CES 2015: ASUS Strix Tactic Pro Mechanical Gaming Keyboard and Strix Claw Mouse

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2015 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: Strix Tactic Pro, Strix Claw, strix, mechnical keyboard, gaming mouse, gaming keyboard, Cherry MX, ces 2015, CES, asus

The new Strix Tactic Pro is a mechanical gaming keyboard designed for durability, and it looks the part.

ASUS_Strix_Tactic_Pro.png

Since switches obviously matter the Tactic pro will be available with a choice of black, blue, brown, or red Cherry MX switches. ASUS states that the keyboard “employs the highest-specification N-Key Rollover (NKRO) technology over USB and has 13 dedicated, easy-to-reach macro keys for fast and hassle-free command customization”. The F1 - F8 keys can also be reprogrammed for a total of 21 macro keys if you need them.

ASUS_Strix_Claw.png

ASUS is also showing their Strix Claw gaming mouse, which features “right-handed ergonomics” (sorry, lefties), Japanese-made Omron D2F-01F switches, a “gaming-tuned” 5000 DPI high-precision optical sensor (adjustable), true 1:1 movement with angle-snap-free capability, and 3 independently programmable buttons.

The Strix Claw is already up on Amazon but no word yet on availability/pricing of the Tactic Pro keyboard, though it is listed on the ASUS site.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: ASUS

CES 2015: ASUS Strix True 7.1 Channel Gaming Headset

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2015 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: strix, gaming headset, ces 2015, CES, asus, 7.1 headset

The Strix True 7.1 Channel Gaming Headset is on display at CES, and the "true" in the name isn't just marketing.

ASUS_Strix71.png

This gaming headset actually features 10 neodymium magnets and volume controls for each channel. This multi-drive mania promises "lifelike, immersive audio" and considering we're talking about 20 discrete drivers I have no reason to doubt these have that capability.

ASUS_Strix71_Station.png

The headset's control also works as a USB sound card with in-game audio control

The Strix True 7.1 Channel Gaming Headset also features static and breathing lighting effects, environmental noise cancellation, and multiple sound profiles.


Specifications:

  • 10 neodymium magnets and volume controls for each channel
  • Plug-and-play USB audio station
  • Static and breathing lighting effects
  • 90% environmental noise cancellation
  • 4 game-audio spectrum profiles for first-person shooter (FPS), racing, and action/role-playing games (RPG)
  • 110mm protein leather cushions: Highly breathable material is perfect for long gaming sessions
  • Foldable ear cups: Travel-friendly design lets you game anywhere

ASUS_Strix71_Flat.png

Owl stuff is so in right now

The product page is up on the ASUS site, but no official word on pricing or availability just yet.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: ASUS

CES 2015: Intel Launches Broadwell-U (15W and 28W)

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2015 - 10:00 AM |
Tagged: iris graphics 6100, iris, Intel, hd graphics 6000, hd graphics 5500, ces 2015, CES, broadwell-u, Broadwell

When Intel launched Broadwell-Y in November, branded Core M by that point, they had a 4.5W processor that was just a little slower than a 15W Haswell Ultrabook CPU. This is quite a bit of power efficiency, although these numbers are maximum draw and might not be exactly proportional to average power under load.

intel-broadwell-dieshot.jpg

At CES, Intel has launched Broadwell-U, which takes this efficiency and scales it up to 15W and 28W SKUs. The idea is that the extra thermal headroom will scale up for extra CPU and GPU performance. These are all BGA-attached components, which means that these processors need to be physically soldered to the motherboards -- they are destined for OEMs.

intel-broadwell-chart01.png

As an example of Broadwell-U's increased performance, the Core M 5Y70 has a base frequency of 1.1 GHz that can boost to 2.6 GHz; the top-end Broadwell-U has a base clock of 3.1 GHz and boosts to 3.4 GHz. From Core i3 up to Core i7, regardless of TDP, each of these processors are dual-core with HyperThreading (4 threads total). There is also a single Pentium and two Celeron SKUs, which are dual-core without HyperThreading (2 threads total).

intel-broadwell-chart02.png

Its GPU receives a large boost as well, particularly with the 28W SKUs receiving Iris Graphics 6100, although Iris Pro Graphics (6200 and 6300) do not yet make an appearance. If we had access to the number of execution units and we assumed the same instruction-per-clock count as Iris Graphics 5100, we would be able to calculate a theoretical FLOP figure, but that is information that we do not have. It would make sense if it were 48 execution units, twice Core M and consistent with the official die shot that Intel doesn't actually identify by product number. This would give it about 845 GFLOPs of performance, or about an OEM NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 (the retail GTX 460 cards were about 4% faster than the OEM ones).

