There's one born every minute; the sound quality of different storage medium

Subject: General Tech | January 9, 2015 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: monster, idiots, audiophile

Believe it or not there is a review out on the interwebs claiming that "'bit-identical' computer audio may well be just as inexplicably inconsistent as analogue."  In other words some hard drives and SSDs will produce better quality audio than others using the exact same audio file.  Two different QNAP NAS devices apparently produced differing audio signals which the writer claims to be able to discern.  Not only that but apparently different HDDs or SSDs inside the NAS also has an effect on the audio flavinoids and topology.  If that is not enough for you then keep reading the link from The Register as they also propose the theory that different types of RAID will change the cromulence of the audio signal as well and while they stop short of describing the audio cables which were used they did stoop so low as to use Belkin CAT6 instead of a product from Monster.  If you believe this and own a mains conditioner for your audio you should definitely let The Register know you are interested in their proposed AudioNAS kickstarter.

PT_Barnum_by_Eisenmann,_1885.jpg

"Is it April already? I really cannot tell from this post, which poses the question: "Is it really possible that the sound quality of bit-identical audio files is influenced by their storage medium before being delivered to the hi-fi system's DAC?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

CES 2015: Mycestro Gesture Controller

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2015 - 12:01 PM |
Tagged: mycestro, ces 2015, CES

I just saw a video for the “Mycestro”, pronounced somewhat like maestro, on IGN and it looks interesting. Basically, the device clings to your index finger and lets you use it as a pointer wand. Movement engages when the thumb touches the thumbpad, and it has three buttons below for click events (which apparently allows click and drag). Dragging your thumb against the thumbpad acts as scroll events.

mycestro.jpg

Seeing the reporter, Alaina Yee, attempting to use it makes it look a bit more precise than a Wii remote, but a definite step down from a mouse or even a trackpad. It looks like it could be annoying, or at least take some practice, to use in a desktop environment, but a home theater PC with a “20-foot UI” might benefit from the convenience (if it can be taken on and off easily).

On the other hand, it has the capability of tracking in 3D space, despite its current role as a mouse. An SDK is not yet available, but the company says that it is in development. Of course, if future applications is what you are interested in, you may want to wait until after the development kit is released to see what it actually supports.

The Mycestro is available now (and has been since November) at their website for $149.

Source: Mycestro

CES 2015: Audi & LG Partner on Smartwatch Running webOS

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 03:26 AM |
Tagged: smartwatch, LG, ces 2015, CES, audi

There is a unique smartwatch at CES this year, which unfolds to become a camera quadcopter. I guess surprisingly, for some people, a selfie stick is not offbeat enough. And that's fine, more power to them.

lg-audi-watch-webos-13m.jpg

Image Credit: Android Central

There is also a second, unique smart watch at CES this year because it does not run Android (or iOS). The unnamed device, which is a collaboration between LG and Audi, is powered by webOS. In case you missed it, LG has licensed webOS from HP for use in its smart TVs. The operating system is open source under the permissive Apache license.

When Android Central was playing around with the watch, they noticed the listing of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC (MSM8626). The 8626 is a quad-core, ARM Cortex A7-based processor (up to 1.2 GHz) with a Qualcomm Adreno 305 GPU. This is a fair amount of power for a smartwatch, although core count and frequency could be reduced for battery life.

With Mobile World Congress coming up in February (update Jan 9th @ 11:30am: sorry for the mistake... it's the first week of March), we might see more details soon.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2015: MediaTek MT2601 Low-Power SoC for Wearables

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2015 - 08:04 PM |
Tagged: smartwatch, mt2601, mediatek, ces 2015, CES

When you start getting into the wearables market, even mobile SoCs can be somewhat big and power-hungry. As such, we are seeing more innovation in processors that satisfy these lower classes (which could just be us paying more attention). The MediaTek MT2601 is one such device, which combines a pair of ARM Cortex-A7 cores (1.2 GHz) with an ARM Mali 400MP GPU (intended frequency unknown) on a package PCB that is less than 480mm2. (Edit @ 9:48PM -- they seem to mean the SoC and other chips, like the Bluetooth module)

mediatek.jpg

MediaTek's release does not list fab nodes, but PDAdb.net claims that it is designed for 28nm.

