Saturday, March 15, 2008

Wii gets the Super Smash Bros crystal ice treatment

Crystal ice super smash bros wiiCaptain Awesome and the League of Awesomeness were unavailable for comment. Now if you'll excuse us, we need to go die a few hundred more times in pointlessly difficult platforming levels.

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Verizon Actually Helping Speed Up P2P File Sharing?

Verizon PirateOh yes, Verizon is teaming up with researchers at Yale and a P4P Working group in order to speed up peer to peer file sharing.

How is this beneficial to Verizon, who has the burden of carrying P2P traffic, which measures at about 1/3 of the internet's throughput already? Because when you're sharing files with others, only about 6.3% of the traffic comes from users in the same city as you, which is cheap traffic for Verizon to deliver. In a new optimized scheme, up to 58% of the traffic can come from nearby users, which speeds up your downloads and makes it much more cost effective for the ISP.

AT&T has also participated in tests like this one, but is trying to find a way to block pirated content and only allow "legal" content such as NBC's officially delivered shows to make it through the network. Verizon, on the other hand, says they do "not accept the role of network police agency," which means filtering for pirated content is unlikely. Time to sign up for Verizon!

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Warning: Gadgets coming preloaded with a virus

We love new gadgets and we always keep an eye on every new releases that come out of the market. We adore its shiny new look and get awed by its features. But have you ever stopped and thought about the possibility that the software that comes preinstalled in our new gadgets might be infected by viruses?

The Associated Press warns that some of today’s gadgets are coming into the market with extras - viruses. Recent cases examined by the AP pointed out that Apple iPods, digital picture frames sold by big-box retailers Target and Best Buy and the TomTom Navigation all contained viruses even before consumers ever had them in their hands.

And guess where those gadgets came from? Chinese factories. But there’s no reason to be alarmed though. The viruses came from lax quality control and not from organized sabotage by Chinese hackers. The three companies mentioned are already investigating the problem. Apple said that the virus that infected a small number of video iPods in 2006 came from a PC used to test compatibility with the gadget’s software. Best Buy was quick to respond to the findings of the study and immediately pulled out infected Chinese made digital photo frames from their inventory. Sam’s Club and Target are still investigating the matter and have not yet verified if their digital photo frames are infected with digital viruses.

Although none of the viruses found in the mentioned gadgets have caused major damages to consumers who bought them, it is still advised that consumers exercise caution when using their newly purchased gadgets. Or if you are like us and simply cannot resist a gadget purchase, the best way to prevent a virus attack is to run update anti-virus program when possible and keep an eye out for news reports.

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How would you change Chumby?

Chumby snapshotAs with Pleo, many may argue that Chumby is simply too cute to tweak. But if you can manage to shuffle your emotional attachments to the side for a tick, we're confident there's quite a few things you'd like to see changed. Sure, this totally unique hodgepodge of glanceable information and bedroom mainstays can handle quite a broad variety of tasks right out of the box, but considering that it's built on an open, hackable architecture, it's just begging for someone to come along and do things better than its creator.

So, now that you've had ample time to roll this critter around your domicile, enjoy its abilities and install that hefty firmware update, what's left to be done? Tell the world below, we're all listening.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Vstone Black Ox Robot- Might Destroy Your Office

Vstone Black Ox RobotVstone has just unveiled "Black Ox", a 1.5-foot robot that features "20 movable axis points and fierce fighting skills."

Finally, after a scourge of sissy, beer serving robots we meet our maker. Vstone's Black Ox stands more than 7,000 feet tall and brings a Tokyo-sized lust for meat.

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Hands on with Mac Pro Mini

Mac Pro Mini snapshotThe steampunk mac mini mod was great, but even it can't compare to the awesome powers of this Mac Mini Pro design by Hideo Takano. On the surface, he managed to hack a mini to look like a Mac Pro that measures only 3.28" wide by 7.8" tall by 6.5" deep.

Mac Pro Mini DemoTakano also added a single USB port and a power button to the front as well as an enclosure that slides off to reveal the hard drive in all its glory. The good news is that there is a complete guide on how to build one yourself—but unless you are fluent in Japanese, you will probably need to rely on the pictures.