It is also within 2% of Haswell's Iris 5100 theoretical GFLOPs, albeit with a 15% drop in clock rate.

intel-broadwell-chart03.png

From a features standpoint, the GPU is a definite step-up. It has “Enhanced” hardware support for VP8, VP9, and h.265 (HEVC) video and 4K UltraHD output, wired or by Intel WiDi. Broadwell's iGPU was designed with DirectX 12 in mind and supports OpenCL 2.0 -- leaving NVIDIA behind in that regard, since AMD added that API in last month's Omega driver.

Intel is slightly behind in OpenGL support however, claiming 4.3 compatibility while AMD is at 4.4 and NVIDIA is at 4.5. This could mean that these GPUs do not (unless a future driver changes this) support “Efficient Multiple Object Binding”, “Sparse Texture Extension”, or “Direct State Access”. Then again, they could support these features as extensions or something, because it is OpenGL and extensions are its thing, but you know -- they're obviously missing some part of the spec, somewhere.

intel-broadwell-summary.jpg

This leaves Broadwell-H and Broadwell-K, high performance BGA and socketed LGA respectively, to launch later in the year. These products will have significantly higher TDPs and stronger performance, at the expense of battery life (a non-issue for the desktop-bound -K parts) and heat.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2015: TP-LINK Archer C2600 and C3200 802.11ac Routers

Subject: General Tech, Networking | January 5, 2015 - 07:35 AM |
Tagged: tp-link, router, ces 2015, CES, 802.11ac

At some point, routers have stopped becoming a pure commodity device. Some manufacturers are differentiating themselves based on CPU performance or available RAM, while others compete on software features. In this case, TP-LINK is introducing two routers: one with four antennas, and the other with six. They are both designed around connection quality for multiple devices that are communicating simultaneously.

TPLink-Archer-C2600.jpg

TP-LINK Archer C2600

The Archer C2600 is the four-antenna product that uses Qualcomm MU-MIMO EFX, which can connect to three devices at once. TP-LINK states that the platform can establish four connections, but they are reserving the fourth to assist the other three by somehow reducing interference. They do not provide details about their specific process (whether it's constructive interference, choose the best signal, etc.) and I do not have a deep understanding of practical implementations in this area.

TPLink-Archer-C3200.jpg

TP-LINK Archer C3200

The Archer C3200 is the six-antenna SKU that can operate on three bands simultaneously. Rather than sharing a single chunk of the 5.0 GHz spectrum, or dropping some devices down to 2.4 GHz, it can manage two segments of 5.0 GHz simultaneously (and a third at 2.4 GHz). As the number of connected devices increase, the router will automatically assign them to the best block.

Both routers also include Gigabit Ethernet for wired networks, and USB 3.0 ports (they do not state how many) to attach storage to. The C3200 advertises “Substantial RAM” without providing any hard numbers.

No pricing information is currently provided, but they are expected to be available in Q3 2015.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: TP-LINK

CES 2015 Podcast Day 1 - Lenovo, NVIDIA Tegra X1, MSI, USB 3.1 and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2015 - 03:26 AM |
Tagged: video, usb type-c, usb 3.1, Tegra X1, tegra, podcast, nvidia, msi, Lenovo, ces 2015, CES

CES 2015 Podcast Day 1 - 01/04/15

It's time for podcast fun at CES!  Join us as we talk about the first day of the show including a lot of announcements from Lenovo, MSI, the NVIDIA Tegra X1, USB 3.1 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!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Ken Addison

Program length: 47:58

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2015: Lenovo Launches Improved ThinkPad Lineup

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 4, 2015 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: Thinkpad, notebook, Lenovo, ces 2015, carbon, business

Today at the Consumer Electronics Show, Lenovo announced updates and new additions to its Think-branded products aimed at business customers. New ThinkPad PCs, ThinkVision displays, and stackable ThinkPad accessories are launching early this year. 

