Finding the best wireless speakers

Subject: General Tech | January 21, 2014 - 02:51 PM |
Tagged: audio, bluetooth, wireless audio

Wireless speakers are being advertised everywhere, from TV commercials featuring Beats Audio shaped like a pill you really don't want to take to the floors of CES.  Such a glut of products is a good thing for consumers, assuming they are able to determine the best speaker for their usage.  The Inquirer took a look at over 10 different portable speakers, from the Q-bopz Green which uses a suction cup to attach to any glass surface to the Scosche Boombottle which claims to be able to handle any weather you might need to listen to music in.  Most use Bluetooth though NFC is utilized as well, check out which one is right for you and your travels.

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"BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS have replaced the now somewhat redundant 'i-dock', as the market has become saturated with an army of wireless boom boxes in all shapes, sizes and prices due to people prefering to use their smartphones and tablets for audio playback."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Source: The Inquirer

Thanks for the warning LogMeIn

Subject: General Tech | January 21, 2014 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: logmein, remote access

If you are a user of the free version of LogMeIn you may have received an email today informing you that the free version of this product has been discontinued, immediately.  Even if you didn't get the email, logging in to the service will display the warning below.  For the more technically inclined this may be meaningless or a great excuse to finally set up SSH on a Linux box.  For those relatives who purchased a decent version of Windows, Remote Desktop Connection is also a reasonable choice, assuming you can set up a user on that machine and properly configure your network to allow RDP to connect successfully.

However as the commentators on Slashdot are quick to mention this won't help you with old aunt Bessie who lives on the other side of the country.  You can't get to her machine to configure the proper settings nor is she going to be willing to have to interact with the machine in order to allow you to connect any more than she has in the past.  In some cases join.me will suffice for now, keep in mind it is also a free service from LogMeIn and could also disappear without warning at any time if today's move is any indication of their plans.   Alternatives such as TeamViewer and Crossloop may be able to fill in for LogMeIn in those situations; have you had any experience with those solutions or have other suggestions for remote assistance of those less technically inclined friends and relatives we all have in abundance?

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"The remote desktop service LogMeIn sent an email to its users today notifying them that 'LogMeIn Free' will be discontinued — as of today. This is a major shock with minimal warning to the millions of users who have come to rely on their service, made all the more surprising by the fact that 'consensus revenue estimates for LogMeIn in 2014 are $190.3 million,' suggesting that their system of providing both free and paid accounts for what is ultimately a straightforward service that could be duplicated for well under $1 million was already doing quite well."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

64-bit Android is Down By the Bay

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | January 21, 2014 - 04:14 AM |
Tagged: x86, Intel, Android, 64-bit

Given how long it took Intel to release a good 64-bit architecture, dragged ear-first by AMD, it does seem a little odd for them to lead the tablet charge. ARM developers are still focusing on 32-bit architectures and current Windows 8.1 tablets tend to stick with 32-bit because of Connected Standby bugs. Both of these should be cleared up soon.

Also, 64-bit Android tablets should be available this spring based on Bay Trail.

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According to Peter Bright of Ars Technica, Android will be first to 64-bit on its x86 build while the ARM variant hovers at 32-bit for a little while longer. It would not surprise me if Intel's software engineers contributed heavily to this development (which is a good thing). I expect NVIDIA to do the same, if necessary, to ensure that Project Denver will launch successfully later this year.

The most interesting part about this is how the PC industry, a symbol of corporate survival of the fittest, typically stomps on siloed competitors but is now facing the ARM industry built on a similar Darwin-based logic. Both embrace openness apart from a few patented instruction sets. Who will win? Well, probably Web Standards, but that is neither here nor there.

Source: Ars Technica

HP: Save Your PC & $150 USD with Windows 7?

Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 21, 2014 - 03:39 AM |
Tagged: windows xp, Windows 7, hp

Windows 7 is not available to purchase at retail, officially, but system builders are still allowed to integrate it into their PCs until at least October. At the same time, Windows XP is nearing its end of life of April 8th (the day of its last security update). A third coincidence, modern Windows could easily be compared to modern art because it is made by someone who tells you what is legitimate and, when you actually attempt to admire it, makes no sense unless the designer explains everything.

