How long since you read a joystick review?

Subject: General Tech | April 22, 2014 - 06:39 PM |
Tagged: Speedlink Black Widow, Saitek X52 Pro, Phallusometer, Logitech Extreme 3D Pro, joystick, input, hotas

One of the contributors at Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have rekindled their love of space sims thanks to being in on the Elite: Dangerous alpha which has precipitated a quest to find the best joystick currently on the market.  Three contenders appear in this review, the Saitek X52 Pro, the Logitech Extreme 3D Pro and the Speedlink Black Widow which refer to themselves as Hands On Throttle-And-Stick or flight sticks and the innuendo is as thick as you might expect.  Read the full review in all its smutty glory right here.

sticks.jpg

"I’ve spent far too long thinking about and researching joysticks lately, primarily as a result of playing Elite: Dangerous. One thing I haven’t established during all that time is whether ‘joystick’ is the right word for a genre of game controller which also throws out terms like ‘flight stick’ and ‘HOTAS.’"

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Check out these inventive hacks for a Sci-Fi themed contest

Subject: General Tech | April 22, 2014 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: hack, valve, glados, tf2, kick ass

Hack a Day have been accepting entries to their Sci-Fi contest for long enough that they have a few worth showing off before the entry deadline of April 29th, specifically the Valve themed ones.  A table top sized level 1 sentry gun from TF2 is being entered, perhaps not as heavy duty as  the one currently guarding Valve HQ but destined to be able to fire paint balls if all goes to plan.  There is a French team who are modifying some personal assistant software called RORI into a replica of GLaDOS, hopefully a version at least slightly less murderous than the original while another team is going about creating a physical version of the homicidal AI complete with a camera to allow face tracking.  Check these entrants and other in the full Hack a Day post.

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"While most of the entries to our Sci-Fi contest come from movies and TV shows, a select few are based on the Valve universe, including a few builds based on Portal and Team Fortress 2."

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Source: Hack a Day

Amazon Gold Box Deal Titanfall for just $36

Subject: General Tech | April 22, 2014 - 07:37 AM |
Tagged: amazon, gold box, titanfall

If you haven't yet picked up Titanfall, the next multiplayer shooter from many of the creators of the Call of Duty series, today is your chance to do so at a discounted price. Amazon.com is pushing Titanfall with its daily Gold Box deal, which as the name suggests, is good for today only: Tuesday, April 22nd.

titanfall.jpg

And hey, buying your Origin game key through the link above also happens to support PC Perspective!

If you are looking at building a low cost gaming PC to play games like Titanfall, we did write an article on that exact subject back in March.

Source: Amazon

Nope, Never Settling... Forever. More Bundles.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 21, 2014 - 01:55 PM |
Tagged: radeon, never settle forever, never settle, amd

AMD has been taking PC gaming very seriously, especially over the last couple of years. While they have a dominant presence in the console space, with only IBM in opposition, I believe that direct licensing revenue was not their main goal, rather that they hope to see benefits carry over to the PC and maybe mobile spaces, eventually. In the PC space, Never Settle launched as a very successful marketing campaign. While it had a stutter with the launch of the R9 (and R7) product lines, it is back and is still called, "Never Settle Forever".

AMD-Never-Settle-Forever-2014-01.jpg

Keeping with Forever's alteration to the Never Settle formula, the type of card that you purchase yields a Gold, Silver, or Bronze reward. Gold (the R9 280 and R9 290 series, and the R9 295X2) gets three free games in the Gold tier, Silver (R9 270 and R7 260 series) gets two in the Silver tier, and Bronze (R7 250 and R7 240 series) gets one free game in the Bronze tier. By and large, the tiers are the same as last time plus a few old games and one upcoming Square Enix release: Murdered: Soul Suspect. They have also made deals with certain independent developers, where two indie titles bundled together count as one choice.

