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If the claims are to be believed, the B-2 stealth bomber has a connection with Thermaltake power supplies

Is Amazon becoming the "new" Newegg? Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos pictured.

AMD Fusion, power sipper
A look inside the wild world of the Consumer Electronics Show

On Thursday at CES, we had one-on-one sessions with numerous computer hardware manufacturers and a couple gadget and peripheral companies to boot.  We definitely received some interesting insight from these chats.

i. USB 3.0 v. Intel

One thing we heard across the board was frustration at Intel's laggard response regarding USB 3.0.  Everyone is pretty much going ahead without Intel, but in order to do that, companies like MSI had to pay for third-party controllers from a chipmaker like NEC.  

ii. AMD Tops Intel in Battery Life

Speaking of Intel, Microsoft's keynote last night contained another subtle dig at the long time partner, aside from the announcement of a coming full-fledged ARM-supporting upcoming version of Windows.

Speaking about soon-to-be-released models, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showed off an HP running Sandy Bridge.  He bragged that with the tweaks, consumers could get a whopping 5+ hours of battery life.  Then he turned to an awfully similar looking notebook powered by an AMD Fusion SoC.  Without pausing he stated that the AMD notebook gave 8+ hours on the charge.

Now Sandy Bridge is certainly powerful.  But for the entry-level consumer, it's really not that power efficient.  If consumers can pick an equally priced offering from AMD and get 3+ more hours of battery life, why world would they pick Sandy Bridge?  

Sure the story is very different for gaming notebooks, which value battery life and performance.  But the market for average consumer notebooks is a much bigger volume business.

iii. Thermaltake: Powering B-2 Bombers?

In the more interesting department, a representative for Thermaltake, an enthusiast brand known for its impressive coolers made a rather unusual claim to us.  They commented that an unnamed buyer in Washington D.C. placed a large order of the company's gold series power supplies.

The Thermaltake employee claimed that the supplies were delivered to an Air Force address, and told us that they believed the supplies were (literally) being used with "B-2 bomber mainframes".  This was a pretty unusual claim, so Air Force types, feel free to chime in and clear up whether this claim sounds plausible or not.

iv. Imation: Dual Security is a Win

Don't want your data becoming the next big Wikileaks post?  Well Imation's Defender 200 USB drive seems like a pretty solid solution.  No degree of security refinements can totally counter user incompetence, but a dual biometric scan and AES-256 encryption system seems a pretty solid step in the right direction.

The hardy drive also comes with software to set advanced permissions to control access.  

v. Amazon is Brutally Outpricing Newegg

Not exactly a new development, but a lot of the hardware suppliers we spoke to expressed to us that with every passing year, an increasing percentage of their business was running through, rather than traditional enthusiast hardware sellers like TigerDirect or Newegg.

Now Newegg is a solid e-tailer with good customer service, but it just can't seem to keep up with Amazon in terms of prices.  Amazon appears to be giving retailers the full amount they would get from Newegg, but taking a loss to knock tens, hundreds, or even thousands (in the case of LCD TVs) off item prices.

It makes one wonder how Amazon is even managing to turn a profit, but the company indeed has been solidly profitable.  Amazon sure seems to have the online market flawlessly figured out, much to its competitors’ dismay.  For customers, though, the end result is great -- low prices.  But Amazon better watch out for those pesky antitrust regulators at the EU if it keeps up it campaign of aggressive price cuts.

(Edit: As some pointed out, Amazon's lack of sales taxes may have something to do about this, though in some states this situation is reversed and Amazon buyers pay taxes, while Newegg ones do not.)

vi. Archos -- Still no Honeycomb or Gingerbread Love

Archos is a step ahead of the game, being one of the few to offer an Android tablet.  In fact it offers both 5-inch7-inch, and 10-inch form factors now (plus a 3.2-inch, which stretches what we'd call a "tablet", despite the company's marketing labeling it as such).  

Now some of these tablets have absolutely huge storage capacities, thanks to their onboard hard-drives, a definite plus.  But it was a bit disappointing to know that the tablets are running Android 2.2 Froyo and not the latest and greatest Gingerbread.  Hopefully they'll at least make the sweet Android 3.0 Honeycomb bus that should soon be pulling in to the world of smart phones and tablets.

vii. Maingear Unveils New Carbon

Enthusiast PC builder Maingear showed off their latest edition of the shift case, which comes with a full carbon fiber case.  That, along with new perks like triple GeForce 580 cards and laser etching makes the company "the Ferrari of the computer world" its customers said.

Ferrari or not, the Shift is a pretty interesting case design.  Released last year, it flipped the motherboard, so that the exhaust from the GPU cards is funneled upwards out the top (the premise being, hot air rises, so give it the most direct path).  From a pure physics perspective this seems like a clever idea, though it would have to be seen how well it translates in terms of real world performance boosts.

