Sound like a pro with Blue Microphones' Spark Digital Lightning

Subject: General Tech | June 18, 2014 - 05:45 PM |
Tagged: audio, blue microphones, spark digital lightning, microphone

The Spark Digital Lightning condenser microphone contains its own DAC which means that all the signal processing is done before the audio is sent to the device which you are recording to or broadcasting from.  That saves processor cycles on a PC but also means you can use this with a phone and other mobile devices and still produce audio of a decent quality.  It comes with a shock mount and your choice of either USB and Lightning cords or USB and the old style 30-pin Apple connector.  You can control volume, gain and mute directly on the mic as well as switch on a Focus option which alters the bias voltage of the condenser capsule similar to a low frequency filter.  Check out Benchmark Reviews full look at this ~$200 microphone that can almost compete with studio mics bearing a much higher price tag.

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"The Spark Digital from Blue Microphones is an all-in-one solution for high quality digital audio production. All the signal processing is done inside the body of the microphone, and the interface to your computer is through one of several available serial connections. The Spark Digital supports USB 1.1/2.0, the relatively new Lightning connection, or the older Apple 30-pin interface, through the use of separate cables for each connection type."

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Audio Corner

PCPer Live! Interview with AMD's Richard Huddy June 17th, 4pm ET / 1pm PT

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 18, 2014 - 05:08 PM |
Tagged: video, richard huddy, live, amd

UPDATE: Did you miss the live event? Well, there's good news and bad news. First, the bad: you can't win any of those prizes we discussed. The good: you can watch the replay posted below!

AMD recently brought back Richard Huddy in the role of Gaming Scientist, acting as the information conduit between hardware development, the software and driver teams and the game developers that make our industry exciting. 

Richard stopped by the offices of PC Perspective to talk about several subjects including his history in the industry (including NVIDIA and Intel), Mantle and other low-level APIs, the NVIDIA GameWorks debate, G-Sync versus FreeSync and a whole lot more.

This is an interview that you won't want to miss! 

On June 3rd it was announced that Richard Huddy, an industry stalwart and vetern of ATI, NVIDIA and Intel, would be rejoining AMD as Chief Gaming Scientist

Interesting news is crossing the ocean today as we learn that Richard Huddy, who has previously had stints at NVIDIA, ATI, AMD and most recently, Intel, is teaming up with AMD once again. Richard brings with him years of experience and innovation in the world of developer relations and graphics technology. Often called "the Godfather" of DirectX, AMD wants to prove to the community it is taking PC gaming seriously.

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Richard Huddy will be stopping by the PC Perspective offices on June 17th for a live, on-camera interview that you can watch unfold on PC Perspective's Live page. Though we plan to talk anything and everything centered on gaming and PC hardware we have a few topics that have been hot-buttons lately we know we want to ask about. Those include the AMD versus NVIDIA stint with GameWorks, AMD's developer relations and the Gaming Evolved program, how AMD feels about the current status of Adaptive Sync (G-Sync like features) and much more.

We want to take your questions as well, which is one of the reasons for this post. Richard has agreed to answer as many inquiries as possible in our allotted time and to help make this easier, we are asking our readers to give us their questions and input in the comments section of this news post. We will still take live questions in the chat room during the event, but if your question is here then you have a much better chance of that being seen and addressed.

If the intensity of these topics wasn't enough to entice you to watch the live stream, then how about this? We have a massive prize pool provided by AMD that is unmatched in our live stream history! Here's the list:

  • 1x AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8GB Graphics Card plus a power supply!
  • 1x MSI Radeon R9 280X
  • 1x Sapphire Radeon R9 280
  • 1x MSI Radeon R9 270
  • 1x HIS Radeon R9 270
  • 1x Sapphire R7 260X
  • 15x Never Settle Forever codes

Yup, that's all correct; no typos there. All you have to do is be on the PC Perspective Live! page during the stream on June 17th! We will be giving all of this hardware away to those watching the interview.

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AMD's Richard Huddy Interview and Q&A

4pm ET / 1pm PT - June 17th

PC Perspective Live! Page

How can you be sure you are here at the right time? If you want some additional security besides just setting your own alarm, you can sign up for our PC Perspective Live mailing list, a simple email list that is used ONLY for these types of live events. Just head over to this page, give us your name and email address, and we'll let you know before we start the event!

I am very excited to talk with Richard again and I think that anyone interested in PC gaming is going to want to take part in this discussion!

UPDATE: I know that some of our readers, and some contacts and NVIDIA, took note of Huddy's comments about TressFX from our interview. Essentially, NVIDIA denied that TressFX was actually made available before the release of Tomb Raider. When I asked AMD for clarification, Richard Huddy provided me with the following statement.

I would like to take the opportunity to correct a false impression that I inadvertently created during the interview.

Contrary to what I said, it turns out that TressFX was first published in AMD's SDK _after_ the release of Tomb Raider.