The complete breakdown of games is as follows:

 
Gold
(Choose 3)
Silver
(Choose 2)
Bronze
(Choose 1)
Murdered: Soul Suspect (June 3, 2014) Yes Yes No
Thief Yes Yes No
Tomb Raider Yes Yes No
Hitman: Absolution Yes Yes No
Sleeping Dogs Yes Yes No
Dungeon Siege III Yes Yes Yes
Dirt 3 Yes Yes Yes
Alan Wake Yes Yes Yes
Darksiders Yes Yes Yes
Darksiders II Yes Yes Yes
Company of Heroes 2 Yes Yes Yes
Total War: Shogun 2 Yes Yes Yes
Titan Quest (Gold Edition) Yes Yes Yes
Supreme Commander (Gold Edition) Yes Yes Yes
Deus Ex: Human Revolution Yes Yes No
Payday 2 Yes Yes No
Just Cause 2 Yes Yes Yes
Banner Saga + Mutant Blobs Attack (indie combo) Yes Yes Yes
Guacamelee + DYAD (indie combo) Yes Yes Yes
Mutant Blobs Attack + DYAD (indie combo) Yes Yes Yes
Banner Saga + DYAD (indie combo) Yes Yes Yes
Mutant Blobs Attack + Guacamelee (indie combo) Yes Yes Yes

Oddly enough, there does not seem to be a Banner Saga + Guacamelee combo...

... the only impossible combination.

AMD has also announced that Never Settle will continue for more "additions" in 2014. Which ones? Who knows. It is clear that they have a great working relationship with Square Enix Europe, including basically their last six major titles in Never Settle and keeping them there, but there is not really anything from them on the horizon (at least, not announced). AMD does sound confident in having other deals lined up this year, however.

amd-never-settle-forever-2014-02.jpg

Never Settle Forever graphics cards are available now "at participating retailers". Bundle codes can be redeemed any time between now and August 31st.

There is some regional variance in game availability, however. Read up before you purchase (especially if you live in Japan). You should be fine if you live in North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Latin America, though, at least where AMD products are available. Still, it is a good idea to check.

Source: AMD

Corning USB 3.Optical Cables Now Available

Subject: General Tech | April 20, 2014 - 03:59 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.0, optical cable, corning

USB 3.Optical is a cable technology by Corning to extend the range of USB 3.0 while maintaining high bandwidth. Like the eventually realized promise of Thunderbolt, the cable is a stretch of fiber-optics between the two end points. The currently available SKU is a 10m male-to-female USB 3.0 A to A cable (a ten meter USB 3.0 extension cord). The idea is that users will plug their intended cable to the female end, as if it were the actual socket on the computer.

corning-usb30.jpg

The cable is actually currently available, right now, on Amazon. The catch? A 10m cable is $110 USD. This is around three-to-four dollars per foot. Needless to say that it is probably a bit too expensive for a "just in case" purchase. However, if you have a significant need for it, a cable now exists. The company also expects to ship 20M and 30M cables at some point this year.

One thing that is not clear is whether these cables are powered. I do not see anywhere which claims that it can transmit power. There is little reason why not, you could fit two extra little wires and put a 5V drop between them pretty easily over those ranges, but I expect that they did not.

Corning USB 3.Optical cables are available now on Amazon although eAccutech seems to be cheaper (I have not heard of the latter but they are mentioned in the Corning press release).

Source: Corning

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Released.

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | April 18, 2014 - 02:39 AM |
Tagged: canonical, ubuntu, ubuntu 14.04

Ubuntu, the popular Linux distribution, has been on a steady six-month release schedule for eight years. Every four versions, that is, once every two years, one is marked as Long Term Support (LTS). While typical (non-LTS) releases are supported for around 9 months, LTS versions are provided with five years of updates. Of course, each version, LTS or not, is free. The choice to stay on a specific branch is something else entirely.

ubuntu-1404-laptop.jpg

For most home users, it will probably make sense to pick up the latest version available on your update manager. Of course, each new release will change things and that can be a problem for some users. That said, given that releases come in six-month intervals, it does make sense to keep up with the changes as they happen, rather than fall behind and have a real shock in five years. Enterprise customers, on the other hand, would love to adopt an operating system which never changes, outside of security updates. Windows XP is a recent example of where enterprise customers will actually pay to not upgrade. These customers will benefit most from LTS.

