HP 7 Plus: HP Is Selling a Tablet at $99, Legitimately

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 27, 2014 - 05:22 PM |
Tagged: tablet, HP 7 Plus, hp, cheap tablet, cheap computer

Years ago, HP purchased Palm with the intention of producing tablets based on WebOS. After a very short time on the market, the company pulled the plug and liquidated their stock for $99. These tablets, of course, sold instantly. Now, HP has developed an Android tablet which actually intends to be sold at that $99 price point.

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Called the HP 7 Plus, this tablet has a quad-core SoC from Allwinner Technology, based on the low-power ARM Cortex A7 architecture. This is the architecture that you often see paired with Cortex A15 cores in their "big.LITTLE" arrangement. Complementing this processor is 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, a microSD slot, 640x480 front-facing and 2MP rear-facing cameras, and about five (5) hours of battery life. It is capable of Miracast over WiFi, which is an impressive feature for its price.

The operating system is Android 4.2.2, Jelly Bean. While this is not the most recent distribution of Android, it should definitely serve users looking for an under-$100 tablet. Seriously, this space is huge and often a crap shoot in terms of reliability. If HP released a decent device, it could be a winner.

The HP 7 Plus is apparently available now, but out of stock, for $99.99. I do not know whether they already released and sold out immediately, or if it is still waiting on its first shipment.

Source: HP

Just Delivered: EVGA Torq X10 Gaming Mouse

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | May 27, 2014 - 12:19 AM |
Tagged: mouse, laser mouse, gaming mouse, evga

It has been a while since I reviewed hardware and, when I did, they were all keyboards. Being a southpaw, it is fairly difficult to review higher-end mice. When offered to review the EVGA Torq X10 Gaming Mouse, I noticed that it is a (nearly) symmetric design with nine (9) buttons: five (5) on the top, two (2) on the left for right-handed thumbs, and two (2) more, identical buttons on the right for left-handed thumbs.

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Of course, the off-hand buttons can still be used for time-insensitive commands, like pinging the map of a strategy game. Personally, I tend to rebind mouse sensitivity to the pinky-buttons and rebind what is usually meant for DPI adjustments to pinging maps or, on games like Battlefield: Bad Company 2, fly up and down (for the UAV).

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A quick unboxing shows the underside of the mouse, an accessory pouch made out of paper with a getting started guide and what looks to be sticker-based grips, a plastic bag of weights, and that metal thing beside the mouse is a torx screwdriver. This screwdriver is what will be used to customize the palm angle by turning its adjustment at the rear of the mouse.

While I have not yet plugged it in, I did play around with its grip adjustment. You probably will not notice its effects unless you are looking for it, but it does result in significant changes to the touch. I will discuss this, and its other features, more in my upcoming full review.

As for pricing, EVGA is currently accepting pre-orders through Newegg. The base version is available for $49.99 (pre-order price, $99.99 MSRP) with a "carbon fiber" version, an identical mouse outside of the surface material, also on pre-order for $69.99 (pre-order price, $129.99 MSRP). It is unclear whether they will ever make it up to their MSRP but, if they do, an almost half-price pre-order (with a free mouse pad if you pre-order, register your mouse, and upload your invoice, apparently) is pretty gigantic.

It is expected to ship in a month (late June). I hope to have at least a preliminary review, if not a full one, up with time left for pre-orders.

Source: EVGA

AMD Catalyst 14.6 Beta Driver Now Available, Adds Mixed Resolution Eyefinity

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 27, 2014 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: radeon, R9, R7, eyefinity, amd

AMD has just launched their Catalyst 14.6 Beta drivers for Windows and Linux. This driver will contain performance improvements for Watch Dogs, launching today in North America, and Murdered: Soul Suspect, which arrives next week. On Linux, the driver now supports Ubuntu 14.04 and its installation process has been upgraded for simplicity and user experience.

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Unless performance improvements are more important to you, the biggest feature is the support for Eyefinity with mixed resolutions. With Catalyst 14.6, you no longer need a grid of identical monitors. One example use case, suggested by AMD, is a gamer who purchases an ultra-wide 2560x1080 monitor. They will be able to add a pair of 1080p monitors on either side to create a 6400x1080 viewing surface.

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If the monitors are very mismatched, the driver will allow users to letterbox to the largest rectangle contained by every monitor, or "expand" to draw the largest possible rectangle (which will lead to some assets drawing outside of any monitor). A third mode, fill, behaves like Eyefinity currently does. I must give AMD a lot of credit for leaving the choice to the user.