ThinkPad Notebooks and Ultrabooks

Lenovo, a leading manufacturer of PCs, recently reached a milestone with the production of its 100 millionth ThinkPad, code-named Eve, which will be on display at CES. The company has a plethora of business machines and updates are coming to the entire family of ThinkPads including the X, T, L, and E series. According to Lenovo, the company has opted for 5th gen Core i processors for most of the machines to provide the best performance and vPro capabilities.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a third generation ultrabook that is lighter and faster than before. The 14" ultrabook builds upon its predecessor with an updated (optionally backlit) keyboard, three button clickpad, and up to a WQHD touchscreen display. The X1 Carbon with its carbon fiber cover weighs 2.9 pounds and is 17.72mm thick (18.46mm if you opt for a touchscreen).

It is powered by up to a 5th Generation Intel Core i7 (Broadwell-U) processor, four to eight GB of DDR3 memory, and up to a 512GB PCI-E SSD. 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 OneLink, Ethernet, analog audio, and a 720p webcam round out the system's connectivity options.

For the road warrior that finds the 14" X1 Carbon too unwieldy, the new ThinkPad X250 is a slightly lighter (starting at 2.88 lbs) PC with a much smaller footprint. The X250 features full HD (1080p) displays with optional touchscreens, backlit keys, the latest clickpad, and updated internal hardware. Lenovo is using Intel's 5th Generation Core i processor, HDD, SSHD, and SSD options, up to 8GB DDR3 memory, and its Power Bridge dual battery technology for a speedy portable with respectable battery life. 

ThinkPad X250 3.jpg

Beyond the X-series, Lenovo has added new models to the ThinkPad T, ThinkPad L, and ThinkPad E series. Lenovo has managed to refine the hardware while keeping the same design principles that have made the predecessors successful.

ThinkPad T550 1.jpg

Lenovo ThinkPad T550

The new machines are thinner, lighter, have better battery life, more ports, high resolution display options, and use Intel's 5th Generation Core processors.

Lenovo's business focused products are slated for availability early this year with the majority of hardware coming in the next two months. For laptops, pricing and availability work out as follows:

Lenovo Notebooks Starting Price Availability
ThinkPad X1 Carbon $1,249 January
ThinkPad X250 $1,149 February
ThinkPad T450s $1,099 February
ThinkPad T450 $849 February
ThinkPad T550 $999 February
ThinkPad E550 $599 February
ThinkPad E450 $599 February
ThinkPad L450 $699 February

The new machines are welcome evolutionary updates to the established ThinkPad pedigree. What are your thoughts on the new notebooks?

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Lenovo

CES 2015: Lenovo Thinks That You'll Love Stackable Accessories

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile | January 4, 2015 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: CES, usb 3.0, think stack, stack, power bank, peripherals, Lenovo, hotspot, ces 2015

Today at the Consumer Electronics Show, Lenovo announced updates and new additions to its Think-branded products aimed at business customers. New ThinkPad PCs, ThinkVision displays, and stackable ThinkPad accessories are launching early this year. 

ThinkPad Stack

The ThinkPad Stack represents a set of independent stackable accessories for business users to pair with their notebook or tablet. The Stack pieces can be placed atop each other interchangeably using a magnetic interlock system and can pass both power and data through the stack in order to connect to power and/or a PC with fewer cables. At launch, there are four accessories: a Bluetooth speaker, portable power bank, wireless hotspot, and a 1TB USB 3.0 hard drive. You will be able to stack any combination of the four accessories together or remove a piece to take with you to a meeting.

THINKPAD_STACK_sh03.jpg

The portable hard drive connects over a micro USB 3.0 connection to support fast transfer speeds. The wireless access point is able to take either a RJ45 wired Ethernet or 3G/4G cellular connection (using a wireless dongle) and broadcast out a Wi-Fi connection to allow you to share the Internet connection with multiple devices. The Bluetooth speaker accessory is aimed at business users wanting a simple device that can be used for conference calls (it has two 2W speakers and a noise cancelling microphone along with 3.5mm auxiliary and micro-USB line inputs). Finally, the power bank has a 10,000 mAh battery capacity and can charge two devices at 5V 2.1A on one port and 1A on the other port. Note that the speaker and hotspot have their own batteries as well.

