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February 26 2014

October 30 2013

Watch Lenovo's Ashton Kutcher Event Right Here

Ashton Kutcher is headlining the Tuesday launch of Lenovo's new tablet at Los Angeles-based digital-video production facility YouTube Space LA.

The Jobs star is the celebrity brand power behind a new Lenovo device to be unveiled tonight.

Last week, Lenovo, the world's leading PC maker, teased a picture of Kutcher on its Instagram page. On Tuesday, Lenovo tweeted a photo of Kutcher with an employee ID card, calling him its newest "product engineer." Kutcher will work with Lenovo as a brand ambassador and help provide design and usage feedback.

The event, dubbed a #betterway, is being livestreamed on YouTube and on Mashable at 10 p.m. ET. In addition to Kutcher and the product launch, there will also be a live musical performance by Hunter Hunted. Read more...

More about Youtube, Livestream, Pc, Tablet, and Ashton Kutcher

October 24 2011

Dell XPS 14z Takes on MacBook Pro [PHOTOS]

Dell XPS 14z

Click here to view this gallery.

Say hello to the Dell XPS 14z laptop, the flagship PC of the company’s holiday lineup.

The XPS 14z, which recently made its debut in China and will begin taking orders on Monday, is the company’s attempt to build a powerful laptop that can directly compete with the MacBook Pro. Its brushed aluminum and magnesium casing definitely takes design cues from Apple, but the device isn’t a MacBook knock-off.

It isn’t an “ultrabook” laptop, but it does pack a 14-inch WLED screen in a 13-inch body — the screen is almost edge-to-edge. The XPS 14z measures 0.9 inches tall, 13.19 inches wide and 9.21 inches deep. It weighs approximately 4.4 pounds.

Like any Dell device, it’s customizable. The highest-end device with 8 GB of RAM, an 8-cell battery, a 256 GB SSD and a 1 GB NVIDIA graphics card costs $1,599, while the lowest-end model costs approximately $999. It comes with a 1.3MP webcam, dual mics, 2 USB ports (one of them USB 3.0) and an optical drive. Dell claims the battery can last up to 6 hours and 42 minutes.

Like other Dell laptops, the XPS 14z comes with the newest-generation Intel Dual Core i5 processor (2.4 GHz), upgradeable to the 2.8 GHz i7 processor.

But how does it compare to the MacBook Pro, its closest Apple analogue? In my opinion, the XPS 14z is one of the best PC laptops on the market. Unlike other PC laptops I’ve played with, the 14z felt solid and finished, thanks to its brushed metal casing.

Dell clearly took pains in the design and aesthetics of the device. And at a cheaper price point overall (the 13-inch MacBook Pro with a 256 GB SSD and 8 GB of RAM costs approximately $2,200), a lot of people will find it to be a viable alternative to the MacBook Pro. Dell is launching a national marketing campaign to get the word out — students are its main target, but we can see a lot parents picking up this device too.

Check out the photos we took of the Dell XPS 14z, and let us know in the comments what you think of the laptop.

More About: dell, Dell XPS 14z, pc

October 13 2011

Michael Dell: HP’s PC Strategy Change Is a Bad Move

Dell CEO Michael Dell has decided HP’s recent move — spinning off and possibly selling its PC division — is a bad one.

In August, HP stunned the IT world with the announcement that it plans to spin off its PC business and possibly even sell it, which would be a major change in strategy for the company. HP also discontinued the HP TouchPad and sold off the inventory for $99 a piece, and gave up on its mobile platform, webOS, which it acquired with the $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm in April 2011.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, a day before the company’s Dell World conference starts, Michael Dell offered three reasons why HP shouldn’t do it, sending a very clear message to the company and its shareholders.

“It’s a growth market,” said Dell, estimating that there will be 2 billion PCs in a few years — a 500 million increase from now. He also said a vast majority of PC components go into client devices — 95% of all hard drives, for example. “From a cost standpoint you can have enormous scale,” he said.

Finally, Dell said that cutting off the client business makes it less likely for employees of companies that are HP’s clients to buy HP products. “We know from our history that there is enormous connection from one device to another,” said Dell.

HP keeps repeating that it hasn’t yet decided whether it will spin off its Personal Systems Group. “Our leadership is focused on getting this analysis done as quickly and accurately as possible, and we’ll communicate it as soon as we can,” said the company in a response to Dell’s comments.

Still, simply by putting that option on the table, HP has shaken its own foundation to the core, and backing off from the decision now could be just as harmful as staying the course. And all this comes less than a month after a leadership shakeup, with CEO Leo Apotheker forced out and replaced by Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO.

Michael Dell is not the only one who thinks that spinning off of its PC business would be a bad move for HP. The company has been widely criticized by analysts and media pundits, and the value of the company’s shares dropped considerably following the announcement.