Returning to performance with actual figures, AMD claims "up to" 25% increases in Watch Dogs at 1080p or 28% at 1600p, compared to the previous version. The new CrossFire profile also claims up to 99% scaling in that game, at 2560x1600 with 8x MSAA. Murdered: Soul Suspect will see "up to" 16% improvements on a single card, and "up to" 93% scaling. Each of these results were provided by AMD, which tested on Radeon R9 290X cards. If these CrossFire profiles (well, first, are indicative of actual performance, and) see 99% scaling across two cards, that is pretty remarkable.

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A brief mention, AMD has also expanded their JPEG decoder to Kabini. Previously, it was available to Kaveri, as of Catalyst 14.1. This allows using the GPU to display images, with their test showing a series of images being processed in about half of the time. While not claimed by AMD, I expect that the GPU will also be more power-efficient (as the processor can go back to its idle state much quicker, despite activitating another component to do so). Ironically, the three images I used for this news post are encoded in PNG. You might find that amusing.

AMD Catalyst 14.6 Beta Drivers should be now available at their download site.

Source: AMD

Almost 20 minutes of hot steamy mouse video

Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2014 - 05:49 PM |
Tagged: gaming mouse, corsair, Raptor M45, Vengeance M65, Vengeance M95

The Tech Report have put together several mouse reviews into a single video, giving you a chance to hear about their features while watching a little gaming action at the same time.  The low cost Raptor M45 is shown fragging bots in every Frog's favourite FPS, as is the slightly more expensive Vengeance M65.  However UT2K doesn't really have enough keybindings to show off the 15 buttons on the Vengeance M95 and so a popular game in which clicks per second count is shown off.  Check out the video review and consider offering feedback on the YouTube channel if that content is something you'd like to see more of.

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"For our first full-length video review, we take a look at several Corsair gaming mice, the FPS-focused Raptor M45 and Vengeance M65 and the RPG-ready Vengeance M95."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Google's containerific alternative to virtualization

Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2014 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: google, virtualization, linux, container, Linux Containerization

Google creates two billion Linux containers a week which astute readers will realize implies that they can be created much more quickly than a VM.  That is indeed the case, these Linux containers are very similar to Solaris Zones, BSD Jails and other similar ways of sharing parts of an OS across multiple isolated applications as opposed to VMs in which each machine has it's own OS.  Even with prebuilt images it is orders of magnitude slower to create a VM than to simply create a new container.  With the involvement of a startup called Docker, Google has really changed how they handle their systems; read about the impacts at The Register.

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"That tech is called Linux Containerization, and is the latest in a long line of innovations meant to make it easier to package up applications and sling them around data centers. It's not a new approach – see Solaris Zones, BSD Jails, Parallels, and so on – but Google has managed to popularize it enough that a small cottage industry is forming around it."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

The Top 20 PC Games of April, According to Raptr

Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2014 - 04:27 AM |
Tagged: steam, raptr, origin, blizzard

Raptr is a service for PC gamers to adjust graphics settings, earn loyalty rewards, and "powers" AMD's Gaming Evolved app, which adds driver updating and Twitch streaming to the previous list of features. It has a sizable user base, tens of millions internationally, which allows them to rank PC games by popularity. While it is not a perfect sample space, it tracks both Steam and non-Steam games. The leaders might make you say, "LoL, WoW!"

I am fully comfortable with myself after that pun.

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As you can probably guess, League of Legends is the most popular PC title, with 14.5% market share (with respect to time). WoW and Diablo III are almost a tie for second-and-third at 8.56% and 8.53%, respectively. DOTA II is next at 5.81% and The Elder Scrolls Online is fifth, with 3.78% of all game time.

Surprisingly, the tail is pretty long after that. In fact, the entire Top 20 takes up just 63% of play time, with the 21st place and lower, by definition, having less than a 0.73% share. This is a slow decline, leaving room for theoretically fifty games with Skyrim-level popularity. Several games just below the list are probably very close to one another.

I should also note that, since this is based on time, it probably skews toward long and intensive titles. This probably explains Diablo III, MMOs, and Minecraft as those games are played for hours if they are played at all. This really puts Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and, to a lesser extent, Battlefield 4 into perspective, with their series of short rounds.

Off the list since March is Titanfall, Rust, and Path of Exile. The first two are fairly surprising. Titanfall just launched and, it would seem, has not kept its players gaming habitually. Rust, on the other hand, is surprising because it is popular and, to my understanding, typically involves long play sessions.

At the very least, it puts context around Steam vs. Battle.net vs. Wargaming.net vs. Origin.

