under the brand names MX7, 357MX and MX5. The company is located in West Los Angeles, California.

Michael's Computers have been designing systems for Gamers, 3D Cad Designers, Law Offices, Realtors, Doctors, Movie Producers, Audio Enthusiasts and associates within the US Navy and US Marine Corp.

Michael's Computers systems are sold throughout the United States and also ship as far as Canada, Ireland and London.

Michael's Computers are sold online at www.MichaelsComputers.com.

Nov 07 - HP and Oracle Set World Record Performance Mark -- First to Top 1 Million Transactions per Minute. HP (NYSE:HPQ) and Oracle (Nasdaq:ORCL) today broke through a key technology performance barrier, becoming the first companies ever to top 1 million transactions per minute on the Transaction Processing Council's TPC-C benchmark.

The result was achieved running Oracle Database 10g, an HP Integrity Superdome server and Intel(R) Itanium(R) 2 processors. The benchmark not only sets a new industry record, but also reflects the power of industry-standard servers running the UNIX(R) operating system in "scale up" single server configurations.

HP and Oracle achieved 1,008,144.49 tpmC with a price/performance ratio of $8.33/tpmC. This result is 30 percent faster than achieved by the nearest competitive hardware vendor. The benchmark configuration consisted of a (non-clustered) 64-way HP Integrity Superdome running HP-UX 11i v2 with Oracle Database 10g and used HP StorageWorks Virtual Arrays 7110 configured with 36 gigabyte and 73 gigabyte drives.

With today's result, HP now holds the top three TPC-C performance results, including the top UNIX, Linux and Windows(R) results.

"HP and Oracle offer the choice, scalability and flexibility to meet customer needs," said Rich Marcello, senior vice president and general manager, Business Critical Servers, HP. "Today's benchmark result is a prime example of HP's leadership with Integrity servers running Oracle and of our joint work to build a platform to support our mutual customers' most demanding requirements as well as scale with them as their business grows."

For more information about Oracle visit www.oracle.com. More information about HP is available at www.hp.com.

Nov 07 - Toshiba's New 40GB 1.8-Inch Hard Disk Drive Caters to Today's Mobile Storage Demands. Toshiba Storage Device Division (SDD), the industry pioneer in small form factor storage, today announced its newest family of 1.8-inch embedded hard disk drives (HDDs) available in 20GB(a) (single platter) and 40GB (dual platter) capacities.

Digital entertainment and business devices continue to drive demand for robust storage in a mobile footprint as people want to take their digital content with them when travelling between the office, home, school and car.

"Toshiba continues to build on the 1.8-inch product line to deliver high-capacity drives capable of storing everything from digital music and photos to videos and presentations," said Amy Dalphy, manager, HDD business unit, Toshiba SDD. "We've been expanding our manufacturing capabilities in an effort to address this burgeoning demand as products are selling faster than the drives can be produced."

Toshiba's 1.8-inch family is now available in 5/10/15/20/30 and 40GB capacities, providing a selection of "digital suitcases" to accommodate a range of applications. Products based on 1.8-inch technology include mobile entertainment devices, MP3 players, handheld computers, ultraportable notebooks, portable handheld GPS units, automotive jukebox systems and other specialized digital devices.

Measuring 54 mm wide and 78.5 mm deep, and weighing 51 and 62 grams, respectively, Toshiba's 20/40GB drives are smaller than a credit card and lighter than a pager -- helping manufacturers create small form factor, more portable digital products. The 1.8-inch drives can withstand operational shock of up to 250g and non-operating shock up to 1,000g, providing a rugged, durable storage solution for today's mobile devices.

For more information, visit www.sdd.toshiba.com.

Nov 07 - Dat Ooptic Inc. Introduces FireWire 800/IEEE-1394b PCI CARD. FireWire 800/1394b bus features hot plug-ability, transfer rates up to 800 Mbps, support isochronous data transfers, and auto-bus configuration. It is the fastest inexpensive peripheral connection available in the market.

DAT Optic Inc., a renowned developer and manufacturer of Optical/Data storage and CD/DVD duplication products, introduces the newest addition to their innovative line of FireWire products, the 1394b PCI host adapter.
DAT Optic’s FireWire 800/1394b PCI card comes equipped with FireWire 800/1394b driver, which supports 1394b in Windows98SE, ME, 2000 and XP operating systems.

With DAT Optic FireWire 800/1394b PCI, PC users can enjoy data transfer rate up to 800Mb/s between 1394b peripherals and a PC, or create an 800Mbps network among PC and MAC systems.

DAT Optic’s FireWire 800/1394b PCI card is fully compatible with Mac OS:
- OS 10.2.4 or higher - 1394a and FireWire 800/1394b functions at full capacity
- OS 9.x or higher - 1394a

The FireWire 800/1394b PCI card is outfitted with a combination of 1394a and 1394b ports.
Three external ports - Two 9-pin 1394b and one 6-pin 1394a
One internal port – One 9-pin 1394b
One internal power connector – Up to 1.5Amp per port can be delivered.

Ordering Info: 1394bPCI – Now shipping at www.datoptic.com.

Nov 07 - Research Shows 18-34 Year Old Men Spend More Time Online Than Watching Television. The Online Publishers Association (OPA) announced today the results of a recent media consumption study of men aged 18-34 who are frequent visitors to online news, information and entertainment Web sites.

The study, conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates, found that this group reports spending significantly more time online each week than it spends watching television. Specifically, men aged 18-34 report spending an average of 21 hours per week online, compared to only 15.7 hours watching television.

"These data suggest that use of the Web may indeed be a contributing factor to the measured decline in primetime TV viewing this season among men 18-34," said Michael Zimbalist, executive director of the Online Publishers Association. "The degree to which Internet use has contributed to a permanent shift in the media habits of U.S. consumers, including men 18-34, will be the subject of a major study of 18-34 year olds and their media habits to be released by the OPA in early 2004."

For more information about the Online Publishers Association, visit www.online-publishers.org.

Nov 07 - Survey Identifies Top Teen Wish Lists and Gift-Giving for the Holidays. Computers top the "must-have" holiday wish list for teens this year, according to results of the recent "First Annual Youth Holiday Purchase Patterns" survey conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

Game consoles, cell phones, portable CD players, and portable MP3 players round out the teens' top five most-wanted consumer electronics gifts. This marks the first time teens age 12-17 were surveyed as part of CEA's annual holiday shopping consumer research.

"The feedback from today's tech savvy and influential teenagers are important to us and our members," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA. "This survey is one of many initiatives we are using to reach out to teens and reiterate the fun and educational benefits of consumer electronics. As expected, the results reflect how teens are actively embracing a wide array of technology and that they recognize technology influences almost all aspects of their lives."

In addition, the survey shows that teens plan to purchase portable CD players as a gift to others (49 percent) this holiday season. Other products targeted for gift giving include game consoles (35 percent), cell phones (30 percent), hand-held game systems (28 percent) and portable MP3 players (27 percent). Just over half of the teens surveyed (51 percent) said they were planning to pay for all or most of the gifts with their own money.

Last month, CEA released the results from its "10th Annual Holiday Purchase Patterns" survey, noting that 70 percent of all adult consumers expect to spend the same amount or more this year on gifts this holiday season, up from 68 percent in 2002. The average adult consumer will purchase approximately seven electronics products this holiday season, up from six products in 2002.

CEA's resources are available online at www.CE.org.

Nov 06 - RedCannon Security Warns Computer Users That Dangerous Lover Spy Service Is Still Active. The cyber protection experts at RedCannon Security are putting out an alert to all computer users that the dangerous and invasive Lover Spy service that came to light in October is still active. Computers installed with this Trojan horse are still sending sensitive information to their handlers, despite the fact that the Web site originally promoting the Lover Spy service is currently offline.

