Third time is the charm for the Surface Pro?

Subject: General Tech | May 20, 2014 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, Surface Pro 3

Microsoft is continuing it's so far ill advised attempt at selling hardware with the release of the Surface Pro 3.  The Pro version continues to run Win8.1 and so should not encounter the compatibility issues that the Surface RT presented but at an MSRP of $800 it is nowhere near as inexpensive either.  The 800g tablet is powered by a Haswell Core i7 processor and the 12" 2160x1440 display sports a 3:2 aspect ratio which Microsoft points out offers 6% more viewable content.  It is also fairly tough as it was dropped from about waist height in the demo without suffering any damage.  The other nice feature is the optional docking station which allows you to plug in peripherals and use the Surface as a display, or use the docking port to output to a 4K display.  Check out more about the Surface Pro 3 and it's "full-friction" multi-position hinge at The Tech Report.

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"Microsoft has just spilled the beans on its Surface Pro 3 tablet, and the details are really quite interesting. The company has taken a fresh approach to the Surface Pro this time around, with a stated goal of "removing the conflict" between the tablet and laptop form factors."

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AT&T Buys DirecTV for $48.5 Billion USD in Stock

Subject: General Tech | May 19, 2014 - 04:02 PM |
Tagged: direcTV, att, AT&T

That silly AT&T is now acquiring companies other than the ones they shed off during the 1974 antitrust lawsuit. This time, it intends to acquire DirecTV in a deal valued at $48.5 billion USD, in stock. All said and done, the total transaction is valued at $67.1 billion. Currently, DirecTV sits at a market cap of 42.77 billion USD and the stock is trading in the range of 84 to 85 dollars per share. In this deal, shareholders will receive $95 per share, about 30% in cash and 70% in AT&T stock.

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Owning the globe... trademark.

The deal also claims to have several benefits for consumers. AT&T pledges to add 15 million customer locations, mostly rural, with fiber and wireless local loop (microwave). They also pledge to follow FCC's Open Internet Order from 2010, for at least three years after closing.

Three years of Net Neutrality, fun.

Seriously, none of that has anything to do with DirecTV and it should be enforced, anyway. It is nice that Net Neutrality has become a buzz word, mostly in terms of people becoming aware to it, but an action would be significantly more helpful. Remember that we, at PC Perspective, host our own video streaming service for our podcasts and live events. We rely on our traffic reaching our audience.

But, of course, none of that has anything to do with DirecTV either. It is possible that they could give concessions to help the acquisition go through and, honestly, I am not too against this purchase, if viewed in isolation. Let's just hope that, like their split-up compromise, they don't immediately start undoing it when they think no-one's watching.

We're watching.

Source: AT&T/DirecTV

So Are Google (YouTube) and Twitch in Acquisition Talks?

Subject: General Tech | May 19, 2014 - 02:36 AM |
Tagged: twitch.tv, youtube

Well... crap. It looks like the YouTube arm of Google is in talks to purchase Twitch. Variety, while not my first choice of source for these issues, claims that the deal is basically done, excluding regulatory involvement, and valued at $1 billion USD in cash. These details are apparently disputed, however, by sources which claim that a deal is in progress but is no-where near the stage that Variety reports.

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Twitchy hands...

For us, this will probably suck. It seems like Twitch is much easier to deal with than YouTube when it comes to copyright issues, at least from my observation point. Beyond that, it is doubtful that Google will leave the service as an independent entity. It would not surprise me if Google transitions existing Twitch streaming contracts to YouTube Live and slowly dissolves what is left.

Speaking of what is left, no source seems to be clear on whether this deal is for all of Twitch Interactive, including Justin.tv. The company was rebranded just recently, mid-February of this year, to "Twitch Interactive". Previously, it was known as "Justin.tv", after its older sibling website.

What does our audience think? Can any good come from this?

Source: Kotaku

Oculus VR Grabs Google Glass Electrical Engineer

Subject: General Tech, Displays | May 18, 2014 - 03:19 AM |
Tagged: oculus vr, Oculus, facebook, google glass

Who would have thought that John Carmack would have opened the flood gates of talent to Facebook. Apparently, not only was he the first in a long list of people to join Oculus, a large chunk of his coworkers at id Software followed him over (if a Glassdoor review is to be trusted) in Februrary. Their latest grab is Adrian Wong, former senior hardware engineer for Google's Glass Explorer program.

