Test Center Roundup: Hot New Products For October 2010

Ubuntu's Meerkat Sharpens Its Claws

Ubuntu 10.10, code-named "Maverick Meerkat," entered beta testing earlier this month. The software makes some incremental improvements over Ubuntu 10.04, the current version, including continued beautification of its GUI, broader application support and streamlined management under the hood.

It's still a fast and easy installation and provides for even easier navigation to applications, desktop management and PC settings. It appears to have been streamlined as well for use as a server.

But what will get most of the attention around this release is the work developers have done on the Ubuntu Software Center -- the centralized area where Ubuntu-supported software resides.

Some have described the new Ubuntu Software Center as a move to become more friendly to those who are used to the "App Store" model of downloading and installing software -- and it does make a significant move in that direction.

AMD's Latest Six-Core Phenom II

AMD has unveiled the Phenom II X6 1075T -- a third model in its Phenom six-core processor line. And while it's priced directly in the middle of the Phenom II line, the 1075T's benchmark performance far exceeds that of its superior, the 1090T.

The CRN Test Center received an early production unit of AMD's latest Phenom X6 for testing, and the 3.5-GHz 1075T did not disappoint. Testers used the same test fixture from earlier benchmarks of the 3.2-GHz 1090T: an AsusTek Crosshair IV Formula motherboard with 4-GB, 1,333-MHz DDR3 memory in a two-channel configuration running 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate N. After several runs of the 64-bit version of GeekBench 2.1.5, the 1075T turned in a high score of 9,902, besting the 1090T by more than 600 points, or about a 6-and-change percent.

The 1075T is expected to sell for around $239 (compared with a street price of $279 for the 1090T), and is compatible with AM3 and AM2+ motherboards from Asus, Gigabyte and MSI.

Apple's iOS 4.1 Drives Its Platform To The Next Level

With the launch of iOS 4.1, Apple is taking social networking, digital photography and gaming -- all wildly successful media and cultural powerhouses -- and making them either better, or just more accessible, to the masses. Combined with Apple's iPhone 4 hardware, the company this year has delivered major, next-generation technology that is sure to influence rivals and change use patterns.

Though primarily aimed at consumers, all of the advances in iOS 4.1 have the potential to impact how technology is used in a broader sense: HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology in photos, multitasking and a game center that could eventually compete with Microsoft's Xbox 360 Live community are just a few examples of how this new platform will change Apple's handheld stable.

An updated version of iOS for the iPad is due this fall, likely by the end of next month.

Laser-Quality Color At An Inkjet Price

With the release of its C330dn color LED printer, Oki Data Americas claims to outpace and undercut others in its class from Hewlett-Packard, Lexmark and Xerox. In tests by the CRN Test Center, the $399 printer lived up to those claims and earned a recommendation for resellers seeking a fast, affordable laser-quality two-sided color printer for PCL and PostScript output for the SMB. The C330dn replaces Oki's C3400 and C3600 A4/letter printers. It began shipping in June.

Like all new Oki printers in the line, the C330dn uses the company's new engine and multipart consumable system. Borrowing from its higher-end printers, color cartridges now go in and out as a single unit. While this configuration does waste a bit of toner at replacement time, Oki claims that supply consumption overall will be lower. Also, the setup requires no calibration and simplifies the clearing of paper jams.

Aside from its speed (23 ppm, color or black-only) and juice-sipping power-save mode (14 watts), testers liked the C330dn's small size.

Nuance Launches PDF Converter 7

ISV Nuance, Burlington, Mass., has launched PDF Converter Professional 7, which allows for on-the-fly editing, one-touch PDF creation and a tool to provide for comparisons between a PDF and Word file. A feature called FormTyper is also geared toward allowing for the creation of fillable PDFs, the company said.

It also provides for PDF conversion to formats including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, XPS and Corel WordPerfect. List price on the application is $99.99.