Archive for the ‘BetaNews’ category

AMD to Acquire ATI

July 25, 2006

Forbes.com reports AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) will purchase graphics chipmaker ATI Technologies for $5.4 billion.  The deal is expected to close fourth quarter this year.

Even though the takeover looks fairly valued, RBC analyst Steve Arthur said there is limited upside to the offer unless competing bids are made for ATI.

For now, Arthur said AMD’s takeover deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, effectively offers his one-year price target of $21 now.

Will the merger strengthen AMD’s position against rival processor maker Intel?  BetaNews reports the merger will allow the company to bring integrated products to the market:

The merger will allow AMD to offer integrated processor and graphics solutions to its customers. By 2008, AMD plans to introduce new processor configurations that would integrate the CPU and graphics processor into a single unit. The end result will be smaller, more powerful computers.

In a conference call to analysts, AMD’s Chief Executive, Hector Ruiz (as reported by Techtree.com) hopes the acquisition will result in more innovative products:

Hector Ruiz, chairman and chief executive officer, AMD, said, “Bringing the two great companies together will allow us to transcend what we have accomplished as individual businesses, and reinvent our industry as the technology leader and partner of choice. We believe AMD and ATI will drive growth and innovation for the entire industry, enabling our partners to create differentiated solutions, and empowering our customers to choose what is best for them.”

Dave Orton, ATI’s current president and CEO, is also optimistic about the acquisition:

[He] said, “This combination means accelerated growth for ATI, and will benefit all our product lines. Joining with AMD will enable us to innovate aggressively on the PC platform, and continue to invest significantly in our consumer business to stay in front of our markets.”

According to BusinessWeek online, Nvidia’s CEO couldn’t be any happier with the impending merger:

“I thought it was just impossible to get a gift like this,” crowed Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, in an interview with BusinessWeek.com. ATI is “basically throwing in the towel, leaving us as the only stand-alone (graphics chip) company in the world.”

AMD is aware it has its work cut out for itself.  The officers at both companies, however, are prepared to do what it takes to prove that both product lines will benefit from the merger.  From the Press Release at AMD.com:

The combination will create a processing powerhouse by bringing AMD’s technology leadership in microprocessors together with ATI’s strengths in graphics, chipsets and consumer electronics. The result: A new and more formidable company, determined to drive growth, innovation and choice for its customers, particularly in the commercial and mobile computing segments and in the rapidly-growing consumer electronics market. Combining technologies, people, and complementary strengths, AMD plans to deliver in 2007 customer-centric platforms for the benefit of customers who want to collaborate in the development of differentiated solutions.

Good luck, guys.                                

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Microsoft’s Answer to the iPod? The Zune.

July 20, 2006

It looks like Microsoft’s so-called iPod-killer will be called the Zune.  BetaNews is reporting it may be released as early as this October.  The Zune seems to be the software giant’s flagship product; there may be another, smaller, more scaled-down device called the Pyxis.  It will rival Apple’s iPod nano.

The entire initiative falls under the name “Project Argo,” and insiders believe Microsoft is working on at least two portable players. Zune, which first surfaced in June, is believed to be the iPod-like device that would include wireless connectivity in a design very reminiscent of the Apple iPod.

Sources have confirmed to BetaNews that a second player exists, known by the code-name “Pyxis.” While details are scant on the player’s features, it is being billed as a competitor to the iPod nano in both size and functionality, with the addition of video support. Talk of a third device has not been verified.

As posted to this blog July 14, the Zune will offer Wi-Fi capabilities.  Gizmodo reports Internet radio streaming may be a feature Microsoft will offer:

Microsoft’s concentrating on features the iPod doesn’thave, instead of trying to beat Apple at their own game. The tipmeister reiterates that ad-hoc networkingfeature will be there, as well as a possible buffered internet radio streaming feature. If you’re within range of a WiFi signal and you’re listening to a station, the device will snatch as much of the feed as it can so when you wander out of WiFi signal, it’ll keep playing the stream as if you were in range. This might not make its way into the final product, so don’t get your hopes up too high.

The folks over at Engadget posted a picture of the device:

The Zune?

The device sports a clean design.  Will its OS be a sleek as its outside?  This random broad sure hopes so!

AOL Releases AIM Pro for Free

July 19, 2006

AOL announced today they have concluded their beta testing for AIM Pro and it is available for general download at no charge.  The company partnered with WebEx to develop the product, which is aimed at corporate users.  BetaNews reports the new IM client dropped the advertising found in its consumer client, AIM, and added tools such as a people-search service, Wall Street Journal headlines and podcasts with a business angle. 

