Stacking NAND higher means stacking prices higher

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2015 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: 3d nand

SSDs using traditional planar NAND have seen a nice price reduction curve over the years with costs per gigabyte often well under $0.50.  This may not hold true for 3D NAND if the number crunching over at The Register is accurate.  The scaling is quite intense when fabbing 3D NAND, planar NAND can require up to three deposition layers for charge trap or four for floating gate style flash.  Multiply those numbers by the 128 layers present on Intel's 3D NAND and you can see why the fabrication is going to be more expensive, be produced more slowly and be more prone to errors.  That will all add up to expensive SSDs whose price is unlikely to fall as quickly as did planar.  Currently about 5% of NAND produced is 3D but Sandisk is quoted as expecting that to climb to 50% by 2018, hopefully the process will have matured significantly by then.

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"Stifel MD Aaron Rakers bas been crunching numbers and comparing foundry capital costs for NAND over the next few years with those for disk drive fabs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Windows 10 Build 10056 Leaks

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: windows 10, windows, microsoft, build 10056

Moving up five steps from the 10051 leak that was published just a few days ago, another build was leaked: 10056. The first thing Neowin, who reported on the WZor leak, noticed is the new Recycling Bin icon. People were not a fan of the change that occurred with 10041, which honestly looked like it was out of a Mike Judge cartoon. It is now a semi-transparent, almost prism-shaped bin from a dimetric viewpoint. That should make some people happy.

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Also visible is a new “Virtual Desktop” icon and a relocation of the power menu button from the top right to the bottom left. This shift puts it alongside every other control except the Start menu's fullscreen button, which remains in the corner. To me, this looks a lot more organized.

On the topic of future builds, Gabe Aul seems to be implying that Slow Ring users would not get 10049. This likely means that Fast will get another build soon, which we would expect to trickle down to the “Slow” users on 10041. The proximity to Build confuses that slightly though. It is possible that Microsoft will do what they did with 9926 and delay Fast builds so they can have a highly-tested preview build (“Technical Preview 3” or something) pushed to both Fast and Slow rings to surprise attendees of the conference. Well, as much as they can hide stuff given that every few builds are being dissected online. I'm sure they have a lot of work being done in external branches though.

Either way, we'll find out soon... even if that's by not finding out soon.

Source: Neowin

Square Enix Announces Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: tressfx, square enix, eidos montreal, dx12, DirectX 12, deus ex: mankind divided, deus ex

Deus Ex: Human Revolution came out in 2011 as a prequel to Ion Storm's Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Invisible War. Human Revolution was made after Warren Spector left the company and Eidos closed down the Austin, Texas developer, leaving the franchise to Eidos Montreal. By the time of Human Revolution's release, Eidos was already purchased by the Japanese publisher, Square Enix. Deus Ex was set in 2052 and Invisible War was set in 2072. Human Revolution, being a prequel as mentioned earlier, rewound the clock to 2027 and introduced a new main character, Adam Jensen. It explored the rise of machine-human augmentations that formed much of the lore in the original titles.

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Timeline and theme established, Square Enix has just announced Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the sequel to the prequel with a great looking (albeit a little bloody) trailer. It is set in 2029, which is just two years after events of Human Revolution. It will be coming to the PC, as well as the two most-next-gen consoles. As expected, Adam Jensen returns as the main character. Now that Square Enix and its subsidiary, Eidos, spent so much to build him up as a brand, it makes sense that they would continue with the consumer recognition. Makes sense from a business perspective, although it probably means the franchise will meander less through time. I will leave that up to the reader to decide whether that's good or bad.

AMD Gaming has also tweeted out that Mankind Divided, or its PC version at the very least, will utilize both DirectX 12 and TressFX. I am curious whether TressFX has been updated to take advantage of the new API, given how important GPU compute is to the new graphics standards. No release date has been set.

Source: Square Enix

This is your Steampunk on DARKCOOL

Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 9, 2015 - 06:25 PM |
Tagged: Deepcool

If slanted faux vents with LED lights in them and a front grill say Steampunk to you then the DEEPCOOL Steam Castle might just be up your alley.  On the other hand if sturdy construction, colour matching and a design which is ornate yet functional is closer to your preference then this might not be the case you are looking for.  Style design aside, the case does sport well designed filters, large fans to lower the noise generated and providing cooling performance that was far better than [H]ard|OCP is used to seeing.  The MSRP is also under $100, giving you a unique looking and well performing enclosure without a large investment.

