The Tech News Blog

July 30, 2012

Microsoft Unveils New Mice, Keyboards for Windows 8

Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse

Microsoft today unveiled its new lineup of mice and keyboards designed for navigating through its forthcoming Windows 8 operating system. Consisting of three mice and two keyboards, these peripherals mark the largest group of Bluetooth-compatible products to be released at once by Microsoft's hardware division.

The ultraslim Wedge Mobile Keyboard is geared toward tablet users seeking a portable, full-size keyboard. Despite being incredibly compact and weighing next to nothing, it sports a full-size keyboard, along with Windows 8 hotkeys and built-in media keys. One of the Wedge Mobile Keyboard's niftiest features is its multifaceted cover, which includes a flexible material that can be shaped into a tablet stand whenever it's not protecting the keyboard. Moreover, removing the cover automatically powers on the Wedge Mobile Keyboard in a manner similar to that of Apple's Smart Cover . The Wedge Mobile Keyboard runs on two triple-A batteries, and the battery compartment juts out in a manner that allows it to double as a grip for holding your tablet. The Wedge Mobile Keyboard will sell for $79.95.

The Wedge Touch Mouse is a distillation of a mouse's functionality recombined into the lightest, smallest mouse ever made by Microsoft. Small enough to fit into your pocket, its tiny, wedge-shaped chassis is designed to be held between the user's thumb and ring finger. Like the Wedge Mobile Keyboard, its Bluetooth connectivity eliminates clutter, ensuring that you won't have to mess around with any cables or dongles. Further adding to its portability is Microsoft's BlueTrack technology, which allows the Wedge Mobile Touch Mouse to be used on virtually any surface. It runs on a single triple-A battery, and it will likely last for a while thanks to BackPack mode, which automatically powers the Wedge Touch Mouse down whenever your tablet is turned off. The Wedge Touch Mouse will sell for $69.95.

June 4, 2012

Intel Sounds Off on Future of Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt Devices - Computex

TAIPEI—From the swank surroundings of the Bellavita art gallery here, Intel used Computex to reinforce its commitment to the next-generation Thunderbolt data transfer protocol and to discuss what we can expect to from it in 2012 and beyond.

Thunderbolt, which was introduced early last year, combines the PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort protocols into one that is capable of bidirectionally transferring data across a single, daisy-chainable cable at speeds of up to 10Gbps. Thunderbolt even uses native PCIe and DisplayPort software drivers and can provide power (over electrical cables only).

Continuing with the theme of the year for Intel and for Computex itself, Jason Ziller, Intel's director of marketing for Thunderbolt, said that the technology will first and foremost be considered an "ultrabook 'amplifier'" that extends the capabilities of the super-light systems by giving them considerably greater storage and display potential. (Intel said that the smaller profile of the Thunderbolt port, which is visually identical to a Mini DisplayPort jack, makes it ideal for thinner systems like ultrabooks.)

Ziller pointed out that more than Thunderbolt devices for the Mac were released following the protocol's debut in 2007, but that they shouldn't automatically be assumed to work with the Thunderbolt ports that are just now beginning to appear on PCs. (The Acer Aspire S5, also announced at Computex, is the first ultrabook to include a Thunderbolt port.) Every Thunderbolt device requires Windows-certified drivers for full functionality, including "hot plugging" (connecting a Thunderbolt device to a PC that is already turned on), though performance should already be pretty good. During a demonstration with a Promise Pegasus loaded with four solid-state drives, Ziller boasted of read speeds of over 600MBps and write speeds upwards of 400MBps, in both cases approximately the same you could expect from a Mac.

January 13, 2012

AMD Positions Lightning Bolt to Take on Intel’s Thunderbolt

Advanced Micro Devices has what it says is an answer to Intel's Thunderbolt technology and the smaller chip maker has eschewed any sort of nuance in naming its own single-port, high-speed data transfer protocol, which is called Lightning Bolt.

That's got more than a few folks rolling their eyes, but AMD was happy to explain to that thunder is "just a bunch of noise," whereas lightning "really brings the heat." We got a look at an early prototype of Lightning Bolt during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week and the standards-based technology looks pretty impressive in its early stages.

But make no mistake, Lightning Bolt is definitely at the proof-of-concept stage. The rig we saw in a curtained off room at AMD's CES meeting space wasn't pretty—we're talking a jumble of leads snaking out from a central hub to several displays, each processing video and crunching data courtesy of a single line from a laptop DisplayPort that fed into the hub.

Elegant, it isn't. But Lightning Bolt gets the job done and AMD claims notebook makers will be able to integrate the technology at a fraction of the cost of Intel's proprietary Thunderbolt.

The concept of the two protocols is pretty much the same, but AMD is using the USB 3.0 standard instead of its own protected IP to deliver a faster means of data transfer that also powers up connected devices.

December 27, 2011

Report: Intel Ready to Make Thunderbolt Widely Available


Intel will make its Thunderbolt rapid data transfer technology available to its full contingent of PC partners in April, according to DigiTimes. Several top computer makers and components suppliers are already preparing desktops, notebooks, and motherboards with Thunderbolt, the Taiwanese tech journal reported Tuesday.

Thunderbolt, which Intel developed in collaboration with Apple, is currently only available in products like Apple's 27-inch Thunderbolt Display, the MacBook Air, and the Little Big Disk from LaCie.

Thunderbolt chips are relatively expensive at more than $20 per module and serve much the same purpose as USB 3.0-standard data transmission technology, but prices are expected to drop in the second half of 2012, the tech journal reported. Apple's adoption of the technology across its desktop and notebook product lines has also accelerated the timeline for Thunderbolt's wide spread adoption, DigiTimes reported, citing unnamed sources from computer makers.