So, why 14.04 LTS?

First and foremost, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, wants to catch the wave of PC users who are looking to upgrade from Windows XP and Windows 7. It is free, it has a web browser and an office suite, it is stable and secure, and they suggest that it will be easy to deploy and manage for governments and other institutions.

The interface is Unity7, although users will have the option to try Unity8. The latter version is Canonical's attempt to cover all form factors: phones, tablets, TVs, and desktops.

They probably could have chosen a different number, if only for the jokes.

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is available now at their website. It is free. If you want it, go get it unless you already have it.

Source: Canonical

Podcast #296 - NVIDIA's 337.50 Driver Improvements, Corsair H105, Intel Haswell Refresh details and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2014 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, nvidia, 337.50, corsair, H105, amd, Intel, haswell, devil's canyon

PC Perspective Podcast #296 - 04/17/2014

Join us this week as we discuss NVIDIA's 337.50 Driver Improvements, Corsair H105, Intel Haswell Refresh details 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 and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:25:06
 

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

 

 

Berlin invades San Francisco; meet the new HSA enabled Opteron

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2014 - 01:07 PM |
Tagged: amd, hsa, berlin, Opteron X-series, Red Hat

Next Wednesday we will get our first look at the HSA enabled Opteron X Series, otherwise known as Berlin.  AMD will be unveiling the processor at the Red Hat Summit in San Francisco with an X2100 Opteron running on a Linux environment that is based on the Fedora Project.  We have very recently had a chance to see the desktop equivalent, Kaveri, in action but this will be the first example of AMD's heterogeneous computing on a server.  Keep your eyes peeled for our coverage, in the mean time you can get a preview at The Register.

amd_opteron_0.jpg

"AMD will give the first public demo of its second-generation Opteron X-Series server processor, code-named "Berlin", at the Red Hat Summit in San Francisco on Wednesday."

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Source: The Register

The Health of Intel's Many Divisions...

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | April 16, 2014 - 08:40 PM |
Tagged: Intel, silvermont, arm, quarterly earnings, quarterly results

Sean Hollister at The Verge reported on Intel's recent quarterly report. Their chosen headline focuses on the significant losses incurred from the Mobile and Communications Group, the division responsible for tablet SoCs and 3G/4G modems. Its revenue dropped 52%, since last quarter, and its losses increased about 6%. Intel is still making plenty of money, with $12.291 billion USD in profits for 2013, but that is in spite of Mobile and Communications losing $3.148 billion over the same time.

intel-computex-07.jpg

Intel did have some wins, however. The Internet of Things Group is quite profitable, with $123 million USD of income from $482 million of revenue. They also had a better March quarter than the prior year, up a few hundred million in both revenue and profits. Also, Mobile and Communications should have a positive impact on the rest of the company. The Silvermont architecture, for instance, will eventually form the basis for 2015's Xeon Phi processors and co-processors.

It is concerning that Internet of Things has over twice the sales of Mobile but I hesitate to make any judgments. From my position, it is very difficult to see whether or not this trend follows Intel's projections. We simply do not know whether the division, time and time again, fails to meet expectations or whether Intel is just intentionally being very aggressive to position itself better in the future. I would shrug off the latter but, obviously, the former would be a serious concern.

The best thing for us to do is to keep an eye on their upcoming roadmaps and compare them to early projections.