Of course, these chips are designed to be low cost, low power, and whatever performance can be squeezed out of those two requirements, so it might not be the most interesting SoC that we can talk about. Still, battery life has been a major hindrance to smart watches and other small, niche devices. It will be interesting to see new-generation devices that use these components.

Heck, if I had more time, I might even want to hack around with these directly.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

How much power do you need to become one of The Crew

Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2015 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: gaming, the crew, 60fps

If you want to jump into the new massively multiplayer racing game called The Crew you are going to need to accept either 30fps or with a bit of tweaking 60fps, that is the hard limit and that 4k 144Hz monitor you just bought will be quietly crying as you play.  In a way that does not matter as neither the GTX 980 or R9 290X could handle maximum graphical settings at 4k resolution with AntiAliasing enabled.  SLI and Crossfire do both work and will allow you to max out your framerate to the 60fps ceiling but is unnecessary for anyone who is gaming at a resolution below 4k.  NVIDIA is the better choice for those who want to play this game, you will benefit from several of their new features including FXAA which [H]ard|OCP witnessed providing a much less costly solution than 4x MSAA

14186402467gsUGVgN75_2_2_l.jpg

"The Crew is a new racing game that takes place in a massively multiplayer open-world environment like no other game. It supports some NVIDIA GameWorks technologies, and we will see how it performs on no less than eight different video card combinations to gauge real world gaming performance across the board."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Get Office on your Android

Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2015 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: android 4.0, Android 5.0, arm, microsoft

The closed beta for the Office Suite is over and now anyone with an ARM powered Android device running versions 4.x or 5.x can install the non-pared down version Office for Android though you want to make sure your device is between 7" to 10".  This is somewhat sad news as it deflates the dreams of those hoping to use NVIDIA's Shield as a desktop replacement and also excludes the new and more powerful Bay Trail tablets.  Office on Android is still in beta so this is not a final product and the support for processors may expand as the we approach release, with no firm date for the final release there is reason to expect support could expand to Bay Trail at the least.  There is also no price although as The Inquirer points out, the iPad version is free to use.

Microsoft-Office-2010-Professional.jpg

"MICROSOFT HAS ANNOUNCED the expansion of its beta programme for Android tablet versions of its Office productivity suite."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

CES 2015 Podcast Day 3 - FreeSync Impressions, Broadwell NUCs, Intel Compute Stick, Storage News and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2015 - 03:15 AM |
Tagged: video, CES, ROG Swift, podcast, pg27aq, patriot, nvidia, nuc, Intel, g-sync, freesync, dp1.2a +, Corsais, Computer Stick, Broadwell, asus, amd, adata, adaptive sync

CES 2015 Podcast Day 3 - 01/06/15

CES is almost over for us, but we have plenty to talk about. Join us for our FreeSync Impressions, Broadwell NUCs, Intel Compute Stick, Storage News 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, Allyn Malventano and Ken Addison

Program length: 57:31

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

 

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Internet Archive Adds Thousands of In-Browser DOS Games

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2015 - 09:24 PM |
Tagged: javascript, dos, pc gaming

Well would you look at that. Archive.org has been working hard to preserve as much art and expression as possible, including some things that you would think are blocked by copyright holders. In this latest initiative, they have included DOS-era games in a JavaScript-based editor. Yeah, most of what I tried are pretty much unplayable, but it's a gigantic catalog none-the-less (over 2000 titles).

internet-archive-wolfenstein.png

It has some titles like: Aladdin, Duke Nukem 3D, Bust-A-Move, Battle Chess, and Oregon Trail. Some of them, like Bust-A-Move and Aladdin, are not playable for me on either Chrome or Firefox due to low frame rate.

If you have a good PC, feel free to give them a try.