HP took these three points as an opportunity.

hp-win7-promo.jpg

If you purchase from a set of select new desktop or laptops, HP will ship it with Windows 7 installed by default. On top of needing to physically choose Windows 8.1, the default Windows 7 install also comes with a $150 USD discount. The models are spread between Pavilion and Envy desktops and laptops.

I believe this is a very smart move for HP. You may soon have a mass of customers looking to replace expired devices and they may want the closest analogy to what they are used to. They will still have Windows 8-based options but they want to capitalize on anyone looking for something else.

Personally, trolling aside, I actually do not mind the interface of Windows 8.1. My only complaint is the reliance upon Windows Store and its potential future problems especially if it becomes the only way to install software. Could you imagine if someone like the NSA forced Microsoft to not certify encryption apps (or worse, tamper with them)? One of a million problems that mandatory certification, and the interest groups who abuse it, brings.

Source: HP

Valve Virtual Reality Project at Steam Dev Days

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | January 20, 2014 - 11:35 PM |
Tagged: valve, virtual reality

Steam Dev Days was last week. At it, Valve announced a redesign of their Steam Controller and the removal of Steam Greenlight, among other notables. This was a press-free event, officially. Of course, due to Twitter and other social media platforms, everyone can decide to be a journalist on a whim. Things are going to leak out.

Other things are going to be officially released, too.

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Michael Abrash held a speech at the event discussing his virtual reality initiative within Valve. Both it and the Steam Machine project was in question when the company released Jeri Ellsworth and several other employees. After SteamOS was announced and castAR, Jeri's project at Valve, had its Kickstarter, it was assumed that Valve gave up on augmented reality. Despite this, they still kept Michael Abrash on their staff.

I would speculate, completely from an outside position, that two virtual reality groups existed at one point (at least to some extent). The project seems to have been sliced into two parts, one leaving with Jeri and one continuing with Michael. I seriously doubt this had anything to do with the "High School Cliques" that Jeri was referring to, however. She said it was "longtime staff" (Michael was newly hired around the end of Portal 2's development) and not within her hardware team.

valve-vr-specs.jpg

These are the specs that Valve has developed prototypes to.

1K x 1K per eye is about 100x less than they would like, however.

Ooo... 100 megapixels per eye.

I just believe it all shook out to an unfortunate fork in the project.

Politics aside, Michael Abrash sees virtual reality affecting "the entire entertainment industry" and will be well supported by Steam. I hope this would mean that Valve will finally drop the hammer on music and movie distribution. I have been expecting this ever since the Steam infrastructure was upgraded back in July 2011. Of course, neither server or software will solve content availability but I am still expecting them to take a shot at it. Remember that Valve is creating movies, could they have plans for virtual reality content?

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The latest prototype of the Oculus Rift uses camera tracking for low-latency visibility.

This looks like Valve's solution.

The PDF slide deck is publicly available and each page includes the script he heavily followed. Basically, reading this is like being there, just less fun.

Source: Valve

CoolerMaster has a liquid surprise for you

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 20, 2014 - 07:36 PM |
Tagged: coolermaster, Nepton 280L, liquid cooling system

FrostyTech have seen a lot of coolers over the years, lately there has been a large influx of liquid cooling systems to review which for the most part all perform relatively the same.  It has been a long time since they saw a new product offer a big increase in performance but Coolermaster came through with their new Nepton 280L.  Part of the great performance is likely due to the heat exchanger, 30mm thick and 311x140mm in size with a pair of 140mm PWM fans to allow you to choose the most powerful cooling possible or to reduce fan noise at the cost of temperature.  On high nothing could touch this cooler and even better, it stayed near the top when running quietly and you can pick it up for $150

nepton280L_pspc.jpg

"Coolermaster's Nepton 280L is the best performing all-in-one CPU watercooler Frostytech has tested... thus far. More surprisingly for us, the Nepton 280L managed to rise to the top of the 200W Intel LGA2011, 150W & 85W Intel LGA115x/775 and 125W AMD synthetic thermal heatsink test results charts. After testing +750 CPU thermal solutions, it's kind of nice to be surprised."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: FrostyTech

The handiest SD Card?

