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Subject: Editorial, Storage | August 14, 2012 - 07:45 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: deal of the day, ssd, Samsung
If you are still looking for a deal on your first SSD, the very popular and highly recommended Samsung 830 Series drives are among the best. Using the offer below, you can get the 128GB model for just $97 with free shipping!
17.3" Alienware M17x Core i7-2670QM 2.2GHz Quad-core 1080p Gaming Laptop w/4GB RAM, 750GB HDD, 2GB Radeon HD 6970M for $1,349 with free shipping (normally $1,849 - use coupon code ?W22Z75PB3DT22).
15.6" Dell Inspiron 15R Special Edition Core i5-3210M 2.5GHz Ivy Bridge Dual-core Laptop w/6GB RAM, 750GB HDD, 1080p & 2GB Radeon HD 7730M for $750 with free shipping (normally $900 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).
14" Dell Inspiron 14z Core i7-3517U 1.9GHz Dual-core Ivy Bridge Ultrabook w/8GB RAM, 500GB HDD + 32GB mSSD, 1GB Radeon HD 7570M for $892 with free shipping (normally $1,189 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).
14" Lenovo ThinkPad T430s Core i3-2370M 2.4GHz Ultra-thin Business Laptop (Customizable) w/4GB RAM, 320GB HDD for $703 with free shipping (normally $879 - use coupon code 2DAYSALE).
12.5" Lenovo ThinkPad X230 Core i3-2370M 2.4GHz Ultra-portable Laptop (Customizable) w/4GB RAM, 500GB 7200RPM HDD for $711 with free shipping (normally $889 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).
13.3" Dell Inspiron 13z Core i5-3317U 1.7GHz Dual-core Ivy Bridge Laptop w/6GB RAM, 500GB HDD for $629 with free shipping (normally $839 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).
Dell Optiplex 790 Core i5-2400 3.1GHz Quad-core Mini Tower w/4GB RAM, 500GB SATA III HDD, 3-year warranty, Windows 7 Pro, 21.5" LCD Monitor & $100 Gift Card for $649 with free shipping (normally $849 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).
Alienware Aurora Core i7-2600 3.4GHz Quad-core microATX Liquid-cooled Gaming PC w/8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, Blu-ray, Radeon HD 6870 for $1,229 with free shipping (normally $1,729 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).
7" Nook Color eBook reader for $145 with free shipping (normally $150).
3GB VisionTek Radeon HD 7970 Video Card for $370 with free shipping (normally $430 - use coupon code YWI68641).
Gigabyte Radeon HD 6450 Low Profile Video Card for $10(normally $35).
Xerox Phaser 6280N Color Laser Printer for $399 with free shipping (normally $549).
Brother HL-2280DW Laser Multi-Function Printer for $95 with free shipping (normally $140 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).
Madden NFL 13 (PS Vita) + $10 Credit for $35 with free shipping (normally $40).
55" Proscan PLED3792A 37" 1080p LED HDTV for $320 (normally $400).
42" LG 42PA4500 720p Plasma HDTV for $400 with free shipping (normally $500).
Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Integrated Wi-Fi 3D Blu-ray Player for $110 with free shipping (normally $145 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).
Personal Portables & Peripherals:
Klipsch Reference S4 In-Ear Noise-Isolating Headphone for $46 with free shipping (normally $69 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).
16MP Canon PowerShot A2400 IS Black Digital Camera for $134 with free shipping (normally $159 - use coupon code
Ooma Telo VoIP Phone System w/ Bluetooth Adapter for $185 with free shipping (normally $250 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).
Serta Executive High-Back Leather Chair (Black or Brown) for $145 with free shipping (normally $230 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 13, 2012 - 02:07 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows, utorrent, torrent, software
µTorrent (hereafter used interchangeably with utorrent) is one of the most popular BitTorrent clients in the world, boasting more than 125 million active users a month, it has massively grown in popularity since its 2005 debut. The software is still in development, and current parent company BitTorrent Inc. has explored various methods of monetizing the application over the years. Some time ago, the developers introduced a new µTorrent Plus feature that–for $24.95–added a antivirus add-on, codec pack, remote access, and file conversion plug-in. The paid for version, which has essentially been little more than donation-ware (not that there is anything wrong with that, just that the Plus version does not add much in the way of actual torrenting that the free app is not also capable of). BitTorrent Inc. also introduced a browser toolbar, which in addition to Plus, was the company’s sole method of monetizing the software. Until now.
The µTorrent developers have announced that the next version of the torrent program will introduce ads.
In addition to the usual bug fixes and under-the-hood performance tweaks, is a (direct quote) “fresh approach to creating a no-nonsense and free torrenting experience.” Allegedly, the developers are introducing the ads to keep the lights on and pay the bills.
The µTorrent client. No ads in the beta yet, but the next stable release should see ads in the torrent list above.
The new ads include a "featured torrent" at the top of the torrent list that will offer up suggested downloads of various multimedia files, pieces of software, and deliver important updates. Reportedly, the developers are working on offers with third parties (including indie artists) for the featured torrent such that it will present relevant results without compromising privacy. They have stated that utorrent does not collect personalized information. Rather, the ads will be “relevant” in the sense that the offers will be adjusted based on community feedback and other non-personalized factors. Your IP address will likely be used to give you country-specific ads, but they otherwise should not collect any other data or track your usage, according to the announcement.