Source: Archive.org

CES 2015: Calyx Audio PaT USB DAC and Headphone Amp for PC and Mobile

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2015 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: mobile, headphone amplifier, DAP, DAC, ces 2015, CES, audiophile, audio

For the audio enthusiasts at CES this year Calyx Audio (Korean maker of audiophile-grade audio components) has a new prototype to show along with last year's Calyx M music player, and for an audiophile product the pricing is very aggressive.

calyx_pat_1.png

Render of the Calyx PaT (dimensions in mm)

The PaT is a similar product in some ways as Calyx Audio's existing $199 USB DAC called the "Coffee", but this unit will be much smaller and will cost half as much at $99. And the reduction in price and size is only half of the story as the PaT also works with mobile devices as an outboard DAC/headphone amp. Apple iPhones and iPads will be supported, and Android devices with USB audio-out support as well (probably via USB OTG).

The PaT supports up to 16-bit, 48kHz files (AIF, M4A, PCM, OGG, and MP3) and will also control track playback and volume via hardware control buttons on the unit. The PaT requires no external power or battery, taking what little juice it needs directly from the connection to your mobile device. As for amplification, in typical Calyx fashion even this miniature board is using a discrete class A/B headphone amplifier. Since the PaT relies only on the power passed through the USB connection it is only capable of outputting 0.8 V, which by comparison is slightly lower than an iPhone 5 which outputs about 0.9 - 1.0 V.

calyx_pat_2.JPG

The tiny prototype PaT in action

The PaT may be just a working board at this point, but the company has scheduled the release for February 2015, when the devices will be available in various colors of thin aluminum enclosures.

In the world of computer audio much more attention has been focused lately on advancements in sound, with special shielding and isolation on motherboards, special gold-plated USB ports for DACs, and customizable op-amps a trend. While the market for dedicated sound cards isn't what it once was, high-end PCI-E and USB cards from Creative (Sound Blaster) and ASUS (Xonar) are still widely available. Most of these products are for desktop users, but there is a growing number of portable devices that allow mobile users to experience great sound, too. For myself, great sound means faithful reproduction of 2-channel music, and it's nice to see attention paid to that area without the added effects of digital signal processing (DSP). Calyx seems interested only in engineering products that play back music as close to the source as possible, and I can't argue with that!

The Calyx PaT is scheduled to launch in February for $99, but like most high-end audio components it will take a little research to track it down. The USA distributor of the Calyx brand has a website with product and contact information here.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Calyx

CES 2015: Razer OSVR Dev Kit, Forge TV Android Gaming Streamer, and Nabu X Fitness Band

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2015 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: OCVR, VR, virtual reality, razer, google tv, fitness band, ces 2015, CES, nabu x, Forge TV, Android 5.0, lollipop

Razer, maker of gaming peripherals and components, has some announcements today that are a big departure from their previous products.

osvr.jpg

First we have the announcement of an open VR standard, the Open-Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) ecosystem. Razer is contributing to this with the OSVR Hacker Dev Kit, "a virtual reality device and open-source software that enables programming for any variety of VR technology". The kit will be shipping in June for $199. There's a lot more information about this new VR platform on the Razer's OSVR page.

Next we have Forge TV, an Android gaming device for the living room that Razer says is "powered by a quad-core processor and gaming-grade graphics", which doesn't sound like your usual streamer.

forge_tv.jpg

Essentially a high-powered tablet in a box, the Razer Forge TV has impressive specs for an Android device:

  • OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • SoC: Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 - Quad-Core Krait 450 CPU (2.5GHz per core), Adreno 420 GPU, 2GB RAM
  • Storage: 16GB
  • Connectivity: Wireless 802.11ac 2X2, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.1 + HS
  • Ports: HDMI 1.4, USB 3.0
  • Dimensions: 105mm X 105mm X 17mm

There is a product page up for the Forge TV on Razer's site, but no word on pricing or availability yet.

Finally we have Razer's entry into the popular fitness wearable market, the Nabu X.

RzrNabuX.jpg

This is compatible with Android and iOS devices and promises "5 to 7 days" battery life per charge. More info from Razer here.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Razer