Just as soon as Facebook and Skype announced their major integration deal a few weeks back, Skype for Windows v5.5 Beta hit the download page. Now, the final version is here: Skype 5.5 for Windows is available for download, and based on user feedback since the June beta, there have been a number of updates that the company says warrant an upgrade.
The Skype 5.5 for Windows update comes with a deeper Facebook integration. Without having to leave Skype, you can check out when your Facebook friends are online and instant message with them from the new Facebook Contacts Tab (located in between the Skype and Recent Contacts tabs). You can also view and update your Facebook status and even view comments or 'like' posts from your Facebook Wall, directly from Skype Home.
They also improved the controls for video and group video calls for Windows, enhanced video call reliability and made several design changes to improve overall experience. Plus for all the emoticon fanatics, the Skype emoticons have received an update, with smoother animations that stand out.
It's going to be a busy week for smartphones. We've got Google I/O, a bunch of finishing touches on the Droid Charge review, the Infuse 4G on its way, and early this morning yet another new device hit the doorstep. This time it's the HP Veer 4G which is slated to launch on AT&T May 15th.
We've been WebOS fans for a while now and are looking forward to HP's refresh of the entire WebOS lineup. Previous hardware was getting long in the tooth and unfortunately we haven't been able to take a look at WebOS 2.x until now. We're used to seeing flagship devices launch first and then smaller, thinner, lighter versions come later, but it appears HP wants to get new hardware out there as fast as possible, and is starting things with the Veer 4G.
The Veer is tiny, the device's outline is about the size of a credit card. Next to the AT&T Palm Pre Plus, the Veer looks very small. Compared to the 4.3-inch devices I've been carrying and reviewing for so long now, its size is positively mind-blowing.
Left to right: HTC EVO 4G, AT&T Palm Pre Plus, HP Veer 4G
The Veer is essentially a ground-up refresh of the Palm Pixi. The two share the exact same 2.63 inch diagonal 320x400 sub HVGA LCD display and button-less gesture area. Where the two differ is surrounding form factor - the Veer abandons the candybar format in favor of the portrait slider carried by the original Pre, and as a result has a much smaller outline. The Veer will come in both black and white.
In addition the Veer is built around a much speedier SoC, Qualcomm's 800 MHz MSM7230 with Adreno 205 graphics, same as we first saw in the T-Mobile G2. It isn't quite as fast as this generation's 1 GHz frontrunners like Hummingbird or even MSM8x55, but MSM7230 makes the device substantially faster than the Palm Pre Plus I carried around for a while. On paper the Veer should perform better than the Pre Plus and Pixi, but behind the Palm Pre 2 and HP Pre 3. My mental comparison point is the Palm Pre Plus, and compared to it, everything on the Veer is smoother and faster.
The other big differentiator is the move from a 2 MP to 5 MP camera, though the optical system is still fixed focus. Thankfully capture is still incredibly speedy - you can still mash the capture button and snap a bunch of pictures in rapid succession.
We've run a few of our web benchmark tests from the usual suite and have results, but expect to see a lot more in the full review.
First impressions with the HP Veer are overall very good. Build quality is solid, as the Veer has a very sturdy feeling slider with none of the "oreo effect" that plagued the original Palm Pre for so long. In addition, the Veer also lacks the LCD pressure distortion that used to occur when the slider was closed sharply. The entire mechanism feels snappy and precise with absolutely no play. Buttons are clicky and responsive, nothing suffers from miniaturization thankfully. I've been using the Veer all day today with my own SIM inside (just like I do for every phone when appropriate) and thus far am impressed with how useable the whole thing is despite the miniaturized keyboard and relatively small display.
The only compromises the Veer does make as a result of its miniscule size are lack of a microUSB port and 3.5 mm audio jack, and a non-replaceable 910 mAh (3.3 Whr) battery. For USB connectivity and audio out, there are two proprietary magnetic adapters very reminiscent of Apple's MagSafe. We'll subject the Veer to our suite of battery life tests immediately and find out how much stamina the Veer has with such a small battery.
When building a new machine, it's often easy to pass by certain manufacturers in favor of old standbys like Antec, Cooler Master, SilverStone, or Thermaltake.
Whenever another company becomes a contender it's usually because they made a big splash at the top of the market and let the halo effect strike the way Corsair did. However, there's great engineering going on with smaller firms, and in the case of IN-WIN and their new BUC enclosure, you'd be surprised at just how much actual value can be crammed into what seems at first glance like a mid-range enclosure. If you're the type to tinker religiously with your desktop, the BUC may just be the case for you.
