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Subject: General Tech | August 11, 2016 - 03:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: audio, arctic, P533 Military, gaming headset
Arctic has a rather unique product up for sale, an analog gaming headset modelled after the style you would see a helicopter pilot on TV wearing. The P533 Military Stereo Headset utilizes the standard 40mm neodymium drivers common to many headsets with a dynamic range of 20Hz-20KHz, 32Ohm impedance and 95dB sensitivity. The microphone boom is longer than usual and features several joints to allow you to position it exactly where you want. The P533 also has an integrated volume control knob on the outside of the right ear cup as opposed to inline on the cord, which ends in 3.5mm jacks. There is no doubt that the hard, rounded cups are unique looking although perhaps not what most of us are looking for. Check out Nikktech's review of the P533, even if it is just to see the design of these things.
"It may not be the best attack helicopter headset clone in the market today but the P533 Military Stereo Headset by ARCTIC might just be the most affordable one."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Sennheiser Momentum Ivory 2.0 wireless headset @ Kitguru
- Hyper X Cloud Revolver Gaming Headset Review @ Techgage
- GAMDIAS Hephaestus v2 Gaming Headset @ Benchmark Reviews
- Oittm REALSOUND RGB Portable Speaker Review @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | August 11, 2016 - 12:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Secure Boot, microsoft, backdoor, security
Yes, even though this occurs on a regular occasion, we are to be shocked that another secret backdoor into a security product has been discovered, exploited and published. In this case it is Microsoft's Secure Boot which has been unlocked and even better news is that it probably cannot be completely repaired without rendering previous backups and installations incompatible. On the positive side, devices which are locked down even for those with administrative privileges such as ARM-based Windows RT tablets can be unlocked and you can chose a different OS to install. The negatives will have more of an effect on businesses and system builders who relied on it to prevent modified Windows installs from booting, preventing infections and questionably sourced Windows images from being used.
The Register has links to more information on Secure Boot and Microsoft's response and you can read some information about the group which found and released the information about this over at The Inquirer.
"Microsoft leaked the golden keys that unlock Windows-powered tablets, phones and other devices sealed by Secure Boot – and is now scrambling to undo the blunder."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Next Generation of Wireless -- 5G -- Is All Hype @ Slashdot
- US couple sues after IP address fingers them for thousands of crimes @ The Inquirer
- Toshiba flashes 100TB QLC flash drive, might release within months. Really @ The Register
- An ATM hack and a PIN-pad hack show chip cards aren’t impervious to fraud @ Ars Technica
Subject: General Tech | August 10, 2016 - 02:13 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, starseed, VR, amd, nvidia, htc vive
When [H]ard|OCP looks at the performance of a VR game, be it a Vive or Rift title, they focus on the gameplay experience as opposed to benchmarks. There are numerous reasons for this, from the fact that these games do not tend to stress GPUs like many triple A titles but also because the targets are different, steady render times below 11.1ms are the target as opposed to higher frame counts. AMD initially had issues with this game, the newest driver release has resolved those issues completely. The takeaway quote in [H]'s conclusions provide the most telling part of the review, "If we were to perform a blind gaming test, you would not be able to identify which GPU you were gaming with at the time."
"We are back this week to take another objective look at AMD and NVIDIA GPU performance in one of the the top selling games in the VR-only realm, The Gallery Episode 1: Call of Starseed. This is another GPU-intensive title that has the ability to put some GPUs on their heels. How do the new RX 480 and GeForce 1000 series perform?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Battlefield 1 weapons of war detailed in video trailer @ HEXUS
- No Man’s Sky Launch Update: Exploits Removed, Sea Beds Souped-Up, Sunsets Intensified… @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- No Man’s Sky isn’t the game I expected: thoughts on the first 10 hours @ Polygon
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided PC to support Tobii Eye Tracking @ HEXUS
- Sudden Strike 4 Is A Slower More Thoughtful RTS @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Survive This Bundle @ Humble Bundle
- Dead Rising Being Remastered And Coming To PC @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | August 10, 2016 - 12:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: sinclair, ZX Spectrum Vega, Spectrum Vega+, crowdfunding
If you like your drama and tech mixed you should pop over to the The Inquirer to read about what is going on behind the scenes at Retro Computers Ltd, who successfully crowdfunded the return of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Two founders and former directors quietly left the company back in April and are now loudly lawyering up in a suite they launched due to lack of communication from the remaining directors of Retro Computers. In return Retro have revealed that they too have lawyers, which are demanding information about unaccounted company funds which they believe were siphoned off or otherwise mismanaged.
