News Bits: MacBook Discoloration Acknowledged, Intel GMA X3000, Mail-in Rebates Lose Favor, Toshiba Portege M500

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Apple admits to MacBook discoloration issues

It was recently reported by certain Apple MacBook users that their white MacBooks were becoming a grungy dirt color faster than you would expect on the wrist rest and touchpad areas.  Initially Apple claimed this was due to users not properly taking care of their products.  However, according to website Softpedia.com, Apple has now admitted some MacBook notebooks have manufacturing issues with the plastic and users should contact Apple Care via the www.apple.com website in order to resolve their issues.

Stained Apple MacBook

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Best Buy and Office Max to eliminate mail-in rebates on laptops — instant discounts only

Due to overwhelming amounts of customer complaints and problems Office Max announced today that it would end all mail-in rebate promotions on hardware products such as notebook computers starting this Sunday.  Best Buy has also decided to end all mail-in rebates within two years, notebooks have already been eliminated as having mail-in rebate promotions.  Sources at both companies indicate that mail-in rebates are “not a consumer-friendly strategy” and too many complaints arise from delayed rebates.  CompUSA and others have indicated they will likely follow the same path in eliminating mail-in rebate promotions.  Instead, these stores will offer instant rebates only.  Which is good news for most consumers.

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UK PC Maker Rock unveils dual-core Intel, AMD laptops

Rock, a UK PC maker, unveiled two dual-core notebooks this week. One features an AMD Turion X2 processor, and the other an Intel Core Duo. Both feature Nvidia GeForce Go7600 graphics cards.

The Pegasus 660 is the Intel-based machine, and is armed with the highest-end Core Duo available, the 2.33GHz T2700. The screen is a 15.4″ WXGA (1280×768) panel with a glossy coating. The 660 can be equipped with up to 2GB of DDR2-533 RAM, and a 120GB SATA hard drive.

The AMD-based notebook is the Quaddra TX2, featuring a 2GHz AMD Turion X2 TL-60 processor. It has a 17″, WSXGA+ (1680×1050) display with an integrated 1.3 megapixel webcam. Both notebooks feature three USB ports, one Firewire, 802.11a/b/g WiFi, Bluetooth and a 4-in-1 media reader.

The base Pegasus 660 starts at 1,056, and the TX2 1,173.83 (inc. VAT).

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Intel’s new integrated chipset, the GMA X3000

Intel’s new GMA X3000 has many improvements over the current GMA950. It features a programmable pipeline versus the GMA950’s fixed function pipes; DirectX 9 features such as Pixel Shader 3.0 and Vertex Shader 3.0 are also supported. Vertex shaders are hardware-based, unlike previous Intel graphics cores. Hardware T&L is a vast improvement over the previous software-based solution. High-dynamic range (HDR) is yet another advanced feature to be supported.

The graphics core will be clocked at up to 667MHz, higher than the solutions offered by ATI and Nvidia. The video capabilities of the chip are still limited to VGA, but HDMI, DVI, UDI, component, composite, and S-Video can be added through the SVDO port or an expansion card as was the case with the previous GMA900/GMA950. Intel ClearView technology will provide smoother video playback for both standard and high definition video alike.

There are at least two different graphics cores. The consumer-level G965 Express will receive the GMA X3000 graphics core, and the Q965 the GMA 3000. The difference between the GMA X3000 and the GMA 3000 is that the 3000 lacks Intel’s Clear Video Technology.


(view large image)

A comparison between the 945GM (left) and the GM965 (right).

The most interesting feature about the GMA X3000 series is the programmable pipelines – all Intel needs to do in order to support advanced features such as Shader Model 4.0 (to be introduced with DirectX 10) is to update the microcode.

The G965 Express is expected to launch the last week of July with the Core 2 processors; the Q965 Express will be in the first week of September with Intel’s vPro Business Platform.

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Intel asks makers to clear out Sonoma CPU inventory

Intel is asking notebook manufacturers to support its plan to clear out Sonoma Pentium M processors.

Intel is offering quotes for the processors at the level of Celeron M processors, with clients including Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Acer and Asustek already purchasing P-M processors in the hundreds of thousands of units per maker at this price level, the makers indicated.

The inventory issue has been resolved, with the inventory level in Europe falling to less than ten weeks. The move to clear out Sonoma CPUs also indicates that the Yonah processors are interim products.

With current Napa-inventory also under possible threat from price-cutting caused by the approaching Merom models, the makers are hoping that Intel will consider lowering its quotes again, otherwise notebook demand may remain dull.

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Toshiba to push 12-inch notebook sales in 2H, Portege M500 Released

Toshiba is planning to raise the proportion of its 12-inch notebooks to 30% of its overall sales in Taiwan during the second half of 2006. 12″ and 12.1″ notebook panels are mainstream in Taiwan, accounting for 25% of Taiwan’s notebook market according to Steve Yang, president of Grainew, the Taiwan sales agent for Toshiba.

On June 29, Toshiba launched the Portege M500, a dual-core notebook that features the Intel Core Duo T2300/T2400/T2500 processors and a 12.1-inch widescreen display, in Taiwan through Grainew, with a suggested retail price ranging between NT$44,800-69,800 (US$1,379-2,149). The new dual-core model from Toshiba is to compete against Sony’s SZ28 series with similar specifications, with a suggested price of almost NT$5,000, according to market sources.

Toshiba currently ranks 5th out of the top ten notebook brands in Taiwan since Q4 2004.

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Interesting Links

Official Sony UK PS3 website lists 20GB model

2006 Intel Desktop Motherboard Roadmap

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