The Evangelist

Worldwide Technology News

Here's an interesting idea: a digital camera with a built-in printer.

That's exactly what the new TOMY xiao with ZINK printer is. The TIP-521 allows you to print pictures of photos taken with the camera in less than 60 seconds. You get a 2x3" print that you can easily share photos with a friend quickly and easily.

Unlike a Polaroid, however, the pictures are stored in digital form. It can take pictures just like any other 5 megapixel camera, so you are not limited to just the small prints produced by the device. It has 16MB of internal memory and supports SD (Secure Digital) and SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) cards. Just like a polaroid, it does not require ink, just the paper.

The device does seem on the expensive side when you add the expense of the special 2x3" paper. One has to be wary of proprietary formats, and it is almost certain that the paper will no longer be sold, even if the product itself still works.

Still, this seems like a pretty cool little gadget. For more information, you can visit

Intel is the world's leading producer of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) with their Intel Graphics Media Accelerator products. Their GMA products are often included in lower-end laptops and desktops because they are cheap and offer reasonable performance. They have garnered much criticism, however, from those who value graphics performance. Nvidia and ATI integrated graphics consistently perform better when compared to GMA GPUs, and their dedicated (discreet) GPUs blow them out of the water.

This would appear to be why Intel is developing a GPU under the codename Larrabee. Larrabee will compete with both Nvidia and ATI's dedicated and GPGPU high-performance computing products. It is thought that Larrabee will be released in either late 2009 or early 2010, although we will probably see more of Larrabee before then.

Larrabee is almost a combination of a CPU and GPU. They use the x86 microarchitecture, like standard Intel processors. It has a coherent cache hierarchy, also like CPUs. But it also has GPU-like features. It will support 3D graphics such as OpenGL and DirectX for games.

The fact that Larabee is a hybrid card could allow it to prove useful for GPGPU and stream processing applications. This could make Larrabee useful in supercomputers for scientific processing such as ray tracing and physics processing. This will help Intel compete with AMD's ATI FireStream and NVIDIA's Tesla in high-performance computing.

Larabee is in some ways similar to IBM's Cell. It is designed to have many small cores that can perform different tasks, perhaps more efficiently than one core made to do it all. There are differences as well. I won't elaborate much on this, but needless to say that while they have similarities, they are meant for different applications.

This will make Intel's offerings reflect those of AMD's ATI and Nvidia more and allow Intel to compete in the dedicated graphics market. With Intel's close relations with many manufacturers, it seems likely that they can get these chips in the market. The question in the end will be how well they perform compared to products from ATI and Nividia. Price will also factor in; it will be interesting to see whether or not Larrabee will be priced competitively. It will also be interesting to see whether or not Intel tries to market these products as ATI and Nvidia do to enthusiasts and sell them individual to system builders and those wishing to upgrade their video card. It will also be interesting to see if Intel will try to offer something similar to Crossfire from ATI or SLI from Nividia. Without support for multiple GPUs, if Intel doesn't have a single product that can outperform the other companies' cards enthusiasts will likely shun Larrabee, at least until Intel gets things together. At any rate, it will be very interesting to see how things play out.

A while back Toshiba demonstrated a Cell processor-based SpursEngine chip in a laptop (yes, the same Cell processor tech that is found in Sony's Playstation 3). Although the Cell processor was shown to be powerful at allowing for several new innovative applications in their demo, the usefulness of these chips is really for encoding and transcoding MPEG4 and MPEG2 AVCHD/H.264 codecs.

The Firecoder Blu is a card meant for these purposes, and accelerates encoding and transcoding, possibly up to five times faster than real-time. The device could possibly prove useful to those who are into Blu-Ray. With the power of modern GPUs, however, and with new programs coming out that can take advantage of their capabilites in encoding and transcoding videos, the question is whether the projected $599 pricetag will really be worth it. This is yet to be seen.

With all of the modern smartphones and push-email devices on the market now, a device dedicated to just email may seem like what a pager is to a cell phone. That, however, is exactly what the Peek, a device now on sale at Target stores, is.

The Peek is a device specifically designed for mobile email. It is a good example of the classic concept of doing one thing, and doing it well. It operates in the United States using a nationwide GSM network, which will cost you $19.95 a month in addition to the $79.95 for the device itself.

Because it is designed just for email, the device is very slim and light (at just 3.8 ounces). It features a full QWERTY keyboard that promises to be easy to type on. It also has a decently-sized (and high contrast) screen (2.5 in. QVGA at a resolution of 320x240) which makes it easier to read emails. The Peek's website also says that it lasts around 4-5 days under typical usage. While 'typical' is a bit ambiguous, it seems likely that this device will get pretty good battery life.

To give the specifics, the device has a total of 8MB of memory for storing emails and sports a 104MHz ARM7 chipset from TI and an operating system called "Peekux" (no relation to the open-source Linux).

