Gateway N10 Notebook Bundle at Wal-Mart

The N10 Notebook Bundle will be available at 3200 Wal-Mart stores and will include:

-Mobile AMD Sempron 3200+ CPU (1.6GHz)
-Integrated WiFi
-DL +/-RW DVD burner
-nVidia GeForce Go 1600 GPU
-512MB DDR2 RAM (max 4GB)
-60GB HD
-Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
-2-year Computrace Lojack subscription
-2-year McAfee Internet Security Suite subscription
-Targus backpack
-128MB USB 2.0 flash

All of this for $798.

No other specifications can be found of the N10 notebook by Gateway, but most likely it will be a 14.1″ wide LCD with 1280 x 800 resolution. The 128MB USB 2.0 flash is really weak. Although it can be used for simple file transfer of music, photos and documents, it is very limited: 30 MP3 files (@4MB/song). The Lojack subscription is pretty neat, but make sure to do daily backups since it’s the information in the notebook that’s more important, to most of us.

I think this bundle will be a great value to those just entering college. It has the right amount of horsepower (not enough to get Jr. hooked on 3D games), small enough form factor to take to classes, and the right price for the parents.

Source: Twice

Acer AL2616W: 26″ Wide LCD Monitor

The AL2616W is part of the trio of LCD monitors that Acer recently announced. The other two are the AL2216W (22″) and the AL2423W (24″). The AL2616W is one of the very first 26″ LCD monitors to hit the market. Of course, there have been many 26″ LCD TVs, but those displays have a limited resolution of only 1366 x 768. The AL2616W has a contrast ratio of 1000:1, 500 cd/m2 of brightness, VGA and DVI inputs.

Similar to the AL2216W, the 26″ will undergo a slight spec bump in the fourth quarter adding HDCP. Although I wasn’t too thrilled with DVI-HDCP on the 22″, the 26″ AL2616W will make good use of it. With Blu-Ray and HD-DVD content mostly requiring a DVI-HDCP setup, the 1920 x 1200 resolution will have enough resolution for 1080p. You will see 60 black lines top and bottom, but it will be very small to the 1080 lines of Full HD content you will be focusing on. Viewing angles are 178 degrees with response times of 6ms. The picture of the unit should be very similar to the AL2216W.

Source: TrustedReviews

Acer AL2216W: 22″ Wide LCD Monitor

Acer AL2216W Specifications

Size: 22″
Aspect Ratio: 16:10
Pixel Format: 1680×1050
Response Time: 5ms (GTG)
Contrast Ratio: 700:1
Brightness: 300 cd/m2
Viewing Angle: 170/160
Input: DVI with HDCP, VGA

The Acer Blog: The AL2216W is part of Acer’s Value Line, meaning very affordable line, though pricing for this unit has not been announced yet. The AL2216W has a 1680×1050 resolution with a 5ms response time. Contrast ratio is 700:1 with VGA and DVI inputs.

The interesting thing about this announcement by Acer is that another model will be replacing this one in the fourth quarter this year that has HDCP. However, I wonder what the use for HDCP over DVI would be for a monitor that only has 1680×1050 resolution. 720p content will have to be upscaled and 1080p content will need to be downscaled: either way, this is not the resolution you want to play your PS3, XBox 360, Blu-Ray or HD-DVD on. Scaled video, no matter how good, is still scaled and nothing beats a display with 1920×1080 native resolution.

Update 2007.07.10: The Acer AL2216W has been very popular among blog readers, so I wanted to update the post with some pricing information that I recently found. I like to use both PriceGrabber and ShopZilla, but prefer PriceGrabber because I don’t like the new browser windows/tabs that ShopZilla pops up for every single click. According to PriceGrabber, the lowest price as of July 10 was at SecureMart for $213.87. But, since I wouldn’t buy an important piece of hardware from just any store, the cheapest 4-start and higher store was TechOnWeb for $226.99. This is, of course, before taxes and shipping. Please let me know if you know are aware of somewhere cheaper.

