Notebook - Netbook..now Ultrabook..damn its cool

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ultrabook devices will be rolled out in roughly three phases, with both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt technologies as key features, according to an Intel blog item posted Thursday. Intel and PC makers are staking a big part of their laptop and hybrid device future on Ultrabooks.

The Asus UX21 Ultrabook.

The Asus UX21 Ultrabook.

The blog item, which begins by referring to a "strategic inflection point"--a phrase used often by founder and former CEO Andy Grove--drops other catchphrases, such as "sea change." Is this the usual product hype? Probably not.

Ultrabooks may in fact radically alter laptop computing. Look no further than the MacBook Air. Apple's newest iteration of the Air is probably the best example of the future of laptop computing. It's remarkably thin (less than 0.8 inches) and light (less than 3 pounds), yet powerful.

But that's just Apple, of course. The Ultrabook, on the other hand, is really about PC makers: companies like Asus, Dell, Sony, and Hewlett-Packard. Asus is already on the record with two Ultrabooks due this fall: the UX21 and UX31, while HP is rumored to have Ultrabooks in the works.

And eventually what an Ultrabook becomes is anybody's guess. "Eventually you'll think of an Ultrabook as a tablet when you want it, a PC when you need it," Intel said.

The Ultrabook's three phases, according to Intel:

  • Phase 1: This was kicked off when Intel introduced its latest Ultra-Low Voltage 2nd Generation Intel Core processors in June that will bring new systems to shelves this holiday season.
  • Phase 2: Centers around the next generation of Intel micro-architecture, code-named Ivy Bridge, with processors scheduled for availability in systems in the first half of 2012. Faster I/O such as USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt technologies are also part of Intel's ongoing work to drive the PC platform forward.
  • Phase 3: 2013 Intel micro-architecture dubbed Haswell. Accelerating the Ultrabook and reinventing the capabilities of the laptop in sleek systems.

Other attributes include "ultra-fast start up" based on Intel's Rapid Start Technology, which boots up a system almost instantly from a deep sleep, and extended battery life: Ultrabooks will offer 5 hours of battery life even in the sleekest form factors, with some systems delivering 8 hours or more for all-day usage.


Skype to Facebook Integration - New Updates

Skype has released the latest update to its online calling software for Windows, offering more options for Facebook users.

Officially out of beta since Wednesday, the latest Skype 5.5 for Windows lets you check which of your Facebook friends are online and available to chat, all without having to leave Skype. Simply clicking on the View menu in the Skype software and then choosing Facebook Friends shows you the list.

By clicking on and then closing the Skype Home screen, you can also update your Facebook status and scroll down to view your entire Facebook wall.

Beyond the Facebook integration, Skype says that its latest version offers improved controls for video and group calls for Windows, better call reliability, and various design changes in the interface.

For some reason, I was unable to directly update my current version of Skype (5.3) to 5.5. Clicking on the "Check for Updates" link in the Help menu told me I was already running the latest version. I had to manually download and install the 5.5 version to get the new update.

But once it was installed, I was able to use Skype 5.5 to view my online Facebook friends, access my wall, and post status updates just as easily as I could in Facebook

Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-20085438-93/skype-update-connects-you-deeper-with-facebook/#ixzz1TYkUKycA


Mozilla OS vs Google Android OS

Mozilla revealed preliminary plans today to take the Gecko engine that drives its Firefox browser and turn it into an open-source operating system that will eventually work on phones and tablets.

Called Boot to Gecko, it is known that the source code will be released to the public "in real-time," wrote Andreas Gal, a Mozilla researcher. Gecko is the rendering engine that powers Firefox and the e-mail client Thunderbird. By contrast, while Google's Android mobile operating system is open source, the main development work on it does not become available until after Google has green-lit its publication--sometimes not until months afterward.

"We will do this work in the open, we will release the source in real-time, we will take all successful additions to an appropriate standards group, and we will track changes that come out of that process. We aren't trying to have these native-grade apps just run on Firefox, we're trying to have them run on the web," Gal said in a forum post. Mike Shaver, Mozilla's vice president of technical strategy, said that the Boot to Gecko apps won't use the Android SDK but instead run new and current Web app APIs

He also identified four areas for development. One is new Web APIs, which means building "prototype APIs for exposing device and OS capabilities to content." This is how the operating system would support current essential mobile features such as telephony, SMS, cameras, USB, Bluetooth, and near-field chips. A second area for development is to build a privilege model, which is a key security feature for ensuring that new features are "safely exposed to pages and applications," he said.

Boot to Gecko will include some low-level Android code for kernel and driver support so that it can run on Android devices. This does not exist yet, and porting it to a new system could prove to be extremely challenging. Then there is the final area of development--that of applications. The idea behind Boot to Gecko is to create a system where native Web apps can run just as well as the native apps for iOS do on that device.

Shaver added that the company is looking at Tegra 2 devices because they offer hardware acceleration of open audio and video formats.

For people who want to get a stronger idea of what Boot to Gecko will amount to, Gal noted that its "starting point" is a device running Firefox for Android as its homescreen, with some custom APIs thrown in. He also admitted in that post that there is an "ultimate goal" to the project, that of "breaking the stranglehold of proprietary technologies over the mobile device world."