It is free software, and the developers should be able to make some money off of their work. So long as the ads are not intrusive, the practice is all well and good. Also in the “good news” category is that µTorrent Plus members will not see any ads, so the paid-for version has some additional value for those that have already donated money.
It is not all good news though, and the community does not appear to be happy at the moment. According to the announcement, while users of the free version will be able to close out individual offers, there will be no way to turn off the ads all together. If users do not find an ad relevant, they are encouraged to click the “x” within the ad, after which a new offer will appear.
To be more specific:
“There is no way to turn in-client offers off*. We will pay attention to feedback, and may change this in the future.” [Of course, uTorrent Plus users will not see ads].
Also riling up some community members is an article by torrent-enthusiast website Torrent Freak, which has called out the developers by alleging that adding the new offers (ads) is merely a money grab. The site calls into question the developers statement about needing the ads to “keep the lights on.” Torrent Freak reports that, according to a source in the know, uTorrent’s parent company BitTorrent Inc. is in no financial trouble and “currently generates between $15 and $20 million in annual revenue.”
Either way, the company is providing a roundabout way to get rid of the ads by buying the µTorrent Plus version. Alternatively, there are several other free torrent clients out there if you do not wish to see ads. Personally, I do not think that µTorrent is doing anything wrong by attempting to monetize its work,
but I do find the rather quiet announcement irritating. I think that the developers could have found a more receptive audience if users did not have to find out about the change from other sites first. Update: after some thought, this is just the first announcement and users may well be told within the application of the changes before updating when it does come out. Here's hoping. (end of update). It just feels a bit like they tried to slip the ad announcement in without users being any the wiser (as I believe it’s a small percentage of that user base that follows the developer’s forum). As far as the ads themselves, I will have to wait and see once it is official (the latest beta build I have does not yet have ads) to determine if the offers will be intrusive. Assuming the privacy statement is legitimate and the ads do not impair normal torrenting, I’ll keep using µTorrent and support them with ads since I can’t justify a Plus purchase currently. The latest beta build does improve the support for magnet links, and I have not had any problems with it yet so I'll keep using it.
What do you think though? Will you keep using utorrent with ads? If you want to leave the utorrent developers feedback on the change, the team has asked for comments on the announcement thread.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 12, 2012 - 08:53 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: ut2004, unreal, live, gaming
Doing anything tonight? Maybe while you watch the tape delayed closing ceremonies to the 2012 Olympics you'll want to join the PC Perspective Team for a little UT2004 (Unreal Tournament 2004) old school gaming action?
We'll be starting up the game at 8pm ET tonight and you can join me, Josh, Ken and others as we play some team deathmatch, standard DM, CTF, Onslaught and more!
Don't you deserve a little down time? Even if you can't join us on the server, you can watch the live stream of our smack talk at http://pcper.com/live!!
The information below will be filled in a little later this afternoon:
Server: game.pcper.com (188.8.131.52)
Download pack (you MIGHT need): UT2004_MegaPack
You can easily join us by looking in the Internet server browser and finding "PC Perspective" or simply hit the console (~) and type "open game.pcper.com" or "open 184.108.40.206". See you tonight!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 9, 2012 - 07:35 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, ut2004, unreal, live
After the PC Perspective Podcast on Wednesday night, we played some Unreal Tournament 2004 with many of the PCPer staff and fans. If you missed it - shame on you! Keep an eye on the Upcoming Events schedule on the right hand side here to see when and what we'll play next.
In the meantime, feel free to waste a couple of hours watching us play UT2004 - in the past.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling, Processors, Memory, Systems, Storage, Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 9, 2012 - 07:30 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, workshop, streaming, quakecon, prizes, live, giveaways
It is that time of year again: another installment of the PC Perspective Hardware Workshop! Once again we will be presenting on the main stage at Quakecon 2012 being held in Dallas, TX August 2-5th.
Main Stage - Quakecon 2012
Saturday, August 4th, 2pm 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 thanks for this year's workshop logo goes to John Pastor!!
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, MSI Computer and Corsair!!
If you can't make it to the workshop - don't worry! You can still watch the workshop live on our page right here as we stream it over one of several online services. Just remember this URL: http://pcper.com/workshop and you will find your way!
Case Mod Competition
Along with the Hardware Workshop, PC Perspective is working with Modders Inc on the annual case mod contest! There are two categories for the competition: "Scratch Built" and "In the Box" that will allow those that build their computer enclosures from the ground up to compete separately from those that heavily modify their existing cases and systems.
For more details, be sure to check out the on going thread at the Modders Inc Forums!
Prize List (will continue to grow!)
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | August 9, 2012 - 04:08 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Qt, nokia, Digia
Ars Technica reports 125 employees at Nokia will move to Digia in a deal to relocate the open toolkit, Qt, away from the cellphone manufacturer. The deal reassures developers of software -- especially open sourced software -- their toolkit will continue to be maintained. Qt is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Symbian and MeeGo with other platforms such as Android and iOS planned for support.