Shortly after The Inquirer published their article both sides come out with updates about the case and more accusations. It could prove to be an interesting saga, especially with the upcoming release of the Vega+.
"Look, we're going to keep reporting this because it's fascinating, but at the same time, how much more of this dirty laundry is going to get aired, and why is it happening? There's a missing piece of the puzzle here. "
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Windows 10 Anniversary Update crashing under Avast antivirus update @ The Register
- Dota 2 Dev forum breach sees two million user records lifted @ The Inquirer
- Ubuntu 14.04/16.04 vs. Ubuntu Bash On Windows 10 Anniversary Performance @ Phoronix
- Google Chrome will beat Flash to death with a shovel: Why... won't... you... just... die! @ The Register
- Hot iron: Knights Landing hits 100 gigaflops in plasma physics benchmark @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2016 - 06:54 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: input, patriot, viper v760, Kailh, RGB LED
Patriot have been focusing on peripherals as of late, while still more commonly known for volatile memory they have branched out into numerous other product lines. The Viper V760 uses Kailh switches equivalent to Cherry MX Brown; of the RGB LED variety for this is another colourful keyboard. Techgage tried out this keyboard in their latest review, appreciating many of the features of the board, perhaps most notibly the price of $100 or less.
"While mechanical keyboards have slowly become ubiquitous, not everyone has had a chance to try one out. For this article, we not only test out the latest keyboard from long-time memory company Patriot, with its Viper V760, we take a look at it from a new perspective – the perspective of someone who’s never used a mech before."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Cooler Master MasterKeys Pro M White @ Kitguru
- Cooler Master Masterkeys Lite L @ eTeknix
- SteelSeries APEX M800 Keyboard @ techPowerUp
- Tesoro GRAM Spectrum RGB Gaming Keyboard @ Modders-Inc
- Tt eSPORTS Ventus Z Gaming Mouse @ Benchmark Reviews
- Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum RGB Tunable Gaming Mouse Review @ NikKTech
- G.SKILL Ripjaws MX780 @ Benchmark Reviews
- Dream Machines DM1 Pro Mouse @ techPowerUp
Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2016 - 05:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft
According to ComputerWorld, Microsoft has decided that their 30-day rollback period is too long, and so they reduced it to 10 days with version 1607. Honestly, 30 days seemed a bit too long to leave (in my case) 30 GB of crap laying around your main drive, especially considering a new build is dropped to the public once every six to nine months or so. They should have an interface for users to easily delete early, and maybe even a power-user tool to move it to external storage or something.
This should not affect users who upgrade from Windows 7 and 8.x, unless the rules have changed since the November (1511) update. A non-Windows Insider machine will only install a new build of Windows 10 if the previous install was a clean install, or if the rollback period has already timed out. Also, users can still return to Windows 7 or Windows 8.x by performing a clean install with their respective product key, and Microsoft still provides ISOs on their website even if the user lost their install DVD.
That said, Microsoft still should make this much more clear in their interface, though. Looking at the Settings page, above, there doesn't seem to be any indication that my time is running out. Not cool.
Subject: General Tech | August 9, 2016 - 02:55 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: XPoint, Samsung, Intel, HybriDIMM
Bit of a correction folks, Netlist developed the HybriDIMMs using Samsung DRAM and NAND, united using their own proprietary interface. This, and my confusion, is in part to do some nasty and very costly IP litigation behind the scenes which lead to Samsung getting more credit for this than they deserved.
Netlist and Diablo Technologies worked together for a while and then parted ways. Soon after the split Diablo licensed SMART to produce ULLtraDIMMs and a court case was born. Not long afterwards SanDisk grabbed the IP from Diablo and now WD is buying SanDisk, making this an utter nightmare for a smaller company. Samsung invested $23m in Netdisk and offered a source of chips, albeit likely with strings, which has allowed Netdisk to develop HybriDIMMs.
Samsung Netlist has developed HybriDIMMs, replacing some of the DRAM on a memory module with NAND. This allows you to significantly increase the amount of memory available on a DIMM and reduces the price dramatically at the same time. The drawback is that NAND is significantly slower than DRAM; they intend to overcome that with the use of predictive algorithms they have called PreSight to pre-fetch data from the NAND and stage it in DRAM. This will compete with Intel's Optane XPoint DIMMs once they are released and will mean the DRAM market will split into two, the DRAM we are currently used to and these hybrid NAND DIMMs. Check out more details over at The Register.
