Monday, May 31, 2010

Intel Launches Core i3/i5/i7 Chips for Ultra-Portable Laptops

Intel Core i3/i5/i7 ProcessorsDespite promises of a laptop with an all-day battery life coupled with an inexpensive price, Intel's ultra-low voltage processors, otherwise known as CULVs (Consumer Ultra Low Voltage), haven't exactly been living up to the hype. Part of the reason is that Intel hasn't updated their mobile line of processors with its new Core technology, instead their CULV line has simply been based on Core 2 Duo technology. That is until now.

The chipmaking giant Intel has released their new ulta-low voltage versions of its 32-nm “Nehalem” Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors. This means that Intel’s premiere mainstream processors have been slightly downsized so they can now be installed inside power-sensitive ultra-portable notebook computers. These new chips not only pack a significant performance punch, which Intel says is about 30% faster than their previous ultra-low-voltage offerings, but also use 15 percent less power in the process. The new chips will be identified from their larger counterparts by their part numbers which will end with the letters "um" (i.e. Intel Core i5-430um or Intel Core i7-640um).

“Consumers crave laptops that offer style and performance, and the new 2010 Intel Core Ultra-Low Voltage processors for ultra-thin laptops delivers both, in one sleek design,” said Intel PC Client Group VP and general manager Mooly Eden, in a statement. “Not only are laptops becoming ultra-portable, but with the new processors inside, users will see faster response times and less waiting.”

Like their bigger brethren, ULV versions of the Intel Core chips will feature Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading technologies enabling the processors to dynamically overclock themselves and devote resources to a single processor core. In addition, the new processors will have a thermal envelope of 17W, which is at least twice as energy efficient as their standard volt Core processors. However, Intel will not be converting its ultra-thin processor offerings completely over to the Core line. ULV versions of the Celeron and Pentium processors will continue to be available to manufacturers and will still be a mainstay among many laptops in the future.

It seems the direction that Intel wants to take its new chips is towards a strange middle ground between very affordable and highly portable, yet slower-performing netbooks and even full-size traditional laptops. The MacBook Air is an example of an ultra-thin laptop that offers powerful portability but is simply too expensive for the average consumer. On the other hand, there is the Toshiba T135 series of ultra-portable laptops which seem to attract far more interest than the Macbook Air for its more reasonable price tag despite being less powerful.

Then there are ultra-thin laptops which tout enhanced performance, such as dual-core Atoms, which offer negligible performance improvements for their cost. It appears that consumers are more interested in average and smaller sized laptops which deliver on affordability. Intel promises that systems will start appearing in June equipped with their new ULV processors, so we'll see soon enough just how they stack up. Already Intel says more than 40 designs based on the chips have been confirmed and are already in the works from makers such as Acer, Lenovo, Asus, and MSI.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Onkyo's E713A9B All-In-One PC

Onkyo All-In-One E713A9B PCOnkyo, famous for their construction of numerous iPod docks, has just stepped up their game another level with their newest creation, an all-in-one PC centered around, you guessed it, an iPod dock. The newest PC, just announced today, has been dubbed the E713A9B. The PC is powered by an Intel Core i5-650 CPU at 3.20GHz. The E713A9B also comes in with 4GB of RAM upgradeable to 8GB, 1TB of HDD, a 23-inch LCD display and full 1920x1080 full HD resolution.

But the E713A9B isn't done there, the PC also comes with a Blu-Ray disc drive, the DTS Premium Suite Audio Codec, 2x5 watt speakers, 1.3 megapixel webcam, 3 USB 2.0 ports, 1 eSATA port, 1 HDMI port, b/g/n Wi-Fi, digital TV tuner, an SDXC memory card slot, Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit and, of course, the iPod docking station which slides out of the right side of the screen.

The iPod dock is specifically designed to accommodate the iPod Classic, the iPod Nano and the iPod Touch. For those observant ones of you out there, you may have noticed that I did not mention the iPhone. That is because the all-in-one E713A9B's iPod dock is apparently unable to house the bulky frame of the iPhone. It seems strange that an "all-in-one" PC would exclude one of Apple's biggest and most popular products.

Nevertheless, the specs for the E713A9B are intense and seem to be most everything you would want in a desktop PC. The desktop has great memory, an excellent hard drive and some other really good specs and the iPod dock is the cherry on top. For those of you that live in Japan, you will be able to get your hands on the E713A9B next month for a price of ¥99,880, or $1,100 U.S. All of us over here in America, however, will have to wait as Onkyo has yet to announce an America release date.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mega-Collaboration Power with MultiMouse

multimouseBartels Media has developed and recently released a program that allows up to 50 different Windows users to all control the desktop of one central computer. This can be extremely useful for collaborating, training, brainstorming, and document building.

So how exactly does this work? Well, MultiMouse uses a wireless or Ethernet connection that transmits each user’s mouse movements and text inputs. Other than having one of these two connections, no other additional hardware is necessary for MultiMouse to be completely functional. Also, so as to avoid confusion, each users cursor has a nametag so everyone will know who is sharing what.

This program is available at a starting price of $139. This version includes a five user license, but versions of the program can be purchased to accommodate up to 50 users. Teacher’s are even given an educational discount. To learn more about MultiMouse check out the trial version that can be downloaded the MultiMouse website.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gateway Upgrades Their ZX Series

gateway zx seriesOn Wednesday, Gateway updated their ZX series that includes mid-ranged and high-end all-in-one desktop computers.