I have a special place in my heart for Qt because of a couple of programming projects I have worked on. Finding a good cross-platform interface framework is more difficult than you would think. One project required developing a text-style editor for both Windows and Linux. Qt provided classes for dockable windows and panels, Webkit browser support, and just about anything else I could need.
It really was a cute framework – literally, that is how you pronounce it.
I was one of the first to get a little tenseness in my gut when Nokia started to partner with Microsoft and their Windows Phone platforms. Nokia was slowly distancing themselves from the framework they owned at the time. The Linux and other open source communities were getting quite involved with Qt due to how closely it is tied with KDE. Microsoft is embracing open source communities more than they have been but I would hesitate to trust them that much.
GTK+ is basically the viable alternative to Qt.
So developer framework choice could very well have been between The Gimp and a gimp.
There has been no word on the finances of the transaction.
It is still yet to be seen whether Digia will be a good owner of the framework. Certainly the most recent analogy was the purchase of Java along with the rest of Sun and its assets to Oracle. That certainly did not end up as the best of situations for the end-users of the platform.
Thankfully the framework is published under the GPL along with their commercial license. Should GPL-compatible applications require the framework they would be able to fork from whatever the latest supported GPL release would be and continue on from that point.
Software which uses Qt in a way which is not GPL-compatible still has a few worries going forth. Digia appears to be have some level of trust by the community. We will need to stay tuned to see.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 7, 2012 - 11:07 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8 style ui, windows 8, windows, operating system, microsoft, Metro
The Windows 8 RTM leak has coincided with numerous articles around the Internet that detail the new features and the Windows 8 Style UI once known as Metro. It seems that a new setup process and the removal of Aero Glass were not the only big aesthetic changes. With the new build came several alleged tweaks by Microsoft that prevent several methods for automatically booting to the desktop. Group Policy tweaks and a autorun shortcut were two such methods–that worked on early beta builds but no longer work on the RTM–to skip past the Metro/Windows 8 Style UI Start Screen, according to Rafael Rivera of Windows 8 Secrets.
Previously, users could login and be automatically taken to the desktop. They would still see the Metro screen, but only for a split second. Now, users wanting to do this are back to square one, and will have to manually launch the desktop each time they login to their computers.
It is not all bad news, however (well, at least not as bad). If you drag the desktop
Metro Windows 8 Style UI tile to the top-left corner, as soon as you login, you can hit the Enter key to go to the desktop. It is a less automatic way than has been previously possible, but it is better than nothing.
Some speculation and opinion follows:
It seems that Microsoft is taking a very firm position on Windows 8’s new Start Screen interface and full screen applications. While it is likely that developers and enthusiasts are working on new tweaks to get to the desktop automatically again, I foresee this being a drawn out tit-for-tat battle between Microsoft and its users. Beyond the new interface, this stance of working against customization is something I have not seen before on this level, as previous operating system have had numerous tweaking utilities and Microsoft did not seem to have a problem with them. My only guess is that they believe by forcing users to use Windows 8 Style UI as much as it possibly can, it will get users used to, and accepting of, the interface faster (essentially trying to get users over the radical interface change as quickly as possible–ike ripping a bandaid off). And if I let the cynical side get the best of me, Microsoft does have a vested interest in keeping users on the Metro/Windows 8 Style interface as much as possible as they want users to buy Metro apps and not use traditional applications. They are selling the upgrades for $40 and likely want to “make up” the money (compared to selling prices of previous versions) by taking a cut of Windows Store app purchases. The company’s insistence on forcing usage is only going to hurt them, I fear, as people who are on the fence about Metro–but who are interested in the other improvements–likely want to come to the new interface on their own terms (if at all). Actively working against users trying to use and customize their operating systems may well cost them a few sales. It would seem to me that Microsoft should be welcoming anyone that wants to use Windows 8, even if they do not want to stay in (or use at all) the Metro interface but that's just my opinion and apparently Microsoft is of a different mind.
Whether you love, hate, or feel somewhere in-between on Windows 8 Style UI, options are not a bad thing. I do think that more people would be willing to give Microsoft’s new interface a chance if it was more optional than it is. What do you think?
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 4, 2012 - 03:29 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8 rtm, windows 8, video, start screen, microsoft, Metro
Preface: If you prefer a video version, you can check out a video walkthrough of Windows 8 RTM with commentary. For those that want a written preview, I have attempted to break the article up into sizeable chunks. The first part is the introduction and "what's new" regarding getting it set up versus our guide for installing the Consumer Preview. The following sections are for showing off desktop applications and metro/Windows 8 Style UI apps. Finally, a short conclusion and general impressions section as well as some questions for you to answer should you want to join the discussion. Once again, I've gone with a more informal voice for the preview as there is a lot of opinion in here, this is by no means a full review!
Please note that unless otherwise stated, these opinions are my own, and not PC Perspective's. I am interested in hearing your opinions on the RTM build as well, and you can participate in the comments below without registration (though you get some nice benefits–like an avatar and ability to edit posts–if you decide to).
Windows 8 RTM has leaked to the Internet, here's what's new and what I think of it
Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 operating system is well on its way for the final public release on October 26, 2012—in fact OEMs are starting to get their hands on the code, and it is officially in Release To Manufacturing (RTM) status. While Microsoft TechNet subscribers will be able to download the Windows 8 RTM build on August 15, 2012, it has already been leaked to the Internet as is available on various file-sharing websites.
