The suave looking MSI Z87 MPOWER

Subject: Motherboards | October 28, 2013 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: Z87 MPOWER, widi, msi, lga 1150

The Z87 MPOWER that [H]ard|OCP just reviewed is great at wireless connectivity, including WiFi, BlueTooth and WiDi as well.  It is no slouch on wired connectivity either with 8 available SATA 6Gbps port and a similar number of USB 3.0 ports but what is relatively rare is onboard support for 3 displays.  Those features help sell it as a base for an HTPC but you can also make it a powerful gaming machine as it can handle 3-Way CrossfireX and 2-Way SLI as well as sporting Lucid’s VirtuMVP 2.0.  There were some issues with MSI's bundled software utilities but the physical board its self performed well enough to pick up a Silver Award; check out the full review to see the board in action.

If you missed Morry's review of this board you should definitely go back and read it.

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"The "M" series motherboards from MSI have gained a lot of recognition recently being an upper quality not-so-high-priced motherboard for the computer hardware enthusiast. However while MSI brings us some of the best hardware you’ll find on the current market seemingly goes a bit off course with firmware and software."

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Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Intel Launches WiDi 3.5 with Miracast Support and Reduced Latency, Among Other Improvements

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2012 - 12:27 PM |
Tagged: widi 3.5, widi, miracast, Ivy Bridge, Intel

Intel has been developing its WiDi wireless display technology for a few years now, and with Sandy Bridge and WiDi 2.x Intel had a workable platform for streaming video – despite it not being as reliable or as responsive as running a video cable. Today, Intel announced an update to its WiDi specification that brings the technology up to version 3.5 and makes it better than ever.

WiDi is a wireless transmission technology pre-loaded on mobile devices such as ultrabooks and other Intel CPU powered laptops like the Lenovo S series shown off at IFA 2012. Devices that have either a Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge Intel processor will be eligible for the 3.5 update and will see several improvements.

The most important update is a reduction in latency. Intel has managed to get WiDi latency down to 250ms on Sandy Bridge, and an impressive 60ms for computers running Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors. At 60ms, the user interaction with the OS is going to become noticeably more responsive. Thanks to this latency reduction, Intel is announcing support for not only running its WiDi software on Windows 8, but the operating system’s touchscreen interface as well. While using a touchscreen with a WiDi display might have felt less-than-responsive with older WiDi implementations, by bringing the latency down to sub-100ms levels, the action of touching UI elements and getting feedback in the form of display output should be fairly fluid.

Intel WiDi 3_5.jpg

Some other big changes with the latest WiDi update include support for streaming 3D video and compatibility with the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Miracast wireless display technology/standard. The Santa Clara-based company made it clear that it does not want to fight the Wi-Fi Alliance over which implementation of wireless display should be the 'industry standard.' Intel has stated that it wants to complement Miracast rather than compete with it. The company’s WiDi equipped devices with the 3.5 update will happily stream to Miracast certified receivers. The only potential issue is that Intel does not guarantee latency when using Miracast receivers. In that respect, Intel sees WiDi as being Miracast + its additional feature set on top that provides some additional functionality and certification beyond the base standard. There was no mention of AMD’s proposed wireless display technology, however.

Intel has further reduced battery consumption when using WiDi, and when using WiDi 3.5 users should see some incremental battery life improvements versus the previous generation. CPU utilization while streaming video has also been reduced to less than 10% on both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge Intel CPUs.

The final major additions to WiDi 3.5 are on the receiver end of things. Thanks to Miracast support, WiDi-equipped computers will be able to stream to a wide variety of devices in addition to using Intel WiDi dongles. And while previous generation WiDi receivers were around $80, this time around receivers should be a bit cheaper. In the late 2012 to early 2013 time frame, new WiDi 3.5 receivers will be available for purchase. A new Neo TV box will cost $69.99 while a more traditional WiDi dongle from Netgear will retail for $59.99.

Some interesting new capabilities of the receiver units include the ability for dongles to be powered by the USB port on the TV (rather than needing a wall power adapter). Also, WiDi 3.5 will support USB ports located on the receivers (pending hardware manufacturer implementation) that will allow you to keep HID class USB devices plugged into the receiver. Those input devices (keyboard, mouse, track pad, game pad, basically anything that is classed as a Human Interface Device under the USB standard) will then control your WiDi connected computer over the same wireless link that is streaming video to your TV.

And, of course, WiDi 3.5 continues to support streaming 1080p video, HDCP2 encrypted streams (Blu-ray), DVDs, and 5.1 surround sound.

The WiDi 3.5 software update is already in the hands of OEMs, and a public download of the update should be available to Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge computer users sometime in October. The updated WiDi computers running 3.5 will be able to stream to Miracast or Intel’s own WiDi receivers. However, if you want the improved WiDi receiver(s) with USB ports, you will have to wait until early 2013 at the latest to get your hands on the hardware.

