Ultrathin laptop debuts, along with other Apple products, as Microsoft gets patent-happy. Also: Detroit auto show goes green.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs wowed the crowd during his Macworld keynote address by
The MacBook Air features a 13.3-inch LED-backlit screen and a full-size keyboard, and measures 0.76 inch at its thickest and 0.16 inch at its thinnest.
The MacBook Air weighs about 3 pounds, comes with 2GB of standard memory, an 80GB standard hard drive, and 802.11n wireless connectivity. It will cost $1,799 in that configuration, and shipments are expected to start in two weeks.
However, as CNET News.com's Tom Krazit points out,
And as News.com's Michael Kanellos points out,
Jobs also announced
News.com readers were on the fence as to whether the movie rental service would be an attractive option, with some accusing Apple of being "greedy" and others defending the convenience of the move.
"Why would I want to pay that much to download a movie that's not even fully high-def?" . "I can go to the nearest video store for the same price or less, and that's for a full-fidelity movie.
In addition, Jobs announced Time Capsule--a "backup appliance" that looks much like the Mac Mini or Apple TV. It's basically a wireless access point with a hard drive, enabling consumers to back up their notebooks wirelessly.
The iPhone also got some new features, including an application called Maps, which you can use to approximate your location. Users can also now customize their home screen and send text messages to multiple people.
Go-go green machine
Toyota Motor surprised many by
Plug-in proponents claim to get 100 mpg by modifying Priuses and recharging the batteries when the cars aren't being used. Toyota seems to have finally given into the plug-in pressure, starting up its own plug-in program and handing over a couple of prototype plug-in Priuses to the University of California.
Ford Motor also got into the game, showing off a plug-in Escape Hybrid. Ford is working on the plug-in technology in conjunction with Southern California Edison. The plug-in Ford Escape Hybrid uses lithium ion batteries, giving it fuel economy of 120 mpg, according to Ford.
The trend among automakers to
In other environmental-awareness news, IBM announced the creation of an Eco-Patents Commons--shared innovations geared at environmental sustainability --with the participation of Sony, Nokia, and Pitney Bowes.
The Eco-Patent Commons will start with a donation into the public domain of 31 patents that cover everything from a manufacturing process that reduces volatile compounds to a natural coagulant used to purify industrial waste water.
An eye on Microsoft
Keeping track of employees is apparently on the minds of top brass at Microsoft.
The software maker, which has been busy on the patent-filing front, has raised concerns with one application in particular. That application covers a means to
The Times newspaper of London posted a story this week noting the "Big Brother" implications such a technology could have, such as notifying an employer if a worker appears stressed out or is not being productive.
However, Microsoft says this patent is more aimed at building a more useful and relevant help system into software than it is at offering a snooping tool for bosses. Of course, you never can tell where a technology will lead, and the patent could cover either or both applications.
There have been a fair number of changes at Microsoft's headquarters of late, so News.com created a rundown of the
Also of note
Oracle plans to acquire middleware maker BEA Systems for $8.5 billion in cash...Sun Microsystems will