To be more specific, the leaked build is a volume license version of Windows 8 Enterprise (N) RTM. It is further an “N” edition, which means that it is aimed at the European market and has Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center stripped out. The "N" editions are the result of an EU case relating to alleged anti-competitive actions. From that leaked build, people have managed to create a bootable ISO version for clean installs where there is no existing OS on the machine as well as a zipped folder that can be used for upgrade installations.
Needless to say, the news that the RTM had leaked piqued my interest, so I set out to get my hands on it (and report my findings). I managed to find a non-bootable image called "MICROSOFT.WINDOWS.8.ENTERPRISE-N.RTM.X64.VOLUME.ENGLISH.NON_BOOT_DVD-SAMOVARWZT" (wow that's a long file name) that seemed to check out as being legitimate. I then took that 6.05 GB folder and used the files to do a clean install from a Windows 7 x64 virtual machine I had around for testing just this sort of thing.
Unlike our previous Windows 8 Consumer Preview installation guide, this RTM build does not require a key to be entered in order to complete the install. As a volume license version, you are allowed a 30-day grace period to activate (I have not tested if the Windows 7 -rearm trick works to extend that yet). Other than the key issue, the clean install procedure is the same as the steps we covered previously. Aesthetically, Microsoft has changed to a purple background and the beta fish logo at boot-up (when the installer restarts the system) is gone. It is replaced by a small light-blue Windows 8 logo.
Once the installer has finished, it will restart the computer and, upon boot will present a nice graphical OS selection list which appears to be a new addition to the RTM build. After choose Windows 8, you enter the Windows setup wizard which guides you through setting computer options and configuring your user account.
The setup process in Windows 8 RTM appears to be identical to that of the Consumer Preview version that I installed a couple of months ago (how time has flown!). Below is an animated .gif of the setup screens, which appears to be the same as the Consumer Preview except using a slightly different background color.
After that finished though, I was pleasantly surprised with what came next. After asking for some sort of tutorial ever since the Developer Preview, Microsoft has finally provided one–sort of. Basically, after setup finishes, the screen goes dark and then an animation pops up that briefly shows you how to access the Windows 8 Charms bar by moving your mouse to any corner of the screen. Then it dumps you out to the desktop.
Not exactly what I was hoping for, especially considering I was only able to find out how to actually close a
Metro "Windows 8 style UI" application without going to the task manager from a forum post of all things. Needless to say, some of the mouse gestures are not obvious, and I do consider myself to be at least somewhat technically savvy. Therefore, I can only imagine how lost some people might be when presented with Windows 8. When I had the Developer and Consumer Preview(s) installed on my Dell XT convertible tablet, the touch and gesture stuff was easier to discover but it is still not apparent. I was really hoping for a tutorial similar to what Microsoft did for Windows XP that introduces the interface and all the new features on the first setup (and accessible later if needed).
Still, it is a step in the right direction, and the tutorial at least points out one of the new mouse/touch navigation features. Here's hoping that MS adds more to that start-up tutorial by the time final code is out and it is for sale. Below is an animated .gif image of the brief tutorial. Note that the actual tutorial has some fading transitions between scenes. The last two images are two clips from a constantly changing background color as the OS loads the desktop and Windows 8 Start Screen for the first time. It cycles through all the colors available to choose from in the Personalize setting during account creation.
Once Windows has finished setting up your user account, you will be presented with the Windows 8 Start Screen for the first time. In my case, it was an array of "Metro" Windows 8 Style UI live tiles on a dark blue background with my name and photo in the top-right-corner. You can see what my Start Screen looks like in the image below. Yours will look similar but the photos and location information will be different. So you'll have the same stock apps, but the information on the tiles will not be the same. The information in question will be pulled from the Microsoft/Windows Live account that you signed into during the initial setup process.
Continue reading to see the new "Metro" apps, desktop UI, and my final thoughts
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 1, 2012 - 12:30 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: xbox 360, consolitis, consoles, console
Polytron and Trapdoor, together responsible for the indie title “Fez”, have decided to not release an update to their software due to certification fees. Microsoft released a public statement to assert that they would be willing to work out arrangements if fees solely prevent the patch from being released. Either way it reiterates serious concerns about content dependent upon proprietary platforms and how that conflicts with art.
Long-time readers of my editorials have probably figured out that I have not been a fan of consoles, anti-piracy, and several other issues for at least quite some time. Humorously it is almost universally assumed that a PC gamer who bashes his head against his desk whenever he hears an anti-piracy organization open their mouths must be a perpetual cheapskate worried about losing his free ride.
I mean, clearly there is no reason for someone who has an education in higher-level math with a fairly strong sense in basic statistics to argue with the ESA, BSA, RIAA, or MPAA. I clearly just prefer the PC to rip off game publishers.
Measure your dependent variables, control your independent variables.
So then, why do I care?
I have been growing increasingly concerned for art over the past several years. The most effective way to help art flourish is to enable as many creators to express themselves as possible and keep those creations indefinitely for archival and study. Proprietary platforms are designed to hide their cost as effectively as possible and become instantly disposable as they cease becoming effective for future content.
