Subject: Systems | October 31, 2015 - 05:56 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: x5-Z8500, windows 10, PC, mini-pc, Kangaroo, intel atom, InFocus, computer, Cherry Trail
InFocus has created what they are calling “the world’s smallest personal, powerful, portable PC”, and the Kangaroo is certainly an impressive-looking device that looks even better when you consider the $99 price tag.
The Kangaroo is looks like a 2.5-inch external hard drive, and inside the sleek housing it offers a quad-core Intel Atom (Cherry Trail) x5-z8500 processor with a nominal speed of 1.44 GHz (turbo up to 2.24 GHz), along with the usual 2 GB RAM and 32 GB eMMC storage. Add dual-band 802.11ac wireless and a built-in fingerprint reader, and this becomes a quite the full-featured mini-PC. And the best part might just be the battery, as the Kangaroo can operate for up to 4 hours of “casual use” without wall power, according to InFocus.
Here are the full specifications from InFocus:
- OS: Windows 10 - Home edition
- CPU: Intel Atom x5-Z8500 Processor (2M Cache, up to 2.24 GHz)
- Graphics: Intel Processor Graphics Gen8
- Video Memory: Sharing System Memory
- Memory: 2GB LPDDR3
- Hard Drive: 32GB eMMC
- Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11 A/C (Dual Band) / Bluetooth 4.0
- Expansion Slot microSD
- Security: Fingerprint reader
- Battery Life: 4 hours (casual use)
- Dimensions: Computing module : 80.5 x 124 x 12.9mm / Base : 80.5 x 46.9 x 12.9mm
- Weight: 200g (without adapter & power cord) / 470g (including adapter & power cord)
- Ports: (Computing module) microSD, Micro USB (charge only); (Base) USB 2.0 x 1, USB 3.0 x 1, HDMI x 1, DC-IN
- Audio: Supported through HDMI
- Cloud: OneDrive
- Power Adapter: Input: 100V-220V ~ 1A, 50-60Hz / Output: 12V/3A
- Accessories included: Software - OS Link (requires USB cable), dock, power supply, cables
There’s even more versatility available for the Kangaroo user when you add the OSLinx iOS app to the mix, essentially allowing you to use the tablet as a monitor:
“Your iPad is all you need to have to enjoy the benefits of your Kangaroo PC on the go. OSLinx Windows Monitor turns your iOS device into a primary display of your Kangaroo PC. It connects to a PC through a Lightning-to-USB cable and works with OSLinx Server installed on the Kangaroo PC. OSLinx Windows Monitor supports mouse as well as multitouch gestures.”
The Kangaroo is available now, and currently being sold on Newegg.com for that $99 MSRP.
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 21, 2015 - 03:30 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: PC, nvidia, Matrox, jpr, graphics cards, gpu market share, desktop market share, amd, AIB, add in board
While we reported recently on the decline of overall GPU shipments, a new report out of John Peddie Research covers the add-in board segment to give us a look at the desktop graphics card market. So how are the big two (sorry Matrox) doing?
|GPU Supplier||Market Share This Quarter||Market Share Last Quarter||Market Share Last Year|
The big news is of course a drop in market share for AMD of 4.5% quarter-to-quarter, and down to just 18% from 37.9% last year. There will be many opinions as to why their share has been dropping in the last year, but it certainly didn't help that the 300-series GPUs are rebrands of 200-series, and the new Fury cards have had very limited availability so far.
The graph from Mercury Research illustrates what is almost a mirror image, with NVIDIA gaining 20% as AMD lost 20%, for a 40% swing in overall share. Ouch. Meanwhile (not pictured) Matrox didn't have a statistically meaningful quarter but still manage to appear on the JPR report with 0.1% market share (somehow) last quarter.
The desktop market isn't actually suffering quite as much as the overall PC market, and specifically the enthusiast market.
"The AIB market has benefited from the enthusiast segment PC growth, which has been partially fueled by recent introductions of exciting new powerful (GPUs). The demand for high-end PCs and associated hardware from the enthusiast and overclocking segments has bucked the downward trend and given AIB vendors a needed prospect to offset declining sales in the mainstream consumer space."
But not all is well considering overall the add-in board attach rate with desktops "has declined from a high of 63% in Q1 2008 to 37% this quarter". This is indicative of the overall trend toward integrated GPUs in the industry with AMD APUs and Intel processor graphics, as illustrated by this graphic from the report.
