Just Delivered: Lenovo Lavie-Z Lightweight Laptop

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 22, 2015 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Lenovo, lavie-z, Intel, i7-5500U, Broadwell

After seeing it at CES this January, one our most anticipated products became the Lenovo Lavie-Z laptop. Born out of a partnership between NEC and Lenovo, the Lavie-Z promises to be the world's lightest laptop.

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Our old-school postage scale doesn't have the accuracy to reach the 1.87lb that Lenovo clocks the Lavie-Z in at

Even after using the machine breiefly at CES, it is difficult to put into words what picking up a sub-2lb laptop is really like. Even after using the machine off and on today, it still feels like it's not a real machine. Lenovo and NEC have been able to accomplish this weight shedding through the use of a Lithium-Magnisum composite for the external housing of the machine, which seems durable, yet is incredibly light.

 

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This may be a lightweight machine, but the specifications aren't compromised over other ultrabooks. The Lavie-Z is only listed in one configuration on Lenovo's site currently, but it's a high end one. A Broadwell Intel i7-5500U dual core processor, 8GB of RAM, a 2560x1440 IGZO display, 256GB SATA M.2 Samsung SSD, and Intel 802.11AC wireless make up this machine. At $1500 for this configuration, there doesn't seem to be much of a markup over other i7-equipped ultrabooks.

We'll of course put the Lavie-Z through our normal paces including performance and battery life, and we certainly hope they live up to the striking first impressions of this laptop.

Stay tuned for our full review in the coming weeks!

Running an EXT4 RAID on the Linux 4.0 kernel? Better spray for bugs!

Subject: General Tech | May 21, 2015 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: linux, EXT4, raid, bug

On Tuesday a bug was discovered to have been introduced to Linux 4.0 kernel when a fix was added to deal with RAIDs where the chunksize not a power of 2, a problem present since Linux 3.14-rc1.  This fix has been causing corruption on RAIDs and the file system on that RAID, making many an unhappy Arch Linux user.  Only users of rolling release flavours will be effected, distros with scheduled updates like RHEL or Ubuntu are not effected at this time.  The good news is that as of today there is a fix available if you wish to apply it, as well as defining the fix which caused the issue.  Check out both at Phoronix.

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"A few days ago we reported on an EXT4 file-system corruption issue being discovered within the stable Linux 4.0 kernel series. The good news is the issue has been uncovered and a patch is available, but it could still be a few days before it starts getting sent out in stable updates."

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Source: Phoronix

Wotcher new Witcher like?

Subject: General Tech | May 20, 2015 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: The Witcher 3, gaming, CD Projekt RED

The new and not quite as pretty as advertised Witcher is here from CD Projekt RED, available from GoG among other places. Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN have started another one of their ongoing diaries to share their experiences, so far involving a bare bum and the amazing Tutorial Man.  They also went straight for the dream sequence right off the bat; a smart move to get that over and done with in the early stages.  There will be more, as this is a very large game.   If you are looking for more details on graphics settings than to turn off Vidal Sasson, there is a post here discussing the options they used as well as the links below.

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"I shall instead run a (mostly) in-character diary series covering my adventures in, presumably, just the earlier stages of CDP’s saucy roleplayer. But for the record, it runs OK if I turn Fancy Hair off but it has crashed twice so far."

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GoogleU just got noiser; tweets are returning to your search results

Subject: General Tech | May 20, 2015 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: twitter, google

Several years back Google thought it would be fun to include Tweets in Google searches and while they were smart to discontinue that, the reasoning behind ending it, Google+, may not have been as sound.  According to Slashdot, once again your searches for information on Google will be accompanied by 140 character posts of scintillating wisdom which will obviously impart far more knowledge than the citation you were looking for.  This should also do wonders for those looking to limit the perspectives and opinions they are exposed to as dissenting views can easily be drowned out by tweets that reinforce your beliefs just by minor alterations the text in your search. 