I'll admit I was a bit skeptical when the BUC arrived. Good enclosures can be difficult to find, and my initial perspective was that the BUC was going to be "just another gaming case". Thankfully my job requires more than snap judgments: I have to actually use the case, build a computer with it, and really get a feel for it. In the process, I found a lot of very pleasant surprises.
Keeping things moving with our new set of case reviews, the BUC is our first full-sized ATX case and as such it's the first case to take advantage of our full-sized ATX testbed, which I'll talk more about when we get to the thermal and acoustic testing. Once again I ask that if you have any suggestions for how we handle future case reviews, please feel free to let us know. Now, on with the show!
IN-WIN BUC Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor ATX, Micro ATX, Mini ITX
Drive Bays External 3x 5.25", 1x 3.5"
Internal 5x 3.5"/2.5" (three hotswap)
Cooling Front 1x 120mm intake fan
Rear 1x 120mm exhaust fan
Top 1x 120mm fan mount
Side 2x 120mm fan mount (tested with extra included fan mounted)
Expansion Slots 7
Front I/O Port 2x USB 2.0, headphone and mic jacks, eSATA
Top I/O Port 1x USB 3.0 (with routing cable)
Power Supply Size Standard ATX
Clearance 250mm (PSU), 12" (Expansion Cards), 170mm (CPU HSF)
Weight 14.77 lbs.
Dimensions 19.9" x 8.3" x 19.1"
I whipped out the tape measure to give more exact figures of just what you can expect to fit in this enclosure, but generally speaking just about any standard CPU cooler or power supply should fit. As far as video cards are concerned, fitting anything the size of a Radeon HD 5970/6990 is going to be a tight squeeze, but other than that you should be good to go. Our GeForce GTX 580 was able to fit comfortably and easily with room to breathe.
Shares of Dell got a boost after the computer maker reported an unexpectedly strong quarter despite concerns about a PC market slowdown. By product category, the company saw the biggest gain in servers and networking, where revenue rose 11 percent to $2 billion. Dell is focusing on more profitable areas of its business.
Dell Inc. said Tuesday that its net income for the latest quarter nearly tripled as the personal computer Relevant Products/Services maker benefited from lower computer component costs and growth in some of its more profitable product lines.
Shares of Dell, which beat analysts' adjusted net income estimates but came in a bit below revenue estimates, rose 5 percent in extended trading.
For the three months that ended April 29, Dell earned $945 million, or 49 cents per share Relevant Products/Services, compared with $341 million, or 17 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, Dell earned 55 cents per share, easily beating what Wall Street expected. Analysts polled by FactSet forecast adjusted earnings of 43 cents per share.
Revenue rose just 1 percent to $15.02 billion from $14.9 billion last year, missing analyst estimates for $15.4 billion. Product revenue remained flat at $12.1 billion, while services revenue climbed 6 percent to $3.0 billion.
In Dell's consumer segment, which makes up about 20 percent of its revenue and so is much smaller than the portion of its revenue that comes from sales to businesses, dropped 7 percent to $3.0 billion.
Consumer demand fell more than Dell anticipated and, in an interview, Chief Financial Officer Brian Gladden attributed some of this to the market for consumer PCs being saturated in developed countries. He added that while tablet Relevant Products/Services computers are still a small portion of the PC Relevant Products/Services market, there's "clearly an impact" from them on consumer demand for traditional PCs.
Revenue from large enterprises climbed 5 percent to $4.5 billion, while revenue from small and medium-size businesses increased 7 percent to $3.8 billion. Public sector revenue declined 2 percent to $3.8 billion.
By product category, the company saw the biggest gain in servers and networking, where revenue rose 11 percent to $2.0 billion. Sales of desktop Relevant Products/Services PCs fell 8 percent to $3.3 billion, while mobile Relevant Products/Services PCs rose 3 percent to $4.7 billion.
Dell has been working to increase the proportion of server computers, data Relevant Products/Services storage Relevant Products/Services devices and technology Relevant Products/Services consulting services it sells, because those areas are more profitable than the company's basic PC business Relevant Products/Services. Compared with a year ago, however, most of Dell's product categories accounted for about the same percentage of revenue, and computers for consumers and businesses continued to make up more than half of Dell's revenue.
Still, Dell's gross margin, an indicator of how efficient Dell's business is, came in at 22.9 percent, higher than the 20.4 percent that analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting.