Sharp LC-37D90U: 37″ LCD TV with 1080p

There are only a few 37″ LCD TVs out there that can claim a 1920 x 1080 resolution. Sharp’s LC-37D90U is one of them. With two HDMI inputs, Full HD or 1080p content can be pushed through, such as Blu-Ray or a Playstation 3. The 1080p content does not need to be scaled up or down resulting in clean video content. With LCD TVs that have only 1366 x 768 resolution, any HD content will need to be scaled, reducing picture quality.

Image source: LCD TV Buying Guide

The LC-37D90U has a 16:9 aspect ratio, sports a 1200:1 contrast ratio, but the brightness is limited to only 450 cd/m2. With the smaller 37″ size, you’d want to be a bit closer, so the 450 cd/m2 might be enough, but I’d like to see something north of 500 cd/m2. But, 450 nits is good considering the additional amount of light 2+ million pixels absorb compared to just 1 million. The enclosure is a nice Titanium-like color and the speakers located on the bottom looks much nicer than those stuck to the side. The LCD is most likely Sharp’s, and based on its Advanced Super View (ASV) technology, a proprietary technological improvement on the vertical alignment (VA) technology. Aside from HannStar, LG.Philips LCD (LPL) and Hitachi, all TFT LCD manufacturers are using one form of VA. The three mentioned here use a variation of In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology. Overall, I really like what Sharp has done with the LC-37D90U.

Source: Sharp

Samsung Syncmaster 244T: 24″ Wide LCD Monitor

One inch larger than Apple’s superb 23″ Cinema HD LCD monitor, Samsung’s 244T offers the same resolution of 1920 x 1200 but at a more affordable price. On Pricegrabber, you can get the 244T for around $800. On the other hand, Apple’s 23″ is $1300 with only a few dollar discounts elsewhere online. For some reason, the 23″-class LCD monitors seem to cost more. For instance, Viewsonic’s VP231WB 23″ LCD monitor sells for a bit less than $1100 on Pricegrabber. Dell’s 24″ offering, its 2407WFP, goes for a cant $703.20 on its website! Probably the best deal around!

If you’re looking for a bit of design in the Samsung set, don’t expect much. IMO, Dell’s 2407WFP is better looking and cheaper. Dell’s new design centering around the angular stand is much better than Samsung’s bulky and rather ugly stand. Of course, looks-wise, the Apple is hard to beat, but it’s hard to shell out $600 more for the same display real estate. Here are the specifications for the 244T:

-PVA TFT LCD panel
-1920 x 1200 resolution
-500 cd/m2 of luminance
-1000:1 contrast ratio
-178 degree viewing angles all around
-S-Video, VGA, DVI-D, Component inputs
-8ms response times

Source: Samsung

Liquid Crystal Eyeglass Lenses

Photonics Spectra: By applying voltage to liquid crystals, eyeglass lens focusing power can be changed, having the potential to replace bifocals, trifocals, multifocals and other applications that require multiple levels of focusing power.

One of the difficulties in using bifocals is that the wearer must look up and down through the lenses depending on the desired focusing power. Progressive lenses that have focusing power that progressively becomes stronger as you look toward the bottom part of the lenses have eased the difficulty but the main problem remains: the wearer must look up and down.

Guoqiang Li, an assistant research professor of optical sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson along with Nasser Peyghambarian and a team from Arizona and the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta have demonstrated a liquid crystal-based lens with the capability of quickly switching focusing power by applying an electric signal.

A 5 micron-thick layer of E7 liquid crystal is used between two flat pieces of glass. The liquid crystals are controlled by applying 2 volts or less that changes the effective reflective index resulting in the change of focusing power.

First of all, this sounds like a technological advancement, which it is, but when applied to wearers of multifocal lenses, the applications might be quite limited. The cost of such a devices would be too expensive for most. Second, most wearers of glasses prefer something light, but this device would be quite heavy. Third, for those that require quick switching of near vision to far vision and back, the use of a switch to turn the device on or off makes it impractical.