Read more about Intel’s WiDi on PC Perspective.

Also, you can watch a live demonstration of WiDi working on an ASUS Z77 motherboard in the video below.

 

NVIDIA Mobile Devices to Support Miracast Wireless Display Technology

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2012 - 02:49 AM |
Tagged: wireless display, wifi alliance, widi, tegra 3, nvidia, miracast

NVIDIA has announced its support for a new wireless display technology called Miracast. The creation of the Wi-Fi Alliance and its partners, Miracast is a wireless technology that allows direct connections (sans router) between a Wi-Fi enabled device and a Wi-Fi enabled television set. It is a much more open standard than the proprietary technologies like Intel’s WiDi. Devices will require certification much like other Wi-Fi routers and wireless adapters. The Miracast standard certification program is set to launch soon with the standard’s specifications published sometime in August. Any device manufacturer will be able to use the standard and go through certification, though whether or not we will see the high adoption rate that many are hoping for remains to be seen.

nvidia_miracast.jpg

Interestingly, it looks as though NVIDIA is going to be one of the first adopters of the Miracast standard by integrating it into its Tegra 3-powered mobile devices. Using the Tegra 3 “4+1”-core System on a Chip, NVIDIA plans to use the chip to encode the audio and video information and pass it to the Wi-Fi stack where it is passed, via Wi-Fi, to the wireless display. The company wants you to be able to use its mobile tablets and smartphones as a controller to be able to play media and even games on the big screen. According to a recent blog post, NVIDIA is “actively working with our OEM partners and Miracast receiver vendors to bring this technology to market.” The company has further promised more specific updates once the Wi-Fi Alliance finalizes the specification.

nvidia_miracast-1.jpg

Miracast sounds good, as an open wireless display standard, but it is going to face some stiff competition from proprietary technologies. Apple’s Air Play, AMD's Wireless Display, Intel’s WiDi, and software like Android Transporter are all currently in use, and it is unlikely that those companies will forego the invested technology for an open standard. Miracast can certainly still work as a standard for all other devices, but that raises some questions. Mainly, whether or not a number of alternative devices using Miracast will be a large enough interest to compel display makers to support it. Hence my surprise when NVIDIA pledged its support, as it has the potential to be a big player in helping Miracast succeed. I'll remain skeptically optimistic on this one, but I'm curious what you think. Do you think that it will be successful as a wireless display standard?

You can read more about Miracast in this whitepaper (PDF).

Source: NVIDIA

AFDS 2012: AMD Wireless Display to compete against Intel WiDi with open standards

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Displays | June 10, 2012 - 06:45 PM |
Tagged: widi, Intel, awd, amd wireless display, amd, AFDS

While perusing through the listings and descriptions of sessions and presentations for the upcoming AMD Fusion Developer Summit, I came across an interesting one that surprised me.  Tomorrow, June 11th, at 5:15pm PST, you can stop by the Grand Hyatt in Bellevue to learn about the upcoming AMD Wireless Display technology.

AWD (AMD Wireless Display) is a multiple-platform application family to enable wireless display technologies much in the same way that Intel has been pushing with WiDi.  While Intel's take on it requires very specific Intel wireless controllers and is only recently, with the release of Ivy Bridge, getting the full-steam push from Intel, AMD's take on it is quite different.

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Intel introduced WiDi in 2010

According to the brief on this AFDS session, AMD wants to create an API and SDKs for application developers to integrate AWD into software and to leverage the WiFi Alliance for an open-standards compliant front-end.  Using AMD APUs, the goal is provide lower latency for encoded video and audio while still using the required MPEG2TS wrapper.  We are also likely to learn that AMD hopes to make AWD open to a wider array of wireless devices.

AMD often takes this "open" approach to new technologies with mixed results - CUDA has been in place for many years while the adoption of OpenCL is only starting to take hold and 3D Vision still is the standard for 3D gaming on the PC.  

After having quite a few chances to use Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi) technology myself I can definitely say that the wireless approach is the one I am most excited with and that has the most potential to revolutionize the way we work with displays and computing devices.  I am eager to see what partners AMD has been working with and what demonstrations they will have for AWD next week.

Asus Updating Zenbook Line With UX31A and UX21A Ultrabooks

Subject: Mobile | March 12, 2012 - 09:10 PM |
Tagged: widi, ultrabook, ssd, Ivy Bridge, asus zenbook, asus

The Asus UX31 and UX21 have been two popular examples of ultrabooks.  Interestingly, they have been available for purchase for less than 6 months and we are already hearing that the company is planning a refresh with upgraded hardware! The two new ultrabooks will be dubbed the UX21A and UX31A and will replace the UX21 and UX31 respectfully while maintaining the same weight and dimensions.