Okay...

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Didn't see that one coming...

Clearly, something is happening at Oculus VR. This acquisition by Facebook is giving them a warchest to grab as much top talent as possible. Ironically, without Oculus, I doubt that most of these hires, if any, would happen. Without knowing the internal structure of Facebook and Oculus, it is hard to predict how much benefit the parent company can gather, but the acquisition could be paying for itself in raw talent.

The Oculus Rift DK2, announced at GDC, is currently a $350.00 pre-order and expected to ship in August.

Source: TechCrunch

Cooler Master V1200 Platinum PSU Launches

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | May 18, 2014 - 02:53 AM |
Tagged: cooler master, V1200 platinum, PSU, modular psu

The Cooler Master V1200 Platinum power supply (PSU) is, as the name suggest, capable of delivering 1200 watts of power to your gaming PC, with a platinum 80 PLUS efficiency rating. At half load, which is probably its best-case scenario, this unit is 93% efficient. Cooler Master also says that it is backed by a 7-year "extended" warranty, although they do not clarify what is "extended" about it. If they just mean "really long" and it comes standard, without weird restrictions, then that is obviously a long guarantee.

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The PSU is also fully modular and single rail. You can set it up such that the only cables coming off of it are ones that are in use, an obvious bonus for cable management. Also, being single-rail, the +12V can support loads of up to 100A. Users do not need to plan ahead and balance components across separate cables because they all draw from the same pool. Users with Haswell-based machines will also be able to use all C0-to-C7 power states, although it has been out long enough that it should not be an issue for anyone, anymore.

Pricing and availability is currently unknown and varies by region.

EA Shuts Down Several Multiplayer Games on June 30th

Subject: General Tech | May 18, 2014 - 02:29 AM |
Tagged: ea, offline, shutting down

Because of how popular it once was, the GameSpy shutdown will affect numerous titles, many of which have been up and running for over a decade. Several games have fallen back on GamesRanger or Steam to perpetuate support, while others are going to sleep for a very long time. EA claims that, despite trying to come up with a solution, several of their titles will go offline on June 30th.

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At least this spy would never stab me in... the back... nevermind.

In the following list, I will omit entries which are not for the PC, Mac, or Linux.

  • (PC/Mac) Battlefield 1942, and expansions.
  • (PC) Battlefield 2, and expansions.
  • (PC/Mac) Battlefield 2142, and expansions.
  • (PC) Battlefield Vietnam
  • (PC/Mac) Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, and expansions.
  • (PC/Mac) Command and Conquer: Generals, and expansions.
  • (PC/Mac) Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3
  • (PC) Crysis
  • (PC) Crysis 2
  • (PC) Crysis Wars
  • (PC) EA Sports 06
  • (PC) F1 2002
  • (PC) Global Operations
  • (PC) James Bond: Nightfire
  • (PC) Master of Orion III
  • (PC/Mac) Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, and expansions.
  • (PC) NASCAR Sim Racing
  • (PC) NASCAR Thunder 2003
  • (PC) NASCAR Thunder 2004
  • (PC) Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
  • (PC/Mac/Linux) Neverwinter Nights, and expansions.
  • (PC/Mac) Neverwinter Nights 2
  • (PC) Star Wars: Battlefront
  • (PC) Star Wars: Battlefront 2

It is possible that titles which support directly joining an IP address might, in fact, continue to work. That said, it might not work for every title. At least it is something to try if you and a group of friends wish to get an organized match going.

The part that confuses me, however, is that GameSpy is going offline at the end of the month. Why then does EA, after being unable to find a workable solution, have an extra month of service? You would think that a solution to provide an extra month would work ad-infinitum, unless they have paid for GameSpy's servers to stay open a little longer for their titles. Then again, who am I to complain about an extra month?

Source: EA

Apple and Google-Motorola Stop Suing Each Other

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 17, 2014 - 04:07 AM |
Tagged: Lawsuit, google, apple

If we all could just get along and get back to work...

On Friday, May 16th, Apple and Google (including the remains of its Motorola Mobility division) released a joint statement marking the end of all patent litigation between the two companies. The two companies have been in legal warfare for three-and-a-half years, now. The two companies will also "work together in some areas of patent reform". It is unclear what that actually means.

