HP Split Imminent, and 30,000+ Employees Will Be Let Go

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2015 - 03:10 PM |
Tagged: layoffs, hp inc, hp, hewlett-packard enterprise

As we reported a while ago, Hewlett-Packard is planning to split into two. The move will separate the consumer products into “HP Inc” and enterprise products into “Hewlett-Packard Enterprise”. This makes sense, because enterprise clients know the full name, but many consumers probably do not. At the time, it was expected to result in 5000 jobs lost, resulting in 55,000 since the upper management focused on cutting expenses. Now, about a year later, and right before the split happens, we find out that 5000 is now well over 30,000, bringing the 55,000 figure to between 85,000 and 95,000.


Image Credit: Wikipedia

These are fairly severe cuts, but it depends on how you look at it. A typical corporate restructure is around 10% of employees as a rule of thumb. If you count the slow, rolling job cuts as a single restructure, then the Hewlett-Packard Company has cut about 25% - 30% of their workforce, albeit offset by some hiring and rehiring that naturally won't be reported on as much as cuts.

If you look at this deal as a single restructure however, then it is between 10-15%, which is somewhat normal. Personally, I would say that this is the slightly more honest way of reporting on the issue. These cuts are on the severe side, but I don't think it spells trouble for the companies (although it is terrible for the employees).

Source: Ars Technica

Are you leaving us so Zune?

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2015 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: zune, microsoft

Much to the dismay of a certain PCPer, Zune is passing off this mortal coil as yet another iTunes killer that turned out not to live up to the creators hopes.  As of November 15th Zune services will be retired which means no new music or streaming for owners of the MP3 player.  You will still be able to play music as long as it is not DRM protected, once the licensing servers go down the protected content will no longer be accessible in yet another glaring example of how DRM hurts those who pay for content far more effectively than it prevents theft.  The Register does have some good news for those dozens of people effected, Zune Music Pass subscriptions will be converted to Groove Music Pass subscriptions.


"Come November, Microsoft is killing off Zune – the very thing that was supposed to kill off the Apple iPod and iTunes. As you may be able to tell, that execution never came about."

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Source: The Register

Podcast #367 - AMD R9 Nano, a Corsair GTX 980Ti, NVIDIA Pascal Rumors and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2015 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: xps 12, video, TSMC, Steam Controller, r9 nano, podcast, pascal, nvidia, msi, hdplex h5, gtx 980ti sea hawk, fury x, Fiji, dell, corsair, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #367 - 09/17/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD R9 Nano, a Corsair GTX 980Ti, NVIDIA Pascal Rumors and more!

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

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

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malventano

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

BitTorrent Sync 2.2 Introduces New Pricing Model, Bugfixes, and Performance Improvements

Subject: General Tech | September 17, 2015 - 02:28 AM |
Tagged: bittorrent, bittorrent sync, file sharing, backup files, file sync

BitTorrent, Inc. recently released a new version of its Sync application, Sync 2.2.1. This latest build introduces a new paid pricing model that is much more favorable towards personal users (more akin to the original alpha and beta versions), implements several bugfixes, and contains performance improvements over previous builds.

According to the developers, the pricing model changes in Sync 2.2+ are the result of user feedback on their forums, user surveys, and suggestions made via email and other channels. Sync will maintain the free and Pro tiers, but personal users will be getting more value. The biggest change for free users is the removal of the 10 folder limit – free licenses can create and access as many folders as they need. Sync Pro can be purchased for personal or business use. Personal use Pro licenses will no longer have access to Priority Support however it is a one time charge and there is no longer an annual subscription required. Business licenses for Sync Pro will continue to be based on an annual subscription and will retain access to Priority Support.

BitTorrent Sync 2_2_1.jpg

Only minor UI changes in the new build. Sync All has been renamed to Selective Sync and there are more buttons along the top bar, but otherwise it appears very similar to what you'd expect.

Of course, existing users can choose to keep their existing subscription(s) or switch to the new pricing model. More information on how to do that can be found in this FAQ. A detailed list of bugfixes and changes can be found here. Free users will notice that you can now see all of your connected devices. Users will also be able to see a list of locked files on a per-user basis now as well.

Sync Pro is now available for personal use for $39.99 and for business use at $39.99 per year per seat (up to 50 users). BitTorrent is offering a 25% discount until September 22, 2015 using the promo code 2.2launch.