Source: The Verge

Post Tax Day Celebration! Win an EVGA Hadron Air and GeForce GTX 750!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 16, 2014 - 07:01 PM |
Tagged: hadron air, hadron, gtx 750, giveaway, evga, contest

In these good old United States of America, April 15th is a trying day. Circled on most of our calendars is the final deadline for paying up your bounty to Uncle Sam so we can continue to have things like freeway systems and universal Internet access. 

But EVGA is here for us! Courtesy of our long time sponsor you can win a post-Tax Day prize pack that includes both an EVGA Hadron Air mini-ITX chassis (reviewed by us here) as well as an EVGA GeForce GTX 750 graphics card. 

evgacontestapril.jpg

Nothing makes paying taxes better than free stuff that falls under the gift limit...

With these components under your belt you are well down the road to PC gaming bliss, upgrading your existing PC or starting a new one in a form factor you might not have otherwise imagined. 

Competing for these prizes is simple and open to anyone in the world, even if you don't suffer the same April 15th fear that we do. (I'm sure you have your own worries...)

  1. Fill out the form at the bottom of this post to give us your name and email address, in addition to the reasons you love April 15th! (Seriously, we need some good ideas for next year to keep our heads up!) Also, this does not mean you should leave a standard comment on the post to enter, though you are welcome to do that too.
     
  2. Stop by our Facebook page and give us a LIKE (I hate saying that), head over to our Twitter page and follow @pcper and heck, why not check our our many videos and subscribe to our YouTube channel?
     
  3. Why not do the same for EVGA's Facebook and Twitter accounts?
     
  4. Wait patiently for April 30th when we will draw and update this news post with the winners name and tax documentation! (Okay, probably not that last part.)

A huge thanks goes out to friends and supporters at EVGA for providing us with the hardware to hand out to you all. If it weren't for sponsors like this PC Perspective just couldn't happen, so be sure to give them some thanks when you see them around the In-tar-webs!!

Good luck!

Source: EVGA

Sounds like Pillars Of Eternity is moving along just fine

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2014 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: gaming, pillars of eternity, obsidian

Pillars of Eternity is Obsidian's Kickstarted RPG which is touted as a spirtual successor to the Baldurs Gate and Icewind Dale series with a bit of Planescape tossed in, using the new Infinity Engine.  The gameplay footage we have seen shows artwork reminiscent of those games with vastly improved quality on the non-static elements and Chris Avellone is no stranger to writing decent story arcs, all bringing hope to fans of the once great Black Isle.  One piece has been missing until recently, the soundtrack of these games were crucial in building the atmosphere of these games and now Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has a snippet of the music that will appear in the game which you can listen to here.

“Making Pillars of Eternity feel like a modern day Infinity Engine game is important to us, and music plays a big role in achieving that goal. But what does that actually mean in practice? Well if you were to loosely analyze the music from Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2 and Icewind Dale 1 & 2 for example, you would find a number of stylistic similarities between them."

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Gaming

 

Steaming on a Sempron

Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2014 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: steambox, amd, sempron, athlon, Kabini, SteamOS

A popular question that has arisen from the release of the four new low cost Kabini processors has been their effectiveness in powering a Steam Machine. Phoronix have just finished testing the new Athlon and Sempron chips, paired with several laptop IGPs using Catalyst Linux driver fglrx 13.35.5/OpenGL 4.3.12798 on Ubuntu 14.04.  They tested Counter-Strike: Source, Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, and Portal at a variety of resolutions to see just how much performance these chips offer.  None of the chips could offer acceptable performance at 1080p and only Portal was delivered at 60fps assuming you used 1024x768.  They will be following this review with another that will pair discreet GPUs with Kabini which should increase gaming capabilities greatly.

am1_asus_01.jpg

"Earlier today the latest installment of our extensive Linux testing of AMD's new Athlon AM1 APUs were shared in the form of RadeonSI vs. Gallium3D benchmarks of the Radeon R3 Graphics found with these new entry-level APUs. Not included with that open-source vs. closed-source driver testing was any Source Engine / Steam Linux game testing due to an XCB DRI3 issue, but this article is devoted to looking at the Catalyst performance for the Sempron 2650, Sempron 3850, Athlon 5150, and Athlon 5350 to see whether any of these APUs can make the cut for a budget Steam Machine."

