Subject: General Tech | October 13, 2012 - 05:22 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows media center, Windows 8 Pro, windows 8, upgrade, pricing, microsoft
The official release of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system is later this month on the 26th. Previously, Microsoft had announced promotional pricing for online upgrade versions, but retail pricing was unknown. Now, we are starting to see pricing for boxed editions of the OS that are available for pre-order from various retailers.
Image credit: The Verge.
The boxed editions will come with install media in the form of a DVD, but the in place upgrade pack and online promo deals will not come with any media. In that case, you will need to download an .ISO file from Microsoft's Digital River website. The pack that many home theater PC enthusiasts will want is the Windows 8 Pro Upgrade Pack that will upgrade a base Windows 8 install to Windows 8 Pro with Windows Media Center. Unfortunately, we do not yet know how much the base Windows 8 Upgrade SKU will cost – only that the full System Builder (OEM) edition will be $99 at retail. Depending on the price of the add-on pack with WMC, it may be better to go with the Windows 8 Pro Upgrade for $39.99 (promo until January 31, 2013) and buy the add-on separately. It's difficult to say either way since we don't know what the final prices for the add-on will be.
|Windows 8 SKU||Media||Pricing||Pricing after Promo|
|Windows 8 Pro Upgrade (with OEM PC)||None||$14.99||N/A|
|Windows 8 Pro Upgrade (Online)||None||$39.99||$69.99|
|Windows 8 Pro Upgrade||DVD||$69.99||$199.99|
|Windows 8 System Builder||DVD||$99.99||?|
|Windows 8 Pro System Builder||DVD||$139.99||?|
|Windows 8 Pro Pack In-Place Upgrade||None||$69.99||$99.99|
If you already have a copy of a previous edition of Windows (XP, Vista, or 7), you will be able to get Windows 8 fairly cheap thanks to the promotional pricing. If you are wanting to get Windows 8 onto a new machine without a previous license however, it's going to cost you. Personally, I would have liked to see Microsoft offer better promo pricing on non-upgrade versions as well. Currently, Newegg has several Windows 8 SKUs up for pre-order along with a shell shocker promo code (EMCJNJH82) for $10 off a pre-order until the end of the weekend.
What do you think about the pricing? Will you be buying into Windows 8 on the 26th?
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 19, 2012 - 07:30 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows rt, vivo tab rt, vivo tab, taichi, tablet, pricing, asus
Earlier this month we detailed two ASUS tablets that were on display at IFA 2012. The important specification that was unknown at the time was pricing, however. Specifically, pricing information has been leaked on not only the two ASUS Vivo tablets, but a third tablet that we reported on in June: the ASUS Taichi convertible tablet.
ZDNet claims to have gotten a hold of the final pricing for the three tablets, by means of a leaked slide(s) that represent the company's holiday roadmap. The leaked slide can be seen below.
The two upcoming Vivo-series tablets are the Vivo Tab and Vivo Tab RT, which will run the x86 and ARM versions of Windows 8 respectively.
The Vivo Tab will run an Atom CPU, 2GB RAM, 64GB internal storage, front/rear cameras (8MP/2MP), and sport a 10.1" Super IPS+ display (1366x768 resolution). It is rated at 8.7mm thick and weighing 675 grams. According to the leaked slide, the Vivo Tab will be priced at $799 for the base model, and the accompanying keyboard dock will cost an additional $199.
On the other hand, specifications for the Vivo Tab RT include a NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC, 2GB of RAM, 32GB internal storage, 11.6" Super IPS+ display (1366x768), 8MP/2MP front and rear camera. It weighs 520 grams and is 8.3mm thick. This tablet has a starting price of $599 for the tablet itself, and the keyboard dock costs $199 extra.