Source: Raptr

Securing the Internet of Things

Subject: General Tech | May 23, 2014 - 01:27 PM |
Tagged: internet of things, security, Intel

Karen Lomas is Intel's director of the Internet of Things, from smart buildings to fridges and watched and she sat down to discuss the security of these devices and the future of ubiquitous computing.  Intel expects that by 2020 there will be 26 billion internet connected devices and if we do not start to think about how to secure them now it will have serious repercussions in the future.  There is a balance which needs to be struck so that consumers will not avoid using these devices because of security concerns nor because they are too restrictive to easily be used.  As befits a Friday the discussion comes in video form.

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"THE INQUIRER and Intel held an Internet of Things (IoT) event in London this week, where we sat down with IT professionals from a range of industry sectors to discuss how the growing thirst for internet-connected devices can be used in business, and how this should be done."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #301 - IN WIN 901 Chassis, MSI Z97 Gaming 7 Motherboard, R9 Price Drops and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 22, 2014 - 06:42 PM |
Tagged: Z97 Gaming 7, z97, xiaomi, video, tegra k1, tegra, SATA Express, podcast, msi, Intel, in win 901, Broadwell, asmedia, amd, 16nm

PC Perspective Podcast #301 - 05/22/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the IN WIN 901 Chassis, MSI Z97 Gaming 7 Motherboard, R9 Price Drops 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, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Maleventano

Program length: 1:16:22
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  4. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

 

NVIDIA Tegra K1 Benchmarks Spotted

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | May 22, 2014 - 04:58 PM |
Tagged: tegra k1, nvidia, iris pro, iris, Intel, hd 4000

The Chinese tech site, Evolife, acquired a few benchmarks for the Tegra K1. We do not know exactly where they got the system from, but we know that it has 4GB of RAM and 12 GB of storage. Of course, this is the version with four ARM Cortex-A15 cores (not the upcoming, 64-bit version based on Project Denver). On 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, it was capable of 25737 points, full system.

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Image Credit: Evolife.cn

You might remember that our tests with an Intel Core i5-3317U (Ivy Bridge), back in September, achieved a score of 25630 on 3DMark Ice Storm. Of course, that was using the built-in Intel HD 4000 graphics, not a discrete solution, but it still kept up for gaming. This makes sense, though. Intel HD 4000 (GT2) graphics has a theoretical performance of 332.8 GFLOPs, while the Tegra K1 is rated at 364.8 GFLOPs. Earlier, we said that its theoretical performance is roughly on par with the GeForce 9600 GT, although the Tegra K1 supports newer APIs.

Of course, Intel has released better solutions with Haswell. Benchmarks show that Iris Pro is able to play Battlefield 4 on High settings, at 720p, with about 30FPS. The HD 4000 only gets about 12 FPS with the same configuration (and ~30 FPS on Low). This is not to compare Intel to NVIDIA's mobile part, but rather compare Tegra K1 to modern, mainstream laptops and desktops. It is getting fairly close, especially with the first wave of K1 tablets entering at the mid-$200 USD MSRP in China.

As a final note...

There was a time where Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, said that the difference between high-end and low-end PCs "is something like 100x". Scaling a single game between the two performance tiers would be next-to impossible. He noted that ten years earlier, that factor was more "10x".

Now, an original GeForce Titan is about 12x faster than the Tegra K1 and they support the same feature set. In other words, it is easier to develop a game for the PC and high-end tablet than it was to develop an PC game for high-end and low-end machines, back in 2008. PC Gaming is, once again, getting healthier.

Source: Evolife.cn

Zotac Announces ZBOX Sphere OI520 and OI520 Plus

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 21, 2014 - 06:33 PM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox

Zotac has announced the ZBOX Sphere OI520 in two forms. The Plus version comes with 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a 500GB hard drive while the standard version leaves the choice (and installation) up to the user. At the very least, that means it is user-serviceable. Its real draw is its "orb form factor" with decent, albeit laptop, performing components.

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The ZBOX OI520, from behind.

Its actual system specifications are:

  • Intel Core i5 4200U
  • Intel HD Graphics 4400 (GT2)
  • HDMI and DisplayPort
  • Wireless AC (802.11ac), Gigabit Ethernet, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • 3x USB 2.0, 4x USB 3.0, SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC Card Reader
  • Supports up to 16GB of RAM (2xDDR3L)
  • Supports one 2.5-inch HDD/SSD
  • Apparently, no OS pre-installed.

Pricing and availability are not yet announced. Obviously, that will be the biggest factor in someone looking for a barebones PC, like this one. Also, Intel graphics support on Linux is not the most pleasant, kind-of famously. Zotac claims full support for Windows 7 and Windows 8, of course, but you will probably need to factor that price in if that is the direction you want to go.

Source: Zotac