Talking VR and the HTC Vive with Polygon.com's Ben Kuchera

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 9, 2016 - 03:18 AM |
Tagged: video, polygon.com, ben kuchera, VR, htc, vive, Oculus, rift

During our 12-hour live streaming event cleverly titled "Streaming Out Loud", we invited Ben Kuchera from Polygon.com to stop in and talk about a subject he is very passionate about: virtual reality. Ben has been a VR enthusiast since the beginning, getting a demo of the first Rift prototype from John Carmack himself. He was able to bring over the HTC Vive Pre unit to the office for some show and tell, answer questions about the experiences he has had so far, hardware requirements and much more.

Logitech's G810 Orion Spectrum for those who seek illumination

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2016 - 08:07 PM |
Tagged: input, logitech, G810 Orion Spectrum, RGB LED

Logitech's G810 Orion Spectrum utilized their own proprietary Romer-G switches, they are non-linear with a 1.5mm travel and an actuation force of 45g; they also allow for an impressive light show.  The software which controls the LEDs is quite impressive, the Freestyle mode allows you to change the illuminated portion on everything on the keyboard up to and including the logo, media keys and even the three Lock keys.  You can read about how Hardware Canucks felt about these switches as well as watch a video showing off the RGB LEDs in their review.

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"The Logitech G810 Orion Spectrum includes multiple improvements over previous G-series keyboards, including the new Romer-G switch, RGB lighting and a simpler, more efficient design."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

10GBps of Non-Volatile Memory Express based storage from Seagate

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2016 - 06:23 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, PCIe SSD, NVMe

Seagate is rightfully bragging about their new PCIe SSD line up, the fastest currently available.  The drives come in two types, a 16 lane and an 8 lane model, using a standard PCIe interface.  The 16 lane version provides the full theoretical speed of 10GBps while the 8 lane model is less expensive and offers a mere 6.7GBps of throughput.  These drives are designed for enterprise usage but if you can afford the steep price tag which will come with these drives you could certainly using them for an impressive upgrade.  Check out more at The Inquirer.

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"SEAGATE HAS announced what the firm claims will be the world's fastest solid state drive (SSD). The 10GBps device is already production-ready and has been built to Open Compute Project (OCP) specifications, making it suitable for hyperscale data centres."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Microsoft Cancels Fable Legends

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2016 - 11:44 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, lionhead, fable legends, dx12, DirectX 12

Officially, Microsoft has not yet shut down Lionhead Studios, but they have canceled Fable Legends. They “are in discussions with employees about the proposed closure of Lionhead Studios in the UK.” Press Play, another developer at Microsoft Studios in Europe, will be shut down as a result of this same announcement, but that studio only developed Xbox One titles, and so I'll defer to other gaming outlets to cover that part of the story.

fable-legends-gi.jpg

It's always unfortunate when jobs are cut, which seem certain given the closing paragraph of the Xbox announcement thanking them for their service. The weird part about this whole issue is how late plug was pulled in its development cycle. A closed beta has been operating for months, and a demo was shared with press as a DirectX 12 benchmark. The business model was supposed to be free-to-play, which means that it could potentially continue to bleed money after launch, but you would expect that concerns would have boiled over much earlier than now.

For our audience, this also means the cancellation of one of the expected, early implementations of DirectX 12. Lionhead Studios have also contributed to Unreal Engine 4 during the development of Fable Legends, particularly with shadow map optimization. I think their Global Illumination features, the main topic of the same article that was linked in this paragraph, were contributed upstream too, but I can't find an explicit source of that.

