Hot News of the Week: Friday the 13th Edition

Windows 7 Beta trial ends

This week also saw the end of the public beta availability for Windows 7 build 7000. Steve Ballmer made a splash at CES announcing that the masses would get to test the next version of Windows in an official manner. It was a great month with most users reporting positive experiences. But all good things must come to an end, as downloads of betas are officially closed.

Did you download the beta? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Other Windows 7 news of the week:

  • Vista to Windows 7 Free Upgrade Plans Leaked?
  • Microsoft Says Windows 7 Wins on Netbooks
  • Windows 7 Starter Rumored at $200... Really?
  • Microsoft Apologises; To Fix Win 7 UAC Flaw

EeePC rules the roost

Netbooks: it’s one of the fastest growing segments in the PC industry. Expensive little notebooks they are not, but certainly they do fill a niche very well.

Sadly, if some reports are to be believed, Asus’ line of Eee PC netbooks may soon become a little bit on the expensive side. Reports emerged that the Taiwanese computer maker is aiming to hike prices of its notebooks, including the Eee PC line, up to 20 percent. We hope this isn’t a scare tactic to make consumers purchase an Eee PC soon, but if it is indeed true, a new economical kid has arrived on the block.

Enter the Acer Aspire One AOD150. It’s really no different (on paper, at least) from the MSI Wind or Eee PC in 10-inch forms, except that it’s debuting at the very pleasant price of just under $350.

One netbook that we’re expecting a higher price from is the Dell Mini 10. We don’t know much about Dell’s 10-inch entry yet, other than it’ll have a display capable of resolving 720p video -- meaning higher resolution than current offerings -- a TV tuner and multitouch trackpad. We also learned a few new things this week, so click here to read what they are.

To top things off, Intel is now shipping a new configuration of its processor, the Atom N280, that will be able to play high-def video.

And finally, the term netbook is one that we’ve been throwing around quite a while, but software developer Psion is staking claim to that name -- and Google agrees with the trademark. Whatever, we’re still calling them netbooks.

Amazon's new Kindle 2

Ever since Oprah said that it was cool, the Amazon Kindle has exploded in popularity. She had the old Kindle, but now you can have have one that’s been upgraded in every way.
Amazon this week launched the Kindle 2
at the same price of the old one at $349. Despite the fact that the newest Kindle sports a 600 x 800 6-inch electronic paper display that looks and reads like real paper, most will be a little disappointed to find out there’s still no touch screen on Amazon’s reader. With 2 GB of memory, Kindle 2 can hold more than 1,500 books, compared with 200 with the original Kindle.

We can’t wait to see what Oprah thinks of it.

Plasma: Endangered species

It’s been a tough week for home theater addicts whose display technology of choice is plasma.

Pioneer’s Kuro HDTVs are regarded as the best of the breed, but sadly, stunning picture quality wasn’t enough to keep Pioneer’s TV division afloat, as the Japanese company is ditching the flat panel business altogether.

To make matters worse for plasma fans, especially those who felt the Kuro’s were a little too rich for their blood, Vizio said that it too would be exiting the plasma business.

Personally, a 240 Hz LED-backlit LCD will satisfy me just fine, but our own Tuan Nguyen is sad that he didn’t pick up a Kuro (at least not yet), and mourns the falling plasma technology.

Intel's 32nm Core i7

It was an exciting week for Intel, as it revealed that it has skipped over parts of its roadmap, dumping certain processors and going straight to the next iteration.

Prior Intel roadmaps did not mention Core i7 processors faster than the existing 3.2-GHz 965 Extreme Edition, but in the second quarter of this year we’ll see a Core i7-975 as the new flagship at 3.33 GHz. The regular Core i7 product line will also receive a speed bump -- the Core i7-950 will close the gap between the 2.93 GHz Core i7-940 processor and the Core i7-965 Extreme edition, providing a 3.06 GHz clock speed.

Early in the week, Intel held a press event in San Francisco showing that it plans to “leap ahead” with 32-nm CPUs in the fourth quarter of 2009, which it said will be Clarkdale processors with integrated graphics. Havendale, which should have been the first product with integrated graphics, disappeared. The Clarkdale multi chip package will consist of the 32-nm CPU paired with a 45-nm graphics unit.

See more on Intel's presentation on the 32-nm Westmere here.

BitTorrent forever!

The technology behind BitTorrent is for the mass distribution of files. While there are deep illegal activities associated with BitTorrent, the technology itself useful for many, many legit transfers -- for example, Linux distribution.

Meet Linuxtracker. Founded back in 2005 by Mark Angeli, the tracker listing site is free, open source, and a hot destination for Linux distros.

“I was getting into the BitTorrent ‘movement’ downloading the shows I missed at night while at work," Angeli said. "At this time I was also trying out new Linux distributions on a fairly regular basis and while I had decent download speeds, I wanted to find a better way to download and share Linux. Some of the bigger distributions were beginning to use BitTorrent as a means of distribution, but the smaller ones were having a hard time. I wanted to make it easy for them."

