Podcast #389 - Thermaltake Core X9, the Controversy around DirectX 12, FreeSync HDMI Displays, and more!
Subject: General Tech | March 3, 2016 - 03:24 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: WD, video, uwp, thermaltake, Samsung, reeven, podcast, Okeanos, Microsoft Store, HelioSeal, hdmi, freesync, dx12, Core X9, brontes, ashes of the singularity
PC Perspective Podcast #389 - 03/03/2016
Join us this week as we discuss the Thermaltake Core X9, the Controversy around DirectX 12, FreeSync HDMI Displays, and more!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Tietelman
Program length: 1:32:49
And the VLAN on Saturday!
Week in Review:
0:51:40 This episode of PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Braintree. Even the best mobile app won’t work without the right payments API. That’s where the Braintree v.0 SDK comes in. One amazingly simple integration gives you every way to pay. Try out the sandbox and see for yourself at braintreepayments.com/pcper
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Allyn: Sony DSC-RX10 II
Earlier this week Samsung formally made a couple of announcements for new monitors due out this spring. The CF591 and CF390 range in size from 23 to 27 inches, mating a 1920x1080 resolution with an 1800R curvature and an attractive design. Even better news for gamers, all of the monitors in these two series will offer AMD's variable refresh rate technology known as FreeSync over HDMI.
The specifications of the monitors are interesting in their own light. The CF390 will be available in both 23.5-in and 27-in varieties, with a 1920x1080 resolution on a VA panel, a 4ms response time rating and a maximum brightness of 250 nits. The VA technology allows for solid viewing angles and color reproduction though all of them are limited to a 60Hz maximum refresh rate. The CF591 monitor is only available in a 27-in variety, shares almost all of the same traits, but sheds the glossy black design for a silver and white color option.
The CF390 features only VGA (D-Sub) and HDMI inputs while the CF591 overs VGA, dual HDMI and a single DisplayPort connection as well. Only the CF591 allows for audio input through a 3.5mm connection.
The supposed value of HDMI-based FreeSync is ubiquity and lower cost. Unfortunately, we don't have any pricing information from Samsung on either the CF390 or CF591 monitors, leaving a big question mark for AMD Radeon gamers that might be looking for a new display. Also, while the CF390 directly benefits from the addition of HDMI support on FreeSync, the CF591 still has a DisplayPort connection, meaning the value of HDMI-based FreeSync is lessened.
They 60Hz maximum refresh rate is disappointing in a world where 75Hz, 90Hz, even 165Hz monitors are being released left and right. Will the AMD driver-based frame doubling technology work on these displays? I have an inquiry in to AMD to verify but it might be difficult with the VA panels' minimum refresh rate. To be fair to AMD and Samsung though, this isn't marketed as a gaming monitor, just a monitor that happens to have a very gaming friendly option.
Both of these monitors look pretty sexy though; we need to see and test them in person to see if the image quality and FreeSync performance meet our expectations. Hopefully we'll be able to do so soon, but until then, let's hope that Samsung is able to release these at very competitive prices to help drive down the cost of VRR.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | January 8, 2016 - 02:56 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, Polaris, hdmi, freesync, CES 2016, CES, amd
At its suite at CES this year, AMD was showing off a couple of new technologies. First, we got to see the upcoming Polaris GPU architecture in action running Star Wars Battlefront with some power meters hooked up. This is a similar demo to what I saw in Sonoma back in December, and it compares an upcoming Polaris GPU against the NVIDIA GTX 950. The result: total system power of just 86 watts on the AMD GPU and over 150 watts on the NVIDIA GPU.
Another new development from AMD on the FreeSync side of things was HDMI integration. The company took time at CES to showcase a pair of new HDMI-enabled monitors working with FreeSync variable refresh rate technology.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | November 18, 2015 - 12:47 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, hdmi stick, hdmi, chromebit, chrome os, asus, arm
Small form factor PCs are big this year, and Google is about to get into the game with its own HDMI dongle PC running Chrome OS. Google has partnered with Asus to release the Chromebit CS10 which is now avaialble for $85.
The small stick PC weighs 75 grams (2.6 ounces) and will come in black, orange, and eventually blue colors. The Chromebit is about the size of a flash drive with an HDMI port on one end, DC power input on one side, and a single USB 2.0 port on the other end. A removeable cap protects the HDMI output. It is small enough that you can toss it into a bag or tuck it behind a monitor or kiosk permanently. Asus includes an AC power adapter (18W, 1.5 amps) and a flexible HDMI connector (or a short extension cable depending on the region) along with velco stickers in the box.
The Chromebit CS10 is powered by a quad core Rockchip 3288-C SoC featuring four ARM Cortex A17 CPU cores and a Mali T624 GPU. The SoC is paired with 2GB of LPDDR3 memory and 16GB of eMMC storage. Connectivity includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 radios along with the USB 2.0 port. Users can hook up a bluetooth keyboard and mouse and use the USB port for extra storage, or hook up even more devices using a USB hub.