Podcast #389 - Thermaltake Core X9, the Controversy around DirectX 12, FreeSync HDMI Displays, and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 3, 2016 - 08:24 PM |
Tagged: WD, video, uwp, thermaltake, Samsung, reeven, podcast, Okeanos, Microsoft Store, HelioSeal, hdmi, freesync, dx12, Core X9, brontes, ashes of the singularity

PC Perspective Podcast #389 - 03/03/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the Thermaltake Core X9, the Controversy around DirectX 12, FreeSync HDMI Displays, 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!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Tietelman

Program length: 1:32:49

    1. And the VLAN on Saturday!
  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:51:40 This episode of PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Braintree. Even the best mobile app won’t work without the right payments API. That’s where the Braintree v.0 SDK comes in. One amazingly simple integration gives you every way to pay. Try out the sandbox and see for yourself at braintree­payments.com/pcper
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  5. Closing/outro

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

Fragging Frogs Virtual LAN party #12; Saturday March 5 10:00AM ET until the last Frog falls

Subject: General Tech | March 3, 2016 - 05:25 AM |
Tagged: VLAN party, gaming, fragging frogs

That's right folks, it is time for another Fragging Frogs VLAN with fun and prizes for all.  For those of you who have not participated in any of the last 11 this is a perfect time to get to know a great group of gamers over the day and maybe even tempt you to participate in the regular gaming sessions.

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The rules for joining and being eligible to win prizes are as follows:

  • You must be a registered member at the PCPer forums (register here)
  • You must have a minimum of 5 forum posts prior to the start of VLAN
  • You must post to this thread stating your intention to attend the VLAN event
  • You must meet the eligibility requirements (if any) of the individual sponsors below
  • Your shipping address must be in the Continental United States or Canada
  • Lastly, you must participate in the VLAN event by playing games with us and having fun!!

It would be appreciated if you reply to this thread to confirm attendance, it also contains valuable information on our Teamspeak server rules and connection details as well as links to the threads that let you share your Steam, Origin and other accounts with other Fragging Frogs. 

This thread here contains the information you need on patches and mods for the games we will be playing and gives you an idea of the standard assortment of games we play.  Feel free to suggest others as well.

There will be prizes and giveaways but remember that the main point of VLAN #12 is to have fun and get fragging!

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Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: PCPer Forums

Microsoft plans to merge PC and Xbox gaming

Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2016 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, windows 10, uwp, uwa, universal windows platform, pc gaming, microsoft, consoles

If my editorial from yesterday didn't get you interested in this discussion, then perhaps a new line of talking from Microsoft's Phil Spencer will do the job. During its spring presser, the company's gaming lead talked about a plan to merge the PC and Xbox gaming experiences with cross platform gaming, universal applications and compatibility for upgraded Xbox consoles. I found a great write up over at The Guardian that I will pick some of the quotes from and then offer up my views.

Now it seems Microsoft’s plan is to shift the entire development model towards universal applications that run across PC and console – indeed any machine that’s compatible with the Universal Windows Platform. This could have radical implications for the console model, which so far has always been based on the idea that the hardware has to remain largely unchanged throughout the machine’s lifespan.

Much like I detailed in yesterday's story, the Universal Windows Platform and applications are the key here, with the goal of allowing developers to code a single game or program that will run on the entire gamut of PCs in the world including desktops and tablets, as well as on the Xbox One game console. 

“In other [consumer technology] ecosystems you get more continuous innovation in hardware that you rarely see in consoles because consoles lock the hardware and software platforms together at the beginning and they ride the generation out for seven years or so,” said Spencer. “We’re allowing ourselves to decouple our software platform from the hardware platform on which it runs.”

I am actually incredibly excited for the idea of more, and more frequently, updated Xbox hardware from Microsoft. Like it or not, with UWP or without it, consoles and their hardware capability have always been a somewhat limiting factor on how much effort game devs put into creating new games for the PC. If we can depend on newer console hardware, and that games will more ably handle newer, faster components, then it raises the ceiling for image quality, new features, experiences like VR, etc.

ed1.jpg

“We can effectively feel a little bit more like what we see on PC where I can still go back and run my old Quake and Doom games, but then I can also see the best 4K games coming out. Hardware innovation continues and software takes advantage. I don’t have to jump generation and lose everything I played before.”

Expect to see some rolled eyes as you read this quote from Spencer; as PC gamers we already HAVE that capability and the move to UWP and UWAs is threatening to hinder that for us going forward. The PC has seen Steam, Origin, DRM-free gaming, an accelerated path to digital distribution, mods, overlays, benchmarking - all things that were held back or outlawed on consoles.

