Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Korea Unveils New Bullet Train

The Korea Railroad Research Institute on Thursday unveiled a next-generation bullet train with a maximum speed of 430 km/h, the HEMU 430X. The HEMU on a test run covered a 28.2 km distance at a speed of 150 km/h from a station in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province.

The train was developed by the institute in collaboration with the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, Hyundai Rotem and other companies since 2007 at a cost of W93.1 billion (US$1=W1,164). Last October, a test run reached a speed of 428.9 km/h.HEMU stands for Highspeed Electric Multiple Unit, but the acronym also means "auspicious sea fog" in Korean.

It will be the fourth fastest high-speed train in the world, after France (575 km/h), China (486 km/h) and Japan (443 km/h). It can travel from Seoul to Busan in 90 minutes. The global competition had been sluggish since Germany broke the 400 km/h mark in 1988 and Japan in 1996, but it was reignited when a French train exceeded 500 km/h in 2007. China unveiled a bullet train that manages 486 km/h in December 2010 and developed a prototype reaching a maximum speed of 500 km/h a year later.

"We will keep working on increasing the speed and make it possible for a production model to operate at speeds of up to 430km/h around this fall," said Hong Soon-man of the institute. A researcher there said it will be possible to reach a maximum speed of 500 km/h within three years. "The high-speed train market will increase to over W450 trillion," said Dr. Mok Jin-yong at the institute. "Since speed represents the level of technological advancement, we cannot afford to lag behind in the competition."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A tablet begging to replace your netbook

Product Asus Transformer Pad TF300
Specifications 10.1in LED backlit WXGA 1280x800 touchscreen, Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core CPU, 1GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, Bluetooth, WiFi, 1.2MP front camera, 8MP rear camera, 1x 2-in-1 audio jack (headphone/mic-in), 1x microHDMI port, 1x MicroSD card reader, 1x USB 2.0 port, 1x SD card reader, 10 hours battery life or 15 hours with dock, Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich
Pad only - 263x181x9.9mm, 635g
Dock only - 263x181x10.4mm, 546g
Pad with dock - 263x181x19.4mm, 1,181g
Price £399

IN AN ATTEMPT to offer the combination of a laptop and tablet, thus eliminating the need for both, Asus' Transformer Pad TF300 is a tablet along with a lock-in keyboard dock, begging to replace your aging laptop, notebook or netbook.

However, the combo feature just doesn't work as well as we'd hoped. The dock is not sturdy enough to bear the heavy tablet, resulting in a disappointing and overall fragile feel when put together.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Audi outsells its biggest rival, BMW, in April

(CBS News) The battle between the three biggest luxury car makers has a new champion. Audi, a division of Volkswagen, outsold market leader BMW for the first time in over a year in April. Strong demand from China and the U.S. boosted sales among all automakers, but Audi came out on top, with the strongest performance of the three major German luxury brands.

The company told Reuters that vehicle demand increased 14.4 percent in April to 125,200. Sales of BMW brand models rose 7.4 percent to 121,476.

Munich-based BMW has long been the strongest of the big three luxury brands: BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz. A spokeswoman for Audi said that the last time the company out-sold BMW in a month was January 2011. Audi surpassed Mercedes-Benz in sales last year and hopes to take the lead by the end of the decade. Volkswagen, Audi's parent company, has a goal of doubling car deliveries to 2 million by 2020.

"Audi will remain the No. 1 challenger to BMW over the next four to five years," Frank Schwope, an analyst with NordLB in Hanover, told Reuters. "They're firmly rooted in lucrative markets and benefit greatly from VW resources."

Monday, May 07, 2012

Small and perfectly formed: From sail ships to luxury yachts - how to take a mini-cruise

In an age in which every new cruise liner seems bigger than the last, it's reassuring to find there are some ships that still resemble ocean-going vessels rather than floating hotels.

Perhaps the most romantic are masted sailing yachts, which offer the charms of a relaxed, intimate atmosphere and the ability to moor in small harbors or drop anchor in secluded coves.

And what could be more thrilling than standing on deck looking up at billowing white sails... knowing you are never going to have to climb the rigging yourself? If you prefer - and if you have the budget - you can even experience the luxury of a super-yacht worthy of an oligarch in the Mediterranean.

Here is a variety of suggestions for those who want to sail away from the crowds...

Budding sea dogs might want to sail the Med on Star Clippers' five-masted Royal Clipper, where you can volunteer to help hoist the sails or climb a mast. A four-night cruise from Civitavecchia, the port that serves Rome, takes you to Corsica to moor overnight, Sardinia's Costa Smeralda and finally to Elba, where Napoleon was briefly held captive.

Travel is by Eurostar and sleeper train via Paris. The cost for departure on June 5 is from £1,319 per person.

On the three yachts of Windstar Cruises, there's no need for anyone - crew or passengers - to climb the rigging: the sails are fully automated. The sleek part-yacht, part-cruise ships have a casual dress code and the mood is laid-back luxury.

Wind Star - one of the two smaller vessels, with just 74 cabins - has a six-night cruise from Rome to Barcelona departing on July 15, costing from £2,859pp, including flights. You'll call at Elba, Porto Vecchio in Corsica, Alghero in Sardinia and Palma de Mallorca.

Alternatively, you can head to the Baltic Sea on the magnificent, five-masted Wind Surf, one of the two largest sail cruise ships in the world, on a week's cruise from Oslo to Stockholm leaving July 27.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Boeing 747-400 Freighter joins Etihad's fleet

Etihad Airways has signed a contract with Atlas Air, Inc. to provide the UAE flag carrier with its first Boeing 747-400 Freighter.
The aircraft, with a payload capacity of 124 tons, will be used by Etihad Cargo to transport fresh produce, machinery and garments on routes to and from Africa, Europe, India and China over the Abu Dhabi hub.  Delivery and commencement of operations are scheduled for June 2012.

Atlas is a leading global provider of outsourced aircraft and aviation operating services and the contract with Etihad Airways is for one aircraft under a multi-year Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance (ACMI) agreement.

The delivery will take Etihad Cargo’s fleet to six aircraft.  The airline already operates a Boeing B777F, two Airbus A330-200F, one Airbus A300-600F, and one McDonnell Douglas MD-11F.

Etihad Airways has an additional four freighters scheduled for delivery in 2013 and 2014, two Boeing B777F and two Airbus A330-200F.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, said:  “In Atlas Air, we have found a first-rate partner focused on operational excellence, security and outstanding customer service. We look forward to a rewarding relationship that leverages each of our expertise to grow global trade.”

David Kerr, Etihad Airways Vice President Cargo, added: “We are strongly committed to building our presence in the cargo sector and to serving the growing demand from our customers around the world.  We have the fortune of geography and being able to bridge many of the trade flows from producer to consumer markets.”

“We are delighted to add Etihad Airways to our portfolio of ACMI customers,” said William J. Flynn, President and Chief Executive Officer, Atlas Air Worldwide. “Atlas Air has the largest and most modern fleet in our industry, with a mix of cargo and passenger aircraft, serving customers who are leaders in their markets.

“Etihad Airways takes pride in providing reliable, high-quality service across its expanding international route network. We look forward to welcoming not only a new customer for Atlas Air, but also future opportunities for strategic expansion for both companies.”