Subject: Storage | January 20, 2014 - 05:46 PM |
Tagged: sdhc, FlashAir Wi-Fi, toshiba, sd card

Toshiba's FlashAir Class10 is a Wi-Fi enabled SD Card which thankfully supports a number of security protocols which should make it easy for you to get pictures from your camera without sharing them with the world. Madshrimps like the bundled FlashAir software which allows you to tweak functionality up to and including setting up Internet Pass Thru Mode.  Check out the surprisingly fast transfer rates in their full review.

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"The FlashAir Wi-Fi SDHC from Toshiba is available in different capacities of 8GB, 16GB or 32GB, features a well-developed interface for easy access from both our PC and mobile devices without the need of using an extra app and is also built with the Internet Pass Thru functionality for being able to browse the web while being connected to the newly connected network."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: MadShrimps

MSI's GX70 & GX60 Destroyer Notebooks with R9-M290X

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile | January 20, 2014 - 05:28 PM |
Tagged: msi, gaming laptop

MSI is launching two new laptops, the GX70 Destroyer and the GX60 Destroyer, in their gaming lineup. Both are based on the AMD A10-5750M Richland APU and R9-M290X 2GB discrete graphics. MSI included the fastest AMD mobile graphics processor available which targets just above 30FPS in true 1080p Battlefield 4 on Ultra settings. Of course, this could change to some extent when Mantle appears. They also allow access to the APU's HD8650G graphics portion for power-saving while driving three monitors.

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The main difference between the two is that the GX70 houses a 17.3-inch 1080p screen while the GX60 contains a 15.6-inch 1080p display. Both contain the same processor, both can be configured with up to 16 GB of RAM, and both have the same aforementioned GPUs standard. They both even have BluRay writers for optical media (seemingly standard at that). They also have keyboards designed by SteelSeries and Ethernet ports designed by Qualcomm (Killer / BigFoot).

System Specifications
Model GX70 Destroyer GX60 Destroyer
Operating System Windows 8.1
CPU AMD A10-5750M 3.5GHz
Memory Up to 16GB DDR3-1600 (2 DIMMS)
Graphics AMD R9-M290X 2GB + HD8650G
Display 17.3-inch 1080p LED 15.6-inch 1080p LED
Video Out 1x mini Display-Port, 1x HDMI 1.4b, 1x VGA
I/O
  • 3x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • 802.11 B/G/N, Bluetooth 4.0, Killer LAN
  • SDXC Card Reader
Battery 9-Cell (7800mAH)

Still no word on pricing or availability.

Source: MSI

Linux kernel 3.13 and Radeon users rejoice

Subject: General Tech | January 20, 2014 - 12:31 PM |
Tagged: linux, 3.13, amd, radeon

There is a new Linux kernel in the wild today and it comes with a lot of enhancements.  IPTables has been replaced with the NFTables packet filtering and firewall engine, with backwards compatibility for those who actually forced IPTables to behave.  There is a new scalable block layer to deal with the previously unreachable I/O that PCIe SSDs can reach and designed specifically for multi-core systems.  There is much more but the update many are most excited about is the performance improvements to Radeons of the 7000 family and new models.  The benchmarks that Phoronix posted are very impressive but that is only half the story, there are updates to HDMI audio and Radeon Dynamic Power Management is now enabled by default.  Check out the full list of updates here.

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"Linux kernel 3.13 has been released. This release includes nftables (the successor of iptables); a revamp of the block layer designed for high-performance SSDs; a framework to cap power consumption in Intel RAPL devices; improved squashfs performance; AMD Radeon power management enabled by default and automatic AMD Radeon GPU switching; improved NUMA and hugepage performance; TCP Fast Open enabled by default; support for NFC payments; support for the High-Availability Seamless Redundancy protocol; new drivers; and many other small improvements."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

GeForce GTX 750 Ti May Be Maxwell... and February?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | January 20, 2014 - 04:19 AM |
Tagged: maxwell, nvidia

Well this is somewhat unexpected (and possibly wrong). Maxwell, NVIDIA's new architecture to replace Kepler, is said to appear in Feburary with the form of a GeForce GTX 750 Ti. The rumors, which sound iffy to me, claims that this core will be produced at TSMC on a 28nm fabrication technology and later transition to their 20nm lines.