I have been using Sync since the alpha builds, and it has been dutifully backing up all of my photos from my smartphone as well as periodically being used to sync files between my desktop and laptop. The free version has gotten a fair number of feature improvements along the way. So far, I have not felt the need to pay for the Pro version, but the removal of the yearly subscription requirement makes me much more inclined to check it out. The removal of the 10 folder limit for free users is huge though, as that artificial restriction likely turned off many users from trying out Sync. I am happy to see BitTorrent responding to user feedback.

See more BitTorrent Sync coverage at PC Perspective.

Fallout 4's instructional videos

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2015 - 02:13 PM |
Tagged: fallout 4

You can still enjoy the lead up to the release of Fallout 4 without pre-ordering the game.  Bethesda is slowly releasing videos which cover the SPECIAL system, Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck that define your character in the game.  So far we have seen Strength and today the Perception video was released.  We have a ways to go yet before the release, you could always look at adding mods to Fallout 3 or New Vegas to entertain yourself while you wait.


"Pretty fun, these ‘toons, aren’t they? For folks who can’t watch now or would rather have words, Perception once again governs shooty things. Higher Perception means your accuracy will be higher when using the bodypart-targeting VATS aiming mode, same as before."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:


PINs and Patterns are preferable after this Android 5 issue

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2015 - 12:49 PM |
Tagged: hack, smartphone, Android, security

You can see in the video that The Register linked to that this particular vulnerability is neither quick nor elegant but it is most certainly effective.  By entering an extremely long string of digits into the password field, accomplished with multiple copies and pastes, while the camera app is active you can cause the lock screen application to crash on all but the newest version of Android 5.  Unfortunately the effect of that crash is to drop you onto the phones home screen, thus allowing complete access to the phone.  If you are running a version of Android 5 you should consider switching to a PIN or pattern unlock, at least for the time being.


"If you've got an Android 5 smartphone with anything but the very latest version of Lollipop on it, it's best to use a PIN or pattern to secure your lock-screen – because there's a trivial bypass for its password protection."

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Source: The Register

Keeping it simple with the Azio EXO-1 K gaming mouse

Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2015 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: input, AiZO, EXO1-K, gaming mouse

Not everyone can, or even wants, to spend $100 on a mouse which prices out a lot of the high end gaming mice on the market.  At $30 the AiZO EXO1-K might be a perfect solution for those customers, offering a mix of features with a low price.  Fans of glowing mice will like the LEDs, many gamers will be satisfied with the DPI range of 1250 - 3500 and six programmable buttons will be just enough for your average user.  Overclockers Club found the mouse a bit heavy and the movement was stiff initially but not hard to become accustomed to.  Only right handed people need apply at the moment, hopefully a leftie model will arrive eventually.


"This mouse, above all, you get what you pay for. It's not a $100 mouse that does everything but order pizza for you. It is not a cheap garbage mouse that only works half the time, either. What you get is a reliable, aesthetically pleasing, and simple gaming mouse. That being mentioned, this gives the mouse every bit of credit that some of the more expensive mice deserve as well."

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Virtual Reality as an Art Form? Artists Compete Using VR at PAX Prime

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | September 15, 2015 - 01:07 PM |
Tagged: VR, virtual reality, Tilt Brush, PAX Prime 2015, paint, nvidia, art

A group of six artists from the gaming industry were brought together at this month's PAX Prime event in Seattle in a joint vebture between NVIDIA, Valve, Google and HTC. The idea? To use virtual reality to create art. The result was very interesting, to say the least.

Wearing HTC’s VR headset the artists had 30 minutes each to create their work using Tilt Brush. What is Tilt Brush, exactly?

"Tilt Brush uses the HTC Vive’s unique hand controllers and positional tracking to allow artists to paint in three dimensions. The software includes a remarkable digital palette, letting users draw GPU-powered real-time effects like fire, smoke and light."

The artists included Chandana Ekanayake from Uber Entertainment, Lee Petty from Double Fine Productions, Michael Shilliday from Whiterend Creative, Mike Krahulik from Penny Arcade, Sarah Northway from Northway Games and Tristan Reidford from Valve.

NVIDIA is hosting a contest to pick the winner on their Facebook page; so what's in it for you? "The artist with the most votes will win ultimate bragging rights, and voters will be entered to win a new GeForce GTX 980 Ti!" Not bad.

This is certainly a novel application of VR, but serves to illustrate (pun intended) that the tech really does provide endless possibilities - far beyond 3D art or gameplay immersion.

