News Bits: Asus Z84Jp Announced, LED Displays from HP and Apple, Asus XG Station

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Asus Z84Jp 17" Laptop Coming this January

According to reports from Asus resellers in the Asus forums, the company will soon be releasing the Z84Jp 17" screen notebook that sports a glossy dark metallic grey finish, Core 2 Duo processor, Nvidia Go 7600 graphics and a generous 2.0MP built-in web camera. It weighs in at a hefty 8.8lbs and has 4 speakers (yes 4 as in four) plus a sub-woofer. It also offers both S-Video and HDMI out so this is quite obviously a multimedia play. The look appears to be completely black, it’s even blacker than a ThinkPad if that’s possible. While Asus will provide a carry bag with the Z84Jp, at a very bulky 8.8lbs it’s not recommended for carrying around a whole lot.


Asus Z84Jp 17" notebook sporting a piano black finish (view large image)

Specs:

  • Piano Black Painted Finish
  • Screen: 17" Wide / Glare WSXGA+ (1680×1050)
  • Chipset: Intel 945PM
  • Processor: Core 2 Duo (Merom) up to T7600 (2.33GHz)
  • Memory Support: DDR2 533/667 MHz with max memory to 4GB
  • HDD Support SATA (2.5")
  • OS Supported: Vista Ultimate, Vista Premium, Vista Basic, Windows XP
  • Graphics: nVidia 7600 512MB
  • TV Out: S-Video / HDMI
  • Video Out: VGA (regular monitor out)
  • Audio: Azalia Compliant Audio, 4 speakers and one subwoofer, SPDIF
  • LAN: 10/100/1000 – Gigabit
  • Bluetooth
  • Integrated Camera (2.0MP)
  • Ports: 4 USB 2.0, IEEE 1394, 1External SATA Connector, 7-in-1 Memory Card Reader, Exprees Card / PCMCIA slots
  • Weight: 8.8lbs
  • Dimensions: 15 in x 11.3 in x 1.42 – 1.71 in (width x depth x variable height)
  • Optical Drive: DVD-RW
  • Carrying Bag Included

The Z84Jp release is expected mid to late January and once Vista is released it will be an option on this notebook (Vista hits on January 31).


An above view of the lid and then front view of the all black Asus Z84Jp (view large image)

LED-based notebooks coming from Apple, HP

HP and Apple are expected to launch notebooks using LEDs as display backlights in Q2 2007. LED displays offer better color reproduction and uniformity throughout the display, as well as improved contrast ratio and brightness uniformity. However, they do this at the cost of using more power. Since these displays are going to be put in high-end multimedia machines, it seems HP and Apple figure they’ll be plugged in and on a desk most of the time and therefore will overlook power concerns. The notebooks will feature Microsoft’s new Windows Vista operating system.

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Samsung samples 50nm NAND flash memory for 32GB solid state disk

January 2 – Samsung announced that it has started to sample 50nm NAND flash memory for its upcoming 32GB 2.5" solid state disk (SSD). SSDs are expected to replace traditional hard drives in higher-end notebooks; advantages of SSDs include lower power consumption and faster data transfer rates.

The density of the NAND flash memory has been boosted to 16Gb(it) from 8Gb. Used in a 16×16 configuration, a capacity of 32GB will be reached. Previous drives used 8Gb and 4Gb chips, which resulted in lower capacities of 16GB and 8GB respectively.

Samsung says that its upcoming 1.8" and 2.5" SSDs will have data read speeds of 57MB/s and write speeds of 32MB/s, which are about twice that of a traditional 1.8" hard drive. With regards to power consumption, SSDs consume a mere 0.9 watts under full load, and while idle, only 0.05 watts, both of which are far lower than that of a traditional notebook hard drive. Battery life of a notebook equipped with a SSD could be increased by up to 30 minutes as compared to a notebook with a regular hard drive.

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Asus to display XG audio-visual workstation for notebooks

At the upcoming 2007 International CES in Las Vegas, Asus will show off the XG Station, which is an audio-visual workstation for notebooks. It is equipped with discrete graphics chips, USB 2.0, and Dolby output, which gives users better graphics and audio-visual effects when connected to their notebooks.

Asus will also display its W5Fe notebook, which supports Windows Vista’s SideShow via an external display, and their G1 and G2 gaming notebooks.

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Forum Discussion

 

Low-cost OLPC laptops to present completely new learning experience

OLPC Sugar OS user interface

The computing experience on the $150 OLPC will be completely different than that of a regular PC. The OLPC XOs that students will receive in developing countries worldwide will most likely be the first computer they have ever used, and they have no idea of what a PC user interface looks like. The designers of the OLPC created a user interface that they deemed more intuitive for children. The user interface is partly a design trick, as the designers are trying to make the most out of what computing power the machine has.

The XO will use a slimmed-down Linux operating system, have a 366MHz processor by AMD, and no hard drive – it has 512MB of flash memory instead. More storage can be attached via the unit’s USB 2.0 ports. Nicholas Negroponte, who originally started the OLPC project, said he did not want to give the children computers that they might use in an office someday. He says, "In fact, one of the saddest but most common conditions in elementary school computer labs (when they exist in the developing world), is the children are being trained to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint. I consider that criminal, because children should be making things, communicating, exploring, sharing, not running office automation tools."

The user interface on the XO is nicknamed Sugar. According to Wayan Vota, launcher of the OLPCNews.com blog, "It doesn’t feel like Linux. It doesn’t feel like Windows. It doesn’t feel like Apple." The XO is still being tweaked, and the user interface will not be tested by children until February.

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NPR needs help with gadget nominations

All Things Considered would like to hear what your favorite gadget is and why. A form to submit your gadget of choice can be found here.

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