The Xbox chief ended his keynote by reiterating the importance of the PC as a gaming platform. He promised that UWAs will support multiple different graphics processors and that issues with V-Sync ( a setting that matches the game framerate with your monitor’s screen refresh rate) would be resolved.

Enabling support for different GPUs is a good promise, but much more important than just saying it is knowing HOW that support will be handled. As we saw based on our testing and research with Ashes of the Singularity, just supporting Radeon and GeForce cards isn't enough. What about features unique to each GPU? What about SLI and CrossFire? Variable refresh rate monitors? Enabling maximum performance with exclusive fullscreen modes? There is a lot to be answered and discussed. 

ed4.jpg

Quantum Break will be on PC, exclusively as a Unified Windows App

This also marks the second time I have heard Spencer mention a "fix" for Vsync issues. I'd love to hear what they have in mind, and I have asked MS several times, but so far I haven't gotten any kind of solid answer. The real question is: does MS understand the problem and the gaming community on the PC well enough to even know what the problem is they are trying to fix?

The big question now is how onboard the development community is with the UWA concept. In theory, these apps should run seamlessly on top of PC and Xbox One architectures, with abstractions to exploit the graphics processors, system memory and other hardware features, as well as compatibility with Microsoft’s DirectX application programming interface (API) for enhanced graphics performance. But will the reality match the promise?

"In theory" and "in practice" are two wildly different things, and we've already seen one example of this not going as planned. I do believe that game developers would jump at the chance to have true cross compatibility as long as the hiccups and issues we are discussing can be dealt with in a reasonable way. It just makes sense: this eases development hurdles and expands the possible customer base.

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Outside of Microsoft, it will be interesting to see how studios react. “In principle UWA sounds like a good idea,” says Byron Atkinson-Jones, a veteran games programmer, now running his own indie studio, Xiotex, and working on sci-fi puzzler, Caretaker. “It offers a more unified platform or environment rather than a fragmented operating systems running on an even more fragmented hardware base. However, this is all reliant on just how hard it is to develop for and how much of a closed shop it will become.

“The best thing about PC is that anyone can make a game for it and UWA sounds like it’s going to become a curated system that will probably require some developer registration to get on.”

Exactly this. The benefit of the PC is its openness, even when running on Windows (as opposed to SteamOS or Linux, for example.) If you take that away, will developers and gamers start to walk? 

Given that Microsoft is promoting UWP as a catch-all platform for Windows 10 that encompasses Xbox one, what does this mean in terms of support for the console’s hardware specifications? “As it stands currently, if you are making an Xbox one game you can be sure on what kind of hardware it’s running,” says Atkinson-Jones. “If developers are then forced down a UWA route, is it going to be the case that this certainty is gone and we get back to the situation on PC where you have to start specifying a minimum spec – which kind of renders a unified platform redundant?”

I disagree that having a minimum spec makes a unified platform less useful, it simply sets a standard for which experience and gameplay can be measured. Even Apple iPhones and iOS implement this to some degree and they have as locked down of a software ecosystem as you can get. If it's handled correctly, Microsoft could be the arbiter of hardware classification and certification, as they kind of already are with WHQL, making sure that any PC hardware or updated Xbox hardware will pass the test for previous and upcoming gaming titles.

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But that is a very difficult task and is likely why MS would like to integrate some restrictions through the API and Windows compositing engine to help them hold that promise moving into the future.

But he will have to convince not just gamers, but the development community. “Microsoft has tried this before with Games for Windows and that was a disaster,” says Atkinson-Jones. “There will be many game developers who had to go through that monstrosity shaking their heads in disbelief that history may just be about to repeat itself.”

Oh yeah, that...remember Games for Windows Live? Remember when it cratered and we had to deal with the fallout of some games not working without GWL servers running? Or just the complication of needing a unique sign-in that often tied the game down in unwieldy ways? That's the dystopian future that PC gamers want to avoid.

All of that being said, I'm still hopeful that Microsoft can turn this into a positive movement. Removing the 7 year upgrade cycle for the Xbox One means that PC gamers will benefit from moving specs on the consoles, giving game developers the ability to target higher end hardware as the platform evolves. I do believe that cross platform games will mean an increase in innovative titles with expanded audiences and more opportunity for developers to make money for their work. But all of this has to be done with more sensitivity to the PC ecosystem than it is being addressed with currently. If nothing else, PC gamers are a loud and easily started group.

