When Intel released its new consumer-oriented second-generation Core (AKA “Sandy Bridge”) CPUs in January, it seemed likely that the “professional” version would be just around the bend. Today Intel has introduced just that, with its new second-generation Core vPro family of processors.
Though based on the same microarchitecture as the consumer chips, and utilizing technologies such improved media handling, Advanced Vector Extensions, Quick Sync Video for energizing media manipulation, and the enhanced Turbo Boost for increasing performance when not all processing cores are being utilized, vPro processors also include a number of extras that are geared specifically towards business users.
The next tablet generation is upon us. The best Android tablet we’ve seen so far, the Motorola Xoom, is available now, and the very-promising iPad 2 goes on sale on next week. We’ve tested and reviewed the Xoom, and though we haven’t put the iPad 2 through its full paces in the PCMag labs yet, we did get some quality hands on time at Apple’s event. The question of the moment is simple: if you want a tablet now, which one should you buy?
On a basic level, the Apple iPad 2 and the Motorola Xoom are relatively similar. The iPad 2’s 9.7-inch screen isn’t much smaller than the Xoom’s 10.1-incher (though differing aspect ratios mean the dimensions are somewhat different). They each come with 1GHz, dual-core processors—Apple’s A5 in the iPad and Nvidia’s Tegra 2 in the Xoom. They’ve each got front and rear cameras, Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth, an accelerometer and gyroscope, and access to large app markets: the iOS App Store on the iPad 2, and the Android Market on the Xoom.
The above headline should never need to be written. A company should never “brick” or render any product that a customer paid for useless. The company should replace the product if this happens accidentally and pay a fine for seriously inconveniencing the customer.
And exactly what mechanism is in the phone that “bricks” it and renders it useless anyway?
Much of the updating problems stem from the halcyon days of AOL, the company that perfected the slipstream update. Back in the 1980s and 90s, when AOL pretty much owned the online segment of the industry, the system would tell you that it needed to make an update when you tried to log off. For the next 15 minutes, AOL would be plugging in all sorts of new code.
I found that this process worked well.
Microsoft announced Tuesday that Windows 7 Service Pack 1 is now available for download via the Microsoft Download Center.
Most people will get Windows 7 SP1 via Windows Update, Microsoft said. For those updating a single PC or a home PC, the company recommends that you wait for that update.
“Remember – for Windows 7, SP1 will help keep your PCs well supported by delivering ongoing updates, many of which have been made previously available through Windows Update,” Microsoft said in a blog post. “It does, however, include client-side support for RemoteFX and Dynamic Memory which are two new virtualization features enabled in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.”
Microsoft released the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 to its OEM partners on February 9, and they were made available to current customers of the Windows Volume Licensing program, as well as subscribers to Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and TechNet, on February 16.
Dynamic Memory allows Windows Server Hyper-V administrators to increase virtual machine density without sacrificing performance, scalability, or security. RemoteFX allows for the virtualization of the Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) on the server side to deliver next-generation rich media and 3D user experiences for VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructures).
Microsoft on Monday started rolling out an update to Windows Phone 7 devices, though it is not the larger update promised by Steve Ballmer during his CES keynote that will include features like cut and paste.
“This update is a relatively small one,” Microsoft said in a blog post.
Monday’s update – the first for the platform – “is designed to improve the software update process itself,” Microsoft said. “So while it might not sound exciting, it’s still important because it’s paving the way for all future goodie-filled updates to your phone, such as copy and paste or improved Marketplace search.”
Microsoft will send out the update in waves. When it hits your phone, the device will display a message that says a software update is available. Connect the phone to your PC or Mac and follow the on-screen instructions. Users that installed the Zune software or Windows Phone 7 Connector might have to update that program first and then use it to update the phone.
In January, Ballmer said the first major Windows Phone 7 update will add two components: cut and paste; and improved app performance when loading and switching apps. Customers can expect to see apps and games that load even faster, he said.
Apple has patented a technique to detect whether a consumer has abused its devices, including methods to shut down the device in question and electronically report it to Apple service technicians.
Most of the “consumer abuse” in question is rather standard: the patent, approved on Feb. 1, covers the inclusion of shock, thermal, and liquid sensors into an electronic device. But it also includes detecting “tampering” with the device via a continuity sensor.
