ZDNet Seems to Say Secure Boot Still Sucks for Open Source

Subject: General Tech, Systems | December 31, 2012 - 09:01 PM |
Tagged: Secure Boot, uefi

Steven J Vaughan-Nichols of ZDNet published an update on the status of Secure Boot. Fans of Linux and other open-source operating systems have been outspoken against potential attempts by Microsoft to hinder the installation of free software. While the fear is not unfounded, the situation does not feel to be a house of cards in terms of severity.

Even without an immediate doomsday, there still is room for improvement.

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The largest complaint is with Windows RT. If a manufacturer makes a device for Windows RT it will pretty much not run any other operating system. Vice versa, if an OEM does not load Windows RT on their device that PC will never have it. Windows on ARM is about as closed of a platform as you can get.

On the actual topic of Secure Boot, distributions of Linux have been able to sign properly as trusted. Unlike the downstream Fedora 18, Ubuntu 12.10, and others: the Linux Foundation is still awaiting a signed bootloader.

Other distributions will need to disable the boot encryption which many thought would forever be the only way to precede. While not worse than what we have been used to without Secure Boot, disabling boot encryption leaves Linux at a disadvantage for preventing rootkits. Somewhat ironic, we are stuck between the fear of being locked out of our device by a single entity and the fear of malice intentions not being locked out.

Source: ZDNet

Microsoft Surface Pro Priced and Dated

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | November 29, 2012 - 07:52 PM |
Tagged: surface, Surface Pro, windows 8

When surface was originally announced we were promised the availability of two different models: Surface RT and Surface Pro. The two devices are what Microsoft considers canonical to the modern Windows experience. The original Microsoft Surface, an interactive table designed for commercial applications, was stripped of its trademark and rebranded Microsoft PixelSense.

The Surface RT was positioned as the introductory and lower-end Windows tablet incapable of x86-support. With a base price of $499 the ARM-based device takes up the lower end of the market with an attempt to bring laptop form to an iPad-style platform.

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The Surface Pro will come in two SKUs: a 64GB version will cost you $899 or fork over $999 to double that to 128GB of flash storage. All SKUs will include an Intel i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and an Intel HD 4000 GPU driving a 10.6” 1080p display. You will be able to attach an external monitor via mini display port. Windows 8 will be the driving operating system behind this device and bring support for x86 applications to the Surface platform.

Neither Surface Pro SKU will include a keyboard-cover in the price but both will include a stylus. You still have the option of augmenting your device with their magnetically attached keyboards. I can only assume that Microsoft did not include them solely for pricing.

The Surface family will complete in January 2013.

Analog Movement on a Keyboard? Start Your Soldering Irons!

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Systems | November 25, 2012 - 11:44 PM |
Tagged: gaming keyboard

I was patrolling around Revision3 upon news of their Adam Sessler acquisition and came across the Ben Heck Show. Long-time readers of my content know that I tend to be very picky with input devices which landed me reviewing several keyboards over the last year-and-a-bit. User interface is a complicated problem and testing their limitations often unearths interesting subjects.

The Revision3 show’s most recent episode took apart a keyboard, which if I had to guess was based on Cherry MX Black although membrane-dome is possible, and gave its WSAD keys analog control.

The underlying principle of the build relies upon support for analog sticks in the software. It is not unheard-of for an input device to register in the computer as multiple devices in order to increase functionality. Several keyboards report to Windows as three separate keyboards to get around USB input limitations. In this case, the hacked keyboard will report as a keyboard and as an Xbox360-compliant gamepad.

The build uses hall sensors and magnets to detect how far the keystem is depressed and transmit that data as left-stick movement.

I could see a company such as Razer or Steelseries, in a bid to further differentiate their mechanical keyboards, creating a product with this idea. It should be simple for an established peripheral company to design a pressure sensitive keyboard especially given the existence of other pressure-sensitive buttons on gaming devices. Perhaps the implementation could have a toggle to switch between typing and gaming modes?