Console platforms appear to be the cheapest access to content by having a low upfront cost to the end user. To keep those numbers low they are often sold at under the cost of production with the intent of reclaiming that loss; the research, development and marketing losses; and other operating costs over the lifespan of the console. Profit is also intended at some point as well.
As Polytron and Trapdoor have experienced: one way to recover your costs is to drench your developers and publishers in fees for their loyalty to your platform – of course doing the same to your loyal customers is most of the rest. This cost progressively adds up atop the other expenses that increasingly small developers must face.
The two main developers for the PC, Blizzard and Valve, understand the main value of their platform: markedly long shelf lives for content. Consoles are designed to be disposable along with the content which is dependent on them. DRM likewise adds an expiration on otherwise good content if it becomes unsupported or the servers in charge of validating legitimate customers cease to exist in the name of preventing casual piracy.
For non-differentiable entertainment that is not a tragic loss as there will always be another first person shooter. Content with intrinsic value, on the other hand, cannot simply be exchanged for equivalent media.
For all the debate about whether videogames could be considered art – you would think it would be treated as such.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 1, 2012 - 06:11 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: webmail, outlook, microsoft, metro ui, hotmail, email
Hotmail, the latest iteration of Microsoft's web-based email service will soon be getting a user interface overhaul that takes many cues from the company's upcoming metro-ized Windows 8 operating system. In fact, it very closely resembles the new Mail client in Windows 8 as well as the new Outlook client in the Customer Preview of Office 2013 that I have been using for a a couple of weeks now.
Along with the (in my opinion, much needed) user interface updates comes yet another rebranding. Microsoft is ditching the "Hotmail" name in favor of the more professional-sounding "Outlook.com" webmail name. Now in public beta, users can switch over to the new Outlook.com webmail if they want, but it is not yet mandatory. Reportedly, all Hotmail users will eventually be moved over the new Outlook webmail once the service is in final stages of development. As Ars Technica points out, this is not Microsoft's first rebranding. In fact, it is somewhere around the fifth rebranding/iteration. Here's hoping that it is the last and that they manage to successfully brand the service–and do not tarnish the Outlook name.
I decided to take a look at the new Outlook.com interface for myself, and you can too. To switch over, log into your current Hotmail account, click on the "Options" link in the upper-right-hand side of the window and choose "Upgrade to Outlook.com."
The new interface is very flat, and much more simplified versus the old Hotmail. The current Hotmail UI leaves a lot to be desired. It has a rather large advertising panel on the right, rather unattractive scroll bars that do not really fit in with the design's color scheme, and links along the top for other Microsoft services and email functions (like reply, junk, and categories) that can be difficult to read and find. It is a rather dated design by today's standards, especially considering Microsoft's hard push for updated UIs on other platforms–hence the Outlook.com refresh.
As mentioned before, the Outlook.com webmail UI is very similar to the Metro Mail application that comes with Windows 8. It is broken into a four panel design. The folders and quick views links from Hotmail and the email header list is carried over and given a flat Metro design with stylized scroll bars and a folder list with a light gray background. The third panel serves as the reading pane and sits in between the email list and advertising panel–which thankfully moves to text-based ads only. The contents of your emails are displayed in this panel. It is not a fully responsive HTML design, but it does scale fairly well as the browser window is resized.
Along the top of the screen is a blue bar that holds links for email actions (reply, junk, delete, ect), an Outlook button, Messenger button, Settings button, and account settings (when clicking on your name in the upper-right). The white text on the blue background is much easier to read than the current Hotmail design thanks to the slightly larger text and the better contrast.
When hovering over the Outlook button, a small arrow appears. If you click on that arrow, you get a pop up menu with tiles much like Windows 8's Metro UI for Mail, People, Calendar, and SkyDrive. Unfortunately, the Calendar and SkyDrive links simply go to the respective web sites. And those web sites have not been updated with the new Outlook design.
The following screenshot shows the interface used for creating a new email. Again, you get a flat two panel design with a top navigation bar. On the left, you can add recipients from your contacts or by typing them in manually, while on the right you can use the text editor to add rich text and HTML or compose plain text emails.
Outlook.com has a new People tab as well, where you can manage contacts and chat using the built-in messenger client. It is the only other tile that has received a facelift, the calendar and SkyDrive pages are still using the old/current design. It forgoes the blue and white theme for an orange and white color scheme, but maintains the paneled design. On the left you have a list of contacts, and in the middle it lists details the selected contacts. The right-most panel does away with advertisement in favor of a web-based messaging client.
One nice new feature is further integration with the various social networks (if you are into that sort of thing, of course). You can now add contacts from your Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter profile(s). Further, the messenger client support talking with Windows Messenger, Facebook Chat, and Skype (coming in a future update) contacts.
In short, the new Microsoft webmail interface is a much welcomed update. Scrolling and navigation is noticeably smoother than the current Hotmail UI. Opening messages feels quicker as well. Opening the Messaging tab actually replaces the advertising panel completely, which is a nice touch. As mentioned above, the scroll bars are different. They appear to be a bit wider, and very much two dimensional, but the bars actually look much better than the current Hotmail design as they fit nicely into the aesthetic and color scheme.