On the plus side, one comment on Slashdot shows how to add operators back into your searches, just paste &tbs=li:1 at the end of the URL once you have searched.

Add "&tbs=li:1" to your keyword search string. For example: https://www.google.com/search?q=%s&tbs=li:1

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"Google will now begin showing tweets alongside search results. Mobile users searching via the Android/iOS apps or through the browser will start seeing the tweets immediately, while the desktop version is "coming shortly." The tweets will only be available for the searches in English to start, but Twitter says they'll be adding more languages soon."

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Source: Slashdot

Time to give OpenWRT a shot?

Subject: General Tech | May 19, 2015 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: dd-wrt, openwrt, linux, linksys, WRT1900AC

Regular listeners to the PCPer Podcast should be aware of the DD-WRT project to root and take control over your router as we have mentioned it multiples of times, along with a related project called OpenWrt.  If you have not looked into the process of how to flash up a router with one or the other of these new OSes/firmware packages then this article at Linux.com is something you should take a look at. They walk you through the steps of taking over a Linksys WRT1900AC router, from straight out of the box to final configuration.  They also give you a look at the advantages running a router on OpenWrt gives you and ideas for taking it further.  Check it out right here.

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"The Linksys WRT1900AC is a top-end modern router that gets even sweeter when you unleash Linux on it and install OpenWrt. OpenWrt includes the opkg package management system giving you easy access to a great deal of additional open source software to use on your router."

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Source: Linux.com
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

High Bandwidth Memory

UPDATE: I have embedded an excerpt from our PC Perspective Podcast that discusses the HBM technology that you might want to check out in addition to the story below.

The chances are good that if you have been reading PC Perspective or almost any other website that focuses on GPU technologies for the past year, you have read the acronym HBM. You might have even seen its full name: high bandwidth memory. HBM is a new technology that aims to turn the ability for a processor (GPU, CPU, APU, etc.) to access memory upside down, almost literally. AMD has already publicly stated that its next generation flagship Radeon GPU will use HBM as part of its design, but it wasn’t until today that we could talk about what HBM actually offers to a high performance processor like Fiji. At its core HBM drastically changes how the memory interface works, how much power is required for it and what metrics we will use to compare competing memory architectures. AMD and its partners started working on HBM with the industry more than 7 years ago, and with the first retail product nearly ready to ship, it’s time to learn about HBM.

We got some time with AMD’s Joe Macri, Corporate Vice President and Product CTO, to talk about AMD’s move to HBM and how it will shift the direction of AMD products going forward.

The first step in understanding HBM is to understand why it’s needed in the first place. Current GPUs, including the AMD Radeon R9 290X and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980, utilize a memory technology known as GDDR5. This architecture has scaled well over the past several GPU generations but we are starting to enter the world of diminishing returns. Balancing memory performance and power consumption is always a tough battle; just ask ARM about it. On the desktop component side we have much larger power envelopes to work inside but the power curve that GDDR5 is on will soon hit a wall, if you plot it far enough into the future. The result will be either drastically higher power consuming graphics cards or stalling performance improvements of the graphics market – something we have not really seen in its history.

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While it’s clearly possible that current and maybe even next generation GPU designs could still have depended on GDDR5 as the memory interface, the move to a different solution is needed for the future; AMD is just making the jump earlier than the rest of the industry.

Continue reading our look at high bandwidth memory (HBM) architecture!!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and First Impressions

The ASUS ROG Gladius mouse features sleek styling and customizable lighting effects, but the biggest aspect is the underlying technology. With socketed Omron switches designed to be easily swapped and an adjustable 6400dpi optical sensor this gaming mouse offers a lot on paper. So how does it feel? Let's find out.

