February 20, 2006

Microsoft Employee Argues that Halo 2 Should Require Vista

This Microsoft employee argues with a straight face that Vista is really needed to play Halo 2 on the PC. Excuse me, baking powder? This is one of the most idiotic statements I've read in a long long time. Stop drinking the Microsoft kool-aid man. If you know anything about PC gaming, you would know that Halo 2 could run just fine on Windows XP, just like every other cutting edge game on the marketplace.

Penny Arcade’s Tycho is incensed that Halo 2 will only be available on Windows Vista. Thinks it’s just a marketing decision. It might be, but there certainly are some sizeable technical reasons too. At Northern Voice I showed a Channel 9 video that’ll come out soon that shows just how many multimedia improvements have been made in Windows Vista. In the video the audio team shows that Windows XP’s audio won’t play very well (sometimes not at all) if you start applying stress to CPU’s. On Windows Vista the audio and video continue playing just fine with the same level of stress (on the same hardware). It’s a dramatic example of how much better multimedia will be on Windows Vista.

Intel Says new Chips will be 20% Faster than AMD

Intel is bragging that the new Conroe and Merom chips will be faster than AMD's offerings in the second half of this year. Big talk from a company that has been behind for a while, we'll see it when we see it.

Intel expects its forthcoming Conroe and Merom chips to deliver a performance advantage of at least 20 percent over chips from Advanced Micro Devices that are slated to be released at the same time, an Intel executive said Friday. "We believe we'll be able to open a major gap," with the new processors, Eden said. Eden led the design team that created the original Pentium M processor, which is credited as the inspiration for Intel's embrace of low-power design philosophies and the model for Merom and Conroe. Merom and Conroe are expected to launch for notebooks and desktops, respectively, in the second half of this year.

Canon ZR500 Camcorder Review

It looks like the new Canon ZR-500 has taken the lead in terms of price/performance of the low-end $300 camcorder market. I might get one myself.

Too often, replacement models do little more than bump up the zoom and change the color of a camcorder. Canon has gone above and beyond this year, overhauling old designs and building off of a solid imaging system. As I said earlier, this is one of the best ZR camcorders we've seen in years. The low light performance has been a thorn in their side for too long, and barred us from making recommendations towards them without an assortment of caveats: "good video... but bad low light;" "good design... but no mic input." No more. Barring the ability to take stills, expect the ZR500 to be one of the best deals in the low-end market.

17 Minute Interview with Bill Gates

This is the best interview I've seen ever with Bill Gates. A real heart-to-heart on Microsoft's technologies and what he does day-to-day. He reads Engadget, News.com, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and recently overviewed all the video TV offerings. Bill also generally doesn't watch TV, but catches the occasional DVD like 24. He also likes jumping on trampolines. Oh the life of a billionaire.

February 19, 2006

Microsoft to Offers 8 Different Versions of the Vista OS

You can't make this up. Inside Microsoft there is a marketing consultant who actually thinks having 8 different versions of a operating system is a good idea just like the horrid chrome user interface we saw a couple days ago on the next version of Outlook.

On the line up are Windows Starter 2007; Windows Vista Enterprise; Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista ultimate, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Home Basic N and Windows Vista Business N. The "N" releases are those which do not include Media Player.

Nintendo DS Lite Videos

Sonic - Metroid Pinball

The screen sure is a lot brighter than my current DS. I hate how Nintendo always makes you buy a second system in the same generation. From GBA to GBA SP, now DS to DS Lite.

Top 20 Selling PC Games of January 2006

1. World of Warcraft (Vivendi Universal)
2. The Sims 2 (Electronic Arts)
3. Age of Empires III (Microsoft)
4. Civilization IV (2K Games)
5. Call of Duty 2 (Activision)
6. The Sims 2 Nightlife (Electronic Arts)
7. Battlefield 2 (Electronic Arts)
8. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 (Atari)
9. Zoo Tycoon 2 (Microsoft)
10. Battlefield 2 Special Forces (Electronic Arts)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Electronic Arts)
12. Guild Wars (NCsoft)
13. The Sims Complete Collection (Electronic Arts)
14. The Movies (Activision)
15. The Sims 2: University (Electronic Arts)
16. Zoo Tycoon: Complete Collection (Microsoft)
17. The Sims Deluxe (Electronic Arts)
18. F.E.A.R. (Vivendi Universal)
19. Dungeon Siege II (Microsoft)
20. Black & White 2 (Electronic Arts)

It's amazing to see how much legs World of Warcraft has. It's a true game that has hit the mainstream.