However, when the CEO of one of your biggest competitors tells you you’re completely off-course, it has to be at least a bit worrisome: both for the company’s management and the shareholders.

More About: dell, Hewlett-Packard, HP, Michael Dell, pc

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July 14 2011

Apple Now Third Largest PC Vendor in the U.S.

Apple has surged past Acer and Toshiba to become the third largest PC vendor in the U.S. with a 10.7% market share, the latest data from Gartner suggests.

In Q2 2011, Apple has experienced a solid 8.5% year-over-year growth in the U.S. market; Toshiba grew 3.3%, and Acer fell 22.6% in that same period.

The top of the chart is still dominated by Dell with a 22.6% market share and HP, which holds 26.9% of the PC market.

IDC’s data also places Apple in the third place in the U.S., but suggests an even bigger growth for the company: 14.7% in Q2 2011 year-over-year.

Worldwide, according to both IDC and Gartner, the top five PC vendors are HP, Dell, Lenovo, Acer and Asus, and Apple is still not in the picture. It’s important to note, however, that the worldwide market grew only 2.3% (according to Gartner; IDC suggests a 2.6% growth) year-over-year which means Apple has been growing considerably faster than most PC vendors.

One exception to that rule was Lenovo, whose channel expansion to markets other than Asia/Pacific propelled it to third place globally with an amazing 22.5% growth (22.9% according to IDC).

[via Gartner, IDC]

More About: apple, dell, Hewlett-Packard, HP, lenovo, pc, sales, U.S.

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July 05 2011

Intel’s Little Laptop That Could Brings Tech to Millions of Children Around the World

intel image

Intel has created a low-cost, high-function laptop designed to get beat up, dropped and deliver education to children around the world.

The Intel-powered convertible classmate PC is about the size and weight of two iPads stacked on top of one another with a soft rubber backing and carry handle. The idea was to get computers into young hands to connect them to a larger world and improve the learning experience in global classrooms, explains Wayne Grant, the director of research and planning for Intel’s Education Market Platforms Group.

The PC has a swivel screen, allowing the clamshell laptop to turn into a pseudo-tablet with full touch-screen functionality. It also has a webcam and an accelerometer. The computers are designed for tough conditions. The battery lasts four to eight-and-a-half hours working on a minimal charge. The PC has been drop tested, baked in an oven and frozen in a refrigerator. It may seem like a lot of punishment for a piece of tech, but the tests ensure that the computers can’t break down in the remote areas where they’re being sent. So far, Intel has placed more than 4 million PCs into places like Argentina (1.5 million), Nigeria (150,000) and the Republic of Srpska (10,200).

That’s nearly twice the amount delivered by One Laptop Per Child, perhaps the best known non-profit trying to get low-cost computers into children’s hands. Grant says he admires One Laptop Per Child and its custom-built laptop, but he does see some clear-cut differences between the program and Intel’s efforts. Intel has created a software suite of education tools to help teachers in the classroom. This includes cloud-based programs that allow teachers to send out quick questions and quizzes to their students and collect data from work projects. “Without software, this isn’t much more than a friendly hand-warmer,” Grant jokes.

Grant spent 15 years in education, as a math and science teacher at Red Lake District High School, and then as a curriculum designer at Confederation College of Applied Arts & Technology. That influence is clear in the PC. Rather than just parachuting technology and letting kids figure it out, Intel augments that free time with a software suite and training from Intel employees. “Just because you make it available in a classroom doesn’t mean a teacher know what to do with it,” Grant says. Employees head to classrooms across the world and help train teachers to get the most out of the hardware and the software.

That kind of training is more of a resource drain than One Laptop Per Child, which purports to be more intuitive. That, combined with the software and touchscreens, means that Intel’s PCs run in the $400 to $500 range. It is significantly more than One Laptop Per Child’s price point.

Interestingly, Intel doesn’t actually sell the classmate PCs, but instead licenses them out to local ODMs (original design manufacturers) that make and sell the Intel-branded computers. Because of this, the price can skew high or low. However, this also means that Intel helps create jobs by outsourcing manufacturing to the same communities that are getting the technology.

So is the classmate PC a win-win for everyone? Are technology and education that best resources we can give underserved communities? Sound off in the comments.

More About: classmate pc, education, intel, non-profit, one laptop per child, pc, social good, tech, technology

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May 03 2011

PCs & Thumb Drives Captured in Osama Bin Laden Raid

The Navy SEAL assault force that took out Osama bin Laden managed to captured personal computers, thumb drives and other electronic equipment during the raid, according to reports.