"Gold plate can give a durable and affordable alloy a 24-carat veneer finish, adding value to cheap metal. DRAM gives Samsung-Netlist Hybrid DIMMs a cache veneer, providing what looks like DRAM to applications but is really persistent NAND underneath, cheaper than DRAM and lots of it."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Linux subsystem could cause Windows 10 Anniversary Update to eat itself @ The Inquirer
- Google study shows unwanted software is a bigger headache than malware @ The Inquirer
- Save Up To 70% On Steamcrate Subscriptions: Get 10 New Games Each Month @ Gizmodo
- Hacker Uses Fake Boarding Pass App To Get Into Fancy Airline Lounges @ Slashdot
Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2016 - 11:06 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xbox one s, xbox one, TSMC, microsoft, console, 16nm
Microsoft recently unleashed a smaller version of its gaming console in the form of the Xbox One S. The new "S" variant packs an internal power supply, 4K Blu-ray optical drive, and a smaller (die shrunk) AMD SoC into a 40% smaller package. The new console is clad in all white with black accents and a circular vent on left half of the top. A USB port and pairing button has been added to the front and the power and eject buttons are now physical rather than capacitive (touch sensitive).
Rear I/O remains similar to the original console and includes a power input, two HDMI ports (one input, one output), two USB 3.0 ports, one Ethernet, one S/PDIF audio out, and one IR out port. There is no need for the power brick anymore though as the power supply is now internal. Along with being 40% smaller, it can now be mounted vertically using an included stand. While there is no longer a dedicated Kinect port, it is still possible to add a Kinect to your console using an adapter.
The internal specifications of the Xbox One S remain consistent with the original Xbox One console except that it will now be available in a 2TB model. The gaming console is powered by a nearly identical processor that is now 35% smaller thanks to being manufactured on a smaller 16nm FinFet process node at TSMC. While the chip is more power efficient, it still features the same eight Jaguar CPU cores clocked at 1.75 GHz and 12 CU graphics portion (768 stream processors). Microsoft and AMD now support HDR and 4K resolutions and upscaling with the new chip. The graphics portion is where the new Xbox One S gets a bit interesting because it appears that Microsoft has given the GPU a bit of an overclock to 914 MHz. Compared to the original Xbox One's 853 MHz, this is a 7.1% increase in clockspeed. The increased GPU clocks also results in increased bandwidth for the ESRAM (204 GB/s on the original Xbox One versus 219 GB/s on the Xbox One S).
According to Microsoft, the increased GPU clockspeeds were necessary to be able to render non HDR versions of the game for Game DVR, Game Streaming, and taking screenshots in real time. A nice side benefit to this though is that the extra performance can result in improved game play in certain games. In Digital Foundry's testing, Richard Leadbetter found this to be especially true in games with unlocked frame rates or in games that are 30 FPS locked but where the original console could not hit 30 FPS consistently. The increased clocks can be felt in slightly smoother game play and less screen tearing. For example, they found that the Xbox One S got up to 11% higher frames in Project Cars (47 FPS versus 44) and between 6% to 8% in Hitman. Further, they found that the higher clocks help performance in playing Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One in backwards compatibility mode such as Alan Wake's American Nightmare.
The 2TB Xbox One S is available now for $400 while the 1TB ($350) and 500GB ($300) versions will be available on the 23rd. For comparison, the 500GB Xbox One (original) is currently $250. The Xbox One 1TB game console varies in price depending on game bundle.
What are your thoughts on the smaller console? While the ever so slight performance boost is a nice bonus, I definitely don't think that it is worth specifically upgrading for if you already have an Xbox One. If you have been holding off, now is the time to get a discounted original or smaller S version though! If you are hoping for more performance, definitely wait for Microsoft's Scorpio project or it's competitor the PlayStation 4 Neo (or even better a gaming PC right!? hehe).
I do know that Ryan has gotten his hands on the slimmer Xbox One S, so hopefully we will see some testing of our own as well as a teardown (hint, hint!).