Maingear is apparently very eager to protect this technology and has filed for intellectual property rights to it.  So don't count on seeing other vertical outlet cases in the near future.

viii. Coda

We had an interesting conversation with Coda, an enterprising electric vehicle firm.  They just closed a major round of venture capital funding, in which they collected $76M USD.  They plan to bring a sleek EV with a 90-120 mile range to market this year with a price tag of around $35K USD.  

We hope to find out more about this upcoming EV from the company shortly.  They aren't going to be at the Detroit North America International Auto Show 2011 next week, so hopefully we catch them before our CES adventures are over.

ix. OCZ Claims it Will Nearly Double Competitors SSD Drives

OCZ showed off its new Vertex Pro 3 series to us on Thursday.  The company claims the drive will provide 500MB/s sequential reads and writes (for highly compressible data), and up to 60K IOPS for 4KB random reads and writes.  

AnandTech has a more detailed article here.  According to their expert analysis, those numbers do amount to practically doubling the competition's current generation offerings -- if OCZ can deliver the on the goods.  Needless to say, they might be able to sell a few of these if the performance is as good as they say.

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It's the Taxes Stupid!
By Pneumothorax on 1/7/2011 2:02:57 AM , Rating: 5
"v. Amazon is Brutally Outpricing Newegg"

For us Kalifornians with an effective 9.75% sales tax rate, Amazon already has a built-in almost 10% discount. Couple that with Amazon Prime free 2 day shipping for many students and more, it's way cheaper most of the time to buy from Amazon over the egg.

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By Shining Arcanine on 1/7/2011 2:36:14 AM , Rating: 5
In New York, Amazon has taxes while Newegg does not.

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By tastyratz on 1/8/2011 4:59:33 PM , Rating: 3
true, but California could EAT new york.

CA is probably one of the biggest consumers of online goods across the country. Under the tyrannical state gov rule and local goods pricing/cost of living it's no wonder they do.

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By michael67 on 1/10/2011 7:25:58 AM , Rating: 3
I really don't get why Online buying has to be tax free, don't get me wrong if i can save a buck i will do it, but it just dose not seem fair to the shop around the corner that has all ready a hard time staying alive.

Lets say local state need $10.000 a year per working person on taxes.

I rather have Amazon also be taxed and give the local shop (even id its just Best Buy) "some" last competitive edge, then just let Amazon get to be the biggest in the world and pusses ever other company out of business.

Then when they have a monopoly, jank up the prizes, and also request cut troth prizes from every company they buy from.

For example company like SONY has not made a profit in years, and companies like Amazon dose not help them to get any soon.
It is not that i like them that mouths it is just that i don't like them to go bankrupt ore merge to make a even bigger monstrosity of a company that no one can control even the people running it!

It could be me but wen there ware more small companies we got a hole lot more pay then we do now (upper management excluded they do get a lot more payed then they used to!) whit all these mega companies and also there was a hole lot more made by our self, instead of people sitting in a offices shuffling paper and klicking on the mouse and keyboard and getting fat and RSI.

I know one thing for sure it was a lot more fun working for those small firms that cared for you then these faceless internationals i have to work for now a days.

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By tallcool1 on 1/10/2011 11:58:24 AM , Rating: 4
I am already taxed by the state and federal government on my paycheck and sales tax is just double dipping. I'd prefer not to pay anymore taxes no matter whom I purchase from whether it be local or internet.

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By PeskyLittleDoggy on 1/7/2011 3:23:37 AM , Rating: 2
But Amazon better watch out for those pesky antitrust regulators at the EU if it keeps up it campaign of aggressive price cuts.

I am no expert in this but can it even be classified as antitrust violations? Newegg and Amazon aren't manufactures gaining market share like example Intel and AMD. They are a business designed to buy and resell products. In a more describing way; the middle man.

Obviously Amazon can buy in larger quantities than Newegg and get reduced prices but there would be no real benefit for Intel/AMD to only limit there stocks to one reseller.

However if a antitrust campaign does rear its ugly head I think that would just be retarded. Business is business. If you can offer the exact same thing as your competitor at a lower price, then thats just how it works.

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By sviola on 1/7/2011 7:36:42 AM , Rating: 2
Well, I think antitrust violations apply to any business as long as it uses anti-competitive behaviour (selling for a loss can be one, depending on the case). But I don't think that the EU would do anything regarding Amazon, as their "price wars" seems to be going in the US, rather than in Europe.

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By quiksilvr on 1/7/2011 8:59:55 AM , Rating: 2
Okay I am thoroughly confused about this subject and require an explanation:

How is selling something at a loss to draw in customers anti-competitive? How is it an antitrust violation? What are the scenarios when it is okay (in other words, legal) and not?

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By tng on 1/7/2011 9:17:09 AM , Rating: 2
I guess maybe it isn't "anti-trust", but selling at a loss in the US under certain conditions can be against the law.

Wall Mart has been taken to court at least a dozen times in the past for similar practices. In most cases the term was "Piracy Pricing".