Be sure you read the full story over at The Guardian!

Source: The Guardian

Lock Screen Ads Apparently Come to Windows 10

Subject: General Tech | February 27, 2016 - 12:48 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft

I haven't seen these first hand, but several tech blogs are reporting that Microsoft has begun advertising on the Windows 10 lock screen. In this case, a full screen image from Rise of the Tomb Raider appears to be overlaid with a few links, like we used to see on the Bing homepage (except that this seems to launch the Windows Store app).

microsoft-2016-tombraiderwindows10ad.jpg

Image Credit: David McGavern via Twitter

One key thing to note, though, is that Microsoft allows you to disable these. If you go to Settings -> Personalization -> Lock screen, you can flip “Get fun facts, tips, tricks, and more on your lock screen” to off. It also doesn't appear to be targeted based on your personal information, although that is difficult to tell with a sample size of 1. In that case, however, where the ad is located would be fairly irrelevant.

Personally, I'm not too upset. Microsoft allows an easy, safe opt-out, although the option could be better labeled. Regardless of the number of people who block the ads, the part that matters is how intrusive they are. If the setting continuously reverts, or it moves to Group Policy, the registry, or worse, then it could be a problem. (Or, of course, if it sacrifices usability, performance, or security.)

The last part is an interesting note. I've read a few comments that are concerned about it being an attack vector for malware. They seem to assume it must be, but not necessarily (relative to other theoretical attacks, like Microsoft.com itself getting hacked). It looks like everything is served directly from Microsoft, and the functionality is severely limited. It could be done right, but yes, it's possible that they could be tricked in the future into providing a malicious link (just like they could be tricked into hosting a malicious app at the Windows Store itself). They mostly depends on the volume and type of ads they plan to integrate into the OS, and where.

Windows Store brings me to my personal concern -- antitrust.

Governments have been more permissive about this issue than they were two decades ago. Back then, the integration of web browsers and media applications were cause for litigation. Now, companies like Apple are able to ship OSes that disallow third-party browsers (beyond just reskins of Safari). (Update: Feb 26th @ 8:48pm - There was a bit of confusion. I am referring to iOS, specifically. Mac OSX allows full third-party web browsers. The example was referring to how iOS is legally treated compared to how Windows XP/Vista/7 was.)  Again, Microsoft needed to put a browser ballot in Windows XP, Vista, and 7, yet, when Windows RT launched, they would completely ban any web browser unless it used Internet Explorer's Trident engine. Think about that direction shift for a moment.

I wouldn't accuse Windows Store of having a dominant stance in digital distribution market share, but it definitely has unique exposure within the OS. This could become a growing concern, especially if Microsoft progresses with their initiatives. At the same time, several other platform owners are doing the same thing (pretty much all of them). Should we place boundaries on this behavior? If so, what and how?

Podcast #388 - Samsung SSD T3, Logitech G933 and G633, Vulkan on Android, HTC Vive Pricing and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 25, 2016 - 07:14 PM |
Tagged: YOGA 710, YOGA 510, vulkan, VR, vive, video, T3, T1, Samsung, qualcomm, podcast, Oculus, MWC 2016, logitech, LG G5, Lenovo, htc, galaxy s7, G933, G633

PC Perspective Podcast #388 - 02/25/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the Samsung SSD T3, Logitech G933 and G633, Vulkan on Android, HTC Vive Pricing 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!

Hosts: Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:42:11

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:41:35 This episode of PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Braintree. Even the best mobile app won’t work without the right payments API. That’s where the Braintree v.0 SDK comes in. One amazingly simple integration gives you every way to pay. Try out the sandbox and see for yourself at braintree­payments.com/pcper
  3. News items of interest:
    1. MWC News!
      1. 0:48:30 Lenovo
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Allyn: Use PAR files? Get MultiPar. (PAR3 support!)
    2. Sebastian: Running PS2 games at high res with PCSX2 Version 1.4
  5. Closing/outro

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

Xamarin Acquired by Microsoft

Subject: General Tech | February 24, 2016 - 09:41 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, xamarin, Qt, .net, mono

Microsoft has purchased Xamarin, who currently maintain the Mono project.

