Who would have thought? Consoles nickel-and-dime.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 1, 2012 - 03:30 PM |
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.

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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.

Source: Ars Technica

Microsoft Revamps its Webmail with Metro-Inspired Design, Rebrands It Outlook.com

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | August 1, 2012 - 09:11 AM |
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.

new_outlook_message.jpg

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.

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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.

old_hotmail.jpg

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.

new_outlook_skydrive_integration.jpg

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.

new_outlook_new_message.jpg

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.

new_outlook_people_1.jpg

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.

new_outlook_people.jpg

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.

new_outlook_no_ads.jpg

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).

Deals for June 18th - 2TB Buffalo LinkStation Live for $135

Subject: Editorial, Storage | June 18, 2012 - 09:56 AM |
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. 

deal0618.png

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. 

Source: LogicBuy

E3 12: Unreal Engine 4 -- What you (and we) missed at GDC.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | June 8, 2012 - 06:09 PM |
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.

UE4-1-1.jpg

Specular material on the gold statue

UE4-1-2.jpg

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.

Read on after the break to continue with the discussion of Unreal Engine 4 features.

Deals for June 5th - Ivy Bridge Lenovo X230 notebook for $832 with 15% off

Subject: Editorial | June 5, 2012 - 12:27 PM |
Tagged: deal of the day

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The new Lenovo X230 Ivy Bridge laptop starting at $832 with coupon code!!

 

Laptops

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)

Desktops

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)

Tablet

9.7" Lenovo IdeaTab S2109 (22911NU) Dual-core 8GB Android 4.0 Tablet for $329 with free shipping (normally $399)

Peripherals

500GB Buffalo MiniStation USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive (HD-PCT500U2/B) for $60 with free shipping (normally $80)

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)

Gaming:

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Collector's Edition (PS3/360) for $40 with free shipping (normally $80).

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:

16MP Nikon Coolpix S6200 Digital Camera (Black) for $130 with free shipping (normally $169).

Nike+ SportWatch GPS + $20 Gift Card for $170 with free shipping (normally $199).

Source: LogicBuy

Deal for June 4th - 27-in 1080p Display for $209

Subject: Editorial | June 4, 2012 - 03:30 PM |
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.

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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! 

Source: LogicBuy

Deals for June 1st - Dell XPS 17 Quad-core Gaming Laptop for $1000

Subject: Editorial | June 1, 2012 - 11:35 AM |
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!

Laptops

deal0601.png

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)

 

Desktops

Dell XPS 8300 Core i7-2600 3.4GHz Quad-core Desktop w/8GB RAM, 1TB HDD & 1GB Radeon HD 6670 for $700 with free shipping (normally $1,030)

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)

 

Monitors

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)

23" Alienware OptX AW2310 3D-ready 1080p LCD Monitor for $400 with free shipping (normally $450)

 

Peripherals

3TB Seagate Expansion USB 3.0 Desktop External Hard Drive for $135 with free shipping (normally $160)

7.1-channel Sony Surround Sound PC Gaming Headset (DR-GA500) for $80 with free shipping (normally $199)

15.6" Targus Meridian II Roller Laptop Case for $60 with free shipping (normally $106 - use coupon code on LogicBuy)

Dell V725w All-in-One Wireless Inkjet Color Printer for $120 with free shipping (normally $170)

Canon PIXMA MX410 Wireless All-In-One Printer for $80 with free shipping (normally $100)

 

Gaming

320GB Xbox 360 Gears of War 3 Limited Edition Console Bundle for $280 with free in-store pickup (normally $350)

 

Home Entertainment

60" Samsung UN60EH6000 240Hz 1080p LED HDTV + Samsung HMX-W300BN Waterproof HD Camcorder for $1,600 with free shipping (normally $1,900)

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)

16MP Nikon D5100 DSLR Camera w/ 18-55mm and 55-200mm Lenses for $800 with free shipping (normally $900).