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Source: Phoronix

Win a Galaxy GeForce GTX 750 Ti GC or GeForce GTX 750 GC!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 16, 2014 - 11:39 AM |
Tagged: video, giveaway, galaxy, contest

UPDATE: Our winners have been selected and notified! Thanks to everyone for participating and stayed tuned to pcper.com as we'll have more contests starting VERY SOON!!!

Our sponsors are the best, they really are. Case in point - Galaxy would like us to give away a pair of graphics cards to our fans. On the block for the contest are a Galaxy GTX 750 Ti GC and a Galaxy GTX 750 GC option, both based on the latest generation Maxwell GPU architecture from NVIDIA.

I posted a GTX 750 Ti Roundup story that looked at the Galaxy GTX 750 Ti GC option and it impressed in both stock performance and in the amount of overclocking headroom provided by the custom cooler.

IMG_9862.JPG

How can you win these awesome prizes? Head over to our YouTube channel to find or just watch the video below! You need to be a subscriber to our YouTube channel as well as leave a comment on the video itself over on YouTube.

Anyone, any where in the world can win. We'll pick a winner on April 16th - good luck!

Source: YouTube

Ars Technica Estimates Steam Sales and Hours Played

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | April 16, 2014 - 01:56 AM |
Tagged: valve, steam

Valve does not release sales or hours played figures for any game on Steam and it is rare to find a publisher who will volunteer that information. That said, Steam user profiles list that information on a per-account basis. If someone, say Ars Technica, had access to sufficient server capacity, say an Amazon Web Services instance, and a reasonable understanding of statistics, then they could estimate.

Oh look, Ars Technica estimated by extrapolating from over 250,000 random accounts.

SteamHW.png

If interested, I would definitely look through the original editorial for all of its many findings. Here, if you let me (and you can't stop me even if you don't), I would like to add my own analysis on a specific topic. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on the PC, according to VGChartz, sold 3.42 million copies on at retail, worldwide. The thing is, Steamworks was required for every copy sold at retail or online. According to Ars Technica's estimates, 5.94 million copies were registered with Steam.

5.94 minus 3.42 is 2.52 million copies sold digitally. Almost a third of PC sales were made through Steam and other digital distribution platforms. Also, this means that the PC was the game's second-best selling platform, ahead of the PS3 (5.43m) and behind the Xbox 360 (7.92m), minus any digital sales on those platforms if they exist, of course. Despite its engine being programmed in DirectX 9, it is still a fairly high-end game. That is a fairly healthy install base for decent gaming PCs.

Did you discover anything else on your own? Be sure to discuss it in our comments!

Source: Ars Technica

Non-Replaceable, Defective Batteries in Sony VAIO Fit 11A

Subject: General Tech, Systems | April 15, 2014 - 08:48 PM |
Tagged: vaio, sony, battery issue

So it turns out that Sony, after releasing their last VAIO PC refresh before the division is sold to Japan Industrial Partners, have found an issue with Panasonic's custom lithium battery packs. The VAIO Fit 11A models, released February 2014, have the potential to overheat and catch fire, burning itself and the PC. They are in the process of creating a refund, repair, or exchange program but, in the mean time, request users stop using the devices for their safety.

15-Kaz.jpg

In head-crushing formation. #HandsCheck

The affected products fall under the model number, "SVF11N1XXXX", where Xs are, of course, some random letter or number. This information is printed underneath the display, accessible using the "release-lock" latch when the laptop is open.

Of course, this is all just unfortunate for Sony. The last product they create under their VAIO brand requires what basically amounts to a safety recall -- for a third-party component. Beyond that, Panasonic asserts that the flaw only seems to exist in the batteries that were customized for Sony. Panasonic, like many manufacturers, introduces slight modifications to existing products for a specific customer's needs. They do not believe that their other batteries, even of the same model, is defective outside of the shipment that Sony received.