Tech Deal of Day: Seagate 200GB Hard Drive for $29.99 After Rebate


February 18, 2006

Nokia N90 Review by Rendition


Nokia has been the leading cellphone maker since the dawn of the mobile area. They led because they have always been willing to push the design envelope and innovate. Nokia also always had the best “Apple-like” user interface by always trying to make things as simple as possible with the smallest amount of steps.

In the last couple of years, Motorola and Samsung have gained share with new sexier clamshell designs. RAZR anyone? After sticking dogmatically to its small brick design, Nokia is now striking back with new innovative clam shells and large display smart-phones.

N90 is a stunning piece of engineering hardware. It is a unique clamshell smart-phone that transforms and pivots into a camera, camcorder, basic PIM, and last but not least cellphone. The dimensions are 4.4X2X0.9 inches and it weighs 6.1 ounces. It comes with a RS-MMC flash memory slot. When you play with it, it puts a smile on your face like when I first opened my IBM Thinkpad butterfly keyboard a decade ago. It reminds me of the old Robotech cartoons, where the fighter transforms into its three different battle configurations.

On the positive side, the screen display is simply the best I have ever seen. The resolution comes in at 352X416 and its gorgeous. I do think it is “best in class” on the market with amazing contrast and colors. The camera phone with is Carl Zeiss lens supports 2.1 megapixel pictures and once again I believe it is the “best in class” on the market today for quality. Pictures come out sharp and clear in well lit situations. Yes they aren’t as good as the shots on my Canon G3, but for a camera phone, it you can’t beat it.

The MP4 video quality is decent at 15 fps and 352X288 resolution. You won’t be getting rid of your real camcorder anytime soon, but it’s good enough for spontaneous shots. Sound voice quality for regular cellphone calls is also top notch, clear without any issues. It was better than the Treo 600 I use. The basic personal information management (PIM) features of the Symbian operating system work well. The icons are the prettiest you will see on a smartphone today.

On the negative side, there is no optical zoom on the camera. The LED flash isn’t that powerful, it’s kind of gimmicky. Form factor is a bit bulky and it feels heavy in the pocket. I don’t think it is pocket-able for regular daily life. Also for the price of a Treo or RIMM, you don’t get the full smart phone functionality of a built-in keyboard and a fully fledged enterprise class email application.

The worst downside is the phone is not cheap. It goes for $699.99 without phone plan and $599.99 with one. They are running a sale right now where you can get one for $399.99 after rebates and discounts, but it still costs a bundle. For these prices, you might consider getting a real smartphone like a Treo 650.

However if you’re looking for a top notch cellphone with basic PIM features, an excellent camera, this is the phone you want. If you want sometime that is a bit more portable, well we have this N70 that I’m looking in front of me. Stay tuned. Thanks to
Nokia for sending me the review unit. They deserve kudos for really reaching out to the blogger community with these review units.

Score: 7 out of 10 [Discuss]

Sonic Hedgehog Piano Soundtrack

Some guy plays the soundtrack to Sonic on his piano. Nifty for Sega fans.

Nvidia Confirms that Playstation 3 will be Late

It seems like everyone in the world knows Playstation 3 isn't going to make its Spring 2006 launch date, except for Sony.

Graphics chip maker Nvidia reported today that it doesn't anticipate any royalties from Sony during the current fiscal quarter which closes at the end of April. In a conference call, Chief Financial Officer Marv Burkett made the statement. Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO, said that he couldn't talk about the schedule for the PlayStation 3. He said that Nvidia's RSX graphics chip for the PS 3 is done and the company has production silicon for it.
However, since Nvidia won't be collecting royalties on the chip this quarter, that suggests that Sony isn't going to be producing machines during the months that close at the end of April, 2006. That suggests that Sony won't be shipping the PS 3 anytime soon, despite its comment last May that it would ship in the spring of 2006.

