CES 2005: A Silencentric Summation

The Silent Front
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» TRANSMETA showcased new high-performance, low-power, low-noise portable and HTPC products.

Ed: Transmeta, the low power chip maker, had a substantial booth. The images below are of a prototype fanless Media Center PC and server that can playback high definition video streams to multiple destinations simultaneously, to attached displays as well as remote multimedia client boxes. Transmeta's low power draw / low heat technology is particularly impressive on the portable technology front, allowing for extremely compact, low heat and long battery life. Another impressive demo was a 2.0GHz processor capable of WMVHD playback built on 90nm process that could drop its power draw to as low as sub-0.1volt levels during idle!

Russ: We were apparently too busy salivating on ourselves to get pics of Transmeta's most impressive product on display: The OQO. Click here for specs.

Charles: Indeed this was one fantastic item. At a retail price of $3K, it is steep but it is the size of a PDA with all the capabilities of a PC. I did in fact think about stealing it, then I realized that I probably wouldn't make it 20' before the goombas came to grab me. If I had stock I would buy into this company as they are staged to hit hard. I believe they had a series of low power chips running from 7-13w at speeds from 1GHz - 1.7GHz. Definitely a company to keep an eye on.

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» FORTRON-SOURCE introduced a new brand, AmacroX, and joined the fanless PSU party.

Ed: Fortron-Source presented several new products over at their little nook in the international market section of CES at the Hilton. Most of the new stuff was under AmacroX, their new retail marque. This particular piece is an interesting one. Rather than try to build an enclosure to satisfy everyone's needs, Fortron plans, instead, to sell individual case components that would be combined together to assemble your own custom case, LEGO-style.

Shown below are the new fanless power supplies from Fortron. The black & orange model is the retail model, sold under the new brand, AmacroX. The blue one is the Fortron brand model. There will be 360 and 480 watt models, with full ATX 2.0 compliance and a claimed efficiency of over 85%. The blue Fortron-Source brand unit is named, "Zens." They are unusual in that rather than turning the enclosure into a massive heatsink like other fanless PSUs, much of the casing is perforated, implying reliance on convection airflow and exhaust.

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» SEAGATE showed their new retail external drives to members of the media.

These new external drive come in three sizes.

Small: The tiny Pocket Drive features USB 2.0 connectivity, a 3600 RPM, 2mb cache 1" HDD, in capacities of either 2.5 or 5.0gb. All in a 63g, 73mm diameter case. It advertises a 2.2 bels max noise level. The downside is its relatively slow 4-7MB/s transfer speed. The Pocket drive was awarded the CES Innovations Award at the show. The 1" drive will also be available in a Compact Flash format.

Medium: The Portable Hard Drive is a 2.5" Momentus 5400.2 HDD wrapped in an aluminum USB 2.0 connected enclosure. The capacity (40 or 100G, 2 / 8 MB cache, respectively) and transfer speed are higher compared to the little pocket drive, but so is the noise. The enclosure partially suspends the Momentus drive, but much of the noise character we reported in our review of the stand-alone drive comes through.

Large: The External Hard Drive is a full-blown 3.5" desktop drive in capacities ranging from 120 to 400gb. Connectivity for the big unit is both USB 2.0 as well as Firewire. Also included is "single-button backup" software, allowing for near-automatic backups.

The only internal drive seagate showed was a variant of the 7200.8 named the DB35 configured specifically for DVR duty. Not intended, or suited for PC duty, its firmware revisions for streaming file playback efficiency would cripple it for the random-access tasks involved in a PC. They are pre-optimized according to the criteria provided by the various PVR manufacturers.

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