As of 1:30 AM on November 4, 2003, RedCannon demonstrated a computer infected with the Lover Spy Trojan horse recording password information and sending it to another computer's email account. Lover Spy was originally sent to an unknown number of computer users by way of electronic greeting cards, fooling potentially thousands of unsuspecting people into loading a program onto their systems capable of logging their keystrokes, passwords, e-mail messages, and even turning on their Web camera remotely. More information on detecting and blocking Lover Spy software is available at www.redcannon.com/support/firewall_stop_lover_spy.htm.

"It's outrageous and the worst part is, people think it's over. Lover Spy is one of the most dangerous Trojan horses I've seen in a long time," said Kurt Lennartsson, vice president of technology at RedCannon Security. "You don't even have to be a professional hacker anymore. Programs like Lover Spy and many others make it simple for anyone to illegally spy on you. The privacy issues are numerous, not to mention personal and financial information is at risk.
Imagine giving someone free reign to your e-mail messages and bank statements. We lock our doors at night to protect our family and personal possessions yet we leave the door to our computer wide open. Criminals can reach us through an unprotected computer just as easily as they could walk into an unlocked house. The only way to be protected from this is to have application protection, like the feature found in RedCannon Fireball CyberProtection Suite, installed on your computer."

RedCannon is urging computer users to adopt a comprehensive security solution that is able to identify this Trojan horse and block its activities. One such solution is RedCannon Fireball CyberProtection Suite, which is currently available for free download at www.redcannon.com.

Lennartsson continued, "Not every security offering out there can detect Lover Spy, so users need to be certain that whatever method they are using to seek out this Trojan horse -- that it works. We've tested Fireball in the lab and we can identify and block it immediately. It's good to be proactive because Anti-virus software will not always protect users against spyware, and many personal firewalls offer little or no application protection to keep malicious hackers and spies off their system."

Nov 06 - On the Threshold Of Maturity, Bluetooth Market Comes Into Its Own. Riding a roller coaster hype curve and struggling to resolve the many technical challenges presented by such an ambitious vision, Bluetooth has come a long way from being a simple cable replacement technology unveiled in 1998.

Bluetooth has hit a major milestone in its evolution as the technology enters the maturity stage of its lifecycle. A stable specification and installed base that runs into millions of units is proof that it has been a success. Even critics would be hard-pressed to name any other wireless communications technology that managed to achieve the volumes and diversity of deployment of Bluetooth in just six years.

The specifications of Bluetooth have reached a stage where interoperability between devices is seldom an issue, where interference with other radio technologies is a limited and increasingly disappearing concern and where adoption into new applications is no longer a daunting challenge.

The commitment of the Bluetooth community to the ongoing development of standards is ensuring that it will continue to be relevant as wireless communications moves into the future.

A new study by Frost & Sullivan believes that the spectacular growth in the semiconductor sector, a hotbed of Bluetooth development, bodes well for the continued buoyancy characterizing the overall marketplace. The year 2001 saw shipments of just under 10 million chipset solutions, while annual shipments had more than tripled to around 34 million units by 2002.

In 2003, Frost & Sullivan expects that shipments will at least double, with a conservative estimate of over 70 million units. If the industry ramps up production in the second half of the year, this value could be significantly higher.

However, it has not all been plain sailing for companies operating in the semiconductor and subsystems space (including silicon vendors, software developers, intellectual property, modules and design houses). "Tough economic conditions and the resource demands of a challenging technology have forced a consolidation of the market. Developers no longer jump on this bandwagon, they jump off it when they realize there is no easy money to be made," reports Frost & Sullivan Consultant Carles Ferreiro.

Clearly identified market segments such as cellular phones and PC based applications offer substantial market potential for now and the future, whilst emerging application areas such as industrial and automotive applications will grow in importance and volume as time goes by. There are no clear competitors to Bluetooth in the personal area networking space, and while there may be other new technologies on the fringes of its range, none have its scope, volume or maturity.

The Bluetooth market has reached a stage of maturity at which commercial realities must now be addressed by developers. Whereas once Bluetooth was hailed for its get-rich-quick potential by start-ups, only those companies with a sound business plan and a clear value proposition are equipped for survival.

"For many of the smaller, early developers of the technology, whether hardware or software centric, there was a clear belief that large returns could be achieved for modest investment and some who executed their exit strategies early found this to be the case," Ferreiro explains.

"For the remainder who found their trade acquisition objectives or initial public offering strategies limited by the slump in the technology sector and general global economic slowdown, the challenge has been to transform from entrepreneurs to stable businesses," he continues.

Even some of the larger initial Bluetooth players have found the returns achievable from Bluetooth to be too limited to justify continued significant involvement. Companies such as Avaya, Intel and Motorola have all scaled back their initial interest as the technology changed from being the world changing technological advancement it was heralded as to a more realistic breakthrough in personal communications and networking.

Most major developers, such as Cambridge Silicon Radio, based their success on technological innovation and a strong development support for customers. But as those customers in the major application areas become more comfortable with development, it is price that will emerge as the determining factor. Supporting customers will always be important, specifically in emerging markets, but as all developers reach comparable levels of functionality, it will be increasingly hard to differentiate based upon issues of specification.

Over the next few years, Frost & Sullivan expects to see a further streamlining of the component end of the Bluetooth market, and semiconductor developers, protocol software developers and intellectual property developers are already feeling the contraction. The growth opportunity lies in emerging applications, but only those able to demonstrate competence in supporting client development will win.

The long-term success of those companies in the Bluetooth semiconductor space, including software and intellectual property developers, will be based upon their abilities to identify the most appropriate application segments to target and retain customers in these areas. Developers need to be realistic about the segments that they can ultimately thrive in and carefully develop strategies and support programmes to reinforce this, the study concludes.

Frost & Sullivan can be found online at www.frost.com.

Nov 06 - REAL Software Ships REALbasic 5.2.2 for Windows. REAL Software, Inc. announced today the release of REALbasic 5.2.2 for Windows. REALbasic is a powerful, easy-to-use development tool that enables Windows users of all levels to create custom applications and compile them for both Windows and Macintosh. REALbasic for Windows supports Windows-specific features such as ActiveX/COM, Registry access and Win32 API calls.
Windows applications created with REALbasic do not require an installer or DLLs, eliminating the common 'DLL hell' problem. In addition, REALbasic for Windows is similar to Microsoft(R) Visual Basic(R) in design and syntax, so Visual Basic users feel right at home with REALbasic.

REALbasic 5.2.2 includes an updated REALbasic Project Manager, which enables teams of developers to collaborate on a project. REALbasic 5.2.2 also includes improvements to VB Project Converter, a utility that helps Microsoft(R) Visual Basic(R) users migrate existing Visual Basic projects, forms and code to REALbasic. In addition, updated Unicode capabilities, the world's standard for encoding text, enables REALbasic 5.2.2 to support all languages.

"We want Windows software developers, including those familiar with Visual Basic, those on development teams, those working internationally and those who wish to create cross-platform software, to be more productive with REALbasic," said Geoff Perlman, president and CEO of REAL Software, Inc. "With these improvements, REALbasic becomes an even better business-ready tool - a powerful, yet easy-to-use option for software development projects."

VB Project Converter helps with the "heavy lifting" associated with transferring forms and code from Visual Basic to REALbasic. For example, it moves the interface, places the code in the right events and checks to make sure your code is compatible. To finalize the process, Visual Basic developers can then use REALbasic to edit any Visual Basic code that was not converted by the utility. This capability provides an additional benefit--because REALbasic provides cross-platform support, software that was once available for Windows only can now be compiled and offered for both Windows and Macintosh.

"VB Project Converter speeds the process of porting a Visual Basic project to REALbasic," added Mr. Perlman. "The Visual Basic developer still has some work to do but VB Project Converter makes it much easier than starting from scratch. Also, REALbasic's language is similar enough that most Visual Basic developers find that they are immediately productive in REALbasic."