That would interest me.

Source: Revision3

Minecraft Brings Cake to Raspberry Pi

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | November 24, 2012 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged:

You might like pie, you might be a terrible person who likes cake, I will not judge.

One of Minecraft’s many features is the ability to craft a cake to use as food despite being wholly inferior to a couple of pork chops or steaks. You are not able to craft a pie. Soon you will be able to craft the game on a Raspberry Pi, however.

Mojang made an announcement on their blog recently which outlined their plans to port Minecraft Pocket to the cheap Raspberry Pi computer. While this might be exciting for those who use the Raspberry Pi as a cheap home theatre PC, there is something special about this build.

vidgameartlogo2.jpg

If you close a Windows, someone will open a source.

The Raspberry Pi was designed by David Braben to be an educational device. Its intent was to provide students with a cheap device loaded with much of the software development tools they would require to learn and develop their own applications.

Mojang is also interested in this ideal.

This version of the game, called Minecraft: Pi Edition, is said to be available in multiple programming languages. The intent is for users to learn to program by modifying and extending Minecraft. The game certainly is popular enough with students and would be an engaging way to frame the skills they require in the context of an existing game. I hope it will also help perpetuate the oft threatened ideal that third party game modifications should be promoted and preserved.

Minecraft: Pi Edition will be provided completely free.

Source: Mojang

Dear Intel, please get someone other than Curly to name your systems

Subject: Systems | November 21, 2012 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: nuc, Intel

Intel's rather poorly named Next Unit of Computing is much more impressive than it sounds.  In a 4" x 4" x 2" box is a Core i3-3217U on a QS77 Express motherboard, two DDR3 DIMMs, a mini-PCIe Intel 520 Series SSD and a WiFi card which gives you performance far above any Atom powered micro machine.  Connectivity includes Thunderbolt, HDMI and up to 5 USB 3.0 ports and it is powered by a small 65W external brick.  The Tech Report were impressed by the overall performance, especially when trying out PC Perspective's favourite shooter from 2004.  At an MSRP around $300, this is a great choice for someone who needs more power than an Atom based machine but doesn't want to pay the premium for a full laptop.

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"Intel has crammed a pretty capable PC into a box that will fit into the palm of your hand and dubbed it the "Next Unit of Computing." With its Ultrabook guts, we think it should've been called the Ultrabox. Whatever you call it, though, the NUC offers a possible glimpse at the future of desktop PCs"

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Lenovo Launches IdeaCentre Q190 SFF PC

Subject: Systems | November 17, 2012 - 12:59 AM |
Tagged: SFF, PC, Lenovo, ideacentre q190, htpc

Lenovo recently launched a new small form factor PC with the IdeaCentre Q190. This small desktop measures 192mm x 155mm x 22mm and packs some hardware punch that handily surpasses the specs of traditional net-top computers. Exact hardware specifications have not yet been released, but the company has talked about the top-end model.

Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190.jpg

The IdeaCentre Q190 PC will have up to a 2nd generation Core i3 Intel Sandy Bridge processor, 8GB DDR3 memory, HD3000 integrated (processor) graphics, a 1TB hard drive, and a 24GB caching SSD. These specifications are, of course, for the top end model.

Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190_1.jpg

The IdeaCentre Q190 with the optional optical drive attached.

In addition, the Q190 can support a DVD writer or Blu ray optical drive that mounts on top of the PC, which adds a bit of depth but can still be mounted vertically with the supplied stand. Other optional accessories include a handheld wireless keyboard and mouse trackpad.

Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190_2.jpg

External IO includes an SDXC card reader, S/PDIF optical audio port, VGA video output, two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, and a Gigabit Ethernet jack.

The Q190 will come preloaded with Windows 8, and an option for Windows 8 Pro. Lenovo is pushing the HTPC merits of the computer, and it will certainly do a serviceable job. It would also make for a nice low-power desktop system as well, and it looks nice enough to display on your desk.

The Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190 will be available in January 2013 and will have a starting price of $349, with the top end model described above costing a bit more (the exact amount is as yet unknown).

Source: Lenovo

Breaking News: Steven Sinofsky Leaves Microsoft Immediately

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | November 12, 2012 - 07:02 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, windows 8, microsoft

Our regular viewers know that I am not too fond of Microsoft’s recent vision; I will get that out of the way right at the start. I am a major proponent of open platforms for uncensored art with perpetual support and Windows 8 shows all the signs of Microsoft turning its back on that ideology.

And Steven Sinofsky, the one who allegedly came up with that vision, is no longer with Microsoft: effective immediately.

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Not much in the line of reasoning is known about why Steven Sinofsky parted ways with his long-term career as head of Windows division. He had a clear and concise vision for his products and it was evident both in Windows 7 and in Windows RT.

Rumors exist that his fellow executives were not on pleasant terms with him. All Things D claims to have sources which suggest that his colleagues were unhappy with his conduct in terms of collaboration.

But that is all hearsay.

What it means for Microsoft is that the face that set sail is no longer at the helm. Microsoft could revert back to their twitchy attempts to appease everyone and abandon their vision. On the other hand it is entirely possible that the company could continue off on the last bearing set by Sinofsky.

No-one knows, but I stand behind my previous assertions that the PC industry will get messy in the next few years as things boil over at Microsoft.

Source: All Things D

The Content Industry Will Never Get It

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | November 10, 2012 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: piracy, kinect

We do not like straying from our usual topics into the music, movie, and console gaming industries although I will make an exception for this. It has a computer hardware angle, I assure you.

So I came across an article this morning regarding a patent which Microsoft filed about a year and a half ago. This patent describes a process where a device can monitor the number of people viewing a copyrighted work and permit “remedial action” should that number increase beyond some arbitrary level. In other words, the technology would prevent or adjust the price of consuming content based on the number of people in your private residence.

Hey if you want to bring your significant other over -- that’ll cost you!

drmsucks.jpg

Hey did I tell you about this awesome DRM we're working on? Huge success.

It routinely frustrates me when people side with the content industry because they know that one-or-so unapologetic pirating acquaintance who they feel is ripping off the whole system. The problem is that all evidence which I have seen to suggest whether or not a pirate has actual damages actually shows sales increases or is wholly based on junior high school-level statistical errors.

The content industry does not demand for you to pay them for their content: they demand that you pay them for their content under specific conditions. There were no less than two services present at CES 2011 which allowed users to input a movie title to find out where it is legally available. If it was in Vudu, Hulu+, Netflix, in Theatres, which theatre, what show-times, as a DVD or BluRay on Amazon, on TV soon, and so forth.

Everyone I discussed those services with, thus far, were amazed with how useful that would be.

I then ask them: Why is it so hard to give them money that we need services to instruct people how to legally license content?

What if the person watching the content at a friend’s house ends up purchasing it? They are attempting to open up extra streams of revenue by controlling the system more aggressively. When the system gets too convoluted for users to abide by they blame that loss in revenue on piracy.

You could imagine this occurring for video games as well: what if a publisher decides that split-screen gaming is a premium service to be licensed on a per-controller basis? The content industry is attempting to focus their licensing arrangements as granularly as possible. This is bad for you, it is often bad for them, and it is terrible for society.

Do not assume that a copyright holder will act sensibly. It is not about cheap people. It is often not even about revenue despite whether they believe it is or not. Just look at Ubisoft’s DRM “success”. An exodus of 90% of your customers should never be called a success and yet they genuinely believed it was.

Source: Mashable

Zotac Updates ZBOX AD06 With New AMD APU

Subject: Systems | November 7, 2012 - 02:04 PM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox ad06, zbox, SFF, htpc, barebones, APU, amd

Zotac has updated its small form factor ZBOX AD06 PC with a new AMD Accelerated Processing Unit that features a faster GPU portion and a dual core Zacate CPU that Zotac claims offers up to a 10% boost in performance versus the previous ZBOX.