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AOL to Pay $850M for Social Network Bebo

AOL Bebo CollaborationAOL stepped up its bid to boost traffic and advertising opportunities worldwide as the struggling Internet company agreed Thursday to pay $850 million for the online hangout Bebo and a foothold in the growing arena of social media.

Although Bebo remains in the shadow of MySpace and Facebook, it is strong in some foreign markets, including Britain. According to comScore Inc., its audience outside the United States is engaged, spending more time on average there compared with the leading rivals.

AOL executives say they are planning to tap that engagement to drive traffic to AOL's other free, ad-supported Web sites, especially internationally, while leveraging AOL's instant-messaging communities, AIM and ICQ, to try to grow Bebo in the United States.

"This is going to be the cornerstone of our strategy to really go after the social media space," Ron Grant, AOL's president and chief operating officer, said in an interview.

In a conference call with reporters, AOL Chief Executive Randy Falco called the acquisition "game-changing for AOL," a move that will power the company's strategic push into advertising.

AOL has been looking for ways to increase ad revenue to offset steep declines in dial-up Internet subscriptions. After several quarters of strong growth, AOL's advertising expansion has been slowing, putting pressure on the company's parent, Time Warner Inc., to sell the Internet unit.

Falco said Time Warner's willingness to spend $850 million in cash indicated its commitment to AOL's future, though eMarketer analyst David Hallerman likened the move to renovating a home before selling it at a higher price.

Company officials declined comment on recent reports that Yahoo Inc. has stepped up talks with Time Warner about buying or forming a joint venture with AOL as Yahoo tries to fend off a $40 billion-plus takeover bid from Microsoft Corp.

The Bebo acquisition could make a Yahoo-AOL deal less likely by adding one more integration headache to the mix, said Roger Kay, who heads the market research firm Endpoint Technologies Associates.

The deal is AOL's largest since it bought MapQuest for $1 billion in 2000 (not counting AOL's $106 billion purchase of Time Warner in 2001).

San Francisco-based Bebo Inc. has about 100 employees and plans to launch in five countries this year. New York-based AOL LLC said Bebo will be "featured prominently" in AOL's international expansion.

Unlike the $1 billion AOL has spent in recent years buying various advertising companies for their technology or platform, the Bebo deal essentially involves buying eyeballs.

It is an acknowledgment that AOL needs outside help in fostering a vibrant community around social media, where visitors are encouraged to strengthen connections through photo-sharing tools, messaging features and personal profile pages.

AOL so far has failed to leverage AIM's strong community of buddies into a full-powered social network, despite such an attempt with AIM Pages. Yahoo, Google and Microsoft also have been struggling with their homegrown efforts.

Startups have been behind the most active networks online, and the Bebo acquisition serves to underscore their potential as gold mines for ad dollars.

Media conglomerate News Corp. bought MySpace for $580 million in 2005, and analysts believe the company could argue the network is worth more than $15 billion today, based on what Microsoft paid for a 1.6% stake in Facebook Inc., MySpace's next biggest rival. That stake went for $240 million in October, implying a $15 billion market value for the company as a whole.

Both MySpace and Facebook, however, have struggled to capitalize on their large audiences. Facebook drew strong criticism from its users when it unveiled its "Beacon" program for tracking and sharing information about their purchases and their activity on other Web sites.

Hallerman, the eMarketer analyst, said that despite Bebo's traffic, AOL won't necessarily find lots of ad opportunities there.

"It's just the category," he said. "There's a disconnect between traffic and monetization."

Bebo President Joanna Shields, who will stay on to run the network, said her site has successfully attracted sponsorships from major brands to run with original programming. With the targeting technologies AOL already has built and acquired, she said, Bebo should be able to extend that success to other formats such as display advertising.

"A lot of these (social-networking) companies are developing the types of assets AOL has assembled," Shields said in an interview.

It's not clear what would happen with Bebo's existing deal with Yahoo to run display advertising. Shields said it was too early to comment because the sale to AOL wasn't expected to close for another month.