 

Miscellaneous

GyroBall Hand Exerciser for $50 (normally $80).

Desktop Air Purifier for $185 (normally $300 - use coupon code on LogicBuy).

Source: LogicBuy

Know CPUs were made of sand? Yes, but I like your video.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors | May 30, 2012 - 06:42 PM |
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.

Source: Intel (pdf)

It is June 1st ... cope with it!

Subject: Editorial | May 25, 2012 - 06:52 PM |
Tagged: friday

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 WAPDrop 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!

Windows 8 -- Aero? Plain.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 20, 2012 - 04:03 PM |
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.

windows8beta.jpg

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.

AMD will not chase Intel making "needlessly powerful" CPUs

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | May 19, 2012 - 04:52 PM |
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”.

I disagree.

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.

amd-new.png

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.

Podcast #202 Aftershow - Much Ado about Storage

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Storage | May 17, 2012 - 05:05 PM |
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.

Enjoy!

Podcast #201 - GTX 690 review, ASUS G75V Ivy Bridge Notebook review, a Vertex 4 update and more!

Subject: Editorial | May 10, 2012 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: Vertex 4, podcast, nvidia, Ivy Bridge, Intel, gtx690, g75v, amd, 690

PC Perspective Podcast #201 - 05/10/2012

Join us this week as we talk about our GTX 690 review, ASUS G75V Ivy Bridge Notebook review, a Vertex 4 update and more!

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

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

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

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

Program length: 1:04:25

Program Schedule:

  1. Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. Win a Netgear R6300 802.11ac router!!
  6. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 Review - Dual GK104 Kepler Greatness
  7. ASUS G75V Review: Gaming Goes Ivy
  8. Greater than 20 Percent of Malware Articles Miss the Point
  9. Trinity Improvements Include Updated Piledriver Cores and VLIW4 GPUs
  10. More Leaks Emerge on NVIDIA’s Kepler Based GTX 670 GPU
  11. Ready for Diablo III? Not with Catalyst 12.4 you're not.
  12. Corsair Launches Air Series of High Airflow and High Static Pressure Fans
  13. Steam Allows Remote Installation of Games
  14. OCZ Updates Vertex 4 Enthusiasts to 1.4 Release Candidate Firmware
  15. Windows Media Center To Be A Pro Only Feature In Windows 8
  16. Good news from TSMC for NVIDIA and you
  17. Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: ASUS N66U Dual-band Router
    2. Jeremy: Wave your hands like an idiot for free
    3. Josh: Not exactly mine, but good.
    4. Allyn: pqi U819V 3cm USB3 
  18. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  19. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  20. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  21. Closing

Win a Netgear R6300 802.11ac router!!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 8, 2012 - 12:39 AM |
Tagged: netgear, giveaway, contest, broadcom, 802.11ac

Broadcom and Netgear came to PC Perspective recently to discuss some upcoming products based on the new 802.11ac protocol, a new technology that will enable a minimum of 1 Gigabit wireless networking in the 5 GHz spectrum.  

While we are learning about the new products that the two companies are partnering on, they offered up a few prizes for our readers: one of three new Netgear R6300 dual-band, 802.11ac routers!!

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While not on the market yet, these routers will offer some impressive new features including:

The NETGEAR R6300 WiFi Router delivers next generation WiFi at Gigabit speeds. It offers the ultimate mobility for WiFi devices with speeds up to 3x faster than 802.11n.

Compatible with next generation WiFi devices and backward compatible with 802.11 a/b/g and n devices, it enables HD streaming throughout your home. The R6300 with simultaneous dual band WiFi technology offers speeds up to 450+1300‡ Mbps† and avoids interference, ensuring top WiFi speeds and reliable connections. This makes it ideal for larger homes with multiple devices. In addition, four Gigabit Ethernet ports offer ultra-fast wired connections. Wirelessly access and share USB hard drive and USB printer using the two USB 2.0 ports.

