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Astonishing hi-fi components, designed and built in Oregon

I was smitten with the Coffman Labs G1-A stereo preamplifier, even before I heard it make a sound. I'd seen pictures of the preamp online and it looked fine, but once I saw it in person I knew it was one of the most beautiful audio components on the market. The feel of the control knobs and the metalwork's fit and finish are state of the art. Granted, the G1-A is priced accordingly, but just as with high-end cars, watches or cameras, with purist audio design build quality is just as important as performance.

Still, I wouldn't … Read more

America's first next-gen aircraft carrier takes high tech to sea

The world's most-advanced aircraft carrier should be meeting a bottle of champagne today. Head on.

The USS Gerald R. Ford will be christened during a ceremony in Newport News, Va., an event that will usher in the next generation of aircraft carriers. The Gerald R. Ford is the first of its class -- the Ford class. And over the last few years, the shipbuilders at Newport News Shipbuilding have been putting together a vessel that is intended to move the aircraft carrier technology needle forward significantly.

I had a chance to visit the shipyard during Road Trip 2010, and … Read more

U.S. Cellular unveils shared data plans, kills unlimited data

U.S. Cellular is jumping on the shared data plan bandwagon.

The wireless carrier on Monday introduced shared data plans for consumers and small businesses. The plans line up with similar ones offered by larger carriers Verizon Wireless and AT&T. These latest offerings also spell an end to U.S. Cellular's unlimited data plan.

Shared data plans have proven effective in getting multiple family members to sign up with the same carrier and in limiting the amount of data each member can consume. Consumers can share data among up to 10 devices, while businesses can get up … Read more

U.S. Cellular picks up Samsung Galaxy Mega Sept. 17

Already staking its claim on AT&T, the Samsung Galaxy Mega and its enormous 6.3-inch screen are making a home at U.S. Cellular.

The extra-large "phablet" will sell for a budget $150 on contract, after an instant rebate.

Eager customers can buy it online starting tomorrow, September 17, and those who opt for in-store purchase will find it in carrier shops on September 19.

Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the Mega has no stylus or extra tricks to spice up Samsung's typical Android experience.

It does, however, have a modern OS -- Android … Read more

ITC delays final decision in Apple vs. Samsung patent war

The U.S. International Trade Commission needs a little more time to make a final decision on whether or not Samsung infringed on Apple's patents.

In a note Thursday evening, the ITC said it would deliver that decision by Friday, August 9.

That's the same day the two companies head to court for oral arguments on permanent injunctions from the trial that wrapped up last August. In that case, a jury ruled Samsung guilty of infringing on Apple's intellectual property.

Barring further delays, next week's ruling will be final. It will come more than nine months … Read more

U.S. Stratcom isn't your father's Strategic Air Command

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- The world is a very big place, but wherever there's a mission for the U.S. military, there's a role for the U.S. Strategic Command.

This is Stratcom, one of three American combatant commands, a place that does everything from running B-2 bombing raids over places like Libya to analyzing radiation fallout from the nuclear power plants in Japan that were crippled by 2011's earthquake and tsunami. From the depths of the oceans to 22,000 nautical miles into space, U.S. Strategic Command has jurisdiction.

As part of Road Trip 2013, … Read more

Aboard America's Doomsday command and control plane

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- I've always loved 747s and just about everything about them. But the one I'm on right now, known as the Doomsday plane, has a very different -- and very somber -- purpose than most of Boeing's iconic jumbo jets.

Formally known as the National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC), this is an E-4B, the plane that America's military leaders would use as an airborne command and control center in the case of a nuclear war or other very serious conflict.

Actually, there are four of the planes, each identical to the … Read more

B-2s, B-52s, and the plane that ended World War II

DAYTON, Ohio -- It's hard to stand in front of the B-29 Superfortress and not be awed by its history.

Deep inside the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base here, visitors can come face to face with Bockscar, the plane that dropped Fat Man, the atomic bomb that leveled Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945, effectively ending World War II.

The museum has what is likely the most impressive collection of military aircraft in the world. Spread across three gigantic hangars, plus a section filled with missiles, and both a collection of … Read more

Windows 8 contends with Win 7, PC saturation, says IDC

A fully saturated PC market means upgrade cycles are slowing down, stymying consumer uptake of Windows 8, IDC's Bob O'Donnell told CNET in an interview.

What ails the U.S. PC market ails Windows 8 too. That is, saturation and slowing upgrade cycles.

"The U.S. market is pretty much 100 percent saturated. So it is 100 percent dependent on replacement [PCs]," said O'Donnell, a program vice president at IDC, in a telephone interview referencing a report -- which he co-authored -- on second-quarter PC shipments that was released Wednesday.

"If you extend the … Read more

Before the battlefield: Making the Army's Abrams tank

LIMA, Ohio -- If you were planning an American manufacturing plant for essential military equipment in the early 1940s, you probably wanted to keep it far from the coasts, where the facilities would be most vulnerable to attack.

That was the thinking that led U.S. military decision makers to think of this small western Ohio town as the location for a tank manufacturing plant in 1941. That, and the fact that it is close to the deep-water port of Toledo, Ohio, as well as easy rail and highway access.

Indeed, in 1941, the Army opened the Lima Tank Depot … Read more