THINKPAD_STACK_sh05.jpg

The ThinkPad Stack accessories will be available in April with pricing as follows:

Stack Accessory Pricing Availability
ThinkPad Stack Bluetooth Speaker $89.99 April
ThinkPad Stack 10000mAh Power Bank $49.99 April
ThinkPad Wireless Access Point / 1TB Hard Drive Kit $199.99 April

As such, the entire stack of stacks will run you just under $340 USD. The full stack weighs 861 grams or about 1.9 pounds and measures 136mm x 76mm (5.35" x 2.99"). It is a neat concept that should complement Lenovo's PCs well.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Lenovo

Rumor: Microsoft Plans a New Web Browser

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2015 - 05:39 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, internet explorer, spartan, IE11, ie12

Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet reports that Microsoft is planning to release a new web browser with Windows 10. We have talked about it in the past, and its rumored extension architecture in particular, but it was expected to become Internet Explorer 12. Even then, snippets have shown that the team was considering a name change away from IE, to some degree of seriousness. Now we are hearing that it might actually be a wholly new, standalone browser that is installed alongside IE11.

Yikes. Okay, so...

trident-fork.jpg

Stick a fork in... ... Trident...?

(Image Credit: Wikipedia)

I guess we, first, should talk about its rumored technical features. The browser is still expected to run on Trident and Chakra, the rendering engine and JavaScript interpreter for Internet Explorer, respectively. While they are not replacing it with something wholly new, Trident has allegedly been forked into two versions, which are expected to be split between the different browsers, one for the old and one for the new.

Browser rendering engines have been in flux over the last couple of years. First, Opera decided to deprecate their Presto engine and move to Webkit, along with KDE, Apple, Google, Valve, and so forth. Later, Google decided to fork Webkit into Blink, with Opera following them, to push updates with less inter-company politics. Meanwhile, Mozilla (and Samsung) started a research project, called Servo, which was developed from scratch to be a multi-threaded, efficient rendering engine. This is difficult, because Web standards were designed to be single-threaded; it may be a successful replacement, or it may just teach them a few new tricks for Gecko.

Developing a new engine from scratch is daunting but Microsoft could obviously afford it, if it is deemed a worthy project. With Trident being forked, it seems unlikely for a while though. After all, why would they fork an engine if they had something in skunkworks for years (because a standards-compliant rendering engine takes a long time to make)? Chances are that they have no plans to even start, but don't let that belittle Microsoft's possibilities with a Trident fork that is free of legacy Internet Explorer concerns.

A preview of the new browser might not make the January technical preview of Windows 10, but it is expected to be done in time for Windows 10. We will probably have access to a pre-release version before then and they might even show it off during their Windows 10 Consumer event on January 21st.

Source: ZDNet

Love your mobile device but wish it had a keyboard? Logitech has you covered

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2015 - 02:39 PM |
Tagged: input, wireless keyboard, logitech, K480

For around $50 you can purchase the Bluetooth enabled Logitech K480 Wireless Keyboard, compatible with Mac OS X, Windows, Chrome OS, iOS, Android and perhaps even QNIX.  The slot at the top of the keyboard will fit your phone or tablet and the unit is less expensive than the docks available for Surface, ASUS and other hybrid tablets but does not add the additional features and battery life that those docks provide.  Techgage tested it out successfully and enjoyed its usability although additional dedicated keys such as Send would improve this keyboard significantly.

logitech_k480_05_thumb.jpg

"A mobile keyboard that does it all, on all of your devices – that’s quite the Holy Grail nowadays. Well, what we’re looking at here is an offering from Logitech that may just suit the needs of your mobile lifestyle. Whether you’re needing to type on your iPad, smartphone, or even your desktop, this keyboard won’t hold you back."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Techgage

Early prognostications for 2015

Subject: General Tech | January 2, 2015 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: 2015, predictions, iot