This requires a little background. The .NET Framework was announced in 2000, and it quickly became one of the most popular structures to write native applications, especially simple ones. Apart from ASP.NET, which is designed for servers, support extended back to Windows 98, but it really defined applications throughout the Windows XP era. If you ever downloaded utilities that were mostly checkboxes and text elements, they were probably developed in .NET and programmed in C#.

Xamarin-2016-logo.jpg

Today, Qt and Web are very popular choice for new applications, but .NET is keeping up.

The Mono project brought the .NET framework, along with its managed languages such as C#, to Linux, Mac, and also Windows because why not. Android and iOS versions exist from Xamarin, under the name Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android, but those are proprietary. Now that Microsoft has purchased Xamarin, it would seem like they now control the .NET-derived implementations on Android and iOS. The Mono project itself, as it exists for Linux, Mac, and Windows, are under open licenses, so (apart from Microsoft's patents that were around since day one) the framework could always be forked if the community dislikes the way it is developing. To visualize the scenario, think of when LibreOffice split from OpenOffice a little while after Oracle purchased Sun.

If they do split, however, it would likely be without iOS and Android components.

Source: Microsoft

Corsair Releases VOID Surround Hybrid, White Wireless RGB Headsets

Subject: General Tech | February 23, 2016 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: wireless headset, VOID Wireless, VOID Surround, RGB, gaming headset, gaming headphones, Corsair VOID, corsair, 7.1 headset, 7.1 channel

Corsair has released a pair of gaming headsets in their VOID lineup, with the new VOID Surround Hybrid and a white version of the VOID Wireless RGB.

VOID_SURROUND_01B.jpg

The VOID Surround Hybrid Gaming Headset

"The VOID Surround Hybrid Stereo Gaming Headset brings Corsair’s most advanced gaming headset to the widest range of devices yet. VOID Surround’s mobile-compatible 3.5mm connector offers instant connectivity to virtually any audio source, as well as full headset capability with Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One (requires Xbox One Wireless Controller with a 3.5mm port or Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter)."

With the addition of a 3.5 mm analog input the Hybrid version of the VOID Surround can be used with virtually any device, though to experience surround effects the headset still needs to be connected via USB.

"For connection to a PC, VOID Surround includes a USB 7.1 Dolby headphone adapter, unlocking genuine Dolby Surround for deadly accurate positional audio, as well as a fully customizable EQ in the Corsair CUE (Corsair Utility Engine) software."

VOID_WIRELESS_WHT_02.jpg

The new white version of the VOID Wireless RGB headset

The new VOID Wireless RGB headset released is simply a new white color, so specs and features remain constant from the previous options. As to pricing, MSRPs for these headsets are $79.99 for the VOID Surround Hybrid, and $129.99 for the VOID Wireless RGB, making them more affordable than some of the competition at the high end of the market.

Here are the features and specs for both headsets from Corsair:

VOID Surround Gaming Headset Specifications

  • Genuine Dolby Headphone: Treat yourself to 7.1 channels of accurate and immersive surround
  • Universal Compatibility: The mobile-compatible connector works with PlayStation 4, Xbox One and mobile devices. The included USB Dolby 7.1 sound card unlocks genuine Dolby Surround for PC.
  • Embark on Marathon Gaming Sessions: Microfiber-wrapped memory foam ear pads enable extended play.
  • Unlock Legendary Audio: Oversized 50mm neodymium drivers bring the action to life with brilliant range and precision.
  • Crystal Clear Voice Communication:  The noise-canceling microphone on the VOID headset puts your voice in the spotlight—and nothing else
  • Microfiber/Memory Foam Earpads: Play in comfort for hours… and hours

