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After months of anticipation and beta releases, Adobe’s Flash 10.1 is finally here for Windows, Mac, and Linux. (Flash for smartphones is also being rolled out soon.) 10.1′s release is a fairly large deal when it comes to laptops (and more specifically, netbooks), since its hardware decoding feature promises to provide much smoother HD playback and reduced CPU usage for low powered devices. Flash has been a notorious CPU hog over the years — just ask Apple how they feel about that — and 10.1 hopes to change that.

A special note to Mac users: As of right now, Flash 10.1 on OSX doesn’t support hardware decoding, thanks to some prolonged bickering back and forth between Apple and Adobe. However, Adobe has released a special beta version called ‘Gala’ that does do GPU acceleration. I’ve been using it for weeks now, and I’ve had almost no issues with it, and I highly recommend it. You can download it here.

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Chris Gullo