- Xbox One Teardown - Microsoft still hates you
- PC vs. PS4 vs. Xbox One Hardware Comparison: Building a Competing Gaming PC
- Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One Already Hitting a Performance Wall
- Tech Interview: Inside Xbox One S @ Eurogamer
Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2016 - 03:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: audio, electrostatic speaker, DIY
Instead of focusing on the troubling security holes reported on today how about you distract yourself by reading up on electrostatic speakers and how to make them yourself. Electrostatic loudspeakers differ from conventional magnetic speakers as they use the attraction and repulsion of a thin conductive film in an electric field to create sound waves. This allows the speakers to produce audio with very little distortion and comparatively flat frequency response but also comes with a drawback; half the audio is sent backwards and there is no easy way to reflect it to the front. Check out the build process and material required to create your own unique high end speakers over at Hack a Day.
"Any thin flexible plastic film can make a noise in an electrostatic speaker, but for best performance the thinner your film, the better. 5 micron thick Mylar seems to be the preferred choice."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Four vulnerabilities put 900 million Android handsets at risk of attack @ The Inquirer
- 75 Percent of Bluetooth Smart Locks Can Be Hacked @ Slashdot
- Video surveillance recorders riddled with zero-days @ The Register
- First Looks: The Razer HDK2 Virtual Reality @ Hardware Secrets
- Seagate coats SATA flash in Nytro, waits for explosion @ The Register
- A Look At NVIDIA’s Upcoming Pascal GP102 Quadros, Iray VR, DGX-1 & mental ray Advancements @ Techgage
- Asus PL-AC56 AV2 1200 Wi-Fi Powerline Extender Kit @ Kitguru
- Nitro Concepts C80 Comfort Carbon Class Gaming Chair @ eTeknix
- ASUS RT-AC3200 Wireless AC Router Review @ Techgage
- Vertagear PL6000 Gaming Chair @ Kitguru
- Xtorm AP175 Mobile Solar Panel @ NikKTech
- Howdy, Ubuntu on Windows! How Fast Is It? @ Linux.com
- Cassia Bluetooth Hub Router @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 8, 2016 - 02:03 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: workshop, video, streaming, quakecon, prizes, live, giveaways
UPDATE: Did you miss the workshop? Relive the fun and excitement with the replay below!!
It is that time of year again: another installment of the PC Perspective Hardware Workshop! We will be presenting on the main stage at Quakecon 2016 being held in Dallas, TX August 4-7.
Main Stage - Quakecon 2016
Saturday, August 6th, 10:00am CT
Our thanks go out to the organizers of Quakecon for allowing us and our partners to put together a show that we are proud of every year. We love giving back to the community of enthusiasts and gamers that drive us to do what we do! Get ready for 2 hours of prizes, games and raffles and the chances are pretty good that you'll take something out with you - really, they are pretty good!
Our primary partners at the event are those that threw in for our ability to host the workshop at Quakecon and for the hundreds of shirts we have ready to toss out! Our thanks to NVIDIA, Logitech and ASUS!!
If you can't make it to the workshop - don't worry! You can still watch the workshop live on our live page as we stream it over one of several online services. Just remember this URL: http://pcper.com/live and you will find your way!
PC Perspective LIVE Podcast and Meetup
We are planning on hosting any fans that want to watch us record our weekly PC Perspective Podcast (http://pcper.com/podcast) on Wednesday or Thursday evening in our meeting room at the Hilton Anatole. I don't yet know exactly WHEN or WHERE the location will be, but I will update this page accordingly on Wednesday August 3rd when we get the data. You might also consider following me on Twitter for updates on that status as well.
After the recording, we'll hop over the hotel bar for a couple drinks and hang out. We have room for at leaast 50-60 people to join us in the room but we'll still be recording if just ONE of you shows up. :)
Prize List (will continue to grow!)
Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2016 - 02:01 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: amiga, archive.org, Internet Archive, software, games, gaming, retro, 1990s, classic, browser
Looking for some cutting-edge content to test out that lightning-fast graphics card purchase? Well, this might not fit the bill. However, if you have a mind to check out a vast library of software from the legendary Amiga computer system, the Internet Archive has you covered.
A working Commodore Amiga is not required (Image credit: Archive.org)
The software plays via an in-browser emulator, and there are also links to download the related files (Amiga Disk File, images, etc.) so just about any system can play these old games. If you're interested head on over to Archive.org to access the library.
Subject: General Tech | August 5, 2016 - 01:04 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, quakecon, podcast
PC Perspective Podcast #411 - 08/05/2016
Join us this week as we discuss our new Titan X review and talk with the fans at Quakecon 2016!!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store (audio only)
- Google Play - Subscribe to our audio podcast directly through Google Play!