As if the 700-series family tree was not diverse enough.

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2013 may have been much closer than expected.

Swedish site, Sweclockers, have been contacted by "sources" which claim that NVIDIA has already alerted partners to prepare a graphics card launch. Very little information is given beyond that. They do not even have access to a suggested GM1## architecture code. They just claim that partners should expect a new videocard on the 18th of February (what type of launch that is is also unclear).

This also raises questions about why the mid-range card will come before the high-end. If the 28nm rumor is true, it could just be that NVIDIA did not want to wait around until TSMC could fabricate their high-end part if they already had an architecture version that could be produced now. It could be as simple as that.

The GeForce GTX 750 Ti is rumored to arrive in February to replace the GTX 650 Ti Boost.

Source: SweClockers

Corsair Quantifies the Benefits of Overclocking

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Memory, Systems | January 20, 2014 - 02:40 AM |
Tagged: corsair, overclocking

I rarely overclock anything and this is for three main reasons. The first is that I have had an unreasonably bad time with computer parts failing on their own. I did not want to tempt fate. The second was that I focused on optimizing the operating system and its running services. This was mostly important during the Windows 98, Windows XP, and Windows Vista eras. The third is that I did not find overclocking valuable enough for the performance you regained.

A game that is too hefty to run is probably not an overclock away from working.

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Thankfully this never took off...

Today, overclocking is easier and safer than ever with parts that basically do it automatically and back off, on their own, if thermals are too aggressive. Several components are also much less locked down than they have been. (Has anyone, to this day, hacked the locked Barton cores?) It should not be too hard to find a SKU which encourages the enthusiast to tweak some knobs.

But how much of an increase will you see? Corsair has been blogging about using their components (along with an Intel processor, Gigabyte motherboard, and eVGA graphics card because they obviously do not make those) to overclock. The cool part is they break down performance gains in terms of raising the frequencies for just the CPU, just the GPU, just the RAM, or all of the above together. This breakdown shows how each of the three categories contribute to the whole. While none of the overclocks are dramatic, Corsair is probably proud of the 5% jump in Cinebench OpenGL performance just by overclocking the RAM from 1600 MHz to 1866 MHz without touching the CPU or GPU.

It is definitely worth a look.

Source: Corsair

Live and Let Dvorak

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | January 19, 2014 - 11:46 PM |
Tagged: Keyboards, keyboard

Peter Bright down at Ars Technica wrote an editorial about the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. His opinion is that keyboard developers should innovate in ways that "doesn't undermine expectations". Replacing a row of physical keys for a software-controlled touch strip is destructive because, even if the change proved invaluable, it would ultimately be inferior because it clashes with every other keyboard the user encounters. He then concludes with a statement that really should have directed his thesis.

Lenovo's engineers may be well-meaning in their attempts to improve the keyboard. But they've lost a sale as a result. The quest for the perfect laptop continues.

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That is the entire point of innovation! You may dislike how a feature interacts with your personal ecosystem and that will drive you away from the product. Users who purchased the laptop without considering the keyboard have the option of returning it and writing reviews for others (or simply put up with it). Users who purchased the laptop because of the keyboard are happy.

I mainly disagree with the article because it claims that it is impossible to innovate the keyboard in any way that affects the core layout. I actually disagree with it for two reasons.

My first issue is about how vague he is. His primary example of good keyboard innovation is the IBM ThinkPad 701c and its "butterfly keyboard". The attempt is to increase the keyboard size to exceed the laptop itself to make it more conventional. Conventional for who? How many people use primarily small laptops with shrunken keyboards compared to people who touch-type function keys?

The second critique leads from the first. The PC industry became so effective because every manufacturer tries to be a little different with certain SKUs to gain tiny advantages. There could have easily been a rule against touchscreen computers. Eventually someone hit it out of the park and found an implementation that was wildly successful to a gigantic market. The QWERTY design has weathered the storm for more than a century but there is no rule that it cannot shift in the future.

In fact, at some point, someone decided to add an extra row of function keys. This certainly could undermine the expectations of users who have to go between computers and electronic typewriters.

It will be tough, though. Keyboards have settled down and learning their layouts is a significant mental investment. There are several factors to consider when it comes to how successful a keyboard modification will become. Mostly, however, it will come down to someone trying and observing what happens. Do not worry about letting random ideas in because the bad ideas will show themselves out.