Time Warner shares fell 16 cents, or 1%, to $14.60 in mid-afternoon trading Thursday.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Weird- Blu-ray Prices Higher Than Ever

Blu ray price list March 2008I suppose that it is not all that surprising to find out that without competition from the HD DVDs camp, prices for Blu-ray players have gone up.

According to data collected by, Blu-ray players have hit a high average of $400 per unit for the year—about the same price they were at this time last year. This comes after the aggressive price cuts Blu-ray manufacturers employed at the height of the HD DVD battle. While these players probably would have been $1000 without a format war these prices are not moving in the right direction.

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Mozilla Speeds Up Firefox

Firefox 3.0 is dramatically faster than its predecessor and rivals, benchmark tests claim -- the result of hundreds of performance improvements designed to make the open-source browser the best at running complex Web 2.0 applications, Mozilla Corp.'s chief developer said Wednesday.

"We've been working on performance for a long time," said Mike Schroepfer, Mozilla's vice president of engineering. "Each beta of Firefox 3.0 got better. Beta 1 was better than Firefox 2.0, Beta 2 was better than Beta 1 and so on. Some of the big architectural changes [we've made] had begun paying off. Now we're at the point where we can turn the knob to get it to perform well."

Firefox 3.0 Beta 4, which Mozilla released late Monday, has been put through its paces by users and bloggers, some of whom have published the results of head-to-head benchmark tests between Firefox, Opera, Apple Inc.'s Safari and Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer. According to Percy Cabello, who posted his results on the Mozilla Links blog, Firefox 3.0 Beta 4 is 53% faster than Opera 9.5 beta, twice as fast as Apple Inc.'s Safari and three times faster than Microsoft Corp.'s IE7 on the SunSpider benchmark, which tests JavaScript performance.

Schroepfer, however, refused to be drawn into a conversation about benchmarks. Instead, he talked about what the open-source project is looking to do.

"There are lots of ways to 'game' the system [in benchmarks], but what we're trying to do is speed up the things that enable people to run the really heavy-duty applications on the Web."

Saying that a browser is a browser is a browser when rendering basic Web pages, Schroepfer added that the challenge Mozilla took on was how to build a browser that performs well when asked to run much more complex Web 2.0-esque applications, such as Yahoo's Zimbra, the online collaboration and document suite.

"Web apps today are magnitudes more complex than those from five years ago," said Schroepfer. "When Yahoo started out, it wasn't anything more than a bullet list. Now it has widgets and word processing. It's important for us to make it possible for Web designers to create complex applications. They can be confident building [big Web applications] knowing that Firefox can handle them."

Firefox's developers have dealt with more than 400 performance-related bugs and changes, Schroepfer said. "There are a bunch of things that have to come together to get these kind of results," he said, as he ticked off several. "We optimized JPG encoding, developers took advantage of more and newer compiler options and we found a way on Mac OS X to keep it from throttling page rendering."

Larger-scale modifications included new graphics- and text-rendering architectures in Gecko, Firefox's engine, and a completely revamped JavaScript engine.
Mobile Use

Boosting Firefox's performance is also important, Schroepfer said, for the mobile market, which Mozilla has begun exploring. "The performance gains carry over into mobile, where underpowered devices are the rule," he said. "It should really help us there."

Mozilla is at the end of the line in the mobile space. There, Opera Software ASA's Opera leads all others in popularity on handsets. IE, found on Windows Mobile-powered smart phones, and Safari on the iPhone trail Opera in installations, but are ahead of Firefox by miles.

"I think better performance goes back to the mission of Mozilla," concluded Schroepfer. "That mission is to move the Web as a platform forward." That's happening, he argued, with Firefox leading the way.

"I'm happy to see that other browsers are working on performance now, too."

Firefox 3.0 Beta 4 can be downloaded for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux in 36 languages from Mozilla's site.

Via- [,143386-c,browsers/article.html]

Blu-ray on Xbox 360? Microsoft hasn't heard about it

Xbox 360 with Blu rayThose hot/cold "Blu-ray coming to Xbox 360" rumors just cooled off a bit again, with product manager Aaron Greenberg telling Reuters "Xbox is not currently in talks with Sony or the Blu-ray Association to integrate Blu-ray into the Xbox experience".