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This decision does not seem to affect Apple's ongoing litigation with Samsung. Those two companies are still in a famous and fierce skirmish over mankind's greatest UX innovations, like slide-to-unlock and the little bounce that happens when you scroll to the end of a list too fast. Those are, honestly, the issues that we are facing. I have a suggestion for an area to reform...

... but that has been beaten to death for years, now. It, at least, shows a willingness to cooperate going forward. It also shows a slight bit more promise for products like Ubuntu on phones, Firefox OS, and even smaller initiatives. You can say what you like about the current litigation, but closing the road for independent developers with great and innovative ideas is terrible and bad for society. Unique smartphones could be made, each with slide-to-unlock, just like unique OSes can use icons and web browsers can use tabs.

Source: Reuters

Pioneer Respects Base-2 with 256GB Blu-ray Discs

Subject: General Tech, Storage | May 17, 2014 - 02:47 AM |
Tagged: Pioneer, bluray

By layering eight layers of 32GB Blu-ray media, Pioneer has achieved 256GB worth of storage on a single-sided optical disc. If you are more interested in storage than labels, the company acknowledges the obvious extension to double-sided media with 512GB of capacity. They also leave the door open for 1TB and larger discs by extending their signaling method to more than twelve layers.

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

It suffices to say that this is a lot of storage. If cost can be kept low enough, optical media could once again be viable for archival and backup. Once a drive is purchased, and USB 3.0 makes it trivial to purchase a single drive for multiple computers, a single disc could bit-for-bit copy a full SSD and other, more modern amounts of data. Basically, it is much less work backing up in 256GB chunks than 4.7GB or 25GB ones.

If cost can be kept low enough is a serious point, though. BD-Rs retail for about $50/1.3TB (according to a few Newegg searches) and DVD-Rs are around the same ($25/500GB). This is not too far from hard drive territory (~100$/2 TB). Of course, hard drives are also faster, rewritable, and do not need to be inserted into a drive for reading and writing... because they are one. People are transitioning away from optical media to hard drives. Cost would need to be phenomenal to reverse that momentum.

4K and UHD video content was not discussed but, let's face it, your mind went there, too.

Source: Pioneer

MSI Launches AG270 2PC and 2PE Gaming All-in-Ones

Subject: General Tech, Systems | May 16, 2014 - 09:06 PM |
Tagged: msi, all-in-one, AIO, gtx 880m

The MSI AG270 is an All-in-One (AIO) PC built in a 27-inch, 1920x1080, multi-touch display. The series is split into two models, the AG270 2PC and the higher-end AG270 2PE. Both are billed as gaming devices and, with a GeForce GTX 870M (2PC) or a GeForce GTX 880M (2PE), they fit the bill. The 880M, for instance, is basically a desktop GeForce 680 with 8GB of frame buffer (!!) and a slight underclock.

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Two processor options are available, the i7-4860HQ and the i7-4700HQ. MSI does not state whether one (or both) models has a choice, or if the higher-end processor (4860HQ) is always in the higher-end PC (AG270 2PE) and the lower-end processor (4700HQ) is always in the lower-end PC (AG270 2PC). Users will get 2TB of storage and "up to" 3 mSATA SSDs. Yamaha will provide the two 5W speakers. BigFoot (owned by Qualcomm) provides the Ethernet and Wireless N through their Killer DoubleShot network adapter. It also has a DVD and BluRay reader/writer built-in.

MSI does not discuss pricing and availability, directly, and instead point to their retail partners.

Source: MSI

Is the X2 Saturn 5.1 Gaming Headset for you?

Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2014 - 03:19 PM |
Tagged: X2 Saturn, gaming headset, audio, 5.1 headset

The X2 Saturn headset has multiple drivers in each earcup to try for real 5.1 surround sound as opposed to virtualizing it as many gaming headsets do.  The front, rear and sub speakers each have different frequency responses which Legit Reviews were kind enough to list in their review.  The omni-directional microphone can be muted via the inline controls and you can actually set the volume of each speaker separately.  Overall the headset was judged to fall in the middle of the pack with good features and some design choices which could perhaps be improved.  As well, if you love LEDs then the red lights on this headset might just interest you enough to pick up a pair.

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"X2 has sent us a true 5.1 USB gaming headset to try out and it’s not relying on virtual surround sound to get the job done. Each earcup on the Saturn headset has multiple drivers which outputs different surround channels for better positional audio compared to two channel stereo headphones and headsets. Read on to see how it performs!"

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