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Computer Hardware

Wal-Mart Getting Jump on Black Friday Deals

November 10, 2008

An upcoming Wal-Mart sale will offer Black Friday-like deals, including a notebook for $298 and 46-inch 1080p LCD HDTV for $798.

Just as it did last year with a sale that lured shoppers into its maze of fluorescent lighting for $350 laptops, Wal-Mart will once again begin its holiday sales early with a one-day shopping event to precede Black Friday.

The company's sale will include several high-profile deals, including a laptop for $298, a 46-inch Sanyo LCD HDTV for $798, and a PS3 that comes with a $100 gift card.

Specifications on the $298 laptop, a Compaq CQ50-139WM, have moved up significantly from the models offered as last year's doorbusters. Though it will still get a single-core Intel Celeron M processor clocked at 2GHz, the CQ50 also gets 2GB of DDR2 RAM a 160GB hard drive, and Intel's 4500MHD media accelerator. 

More at DigitalTrends.

MacBook Mini on Its Way?

November 7, 2008

One of my favorite analysts, Ben Reitzes of Barclays Capital, has raised an interesting point about a pretty obvious gap in the Apple product line-up.

Reitzes has asserted that it "makes complete sense" for the company to introduce an ultra-portable device to fill the price gap between the $399 high-end iPod Touch and the $999 MacBook.

"This $600 gap needs to be filled and we think it can be with a premium ultra-portable device using multi-touch technology," he writes. "We believe an ultra-portable can be done right by Apple and do not believe the company wants to follow the netbook model, trying to pack full PC functionality into a something small and cheap. Apple, in our view, would only introduce a premium product that doesn't dilute its brand." 

More on this at Barron's Tech Trader Daily.

HP's Netbook/Mobile Package Plot

October 30, 2008

Hewlett-Packard wants to employ a new tactic to market netbook computers in the U.S., offering them at a steep discount to customers who sign-up for wireless service contracts.

This bundling of cellular service with PCs isn't done in the U.S., but in Asia and Europe wireless carriers routinely knock hundreds of dollars off the price of a computer if a customer also buys a long-term service contract.

Maybe AT&T and Verizon Wireless are interested?

For example, Taiwanese carrier Far EasTone Communications sells the EEE PC from Asustek Computer for $29 with a two-year contract, rather than the usual price of $429.

Hewlett-Packard says the surging interest in netbooks -- stripped-down computers that offer basic applications and Web browsing -- is driving the move. With the economy fading and lots of high-speed cellphone networks available, the world's largest computer seller by revenue sees bundling as a way to move more of its computers into customers' homes.

Yesterday, H-P introduced three new netbooks, including a $399 HP Mini 1000 and a $699 HP Mini 1000 Vivienne Tam Edition, with flourishes like a "red with peony flower"-colored case.

More at the Wall Street Journal.

Sears Wants Your Old Gadgets

October 27, 2008

Sears is offering VenJuvo's Trade4Credit program to shoppers that will allow you to earn Sears store credit in exchange for trading in pre-owned gadgets that have been determined to still hold value.

The program, which offers free recycling and shipping, will accept a variety of gadgets, including iPhones, digital cameras and camcorders, MP3 players, GPS systems and gaming systems.

To use the service, simply have to log onto, select your gadget and then enter the specifics about it so the system can calculate an estimated trade-in value. Once the value is established, the user can print out the prepaid mailing label and send the device to VenJuvo.

After the device is received, VenJuvo will validate the value and within three days you will be able to collect a Sears gift card for that value. 

A quick look at the site tells me the product categories are narrow and the prices low.  Now, wouldn't eBay be a better choice in some cases?

More at TWICE.

Wow! A Quick Boot PC -- About Time!

October 27, 2008

It is the black hole of the digital age -- the three minutes it can take for your computer to boot up, when there is nothing to do but wait, and wait, and wait some more before you can log on and begin doing anything at all.

Now the computer industry says it wants to give back some of those precious seconds. In coming months, the world's major PC makers plan to introduce a new generation of quick-start computers, spotting a marketing opportunity in society's short attention span.

Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo are rolling out machines that give people access to basic functions like e-mail and a Web browser in 30 seconds or less.

Now, can you remember back when you'd boot up the PC and then head to make a pot of coffee ... 

Asus, a Taiwanese company that is the world's largest maker of the circuit boards at the center of every PC, has begun building faster-booting software into its entire product line.