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"It is one of those moments that you go, "Uh, what?" Deepcool Industries comes to us today with its Steam Castle micro-ATX and mini-ITX computer case for smaller system configurations. While your definition of "steam-punk" may differ from Deepcool's, one thing for sure is this case is unique in its look. How does it perform however?"

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

CASES & COOLING

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Would you pay Youtube to remove its ads?

Subject: General Tech | April 9, 2015 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: youtube, subscription, google, adblock

YouTube sent out an announcement to official YouTube Partners informing them of a new program they will be rolling out on June 15th of this year.  While they failed to specify two key points, the gist of the announcement is that a new advertisement free subscription service will be offered to YouTube users.  Unfortunately we do not know if this will be offered to a small group initially or to all YouTube users and more importantly there was no mention of what the monthly fee will be.  What was revealed was the benefit to content creators, YouTube will pay them 55 percent of the total net revenues from these new ad free subscription fees.

This being the internet the initial reaction will of course be to similar to the comments on Slashdot; to consider this a stupid move since ad blocking plugins are free and for the most part effectively remove any ads on YouTube.  The use of those plugins means that for all the hard work that goes into the content on our page, we receive absolutely no revenue from your views.  Using this service would give you the same experience but at the same time increase our revenue stream to allow us to continue to produce our reviews, news and videos. 

If you do not wish to see ads and for whatever reason do not want to participate in the program perhaps you could consider reaching out to Ryan to discuss other ways of contributing directly to PC Perspective's continued existence or maybe even subject yourself to ads once and a while to provide us with the associated micropayments?

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"YouTube announced today its plans for an ad-free, subscription-based service by way of an email sent out to YouTube Partners. The email details the forthcoming option, which will offer consumers the choice to pay for an "ads-free" version of YouTube for a monthly fee."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

Podcast #344 - Intel SSD 750 Series, NZXT S340, an ASUS FreeSync Monitor and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 9, 2015 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: video, podcast, nvidia, mg279q, Intel, gsync, gigabyte, freesync, ddr4-3400, corsair, compute stick, asus, amd, 750 series

PC Perspective Podcast #344 - 04/09/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Intel SSD 750 Series, NZXT S340, an ASUS FreeSync Monitor 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 Malventano

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

Cooler Master updates their headset lineup with the CM Storm Sirus-C

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2015 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: Sirus, headphones, gaming headset, cooler master, CM Storm, audio

Many, many moons ago Josh reviewed the CM Storm Sirus Surround headphones, the first of their line and good for gaming, if not for music.  Cooler Master have released an updated version called the Sirus-C which keep the infamous gold plated USB plug while shrinking the inline sound card and reducing the number of drivers in the earcups to two, a 44 mm full range and 40 mm sub. TechPowerUp provided an overview of the new headset and came to the conclusion that these would better serve a console gamer looking for a good plug and play audio solution, but feel there are better choices for the PC gamer.  This especially holds true with the current asking price of $156 on Amazon, as there is a lot of competition at that price point.

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"CM Storm's newest do-it-all headset is put to the test. The Sirus-C is compatible with all major console systems and features its own in-line USB sound card. The design is like previous Sirus headsets on the outside, but it now uses a dual-driver setup on the inside."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: techPowerUp

If you already own S.T.A.L.K.E.R. you can get it for free from GOG

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2015 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: gaming, GOG, DRM, stalker

That title and the offer it describes might sound dumb at first glance, but if you happen to have a retail copy of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. that isn't so scratched it is unusable, go ahead and try to install it.  Didn't work very well now did it? If you were savvy enough to Google through the various tips on making it work you might now understand why GOG reviving old games which no longer work because the company that managed the DRM no longer exists or that have languished because of lack of support.  GOG is working on creating a library of old games which you can install DRM free, if you have a valid serial number from your old retail copy.  As is usual you can choose between a download and a Steam version, with community support and a very good chance that it will run immediately after installation; unlike when it was first released perhaps?  The question that not many ask anymore is what will happen if Steam ends, will GOG be the ones to save our libraries of 100s of unplayed games?

