Video Perspective: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book Preview

Subject: Mobile | October 27, 2015 - 09:26 PM |
Tagged: video, surface pro 4, surface book, surface, Skylake, microsoft, Intel

In early October Microsoft took the wraps off of a pair of new 2-in-1 convertible notebooks in the form of the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. The Surface Pro 4 is much like the previous tablet designs from the Redmond giant and includes a kick stand and optional Type Cover to make the tablet a notebook in terms of functionality. The update kicks up the processor to Intel's 6th generation Skylake design while increasing storage performance with NVMe Samsung SSDs.

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The Surface Book is definitely the more interesting of the two devices with a unique design that is more notebook than tablet/2-in-1. The 13.5-in 3000x2000 3:2 screen tablet is detachable from a base that includes a full keyboard and track pad, additional battery and even an optional discrete NVIDIA GeForce GPU. The hinge is similar to the watch hinge that Lenovo introduced with the Yoga 3 Pro and uses something Microsoft calls "Muscle Wire" to keep the tablet and keyboard docked firmly using magnets.

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Though I am really just getting started on the review process of these devices, I wanted to share a quick overview of both machines. Check it out in the video embedded below.

So what do you want to know about or see specifically tested on the Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book? Let us know in the comments below!

Steam Link First Impressions: Game Streaming Still Needs Work

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2015 - 04:08 AM |
Tagged: video, valve, steam link, steam hardware, Steam Controller, steam, game streaming

Last week we posted a video that looked over the new Valve Steam Controller and I offered some feedback and input on the new hardware. It was interesting, to say the least, and took some getting used to, but in the end I was surprised by how easy some things were, and how different other things felt. It's an interesting experiment for $50 or so, but it definitely is not a product I recommend all of our readers invest in immediately.

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But what about the Steam Link device? This second piece of the puzzle is a small unit that sits near your TV or entertainment system, with an HDMI output, USB inputs, integrated wireless connectivity and Ethernet support. The goal is to stream Steam games from your primary PC without the need for a second computer. Instead, much like the NVIDIA GameStream technology that we have seen for a couple years now, the Steam Link receives a video stream from the gaming PC, accepts input from a controller or keyboard/mouse, and loops it all back.

Specifications (from Valve website):

  • 1080p resolution at 60 FPS 
  • Wired 100 Mbit/s Fast Ethernet and Wireless 802.11ac 2x2 (MIMO) networking abilities 
  • 3 USB 2.0 ports 
  • Bluetooth 4.0 
  • HDMI out 
  • Supports Steam Controller (sold separately,) Xbox One or 360 Wired Controller, Xbox 360 Wireless Controller for Windows, Logitech Wireless Gamepad F710, or keyboard and mouse 

In the Box

  • Steam Link 
  • Power cable and adapter 
  • HDMI 2.0 cable 
  • Ethernet cable 

To get my full take on it, and to see me test out a handful of games using the Steam Link in our office, check out the video above. The short answer is that game streaming technology is still hit or miss: some titles work great others are an immediate turn off. Want to play a fast paced FPS game? You're going to hate it if you have any kind of PC gaming experience already. Maybe you need to catch up on those recent indie games released on the PC but want to sit on your couch? Steam Link will do the trick.

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Again, the device is only $50, so it's not a significant investment for most people, and it might be worth trying if you have some time and are interested in checking out the technology out for yourself.

Author:
Subject: Displays
Manufacturer: ASUS

Specifications

It's hard to believe that it has only been 14 months since the release of the first ASUS ROG Swift, the PG278Q, back in August of 2014. It seems like lifetimes have passed, with drama circling around other G-Sync panels, the first release of FreeSync screens, the second geneation of FreeSync panels that greatly improve overdrive. Now, we sit in the middle of the second full wave of G-Sync screens. A lot can happen in this field if you blink.

The PG278Q was easily the best G-Sync monitor on the market for quite a long time. It offered performance, features and quality that very few other monitors could match, and it did it all while including support for NVIDIA's G-Sync variable refresh rate technology. If you are new to VRR tech, and want to learn about G-Sync you can check out our original editorial or an in-depth interview with NVIDIA's Tom Petersen. In short: being able to have a variable refresh rate on a panel match the frame rate of the game prevents Vsync quirks like screen tearing and judder.

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But a lot has changed since ASUS released the PG278Q including the release of other higher quality monitors from the likes of Acer, BenQ and others. ASUS showed off some new G-Sync ready displays at CES but that was way back in January of 2015 - more than 10 months ago! The PG279Q was the most interesting to us then and remains that way today. There are some impressive specifications on the table including a 27-in 2560x1440 screen built on IPS technology, to improve color reproduction and view angles, a 165Hz maximum refresh rate and the best build quality we have seen on a gaming monitor to date.

This time ASUS has a lot more competition to deal with but can the ROG Swift PG279Q real ignite ASUS as the best G-Sync monitor provider? What kind of experience do you get for a $799 monitor today?

Continue reading our review of the ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q 165Hz 2560x1440 27-in IPS G-Sync Monitor!!

Podcast #372 - Steam Controller and Steam Link, Acer XR321CK Ultrawide Freesync Display, and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 22, 2015 - 06:12 PM |
Tagged: yoga 900, xr321ck, western digital, video, valve, ultrawide, steam link, Steam Controller, sandisk, podcast, Lenovo, freesync, acer, 3440x1440

PC Perspective Podcast #372 - 10/22/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Steam Controller and Steam Link, Acer XR321CK Ultrawide Freesync Display, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, and Sebastian Peak

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Author:
Subject: Displays
Manufacturer: Acer

Specs, Physical Design

Over the past 2 years or so we have noticed a trend in PC gaming: more and more gamers are realizing the importance of the display in the total gaming experience. Having been in the reviews game for nearly 16 years, I am just as guilty as most of you reading this of falling into the trap of "good enough" monitors. Steam surveys and our own data from readers shows that most of you have found some form of 1920x1080 screen and have stuck with it. But the truth is changing your monitor can and will dramatically impact how you game, how you work and just how impressed you feel each and every time you sit down in front of your PC.