VOID Wireless Dolby 7.1 RGB Gaming Headset – (White) Specifications

  • Legendary Audio, Zero Hassle:  2.4GHz wireless freedom up to 40 ft. + 16 hours of uninterrupted gaming
  • Epic Immersion and True Multi-Channel Audio: Genuine Dolby Headphone surround delivers lethally accurate 7.1 positional audio
  • RGB Lighting: Sync with other Corsair RGB devices—or light your own path
  • CUE Control: Instantly re-spec your gaming audio—EQ, Dolby and volume—with a single digital control.
  • InfoMic: Everything you need to know about your audio status—instantly.
  • Unlock Legendary Audio: Oversized 50mm neodymium drivers bring the action to life with brilliant range and precision
  • Microfiber/Memory Foam Earpads: Play in comfort for hours… and hours
  • Take Command: The advanced unidirectional noise-cancelling microphone makes you loud and clear

Corsair is also announcing a new feature for their Corsair Utility Engine software, called "VOID Visualizer": 

"Combining a digital Corsair VOID headset (VOID Wireless, USB or Surround) with any RGB-enabled keyboard (such as the K70 RGB or Strafe RGB) enables gamers to unleash a stunning multi-color graphic equalizer on their keyboard, turning it into a real-time display of the active audio or microphone signal. Compatible with VOID Surround, VOID RGB Wireless and VOID RGB USB headsets, VOID Visualizer can be enabled with just a few clicks in the Corsair Utility Engine."

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Amazon listings for the VOID Surround Hybrid and the white VOID Wireless RGB are already up, and both headsets should be available now wherever Corsair products are sold.

Source: Corsair

Survey Results on Mechanical Keyboard Preferences Released

Subject: General Tech | February 23, 2016 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: survey, mechanical keyboard, Go Mechanical Keyboard, gaming keyboard, Cherry MX

Keyboard enthusiast site Go Mechanical Keyboard recently conducted a reader survey to determine what their readers preferred in a mechanical keyboard, and the results (from 950 responses) provided some interesting data.

survey_graphic.png

The data (which the site has made available in its raw format here) includes results from favorite key switch to preferred form-factor, as well as brand and model preferences. The site created an impressive infographic to display the results, which is partially reproduced here. I'd recommend a visit to Go Mechanical Keyboard to see the full version, as well as links to prior year's surveys.

Getting to a few of the results, we'll start with the all-important mechanical key switches:

switches.png

Cherry MX Blue was the winner for favorite typing experience, with MX Brown switches actually winning both gaming and all-purpose categories. Of course, key switches are a very personal choice and these results are limited to the readers of one particular site, though that does not invalidate the results. The position of the MX Brown surprised me, as my impression had been it was less popular than a few of the other options out there. (I'm curious to see what our readers think!)

Next we'll look at the preferred form-factor (which is accompanied by a couple of other data points):

formfactor_etc.png

Tenkeyless (TKL) slightly edges out the next highest result, which was the "60%" form-factor. Admittedly, I had not heard of this size prior to reading these results, and here's what I found from a quick search (I retrieved the following from the Deskthority Wiki):

60_percent.jpg

"60% keyboards omit the numeric keypad of a full-size keyboard, and the navigation cluster of a tenkeyless keyboard. The function key row is also removed; the escape key is consequently moved into the number row."

I'll skip ahead to the favorite overall keyboard results, which in no way could cause any disagreement or disparagement on the internet, right?

keyboard.png

The Vortex Poker 3 was the winner, a 60% keyboard (there's that form-factor again!) offered with a variety of MX switches. These keyboards run from about $129 - $139, depending on version. A model with Cherry MX Blue switches and white backlighting is listed on Amazon for $139.99, and versions with other key switches are also listed. The CM QuickFire Rapid, a tenkeyless design that sells for under $80 was second, followed by the Corsair K70, a standard 104-key design that sells for $129.

There was quite a bit more info on the full version of the infographic, and the source article (and site) is definately worth checking out if you're interested in mechanical keyboards. I'm curious to know what our readers prefer, too, so I'll be checking the comments!

