Notebook News: Toshiba Fuel Cell, Downloadable Movies, Bill Gates, Laptop Power and Finnair

by Reads (4,093)

Toshiba Fuel Cells to Provide 10 Hour Battery Life and Instant Recharge?

Toshiba has developed the world’s smallest fuel cell — about the size of a thumb. The device combines hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity, the same principle that provided electric power for the Apollo moon missions.

Toshiba’s Sean Collins says larger fuel cells for laptop computer will provide portable power for the longest flights. He says a fuel-cell powered laptop could run for ten hours on a single charge.

RealNetworks Offers Full Length Movies for Download

RealNetworks, best known for its Real media player, and Starz Encore Group, best known for the Starz and Encore cable service, have teamed up to offer unlimited downloads from a rotating library of 100 movies for $12.95 a month.

Starz on Real ( launched on July 14.  Although it has limited appeal for now, it does make sense for people who travel frequently and want to watch a lot of movies on a laptop computer. But the service and its competitors are blazing a trail that will eventually become a crowded highway.

You need three things to get started with Starz on Real: a Windows computer running Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows 2000 or Windows XP; the most current version of RealNetworks’ free RealPlayer 10 software; and a high-speed Internet connection such as a cable modem or DSL line.

You sign up with a credit card and get access to 100 Hollywood movies, most of recent vintage, that are running or have run on Starz’s cable service. You also get a live feed of the Starz East channel.

About 25 movies are added to the roster every Monday, and 25 are removed. Some examples of movies available are “Chicago,” “Gangs of New York,” “8 Mile,” “Finding Nemo,” “Gigli,” “Monsters, Inc.” and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stellar performance in “Kindergarten Cop.”

You are allowed to download as many movies as your hard disk will hold, and watch them as many times as you want until they drop out of the line-up. So “The Hot Chick” which showed up last week will be available until July 25, after which it automatically deletes itself.

The movies come in file sizes averaging 300 megabytes per hour of running time, so most titles are 450 to 750 MB. One subscription entitles you to download movies onto three computers, and you can shift downloaded movies between your three machines by burning them to CD, transferring them to an external hard drive or sending them through a home network connection.

Downloads take about half of running time, so for instance a two-hour movie would download in about an hour.   Shown on the full screen of a laptop, the movies can look almost on par with a DVD format movie. Often times “artifacts” will plague highly compressed video, but REAL promises this will not be true with their video download.

I then connected the laptop to my home theater projector and watched on a big screen. The audio quality was still good, but I could see a few more video defects, such as slight jitter in action scenes. Still, the overall effect was still adequate for suspension of disbelief; even on the big screen I could forget that I wasn’t watching a movie from videotape or a cable channel.

Two competitors to Starz on Real are CinemaNow ( and MovieLink (www.movielink .com), both of which offer downloadable pay-per-view movies. For a fee of $3 to $5, you get to watch the downloaded movie for 24 hours. You have to pay again, although often a lower fee, to continue watching after the first 24-hour window expires.

Bill Gates in Australia, Promotes Tablet PCs and Microsoft Search Engine

Bill Gates is in Australia this week and was heard to be plugging both a Microsoft search engine competitor to Google and the Tablet PC.  Gates has always been a fan of Tablet PC and was indeed the major pusher of this technology from the beginning.  “It’s going to take time but tablet will be the mainstream thing,” said Gates to an Australian audience, while also promising to cut the price.  So far only 6,310 units have sold in Australia.

Read more at Australian online newspaper of The Courier Mail:,5936,9983009%255E421,00.html

Finnair to Provide Laptop Power System for Travellers on MD-11 Aircraft

Finnair has signed with company Global ePoint Inc to provide state-of-the-art AirWorks power systems that allow airline passengers to plug laptops directly into their seat eliminating the need for self-contained battery power and/or carrying extra batteries for long flights.

Finnair is one of the world’s oldest passenger airlines and serves the world’s major cities and leisure destinations in Europe, Asia, and North America. The current installation will standardize Finnair’s entire MD-11 long-haul fleet with AirWorks laptop power systems in all first and business class seats – as well as some select coach seating.

Since 1998, Airworks has provided laptop power installations for more than 1,500 aircraft flying worldwide and has since supplied systems to American Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, CityBird and Martin Air – in addition to Finnair and others.

AirWorks President and CEO, Ricky Frick, notes, “The convenience of AirWorks’ laptop computer power system has become very popular with business and first class passengers. And with air travel steadily increasing overall…we expect to see a strong growth in sales for this and other passenger-convenience systems as airlines actively compete to win more business.”




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