The only (rather minor) issue is that, because of the larger text, I cannot, at a glance, check for new messages in the various folders I use. On the other hand, the text is easier to read and the scrolling is fast enough that it's only a minor thing. Further, despite the new Outlook.com name Microsoft's webmail does not support IMAP protocols. And being web-based, if your internet connection goes down you lose access to your email–there is no Google Gears support here.
While the new interface is not enough to bring me away from using a desktop client (which funnily enough is Outlook 2013), it is vastly improved versus the current Hotmail website and is worth switching over to. For being a webmail client, it is a very smooth, and dare I say slick, experience.
More information on Outlook 2013 desktop client–which Outlook 2013 seems to take inspiration from design-wise– I mentioned can be found using the outlook and office 2013 tags. Stay tuned for more Outlook.com information as the beta progresses. What features would you like to see? (I'd like to see the new UI carried over to the SkyDrive site!) Once you have gotten a chance to try the new Outlook.com beta, let us know what you think of it in the comments below (no registration required).
Subject: Editorial, Storage | June 18, 2012 - 06:56 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: deal of the day, external drive, Hard Drive, buffalo
Today's deal offers us a 2TB version of the Buffalo LinkStation Live, a NAS device (network attached storage) that allows users to easily backup their systems while being able to share the resources on the drive at the same time.
The Buffalo LinkStation Live series of drives allows you to access the NAS through Android and iOS applications over the web, supports transfer rates as high as 1 Gbps, is Apple Time Machine compatible and integrates a BitTorrent client too. A copy of NovaBACKUP Professional is included for users to install and setup easy, automated PC backups. And you can use the LinkStation Live as a DLNA media server to boot.
Today, LogicBuy has a deal on this unit for $135 with free shipping, using a coupon code found in the product's description.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | June 8, 2012 - 03:09 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: video, unreal engine 4, E3 12, E3
Epic has released as much of their GDC demo as they are able to in an effort to end E3 2012 with a bang. They have included a second video to walk through the engine for developers to enjoy. We will explain to the masses why it is awesome.
Before we go any further -- the video you have been waiting months to see.
Be prepared for a particle-filled generation.
As was the case with Intel’s sand-to-CPU video -- the demo is pleasing but the supplementary info is the prize.
Epic released a 10 minute developer walkthrough to highlight the most important features of Unreal Engine 4. You can see it below and read on to see what that all means.
Yes, Unrealscript did not make it to Unreal Engine 4.
The first major feature of the engine is real-time dynamic global illumination and glossy specular reflection. Traditional video game graphics only considers the first bounce of light from a source -- if that bounce does not reach the player camera then it does not exist. Global illumination allows objects to be lit not just by light sources but also by light bouncing from neighboring objects.
It has been very popular to calculate how light interacts with objects ahead of time for the last generation as well as a portion of the generation prior to that. With those methods you are able to soften the shadows cast by light and make the scene feel much more naturally lit. The problem arises when anything in the scene moves or changes as obviously happens in a video game.
Unreal Engine 4 has the ability to calculate Global Illumination in real time. Dynamic lights such as muzzle flashes or flames are able to not just illuminate the area around them but also induce that area around it to light each other.
Also, static sources such as moonlight shining in the window against the floor can bounce from the floor and slightly lighten the walls with a bluish tint without being calculated ahead of time. Developers can try lighting effects without waiting for sometimes hours to see the results. This also means that what would have been once a pre-computed lit scene with nothing moving can now be destroyed and still remain properly lit. And now the moon can even move if the designer wants.
Specular material on the gold statue
Diffuse material on the gold statue, notice how the floor lighting from the statue desaturates and changes.
In this scene we see how light can reflect against a statue and influence the objects around it. A specular material has a much smoother and more mirror-like surface than a diffuse material which tends to scatter light in all directions. If you were to shine a laser against a mirror the beam would bounce and you would not see it unless you were in the reflected path whereas if you shine the laser against the wall you would see a dot regardless of how you look at it. This is because the wall, like a projector screen, is like trillions of microscopic mirrors all pointed in different directions which each take a tiny fraction of the light and sends it in a different direction.
In Unreal Engine 4, this effect means that a shiny surface will not only glare if you look at it but also light the objects around it differently than a diffuse surface. You can see that effect against the floor.