Nonetheless the full source code to TressFX was available to the developer throughout, and we also know that the game was available to NVIDIA several weeks ahead of the actual release for NVIDIA to address the bugs in their driver and to optimize for TressFX.

Again, I apologize for the mistake.

That definitely paints a little bit of a different picture on around the release of TressFX with the rebooted Tomb Raider title. NVIDIA's complaint that "AMD was doing the same thing" holds a bit more weight. Since Richard Huddy was not with AMD at the time of this arrangement I can see how he would mix up the specifics, even after getting briefed by other staff members.

END UPDATE

Source: PCPer Live!

Fly like an eagle

Subject: General Tech | June 18, 2014 - 04:33 PM |
Tagged: gaming, oculus rift, Birdly

Creative geniuses have found another way to combine the Oculus Rift with other hardware to create something new, in this case it is a bird simulator.  Strap yourself in to the device and use your arms to flap the wings of your bird body and lean to try your skills at aerial manoeuvring. The Oculus provides your birds eye view of the ground and there is even a fan placed in front of you to give even more immersion.  Hack a Day also mentions an olfactory component, it will be interesting to see how that was pulled off.

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"Have you ever dreamed of being able to fly like a bird? Sadly, we’re just too heavy with our solid bones and fatty tissues – but now there’s a simulator called Birdly which will give you the experience you crave."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: Hack a Day

Get some help choosing your next mobile device

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 18, 2014 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: Transformer, tablet, laptop, Chromebook, apple

If you are overwhelmed by the choice of mobile products on the market and are looking for a little guidance this article at The Tech Report is a good resource.  Their staff have picked out what they feel are the best mobile devices from tablets to transformer pads to full sized laptops.   You can choose between several models in each category depending on your budget, as the best solutions tend to be the most expensive.  The budget models are nothing to sneer at though as even on the low end mobile devices pack a lot more power than they used to.

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"Earlier this year, we revised the structure of the TR System Guide to focus exclusively on PC components. Our aim was to cover peripherals and mobile gear in separate articles. We posted our first standalone peripheral picks in April, and today, we're completing the set with our first standalone mobile staff picks."

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Tech Talk

 

So Watch_Dogs Graphical Mods Didn't Take Long...

Subject: General Tech | June 18, 2014 - 02:32 AM |
Tagged: watch dogs, mod

The "PC Master Race" meme has some merits. Gamers who care about a title, given some technical knowledge, will often make it look better than the developers intended. Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto IV can both look better than most next-gen releases. Watch Dogs is peculiar, though, because it just came out.

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Both images, credit: TheWorse from Guru3d forums

TheWorse Mod for Watch_Dogs apparently started as an attempt to restore the bloom effects from the game's E3 2012 trailer. Since then, TheWorse has improved performance, reduced stuttering, and improved many other effects (such as adding bokeh DOF blurring). The end result is quite pleasing to the eye.

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Check out the Guru3d thread as it develops. The versions seem to by arriving frequently.

Battlefield Will Not Be Annualized Says Patrick Söderlund

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 17, 2014 - 07:54 PM |
Tagged: battlefield, medal of honor, ea

Last year, we got Battlefield 4. The year before? Medal of Honor: Warfighter. The year before? Battlefield 3. The year before? Medal of Honor (Reboot). We will not be getting a new Medal of Honor this year, because Danger Close was shut down in June 2013. Danger Close developed the two recent Medal of Honor titles and, as EA Los Angeles, many of the previous Medal of Honor titles and many RTS games (Command and Conquer, Red Alert, Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth).

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Many of their employees are now working at DICE LA.

So, when a new Medal of Honor title should be released, we get Battlefield: Hardline. A person with decent pattern recognition might believe that Battlefield, or its spinoffs, would fill the gap left by Medal of Honor. Not so, according to Patrick Söderlund, Executive VP of EA Studios. As was the case at E3, where both studios (DICE and Visceral) repetitively claimed that Battlefield: Hardline was the product (literally) of a fluke encounter and pent-up excitement for cops and robbers.

Of course, they do not close the door for annualized Battlefield releases, either. They just say that it is not their plan to have that be "the way it's going to be forever and ever". Honestly, for all the hatred that annualized releases get, the problem is not the frequency. If EA can bring out a Battlefield title every year, and one that is continually a good game, then power to them. The problem is that, with an annual release cycle, it is hard to get success-after-success, especially when fatigue is an opposing, and (more importantly) ever-increasing force.

It is the hard, but lucrative road.

Source: PC Gamer

Less than One Hour Until Team Fortress 2 Announcement

Subject: General Tech | June 17, 2014 - 07:26 PM |
Tagged: tf2

TF2, the free-to-play dress-up game with a remarkably deep combat mechanic, is less than an hour away from announcing something. It, currently, is a countdown timer above a mock TV test pattern above an old-timey military control panel. That is all we know at the moment. We'll update when we find out what is going to happen. Personally, I expect that we will see a video and likely details about a large update.

tf2-testscreen.jpg

Apparently it is called "Love & War". It is a 15 minute video with an actual plotline. It seems to align with an update for between-team actions, like conga lines and square dancing. Also, there are few interesting achievements for doing those actions.