Over at The Inquirer the news staff have put up brief predictions and warnings they see as important as a new year dawns.  As one would expect, the Internet of Things is mentioned twice as this market will be expanding quickly as more companies start to sell TCP/IP enabled devices.  Madeline Bennett is concerned about how existing standards such as HyperCat and Open Interconnect Consortium will be treated by companies such as Intel and Cisco, the latter of which is famous for only using technology designed in house.  Chris Merriman illustrates the detrimental effects closed sourced and incompatible platforms can have in this market as he has a dozen speakers in his house which can not be connected to create a multi-room sound system.  Also mentioned is the nascent science of quantum cryptography and how it could lead to fraud proof credit cards, the effects of social media on interpersonal relationships and even a warning to the two largest North American smartphone vendors.

internet-of-things-cisco-csco-stock.jpg

"A NEW YEAR has dawned, and we've been reading the tea leaves and consulting the omens to predict the most important technology events and trends during 2015."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #331 - Hardware Picks of the Year, Acer's 1080p G-SYNC Display, a new Drobo and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2014 - 05:35 PM |
Tagged: video, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, Lian Li, LG, Intel, gigabyte, g-sync, freesync, drobo, bitfenix, asus, amd, acer, 850 EVO

PC Perspective Podcast #331 - 12/31/2014

Join us this week as we discuss our Hardware Picks of the Year, Acer's 1080p G-SYNC Display, a new Drobo 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, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:54:53

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
      1. Ken is an idiot, don't try to use the Hyper 212 Evo in the Air 240.
  2. News items of interest:
  3. PC Perspective Hardware Picks of the Year
    1. Graphics Card of 2014
      1. GTX 980
      2. Winner: GTX 970
      3. R9 285
      4. GTX TITAN Z (lulz)
      5. R9 295 X2
      6. Runner-up: GTX 750 Ti
    2. CPU of 2014
      1. Winner: Core i7-4790K
      2. Pentium G3258
      3. Core i7-5960X
      4. Core M 5Y70 (Broadwell-Y)
      5. AMD AM1 Athlon 5350
      6. AMD A8-7600 Kaveri APU
      7. Tegra K1
      8. Runner-up: Athlon X4 860K
    3. Storage of 2014
      1. Samsung 850 Pro
      2. Winner: Samsung 850 EVO
      3. Crucial MX100
      4. Runner-up: Intel P3700
      5. 6TB HDDs
      6. Intel SSD 730 Series
      7. Silicon Motion SM2246EN (Force LX, Angelbird ssd wrk, Adata 610)
    4. Case of 2014
      1. Winner: NCASE M1
      2. Runner-up: Corsair Carbide Air 240
      3. Fractal Design Define R5
      4. SilverStone Raven RVZ01
      5. PHT Ultra Low-Profile HTPC Case
    5. Motherboard of 2014
      1. Runner-up: ASUS Crossblade Ranger FM2+
      2. ASUS Z97 Deluxe
      3. Gigabyte Z97X Gaming G1 Black Edition
      4. X99 Deluxe
      5. Winner: Z97 Maximus VII Formula
    6. Price Drop of 2014
      1. Winner: AMD R9 290X/290
      2. R9 295 X2
      3. Good Displays
      4. GTX Titan Z (lulz)
      5. Runner-up: SSDs (again)
      6. Gasoline
    7. Best Trend of 2014
      1. Variable Refresh Rate Monitors / Tear-free Gaming
      2. Smart Watches
      3. Runner-up: PCIe/NVMe storage
      4. Gigabit Internet
      5. Custom Watercooling
      6. Winner: 21:9 Monitors
    8. Worst Trend of 2014
      1. Smart Watches
      2. Locked GPU Voltages
      3. DDR4
      4. Winner: 840 Evo Performance Issues
      5. Runner-up: G-SYNC Monitor prices
      6. Curved Displays
      7. GPU Mining BitCoins
  4. Closing/outro

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

/p>

Rumor: 15.4" Broadwell-U Chromebooks Are Coming

Subject: General Tech, Systems | December 29, 2014 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: laptop, google, dell, ChromeOS, Chromebook, chrome, acer

According to DigiTimes via The Tech Report, because of course DigiTimes, we should receive 15.4-inch Chromebooks in the near future. Their sources claim that both Acer and Dell have products planned with that operating system, in that size, and will cost less then $300. The Acer system is expected in March 2015 with Dell scheduled for some time in the first half of 2015.

