Hot News of the Week: Feb. 6, 2009

India's $10 Laptop Which Turned out to be Neither $10 or a Laptop

News did the rounds earlier in the week about India’s supposed $10 dollar laptop. The laptop reportedly costs $20 to manufacture, but according to India’s Secretary for Higher Education, large-scale production runs would see the price in half by the time it hits consumers.

Unfortunately for everyone who got excited about the big unveiling, it seems like there’s less to the $10/$20 laptop than we originally thought--considerably less. With "megabytes" of onboard memory and wi-fi capabilities we (rather optimistically, we’ll admit) pictured something that resembled the netbooks we’re seeing now but a little more primitive. What we saw was not a laptop, nor was it $10, or even $20. And why it was being touted as a laptop still remains a mystery. The Sakshat is a 10-inch by 5-inch plastic box which, despite a big fancy unveiling at India's Sri Venkateswara University  looked more like a storage device than anything else. As for the $10 price, the expected price is closer to thirty bucks. Bummer. Feels like being promised an iPhone and getting two cans on a string. Probably has more reliable 3G, though.

Phenom II X4 3.6GHz and RV740 This Year?

Last weekend, there was quite a lot of buzz about an AMD Phenom II X4 processor clocking at 3.6 GHz by the end of the year as well as the possibility that the ATI RV740 will be used in the upcoming Radeon HD 4730 and HD 4750 SKUs. According to German website News-AMD, AMD plans to release the 45 nm Phenom II X4 chipsets, clocking up to 3.6 GHz, in Q2 of this year.

The site quickly went offline due to "incorrect interpretation," with a newer version of the appearing on Sunday. Based on information from recently "leaked" AMD roadmap slides highlighting the release of the Phenom II X4 950 (4 x 3.1 GHz) in Q2 2009, the site speculated that we'd see a 3.6GHz version before the end of the decade. If all goes according to plan, the upcoming Phenom II X4 950 will support DDR3 1333 MHz memory, 4 GHz HyperTransport interface speed, and Socket AM3. Supposedly, the chip will also have a 125W thermal envelope and 8 MB total cache, however TechReport speculates that the cache splits into 6MB of L3 and 512KB of L2 per core. Currently AMD's fastest processor is the Phenom II X4 940, clocking in at 3.0 GHz with 8 MB total cache. AMD is said to top that processor as well with the release of the Phenom II X4 945, a Socket AM3 version of the 940.

Six Variants of Windows 7 Revealed

Late last month we reported that there would be five different versions of Windows 7 shipping. It turns out that the information wasn’t entirely complete -- turns out we will be seeing six different variations of the OS.

The full lineup of Windows 7, from bottom to top, are as follows: Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic (for Emerging Markets only), Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate. Windows 7 Starter will be quite limited with only being allowed to run three applications at a time, lower screen resolutions, no live thumbnail previews and limited processor support. Home Basic will be missing the Aero interface, multitouch support, DVD playback and Windows Media Center.Home Premium will be the version targeted at most of the consumer market, and will predominantly be the one shipped with new PCs. It will contain all the features that are aimed at the user’s direct experience.
The Professional version adds on top of Home Premium brings with it more business and network options, such as an encrypted file system and location-aware printing services. Enterprise is aimed at businesses buying in volume, and contain even more networking and business options. Consumers won’t see this one on the shelf. Finally, the Ultimate edition contains every single feature of Windows 7 -- both work and play aspects -- and will be one that’s purchasable by consumers.

Solid State $2.85 Light Bulb Lasts 60 Years

In June of 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) announced the L Prize - a $20 million contest geared towards making longer-lasting, more efficient lighting. News emerged at the beginning of the week that a research team involved in the contest may have the answer to the DoE's prayers.

According to reports, a team of researchers at Cambridge University announced that it is close to finalizing a solid state-based light bulb that can use less electricity than incandescent lighting. What's better is that the new "super" bulb can last for up to 60 years. The flicker-free, LED-based bulb is smaller than a penny, but produces the same amount of light as a traditional florescent bulb and last four times longer, or around 100,000 hours. To top it all off, the super-bulb has a production cost of less than three dollars - $2.85 to be exact. According to the Cambridge team, the new LED bulbs could reduce the amount of money Great Britain spends on lighting by 75 percent, and would have similar effects in the U.S. The bulb would also cut Britain's carbon emissions by about 40 million tons.

Nvidia CEO: Netbooks are Crappy, Low-Cost PCs

Earlier in the week, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang revealed to Laptop that the company isn't too impressed with what Intel's Atom processor is apparently going to do to the market PC Software.

“If I were to ask a million people, What do you call something with a Microsoft operating system called Windows and X86 processor from Intel, I would think that 99.9999 percent of them, except for the Intel marketing person, would call it a PC.” However, Huang doesn’t have flattering words for current netbooks, saying, “I think that so far, what a netbook is, is a low-cost PC that doesn’t work that well. The Atom platform is creating an installed base that doesn’t run modern applications. It doesn’t run anything well from Electronic Arts, it doesn’t run anything well from Adobe, it doesn’t run anything well from Microsoft. ... So in a way, the Atom platform is creating an installed base of PCs that’s going to eventually hurt the PC software industry.” That’s where Nvidia would like its Ion platform to come in, which utilizes the GeForce 9400M chipset to give the Atom a much needed helping hand. Huang says will be available later soon to make $399 “full experience” PCs possible.

