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Kelvyn Taylor - Editor, PCW

Posted by Kelvyn Taylor on August 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

RM puts Eee PCs to schools

9002 RM has announced its version of the 8.9in Eee PC for schools.

RM expects to sell 50,000 Eee PCs in 2008 and reckons schools which kit their pupils out with the little laptop see SAT scores go up by an average of 3.5 per cent.

Tim Pearson, CEO of RM, said Microsoft had been aggressive on pricing of the Windows version and that the price gap between using Linux and XP (including Works 9) on the Eee PC is £25 in the UK.

"Learning how to type is more important than learning how to write," said Pearson, who was describing the mantra in a Singaporean school. In my opinion, however, increased PC usage may benefit language, humanity and electronic education, but laptops are not yet suitable for most mathematical education - a qwerty keyboard is too rigid to derive something, do basic differential equations or even long division exercises.

Microsoft's director of education, Steve Beswick, took the stage afterwards and extolled the benefits of Windows XP on small laptops. "Security is one of the reasons for using XP in school," said Beswick. Citing security as a virtue of Windows may sound laughable, but schools like to set universal security policies and parental controls.

The 8.9" RM Asus miniBook, as it will be called, costs a fiver more than the non-RM branded Eee PC costs (at £285 ex. Vat). It will be available for a few months before being superseded by the superior Atom based Eee PC 901.

Posted by Emil Larsen on June 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Extreme hype works for Apple

Regulars readers may have noticed that attitudes towards Apple at PCW Towers tend to be a mix of admiration and intense irritation. The cause of the latter reaction is usually Apple luminary Steve Jobs and his big mouth.

Typical was the way he launched Apple wireless networking in 1999 as if the company had invented it, although it had been in widespread use on PCs for two years.

Still, you have to hand it to the man: his hype works. Analysts ARCchart report that Apple's Airport Extreme has become the top-selling wireless router in the US, outselling brands like Linksys, Dlink and Netgear.

The Extreme sells at the Apple site for $179; a Linksys router with similar specs can be bought for $40 less and should work as well with a Mac as with a PC.

Looking at the entire base-station market, including models not packing a router, Apple comes fourth with an 11 percent share. That is still higher than its 6 percent share of the US computer market (globally it has only about 3 percent).

ARCchart concludes that PC owners must have been buying the Apple model, indicating the power of a brand. Of course it could also mean that Mac users have taken this long to save pennies enough to meet Apple's inflated prices, and are only now in a position to catch up with the rest of us.

Posted by Clive Akass on June 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

RSI rates soar 30 per cent, but is it just ambulance chasing?

The number of reported RSI incidents shot up 30 per cent last year, according to a 1003-person study commissioned by Microsoft.

Eight per cent of office workers now struggle with the painful digits and sharp pains shooting through their bodies associated with RSI (repetitive strain injury), while 68 per cent of office workers suffer from some sort of pain (like back ache and sore eyes)

John Allen, managing consultant at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said "there have been some high profile court cases that have attracted very large damages awards recently and as such more people are becoming more aware of it and reporting RSI." He also expects RSI injuries to increase in the future as technology use increases.

Bronwyn Clifford, a chartered physiotherapist, advises that "keystrokes, rather than using the mouse, help against RSI". Voice activated commands, taking breaks (like a proper lunch break) and, in some cases, using a more sensitive and even a bigger mouse can also help, she said.

At PCW, we use vertical mice and tablet pens to easy the pains of using a computer. Little, however, can help our eyes from the strain of staring at a screen for 10+ hours a day.

Posted by Emil Larsen on June 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New chip could make satnav standard on Bluetooth devices

Bluecore7_2 This is a block diagram of the new BlueCore 7 chip from CSR, which packs satnav, Bluetooth and FM send/seceive onto a piece of silicon just 3.6mm by 3.2mm. John Halksworth, head of product management, says the extra functionality comes at the same cost as a Bluetooth-only chip, which means it could become more or less standard issue on mobile phones and other portable devices.

He claims the sensitivity of the eGPS system is particularly impressive because of the limited scope for aerials in mobile devices. It has also boosted what he calls the "across body" performance to providing good communication even when link back-pocket device to headphones. Apparently in some earlier models, body attenuation has caused some problems.

BlueCore 7 also uses CSR's proprietary Auristream voice codec but reverts to Bluetooth's CVSD if talking to a non-CSR device.

Posted by Clive Akass on June 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Arm's new GPU

Armdiagm This is a block diagram of Arm's  Mali-400 MP multicore graphics processing unit, unveiled today, showing the shared level 2 cache, the "console class" vertex processor, and the maximum four fragment processors able to fill a billion pixels a second.

Arm sells designs and does not make chips to actual implementations, and thus performance and power drain, are down the manufacturer. Chris Porthouse, senior product manager, said some Arm customers would implement it at 45nm scale and some were looking at 32nm.