Zotac ZBOX AD06 With New AMD APU.jpg

On the outside, the ZBOX AD06 is approximately the size of a Mini-ITX motherboard, comes with a bundled VESA75/100 mount (to attach it to the back of your monitor), and features a number of ports. Internally, the ZBOX AD06 features an AMD E2-1800 APU with two CPU cores at 1.7GHz and a Radeon HD 7340 GPU. The “Plus” version bundles in 2GB of DDR3 memory and a 320GB hard drive, otherwise it is very much a bare-bones system that allows you to add your own storage.

External ports and connectivity options include:

  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 x SD card reader
  • 2 x analog audio jacks
  • 1 x DVI
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x S/PDIF optical audio output
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0

The Zotac AD06 also features a bundled media center remote that will work with Windows Media Center or XBMC. And thanks to the more powerful APU, it should work well as a low-cost home theater PC. Unfortuantely, there is no word on pricing or when the AD06 or AD06 Plus will be available for purchase.

Zotac ZBOX AD06 Plus vs AD06.png

You can find the full press release below.

The Ceton Echo Windows Media Center Extender is exactly what it says it is

Subject: Systems | November 6, 2012 - 12:32 PM |
Tagged: wmc, htpc, echo windows media extender, ceton

The Ceton Echo is not a competitor to Roku or other streaming devices which hook you up to Netfix and other online sources, instead it competes against the XBox as a way to utilize Windows Media Center without having a PC as well as retrieving online sources.  If you do have a PC, especially one with a TV Tuner then the Ceton Echo becomes even more powerful as you can use it to handle DVR duties as well as to stream content from your PC.  Missing Remote just got this device in and will be testing it over the next few days to find out just how useful this device is; it will be available to the general public at the end of November.

MR_echo1.jpg

"The XBOX 360 has ruled the Windows Media Center (WMC) extender market since it killed off third-party completion with the release of Windows Vista, but for many the brutish gaming console’s size, appetite for electricity, and unpleasant noise levels made it unwelcome in the A/V stack. With a lithe chassis, miserly power consumption, and a modern system-on-a-chip (SOC) offering the potential for proper HD file support the Ceton Echo could be just the thing to breathe fresh life into Microsoft’s aging platform. Our sample just arrived so it has not been run through the wringer yet, but since the hardware is set and pre-orders starting it is worth taking a look to getting a basic understanding of what the Echo has to offer. Check back later for our full review when the software is finalized."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

HTPC

The Tech Report reminds you to get shopping with their updated System Build Guide

Subject: Systems | November 6, 2012 - 10:46 AM |
Tagged: system build

Even if The Tech Report's Systems Guide is in direct competition with our own Hardware Leaderboard, it is always nice to have a second opinion especially if you need some advice on Mobile Sidekicks.  Their builds include the Econobox at roughly $600, the Sweet Spot at $1,000, the Editors Choice at $1,500, and the Double Stuff Workstation at $3,000 for those who need the ultimate machine.  There are also alternative components offered for each of these builds so take a look through their recommendations and see if it inspires you.

TR_systembuild.jpg

"We've refreshed our famous system guide to account for AMD's new A- and FX-series processors, the latest GPU releases, and of course, the arrival of Windows 8."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

How to Build a PC with Windows 8 - PC Perspective Live!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems | October 26, 2012 - 11:46 AM |
Tagged: windows 8, video, system build, live

Today at 3pm EDT we are going to be doing a live stream of a system build and Windows 8 installation on our PC Perspective Live! page.  Won't you come and join us?

UPDATE: Did you miss the event?  Well then, we have you covered with the replay of the two and a half hour stream right here!

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Sorry, no, I won't be doing it blindfolded this time...

If you are looking to learn how to build a PC, how the Windows 8 setup goes along with initial Windows 8 experiences, or just want to hang out during a lazy Friday, click on the link above or on the flashing radio tower to the left and join us!!

