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Computer Hardware

A Supercomputer for Everybody?

September 16, 2008

Microsoft and Cray are set to unveil the Cray CX1, a compact supercomputer running Windows HPC Server 2008.

The pair is expected to tout the new offering as "the most affordable supercomputer Cray has ever offered," with pricing starting at $25,000. (That is amazing!)

The CX1 combines compute, storage and visualization in a single integrated system that's designed for non-traditional environments like labs or offices. If space is a problem, not to worry, it's compact enough to fit in a broom closet.  Perfect for home!

How can you get one?!

Time for a Netbook?

September 16, 2008

Make Mine a Mini: Mini-Laptops Driving PC Sales

September 12, 2008

Mini-laptop computers, typified by the popular ASUS Eee PC (in photo at left), have been derided by some analysts as little but low-cost toys. But they are changing the shape of the PC business throughout the world, bringing computing power to many who could never have afforded it.

As small laptop sales increase, their popularity is redefining the nature of the computing experience, taking it off the desk and making it an integral part of peoples' lives, wherever they are.

With the Internet playing an essential role, the devices are well-suited to an increasingly connected mobile population, in many cases supplementing rather than replacing one's computing power.

Notebook PCs in general are experiencing torrid growth, according to the latest quarterly PC sales statistics from IDC, a research firm.

Worldwide, portable computer sales for the second quarter were up 37 percent year over year.

Even the United States saw growth in notebook computer sales, although it was less dramatic: up 17.7 percent, while desktop machines and servers sales declined by 4 percent.

Still, IDC expects the portable computer market in the United States to double, from 30 million units sold in 2007 to 61.1 million in 2012.

All the news that's fit to read in the New York Times.

Microchip Celebrates 50th Today!

September 12, 2008

Notebooks, smart phones, Blu-ray players -- name a gadget, and it probably wouldn't exist today without the tiny little integrated circuit (IC).

Not only did the IC give rise to the modern consumer electronics industry, but it has also kept that industry moving at breakneck speed, allowing for cheaper, smaller and more-powerful chips to be produced year after year with dazzling consistency.

So, it's easy to forget that it's only been five decades since Texas Instruments' Jack Kilby demonstrated the first working IC, a discovery that earned him a Nobel Prize for Physics in 2000. (That's the little baby in the photo above.)

While that device started out as nothing more than a single transistor with a smattering of other components on a thin slice of germanium --  -- its silicon progeny now contain hundreds of transistors in a space the size of a single red blood cell. 

So let's fill that cake with candles and blow them all out -- we have great reason to celebrate! 

More at Wired.

PIKA WARP Appliance for Asterisk Review

September 12, 2008

There is no doubt that open source Asterisk has taken IP telephony by storm resulting in many vendors offering solutions based on Asterisk. Because the "free" Asterisk software is open source, it has helped drive down the cost of installing an IP-PBX. Only one major cost factor remains - the hardware. If you install Asterisk on a traditional PC, you have several hardware components - the motherboard, the CPU, the memory, the hard drive, the power supply, CD/DVD drive, etc.

Sling Media SlingCatcher and Slingbox PRO-HD Available

September 10, 2008

The new Sling Media SlingCatcher and Slingbox PRO-HD (Sling Media Slingbox PRO-HD SB100-100) are now available for pre-order from Amazon and at $299.99 each. Just in time for the Christmas holiday season! Woot! Ok, Christmas is still 3 months away, so I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

Finally Some Good News about Notebook Batteries!

September 9, 2008

Seems like every blog about notebook computers and batteries is bad news -- recalls, fires and the like.

Well, how about some good news for a change!

Hewlett-Packard (HP) will reportedly release a notebook next month that can run for to 24 hours using a high-capacity battery -- but only if it's running Microsoft's Windows XP operating system.

The long-lasting notebook will be a special configuration of the 6930p, part of HP's EliteBook line.

The allure of a battery that can last a day is incontestable, as anyone who has spent time in an airport searching for a power outlet knows. The secret to the 6930p's long battery life is new technology -- and some old technology, too.

To get the best battery performance, the 6930p will have to run Windows XP rather than Windows Vista. Vista has been criticized as being a power hog, although some of its flashy, power-draining features such as the translucent Aero windows can be turned off.

Read more about it at PC World here.

New e-Newspaper Reader Heats Up e-Reader Market

September 8, 2008

The electronic newspaper, a large portable screen that is constantly updated with the latest news, has been a prop in science fiction for ages. It also figures in the dreams of newspaper publishers struggling with rising production and delivery costs, lower circulation and decreased ad revenue from their paper product.

While the dream device remains on the drawing board, Plastic Logic is introducing its version of an electronic newspaper reader -- a lightweight plastic screen that mimics the look, but not the feel, of a printed newspaper.

The device, which is unnamed, uses the same technology as the Sony eReader and Amazon's Kindle (photo above).

Both of those devices are intended primarily as book readers, but Plastic Logic's device has a screen that is more than twice as large. The size of a piece of copier paper, it can be continually updated via a wireless link and can store and display hundreds of pages of newspapers, books and documents.

The reader will go on sale in the first half of next year. Plastic Logic will not announce which news organization will display its articles on it until the International Consumer Electronics Show in January, when it will also reveal the price. 

Read more about it at the New York Times.

Sony Laptops Heading Back to Sony -- Oy VAIO!

September 4, 2008

Sony has issued a recall for thousands of its VAIO laptops because of possible overheating or short-circuits.

(Didn't we blog about another similar Sony problem not all that long ago?) 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said that the recall is voluntary, and it recommended that Vaio owners stop using the products unless otherwise instructed.

The recall affects 73,000 VAIO TZ-series computers in the U.S. and apparently 440,000 units worldwide.

The safety commission said the reason for the recall is because "irregularly positioned wires near the computer's hinge and/or a dislodged screw inside the hinge can cause a short-circuit and overheating."

It added that this hazard could result in burns to consumers. In fact, the commission reported that Sony has received 15 reports of overheating, including one person who received a minor burn.

The affected models are the VAIO VGN-TZ100 series, VGN-TZ200 series, VGN-TZ300 series, and VGN-TZ2000 series.

Dell Goes to Europe with Vodafone

September 4, 2008

Vodafone and Dell have announced that Dell's Inspiron Mini 9 ultra-mobile notebook will be sold with built-in mobile broadband, exclusively through Vodafone stores and online, and directly from Dell, in key European markets.

Available in late September, the Inspiron Mini 9 is designed to deliver the utmost flexibility, reliability and speed for email and Internet browsing on-the-go without the need for an additional modem. (Or so they say.)

Digital nomads and avid web surfers alike (that's their wording, not mine) will be able to connect anytime, anywhere, whether on the road, or on-the-go, while surfing the Web, chatting with friends or enjoying their favorite online videos and music.

Wonder how long it will take for this to make its way to the U.S.?

And yes, there is a U.S. version that sounds pretty sweet -- reminds me of my old Compaq Contura Aero -- now there was a subnotebook (remember that category?)

There's lots more at Gizmodo.

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