Basically the point is: never say never (especially not that vaguely).

Source: Ars Technica

Faith in Humanity Declining: Camera Mice.

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | January 18, 2014 - 08:44 PM |
Tagged: camera, mouse, camera mouse, Japan

Have you ever been sitting at your laptop or desktop thinking, "I really need a selfie right about now and this webcam simply will not do"? I have no idea what is wrong with you. Do you not have a cellphone if spontaneous self-photography means that much?

But at least a Japanese company has your back... or is it front?

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For the love of... it's even being held the wrong way!!!

Introducing the Camera Mouse. It is a mouse with a camera in it. It is useful if you want to take pictures of things with your mouse. It will be sold by King Jim Co., LTD. which is one of the largest office supplies manufacturers in Japan.

While I have been thinking about this news story, I have been thinking about legitimate use cases. It has been a struggle. I just cannot understand why someone would want to purchase a 1600x1200 camera which is hard-wired to their computer. Thus far, I have only come up with a single possibilities (although it would require significant software development resources that I doubt they intend to provide). The only way I could see myself purchasing this mouse is if it came with OCR and translation software so that I could point it at my monitor and automatically translate any text on screen.

Even then, I expect the vast majority of foreign language content would be in a web browser and two of those automatically translate text anyway. It would help for text in images or text in videos but otherwise I could not see the point even then. Moreover, all of this assumes the software even exists in a reasonable package (Bluestacks running Google Translate is probably no more useful than a cell phone).

But who knows. I could be missing the bigger picture. I could be missing the subtle nuances of their target audience. Maybe I just need to see things at two megapixels from under a sweaty palm.

Source: King Jim

Intel Reports 2013 Financial Results, Plans to Cut 5% of Workforce

Subject: General Tech | January 18, 2014 - 12:49 AM |
Tagged: quarterly earnings, Intel, financial results, earnings

Intel has released financial results for the full year and fourth quarter of 2013. According to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, the company had a "solid fourth quarter." Although full year revenue and net income fell, there was a slight increase in Q4 net income and revenue YoY compared to Q4 2012.

Intel Logo.jpg

In 2013 Intel had $52.7 billion in total revenue along with $12.3 billion operating and $9.6 billion net income. Compared to the previous year (2012), Intel's revenue fell 1% while operating income and net income fell 13% and 16% respectively. Specifically of interest to the PC Perspective readers, the PC Client Group had 2013 revenue of $33.0 billion which was down 4% versus 2012.

  Quarterly Comparison   Yearly Comparison  
  Q4 2012 Q4 2013 YoY Change 2012 2013 YoY Change
Revenue $13.5 $13.8 +3% $52.7 $53.3 -1%
Operating Income $3.2 $3.5 +12% $12.3 $14.6 -16%
Net Income $2.5 $2.6 +6% $9.6 $11 -13%
Gross Margin 58% 62% +4 62.1% 59.5 -2.3

All $ figures are in billions (USD).

As far as the previous quarter (Q4 2013) alone, Intel made revenue of $13.8 billion which was a 3% increase versus the same quarter in 2012. Quarterly net income also increased 6% YoY to $2.6 billion.

Looking forward into 2014, Intel estimates revenue for the first quarter (Q1 2014) to be $12.8 billion. Unfortunately, Intel plans to cut approximately 5,000 jobs (specifically 5% of its workforce) in 2014 despite the "solid" company performance.

You can find more information in this Intel press release.

Source: Intel

Thermaltake Launches Full Tower Core V71 Case

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 17, 2014 - 09:46 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, thermaltake, full tower, eatx, core v71

Thermaltake recently launched the Core V71, which is an attractive full tower case with a modular drive bay design and plethora of cooling options. The cold rolled steel (SPCC) chassis is all black with large mesh front and top panels. A large side panel window and LED fans show off the internals.