According to Politico, which cites unnamed officials familiar with the matter, hundreds of intelligence operatives are currently examining the data, which one official called “the mother lode of intelligence.” Needless to say, operatives in Washington are excited to find out the contents of captured data, which might turn out to be a victory nearly as important as the demise of bin Laden. “They cleaned it out. Can you imagine what’s on Osama bin Laden’s hard drive?” an official said.

We don’t know if the data is encrypted or not, but even if it is, it’s probably just a matter of time until it’s decrypted with the help of the supercomputers which are at U.S. intelligence agencies’ disposal. Still, the more time it takes to decipher the data, the less usable it will be.

“It’s going to be great even if only 10 percent of it is actionable,” one official said.

More Stories About Osama Bin Laden’s Death

More About: computer data, navy SEAL, osama bin laden, pc, raid

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March 24 2011

Boxee iPad App To Enable Streaming from iPad to Your TV or PC

Boxee will soon release an iPad app that will enable wireless video streaming to any device running Boxee software, Pocket-lint has learned.

According to Boxee VP of Marketing Andrew Kippen, the app technically will not use Apple’s wireless technology, AirPlay, but the video streaming will work in a similar fashion.

Users will be able to stream video not only to a Boxee Box, but also to a Mac or a PC running Boxee’s desktop software.

The app, which will be compatible with iPad 1 and 2, is not ready yet, but should become available soon.

[via Pocket-lint]

More About: App, boxee, iOS, ipad, mac, pc, streaming, video streaming

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March 09 2011

HP To Include WebOS on Every PC Shipped From 2012 Onward

Hewlett-Packard will equip every PC it ships in 2012 and on with a dual boot solution, giving users the ability to choose between Windows and webOS, said HP CEO Leo Apotheker at a company event in Bangalore.

With its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm in April 2010, HP also acquired the company’s operating system, webOS, aimed primarily at smartphones but applicable to tablets and PCs as well.

HP has traditionally been a hardware-oriented company, but with its acquisition of webOS it made a giant leap into software territory, which is also Apotheker’s territory. “I happen to know something about software,” said Apotheker, who was a CEO of business software-maker SAP before replacing Mark Hurd at HP.

Apotheker says the company seeks to create a “massive platform” that would create a bigger incentive for developers to design software for webOS. It’s a bold plan, but also a necessary one, since webOS has lately been losing its already tiny market share to competitors such as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.

[via Businessweek]

More About: HP, Leo Apotheker, pc, webOS

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January 20 2011

Startup Personalizes and Socializes Desktop Wallpaper

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Wallcast

Quick Pitch: Wallcast is a PC and Mac application that transforms your wallpaper into a dynamic collage of photos from you, your family and your friends.

Genius Idea: Husband and wife Eric Bouchard and Marie Asselin were visiting Paris after Bouchard sold his first company. As expected, the couple was fielding requests from their parents to send photos during their six-month trip. That, along with the observation that their parents’ desktop wallpapers were, more often than not, showcasing poor quality photos, inspired the pair to create a tool to make desktop wallpapers more dynamic, beautiful, personal and collaborative.

The duo worked with a small development shop in their hometown of Quebec to turn their vision into a reality, and in late December 2010, Wallcast was released. Wallcast is PC and Mac software that creates and continuously updates your desktop wallpaper from a pool of photos submitted by you or your friends and family members.

The initial setup process is a bit cumbersome, but once you upload a few photos and install the PC or Mac software, you’ll start to see Wallcast come to life. The wallpaper highlights five photos pulled from the photos you upload, e-mail or add via iPhone app. Your wallpaper will automatically refresh with new photos every 15 minutes, depending on your preferences.

The most powerful aspect to Wallcast is that friends and family members can submit photos to your wallpaper via e-mail or iPhone app. You’ll need to invite them through the website, but once you do, the photos they submit are added to your pool and automatically swapped in and out of your dynamic wallpaper.

An Android Wallcast app is also in the works. The app, like the existing iPhone app, will enable you to quickly capture and share photos with your wallpaper or the wallpapers of others. The Android version will also let you use the dynamic wallpaper on your device, a feature not available to iPhone users.

Desktop wallpaper may seem passé, but Wallcast almost feels like a more realistic implementation of a “private network” than the mobile private photo-sharing experience Path is attempting to engineer. It’s not inherently social in the way that social media denizens expect, but that’s intentional and the end result is something that is still both deeply personal and a shared experience with close friends and family.

Asselin and Bouchard initially planned to support photo integration with Twitter and Facebook, but quickly realized that wallpapers would get cluttered with junk photos. The two are, however, working on features that will allow you to selectively pull photos from social sites into your wallpaper collage. A browser plugin that will let you right click photos on the web and send them to your wallpaper is in the works, for instance.

At the end of the day, Asselin says the couple hopes that Wallcast will bring people closer through the one screen most of us stare at all day long.