In addition to the facelift, AOL and WebEx beefed up the backend of the product, too:

But AIM Pro’s biggest improvements have been made under the hood, Brian Curry, vice president of Business Services at AOL, told BetaNews. Security has been bolstered with SSL encryption when sending messages between two AIM Pro users. AOL is also offering an automatic virus scanning service, which routes file transfers through the company’s network.

AOL is now supporting e-mail addresses as screen names in AIM Pro, a feature requested by business customers. Users can validate their e-mail address and use it in lieu of picking an AOL username.

AIM Pro will also allow users to:

  • Participate in a 10-user voice chat
  • Videoconference with another user
  • Share their desktop with another user for collaboration sessions or presentations
  • Schedule meetings via Outlook integration

The product also offers interoperability with AIM, ICQ and Apple’s iChat.  Click here to download AIM Pro.

TiVo Adds iPod Support – For a Price

June 21, 2006

BetaNews is reporting that TiVo's new version of their desktop software allows customers to transfer recorded programming from their boxes to their computers and, finally, to their iPods that support video playback.

The DVR maker also released a premium version of the software called TiVo Desktop Plus with support for transferring content to Apple's iPod, Sony's PSP, Treo and Nokia phones, along with other portable devices that support MPEG-4 or H.264 video. The Plus version is priced at $24.95 USD.

TiVo's basic desktop software, TiVo Desktop 2.3, is still free.  It allows you to schedule nightly transfers of your recorded programming from the TiVo box to your computer as well as view photos and listen to MP3s stored on your computer on your television.  To use TiVo Desktop 2.3, you'll need a Series2 TiVo (the software doesn't work with DIRECTV TiVo boxes) and Windows 2000 or XP.  Click here to view the full list of TiVo's Desktop 2.3 and Plus upgrade requirements and supported portable devices.

Prior to TiVo's release of their Desktop Plus, if you wanted to view your recorded TiVo programming on your iPod or other portable multimedia device, you needed a third-party file format converter such as Video-2-iPod.  If you want to transfer your recorded programming from your TiVo box to some non-iPod portable devices, you may still need a third-party software file converter; Kinoma Player.

While iTunes does offer TV programs, the selection is limited to more popular series.  With TiVo's new capabilities, your selection is limited only to what you can record.  If you enjoy less popular shows, such as Animal Planet's Breed All About It, the TiVo Desktop Plus software could be your best friend.  Additionally, you can purchase single episodes from iTunes for $1.99 per episode or you can purchase a Season Pass, which is the entire season of your favorite series.  TiVo Desktop Plus's one-time price pays for itself with one season of a TV series or roughly twelve individual episodes.  If the series or programming you want to see isn't available on iTunes, purchasing the Plus upgrade for TiVo's desktop service is extremely tempting.

One of the best things about TV episodes downloaded from iTunes is they're commercial free.  Obviously, if you record network programming on your TiVo, those episodes will be punctuated with commercials.  Watching a recorded TV show on your DVR and skipping the commercials is good.  Watching a commercial-free episode is even better.  So what's a cutting-edge techno geek to do?

The obvious solution is to use both iTunes and the TiVo Desktop Plus software!  If the episodes you want to see are available on iTunes, purchase and download them from there.  If they're not, use TiVo's software to transfer them to your iPod.

Happy 'podding! 

Mobile Phone Technology: CDMA, GSM, 3G? Huh?

June 20, 2006

Here's a brief, yet informative article on CNet's Ask the Editors about the differences between CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) mobile phone technologies.  Here are the pros and cons in a nutshell:

CDMA

Pros: excellent national coverage (larger coverage area than GSM), calls can be placed in lower-signal strength situations, better reception/coverage in tunnels and rural areas, quicker to offer 3G services.

Cons: poor international coverage, will eventually go the way of the dodo bird, not as easy to switch devices.

GSM

Pros: excellent international coverage, super easy to switch devices because of SIM (subscriber identity module) cards, easy to port data such as contacts and phone numbers from device to device due to, you guessed it, SIM cards.

Cons: coverage in rural areas can be spotty, little to no coverage in tunnels, slower to deploy 3G services.

So, what is this 3G business, anyway?  3G (Third Generation) technology delivers broadband data services wirelessly to your mobile phone.  It allows you to take advantage of higher speed connections (up to speeds comparable to cable-modem speeds) to browse Web pages, stream music and video, view on-demand programming, play games online, use instant messaging and even videoconference with others.  These services are usually offered at a premium and were pioneered in the U.S. by Verizon and Sprint, respectively.  Today, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and Cingular all offer 3G services.  T-Mobile will deploy such services by late 2006, early 2007.

Are you interested in learning more?  Here's some suggested reading:

* Wikipedia's entry for 3G

* CNet's Quick Guide to 3G Cell Phone Service

* Wikipedia's Comparison of Mobile Phone Standards (CDMA to GSM)

* BetaNew's T-Mobile Plans for Growth, 3G in 2006