Note that this ARM-powered tablet will come with the preview/RTM version of Microsoft Office 2013 at launch (which I have been using since the Customer Preview came out, and generally like it). Once office goes gold, Windows RT tablets will receive a free update to the final version. However, with the Windows RT version, you do not have access to features like macro support in excel (which kind of defeats the purpose of using this a business machine, but at least it's 'free').
|ASUS Vivo Tab||ASUS Vivo Tab RT||ASUS Transformer Prime||ASUS Transformer Infinity|
|Processor/SoC||Intel Atom||NVIDIA Tegra 3||NVIDIA Tegra 3||NVIDIA Tegra 3|
|Display||10.1" Super IPS+ @ 1366x768||11.6" Super IPS+ @ 1366x768||10.1" IPS @ 1280x800||10.1" Super IPS+ @ 1920x1200|
|Camera(s)||8MP rear, 2MP front||8MP rear, 2MP front||8MP rear, 1.2MP front||8MP rear, 2MP front|
|Size||8.7mm thick||8.3mm thick||10.4" x 7.1" x .3"||10.4" x 7.1" x .3" (8.5mm thick)|
A comparison of the Vivo Tab and Vivo RT compared to ASUS' Android-powered alternatives.
Further, the ASUS Taichi is not only a tablet, but one with dual screens that is actually billed as an ultrabook -- and with a (rumored) price to match! For $1299, you get an ultrabook with two 1920x1080 multi-touch displays on the front and bad "lid" of the laptop. Specifications include an Intel Ivy Bridge processor, 4GB of RAM, SSD, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, dual cameras, and USB 3.0 support. Even better, both displays on the Taichi can be used at the same time to share the computer with a friend sitting across from you (unclear how the software handles this though I don't think both users get individual desktops).
What that means is that if you want a Windows 8 tablet from ASUS with a keyboard dock, you are looking at a minimum of $798 for the ARM-powered Vivo Tab RT, $998 for the Vivo Tab, and $1299 for the ASUS Taichi. Now, the Taichi's pricing I can forgive, because it is marketed and positioned as an ultrabook. The two Vivo Tabs do seem overpriced for what you are getting once you factor in the additional cost fo the keyboard dock. If the dock was included in the $599 and $799 (base tablet) prices, I think those prices would be fair – but they do not. Even comparing to the company's Android tablets, it is difficult for me to justify the 'x86 and Microsoft taxes' that are likely responsible for the increased cost. As an example, you can find the 32GB Transformer Prime and keyboard dock for a total of $616.94 on Amazon right now. Is the (approx.) additional $180 really worth it just to run Windows 8 – and the ARM version at that (so no traditional desktop apps). For many people, I think not and I think Microsoft and the many tablet OEMs that are going to try to push Windows 8 tablets/notebooks this holiday season are going to need to re-evaluate the market if they want these devices to sell well.
After using Windows 8 RTM on my main desktop, I'm not sold on metro but it's not terrible and it's actually a decent UI when navigating around with a touchscreen (I've also tried it on a convertible tablet). I do think that Windows 8 tablets are a good thing, and if positioned at the right price, Microsoft and the OEMs could sell a lot of these just on the merits of being able to say that this computer/tablet/notebook/et al is running 'Microsoft' and/or 'Windows' on the box and displays (at retail) which consumers are familiar with and comfortable paying for (the brand name).
The crux of it is pricing though, because if there is a 10" tablet for $800 next to a 10" for $600, and the only discernable difference is what is on the screen (the OS, and especially since Win 8 isn't all that reminiscent of Windows' desktop), I have to believe that the majority of consumers are going to go for the cheaper model (likely running Android).
[And that's not really touching on the $1000 Vivo Tab+dock that is running an Atom processor of all things... that is most definitely ultrabook territory and for that price you should be getting at least a Sandy Bridge CPU, and better chassis. If I was in that situation of choosing just between ASUS' devices (with a touchscreen), I would probably just save up the extra cash for the Taichi and get a 'real' ultrabook (internal specs-wise), or go for something like the Transformer Pad Infinity which wouldn't run Windows but would at least have a much better display and be a bit more portable.]
But what do you think? Are the rumored prices reasonable? Would you buy a Windows 8 tablet over an Android tablet even if the Microsoft-powered device is significantly more expensive?
Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2012 - 04:23 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: verizon, pricing, Internet, fios, fiber, 300mbps
According to sources that talked with The Verge, Verizon is planning on offering faster internet services for its FIOS customers, but the new tiers are going to cost a pretty penny.
