Asus undercuts Microsoft Surface with $549 VivoTab RT It remains to be seen how many opponents will show up to each battle, but the Windows RT price wars have begun. Asus is now offering their VivoTab RT tablet -- which launched October 26th alongside Windows 8 -- for $549, down $50 from its initial price tag. The VivoTab RT inherits many of the design characteristics from its Android cousins, the Asus Transformer Pad TF300 and Asus Transformer Pad Infinity. Like Microsoft‘s own Surface, it runs the ARM-based Windows RT, and “transforms” into a fully functional laptop via its docking connector and keyboard. Forbes

The Intel SSD DC S3700 (200GB) review When Intel arrived on the scene with its first SSD, it touted superiority in controller, firmware and NAND as the reason it was able to so significantly outperform the competition. Slow but steady improvements to the design followed over the next year and until 2010 Intel held our recommendation for best SSD on the market. The long awaited X25-M G3 ended up being based on the same 3Gbps SATA controller as the previous two drives, just sold under a new brand. Intel changed its tune, claiming that the controller (or who made it) wasn't as important as firmware and NAND. AnandTech

How Ubisoft kept the lid on Assassin's Creed III's biggest spoiler "Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead." So said Ben Franklin, and it's a particularly apt quote for the game industry. Not that it tries that hard to keep many secrets -- the modern game marketing machine controls a slow and steady drip of information about the biggest titles that can start years before release. It's gotten to the point that an avid gaming news reader can know practically everything there is to know about a game months before it comes out. Ars Technica

Apple-HTC ten-year license deal shows Android patent peace is achievable Apple just published a joint statement with HTC announcing the settlement of their Android patent dispute more than 32 months after it started. This is the third significant smartphone patent settlement since June 2011. Previously, Apple settled with Nokia, and Microsoft settled with Barnes & Noble. Apple has yet to settle with wholly-owned Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility and its main rival among device makers, Samsung. FOSS Patents

Microsoft demos English-to-Chinese universal translator that keeps your voice and accent At an event in China, Microsoft Research chief Rick Rashid has demonstrated a real-time English-to-Mandarin speech-to-speech translation engine. Not only is the translation very accurate, but the software also preserves the user’s accent and intonation. We’re not just talking about a digitized, robotic translator here -- this is firmly within the realms of Doctor Who or Star Trek universal translation. ExtremeTech

Google is back online in China after blocking Access to Google services in China appeared to return Saturday morning after they were blocked briefly as the country prepares to appoint new leadership. The blocking appeared to last for about 12 hours, with Internet traffic resuming to the sites after 6 a.m. local time, according to Google's Transparency Report, which monitors company's services worldwide. In Beijing, Google was accessible, although loading the sites was slow. PCWorld

The contemptible games journalistwhy so many people don’t trust the gaming press (and why they’re sometimes wrong) Questionable Tweets. Claims of legal threats. Edited resumes. An article that named names one day and didn't the next. Mock reviews. Free drinks. Extravagant swag. Elaborate junkets. These are the ingredients that are helping bring to a boil familiar suspicions about the gaming press, the work they -- we -- do, and whose side they're really on. Kotaku

With all due respect: the patent system’s not broken Why would a company spend billions of dollars to build a microprocessor-manufacturing plant employing thousands of skilled workers in the U.S., if it could only protect its technology by obtaining patents in other countries? Why would a venture capital firm fund a social-networking service provider if the company could not obtain patents on its innovative software backbone, preventing others from easily copying it? Wired

Online viewers start leaving if video doesn’t play in 2 seconds, says study As revenues decline for traditional forms of online advertising, video is emerging as a bright spot for many media companies. It offers an opportunity for long engagement and hefty ad rates -- but also a challenge to make it work. A new study reports that faster internet connections have made viewers more impatient, and that people begin abandoning videos if they don’t load within two seconds. GigaOM

Mushkin unleashes world’s highest-performance mSATA solid-state drive Mushkin, a leading designer and manufacturer of high-performance computer products, this week introduced the industry’s highest-performing mSATA solid-state drive, which may be used for caching or as a boot drive. The Atlas Deluxe mSATA 30GB SSD promises levels of performance that are higher than those of many fully-fledged mainstream solid-state drives at a fraction of the price. X-bit Labs

Spotify and its discontents Walking -- dazed -- through a flea market in Greenwich Village, taking in the skewered meats, the empanadas, and the dumb T-shirts, I came across a fugitive salesman, probably near sixty years old, in a ripped Allman Brothers T-shirt. Like a technicolor mirage, he was hawking CDs and singing along to “You Don’t Love Me,” which was blaring, a tad trebly, from a boom box atop a fold-out table. The New Yorker

"Why the hell does this mouse need to connect to the Internet?" In this hyper-connected, networked world, many more of our devices are getting linked to the cloud, whether we want them to or not. That's sometimes good, and sometimes bad, so when a basic device like a mouse requires a user to go online and set up an account to activate all of its functionality, people are understandably going to ask why? Ars Technica

Researchers find vulnerability in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Researchers have found a serious vulnerability in the game "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3," and another in the CryEngine 3 graphics platform on which many games run. Luigi Auriemma and Donato Ferrante of security consultancy ReVuln presented their findings at the Power of Community (POC2012) security conference in Seoul on Friday. Computerworld

Return of the Jedi I don't want to dwell on this, mostly because it's evidence of the extent to which I am ruined as a human being, but Star Wars is my earliest memory. The memory is so early, in fact -- I was still getting a handle on stuff like "toddling" and "having teeth" when A New Hope dropped in 1977 -- that I can't even be totally sure that it's real. Grantland