Even Microsoft, whose bloated Windows software is often blamed for sluggish start times, has pledged to do its part in the next version of the operating system, saying on a company blog that "a very good system is one that boots in under 15 seconds."

Today only 35% of machines running Windows Vista, boot in 30 seconds or less, the blog notes.

How Low Can Storage Go?

October 22, 2008

New storage products usually involve gadgets that are bigger, faster and cheaper as disk drives keep packing in more and more data and prices keep on dropping.

However, EMC's Iomega, well-known for such personal disk storage products as the Zip and Jaz drives, is coming out with new products that are smaller -- yet "bigger" in capacity -- and cheaper.

Iomega recently introduced the StorCenter ix2, a 1TB-capacity network storage drive with a desktop footprint that the company describes as "smaller than a large dictionary." The price: $300.   (Cheap, cheap ...)

The StorCenter ix2 comes in 1TB and 2TB ($479) versions and provides a centralized network storage repository that can be used in the home to share, secure and protect data and files, including databases, photos, MP3 files, videos and financial records.

It's ridiculous how cheap these things are, but it is what it is. It's a great value for the consumer.

The ix2 includes built-in support for Bluetooth, UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) and DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) certified devices; it even sports an integrated iTunes server.

The ix2 includes security software from RSA, also owned by EMC.

More at

Mac Mini Going Bye-Bye?

October 21, 2008

The Mac Mini may be pronounced dead as soon as today's Apple earnings conference call, as two major retailers in Europe have confirmed that they can't order any more of the little doodad.

While this could signal an updated model coming in, the impression is that -- once again -- the Mac Mini may be dead dead DEAD for real, even while you can still order it at the Apple Store.

It would be weird to see it go in this time of crisis, but being their worst-selling computer, it's not that surprising.

The Mac mini was first introduced in January 2005 at the Macworld Conference & Expo. Labeled by Steve Jobs as the "most affordable Mac ever" it was well received by the critic and public. And check out those tiny dimensions for a desktop machine.

Apple positioned it as a cheap alternative to the Mac Pro for every PC user who wanted to switch to the Mac without having to buy new peripherals. 

But guess a lot of PC users didn't want to take any of that old stuff with them ... 

More at Gizmodo.

Palmtop PCs on Their Way Back

October 20, 2008

In the what's old is new again category ...

IMOVIO has launched a smaller alternative to a subnotebook -- much smaller. The new iKIT is about the size of a PDA from 10 years ago, but has a QWERTY keyboard and connects to the Internet at 3G speeds via your cell phone or Wi-Fi.

(Ah the Newton ... Anybody still using that little gadget goodie from Apple?) 

The $175 Linux-based system has a built-in Webcam as well as a range of applications, such as Web browsing, e-mail and IM.

It can connect to the Internet using a standard Wi-Fi connection, or it can use your cell phone's mobile broadband connection via Bluetooth. 

Now are those chicklet keys easy on our big fingers? 

Get more at Computerworld.

Run Mac OS X on a PC

October 20, 2008

Want to run Mac OS X on a PC? Well, Steve Jobs notorious for forcing his loyal fans to run only Apple-approved hardware let the cat outta the bag once he announced Intel support (previous utilized PowerPC processors.). It was only a matter of time before some hacker found a way to run Mac OS X on PCs with Intel processors.

Of course, the version of Leopard sold by Apple only includes drivers for Apple provided hardware and it requires an Apple Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI), which replaces the traditional PC BIOS. So how do you get around these limitations?

Alienware Comes to Best Buy

October 17, 2008

Let the buyers beware!

You might notice a few extra gamers hanging around your local Best Buy -- Dell has announced it will sell the Alienware Aurora exclusively through 200 Besy Buy locations as well as the store's website.

People are defining themselves by the products they choose and the groups they associate with -- Alienware Aurora lovers are saying "I am a serious gamer and user who demands the best in personal computing."

Designed for the serious gaming crowd, the Aurora has an AMD Phenom X4 9550 quad-core CPU, dual ATI Radeon HD 4850 GPUs, a 500GB3 7,200RPM hard drive and 4GB of DDR2 memory.

Other features include a multiformat DVD±RW/CD-RW drive, Alien Ice 3.0 cooling and Windows Vista Home Premium.

Price: $1,699.99 (without monitor, mouse and keyboard).

More at Electronic House.

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