News Bits: Core 2 Duo Confirmed for August, Apple Releases Mighty Mouse Wireless, Laptops on Vacation, ThinkPad Prices Fall

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Intel Merom to be released July 27; in notebooks by end of August

Intel’s Core 2 Duo (“Conroe”) isn’t the only processor Intel is going to focus on this week – the “Merom”, aka core 2 Duo for notebooks, will also be discussed in detail. Intel is planning to announce details about its branding strategy, as well as the systems that will appear with Merom processors. The actual chips won’t be available until later.

Merom will offer improvements over the Core Duo and its predecessor, the Pentium M, in performance and power consumption. The numbering scheme for the Merom will consist of model numbers in the 5000 and 7000 range, indicative of performance. CEO Paul Otellini said on Wednesday that Intel has already begun shipping the Merom to PC customers. Systems with the Merom processor should begin to appear around the end of August, according to sources.

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Apple releases Bluetooth Mighty Mouse

Good news for Apple users – the company’s only multi-button mouse has gone wireless. The bluetooth Mighty Mouse is compatible with any Mac running 10.4.6 of OS X Tiger with Bluetooth 2.0 wireless connectivity.

The Bluetooth Mighty Mouse is powered by two AA batteries. Unlike regular mice, the Mighty Mouse features a shell that covers two touch-sensors for right and left clicking. There are two additional sensor buttons on the side, as well as a scroll bar for up, down, and diagonal scrolling. The device is user-programmable – single-button clicking can be enabled, and the right- and left-click can be switched around.

The wireless Mighty Mouse is $69, $20 more than the wired version.



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More Americans work on vacation thanks to laptops

In the last decade, the number of Americans who work on vacation has almost doubled. The laptop computer has replaced the cell phone as the most useful tool for working on holiday.

A recent survey said that 43% of office workers said they work on vacation – a big jump from the 23% in 1995. Roughly one in four employees said they spent three or more hours working on vacation. Why? – they were either committed to the job or had a ‘pressing assignment’, and the other ten percent said they had an inability to relax until the job was finished.

Technology has made all that work possible, but it has changed significantly over the last decade. The latest survey said that 41% of workers said the laptop computer made it easier to work on vacation, followed by cell phones, personal computers, and the BlackBerry. In 1995, workers had the cell phone first, then the beeper, fax machine, and lastly, the laptop and personal computer.

And the last part of the survey – only 61% of Americans use all the vacation time they are given.

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ThinkPad prices cut by up to 33% in US

Lenovo recently cut the prices of its ThinkPad notebooks in the US, with the X60 model being dropped by 33%. It is now priced at $1,399 USD, down from the original $2,099.

According to IDC (International Data Corporation), Lenovo’s portable PC shipments fell 20.4% sequentially in the US market in Q1 2006. Worldwide shipments saw an 18% drop. The 318,000 portable PCs sold in the US account for 25% of Lenovo’s shipments worldwide. This May saw Lenovo chopping the prices of its ThinkPad line up to 42%.

Manufacturers for ThinkPad notebooks, including Quanta Computer, Wistron, and Compal Electronics, are expected to benefit from Lenovo’s ThinkPad promotions as part of the back-to-school demand in the US.

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$100 laptop gets new power options

The hand crank from the $100 has been ditched from the final design, in favor of another human-powered device from Squid Labs. The device is a pull-string external generator, seperate from the laptop. Geo Homsy, a designer at Squid labs, states:

“With a hand-crank system, if you’re gung-ho about it, you can get about five watts out of it. But you get tired after about a minute or so.”

An estimated 20 watts will have to be generated in order for ten minutes of run time for every one minute of human effort. The generator will run at a low RPM to keep the noise down.

“If you imagine an entire school room full of kids using this thing, it needs to be as quiet as possible. Otherwise it will drive everyone insane.”

In addition to the pull-string generator, other power alternatives are also being considered, such as high-capacity batteries that can be paired with the generator to give up to eight hours of run time.

It has been confirmed that Taiwan-based Quanta Computer will be producing the laptops during Q1 2007.

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