10/06/2006

Netgear announce new pre802.11n systems

Netgear on Wednesday announced their new pre802.11n system known as Rangemax Next (that's a play on the "N" if anyone didn't notice).

They've announced an ADSL2+ router DG834N which will retail for around £119, an Ethernet router (for cable) WNR834B for around the same price. Both have a wireless preN interface and a 4 port 10/100Mb/s Ethernet switch.

The WNR854T is also Ethernet/Wireless but supports 1000Mb/s switched ports.

Unfortunately the DG834N/WNR834B are based on the Broadcom chipset and the WN854T is based on the Marvel chipset and guess what, they don't interoperate (unless in standard 802.11g mode).

If the same type of equipment is used then speeds of up to 300Mb/s are quoted, though usable bandwidth will be more like 120Mb/s, which is good for video streaming, file sharing etc.

Be very wary of buying 802.11n equipment, the draft 1.0 specification (which all current systems are based upon) was rejected with thousands of objections (when pre802.11g systems were released, the final specification only had around 500 objections), so it's very likely there will still be major changes that cant be fixed in software and will need silicon changes.

Utilising an access point from one manufacturer and a wireless card from another wont get much better performance than existing systems.

Laptop vendors are unlikely to embed new wireless cards until the standard is stable, which is at least a year away.

09/06/2006

Bulldog quits the retail market

Bulldog has decided to quit trying to win broadband customers, even after the recent advertising campaign trying to attract new ADSL2+ customers.

They are now going for a wholesale approach, though they will continue to look after the existing customer base. They will still sell to new customers through their website.

The UK is in dire need of a wholesale competitor to BT, though the LLU operators should really join forces to make this a reality. BT have 5,600 digital local exchanges, while the LLU operates are all attacking 1,000 and mainly the same ones.

Though moving to a wholesale model is potentially a good move, when BT launch their 21st Century Network which will start in Cardiff this year, the LLU operators could suddenly be left fighting a losing battle.

BenQ to launch BluRay burner by end of year

The burner will support BluRay, DVD and CD formats. No pricing has been announced or when the product will really be available, though BenQ does have prototypes.

It's a standard half height drive and will fit into standard drive bays.

Microsoft released Vista Beta

Microsoft have released Beta 2 of Windows Vista for 32 bit and 64 bit processors.

It's a long download, or the DVD can be ordered (for about £10 in VAT), this includes an upgrade to RC1 when released.

Whether the site is available for downloading seems to be a bit of a random event as it gets very busy at which point MS stop new downloads for a while.

There are mixed reports as to the readyness of both Vista and Office 2007.

AMD launches 4 core system

AMD launched a high end system for gamers with 4 CPU cores (2 linked dual core chips).

More and more games are being written to support multiple threads which can run on multiple cores.

AMD also launched their high-end dual core CPU, the AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 which has 2 cores running a 2.8GHz. However high-end gaming costs as the chip alone will set someone back $1,031 (in 1,000 quantities, so street pricing will be significantly higher).

The fight between Intel and AMD continues and AMD are not backing down.

Sony to introduces a Digital SLR

Sony is producing a DSLR utising assets it acquired from Konica Minolta who pulled out of the camera market due to competition.

The range will be known as the Alpha, and use the Konica Minolta lens mounting (known as Dynax in Europe and Maxxum in North America). There's already a reasonably large number of lenses in the range already and Sony are bound to increase the range.

Sony's camera uses a 10.2-megapixel and is known as the alpha DSLR-A100. It can take 750 pictures on a full charge and uses either Compact Flash or Sony's Memory Stick formats (Pro or Duo with an adapter).

THe camera will be available in the US in July for around $900 for just the body, and $1000 as a kit with a 18-70mm zoom lens the DSLR-A100K.

Other manufacturers have been in this market for considerable time, and Sony may have a hard time persuading customers to move as Canon and Nikon seem to have cornered the professional and semi-professional markets.

BBC to netcast world cup

The BBC is going to broadcast world cup matches to broadband users, however only if they're in the UK.

Companies and ISPs are bound to be worrying about the strain that's going to put on their networks if lots of employees and customers respectively start grabbing high bandwidth streams. Some companies are very likely to start filtering the streams so employees cant access them.

There's also a licensing issue, as anyone receiving a stream must be in posession of a valid TV license. Currently they monitor the use of reception by tracking sales of televisions and computer peripherals that have the ability to decode a TV signal. How the TV Licensing Authority will track pure internet usage is a guess, and it's likely to be a threat they cant enforce.

Office 2007 not to have PDF support

With the threat of legal action, Microsoft has pulled support for PDS and XPS files from Office 2007.

There would have been a "Save As" PDF option, but Adobe want that functionality as a seperate paid for package.

Microsoft has said it had tried to work out an agreement with Adobe, but they had failed.

Since there are publically available free packages that offer this functionality, it seems a shame that it cant be incorporated directly into Office.

Microsoft releases Apple Keyboard and Mouse

Microsoft have released a keyboard for Apple Macs with a specific Mac layout. They've also released a high-definition laser mouse.

People wonder at Microsoft making Mac products, which is odd since Microsoft make a lot of Mac software, including Office (which is generally better on Macs than Windows systems). The Mac market is big for them and generate a lot of revenue.

Microsoft also invested $250m into Apple a while back (in Apple's dark days) to stop them going under so Microsoft wouldn't be considered a monopoly in the desktop OS arena.

GoLive and Freehand to die?

Though Adobe has denied the rumours, several sites have said that Adobe's GoLive web development package and Macromedia's Freehand (illustration) package are to be discontinued.

This makes sense as Dreamweaver is much more popular in the web arena, and Adobe's own Illustrator product dominates that market.

By putting all Adobe's eggs in the one basket, Dreamweaver and Illustrator could get the resources they need to ensure there is no competition.