Tour of NewEgg Warehouse

First Adopters have been using NewEgg for years for great service and low prices. I never had issues with this company and a swear by using them for all my PC upgrades. I once had a hard-drive that clicked when it arrived and they replaced it no questions asked. Anand got to spend some time in one of their warehouses and learned how it all works.

Ugly Chrome New Outlook Theme


Yes is is the new look of the version of Windows and Outlook. Can you say ugly Apple eye candy clone? What is Microsoft thinking? I mean at some point they have to realize copying Apple with a second rate version isn't going to cut it anymore.

February 14, 2006

Nintendo Strategy to Disrupt

A Nintendo representative outlines their strategy with the Revolution.

Nintendo’s counterpunch is disruption. We’ve determined that the videogame market is ripe for revival—and we’re looking to make it happen by reaching out to the millions of players still on the sidelines, including those over the age of 35.

Early moves have been promising. Nintendogs, a game that allows people to train virtual puppies, has doubled the typical percentage of female purchasers, selling 1.5 million copies in about four months. Not bad, given that Nintendo DS hardware is in 4 million hands. In Japan, a pair of games designed to refresh and renew brain activity won over millions of people who previously associated videogames only with their grandkids.

And we’ve pulled the wraps off a new game interface for our upcoming console, code-named Revolution, that will break down the barriers of complexity that bar newcomers from test driving our products, while featuring the most advanced gaming experience ever. We’re expanding our market by disrupting it.

Videogame Demographics

Great UK Gamer demographic research piece by the BBC. Link

Intel to Cut Price 13-50% on Dual-Core CPUs

Digitimes has sources in Taiwan that say that Intel will cut prices on their dual-cores by up to 50% in April. 65nm production must be treating Intel mighty fine these days.

Intel will lower prices for its 65nm Pentium D 9xx-series processors by 13-50% on April 23, sources at Taiwan motherboard makers indicated, noting that the price cuts are aimed to accelerate the migration to dual-core processors. Intel is also scheduled to launch the Pentium D 960 CPU, which will be priced at US$530, on April 30, according to the sources. The new dual-core processor will feature a 3.6GHz clock speed.

February 13, 2006

Xbox 360 Shortage will End

Microsoft's Peter Moore has announced that Xbox 360 shortages should soon be at an end, stating: "Within the next four to six weeks, anybody will be able to walk into a store and buy an Xbox 360."

The big question is will anyone want it then after the launch fiasco.

February 12, 2006

More Playstation 3 Details

Kikizo has some new developer sources on the Playstation 3. It looks like 720p is the resolution of choice at the moment as the PS3 isn't that much more powerful than the Xbox 360.

Based on this evidence, things aren't exactly rocketing ahead, and we wouldn't be the first to question the potential of some kind of delays. Our developer is first to chip in: "We think that in Japan it will most likely release during Summer, Q4 in the US, and Europe in Winter or Spring 2007 - these are our internal projections." And right now, it seems most observers would agree.

February 09, 2006

New NYC Apple Store will be 24/7

Appe's new mid-town New York City store will be on 59th and Madison in the General Motors building. Staying true to the city that never sleeps, it will be the first store open 24/7.

Apple's upcoming midtown Manhattan retail store will mark a first for the company as sources report the location will be open 24 hours a day. The store, located in the underground retail plaza of the General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue between 58th and 59th Street will also be among the first stores to offer customers an iPod Bar. The 25,000-square-foot store will dwarf Apple's SoHo location and will be capped by a 32-foot glass cube that will stand in front of the building and house the stairs and elevators that will take customers underground to the Apple retail store. Sources report that construction of the store is on track to be completed in April, with the store expected to open by the end of May.

Apple Working on Real Video iPod

The rumor of the day is Apple is working on a video iPod with a 3.5 inch color screen. The kicker is the physical click wheel will go the way of the dodo and be replaced by a virtual touch screen version. All this to use to make the full front screen real estate available for video.

