SPCR's first WinHEC: Seattle, May '06

The Silent Front
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Transmeta was showcasing an interesting MS program called FlexGo, which is most quickly summed up as mobile phone style subscription or pay-as-you-go plans to sell PCs to emerging markets. The TransMeta products' low power consumption and thermal envelope allows the use of available technologies like a motorcycle battery and fanless cooling without moving parts for high reliability. Analysts estimate that 1.5 billion people who earn $4,000 to $20,000 annually could be potential users of low cost PCs, if the costs of entry are low and monthly costs for connections are priced to fit within their budgets. Transmeta's official press release on this initiative.

Samsung has a hybrid mobile hard drive on the way. The samples featured 256MB of flash memory as cache that can be used directly by Windows Vista via its ReadyDrive feature on mobile PCs. It will boot up faster, resume from hibernate in less time, preserve battery power, and improve hard disk reliability. Both speed and energy efficiency are improved 8~10%, which is considerable. The new Samsung mobile drives will come late this year or in early 2007.

A modular water cooled server system by NEC. Certainly becoming more commonplace in servers; this one has the pump, waterblock,, fan, and radiator in one neat bundle for each CPU near the back end.

The Windows Vista Beta 2 hands-on demo notebooks in the journalists' workshop all turned out to be running in 32-bit mode, including this Acer Ferrari 4000 Turion 64 MT34 widescreen model. Vista Beta 2 does not seem quite ready for prime time; one user in particular was able to start crashing his machine almost immediately. The end-of-2006 release target holds for now. On this brief exposure, Apple OSX's influence seemed strikingly clear — even though I have just a surface knowledge of the Mac OS.

Gibson Guitars had a couple of large booths, including one featuring at least a dozen electrics ready to play via headphones and various effects boxes. The scene looked like nothing from a typical tech conference. (Pictured above is a random moment in a chat between wannabe axman and... wannabe fan?) The most electric effect was the call I received on my way back to Vancouver; my name had been drawn as the winner of the prize guitar. That news and the fading jazz sounds of KLPU at 88.5 MHz Tacoma was a great way to wind up my first WinHEC.

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