The year-to-year numbers show an overall drop of 18.8%, and even with their dominant 81.9% market share NVIDIA has still seen their shipments decrease by 12% this quarter. These trends seem to indicate a gloomy future for discrete graphics in the coming years, but for now we in the enthusiast community will continue to keep it afloat. It would certainly be nice to see some gains from AMD soon to keep things interesting, which might help lower prices down from their lofty $400 - $600 mark for flagship cards at the moment.
Subject: General Tech | February 12, 2015 - 01:30 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: reverse-consolitis, PC, Nintendo, emulator, dolphin
Update: Fixed the title of "Pikmin". Accidentally wrote "Pikman".
Considering the recent Nintendo license requirements, I expect that their demonstrative YouTube videos will have a difficult time staying online. Regardless, if you are in a jurisdiction where this is legal, it is now possible to play some Gamecube-era games at 60 FPS (as well as 1080p) with an emulator PC.
The blog post at the Dolphin Emulator's website goes into the “hack” in detail. The main problem is that these games are tied to specific framerates, which will cause problems with sound processing and other, time-sensitive bits of code. I have actually been told that one of the most difficult aspects of bringing a console game to the PC (or restoring an old PC game) is touching the timing code. It will break things all over. For Super Mario Sunshine, this also involves patching the game such that certain parts are still ticked at 30 FPS, despite the render occurring at twice that rate.
Also interesting is that some games, like Super Smash Bros. Melee, did not require a game-side patch. Why? Because they apparently include a slow-motion setting by default, which was enabled and then promptly sped up to real time, resulting in a higher frame rate at normal speed. The PC is nothing if not interesting.
It wouldn’t be February if we didn’t hear the Q4 FY14 earnings from NVIDIA! NVIDIA does have a slightly odd way of expressing their quarters, but in the end it is all semantics. They are not in fact living in the future, but I bet their product managers wish they could peer into the actual Q4 2014. No, the whole FY14 thing relates back to when they made their IPO and how they started reporting. To us mere mortals, Q4 FY14 actually represents Q4 2013. Clear as mud? Lord love the Securities and Exchange Commission and their rules.
The past quarter was a pretty good one for NVIDIA. They came away with $1.144 billion in gross revenue and had a GAAP net income of $147 million. This beat the Street’s estimate by a pretty large margin. As a response, trading of NVIDIA’s stock has gone up in after hours. This has certainly been a trying year for NVIDIA and the PC market in general, but they seem to have come out on top.
NVIDIA beat estimates primarily on the strength of the PC graphics division. Many were focusing on the apparent decline of the PC market and assumed that NVIDIA would be dragged down by lower shipments. On the contrary, it seems as though the gaming market and add-in sales on the PC helped to solidify NVIDIA’s quarter. We can look at a number of factors that likely contributed to this uptick for NVIDIA.
The 7 Year Console Refresh
The consoles are coming! The consoles are coming! Ok, that is not necessarily true. One is already here and the second essentially is too. This of course brings up the great debate between PCs and consoles. The past has been interesting when it comes to console gaming, as often the consoles would be around a year ahead of PCs in terms of gaming power and prowess. This is no longer the case with this generation of consoles. Cutting edge is now considered mainstream when it comes to processing and graphics. The real incentive to buy this generation of consoles is a lot harder to pin down as compared to years past.
The PS4 retails for $399 US and the upcoming Xbox One is $499. The PS4’s price includes a single controller, while the Xbox’s package includes not just a controller, but also the next generation Kinect device. These prices would be comparable to some low end PCs which include keyboard, mouse, and a monitor that could be purchased from large brick and mortar stores like Walmart and Best Buy. Happily for most of us, we can build our machines to our own specifications and budgets.
As a directive from on high (the boss), we were given the task of building our own low-end gaming and productivity machines at a price as close to that of the consoles and explaining which solution would be superior at the price points given. The goal was to get as close to $500 as possible and still have a machine that would be able to play most recent games at reasonable resolutions and quality levels.
Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2013 - 07:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: piixl, PC, Media Center, htpc, edgecenter
London-based startup PiixL recently launched a new media center PC called the EdgeCenter that attaches to the back of your television via VESA mount to turn any TV into a so-called smart TV. The PC comes in one of three configurations with (Media, Gamer, and Max) Windows 8 and increasing levels of hardware performance. The aluminum EdgeCenter chassis will attach to most TVs larger than 32-inches and can extend to bring the optical drive and other front IO ports to the edge of your TV for easy access. The EdgeCenter reportedly offers a quiet cooling system capable of dissipating 500W in a chassis that is (up to) 54mm thick. Users can use traditional mouse, keyboard, or remote to control it, or they can use gesture-based controls from up to 5 meters away.