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"Starting today, owners of several retail titles originally sold with DRM can get a digital copy of their game completely free at GOG.com: with no DRM as always, compatible with modern operating systems, and with plenty of goodies to boot."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Dell Announces the P2416D, a 24-inch WQHD IPS Monitor for $369

Subject: Displays | April 8, 2015 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged:

Last Friday Dell announced a new 2560x1440 monitor in an official blog post, and while it won’t compare to the variable refresh gaming monitors we’ve been talking about quite a bit lately it’s still impressive considering the price. (Here’s hoping the lower-cost WQHD trend continues!)

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The P2416D is a 24-inch 2560x1440 display that Dell will offer for $369.99. The Tech Report linked to specifications published internationally pointing to an IPS panel, a detail that was not mentioned in Dell’s blog post. This would be in keeping with other panels in Dell’s P and U series, but is significant for the $369.99 price at 1440p. This will be a conventional 60 Hz panel of course, but represents a lower cost than other entry level IPS monitors at this resolution from Dell, and is the only option at this compact 24-inch size.

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The current Dell WQHD lineup

A competing low-cost QHD monitor, the Acer G257HU, is much more aggressively priced at $279.99, and Acer lists IPS as the panel type for this 25-inch display. How might Dell help justify the $90 premium over a monitor like the Acer? The P2416D monitor is covered by Dell’s “Premium Panel Guarantee” that Professional/UltraSharp monitor customers are likely familiar with, which provides free panel exchanges for “even one bright pixel” at any time during the 3-year warranty period. The Dell 24-inch monitor also offers their usual tilt/pivot/rotate/height adjustable stand, DisplayPort (1.2) and HDMI (1.4) input along with VGA, plus a 4-port USB 2.0 hub.

The Dell P2416D is not listed on Dell’s U.S. site just yet but will be available in May.

Source: Dell

It is a bad week for Qualcomm

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2015 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, arm, qualcomm, snapdragon 820, Kyro

Not only has the NVIDIA sueball pitch been judged to be in play and will continue to run but now according to news The Register has heard Samsung may be using their own in-house ARM processors for their next products.  The rumour is that they have spend four years developing an ARM processor from the ground up which will make it much less likely that Qualcomm will be able to sell their next generation 64 bit Snapdragon Kyro processor to Samsung, which is after all a modified ARM v8-a chip as opposed to a custom built processor.  Qualcomm does have other customers than Samsung, including HTC, Amazon and LG who might be interested in the new Snapdragon 820 but it does look bleak for their next generation processor.  The only leverage Qualcomm has now is that Samsung will likely be the ones fabbing many of the new Snapdragon 820's, perhaps they can strike a deal for some lower cost mobile devices once Kyro matures.

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"Samsung will join Apple and other mobile semiconductor rivals in producing chips powered by homegrown, proprietary application cores in 2016, according to a new report."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

AMD’s FX-8320E; get in the game for $138?

Subject: Processors | April 7, 2015 - 05:56 PM |
Tagged: amd, FX-8320e

Over at Techgage one of the writers recently updated their system, due to budget constraints they needed to stay in the $600-700 range all told which of course indicates an AMD build.  They chose the $138 FX-8320E for their processor, along with a pair of GTX 760s, the ASUS M5A99FX Pro R2.0, 8GB of DDR3-1866 and with storage, power, cooling and case they managed to keep within the ir budget.  The question remain is if it is powerful enough for reasonable gaming duties such as Borderlands 2.  Read on to see if the recommendation is to go with AMD or the i3-4330 and a low end H97 board.

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"Released this past fall, AMD’s FX-8320E processor promises to deliver a lot of processing power for those on a budget. It sports eight cores, and as a Black Edition, its overclocking capabilities are unrestricted. But is that enough to make this the best go-to budget processor, especially for gamers?"

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: Techgage

Checking out PCIe SSDs, both the full sized version and the bite sized ones

Subject: Storage | April 7, 2015 - 02:49 PM |
Tagged: Plextor M6e, XP941, Samsung, DC P3700, Intel, PCIe SSD, M.2

The Tech Report have updated their storage testbed to properly benchmark PCIe SSDs, the M.2 versions as well as ones such as Intel's DC P3700 which takes up a full slot.  They contrast the performance with 10 popular SATA drives to give you an idea of the difference performance a PCI SSD will give you.  The rather expensive DC P3700 dominates almost every test they performed, apart from boot times in Windows 8.1 which are still well under 1 minute.  Read through the review with your own usage patterns in mind, in many cases a SATA SSD is still a great choice for many gamers and are much more affordable.  Then again, if you can afford a $2500 SSD, Intel's offering is definitely king.

