Last week, I attended a press event in Los Angeles hosted by Hewlett-Packard's workstation business unit. Hewlett-Packard was preparing for this week's announcement of three new Z-series workstation models: the Z400, Z600, and Z800.
HP briefed the reporters and analysts with all the key details of the products (the speeds and feeds, as we say), took us to visit a couple of HP's key customers in the area, and hosted presentations by software partners and more customers.
Just in time to give Apple's latest iPod Shuffle a run for its money, the Sony W-Series Walkman is now shipping from Sony's online store. The MP3 player melds basic music playback features into an active-style pair of headphones, and sells for $69 with 2GB of built-in memory.
Other specs include 12 hours of battery life (includes a 3 minute quick-charge), a "Zappin" feature that lets … Read more
Updated at 5:20 a.m. PDT with Phil Schiller keynote info.
When it was first announced that Steve Jobs was taking a leave of absence I was interviewed for an ABC affiliate about the prospects of Apple without Jobs. What would happen? Would he be missed? Was Apple vulnerable?
Sadly, I can't say that I came up with any earth-shattering sound bites. I said Apple would be fine in the short run; it had a roster full of talented executives, including a rock-star head designer (Jonathan Ive), and that the company's product road map was planned out into the future--presumably with Jobs' stamp of approval.
That said, no one could replace Steve Jobs, pitcher extraordinaire, a Sandy Koufax on the marketing mound, if there ever was one.
The fact is, no one can create a reality distortion field like Jobs. And ultimately, I said, that's what Apple would miss most, especially after Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, Phil Schiller, hadn't done much to inspire the faithful with his ho-hum keynote speech at MacWorld 2009.
However, little did I know that Jobs' absence would be felt so acutely in the release of the company's latest products, though I probably wouldn't categorize the new Mac Mini, updated iMacs, and third-generation iPod Shuffle as premium releases for Apple.
While the new releases may be a step up from Apple TV, which just hasn't been able to find a broad audience, they're not the iPod Nano or a new MacBook or iPhone OS 3.0. But what's a little disconcerting is how the products, particularly the Mac Mini and iPod Shuffle, landed with a bit a thud. Sure, they got a ton of publicity--and publicity is good--but a lot of it ranged from neutral to negative.
As you may have noticed, I've recently changed the way I do reviews of HDTVs at CNET. I call the change "series reviews," and I'm curious to know what you think. But first I'll tell you why I did it.
Individual HDTVs are typically members of a series, where the only difference on the specification sheet between various models in a manufacturer's lineup is screen size. A great example is the Panasonic TC-PS1 series, which includes six screen sizes at various price points, from 42 to 65 inches. In my review of the TC-PS1 series, I only performed a hands-on evaluation of the 42-inch model. But I also posted the review to the 46-inch and the 50-inch model, making sure to explain that I didn't actually perform hands-on evaluations of them.
Previously, we would review one screen size in a series and post a simple note (example), not a review, on the other screen sizes, basically saying that you could expect similar picture quality from all screen sizes in the series.
Why the change?… Read more
Every home kitchen is different, and every home cook appreciates options. When kitchen appliance makers cater to choice while providing quality results, home cooks everywhere are free to perfect their craft without fear of unnecessary equipment failure. The first place to start in any kitchen is the oven. BlueStar Freestanding Ranges offer a multitude of options, while providing features that are designed to provide performance.
The freestanding ovens come in four categories, which can be broken down into three convection models and one standard oven. The Nova Burner models feature convection ranges, while the Culinary Series uses a more conventional … Read more
Dell is back with a slimmed down version of its fully rugged 14-inch laptop.
Like the company itself, the XFR's second-gen improvements on the device are incremental and in some cases, slightly experimental. The E6400 XFR is the name of what used to be the Latitude XFR D630. The laptop gets an internal tuneup, boasting better processing power (Intel Core2Duo), discrete graphics enabled by better cooling. The new XFR also keeps most of its original features: touch screen, a solid-state drive, mobile broadband, GPS, and long battery life. In this case, Dell says an additional battery pack will keep the laptops going for up to 13 hours.
The XFR is strengthened by a new exterior material the PC maker is calling Ballistic Armor, which replaces the magnesium alloy used in its other laptops. It's allowed the machine to be trimmed down--it's now 8.5 pounds instead of 9 pounds--and also strengthened: it meets military specifications for ruggedness and can withstand a 4-foot drop rather than 3.
Ballistic Armor was developed by a partner company and licensed exclusively to Dell. It's a hybrid, nonmetal polymer designed to better absorb shocks and withstand the elements. That Dell is experimenting with different materials is intended to signal its willingness to try new things and focus on creating different options for targeted customers.
In this case, that's military contractors, government, and utility company field workers, law enforcement, and other groups that are not known for being particularly gentle with their computers. … Read more
Our friend Gary Merson, aka the HD Guru, got his hands on some early pricing for certain Panasonic HDTVs--and now he's got some numbers for Panasonic's 1-inch thick plasma, the 54-inch TC-P54Z1. Not surprisingly, the "Z1" will set you back a pretty penny when it comes out this summer. Six grand to be exact.
Now, we love Merson, but we're not so sure his statement declaring the Z1 potentially "the hottest HDTV for 2009" is all that accurate. Yes, Panasonic's loaded the Z1 with lots of features and high-end specs--and it should … Read more