Apple has been working with at least two other companies to perfect the digital click wheel display technology. While not all the engineering was completed in-house by Apple, sources have said Apple could hold an exclusive license on the technologies it borrowed from other developers for a period of time, limiting the ability of competitors to copy Apple's design.

Halo 2 Only Coming for Windows Vista

Microsoft in its infinite wisdom has decided to make Halo 2 exclusive for the Windows Vista operating system. Yes that means you have to buy Windows Vista which will probably cost at least $150 to play Halo 2. It would be cheaper to buy an Xbox, don't you think?

February 08, 2006

Zillow - A Real Estate Juggernaut

The founder of Expedia, Richard Barton, has launched the beta version of Zillow.com. It is a real estate information site that have an information database on over 60 million homes. You can find out what prices homes in your area have been sold for and the value estimate over the last 10 years. The site uses public sales, tax, and government records with an amazing Google Maps-like ariel satellite view interface. The potential for local ad revenue for Zillow is huge.

Vonage Files for IPO

Vonage, the leading player in VOIP phone service has filed for an IPO. The company plans to raise $250 million and is rumored to be valued at $600 million. Vonage also hired a new CEO, Mike Snyder, former President of the ADT division of Tyco.

February 07, 2006

AMD AM2 Socket Change Details

Anandtech has the low-down on what the change to AM2 really means. It's more than just a move to DDR2 memory.

The new AMD technology refresh, now called AM2, will bring DDR2 memory to the Athlon64 on-processor memory controller. Many in the industry have speculated about the impact of this low latency memory controller on DDR2 performance, which to this point has suffered under the impact of the higher latency Intel Netburst architecture. We are looking forward to the opportunity to take a closer look at DDR2 performance on AM2 - which is everyone's big question.
There will be more than just new memory with AM2, however. We now have details on the new Socket 940 for AM2. It has been widely reported that the new Socket 940 will not be compatible with the existing Socket 940 used for Opteron and early Athlon 64.

Google to Pay $1 Billion to Pre-Load Software on Dell PCs

Is it me or does it seem crazy to pay someone $1 billion to install free useful software on Dell PCs? Google has gotten crazy with the beat Microsoft and Yahoo at all costs theme.

According to the paper, Dell set up an auction last Autumn in which it invited internet firms to bid for the rights to pre-load software on its PCs. It says that Yahoo! withdrew from the race and then Google went on to beat Microsoft in a straight fight. Google has already signed up for bundling with HP. It pays $1 for every PC installed with a Google toolbar and 75 cents for the first time the user types in a query on his spanking new HP PC, the WSJ says.

February 06, 2006

Cablevision is Phone Spamming its Best Customers

A year ago, I gave Cablevision my cellphone number because I didn't have a landline and needed to be accessible when the cable installer came. At the time I told them explicitly not to use it for marketing purposes. Starting last November 4, 2005 I started getting tons of calls from (516) 393-0168 on my cellphone, sometimes up to 4Xs a day. Since I didn't know this number, I never picked up thanks to CallerID. Today I got 2 calls from the number, it was interrupting my daily life, so I finally picked the phone. Guess who it was?

Yup. Cablevision. It wasn't even a live sales rep either. It was a computer generated recording pitching an upgrade to Optimum Online boost, which doubles the speed of their internet access service. I listened in shock, realizing that all those calls in the past few months was this phone spam . The computer said if you press this number, we will automatically upgrade you. I hung up.

Two hours later I looked on my cellphone and saw the computer called TWO MORE TIMES AFTER I hung up the phone earlier today. Right now I've been waiting on hold for 20 minutes calling Cablevision to complain. Of course their brilliant customer service forces their best customers to waste our time to get off their marketing list. What kind of company computer phone spams their best customers OVER AND OVER again after you hang up on them once? I am livid and I want the world to know this is totally unacceptable. It it looks like this isn't the first time Cablevision has done these tactics either, but repeated computer phone spam is a new low even for them. [Discuss]

February 05, 2006

Apple Replacing iPod Nanos and Videos

According to Apple Insider, sources have said Apple told its service providers to repair iPod Nanos screen cracks as “covered repairs”. Apple is doing its best to recover from the initial negative publicity on the scrathability of the Nano design.