REALbasic is a full-featured design environment easily suited to creating all kinds of software, from utilities to enterprise-class applications. REALbasic is available now starting at $99.95 direct from REAL Software or at Fry's and other software retailers. REALbasic Professional Edition, required for cross-platform development, starts at $399.95. REALbasic Professional Edition also includes extended functionality for database and team development.

The REALbasic 5.2.2 update is free of charge for all existing REALbasic 5 for Windows customers and can be obtained directly from REAL Software's website at www.realsoftware.com/download/index.html. Release notes detailing all of the changes to REALbasic 5.2.2 are included with the software download.

Nov 06 - Wireless Telecom Stocks Surge 34% Despite Excessive Risk to Investors, According to Weiss Ratings. The stocks of wireless telecommunications companies surged during the third quarter, posting an average return of 34 percent, according to Weiss Ratings, Inc., the nation's leading independent provider of ratings and analyses of financial services companies, mutual funds, and stocks.
The sector dramatically outperformed the S&P 500 Index, which recorded a quarterly total return of 2.65 percent.

"Competition among wireless phone companies is fierce and may intensify further when a new FCC rule mandating cell phone number portability becomes effective November 24," commented Melissa Gannon, vice president of Weiss Ratings, Inc. "The specter of number portability may lead wireless firms to lower rates in an attempt to retain customers, which in turn could lead to shrinking margins and more red ink for the industry."

Among the 43 wireless telecom stocks rated by Weiss, 29, or 67 percent, harbor excessive risk to investors, receiving a weak (D+ or lower) Weiss Investment Rating, while no wireless telecom stocks rated by Weiss receive a favorable (B- or higher) rating. Large companies within this sector currently rated weak by Weiss include:

Weiss 3rd Qtr
Investment 2003
Company Headquarters Rating Return
Dobson Communications (NDQ:DCEL) Oklahoma City, D 54.08%

Nextel Partners (NDQ:NXTP) Kirkland, Wash. D 6.95%

SBA Communications (NDQ:SBAC) Boca Raton, Fla. D 4.65%

Sprint PCS Group (NYSE:PCS) Kirkland, Wash. D+ -0.35%
Weiss Investment Rating: A = Excellent; B = Good; C = Fair; D = Weak;
E = Very Weak

Computers, Internet and Catalog Retail, and Internet Software and Services Also Rise

Of the 6,027 stocks rated by Weiss, 4,285, or 71.1 percent, recorded positive total returns during the third quarter. Other sectors delivering good performance for investors were computers, internet and catalog retail, and internet software and services, which recorded average total returns of 30.43 percent, 25.07 percent, and 27.14 percent, respectively.

Investors can purchase a rating and summary analysis for as little as $7.95 through www.WeissRatings.com.

Nov 06 - Market Share for Nintendo GameCube Doubles Following Price Drop to $99.99. In the video game industry, momentum has a new name: Nintendo GameCube(TM). In just 35 days of availability at a new manufacturer's suggested retail price of $99.99, Nintendo GameCube has more than quadrupled its sales rate and grabbed 18 points of market share from its two competitors.
Sales figures gathered from the nation's largest retailers show that Nintendo GameCube effectively doubled its market share to 37 percent from 19 percent. The system now runs a strong second in the U.S. market as it challenges for leadership during the important holiday sales season.

"In a tough economy, we've found the sweet spot on pricing, and players are grabbing Nintendo GameCube systems off the shelves at the fastest rate since the console's debut," says George Harrison, senior vice president of marketing and corporate communications, Nintendo of America. "With an $80 price advantage over other systems and the impending launch of the mega-hit Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, this offer is just too good to resist."

Harrison announced the dramatic sales figures today during Harris Nesbitt Gerard's Playtime 2003 Investor Conference in New York. Nintendo has been on a roll on a number of fronts and the statistics bear this out.

When combined with the Game Boy(R) Advance SP, Nintendo is responsible for half of all system sales to date in 2003. In addition, Nintendo game systems are the only ones to show a year-to-date increase in sales compared with 2002. Game Boy Advance sales are up 25 percent from 2002, while Nintendo GameCube sales are 2 percent above last year. In contrast, sales for Microsoft's Xbox dropped 3 percent and Sony's PlayStation 2 dropped 17.5 percent(Note A).

To keep the momentum going, Nintendo's holiday lineup includes a strong series of games, including Mario Kart(R): Double Dash!!(TM), the season's expected monster seller. Mario Kart: Double Dash!! raises the bar for competitive game play by letting players choose their karts and two characters - one to drive, one to toss weapons or swipe them from other players. The pair can even switch places during the race to maximize strategy. The game is Rated E for Everyone and will be available Nov. 17 at an MSRP of $49.99.

With its amazing graphics and realistic depiction of wild weather conditions, the new 1080(R): Avalanche snowboarding game will be a big hit, while Mario Party(R) 5 builds on a successful franchise to bring family fun to an electronic version of classic board games. Both games are Rated E for Everyone and will be available at an MSRP of $49.99. Mario Party 5 launches Nov. 11, while 1080: Avalanche will be available Dec. 1. More than 320 games for the Nintendo GameCube and 550 games for the Game Boy Advance will be available by the end of the year.

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

Nov 06 - Hasbro's VIDEONOW Portable, Personal Video Player Enjoying Extremely Strong Sales Nationwide. National sales for VIDEONOW(TM), Hasbro, Inc.'s (NYSE: HAS) first-ever kid friendly, personal video player, are heating up with the holidays now less than two months away. In addition, VIDEONOW now tops a variety of national "what's hot" lists predicting the holiday season's 'must haves'. VideoNow is the only palm-sized, hand-held portable entertainment center that retails for about $50 and allows kids and tweens to watch some of today's most popular programming on the go.

Consumers and retailers agree - VideoNow is one of this holiday's hottest toys. Among its honors: the Toys "R" Us 'Hot Holiday Toy Picks' list, the KB Toys' annual hot holiday toy list, eBay's 'Hot Toys for the Holidays' and an 'All Star' in Toy Wishes Magazine.

"We think VideoNow could be one of the hottest products in 2003," said John Sullivan, General Manager of Toys "R" Us.com. "It is a kid-friendly video player at a great price. It looks like a sure winner."

"VideoNow is a smart choice for tweens who are always on the go and accustomed to enjoying really cool, new technology in the electronics arena," said toy and children's lifestyle industry expert Chris Byrne. "In the case of VideoNow, they have the combination of cool product, great programming and total portability, making this one of the 'must have' items of the season."

Of course, the innovation VideoNow brings to the tween marketplace is only as good as the library of content offered...and Hasbro continues to bring VideoNow fans incredible programming.

"We are thrilled to have alliances with the likes of Nickelodeon and MGM, as VideoNow continues to deliver the kind of exciting entertainment that our tween audience loves," said Brian Goldner, President of Hasbro's U.S. Toys group. "Look for an amazing library of content for the VideoNow format in the coming months...so stay tuned," said Mr. Goldner.

Titles already available include top rated Nickelodeon shows like SpongeBob Squarepants, Jimmy Neutron and Fairly Odd Parents as well as hit TV programs like American Idol and original content, A Day in My Life, featuring custom footage of actress and chart-topper Hilary Duff.

And more are scheduled to be available this fall and early next year - including exciting episodes of educational and action packed full-length episodes of Transformers Armada, Discovery Channel's Shark Week, Animal Planet's The Jeff Corwin Experience and That's My Baby; full-length episodes of hit TV shows The Amanda Show and Fear Factor and outstanding original content featuring BMX rider Jamie Bestwick, skateboarder Eric Koston and musical artist Lil' Romeo.

Each VideoNow Disc will retail for approximately $7.99; VideoNow Disc Three Packs will be available for approximately $14.99. The VideoNow personal video player is available at leading national retailers for an approximate retail price of $49.99.