Source: NVIDIA Blogs

Intel is offering a much better deal than "Hack your car; go to jail"

Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2015 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: security, Intel, hack

Intel is bucking the trend of FUD and overreaction when someone reveals a major flaw in a product that is on the market and are instead rewarding those who find ways to hack their automobiles.  As we have seen recently, remotely exploiting onboard software and causing a car to crash is no longer something only possible in the movies and it seems that Intel is far more interested in working towards secure solutions as opposed to the auto manufacturers reliance on lawsuits and security through obscurity.  Intel's Automotive Security Review Board is looking for bright minded individuals who will help bring PC style security to cars and is offering a free car (or cash equivalent) to the member who provides the best contribution.  Check out the links at The Register if you are interested.


"Intel is getting serious – dead serious, apparently – about car hacking. And nothing says serious like a prize giveaway. If you join Chipzilla's new Automotive Security Review Board and make all the right noises, you can win a free new ride."

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Source: The Register

Stop your Android from dreaming of electric sheep

Subject: General Tech | September 14, 2015 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: smartphones, Android

In the model used by Purdue University they found that 45.9% of your battery's charge is drained by apps which access resources while your screen is turned off and that 28.9% of that is because of bad programming in apps which refuse to let the CPU go back to sleep.  Being able to prevent the launch of the apps, or to ensure that they do properly release resources when finished could therefore extend your battery life.  They have modified Android framework to do so in this proof of concept available at GitHub, it is not an app yet so you will need to be familiar with the Android OS to test it out now.  Check out the their paper at The Register, modify your phone or simply wait for the app to be released.


"Too many Android apps are battery hogs when the screen is off, so researchers at Purdue University have released to a tool to shut them up."

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Source: The Register

OMGChad Talks Steam Controller with Robin Walker

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | September 13, 2015 - 08:53 PM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Controller, steam

As far as I can tell, this video is not from a larger organization. I sent OMGChad a tweet to verify that he was at PAX as an independent YouTube personality, but I didn't get a response. I couldn't recognize the intro bumper, and it didn't seem to be in use on any of his other videos, or any other PAX video that I could find, but it seemed like a significant amount of work for a one-off. If someone in the comments knows anything, be sure to leave a note.

Update, Sept 14th, 2015: OMGChad has just responded to my tweet. He was there "for myself and @MindcrackLP". Again, it's a minor point, but it's something that I should get correct if possible.

As for the story, OMGChad talks with Robin Walker, the man who takes responsibility for all the hats in TF2, about the Steam Controller in Alienware's booth at PAX Prime 2015. After several delays, the input device is scheduled to launch on November 10th (which will be a busy day apparently). It has changed significantly over time, with early prototypes even playing around with a touch screen. The two touch pads, while markers on them have changed from concentric rings to a cross on the left and nothing on the right, were relatively close to their original concept.

Robin Walker goes over the main design decisions and what rationale led to them. For instance, the reason for the grips on the back is because they found that people were taking their thumbs off of the view stick for just a couple of actions, such as reload or “use”. He also discusses the dual-stage triggers, which have a button at the end for secondary actions (like a nitro boost at the end of your throttle). It is somewhat expected that a representative for a company selling a controller would highlight what makes their product unique, but it's nice to have that extra behind-the-scenes insight.


The Steam Controller will launch on November 10th for $49.99 USD ($59.99 CDN). There was an option to pre-order to get it early, but the early batch is over so -- let's be honest -- you don't need me to tell you what you already did.

Source: OMGChad

StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Release Date and Cinematic

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2015 - 04:14 PM |
Tagged: starcraft 2, pc gaming, legacy of the void, blizzard

It has been more than five years since Wings of Liberty was released, which itself was a long-awaited continuation of the StarCraft story. The first game and its expansion had their narrative cut into six episodes, three each, that were released all at once. The three episodes of StarCraft II, on the other hand, were decoupled into the original game and two follow-ups. The third and final one, which focuses on the Protoss, will arrive on November 10th, 2015.

Representatives from Blizzard have said, multiple times, that Legacy of the Void will wrap up the story arc for the main characters. The story may continue, but we should get a solid conclusion. The release date announcement came with a cinematic trailer, above, showing the Protoss holding off against the Zerg. There doesn't seem to be much story in it at first glance, but Blizzard is quite subtle about meanings. Some questions, like who exactly they are fighting and why, might be addressed in the story.


So that's what it looks like to them...

This announcement aligned with the finals of WCS Season 3, which is the last season before Blizzcon. Apart from the two sister tournaments in South Korea, GSL and SSL, there is just one Blizzard-counted tournament remaining, which is DreamHack Open in Stockholm, Sweden. WCS Season 3 was won by Lilbow, a Protoss player from France, which propels him from 18th place to at most 8th Update Sept 13th @ 8:40pm ET (Part of the points were already accounted for apparently): 13th, minus a few positions once everyone's points are accounted for. Since the top 16 make it to the year's global finals at Blizzcon, this is enough buffer room to guarantee a spot at the tournament.