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"SSDs have been bumping up against the limits of the Serial ATA interface for a while, but they don't have to be stuck behind the 6Gbps link. Native PCIe drives with way more bandwidth have made their way onto the market over the past year. We've tackled a trio of them—Plextor's M6e, Samsung's XP941, and Intel's server-grade DC P3700—with a fresh slate of benchmarks to see how the new breed stacks up against the SATA incumbents."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

The NVIDIA, Samsung and Qualcomm saga has been cleared to continue

Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2015 - 01:27 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, qualcomm, Samsung, patents, sueball

A judge has ruled that six of the seven patent disputes that NVIDIA has filed are valid and will proceed to court for judgment.  These patents involve the use of graphics coprocessors in mobile devices and have been judged to be worded in such a way that it does not matter if those GPUs are ARM, Imagination Technologies or Qualcomm.  This is not the end of the dispute, merely a pretrial to see if the claims are valid and worth going to trial.  Of course Qualcomm and Samsung dispute NVIDIA's claims and in Samsung's case they have already launched a counter suit claiming NVIDIA has violated six of their own patents.  You can read about the history of the latest legal battle in the tech world as well as today's judgment over at The Register.

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"Nvidia has won an important early victory in its ongoing patent litigation against Qualcomm and Samsung, with a judge in the US International Trade Commission ruling in Nvidia's favor as to the language of the disputed patents."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

ASUS MG279Q Monitor Now Officially a FreeSync Monitor

Subject: Displays | April 7, 2015 - 12:31 PM |
Tagged: variable refresh rate, mg279q, freesync, asus, amd

If you remember back at CES in early January, we got hands-on with an upcoming monitor from ASUS, the MG279Q. Unlike the company's other G-Sync enabled displays, this monitor was unique in that offered support for the Adaptive Sync portion of the DisplayPort 1.2a standard but was also not a part of AMD's initial wave of FreeSync monitors.

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The ASUS MG279Q from CES 2015

The screen technology itself was impressive: a 2560x1440 resolution, IPS-style implementation and a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz. (Note: the new marketing material indicates that the panel will have a 144 Hz maximum refresh rate. Maybe there was a hardware change since CES?) During a video interview with ASUS at the time it was labeled as having a minimum refresh rate of 40 Hz which is something we look forward to testing if and when we can get a sample in our labs.

At the time, there was some interesting debate about WHY this wasn't a FreeSync branded monitor. We asked AMD specifically about this monitor's capability to work with capable Radeon GPUs for variable refresh and they promised there were no lock-outs occurring. We guessed that maybe ASUS' deal with NVIDIA on G-Sync was preventing them from joining the FreeSync display program, but cleary that wasn't the case. Today on Twitter, AMD announced that the MG279Q was officially part of the FreeSync brand.

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I am glad to see more products come into the FreeSync monitor market and hopefully we'll have some solid gaming experiences with the ASUS MG279Q to report back on soon!

Source: AMD Twitter

90-some percent of the performance for 70 percent of the price; PowerColor's PCS+ R9 290X

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 6, 2015 - 04:54 PM |
Tagged: factory overclocked, powercolor pcs+, R9 290X

The lowest priced GTX 980 on Amazon is currently $530 while the PowerColor PCS+ R9 290X is $380, about 72% of the price of the GTX 980.  The performance that [H]ard|OCP saw after overclocking the 290X was much closer, in some games even matching it but usually about 5-10% slower than the GTX 980, making it quite obvious which card is the better value.  The GTX 970 is a different story, you can find a card for $310 and the performance is only slightly behind the 290X although the 290X takes a larger lead at higher resolutions.  Read through the review carefully as the performance delta and overall smoothness varies from game to game but unless you like paying to brag about your handful of extra frames the 970 and 290X are the cards offering you the best bang for your buck.

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"Today we examine what value the PowerColor PCS+ R9 290X holds compared to overclocked GeForce GTX 970. AMD's Radeon R9 290X pricing has dropped considerably since launch and constitutes a great value and competition for the GeForce GTX 970. At $350 this may be an excellent value compared to the competition."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Windows 10 Build 10051 Leak gets WinBeta Walkthrough

Subject: General Tech | April 6, 2015 - 04:53 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, leaked build, leak, build 10051

This leaked build arrives just two versions ahead of the latest public release from last week. As such, not much has changed, but some things have. First, Mail and Calendar have been replaced with an upgrade under the Outlook branding. Those apps make up the majority of known changes for this not-release. One change to Project Spartan has also been spotted by WinBeta in their walkthrough. Spartan now includes an “Open with Internet Explorer” option. The concept seems to be if you visit a website that was designed for Internet Explorer, you can easily switch to the other Microsoft browser.