He also dropped the nugget that Microsoft expects to trail the PS3 in sales again in February, but should have things turned around by April, just in time for the GTA IV launch, which should also be right around the time this rumor rears its head again.

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Microsoft launches the stylish, affordable Windows Laser Desktop 7000

Microsoft Windows Laser Desktop 7000Microsoft has announced its latest gadget that will complement consumers digital lifestyle today- the Windows Laser Desktop 7000. Designed to complement Windows Vista with its sleek design, the Desktop 7000 is composed of a wireless keyboard and mouse.

The Desktop 7000 wireless keyboard is an epitome of a modern design common among gadgets today. With an ultrathin comfort curve and rechargeable mouse, the Desktop 7000’s wireless keyboard delivers ultimate performance and comfort to consumers. The keyboard’s Windows-inspired translucent design is a pleasure to behold even if you are just looking at its digital picture. It also has floating Hot Keys that provide instant access to Windows ID making it a perfect companion to a Windows Vista-based PC.

In fact, Microsoft’s group marketing manager Carla Forester said that the Desktop 7000’s keyboard is an answer to Microsoft’s objective of connecting its hardware to the Vista software.

“The Wireless Laser Desktop 7000 truly brings the best of both worlds together — a beautiful design and a full suite of productivity features — making it the best option for customers desiring a sophisticated accessory for their computer,” said Forrester.

Complementing the Desktop 7000 wireless keyboard is the wireless laser mouse 7000. The laser mouse has a horizontal charging station that provides a sturdy. The charging station has a battery status indicator that reminds users when the mouse needs to be charge.

The Wireless Desktop 7000 will be released by April 2008 and has an expected retail of $129.95. Amazon is currently accepting pre-orders which will be delivered in April.

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Compressed Air Knife Patent

You would think that knife blade technology had reached its pinnacle a long time ago, but there are still inventors out there bound and determined to re-invent the wheel. Imagine if Crocodile Dundee whipped out a knife that was not only huge, but could also blast compressed air into an open wound—causing massive organ and tissue damage in the process. Now THAT would be a knife.

The truth is, inventor Gregory Rondinone has patented this very idea, saying that it would be particularly useful in underwater situations.

The weapon as Rondione envisions it would be best utilized by divers to protect them from aggressive undersea creatures. The device would kill quickly (and spectacularly) plus, the compressed gas would make the carcass more buoyant, so it would most likely float to the surface. The problem is that we all know where this thing would end up if it were ever produced—like the backpack of some kid in a high school.

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HD DVD Toshiba's faced $986 Million Loss

HD Dvd ToshibaAccording to a report appearing in The Nikkei, Toshiba's HD DVD gamble will cost the company $986 million (100 billion yen) for this year.

I'd been waiting to see how much Toshiba would charge to the shuttering of its HD DVD business; curiously, Toshiba did not disclose this number at its last earnings report. Nor did the company mention this when it announced its withdrawal from producing HD DVDs last month. The Nikkei report indicates that Toshiba has not confirmed or offered comment on the losses.

Last year alone, Toshiba posted a $400 million loss on HD DVD; then, the company justified it by saying it was an investment in the future. Now, the company is trying to wrap up its HD DVD business by the end of March. It's no surprise that players and movie discs are being deeply discounted, with the discounts getting steeper the further removed we are from Toshiba's decision to pull the plug on HD DVD.

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Nokia N810 Tablet Gets $90 Price Drop

Nokia N810 TabletThe powers that be over at Nokia have officially dropped the price of their N810 tablet by $90, bringing it down to a slightly more affordable $389.99.

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Konami Releases New Metal Gear Solid 4 Screenshots

Metal gear solid 4 screenshotKonami has just released a new batch of Metal Gear Solid 4 screenshots, which show off some of the game's mechs.

While Kojima has already apparently moved on to other things, we haven't! Check out these new Metal Gear Solid 4 screenies. Looks like aqua green is the new brown.