Eurocom Crams Core i7 Into a Notebook

It’s no secret that the Core i7 isn't built for laptops -- not yet, at least. Intel has said it will be scaling down its Nehalem architecture to suit laptops in 2H 2009 so why has Eurocom even bothered to cram the monster processor into a notebook? ‘Cause they can.

The Eurocom D900F Phantom i7 mobile workstation is a high-end 17-inch notebook based on Intel's desktop-class Intel Core i7 processor and X58 chipset.  The notebook also features an Nvidia G280 GPU. The Core i7 and 8 MB of L2 aside, the D900F packs 8 GB of DDR3, up to 1.5 TB of storage, 4 USB ports and a 12-cell battery. Unfortunately the spec sheet doesn’t list how long you can expect that 12-cell battery to last when you’re running this thing but we’re going to go out on a limb and assume you won’t want to be away from a power outlet for very long, which is great because the thing weighs the same as a very large baby. That’s right, be prepared to lug around 11.9 lbs of bulk. Check out the full spec sheet of what will likely be the the most compact Core i7 box on the market.

Microsoft: No Additional Windows 7 Public Betas

The public release of Windows 7 beta is undoubtedly the most exciting thing to happen to PC users so far this year. But it’s only going to happen once, as Microsoft says that it’ll be the only public beta we’ll get.

Those who are enjoying the Windows 7 beta will have to stick with it until the final version ships, as the public beta released in early January will be the first and last of the public betas for the OS. Microsoft developer “Steven” wrote on the MSDN blog, “The next milestone for the development of Windows 7 is the Release Candidate or ‘RC.’ Historically the Release Candidate has signaled ‘we’re pretty close and we want people to start testing the release, especially because all the features are done.’” The release candidate, on the other hand, will be Windows 7 as Microsoft intends to ship it. “This release allows the whole ecosystem to reach a known state together and make sure that we are all ready together for the Release to Manufacturing. Once we get to RC, the whole ecosystem is in ‘dress rehearsal’ mode for the next steps,” Steven detailed. No word on an RC date, though.

New Asus Eee PC Features 9.5 Hour Battery

The very essence of a netbook is portability. Besides being just small and light, one other key point to portability is battery life -- something that Asus intends to take to the next level with its just-announced Eee 1000HE.

At first glance, the 1000HE isn’t any different from the rest of Asus’ 10-inch 1000H family. Besides the fact that it also comes in blue (reminding us of the Acer Aspire One), there doesn’t appear to be any external styling cues -- except perhaps a slightly bigger battery. But that last letter “E” in the model number likely stands  for “extended.” Asus claims that this upcoming netbook will run for 9.5 hours away from the wall socket -- an improvement over the 1000H’s 7 hours with the 6-cell, 6600 mAh battery. Asus didn’t reveal if any of the additional power of the 1000HE comes from an improved chipset, but the battery is beefier at 8,700 mAh.

Windows 7 Security Flaw is "By Design"

Windows Vista users complained about UAC, so with Windows 7 Microsoft offers four levels of notification. The default option is “Notify me only when programs try to make changes to my computer” and “Don’t notify me when I make changes to Windows settings”. A security certificate is used to distinguish Windows settings from third-party software, thus preventing prompts when changes are made to these settings.

The problem lies with the fact that when a user alters UAC settings, it is considered a "change to Windows settings" by the default notification level. Therefore UAC's notification level can be altered, or even disabled altogether, and the user would not be prompted to actually consent to it. A basic proof-of-concept VBscript shows how simple it is to disable UAC automatically. It is also possible to force a restart after UAC has been toggled off to force the user to run with full administrative rights. Yikes. Submissions on Microsoft Connect regarding this flaw were all closed and labeled as "By Design."

Comcast Plays Porn During Super Bowl

Tucson, Arizona Comcast subscribers were in for quite a shocker this past Sunday, when the cable giant accidentally broadcasted very graphic adult cinema scenes from "Club Jenna" over the standard family friendly Super Bowl feed.

With just three minutes remaining, the broadcast made a switch to an initially innocent enough scene which many no doubt mistook as a commercial.  What came next however was certainly unexpected. As the scene played out, a woman was visibly grabbing a man in the genital area while trying to unzip his pants, within seconds the man stood up to remove his pants, revealing full male nudity on live television. The scene continued, but Comcast was quick to bring the pornographic antics to a halt before they could get any worse. Did anyone catch this live? If so, let us know what your reaction was!

Google Execs Threatened With Jail Time for Video

Four Google Executives faced trial in Italy this week charged with criminal defamation and violation of privacy. If convicted they could face jail time.

The case is the result of a video posted on Google Video in 2006. The New York Times reports that a video uploaded to Google Video showed four young people in Turin teasing a boy with Down syndrome. According to the Times, an Italian advocacy group complained about the video and, despite the fact that Google quickly removed it, prosecutors argue that the video should never have appeared on the site at all. The four executives could face jail time as a direct result of the video, despite never having handled or approved the video. Google says the prosecution is mis-directed and likened it to prosecuting the postman for hate mail.

  • cruiseoveride
    Its not like someone's 5yr old daughter is watching the super bowl anyways
  • Tindytim
    cruiseoverideIts not like someone's 5yr old daughter is watching the super bowl anywaysYou'd be wrong. You'd be dead wrong. Football is a family event for so many people.
  • mrubermonkey
    Foosball is the devil!