Source: Blizzard

Cooler Master Pitch Pro Earbuds are great when you are on the go

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2015 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: audio, cooler master, CM Storm Pitch Pro, gaming headset

Cooler Master's CM Storm Pitch Pro earbuds come with a bit more options than many others that are for sale, the splitter and airplane connector are good inclusions for the traveller.  They use 10mm neodymium drivers which will have some trouble with bass but are about as big as is feasible for inserting into your ears.  As you might expect, Kitguru was not overly impressed with the inline microphone though it is certainly good enough for casual usage.  Check out their reveiw here.


"Back in 2013, Cooler Master launched the CM Storm Pitch gaming ear buds and at the time, they were positively received, we even gave them our ‘WORTH BUYING’ award. Now here we are two years later with Cooler Master launching the revamped CM Storm Pitch Pro ear buds. Are they worth a purchase?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: KitGuru

The humble MSI X99A GODLIKE Gaming motherboard

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2015 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: msi, X99A GODLIKE GAMING, LGA2011-v3, e-atx

Considering its name, the over $500 price tag attached to the MSI X99A GODLIKE GAMING motherboard should not come as too much of a surprise.  Capable of handling any LGA2011-v3 processor, including Xeons and supporting up to 128GB of DDR4 the board has a lot of potential.  The E-ATX form factor allows the inclusion of five PCIe 3.0 16x slots, 10 SATA 6Gbps ports, a pair of M.2 slots and a SEx port, though you are not going to have enough PCIe lanes to drive all of those at full speed simultaneously even with a Xeon.  THE NICs are provided by Killer and include WiFi as well as two LAN ports.  [H]ard|OCP were impressed by the overall stability and functionality of the board as well as the behaviour when overclocking but there were one or two things they thought might have been executed better, which you can read about here.


"MSI’s X99A GODLIKE has not only a pretentious name but more features than you can shake a stick at. The decision to use a game reference from a series that long since died out is a puzzling one. While we're not going to pretend to understand MSI’s marketing, it has built what may be one of the best "Red and Black" motherboards of all time. "

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Final Fantasy V Coming September 24th

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2015 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: square enix, pc gaming, final fantasy v, final fantasy

While the upcoming Final Fantasy XV release is still slated as console-only, SquareEnix has been bringing a substantial portion of their back catalog to Windows. The company seems to be slowly marching the Super Nintendo era toward Steam, just recently announcing that Final Fantasy V will join III and IV on September 24th. This leaves just Final Fantasy VI missing from that era, at least from the main series, which suggests that it will join the party (pun intended) in a little while.


A few other titles are still in radar silence. The entire NES era, Final Fantasy I and II, is no-where to be found... unless you count the former's re-release on Windows phone (although, even if you do, a case for “no-where to be found” could still be made). From there, everything has made it to the PC until you reach the aforementioned Final Fantasy VI.

From the PlayStation generation, both VII and VIII launched on the PC back in the late 90s, and both have been re-released on Steam, so those are fine. The only missing title is Final Fantasy IX, which is currently an original PlayStation exclusive. It has not been remade for any other system, period. This is a bit concerning, because it means that a team cannot be set aside to bulk-port a chunk of titles. Every port from that generation stemmed from their PC versions, so this would (at least I expect) need to be a special case. It never had one. Would they think the effort's worth it?

Next is the PlayStation 2 generation. This is a PC dead zone, apart from Final Fantasy XI, the MMO, which launched on Windows alongside Sony's console. We need ports of Final Fantasy X, X-2, and XII for the platform to be complete. Interestingly, the PS4 has just received an HD remaster of X and X-2, but XII is stuck on the PS2 (at least for now).

This brings us to the PS3 generation. The only thing we're waiting for is Lightning's Return, which is the third installment of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy. It has been announced and, in fact, should have already launched several months ago. SquareEnix has confirmed a delay, re-affirmed that the PC will get it, but a firm date has not been set. Still, I'll count it as “PC”. Final Fantasy XIV was an MMO that launched, a few times, on Windows.

Lastly, Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy VII Remake may or may not come to the PC. Who knows?

So, ignoring the offshoots, we are currently missing: Final Fantasy I, Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2, and Final Fantasy XII (plus the future titles). It is funny how SquareEnix seems to be grouping the ports by generation. While it looks fairly random from the Steam search page, the gaps make sense when you consider the work required to port a game. Ressurrecting Final Fantasy IX is a completely different process than VI.