Thermaltake Core V71 Angle.jpg

The full tower Core V71 measures 23" x 9.1" x 22" (583x230x560mm) and supports E-ATX motherboards, 8 PCI slots, 185mm tall CPU coolers, up to 400mm long graphics cards (with hard drives removed, 310mm with the drives installed), two 5.25" drive bays, and eight 3.5" or 2.5" hard drives. The drive cages are tool-less and can be completely removed from the case. In fact, users can take out the drive cages and support bar to completely rid the PC of drive bays. Alternatively, users can utilize two hidden drive bays on the back of the motherboard tray to maintain a clean design without completely sacrificing 3.5" storage.

Thermaltake Core V71 Internals.jpg

The case has a spot for a standard ATX PSU in the bottom of the case and numerous rubber grommets for routing and hiding cables behind the motherboard tray.

As far as cooling, users can go with water cooling radiators and/or air cooling. The cooling possibilities work out as follows:

  • Top:  2 x 200mm / 140mm or 3 x 120mm
  • Front:  2 x 200mm / 140mm or 3 x 120mm
  • Rear:  1 x 140mm / 120mm
  • Bottom:  2 x 120mm

That works out to as many as nine 120mm fans or four 200mm fans and three 120mm fans if you opt for air cooling. On the water cooling front, users could put as many as two 420mm (or smaller) radiators, one 240mm radiator, and one 120mm radiator. This would be a good use case (heh) for NZXT's Kraken G10 GPU water cooling mount with allows users to cool their GPU(s) using CPU-style closed loop water coolers in 120mm and 240mm varieties or even going all out with a custom water cooling loop for every component in the system. There are a lot of possibilities with this full tower case!

Thermaltake Core V71 Back Internals.jpg

In all, the Core V71 appears to be a really nice full tower option with decent looks, tool-less bays, and ample cooling mounts. The case will be available soon with an MSRP of $160 in the US. For a new full tower that's not bad and has my interest!

Source: Thermaltake

NVIDIA G-Sync DIY Kit For ASUS VG248QE Monitor Now Available for $199

Subject: Displays | January 17, 2014 - 06:35 PM |
Tagged: vg248qe, nvidia, gaming, g-sync, DIY, asus

NVIDIA's new G-Sync variable refresh rate technology is slowly being rolled out to consumers in the form of new monitors and DIY upgrade kits that can be used to add G-Sync functionality to existing displays. The first G-Sync capable monitor to support the DIY upgrade kit path is the ASUS VG248QE which is a 24" 1080p 144Hz TN panel. The monitor itself costs around $270 and the you can now purchase a G-Sync DIY upgrade kit from NVIDIA for $199.

The upgrade kit comes with a replacement controller board, power supply, HDMI cable, plastic spudger, IO shields, and installation instructions. Users will need to take apart the VG248QE monitor, remove the old PCBs and install the G-Sync board in its place. According to NVIDIA the entire process takes about 30 minutes though if this is your first time digging into monitor internals it will likely take closer to an hour to install.

The NVIDIA G-Sync DIY kit below the ASUS VG248QE monitor.

For help with installation, NVIDIA has posted a video of the installation process on YouTube. If you find text and photos easier, you can follow the installation guides written up for PC Perspective by Allyn Malventano and reader Levi Kendall. Both DIY kit reviews stated that the process, while a bit involved, was possible for most gamers to perform with a bit of guidance.

You can order the DIY upgrade kit yourself from this NVIDIA page.

Alternatively, ASUS is also releasing an updated version of the VG248QE monitor with the G-Sync board pre-installed in the first half of this year. This updated G-Sync monitor will have an MSRP of $399.

With the G-Sync kit at $199, will you be going the DIY path or waiting for a new monitor with the technology pre-installed?

Read more about NVIDIA's G-Sync display technology at PC Perspective including first impressions, installation, and more!

Source: NVIDIA

Is 2014 the year you play with the penguin?

Subject: General Tech | January 17, 2014 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: Xubuntu, TAILS, SUSE, Red Hat, Lubuntu, linux, DouDou, Bodhi

If you've never tried Linux or are looking for a new distro to try then check out Linux.com's top 7 distro list for 2014.  If beauty is what you seek then Bodhi is a good choice as it has modified the Enlightenment window manager into something a little more manageable. For Ubuntu users there are two variants you could try, Xubuntu for desktops and Lubuntu for older less powerful laptops.  For the security conscious there is TAILS, which automatically routes traffic through TOR and constantly deletes any tracking info from local storage as well as being specifically designed to run from a bootable USB drive.  For the geeky parents out there, or for those looking for a very simple to understand distro is DouDou.  It comes preloaded with an array of childrens learning software and Dan's Guardian to somewhat limit internet sites of a nature unsuited for the very young. 