ASUS TAICHI - Perfect Blend of Ultrabook, Tablet, Uppercase

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | October 23, 2012 - 11:55 AM |
Tagged: taichi, asus

ASUS has just officially announced their new TAICHI mobile computer which they are branding as both an Ultrabook and a Tablet. What differentiates this device is that it contains two 1080p touchscreens on either side of the laptop lid. When the lid is closed it is a tablet, when the lid is open it is a standard Ultrabook with a monitor facing away from the user.

PR_ASUS_TAICHI_ab.jpg

The real difficulty is explaining use cases for potential buyers. Having done some high school teaching in the past the first usage which comes to mind is creating surveys and quizzes without a projector. Since a simple bar chart tends to have larger details it should be quite visible even on an 11.6” display. If you are teacher who tends to do a lot of “clicker” demonstrations it might be particularly useful as you would be able to modify the question on your screen and show the answer on the reverse.

PR_ASUS_TAICHI_ba.jpg

In terms of a regular laptop it has quite a few nice features: Core i5 or i7 processor, an actual Intel HD 4000 GPU, USB3.0 for practically full-speed external drives, and a 128 or 256GB SSD. It is expected to have 5 hours of battery life when browsing the internet wirelessly. I am satisfied with 4GB of RAM but frankly these days it would be good to get a little more.

Prices start at $1,299 and go up to $1,599 for the i7 with a 256GB SSD. Availability starts November.

Press blast after the break!

Source: ASUS

Samsung Launching ATIV 500T and 700T Windows 8 Convertible Tablets

Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 19, 2012 - 02:14 PM |
Tagged: windows 8, tablet, saumsung, Ivy Bridge, Intel, clover trail, atom, ativ 700t, ativ 500t

Samsung is the latest company to announce its fleet of dock-able tablet computers running the full version of Windows 8. Launched under the ATIV Smart PC brand, the company is offering up two models depending on the amount of computing horsepower you need to get work done. Specifically, Samsung is launching the Series 5 ATIV Smart PC 500T and the Series 7 ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T. Both models will be available for purchase on October 26th for $749.99 and $1,199.99 respectively.

Samsung Series 5 Slate: ATIV Smart PC 500T

The Samsung Series 5, also known as the ATIV Smart PC 500T is a 11.6” tablet powered by Intel’s recently released Clover Trail-based Atom processor platform. It measures 11.6” x 7.2” x 0.38” and weighs 1.65 pounds.The tablet features a LED-backlit touchscreen display with a resolution of 1366x768. A 2.0 megapixel camera and dual 0.8W speakers are also included. The tablet itself can further be paired with a keyboard dock that has a full qwerty keyboard and touchpad.

Samsung ATIV 500T.jpg

Internal specifications include an Intel Atom Z2760 processor (running at 1.5 GHz and featuring dual cores with 256 KB each), 2GB of DDR2L memory, and a 64 GB solid state drive. Radios and networking gear includes 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0. [The specifications sheet further claims Gigabit LAN support but there does not appear to be any Ethernet jacks on the tablet so I’m assuming it’s solely marketing to say that it supports connecting to a Gigabit LAN (over Wi-Fi)...] The 500T is powered by a two cell, 30 watt-hour lithium-polymer battery.

The external IO ports include a micro HDMI port, one USB 2.0 port, a combination headphone/mic jack, a microSD card slot, and a docking connector.

The Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T will come pre-loaded with the 32-bit version of Windows 8. The tablet itself is $649.99 and with the keyboard dock, it will be $749.99.

Samsung Series 7: ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T

If you need more computing power, Samsung is offering up its newest Series 7 slate, the ATIV 700T. This tablet is slightly thicker than the 500T at 11.6” x 7.2” x 0.5”. It is also a bit heavier at 1.89 pounds versus 1.65 pounds with the 500T. That tradeoff in size nets you significantly better hardware, however. It features a LED-backlit touchscreen with a resolution of 1920x1080. It further includes the same 1.6W (2 x 0.8W) stereo speakers, but adds a second 8MP rear camera in addition to the 2MP front facing webcam.