The NETGEAR Genie® app provides easy installation from an iPad®, tablet, computer or smartphone. It includes a personal dashboard, allowing you to manage, monitor, and repair your home network. NETGEAR customers can download the app at http://www.netgear.com/genie or from the Google Play or App Store.

All you have to do to enter this contest is submit your answer the question below and be sure to include your REAL email address so we can contact you!!  The survey will run through the rest of this week (May 11th) and you can enter from all over the world!  They had one simple question:

What is the most important factor in determining what type of WiFi technology you use at home?

Email:

What is your email address?

This is why anti-piracy is not simple and intuitive...

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 4, 2012 - 10:07 PM |
Tagged: piracy

The Pirate Bay has recently been blocked by a number of British ISPs but single-day traffic increased to the highest it has ever been. If there was a need for yet another example of where intuition opposes reality when it comes to content piracy, please -- let this be that so we can move on to actually solving problems.

The biggest issue with anti-piracy campaigns is that so many have opinions but so few have acknowledged facts -- even when proposing litigation.

The intuitive perception is very simple: see a quantifiable amount of what could wrongfully be considered theft and assume that sales were reduced by some factor of that value. Also, if you block access to that cesspool of theft then most of the theft will go away or move somewhere else. Both of those suggestions are fundamentally flawed statistically and have no meaning besides feeling correct.

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Content companies: Do not blame piracy. Sales before sails -- think before you sink.

In reality there are many situations to show that an infringed copy has counter-intuitive effects on sales. More importantly to this story is the latter situation: blocking The Pirate Bay appears to have substantially increased their single-day audience by 12 million views. This seems to be yet another conundrum where no action would have been the optimal solution.

If you were to take away a single point from this article it should be the following:

Just because something seems right or wrong does not mean it is. You should treat intuition as nothing more than a guide for your judgment. Never let instinct disrupt your ability to understand the problems you are attempting to solve or ignore completely valid possibilities at solving them.

Objectivity really is a good virtue to embrace.

Questions for GTX 690 Live Review - Win an NVIDIA Crowbar!!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 2, 2012 - 02:37 PM |
Tagged: video, nvidia, live review, live, kepler, GTX 690, geforce

Yes, we realize it's actually a "flat bar" but that's nearly as cool to say.  Either way, wouldn't you like to win one of these?

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Tomorrow at 1pm EDT / 10am PDT we are going to be streaming a LIVE talk between myself and Tom Petersen centered around the GeForce GTX 690 dual-Kepler graphics card at http://pcper.com/live.  We will talk about performance, power consumption, features, show demos and of course take user questions through our live chat room, twitter accounts and more. 

But we also want to get your questions TODAY to help prepare for the event.  If you have a burning question about the GTX 690 or the Kepler architecture and its features, leave us a comment below!  (No registartion required.) Both NVIDIA's Tom Petersen and I will give you our feedback.  The best question will take home an NVIDIA crowbar so you too can be prepared for the coming apocalypse!

If you want, you can also send me a message on Twitter @RyanShrout or on our PC Perspective Facebook page.  

Hurry though, we want them in tonight so we can sort and pick our favorites for the live event tomorrow.  For all the details on tomorrow's show, make sure you check our post right here!!

 

PC Perspective and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 Live Review - Thursday, May 3rd @ 1pm EDT

Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | April 30, 2012 - 09:55 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, video, geforce, GTX 690, live, live review

We all know the reviews are coming soon - the GeForce GTX 690 is set to be launched this Thursday.  The dual-GK104 Kepler solution with the $999 price tag will likely be the highest performing graphics card on the market (and by a lot) and we are going to be discussing the launch, the technology and a lot more in our PC Perspective Live Review.

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Starting Thursday, May 3rd at 1pm EDT / 10am PDT, NVIDIA's Tom Petersen will join me at our live page (http://pcper.com/live) to talk about the new graphics card, the performance and feature characteristics that go into building a high-end solution like this and take questions from the viewers. 