A new app, Microsoft Family, has also been added but it currently consists of a Windows Live logo leading into a completely blank screen. More specifically, it is the Windows Live 3d characters in the same arrangement as the silhouettes on Microsoft Family Safety. As such, it will probably be a parental control application.

There will probably be a few more builds until we get one pushed down Windows Update, but at least we can see a bit more of what's going on behind the scenes.

Source: WinBeta

Intel Compute Stick Starts Pre-order: Bay Trail and Windows 8.1 for $149

Subject: Systems | April 6, 2015 - 04:24 PM |
Tagged: Intel, compute stick, Bay Trail-D

Back at CES in January Intel shared with us a preview of the company's latest new platform form factor, the Compute Stick. That's the formal, official name, a follow up from the same team that brought us the NUC (Next Unit of Computing). The Compute Stick is a thumb-drive-shaped, full PC integration that has a physical HDMI connection to plug directly into your TV.

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The specifications remain unchanged from what we learned at CES:

The Intel Compute Stick, aptly named, seems to fit somewhere between these two devices. It is an HDMI dongle enclosing an x86, quad-core, computer with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Intel eventually plans to have the device powered by the HDMI port, but it currently requires power over micro USB. Besides power, it also has a standard USB (Type A-Female) port and a micro SD card slot. It also has 802.11n wireless networking inside it. Being a full Windows device, you can stream media, browse the web, and use many other applications on it.

This week the devices have started showing up for pre-order on Newegg.com and even Amazon.com.

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Newegg.com has a specific pre-order going but it looks like Amazon is still on the waiting list process. Interestingly, a quick search for "compute stick" on Amazon reveals a host of other very similar devices, the most popular of which are sold as the MeeGoPad Stick with a price tag of ~$109. I'm not sure what those products will ship with when it comes to an operating system and some reviews indicate that the Windows version installed is not activated, so go in at your own risk.

As for the official Intel sold Compute Stick, I'm excited to try one out. The device includes a Bay Trail quad-core CPU, a single micro-USB port for power, a full-sized USB 2.0 port for connectivity (webcam, etc.) as well as a MicroSD slot for storage expansion. The device embeds Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and Bluetooth so you'll be able to connect to a network and get wireless keyboards and mice up and running easily.

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The amount of capability you get for $149, including a full copy of Windows 8.1 with Bing, is astounding and, if it lives up the hype, could be a great replacement for a Google Chromecast or a Kindle Fire TV. Look for a review very soon!

Onlive has been grabbed by Sony and then immediately consigned to the garbage heap

Subject: General Tech | April 6, 2015 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: cloud gaming, onlive, sony, pc game streaming

Five years ago Onlive launched a beta of their online gaming system, allowing you to play games over the internet, without needing a high end PC.  Ryan got his hands on the beta to try out and while it did work for him, there was high latency effecting his gameplay and when he mentioned that Onlive had a few words with him.  It seems Sony dislikes the service more than anyone as they have just purchased the company and will be shutting it down in a month, without even offering to move the customers to Playstation Now.  This effects not only the gamers but also the graphics manipulation service they offered to companies using the same infrastructure.   It is always hard to be the first to try offering a new service and streaming has become a competitive business with a lot of companies with deep pockets offering similar services.  There is one major up side for Sony, according to The Register Onlive possesses over 1000 patents for cloud gaming, which Sony can now use to further develop their services.

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"Subscribers to the OnLive cloud gaming service have just 27 days of playing time left before the corporate servers that host their fragging sessions are to be shut down by Sony, which announced that it had acquired the service on Thursday."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Just Delivered: LG G3 Android Smartphone (LG D851 G3 Silk White)

Subject: Mobile | April 3, 2015 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: snapdragon 801, smartphone, quad hd, LG, Android 5.0

Just Delivered is a section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.

Find the LG G3 on Amazon!

Last week I stopped by the T-Mobile store in the mall, handed over two old phones, and ported over two lines from Verizon. I walked out with a cheaper contract with unlimited data (versus 4GB on Verizon) and a shiny new (to me, it's been out for awhile) LG G3. Which brings me to this post.