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Latest iPod Nano Competitor- SanDisk Introduced

iPod NanoSanDisk today introduced a new MP3 player it intends as competition to the iPod nano -- the new Sansa Fuze MP3 player. It's coming in April in 2, 4 and 8GB capacities for $79.99, $99.99 and $129.99 respectively.

The flash-based Sansa Fuze features a 1.9-inch color screen, and has the ability to play MP3, WMA, secure WMA, WAV, Audible and Overdrive files. It can also play MPEG-4 video and display JPEG videos (it doesn't work with protected files from the iTunes Store, however).

The device also features a built-in FM radio tuner and a slot for microSD cards, so you can add additional content on the fly. It has a voice recorder, as well. SanDisk will offer the 4GB Sansa Fuze in colors including pink, red, blue, black and silver (the 8GB comes in silver only; the 2GB comes in black only). The device incorporates an internal rechargeable battery that plays audio for up to 24 hours and plays video for up to 5 hours between charges.

The Sansa Fuze includes Windows software, and also supports the Mac and Linux computers in MSC mode, which enables the device to work as a mass storage peripheral, where you can drag and drop audio or video files.

Via- [,143335-c,mp3players/article.html]

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

StarCraft II Zerg Gameplay Blowout

StarCraft II ZergUnlike its predecessor, StarCraft II offers "custom 3D-graphics engine with realistic physics and the ability to render several large, highly detailed units and massive armies on-screen simultaneously."

Each race will be further distinguished from the others, with several new units and new gameplay mechanics, as well as new abilities for some of the classic StarCraft units that will be making a reappearance in the game.

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Facebook French- User translated French site

Facebook franceIn the hopes of catching up with its rival social networking site in terms of localizing strategy, Facebook has launched a French language version of its site.

The launch followed the successful launch of its German and Spanish language versions a couple of months ago. The French language version of Facebook was made possible by its French speaking members who helped out in translating the site.

Translating Facebook into French was only logical since France is the sixth most active country on Facebook, with the U.S. in the number 1 spot in terms of user base activities. French speaking Facebook users will now have the option to change the language version of the Facebook site they visit. This can be done in their account settings. But for those members who directly sign onto Facebook, the French language version of the site will be automatically displayed.

Facebook is planning to empower its members in translating the site into other non-English language. Using a strategy popularized by Wikipedia, Facebook is hoping that members whose native language is other than English will contribute in translating the site into their own languages. Any Facebook members can help translate the site into non-English language by adding the translation application into their Facebook profile. All translations to be submitted by members will be approved through voting system by Facebook users themselves.

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American Gladiators (NES)

American gladiatorIn American Gladiators for the NES, "the events were morphed into side-scrolling and overhead mini-levels that only partially resembled the real-life events."

The Eliminator in this game combined elements of the first two seasons' courses. The treadmill run and handbike were the first two obstacles, followed by a run across the balance beam through a gauntlet of what appeared to be blocking pads. The cargo net climb and zipline were next, followed by the choice of a door which may or may not have had a Gladiator behind it.

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Hands-free Cell Phone Use in Cars Not Much Protection

Hands free cellphone in carCarnegie Mellon University researchers say you're still likely going to be distracted.

The researchers used brain imaging to show that even just listening to a cell phone while driving cuts by more than a third of your attention to driving. Subjects inside an MRI brain scanner were tested on a driving simulator and were found to weave, similar to if they were under the influence of alcohol. The study showed lessened activity in the brain's parietal lobe, which is called upon for spatial sense and navigation, and occipital lobe, which handles visual information.

The findings by neuroscientist Marcel Just and colleagues Timothy Keller and Jacquelyn Cynkar, to be reported in an upcoming issue of the journal Brain Research, show that making cell phones hands-free or voice-activated is not sufficient in eliminating distractions to drivers. "Drivers need to keep not only their hands on the wheel; they also have to keep their brains on the road," said Just, who is also director of the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging., in a statement.

It's unclear how much of a distraction talking or listening on a cell phone is vs. talking to a passenger or listening to a radio, Just said.