12-failslow-Chrome.png

One part that stands out for me is the maximum price of $300. The claim is that this is a Google mandated ceiling for Chromebooks with up-to Core i3 performance. This is troubling for two reasons. First, depending on the details, it might dance around inside the minefield of price-fixing laws, although I am sure that Google is doing this in a legally. I mean, Apple has been getting away with enforcing maximum retail prices of iPods and iOS devices for around a decade and I believe console manufacturers do about the same.

Second, and more importantly, it limits the ability for manufacturers to be creative and innovative, which is the major advantage of an open ecosystem. Being a web browser-based platform, there is already constraints on what manufacturers can implement. Sure, Google is probably open to communication with their partnered hardware vendors, but it is uncomfortable none-the-less. I could use the Nexus Q as an example of an experiment but unfortunately it was neither a hit nor did it cost over $300. Sure, they could add a more powerful processor to escape that clause but it is still

These Chromebooks are expected to launch in the early half of 2015.

Source: Tech Report

Sony Announces PlayStation Now for Samsung Smart TVs

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | December 29, 2014 - 10:06 AM |
Tagged: sony, Samsung, playstation now, Playstation

I know that I have said it in the past, but I am not big on cloud streaming services. For art, the ability to genuinely own your content keeps it safe from censorship and licensing disagreements. You only need to look back a year to see Disney pulling access to legally purchased content on Amazon because they wanted their TV channel to have exclusive rights to the Christmas movies in the holiday season. This does not apply to people who actually owned the content (semi-)DRM-free. Streaming services, especially for video games, are examples of perfection for anyone willing to abuse the system.

Remember: If you build it, the abuse will come.

Sony-Playstation_logo.png

With that commentary out of the way, what streaming services are good at is pure entertainment. They are just about peak convenience to deliver... some form of entertaining content... unless you have spotty internet (or some other exception). These services have definite merit, so long as they augment platforms for actual art and not attempt to replace them.

So why am I rambling? Recently, Sony has announced that PlayStation Now will arrive for Samsung Smart TVs alongside Sony devices. At first, this might sound surprising. Sony, a console manufacturer, is providing access to the PlayStation ecosystem on other platforms – and yes, that is noteworthy. It is also not without precedent. While the initiative is mostly abandoned, Sony tried opening up to third-party mobile manufacturers (HTC, Sharp, Fujitsu, Wikipad, and Alcatel) with “PlayStation Certified”.

There is also a second reason why this is not too surprising: Samsung and Sony are fairly close partners in TV technology. Until just a few years ago, Sony LCD TV panels were manufactured by S-LCD, until Samsung eventually bought out Sony's interest in the company. The two companies are not really hostile in the TV market. If we see Sony open up PlayStation Now to LG Electronics, then I will scratch my head.

While announced ahead of CES, PlayStation Now is expected to be present at the show on Samsung TVs.

Source: Tom's Guide

GPU Rumors: AMD Plans 20nm but NVIDIA Waits for 16nm

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 28, 2014 - 09:47 PM |
Tagged: radeon, nvidia, gtx, geforce, amd

According to an anonymous source of WCCFTech, AMD is preparing a 20nm-based graphics architecture that is expected to release in April or May. Originally, they predicted that the graphics devices, which they call R9 300 series, would be available in February or March. The reason for this “delay” is a massive demand for 20nm production.

nvidia-gtx-vs-amd-gaming-evolved.jpg

The source also claims that NVIDIA will skip 20nm entirely and instead opt for 16nm when that becomes available (which is said to be mid or late 2016). The expectation is that NVIDIA will answer AMD's new graphics devices with a higher-end Maxwell device that is still at 28nm. Earlier rumors, based on a leaked SiSoftware entry, claim 3072 CUDA cores that are clocked between 1.1 GHz and 1.39 GHz. If true, this would give it between 6.75 and 8.54 TeraFLOPs of performance, the higher of which is right around the advertised performance of a GeForce Titan Z (only in a single compute device that does not require distribution of work like what SLI was created to automate).