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: desktop wallpaper, iphone, mac, pc, spark-of-genius, startup, wallcast

January 05 2011

“Angry Birds” Now Available for Windows XP & Windows 7

The wildly popular smartphone game Angry Birds is now available in Intel’s AppUp netbook app store for Windows 7 and Windows XP platforms.

Once again, the green pigs have stolen the birds’ eggs, and you must get your revenge. By that, we mean slingshot various types of birds into pigs’ hideouts, which are fortified by an ever-increasing number of ice, wood and stone blocks.

Angry Birds was a huge hit on iPhone and Android, and it definitely has the same addictive gameplay as the mobile versions; it’ll be interesting to see how it fares in the desktop world.

The game is currently discounted at $4.99, with the regular price being $9.99. You can download it here.

Reviews: Android, Angry Birds

More About: angry birds, desktop, game, pc, Windows

For more Entertainment coverage:

December 31 2010

HOW TO: Your Get Your Old PC Running Like New Again

Michael Smith has been the IT Manager at TrialPay for three years, where he supports a wide variety of computer systems for 100 employees. TrialPay works with more than 10,000 companies in social games and software, including CNET, which is offering a special “New Year, New PC” bundle.

Now that the new year is upon us, many people may be thinking about dumping their slower, outdated hardware and starting with a clean slate. But why shell out hundreds, if not thousands for a new system? There are several ways to give your PC a makeover that will get it running as good as new for much less.

Here are four things to try.

1. Do More With Less

Running too much software on your computer can eat up your hard drive space and degrade performance quickly. Be efficient when selecting software; only get what you need and use one solution instead of two when possible. Here are a few areas where you can cut corners:

Antivirus software: Choose an antivirus product that protects your computer from viruses, spyware and adware. There’s no need to purchase a separate solution to protect your computer from each when most of the top brands offer comprehensive protection. Using just one application for protection will decrease the number of programs running on your machine at the same time.

PDF tools: The top PDF tools offer more features than the average consumer actually needs. Try the lite version where possible, or try Foxit’s PDF Creator. It’s a great, lightweight alternative that uses less space on your hard drive and won’t slow down your computer.

File compression utilities: File compression utilities allow you to compress files to reduce their size and open compressed files without using a lot of disk space. By using the software to compress your files, you can actually get more mileage out of your hard drive and backup drive instead of purchasing a larger one.

An uninstaller program is also a nice add-on to the products above ― it can help remove all of the “helper files” related to software programs that you might not be able to remove on your own. You can find several highly rated freeware or shareware programs at Download.com.

Disclosure: Foxit Software’s e-commerce platform is provided by Trial Pay.

2. Add More RAM to Boost Speed

When you run any application on your computer, it uses part of your RAM (Random Access Memory). When you don’t have enough RAM, your computer runs significantly slower. Adding more RAM to your computer can give you an easy speed boost. Newer applications require more RAM, so even if you don’t run a lot of applications at once, an older PC might need an upgrade.

Crucial has a great tool to help you determine exactly what you need. Just enter the make and model of your PC, and Crucial tells you your current system specifications and the maximum RAM capacity that your computer can handle. It even provides excellent guides to help you install RAM yourself and troubleshoot problems, and it’s also a great place to get good deals on memory.

The installation process is straightforward (and even easier for laptops than desktops), so you can do it yourself. HowStuffWorks.com has created easy-to-follow installation videos for installing RAM. The desktop RAM video is here, and the laptop RAM video is here.

3. Move to the Cloud

Using more than 80% of your hard drive space can make your computer sluggish over time. Most experts agree that you should leave about 15% to 20% of your disk space free. If you’re maxing out your hard drive space, you don’t need to buy a new computer or install a larger hard drive. Instead, you can move your files to the “cloud,” which is a set of technologies and services that allow you to do normal computing tasks over the Internet in real time. For example, instead of storing your pictures on your hard drive (which could take up several gigabytes of space), you can put them on a photo-sharing site (Picasa, Facebook, Photobucket, etc.) or a free online file storage tool like DropBox.

Online backup solutions are a great way to get more mileage out of your hard drive. You can look at online backup solutions, such as Mozy, SugarSync or Carbonite, or you can get an external hard drive with backup software. For some excellent advice on setting up an external hard drive backup system, check out this Lifehacker guide.

Online backup solutions are the most convenient way to store your files because you can access them from any computer, as long as you have a good Internet connection. External drives can be heavy and cumbersome when traveling, and you risk losing all of your files if the drive is damaged or misplaced. However, online backup solutions are more costly than external drives. Most services charge a recurring monthly or yearly fee, whereas external drives are a one-time expense.