Tom's and AMD's overclocking contest

To end this week, we're going to give you a sneak peek at our big competition even that'll be kicking off next week. Starting Tuesday, February 17, 2009 those of you with AMD Phenom 9950 Black Edition processors will have the opportunity to push your CPU to the limit for a shot of being crowned the winner of the AMD CPU Virtual Overclocking Contest.

For this month’s contest, we’ll be sticking with the Phenom 9950 Black Edition, but those of you with the Phenom II 940 will get your chance in March.

As long as you have an AMD Phenom 9950 Black Edition and are a U.S. Resident (sorry international folks, but those are the rules we’ve been given), then you’re qualified to compete!

Stay tuned!

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • Downloaded and worked with it for a day. Cleaner version of Vista Ultimate and just as buggy so far. I have to admit it is faster, but compatibility issues are killing me. Particularly anti virus software. Once installed as a "Vista compatible" program (Would not load under Windows 7) the program had all types of issues. Even Office 2003 with Windows Update failed every update available. Not a good start.
  • JMS3096
    It worked perfectly for me the first time, except I needed to manually update the graphics drivers for my 1st gen MBP. It's perfectly compatible with all my apps- Steam, Office 03, AVG, FRAPS, etc. It runs faster than Vista, in about half the RAM space. I will definitely be buying when it's RTMed.
  • coopchennick
    As far as I'm concerned, people can stop complaining about the "bugs" they have in windows 7. It's a BETA - and not even the last beta before retail anyways.
    If you have the same problems when the retail comes out, then you should voice your opinions, but until then send feedback to MS and stop complaining.
  • as far as actually using the Beta, I was surprised that it ran on an old Dell Dimension 8300, 1 Gig RAM, and an old GeForce 5200FX w/128mb. Network connectivity was really buggy, kept losing connection, I get that it's a BETA, but it's also a really poor excuse for Vista service pack whatever, I am formatting the drive I had it on, and waiting for RC1, I hear it will solve many issues I had with BETA, but for usability, it's back to XP Pro
  • customisbetter
    I am running it as my main OS on two machines. I love it. :)

    Everything works fine. Drivers are no problem and i don't use Anti virus so that isn't a problem...

    gaming performance is equaled or surpasssed XP pro 64 in all of my tests so im pretty fricken happy.
  • geminireaper
    have it installed on 3 machines. Runs really well. I have vista 64 ulitmate on a second partition on one of my machines. It runs about the same speed but alot less clutter. I give it an A and will be upgrading to it once its released.
  • keither5150
    I have had windows 7 installed on my gaming machine for about 4 weeks. I also use Vista 32 business and Vista 64 for my HTPC. It works fine, just like vista. It might be a little faster with most apps. It is hard to tell since my I7 gaming rig was pretty fast with vista. Windows 7 is a little harder on the games. I've lost about 5% FPS on most games. This is most likely due to driver issues.

    Office 2003,AVG,Nero, and everything else that I have works fine without issues.

    I really like the task bar. I enjoy browsing the with Windows 7 better than Vista.

    Windows 7 is going to be a big hit. They should really scrap the 32 bit version though.

  • Tindytim
    bearcat245Downloaded and worked with it for a day. Cleaner version of Vista Ultimate and just as buggy so far. I have to admit it is faster, but compatibility issues are killing me. Particularly anti virus software. Once installed as a "Vista compatible" program (Would not load under Windows 7) the program had all types of issues. Even Office 2003 with Windows Update failed every update available. Not a good start.
    You expected software meant to fill the holes of a specific Operating System to fill the holes of another? Real smart.

    I wouldn't surprised it that caused all of your issues.
  • ogre9001
    I've used it quite a bit as well. The exact same bugs that exist in Vista exist in this build. Problems with integrated sound cards, printers, 3d modeling software etc.
    Hey coopchennick, you have to either be an employee of microsoft or the most pathetic fanboy I've ever seen!
    Marcus specifically asked for those who'd tested the software to share THEIR thought in the comments section.
    Keep it coming mister wizard. I suspect the yes man attitude of people like yourself is exactly why microsoft has never seen a need to actually fix these problems.
  • Been using it about a month. Faster and feels cleaner than Vista and XP. It have had a problem with my Logitech USB keyboard shutting off after the computer has been asleep -- bugged that, it's never happened in XP or Vista. The rest of my hardware works the same or better than in XP or Vista -- including my built-in sound card, printers and network. Still adding in software, but so far it all seems to work fine, games included. My Windows Mobile phone works better with Win7 than with XP. XP is a dear old OS, but it is getting old, and it hasn't been entirely happy with some of my more recent purchases. So, so far, so good for a beta product.