The Media Edition offers up an AMD A10 5700 APU with HD7660D graphics, 1TB of mechanical storage, and 4GB of RAM. The Gamer Edition steps things up a notch with an Intel Core i5 3550 processor, an AMD 7870 2GB graphics card, 2TB of mechanical storage, and 8GB of RAM. Finally, the Max Edition features an Intel Core i7 3770 CPU, a NVIDIA GTX 680 4GB graphics card, 2TB HDD, 20GB SLC SSD (Intel SRT), and 16GB of RAM. Not bad at all for a PC that sits behind the TV. Having a PC mounted via VESA mount is not a new concept, but the EdgeCenter looks to pack the most horsepower an OEM has managed to cram into such a PC.
All three models support Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, Blu Ray playback, optical and analog audio output, and an SD card slot for getting your media onto the device. The Media Edition EdgeCenter has VGA, HDMI, and DVI vidio outputs, while the Gamer edition has DVI, HDMI, and two mini-DisplayPort outputs. Finally, the Max Edition EdgeCenter PC has one DisplayPort, one DVI, and one HDMI port. It is definitely an interesting design with plenty of computing horsepower for gaming and media center needs. PiixL has fitted each model with an 80+ Gold power supply and has stated that the PCs are designed with 24/7 operation in mind.
The PiixL EdgeCenter is available for purchase now, but the performance will cost you a lot more money than your typical media center PC. The Media Edition, Gamer Edition, and Max Edition PCs start at £720.28, £1,116.76, and £1,513.25 respectively. For US customers that works out to about $1,085.97, $1,683.74, and $2,281.45. And that’s the bad news, it offers some impressive hardware, but is fairly expensive. Hopefully, if the EdgeCenter does well, we will see cheaper versions stateside at some point.
Subject: Systems | March 5, 2013 - 09:16 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: shuttle, SFF, PC, Intel, ds47, celeron
If various sources are to be believed, Shuttle will be launching a new small form factor PC in April called the DS47. The new PC will be powered by an Intel Celeron 847 processor and features a fan-less design.
The Shuttle DS47 measures 200mm x 29.5mm x 165mm and weighs in at 2.05 kg. The internals include a motherboard with UEFI BIOS, dual core Intel Celeron 847 processor clocked at 1.1 GHz (2MB cache, 18W TDP), HD 2000 processor graphics, up to 16GB of RAM via two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots, and a 2.5” HDD or SSD. The motherboard supports SATA 3 6Gbps, and there is space for a single laptop-sized internal drive. The system also includes a Mini-PCI-E slot for half-size cards and a mSATA port for an SSD.
For such a small PC, it packs quite a bit of port options. The Shuttle DS47 includes the following external IO:
- 1 x SD card reader
- 4 x USB 2.0 ports
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports
- 2 x Gigabit Ethernet jacks
- 2 x RS232 connections
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x HDMI
- 2.1 channel analog audio output
The DS47 has a nice feature set, and the dual Ethernet ports opens up the possible applications. Thanks to the DS47 opting for the Celeron over an Atom processor, it could easily operate as a file server, NAS, firewall, router, HTPC, or simply a low power desktop computer for example.
Pricing will be where the DS47 succeeds or fails as it aims to strike a balance between the Intel NUC and Atom-powered PCs. Unfortunately, there is no word on just how much this SFF PC will cost. It is rumored for an April launch, however so expect to see official pricing announced shortly.
Read more about small form factor systems at PC Perspective!
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 31, 2013 - 01:04 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: PC, gaming, amd, graphics drivers, gpu, Crysis 3, catalyst
The Crysis 3 beta was launched January 29th, and AMD came prepared with its new Catalyst 13.2 beta driver. In addition to the improvements rolled into the Catalyst 13.1 WHQL graphics driver, Catalyst 13.2 beta features performance improvements in a number of games.
Foremost, AMD focused on optimizing the drivers for the Crysis 3 beta. With the new 13.2 beta drivers, gamers will see a 15% performance improvement in Crysis 3 when using high MSAA settings. AMD has also committed itself to future tweaks to improve Crysis 3 performance when using both single and CrossFire graphics configurations. The driver also allows for a 10% improvement in CrossFire performance in Crytek’s Crysis 2 and a 50% performance boost in DMC: Devil May Cry when running a single AMD GPU. Reportedly, the new beta driver also reduces latency issues in Skyrim, Borderlands 2, and Guild Wars 2. Finally, the 13.2 beta driver resolves a texture filtering issue when running DirectX 9.0c games.