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First off, the LG G3 is huge. This is the smallest tablet largest smartphone I have ever owned. Measuring 146.3 x 74.6 x 8.9 mm, the 149g smartphone is slightly smaller than the Apple iPhone 6 Plus and a bit chunkier at its thickest point. It is however easier to hold and operate (especially one handed) than the iDevice. The  is dominated by a large 5.5-inch Quad HD IPS display (2560 x 1440 resolution) and features round edges and a curved back. I chose the white version, but it also comes in black, blue, gold, red, and purple (the international versions). Except for the top bezel that holds the webcam, light sensor, and speaker, and that bit of empty space below the display with the LG logo, the G3 has super thin bezels. In fact, the phone is not much larger than the display (certainly width wise). 

The LG G3's display looks amazing with sharp text and extremely detailed videos (the included 4k content is great). It is highly reflective and I had to crank the brightness all the way up to be able to read it under direct sunlight (my S4 was similar in this respect). In other lighting situations, it worked really well.

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An infrared transmitter, microphone, micro USB port, and 3.5mm audio jack are placed along the top and bottom edges of the phone. Like its predecessor (the G2), LG has placed the power and volume buttons on the back of the device rather than the sides (Update: I am generally liking this setup now). The recessed buttons sit beneath the camera lens and are easier to find and use than I expected them to be. Now that I am getting used to them, I think LG is onto something (good) with this button placement. There is also a 1-watt speaker in the lower left corner of the back cover for media playback and speakerphone calls. For a smartphone speaker it can get fairly loud and does what it is supposed to. It is not spectacular but it is also not bad. I mostly use headphones but it's nice to know that I have a decent speaker should I want to share my music.

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The curved back cover makes it easy to hold in one hand (even if I can't hit all the on-screen buttons without a longer thumb heh) and I feel like it will be dropped less frequently than my previous phone (the Galaxy S4) as a result of the form factor. One big change with the G3, for me, is the lack of buttons below the display (capacitive or physical), but I am slowly getting used to the on-screen navigation on Android (especially once I figured out I could long press the recent apps button to regain the menu button I miss from my S4).

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Aside from the display, the G3 features a 2.1MP front facing camera and a 13MP rear camera. The rear camera is where things get interesting because it is paired with a dual LED flash, laser focus, and optical image stabilization (OIS) technology. Outdoor shots were excellent and indoor shots with enough lighting were great. In low light situations, the camera left something to be desired, and I was kind of disappointed. Using the flash does help and it is quite bright. However, I tend to not like using the flash unless I have to as photos always look less natural. For as small as the camera is though (the lens and sensor are tiny), it does pretty well. In good lighting conditions it is trounces my S4 but the (upgrade) is much less noticeable with less light (the G3 does have a much brighter flash).

The laser focus is a really cool feature that works as advertised. The camera focuses extremely quickly (even in low light) allowing me a much better chance to capture the moment. It also refocuses (tap to focus) quickly.

The camera software is not as full featured as other smartphones I have used, however. I was put off by this at first as someone that likes to tinker with these things but at the end of the day it does what it is supposed to and it does it well (which is to take photos). You can swipe to switch between the front and back cameras, choose from a couple preset modes, and adjust basic settings like resolution, voice controls, HDR, and shutter timer. For "selfie" fans, LG has a feature where you can make a fist in the air and it will start a countdown timer. While I have not tried the voice commands, I did try the gesture and it does work well.

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Anyways, before this turns into a full review (heh), it might help to know what's under the hood as well. The G3 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC which pairs four Krait 400 CPU cores clocked at 2.5 GHz with an Adreno 330 GPU. The phone comes with either 16GB internal storage and 2GB of RAM or 32GB internal storage and 3GB RAM. I chose the higher end model to get the extra RAM just in case as I plan to have this phone for a long time. It supports 4G LTE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and NFC (Near Field Communication). You can also use it with Qi-enabled wireless chargers if you purchase a supporting back cover. The G3 is running Android 4.4.2 on T-Mobile but it does support Android 5.0 and some carriers have already pushed out updates.

The G3 comes with a 3,000 mAh battery and a 1.8 amp USB charger. It does take awhile to charge this thing (my 2.1 amp Samsung charger is a bit faster), but once it is fully charged it will easily last all day including listening to streaming music and audiobooks, text messaging, and web browsing. (Update: I don't have specific battery life numbers yet, but I generally only need to charge it once a day so long as I keep the display brightness around half. If I crank the brightness all the way up I can almost feel the battery draining by the second heh.)