Wall Mart had a habit of moving a store into small to medium sized towns, dropping their prices below that of all the local retailers until those retailers went out of business, then only to jack up the prices when all of the local competition was gone. Small wonder why many towns block the approval of proposed building of Wall Marts.

I have seen many towns with a deserted downtown area that used to thrive before a Wall Mart store arrived.

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By zmatt on 1/7/2011 3:07:08 PM , Rating: 2
apparently if they block walmart then walmart will just built right outside the city limits and do the same thing.

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By rcc on 1/7/2011 4:38:32 PM , Rating: 3
Well yeah. If the citizens really don't want Walmart there they actually have to not shop there. Go figure.

It's hard to fight the lower prices right now.

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By Da W on 1/7/2011 9:46:11 AM , Rating: 3
Cause if your company is 10 times bigger than its competitor, it could sell at a loss until its competitor goes out of business, then gaining a monopoly and substantially raise prices later. That's why in theory it's illegal.

In practice it would never work in an industry with no barriers to entry, like resseling. It would work though in an IP protected industry, like if AMD goes out of business, there will be no other x86 manufacturer than Intel, EVER.

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By Devilpapaya on 1/7/2011 1:55:46 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly this, it's called predatory pricing. While I'll assume you exaggerating, "no barriers to entry" is still blatantly false. Storage locations, shipping connections, supply chains, brand knowledge and recognition, website construction/maintenance all cost and incredible amount of money to build up. Competing with an online reseller would take a tremendous amount of time and money, something no company would be willing to spend if they knew it was likely they could be forced out of the sector with underpricing were they ever to grow big enough to be a threat to Amazon.

However, it is important to distinguish here between pricing below competition and pricing below cost. To allege that Amazon is perpetrating anti-competitive practices is pretty serious. If they are more efficient and receive volume discounts that newegg doesn't get then that is the exact opposite of anti-competitive... you know, free market, do it better/cheaper/more efficiently than the other guys to make a profit...

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By mindless1 on 1/13/2011 7:14:02 AM , Rating: 2
On lots of items (computer parts for example) that Newegg sells, I disagree that it is obvious Amazon can buy in larger quantities. On the contrary it is often the other way around, and further in the quantities we'd be talking about there wouldn't be such a great disparity in quantity that either company had a very significant purchasing advantage.

10 units vs 10,000 is a big difference in per unit cost. 10,000 vs 25,000 not so much.

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By Da W on 1/7/11, Rating: 0
RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By transamdude95 on 1/7/2011 10:31:43 AM , Rating: 2
I do not like Amazon's practices very much. For example, I bought a couple xmas gifts for a couple friends who live outside of my state. Amazon has the free shipping for orders over $25 thing, and these gifts qualified for it and were well over the minimum. This was a couple weeks before xmas and they had a guide posted showing last dates to order for certain shipping to get it shipped before xmas. The last day for +$25 free shipping was still a week away, so I did not need to change. BUT, as soon as I get to checkout and am offered to change shipping method, they state that my order WILL NOT arrive by xmas (estimated delivery date of 1/21/11) and recommend I select a different ship method (for $17) to have it shipped by xmas. WTF!? I said FU Amazon and stuck with free shipping and it was delivered several days before xmas. This is the kind of practice I hate. They use deceptive statements to lure people into spending unnecessary money. Honestly, this was straight out fraud. I read the terms/conditions of the free shipping on orders over $25 and read the shipping before xmas guide. Well within terms. For them to state otherwise to trick poeple into upgrading shipping is ridiculous. Of course, I email a well-written complaint to them and have not heard anything back. Amazon FAIL

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By MozeeToby on 1/7/2011 1:27:11 PM , Rating: 2
The guide that they post is based on ship date, not order date. Some products aren't available to immediately ship, I've seen things that won't ship for several weeks after ordering if they are back ordered. The delivery date guide doesn't take that information into account, but the estimated ship date is generally posted on the product's page. If it isn't 'ships immediately', you need to add the appropriate number of days onto the delivery estimate.

So, if the page says, 'usually ships in 3-5 days' and the shipping guide says the 15th is the last 'safe' day, you actually need to order it on the 10th (or even earlier to account for non-business days). It's confusing if you're not aware of it, and they could probably put a bit of effort into making it clearer, but I don't know if I'd call it outright deceptive.

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By angryplayer on 1/8/2011 5:49:12 PM , Rating: 3
Frankly, I find that's being honest. If they experienced a jump in their overnight shipping requests, your free shipping is getting put on the backburner for sure. You get what you pay for and they're going to serve customers that are willing to pay more for the same product. You're not anymore special than they are.

RE: It's the Taxes Stupid!
By mindless1 on 1/13/2011 7:09:49 AM , Rating: 2
Actually no, that is not true at all. Their orders are processed as received and put on the shipper's truck whenever it arrives for the daily pickup(s). At THAT point how much the shipper prioritizes the order will depend on the shipping option purchased, meaning cheaper methods may get there quite quickly or make take near the entire period disclosed.

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