4. Wipe Your Computer

If your computer still doesn’t perform as good as new after trying the previous tips, consider restoring it to its factory settings. Identifying and repairing every issue affecting your computer’s performance can be time-consuming and difficult (even for advanced users). Starting from scratch allows you to remove everything lurking in your system that might be slowing it down. In fact, it’s the only way to be completely sure that you’ve removed harmful viruses or trojans.

Before wiping your computer, make sure you have an effective backup solution to store your documents, media files (video, photos, music, etc.), web browser settings, bookmarks, saved game files, and any other files that you can’t do without. Browser settings and bookmarks can be exported directly from your browser. Game files are trickier because every game is different. You might be able to copy the files from your game’s program directory file, but you should visit the official website for each of your games for specific instructions.

Then, identify the programs that you want to keep on your computer (games, antivirus software, Office, etc.). You will need to locate the installation disks, product keys or download links for each program that did not come with your computer when you purchased it.

Most computers come with a recovery disk, so when you’re ready to take the plunge, just pop in the disk and choose the “Restore” option. However, some computers don’t have recovery disks. Instead, this information is stored on a small portion of the hard drive that is partitioned from the rest of your data and will not be erased upon restoring the computer. See the manual that came with your computer for further instructions as this process will vary.

In any case, make sure you have your Windows product key. This key might be printed on a sticker somewhere on your computer or in the materials you received when you purchased the computer. You may be asked for this when restoring your computer.

For a more comprehensive tutorial, this Lifehacker guide has an excellent step-by-step guide for restoring your system. The entire process could take you all day, so be prepared to spend a lot of time on this.

More Tech Resources from Mashable:

- HOW TO: Use Amazon’s New Kindle Lending Feature
- HOW TO: Get the Most Out of Your New Xbox 360 With Kinect
- 4 Predictions for Connected Devices in 2011
- 5 Predictions for Online Data in 2011
- Constantly Changing Technologies: What’s a Software Developer To Do?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, pavlen

Reviews: Carbonite, Dropbox, Facebook, Internet, Lifehacker, Photobucket, Picasa, SugarSync, Windows, iStockphoto

More About: backup, cloud computing, List, Lists, online backup, pc, RAM, tips, tools, Windows

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December 15 2010

Elegant Task Manager Syncs To-Do Lists Across PC, Mac and iPhone

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Wunderlist

Quick Pitch: Wunderlist is an easy-to-use task management tool with online synchronization.

Genius Idea: Web-based and mobile task managers are easy to come by, but all are not created equal, and the good ones usually come with a price tag. Enter wunderlist, a new free task manager for PC, Mac and iPhone that aims to be more flexible than competitors like Things and OmniFocus.

Wunderlist is quite simple in purpose and function. Once you fire up the application you can walk through a quick tutorial to get situated with the wunderlist commands and features. Really, though, the application boils down to two key components: Tasks and lists.

Type a task, add an optional date and hit enter. You can add tasks to your Inbox or to any of the lists you create, and you can drag and drop them to move them about. Tasks can be starred, arranged by date and checked off when completed.

Because it’s a desktop application, you can update wunderlist while offline and your data will be synced once you’re back online.

The just-released iPhone application [iTunes link] is nearly an exact replica of the desktop version and sorts tasks by lists, starred, today and overdue. It also includes the same great search functionality of the desktop app, nine background choices and, of course, syncs with your desktop tasks.

Plus, it’s hard to ignore the elegant styling of the desktop and iPhone applications which marry function with design. We can’t attest to being more productive just yet, but there’s certainly something to be said for an application that looks polished and feels completely frictionless.

Wunderlist is the first product from 6 Wunderkinder, a newly founded software shop focused around working and productivity and based out of Berlin. The team is hoping to build a strong fan base with this first release, and designs to use this group to learn more about how people work with tasks and productivity, says CEO and founder Christian Reber.

Just weeks old, wunderlist is already proving to be an early success with productivity types. The product has more than 27,500 users who have created upwards of 500,000 tasks.

Reber shares that the team is looking for funding right now and that it plans to monetize its service with its next product release — wunderkit. That product is said to be a productivity platform with business users and collaboration in mind.

Image courtesy of Flickr, adesigna

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by sign up today.

More About: 6 wunderkinder, iphone, mac, pc, task manager, to do, wunderlist

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October 20 2010

Apple Declares “The State of the Mac” [NUMBERS]

Apple COO Tim Cook gave a “State of the Mac” address to attendees of the “Back to the Mac” event today in California. Obviously, he presented the best news Apple has to offer about the popularity and support behind Mac computers.

First, the impressive sales numbers: Macs make up 33% of Apple’s revenue — that’s $22 billion in a year and a 27% growth over the previous year. Apple claims that Macs now account for one in five PCs sold at retail in the United States and that they have an installed user base of almost 50 million people across the globe. Macs outgrew the market four years in a row.