Nov 05 - Tapwave Zodiac Console Now Shipping to Customers. Today, Tapwave(R) officially announced it began shipping the Zodiac(R), this year's highly anticipated mobile entertainment console.

The console is offered in two models - the Zodiac(1) for $299 (32MB RAM) and the Zodiac(2) for $399 (128MB RAM). Both models are available exclusively at www.tapwave.com. Zodiac represents the first in a new category of handheld products designed from the ground up to address the mobile entertainment and on-the-go lifestyle needs of technology enthusiasts. Zodiac delivers both 'fun' and 'function' in a sleek and ergonomic 6.3 ounce, anodized-aluminum design.

On the 'fun' side, the Zodiac console not only provides an unparalleled mobile gaming device with analog control, 3D graphics, stereo sound, vibration effects, and wireless multiplayer gaming, but also everything required for a rich multimedia experience including music, pictures and video. From the 'function' perspective Zodiac also offers the added benefit of running a Tapwave enhanced version of the Palm Operating System (5.2T) and provides immediate access to the more than 19,000 existing applications, including the world's leading personal information management tools.

Since officially announcing the company six months ago, over 1200 game developers have signed up for the Tapwave developer program and requested the software development kit (SDK). The majority of these developers are coming from established computing and entertainment platforms (e.g., Xbox(R), PlayStation(R), and Nintendo(R) Game Boy(R)) and over 40% are from international markets.

Already these developers have specifically optimized several titles to take advantage of the Zodiac's analog controller, high resolution display (480 x 320), landscape and portrait modes, interactive touch screen, and graphics acceleration. A few examples of these games include: Crimson Fire's Galactic Realms(R) and Phantom Strike, Handmark's Warfare Incorporated(R), MegaSoft 2000's MegaBowling and Billiards. We expect this community of developers to produce many more exciting and innovative titles in the months ahead.

Tapwave is also partnering with leading game publishers to bring well-known premiere titles to Zodiac console users. A few of these premiere titles include: Activision's Tony Hawk's Pro Skater(R) 4, Midway's SpyHunter(R), id Software(TM) DOOM II(R), Atari's Neverwinter Nights(TM) and Apogee's Duke Nukem Mobile(TM).

In addition to the new premiere titles, the Zodiac entertainment console provides a perfect platform to bring classic games back to life. With its ATI(R) Imageon(TM) graphics accelerator and Motorola(R) i.MX ARM 9 processors, the Zodiac is the first handheld device to have enough power to run full versions of "retro" game engines.
This year Zodiac users will be able to run Sega(R) Genesis, Atari(R) 2600, and Commodore 64(R) titles on-the-go. Sega of America, Inc. is the first company to have completed this type of partnership with Tapwave. Zodiac users will be able to play such Sega Genesis classics like Golden Axe 3 and Altered Beast. Since Zodiac also runs the Palm OS(R), customers can also choose among the 1000+ games already available on the operating system.

"With the incredible enthusiasm the Zodiac has had from the developer community, we are looking forward to a robust and diverse selection of game titles optimized especially for our platform," said Byron Connell, Co-founder and Senior VP of Tapwave. "By the end of the year, we hope Zodiac users will find something to satisfy any game craving, whether it be a role-playing, real-time strategy, action, adventure, or anything in-between."

Video games and other applications can be purchased and downloaded directly from the Tapwave website (www.Tapwave.com). Premiere video games will also be available for purchase on game cards and can be inserted directly into either one of Zodiac's dual expansions slots for a simple plug and play experience.

Nov 05 - Canon Announces Smallest, Quietest Projector For Presenters and Home Theater Users. Canon today announced it lightest, quietest and most versatile projector yet, the LV-S3 microportable projector.

At a weight of only 4.9 lbs., this go-anywhere projector can be transported from the conference room to the living room and back or carried from classroom to classroom. Users can enjoy quiet-operation in the Silent Mode, which decreases the unit's noise level to a low 32dB or brightness up to 1250 ANSI Lumens for improved viewing. Now more businesses, educators and home theater users can show off their best presentations or watch their favorite DVDs, while enjoying outstanding picture quality through Genuine Canon Optics.

"Whether it's taken out on the road to impress business customers, used in schools to add powerful visuals to everyday curriculum, or enjoyed in the comforts of home, the LV-S3 delivers outstanding value," said Yukiaki Hashimoto, senior vice president and general Manager, consumer imaging group, Canon U.S.A., Inc., a subsidiary of Canon Inc. (NYSE: CAJ). "The new LV-S3 projector gives users more options than ever by combining Genuine Canon Optics with a compact, portable design."

Features include a 1.2X Genuine Canon Optical Zoom lens which projects a dramatic 100" theater-sized image from only 10.4 feet away, making it ideal for small spaces. Canon's LV-S3 is a native SVGA resolution (800 x 600) LCD projector with flexible connectivity for presentations from a laptop, digital camcorder, digital camera, DVD player, HDTV, VCR and more. Progressive scan circuitry converts a standard 480i/575i signal to Progressive, which enhances video and makes the LV-S3 ideal for home theater.

Businesses and educators will also benefit from the Presentation Kit, a remote control with USB Remote Receiver that can be used as a wireless mouse, and can control key projector functions commonly used during a presentation. The customizable logo display makes it easy to project a corporate logo at the beginning of a presentation.

"With the Canon LV-S3 projector, users will enjoy marvelous picture quality because of Genuine Canon Optics in a light, compact package that's great for displaying captivating images in the office, on the road, in school, or at home," added Hashimoto.

The compact Canon LV-S3 microportable projector debuts in early November for a suggested list price of $1,299.

For more information, visit www.usa.canon.com.

Nov 05 - SmartDisk Adds New Models of Award-Winning FlashTrax. SmartDisk Corporation today introduced 40GB and 80GB models of its award-winning FlashTrax(TM) handheld portable multimedia device for offloading and storing digital images and music.

FlashTrax safely stores high-resolution images transferred from any flash memory card onto the built-in USB2.0 hard drive and displays them on a 3.5" LCD that outperforms tiny on-camera screens. By using the sleek control pad, the user can change the image, zoom in, zoom out and pan, or choose a slide show function without the need of a PC.
In addition to rapid JPEG view and zoom, FlashTrax can display most RAW format files using the JPEG data typically embedded in such files. The LCD folds to ensure that both the screen and control buttons remain protected while in field use. Images may be viewed on the LCD screen or on any TV using the included remote control. To facilitate portability, FlashTrax includes a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery.

"The Professional Photographers Association has just recognized FlashTrax as one of the hottest new imaging products of 2003," says Charles Klinker, Vice President-Marketing for SmartDisk. "With our new FlashTrax models, professional photographers will find even more flexibility for field applications."

A built-in MP3 player makes this device even more attractive -- more than 7,000 compressed audio files can be stored and played back through the built-in speaker, or through headphones or external speakers. Various play modes are easily controlled from the user-friendly screen display and control pad, making music selection quick and easy.

FlashTrax also supports video playback of motion picture JPEG files, a format typically used for the short "movies" supported by many digital still cameras. With transfer speeds of up to 480MBps, FlashTrax can also serve as an external hard drive to transfer, store and access data or act as a simple backup device.


The new FlashTrax models are available now through retailers and distributors, as well as through the company's Web site at www.smartdisk.com.

Nov 05 - Envision Offers 10 Tips to Help Computer Users Maximize Display Performance. Few computer users take the time to configure and regularly maintain their monitors, and this can lead to decreased performance and possible personal discomfort, according to Envision Monitors. In response, Envision has compiled 10 configuration and maintenance pointers to help users optimize monitor performance, and eliminate any potential sources of irritation.

Based on years of industry experience and customer feedback, Envision has found that many users fail to get the best performance out of their monitors. For example, not setting a screensaver to activate after a period of inactivity can accelerate pixel burnout in CRT monitors, or cause an image to burn itself into the screen in LCD monitors.