At some point, you just need to feel bad for them...

Source: Sony

This is becoming somewhat of a habit Microsoft

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2014 - 02:44 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, win 8.1, win 8.1 update

The end of support for XP is an annoying but sensible move on Microsoft's part however today's announcement that Windows 8.1 EoL is the Patch Tuesday in May is anything but sensible.  The announcement states that no more updates for Win 8.1 will be released, if a customer wants to receive updates they must still be running Win 8 or upgrade to Win 8.1 Update 1.  The continued support for Win 8 machines seems rather odd and is perhaps intended to mollify corporate users who have not had the 8.1 patch pushed out as Microsoft has removed Win 8.1 Update 1 from their WSUS servers over a week ago making it impossible for corporations to properly upgrade their users to Update 1.   For those who bought a device recently this deadline does not give them much time to apply Update 1, especially when you consider the amount of critical errors installing Update 1 is causing.  Catch the vitriol over at Slashdot and think back to the good old days when all you had to keep track of were the various flavours of Win7.

World Wired Web_4.jpg

"Microsoft TechNet blog makes clear that Windows 8.1 will not be patched, and that users must get Windows 8.1 Update if they want security patches, InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard reports. 'In what is surely the most customer-antagonistic move of the new Windows regime, Steve Thomas at Microsoft posted a TechNet article on Saturday stating categorically that Microsoft will no longer issue security patches for Windows 8.1, starting in May,' Leonhard writes. 'Never mind that Windows 8.1 customers are still having multiple problems with errors when trying to install the Update."

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Source: Slashdot

Intel Unveils Ruggedized Education 2-In-1 Convertible Tablet

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2014 - 07:03 AM |
Tagged: Intel, Education, convertible tablet, atom z3740d

Intel has introduced a new convertible tablet aimed at the education market (specifically as a tool for students to use in their studies) conveniently dubbed the Intel Education 2-In-1. This latest product is a portable dockable tablet powered by an Intel Atom processor and running Windows 8.1 along with Intel Education software.

The new Education 2-In-1 tablet is the successor to Intel's previous Education Tablets series which included two Atom powered devices running the Android OS. The latest convertible tablet features a 10.1 touchscreen and capacitive stylus that weighs 683 grams (1.51 pounds). The tablet can also be connected to a keyboard dock for a total weight of 1.173 kilograms (2.58 pounds). It is a ruggedized design that can withstand up to 70cm drops (50cm when docked) and is both water and dust resistant per IP51 specifications.

Intel Education 2-In-1 Convertible Tablet for Education and Schools.jpg

The upcoming PC features a 10.1” 5-point multi-touch display with a resolution of 1366x768, a 1.26 MP webcam, and a 5.0 MP rear camera. The keyboard dock offers up a full qwerty keyboard, trackpad, additional IO ports, and a second battery. Intel rates its Atom-powered tablet at 8 hours of battery life for the tablet itself and 11 hours (total) when docked with the keyboard.

External IO includes:

  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Micro SD card slot
  • 1 x Audio out/Mic in combo jack
  • 1 x Micro HDMI
  • 2 x integrated speakers
  • 1 x Integrated microphone

The tablet further offers up a wide array of sensors for obtaining environmental data including an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, electronic compass, gyroscope, and optional GPS. Students can also get temperature readings via a probe and pair the rear camera with a magnification lens. The sensor and image data can be fed into the educational software bundled with the tablet for use in school labs.

Intel Education 2-In-1 Convertible Tablet In Use_Collaboration.jpg

Internally, the convertible tablet is powered by a quad core Intel Atom Z3740D processor clocked at 1.8 GHz, 2GB of DDR3L 1333 MHz memory, and either 32 GB or 64 GB of internal eMMC storage. Networking is handled by an 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 radio along with optional NFC, 3G, and LTE cellular radios. The tablet hosts a 7600mAH (28 Wh) battery while the keyboard dock offers up an additional 15 Wh battery.