Intel insists their clock is still running

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2016 - 06:34 PM |
Tagged: Intel, delay, 10nm

Today Intel has insisted that the rumours of a further delay in their scheduled move to a 10nm process are greatly exaggerated.  They had originally hoped to make this move in the latter half of this year but difficulties in the design process moved that target into 2017.  They have assured The Inquirer and others that the speculation, based on information in a job vacancy posting, is inaccurate and that the they still plan on releasing processors built on a 10nm node by the end of next year.  You can still expect Kaby Lake before the end of the year and Intel also claims to have found promising techniques to shrink their processors below 10nm in the future,

intel_10nm_panel2-Copy.png

"INTEL HAS moved to quash speculation that its first 10nm chips could be pushed back even further than the second half of 2017, after already delaying them from this year."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #387 - ASUS PB328Q, Samsung 750 EVO SSD, the release of Vulkan and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2016 - 07:16 PM |
Tagged: x16 LTE, vulkan, video, ssd, Samsung, qualcomm, podcast, pb328q, opengl, nvidia, micron, Khronos, gtx 950, asus, apple, 840 evo, 750ti, 750 evo, 3d nand

PC Perspective Podcast #387 - 02/18/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the ASUS PB328Q, Samsung 750 EVO SSD, the release of Vulkan 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!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:34:18

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:35:00 This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Audible, the world's leading provider of audiobooks with more than 180,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature including fiction, nonfiction, and periodicals. For your free audiobook, go to audible.com/pcper
  3. News items of interest:
  4. 1:07:00 This episode of PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Braintree. Even the best mobile app won’t work without the right payments API. That’s where the Braintree v.0 SDK comes in. One amazingly simple integration gives you every way to pay. Try out the sandbox and see for yourself at braintree­payments.com/pcper
  5. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  6. Closing/outro

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

Warren Spector Returns to Game Development

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2016 - 07:15 PM |
Tagged: system shock, pc gaming, otherside entertainment, night dive studios

Warren Spector helped create several classic video games, including Wing Commander, Ultima, System Shock, Crusader, Thief, and Deus Ex. His most recent titles were Epic Mickey 1 and 2, which took the classic, mischievous Mickey Mouse and gave it fairly adult game mechanics. Following the release of Epic Mickey 2 in 2012, he departed from the games industry to teach at the University of Texas at Austin.

warrenspector-2016-logo.png

Image Credit: His Twitter Avatar

Meanwhile, Otherside Entertainment was created from several Looking Glass Studios alumni. The company launched a crowd-funding campaign for a “spiritual successor” to Ultima Underworld, which they called Underworld Ascension. A year later, they announced that they purchased the rights to System Shock 3. It turns out that Warren Spector was interesting in joining this studio, because he just did yesterday (after being an adviser to them for years).

Yay!

According to his quote, via GamesIndustry.biz, he was lured by the opportunity to directly work on both titles. Warren Spector makes complex games, and adding his name to these revival projects should be exciting for those who miss the way PC gaming used to be. There really isn't much to say about this news; it's just promising to have one of the pioneers of PC gaming back in the industry.

A storage medium which will long outlast the readers and filesystem

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2016 - 06:38 PM |
Tagged: laser, polarization vortex converter, voxel

Ever worry about long term storage of your valuable data but worry that tapes will rot, disks crash, flash die and optical media be cannibalized by the ink printed on them?  How about a process which should hold 360TB of data for 13.8 billion years at 190C and far longer at room temperatures?  Researchers in the UK have come up with a rather impressive technique for storing data for the long haul using lasers and optical media.  They are writing to fuzed quartz glass with femtosecond pulses of light to create three layers of voxels or an optical vortex if you prefer, which are created by the polarization of a vortex by firing that laser through nano-gratings.  Check out more at The Register.

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"Boffins in the UK’s Southampton University have devised a five-dimensional storage scheme using glass, femtolasers and a lifespan of billions of years, so they say."

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Source: The Register

Quantum Break Will Require Windows 10 (and DirectX 12)

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2016 - 11:47 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, pc gaming, DirectX 12

Last week, Microsoft announced that Quantum Break would arrive on the PC. At the same time, they listed the system requirements, which included the requirement of Windows 10. It will only be available on Windows 10 (outside of Xbox One). They also mentioned that the game would require DirectX 12, which made the issue more interesting. It wasn't that Microsoft was pushing their OS with first-party software, they were using an API that is only available in Windows 10, and it had the potential to make a better video game.