In addition, the way a monitor is configured and positioned can affect users' personal comfort. Having the screen too high or too low can potentially lead to neck cramps or eye strain, while certain display settings may cause barely perceptible flickering that can induce headaches.

"Few users put much thought into their computer monitors, so they don't realize that their displays may be under-performing, not to mention that they could be a hidden source of headaches, increased electric bills or even allergies," said Michael Lien, general manager, consumer products division for Envision. "With a few simple tweaks, users can ensure their monitors perform much better and last longer, and they can make their computing environment more comfortable and enjoyable."

Monitor optimization tips:

1) Set your screensaver to launch automatically when the computer has been idle for 15-30 minutes. A static display can cause pixels to burn out faster, especially in CRT monitors. Choosing a screensaver with lots of movement and multiple colors helps prevent pixel burnout by continuously alternating the active pixels. LCD monitors are less likely than CRTs to suffer from pixel burnout, but a static display can cause an afterimage on the screen. Though the display will heal over time, setting a screensaver can help prevent the problem altogether.

Some monitors may also have a 'sleep' mode, which helps save energy when you're not using your monitor. It's usually preferable to have a screensaver running when you're only away for a short time, because a display can take several minutes to warm up from sleep mode, but will recover immediately from a screensaver. Set the screensaver to activate after the monitor has been idle for 15-30 minutes, and set your monitor to go to sleep after an hour of inactivity. If you're going to be away for an extended period of time, it's best to turn the monitor off entirely (see tip 2), but keep in mind that a monitor takes even longer to warm up from being off than from sleep mode.

2) Always turn your monitor off at night, or whenever you won't be using it for several hours. Leaving a monitor on all the time causes the pixels to burn out faster and runs up electricity bills.

3) Select a patterned background or wallpaper for your screen, and change it periodically. A solid, single color background can accelerate pixel burnout.

4) If you're using a CRT monitor, check the refresh rate. In CRT monitors, the image on the screen is continuously redrawn, and the refresh rate refers to how frequently this happens. Ideally, the refresh rate should be set at 75Hz or 85Hz. Lower refresh rates can cause flickering, and though it may not always be noticeable, it can still cause eye strain and headaches. This is not a problem with LCDs.

5) Make sure the monitor is set at the resolution recommended by the manufacturer. Using a resolution other than the recommended one can cause an image on an LCD to be distorted or out of focus. On a CRT display, using a higher-than-recommended resolution may require a lower refresh rate, and cause flickering.

6) Look for monitors with an auto-adjust function. In LCD monitors, this feature will adjust basic monitor settings such as clock, focus, horizontal position and vertical position for optimal viewing.

7) Keep your monitor clean. Monitors build up static electricity, which attracts dust. A layer of dust on the screen can distort the image. Also, dirt and dust can build up in the monitor cabinet, making it a hidden source of allergies. Be sure to dust CRT monitors every two weeks. LCDs generate less static, so dusting once a month is adequate.

8) Avoid placing your monitor in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can make both LCD and CRT displays appear washed-out and difficult to view, and it produces a glare on CRT monitors that can obscure the screen. Also, exposure to direct sunlight can cause permanent discoloration of the monitor cabinet.

9) Position your monitor so that your eyes line up with the top of the screen, and you're looking slightly downwards at the middle of the display. Ergonomically, this is the best viewing angle, and it will help to minimize neck and eye strain. Monitors with a height-adjustable function make it easier to set the screen at this ergonomic position.

10) Don't turn your monitor on and off too frequently, as it can put a strain on the circuitry. If you're only going to be away from your computer for a couple hours or less, it's better to leave it on with a screensaver running, or in sleep mode, than to power it down and power it back up again.

For more information about Envision, please visit: www.envisionmonitor.com, and to download a copy of these tips, please visit: www.envisionmonitor.com/products/monitoroptimization.pdf.

Nov 05 - WatchGuard Boosts WLAN Security for Firebox SOHO 6 Integrated Security Appliances. WatchGuard Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq:WGRD), a leading provider of Internet security solutions, today announced version 6.3 of its Firebox SOHO 6 software. Designed for small businesses, remote offices and telecommuters, the Firebox SOHO 6 line includes appliances for both wired and wireless network security.

Firebox SOHO 6 Wireless now allows Wi-Fi users to share VPN access and resources, such as printers, on the wired network easily and securely. It also enables two wireless access points to relay traffic to one another in order to extend the reach of the Wi-Fi network in situations where a physical connection is too costly.

New features of the Firebox SOHO 6 appliances for wired networks include increased VPN capacity for mobile workers through concurrent licensing.

"The Firebox SOHO 6 products are the most powerful and accessible security appliances in their class, offering a wide range of options in an economical package to meet the needs of small businesses and remote workers," said John Stuckey, vice president of product management at WatchGuard. "Firebox SOHO 6 Wireless is ideal for implementing a safe and controlled Wi-Fi network, while providing access to resources on the LAN."

Firebox SOHO 6 Wireless for wireless networks

The Firebox SOHO 6 Wireless product line provides a complete security solution in a single firewall/VPN appliance. Featuring an integrated 802.11b Wireless Access Point (WAP), 4-port LAN 10/100 switch and remote management capabilities, the SOHO 6 Wireless line includes three models to fit the diverse requirements of each individual user.

Firebox SOHO 6 for wired networks

In addition to the Firebox SOHO 6 Wireless appliances, the Firebox SOHO 6 line includes three models that offer robust, flexible protection for wired networks on a high performance hardware platform that delivers 75 Mbps firewall and 20 Mbps 3DES VPN throughput.

Pricing and Availability

Version 6.3 of the Firebox SOHO 6 software is expected to be available in Q4 2003 at no additional charge to active LiveSecurity Service subscribers at www.watchguard.com. New pricing is also available for the Firebox SOHO 6 Wireless security appliances, which includes three models available through WatchGuard resellers worldwide. Please visit www.watchguard.com to find the nearest distributor or reseller.

-- Firebox SOHO 6 Wireless small office endpoint: Suggested list price is $599 USD

-- Firebox SOHO 6tc Wireless branch office endpoint: Suggested list price is $699 USD

-- Firebox SOHO 6tc Wireless 50 User branch office endpoint/multi-office endpoint: Suggested list price is $999 USD

Nov 04 - Conexant and GlobespanVirata Announce Plan to Merge. Conexant Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq:CNXT) and GlobespanVirata, Inc. (Nasdaq: GSPN) today announced the signing of a definitive agreement to combine the two companies in a strategic merger. The combined company will possess the world's most complete and most advanced portfolio of semiconductor solutions targeting the broadband digital home.

"Conexant has been focused exclusively on delivering the technology and products that are driving the digital home, one of the semiconductor industry's most exciting and highest-growth opportunities," said Dwight W. Decker, Conexant chairman and chief executive officer.
"With the addition of GlobespanVirata's highly complementary product portfolio, we gain key end-to-end digital subscriber line connectivity with a leading position in central office applications worldwide. We also benefit by adding GlobespanVirata's leadership position in wireless local area networking, a critical technology for the digital home.

"From a financial perspective, we have the opportunity to capture significant operating efficiencies, and we anticipate that the merger will be accretive within six to nine months from the close of the transaction," Decker continued. "Together, we will have the scale and scope to make the necessary R&D investments for continued innovation leadership in wired and wireless communications and multimedia applications for the digital home."

"Combining GlobespanVirata with Conexant allows us to complement our leadership in broadband communications capabilities with leadership in broadband media processing capabilities, including broadcast video encoders and decoders as well as digital set-top box system solutions for cable, satellite, terrestrial data and digital video networks," said Armando Geday, president and chief executive officer of GlobespanVirata.
"I am confident that the new merged company will deliver stronger financial performance and create more value for our shareholders, customers and employees than either company could operating independently."

"This merger will result in the creation of a new company with the management expertise, talent resources, technology, market positions, and critical mass to succeed in an increasingly competitive industry," said Matt Rhodes, Conexant's president.

