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Amazon has Palm in its shopping cart | ASRock Teases with X79 Extreme7 Picture | Sharp AQUOS 104SH




Amazon has Palm in its shopping cart — will it click Buy?



Who will save what’s left of Palm from HP’s bumbling? It could be Amazon, as the online retailing giant is in serious negotiations to snap up Palm from HP, VentureBeat has learned.

A well-placed source tells us that HP is currently looking to rid itself of Palm as soon as possible, and that Amazon is the closest to finalizing the deal, among a handful of contenders.

Indeed, after yesterday’s announcement of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet, no other company seems as fitting a home for Palm and its webOS software. It’s worth noting that former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein, who now holds a vague “product innovation” role at HP’s Personal Services Group, joined Amazon’s board late last year.

When asked for comment, an HP spokesperson said the company doesn’t comment on rumors and speculation. We’re still waiting to hear back from an Amazon representative.

The Kindle Fire is powered by Android, but it’s been heavily customized by Amazon to the point where you can barely tell. By purchasing the remnants of Palm, Amazon would have free rein to redesign webOS to its own liking, and it would be able to further differentiate its Kindle devices from the slew of Android tablets in the market.

And even though HP has given up entirely on its webOS hardware business after the TouchPad tablet failed spectacularly, there’s still plenty of potential for webOS to power a successful device. Palm’s mobile software was praised for its slick multi-tasking capabilities, which could allow future Kindle Fire tablets to juggle games, movies and media with more finesse than Android.

It also appears that HP has been eyeing Amazon for some time as a potential webOS partner. In an interview with This is my next in July, Rubinstein revealed quite a bit about having Amazon use webOS in its future tablets:

So, we’d like a partner that would allow us to expand the webOS ecosystem… There’s a variety of different sets of a characteristics to qualify as a good partner. I would say Amazon would certainly make a great partner, because they have a lot of characteristics that would help them expand the webOS ecosystem. As to whether there’s been discussions or not… that’s obviously not something I’m going to comment about.

HP paid $1.2 billion for Palm in 2010, but Amazon will end up spending a fraction of that if the deal goes through. Given just how badly the TouchPad failed, HP will likely offer what’s left of Palm at a major discount, especially since Amazon woudn’t be interested in resuscitating now extinct webOS hardware.

Personally, I’ve never had much faith in HP’s ability to effectively manage Palm and webOS. Amazon, with its commitment to long-term planning and innovative consumer devices, seems like a much better fit. And in a way, it seems fitting for the company that released the first widely-available $200 tablet to snap up the company that made PDAs, the precursor to the smartphone, a phenomenon.




ASRock Teases with X79 Extreme7 Picture


ASRock is now a full-fledged motherboard manufacturer with boards targeting every market segment, from $50 office PC boards, to all-out enthusiast boards. Its upcoming socket LGA2011 lineup has one such board, one that woos budget-unconcious buyers, the X79 Extreme7.






After looking at the slurpy teaser picture we scored, we really wish we had a shot of this board's landscape. But from what little we can make out, the board seems to be fully loaded in a very unique way.

To begin with, this board seems to have six DDR3 DIMM slots. That's an odd number, considering the Sandy Bridge-E processor embeds four DDR3 memory channels, and so motherboards should ideally either have four slots (one per channel), or eight (two per channel). As with all LGA2011 boards, the memory slots are arranged on either sides of the large 2011-pin socket.

The CPU seems to be powered by at least an 8-phase VRM. We're able to count just one row of chokes on the VRM area north of the socket, there could be more rows. Interestingly, the FETs of the memory VRM seem to be cooled by heatsinks, as well. The last time we saw heatsinks over memory VRM was with Foxconn QuantumForce X58 boards.

The heatsink cooling the X79 PCH (platform controller hub) is cooled by an active fan-heatsink. Active cooling, we think, is redundant. X79, unlike X58, is a single chip platform controller hub, with the northbridge completely relocated to the CPU package. A PCH is not much more than a glorified southbridge. Overclockers will seldom need to play with PCH voltages. Besides, small fans can add to the case noise. One upside we see is that with a multi-disk RAID array, the PCH could heat up, and the active heatsink design could help keep the size of the heatsink down.

We see at least five PCI-Express x16 slots, one can expect at least four of them to be Gen 3.0, and wired to the processor. We spy 9 internal SATA ports, and two front-panel USB 3.0 headers (four ports). Apart from the usual 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS power inputs, the board can draw power from a 4-pin Molex connector. The extra power might come handy in some scenarios (such as a PhysX-dedicated graphics card that relies on the motherboard entirely, for power.




Sharp AQUOS 104SH will run Ice Cream Sandwich for Softbank, among others


The first officially-announced phone we’ve seen set to run Android version Ice Cream Sandwich will be Sharp’s AQUOS 104SH, slated for Japanese carrier Softbank. Details on the new device were announced by Softbank, along with other handsets from Sharp, Panasonic and Dell. The 104SH is definitely the pick of the litter, with a 4.5-nch 1280 x 720 screen, 1.5GHz dual-core TI OMAP4460 CPU, a 12.1-megapixel camera and a IPX5/IPX7 water resistance rating. Pricing on the new phone wasn’t announced, but Softbank is aiming for a Spring 2012 release window.



Taking a slightly more pedestrian approach is the AQUOS 102SH, a Gingerbread phone due in December. The 102SH appears identical save for a 1GHz processor and some slight adjustments to the phone body. Softbank is highlighting the phone’s dual CDMA/GSM antenna with support for high-capacity data networks with a download speed of up to 21Mbps.



Falling into Japan’s popular photo-centered phone niche, the Panasonic LUMIX 101P features an impressive 13.2-megapixel camera. Otherwise the specs are slightly lower than the AQUOS phones, with a 4-inch, 940 x 540 screen on a IPX5/IPX7 rugged body just 9.8mm thick. The Gingerbread phone is set for release in November.




Lastly we have Dell Streak Pro 101DL, a Gingerbread Android phone rocking a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 960 x 540. The 101DL has a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm MSM8260 CPU and a camera with “just” 8 megapixels. The Streak is scheduled for release in January.







None of these phones are set for an international release, and with the possible exception of the Dell Streak Pro 101DL, don’t expect them to wash up on American shores any time soon.

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