Like Samsung, LG has a battery saving feature that will kick in at 30% to conserve battery but turning down the screen brightness, turning off radios that are not active, and a few other configurable battery drainers (haptic feedback, notification lights, and account syncing). I do like their battery settings page as it will estimate the time needed to charge and the time remaining as it discharges along with a nice graph of battery percentages over time. Other Android phones have something similar but LG has fleshed it out a bit more.

Just for fun, I installed 3DMark and ran the Ice Storm benchmark. The LG G3 maxed out the Ice Storm test and scored 10,033 points in Ice Storm Extreme. Further, it scored 16,151 in Ice Storm Unlimited. In comparison, the (apparently extremely popular judging by the feedback) Samsung Galaxy Centura scored 536 in Ice Storm and 281 in Ice Storm Extreme respectively (hehe). My Galaxy S4 is no longer available for me to test, but TweakTown was able to get 6,723 in the Ice Storm Extreme test.

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LG packs light with only the smartphone, USB cable, USB charger, and a quck start guide included in the box. No headphones or extra accessories here.

In all, so far so good with the LG G3. I am very happy with my purchase and would recommend checking it out if you are in the market for a large display-packing smartphone that's not an iPhone 6 Plus or Galaxy Note 4 (which Ryan recently reviewed). If you want the latest and greatest Android phone and can afford the premium (about $300 more in my case when I compared them), grab the Note 4. On the other hand, if you are looking for a Android smartphone with a large display, good battery life, and decent hardware specifications, the LG G3 is a respectible choice that delivers and doesn't break the bank.

Have you tried out the G3? What do you think about the trend for larger and thinner smartphones? This is hardly an exhaustive review and there are things I didn't get into here. After all, I'm still checking out my G3. With that said, from first impressions and about a week of usage it seems like a really solid device. I've since fitted it with a screen protector and a case so as to not break it – especially that hi-res display!

PCPer Live! Intel SSD Live Stream and Giveaway!

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | April 2, 2015 - 08:19 PM |
Tagged: video, sdd, live, Intel, giveaway, contest

UPDATE: The secret is out! Today's live stream will focus on the new Intel SSD 750 Series products, which Allyn posted our review of just a few minutes ago. Be sure you read up on that story and prepare your questions for our event that starts in less than three hours!

UPDATE 2: If you missed the live streaming event today, you can find the reply embedded directly below. You can't win any of the prizes at this point (sorry!) but there is a ton of information for you to gleam from the discussion. That includes a history of Intel's SSD technology, how flash works and what the new SSD 750 Series has to offer with PCIe and NVMe. Enjoy!

Earlier this month we spotted a new and potentially very exciting SSD while looking through some PAX East coverage around the web. It appears to be a PCI Express based Intel SSD, likely based on the same technology as the P3700-series of NVMe drives released last June. And today, if you take a look at this Intel promotional landing page you'll see a timer and countdown that ends on April 2nd.

Sounds like something must be up, huh?

Well, in totally unrelated news, PC Perspective and Intel are partnering together for a live stream to discuss "SSD related topics" on April 2nd.

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Intel SSD Live Stream and Giveaway

12pm PT / 3pm ET - April 2nd

PC Perspective Live! Page

Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!

Joining us for the live event will be Intel's Bryn Pilney and Kei Kobayashi, making a follow up appearance after jumping on stage with us at Quakecon 2014. During the event we'll discuss some of the history of Intel's move into the SSD market, how consumers benefit from Intel development and technology and a certain new product that will be making an appearnce on that same day.

And of course, what's a live stream event without some hardware to give away?!? Here's what we have on the docket for those that attend:

  • 2 x Intel 180GB 530 Series SSDs
  • 2 x Intel 480GB 730 Series SSDs
  • 2 x Intel 400GB 750 Series SSDs

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Huge thanks to Intel for supporting our viewers and readers with hardware to giveaway!

The event will take place Thursday, April 2nd at 3pm ET / 12pm PT at http://www.pcper.com/live. There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience, asking questions for me and Intel to answer live. To win the prizes you will have to be watching the live stream, with exact details of the methodology for handing out the goods coming at the time of the event.

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If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from Intel?

So join us! Set your calendar for this coming Thursday at 3pm ET / 12pm PT and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live mailing list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!