Subject: Editorial | June 5, 2012 - 09:27 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: deal of the day
17.3" Dell XPS 17 Core i7-2670QM 2.2GHz Quad-core Laptop w/8GB RAM, dual 500GB Hard Drives, Backlit Keyboard, 3GB GeForce GT 555M graphics and 9-cell battery for $950 with free shipping (normally $1,663 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
15.6" Dell XPS 15z Ultra-thin Core i5-2450M 2.5GHz Laptop w/8GB RAM, 750GB HDD, Backlit Keyboard & 1GB GeForce GT 525M for $850 with free shipping (normally $1,174 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
14" Dell XPS 14z Core i5-2450M 2.5GHz Dual-core Ultra-thin Laptop w/8GB RAM, 750GB 7200RPM HDD & Adobe Elements 9 Bundle for $750 with free shipping (normally $939 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
14" Dell Inspiron 14z Core i3-2350M 2.3GHz Dual-core thin & light Laptop w/4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, Aluminum body & Adobe Elements 9 Bundle for $430 with free shipping (normally $599.99 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
Just released ENVY Ultrabook
13.3" HP ENVY Spectre XT 13t-2000 Core i5-3317U 1.7GHz Dual-core "Ivy Bridge" Ultrabook w/4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Backlit Keyboard, 2-year warranty & Adobe Elements 10 Bundle for $949.99 with free shipping (normally $1000 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
Released today, the X230 ThinkPad carries 15% off coupon for only 1 day. It's likely this promotion won't return for weeks
12.5" Lenovo ThinkPad X230 Core i5-3210M 2.5GHz Dual-core "Ivy Bridge" Ultra-portable Laptop w/4GB RAM, 320GB HDD for $832 with free shipping (normally $979 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
Dell Vostro 470 Core i5-3450 3.1GHz Quad-core "Ivy Bridge" Desktop w/4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, Wireless-N & Bluetooth for $549 with free shipping (normally $679 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
Alienware X51 Core i7-3770 3.4GHz Quad-core "Ivy Bridge" mini Gaming PC w/8GB RAM, 1TB HDD, 1GB GeForce GTX 555, Diablo 3 (PC) & 20% off Alienware accessories for $1,049 with free shipping (normally $1,149 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
23" Dell Inspiron One 2320 Core i7-2600S 2.8GHz Quad-core All-in-one Touchscreen PC w/8GB RAM, 2TB HDD, 1GB GeForce GT 525M & Wireless Keyboard + Mouse for $980 with free shipping (normally $1,300 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam for $75 with free shipping (normally $99)
HP LaserJet Pro CP1025nw Color Printer for $160 with free shipping (normally $230 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
Bethesda Hunted Demons Forge (PC) for $8 with free shipping (normally $14).
Star Wars: The Old Republic (PC) for $20 (normally $30).
Personal Portables & Peripherals:
Nike+ SportWatch GPS + $20 Gift Card for $170 with free shipping (normally $199).
Subject: Editorial | June 4, 2012 - 12:30 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: deal of the day
One of the most frequent questions we get on the PC Perspective Podcast and This Week in Computer Hardware is what component of their PCs a user should be looking to upgrade. No matter what configuration they mention to us, one of the first things that crosses my mind is the monitor.
You would likely be surprised how many users are still using lower resolution and smaller screens - the Valve Hardware Survey tells us that 27% of gamers are using either 1366x768 or 1280x1024 resolutions on their primary screens!
If you are one of those people or are maybe looking for a step up to a larger display, you might be interested in today's deal, a 27-in Planar PX2710MW 1080p LCD monitor.
You can grab this display through LogicBuy and Dell for $209 using the coupon code on the LogicBuy.com site.
This same monitor is available on Amazon.com for $269 (with great reviews as well!) giving this deal from LogicBuy a lot more credibility!
Subject: Editorial | June 1, 2012 - 08:35 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: deal of the day
PC Perspective has partnered with LogicBuy.com to bring our readers a collection of deals and coupons for computers, laptops and other miscellaneous technology products on a near daily basis. If you have any thoughts on the deals or the process, feel free to leave them in our comments section!
17.3" Dell XPS 17 Core i7-2670QM 2.2GHz Quad-core Laptop w/8GB RAM, dual 500GB Hard Drives, Backlit Keyboard, 3GB GeForce GT 555M graphics and 9-cell battery for $1000 with free shipping (normally $1,663)
15.6" Dell XPS 15z Core i7 2.8GHz Ultra-thin Laptop w/8GB RAM, 1080p LCD, 256GB SSD for $1,300 with free shipping (normally $1,600 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
13.3" Lenovo IdeaPad U300e Core i5 1.6GHz Ultrabook w/4GB RAM, 750GB HDD + 32GB SSD for $849 with free shipping (normally $1,249 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
13.3" Dell Vostro V131 Core i5-2450M 2.5GHz thin, Aluminum body Ultra-portable w/4GB RAM, 320GB HDD, Backlit Keyboard for $539 with free shipping (normally $759 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
11.6" HP dm1z-4100 Dual-core AMD Fusion Laptop w/4GB RAM, 320GB HDD for $345 with free shipping (normally $400 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
23" HP TouchSmart 520-1140t Core i3-2120 3.3GHz Dual-core All-in-one Multi-touch PC w/6GB RAM, 1TB HDD for $750 with free shipping (normally $950 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
Two (2) 23" Dell Professional P2312H 1080p LED-backit LCD Monitors w/ 3-year Advanced Exchange Warranty & Array Table Stand for $550 with free shipping (normally $665 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
15.6" Targus Meridian II Roller Laptop Case for $60 with free shipping (normally $106 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)
55" Panasonic VIERA TC-L55ET5 3D 1080p 120hz LED HDTV + Panasonic SCBTT195 Home Theater System Bundle for $1,650 with free shipping (normally $2,200 - use coupon code on logic buy)
Personal Portables & Peripherals
10.1MP Canon EOS Rebel XS DSLR Camera (Refurbished) w/ 18-55mm IS Lens Bundle for $300 with $16 shipping (normally $450 - use coupon code on logic buy)
GyroBall Hand Exerciser for $50 (normally $80).
