TheONbutton Durham Computer Services

Remote IT Support and Computer & Technology Help in Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh NC

Flash 10.1 Beta 3 brings GPU acceleration to GMA500 netbooks

MSI X320

The MSI X320 will benefit from the GMA500 support

There’s a funny dynamic going on in the world of Flash which, let’s remember is used by almost the whole world.  On the one hand the likes of Apple are trying to encourage the world away from Flash because it is a processor hog and towards HTML5 instead.  While on the other hand Adobe is demonstrably working to make Flash HD video run better on lesser hardware by enabling …continue reading

Feb 24, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: Intel shows off Core i7 3D gaming

3D is everywhere at CES and Intel was busy showing off a Core i7 3D gaming rig earlier today.  They think this is going to be big, and frankly if there’s a good use-case for 3D in the home then gaming may well be it.  I caught up with Intel to find out how it all works, check out the video above for the discussion and demo…

Neil Berman

Jan 7, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Gaming, Hardware, News, Video Features | , , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: MSI X420

MSI’s thin and light line continues to grow with the X420.  This Intel SU7300 powered notebook feels far more sturdy than last year’s X-Slim releases and features a cute chicklet keyboard alond with an ATI Radeon 5430 discrete GPU.  Looks like a sweet (data) ride, but you can judge for yourself in the gallery below.

Neil Berman

Jan 5, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Mobile, News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does Core i7 Mobile bring us closer to the final destination for desktops?

Corei7Intel hit up the market with an (expected) bombshell on Thursday, bringing the Core i7 platform to notebooks.

If you’re thinking this is just another development in desktop chip design shoehorned into laptops then think again. Core i7 is sick in desktops and super-sick in laptops.

Why the fuss? Like its desktop sibling the mobile version has four cores capable of running eight threads (a thread is a stream of execution instructions sent to a core). Both also ship with large amounts of level two cache, starting at 6MB, and can support mega-performance memory on the motherboard.

Kicker number one for the mobile version thought is a sort of ultra-speedstep technology called Turbo Mode which massively varies clock speed based upon processor demand. This allows the cores to function at anywhere between around 1.6GHz and around 3.2GHZ depending upon the model.

Kicker number two is that the mobile version can idle unused cores at almost zero power usage, which should mean great shakes for battery life if you’re performing simple tasks.

How much difference does Core i7 make compared to previous generations of mobile processors? It appears to be simply staggering from the benchmarks taken by various reviews published this week. The price? Not quite as heart-stopping as you might think; Dell announced it would sell a Studio 15 model fitted with a Core i7 for $999.

So are we going to be seeing Final Destination: Desktop Massacre? Core i7 Mobile should give us desktop replacement power without the weak battery life of some previous mobile powerhouses. Consequently more people might feel they no longer need a desktop.

In permanent installations however, such as corporate or home media center environments, desktops will probably continue to have a place for a while to come. But even in those scenarios the votes are increasingly going towards notebooks. After all, why choose a desktop when similar power is available at a similar price but with more flexibility?

Neil Berman

Sep 25, 2009 Posted by | Analysis, Computing, Hardware, Mobile, News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Laptop prices falling hard

Today’s MacBook price cuts were both welcome and not unique in the current laptop market.  Ultraportables and desktop replacements alike have been suffering from netbooks and Intel CULV powered thin ‘n lights pulling down the whole sector.

It’s pretty cool that you can finally get a decently powered 3-4lb laptop with a 13 inch screen for well under $1,000; MSI’s X340 and Acer’s Timeline are good examples.  Both are HD video capable and provide enough power for day-to-day computing.

These machines pull down the premium end of the ultraportable market like the Dell Adamo and MacBook Air, which don’t really offer much more hardware than the MSI or Acer.  In fact the Dell is probably slower than both.  So now we have a $1,499-$1,799 MacBook Air, which is great news for consumers and effectively sets a glass ceiling for ultraportable prices.

At the heavier end of the market 17 inch laptops are under strain from all-in-ones like the Asus EEE Top which are semi-mobile and keenly priced.  I found a new Toshiba dual-core T3400 17 inch laptop on Amazon this evening for $529.  This thing was fully loaded, you really wouldn’t need much more for a day-to-day desktop replacement…and of course you can install Windows 7 RC and get almost a year of usage before you need to buy a license.

Neil Berman

Jun 8, 2009 Posted by | Analysis, Computing, Mobile | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Are Windows 7 pre-Beta success stories responsible for Atom notebook rumors?

Today’s rumors that HP is discussing the possibility of using Atom CPUs for notebooks as well as existing netbooks is interesting for two reasons.  Firstly we have not seen the Atom in any laptops with >12″ screens, but secondly and more importantly I think this could be an indicator of confidence in early Windows 7 tests.

We have already seen Windows 7 running on an Asus EEE PC, and early impressions of the next-gen OS have been extremely positive for a stage so early in the pre-release phase.

So what does it mean if HP really is talking to Intel about supplying the Atom for notebooks?

  • Battery life should skyrocket, if the netbook crowd can be used as a benchmark.  My Wind gets over five hours in real-life usage and the only significant additional power drain on a notebook is a larger screen…but they also offer more real-estate for housing a larger battery.  Could full working-day battery operation from a large-screen laptop become a mainstream reality?
  • The concept is good news for organizations with a mobile/flexible-working workforce and a thin-client infrastructure.
  • Many consumers may only need low processing power as we move towards a web-based services computing model (eg. web-mail/photo/music/productivity apps).  They might trade notebook HD movie editing capabilities for longer battery life in real life usage…however this would require a sea change in marketing tecniques where high power specs aim to sell a life-changing experience.  It is probably a ‘Greener’ sell though, which could lead to Atom-based notebooks being more fashionable that more energy-hungry models.

Time will tell if anything comes of this, but when I put together the early Windows 7 success stories with rumors of HP talking to Intel about the Atom then it does all start to come together…in my hopeful mind!

Neil Berman

Jan 2, 2009 Posted by | Analysis, Computing, Hardware, Microsoft | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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