To learn more, visit Conexant at www.conexant.com.

Nov 04 - SMC to Offer Home Entertainment Networking Bundle With New Intel Desktop Boards. SMC(R) Networks ( www.smc.com ), leading provider of networking solutions for the Enterprise, the SMB and all the way home, today announced that it is teaming with Intel to offer special discounts to integrators who purchase a home entertainment computing bundle consisting of a new high-performance Intel(R) Desktop Board, the new EZ-Stream Universal Wireless Multimedia Receiver (SMCWMR-AG) and the SMC2802W EZ Connect(TM) g 802.11g Wireless PCI adapter.

The EZ-Stream Universal Wireless Multimedia Receiver is a high-end networked entertainment receiver that streams, plays and shares audio (including MP3 and Internet radio), pictures and video from the networked PC to the Home Entertainment Center. Connected to the wired or wireless network for access to Internet resources, music, photos and videos stored on a computer's hard drive; it links to entertainment devices, including televisions and stereo receivers, via standard A/V connectors.
Employing the latest in high-end wireless 802.11a/b/g technology for universal compatibility, speed and bandwidth that optimizes demanding wireless applications like streaming video, SMC's EZ-Stream Universal Wireless Multimedia Receiver is at the center of the best performing home entertainment networking solution available.

"The new Intel desktop boards, which support the Intel Pentium(R) 4 Processor with Hyper-Threading Technology, are ideally-suited to the demanding applications of home entertainment computing, so they're a great fit for SMC's EZ-Stream home entertainment networking products," said Tom Rizol, SMC's Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

Two discounted bundles will be offered: one including an Intel Desktop Board (select SKUs of D875PBZ, D865PERL or D865GLC) with SMC's 2802W EZ Connect g 802.11g Wireless PCI Adapter and SMC's EZ-Stream Universal Wireless Multimedia Receiver (SMCWMR-AG), and one including just the Intel Desktop Board and the SMC EZ-Stream Universal Wireless Multimedia Receiver. Discounted bundles represent a savings of 10% from the cost of purchasing the products separately. The bundles will be available from participating distributors beginning November 1, 2003 through January 31, 2004.

"Our latest generation Intel Desktop Boards are designed to support a broad range of uses, like gaming, digital music and video," said Joel Christensen, Intel's Director of Marketing for the Platform Architecture Solutions Division. "The SMC EZ-Stream Universal Wireless Multimedia Receiver provides a means for extending the capabilities of these powerful PCs by distributing and sharing the entertainment media that the PCs are optimized to process, edit and store."

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

Nov 04 - New Verizon Wireless Push-to-Talk Service Siphoning Interest from Nextel. Verizon Wireless' entry into push-to-talk services this summer, a market dominated by Nextel, raised questions about the sustainability of Nextel's competitive advantage. Early analysis of the launch from Compete, Inc. indicates that the new Verizon Wireless push-to-talk service will siphon subscribers from Nextel once latency issues with its service are resolved. According to Compete's analysis, almost two-thirds of Nextel subscribers who considered switching to an alternative carrier in September evaluated Verizon and one third of those subscribers researched push-to-talk.
"Push-to-talk services will not be a growth driver for new entrants into the market until these carriers can produce response times that match those of Nextel's Direct Connect(SM) offering," said T. J. Mahony, Compete's senior wireless analyst. "The strong interest we are observing in Verizon among Nextel subscribers, however, demonstrates that Nextel's market position is clearly at risk once carriers improve the performance of their push-to-talk services," added Mahony.

To assess how this new competitive entry has impacted the wireless market, Compete analyzed the online research and purchase behaviors of several million consumers to understand consumer demand and purchase intentions for the new push-to-talk offering. The market potential for this service is sizable; reportedly 11 million Nextel subscribers, or 90% of the customer base, have used Direct Connect. And already 25-35% of Nextel's subscribers have used Nationwide Direct Connect, its expanded walkie-talkie capability launched coast-to-coast this year.

According to Compete's proprietary analytic, Share of Purchase Intent (SPI), the Verizon Wireless launch did not substantially improve its already high market share among in-market wireless shoppers (Compete's SPI tracks the relative percentage of pre-purchase consideration carriers command across the market).
Compete did find, however, that the level of Nextel subscribers actively evaluating Verizon nearly doubled from August to September. Further, Compete found that push-to-talk was a primary component of this surge in interest - approximately 40% of those Nextel subscribers evaluating Verizon considered its push-to-talk services. In contrast, only 11% of Sprint PCS subscribers who evaluated Verizon researched push-to-talk services.

For more information visit the company's website at www.compete.com.

Nov 04 - New ZoneAlarm Pro 4.5 Helps Thwart Identity Theft and Online Fraud for Internet Users. Zone Labs(R), Inc., the most trusted provider of endpoint security solutions, today announced the latest addition to its ZoneAlarm(R) family of products, ZoneAlarm Pro 4.5. ZoneAlarm Pro 4.5 continues to raise the endpoint security standard with new features to reduce the risk of online fraud and identity theft. In addition, ZoneAlarm Pro 4.5 offers more powerful security features and improved "out of the box" protection to ease the installation process for users of all skill levels.

The industry analyst firm Gartner, Inc. reported that seven million U.S. adults were victims of identity theft during the 12 months ending in June 2003, representing a 79 percent year-to-year increase in identity theft.
To help Internet users become more aware of identity theft, ZoneAlarm Pro 4.5 provides extra precautions to help them avoid being victimized by identity thieves. ZoneAlarm Pro 4.5 adds ID Lock and myVAULT features to guard against the theft of personally-identifiable information, intellectual property and other confidential data. In addition to safeguarding personally-identifiable information like Social Security numbers or bank account data, these features are especially useful for families who wish to ensure that their children do not share sensitive information, like their home or school address, with strangers over the Internet.

ZoneAlarm Pro 4.5 also helps Internet users to protect themselves from "phisher fraud," a scam designed to steal credit card and banking information from online users by directing them to knockoff sites that look like popular sites such as eBay. To fight the growing number of these Internet fraud cases, Zone Labs has partnered with eBay and TRUSTe so that ZoneAlarm Pro 4.5 can verify the authenticity of eBay or TRUSTe-certified sites and help consumers identify the real sites from the knockoffs.

"TRUSTe exists to increase consumer trust with Web sites and confidence in the Internet," said Fran Maier, executive director and president, TRUSTe. "Zone Labs shares our commitment to guarding consumers' personally identifiable information, and together, we can offer the Zone Labs user base an extra measure of safety when conducting transactions online. ZoneAlarm 4.5 will now help consumers further distinguish the good guys in privacy."

"Online fraud and identity theft are on the increase as online criminals become cagier and as the number of consumers who rely on the Internet to conduct financial transactions grows larger," said Frederick Felman, vice president of marketing, Zone Labs. "Zone Labs is dedicated to providing our customers with the tools they need to proactively protect their sensitive information and continue to enjoy the benefits that the Internet has to offer."

Availability Information

The ZoneAlarm family of products supports Windows(R) 98SE, Me, NT, 2000 and XP. ZoneAlarm 4.5, ZoneAlarm Plus 4.5 and ZoneAlarm Pro 4.5 will be available in mid-November 2003 from the Zone Labs Web site at www.zonelabs.com.

Nov 04 - Christmas Online Shopping Hints from Best Web Buys Helps Consumers Save Time And Money. With the nation's economy still on shaky ground this holiday season, many consumers need to make sure they can stretch their shopping dollars as far as possible.
And with half of all consumers planning to do some of their Christmas shopping online this year, Steve Loyola, president and founder of Best Web Buys, an online comparison shopping service, offers the following tips:

-- Use comparison-shopping sites which scour the Internet within seconds for the best deals available.

-- Check for store coupons and free shipping offers.