The real highlight has to be the video though. I've embedded it above. Take a quarter of an hour out of your time. It seems pretty hilarious.

Razer and NZXT Announce H440 "Special Edition" Case

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | June 17, 2014 - 06:39 PM |
Tagged: nzxt, razer, cases, steel

There does not seem to be much difference between the newly announced Special Edition H440, "Designed by Razer", and the original. The announcement claims: a custom paint design, LED lighting, a tinted window, and more. The design includes four fans (3x 120mm and 1x 140mm) and supports water cooling radiators up to 360mm.

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By the specifications, nothing is different, functionally. That said, when you are dealing with a company who will budget out hundreds of thousands of dollars in research and development for a USB port color, it is entirely possible that a few screws might have moved slightly, and so forth. Then again, the images on the product pages seem fairly identical. Speaking of Razer's expensive USB ports, it looks like the USB 3.0 ports are that shade of green. Call it, "Extending their return on investment"?

Annnnd of course, no pricing or availability. That is, apart from: "Coming Soon".

Is it Bait and Switch or not?

Subject: General Tech | June 17, 2014 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: kingston, pny, ssdnow v300, optima

There is a wee bit of outrage in the community over the internals of Kingston's SSDNow V300 and PNY's Optima SSDs.  In both cases the internals being sold at the moment do not match the internals that were originally benchmarked and people are outraged that the same product with a different model number has changed internals.  The two drives are marketed towards value conscious purchasers and represent two different cases of modifications; Kingston with a flash change and PNY with a controller change.

The complaints against PNY are a little odd, it would seem that the 4-channel SMI 2246en controller was swapped for an 8-channel LSI SandForce SF-2281 with no price change and the only way you can be upset by that is because of a ridiculous level of brand loyalty.  On the other hand Kingston has switched from Synchronous to Asynchronous NAND flash memory which does have a noticeable impact on performance and the stamina of the flash and also happens to be less expensive to manufacture.  If Kingston had left the price as it was originally and specified the use of Synchronous Flash in the V300 series then you would have a good argument that they had intentionally mislead customers.  The reality is that the type of flash was not specified and the price of a 120GB SSDNow V300 has halved since its release which makes this more of a slightly shady product refresh.  It is not the best way to update your product line but considering the specifics of this particular case it really does not show intent to deceive.

If you really want something to be upset about then consider the example provided by The SSD Review; ASUS's swapping out of the SSD in their ZenBook with utterly no warning or price change.  Now that is Bait and Switch!

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"It seems that the world of technology has stopped with allegations that some SSD companies are pulling the old ‘bait and switch’ routine in their SSDs by switching off components that many had recognized through initial SSD reviews. We have read several reports and forums, most of which simply repeat the original information, and finally have decided to clarify things just a bit from our perspective. Get ready though as many may not like our viewpoint; it goes against the grain somewhat."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Tech Report's SSD Endurance: The Petabyte Club

Subject: General Tech, Storage | June 17, 2014 - 01:38 AM |
Tagged: ssd, Samsung 840, Samsung, kingston hyper x, kingston, endurance, corsair neutron gtx, corsair

In The Tech Report's ongoing SSD endurance challenge, three SSDs are soldiering forward. We have reached the thousand-terabyte mark, which is at least five times more than any of the survivors are rated for. These survivors: The Corsair Neutron GTX, the Samsung 840 Pro, and the Kingston HyperX 3K. Technically, the HyperX was able to reach 1PB of written data with performing only 716TB of actual writes, due to compression.

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Image Credit: The Tech Report

Of course, each of the drives are less-than prestine. The Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB was slowly decreasing in its "life" attribute since the beginning, claiming to be somewhere between 75% and 80% with a fairly linear decline. If this trend continues, the drive will reach "zero" at around 4-5PB of writes. That said, its read speed has substantially dropped from the time between 900TB and 1000TB of total writes, from 500MB/s to just under 400MB/s. Also, this "life" could drop substantially if the drive encounters reallocated sectors (which this model has apparently yet to do).

The other two drives are a similar, remarkably successful story.

The Kingston HyperX drive is reporting itself to be substantially worse off, within the last 10% of its life. That said, even though it claims to be pining for the fjords, it is still working and has only reported a couple of reallocated sectors, those occurring in the last 100TB of writes.

The Samsung 840 Pro seems to still be going strong, although it had more zero or "a couple" of reallocated sectors -- every hundred terabytes yields about 500 reallocations.

As always, this is just our brief discussion of what The Tech Report found out. Be sure to check out their full article for many more benchmarks, tests, and conclusions.

Source: Tech Report