So far, the device has been reviewed favorably, with Time calling it one of the "50 Best Inventions if the Year 2008." I'm not at all surprised; I can't help but like the device myself for its simplicity and reasonable price. While I do a fair deal of instant messaging, I still like to use email for a good deal of my communications.

For more information on the peak, or to purchase a device, you can visit the Peek website at

Many tech blogs and sites have already begun to pour over all the new gadgets, cheap and expensive alike, and make gift recommendations for the holidays.

I think that giving tech gifts is an awesome idea. People tend to use gadgets often, and it is harder to go wrong with tech gifts as long as the person you are giving it to is not inept when it comes to technology.

For some, just giving a tech gift is good enough, especially considering current economic conditions. But if you can afford it this tough holiday season, there is ColorWare, a company that allows you to add some personalization to certain electronics. They allow for color customization of different elements on certain computers, smart phones, music players, game consoles, and even HDTVs. They also offer some accessories for these electronics so that everything matches (or doesn't). Want to give a pink iPhone to that special someone? Well, now you can.

If you can't decide what to get, want to allow the person to customize the gadget themselves, or if the person already has one of the electronics, you can give them a gift card so that they can custimize their own or send their gadget in and get it customized.

So if you are looking for a tech gift that will turn heads and stick out from the crowd, ColorWare is your place.

AppleInsider has recently released an article about how the Macintosh's business marketshare almost tripled over this recent summer.

This is a fairly interesting fact. Apple's consumer sales have gone down recently, which is not surprising when considering Apple's prices and the current state of the economy. The growth in small business sales will no doubt help to make up for this. According to AppleInsider, that's an increase from 61,000 units sold to 188,000 for the quarter. In marketshare, this has brought them from 1.9% to 5.6% for small business.

So, while consumers have stopped buying expensive Macs, businesses have started buying them. Interesting, considering how business-oriented Microsoft tries to be with their Small Business Server products. It would seem to make sense that small businesses would turn to Windows-based PCs when considering cost as well as hardware compatibility. One does have to remember, however, that with boot camp and products such as Parallels that Macs can run Windows. Still, that would push up the cost of ownership even more.

So the question is, why has Apple been so suddenly successful in the small business field? There is no clear-cut answer. I have a few theories, however. Perhaps instead of buying new computers with Windows Vista pre-installed, these companies are hoping to continue using Windows XP with a new Mac. Macs have typically had excellent hardware quality, and small businesses may factor in the cost of having a machine repaired if it breaks down when they make their decision to buy. And perhaps the greater initial cost of buying an additional copy of Windows (and sometimes Parallels or a similar virtual machine product for the Mac) isn't so bad after all. The base iMac is priced at $1199, which isn't too bad. And for applications that only require word processing or where a company used to have a computer and still has the old monitor, keyboard, and mouse, there is always the Mac mini which starts at a reasonable $599.

At any rate, it will be interesting to see whether or not this type of growth continues, and whether small businesses also turn to Apple for server products (such as the Xserve with OS X Server).

Compaq will be releasing a touch-screen nettop tentatively named the mini-Q.

Tech specs include either an Atom 230 or 330 processor, Windows XP or Vista, 2GB of DDR2 RAM, a 7,200 RPM (read: decent speed) 160 GB hard disk drive, a dual-layer DVD writer and a 6-in-1 card reader. The device will sell for either $296 or $386 for the respective models in Taiwan (there may also be the ability for customization on Compaq's webiste), and I suspect that the nettop will be coming to America in the not-too-distant future.

If done right, this nettop could be great in many applications which nettops are designed for in the first place. Want to check the news and weather and surf the web in the kitchen while making a quick cup of brew? This could be the device, especially if it doesn't require the use of a keyboard and mouse. I would imagine this device being used in airports instead of some the current pathetic excuses for web-browsing terminals as well.

Here's to hoping that this device is done right. If it is, it seems likely to be a hit.

People have done some pretty crazy things with Mac minis, from Millennium Falcon case mods to installing a Mac mini in a car. It is easy to see how versatile the Mac Mini can be with its small size and decent specs at a reasonable price. This has resulted in the little Mac being used more and more as a web server.

Some web hosting companies have either been offering mini-based hosting services as an option. Others have made it their specialty. At any rate, it seems to make sense. The mini is so small that they installed in high density in a datacenter. For physical dedicated servers (not virtual machines), this really makes sense because hosting companies can fit more in less space. A good example of a dedicated Mac mini host would be, where you can send in a mini or buy one from their site and they provide the web services, so you actually own the mini. Sites such as this one offer Mac mini collocation and mini dedicated servers among their other Linux-based services.

Of course, you could just take a Mac mini of your own and make it a web server at your house if your ISP allows it. Even without a static IP, there are sites that offer to have an address that will always link to even a dynamic address. One blog has articles on how to set up an apache web server, an email server, MySQL, PHP and more on a Mac mini. Personally, I'm wondering how well a dedicated gaming server running under OS X or Windows would do on the mini as well (considering the fact that dedicated servers need processing power, not graphics).