Cook also took the opportunity to boast about the success of Apple’s retail stores. In the past quarter, Apple’s 318 stores have received 75 million visitors and sold 2.8 million Macs. Half of those sales were to new Mac users. The company just launched its second store in China and claims that the Chinese stores are its busiest.

Apple has implied in the past that the success can be attributed to developer support. Whether that’s lip service or not to say that is beside the point; developer support is indisputably essential for the success of any computing platform. To that end, Apple bragged that it has 600,000 registered developers, with 30,000 new ones each month.

Cook singled out Valve as a great example. The video game developer has transformed PC gaming with its Steam digital distribution and online gaming platform, and earlier this year it brought Steam to Macs. It’s also simultaneously developing all of its games for both the Mac and PC platforms, in addition to any consoles that it’s making the games for.

More About: apple, Apple Store, Back to the Mac, business, computers, Hardware, mac, numbers, pc, Revenue, sales, software, state of the mac, steam, tim cook, valve, valve software

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October 19 2010

Today’s Top Gaming Releases: “Fallout: New Vegas,” “DJ Hero 2,” “Vanquish”

Every Tuesday, the majority of each week’s retail video games hit store shelves. PlayStation Network game downloads arrive that day, and many Xbox Live downloads hit the following Wednesday. We’ll be taking a closer look at the releases each week, so let’s get started.

Fallout: New Vegas (360, PC, PS3)

The biggest launch this week is arguably Fallout: New Vegas for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows. The game will have you waging war, solving mysteries, and struggling for survival in a post-apocalyptic Mojave Desert and Las Vegas. It’s the latest in a highly acclaimed franchise, but its strict adherence to its predecessor Fallout 3’s formula might turn off gamers who want something fresh.

DJ Hero 2 (360, PS3, Wii)

DJ Hero 2, a DJ’s spin on the Guitar Hero series of music games (turntable controller included), also launched today. You’ll find that one on Nintendo Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Vanquish (360, PS3)

Finally, a rare attempt at starting a new franchise: Sega’s Vanquish has arrived for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The action shooter is in some ways an attempt by Japanese developers to tailor to the Western games market, which has become an increasingly tough crowd in recent years because its audience has gravitated toward Call of Duty-like first-person shooters.

Japanese developers aren’t known for their prowess in the now-saturated genre, so we’ll see how Vanquish fares.

Other Releases

Another triple-A release on the Xbox 360 and PC: Arcania: Gothic IV. We’re skeptical of the game publisher’s decision to launch this game — which has much the same audience as Fallout: New Vegas, albeit much smaller — on the same day as the Fallout follow-up. The Gothic series has a small and loyal following, but most of the sales for this title will occur after Fallout players have had their fill of the post-apocalypse.

Wii gamers will get Dragon’s Lair Trilogy, a remake of some arcade classics. They’ll also receive two new Sesame Street games for kids, NBA 2K11 and a re-release of the Super Nintendo role-playing game Final Fantasy Mystic Quest.

Xbox 360 and PS3 gamers can check out Power Gig: Rise of the Six String if they’re not tired of music games already.

What games will you pick up today? Let us know in the comments.

Reviews: Windows, dj hero

More About: dj hero 2, fallout new vegas, gaming, nintendo wii, pc, playstation 3, tuesday game releases, vanquish, video games, Windows, Xbox 360

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October 17 2010

Raptr’s iPhone App Tracks Your Xbox and PlayStation Friends

Gaming-centric social network Raptr has launched an iPhone app that connects with Xbox Live, the PlayStation Network, Steam and Raptr’s own gamer network to track the activity and achievements logged by you and your friends.

The app is available in the app store [iTunes link] for free right now. While you can’t use the app to play games (it’s not that kind of app), you can use it to see what your friends have been up to across all the above-mentioned gaming networks. You can also send and receive messages through Xbox Live and Raptr’s network.

Raptr — one of our top five social networks for gamers — serves up activity streams to let you know when your friends are playing certain games, or when they unlock Xbox Live achievements and other milestones. With the app, you can log in to see if your friend has beaten you to that Zombie Genocide achievement in Dead Rising 2. If so, you’d better rush home and catch up!

This kind of social gaming integration is welcome on the iPhone, especially since Windows Phone 7 has built-in Xbox Live support. iPhone gamers can use Apple’s Game Center to track iOS titles, but there’s no native way to keep up with Xbox or PlayStation friends. There are other third-party apps for this, of course, but not many that support multiple networks.