Verizon will be upgrading many of its FIOS internet speeds, and the changes are set to go into effect on June 17th. The base 15/5Mbps (download/upload) plan will cost $10 more than the current price of $54.99 at $64.99 a month. The current 25/25Mbps will be upgraded to 50/25 and will not see a price increase–it will continue to cost $74.99. The current 50/20Mbps plan will see a significant speed bump to 150/65Mbps, and it will cost $94.99 a month (no price increase). A new 75/35 speed plan will become available and it will cost $84.99 a month. Finally, the service that readers will be drooling over–the 300Mbps plan–will feature speeds of 300Mbps downloads and 65Mbps uploads. It will cost a hefty $204.99 a month, a price that The Verge notes is a mere $5 more than the 150/35 speed tier that it replaces.
Comcast telco fashion, Verizon has managed to tack on up to three fees including a $5 per month fee for those without a contract, a $5 fee for those that do not subscribe to FIOS phone service, and a $100 fee to install equipment for those that want the upper two speed tiers. Fortunately (sort of...), users can avoid the $100 fee if they are new customers or already subscribe to the company’s 150Mbps tier. Also on the less-than-stellar news front, Verizon will not be upgrading plans for those on VDSL plans (in buildings where Verizon delivers fiber to the premises and uses copper from there to homes–think older apartment buildings). Even worse, VDSL customers will still be subject to the increased pricing although they cannot take advantage of the upgraded speeds.
|Single Family Home||VDSL 1||VDSL 2||2 Year Contract||Month-to-Month Rate|
|3/1 Mbps||3/1 Mbps||3/1 Mbps||$54.99||$59.99|
|15/5 Mbps||10/2 Mbps||15/5 Mbps||$64.99||$69.99|
|50/25 Mbps||20/5 Mbps||20/10 Mbps||$74.99||$79.99|
|75/35 Mbps||30/5 Mbps||50/10 Mbps||$84.99||$89.99|
(Source: The Verge. The 150/65 plan doesn't seem like a bad deal actually, if only I had FIOS in my area!)
So this fiber internet upgrade announcement seems great at first does have a dark side. Some customers will be getting a great deal while others will be getting the short end of the stick. Here’s hoping that you are one of the lucky customers on the middle tiers who have FTTH that get a free speed upgrade! More information on the specifics of this upgrade should be coming later this month.
Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2012 - 01:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gpu, pricing, nvidia, amd, radeon
AMD has spent a lot of money developing GCN and it shows with products that provide better performance than the previous generation and do so with less power consumption, a hard trick to pull off. There are also numerous other architectural changes in the three current families of Southern Island cards which benefit users, but most will be focused on faster graphics without the need to upgrade their PSU. Until last week, since AMD had the fastest GPU going period, as well as much better price/performance numbers than NVIDIA's choice, there was no reason for AMD to consider changing their pricing structure as they need to recuperate the amount of dollars spent on R&D as well as manufacturing.
Last week the GTX 680 changed that, as not only did NVIDIA steal the performance crown back from AMD but they also successfully reduced the power consumption which was the Achilles Heel of Fermi. Even worse news for AMD was the pricing that NVIDIA attached to their flagship Kepler product, at $500 they are priced below AMD's HD 7970 by between $50 to $100. AMD's only hope is that the process problems at TSMC will keep the availability of the GTX 680 down, which it seems to have as NewEgg has run out of that card. Hoping that your competitor cannot keep their stock up is not exactly a good model to run your business.
Unfortunately any price change AMD makes will have repercussions on many models. The 7950 averages about $460 which is far too close to the GTX 680's price since the performance is not that close, however dropping the HD 7950 towards $400 makes the HD 7870 at $360 a little uncomfortable. That is going to have an effect on AMD's profitability, since they likely set out their accounting based on the current pricing of the Radeon series and will have to recalculate a lot of numbers to lower price and still remain profitable. However painful a process that might be they need to think of it sooner, rather than later; NVIDIA has more Kelper cards in store and they are not going to cost more than the GTX 680.
So far we have not heard any substantiated rumours about price changes from AMD but you can speculate that they must be coming. For now you should first decide how much your budget can manage and then start looking for specials at retailers that bring the cards down to the price you have decided you can afford. If they aren't low enough today then wait a few days as the GPU market is going to be decidedly unstable for the next while.
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel to offer new SSDs, say Taiwan makers @ DigiTimes
- Intel extends lead over Samsung in semiconductor market share @ The Inquirer
- AMD completes its buyout of Seamicro @ The Inquirer
- Many Ivy Bridge ultrabooks expected to be showcased at Computex Taipei
- The TR Podcast 108: Take three tablets and call Dr. Kepler in the morning