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Today we are looking at one of the monitors that promises to change how you view productivity and gaming. The Acer XR341CK continues the momentum of a new aspect ratio of monitors, 21:9. Otherwise known as UltraWide displays, they are available in both 2560x1080 and 3440x1440 resolutions, though our testing model today uses the latter, larger option. This Acer has a slight curve to it as well, just enough to be enjoyable without changing viewing angles for the primary user. With a 34 inch diagonal measurement, IPS panel technology and AMD FreeSync variable refresh rate support, the Acer XR341CK is likely to be our new favorite monitor for AMD Radeon users.

This doesn't come without a cost though: the XR341CK retails for just over $1,000 on Amazon. For many of you that will be a breath-taking price, and not in a good way. But consider the length of time that users tend keep monitors, I think we can make the case that type of investment is actually worthwhile.

Continue reading our review of the Acer XR341CK 3440x1440 75 Hz FreeSync monitor!!

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Valve

A new controller for PC gamers

Last Friday, the early buyers of the Steam Controller and the Steam Link device, built by Valve directly, began to receive their hardware. I was one of the lucky early users to get my hands on both of the units. The Steam Controller has evolved drastically since I first got hands on with it and its implementation of unique haptic feedback and a thumb-specific touch pad on the right, rather than a second analog stick, make it quite different than the Xbox or PlayStation controllers popular today. The Steam Link is Valve's answer to GeForce GameStream and allows you to share your Steam library on your local network to another display or TV in your home.

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The video below walks through a quick unboxing of the two new hardware options from Valve and demonstrates the use of the controller in a couple of games as well.

We'll definitely have more on the Steam Controller and Steam Link very soon, but I think this video should be able to help you decide if this is something you want to add to your gaming arsenal.

Podcast #371 - MSI GT72S Dominator Pro G, ROG Product Announcements, Ultrawide G-Sync and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 15, 2015 - 08:21 PM |
Tagged: xps15, xps13, video, uhs-2, uhs-1, thinkpad stack, sd cards, ROG, podcast, msi, Maximus VIII, Lenovo, gx700, gt72s, G752, dell, asus

PC Perspective Podcast #371 - 10/15/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the MSI GT72S Dominator Pro G, ROG Product Announcements, Ultrawide G-Sync and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:39:38

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:42:55 This week’s podcast is brought to you by Casper. Use code PCPER at checkout for $50 towards your order!
  3. News item of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  5. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Lenovo

It's like Legos for the working man

Way back in January of 2015 at CES we were shown a new line of accessories from Lenovo called ThinkPad Stack. The company is targeting the professional user on the go with a collection of four devices that can be used together in a stackable form that offers up some impressive capability and function in a small package, though it does come with a business-user markup. 

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Last week Lenovo sent us a full set of the ThinkPad Stack devices including a portable router, external USB 3.0 hard drive, Bluetooth speaker and external battery. With a price tag totaling nearly $400 for the entire set, there is a pretty high expectation for functionality, build quality and usability that Lenovo needs to hit, and they do a better job than I expected (honestly) to hit it. You don't have to buy all of the available Stack accessories, and that is part of the charm of the new product line - you can customize them to your own needs. 

Though it's not for everyone, I do find myself enjoying the idea of Lenovo's ThinkPad Stack products and how it enables the mobile professional. Let's take a look at what it is, how it works and if it's something you need.

Continue reading our review of the Lenovo ThinkPad Stack Accessories!!

Author:
Manufacturer: MSI

Quick Look

Last month NVIDIA introduced the world to the GTX 980 in a new form factor for gaming notebook. Using the same Maxwell GPU, the same performance levels but with slightly tweaked power delivery and TDPs, notebooks powered by the GTX 980 promise to be a noticeable step faster than anything before it.

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Late last week I got my hands on the updated MSI GT72S Dominator Pro G, the first retail ready gaming notebook to not only integrate the new GTX 980 GPU but also an unlocked Skylake mobile processor. 

This machine is something to behold - though it looks very similar to previous GT72 versions, this machine hides hardware unlike anything we have been able to carry in a backpack before. And the sexy red exterior with MSI Dragon Army logo blazoned across the back definitely help it to stand out in a crowd. If you happen to be in a crowd of notebooks.

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A quick spin around the GT72S reveals a sizeable collection of hardware and connections. On the left you'll find a set of four USB 3.0 ports as well as four audio inputs and ouputs and an SD card reader.

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On the opposite side there are two more USB 3.0 ports (totalling six) and the optical / Blu-ray burner. With that many USB 3.0 ports you should never struggle with accessories availability - headset, mouse, keyboard, hard drive and portable fan? Check.

Continue reading our preview of the new MSI GT72S Dominator Pro G with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980!!

Podcast #370 - Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming G1, New Microsoft Surface products, NVIDIA Pascal Rumors and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2015 - 07:57 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, gigabyte, z170x gaming g1, Skylake, microsoft, surface pro 4, surface book, Android, ios, iphone 6s, Samsung, 840 evo, msata, dell, UP3216Q, nvidia, pascal

PC Perspective Podcast #370 - 10/08/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming G1, New Microsoft Surface products, NVIDIA Pascal Rumors and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:31:05

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:30:00 This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Audible, the world's leading provider of audiobooks with more than 180,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature including fiction, nonfiction, and periodicals. For your free audiobook, go to audible.com/pcper
  3. News item of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Ryan: iPhone 6s Stallion
  5. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!