Lab Notes

The chip that could. The Celeron pro-cessor
jumped from desktop to portable processing this month when Intel Corp. announced three new
chips for notebook PCs. Bargain notebooks will start at around $1,200 with the new 333-MHz
mobile Celeron. The affordable chip has already dropped desktop PC prices to less than
$1,000, and a similar drop could reward notebook buyers.

Intel’s 266-MHz Pentium II and Celeron processors for superthin and supersmall
notebooks have a power dissipation rating of 5.8 watts; in comparison, the standard
333-MHz Celeron burns 8.6 watts. The fastest previous processor for the category was the
233-MHz Pentium MMX. The new Celerons improve on that by as much as 60 percent, without
much more battery drain.

Fooling around. Most of the April
Fool’s jokes we heard this month referred to the David-Goliath match of Linux vs.
Microsoft Windows. In some of the jokes, Linux creator Linus Torvalds takes a job at
Microsoft Corp. and ends up scrapping Windows 2000. In others, Microsoft writes its own
version of the open-source operating system: MS Linux, of course.

Fun and games are fine, but we expect to see these two computing environments clash in
ways not yet imaginable. Know any good stories about Windows-Linux clashes or successes?
E-mail them to [email protected], and be sure to
include your name, title and contact information. We will post interesting anecdotes in
future Lab Notes columns.

Signs of the coming apocalypse? A Japanese
company recently announced a Furby-like digital pet for senior citizens. Using the latest
in voice recognition, fuzzy logic and network connectivity, the Tama virtual pet reminds
its owner to talk to it, take medication and supply health information to doctors via the
Internet. The only form factor currently available is a cat, but if the Tama ever comes
out in lab rat form, we promise to reconsider our opposition to virtual animal therapy.

More signs of the apocalypse? We have
commented before about the deplorable trend of buying PCs for their looks rather than
their performance or usability. Now wearable-computer maker Xybernaut Corp. of Fairfax,
Va., has made its product a fashion accessory.

The GCN Lab has been waiting two years for a review unit of Xybernaut’s Mobile
Assistant IV with head-mounted display. Meanwhile, the Mobile Assistant has been strutting
its stuff at New York fashion shows. We always say that computer buying decisions should
not be beauty contests, but until now we thought it was only a metaphor.


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