Nu Horizons to Distribute AUO TFT LCD Panels in US

On July 27, Nu Horizons Electronics announced that it will be distributing AUO TFT LCD panels from 1.5″ to 47″ in the US. Although the distribution market for TFT LCDs pale in comparison to how many are procured from HP, Dell, Gateway, Apple and others, the business is lucrative due to higher margins for customization.

This will provide more competition to All American, Bi-Search International, Jaco and other TFT LCD distributors in the US.

Source: BusinessWire

Quanta Computer Lands Toshiba LCD TV Contract

The Taiwan Economic News, MyEGov: Quanta Computer, an integrator in Taiwan, will be building LCD TVs for Toshiba. LCD TV panels will be sourced from AUO and CMO, who work with Quanta closely. Quanta will be building 32″, 37″, and 42″ LCD TVs for the Japanese brand and is targeting to ship 500,000 LCD TVs by the end of 2006.

Image: Quanta Computer R&D center in Taoyuan

Toshiba has captured about 10% of the LCD TV market in Taiwan with aggressive prices: $1200 for its 32″ LCD TV and $1800 for its 37″ LCD TV–prices that are competitive with the local first tier Taiwanese brands.

It has always been the case, but just because it has a Japanese brand does not mean it was made in Japan or has components that are Japanese. Toshiba is a case in point: Toshiba’s TV boxes will be put together by a Taiwanese company (Quanta), be sourced with LCD TV panels from Taiwanese companies (AUO, CMO) and will probably be packaged and shipped by Taiwanese and/or Chinese companies. So why do we even bother continuing to buy a Japanese brand when nothing is Japanese except for the name?

I would be on the lookout for a Quanta-branded TV. Quanta took a step in that direction when it announced that it will be setting up a joint venture with Sanyo Electric to develop, manufacture and sell LCD TVs under the Sanyo brand.

AUO to Supply Samsung with 40″ LCD TV

It seems Samsung can’t get enough 40″ LCD TV panels from its joint venture S-LCD with Sony and its new, and second, G7 plant located in Tangjeong, South Korea. Although the new G7 plant has been operational only about 3 months, so capacity is probably being limited with normal ramp issues such as yields.

Samsung has tapped AUO as a supplier of 40″ LCD TV panels. This news is interesting because AUO’s fab is optimized for 42″ sizes, not 40″. AUO will be throwing away a lot of glass making 40″. Of course, throwing away a bit more glass is much better than making 42″ panels and storing them in inventory because there aren’t any customers. Of course, that could change as I have seen very aggressively priced 42″ LCD TVs here in the US going for $1800. AUO has begun pilot production of 40″ panels and will enter mass production of 40″ in the fourth quarter of this year.

Image: AUO’s G6 located in Taichung, Taiwan

It will be great for us as 40″ and 42″ continue to beat each other up and prices come down. I’m looking forward to a Full HD 42″ LCD TV with LED backlights going for $999 soon by fourth quarter of 2007. I can’t wait!

Source: The Taiwan Economic News

Samsung G7 Equipment Install, Not Part of S-LCD

Located in the same complex as S-LCD’s G7 fab in Tangjeung, South Korea, Samsung’s G7 line with a dimension of 1870 mm x 2200 mm is the same dimension as S-LCD’s G7 fab, a joint venture between Sony and Samsung with 50% of the capacity going to each of the partners.

This G7 line is operated solely by Samsung and has entered mass production since April 2006 churning out mostly 40″ LCD TV panels (eight per glass substrate) along with 46″ sizes (six per glass substrate). Full capacity is targeted at 45,000 glass substrate input per month, which is smaller than S-LCD’s G7 full capacity of 60,000.

Samsung’s G7 line took an investment of about US$975 million and will be poised to take advantage of the booming LCD TV market. In the future, Samsung will have 3 times the LCD TV panel procurement supply compared to Sony with this new G7 fab.

Source: PCWelt