Samsung ATIV 700T.jpg

Internally, the 700T is packing an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5-3317U processor. This chip is a dual core part with HyperThreading for a total of four threads along with 3 MB of L3 cache. The 700T features 4 GB of DDR3 at 1600MHz and a 128GB solid state drive. Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi also comes standard. The 700T also has a larger 4 cell Li-Po battery (rated at 49 Wh) to power the faster Intel processor.

External IO includes one micro HDMI, one USB 3.0, a combination headphone/mic jack, docking connector, and a micro SD card slot.

The Series 7 ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T comes bundled with a dock as standard and it has a starting price of $1,199.99. It will come pre-loaded with the 64-bit version of Windows 8.

Read more about Windows 8 convertible tablets at PC Perspective.

Source: Samsung

Is an Atom D520 'good enough' for Linux

Subject: Systems | October 15, 2012 - 05:16 PM |
Tagged: ALUSA Atom Desktop, linux

While the Atom processor does not have a good reputation here at PC Perspective as far as its ability to provide enough power for most peoples usage, Phoronix might have a different take on a tiny Atom powered computer.  After all, Linux has a reputation of needing less system resources than a Windows box, so perhaps the benefits of a tiny 190 x 135 x 25 mm system outweigh any possible performance issues on a customized Ubuntu installation, called ALUSA 12.04 OS.  You may not be surprised to find out that while the system did boot properly out of the box and all the hardware was properly supported, the lack of power especially the maximum resolution limit of 1366x768 was enough to turn Phoronix off of this device.  There is a newer model they hope to test in the future.

Phoronix_alusa.jpg

"For the past several weeks I have been testing out the ALUSA Atom Desktop with Linux. As implied by the name it's an Intel Atom powered desktop/nettop computer, but this Atom system comes out of Portugal from a small Linux-focused start-up company."

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Source: Phoronix

Logitech Breaks in to Mechanical Keyboard with the G710+

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Systems | October 9, 2012 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: mechanical keyboard, logitech

Earlier in the year I was in a discussion with a friend of mine about mechanical keyboards. His friend was certain that he owned a mechanical gaming keyboard and so I asked him which one. I stopped him the second he said, “Logitech”. They make several high quality keyboards but not one of them mechanical.

That will soon change when they introduce their mechanical G710+ gaming keyboard to the market.

g710plus-gallery-4.png

The Scarecrow went to the Wizard of Oz to ask for a brain.

Logitech asked to remove their membrane-domes. Heels weren't the only things which clicked.

The G710+ keyboard contains Cherry MX Brown switches along with a full set of media keys, a handful of macro keys, and a number pad. While the brown switches tend to be fairly quiet on their own Logitech has also included damping O-rings under each keycap to make it even more silent than most large mechanical keyboard competitors.

The G710+ is also a white LED backlit keyboard with the option to customize brightness such that your movement keys are lit differently than the rest. This is designed to be a visual cue to lead your fingers back to the movement keys in a dark room.

Macro functionality on the G-keys can be programmed using Logitech drivers in the Lua scripting language. This driver is available for Windows Vista through Windows 8 - sorry to the Windows XP holdouts of the world.

The G710+ is expected to retail for $149.99 in the U.S. (and Canada I believe) this month with Europe expected to ship in December.

Check in after the break for the press release.

Source: Logitech

Xi3 Kickstarts Two New Modular Computers

Subject: Systems | October 3, 2012 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: Xi3, x7a, x3a, modular computer

Xi3, a company owned by ISYS Technologies Inc, has turned to popular crowdfunding site Kickstarter for its latest project. Xi3 is aiming to raise $250,000 by October 28 to produce two new modular computers: the X3A and X7A. Both units measure 4.27" x 3.65" x 3.65" and are slated for release in early 2013.