Desktop Air Purifier for $185 (normally $300 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors | May 30, 2012 - 03:42 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, fab
Intel has released an animated video and supplementary PDF document to explain how Intel CPUs are manufactured. The video is more “cute” than anything else although the document is surprisingly really well explained for the average interested person. If you have ever wanted to know how a processor was physically produced then I highly recommend taking about a half of an hour to watch the video and read the text.
If you have ever wondered how CPUs came to be from raw sand -- prepare to get learned.
Intel has published a video and accompanied information document which explains their process almost step by step. The video itself will not teach you too much as it was designed to illustrate the information in the online pamphlet.
Not shown is the poor sandy bridges that got smelted for your enjoyment.
Rest in got
My background in education is a large part of the reason why I am excited by this video. The accompanied document is really well explained, goes into just the right amount of detail, and does so very honestly. The authors did not shy away from declaring that they do not produce their own wafers nor did they sugarcoat that each die even on the same wafer could perform differently or possibly not at all.
You should do yourself a favor and check it out.
Subject: Editorial | May 25, 2012 - 03:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
It has been a while since last we visited the PC Perspective Forums on the front page but that does not imply that nothing has happened. There are still problems to be solved with Operating Systems, ancient system BIOS upgrades and the ever popular driver questions to be answered. You can learn about IvyBridge motherboards or finagling your second wireless router to behave as a WAP. Drop by the Leaderboard Forum where you can discuss not only my picks for the Hardware Leaderboard but also any other PC builds you might be considering.
If your concerns are more specific then move on from the more general Forums to get help, be it recommendations about ASRock Z77 boards or maybe you have a Phenom II you want to overclock and enable extra cores on. Pop by the Graphics Forum and discuss AMD's new Catalyst release as well as the new schedule or get right to the heart of the system with the Processor and the Overclocking Forums.
Our BOINC and Folding@Home teams are always looking for new members and new debaters in The Lightning Round are welcome to hope into the fray. Those who like swap meets will love The Trading Post and for those of you just looking for a little high weirdness can hit the Off Topic Forum to create their own or witness ours in the latest PC Perspective Podcast!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 20, 2012 - 01:03 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 8, Aero
Paul Thurrott reports that Microsoft will dump Aero Glass in lieu of a more flat user interface for Windows 8. How far is Microsoft willing to distance itself from the desktop market to entice a foothold in the mobile space?
Remember that image I did with a turd on a desktop workstation a few days ago?
Microsoft has killed their glass-based design which they established almost a decade ago with the Longhorn technical preview.
Windows 8 Release Preview is set to release within the next two weeks and will contain Aero Glass as its desktop chrome. The shift to the flat layout will occur before release of the full version. It is still unclear whether users will be able to see it hands-on before they are expected to own it.
The ironic part is that is probably a glass aquarium.
You may be wondering why I claim this as an offense against the desktop. Later in his article Paul gives his prediction into why Aero Glass shattered -- since Microsoft did not directly say so themselves. Aero is not the most difficult interface for a computer to render but it does require a steady amount more computation than a flat layout. Transparency, blur, and other effects take up computation power -- hence why Windows harasses you to turn off Aero if your framerate dips in a game -- and that computation power translates to battery life.
Remember when Aero was touted as a driving reason to in-place upgrade to Vista Home Premium?
I guess Microsoft believes that they do not want their tablet customers to feel like second-rate citizens. At least we know that they will be willing to throw it all away and do it over yet again. At this point that should be the most clear above anything else.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | May 19, 2012 - 01:52 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ultrabook, trinity, cloud computing, cloud, amd
Bloomberg Businessweek reports AMD CEO Rory Read claims that his company will produce chips which are suited for consumer needs and not to crunch larger and larger bundles of information. They also like eating Intel’s bacon -- the question: is it from a pig or a turkey?
Read believes there is “enough processing power on every laptop on the planet today”.
The argument revolves around the shift to the cloud, as usual. It is very alluring to shift focus from the instrument to the data itself. More enticing: discussing how the instruments change to suit that need; this is especially true if you develop instruments and yearn to shift anyway.
Don’t question the bacon…
AMD has been trusting that their processors will be good enough and their products will differentiate in other ways such as with graphics capabilities which they claim will be more important for cloud services. AMD hopes that their newer laptops will steal some bacon from Intel and their ultrabook initiative.
The main problem with the cloud is that it is mostly something that people feel that they want rather than actually do. They believe they want their content controlled by a company for them until it becomes inaccessible temporarily or permanently. They believe they want their information accessible in online services but then freak out about the privacy implications of it.
The public appeal of the cloud is that it lets you feel as though you can focus on the content rather than the medium. The problem is that you do not have fewer distractions from your content -- just different ones -- and they rear their head once or twice in isolation of each other. You experience a privacy concern here and an incompatibility or licensing issue there. For some problems and for some people it makes more sense to control your own data. It will continue to be important to serve that market.
And if crunching ends up being necessary for the future it looks like Intel will be a little lonely at the top.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Storage | May 17, 2012 - 02:05 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: podcast, aftershow
After the normally scheduled podcast recorded last night, the PC Perspective staff hung around in the chat room to talk with our fans and readers about various random hardware topics. Rather than just throw that data away, we decided to save it and post the video here as a sort of "aftershow" for those of you that want a bit more PCPer in your life.
Get notified when we go live!