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Then they announced that it would only be available on Windows Store, which swings the pendulum back in the other direction. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

In all seriousness, we'll probably see games begin to deprecate DirectX 11 once DirectX 12 (or Vulkan) becomes ubiquitous. These new APIs significantly change how content is designed and submit to GPU(s), and do so in ways that seem difficult to scale back. Granted, I've talked to game developers and I've yet to have my suspicions validated, but it seems like the real benefit of the APIs will be when art and content can be created differently -- more objects, simpler objects, potentially splitting materials that are modified into separate instances, and so forth.

Quantum Break will come out on April 5th, along with a few other DX12-based titles.

Source: PC Gamer

All of your manuscripts will be illuminated with the SteelSeries Apex M800 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2016 - 09:40 PM |
Tagged: input, steelseries, Apex M800, mechanical keyboard

The Steelseries Apex M800 uses their own QS1 mechnical switches, designed by Kailh and similar in feel to a Cherry MX Red switch.  It uses seperate processors for input and lighting, which allows you to get very creative when using the SteelSeries Engine 3 to program effects. It is also capable of recording macros on the fly, which you can then edit from within the software if you so desire.  Some users will also like the two USB 2.0 ports present on the keyboard, perhaps not for data transfer but handy for charging your phone or if you have USB powered toys on your desk.  Check out the full review including a video of the lighting effects over at Techgage.

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"SteelSeries has always been a heavy hitter in the world of peripherals. With a slew of highly touted mice, keyboards, and headsets, it looks to take things to the next level with the Apex M800 illuminated gaming keyboard. Does it have another winner on its hands, or are thousands of gamer nerds wrong? Read on to find out."

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Source: Techgage

More Tomb Raiding and a new bundle from NVIDIA

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2016 - 06:47 PM |
Tagged: gaming, tomb raider, nvidia, bundle, the division

The benchmarks that Ryan ran on the new Tomb Raider game were popular enough that it seems worth giving you a second opinion, in this case from [H]ard|OCP.  They use version 1.0 build 610.1_64 of the game, along with Crimson Edition 16.1.1 Hotfix and GeForce 361.75 during their testing.  For 1080p performance they tested the R9 380X 4GB against the GTX 960 4GB which saw AMD's card come out on top with similar results when testing the R9 390 against the GeForce GTX 970 at 1440p.  At the top end the R9 390X and GTX 980 performed similarly in single GPU configurations with AMD beating NVIDIA in multi GPU tests.  They also tried the TitanX, Fury and FuryX in single GPU configurations at 4k ... it did not go well.

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Also worth noting is the new bundle from NVIDIA, if you pick up a GeForce GTX 970 or better GPU or purchase a notebook with a GeForce GTX 970M, 980M or 980 the you are eligible for a free copy of The Division.  Click here to redeem your code or to find out how to get one.

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"A new Tomb Raider game is out, Rise of the Tomb Raider. We take RoTR and find out how it performs and compares on no less than 14 of today's latest video card offerings from the AMD and NVIDIA GPU lineups from top-to-bottom using the latest drivers and game patch v1.0 build 610.1_64."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Samsung is showing off some very pretty displays

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2016 - 05:53 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, transparent display, ML32E, TO55F

TechARP just posted a video of two reflective displays from Samsung, the 55" ML55E mirror display which has 55% reflectance and 90% transmittance and displays at 1920x1080 and a 32" model, the ML32E.  These will be used in store displays for now, but soon you may be upgrading your bathroom mirror so you can catch the news while you shave, or your Netflix stream while you take a quick break.

They also showed off the 55" O55F transparent OLED display, again 1080x1920 which is 45% transparent and they claim is able to provide 100% Adobe RGB colour space with 98% DCI color support.  As with the reflective displays you will first see these as store displays but it shouldn't be too long before we will be able to get our hands on them.  You can also see the Samsung PR here, unfortunately it does not specify what material was used in the transparent display but one hopes it is sturdy enough not to have to be protected from scratches and bumps.

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"At the recently-held Samsung Forum 2016, we came across these really cool transparent and mirror displays that Samsung will be bringing to the market shortly. Take a look!"

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Source: TechARP