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The original UX21 ultrabook

Among the new internal hardware updates, Asus will be moving to Ivy Bridge processors, up to 4 GB of low voltage DDR3 1600 memory, and an alleged 512 GB SATA 3 (6Gbps) SSD (solid state drive) option. The Ivy Bridge processors in question will be pulled from Intel's low voltage mobile CPU range and will sport a 17 watt TDP (thermal design power). The Core i3 3217U, Core i5 3317U, and Core i7 3517U will all be configurable options and carry the following specs.

Model Cores Hyper Threading Cache (L3) Clockspeed Turbo Boost (1core / 2cores)
Core i3-3217U 2 Yes 3 MB 1.8 GHz None
Core i5-3317U 2 Yes 3 MB 1.7 GHz 2.6 GHz / 2.4 GHz
Core i7-3517U 2 Yes 4 MB 1.9 GHz 3.0 GHz / 2.8 GHz

 

The new Zenbook ultrabooks will include two USB 3.0 ports, a micro HDMI port, and an SDXC card reader. Wireless connections will further include 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and Intel's WIDI wireless display streaming technology. The new UX31A will have the option of a 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS display with a brightness rating at 350 nits or a non IPS (possibly TN) LCD with 300 nits brightness that maxes out at a 1600 x 900 resolution. The smaller UX21A also has the option for a 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS display; however, the non IPS LCD option's resolution will max out at 1366 x 768, coincidentally just enough to do the 1/3, 2/3 side by side Metro application split in Windows 8.

Lastly, they estimate the battery life of the 13" UX31A and 11" UX21A ultrabooks to be around "six to seven hours" and five hours respectively. Once Ivy Bridge processors have launched and other notebook vendors start shipping their Ivy Bridge powered machines, Asus will reportedly start selling the updated Zenbooks for prices starting at $1,050 and $1,100 for the UX21A and UX31A respectively.

A nice hardware update without jacking up the price too much and likely making the older models cheaper? Sign me up! Are you looking forward to more ultrabooks this year?

Source: The Verge

D-Link releases WiDi adapter

Subject: General Tech, Displays | June 20, 2011 - 04:03 AM |
Tagged: widi, D-Link

There are a lot of benefits of having a home theatre PC but still one major drawback: having the PC by the TV. Intel has worked hard to find a solution and released the specification under the name “WiDi”, a wireless display specification that lets you share your monitor with an HDTV attached to a wireless receiver box. D-Link has just recently launched their WiDi receiver in the US with Canada coming next month; will WiDi start picking up market share with more capable devices?

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Why do network appliances these days look like pillows?

(Image from D-Link)

The D-Link MainStage (known as DHD-131 to its friends) has only a power cable to its name apart from your choice of video and audio connection to your TV or sound system. For choice of connection you have two video options and three audio options: on the video side you have HDMI for your high-resolution viewing and standard RCA for your standard definition devices; on the audio side you have optical audio or HDMI for surround and white and red RCA for stereo. Apart from a power button and a reset button that is the whole of this unit.

DHD-131_back.jpg

Plastic case with on/off butty. Baby got back shots.

(Image from D-Link)

One thing that typically holds back other implementations of WiDi that I have seen, and I assume this is no exception, is latency. The slight lag when controlling a media program or browsing a website is acceptable however it would really hold back the use of a PC as a console replacement unless the video card is directly connected to the TV which is a definite shame but to be expected given the bandwidths over WiFi that we are talking about. If you happen to be interested in this solution, however, it retails for just under 130$.

Source: HotHardware

Can you really stream uncompressed 1080p wirelessly with the brite-View Air SyncHD

Subject: Displays | May 2, 2011 - 06:46 PM |
Tagged: widi, wireless, hd, 1080p, stream

Wireless video streaming is nothing new to PC Perspective, in 2010 we saw Intel's WiDi technology and Ryan was streaming 1080p Iron Man using the Galaxy GeForce GTX 460 WHDI card (aka Little Cthulhu).  A new way to achieve the same results is with the brite-View Air SyncHD which Missing Remote just reviewed.  Read on to see if this is worth ~$230 of your hard earned money.

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"If wirelessly transmitting a Blu-ray stream (which tops out around 50mbps) is questionable, transmitting uncompressed 1080p/60 video seems downright impossible. Yet, that is exactly what brite-View claims to do with their Air SyncHD transmission kit. In a nutshell, the brite-View Air SyncHD transmission kit promises to wirelessly bridge an HDMI source device and HDMI receiving device, freeing you to place the devices anywhere within the system’s wireless range. Further, the system manages to send 1080p/60 video, audio and infrared (IR) with less than one millisecond latency up to 66 feet. It sounds great on paper, but can it deliver?"

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Displays