-- Consider buying from an out-of-state retailer. Many out-of-state retailers do not charge sales tax.

-- Compare each store's availability and estimated shipping time.

-- Research the seller's reputation. The lowest price from a poorly rated vendor may not be the best deal after all.

-- Remember that not all comparison-shopping sites are really showing you the lowest price first. Some give higher placement to stores that pay to be promoted. Make sure to click the sort button to find the lowest price.

-- Order early. Double-check the sales tax and shipping costs before submitting your order.

-- Print the order confirmation page. It will contain information you may need to resolve any problems with an order.

The August 2003 and September 2003 issue of Money(R) magazine referenced www.BestBookBuys.com for finding the best deals on books online. And the August 2003 issue of Parents Magazine named www.BestWebBuys.com one of the "25 Best Web Sites for Families".

Nov 03 - AMD64 Support Announced in Upcoming Microsoft Visual Studio `Whidbey'. At the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference, AMD (NYSE:AMD) is demonstrating AMD64 technology support in the "Whidbey" release of Microsoft Visual Studio .NET and the .NET Framework.

AMD64 technology, which provides native 32- and 64-bit support for the AMD Opteron(tm) and AMD Athlon(tm) 64 processors, enables an exceptional Visual Studio .NET development environment. "Whidbey" and the AMD64 platform together provide a clear migration path from 32- to 64-bit Windows application development allowing concurrent development and testing of 32- and 64-bit applications.

The combination of AMD64 technology and Visual Studio "Whidbey" will allow developers of data-intensive applications including rendering, databases, scientific computing and CAD, to capitalize on 64-bit architecture with limited changes in code. This can result in reduced effort and increased productivity for developers.

The next version of the Microsoft .NET Framework, code named "Whidbey," will support AMD64 technology and is planned to be released for AMD64-based Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP as well as with the next version of the Windows platform code named "Longhorn." This will enable applications developed with "Whidbey"-capable tools such as Visual Studio .NET to run on AMD64 platforms.

"Developers from the industry's leading software companies have already described the speed and ease of developing on the AMD64 platform -- some ported millions of lines of code in only days," said Marty Seyer, vice president and general manager of AMD's Microprocessor Business Unit. "AMD64 processor-based systems and Visual Studio `Whidbey' will help bring the power of 64-bit computing to the mainstream, in a fully compatible, fully integrated way while enhancing the developers' environment."

"Microsoft is pleased that AMD is supporting .NET Framework `Whidbey,'" said John Montgomery, director for the Developer and Platform Evangelism Division at Microsoft Corp. "Developers now have the ability to write .NET-connected applications quickly and easily, while taking advantage of the power and performance of the AMD64 processors."

Also at PDC, AMD announced AMD64 support for beta versions of Windows XP 64-bit Edition, Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition and Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition for 64-bit extended systems, and "Longhorn."

For more AMD news and product information, visit www.amd.com.

Nov 03 - Bell Labs Researchers Build Novel Semiconductor Laser Using Photonic Crystal. In an experimental tour de force, a team led by scientists from Bell Labs, the research and development arm of Lucent Technologies (NYSE:LU), has built a novel semiconductor laser that may have numerous applications, ranging from advanced optical communications to sensitive chemical detectors. The small size of the new laser, a proof-of-concept device described in an article published today on the Web by the journal Science, may lead to various laser-on-a-chip applications, the researchers say.

The new device exploits a photonic crystal, a highly engineered material with superior optical properties, and was made in collaboration with scientists from the New Jersey Nanotechnology Consortium, California Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

"This new laser was made possible by taking advances from many different areas in physics and incorporating them into one device," said Cherry Murray, senior vice president of physical sciences research at Bell Labs. "This work will open up new directions not only for optoelectronics and sensing, but could also provide a new tool to investigate very basic physical phenomena."

Quantum cascade (QC) lasers

The new laser belongs to a class of high-performance semiconductor lasers - known as quantum cascade (QC) lasers - that were invented at Bell Labs in 1994. QC lasers are made by stacking many ultra thin atomic layers of standard semiconductor materials (such as those used in photonics) on top of one another, much like a club sandwich. By varying the thickness of the layers, it is possible to select the particular wavelength at which a QC laser will emit light, allowing scientists to custom design a laser. When an electric current flows through a QC laser, electrons cascade down an energy "staircase," and every time an electron hits a step, a photon of infrared light is emitted. The emitted photons are reflected back and forth inside the semiconductor resonator that contains the electronic cascade, stimulating the emission of other photons. This amplification process enables high output power from a small device.

In the decade since their invention, QC lasers have proved to be very convenient light sources, and are commercially available, having been licensed by Lucent to laser manufacturers. They are compact, rugged, and often portable, in addition to being powerful. However, they are inherently devices that emit light from the edges. In particular, they cannot emit laser light through the surface of the device.

A surface-emitting QC laser

In a triumph of engineering, the Bell Labs team overcame this challenge by using the precise light-controlling qualities of a photonic crystal to create a QC laser that emits photons perpendicular to the semiconductor layers, resulting in a laser that emits light through its surface.
Photonic crystals are materials with repeating patterns spaced very close to one another, with separations between the patterns comparable to the wavelengths of light. When light falls on such a patterned material, the photons of light interact with it, and with proper design of the patterns, it is possible to control and manipulate the propagation of light within the material.

For more information about Bell Labs, visit its Web site at www.bell-labs.com. For more information on Lucent Technologies, visit its Web site at www.lucent.com.

Nov 03 - Compex Introduces iWavePort WL54G Wireless PC Cardbus. Compex, Inc. announced today the arrival of the first of several highly-anticipated IEEE 802.11g wireless products, the Compex iWavePort WL54G 54 Mbps Wireless PC Cardbus. Embedded in its chipset is a breakthrough Prism Nitro™ Technology that allows the iWavePort WL54G card up to 50% greater throughput performance in pure "G" wireless networks and 300% in mixed-mode wireless networks with Prism Nitro™ supported Wireless Routers. Compex is one of the first two networking manufacturers to introduce the Intersil’s Prism Nitro™ Technology in its line of 802.11g wireless products.

For notebook users, the wireless G iWavePort WL54G client card will offer seamless, trouble-free roaming across pure wireless “G” as well as mixed-mode infrastructure interoperating with 802.11b devices. With the Compex iWavePort WL54G Cardbus, a notebook user can go from a 54Mbps 2.4GHz 802.11g network at work or at home to any 11Mbps 2.4GHz 802.11b hotspot at a coffeeshop, college campus, or airport. Convenience, mobility, and flexibility are delivered with the iWavePort WL54G Cardbus.

In tandem with the soon-to-debut Compex 802.11g Wireless Router, the Compex iWavePort WL54G provides wireless coverage of up to 1000 feet. For even wider coverage, it is as simple as attaching the optional Compex iWavePort WA-HGA-5+ External 5 DBi Indoor Antenna to the MC-Card Connector of the WL54G card. The sleek, flexible Compex iWavePort WA-HGA-5+ Antenna widens wireless coverage up to an additional 600 feet. Users can enjoy the flexibility of ultimate mobility anywhere in the office, home, or school.

For safe, secure Internet surfing and wireless roaming, the iWavePort WL54G offers the widely accepted industry security standard, 64-bit and 128-bit Wired Equivalency Privacy (WEP) encryption.

The Compex iWavePort WL54G 802.11g 54Mbps PC Cardbus is readily available through a large network of distributors, resellers, and retailers. The Compex iWavePort WL54G can be purchased online through the Compex store at www.cpx.com or e-commerce sites such as www.buy.com and www.insight.com. The Compex iWavePort WL54G can be purchased at an MSRP of $99.95 available with a three-year warranty and driver upgrades at no extra charge.