On the software side of things, the tablet runs the 32-bit version of Windows 8.1 which is bundled with Intel's educational software suite and McAfee AntiVirus Plus. The educational software includes a digital textbook library from Kno Products.

Intel Education 2-In-1 Peripherals.jpg

The ruggedized design leaves something (read: aesthetics) to be desired, but the somewhat-bulky convertible is built to handle the inevitable, well, handling by students during their daily class schedules. Further, the Bay Trail SoC should run Windows 8.1 well enough to run the basic applications needed for coursework.

Intel has not yet released pricing or availability information on its latest educational hardware offering.

As more schools are looking into supporting digital learning material and incorporating devices such as laptops, tablets, and e-readers, Intel does not want to be left out of the game. The Education 2-In-1 is not likely to be a direct-to-consumer product but more of a business-to-educational institution offering much like Google's Chromebook subscription program and is intended to show off the hardware and software 'experience' that the company's Bay Trail Atom SoC platform is capable of enabling.

Source: Intel

ASUS Xonar U7, dump your onboard audio for an external solution?

Subject: General Tech | April 14, 2014 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: audio, asus, Xonar U7, usb sound card

ASUS has an easy way for you to upgrade your sound without needing to crack open your case, the Xonar U7 USB sound card.  Capable of delivering 7.1 surround with a Cmedia 6632A processor and no less than three different Cirrus signal conversion chips this is a high quality device for $90.  Connectivity is equally impressive, on one side an amplified 3.5 mm headphone output and shared line-in/microphone3.5 mm jack, on the other are Side, Center, and Rear channel outputs, an SPDIF output and the USB jack.  Read Legit Reviews' full article to hear how they felt the Xonar U7 performed.

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"We got an early look at an upcoming affordable USB powered sound card from ASUS called the Xonar U7. Its compact form makes it easy to setup or use with laptops which normally can’t have their audio solutions upgraded."

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XP has helped slow the decline of PC sales

Subject: General Tech | April 14, 2014 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: gartner, pc sales, desktop market share

With a total of 76.6 million PCs shipped worldwide in the first quarter of 2014 the desktop market only shrunk by 1.7% compared to the first quarter of 2013.  Gartner attributes this to two main factors, new desktops being purchased to replace aging machines running WinXP and a decline in the sales of tablets, at least in the US.  Lenovo retains its top spot globally but HP has been doing quite well with their marketing and now hold top spot in both the US and EMEA.  Check out all their findings at DigiTimes.

gartner_pcs_q1_2014.png

"The end of XP support by Microsoft on April 8 has played a role in the easing decline of PC shipments," said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. "All regions indicated a positive effect since the end of XP support stimulated the PC refresh of XP systems. Professional desktops, in particular, showed strength in the quarter."

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Source: DigiTimes

Getting burned by the Steam Controller

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2014 - 03:37 PM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Controller, gdc 14

At the Game Developers Conference last month The Tech Report had some one on one time with the Steam Controller and walked away with a less than positive impression.  It would seem that the learning curve for this device is rather steep, especially when they tried Portal 2.  Fine aiming, circle strafing and other tasks which come naturally to those used to a keyboard and mouse were quite difficult to accomplish on the new controller.  When asked, the Valve rep admitted it took them about 8 hours to familiarize themselves with the Steam Controller.  Is that too steep a learning curve or is it simply part of the fun of playing with a new type of console and controller?

controller.jpg

"Valve's Steam controller looks great on paper. It promises not just greater accuracy than conventional console gamepads, but also support for point-and-click titles that traditionally required a mouse and keyboard. There's a downside, though. As TR's Cyril Kowaliski learned first-hand, the Steam controller has a pretty steep learning curve—steep enough, perhaps, to put off some potential converts."

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