In each issue of Distro, editor-in-chief Tim Stevens publishes a wrap-up of the week in news.

Editor's Letter Winding Down

Earnings season comes but four times a year -- give or take -- and it's upon us again. It's in these mid-season times that we look back on three month's worth of corporate performance and see whose executive strategies are up to snuff and whose, perhaps, need a little retooling.

In the former, happy list we can include Google, whose Q4 2012 earnings added up to $14.42 billion in revenues -- excluding Motorola Home, which would have added another $800 million to the tally. Total profit is a healthy $2.89 billion. We can also happily throw Netflix in the winners group, with its Q4 earnings showing 2 million new US subscribers (for a global total of 33 million) and $8 million profit on $945 million in revenue.


On the losing side we have AMD, which is struggling to keep up with the transition to a post-PC era. Revenues were $1.16 billion, down almost a third from the year before, and resulting in a net loss of $473 million. Logitech too gets added to the losing pile, with revenues down 14 percent to $615 million and a $195 million net loss.

And then we have Apple. The company posted record revenues of $54.5 billion, resulting in a record profit of $13.08 billion, mostly thanks to shuffling an amazing 47.8 million iPhones and 22.9 million iPads into the hands of customers. That all sounds incomprehensibly good, but Mac sales were down nearly a quarter, hurt due in large part to the rather late refresh of the iMac. All in all, Apple failed to live up to analyst expectations and its stock price has been taking a beating -- but that's liable to change by the time you read this.

But, the biggest loser of all is Atari, which filed for bankruptcy protection this week. The brand itself has been sold and re-sold many times since the '80s so it hardly packs the prestige it once did, but still it's sad to see the name struggling on and having to sell off the rights to games like Pong and Tempest to survive.

But enough of that financial stuff, let's talk gadgets.

But enough of that financial stuff, let's talk gadgets. Microsoft confirmed sales of the Surface Pro will begin on February 9th, with a starting price of $899. This is the x86 version of the Surface tablet running full Windows 8 and starting with 64GB of storage. But, given how much of that will likely be consumed by the OS itself, you'll probably want to spring for the $999 128GB model.

Sony's Xperia Tablet Z got official, a 10.1-inch, 1,920 x 1,200 device powered by a 1.5GHz, quad-core Qualcomm processor paired with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. Despite being only 6.9mm thick, it still offers microSD expansion. It weighs only 495g, making it the thinnest and lightest 10-incher on the market. Or, at least, it will be when it actually hits the market, whenever that is.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata took to the internets to deliver an encouraging batch of news directly to fans, starting with a promised update to overall system speed of the Wii U, a welcome improvement to all those gamers who are short on patience -- which, really, is all of them. The Wii U social network, Miiverse, is also getting a big enhancement, allowing for the creation of more granular groups on there, while also allowing far broader access thanks to a browser interface that will launch this year. Nintendo is also promising that a mobile app will launch sometime this year, which means you can get your fix of obscene stylus drawings wherever you may be.

Finally, we got what may be our first hint at how the next-generation PlayStation home console is coming together, courtesy of a leaked developer document handed to Kotaku. The console is reportedly codenamed "Orbis" and will offer an eight-core CPU and R10XX GPU, both from AMD. If these specs pan out, that's an interesting development, as AMD also powers the Wii U and is rumored to be powering the next Xbox as well.

In this week's Distro, we're exploring the history of human-powered flight, from old-timey bits of bamboo and paper optimistically strapped onto the arms of a hopeful/foolish man, to the modern Sikorsky prize. Sarah Silbert reviews HP's Envy x2 convertible while Brad Molen reviews the $50 Pantech Discover smartphone. Joshua Fruhlinger remembers the early days of instant delivery in Modem World, Ross Rubin tells us why Lenovo's IdeaCentre Horizon is what Microsoft's PixelSense (née Surface) should have been and Adafruit's Limor Fried is gracious enough to sit down for Q&A. Now, thank you for being gracious enough to sit down and partake in this week's Distro. I hope you enjoy.


Tim Stevens is Editor-in-chief of Engadget and Editorial Director for AOL Tech. You can find him on Twitter at @tim_stevens.

This piece originally appeared in Distro #75.

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