Nov 03 - Gender Differences Influence Consumer Electronics Purchasing. Markedly different preferences exist between men and women when buying consumer electronics products, according to the latest Personal Tech Radar study from CNET.
While there is agreement on baseline products and features across the most popular consumer electronics product categories, like digital cameras, cell phones, MP3 players, televisions, PDAs and DVD recorders, gender-based selection criteria must be considered when purchasing holiday gifts, the CNET Personal Tech Radar research finds.

"As we enter the holiday shopping season, these differences have great significance for consumer electronics gift purchasers," says Janice Chen, CNET editor-in-chief. "These findings make it easier to choose consumer electronics products as gifts for friends and family."

Chen also notes that the CNET Personal Tech Radar data provide CNET's editorial team with valuable insights on shopper's real-life consumer electronics interests and buying motivations, so they can offer smart product recommendations that let consumers refine their choices.

Personal Tech Radar, based on monthly surveys of CNET's active shoppers, revealed that men prefer the more technical features and applications, while women are more interested in practical features and applications, as shown in the following samples.

Digital Cameras

Women favored the ability to take photos of friends and family (60 percent female vs. 50 percent male) and to capture major family events (47 percent female vs. 41 percent male). They also rated "ease of use" (56 percent female vs. 38 percent male) as a primary criterion for a digital camera, as well as good print quality output (52 percent female vs. 37 percent male).

Men, on the other hand, prefer a more robust camera including zoom lens (58 percent male vs. 52 percent female), an interchangeable lens system (21 percent male vs. 14 percent female) and a professional SLR-style design (19 percent male vs. 10 percent female).


Women are more interested in extensive memory (56 percent female vs. 49 percent male) and easy access to directions and maps when driving (49 percent male vs. 43 percent female).

Men want their PDAs to sync with Outlook (44 percent male vs. 35 percent female) and have wireless capability (35 percent male vs. 25 percent female).

Home Theater

Women want speaker systems so they can enjoy music throughout the house (53 percent female vs. 27 percent male). In addition, unobtrusive design (41 percent female vs. 29 percent male), set-up ease (54 percent female vs. 28 percent male) and comprehensive warranty (31 percent female vs. 13 percent male) are women's top priorities.

Men specify speaker systems with excellent audio quality, even if they have to pay more (39 percent male vs. 28 percent female). In the survey's greatest gender differentials, they prefer powered sub-woofers (33 percent male vs. 7 percent female) and five channel systems (24 percent male vs. 5 percent female).

Personal Tech Radar Methodology

This CNET Personal Tech Radar study drew 8,142 respondents from subscribers to CNET's Digital Dispatch e-mail newsletter. Future data will show trends over time, and new interesting findings from each monthly survey will be highlighted weekly on the CNET home page (www.cnet.com) and the CNET Digital Living Web site (http://living.cnet.com).

Nov 02 - Sunday Shopping Watch.

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

Weekly Comparison. There are some very good laptop and desktop deals to be found this weekend.

This Sunday's Special Discounts and Financing. In addition to sales on specific items, the following store-wide sales are advertised this week. (Note that these ads are for the Dayton, Ohio area. Prices or offerings may be different where you live.)

Best Buy is offering 18 month no-interest financing on all desktop and laptop purchases, and $100 mail-in rebates on advertised laptops and up to $150 mail-in rebates on advertised desktop packages.
Circuit City is offering 15 months no interest on advertised desktop packages and notebooks, and $150 mail-in rebates on advertised laptops and desktop packages.
Office Depot has no store-wide promotions this Sunday.
CompUSA is offering 6 months no payment, no interest, financing on all on any purchase $199 and higher when you print out their Unadvertised Specials ad and bring it into your local store.
Staples has no store-wide promotions this Sunday.
Compare to Online Prices - Compare the Sunday ad prices to those being offered at DealTime, it searches over 160 online computer stores.

InfoHQ Related Shopping Pages

Shopping Alerts - Our latest shopping advisories on buying digital cameras and camcorders, desktop computers, laptops, and other computer items.

Windows XP Upgrade Guide - All about upgrading to Windows XP.

What You Need to Know About Dial-up Internet Service Rebates - The pros and cons of 'free' Internet service deals. Also see our latest InfoHQ Tech Watch Newsletter; Free PC and Free Internet Deals.     

Definitions. A complete desktop system/package/complete package is defined as a computer with monitor and printer or scanner.
A build-to-order system is customized at the retailer and then ordered from a computer manufacturer. In addition to the computer's stated price, you still pay sales tax and shipping charges (if you order direct from the vendor without going through the chain store, you may not have to pay sales tax and you could get a better warranty).

Caution about advertised prices. When reading advertisements, read the fine print of the ad to make sure you know what is being advertised and what it cost. For example, many advertisers will show a complete system with computer, monitor, and printer but advertise a price for the computer only.

* Prices discussed in this article. We report prices after rebates and discounts are subtracted.
Items highlighted in Black are good deals.
Items highlighted in Red means prices have gone up and the system is not a good buy this week.
Items in normal text means prices are about the same as the previous weeks.

Best Sunday Ad Deals
Product Description
Price* (see above)
Prices up or Down this Week
Best Celeron Deal
eMachines 2.5 GHz complete system with 17" monitor
Best Buy, Circuit City
1. Best Pentium 4 System
HP 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 complete system with 17" monitor, and DVD/CD-RW
Best Buy
2. Best Pentium 4 System
HP 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 complete system with 17" flat panel, HT Technology, and DVD-RW
Circuit City
1. Best AMD Athlon XP System
HP 2800+ complete system with 17" monitor and DVD/CD-RW
Circuit City, Best Buy ($769)
2. Best AMD Athlon XP System
eMachines 2800+ complete system with 17" LCD and DVD/CD-RW
Circuit City
1. Best Low-cost Laptop
Toshiba 2.4 GHz Celeron with DVD/CD-RW
Best Buy
2. Best Low-cost Laptop
Compaq 2.4 GHz Celeron with DVD/CD-RW
Circuit City
3. Best Low-cost Laptop
Compaq Athlon 2500+ with DVD/CD-RW
Circuit City
4. Best Low-cost Laptop
Toshiba 2.2 GHz Pentium 4 with DVD/CD-RW
1. Best High-end Notebook
Compaq 2.3 GHz Pentium 4 with DVD/CD-RW
Best Buy
2. Best High-end Notebook
Toshiba Centrino 1.3 GHz with DVD/CD-RW
3. Best High-end Notebook
Pentium 4
2.8 GHz with DVD/CD-RW
Circuit City, Best Buy ($1399)
4. Best High-end Notebook
Sony Pentium 4 2.8 GHz with DVD-RW
Circuit City
5. Best High-end Notebook
HP Centrino widescreen 1.5 GHz with DVD/RW
Circuit City
6. Best High-end Notebook
Toshiba Pentium 4 2.8 GHz, Windows Media Center, widescreen with DVD-RW
Circuit City
Peripherals and Software
Best Sunday Deal
Maxtor 7200 RPM 80 GB hard drive with 8 MB buffer
(after rebates)
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
eVGA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128 MB
(after rebates)
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
Fuji Film 256 MB USB 2.0 flash drive
(after rebates)
Best Buy
Best Sunday Deal
Sony 52X CD-RW
(after rebates)
Circuit City
Best Sunday Deal
Plextor 8X Dual Format DVD-RW
(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
CD-RW Drives 40x/48x Write Speed
CPUs All AMD Athlon XP CPUs
  All Intel Pentium 4 CPUs
Antivirus Software All Manufacturers
Firewall Software All Manufacturers
All Other Products DealTime


Additional Information. For additional technical information, advice on how to buy a laptop or desktop, and vendor and manufacturer links, please see our Computer Buying Advice page.

About Sunday Shopping Watch. Sunday Shopping Watch appears every Sunday (except some holidays like Easter and Christmas) in our News and Rumors column. It is a review of local (Dayton, Ohio) computer chain store advertisements. While we can not guarantee your local chain store has the same items, this article can help you make informed buying decisions.


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