Xi3 X3A and X7A Modular Computers.jpg

The X3A Xi3 is a power efficient business and general computing machine. It will pack a dual core processor running at 1.65GHz, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and 32GB of solid state storage. That storage can further be upgraded to up to 1TB. Rear I/O of the X3A includes two USB 3.0 ports, four eSATA ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and one Gigabit Ethernet jack. Xi3 expects the base level model to retail for under $500 and use a mere 18 Watts of power.

Xi3 Modular Computer Components.jpg

The X7A on the other hand is meant to be a workhorse and gaming machine. Specs include a quad core processor running at up to 3.2GHz, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, up to 1TB of solid state storage, and a GPU with at least 384 shaders. This machine will support triple monitor configurations and will use around 40 Watts. Rear I/O includes four USB 3.0, four USB 2.0, four eSATA, and one Gigabit Ethernet port. This machine will allegedly be capable of playing the latest games, including Crysis 2. It has an expected shipping date of early 2013 and with prices starting at $1,000.

Xi3 Modular Computer.jpg

Personally, I like the blue colored model.

At time of writing, Xi3 has raised $24,613 from 55 backers – and has 24 days left to reach its goal. I'm interested to see whether or not Xi3 will actually be able to pull off a gaming machine in that small of a form factor. You can find more information about the X3A and X7A modular computers on Kickstarter..

Source: Xi3

Maingear's Nomad 17 gaming laptop: Ivy Bridge and Kepler join forces

Subject: Systems | October 2, 2012 - 04:38 PM |
Tagged: maingear, kepler, Ivy Bridge, gtx 680m, gaming laptop

Maingear is a company that seemingly ascribes to the “go big or go home” motto, and nowhere is that sentiment made clearer than its latest gaming notebook: the Nomad 17.

Perhaps, the term “notebook” is a bit of an understatement here. The Nomad 17 is a 16.85” x 11.34” x 2.17” gaming notebook that packs the latest and greatest mobile technology into a package that is sure to give your back a workout should you attempt to use this beast as your daily driver (as someone that has attempted such a feat, I can attest to that heh). The Nomad 17 starts at $1,599 and goes up from there, but you do get a lot of hardware for the money.

maingear_nomad_17.jpg

An Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3840QM is the highest end CPU you can add, and it is also loaded out with either a NVIDIA GTX 675M or the GTX 680M graphics card and Optimus graphics switching technology. In addition, the Nomad can be configured with either two 512GB SSDs or two 750GB mechanical hard drives in a RAID O or RAID 1 array. The gaming laptop also does not skimp on RAM, allowing up to 32GB of DDR3 running at 1600MHz.

On the outside, you are getting a backlit keyboard, multitouch touchpad, and large 17” LED backlit display with matte anti-glare coating and a resolution of 1920x1080. On the audio front, it supports the THX TruStudio Pro audio codec and sports two speakers and a subwoofer by DynAudio. Connectivity options include a SD card reader, 6x Blu-ray burner/8x DVD writer optical drive, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. External IO ports include one HDMI, one DVI, three USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, one Firewire, one optical audio out (S/PDIF), one Gigabit Ethernet/RJ45 port, and one RJ-11 port (of all things). Also, it features analog audio outputs, eSATA, and a VGA output.

Maingear Nomad 17.png

The Nomad 17 with come pre-loaded with the 64-bit versions of either the Windows 7 Home, Premium, or Ultimate operating system.

But, the big reveal for gamers wanting to show off their gaming hardware is this: the Nomad 17 will be available in one of six custom, hand painted designs using glossy automotive paint.

The Nomad 17 is available now, and starts at $1,599. When decked out with the Core i7-3840QM, 4GB GTX 680M, 32GB system RAM, and two 512GB Crucial M4 SSDs (in RAID 0) mentioned above, the system total came out to $3,802. At that price, serious gamers only need apply, but is still an awesome piece of gaming technology nonetheless. Maingear has definitely packed the 17” laptop to the max with hardware.

You can find more photos of the Nomad 17 over at the Maingear website.