Dell's strategy of focusing on more profitable areas of its business and pruning lower-margin offerings "is working well," Gladden said.
Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves called the company's gross margin "impressive" and said Dell should be able to keep it up for now.
"They do have the potential to sustain margins long term, but in order to do so they have to drive toward more services-oriented businesses," he said.
Looking at the current quarter, Dell predicted revenue will rise by a percentage in the mid-single digits over the first quarter, slightly faster than its seasonal 2 percent to 3 percent growth. Analysts are expecting $16.0 billion.
For the full fiscal year, the company continues to expect revenue to grow 5 percent to 9 percent, implying a total of $64.6 billion to $67.0 billion. Analysts expect annual revenue of $64.4 billion.
Dell shares rose 86 cents, or 5.4 percent, to $16.76 in extended trading. The stock finished regular trading down 10 cents at $15.90.
Remember the totally kick-ass, Light Cycle-inspired scratch PC mod by veteran modder Boddaker (aka Brian Carter) Called TRON Lightcycle PC, Boddaker’s entry for Cooler Master’s annual case mod competition (scratch build category) is currently the third most voted case mod in contention.
As of now, the top spot belongs to the L3p D3sk by a 30-year-old Dutch guy named Peter. The rig is housed inside a desk, effectively making it an “all-in-one desk”, as Peter likes to call it.
Completely made of aluminium and glass, the water-cooled L3p D3sk boasts the following specs:
Even though it took Peter the best part of an year to put everything together, he completed most of the work during a three-week vacation. For someone avowedly new to the case modding scene, it's a tremenedous achievement.
Not that this will make any difference whatsoever to conspiracy theorists, but by this time next year, you won't hardly be able to find a new PC without a USB 3.0 port. Yes, we've heard all about how Intel is intentionally delaying adding native USB 3.0 support in its chipsets in order to promote its own Light Peak/Thunderbolt interface, but if even if that were true, it doesn't matter because as of right now, OEMs are content with USB.
In a phone interview with CNet, Lenovo talked up the USB 3.0 standard and how it's going to invade homes en masse next year.
"In 2012 USB 3.0 will a mainstream technology," said Jason Parrish, worldwide product manager for Lenovo ThinkPad. "And we see 2011 as the transition year for USB 3.0, as it starts to come into more and more products."
We're already seeing a number of PCs sporting SuperSpeed USB ports, and outside of select Macs, Thunderbolt is nowhere to be seen. That might not change in the near future. HP recently stated that, while it's looking at Thunderbolt, it isn't convinced it's needed and hasn't been able to find a value proposition for Intel's spec just yet.
Lenovo wasn't willing to go as far as HP, but did say it will ultimately be up to the customers to decide if they want Thunderbolt.
"[Thunderbolt] is definitely an interesting technology. It's clever to use the same connector as Mini DisplayPort," Parrish told CNet. "There's certainly not a desire to add more ports to a notebook, because it takes up space... We're talking to our customers... And assessing if Thunderbolt is the technology" they need.
Samsung researchers in South Korea have designed and built a prototype of a seamless foldable Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) display. The display's mechanical and optical robustness were tested by performing 100,000 folding-unfolding cycles. The relative brightness at the junction decreased by just 6 percent, which is hardly recognizable by the human eye and so the deterioration can be considered negligible. The findings have been published in a recent issue of Applied Physics Letters.
The display consists of two AMOLED panels, silicone rubber (a hyperelastic material), a module case, and a protective glass cover (which not only prevents scratches but can also serve as a touch screen). The display has a very small folding radius of just 1 mm, so that one panel lies almost completely on top of the other when the display is folded at a 180° angle. "All the materials in a foldable window unit (glasses and silicone rubber) must have almost the same optical properties and attach to each other strongly without any optical property change," coauthor HongShik Shim of the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology.
In their study, the researchers explain that most flexible displays, which are becoming increasingly more viable and interesting to mobile companies, are bendable or rollable to avoid the creases that occur from folding a material completely in half. The researchers have overcome this problem by creating an AMOLED display with no visible crease: the key to pulling this off is to control the optical properties of the materials.
Some believe that foldable displays could be the future of mobile devices as they solve the problem of minimizing the size of the device while simultaneously maximizing the size of the display. A display that can fold completely in half is the best way to achieve this goal, but so far it has been a challenge to eliminate the visible crease between panels. Now that obstacle has been surmounted, at least in the prototype phase.