Will this strategy work in NVIDIA's favor? I don't know. 28nm is a fairly stable process at this point, which will probably allow them to get chips that can be bigger and more aggressively clocked. On the other hand, they pretty much need to rely upon chips that are bigger and more aggressively clocked to be competitive with AMD's slightly more design architecture. Previous rumors also hint that AMD is looking at water-cooling for their reference card, which might place yet another handicap against NVIDIA, although cooling is not an area that NVIDIA struggles in.

Source: WCCFTech

NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Gets OTA2.1 Update

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 28, 2014 - 08:18 PM |
Tagged: shield tablet, shield, nvidia, Android

NVIDIA has upgraded their SHIELD Tablet software to version 2.1. This release increments Android Lollipop to 5.0.1, updates a bit of bundled software, improves localization support, and adds OpenGL 4.5. The updated landed on December 23rd, alongside their Grid Tuesday release.

nvidia-shield-november-14-01b.jpg

The new graphics API is interesting, but its usefulness is a bit questionable. Google does not really support OpenGL on the platform, although they do not prevent companies (like NVIDIA) from providing their own SDKs. This could be a bit increase in performance for apps that are optimized for the SHIELD Tablet and possibly the Nexus 9, especially since its main features increase performance and security. On the other hand, this should increase the potential for NVIDIA's first-party releases and ports.

If you have the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet, then this is might be week-old news. If not, the update was released on December 23rd.

Source: NVIDIA

Quick Deal (Canada): 480GB Intel 730 SSD for $259.99 CDN

Subject: General Tech, Storage | December 28, 2014 - 01:18 AM |
Tagged: Intel, ssd, ncix, directcanada, deals

A couple of Canadian stores, NCIX and DirectCanada, have marked down the Intel 730 SSD in both 240GB and 480GB models. While sites like Amazon and Newegg are selling it for $530 and $547, respectively, NCIX has the 480GB version on for $259.99 and the 240GB version for $169.99. DirectCanada is close, their price is about $10 more expensive for the 480GB and a few cents cheaper for the 240GB (480GB - $269.89 and 240GB - $169.95). This is even cheaper than the American Amazon price, which is going for $456.99 USD.

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You can see in Allyn's review from February, he really liked the drive. He notes that it is a bit hot and power hungry, but he also notes that the controller is overclocked and that is probably why you want to buy it. If you are Canadian, or are somehow able to make a purchase in Canada, this is a ridiculous price. For everyone else, who knows? It might be a sign that its price could drop altogether. Either that, or NCIX and DirectCanada just feel like throwing money around today.

Source: NCIX

#GRIDTuesday Brings F1 2010 and Dirt Showdown

Subject: General Tech | December 27, 2014 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: shield tablet, shield, nvidia, grid, geforce grid, f1 2010, dirt showdown

Okay, so I forgot about #GRIDTuesday for a little while. NVIDIA didn't. They have been releasing two games for the GRID service each and every week. You will need a SHIELD device to access it, which I don't have, and you will also need to be in a supported region. If you qualify in both criteria, then you can have access to NVIDIA's cloud-streamed game service for free (until June 30th). Since our post last month, which aligned with the release of Psychonauts and Red Faction: Armageddon, eight new games have been added.

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The most recent inclusions, occurring two days before Christmas, were F1 2010 and Dirt Showdown. The previous Tuesday was Lego-themed, with LEGO The Hobbit and LEGO The Lord of the Rings joining the service. This followed the indie titles, Stacking and PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate on December 9th. Finally, December 2nd was Batman: Arkham Origins and LEGO Batman: The Video Game.

Now you're all caught up.

These are quite good games. Batman: Arkham Origins was released just about a year ago and enjoyed by most, especially fans of the franchise. Some have complained about bugs and glitches, but it is free in this promotional period, so why not?

This week brought the number of available games up to an even 30, and they are quite diverse. If you have a SHIELD device, and are in the United States, Canada, or Western Europe, then be sure to check it out.

Source: NVIDIA

Console DRM Woes? Try Some Good Old PC Games Instead!

Subject: General Tech | December 27, 2014 - 11:23 AM |
Tagged: Xbox live, retro, PlayStation network, pc gaming, GOG, gaming, DRM, console

With the outage over Christmas of both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network (both pretty much restored, though it took Sony much longer to recover) many console gamers were unable to play.