Source: Engadget

ASUS Shows Off Silent PC With AMD Trinity APU

Subject: General Tech, Systems | October 2, 2012 - 01:44 PM |
Tagged: trinity, silent pc, passive cooling, asus, APU, amd

AMD officially launched its desktop Trinity APUs (Accelerated Processing Units) today, and along with the new processors are a number of new socket FM2 motherboards to support them. One of the cooler motherboard and Trinity APU pairings was shown off today in a completely silent PC by ASUS and AMD in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, Japan.

The silent system is nested inside a Streacom FC5 chassis that does double duty as a case and heatsink for the AMD APU. Inside the system is an unidentified power supply, two DDR3 DIMMS, Corsair Force SSD, ASUS F2A85-M PRO motherboard, and – of course – the AMD A10-5700K APU that we recently reviewed.

AMD Trinity APU in Silent PC.jpg

The APU is covered by an aluminum and copper block that is then connected to the metal case via four heatpipes. Then, the outside of the case has a finned design to provide more cooling surface area (but likely just to make it look cooler, heh).

This passively cooled system would make for a really nice home theater PC case, and the GPU prowess of the Trinity APU is well suited to such a task. You can find more photos of the fan-less Trinity system over at FanlessTech.

What do you think of Trinity, and will you be using it in your next build?

Read more about HTPCs and Trinity APUs at PC Perspective!

Source: FanlessTech

Minecraft Creator Takes a Notch Out of Microsoft

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 29, 2012 - 08:33 PM |
Tagged: Windows Store, windows 8, censorship

And by the way -- Windows Store will censor apps. More on that later.

So around the same time as my future of Windows editorial became published PC Mag published a related piece: Notch from Mojang outrages over certification for Windows Store. Mojang voiced his concerns for the platform and its attempts to “ruin the PC as an open platform.”

I have, and continue to, claim that Microsoft appears to want to close the Windows platform in a near-future revision of the platform. Once there is enough software available through Windows Update and Windows Store it seems highly likely that Microsoft will remove all other ways on to your device -- as they have done with Windows RT. The concept of a cross-device, controlled, and secure platform is just too tempting.

Win8_End_Mic.png

Loyal, but not stupid.

But backwards compatibility is not the only concern with going metro. Everything must be certified.

Indeed - as of the latest July 2012 certification requirements for Windows Store - Microsoft will predictably be censoring applications just as they do with the Xbox. Section 5.8 and 6.2 of the aforementioned certification requirements clearly state: applications must not contain excess or gratuitous profanity and applications must also not contain adult content. Of course this is aimed squarely at the various niches of adult graphic novels (correction: I apparently meant visual novels, not graphic novels - but I'm sure those would not be let on the Windows Store either) and similarly themed interactive content and the message is clear: get out and stay out.

I can think of a couple of countries where that will not fly.

To be fair Microsoft has addressed the issue in the very same section with the following clause:

We understand that in some cases, apps provide a gateway to retail content, user generated content, or web based content. We classify those apps as either Storefront apps, whose primary function is to aggregate and sell third party media or apps, or Streaming apps, whose primary function is to aggregate and stream web-based images, music, video or other media content. In some cases, it may be acceptable for a Storefront or Streaming app to include some content that might otherwise be prohibited in a single purpose app.

The clause functionally means: “Yeah we know web browsers cannot prevent themselves from surfing to the wrong side of the internet’s metaphorical tracks. This is not an excuse to ban them.” It also does not limit the censorship that Microsoft is clearly imposing.

And frankly the issue is not even with adult content; the issue is with the certification itself. We are at a point where Microsoft seems to want us to accept and migrate to their closed platform where everything is certified.

But what if future certification seriously limits or disables 3rd party modifications to software like attempted with Games for Windows Live? What if Microsoft decides to charge developers tens of thousands of dollars just to certify a patch? These are all serious issues to think about.

While you are thinking - consider a plan to simply ditch the Windows platform altogether and go with an open platform we can actually trust.

Source: PC Mag