So far, reviews are positive and generally state that (for example) while the Rockchip ARM processor is no racehorse, it is good enough for basic web browsing, media streaming, and document editing.
Of course, the Chromebit runs the Chrome web browser, but it also can run any of the apps from the Chrome Web Store including Netflix, Office, and any number of free games. Asus is aiming the Chromebit at digital signage, kiosk, thin clients for schools, and for on-the-go travelers.
The Chromebit CS10 is available soon (it is listed as out of stock on Newegg and has not shown up on Amazon or other sites yet) for $85 in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Taiwan. Business customers can further purchase the ability to use the Chromebit in a locked down single-app kiosk mode for $24 per user, per year from CDW.
- Intel Compute Stick Review
- Kangaroo is a Pocket-Sized Battery-Powered Windows 10 PC
- Google Chromecast coverage
The Thecus N2560 is a dual-bay NAS Server powered by an Intel Atom SoC. With the addition of HDMI output could this be the answer for some basic HTPC needs as well?
The Thecus N2560 at work in the living room
The N2560 is similar in some ways to the Thecus N2310 NAS we looked at a couple of months ago, but it builds on both the functionality and power of that unit. Both are 2-bay designs with support for up to 8TB of storage via dual 4TB hard drives, and they run the same OS (ThecusOS 6). There are some very big differences, too. The N2560 boasts an Intel Atom SoC which provides dual 1.60 GHz cores, compared to the N2310’s single 800 MHz PowerPC core. The N2560 also features a full-size HDMI output as well as SPDIF digital audio output, making it a potential alternative for some HTPC tasks.
The Thecus N2560 is an attractive-looking device, with the smooth lines and finish of a more expensive product. But beyond the N2560's appearance and basic function as a NAS, this is really a server. Digital audio and video output is certainly an impressive addition for a device that retails for around $180, making it a compelling budget HTPC option if the OS and media software work well. Since the basics of the Thecus OS and NAS usage were covered with the N2310, the media output potential of the N2560 is the area of focus for this review.
Introduction and Design
We’re always on the hunt for good docking stations, and sometimes it can be difficult to locate one when you aren’t afforded the luxury of a dedicated docking port. Fortunately, with the advent of USB 3.0 and the greatly improved bandwidth that comes along with it, the options have become considerably more robust.
Today, we’ll take a look at StarTech’s USB3SDOCKHDV, more specifically labeled the Universal USB 3.0 Laptop Docking Station - Dual Video HDMI DVI VGA with Audio and Ethernet (whew). This docking station carries an MSRP of $155 (currently selling for $123 on Amazon.com) and is well above other StarTech options (such as the $100 USBVGADOCK2, which offers just one video output—VGA—10/100 Ethernet, and four USB 2.0 ports). In terms of street price, it is currently available at resellers such as Amazon for around $125.
The big selling points of the USB3SDOCKHDV are its addition of three USB 3.0 ports and Gigabit Ethernet—but most enticingly, its purported ability to provide three total screens simultaneously (including the connected laptop’s LCD) by way of dual HD video output. This video output can be achieved by way of either HDMI + DVI-D or HDMI + VGA combinations (but not by VGA + DVI-D). We’ll be interested to see how well this functionality works, as well as what sort of toll it takes on the CPU of the connected machine.
Continue reading our review of the StarTech USB3SDOCKHDV USB 3.0 Docking Station!!!
Over the past few weeks, I have been developing a device that enables external control of Wirecast and XSplit. Here's a video of the device in action:
But now, let's get into the a little bit of background information:
While the TriCaster from NewTek has made great strides in decreasing the cost of video switching hardware, and can be credited with some of the rapid expansion of live streaming on the Internet, it still requires an initial investment of about $20,000 on the entry-level. Even though this is down from around 5x or 10x the cost just a few years ago for professional-grade hardware, a significant startup cost is still presented.
This brings us to my day job. For the past 4 years I have worked here at PC Perspective. My job began as an intern helping to develop video content, but quickly expanded from there. Several years ago, we decided to make the jump to live content, and started investing in the required infrastructure. Since we obviously didn't need to worry about the availability of PC Hardware, we decided to go with the software video switching route, as opposed to dedicated hardware like the TriCaster. At the time, we started experimenting with Wirecast and bought a few Blackmagic Intensity Pro HDMI capture cards for our Canon Vixia HV30 cameras. Overall, building an 6 core computer (Core i7-980x in those days) with 3 capture cards resulted in an investment of about $2500.
Advantages to the software route not only consisted of a much cheaper initial investment, we had an operation running for about a 1/10th of the cost of a TriCaster, but ultimately our setup was more expandable. If we had gone with a TriCaster we would have a fixed number of inputs, but in this configuration we could add more inputs on the fly as long as we had available I/O on our computer.
Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2013 - 05:19 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: HDMI 2.0, hdmi, 4k
3840 and 2160 are common numbers around this site or at least they have been over the last half year. You might be surprised to find we have been on the 4K bandwagon since 2011 when Ryan was given some time with the EIZO DuraVision FDH3601 at a vendor presentation. Sure, that $30,000 behemoth was designed for medical imaging and air traffic control stations, but it can run DiRT 3 like a champ. But, even now, 60Hz at those resolutions require at least two cables working in unison.
HDMI 2.0, recently announced, has been designed to achieve single-cable 4K at 60 progressive frames per second.
The specification maintains the same cable configuration as HDMI 1.4. Devices which support HDMI 2.0 can be connected, at full functionality, with standard "category 2" (marketing term "high speed") cables. Currently available "high speed" cables will not need to be replaced. The devices, on the other hand, must support the higher standard but that only makes sense because... well... why would you need the cable, otherwise?
HDMI 2.0 drives a higher frequency, 600MHz up from 340 MHz, to deliver substantially more bandwidth, 18Gbps up from 10.2Gbps, than HDMI 1.4. The extra bits can be used for 32 channel audio at 1536kHz sample rates as well as the aforementioned 2160p/60 video link.
A helpful feature for many home theater enthusiasts is "dynamic synchronization of video and audio streams". To my understand, this means that end-users will not need to fiddle with latency settings on their speaker systems as the devices will properly negotiate the delay themselves.
I have not been too much of a fan of HDMI licensing requirements and restrictions, but this release is definitely major version-worthy. The compliance test is expected in late 2013. The devices, however, are what most of us care about and, well, that depends on those manufacturers.
Subject: Systems, Mobile | February 29, 2012 - 05:18 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, mobile, linux, hdmi, computer
The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced yesterday that their little Linux computer would be launching in the early hours of the morning today. Instead of the original plan of Raspberry Pi handling the pre-orders and shipping them from the UK, they ended up partnering with RS Components and Premier Farnell to handle all their orders and distribute them to customers. The non profit foundation states that this move will save customers money on shipping as the two companies have distribution centers worldwide and they will be able to get more boards out because they will be able to sell enough boards to meet demand.
Today, RS and Farnell were offering up the Model B Raspberry Pi boards for pre-order, and the first 5,000 orders from each company will receive their Raspberry Pi boards from the initial 10,000 unit batch. Surprisingly, the two companies' servers were getting hit extremely hard earlier today and it was almost impossible to not see at least a couple error pages requiring a painfully long refresh. According to the article, the Raspberry Pi computer sold out "within hours." Even though the initial batch of boards is spoken for, customers can continue to pre-order boards that will be delivered as soon as the next batch has finished production. Those unlucky enough to miss the first 10,000 aren't completely out of luck; however, as it is rumored that production of more boards should be getting underway and have an estimated delivery date a bit more than a month away. How true that is, remains to be seen however.
Personally, I managed to snag one of the first Raspberry Pi boards from Farnell Export, but it was an order fraught with error pages and being uncertain just how many I ordered as the confirm order page kept error-ing out. Luckily, I received an email from them confirming my order of a single Raspberry Pi and am now eagerly waiting for it to arrive. The last estimated delivery figure I received puts it about a month out, however.
In another bit of good news, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is still planning to release the cheaper Model A board later this year, and they managed to up the RAM to a full 256 MB of RAM which is twice the original 128 MB of RAM they planned. This update to the Model A means that the Model B is now only differentiated by the addition of two USB ports and an Ethernet port.
Did you manage to snag a Raspberry Pi this morning? From how hard the servers were getting hit last night, I'm starting to think that the Raspberry Pi Linux computer may be more popular than actual pie! If you are still interested in pre-ordering a Raspberry Pi, RS Components and Premier Farnell have you covered.
Subject: Systems | July 13, 2011 - 12:55 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: wireless, htpc, hdmi
At its heart the VStream WPCTV1080H is comprised of an L-shaped USB 2.0 dongle for your PC and a second dongle which plugs into the base station which also has a power cord and HDMI plug. This setup, along with a 2.4GHz dual core processor, is intended to transmit up to a 1080p signal wirelessly from the computer with the dongle to the base station and on to your TV. The Tech Report gave the $120 VStream a try and found that the bandwidth available over USB 2.0 caused some problems, ranging from dropped frames and colour banding when watching movies to nasty aliasing on 2D application, especially when they tried using it to connect to a 24 " monitor and used it to browse the web. Lets hope there is a USB 3.0 version in the works, or even a wireless DisplayPort model.
"This $120 adapter promises to output 1080p video wirelessly via nothing more than a USB dongle. Does it fulfill its promise, and is it worth the money?"
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Elgato HDHomeRun HDHR3 Dual Tuner Review @MissingRemote
- ASRock CoreHT 252B Sandy Bridge HTPC @ Tweaktown
- Remote Potato HD for the iPad Review @MissingRemote
- AC Ryan PlayOn!HD2 @ techPowerUp