Is the Vauxhall Cascada enough to take down the Germans?

When you think of a luxury convertible you think of solid German engineering, a smooth engine, space, sunsets and maybe a seaside. For some that means a BMW, others Audi or Mercedes. I'm not entirely sure it conjures an image of a Vauxhall. Or an Opel, if you're reading this on the continent.

However, the Cascada is Vauxhall's bullet with "GERMANS" written on it. Its design has been poured over to make sure it cuts a 'premium' figure. There's some cool details in there -- the rear lights are a highlight, as is its … Read more

Before you buy an expensive Bluetooth, AirPlay, or docking speaker, read this

This is a follow-up to last week's "Before you buy a sound bar speaker, read this" post, but this time I'm setting my sights on expensive, $400-plus iPod and Bluetooth speaker "docks." They have built-in limitations common to all single-speaker systems. They might have two sets of speaker drivers housed in a single cabinet, but when the drivers are just a few inches apart, "stereo" sounds more or less like mono. In the quest to make these speakers as sleek and lightweight as possible, bass and dynamic range capabilities are limited, compared … Read more

Before you buy a sound bar speaker, read this

People love sound bars for a lot of good reasons: they eliminate most of the wiring and setup hassles associated with traditional 5.1-channel home theaters, they don't take up a lot of space, they are less expensive than subwoofer/satellite packages, and since most sound bars are self-powered, you don't need to buy an AV receiver. A skinny sound bar positioned under a sleek display is certainly a more appealing solution than a 5.1 or even stereo pair of speakers. There's just one problem: sound bars can't fill a room with sound nearly as well as separate speakers can.… Read more

Texas Instruments exits consumer phones, lays off 1,700

Texas Instruments is officially getting out of the consumer smartphone business, as major phone suppliers like Apple turn to internal chip designs.

"TI...will reduce costs and focus investments in its wireless business on embedded markets with greater potential for sustainable growth. Cost reductions include the elimination of about 1,700 jobs worldwide," TI said in a statement today.

While TI didn't mention any names, one of the most telling statements alluded to companies that are now designing their own chips. That would include Apple, which designs processors for its iPhone.

"Large customers are increasingly developing … Read more

Apple aims to dodge 'Intel tax' (Q&A)

Apple has become a formidable chip designer with its A series chips. And that's probably not good news for Intel, says a chip expert.

I asked Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst an Insight 64, about the shifting dynamics of the relationship that began in 2006, when Apple dropped the PowerPC for its Mac line.

Brookwood said, in effect, that if you reduce the relationship to the fact that Apple must continue to pay an "Intel tax" for chip designs it doesn't control, the future is not very cheery.

Q: What is the significance of Apple's A6 … Read more

Apple gearing up for major adjustments to the Mac

When Apple abandoned its long-standing use of PowerPC chips in favor of those from Intel, Steve Jobs said, "It's been 10 years since our transition to the PowerPC, and we think Intel's technology will help us create the best personal computers for the next 10 years." Eight years have now passed since that moment, and recent developments suggest that Apple may abide by this statement and move to a new architecture within a few years. But not only is Apple looking to new hardware, it is also preparing plans for its operating systems.

Bloomberg is reportingRead more

Will Apple's silicon be good enough for a Mac?

Apple is starting to release some scary-good silicon. But can it muscle out Intel?

Last decade, the question was, will Apple go Intel? After years of speculation, that finally happened in 2006, when Apple dropped the PowerPC for its Mac line.

So are we now on a similar trajectory, as a Bloomberg story speculates, with Apple eventually evicting Intel from its Macs and using its own internally developed processors?

A quick look at the latest Apple silicon shows the company is on the right track. The A6X is a serious piece of silicon that makes the newest gen 4 iPad … Read more

Apple rethinking Samsung chip partnership, say sources

Apple has begun the process of lessening its dependency on Samsung for chipmaking, an analyst told CNET.

"Apple is working with TSMC at 20 nanometers," said Gus Richard, a chip analyst at Piper Jaffray, referring to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's most advanced 20-nanometer (nm) manufacturing process.

Another chip industry source contacted by CNET confirmed this. "The Apple-Samsung relationship has deteriorated to such a poor point that they're just looking to fill contractual obligations, then make a change," said the source, who corroborated the move to TSMC at 20 nanometers.

An Asia-based news report said … Read more

The 404 1,133: Where we put the Apple iPhone 5 on a pedestal (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Check out Scott Stein's comprehensive review of the Apple iPhone 5.

- Scott writes about the 5 things that surprised him about the iPhone 5.

- Apple delivers iOS 6, available for download now.

- First Look video of Apple's new Maps application.

- How to control your privacy settings on iOS 6.

- Apple Lightning Adapter adds life to your old gear.

- Sony unveils super slim PlayStation 3.

- … Read more

iPhone 5 benchmarks surface: Performance doubles

The iPhone 5's A6 processor appears to be roughly twice as fast as any chip in an existing iOS product, if results posted by Geekbench prove to be accurate.

The results show a score of 1,601, beating the dual-core A5 and A5X processors in the iPhone 4s and third-generation iPad (Retina), respectively.

Previous benchmarks of the Retina iPad show a score of 794 (iPad with 3G/4G). The iPhone 4S posted a score of 631.

If these iPhone 5 benchmarks are legitimate, they would match Apple's claims. "With the new A6 chip, just about everything you … Read more