"Drivers' seats in many vehicles are becoming highly instrumented cockpits," Just said in a statement, "and during difficult driving situations, they require the undivided attention of the driver's brain."

Conventional Wisdom
It had been widely thought that driving could be made much safer by at least taking cell phones out of drivers' hands, and a number of states have enacted laws or discussed laws banning use of handheld phones while driving.

Other research, from the University of Utah, has shown that cell phone wielding drivers actually tend to drive more slowly and can create traffic jams.

Via- [,143292-c,cellphones/article.html]

Monday, March 10, 2008

Eee PC Revisions: Intel Processors, Windows XP, Bigger SSDs and More...

Eee pc revisionsJoanna over at Laptop Mag just published an interview she held with Jerry Shen, Asus' CEO. She questioned him regarding the future of the Eee PC, and he sure did outline some interesting plans for future revisions. Jump for the low down on what Jerry Shen had to say.
• Although we already knew the 8.9-inch model was confirmed to be coming to market, the souped up edition will also come with 8GB, 12GB or 20GB SSD options. The 8GB model will run Windows XP, whilst the other two will support Xandros. Whether the OS will be fixed to those particular models only is not entirely clear.

• Asus will move away from the VIA processors, instead adopting Intel's Atom platform in Q2, this year.

• Additional colors will be added to the current selection. However, those will not be the only cosmetic changes; Shen promised a "very stylish" makeover, which will have a "New York city sleekness" about it. He coined May or June as dates for the newer, potentially sexier Eee PC.
Shen speculated that Asus were playing with the idea of offering HDD versions of the Eee PC, too. Unfortunately, he did not go so far as to confirm any plans on that front. Nevertheless, it all sounds very promising—1024 x 600 resolution, bigger SSDs, Intel Atom and a face job.

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Epson RX595 printer: Reviews

Epson RX595 printerEpson’s RX 595 all in one printer has it all. It prints, it scans, and can even read memory cards and print directly to CDs.

After opening the box, I quickly set up the printer and scrounged around for a USB A male to USB B male cable (which, unfortunately, was not included with the printer) and popped in the software CD. I was a bit disappointed that my MacBook could not automatically detect and use the printer, but installing the software was for the best. Though this is probably not a universal problem, the unit I received had a problem during its initial setup with paper jams. However, after a few aggravating minutes, the jams stopped and printing was smooth as could be.

I began to put the device through many printing tests. After a numerous amount of 4x6 prints, both in black and white and color, the ink levels were still nearly full, and remain as such today; 2 weeks after I began to use this device. As for the prints themselves, the color is picture perfect (pun intended if you are so inclined :-), except the tones are a tad dark for my liking. For any size paper, the printing of photos is very good, though the printing time for photos is around a minute each, which is a little too long for my liking.

Scanning is not anything special on the RX 595, as the all in one is easily no match for flatbed scanners, which serve that singular purpose. However, using the bundled Epson Scan software, the device falls nothing short of a serviceable scanner for digitizing whatever you have that needs to be digitized. Quality wise, the scanner is spot on, no matter how dense in color or texture the scanned item is.

As far as all-in-one’s go, the RX 595 is on par for the course, in terms of design at least. The device has a black finish, both matte and glossy, all around, giving it an undeniable vibe of sophistication. The RX 595 is just as wide as normal printers, but a little taller and deeper, and much heavier. The menus are split up into three major areas; copy, memory card, and specialty print. These three can be accessed from dedicated buttons on the device’s face, but you can print no matter what position in the menu hierarchy you are in. Using the arrow and menu buttons provided, you can easily select the paper size, paper finish, and much more. All the vital information, and more, is displayed on the device’s 2.5-inch screen, which is gorgeous for viewing images from a memory card.

The Epson RX595 is a wondrous purchase, and for only around $100, you are certainly getting your money’s worth. It uses 6 individual ink cartridges, which altogether, will probably run you around 70 dollars, but they do last quite awhile. The included software is perfect, and the print quality is pretty good for the price value of the device. The few gripes I have are the fact that paper jams did seem to occur a lot on my device, and the print times are less than stellar.