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Screen captures of the official status from both networks this morning

Beyond online gaming even those attempting to play their own local games were often hampered by the inability of the DRM system to work, preventing the game from loading. Oh, DRM...who needs it? Not the person playing old games that don't use it!

While the term "retro gaming" will likely evoke images of an Atari 2600 or NES, it is retro gaming of the PC persuasion to which we direct our attention now. The website known as Good Old Games (GOG.com) sells many classic titles from distant and not so distant past, and everything sold is DRM free. Install, run; no internet connection required (after you use the internet to actually download the game, that is).

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The games are inexpensive as well, but get so much more so during the frequent sales the site promotes. One such sale is going on now, where various Square Enix-owned titles are 75% off, which puts them at $1.49 to $2.49 each. Take that, modern console gaming!

Team Fortress 2 Beta Includes "Mannpower Mode"

Subject: General Tech | December 26, 2014 - 05:02 PM |
Tagged: tf2, valve

So Valve is working on a new game mode for Team Fortress 2, called “Mannpower Mode”. It is a variation of Capture the Flag and it is currently available in the beta map pool, accessible from the Play Beta Maps checkbox in Play Multiplayer. While it will change significantly over its development period, this beta launch corresponds with their Christmas promotion.

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Even though it's like Capture the Flag, there are some significant differences. First, similar to many other franchises, the objective is touch-return. Fans of Unreal Tournament, Halo, and many other franchises will know that this is different in two main ways: a dropped objective will return to base instant when it is touched by a defender, and the attacker's flag must be returned in to capture the opponent's one. Second, random critical hits are disabled.

Third, grappling hooks and power-ups? I am guessing the Valve wants TF2 to be more competitive in with the fast-paced shooter crowd, so they are finding ways to increase mobility and map control within the Team Fortress 2 ruleset. Of course, that is not a criticism about TF2's game design – quite the opposite; it is different, not worse. It is interesting to think about the relatively slow characters of TF2 being used in more of a higher-reward, lower-forgiveness game mode. The updates add mobility and incentives to use it, both rewarding flag returns as well as acquiring power-ups.

Team Fortress 2 is still free-to-play, but rarely free-toupee.

PCPer 10 Days of Christmas: Day 10 - Netgear X6 AC3200 Router

Subject: General Tech | December 23, 2014 - 12:01 PM |
Tagged: router, nighthawk x6, netgear, DSLR, Canon, 10 days of christmas

Are you still hunting for that perfect gift for the hardware and technology fan in your life? Or maybe you are looking for recommendations to give to your friends and family about what to buy for YOU? Or maybe you just want something new and cool to play with over the break? Welcome to PC Perspective's 10 Days of Christmas where we will suggest a new item each day for you to consider. Enjoy!

The staff here at PC Perspective couldn't decide on a final item for our 10 days series. We decided to do a post with two items to end with a bang (and extreme indecisiveness). Then, just before the post went live, one of the items was no longer available in the bundle that we considered a good deal. Thanks, universe, for stepping in and making us declare a single best deal... of the day. Our final recommendation is: a high-performance router!

Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Router

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This tri-band, 6-antenna monster that is the Netgear Nighthawk X6 looks the part, and offers up to 3.2 Gbps performance from its three Wi-Fi data streams (one 600 Mb/s 2.4 GHz network and dual 1300 Mb/s 5 GHz networks).  It's powered by a dual-core 1 GHz CPU with 256 MB of RAM, has the usual 4-port Gigabit switch, and offers both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports on the back. It's an impressive piece of hardware with a price to match, just under $300.

Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Router - Amazon.com ($288.99) - BHPhoto.com ($288.99)

If you are having trouble picking out a gift for a loved one, consider buying an Amazon.com gift card! Amazon has basically every product on the planet for your gift recipient to order and purchasing gift cards through these links directly sponsors and supports PC Perspective! And hey, if you were to buy gift cards for yourself to do your own Amazon-based Christmas shopping...that wouldn't exactly be a bad thing for us either! ;)

 

Did you miss any of our other PCPer 10 Days of Christmas posts?