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"The Linux avalanche is rolling and gathering mass and momentum. Linux won, so what's next? Amazing growth is what's next: we're at the bare beginning of the Linux juggernaut rolling into existing markets and blazing into new ones. All this growth and progress is the result of years of hard work by tens of thousands of people and billions of dollars of investment. It has reached critical mass and there is no stopping it."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Linux.com

SteelSeries Siberia Elite headset, pricey but respectable

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2014 - 01:20 PM |
Tagged: audio, steelseries, siberia elite, gaming headset

The Siberia Elite USB Gaming Headset replaces the familiar Siberia V2 but has a lot of work cut out for it considering it's $200 price tag.  It uses Dolby Pro Logic IIx to create virtual 7.1 surround sound and has a response range of 16Hz to 28 KHz and ships with a USB Soundcard V2 accessory for those who do not already possess a decent audio codec.  One unique feature that Benchmark Reviews pointed out is the 3.5mm jack present on the headphone which allows you to daisy chain headphones together so you can share music with a friend; some would choose to just use speakers but to each their own.  The headset isn't perfect but overall Benchmark Reviews left with a positive attitude and a recommendation to pick these up if you are in the market for decent quality gaming headphones.

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"SteelSeries peripherals and headsets are well known for their sleek design, high quality and excellent functionality among enthusiasts and gamers alike. Today Benchmark Reviews will be taking a look at the newest line from SteelSeries; The Siberia Elite Gaming Headset (model# 51151). We will put them through their paces in a variety of scenarios including watching films, listening to music, and of course – gaming."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Oculus Rift gets even more impressive

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2014 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: oculus rift, crystal cove, not fair

The Tech Report got a chance to play with the new Oculus Rift prototype called Crystal Cove, proving once again life is anything but fair.  The 720p LCD has been replaced with a 1080p AMOLED display with significantly reduced pixel response times which should reduce the nausea and vertigo experienced by users of the previous prototype.  That is not the only upgrade, they've created a low persistence mode which helps mitigate the ghosting present on previous models and implemented variable refresh rates though they declined to discuss the technology used to acheive that effect.  Check out more in the full article but expect to end up jealous.

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"The absolute highlight of last year's CES was getting a first look at an Oculus Rift prototype. Strapping on a Rift for the first time is a mind-blowing experience. It will change your view of what's possible in gaming in the next 5-10 years.

Naturally, then, when it came time to plan for CES 2014, I made sure to schedule some time with the folks at Oculus to see what they—and especially new Oculus CTO John Carmack—have been doing."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Steam Controller Is Changing?

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | January 16, 2014 - 03:19 AM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Dev Days, Steam Controller, CES 2014, CES

Valve has always been a company based on experimentation and it looks like the Steam Controller is not the lighthouse which guides SteamOS through the fog. Just a week after presenting the prototype at CES, a 3D mockup of a new one makes not-insignificant changes. Gone is the touchscreen and the first revealed button placement. Frankly, just about the only things untouched on the front face are the twin touchpads and the palm grips.

SteamControllerV2.jpg

Image Credit: Leszek Godlewski (Twitter)

To fully understand the breadth of the changes, the announcement image is included below. There is basically no discussion about the back so that aspect might be untouched.

steam-controller.jpg

The changes were apparently made to assist compatibility with games ported from more traditional input schemes. Looking at the original prototype, there was no obvious mapping from a Sony or Microsoft-based controller to those buttons spread out for both the left and right thumbs to access. The new setup is the typical four face buttons on the right and four more buttons on the left as a surrogate directional pad. If they continue to iterate down this path I hope that the directional pad is more effective than most from the last two generations. It looks like the four directions are separated from one another which does not inspire confidence.

There are two stories which entangle on this one. The first is that Valve is willing to perform rapid iteration until they achieve what they consider a maximum. That is the method to quickest success especially since it allows cross-pollination between designs.

The second is that it also makes the public a little bit nervous.

Source: VR-Zone