There is much interest in how Arm is going to play against Intel's new Atom processors on price and performance. Apple's iPhone and iThouch have shown what can be done with Arm technology, but Mali-400 designs won't hit the market until 2010. Products using its single-core Mali-200 are expected to appear this year.

Posted by Clive Akass on June 2, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Asus offers Eee battery upgrade for a tenner

For UK consumers to get a worse deal than the rest of the world on electrical goods' pricing is a given - we are a difficult to access island after all - but for us to receive inferior products isn't common at all.

So it surprised us to here that UK buyers of the Eee PC 900 received a 4,400mAh battery while American's got a 5,800mAh battery pack.

Now, however, Asus has now decided it will swap out your 4,400mAh battery and send you the larger 5,800mAh battery for £10 (P&P included).

Asus has also released a new Bios (version 0601) that, it says, will add around 30 minutes extra battery life on the Eee PC 900. UK Eee PC 900 owners should go to Asus' support site to grab the bigger battery and download the new Bios.

Posted by Emil Larsen on May 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Traxdata media player

Traxdata has announced a product that sounds rather similar too Iomega's Screenplay, which we described a few days back.The £149 MultiMediaDrive packs a 500Gbyte disk and a multimedia player than can play movies, songs or photos directly to you television using an HDMI, Scart or composite video link. You can load content via a USB2 port.
High Definition support goes up to 1080i. Supported formats include Mpeg1, Mpeg2, DivX (with subtitles), Xvid, MP3, WAV and JPEG. The Traxdata MultiMediaDrive has a recommended retail price of £149. For more details visit 
Traxdata has also announced prices on its new range of fast Class 6 (rated at 6Byte/secs) SD variant cards: 16GByte SDHC £45; 8Gbyte miniSDHC £24-25; 4Gbyte miniSDHC £12-14; 4GByte microSDHC £14.50-£16.

Posted by Clive Akass on May 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hands on with the MSI Wind

We got some precious hands-on time with the MSI Wind yesterday, competitor to the Asus Eee PC 900.


It has an exceptional feature list, starting with a 10in screen, 1.6GHz Intel processor (that's all we're allowed to say... for now), 1GB Ram, an 80GB 5,400rpm hard drive, a 1.3megapixel webcam, and a much bigger keyboard than the Eee PC.

The processor is overclockable to 1.9GHz, which MSI's UK marketing manager, Richard Stewart, says is a unique feature for such a small-form factor notebook.

It weighs 1kg with a 3cell battery, packs all the usual goodies like Wifi, Blutooth, XP Home, a card reader and three USB ports and its price is something special: £329 inc. Vat.

The screen is LED backlit and has a 1,024x600 resolution. That's a small step behind the HP Mininote 2133, which has a superior 1,280x768 resolution, but it's still an impressive display for the £329 price point.

Richard Stewart's comment: "demand will undoubtedly outstrip supply", is a bit of an understatement in my opinion.

Asus has already had problems building enough Eee PC 900s (my uncle ordered two a few weeks ago and they still haven't arrived) and rumours suggest that Intel is struggling to keep up with demand for its current and upcoming ultra-mobile CPUs.

But while supply will be a problem, demand is equally a factor, since the Wind breezes past the competition in terms of feature list, value for money and possibly even performance too.

Stewart also confirmed an 8.9in version of the Wind, due for launch at a later date with Linux instead of Windows, and a desktop version of the MSI Wind is also in the works. The desktop version will have a similar price and similar components (the same processor), but lose the battery and display in place of an optical drive.

Dell's mini laptop, Acer's Aspire One MiniNote, Medion's 10in wonder which PCW saw at Cebit08, HP's Mininote 2133, Via's Openbook (possibly to be sold through Belinea and Packard Bell), Acer's new Eee PC 901 (based on the Atom rather than the 900 based on the Celeron 353), Acer's 10in Eee PC and even Elonex's £99 notebook make this a crowded and, happily, a competitive market.

Posted by Emil Larsen on May 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Via shows off Nanobook successor

Via_openbook_2_m Via has released the details of its successor to the Nanobook, called the Openbook.

It's a reference design that will be re-badged and tweaked by manufacturers just like the Nanobook was (Belinea's 1 and Packard Bell's Easynote XS used Via's older design).

It is perhaps named Openbook because, Via says in its launch video, that it will put the CAD design files for the notebook freely on its website so manufacturers can easily modify the original design to suit their brands.

The Openbook design has been modernised to include a bigger and higher resolution 8.9in display with two webcams (one pointing out, one pointing in) and a sleeker chassis compared with the Nanobook.


Continue reading "Via shows off Nanobook successor"

Posted by Emil Larsen on May 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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