News of the day (September 8, 2006)
According to Beyond3D, the specifications of the X1900 GT will be changed soon. The GPU frequency will decrease from 575 to 512 MHz and the memory will increase from 600 to 660 MHz. These components will fit in a new PCB including a more discreet cooling system and the chip required for HDCP compliance.
We feel, if htis information is confirmed, that ATI has probably underestimated the price of the "current" X1900 GT (209€). Most of the shops are out of stock and they don't receive new products. Is this new version designed to produce more and/or cheaper graphic cards? If it is the case, ATI seems to have to make some concessions on the processor frequency while improving other components to prevent objections.
Anyway, rather than a price cut followed by a products shortage, we would have preferred waiting a couple of weeks and have a brand new designation…
Generally, press conferences are made to impress journalists, announce breathtaking characteristics, new promising functions…the introduction of Epson's show wasn't exactly of this type. It was almost like a warning. The first person to speak, the CEO of Epson France announced that Epson now estimates that consumers are ready to pay a product 10 to 15 euros more than the entry level product of their competitors. Products around 49€ will not be discontinued but they will no longer be a priority for Epson. This is very serious: the first announcement is that prices are on the rise. This is unusual for a start…
The next part was a bit better: Epson carried a survey among a group of consumers and found that for 78% of their inkjet clients, the first reason for buying was the presence of separated inkjet cartridges. The next reason is the quality and finally the price of the cartridges. Epson continues on the same path chosen last year: all printers (except 4" x 6") now have separated cartridges and each one costs 9.99€. The message is simple: Epson is inexpensive. It isn't however yet possible to know the capacity of the cartridges or the autonomy according to the new ISO norm. Too bad…
Another message about the cost: now all pictures cost 29 cts, ink + paper. This is a real progress. The release of packs effectively sensibly reduces printing costs. Nevertheless, we can ask ourselves whether if the effort – which is already appreciable – is important enough knowing that photos printed online now costs less than 15 cts (don't forget processing charges and delivery fees).
Epson then gave us a brief outline of the situation: same as usual. A4 monofunction printers are less and less popular. Market shares are taken by multifunctions and small 4" x 6" printers.
4" x 6" printers: the current PictureMate 100 and 500 will be replaced by slightly higher range products: the PictureMate 240 and 280 respectively launched at 179 and 299 euros. The two use cartridges including 4 basic colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The last color is unusual: 4" x 6" usually produces black by mixing the three primary colors. The black will make possible to really print black and white pictures: this is one of the downsides of the Canon and HP printers recently tested.
Quality, speed, the two PictureMates are equivalent. The only difference is the presence of a DVD burner under the PictureMate 280. You will be able to directly burn your pictures. The first one to introduce this functionality was the Lexmark with the P450. Interesting fact, it seems that this printer will no longer integrate a burner. Epson will appreciate this fact. They won’t even have a competitor on this segment.
A4 monofunction, the product line is simplified. The D68 is discontinued. The only ones left are the D78 at 69 € and a D88+ at 89 €.
They respectively print 22/12 ppm in black and white and 23/14 ppm in color. Inks are of DuraBright Ultra type (pigment). They have a smaller gamut than coloured inks but they have a better time (40 years outside instead of 25 years for the new colored ink) and humidity resistance.
"Office multifunctions" use the same four separated cartridges.
The DX4050 – 99 € - basic model: 23 ppm, scan in 600 dpi.
DX4050, 129 € = DX4050 + memory card player and PictBridge
DX5050, 159 € = DX4050 + color monitor.
In November, Epson will release a DX700F at 179 €, the F stands for fax. Problem: it won't however include a paper loader like Canon, Brother, HP…
The photo printers have a new colored ink called Claria. Ejection technique is still piezo-electric but this time Epson reduced the size of the ink drops. They decrease from 3 picoliter minimum for some of the models and 2 picoliter for the previous high end products to 1.5 pl for the entire Stylus Photo R product line.
The R265 – 129 € – includes 6 cartridges. It prints 30 ppm in black and white and in color.
The R360 – 199 € – 9 cm / 3.5" color monitor, memory card player, picture editing functions directly implemented on the printer.
They both print pictures in standard quality in 30 seconds with ink drops of 1.5 picoliter.
MSI has officially released the 7900 GTO: the NX7900GTO 512MB. It will probably be the only one as this model is announced as exclusive. The specifications are in accordance with our new published yesterday: the GPU frequency of a 7900 GTX, 650 MHz, (including the cooling system) and the memory frequency of a 7900GT, 660 MHz.
The card is announced as HD Ready and is HDCP compliant. The most interesting point is the price: 249€ TTC. The product availability will be end of September/early October. We don't know how many pieces will be on the market but we already wonder who will buy a 7900 GT or a 7950 GT 256 MB knowing that they are more expensive!
In November 2005, Corsair and NVIDIA proudly announced the first SLI certified memories. This certification had a very questionable denomination as it wasn't directly linked to the SLI, a technology that combines the power of several GPUs and the central memory of the system. An "nForce4" certification at the time would have been much more appropriate even if, by looking at the number of motherboards available and their bios, we might even doubt that there really was a global certification.
Last May, the duet was back with the « SLI Memory ». If we were still wondering what the SLI had to do with this release, the answer was that it was more than just a certification. These memories featured a new technology called EPP.
Today, it is the turn of OCZ to announce a model which with a slightly unusual name for a memory: the OCZ PC2-5400 CrossFire Certified. Why is it different than other CrossFire memories certified by ATI? The design and only the design. Except for this point, these are 1GB DDR2-667 modules certified to work with timings of 4-4-4-12 at 1.9V. For the certification, our doubts are the same as with NVIDIA. They are even more important as additionally to motherboards based on ATI chipsets, ATI also has to certify those based on i975X.
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