“The AppleCare Repair Center will also be processing such repairs as covered repairs,” the company added. This means iPod nano owners with cracked displays should be able to contact AppleCare via telephone to arrange for their players to be serviced under warranty. Meanwhile, Apple's fifth-generation video iPods appear to be far less problematic. Following the release of the player in October, AppleInsider reported that Apple began capturing for evaluation any fifth-generation iPods that experience hardware failure, including issues excluded from the company's warranty terms. Users with problematic players received replacements with no questions asked.

Palm Treo 700p Specs and Details

A lot of leaks and pictures of the forthcoming Palm Treo 700p are starting to come out. The most specs and details are right here:

-312 MHz Xscale CPU
-Palm OS 5.4.9
-BT spec unverifiable, BT 1.2? not sure
-1.3MP camera
-320x320 screen
-FAT32 driver support
-EVDO radio
-can receive call while on 1xEvDo, but cannot call and browse at the same time (limitation of 1xEvDo)
-new web like picture album interface, new facelift for alblum and pic apps
-menu key moved to bottom left shift spot
-was able to make receive call via Scala 500 BT headset
-flashing asterix replaced b little golden bell icon
-green button is talk button, phone button for contacts
-new “fast mode” in blazer
-No WiFi drivers installed and no ability to test a WiFi SD card
Meminfo results:
Flash total size: 64,336
Flash free minus couple apps installed: 54,172
NVFS dbCache size: 18,431
Dynamic heap: 10,240

Nvidia 7800GS Review

AGP Lives! Nvidia has said in the past they would not support AGP on their newest graphics platform, but due to overwhelming demand the company has relented.

With the Radeon X850 XTPE holding the top spot on AGP hardware up until now, NVIDIA hasn't had a solid high performance AGP showing since the power hungry 6800 Ultra. With prices on the aging, high-end 6 series parts absurdly high, it is quite nice to see an AGP 7 series part show up with good performance, lower power requirements, better features and a friendlier price tag, at about $300. Even though the X850 XTPE is generally faster than the new NVIDIA part, the price tag is a little steeper as well, at about $400. This leaves ATI holding onto a claim for the fastest AGP solution out there, but the feature set of the 7 series part is a bit more refined than that of the venerable X850.

Dell Drops Hard-drive Mp3 Players

Dell has raised the white flag on hard-drive Mp3 players. The company has stopped selling those devices and has decided to focus on lower end flash based products.

Interview with the Fired PS3 Developer

Remember the guy who bashed the Playstation 3? He's now a former Sony employee. Go figure. Read this interview to see himself defiantly pat himself on the back.

Well whatever precautions I took didn’t seem to be enough eh? I’ve been doing this for 9 years and I’ve never once even come close to breaking NDA. In my own error, I assumed that it would be OK to give my opinion on what I believed to be public information. Sony has said very publicly that they are shipping in spring. All I said was, “hey I’d not want to miss the next E3 show.” I didn’t leak any shipping information or reveal any other intentions. I also talked about some technology that has been released publicly for almost a year.

17“ iMac G5 is Discontinued

With the advent of the Intel based iMacs, the old G5 PowerPC are going the way of the dodo bird. The 17 inch G5 iMac is the first to go.

Google Private Internet

Rumors continue to leak out that Google is building their own internet network. The application could be just an “Akamai” like content delivery service or maybe Google has more ambitious motives of their own private network?

Google is working on a project to create its own global internet protocol (IP) network, a private alternative to the internet controlled by the search giant, according to sources who are in commercial negotiation with the company. Last month, Google placed job advertisements in America and the British national press for “Strategic Negotiator candidates with experience in...identification, selection, and negotiation of dark fibre contracts both in metropolitan areas and over long distances as part of development of a global backbone network”.

February 02, 2006

G4 TV Show Podcasts

You can subscribe to many of G4 TV's best shows over video podcasts on iTunes.

February 01, 2006

Apple iMac G5 vs. iMac Core Duo


How to Run your Own Web Server Using Ubuntu?