Subject: General Tech | December 27, 2012 - 02:28 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: PC, gaming, dx9, dmc, devil may cry 4
DMC: Devil May Cry is coming next month. The latest entrant in the Devil May Cry series, the game is published by Capcom and is being developed by Ninja Theory. Further, Ninja Theory has outsourced the PC version of the game to QLOC. DMC: Devil May Cry is a gothic-themed hack ‘n slash game set in an alternate reality in the Devil May Cry universe.
The game is coming out on PC, PS3, and the Xbox 360, with the console versions being released as early as January 15th, 2013 and the PC version coming January 25th, 2013. The PC version will, of course, bump up the graphical quality as well as allowing frames per second rates above 60 FPS. The PC version will also support keyboard/mouse, Xbox 360 controller, and direct input gamepad input.
When purchased on Steam (it is available for pre-order now), DMC: Devil May Cry will utilize cloud saving, achievments, friend support, and leaderboards. The specific release schedule is as follows:
The game will be available on the PC starting January 25th in both retail and digital versions across Europe and by digital distribution services in North America. Currently, that means Valve's Steam and EA's Origin stores. There is no word yet on if it will be available at retail in Japan or what other digital distribution services will offer the title. The game is already available for pre-order on Steam, however. Additionally, Capcom has released the minimum and recommened system requirements for the PC version. The specifications are listed below for reference.
Minimum PC Requirements:
- OS: Windows Vista®/XP, Windows 7, Windows 8
- Processor: AMD Athlon™ X2 2.8 GHz or better, Intel® Core™2 Duo 2.4 Ghz or better
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Hard Disk Space: 8 GB free hard drive space
- Video Card: ATI Radeon™ HD 3850 or better, NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800GTS or better
- DirectX®: 9.0c or greater
- Sound: Standard audio device
Recommended PC Requirements:
- OS: Windows Vista®/XP, Windows 7, Windows 8
- Processor: AMD Phenom™ II X4 3 GHz or better, Intel® Core™2 Quad 2.7 Ghz or better
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Hard Disk Space: 9 GB free hard drive space
- Video Card: AMD Radeon™ HD 6950 or better
- DirectX®: 9.0c or greater
- Sound: Standard audio device
The game is based on the Unreal 3 engine, and while it is not going to push the upper boundaries of gaming PC hardware, it should look fairly good on the computer. If you are interested in the game, the Capcom-Unity website has a number of screenshots and videos showing off the game that are worth checking out.
Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2012 - 11:36 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: PC, gaming, Crysis 3, crysis, CryENGINE 3
Crysis 3, the third major installment in EA’s popular sandbox nanosuit-toting FPS is just over two months away. And unlike Crysis 2, this iteration is one that PC gamers should look forward to as much as the original. In an interview with Crysis 3’s Technical Director Marco Corbetta, PC Gamer was told that Crytek has made several optimizations and improvements to CryENGINE 3 that take full advantage of the horsepower offered by today’s high-end gaming PCs. Reportedly, with Crysis 2, there was a focus on delivering a console title, but with Crysis 3 PC gamers will get advanced graphics options and the high resolution textures on launch day that they deserve (my opinion there).
PC Gamer quoted Corbetta in stating that Crysis 3 improves upon the “AI navigation system, animation system, water, fog volumes, cloud shadows, POM, AA, cloths, vegetation, particles, lens flares, and grass.” Basically all of the little details that PC gaming is known for. On the topic of grass, the technical director expanded in saying that Crysis 3 is able to model each blade of grass which the player and NPCs will interact with, allowing movement to be spotted in the brush (and now I’m having flashbacks of Jurassic Park and it’s tall grass...). In essence, Crysis 3 is reportedly returning to its PC roots with a vengeance.
As far as advanced graphics, users will be able to adjust a number of features to tweak the graphics details to get the most out of their hardware (or at least make the game playable until the next generation of cards?). From the top down, the advanced graphics menu has the following options: Game Effects, Objects, Particles, Post Processing, Shading, Shadows, Water, Anisotropic Filtering (AF), Texture Resolution, Motion Blur Amount, and Lens Flares. There are no sliders, but you will be able to choose from low, medium, high, and very high (for most settings). And if the previously announced PC system requirements are any indication, you will need a rather beefy multi-GPU system in order to crank these settings to the maximum.
You can find more details and the full interview over at PC Gamer. If you’re interested in the upcoming Crysis title, it’s worth a read.