Final Fantasy V will come to Steam on September 24th. Some may argue with the price, but you can wait for it to come on sale if that is an issue. You've waited long enough already.

Source: Steam

Podcast #366 - MSI 990FXA-Gaming, Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3400, R9 Nano Controversy and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 10, 2015 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: podcast, msi, 990FXA-Gaming, usb 3.1, corsair, ddr4-3440, amd, r9 nano, Fiji, Fury, western digital, 6tb, Red Pro, Black, asus, ROG Swift, Grado, SR225e, video

PC Perspective Podcast #366 - 09/10/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the MSI 990FXA-Gaming, Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3400, R9 Nano Controversy 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malventano

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

Zen and the art of product cycle maintenence

Subject: General Tech | September 10, 2015 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: Zen, amd

There have been quite a few rumours surrounding AMD's next chip refresh, the Zen architectureDigiTimes is adding to that with a story today which places the release date sometime at the end of 2016, at the earliest.  Their sources suggest an issue with GLOBALFOUNDRIES 14nm FinFET process which is delaying the release and which is very bad news for AMD.  The claimed 40% improvement over current generation processors is not going to mean as much in a year or more and with AMD's current financial situation releasing a new CPU for people to buy is something that needs to happen.  Let us hope that the delay is exaggerated or that something happens to resolve the production issues in the coming months.


"AMD's next-generation Zen architecture is expected to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2016 at the earliest, but sources from motherboard players are concerned that the late arrival of the new platform may put AMD in a rather difficult competitive position."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: DigiTimes

Don't fall for Fallout 4

Subject: General Tech | September 9, 2015 - 03:54 PM |
Tagged: preorder, fallout 4, bethesda


It is that simple, if you want companies to stop offering supposedly magic beans to people who are willing to shell out money to an established corporation for a product that is still in development then do not preorder anything.  If a company has already broken even on a product they haven't even finished, do you really expect them to work as hard at polishing the final release when any copies sold after the release date are pure profit?

Not only that, this habit leads to worse habits such as offering the chance to pay $30 for DLC that doesn't exist for a game still in development.  That's right, if you toss another $30 at Bethesda right now then you will get a "Season Pass" for Fallout 4 which will contain $40 worth of DLC that even Bethesda doesn't have a clue as to what it will be.  Maybe Dogmeat will get a hat and your character can sport a merkin.  Seriously, as much as you may love the Fallout franchise, do not help to ruin it by giving Bethesda about $100 for a product which is not finished yet!  The news about modding tools which will be available which was shared with Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN is nice, hopefully that is not considered DLC.


“Since we’re still hard at work on the game, we don’t know what the actual DLC will be yet, but it will start coming early next year,” quoth Bethesda. I bet they have some idea, given Fallout 4 itself is surely deep in bug-splatting, QA, and certification at this point and there’ll be a whole load of devs hanging around needing things to do."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:


Windows 10 for Enterprise gets a few new tricks

Subject: General Tech | September 9, 2015 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, enterprise

In the very near future sysadmins pondering a Windows 10 roll-out will have a few new features to test.  Enterprise Data Protection offers protection against unintentional data leaks by encrypting files so that they can easily be encrypted for all but licensed programs, ensuring installed social media applications and the like can't get into places they really shouldn't be.  It also allows you to wipe those files remotely, leaving the rest of the machine intact which will be handy in shops that allow users to attach their own machines to the domain.  Microsoft Passport will be another identity manager tool, integrated directly into the OS and they will also be launching a separate Windows Store for Business catering to the needs of companies.  Check out more details by following the links at The Register.


"Microsoft says features of Windows 10 for enterprises that weren't available when the OS launched in July will begin rolling out this month."

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Source: The Register

What went down at IFA 2015

Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2015 - 01:48 PM |
Tagged: IFA 2015, xperia, acer

Now that the show in Berlin has wrapped up The Inquirer talks about what they saw at the show, both good and bad.  For those with really good eyesight the Xperia Z5 series was shown off, including the Xperia Z5 Premium which has a 5.5" display at a 3840x2160 resolution and 806ppi pixel density.  Acer showed off their new SFF machines, the Acer Revo along with the Revo Build Series M1-601 modular case, designed so that pieces of the case can be added or removed as you add or subtract components from your machine.  Read more about those products and the interesting design of the conference centre it was hosted in here.


"As predicted, there were stacks of announcements from most of the world's biggest names in computer hardware at the show this time round, such as Sony, Lenovo, Intel and Samsung.

Here are The INQUIRER's picks of the best and worst at IFA 2015, in no particular order."

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Source: The Inquirer