More About: 360, App, app store, apple app store, gaming, iOS, iphone, iPod Touch, online games, pc, playstation 3, playstation network, PS3, raptr, social gaming, social media, social network, social networking, steam, video games, Xbox 360, XBox live

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October 04 2010

“World of Warcraft: Cataclysm” Begins Dec. 7

The third major update for the astoundingly popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft, launches Dec. 7. Titled Cataclysm, the expansion radically alters the game’s existing content in addition to throwing in new regions, quests, races, learnable skills and player vs. player battlegrounds.

The previous two World of Warcraft expansions sold millions of copies and dominated PC and Mac gaming sales charts for months. The game has more than 11 million monthly subscribers, making it the most popular subscription-based video game in the world. Expect Cataclysm to be a big event, too.

New playable fantasy races will be added to the game — Goblins and Worgen. The former will join the game’s Horde faction and the latter will be part of the Alliance. Previous races will be able to adopt classes they couldn’t before. For example, Night Elves can be Mages and the Undead can be Hunters.

The biggest changes will be radical alterations and graphical improvements to existing in-game regions. In the storyline, an ancient evil awakens in the sea and wreaks havoc on the two old continents, Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. Therefore the emphasis will be on revisiting early game content with brand new characters, a departure from the previous two expansions’ focus on high-level quests and raids.

Better Social Gaming

World of Warcraft players socialize within virtual organizations called guilds, which share dedicated chat channels and pool resources to accomplish difficult tasks that can’t be done alone — for example, the defeat of an epic boss who can wipe out small groups of players easily.

Guilds will see some big improvements in Cataclysm. They’ll be able to level up just like an individual player’s character, and bonuses and customizations will be available as guilds increase their experience. The rewards for some tasks will be material, including heirlooms, pets, mounts and guild banners.

If you like Xbox Live-like Achievements, you’ll appreciate the news that Cataclysm adds guild achievements. And World of Warcraft developer Blizzard has updated the tools players use to find new guilds to join in case you’re currently on your own.

Cataclysm will launch on Windows and Mac computers, and it’ll cost about $40. There’s also an $80 collector’s edition for the particularly dedicated players.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Trailer

Reviews: Windows

More About: cataclysm, expansion, games, mac, mac gaming, massively multiplayer, MMO, mmorpg, online games, online gaming, pc, pc gaming, persistent world, release date, role-playing game, rpg, social games, social gaming, video games, world of warcraft, world of warcraft cataclysm, WoW

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September 28 2010

Office for Mac 2011 Coming October 26

Microsoft announced today that Office for Mac 2011 will officially be released on October 26. Mashable previously reported that the productivity suite would arrive at the end of October.

The update marks a complete overhaul of Office for Mac and finally sees the franchise ditching Entourage in favor of Outlook. Since Entourage has been much-maligned since its introduction, a native OS X version of Outlook is a welcome addition to the Office for Mac suite.

Additional features seem to be mainly aesthetic, but Microsoft has said that speed is a priority across the suite. Here’s a video that was released along with this morning’s announcement on The Office for Mac Blog:

As with all things Microsoft, not just one package will suffice. Versions include: Office for Mac Home and Student 2011, Office for Mac Home and Business 2011 and Office for Mac Academic 2011. Home and Student 2011, which includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Messenger, will retail for $119 for a single install or $149 for a three-install Family Pack. Meanwhile, Office for Mac Home and Business 2011 will retail for $199 for one install and $279 for two installs.

It will be available in English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish, Polish, Swedish and Russian.

Reviews: Office for Mac 2008, Versions

More About: entourage, microsoft, office, office for mac, Office for Mac 2011, os x, Outlook, pc

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September 20 2010

OnLive Debuts Wi-Fi Beta: Play 3D Games on Any Computer

OnLive streams graphics-intensive, triple-A video games as if they were YouTube videos, allowing gamers without hardcore gaming rigs to play games on their Macs or PCs.

Previously, the service only worked over a wired network connection, but OnLive has just launched a public Wi-Fi beta that lets you play games wirelessly. Well, some of the time, anyway.

Wireless networks are not nearly as stable or speedy as wired networks, so a lot more can go wrong. OnLive has tried to take this into account by tweaking and optimizing its technology with those limitations in mind, and when we tried the beta we were very impressed with what the team has accomplished.

That said, it’s not perfect. There’s more control lag over Wi-Fi — most gamers won’t notice but first-person-shooter freaks will definitely cringe. We also had to stay very close to our wireless router to keep playing. Even moving into an adjacent room caused us to receive a message that said, “Your Internet connection has dropped to minimum quality” and force-pause our game.

OnLive is aware of these challenges, and that’s why the team that designed and tested the Wi-Fi tech have implemented a feature that pauses your game for up to five minutes when you’ve lost connection. In most cases, five minutes will be long enough for you to relocate or otherwise address the problem.

As we said previously, we’re impressed with the tech, and we expect it to improve with time. It is just a beta test, after all. The beta is available as an opt-in to all OnLive users who have connections 3 Mbps or faster, so give it a shot if you have a Mac or a PC.