“For example, consumer abuse may include exposing an electronic device to liquids, extreme temperatures, or excessive shock (e.g., the resulting impact from dropping the device),” the background of the patent, titled “Consumer abuse detection system and method,” states. “Consumer abuse may also result from tampering which may include any interaction with the device that is not related to operating the device in a normal manner (e.g., opening the casing or housing of a device and adding, removing, or altering the internal components).”
Intel said Monday that the company had discovered a glitch with a support chip used with its latest “Sandy Bridge” microprocessors, which will cost the chipmaker a billion dollars to fix.
Intel has halted shipments of the component, a support chip code-named “Cougar Point” that was part of its Intel 6-series of chipsets. It was found to have a structural flaw inside of it that degraded the performance of SATA-linked devices such as hard-disk drives, Intel said, perhaps 6 percent across a three-year lifespan. The glitch snuck by Intel on initial tests.
Halting shipments of the support chip will also affect shipments of the surrounding Sandy Bridge platforms. “We do believe there will be disruption of the supply chain,” Stephen Smith, vice president and director of PC client operations, said during a conference call, although he said that Intel believed that Intel could fill some of the hole with older platforms.
Intel said it had halted shipments of the chip and would issue a fix, which would fix the problem. Intel said it would deliver the updated version of the chipset to customers in late February and expected a “full volume recovery” in April, by which Intel would resume shipments of the fixed chipset at their normal levels.
The Sandy Bridge launch will be pushed a bit later into the quarter, from a few weeks in the future to ad “we need to understand from our partners how quickly they can take this new Cougar Bridge chip and get it into their pipeline,” Smith said. The delay should be measured in a “few weeks”, he added.
The blogosphere kicked up a fuss when two publications reported the Motorola Xoom tablet’s price between $700 and $800, more than the $499 Apple iPad. But the reported pricing is similar to an iPad of comparable specs.
According to alleged Best Buy documents posted on Engadget, Motorola will launch its tablet on Feb. 17. The document calls the device a “Motorola Xoom 3.0 Honeycomb 32” (suggesting 32GB of memory) and lists an in-stock date of Feb. 16. Engadget later updated the story with a source pricing the Xoom at $699.99. By comparison, Apple’s 32GB iPad with 3G connectivity costs $729. (At its unveiling at CES, Motorola said the Xoom would have 3G.)
With Steve Jobs taking another leave of absence due to health issues, the question coming up is whether Apple can survive without Steve Jobs at the helm. Jobs has been the face of Apple and has represented the persona of Apple for decades. As a chief spokesman for Apple, he would be irreplaceable. When he gets up to speak, he projects his legendary status as an industry pioneer and visionary. Within the company, he is chief cheerleader to the troops, and since he has the final say on products, he sits as the heart of Apple’s final decisions about what comes to market.
But, Jobs will be the first one to tell you that Apple couldn’t be where it is today without the hard work and dedication of a powerful executive staff and thousands of workers inside Apple who put in long hours to create their great products. While he clearly has major input on products and business decisions, Apple has become so large and so successful that the overall decision process and execution no longer rests just on Jobs’ shoulder alone.
But to answer the question of whether Apple can survive without Steve Jobs, we need to view Apple in a different light. We need to look past the Steve Jobs persona and take a closer look at Apple “the machine” instead. I use the term machine loosely here because, in a way, that is what Apple has become. It’s a business that creates products, ties them to a rich eco system of software and services, and sells them through a highly effective retail experience. That combination has put Apple in a class by itself. Plus, it has driven the competitors crazy.
Verizon’s first iPhone commercial made its debut Thursday, with an ad that taps into the waiting game that Verizon customers have been playing for the last three years.
The 30-second spot (below) never actually shows the iPhone 4. Instead, it features a variety of ticking clocks and people waiting impatiently for their watches and alarm clocks to hit a certain time. Late into the commercial, a voice says, “To all our customers who never stopped believing this day would come, thank you.”
The logos for Verizon and the iPhone 4 then flash onto the screen with the tagline “It Begins” and 2.10.11, the date the Verizon iPhone hits stores.