<IT WORLD> Taipei tech show goes green
By Martin J Young
HUA HIN, Thailand - Computex 08, the world's second-largest information
technology trade show took place this week at the TWTC Exhibition Hall and at
the Nangang Exhibition Hall in Taipei. Running from June 3-7, the event has
more than 4,000 booths and an estimated 1,700 exhibitors, with an expected
135,000 domestic and international visitors.
Some of the big names in attendance included Intel, AMD, Microsoft, Nvidia, and
two of Taiwan's home-grown companies Asustek and Acer, which were offering some
very affordable laptops at the event. This emphasis, as has been over the
couple of years at major technology exhibitions, is green computing with
smaller, lighter and more energy-efficient products taking the spotlight.
Asustek launched a couple of new 10-inch Eee PCs boasting solid state drives
and Intel Atom processors, alongside a revolutionary Super Hybrid Engine
power-saving feature that adjusts CPU usage and screen brightness on the fly to
give almost eight hours of battery life.
Nvidia was also on the energy-saving bandwagon with two new power-saving Tegra
processors designed for small laptops and devices. The move puts Nvidia
squarely against rival Intel and its Atom processors, which are also designed
for mobile Internet devices, "MIDs" or "netbooks" as they are now being called.
The company claims that devices built using Tegra processors can play 26 hours
of high definition video before their batteries need to be recharged, as
opposed to only four to six hours with the Intel chip. The One Laptop Per Child
campaign has also spurred interest in tiny, energy efficient and low-cost
portable computers and Internet devices that are smaller than a laptop but
larger than a mobile phone.
Since Microsoft demonstrated its touch-sensitive version of the latest
iteration of Windows at the D6 conference in San Diego last week a number of
manufacturers have shown interest in producing LCD touch screens. Albatron was
one of the first companies to get its fingers moving with a 22-inch multi-touch
LCD screen showcased at Computex. The display will offer a new level of
interactivity with your computer and will definitely be a big hit when Windows
7 comes out.
Other features and gadgets at the exhibition included a super-fast over-clocked
computer running Intel's new quad core, eight-threaded Nehalem processor, James
Bond-like portable flash media copiers for transferring flash media to DVD
without a computer, and external graphics cards for laptops from AMD. We're not
finished yet, gadget geeks could also sample the latest 2133MHz DDR3 memory
from OCZ, a vast array of solid state drives, new motherboards and compact
notebooks from Gigabyte and WiMAX goodness all round, as Taiwan strives to
become Asia's hub of wireless technologies.
Microsoft struck a deal this week with the world's largest PC maker, Hewlett
Packard. The agreement will allow the software giant to place a toolbar on new
HP PCs that leads to Microsoft's Live Search engine. The deal will take effect
next January, replacing one HP has with Yahoo. It has been seen by many as
another attempt to chip away at the world's leader in Internet searching -
Google. Microsoft's search engine will also be the default service for Internet
Explorer, which is still the dominant web browser by a long margin.
An alternative deal was made previously between Google and PC maker Dell along
similar lines using Google's desktop and search software.
It appears that Microsoft is on the rebound following Yahoo's repeated
rejections of its advances last month. It is using the only thing it has in
supply - cash - to woo other suitors to adopt its search services, which
currently have a 9.1% market share and are in third spot behind Google and
Yahoo. Meanwhile Google is increasing its lead with a 61.5% share of the search
pie reported for April.
Browser wars are heating up again as recent market share numbers are released
showing a steady increase for Firefox, which has been constantly eating away at
the share of Microsoft's dominating Internet Explorer. Research firm Net
Applications reported an almost 20% market share at the present time for
Firefox which is employing more aggressive tactics to get users to make the
switch. Opera and Safari browsers also showed small increases, with the only
loser being Microsoft, whose share last month was down to 73.75%.
The latest iteration of the browser, Firefox 3, is due for release before the
end of the month, according to its creators Mozilla, and promises to be
technically superior to its predecessor although users are unlikely to notice
many visual differences. With over 14,000 changes and improvements from the
2.0.x generation, the new browser will offer faster page loading, faster
response when multi-tabbing, beefed up security, advanced bookmark management,
a better download manager and improved memory allocation.
Just a simple test between the current versions of Firefox and Internet
Explorer will demonstrate the difference in page loading times and memory
management, so we are looking forward to the release of the third iteration of
the browser which claims to be even better.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is still dragging its feet with Internet Explorer 8, which
is not due for release until the end of the year. This will give Firefox the
head start it needs to increase that market share even further.
Reports have trickled in this week about a flaw in the version of Adobe's Flash
player that ships with Windows Service Pack 3. Hackers have been exploiting a
bug in version 22.214.171.124 of the web animation player and anti-virus companies
urge users to upgrade to the latest version (126.96.36.199) from Adobe, which has
already been patched.
Microsoft has acknowledged that it bundled a dated version of the Flash player
with SP3 in a document published on their support site. Users have been
attacked after visiting legitimate websites that have been hacked using an
SQL-injection attack. You can find out what version you are on by visiting this
Martin J Young is an Asia Times Online correspondent based in Thailand.