Not familiar with OnLive? Check out our video demonstrating the service at E3 2010 below.

OnLive E3 Video

More About: beta, cloud computing, gaming, mac, onlive, pc, streaming, video games, wi-fi, Wireless

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5 Ways to Celebrate “Talk Like a Pirate Day” Online in 2010

Arrr! Ye Mashable readers know today be Talk Like a Pirate Day 2010, but were ye landlubbers aware that there be more ways t’ celebrate online than there are bottles o’ rum in ol’ Jack Sparrow’s locker?

Thar be danger in the social media seas — sour enemies tellin’ tales that aren’t ‘tall funny. Ye scurvy dogs want only the best when ye enjoy ye Internet memes!

These five selections be just a few o’ th’ ways ye and ye hearties can set sail together this evenin’, so be sure and parlay in th’ comments if ye be havin’ any other clever ideas.

1. Make Facebook Speak Pirate

Facebook supports countless languages, but one of them is pirate speak — did you know that? Just go to “Account Settings” (in the top-right corner of your Facebook home page), click the “Language” tab and pick “English (Pirate).”

The result can only be described as hilarity. Be sure and look around all over Facebook because virtually everything is affected. Events are now “Grog Fests,” all your friends’ names begin with “Cap’n,” the act of deleting comments is achieved by clicking “T’ Davy Jones wit’ it!” and the Like button simply says “Arr!”

Other companies have piggybacked their own gags on this. Visit Mint.com’s Facebook page in your native language, then return in English (Pirate) and you’ll see what we’re talking about.

2. Use Google Maps to Find Pirate Parrrties Tonight

Pirate Parrrties are being held across the globe in celebration of Talk Like a Pirate Day 2010. Some people dress up, drink rum, bring parrots and actually talk like pirates, so if you’re into that more power to ya, but some folks just show up for good conversation and a beer or two. And there’s no arguing with the appeal of that.

There’s a Google Map that shows the locations of numerous parrrties around the world. Just click one one of the blue markers for more information and set sail for a night of plundering, grog and adventure.

3. Watch Funny Pirate YouTube Videos

This one’s pretty obvious. Just search YouTube for “Talk Like a Pirate Day” (or just “pirates”) and you’ll uncover a treasure trove of hilarity from the past few years of celebrations. We don’t have much to add to this — just try it!

Read the Funny Pirate Tweets

This is really the heart of Talk Like a Pirate Day, and it’s where it all began — with people talking like pirates on Facebook and Twitter. Search Twitter for “Talk Like a Pirate Day” and you’re bound to see some retweets of some very funny messages.

Our favorite so far is the one we’ve included above from NPR News. “N-P-Aaarrrrrrrrr!!!” Get it? Yeah, you get it. Now go get some more funny tweets.

Play Most of the Monkey Island Saga For Mere Pennies

Ron Gilbert’s The Secret of Monkey Island, produced by LucasArts, is one of the greatest computer adventure games of all time. It’s chock full of gorgeous artwork, hilarious characters, hysterical dialogue and ridiculous puzzles. The series was recently rebooted with remastered, high definition versions of the first two games (so far) on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, PC, Mac, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Additionally, a well-respected adventure games studio called Telltale Games produced episodic new adventures called Tales of Monkey Island. The only two Monkey Island games you can’t play recent versions of are Curse of Monkey Island and Escape From Monkey Island, though if you’re crafty you should be able to get those to work on your PC.

However, both of the Remastered re-releases and the entire Tales series are on sale for practically nothing this weekend in celebration of Talk Like a Pirate Day. These deals are simply incredible, especially the iPhone ones and the Tales bundle. Here are the links:

The Secret of Monkey Island (iPhone) — $0.99
The Secret of Monkey Island (iPad) — $4.99
Monkey Island II: LeChuck’s Revenge (iPhone) — $0.99
Monkey Island II: LeChuck’s Revenge (iPad) — $4.99
The Secret of Monkey Island & Monkey Island II: LeChuck’s Revenge (PC) – $7.49 for the set
Tales of Monkey Island Episodes 1-5 (PC, Mac) — $4.95 for the set

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, JerryPDX

More About: adventure, Events, facebook, Google, Google Maps, international talk like a pirate day, international talk like a pirate day 2010, iOS, ipad, iphone, iPod Touch, language, lucasarts, mac, memes, mint, mint.com, monkey island, monkey island 2, monkey island 2 lechuck's revenge, parties, pc, pirates, ron gilbert, social media, social networking, steam, tales of monkey island, talk like a pirate day, talk like a pirate day 2010, telltale games, The Secret of Monkey Island, twitter, video games, videos, youtube

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