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader (audio only)
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Ken Addison and Morry Teitelman
- No show notes today, enjoy the free flow discussion!
Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2016 - 05:49 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: MasterKeys Pro M, Masterkeys Pro L, MasterKeys, LED keyboard, keyboard, gaming keyboard, cooler master, Cherry MX
Cooler Master has released a pair of new gaming keyboards with the MasterKeys Intelligent White series Pro L and Pro M, both of which feature Cherry MX switches and LED backlighting.
The keyboards are differentiated by size, with the Pro L a full-sized model, and the Pro M a 90% design. Both feature a hybrid anti-ghosting implementation which begins with 6-key, and automatically switches to N-key rollover if 6+ buttons are pressed simultaniously. A 32-bit ARM Cortex processor is onboard to control all functionality, from macros to illumination.
"The MasterKeys Pro White utilizes the on board memory and processor for its advanced On-the-fly System. LED lighting modes, repeat rate adjustment, multimedia keys, macro recording, combined with four profile keys, enable you to control all aspects of the keyboard right at your fingertips."
The Pro L and Pro M are available with Cherry MX Brown, Blue, and Red switches. The USB 2.0-connected keyboard offer a 1000 Hz polling rate, and 1 ms response time.
Full press release after the break.
Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2016 - 07:08 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, pc gaming, esports, DOTA 2
Every year, Valve hosts a giant gaming event called “The International”. While the prize pool is still being increased through purchases of the The International 2016 Battle Pass DLC bundle, it currently rests just below $19.4 million USD. The way previous years worked is that about a third went to first place, and the rest trickled down. Keep in mind that DOTA 2 is a team sport, though, so winnings don't all go to a single person.
Anywho, it will be a five-day event broadcasted on Twitch, Steam Broadcasting, WatchESPN, and YouTube. Owners of a SteamVR-compatible headset will also be able to view the broadcast in VR (which isn't just for The International, but this is the first The International to support it). It's not just projecting you into the stadium, either; it gives you a command center to see stats around you, or you can jump down into the map to see the battle around you “human scale”.
The International 6 begins on Monday.
Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2016 - 06:33 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft
Remember, folks, that “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions”. Microsoft has been trying to shed their stigma as a giant source of malware, but all solutions have side-effects, and those side-effects can have damaging consequences. When you believe that you or someone else is doing good, that is when you should be extra cautious, not less. It's a source of complacency.
With tomorrow's Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft will require kernel-mode drivers to be signed by them on systems with Secure Boot enabled. This change will not affect PCs that have been upgraded from a previous version of Windows, including Windows 10 1507 and Windows 10 1511. That said, this could be a concern for those (like me) who are planning to clean install soon.
To me, this doesn't look like it will be that big of a deal. Hobbyists should be able to manage with either disabling Secure Boot, if their system allows it, or by fitting their driver around the user-mode framework. It might cause an issue with hotfix graphics drivers, though, which are pushed out before getting signed by Microsoft.
Also, if Microsoft changes their driver signing policy in the future, then this
is could be (Update @ 7:30pm ET: original verbage was a little too strong) huge leverage against anyone attempting to circumvent it (such as implementing a graphics API that outperforms whatever DirectX version they have at the time -- see how Vulkan is not allowed on MacOSX). Even if you trust Microsoft now, you need to think about what Microsoft in 10+ years can do if they choose to.
Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2016 - 06:37 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10
For the majority of users, the Windows 10 free upgrade period has just ended. That said, Microsoft is extending the offer for a specific group of people: those who use assistive technologies, such as text-to-speech software for those with visual impairments. They are being intentionally vague with which AT software allow users to qualify, which makes sense, because being pedantic to users with disabilities after offering it to everyone (sometimes like a hot potato) for a whole year wouldn't be the best PR.
They haven't yet announced an end date for this new offer. They also haven't really discussed why they are making this exemption, although they do promote the upcoming Anniversary Update several times, with its new accessibility features highlighted. This makes me think that, while of course Microsoft is going to namedrop the new build whenever possible, they might have found that users were hesitant to upgrade to 1507 and 1511 because of accessibility concerns. Since the general public upgrade offer ended just before the Anniversary Update, they might be allowing those users to jump aboard Windows 10 even though their disability prevented them from using 1511.
Either way, it's a nice extension to make.
Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2016 - 05:33 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xiaomi, ultraportable, ultrabook, thin and light, Intel, core m3, core i5
According to the guys over at The Tech Report, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is jumping into the notebook game with two new Mi Notebook Air ultrabooks. The all aluminum notebooks are sleek looking and priced very competitively for their specifications. They are set to release on August 2nd in China.
The new Mi Notebook Air notebooks come in 13.3" and 12.5" versions. Both models use all aluminum bodies with edge to edge glass displays (1080p though unknown what type of panel), backlit keyboards, and dual AKG speakers. Users can choose from gold or silver colors for the body and keyboard (Xiaomi uses a logo-less design which is nice).
Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air via Ars Technica.
Both models sport a single USB Type C port (which is also used for charging), two USB 3.0 Type A ports, one HDMI video output, and a headphone jack. The Xiaomi website shows an USB Type C adapter that adds extra ports as well. Internally, they have a M.2 slot for storage expansion but the notebooks do not appear to be user serviceable (though iFixit may rectify that...). Also shared is support for the company's Mi Sync software and Mi fitness band which can be used to unlock the computer when the user is in proximity.
The smaller 12.5" Mi Notebook Air is 0.51" thick and weighs just over 2.3 pounds. It is powered by an Intel Core M3 processor and Xiaomi claims that this model can hit 11.5 hours ouf battery life. Other specifications include 4 GB of RAM, a 128 GB SATA SSD, and 802.11ac wireless.
If you need a bit more computing power, the 13.3" notebook is slightly bulkier at 0.58" thick and 2.8 pounds with the tradeoff in size giving users a larger display, keyboard, and dedicated graphics card. Specifically, the 13.3" ultrabook features an Intel Core i5 processor, Nvidia Geforce 940MX GPU, 8 GB DDR4 RAM, a 256GB NVMe PCI-E SSD, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. This laptop is a bit heavier but I think the extra horsepower is worth it for those that need or want it.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about what many will see as an Apple MacBook Air clone is the pricing. The 12.5" laptop will MSRP for RMB 3499 while that 13.3" notebook will cost RMB 4999. That translates to approximately $525 and $750 USD respectively which is a great value for the specifications and size and seemingly will give Apple a run for its money in China. That's the bad news: Xiaomi does not appear to be bringing these slick looking notebooks to the US anytime soon which is unfortunate.
Chinese technology company LeEco (SZSE: 300104) will purchase US television manufacture Vizio (NASDAQ: VZIO (not trading)) in a deal worth $2 Billion USD set to close in the fourth quarter of this year.
LeEco plans to acquire Vizio's hardware and software divisions and run the US company as a wholly owned subsidiary while spinning off Vizio's Inscape television viewership data arm as a privately held company. With approximately 400 employees, yearly revenue in the billions ($3.1 billion in 2014), and at least 20% of the US television market, the acquisition would allow LeEco to enter the US market in a big way. Vizio is best known in the US for its televisions where it is a respected brand, but the company also produces ultrabooks, tablets, smartphones, and sound bars. It is a private US-based company with manufacturing in Mexico and China.
Founded in 2004, LeEco is involved in a number of technology related fields across China, India, and soon the US. The Vizio brand (and partnerships such as the one with Walmart to carry its TVs) alone will be instrumental in LeEco's plans to break into the US market which has been resistant to Chinese brands making inroads (Lenovo apparently being the exception, but even Lenovo was not able to get its smartphones into the US market in a big way). The company of 5000+ employees is involved in Internet TV, video production and distribution, e-commerce, smartphones, tablets, gadgets, home automation, and even (soon) driverless cars.The company had 2014 revenue of $1.6 billion.
It is interesting to see all of the buy outs of US tech companies by overseas companies. To be clear, I don't necessarily think that these deals are a bad thing or being done with malicious intentions, but they do piques my curiosity. In this case it could be a good partnership that would allow both companies to benefit with LeEco getting a strong US brand and the recognition and market trust that entails and Vizio getting a much larger staffed company with experience in Chinese markets where it could help Vizio push its smart TV platform and ultrabooks and phone aspects further. Here's hoping that a LeEco owned Vizio grows and maintains its quality and price points.
What do you think about LeEco buying out Vizio? What will the future hold for the US TV maker?