Overall, I do recommend the RX 595 for anyone who needs a solution for their printing, copying and scanning needs.

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Unlimited iPhone Usage Plan

iPhone usage plansAT&T and Apple quietly introduced a new rate plan for the iPhone yesterday. Now you can get unlimited minutes, in addition to unlimited data, for just $119.99.

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Notebook Sales Get a Boost from Retailers

NotebookHewlett-Packard and Acer have drawn on a strong retail presence to post growing market share of PC shipments, analysts said.

The trend is dovetailing with the interests of retailers because notebooks deliver a better profit margin and take up less shelf space than desktops, said John Jacobs, director of notebook research at DisplaySearch. The falling prices of notebooks are also attracting buyers. A notebook with plenty of storage, graphics and performance can be bought for US$999, and prices continue to fall, Jacobs said.

Until a few years ago, 70% to 80% of the laptops shipped were to enterprises, but now it's equally split between enterprises and consumers, Jacobs said. That has raised the importance of retail stores to computer makers, redefining the distribution strategy of companies like HP, Acer and Dell, Jacobs said.

HP outpaced Acer and Dell in notebooks shipped in the fourth quarter of 2007, according to research from DisplaySearch released on Wednesday. HP shipped 6.6 million notebooks, growing 42% from the previous year and representing a 20.1% market share. Acer overtook Dell for second place, shipping 5.25 million units, growing 32% with a 15.9% market share. Dell shipped 4.64 million units, growing 32%, with a 14% market share. In the fourth spot was Toshiba, followed by Lenovo, Fujitsu-Siemens, Sony and Asus. Apple was ninth, shipping 1.34 million units, growing 38% over the previous year.

Overall, notebook shipments totaled 33 million in the fourth quarter of 2007, growing 41%.

Acer used a strong retail and channel presence in Europe and Asia to increase its notebook shipments and overtake Dell, Jacobs said. Acer recently acquired Packard Bell and Gateway to expand its presence in Europe and North America. Dell has, to a degree, neglected its retail strategy by placing far more focus on enterprises, Jacobs said. However, Dell is signing more retailers and placing products on more shelves, which could boost the company's notebook shipments.

During a recent conference call, Dell CEO Michael Dell said that notebooks are outselling desktops six to one, and that the company's PC sales are getting a boost from the retail strategy it introduced last year. Dell is now selling PCs in about 10,000 retail stores worldwide. Most of Dell's retail sales have been in the U.S., though the company's agreements with European retailers are starting to take effect, Dell said. The company signed up European retailers including Carrefour and Tesco to sell PCs.

Dell's retail strategy took off in the fourth quarter of 2007 and will expand this year, said David Daoud, research manager at IDC. HP sold 2.67 million PC units in the U.S. through retail in the fourth quarter of 2007, much larger compared to Dell, which sold 225,000 PCs. Dell is witnessing an uptick with every quarter, and its growing retail presence could bite into HP's numbers this year, Daoud said.

Dell rules online notebook sales, but the strength of HP and Acer in stores pushed them ahead of Dell in market share, Daoud said. Consumers tend to research online but are increasingly going to retail outlets to buy notebooks.

Retailers prefer notebook PCs because of better margins, DisplaySearch's Jacobs said. Retailers are also finding better margins in selling notebook accessories, such as backpacks, and components, such as extra memory, Jacobs said.

Moreover, the days of users blindly buying notebooks online have slowed -- buyers need to touch, feel and customize a notebook to their liking before buying it. "It's critical to have that look-and-feel, that touch presence. At the end of the day, the physical experience is very important," Jacobs said.

Desktops are more about configuration -- the processor, memory and graphics card -- than notebooks, which have more style, IDC's Daoud said. People want mobile products that represent them, and notebooks fit that profile, Daoud said. PC makers have been slow at paying attention to style and customization of laptops, which could be a potential growth area, he said.

Offering notebooks also brings more customers into retail outlets such as Best Buy and Staples, which have better exposure by offering more brands, Daoud said.

Via- [,143243-c,notebooks/article.html]