You might have seen our original GTX 680 Live Review where Tom and I hosted a similar event - this is definitely something you won't want to miss out on!  

Be sure to set your calendars and join us Thursday afternoon for the event!  You can use the chat room at http://pcper.com/live to interact and ask questions or follow me on Twitter and reply to me during the show. 

Blender 2.63 released! Major feature: BMesh integration.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | April 27, 2012 - 04:42 PM |
Tagged: Blender

The latest version of Blender has been released to the public officially. This version integrates, after much anticipation, BMesh and in the process reengineers how Blender handles geometry. Models are no longer constrained to triangles and quadrangles and can have any number of sides.

I do a bunch of illustration work for PC Perspective and elsewhere. Most of my work is in 2D these days although originally I worked in 3D applications almost exclusively. When occasions allows it, scarce as they are these days, I return to 3D if new projects need it or old projects get returned to.

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Here today, n-gon tomorrow.

I originally started with Rhino3D when I was introduced to it for a high school shop technology class. When 3D shifted to a persistent hobby I shifted to Maya and purchased an educational license. That license has become well used for game design contests and personal art projects over the past several years.

Faced with the greater than three thousand dollar price tag of a new license of Maya -- I could buy a Wacom Cintiq 24 and another used car (minus repairs) with that -- I looked at Blender once again. I am not against paying for software which gives me value over the alternatives. The GIMP just cannot replace Photoshop for my current illustration work, try as I might, and I eventually was led to purchase one of Adobe’s Creative Suites. Maybe Blender would have a different fate?

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Sorry boy, cannot play today.

After a few attempts at getting used to its interface -- I mean the man-hours must be cheaper than a license of Maya, right? -- I was about ready to give it up again. The modeling flow just did not suit my style well at all. After exercising my Google-Fu I found an experimental Blender project called BMesh and loaded one of its experimental builds. After just a short period of usage it felt more natural than Maya has felt.

I felt as though I would actually choose Blender over Maya, even if given either one for free. Best part: for one, I am.

So why do I mention this in the post proclaiming the launch of Blender 2.63? Blender 2.63 fully integrates that experimental branch into the trunk core application. BMesh is, as of this release, officially unified with Blender.

For current users of Blender, Game From Scratch has put up an article which demonstrates the benefits which BMesh can provide. If you focus on modeling predominantly, your grin should grow as the article moves on. More tools should be developed for the new geometry engine too. Keep grinning.

Admittedly, again, I do not have too much time to play in 3D lately and as such your mileage may vary. Still, I can honestly say that as of what this release’s preview builds demonstrate: the water is finally warm for 3D modelers to try Blender. Is there room for improvement? Of course, but now is a great time to give it a try.

Source: Blender

Intel Announces Q1 2012 Earnings: Not a Record, but Close

Subject: Editorial | April 23, 2012 - 05:12 PM |
Tagged: trinity, Q1, Ivy Bridge, Intel, earnings, atom, arm, amd, 2012

Guess what? Intel made money. A lot of money. This is not surprising. The results were not record breaking, but they did beat expectations. Intel had a gross revenue of $12.9 billion for the quarter, with a net income of $2.7 billion. Gross margins decreased (slightly) to 64%, but the reasons for this are pretty logical as we discover down below. Compared to Q4 2011, results are still significantly down, but this is again expected due to seasonal downturns. In Q4 they had $13.9 billion in gross revenue and $3.4 billion in net income with a gross margin of 64.5%.

 
Currently Intel is showing inventory at near historic lows, and this is due to a variety of factors. The PC market has been growing slower than expected due to the hard drive shortage that started last fall. Intel has adjusted manufacturing downward to account for this, and has worked to ramp 22 nm products faster by cutting back 32n production and converting those 32 nm lines. Intel is very aggressive with Ivy Bridge, and it expects 25% of all shipments in Q2 to be 22nm products. This is probably the fastest and most aggressive ramp that Intel has ever done, and it will continue to put AMD in a hole with their 32 nm production.
 