Subject: General Tech | July 27, 2016 - 08:47 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, epic games, unreal engine, unreal engine 4, ue4, uwp
The head of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, doesn't like UWP too much, at least as it exists today (and for noble reasons). He will not support the new software (app) platform unless Microsoft makes some clear changes that guarantee perpetual openness. There really isn't anything, technically or legally, to prevent Microsoft (or an entity with authority over Microsoft, like governments, activists groups who petition government, and so forth) from undoing their changes going forward. If Microsoft drops support for Win32, apart from applications that are converted using Project Centennial or something, their catalog would be tiny.
SteamOS would kick its butt levels of tiny, let alone OSX, Android, and countless others.
As a result, Microsoft keeps it around, despite its unruliness. Functionality that is required by legitimate software make it difficult to prevent malware, and, even without an infection, it can make the system just get junked up over time.
UWP, on the other hand, is slimmer, contained, and authenticated with keys. This is theoretically easier to maintain, but at the expense of user control and freedom; freedom to develop and install software anonymously and without oversight. The first iteration was with Windows RT, which was basically iOS, right down to the “you cannot ship a web browser unless it is a reskin of Internet Explorer ((replace that for Safari in iOS' case))” and “content above ESRB M and PEGI 16 are banned from the OS” levels of control.
Since then, content guidelines have increased, sideloading has been added, and so forth. That said, unlike the technical hurdles of Win32, there's nothing to prevent Microsoft from, in the future, saying “Okay, we have enough software for lock in. Sideloading is being removed in Windows 10 version 2810” or something. I doubt that the current administration wants to do this, especially executives like Phil Spencer, but their unwillingness to make it impossible to be done in the future is frustrating. This could be a few clauses in the EULA that make it easy for users to sue Microsoft if a feature is changed, and/or some chunks of code that breaks compatibility if certain openness features are removed.
Some people complain that he wasn't this concerned about iOS, but he already said that it was a bad decision in hindsight. Apple waved a shiny device around, and it took a few years for developers to think “Wait a minute, what did I just sign away?” iOS is, indeed, just as bad as UWP could turn into, if not worse.
Remember folks, once you build a tool for censorship, they will come. They may also have very different beliefs about what should be allowed or disallowed than you do. This is scary stuff, albeit based on good intentions.
That rant aside, Microsoft's Advanced Technology Group (ATG) has produced a fork of Unreal Engine 4, which builds UWP content. It is based upon Unreal Engine 4.12, and they have apparently merged changes up to version 4.12.5. This makes sense, of course, because that version is required to use Visual Studio 2015 Update 3.
If you want to make a game in Unreal Engine 4 for the UWP platform, then you might be able to use Microsoft's version. That said, it is provided without warranty, and there might be some bugs that cropped up, which Epic Games will probably not help with. I somehow doubt that Microsoft will have a dedicated team that merges all fixes going forward, and I don't think this will change Tim's mind (although concrete limitations that guarantee openness might...). Use at your own risk, I guess, especially if you don't care about potentially missing out on whatever is added for 4.13 and on (unless you add it yourself).
The fork is available on Microsoft's ATG GitHub, with lots of uppercase typing.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | July 25, 2016 - 09:48 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: siggraph 2016, Siggraph, capsaicin, amd, 3D rendering
At their Capsaicin Siggraph event tonight AMD has announced that what was previously announced as the FireRender rendering engine is being officially launched as AMD Radeon ProRender, and this is becoming open-source as part of AMD's GPUOpen initiative.
From AMD's press release:
AMD today announced its powerful physically-based rendering engine is becoming open source, giving developers access to the source code.
As part of GPUOpen, Radeon ProRender (formerly previewed as AMD FireRender) enables creators to bring ideas to life through high-performance applications and workflows enhanced by photorealistic rendering.
GPUOpen is an AMD initiative designed to assist developers in creating ground-breaking games, professional graphics applications and GPU computing applications with much greater performance and lifelike experiences, at no cost and using open development tools and software.
Unlike other renderers, Radeon ProRender can simultaneously use and balance the compute capabilities of multiple GPUs and CPUs – on the same system, at the same time – and deliver state-of-the-art GPU acceleration to produce rapid, accurate results.
Radeon ProRender plugins are available today for many popular 3D content creation applications, including Autodesk® 3ds Max®, SOLIDWORKS by Dassault Systèmes and Rhino®, with Autodesk® Maya® coming soon. Radeon ProRender works across Windows®, OS X and Linux®, and supports AMD GPUs, CPUs and APUs as well as those of other vendors.