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There are a few aspects to the way a mouse feels, including the shape, surface material, and overall weight. Beyond the physical properties there is the speed and accuracy of the sensor (which also affects hand movement) and of course the mouse buttons and scroll wheel. Really, there's a lot going on with a modern gaming mouse - a far cry from the "X-Y position indicator" that the inventors had nicknamed "mouse" in the 1960s.

One of the hallmarks of the ASUS ROG (Republic of Gamers) lineup is the sheer amount of additional features the products tend to have. I use an ROG motherboard in my personal system, and even my micro-ATX board is stuffed with additional functionality (and the box is loaded with accessories). So it came as no surprise to me when I opened the Gladius mouse and began to look it over. Sure, the box contents aren't as numerous as one of the Maximus motherboards, but there's still quite a bit more than I've encountered with a mouse before.

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Continue reading our review of the ASUS ROG Gladius Gaming Mouse!!

Raptr's Top PC Games of April 2015

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2015 - 11:56 PM |
Tagged: raptr, pc gaming

The PC gaming utility, Raptr, is normally used to optimize in-game settings, chat and socialize, and record game footage. It also keeps track of game-hours and aggregates them into a list once per month, which makes it one of the few sources for this type of data on the PC. We were late on it last month, which means that another was posted just a week later.

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April marks the release of Grand Theft Auto V for the PC. It went live on the 14th and, despite only counting for half of the month, ended up at 4th place. Next month's survey will tell us whether the post-release drop-off was countered by counting Grand Theft Auto for a full month, which is double what they have now. It was just 0.17% of global play time behind CS:GO. Despite an error on the graph, it knocked DOTA 2 down to fifth, and Diablo III down to sixth. In fact, just about everything below Grand Theft Auto V dropped at least one rank.

Only three games actually gained places this month: ArcheAge, Warframe, and Spider Solitaire. Yes, that game is now the 19th most played, as tracked by Raptr. You could sort-of say that Hearthstone gained a rank by not losing one, but you would be wrong. Why would you say that?

League of Legends dropped less than a percent of total play time, settling in at about 21%. This is just about on target for the game, which proves that not even Rockstar can keep people from having a Riot.

Source: Raptr

Budget headphones that are just good enough, Ozone Rage ST

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2015 - 02:01 PM |
Tagged: audio, ozone, Rage ST, gaming headset

With a pricetag of $40 many may be a bit leery of purchasing the Ozone Rage ST Headset as it is significantly lower in price than most gaming headsets which implies lower quality too.  It does use the 40mm drivers common in most headsets with a response range of  20-20kHz but the microphone is omnidirectional as opposed to unidirectional which means you will send background noise.  Modders-Inc tried it out and were pleasantly surprised; while it has none of the extra features that $100+ headsets do, the overall quality was worth the price of admission.  If you are in need of a headset but are strapped for cash, these are a good choice for you.

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"Despite the stereotype, gamers are social creatures too. Competitive games after all requires another person to play with, but as expressive as some gestures may be such as virtual teabagging, it is not nearly as effective in conveying what you really feel when you shout out expletives through a headset. It feels very natural in fact that one almost feels …"

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Source: Modders Inc

Another juicy rumour; Lenovo wants MSI's gaming laptops?

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2015 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: rumours, msi, Lenovo

When you think of Lenovo laptops you tend to think of suits and office suites, not Cheetos and Red Bull but DigiTimes has heard tell that this could possibly change.  With Acer, Asustek's ROG and Dell's Alienware lineups all seeing decent profits from the niche market of high end gaming laptops the rumour is that Lenovo would like in on some of that filthy lucre.  DigiTimes' source posits that MSI's gaming laptop subdivision would be the obvious target for Lenovo.  It is possible that this is all hot air but Lenovo is a huge company and could easily afford to buy a division of a competitor, if they were willing to sell.

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"Micro-Star International (MSI) has been successful in selling gaming notebooks and Lenovo is interested in acquiring MSI's gaming notebook business unit, according to sources from supply chain makers. However, MSI has denied the reports."

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Source: DigiTimes