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The second half of the year should see some significant growth on the PC side. The primary push will be the release of Windows 8 from Microsoft. This, combined with the near complete recovery of hard drive production, should push PC growth the record levels. Ultrabooks are an area that Intel is spending a lot of money to promote and develop with their partners. There are some 26 Ultrabook designs on record so far, and Intel expects this number to rise rapidly. The big push is to decline the overall price of Ultrabooks, as well as enabling touch functionality for a more affordable price. While not mentioned during the conference call, AMD is also pushing for ultra-thin notebooks, and once Trinity enabled products hit the street, we can expect a much more aggressive price war to be waged on these products.
 
Smart phones are another area that Intel is actively trying to expand into. This past quarter we saw the introduction of the Orange, Lava, and Lenovo phones based on the Medfield platform. So far these have been fairly well received by users and media alike, though the products have certainly had some teething issues. Intel still has a lot of work to do, but they finally realize the importance of this market. Intel expects that there will be 450 million smart phones shipped in 2012 (from all manufacturers), and that it is expected to grow up to 1 billion shipped a year by 2015/2016 (if not sooner). Intel wants to get into those phones, and is adjusting their Atom strategy to fit it. While in previous years Atom lagged behind other processor development from Intel, they are pushing it to the forefront. We can expect to see Atom based products being manufactured on 22 nm, and then aggressively pushed to 14 nm when that process node is available. Intel feels that they have a significant advantage in process technology that will directly impact their success in achieving higher rates of utilization across product lines in the mobile sector. If Intel can offer an Atom with similar performance and capabilities, tied with a significantly lower TDP, then they feel that a lot of phone manufacturers will look their way rather than use older/larger/more power hungry products from competitors.
 
Finally, Intel essentially has little interest in becoming a foundry for other partners. They are currently working with a handful of other countries to produce products for them, but I think that this might be a short term affair. Intel will either stay with a few partners to produce a low quantity of parts, or Intel will learn what they have to about producing products like FPGAs and eventually start producing chips of their own. When Intel fabs their own parts, they essentially get paid twice as compared to foundries or 3rd party semiconductor companies.
 
Intel continues to be profitable and successful. Ivy Bridge is going to be a very big product for Intel, and they are going to push it very hard through the rest of this year. Mobile strategies are coming to fruition and we see Intel getting their foot in the door with some major partners around the world. Servers, desktops, and notebook chips still comprise the vast majority of products that Intel ships, but mobile will become a much stronger player in the years to come. That is if Intel is able to execute effectively with accelerated Atom development on smaller process nodes. ARM is still a very worthy competitor, and a seemingly re-invigorated AMD could provide some better competition with Trinity and Brazos 2.0 in the notebook/tablet market.
 
Margins will be down next quarter due to the aggressive 22 nm ramp. With any new process there will be problems and certain inefficiencies at the beginning. As time passes, these issues will be resolved and throughput and yields will rise. Intel does expect a larger PC growth through the next quarter and a higher gross revenue. It will be interesting to see if Ultrabooks do in fact take off for Intel, or will competitors offer better price/performance for that particular market. Needless to say, things will not slow down through the rest of this year.
Source: Intel

NVIDIA continues to tease, sends us a crowbar

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 23, 2012 - 09:58 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, crowbar, kepler

Remember when NVIDIA updated their Facebook page with "It's Coming..." and a picture that you had little chance of learning its origin?  Well the marketing team is at again, this time sending over a crowbar.  No, seriously.

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"For Use in Case of Zombies Or...<NVIDIA LOGO>".  So either something BIG is coming later that I am going to need to open with said crowbar or maybe NVIDIA is partnering with Valve to announce Half-Life 3.  That second guess is just wishful thinking, sorry.

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If nothing else I guess we'll thank NVIDIA for the additional weapon for the eventual zombie apocalypse until such time as they sit fit to clue me in on the joke.

Happy Monday!