Archive for October, 2010

Everywhere you turn it’s 3D this and 3D that, but despite the marketing blitz, 3D technology isn’t winning over consumers in droves. That includes the mobile PC market where 3D is having a tough time getting established.

According to reports, global sales of 3D notebooks in 2010 will only reach 150,000 to 200,000 units, which is partly the result of targeting mainly high-end gamers. For example, HP just recently introduced a 17.3-inch Envy 3D notebook that sells for between $1,500 and $2,000. With or without 3D, that’s a tough sell with sub-$1,000 notebooks sporting respectable specs these days.

There are a handful of lower-end 3D notebooks in the pipeline too, most of which feature passive polarization glasses rather than Nvidia’s active shutter glasses. As 2011 rolls around, we expect to see vendors targeting mainstream audiences with 3D notebooks, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see a handful of 3D tablets emerge.

At what price point would you consider a 3D notebook, if at all?

Image Credit: HP

Despite a few vendors building servers around hundreds of low-cost Atom processors, Intel said it isn’t planning on actively targeting the server market with its Atom platform.

“We are not opposed to an Atom-based server, but we just don’t see broad adoption of the Atom as a server chip,” Kirk Skaugen, Intel’s vice president and general manger of its Data Center Group, said earlier this week.

Intel’s stance hasn’t stopped companies like SeaMicro from building Atom-based servers on their own. At the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in September, SeaMicro showed a server with 512 Atom processors capable of Ethernet switching, server management, and application load-balancing.

Nevertheless, Skaugen contends that customers want energy-efficient, raw performance such as what’s found in Intel’s Xeon line, and that the Atom architecture just isn’t ideally suited for highly parallelized computing.

Chrome has been updated to 7.0.517.24 for Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome Frame on the Beta channel. The first Chrome 7 beta release is pretty thin on conspicuous improvements. In fact, the only notable enhancement is the introduction of Side Tabs under the about:labs option.

However, the latest Dev channel release, version 7.0.536.2, is a lot different and boasts a large number of enhancements, including built-in Google Instant search results, WebGL 3D support, and support for accelerated composting and 3D CSS transforms. The release also addresses a number of issues with previous versions.

“A lot of the work that’s being done in 7.0 is largely not user facing and in some cases is a legitimate work in progress. With our new release cycle and about:labs, I’d suggest you stay tuned, things are going to start moving quite fast,” Anthony Laforge, Google Chrome product manager, told unimpressed comment posters on the Google Chrome Releases blog.

Remember that big brouhaha over Nvidia’s notebook GPUs failing at an “abnormal rate” due to a manufacturing defect? It was never entirely clear exactly how many models were affected, until now. As part of a settlement in a class-action lawsuit, Nvidia has agreed to compensate affected owners of certain Apple, Dell, and HP/Compaq models, including repairs of the defective chip, providing a replacement notebook of equal value, or reimbursing for repairs, depending on the model you purchased.

There are around 50 models listed in the settlement with manufacturing dates ranging from November 2005 all the way up to February 2010 (Dell XPS M1710). Here are the symptoms indicative of a bad part:

  • Distorted or scrambled video on the notebook computer screen (All)
  • No video on the notebook computer screen even when the notebook computer is turned on (All)
  • Random characters, lines, or garbled images on the notebook computer screen (Dell, HP)
  • Intermittent video issues (Dell, HP)
  • Failure to detected the wireless adapter (select HP models)
  • Failure to detect the wireless network (select HP models)

The settlement includes a $2 million fund for reimbursement subject to court approval. A judge will decide whether or not to approve the settlement on December 20, 2010.

Nvidia Settlement Homepage
Affected Laptop Models

Following an outpouring of support and “several” buyout offers, Xmarks is reconsidering shutting its servers down on January 10, 2011. According to James Joaquin, CEO of the cross-browser syncing service, many users wrote in claiming they would be willing to pay for Xmarks. Ready to prove it?

“We’re revisiting the idea of Xmarks as a premium service,” Joaquin wrote in a blog post. “We’ve set up a Pledgebank page where you can sign up if you’re willing to pay at least $10 a year for Xmarks. No credit card is required, but please only pledge if you are genuinely willing and able to pay.”

Joaquin insists that charging users for his syncing services was never part of the original strategy, but giving the number of encouraging emails, he’s willing to entertain the idea. But here’s where things get tricky. Joaquin says it costs over $2 million a year to run Xmarks, with $9 million already invested to create the technology and grow the data corpus. If 2 percent of the two million Xmarks users would be willing to pony up $10/year, that would only amount to $400,000 of annual revenue.

Nevertheless, Joaquin isn’t giving up.

“The overwhelming positive user support from all of you, combined with strong interest by companies looking to take over Xmarks, means that the service might just find a ninth life. Please stay tuned,” Joaquin said.

If you want to pledge, head over to www.pledgebank.com/XmarksPremium. The deadline to do so is October 15, 2010.

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