Now Gateway is offering their ZX4300 line with the option of AMD’s Athlon II X2 processor, and their ZX6900 with either Intel’s Core i3 or Core i5 processor. The ZX6900, which is one of Gateway’s high-end PCs, can also be equipped with a Blu-ray reading drive. Both of the series also offer touch-screen technology that works perfectly with the included Windows 7 Home Premium operating system.

The Gateway One ZX6900-01e now comes standard with an Intel Core i3-530 processor, 4GB of DDR3 memory, a 640GB hard drive, slot-loading Blu-ray player/DVD burner, integrated Intel GMA graphics, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and 23-inch widescreen touch panel that features 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. Also included are HDMI and eSATA ports that allow for more connectivity options. This PC is available from Gateway for $1,019.99.

The Gateway One ZX4300-01e is more of a mid-ranged desktop compared to the ZX6900. It features an AMD Athlon II X2 235e processor, 4GB of DDR3 memory, a 640GB SATA hard drive, DVD burner, integrated ATI Radeon HD 4270 graphics, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and 20-inch touch panel widescreen monitor with 1,600 x 900 resolution. This model is available through Gateway for $749.99.

Both of these desktops from Gateway include webcams and a variety of free software. They are both excellent PCs. The upgrades from Gateway are certainly a welcome change.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

The Apple iMac 27-inch (Core i7)

apple imac 27-inchDesktop computers have been forced to change their faces in order to not be considered obsolete. They are constantly being outdone by the convenience and speed of laptops, notebooks, and netbooks. The Apple iMac 27-inch (Core i7) is a fantastic example of an multimedia, all-in-one desktop computer. In many ways, it resembles its predecessor, the Apple iMac that featured a Core 2 Duo processor, except this iMac 27-inch (Core i7) is much faster.

The Apple iMac 27-inch (Core i7) is designed very much like the rest of the iMac line from Apple. It features brushed aluminum which surrounds a black glass frame. Also included is a sturdy metal arm, that tilts in a variety of different directions and angles, that suspends the screen over your desk for a sophisticated look. The back of the iMac is described as “clean.” Helping this “clean” look is the fact that the iMac 27-inch (Core i7) comes standard with a wireless keyboard and mouse. The MagicMouse that is included with this desktop has a multi-touch surface that allows for clicking and swiping. The back panel of the computer has audio in/out jacks, four USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 800 port, the Mini Display Port (in/out), and a Gigabit Ethernet port.

The iMac 27-inch (Core i7) features a vibrantly lit screen with 2,560 x 1,440 resolution. This allows for easy spreadsheet editing and presentation of projects. You can also simply plug in an external monitor to give you more screen space. This can be done by utilizing the Mini DisplayPort to hook up another monitor or device.

On the side of the iMac there is a slot-loading DVD player/burner. Unfortunately for some reason, Apple does not allow for the option of Blu-ray. This was one of the very few disappointments to be found with the iMac 27-inch (Core i7).

Included with your iMac is the iLife suite that is comprised of iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, and iTunes. These are some great programs that allow for immense creativity. The system comes standard with 4GB of DDR3 memory and can hold up to 16GB. To replace the hard drive it is necessary to take apart the iMac, so external expansion is the best way to go.

The iMac 27-inch (Core i7) runs on an Intel Core i7-860 processor with 2.8GHz that can be boosted up to 3.46GHz when it is necessary to provide more computing power. The Core i7 processor also supports HyperThreading which allows you to compute eight streams of data at once. This is a great computer for multimedia purposes. This iMac is also great for gaming. It features ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics that allows for smooth gameplay.

The Apple iMac 27-inch (Core i7) is an extremely powerful multimedia desktop computer. It is fast, sleek, up-to-date, and feature-filled. The only possible drawback for most people would be the price tag. It is listed at $2,199 direct from Apple. That may seem like a lot to put out for a desktop computer, but for those that have the cash for such a purchase, they will be getting everything they could ever want from the iMac.
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Finally! Stream iTunes Online

Finally! Stream iTunes OnlineRumors about an online version of iTunes have been rampant since mid to late 2009, but now it looks like there's a little truth to the idea...maybe. Apple will be launching an online music service that will allow users to listen to music streamed over the internet. Experts say the new application could become a major threat for music websites such as Spotify, a service that allows users access to millions of songs through a paid subscription.

Each iTunes user will have access to a "digital locker," which allows them to store music they've purchased through the iTunes store. If you'd like to access your locker, you simply go to the website (the New York Times says it will probably be, log in, and voila! Your music is there, waiting to be listened to on any computer.

With the current version of iTunes, music can only be stored on your computer or your iPod, which rules out listening to it on the go in some cases.

Last year, Apple bought and last month, they closed it down. This led many to believe the web version of iTunes is coming. Lala's Software allows users to store music libraries online and play them through any browser on any computer. It's most likely that these guys will be working on the new web-based version of iTunes.

The New York Times spoke with an unnamed record label executive who said Apple had announced plans to create a cloud-based service just weeks before it purchased Lala. Others wondered if Amazon or Google would beat Apple to creating such a service.

Personally, I'm not sure I would use this service very often. I'm a big iTunes fan, but I'm never in a position where I would want to access my music on another computer. If I'm traveling with intentions to work, I generally take my laptop and/or iPod along if I plan to listen to music. If I'm on another computer, other than my laptop, I am most likely in a place where playing music wouldn't be a great idea, though I suppose you can always wear headphones. On the plus side, I can see where it would be handy if you own multiple computers. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what Apple comes up with.

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